La Loca’s Syllabus and Interpretive/Interpersonal Communication Rubric


In my last Webinar with Fluency Matters, even though it was about the 5 keys to success in the CI classroom, we kept continually circling back to assessment. During my presentations and seminars this summer, it is the most frequently asked question (next to ‘how do you start your year?’)

Everyone assesses differently. In a CI classroom, we should be doing quick formative assessments every minute. I am constantly formatively assessing my students by teaching to their eyes and checking for their comprehension. By teaching to their eyes I can more likely detect if students are NOT understanding the input.

My students know that their participation my classroom is weighted MUCH more heavily than in their other classes. That is because “participation” in my class is really the “interpretive and interpersonal” modes of communication. It is CORE to acquiring a language so why wouldn’t it make up 60% of my student’s grade? This is outlined in my syllabus which I share with students during their first week of school with me.

The next question is then, HOW do I assign a “grade” for interpersonal and interpretive communication? I use a rubric. My students become VERY comfortable with this rubric throughout the year. I used to use Ben Slavic’s  and I have adapted it to fit the needs of my students and classroom over the years but this year I created a new one that coordinates with my rules. You can find this rubric here. I ask that you make a copy and edit as you need, however if you plan to copy it and share it again, I do ask you credit me.


I revamped it this year because I had a student come to me at the end of class last year and express his concern about how he had self-assessed himself that day (I have students assess themselves frequently in the first few weeks of CI instruction and then later on in the year they self assess once every couple of weeks to remind them how I am assigning them a grade weekly). He was disappointed because he was exhausted that day and he knew he hadn’t maintained eye-contact with me the whole class but his options were to give himself 2 points (the maximum) 1 point (half credit) or 0. His argument was that he gave himself 1 point but that means that he automatically was “failing” at 50%, and he thought he had watched me at least 90% of the class, but NOT 100% (enough for the 2 points). I had felt he really HAD watched me the whole class but I could tell he was more exhausted than usual. It made me realize that perhaps I needed to change my point system. Hence this new rubric.

I enter at least ONE “interpretive/interpersonal” participation grade every week. It is based on this rubric. Every now and then I will have students complete their exit quiz (questions based on whatever was discussed during class time) on the back of their rubric, or I will have them explain how they plan to improve on their “points” in the next week.

On parent’s night, I always MODEL CI, and then pass out my syllabus AND this rubric so that every parent knows exactly what my expectation is for their students. I will blog about Parent’s Night (and film it) when it happens in two weeks.

So there you have it! I hope that this is helpful! For those of you starting school tomorrow (like me!) ROCK IT! Have so much fun and remember to bring your PASSION and ENTHUSIASM with you!

OH! One more thing…. I am attempting something CRAZY this week…. I will be blogging EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. about a simple tip or trick that should TOTALLY rock your world and amp up the FUN in your class (or save you pulling out hairs in frustration with time wasted!)! YAY! So be looking for those blogs!!!

Until next time, (I guess that means TOMORROW!!!! EEEK!!!!)

Happy Teaching!


La Maestra Loca

Express Fluency 2017, Photo credit:


  1. First of all, I love your blog! I’m excited to incorporate many of your practices into my high school Spanish classes this year. Mil Gracias!! For the participation student survey – in the beginning of the year do you have them fill it out every day for a while? Do you always give students the points they think they deserve or do you get the final say? If there is a discrepancy between their perspective and yours – how do you let them know?

    • YAY! Great to hear!

      In the beginning of the year, after the first week (which was a couple of blogs prior to this) I jump into CI. I have them fill it out every other day for about two weeks. Then I move to once a week and then to once every two weeks. I want them cognizant of how I’m evaluating them.

      NO WAY! Don’t give them the points THEY thought. Give them what YOU think. What they write is 99% of the time is either EXACTLY what you would have given them and if ANYTHING, they are harsher on themselves than YOU! So that is nice!

      As far as discrepancy goes, MOST of the time you are giving them a better grade (HONESTLY, I have done this with ALL ages in ALL schools and poverty levels and kids are consistently harder on themselves than their teacher) so they don’t care when you grade them higher or the same. If it IS different and you grade them lower, I take a second to grab a highlighter and indicate the areas on the rubric where I DISAGREE. If I really need to I will write a note. Honestly though, I don’t have time to do that with every student. and THAT Is why you do it less frequent in the future!

      I hope this helps!!!

      Have an awesome year!
      La Loca

  2. When you enter your grade based on the participation rubric, is that based on their self-assessment or do you assess based on what you see? If the latter, do you ever worry or hear from kids that they’re worried about you being able to gauge that accurately with big classes? Thank you!

    • I assess based on what I see. Every now and then (VERY rarely) a child (or worse, a parent) disagrees with me. I invite them to meet with me and discuss WHY they think they deserve a different grade. Then I provide them with evidence as to why I graded them lower. If you are grading them LOWER than a 80% it is REALLY important that you have a mental or WRITTEN record of WHY. That way if parents or kids do come to you, you can give them specific examples of speaking to their neighbors, or not responding to the questions. This is SO rare though. Almost always my assessment aligns with theirs.

  3. Hi Annabelle,
    How do you determine the score in each category for the students? Since it is 1-10 (or 1-5 in those 2 areas), is it just your sense of where they fall along that continuum? In other words, what is the difference between earning say a 7 vs. and 8 in a category? Also, are your students marking themselves, and you enter the total points they gave themselves, provided that you agree, or are you marking it? Thank in advance!

    • Great questions! Read the reply I gave Emily for the answers to ME vs. THEM. As far as the points go, The entire rubric adds up to 50 points. As the kids are adding up they are imagining that a 7 means 70% and 8 means 80%. Whatever their total points are, I double and enter as a “grade”. I do this at least once per week. So for example, if a child gets 42 points total, that is 84%. That is what is noted in our grading system. I hope this helps!

      • Yes, so helpful, thanks! They fill theirs out, and you fill out a different one, right? Or, do you just highlight (as you said above) if your assessment is different?

      • I use the exact same one and just write the official # they get in a different colored pen (usually rainbow colored… Go figure!) and highlight (in pink or orange are my favorite! LOL) if we differ… BUT ONLY if we differ! 🙂 #savetime #saveenergy #saveyourhair #yay

  4. Thank you so much!! Love, love, love the rubric! I plan to use it – you’ve saved me a ton of time. Thanks for being so generous with all of us. I added a copyright symbol & the year to your name. Would you like me to add anything else before I print it? Enjoy your first week! We don’t start until Sept. 6.

    • Oh gosh! You don’t even have to do that! 🙂 I just mean if you change and share with other teachers I would love some credit for the original! Lucky Duck! Sept. 6 sounds AWESOME! Glad I could help you!!! Thanks for the note!

    • How frequently? My policy (parents know this after parent night) is that if SS miss class they get a 0 for interpretive/interpersonal for the day . Since that makes up 60% of their grade it is HUGE. SS have to email me including the date they were gone and I either send them a story that we did or I have them come in and see me, or I have them read from a novel during lunch with me one day. SOMETHING to make up the input.

  5. Hi, really interesting article! The rubric you posted is worth 60% of the grade, where the does the other 40% come from. I teach Spanish in an OWL circle and have trouble putting letter grades on their open response tests. I usually just write Novice Low, Mid, or High and even then, when a student is transitioning between these levels, you can see growth and still not reach the next level. I’m interested to see how others give letter grades to this, Thanks!

    • Yes, I don’t assign letter grades based on the proficiency level they reach but rather growth and participation in class (interpretive and interpersonal modes) if you click on the link to my syllabus you can see what the other 40% is. It is assessments, culture, and homework. 🙂

  6. Hi Annabelle. Do you have an email list? I like getting blog entries to my email and read them there. It’s less distracting for me.

  7. This is AMAZING. I teach elementary and am DEFINITELY going to start doing this with my 3rd-5th graders 🙂 🙂 Yay!!! ¡¡Gracias!!

  8. I’m so curious!… On your syllabus, Class Rule #3 says to “Do your 50%” relating to participation in class. What does “Do your 50%” mean exactly?

    • I asked students this question yesterday, they said: “It means we are listening with our eyes and our ears” “It means we are answering 100% of your questions 100% of the time 100% together” “It means that we are doing what we need to do to be awesome so that YOU can be awesome, Maestra” “It means that we are listening and answering your questions so that we can acquire instead of learn” (the last was my favorite…. I drill the method into their little heads! haha!)

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