Professional Development

5 Simple Steps to Start the Year with Proficiency-Based Strategies


Are you curious about backward design but not sure where to start? This video provides a quick overview of the basic steps of backward design and how to find all the pieces you need to get started with EntreCulturas and EntreCultures. Start this school year feeling more organized! Use your Wayside resources to their fullest potential to plan ahead and take some work off your plate.

If you are striving to create a proficiency-based classroom this year but are not sure where to start, we are here to help! These quick, low-prep tips will help you embark on your journey to proficiency-based teaching starting on the first day of school.

Analyze Essential Questions with Students

Discuss the essential questions for the first unit with your students before you start the unit content. This will give students some idea of what they will learn during the unit and encourage them to reflect on what they already know about the topic.

Try some peer-to-peer discussion strategies like a KWL chart, think-pair-share, inside outside circles, line ups, chat stations, or using the online discussion forums on the Learning Site®.
Essential Questions in EntreCulturas

Strategize the First Summative IPA

Review the first integrated performance assessment that students will take and create a plan for implementation. Consider the following questions:
  • Will students do all three tasks in class, or will some be done at home?
  • What are the projected dates for students to complete these tasks?
  • How long will each task take to complete?
  • Will you use a rubric to analyze and grade all three?
Consider using an IPA planning document, like the one below, to help you strategize and plan.
IPA Planner

Map out Learning Experiences

Look at the first few activities in the first unit. Using the unit goals, essential questions, and assessment content as guides, prioritize the unit activities into three categories:
  • Activities that are necessary to do
  • Activities that would be good to do
  • Activities that are nice to do if there is time
Use this priority list to help you make decisions when planning.
Learning Experiences in EntreCultures

Plan For Target Language Use

Ensure that your classroom is a target language-rich environment. Display visual supports for your students such as a word wall with frequently used vocabulary. Keep a list of target language teaching strategies nearby when planning learning experiences. There are many instructional strategies that you can use to make language comprehensible to students such as:
  • Picture Talk
  • What’s in the bag?
  • Circling
  • Movie Talk
  • Repetition of Key Vocabulary and Concepts
  • Using Graphic Organizers (e.g. Y charts)
  • Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
  • Four Corners
For a printable copy of this list, click below. For more information about these strategies, find them in the Instructional Strategies Toolkit on the Learning Site®.
Instructional Strategies PDF

Facilitate Target Language Community Building

Spend the first few days with your new students building community in the target language. By establishing the importance of target language use from the start, you are setting that expectation for the rest of the year! Click below for ideas based on your students’ proficiency levels.
Community Building in the Target Language