Final Exam – Level 1

Below is a good final exam from Robert focusing on reading. Like the one just posted, it is from last January. Robert explains:

Hi Ben,

I am attaching my final exam for level 1, first semester. Out  here in California we tend to run a bit behind the rest of the country on the timing of our school year (start in September, end in June), so our finals are next week. My level 1 class is reading “Arme Anna”, and we are only going to get through chapter 2 before finals. So, I am asking the students to show me their understanding so far. As you can see, they have to read, understand and copy text. To me that’s reinforcement of input – and besides the ACTFL guidelines state that students are capable of imitating and reproducing correct language. I figure copying is a form of reproducing. Also, novice students use visuals to communicate their message. So, I’m in line with ACTFL and the CA Standards while giving a final that’s basically more input.


Here is the exam:

Interpretive Communication
Final Exam, Semester 1
German 1

Read chapters 1-2 of Arme Anna, choosing 10-12 Essential Sentences that tell the story so far

– An Essential Sentence contains basic, necessary information
– An Essential Sentence is often the main sentence of a paragraph

Copy the Essential Sentences onto your paper

– One sentence per square and set of lines
– Write the sentence on the lines (the squares are for drawing)
– Do not try to re-write the sentences in your own words: COPY

Illustrate the sentences

– The drawing must show that you understand the essential sentence
– The drawing needs to be clear
–  The drawing does not need to be great
–  Stick figures are wonderful

Grading based on

– Relevance and pertinence of sentences
– Do these sentences tell us something essential?
– Do these sentences reveal something about the characters?
– Do these sentences move the story forward?
– Do these sentences speak to the theme of the story? Accuracy of writing

– Are the sentences written correctly on your paper?
– Depth of understanding as shown by drawings
– Do the drawings show that you understand the sentences?
– Do the drawings show that you understand connotations?
– Do the drawings show that you are making connections?

N.B.:  The drawings do not have to be great artwork – that isn’t the point. They do have to convey your understanding of the reading.

My response: It’s funny because just today I made my kids translate a huge page of French from a recent story. I was thinking along the lines you describe, without being aware of those official statements in ACTFL. Far from being rote learning, it is not only a way to find out who is actually running the stuff through their minds in class and taking class seriously, and as such is one of the more accurate assessment instruments I believe we have available to us. It sends a strong message to kids to pay attention in class. Thanks!



9 thoughts on “Final Exam – Level 1”

  1. What a great idea!!! I have a few question about it, though: Are they doing this in class or is it a take-home exam? How much time do they have for this? They are (re)reading the two chapters you have already read/discussed in class, right?

    1. It’s an in-class final. They have about 1 hour 20 minutes. If I gave this as a take-h0me exam, many of them would use Google Translator, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of showing what the students understand. They are re-reading chapters we have already read and discussed in class.

  2. Robert, thanks for the info. I hear you about the online translators – no matter how many times we do the exercise where you send a paragraph through the translator a couple of times and then back into English, they still think I won’t notice if they use them. Our periods are only 40 minutes long, so I wouldn’t be able to do this as an exam and our final is pretty much pre-determined (much like the old NYS Proficiency exam). I like the idea very much, though, and will find a way to incorporate it somehow somewhere. DANKE!!!

    1. Brigitte, one idea that comes to mind would be to have them copy the sentences in class, collect the papers and grade their comprehension of the story as a whole. Then they could illustrate the sentences at home – and if they use a translator, who cares? You would be judging them on how well the drawing illustrates the sentence. For example in Arme Anna/Probre Ana/Pauvre Anne, a student might choose “Anna has problems with her parents and her friends.” (Not sure if that’s an exact quote.) If there is a general illustration of problems, that’s a 3. If there is a drawing that shows what each problem is, that’s at least a 4. If there is an indication as well that the problem lies with Anna and not the other people, that is definitely a 5. (Standards-based Grading: 5 = Advanced; 4 = Proficient; 3 = Basic) If they don’t even illustrate the sentence at a basic level, it is below basic (2) or far below basic (1). If a student has to use a translator for that sentence, he or she isn’t going to be showing you anything above a basic understanding, and possibly not even that.

  3. I love doing this! I have not used it as a final exam, but have done something very similar in the past. I love this as a final, though. Thank you Robert!

    A couple of variations on the theme: I’ve had kids do a “5 sentence summary” of a chapter in a novel as we read. Not every single chapter. I ususally choose the longer or more difficult chapters. Not all of them. Sometimes in groups (yeah I know blech…”groupwork” but it’s good for variety every once in a while). One year as a “wrap-up / creative writing” project, I had them do an “x-sentence” essential core condensation of the entire novel. I don’t remember how many sentences: maybe 12-15? They shared these by reading them aloud. Each one showed a unique perspective. It was neat to listen to a bunch of them in a row. After that I had them go back into their piece and craft it into a song, poem, spoken word, etc. I wish I had saved some of them. They were really cool, and it was interesting to see not only which sentences the kids chose, but then how they crafted them into a poem/song. The only rule about that was they could eliminate but not add, and they could repeat words or word chunks, for emphasis or rhythm or maybe for a refrain. Again, amazing variety from the “same material!” This was in my pre-CI days. I thought it was a good way to make them reread, and also it was a good writing activity because the focus could really be on the creativity rather than all the nuts and bolts.

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