C’est quoi, une maison idéale? A Unit for Novice High French Students

This summer, as I worked on updating my curriculum for the upcoming school year, I knew that my “House Unit” needed a serious overhaul. While I had created several fun speaking activities for house vocabulary over the years, the unit lacked a meaningful context and provided very little cultural content. Clearly, I had never considered an essential question that would provide meaning and context to these lessons.  Therefore, before creating any of the lessons for the revised unit, I determined that I would focus on the question, “What is an ideal home?” as I planned to the unit. I then created a series of lessons that I hope will create opportunities for my students to consider this question as we learn about homes in various parts of the Francophone world. I have described each of the lessons I created below and you can click here for the unit agenda with the links to all the resources I have made.

Day 1: On the first day of the unit (which will fall on a 90-minute block day) I will show slides of various houses in France and describe them orally in order to present new vocabulary for describing the exterior of houses via comprehensible input. Following this presentation, the students will read an infographic about houses around the world and complete a comprehension guide. After a short online vocabulary activity (designed to keep my early finishers busy until their classmates finish the reading), the students will complete a pair matching activity (described in this previous post.) Lastly, we will listen to the song, Quatre murs et un toit by Benabar and complete both a cloze and comprehension activity.

Day 2:I will begin by presenting an infographic about ideal temperatures to introduce the vocabulary associated with rooms of a house. The students will then complete another matching activity, designed to allow them to describes houses in terms of the rooms that they have. I will formatively assess the students by orally describing a few of these pictures to the students who will write the letter or number of the house I’m describing. Finally, the students will complete an Edpuzzle for a house-related cartoon.

Day 3: I will use an infographic about home accidents to review the vocabulary for rooms before reading an article about the best placement of the rooms in a home. After filling in a graphic organizer with information from this article, the students will choose which of three floor plans would best suit their own family and explain why, in writing.  Finally, the students will complete an Edpuzzle for another house-related cartoon.

Day 4: The students will begin by watching Trotro joue à cache-cache and completing an Edpuzzle. I will then use a Google Presentation to review the cartoon before having the students complete a manipulative activity in which they will work in pairs to match screenshots from the cartoon to corresponding sentences. The students will then complete a cloze activity as a formative assessment on their comprehension of the (past tense) verbs used in the summary sentences. Lastly, the students will complete an Edpuzzle of a different Trotro video.

Day 5:  I will first project an infographic about the ideal French kitchen and discuss it to make it comprehensible to the students.  The students will then make cultural inferences about French cooking habits based on the infographic and complete a true/false with justification comprehension guide.  Next, they will discuss their own families’ kitchens and eating habits. Lastly they will complete a graphic organizer comparing what they learned about American and French kitchens/eating habits. If there is time remaining in this 90-minute block, the students will complete a pair activity in which they describe a series of kitchen pictures and determine whether they have the same or a different picture for each number.  

Day 6: The students will complete an Edpuzzle for an Ikea kitchen commercial and then write a message in which they describe a French person’s opinion of their own kitchen.

Day 7:  We will watch and discuss a video about kitchen remodeling.  The students will then read a slide presentation and complete a comprehension guide. Next the students will give their opinions of several kitchens and then play Quizlet Live.

Day 8: I will introduce vocabulary for living room furniture by discussing a series of photos. The students will then give their opinion of additional living rooms in the same slide show.  Finally they will read an article about

decorating living rooms and complete a comprehension guide.

Day 9: After discussing a few living room pictures as a class, the students will complete a matching activity with living room pictures. The students will then complete an Edpuzzle for a decorating video before writing a description of their preferred living room photo.

Day 10: I will introduce new vocabulary by describing photos of French bathrooms. The students will then describe additional photos for a few minutes before completing an interpretive activity for two infographics about bathrooms. Next the students will complete a same/different activity to compare images of bathrooms.

Day 11: The students will share opinions of several bathrooms, complete an Edpuzzle for a bathroom video and then orally describe the bathroom in the video.

Day 12:  I will introduce bedroom vocabulary by describing a series of slides showing French teen bedrooms. The students will then discute additional slides in small groups before reading a slide presentation and guessing the meanings of new words based on context clues. Finally, they will complete an Edpuzzle for a cartoon video.

Day 13: The students will complete the following three learning stations: 1)A pair matching activity with bedroom pictures, 2)A note describing items in a bedroom picture, 3)An Edpuzzle for a video in which a teen describes her room.

Day 14: I will use a slide presentation to present some different types of houses from Francophone regions. The students will then complete a comprehension guide for a reading about these types of houses and then an Edpuzzle for a video about “une maison troglodyte.”

Days 15 and 16:  the students will prepare for their IPA by 1)completing a practice reading, 2)describing photos of a home and whether it would be well-suited to their family 3)2 Edpuzzles for videos in which people present their homes/rooms, 4) writing a description of their own homes for a home exchange site and 5)receiving oral feedback on their written descriptions. (No one will be at this station during the first rotation.)

Days 17 and 18: The students will complete the IPA for this unit.

I hope that organizing this unit around an essential question will increase my students’ focus on cultural comparisons as they relate to homes and lifestyles around the world.

Image Credit: By Gachepi (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Communication et Médias: A unit for Intermediate French Students

The next IB Theme that I will cover in my combined French 4/5 class is Communications et Médias. Although I haven’t specifically addressed this theme in the past, I had a lot of fun choosing subjects and creating activities on this theme for my students.  While the plan I’ve included in this post does not include all of the lessons (my fabulous colleague, Nicole, also contributed several great activities), it might help others get started on this theme, which encompasses aspects of both the Contemporary Life and Science and Technology AP themes.

Click here for the agenda to which the resources of each lesson have been linked and see a brief description below.

In order to hook the students’ attention, we started by having the students read an article about popular French youtubers and fill in a table with details from the article.  As a follow up activity, I asked the students to watch one video from one of the youtubeurs they read about and post a review on our Learning Management System, Schoology.  I also asked them to watch one of the videos shared by a classmate and add their own opinion.  It is my hope that introducing my students to these youtubeurs might encourage them to watch other videos in the future.

The next lesson will serve as a quick introduction to French television. As an advance organizer the students will discuss a series TV-related questions in small groups and will then read an article and listen to interviews about TV in France.

The next several lessons are organized around the topic of advertising.  The students will watch a video about advertising, discuss some print ads in small groups and then read an article about print ads before preparing a presentation about a print ad.

After the lessons on print advertising, the students will watch a video about TV ads and discuss a TV ad before reading an article about the possible end of TV commercials during children’s shows in France. After reading this article, they will perform a role play and then write a speech based on this article.

The next series of lessons will address the topic of Fake News.  The students will read and discuss an infographic about Fake News and then interpret an article and video on the subject. Following these interpretive activities, they will select a Fake News article of their own and express their disbelief at facts in the article.  These sentences will allow the students to both demonstrate their comprehension of the “facts” in the article and use the subjunctive mood in a contextualized way. Finally, they will write a Fake News article of their own. 

As always, all feedback on these lessons is appreciated!

 

Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/iphone-technology-iphone-6-plus-apple-17663/

Les Impressionnistes – A unit for Intermediate Low French students

As regular readers of this blog know, I teach a unit on French Impressionism each year in my French 3 class.  I have once again modified this unit to better meet the needs of my students.  Click here for the agenda for this year’s version, to which all resources are linked.

Day 1: The students will complete the same guided note-taking activity that I have used in past years in order to provide them with basic information about some aspects of impressionist paintings. The students will then sign up for a slide featuring two different paintings, and will prepare a short presentation explaining which of the paintings is Impressionist and justifying their choice.

Day 2: Students will present their paintings, gallery-style, to several classmates who will provide written feedback.  The students will then take an assessment in which they choose whether each painting on the Google Presentation is Impressionist.

Days 3 – 13: Students will complete guided notes and then a series of learning stations for each of seven different impressionist and post-impressionist painters.  (The guided notes are included in the same packet as the introductory notes and the corresponding slides are in the same presentation.This presentation also includes some unidentified paintings that can be used to practice identifying artists later in the unit). I have allowed 2 days for each artist and will give a short assessment on the 2nd day. Because I use Schoology (our LMS) for these assessments, I am not able to share them at this time.  These stations will include 1) a series of interpersonal activities designed to familiarize the students with the painter’s works, 2) a series of Edpuzzles and 3) a reading/writing activity.  Because the interpersonal activities are based on manipulatives that I’ve created over the years, I am not able to share them (except in the case of Manet which are digital.) However, a reader graciously shared the activities she created for Renoir and these can be found in the comments in last year’s post.  Since I found that last year’s reading/writing activities were a)too long and b)too difficult, I have created new ones for this year’s unit. I will give the students about 20 minutes at each station and allow them to complete unfinished Edpuzzles as homework.  Each pair will probably have time to complete only two of the speaking activities, but I have included several in order to have enough manipulatives for each group. Therefore, they will complete guided notes and 2 stations on the first day devoted to each artist, and the 3rd station and assessment on the second day.  Once a week my students have a 90-minute block so they will complete all 3 stations as well as the guided notes and assessment on these days.

Day 14: The students will review the painters by working together in groups to identify the painter of paintings on postcards in my collection. We will also review using the unidentified slides at the end of the Google Presentation.

Day 15: The students will take their IPA for the unit.

Day 16-18: The students will read a Petit Nicolas story, Le Musée de Peintures. Although I will distribute photocopied pages of the story from the book, I have included a link to a digital copy for those who don’t have access to the book, with its adorable pictures. Each day they will listen to a portion of the story being read (as they follow along on the text) and then complete a series of true/false with justification sentences. I have included just one slide for these lessons, as I’m not exactly sure how far we will get each day.

Day 19: The students will review the story by completing a pair crossword puzzle.  I have included a link to the puzzle, which I will print twice.  I will then fill in the horizontal answers on one copy and the vertical answers on the other, before photocopying the puzzles for students, without the clues.  The students will then circumlocute to help their partner fill in the answers which are missing from their papers.  My students love these pair crosswords! Remaining class time will be spent practicing the role plays for the next day’s interpersonal assessment.

Day 20: The students will write the journal entry of one of the story’s characters (but not Nicolas). While they are writing, I will call up pairs (who have not previously worked together) and assign them one of the role plays for an interpersonal speaking assessment.

Day 21: The students will complete an Edpuzzle for a cartoon of the Musee de Peintures story.  Unfortunately, the video I used when creating last year’s Edpuzzle is no longer available so I will have to make a new one.  I will add the link to the agenda when I have done so.

I am hoping that this year’s French 3 students will enjoy this unit as much as previous year’s groups have!

Image Credit: Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

A Halloween mini-unit for Novice High French students

Wow, I can’t believe it’s October already!  I have spent the first several weeks of my school year implementing the lessons I created over the summer (many of which I have shared in earlier posts) and in general I have been pleased with how these lessons have gone.  I am really enjoying my second year at my current school–my relationships with my returning students have grown closer and I’m so proud of their progress toward proficiency. In addition, my new French 2 students (I don’t teach level 1) are fabulous. Their enthusiasm for French class makes teaching them so much fun!

Because of their dedication to French, I’m especially excited about our upcoming mini-unit on Halloween.  Following the lead of a fellow French teacher blogger in this post, I will repeat many activities that I’ve used in previous years.  However, as this agenda shows, I have also added a few new resources.  Perhaps most importantly, I’ve created several Edpuzzles for my favorite Halloween videos and an IPA.  I think most of these activities will be self-explanatory, but if you have any questions, please let me know!

La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: A Unit for Intermediate Learners

Like many of you, I teach a mixed level class that includes students in both French 4 and French 5, some of which are taking the course for college credit and/or in preparation for the IB exam.  While the brand-new French 4 students are understandably intimidated by being in class with the French 5 students, I have found that I provide the best learning environment for these students by keeping them all together for our class activities.  In fact, there is such a wide range of proficiency at this level that it is not always apparent to outside observers which students are in each class. So, while I assess the two groups differently, the activities for the following unit have been developed for a range of Intermediate learners. Here’s a link to the agenda to which all the documents are linked.  Each lesson is briefly described below.

Lesson 1: I will begin this lesson by eliciting student responses on their definition of family, after which we will watch a video in which French people respond to this same question.  The students will then complete an interpersonal activity in which they ask each other for information which is given on the other’s infographic.  The students will then discuss their own families, giving the same types of information that was included in the infographics. Students will spend any remaining class time discussing differences that they noted between their own families and what they read about French families. For homework they will add photos of four different “family” members to Google Slides for a short presentation they will later give.

Lesson 2: The students will begin this lesson by discussing a series of quotes about families in their small groups, explaining their understanding of the quote, whether they agree with it, and providing an example from their own lives or a text to support their opinion. Next, we will review object and disjunctive pronouns by completing a couple of interactive activities together and then individually. After this review, they will watch a video by the vlogger, Norman, and answer questions using these pronouns.  Because this lesson will fall on a 90-minute block day in my class, we will also study a family-related song before I give them 10-15 minutes for free voluntary reading.

Lesson 3: In this lesson the students will again exchange information from a section of an infographic, this time on families in Quebec. (Each member of the dyad will have a different section of the same infographic and will have to find out information from the other’s section.)  The students will then write the introduction to an essay comparing French and Quebecois families. (They will not write the entire essay, due to time constraints.) If there is time remaining in the class period, they will then begin reading an article about polygamy in Senegal.  Rather than preparing a comprehension guide for this text, I have assigned Cornell notes.  Although this is a new strategy for me, I think this activity will help prepare the students to discuss this text the following day.

Lesson 4: After discussing the polygamy text by asking and answering the questions they wrote during the Cornell note-taking, the students will take a short quiz to assess their comprehension of the article.  They will then listen to an interview about a legal case regarding a polygamist in France. Finally, they will write a hypothetical judgment given by the judge in the case outlined in the video.  

Lesson 5:  After these lessons on family structures in three different Francophone countries, the students will present four members of their own “family” by sharing pictures and information about each person they have chosen.  While I seldom assign class presentations in order to avoid undue anxiety among my students, I will ask students to speak to the class as a whole this time so that we can all get to know each other better.  I believe the topic will be quite low stress as the students will not need to memorize new information or use complicated vocabulary.  The students will then provide this same information in writing via an email to a prospective exchange student. Because some of these students will be taking the IB test in the spring, this assignment has been designed to practice the e-mail text type.

Lesson 6: This lesson, created by my fabulous colleague, Nicole, begins with the students creating sentences to describe what was happening in screenshots from the animated short, Au fil de l’age.  In addition to providing contextualized review of the imperfect tense, this activity will build interest and allow the students to make predictions before watching the video. After eliciting student responses on this activity while reviewing the slides, I will play the video, stopping frequently to discuss the story. Following the video, the students will complete an assessment in which they matching sentence starters to the appropriate completion, a common task on IB interpretive assessments.

Lesson 7: In this lesson, the students will discuss quotes about grandparents before creating Cornell notes for an article about grandparents’ rights in France. They will then discuss the article by asking the questions they created while note-taking.

Lesson 8: I will introduce the subtopic of same-sex message by having the students discuss a comic. They will then exchange information from infographics in order to compare same-sex marriage in France and Canada.  

Finally, they’ll watch a 1jour1info video about same-sex marriage and complete a comprehension guide.

Lesson 9: After another short discussion of a cartoon the students will read an article about same-sex marriage and complete an IB-style comprehension guide. Next, they’ll watch a Cyprien video on the same theme.  While Cyprien’s videos are not always appropriate for classroom use, I did not personally find anything objectionable about this one.  In fact, I found that his self-deprecating humor on this topic might spark some interesting discussion.Finally, the students will synthesize what they learned in the article and video by writing a “To Do” list for the mayor who married the couple in the article.

Lesson 10: In this lesson, we’ll address the next subtopic–adoption. The students will read an article and then take notes using a technique that I learned from a professional development opportunity on critical thinking. I will assign each student a colored “hat” (just a card with a picture) to wear as they read an article about adoption.  Based on the hat they are assigned, they will take notes on 1)the facts presented in the article, 2) their personal reactions, 3) the negative aspects of the ideas in the article, 4) the positive aspects of the ideas in the article, or 5) creative solutions to the problems discussed in the article. (I won’t be assigning the blue hat this time.) The students will then discuss the article according to the perspective of their hat, filling in the corresponding sections of their graphic organizers.This will be my first time implementing this strategy and I’m really excited to see how it goes! Finally, the students will watch a video about adoption and complete a comprehension guide.

Lesson 11: I’ll introduce our final subtopic, blended families, by leading a discussion of three comics on this subject.  Next the students will read the blog entry of a comic character who describes a conflict between a friend and her stepparent. The students will complete a graphic organizer with the causes and effects of this conflict and then discuss their ideas with a partner.  Finally, they will write a response to the blogger’s friend with advice to improve her relationship with her stepmother.

Lesson 12: The students will begin this lesson by completing an online questionnaire about what type of stepmother they would be. Next they will complete an Edpuzzle for a video about conflict between teens and stepparents. Finally they will synthesize this information by performing a role-play between a parent and therapist who gives him/her advice about improving the relationship between his/her teenager and spouse.

Lesson 13: In this lesson the students will prepare for their IPA on this unit by practicing the role play which will be performed for the interpersonal task and a draft for the presentational writing task. (In order to ensure spontaneous speech, the students will not know their role or their partner in advance of the assessment, but I do provide the prompt so that they can start formulating some ideas.)

Lesson 14: The students will prepare and record a picture description task designed to replicate the speaking task on the IB exam.  While the students are preparing for this assessment, I will provide individual feedback on the previous day’s written draft.

Lesson 15-16: The students will complete the interpretive reading task of the IPA while I call up random pairs for the role plays. They will then complete the presentational writing task.

Note: Because of the length of this unit and the fact that I was following it with a film that would have its own IPA, I did not end up administering an IPA at the end of the unit.  (I did, however, formally assess several of the tasks that the students completed throughout the unit.  You may click here for the link to the IPA that my colleague and I had developed for this unit.

I am hoping that this unit will provide ample opportunities for the students to get to know each other, develop confidence in their communicative abilities, and practice some of the skills they will need to be successful on the IB test.

Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/fr/famille-l-homme-femme-gar%C3%A7on-312018/

L’éclipse solaire: Addressing one theme across all proficiency levels

When I found out recently that my school would be providing “eclipse glasses” so that we could watch the upcoming eclipse, I decided I better plan a lesson or two about this important event.  This is what I came up with for each of the classes that I teach. I anticipate that each of these lessons will take about two 48-minute class periods.

French 2: First these students will complete this edpuzzle for the video, C’est quoi une éclipse solaire? Then they will work with a partner to match screenshots from the video to the appropriate text. I will create this manipulative but cutting apart this document. After the students have made their matches, I’ll provide feedback with this presentation. Finally the students will complete this interpretive activity. Because some of these students will eventually be taking the IB exam, I have included an IB-like task in which they are required to determine the antecedent of some subject pronouns in the text.

French 3: First these students will complete this edpuzzle (Update 8/16/17: This video is no longer available.) for a Sid le Scientifique video about eclipses. Next they will complete the interpretive activity in this document. While I think that this article could be exploited in a variety of ways, in order to limit the time required I’ve included only a simple comprehension guide in which the students will provide supporting detail information. Because this article contained so many contextualized examples of the future tense, I included a series of short activities designed to introduce the students to this structure. To further reinforce this structure, the students will play this Guess Who game.  Finally, the students will complete a presentational writing assignment in which they tell a real or hypothetical French friend about what we will be doing at school for the eclipse. 

French 4/5: As described in this handout, the students will first listen to a video and fill in the required details.  The students will be paired up and each member of the dyad will have a different article about the eclipse. They will first fill in details from their article into a graphic organizer, and then discuss their information with a partner, adding this info to the appropriate column on the graphic organizer. Next, they will write a short article about eclipses using their shared information.  Finally, they will complete this IB-style interpretive task.

Image Credit: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/news20110106-annulareclipse.html

Il a déjà tes yeux: A Resource Guide for Use with Intermediate Students

Earlier this summer when it was my turn to pick the Friday night Netflix movie in the Shepard household, I chose a French film called, Il a déjà tes yeux. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, this 2016 film is about a black couple who adopts a white baby.  Although the film is a comedy (with some tear-jerking moments), I think it will lend itself to some great class discussions regarding family relationships, cultural identity, race and prejudice. In spite of some swearing and one scene showing marijuana use, I find it appropriate to use with my upper-level classes. (The only rating I could find was a PG-13 rating in Singapore.)  Since I don’t have access to Netflix at school, I ordered the DVD from Amazon.fr and will show it on my all region DVD player. There are, of course, no English subtitles but I will use the French closed captions (and lots of discussion) to make the film comprehensible to my students.  

In order to facilitate discussion and provide assessment opportunities related to this film, I created this film guide. Here’s a short description of how I’ll use this guide in class.

    1. Personnages These photos will help the students remember the names of the main characters in order to participate in the conversations that follow.
    2. Vocabulaire I created a short list of French-English vocabulary to introduce a few new terms to the students. I have included space for students to add additional vocabulary to the list during the viewing of the film. This list will serve as a resource to the students as they complete the communicative activities in the packet.
    3. Questions These are basic comprehension level questions about the plot of the film. I may have the students discuss the questions that pertain to the day’s viewing after we watch a portion of the film. I may also use these questions at the beginning of class to review the previous day’s viewing. These questions could also, of course, be answered in writing.
    4. Citations  I will have the students discuss these quotes in small groups following the day’s viewing. Note: Because I was typing on my computer while streaming the film on my Ipad (making frequent pausing problematic), some of these quotes will be approximate, rather than word-for-word.
    5. Evolution des personnages At the end of the film I will ask the students to consider (either orally or in writing) how each of the main characters evolved during the film.
    6. Les Photos These slides depicting scenes of the film will provide additional opportunities for discussion. I may also have students record their responses (or write them) as a formative assessment opportunity.
    7. Jeux de Rôles Each of these role plays requires students to imagine a hypothetical conversation between characters in the film. I will have the students practice these role plays after we have watched the film and will then have them perform one with a partner (chosen by me) for an interpersonal speaking assessment.
    8. Présentation Écrite I will allow the students to choose one of these prompts as a presentational writing assessment.

 

 

Note: I am also in the process of creating an interpretive reading and interpretive listening task to accompany this film. In order to avoid my savvier upper-level students from having access to these assessments, I will publish them at https://us.ifprofs.org/ressources-pedagogiques .  If you’re not familiar with this fabulous new resource, it’s a social media platform that allows French teachers to share materials with other members.  

Musings on Unit Planning: Designing the Interpersonal Tasks

As described in a recent post on unit design, I generally introduce an interpersonal task after the interpretive task in the lessons I create. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have attended multiple workshops on communicative speaking activities presented by brilliant educators from whom I’ve borrowed the following ideas.

Novice Activities

Because learners at this level are highly dependent on memorized language, I incorporate a lot of interpersonal activities that will help them commit vocabulary and structures to memory through lots of meaningful repetition. Although I don’t assign a vocabulary list to memorize or assess vocabulary out of context, I do provide students at this level with a resource guide to scaffold these tasks.  

  1. Matching As this example from a lesson on daily routines shows, this activity requires students to take turns describing pictures in order to determine which picture on their partner’s paper matches each of their own. ( I usually have the students prepare a grid on a separate sheet of paper to record the matches, so that I can reuse the picture papers.) This is what a sample conversation might look like:

Partner A: #1. C’est un garçon. Il fait ses devoirs.

Partner B: Il a beaucoup de livres?

Partner A: Non, il fait des maths.

Partner B: Il mange son crayon?

Partner A: Oui, il mange son crayon.

Partner B: C’est lettre A. (Both students will write A next to #1 on their papers)

The students tend to really enjoy this activity and usually remain on task as I circulate to provide oral feedback on their conversations. As a follow-up formative assessment, I sometimes select a few of the pictures to describe to the students, who write the number or letter of each picture that I describe.

  1. Guess Who In this activity one student selects an identity from the page without telling their partner whom they have chosen.  Their partner then asks yes/no questions in order to use the process of elimination to determine their partner’s identity.  The students then switch roles.   Here’s a sample conversation:

Partner A: Tu prends le petit déjeuner?

Partner B: Oui, je prends le petit déjeuner.

Partner A: Tu te lèves?

Partner B: Non, je ne me lève pas.

Partner A: Tu t’habilles?

Partner B: Non, je ne m’habille pas.

Partner A: Tu te réveilles?

Partner B: Oui, je me réveille.

(Conversation continues until partner A has used the process of elimination to determine their partner’s identity.) I suggest requiring the students to ask at last 8 questions before they guess an identity. As a follow-up formative assessment, I sometimes select an identity and ask several true/false questions. Use the same clipart as I included in the resource guide so that there is no confusion about what activity the pictures are depicting.

  1. Same/Different Although this activity looks similar to the Matching one, it is quite different.  The object of this one is to determine, starting with #1, whether your partner has the same or a different picture.  The students then write Même or Différent on their paper. It’s important to let the students know that their pictures will be quite similar and that they’ll need to ask several questions before making up their minds whether the pictures are the same or different. Here’s a sample conversation:

Partner A: Sur mon #1 il y a une lune et des chauve-souris.

Partner B: Moi aussi. Est-ce que la lune est derrière les chauve-sours?

Partner A: Oui, la lune est derrière les chauve-souris. Tu as combien de chauve-souris?

Partner B: J’ai 10 chauve-souris.

Partner A: J’ai 12 chauve-souris. Alors, c’est différent.

Suggestions:

Placing the handouts in page protectors allows the students to use dry erase markers to cross out pictures as they match them (Matching) or eliminate them (Guess Who).

I usually change activities as soon as the first pair finishes the Matching and Same/Different Activity–it is not necessary for everyone to finish.  The students can play the Guess Who game several times in a row, however.

  1. Pair Crossword Puzzles In this activity, each partner is given a crossword puzzle with either the vertical or the horizontal responses filled in. The students then circumlocute in order to help their partner complete his/her puzzle. Although I use this activity more often with intermediates, this one worked with my Novice Mids because of the relatively formulaic phrases that could be used to circumlocute.  Here is a sample conversation:

Partner A: #1, c’est le mois avant octobre.

Partner B: Ah, septembre. #2, c’est le numéro entre quatorze et seize.

Click here for directions on using puzzlemaker.com to create these activities.

  1. Scaffolded Discussion.In addition to the games described above, I have the students practice a lot of interviews to prepare them for their IPA. In this example (based on this text), I’ve scaffolded the task by providing both the questions and possible responses.
  2. Friendship Circle In this example, the students will check the statements that describe their leisure activities typical morning, ask their partners whether they do each activity they have checked, and then write a sentence in the appropriate section of the diagram. (I find that the students can write more neatly in this modified form of Venn diagram.) Note: The students should be reminded NOT to ask a question about the activities they haven’t checked, as there is no place in the diagram to note activities that neither partner has done. The recovering grammarian in me loves this activity as it gives the students an opportunity to use the 1st person singular, 2nd person singular (in the questions), 3rd person singular AND the 1st person plural form of the verbs!
  3. Speed-friending. For this activity I have the students arrange their desks in two long rows, facing each other.  They then have 3 minutes to ask the person in front of them the questions they have written down (as well as answer the questions they’re asked). When the timer goes off, everybody in one of the rows moves one seat to the right (the last student goes to the beginning of the line). They then ask their next partner the same questions and note their responses.  After 3 minutes, the same students move another seat to the right (the other row never moves).  I find that the repetition really helps the students start to internalize the questions (a difficult structure) in preparation for the IPA.  They are also often excited to do the follow-up presentational writing where they ask to stay with the student with whom they had the most in common.

 

Intermediate Activities

  1. Venn or Top Hat Diagrams With these learners, who are now able to create with the language, I often integrate interpretive and interpersonal tasks. In this example, one partner read an article about same-sex marriage in France and the other about the same topic in Canada.They then discussed what they had read in order to compare same-sex marriage in the two countries in a Top Hat diagram. Similarly, in this activity, each partner read an article about Chandeleur and filled in the first graphic organizer with relevant details.  The students then discussed their notes in order to compare the details given in each article and fill in the Top Hat diagram.  
  2. Role Plays As with the graphic organizers, I find that incorporating role plays is an effective way to integrate interpretive and interpersonal communication. Assigning roles allows students to synthesize what they learn from written and recorded sources while at the same time developing their interpersonal communication skills.  In this example, the students performed role plays based on hypothetical situations from a film we watched in class. These role plays based on a Petit Nicolas story, allowed the students to retell the story they read from a different point of view.  I also find that creating roles when assigning debates provides a more authentic context for the discussion.
  3. Interviews Several different contexts lend themselves to various interviews in my Intermediate classes.  In some cases, the students compare their actual opinions and experiences, using a graphic organizer. On other occasions, I integrate interpretive and interpersonal communication by having students ask their partner questions whose answers are found in a text that only the partner has.  As in this example, I write the prompts in English so that the students are required to negotiate meaning in order to get the information they need to complete the task.
  4. Pair Crossword Puzzles Following the same process as the Novice example given above, I create an A/B version of a crossword puzzle that the students circumlocute to fill in.  This activity works great to review a story, as the students will use details/vocabulary from the story when giving clues, as well as for non-fiction themes. This activity is also a great way to practice relative pronouns (which can be encouraged by providing sentence starters such as these.) My students really enjoy these puzzles. As a matter of fact, a student last year asked if she and her partner could take their puzzles home and finish them on the bus “just for fun.” When time permits I sometimes follow up this activity with a $100,000 Pyramid game in which I project a slide with 5 of the words and pairs of students from two different teams take turns describing as many of the words as they can in one minute.
  5. Interactive Word Wall While I’ve used the above-mentioned activities for several years, some professional development on critical thinking skills this year yielded several strategies that I plan to add to my teacher toolbox.  In fact, I incorporated one such strategy, the Interactive Word Wall last year. Although this activity does not exactly meet the criteria for interpersonal communication (there is little negotiation of meaning), its implementation did provide a context for authentic speech in my combined Level 4/5 class.  For this activity, I created a set of cards on which were written vocabulary related to our theme, which was Migration. The rest of the cards had either single or double-sided arrows.  Each group of four students was given a set of cards and they took turns taking a word card and using an arrow card to connect it to another word, explaining the relationship between the two ideas in the target language. (Although the presenter used larger cards so that the whole class worked on one word wall, I wanted to involve more students by having them work in small groups.)  I was somewhat nervous about implementing this strategy for the first time, as I wasn’t sure how best to choose the terms, but the students were able to find connections for all of the randomly-chosen words I included. Here’s a picture of one of the webs and here’s a video explaining its implementation.
  6. Six Hats I will implement this strategy for the first ime in my introductory French ⅘ unit on family relationships.  Each student will be given one of the six cards in this document (no one will be given the blue hat at this point) and will “wear” this hat when read an article about adoption. They will then discuss the article from the point of view of their hat. I created this graphic organizer so that the students could take notes about their group members’ responses.
  7. Bracketology. As an introduction to this family unit, I’ll give each student a copy of this bracket Each group will fill in the first column of 8 rectangles with their ideas about the characteristics of a good parent.  They will then discuss these characteristics in pairs in order to choose which of these 4 are the most important.  After narrowing down their list they will further discuss in order to choose the 2 most important qualities, and then finally the single most important quality.  

I’d love to add more variety to my interpersonal activities, so please share some of your favorites!

Musings on Unit Planning: Designing the Interpretive Tasks

As I described in this recent post on unit design, most of my lessons begin with an interpretive activity designed to introduce thematic vocabulary, targeted structures and/or cultural content via an authentic text. In most cases, this task is based on a written text that the students will interpret individually or in small groups.  In selecting texts, I look for those that are interesting, culturally-rich and comprehensible (with a little bit of “stretch” built in). These are the steps that I take to create my interpretive tasks.

Step 1a: Select the Written Text. Here’s a list of the types of texts I use most often.

  • Infographics Even Novice Low students can interpret a carefully chosen infographic because of the highly visual nature of these texts. At the Intermediate level, I sometimes ask my students to interpret an infographic as the basis of an interpersonal activity to follow. To find infographics I type in the word Infographie and the French word for my topic into Google Images.
  • Children’s books Texts written for French-speaking beginning readers are often comprehensible for Novice Mid-Novice High students.  Some of my favorite sources for these texts are Reading a-z (free trial), Il était une histoire (documentaires) and Du Plaisir à lire . Although only Il etait une histoire is free, I find the others are well worth the money I spend.  I also use stories from French elementary teacher’s blogs. A search on “tapuscript” on Google Images will reveal many such stories that are comprehensible to Novice Mid-High students.
  • Children’s and Teen’s magazines I have subscribed to Astrapi, Okapi and Phosphore in recent years (But only one at a time–these don’t come cheap!)  Depending on the article, Astrapi is often comprehensible for Novice High, Okapi for Intermediate Low and Phosphore for Intermediate Mid. I’ve also used some online content from GeoAdo in addition to the print copies that I have picked up in France.
  • 1jour1actu.com Depending on the article and my objective, I use these online articles with my Nov. High through Intermediate Mids.  A search on a key word related to my current theme usually yields several articles and/or videos.
  • Petit Nicolas I have incorporated several Petit Nicolas stories into my curriculum over the years and the students continue to enjoy them.  The books are available for purchase and many of the stories can be found online.  Audio recordings can also be found, as well as cartoon videos that are loosely based on individual stories.
  • Google. Of course the majority of the resources I use come from Google searches.  I have found that adding “expliqué aux enfants” to the term I am searching sometimes yields results that are comprehensible to my Novices.
  • Pinterest. I depend on Pinterest to curate authentic resources shared by French teachers from around the world.  Feel free to check out my boards (madameshepard)

Step 1b: Select a Recorded Text. Some of my lessons incorporate either a written or a recorded text, while others include both.  These are the recorded texts I use most often:

  • Cartoons. For my Novice Mids – Novice Highs, I rely heavily on cartoons for interpretive listenings.  Of the series I use regularly, I find that Trotro is the most comprehensible, followed by Petit Ours Brun, T’choupi et Doudou Toupie et Binou and TomTom et Nana. I’ve also used short stories from Les Belles Histoires de Pomme d’Api with Intermediate Lows. There are, of course, dozens of other cartoon series available on Youtube–I just haven’t had a chance to explore them all!
  • Other. For the Intermediates, other than the previously mentioned 1jour1question series, I rely on the search function on YouTube to find videos on my chosen topic.  

Step 2: Create an Interpretive Task. After collecting several comprehensible, culturally-rich and high-interest authentic texts, I develop the formative assessment that will guide the students’ interpretation of these texts. Here are the formats that I use most often.

  1. Written Texts
  • IPA Template. When I first began implementing IPAs, I used this template for nearly all of my interpretive assessments.  By using this format for my formative assessments, I ensure that my students will be practicing and receiving feedback on the same types of tasks that they will perform on the summative assessments.  (Click here for an example from a recent unit.) However, this format does take some time to create as well as considerable class time to complete.Furthermore, providing whole class feedback requires extensive use of English.  Therefore, while I continue to use the template occasionally for formative assessments, I’ve added other formats to my teacher toolbox.
  • True/False Statements with Justification. An advantage of this format is that it can be used with students at all different levels of proficiency.  While I have occasionally used English sentences for my Novices, I prefer writing the statements in  French for all learners, as doing so encourages the students to collaborate in French as well as allows me to stay in the target language when providing whole class feedback. This format works equally well with both literal and inferential question types and is appropriate for both fiction and non-fiction texts. An additional advantage is that since I am writing the statements, I can incorporate targeted structures, (such as the use of the passé composé in these statements) that did not exist in the original text. Because this question type is common on the French IB test that some of my students will take, I think it is important to provide many opportunities for them to practice them.
  • Graphic Organizers.  Venn diagrams, story maps, cause-effect diagrams and various types of webs can be used to demonstrate comprehension of texts and the relationships of ideas found within them. Unfortunately, I don’t use them as often as I should as it is impractical for me to provide timely feedback due to the creative/individualized nature of the responses.  I do, however, often use graphic organizers as a pre-interpersonal communication task–more about incorporating this mode in my next post!
  • Cornell Notes. I was unfamiliar with this type of note-taking format until I learned that a colleague was successfully using it with her upper level students. I am looking forward to incorporating this note-taking format to both assess reading comprehension and as a springboard to small group discussions. Although I found many types of Cornell Note-taking diagrams on Google, this is the one I’m going to try first with my Intermediate Mids.
  • Multiple Choice.  On the summative assessments I create for my Intermediate Mid – High students I try to replicate the multiple choice/short answer questions that they will encounter on their high stakes AP or IB tests.  Although I find these questions very difficult to write well, I think it’s important that the students be familiar with these formats.  I have found that requiring the students to underline relevant sections in the text helps to reduce the “multiple guessing” of easily frustrated students.
  1. Recorded Texts
  • Edpuzzle For the past year I have been relying heavily on Edpuzzle for interpretive listening formative assessments, especially for my Novices.  Because each student has a Chromebook, s/he is able to listen as many times as necessary to the relevant section of the video before answering each question. Because I usually create multiple choice questions, the students receive immediate feedback. (Click here for an example.) The questions that I design for my Novice Mids primarily require them to identify familiar vocabulary in the dialogue or make inferences based on the visual content. I also introduce some new lexical items by providing the sentence in which the word occurs and asking the students to use context clues to determine the most likely meaning of the new (underlined) word.  
  • Picture Matching When incorporating cartoons with my Novices, I often create a matching activity for the students to work on cooperatively after watching the video. For these activities (example) I take several screenshots of scenes from the video and then copy and paste them into cells on a table I’ve created.  For each image I write a sentence that narrates what is happening/happened at that point in the video  I then print the table on cardstock and cut out the individual squares to create a manipulative activity.  The students work with a partner to put the pictures in chronological order and then match the appropriate sentence to each picture.  While this is not a pure assessment of listening comprehension (students must also read the sentences to complete the task), it is a meaningful follow up to watching the video which also provides a springboard to interpersonal communication as the students negotiate to complete the task. The task also allows for repeated exposure to the vocabulary and structures from the video, albeit in a written form.
  • Graphic Organizer. For my Intermediate students I often create a graphic organizer, such as this table, to assess listening comprehension. By providing opportunities for students to fill in both main ideas and supporting details I am able to differentiate these formative assessments for my mixed (French ⅘) classes.
  • True/False with Justification. I find this format is also appropriate for assessing listening comprehension, especially with Intermediates.  Click here for an example.
  • Multiple Choice in the Target Language.  While I wrote multiple choice questions to assess listening when preparing my students for the AP test (example) in the past, I found the process arduous.  Replicating the AP question types required avoiding the vocabulary from the original text when writing responses (and logical detractors), determining logical inferences,  identifying authors’ perspectives and other cognitively demanding and time-consuming tasks. While I will no doubt find myself creating some type of multiple choice questions when the IB test begins incorporating listening comprehension in a couple of years, for now I’m content to use more open-ended question types.

While I have found these tasks to be effective in developing my students’ interpretive skills, I’m looking forward to incorporating a greater variety of activities in the future.  If you have any ideas, please share in the comments so that we can all learn from you!