Workshop Abstract:Activating Communication: Designing Learning and Creating Meaningful Assessments

Our 21st century learners need a multi-sensory learning environment designed around authentic learning experiences that encourage collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. How can we use focusing lenses to guide thinking when creating relevant instruction that is more meaningful, rigorous and engaging? How can focusing lenses be used to shape the instruction of a thematic unit? How can technology encourage learners to critically think of solutions to real-world global issues in innovative ways? And finally how can we assess our students so they can demonstrate their learning. During this workshop participants will explore these questions and experience learning activities that promote deeper, richer thinking that can enhance communication in all three modes.

Contact information
Toni Theisen
Thompson School District
Loveland, Colorado 80538
Connect with me -Toni Theisen: email
Connect with me on Twitter: tonitheisen Facebook


  1. Introduction, goals and learner targets
  2. Using focusing lenses to design learning
  3. Applying the rigor and relevance framework
  4. Creating thematic units
  5. Exploring and designing performance assessments
  6. Bringing it all together
  7. Next steps

Learner Targets

  1. I can use a variety documents to think differently about learning and designing instruction.
  2. l can use the concept of focusing lenses as a way to shape instruction at a deeper level.
  3. I can use the rigorous and relevant framework to move towards deeper learning.
  4. I can apply "I can" statements as learner targets in my instruction.
  5. I can create thematic units and assessments.


PowerPoint as pdf:

Videos from today

Lead with Languages video-ACTFL promotion video
  1. Lead with Languages
World Readiness Standards
  1. World Readiness Standards

Resources to learn more

Using the three modes in instruction and assessment video-Tell Project
good examples and ideas
The three modes-assessment and perspective-Webinar-Tell Project
more focus on how-to's for three modes
Using the target language and providing comprehensible input-Tell project
Using the target language and CI-Reflection for teacher
Feedback form
Empowering students to use the target language-Growth Mindset-Tell Project
Empowering Student to Use the Target Language - Classroom Vignette-Tell project
Using sentence starters and sentence frames




National Links

1. National World Language Standards refreshed 2014-World-Readiness Standards
for Learning Languages
How are our standards refreshed to meet the perspectives of the 21st century?
  1. World-ReadinessStandardsforLearningLanguages.pdf
  2. ACTFL Position Statement:
    ACTFL Position Statement -Final - Languages as Core - May 2013.pdf
2. ACTFL 21st century skills map
What are 21st century skills defined through the eyes of a world languages context?
  1. ACTFL 2011 P-21 worldlanguages skills map.pdf
3. ACTFL Proficiency guidelines
What are the performance levels?
Describes what language learners can do regardless of how the language was acquired.
  1. ACTFL Prof. Guidelines 2012 update with samples
4. NSCCFL-ACTFL "can do" statements
What can students do?
States what learners can do specific to each communication mode and level of proficiency.
  1. NCSSFL ACTFL Can-Do_Statements.pdf
    NCSSFL ACTFL Can-Do_Statements.pdf
5. ACTFL performance descriptors
How do I explain performance levels to my students?
Describes what language learners can do based on instruction in an instructional setting.
  1. ACTFLPerformanceDescriptorsLanguageLearners.pdf

6. Interculturality "can-do" statements
How do embed culture?
Thanks to Jacque VanHouton and Ruta Couet, NCSSFL
  1. Novice:Novice_intercultural_can_dos-2-1.docx

  2. Intermediate:Intermediate_intercultural_can_dos-1.docx

  3. Advanced:Advanced interculturality Can-Do_Culture_Advanced_MCwebsite-1.docx

7. ACTFL Crosswalk aligning document with the Common Core
What are the connection between the WL standards and common core?
  1. ACTFLCrosswalkFinalAligningCCSSLanguageStandards.pdf ACTFLCrosswalkFinalAligningCCSSLanguageStandards.pdf
  2. Common Core ELA Standards:CCR_Anchor_Standards.pdf

8. Bloom's taxonomy charts with questions and activities

  1. Bloom's taxonomy chart.pdf

9. Rigor and Relevance Framework
How can we make instruction more rigorous and relevant?
  1. Rigor and relevance framework

10. AP/IB Comparison chart
How can we make instruction more rigorous and relevant with attention to culture?
  1. AP/IB Comparison chart:AP-IB themes comparisons chart 2011.pdf

11. Thompson School District world languages site
How can I see others' work to help me with mine?
  1. TSD WL Wikispace with thematic units, rubrics etc.

Thematic Units

Terrill-Theisen UbD Hunger Unit

Theisen Thematic unit samples
  1. Terrill-Theisen Hunger Unit Wikispace
  2. French V AP/IB "papiers et sans papiers" unit: "Papiers et Sans Papiers"unit
  3. French V AP/IB L'Alimentation: Goût et Gaspillage
  4. French V AP/IB L'éducation
  5. French IV La Mode: L'économie et les politiques des vêtements
  6. French IV Les Problèmes sur la Planète
  7. French III-La santé
  8. French II- Paris et l'art
  9. Used for all levels to start the year-(activities modified for each level) Expanding our cultural perspectives
I can understand how to build a meaningful unit such as
"from the café unit to the hunger unit in Level 1", as well as design others.
Theisen-Ousselin thematic unit on girls' access to school in school:
Fairness, Respect and Dignity: Connecting to the world using global units
  1. Fairness, Respect and Dignity: Connecting to the world using global units-Theisen and Ousselin ACTFL presentation
I can apply concepts of social justice to a thematic unit

I want to use these resources-templates, rubrics, rubric score convertor, goal setting sheet, reflection sheet

UbD template to create a thematic unit

TSD UbD units
WL 5 C's UbD Unit Template Oct.2013 Theisen use.d
Goal Setting sheet with reflection for side 2 of bubble learning targets
Goal setting and reflection log for bubble sheets-page 2.docx
Sample Spanish I learner target bubble sheet-Template
Spanish I Unit 5 Learner Target Bubbles 2013.doc
Learner target bubble sheet template
NCSSFL ACTFL Can-Do_Statements.pdf
TSD Template Learner Target Bubbles 2013.doc
Presentational speaking rubrics
TSD WL Presentational Speaking Rubrics 2013-2.pdf
Presentational writing rubric
TSD WL Presentational Writing Rubrics 2013-2.pdf
Interpersonal speaking rubric
TSD WL Interpersonal Speaking Rubrics 2014.pdf
Interpersonal writing rubric
TSD WL Interpersonal Writing Rubrics 2014.pdf
Conversion chart for rubric grading to regular percentages
TSD World Language Rubric Convertor 2014 use really.docx

World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages video

world readiness standards.png

pyramid chart.png


ACTFL Position Statement: Demonstrating Educator Effectiveness and Documenting Student Growth Position Statement

The educator is the catalyst for developing learners’ language proficiency and global competence so that learners are prepared to interact and communicate successfully in the global community. Student growth and educator effectiveness are intrinsically connected. The purpose of demonstrating student growth is to show learners’ progress toward higher levels of proficiency while using language in a culturally appropriate manner. In addition, measures of student growth show the educator’s impact on student language learning, taking into consideration each learner’s engagement and motivation for learning. Such evidence will also demonstrate for multiple constituencies the value of successful language learning and teaching. Educator effectiveness and individual student growth are best measured based on frequent and multiple measures of language performance over time, demonstrated by each learner, connected with evidence specific to language learning rather than from other subject areas, and indicating growth in language performance through:
  • balanced evidence of learners’ performance across the three modes of communication (Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational)
  • performance assessments, aligned to NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements or progress indicators set by state standards
  • informal and formal assessments of language learning
  • web-based and comprehensive portfolios
Approved by the ACTFL Board of Directors-November 2015