The answer, obviously, is the stack on the right. While the little pieces provide detail and variety, the larger blocks will allow us to build quickly, and reach our goal within the designated time frame.
Before Ohio transitioned to proficiency-based standards, I was the Queen of Cover It. I was so proud of the fact that we could "get to" recognition of the passé composé at the end of Level 1, and I was excited about all my grammar PowerPoints to teach the formulas for si-clauses. I remember talking about students who were unsuccessful because they "couldn't conjugate verbs" or "form the passé composé correctly."
Being a 'teach what I'm supposed to teach' kind of girl, when the standards changed, so did I. I spent hours reading about IPA assessment, attended training, rewrote my curriculum, and have been reworking my instructional materials. I no longer teach grammar out of context, and instead rely on "chunking" or "lexis" (see Gianfranco Conti) to present lexical units containing the grammatical structures necessary for the communicative goal. The longer I teach this way, and the more I see how others teach to proficiency, the more I have developed instructional tools to help students learn language in meaningful units (phrases, sentences) rather than individual words or verb forms. The results have been amazing!
Grammar-accuracy/Cover It Dawn would have had few students be able to comfortably produce paragraphs by the end of Level 1 (try putting together all those little Legos!). Many could answer matching or fill in questions, but could not spontaneously produce much beyond rote phrases. Now - in September, some students in my semester-long French 1 were able to write paragraphs describing their preferred activities, complete sentences including adverbs! Nearly all could write in sentences (big Legos). This exceeds the state target for Level 1 - Novice Mid - and after only a month of class! Students had NO DIRECT GRAMMAR INSTRUCTION OR VERB CONJUGATION PRACTICE. None. And yet, many could communicate at sentence and paragraph level! Those who were still at word and phrase level are still on track for the standards, but I hope with continued scaffolding, their skills will develop as well.
I wasn't trying to collect data to justify my shift in practices - I do believe that it is my professional responsibility to teach to the standards set by the State of Ohio, and that alone was justification enough. But given what I'm seeing my students are able to do with language now, I would use my lexical Legos example to explain to any critic why proficiency-based chunking is the way to go!
Allons-y! Let's build!