Interpretive Quick Quizzes

Update: If you’re teaching remotely in response to COVID-19, here’s a digital version of these reading and listening quizzes.

We’re off and running….already 3 weeks into the 2018-2018 school year! There are some new changes around here:

  • We’re one-to-one with technology for the first time; every little darling has a school assigned Chromebook. I’ve been experimenting with new tech tools… but that’s another post for another day!
  • I have a new trailermate. My dear friend and colleague Paula retired and there’s a new teacher sharing my Portable Sweet Portable. I miss Paula terribly but I am delighted to welcome Amy back to DHS. She was my  student in Spanish 2 and 4  years ago and now we’re colleagues. How cool is that?! 
  • Our department totally reworked our grading policies and philosophy to reflect the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. (Thanks for your help, guidance and Wisdom, Julie!)  Our gradebook categories are now aligned with the 4 skills. I’m having fun digging into the 4 skills and thinking about how to assess them.  A few nights ago I had one of those in-the-shower-moments-of-brilliance and I couldn’t want to try out my new idea. You guys! I think I’m really onto something: a super simple way to grade quizzes that are totally based on ACTFL’s proficiency guidelines.  And that’s what I want to tell you about… so read on, dear reader, read on!

Some background knowledge:

  • The Great State of Nevada has assigned proficiency targets for each level. If these don’t match your state or district targets, you’ll want to adjust the rubrics to match your targets. In The Silver State:
    • Level 1- Novice Mid
    • Level 2- Novice High
    • Level 3- Intermediate Low
    • Level 4- Intermediate Mid
    • Level 5/AP- Intermediate High
  • So as a World Language department, we decided that:grading.pngSo in other words, if a kid is doing what Nevada says they should do in any given level, their grade should be a B. If they’ve progressed to the next proficiency level, they should  earn an A, and if they’re not quite to the prescribed level, their grade should be a C.

This is a total paradigm shift for me…I used to grade reading and listening by asking comprehension questions: the kids who got them all right earned As, the kids who missed a few earned Bs, the kids who sorta kinda understood it earned Cs and so on.

So, in my quest to align my quizzes with our departments’ new philosophy and in my never ending quest for simplicity in grading (aside: I hate grading…I love spending hours lesson planning and developing new activities to load my little darlings us with comprehensible input but I feel like time spent on grading is not a good use of my time or creative energy, but anyway… ) I present to you my Reading and Listening Quick Quiz Rubrics:

Level 1 Listening Quiz Rubric                    Level 1 Reading Quiz Rubric

 Level 2 Listening Quiz Rubric                       Level 2 Reading Quiz Rubric

 Level 3 Listening Quiz Rubric                       Level 3 Reading Quiz Rubric

 Level 4 Listening Quiz Rubric                       Level 4 Reading Quiz Rubric

If you’d like to edit any of the documents above, just make a copy and knock yourself out!

A few things…

-What I love most about these is that they’re generic and you can use them with any listening or reading. You can have a stack copied and they’re ready to go when you are! You don’t have to write a new quiz every time you give a reading or listening quiz. Have a few minutes free at the end of the period? Give them a listening quiz!

-The rubrics look suspiciously similar across levels…that’s OK! Obviously the listening sample or text is going to sound/look at lot different in a Level 1 class than a Level 4 class. Roll with it.

-I tell my kiddos to start at the top of the quiz, then move down as far as they can. You can see below what an A looks like verse a B verse a C. I enter these as 10 point quizzes and enter the points to reflect the percentages. So 85% is entered as 8.5/10   Easy peasey! 

(Edit)One more thing: I’ve been using these a lot the past month or so and I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from readers who have been using it in their classrooms also. Every once in a while a kiddo will throw a curve ball and miss the main idea but nail the details! Or not fill out section C but fill out A and B! WHAT TO DO?! Don’t stress!! In my mind, if they complete 1 out of 3 sections that’s a C, 2 out of 3 is a B and 3 out of 3 is an A.

And remember you’ve got freedom in the grade. The grade should reflect how much they showed you they understood. Maybe they wrote 6 basic details but they didn’t show you excellent comprehension- that can still be an A, but make it 90%. For me a 100% tells me they understood everything and their quiz proves that to me. You’re still the teacher. You still grade the work and you are in charge of making sure their score reflects this comprehension.

This kiddo below just joined our class the previous period. He did as much as he could and is welcome to retake it after he gets some more exposure to Spanish.

The previous (Spanish 1) class we did a little Calendar Talk a la Tina Hargaden, talking about who likes which days of the week,  After we talked plenty, we did a little Write and Discuss, documenting the fascinating things we learned about their classmates.

Then, the following class, Quiz Day, I explained to them the fascinating things I learned about a different class. (I’ve got 3 sections of Spanish 1 this year…the Calendar Talks were all similar, but of course personalized for the students in  that particular class- I wanted to share with them something brand new to measure how much they were actually understanding…not what they remembered from the previous class.) I used the board to illustrate as I explained. (I don’t plan on doing that every listening quiz…but since it’s the beginning of the year and I want them to feel really confident about all the Spanish they’re comprehending, I went for it!) Students listened one time first before I passed out the quiz sheets. After I explained how to take the quiz,  I explained the story again and the students filled out their quiz sheets. Here’s what it looked like:

Listening quiz 1

For the following class period I got the bright idea to move my tripod right up near the board to film the story to make it easy for quiz make ups and retakes- I’ll just give them quiz sheet and press play 🙂 Work smarter, not harder!  If you’d like to see what the board looks like, and be totally impressed by my mad art skills (or feel better about your own, in comparison to mine!) here it is:

Listening quiz 2

Welp, that’s it! That’s the idea what struck me unexpectedly and I’m super proud of! Thanks for reading and I hope it’s something that will be helpful for you too!!

Looking for ACTFL inspired Rubrics for Speaking and Writing…well, here you go!

Happy Labor Day Weekend!


  1. Thank you!!!!

    So in your grade book do these go in your “listening” or “reading” categories? And you usually make them 10 points? So if a student gets “B” they get an 8/10? Or what are your grade breakdowns? I’m working on making changes to my gradebook for next year so I am starting to think about ways to assess each of the skills!


  2. I’ve just stumbled across these Interpretive Quick Quizzes and they seem like just what I might need!

    A couple of questions. For a retake, would you give the student the exact same reading/listening passage? Or do you come up with a different one? Up until now, I’ve been tied to a textbook and what they provide for listening and reading, so I don’t know if I could still use these with something like that, but I also think they may work. Also, is it safe to assume you give back the quiz sheet to the student to keep? If so, and you use the same passage for the retake, does that somehow make the retake results less “valid” since they’ll already know what the passage was about and what they got right the first time?

    Another thing: Do you limit the amount of times you play an audio? I teach level 3 and AP and I know when I prep students for the AP exam, I work to getting them to practice listening only twice since that’s what they’ll face on the exam.

    Just thought of another one: In your photos, I noticed that for the “A” section, there was a line under the number 4. Do you tell students to write at least 4, but if they do all 6, that could bump them up to an A+?

    Thank you for your amazing site and suggestions!


    • Hi Christina!

      Q1: if I have a compatible reading available, I’ll give that for the retake. If not, I don’t really mind if they read the same thing again, because really I care more about their language acquisition than their grade! If they want to read the same thing 2 or 3 times, and they’re getting more out of it every time, I’m ok with that.

      Q2: again, since I just want them to get as much language as possible, I don’t care how many times they need it. In class, I’ll play it twice always, then ask if they want to hear it a third time. After that, I just make a blanket statement that if they’d like to hear it again, they could stay after class. Almost no one does, but I think it lowers their stress knowing that they can if they need to. For AP I think only hearing it twice makes sense, considering the exam. I think you can go with whatever works for you!

      Q3: I tell kids that the quizzes are like that “strong man” game at the carnival,: the harder you hit the pedal with the mallet, the higher up it goes. They more they show me they understand, the higher their grade will be. So- to get 100%, they need to show me they understood 100% of the reading/listening. They could write 6 things, but only get a 90% (or even lower) if they show me they didn’t understand (large)portions of it (by leaving it out of Section A). It sounds like kids and parents would be upset by this, because it’s pretty subjective – but they can always come in for a retake, so no issues there!

      I hope that clears it up- holler if you have more questions!


      • Thank you for your prompt reply! Just as a follow up to my first question-do you let them keep their answer sheet (which might mean they’ll memorize what they got right) in case they get the same passage for a retake? Or do you just show it to them and keep it for yourself?

        Thanks again!


      • Well, I haven’t run into that issue but I’m not sure if it’s because they’re not that motivated or because I just don’t care that much about grades (to be honest- if I could throw all grades away and just teach- it would be my dream!) I think do what works for you! Either enter the grade and keep the quiz or give a new passage for the retakes. (Although everyone is allowed retakes, few do- again, they’re not super motivated!)


  3. Love the logic and simplicity of these, thank you! Question: While looking at the level 1 Reading Quiz, I noticed the top and bottom differ slightly on Question 1. (Listing in TL OR English versus TL AND English) Is that an intentional scaffold/modification or perhaps your thinking changed and the change was reflected only on one half by oversight? Again, thanks for your thoughts.


  4. Now after reading Common Ground I am so conflicted by how to grade. They mention it’s not ideal to make exceeds proficiency level as an A. Being at their proficiency level should be the A. Thoughts?


    • I think you could make the case to go either way. The reasons why I’m happy with A as exceed is that it gives our students more to strive for, encouraging them to “level up”. Also for schools that are big on “rigor” (mine is!) this can help our argument to admin that our courses are rigorous when they just see us chatting and playing. (when really, we know that acquiring a language is supposed to feel easy and be subconscious… but our classes must be rigorous!!). Lastly, especially in the lower levels when we’re teaching CI, the Novice Mid proficiency level is a pretty low bar. Nearly everyone exceeds the proficiency level, and so almost everyone gets an A. (And when Admin wants to know why everyone is getting an A, it’s great to explain that they’re all exceeding the target set by the state.) Sooo….that’s my take and why our dept has chosen A as exceeds, but I can understand and respect the A= meets camp. So, probably the most important thing is to pick one take and be consistent with it.


  5. I have been wanting to use these for a long time and finally started. I loved the listening quiz and the way it let me see so quickly what they did and didn’t understand!

    My question is: do you typically let them write as they listen? Or, do you have them listen and then write? And, what are your thoughts?

    I see reasons to do it both ways.


    • Here’s what I do (because really, my goal is to give them loads of input, when when I’m assessing them) The first listen, I ask them to just listen. I tell them that if they start writing in English, they’ll miss what’s being said in Spanish. The first time they should just listen, then I give them a few minutes to jot down the main idea (B section) and any details (A section) they remember. Then the 2nd time I play, they can write as they listen, filling in where they can (the C section you kinda have to do while you listen). Then a bit more time to write. Then I usually give them a 3rd listen (even if they think they don’t need it). I tell them to listen for any new info they missed and add it… the more the show me they understand, the higher their grade will be.

      Thanks for your comment!


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