Hello from day two of Texas Bootcamp 2017! Today we were blessed to have ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) trainer, Dr. Mark Darhower, all the way from North Carolina. We started the day being reminded of our focus for the week: Possibility, Passion, Purpose and Power! Today we would be focusing on a new “P”- Proficiency! We started with a quick stretch and an invitation to be present and we were on our way towards fully understanding how proficiency and questioning play a role in our daily interactions in class.
After a quick history lesson on how the proficiency ratings came to be, we dove right into the guidelines and the structure and protocol of the OPI. Today was a great reminder that the proficiency guidelines are there to help us determine what students CAN do with the language.
Next we spent a good amount of time learning all about the characteristics of each level of the proficiency guidelines. This is always a great reminder no matter how many times we have heard about the levels because this is at the core of everything that we do! The structure of the OPI was also explored.
After understanding the process of the OPI, we were able to listen to some actual OPI samples. This was great practice in identifying different questioning strategies as well as identifying the levels of our students. We also practiced taking a topic and spiraling our questions up the proficiency levels across many functions of language.
Lastly, and most importantly, we talked about how we can apply this in our classroom! This was where it all became clear! First, we need to remember as teachers to be a good “interviewer”. That is we should be actively listening to our students and finding out what is important to them while simultaneously listening to the type of language that they are producing. Next, the proficiency levels are perfect for rubrics. It tells us exactly how to assess our students and what criteria to use. Lastly, we considered the POSSIBILITY that our daily class time could actually work much like an OPI! WOW! That thought is POWERful! Just think about what that could do for our classes and language learning!
In reflecting with a table partner, she said “I realized that I only usually ask questions that I know that the students know the answer to. Now I know how to ask more open ended questions like ‘tell me about your house’ to find out what they can actually do with the language’.” This teacher realized that by asking more open ended questions, we could move our students from simple recall to actual reflection and application of the language. This is where critical thinking happens! Overall today was an amazing day full of learning and I am excited to see how we can connect what we learn the rest of this week back to the structure and purpose of the OPI.