Old-School Oral Quizzes in German Class

I'm a foreign-language teacher. That means that assessment must include oral testing.

I have experimented with oral testing a lot over the years, from the days when students would walk to my computer one by one to use a single mic, to the days when I built up a collection of two-pronged headsets to use in class--one for the mic, the other for the headphones--for oral quizzes and tests. (Longtime readers may remember that my tests are both written and oral.)

Last year, my school got me a set of Chromebooks, which led to one problem. Instead of two jacks for microphone and headphones, there was just one jack. Students who had their own two-way earphones found the transition easy. Students who used my dual-jack headsets had to plug in the audio cable and talk loudly into the tiny mic at the top of the Chromebook's screen.

This year I used some of my BEP money to purchase some retro-looking handsets from Amazon (full name: WinnerEco 3.5 MM Retro Radiation Proof Phone). I knew that my first unit of German 2 would be over phone conversations. I thought it would add some "cool" to oral quizzes.

It did.

I ordered every color of phone I could find. Out of the box, to be honest, they feel a little cheap. Everything is plastic, and the cord is much thinner than the old lines I remembered. There is a volume button on the side, and a button at the center of the handset which can be used to pick up or hang up a call when it is connected to a cell phone.

The kids with Chromebooks fought over them (I was only able to order six phones). Despite the lightness and general cheap feel, all the phones worked. (One boy couldn't get it to work with his Chromebook, but another boy used it just fine, indicating an interface error.)

The quiz went smoothly. I'm happy to have a fun new tool for future assessment.