On Letting Go of Labels

One of the highlights of my time at ACTFL 2019 was a short conversation I had with Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell in the ACTFL Playground Saturday morning. She and her co-presenter, Laura Sexton, had presented a session, PBLL + TCI: Love Connection or Divorce Court that really resonated with me.  In this presentation, Sara-Elizabeth had adopted the persona of TCI (Teaching with Comprehensible Input) and Laura had played the role of PBLL (Project-Based Language Learning) in a skit based on a game show. This format created a context for a detailed conversation about the differences between TCI and PBLL. It was the first time I had heard two experts in our field openly discussing the disparities inherent in these methodologies and I couldn’t wait to find out how the characters in their dramatic presentation would resolve their conflict.  Of course, by the end of the session PBLL and TCI realized (as Laura and Sara-Elizabeth had years earlier) that the two strategies could be used together to build proficiency.

I was so thrilled to see these two amazing women demonstrate a way to bridge the divide that many have perceived in the world language community. It is an unfortunate reality that the labels we use to describe our teaching methodology can sometimes create a wall between “us” and “them.” In fact, I have witnessed some very difficult conversations between those teachers who identify as “CI,” and those who have chosen the “proficiency-based,” label. However, I couldn’t agree more with Sara-Elizabeth who later tweeted that the dichotomy between being a CI teacher OR a proficiency teacher is “NOT A THING.” It was such a relief to have someone as knowledgeable as Sara-Elizabeth so succinctly summarize my own beliefs. Although I sometimes use the term “proficiency-based” to refer to my own constantly-evolving teaching style, this is not meant to deny the importance of comprehensible input for language acquisition.  In fact, I fully agree with Sara-Elizabeth’s explanation (via Twitter) that “proficiency can’t be built without CI and the result of CI is proficiency.”

While most 21st century language teachers understand the role of comprehensible input in building proficiency, there is less agreement on how best to provide this input. Current methodologies differ in both the specific strategies and the types of resources that are suggested. Based on our training, experience and community, many of us have aligned our practice with one of these methodologies and may even identify ourselves as “I am [methodology].” It is so validating to be a part of a specific community and I understand the desire to identify as a member of a specific group. However, I think that doing so sometimes negates the fact that we are more alike than we are different. I love Sara-Elizabeth’s suggestion that we instead describe our practice by saying, “I use [strategies].” In my opinion, doing so encourages us to go beyond the limits of our labels and incorporate strategies based on our knowledge of our students, our unique personalities and experiences, and the requirements of our teaching environments.  Furthermore, by letting go of our labels we might facilitate more inclusive conversations with teachers whose language teaching journeys have led them in slightly different directions than our own. 
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/discounts-discount-label-promotion-2894129/

#ACTFL19

As I sit here at the airport waiting to return to my life as a part-time grandma, part-time professional development provider, I am so excited about all the people I met and all the new ideas that were presented at this conference. Thanks to all who presented as well as to those who reached out to me and made me feel so special! For those who weren’t able to attend this year’s conference, click here for a link to my presentation, “Using ACTFL Core Practices to Facilitate Vocabulary Acquisition.”

World Language Teacher Summit

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been selected to present at this year’s World Language Teacher Summit! When I “attended” (it’s an online conference so I never had to leave the couch) last year, I never imagined I’d be submitting a video of my own this year. If you’re interested in seeing my video, “Engaging Students in the Interpretive Mode” or any of the videos submitted by these fantastic language teachers, click here for your free registration. (Note: This is an affiliate link and if you purchase anything I might receive a commission.)


Bonne Rentrée: 2019

Today I just wanted to share a quick beginning of the year post.  The chronological nature of a blog can make it difficult for new readers to find helpful posts. So, as I did last year, I’ve created this list of links to past posts that included complete unit plans.  Keep in mind that these units were not all created or taught in one year. I switch things up based on the curriculum of my current school and the interests of my students. In addition, each post reflects where I was on my journey toward proficiency at the time I wrote it.  I have continued to evolve, and you will no doubt improve upon the plans that you find here!

Bonne rentrée à tous!

French 1 Units

Bienvenue à la classe de Français: http://madameshepard.com/?p=752

Bienvenue: Partie II: http://madameshepard.com/?p=789

Ce que j’aime: http://madameshepard.com/?p=855  

La Famille: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1110

Bon Appétit pt. 1: http://madameshepard.com/?p=282 (petit déjeuner)

Bon Appétit pt. 2: http://madameshepard.com/?p=321

Bon Appétit pt. 3: http://madameshepard.com/?p=345

Noël: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1282

French 2 Units

Les Loisirs: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1335

Ma Journée Typique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1340

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1387

Mon Look: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1278

C’est quoi, une maison idéale?: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1406

Les Tâches Ménagères: http://madameshepard.com/?p=502

Joyeux Noel: http://madameshepard.com/?p=267

Allons en Martinique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1424

Les Châteaux (pt. 1)http://madameshepard.com/?p=415

Les Châteaux (pt. 2) http://madameshepard.com/?p=445

Une journée à l’école: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1081

French 3 Units

Bon Appétit: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1193

Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=111

Les Vacances: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1345

Les Campeurs (Petit Nicolas) http://madameshepard.com/?p=200

Les Animaux de Compagnie: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1261

Les Impressionnistes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1389

Le Jour de la Terre: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1136

Le Gaspillage Alimentaire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1287

Joyeux Noël: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1418

Ma Bonne Resolution (La Santé) : http://madameshepard.com/?p=1428

La Préhistoire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=516

Je t’aime:  http://madameshepard.com/?p=1589

Je quitte la maison (Petit Nicolas): http://madameshepard.com/?p=1013

French 4/5 Units

Cultural Stereotypes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=80

La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1376

Communication et Media: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1397

Le Droit a l’Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1450

Les Droits des Femmes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1469

La Laïcité: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1128

Le Petit Prince: http://madameshepard.com/?p=219

L’Immigration:http://madameshepard.com/?p=880 Click here for the agenda of a more recent version of this unit.

Mixed Levels

First week of school: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1246

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=897

CSCTFL 2019

It was such a joy to meet so many virtual colleagues at this year’s Central States Conference. I was grateful for the chance to see old friends and make new ones and I was so inspired by the presentations I attended. It was an honor to see so many attendees at my own session on Saturday morning. (For the record, I didn’t think to take a picture until my presentation was over–those that are leaving did not walk out in a huff!)

For those that are interested, here’s a link to my presentation, “Incorporating Authentic Resources Across the Modes.”

Love is in the Air: A Unit for Intermediate French Students.

Between a bout with the flu and the arrival of the polar vortex, I am finding time to get caught up on some blogging.  In this post, I’m sharing the final unit that I did with my French 3 students last spring. While I had previously shared some of these activities (see this post), much of it is new.  While I don’t consider this my best work (this was a crazy time for me as I was preparing for my “next chapter”), there are a lot of activities that you can pick and choose from based on your students’ needs.  I would also suggest that you review the texts carefully to make sure they are appropriate for your teaching context.

Here’s a quick summary of the unit, which is outlined in this agenda. You’ll find all resources linked to the corresponding lesson on that document.

Day 1: After presenting an infographic as a hook to the unit, I had the students annotate a second infographic and then discuss it in small groups.  Finally, they filled in a graphic organizer comparing perspectives about love in the US and France.

Day 2: We watched a video as a class and then the students discussed a couple of questions based on the video. They then read an article and completed a comprehension guide.  Finally we listened to a song and completed a series of activities. This was a block day, so this lesson would take two traditional class periods.

Day 3: After discussing an infographic about girls/boys ideas of first dates as a hook, I had them annotate and discuss a 2nd infographic about men’s vs. women’s expectations of a first date.  I used the remaining class time to finish song activities from the previous day. I did a lot of framing for this lesson in order to establish an inclusive environment for all students in my classroom.

Day 4: I once again presented an infographic as a lesson hook before assigning an Edpuzzle and related article.

Day 5: We discussed an infographic and then the students practiced a role play (while I circulated, providing feedback) and then completed a written formative assessment.

Day 6: After answering questions on a video I presented, the students read an article before completing a series of song activities.

Day 7-9: The students read an article about how hormones affect emotions related to love during these days.  I supplemented their reading with some Edpuzzles (unfortunately, I was only able to located 1 of these during my search today) and a game of Quizlet Live.  While I would not normally recommend spending doing so much reading, these lessons fell during a time that I was missing many students due to high-stakes testing.  

Day 10:  The students annotated an infographic and then I had pairs perform role plays in front of the class according to the directions given. Finally they watched a video and completed a comprehension guide.

Day 11: The students completed a series of song activities and then read an article and completed a comprehension guide.

Day 12-14: Students read the Petit Nicolas story, Louisette, during this time.  As they read, they worked together answering inference-based true/false questions which they supported with details from the text. I also provided a couple of grammar-based activities. After finishing the story, the students reviewed by completing a pair crossword activity before taking a series of assessments on the story.  I saved the interpretive listening assessment for the end, as the video is quite different from the written story and I did not want to create any confusion during the other assessments.

Day 15-18: The students watched the film, Molière, during this time, as described on the agenda.

Day 19: The students finished up the film activities and then reviewed the film by completing a pair crossword activity.

Day 20: The students completed an assessment in which they read a review of the film, wrote a review of their own and then completed an Edpuzzle about the movie’s trailer.

As you can see from the agenda, I did not give an overarching IPA on this unit, in favor of a series of performance assessments spread throughout the unit.

Incorporating Music: A Sample Lesson for Intermediate Learners

In order to prepare for an upcoming workshop, I’ve been creating some materials for using songs in the language classroom.  While I incorporated several songs during my last two years in the classroom (I blogged some of my lessons here), I wanted to add a few more ideas for my workshop participants.  Fortunately, some awesome language teachers out there have blogged lots of great suggestions for using songs and I relied heavily on ideas shared by others (see bibliography below).  

One activity that I hadn’t had time to prepare when I was in the classroom was a Picture Talk with a music video.  (Click here for a great explanation of Picture Talk.) In order to demonstrate this strategy, I chose the song, Je te le donne by Vitaa as the video illustrates a sweet story that I thought would be engaging to students.  To implement this strategy, I would use the screenshots in this Google Slides Presentation to narrate the narrative depicted in the video.  I have included a few questions on the slides, to help guide the Picture Talk.  As directed on slide #23, I would not show the actual video until we had discussed the first 22 slides, as a way of building anticipation. While I created this Picture Talk with Intermediate learners in mind, the questions could easily be modified for Novices.  

In addition to the Picture Talk presentation, I prepared this document with additional activities that could be used when using this song with Intermediate learners.  On the first day, I would lead a short discussion of the pre-reading questions and then play the song (without showing the video). Although not included on the document, I would create a cloze activity for the students to complete as they listened. After going over the cloze activity, I would have the students complete the interpretive activities (B & C). If time permits, I would then have the students complete one of the presentational writing activities, although this could also be assigned for homework.

On the second day, I would have the students do the pre-viewing collaborative storyboard activity in preparation for the Picture Talk. Following the Picture Talk, I would have the students complete the interpersonal and then presentational activities.

For other great ideas on using songs in the classroom, here’s the bibliography I compiled for my presentation:

Do’s and Don’ts for Using Vocabulary Lists

Recent conversations in my workshops and with my online PLN have me thinking a lot about the role of vocabulary lists in a communication-based classroom.  As I look back at my evolution in teaching for proficiency, my use of vocabulary lists has changed significantly. For years I introduced the vocabulary in the textbook by having my students repeat the words on the list and then complete textbook activities, most of which were not communicative in nature.  I then assessed my students’ memorization of this vocabulary in isolation through objective-style questions.

As I transitioned away from teaching from a textbook, the role of the vocabulary list changed, too. It became my responsibility to compile a list and share it with my students. Therefore, it was up to me to determine which words and structures my students would need to complete the communicative tasks that I had created for each unit. As you’ll notice from reading my posts, I have created various types of resources to scaffold communicative tasks for my students during the past few years.  For my novice students, I often created an illustrated list of key vocabulary items, as well as a list of sentence starters. In other cases, especially with my French 4/5 students, I never quite got around to creating the list–and my students acquired the vocabulary they needed to complete the communicative tasks anyway! So, based on my own experience, here’s my list of Do’s and Don’ts. What would you add?

Do’s and Don’ts for Using Vocabulary Lists

  1. DO wait until you have designed the unit to create the list.  It is only after you have selected your authentic resources, customized your NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Dos, created your communicative activities, designed your summative assessments, etc. that you will know what vocabulary your students will need.
  2. DO wait until your students have received lots of comprehensible input in which the vocabulary is embedded (via authentic resources and/or teacher talk) before providing the list.
  3. DO include sentence starters in which the vocabulary is embedded on your list (rather than just isolated words) to scaffold communicative tasks.
  4. DO provide space for your students to add their own personalized items to the list.
  5. DO create opportunities for students to focus on vocabulary in a communicative context. This Interactive Word Wall is one idea!
  6. DO provide opportunities for your students to practice their circumlocution skills.  This pair crossword activity is one of my students’ favorites! (Click here for the sample puzzle.)
  7. DO provide lots of opportunities for your students to use context clues to figure out the meanings of new words.  I like to give the students lots of practice for part V of the ACTFL Interpretive Template by typing sentences from an authentic resource and underlining the word whose meaning I think they can guess.  I provide multiple choice answers to scaffold this task for my novices.
  8. DO avoid straight L1-L2 translation when creating activities/review games in Quizlet/Kahoot/Gimkit/etc.
  9. DO avoid assessing your students’ memorization of vocabulary in isolation.  Instead, assess your students’ overall interpretive, interpersonal and presentational skills.
  10. DON’T be afraid to eliminate the list altogether, especially for Intermediate Mid-High students.  Your students will most likely learn the words they need by communicating about a topic throughout the unit.

Please share your Dos and Don’ts in the comments below!

Bonne Rentrée

As I mentioned in my last post, this August marks the first one in 29 years that I have not welcomed 100+ students into my classroom.  As you can imagine, I am “feeling all the feels” as I read the excited/overwhelmed/anxious/enthusiastic/etc. posts of the members of my PLN who are beginning a new school year this month. Fortunately, I am getting my fix of shiny, beginning of the year school buildings as I travel around the country providing professional development to world language teachers.  

Since I don’t have any new units to share, I did want to provide a post that I thought could be helpful.  When I originally began this blog, I did so as a way of documenting my own journey to becoming a “teacher for proficiency.”  Due to the chronological nature of a blog (and my yearly attempts at improving my units), new readers have a lot of posts to read through in order to find the unit plans that might help them wrap their heads around preparing for a new school year.  In order to save valuable time spent scrolling through a myriad of posts, I’ve prepared a list of units that I’ve used over the years, organized according to level. Because I haven’t taught French 1 for 3 years, some of the resources might be quite outdated, but I’ve included them as a starting point for anyone that can use them.  In the case of themes that I have continually revised, I’ve tried to include the most recent version. I have never taught of the given units in a single year (due to changes in curriculum), but have tried to include most of my units here to help as many people as possible. 

Bonne Rentrée à Tous

 

French 1 Units

Bienvenue à la classe de Français: http://madameshepard.com/?p=752

Bienvenue: Partie II: http://madameshepard.com/?p=789

Ce que j’aime: http://madameshepard.com/?p=855  

La Famille: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1110

Bon Appétit pt. 1: http://madameshepard.com/?p=282 (petit déjeuner)

Bon Appétit pt. 2: http://madameshepard.com/?p=321

Bon Appétit pt. 3: http://madameshepard.com/?p=345

Noel: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1282

 

French 2 Units

Les Loisirs: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1335

Ma Journée Typique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1340

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1387

Mon Look: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1278

C’est quoi, une maison idéale?: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1406

Les Tâches Ménagères: http://madameshepard.com/?p=502

Joyeux Noel: http://madameshepard.com/?p=267

Allons en Martinique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1424

Les Châteaux (pt. 1)http://madameshepard.com/?p=415

Les Châteaux (pt. 2) http://madameshepard.com/?p=445

Une journée à l’ecole: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1081

 

French 3 Units

Bon Appétit: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1193

Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=111

Les Vacances: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1345

Les Campeurs (Petit Nicolas) http://madameshepard.com/?p=200

Les Animaux de Compagnie: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1261

Les Impressionnistes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1389

Le Jour de la Terre: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1136

Le Gaspillage Alimentaire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1287

Joyeux Noël: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1418

Ma Bonne Resolution (La Santé) : http://madameshepard.com/?p=1428

La Préhistoire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=516

Je t’aime: http://madameshepard.com/?p=289 (update coming soon)

Je quitte la maison (Petit Nicolas): http://madameshepard.com/?p=1013

 

French 4/5 Units

Cultural Stereotypes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=80

La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1376

Communication et Media: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1397

Le Droit a l’Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1450

Les Droits des Femmes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1469

La Laïcité: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1128

Le Petit Prince: http://madameshepard.com/?p=219

 

Mixed Levels

First week of school: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1246

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=897

A New Beginning

As some of you know, I have decided to transition out of the classroom at the end of the school year.  (The photo shows a lovely gift from a student in honor of my retirement.) This was a difficult decision to make and I will miss my students enormously.  There are many reasons why I’ve chosen this, my 29th year, to be my last. My grandsons, Oli (born April 25, 2017) and Remy (expected July 8, 2018) are two of the most important ones!  (Yes, both my son/daughter-in-law and my daughter/son-in-law have been kind enough to provide me with a baby boy to love on in the past year!)

Although I will no longer have a classroom of my own, my passion for the work of language teaching has not waned in the slightest.  I cannot imagine a life in which I am no longer creating lessons, collaborating with colleagues and providing professional development to other language teachers! Therefore, I’m happy to announce my next venture, Shepard World Language Consulting, LLC.  I have already been invited by several districts to provide professional development and revise curriculum over the next few months and am so excited about this new chapter in my professional life!

I still plan to maintain this blog and will add posts when I have ideas to share. In fact, I hope to add some lessons that I created this spring when I have some time off later in the summer.  I do want to let my readers know, though, that I will soon lose access to my Google Drive at school.  I have been busy making copies of my materials on my personal account, but it may be some time before I am able to recreate the agendas with hyperlinks to the new copies of each resource.  My suggestion to all of you is that if there is anything on the blog that you would like to use, please make a copy of the Google Docs as soon as possible.  (Word documents that I created before June, 2016 will not be affected.) Thank you for your patience as I work to update the last two years’ work over the next few months!

Bon Courage to those of you that are in the final stretch of this school year and Bonnes Vacances to those of you who are enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation.  Please keep in touch if you have any questions on anything that I’ve shared here, or if you’d like to schedule professional development or curriculum revision in your district.

Happy Summer!