Wow, 2 posts in the same week for me is unheard of. I mean really….I am on a roll. I wanted to share some non-traditional assessments that I gave as choices for my midterm this year in Spanish 1. These options were brainstormed by myself, Profe.Zulita, and Musicuentos herself, Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell. I was struggling with the idea of giving a traditional midterm to my students and I didn’t know what I would do with my students for the 90 minutes that I had them during their exam period. I wanted the time to be useful and I also wanted to use this as an opportunity for my students to wrap up the first half of the book La Piñata de Renata by Craig Klein Dexemple. This post reviews the four choices, what I liked about them, what I would change next time, and even includes student samples from my own classes. You can read more about how I taught this book in this blog post! 

Note: I did obtain permission to post their projects without their names on this post!

Project-Based Midterm: Netflix Novel Summary

Last year, I wrote about this project with Profe. Zulita, who is also called Courtney Jackson. She has become one of my favorite authors and friends that I have met on the internet. Courtney has the template for this project here. This project essentially has learners turning a novel into a Netlfix show and they create a short synopsis for each chapter of the book. Learners also include an image that best represents the chapter as a whole. 

Pros: Perfect for kids who need something creative but also on the easier side when it comes to language creation. I was able to have my students on the lower end of the novice range find the 5 most important sentences of each chapter and write them for their summary. On the other hand, my advanced students could combine sentences and create more with the language. 

Cons: I really can’t think of any!!! It is a fantastic option. 


Project-Based Midterm: Write your own chapter!

I chose this option because the book La Piñata de Renata has a common structure amongst each chapter. The chapter always starts and ends relatively the same. I knew that my students could come up with a 5-6 sentence plot to go in the middle to create their own chapter. This also required them to make Renata travel to a Spanish speaking country and they had to add in 1-2 cultural elements like the author did. I gave my students a planning guide to help them structure their thinking and writing. They were allowed to do this digitally or on paper. Most of my students chose paper and I am obsessed with their creativity. I think my favorite is an origin story of how Renata got her magic piñata. 

Pros: This is a great option for students who have an interest in creative writing! Students who excel at presentational writing will really enjoy the creative freedom here. I also love this option for kids who want to learn how to say more words. I have no issues with students using a dictionary to learn a new word to add to their writing. This option also allows me to give direct feedback to each individual student. 

Cons: This project is not for everyone. This also requires a lot of scaffolding on your part during the reading process to make sure that they are able to write confidently. Also, some students may spend more time designing the chapter graphics and leave the writing until the end. 

Project-Based Midterm: Rewrite a chapter!

This is a step down from the previous option and could be great for those students who have a lot to say about how a chapter’s plot unfolded. For example, my students were very perplexed in chapter 4 of Renata when a pesky capybara was throwing all sorts of things at Renata. They also wanted to know more about some of the cultural elements that were in the book and this allowed them to expand some of those details. 

Pros: This is great for learners who are not quite ready to write their own chapter but they still want a more creative option. 

Cons: Just like with the previous option, this is not for everyone and it really depends on your learners in your classes. 

Project-Based Midterm: Character Instagram Feed

For this last choice, students had the option to create an Instagram account for Renata. They found a picture to represent each chapter and wrote a caption. They also included details like highlights, her bio, and some creative hashtags. I loved this option so much when I picked it and it turned out to be my least favorite at the end because I failed to think about the fact that my students would have to do a horizontal conjugation of the chapters from the 3rd person to the first person and they just were not quite ready for that….I didn’t realize this until it was too late because when my kids started to work on this, I was out sick. This could have been easily remedied with a quick mini lesson on changing the verbs to end in an O. So, my kids essentially just did summaries on the chapters in the caption portion and it was fine in the end. We used templates from Profe. Zulita for this. 

Pros: This really captures students’ attention and interests. Many of the students made this choice and had a great time with it. 

Cons: The picture captions were really just summaries of each chapter and that was fine overall, but if you want them to really make a caption of a picture like they would in real life, they might need more advanced language structures. 

Project-Based Midterm Takeaways

I really loved these options and I think I will bring them back for a different book for finals in the spring. Below you can find links to the document I provided my students, the rubric I used, and the checklists I gave them to help guide their work. I also attached a presentation of my student’s work. I am OBSESSED with their projects and am so proud of them for going above and beyond what was asked of them. Please respect their work and do not share, copy, post, etc their work. Also, you will notice that they are not 100% perfect when it comes to grammar….but they are 100% comprehensible and communicative. 

Midterm Project Examples by Haylee Ziegler

Need more proof that this is worth your time? Check out the difference between these two timed writings. The first one was given before we read the book and the second one was given as a part of their midterm for 5 points. The increase in vocabulary, sentence structure, and adjective usage is really significant. This proves to me that reading, and writing about reading is one of the most important things you can do to help language acquisition. 


You can see the project description and rubric that I provided my learners for their projects. Please remember that this is my work and you may not take this and share it or sell it! I am giving it away for FREE! 

Click here to view!

I can’t wait to hear about your project-based midterms!