3 Steps for Creating an Engaging Presentational Assessment

Posted by Kara Parker on May 28, 2015 in 4 Assessments, Last Days

Of the three types of performance assessments, presentational speaking & writing can be the easiest to create, but double-check that you are not missing these 3 crucial parts.


This is the part that gets students hooked! Pick a scenario that fits your students’ reality, or give them a few options. Maybe it’s volunteering, traveling abroad for a vacation, working a summer job, a camp or hanging out in the community. Avoid “you will be living with a family in Argentina…” type of scenarios unless this is really happening. Choose a real place that has target language speakers. Possible places: YMCA, a refugee center, your school, a local college, camps, etc. Set the audience as someone that speaks the target language. Include real names if applicable. Think about the age and role of the person too. Even better, see if you can connect it to a real event that happens.

Ky Min

New Beginnings


The Kentucky Refugee Ministries has a New Beginnings program to help and mentor immigrant youth in their new city. Now they are looking for high school students to begin the mentoring program.



Keep your favorite proficiency rubric nearby as you create so you are staying within their language abilities and allowing them to exceed expectations. Avoid rubrics that measure their performance by sentences/words limits, dictating what tenses to use and the number of language errors.

Click image to download.

Click image to download.



Choice and voice! Let them choose if they want to speak or write if possible. Since this is presentational, let them create a real product that is at their proficiency level. A presentation for a group, a video to apply for a job, a webpage to share information, a letter to someone, a flyer or information sheet. Include a simple list of what to include that is open-ended.

Ky Min


You decide to apply for the mentoring opportunity. This is a great chance to help out, meet new people and add experiences to your college resume. To make good matches, the application asks for you to send a letter or video showing your ability to communicate in your second language.

You will want to include the following:

Your introduction including your favorite activities, family and your personality

Your top 4-5 recommendations for field trips explaining where, when, what to do, prices, meal options, etc. 

Your opinions, other people’s opinions, personal experiences and stories (this is seeing if they can reach intermediate, and specifically use the past tenses)

A closing with information on how to contact you


Whew! Go back through the steps a few times to make sure the assessment is well-connected throughout. Enjoy seeing the students show what they can do!


4 comments for “3 Steps for Creating an Engaging Presentational Assessment”

  1. SrtaT says:

    I love the idea of choice with presentational assessments, but how do the logistics work with students presenting in different modes? Do you have a day where some students write their letter, and others present videos they’ve already created? I’d love to know better how I could integrate more choice with summative assessments next year!

  2. Kara Parker says:

    For finals, normally I’m the one that reads/listens to them. When they share with the class, here’s one way: one day they can write/record. I set up a recording area in the back and explain where to save the video. I’ve seen a teacher use trifolds to help keep distractions/noise to a minimum. Next day, hang up the written ones for all to read and do a gallery walk. Then show the videos or put them on a class blog/website for them to listen to on their own (great because they can rewind as needed). Let all the students do something while listening/reading (pick their favorite, pick out details, give feedback, make connections). Then you have even included another interpretive task!

  3. Jessica Marron says:


    These are fantastic. Thank you. You girls are saving me! I have a question about this, however. Do you allow your students to use resources (ie, notes, etc) when producing these? I guess why I’m asking is that if these students were actually applying for something like the scenario given, they would use resources. We would expect and hope that they would, right? Am I way off base here? I just don’t want to give them the opportunity to use the resources if they shouldn’t have them, or withhold them if they should. LOL Thanks in advance for your response.

  4. Kara Parker says:

    Glad to help! And Yes! In real life, they would be able to use resources. It’s really your choice on the resources and I’ve done it both ways. Big questions is what’s the purpose of the assessment? If this were a real thing, like we are actually applying, then I would let them use resources and we would edit. If it’s for an assessment grade, then they don’t get anything but their brain because I want to know what they know. I definitely struggle with the same question. I have seen how connecting a real-life scenario helps motivate them, and for many of my students that were not motivated by grades and hated finals, to even try it. But for presentational prompts, it’s really hard to come up with a “you can’t prep for this, go!” type of scenario. It works way better for interpersonal assessments, which I’m finding are the best indicator of their proficiency anyways. However these are super time-consuming and written finals were preferred for us to use for data as a department. What are you thinking? Resources or not? Can you think of a better scenario that would not require prep? Hmm…

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