Impressionnisme: Partie 2 (Van Gogh, Gauguin et Cezanne)

As I promised in my previous entry, here’s a quick post with the materials and resources I used to introduce three post-impressionist painters (Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cezanne) to my students.

As shown on this agenda , my students completed the following learning stations for each artist:

  • Listening Comprehension: The students completed Edpuzzles for each artist.  At the Cezanne station they also listened to a song and fill in the blanks with the missing words. In addition, they completed a vocabulary matching activities using context clues.
  • Interpersonal Speaking: The students completed the same types of activities, using manipulatives I’m not able to share, that I included for the first group of artists.
  • Reading Comprehension: Rather than the true/false questions I created for the first group of artists, I created a crossword puzzle for each post-impressionist based on the encyclopedia article.  As you will see, the students must first answer the questions (which are written in the same order as they will appear in the article) before checking the puzzle clues for the correct location for each answer. (Let me know if this doesn’t make sense.  It’s a little confusing, but it would have been very time-consuming for the students if the questions weren’t in order.)

After the learning stations for each of these three post-impressionists, the students spent one day on a cooperative activity to review the seven artists we studied in this unit.  For this activity I prepared 8 baggies, each of which had a painting for each of the 7 artists.  The students worked together in groups of 3 to identify which painting in the baggy was by each artist and filled in the artists’ names on this form. They rotated the baggies until each group had completed each of the 8 activities.  Since I used postcards that I have collected over the years, I’m not able to share this activity, but it could easily be replicated using Google Images.

I’ve also included the IPA on the last slide, which I’ve slightly modified from the original version. For this assessments the students will read a children’s magazine article about Impressionism, write a letter to the Orsay describing a painting they “found” (I give them a random paining postcard) at a thrift store and then present their painting to an administrator at the museum.  I definitely think this IPA could use some modifications to make the tasks more authentic, but given the demands of my current school year I made do with what I had–There’s always next year!


L’Impressionnisme: Updated lessons for Intermediate Low Learners

As I mentioned in this previous post, one of my French 3 students’ favorite units each year is my unit on French Impressionism.  Although I’ve taught this topic for over 20 years, I modify my lessons each year based on my current understanding of best practices and access to technology.  Click here for an agenda to the first half of the unit, which is described below.

Lesson 1: Because this lesson was our first day back from our winter break, we spent about half of our 48-minute period discussing how we spent our vacation.  This left us just enough time for the short introductory presentation and guided notes.  While the input I provide during this presentation is more detailed than the simple statements in the guided notes, completing these notes helps focus the students’ attention and gives them some background knowledge and vocabulary for the next activity.

Lesson 2: During this lesson the students prepare a short presentation in which they explain which of two paintings is an example of Impressionism.  

Lesson 3: First the students will present their presentations to their classmates.  Because most of my students are very uncomfortable speaking to the class as a whole, they will present to only one other pair at a time.  To facilitate this, the students’ desks will be arranged in groups of 4, which each student sitting next to his/her partner.  Two students in each group will be facing the whiteboard, and the other two will be facing the bulletin board. During the first round, the whiteboard-facing pair will present to the students sitting across from them.  After 2 minutes, each whiteboard-facing pair will move to the next pair of bulletin-board facing students and will repeat their presentation. This will continue until the whiteboard facing pairs have presented to each bulletin board-facing pair.  Then, the bulletin-board facing pairs will perform their presentation for each of the whiteboard-facing pairs.  By performing presentations in this way, the students have a chance to improve their performance on each succeeding presentation, as well as to learn from their peers’ presentations.  By positioning myself next to one of the non-moving pairs during each rotation, I am able to assess all of the students by the end of the hour.  Note: I will have the students complete this peer feedback form for each presentation they hear. Following the presentations, I will present a 10 paintings on a Google Presentation and the students will mark I (Impressionniste) or P (Pas Impressionniste) on a sheet of loose-leaf as an assessment on this lesson.  Finally, in order to prepare for tomorrow’s lesson, the students will complete a few guided notes about Manet.  

Lessons 4-5: This lesson is a series of learning stations about Edouard Manet.  At the listening station, the students will complete three Edpuzzles, at the reading/writing station they will read an article and complete a comprehension guide and at the speaking station they will describe paintings to each other in order to complete a task.  In Activities 1 and 2, the students have the same 12 paintings, and they take turns describing them in order to determine the number/letter of the match on their partner’s paper.  In Activity 3, the students discuss each of 12 paintings in order to determine whether each one is the same or different than the corresponding painting on their partner’s paper.  In Activity 4, the students will describe their version of the painting in order to identify 5 differences (objects that I’ve whited out).  [Will be uploaded on 1/9] Because I will allow the students about 25 minutes at each station, these stations will continue on the second day.  The rest of the second day will consist of a short assessment on Schoology (biographical facts, choose the Manet paintings, etc.) and guided notes on our next artist, Degas.

Lessons 6-7: As with Manet, the students will spend 1.5 class periods on learning stations, with the rest of the second day being reserved for an assessment and guided notes for Monet. Because I use manipulatives that I prepared several years ago using postcards, stickers, etc., I am not able to share digital copies of the speaking materials.  However, I’m hoping that with the examples I created for Manet, interested teachers can quickly create their own such materials.  If anyone is willing to do so, I’d happily link them to this post and attribute them to you.

Lessons 8-9: Learning stations for Renoir.

In my next post, I’ll include my updated lessons for the post-impressionists.


Le Gaspillage Alimentaire: A Mini-Unit for Intermediate Low French Students


One of the first units that I shared on this blog was a series of lessons on food waste.  When I found myself with a couple of available weeks with my French 3 students right before Thanksgiving this year, this topic seemed like a great fit.  Not only would we all be enjoying copious dinners, but the subject of food waste seems has begun to be addressed on American media.  Click here for the unit agenda, to which all materials have been linked.  Here’s a short explanation of each lesson.

#1: As an introduction to the topic, we watched and discussed a video about food waste as a class. The students were then given one of two infographics about food waste and a graphic organizer. The students read their infographic and filled in as much information as possible in the graphic organizer.  They then discussed their information with their partner (who had read the opposite graphic organizer) and wrote the additional information they gleaned from the conversation in the graphic organizer.

#2: As a hook to the second lesson we discussed a document with suggestions for avoiding food waste.  The students then interviewed a partner about his/her own habits.  Following this interview, the students wrote a message to their partners with suggestions for reducing the amount of food that they waste. Finally they completed an Edpuzzle for a video about food waste.

#3: I began this lesson by showing an anti-food waste announcement that we discussed as a class.  The students then completed an Edpuzzle for a video in which a character gives recipes using leftovers.  After completing the Edpuzzle, the students rewatched the video and wrote out the directions for each recipe.

#4: During this 90-minute class period, the students completed 3 different stations related to recipe preparation.  At the listening station, they completed four different Edpuzzles for videos about food waste. At the reading station, they completed an activity in which they matched pictures from a recipe to the written description of the step shown in the picture. (Due to the nature of this activity, I am not able to share the materials here.) At the third station, the students chose one of the three videos from the previous day’s lesson, and practiced presenting it orally, using only the pictures they were given.  After about 20 minutes of practice, they recorded themselves giving the recipe.

#5: This lesson began with a pre-reading discussion of doggy bags, which was following by an interpretive activity based on an infographic about this topic.  During the remaining class time, students completed online interactive exercises to review verb conjugations, as their written work had demonstrated many errors on these structures.

#6: In order to prepare for the interpersonal task on the IPA, the students participated in a Speed-friending activity by interviewing several classmates about their food waste habits and giving suggestions based on their partner’s responses.

#7: On our next block day the students completed the IPA for this mini-unit.

I was pleasantly surprised at the engagement level of many of my formerly reluctant learners during this mini-unit on a topic with important environmental implications.

Noël for Novices

christmas-1084884_960_720It’s hard to believe that this is the third year that I am posting a Christmas unit! This year’s plan, based on my current French 2 students’ needs, includes many resources that I have used in the past with either French 1 or French 2 classes.  However, I’ve added some new resources (some of which were created by an awesome new colleague!), and linked each resource to the corresponding lesson on the agenda.

Here’s the agenda and a quick summary.

Day 1: I’ll introduce some vocabulary by discussing pictures and then play a commercial Loto game. I’ll pass out this vocabulary packet as a reference during the unit.

Day 2: This lesson, which focuses on Saint Nicolas, includes an introductory video, short reading, Edpuzzle and pair activity in which students describe pictures in order to determine whether each one is the same or different.

Day 3: This lesson, on the topic of Santa, includes a reading and pair matching activity.  I didn’t have a great copy of the reading so it’s kind of blurry.  If anyone has a better link, I’d be very grateful for it!  After the pair matching activity, I’ll orally describe a few of the pictures and have the students write either the number or letter (depending on which they have) for a formative assessment.

Day 4: This lesson on Christmas traditions throughout the world includes a video from a family living in France, an infographic about international traditions, and an info gap activity in which students fill in an agenda of Christmas activities.  As a follow up assignment, the students will write a message describing their week’s activities. (This lesson will take place on a day on which we have 90-minute classes.)

Day 5: This lesson, which focuses on traditional Quebecois holiday activities, includes an introductory video and info gap activity.  I hope to add an Edpuzzle to this lesson, too!

Day 6: In this lesson we will watch a video from a site about decorating Christmas trees as a class before the students complete a series of interpretive activities for the text from the same site. The students will then practice explaining the steps to decorating a tree using pictures they have drawn.  Although I’ve included a pair matching activity here, it seems unlikely that we’ll have time for it.

Day 7: The students will interpret an infographic about Christmas eating habits in France, discuss their own eating habits, and then compare them by creating a Venn diagram.

Day 8 & 9: The students will complete a series of learning stations designed to prepare them for the summative assessment on this unit.  Each station is designed to be completed in about 30 minutes.  Because Day 8 is a 90-minute class, the students will have one station remaining for Day 9.

  • Listening Station: Christmas Edpuzzles
  • Reading station:  Story about Santa
  • Speaking station: Students will be given the role of either a French or Canadian student and will discuss their holiday pictures.  
  • Writing Station: Students will write a draft of their summative assessment.

Day 10: The students will complete the interpersonal speaking and presentational writing portions of their summative assessment. (Described on this IPA.) The interpretive portion of this assessment, their midterm, is still a work in progress as we are creating a multiple choice version to accommodate our school’s requirements.

Joyeux Noël!

Mon Look: A Mini-unit and IPA for Novice High French Students.

clothes-311745_960_720In order to implement the curriculum in my new school, I developed a short unit on clothing for my French 2 students.  Because time did not allow me to address this topic as globally as I would have liked, (See this post by Rebecca Blouwolff for some great ideas!) I thought I’d share the lessons I created, as well as the IPA I will use to assess the students.

Day 1: As my agenda shows, I used a cartoon, Trotro s’habille, to introduce some common clothing words. I first had the students watch the video and complete an Edpuzzle on their own. Following this individual interpretive activity, I played the video to the class with frequent pauses for questioning.  My questions addressed both comprehension of the video, as well as personalized questions about the students. After watching the video as a class, the students worked with a partner to put screenshots from the video in order and then match the appropriate caption to each picture. (I print the files on cardstock and then cut apart the squares, making enough copies for each pair.) Although I originally planned to have the students doing a story retelling as a formative assessment, time didn’t permit me to do so.  Instead, I made eight statements about the video and the students indicated whether each one was vrai or faux on a sheet of looseleaf.

Day 2: On the second day, I choose an infographic, “Etes-vous un hipster?” as a hook for the lesson. The students then used H & M’s website to fill in the name of various articles of clothing on a handout that would become their vocabulary sheet for this mini-unit.  They then completed a pair matching activity.  I formatively assessed this lesson by orally describing several of the pictures from the pair activity and having the students write either the number or letter from their pair worksheet.

Day 3: The students began by reviewing clothing vocabulary with a series of web-based activities and then completed an interpretive reading activity based on an infographic about Barney from How I met your mother.  Lastly, they completed an Edpuzzle for Petit Ours veut s’habiller tout seul.

Day 4: In this lesson the students completed the same activities for Petit Ours veut s’habiller tout seul as they had done for Trotro s’habille.

Day 5: Students completed a series of learning stations that allowed them to communicate about clothing in each mode.

Day 6: As a hook to this lesson I played a Cyprien video.  I then modeled some new phrases by giving my opinion of the articles of clothing on a Google Slides presentation.  I then gave the students a handout with these expressions and had them practice giving their opinions of additional slides in small groups. To further reinforce this vocabulary, we did an inside/outside circle activity with magazine pictures of various outfits.

Day 7: In this lesson each student was assigned to one of the slides on the Google Presentation of pictures of outfits.  The students wrote a paragraph describing the articles of clothing and giving their opinions of each one.  They then exchanged papers with a partner and read their partner’s paper and chose which slide s/he had described.

Days 8 and 9: IPA

Although I think this mini-unit would be improved by including a stronger cultural component, these activities did allow the students to increase their ability to communicate using high-frequency clothing vocabulary.

Give Me Five

handAs I was reading this month’s Okapi magazine I came across an ad for a free new app from Bayard press called Give Me Five by Phosphore. This app sends five short news stories to your device every day at 5:05 p.m. (French time).  While I hope to eventually have the students read the articles outside of class, I’ve begun implementing this resource by choosing an article and projecting it for the class. (Note: there’s a website with that provides the same articles.) After simply discussing a couple of the articles this week, I created this document which I will copy and give out at the beginning of each week (I see each class 4x a week). I’ll then project the article I’ve chosen for the day and give the students a few minutes to complete the comprehension guide, after which we’ll discuss their responses as a class.  Although the articles are difficult, I think that with the appropriate resources (, my students in Level 3 and above will be able to get some meaning from the articles. While I might not have time to implement this activity every day, I think that this resource will be a great way to introduce my students to current events and high-interest cultural topics.

Using Rubrics to Assess Interpretive Reading

rubricLast night’s #langchat was hopping!  One of the most lively discussions had to do with the topic of using rubrics to assess students’ communication in the interpretive mode.  So, at the request of @MmeBlouwolff, I’m sharing a few thoughts about how I use rubrics to assess reading in my classes.

Like many of my colleagues, I did not understand how I could use a rubric to assess reading comprehension when I first began using IPA’s.  It was not until I saw the ACTFL Interpretive template, that I realized I didn’t have to assess comprehension with discrete point measures.  After adopting the question types suggested by this guide, the switch to a more holistic grading system made perfect sense. A student’s comprehension is not adequately assessed by the number of questions they answered correctly, any more than their presentational writing can be evaluated by counting spelling errors. Furthermore, our current understanding of the interpretive mode of communication does not limit us to evaluating our students’ literal comprehension of a text.  Instead, we are encouraged to assess inferential strategies such as guessing meaning from context, making inferences, identifying the author’s perspective and making cultural connections.  Using a rubric to measure student growth on these skills allows me to show my students what they can do, as well as how they can improve their interpretive strategies.

Here’s a look at a sample of student work and how I used a rubric to assess both the student’s literal and interpretive comprehension. Please note that although I relied heavily on ACTFL’s Interpretive IPA Rubric, I changed the format to make it more similar to the Ohio proficiency rubrics that I use for the interpersonal and presentational modes.  In addition, I modified some of the wording to reflect my own practices and added a numerical score to each column.

As the completed rubric shows, I ask my students to assess themselves by circling the box which best reflects their own understanding of their performance on each section.  In addition to providing an opportunity for self-assessment, this step ensures that the students have a clear understanding of the expectations for the assessment and encourages goal-setting for future performances. This process also provides me with important information about the students’ metacognition. In this case, the student seemed to feel very confident about his/her responses to the Guessing Meaning from Context section, in spite of the fact that he only guessed one word correctly.

After collecting the assessments and student-marked rubrics, it’s my turn to assess the students.  The use of a rubric streamlines this process considerably, as I can quickly ascertain where each student’s performance falls without the laborious task of tallying each error.  I simply check the appropriate box on the rubric, and then project a key when I return the papers so that each student receives specific feedback on the correct responses for each item.  

When it comes to determining a score on the assessment, as a general rule I assign the score for which the student has met all, or nearly all of the descriptors. I do consider, however, how the class does as a whole when assigning numerical grades.  I am frequently unrealistic in my expectations for the Guessing Meaning from Context, for example, and as a result I do not weigh this category very heavily when assigning a final score.  In the case of this student’s work, I assigned a grade of 9.5/10 as s/he met many of the descriptors for Accomplished and demonstrated greater comprehension than the majority of his/her classmates.

While the use of rubrics for interpretive communication might not work for everyone, I have found that holistic grading provides better opportunities for self-assessment, encourages students by providing feedback on what they can do and saves me time on grading.  

As always, I look forward to your feedback, questions and suggestions!

Image credit:

Not just “man’s” best friend

puppiesAs many of you know, I relocated during the summer and am teaching in a new district after 15 years at my previous position.  While I would like to say that my transition has been seamless, that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.  I am discovering that it takes a long time to build the types of relationships that I took for granted in my previous role.  While I know that with time I will develop the type of rapport with these students that I’ve enjoyed in the past, I wanted to speed up the process by spending time on a theme that might be more engaging to them.  As I was thumbing through that month’s Okapi magazine looking for inspiration, I saw a series of articles that suggested a topic that I thought just might work.  After all, what’s more fun to talk, read, listen and write about than…………..puppies and kittens?!?!?

So here it is, my first unit entirely devoted to kids and their pets.  

As the agenda demonstrates, I started by showing an infographic about the popularity of various pets in France. We discussed it as a class, compared which pets were most popular in our class and why different pets were more or less popular in France. The students then completed a graphic organizer with the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pet in their small groups. (I explained that they needed to discuss their ideas so that everybody in the group had the same answers.) The lesson ended with an Edpuzzle based on a video in which an expert discusses the differences between cats and dogs.  

I began the second day by projecting some Tweets in which people discussed their pets.  We learned a lot about cultural perspectives regarding pets from these authentic texts and many of my students could identify with the sentiments expressed in the messages. Next I showed a video which introduced the vocabulary for items that new dog owners need. This provided the students with the vocabulary they needed for the following activity in which the students “bought” items for their hypothetical puppy at French pet stores.  The students were really engaged by choosing these items and enjoyed showing them off to their partners in the follow up activity. In order not to leave out the cat lovers, the lesson ended with a video/Edpuzzle about welcoming a new cat.

The third day began with a commercial featuring cute puppies which we discussed à la Movie Talk.  Then the students read an article about dogs from an Astrapi magazine. After completing a comprehension guide, the students reviewed direct and indirect object pronouns with an activity based on the same article. This resource packet provided the students with a quick review.

The hook for the fourth lesson was a public service announcement that we discussed. As the lesson’s interpersonal activity, I had them look at an infographic for three minutes, and then discuss what they remembered with a partner.  The students then read another infographic and completed a comprehension guide.

The fourth day’s hook was a quiz about dogs that I had the students take on their devices.  We then discussed the questions and answers as a class and I gave a prize to the student with the highest score. The students then reviewed object pronouns with an additional Astrapi article before a “speed-friending” activity in which they interviewed classmates in order to select the best petsitter. (I encouraged the students to give outlandish answers if they didn’t think they’d enjoy petsitting). The students then wrote a message to the petsitter of their choice.

The fifth day started with a video in which a young man describes his relationship with his pet.  There are a couple of “gros mots” in the video but since my students presumably don’t know these words, I felt comfortable showing it.  The students were able to understand some of the video and we had a good discussion about pets being part of our family. Next the students watched a video (with an Edpuzzle) to prepare them for a role-play in which they would take turns playing the role of either a teen who wanted a pet or a parent who didn’t want one.  Before turning the kids loose to have their conversations, I had them suggest reasons that a parent might give and I wrote these in French on the board.  Students in each class shared with me that they had had this exact conversation with their parents, so they were experts on what parents would say! I then gave the students 3 minutes to have an unscripted conversation with their partner, and then another 3 minutes with the same partner, but with the opposite role.  We then changed partners, and repeated the conversation (once for each role).  After a third pairing, I assigned a fourth partner and had the students record their conversation on their devices so that I could provide feedback and a formative assessment score.

On the 6th day (Monday) we’ll watch and discuss a cat video.  Then I’ll have the students watch a cartoon individually and answer questions using object pronouns. The final activity for the day is an article about a boy and his cat from the Okapi magazine that sparked the idea for this unit.  I’ll probably allow the students to work in pairs on these activities to build in some interaction since there is no actual interpersonal activity in this lesson.

On Tuesday we’ll begin with a short video about adopting a cat and then the students will look at ads for adoptable cats and discuss whether they are interested in each one and why.  I’ll write some phrases on the board as they come up to support their discussions. I’ll call on a few students to respond in order to provide some accountability for the activity.  If time permits I might have the students write a short message explaining which can they would choose and why. Lastly, they’ll complete an Edpuzzle for a video about adopting a cat.

Our next lesson (which won’t be for a few days because of conferences and testing), will begin by discussing a video in which a young man discusses his dog. Next the students will discuss ads for adoptable dogs, just as they had done for the cats.  I might extend this activity to have them try to convince their “sibling” that their choice is the best one for their family.  Lastly, the students will watch a cartoon and complete an Edpuzzle.

The following day will be spent preparing for the IPA .  I’ll have the students suggest some questions that a shelter employee might ask someone who wanted to adopt a dog or cat, as well as write a draft for the presentational writing.  

The final day or two of this unit will be spent on the IPA . Although it’s a short unit (so that I will be left with enough time to cover the curriculum), I think it’s a worthwhile one.  I have noted a much higher level of engagement during this unit than I had during the first few weeks of school, and I’m optimistic that  the students’ enthusiasm will continue to grow as we all get to know each other better!

Musique Mercredi à la Madame

songUnlike many of you, I have done very little to incorporate music into my curriculum in past years.  Although I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’m just not a very musical person myself.  I was familiar with only a few current French artists and seldom listen to music for personal enjoyment (Yes, I know this how weird this sounds!). As a Type A over-planner, I also felt uncomfortable spending class time on a song that didn’t relate to the thematic lesson objectives I had established. Of course, I did realize that music could be a great way to engage my students, especially after participating in #maniemusicale last year (Thanks @MmeFarab!) As a result, one of my goals for this year has been to work with one song a week this year.  Because I have one long block each week (a 90-minute, rather than 48-minute class period), working with a song seemed a great way to provide a brain break from the more communicative activities that we spend most of our time on.  Our 15-minute song activity, along with a 15 minutes of “Lecture Libre,” helps to keep these students engaged and motivated during these longer days.  

Although I’m hoping to come up with some more creative ideas in the future, this is the process I’ve used so far:

  1. I pass out a word cloud with the words that the students will later fill in during the cloze activity, along with other words that will not be used.  With my lower levels, I explain any words that they don’t know.
  2. I play the song once, and the students highlight or circle any words in the word cloud that they heard.
  3. The students then check with their work with their table groups.
  4. I then pass out the cloze activity, and play the song again during which time the students fill in the missing words, using the word cloud as a word bank. (Although the majority of the missing words are in the word clouds, a few are missing due to a computer glitch or user error.)
  5. I give the students a few minutes to try and fill in those blanks they didn’t fill with words that make sense.
  6. I play the song a third time, stopping after each verse to check comprehension.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how well even my French 2 students have done on these tasks, as well as how the students have been able to use the vocabulary they have learned from these songs on tasks related to our current unit of study.  Even better, many of my students have mentioned playing the songs for their friends and families and looking up other songs by the same artists.  

Here are the songs I’ve used so far and links to the materials I created for each one.

  1. Sur Ma Route by Black M. I was more ambitious on my first song, creating one word cloud for my French 2 and French 3 students (first page) , and a different one for my French 4/5 classes (second page).  Likewise, there are separate documents for the French 2/3 cloze activity and the one I used in French ⅘ (which also has a short comprehension section).
  2. Marcher au Soleil by Tal. I skipped the word cloud with this one, but did create separate cloze activities for French 2 and 3 and French 4/5.
  3. Tu vas me manquer by Maitre Gims. Click here for the word cloud and here for the cloze.
  4. On dirait by Amir. Click here for the document which contains both the cloze activity and the word cloud.

Note: In order to save time, I use lyrics that I find online to create these activities.  As a result there are often errors that I don’t catch right away and don’t always get corrected on the original document. Please proofread and edit before using!

Providing Direction: A Path to Proficiency Action Plan

path2As I shared in a recent post, one of my goals for this year is to use proficiency-based rubrics to assess my students’ performance.  I feel that this type of rubric will provide my students with more targeted feedback on where they are on their path to proficiency and what they need to do to make progress on this path.  As I assessed by first stack of papers using these rubrics, I realized that I needed to be able to provide my students with very specific instructions on exactly how they could demonstrate increasing levels of proficiency on their writing. However, first I needed to deepen my own understanding of the terms used in the proficiency descriptors. Although I am embarrassed to admit it, I didn’t know the exact definition of a “connected sentence,” “complex sentence,” and “cohesive device.” Fortunately, ACTFL’s glossary provided most of the information I needed and Google did the rest.  As I continued to study the descriptors used for each proficiency level, I realized that I also needed to reflect on grammatical structures in a more intentional way for the following reasons:

  1. The proficiency descriptors, as well as the rubrics I’ve chosen, repeatedly use the term “practiced structures.”  As a result, I needed to decide exactly which structures I would “practice” (by providing lots of input, pop-up grammar lessons, and communicative contexts) at each level.
  2. Although the descriptors do not mention specific grammatical structures, certain structures are inherent in the process of progressing through the levels.  The difference between “making a reference” to the past and “narrating” in the past seems to require the ability to use the imparfait, passé composé and plus-que-parfait as well as past infinitives for additional cohesiveness. Therefore, I need to expose my students to these structures in a meaningful way.
  3. I needed to provide my students with language they needed to work on these structures independently.  As much as I have eschewed grammatical terminology for the past couple of years, my students need to have a basic vocabulary of grammatical terms if they are to individualize their learning as it relates to proficiency.  

As a result of this research and reflection, I designed this Path to Proficiency Action Plan document for my students.  As the directions indicate, I will give this document to my students throughout the year to help them set goals for their own progress toward proficiency.  Based on the feedback I give the students when assessing their writing, they will create an action plan for progressing to the next level.  Depending on their own individual performance, they may focus on increasing the detail of their responses, creating more sophisticated sentence types, increasing their organization or become more accurate on the use of various structures.  In addition, I have provided links to exercises on lepointdufle for each grammatical structure.  While I do not typically use this type of discrete grammar practice in my teaching, I think that it is possible that these exercises might benefit some students.  As time permits, I would like to provide my students with a more specific list of activities, as I think some of these exercises are more helpful than others.   It is my hope that the goal-setting my students will do via this document will help them increase their proficiency in writing, as well as take more ownership of their own learning.  In future posts, I hope to share similar action plans for other language skills.

As always, your feedback is appreciated!