Category Archives: French 2 Units

From the Midwest to Martinique: A virtual trip for French 2 students

martiniqueAs I explained in a previous post, I decided to introduce the passé composé with my French 2 students in a different way this year.   Rather than explaining the rules for choosing the correct helping verb and past participle, I gave them a series of questions and answers that they used to interview each other and provided input by introducing readings and comprehension questions that were written in passé composé.  I had no idea how the students would react to this unit, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Nearly all of the students were able to successfully discuss what they had done at school the previous day using comprehensible sentences.  While some students made occasional errors in choosing the correct helping verb during their conversations, they were still able to express their meaning.  I was somewhat surprised to find that the students were less accurate in their written work. More students totally omitted their helping verbs when writing than when speaking.

Now that the students have demonstrated their ability to communicate using memorized phrases, I thought that it was time to introduce a few rules so that they could begin creating sentences of their own. I struggled a little bit, however,  in coming up with a cultural/content context for this next unit. I wanted a context that would provide them with lots of opportunities to narrate past events, without requiring them to include lots of description in the past.  (While they are seeing lots of imperfect in the authentic resources, it’s not my intention that they produce this verb form at this time.)  It seemed that discussing a vacation might meet these requirements and provide a way of introducing some important new vocabulary items.  In order to provide an authentic cultural context for this unit (and to escape, at least virtually, winter in the Midwest) , I have chosen to use Martinique as the vacation destination that these students will learn about.  Here’s how I introduced this unit:

Day 1: Students read an infographic about Martinique and complete an interpretive task.  In addition, they begin work on a guided note-taking activity designed to introduce them to a few simple rules about forming the passé composé.

Day 2: Students completed an interpersonal activity (Guess Who game) to familiarize them with the vocabulary for activities that people do while on vacation in Martinique. After they played the game for about 20 minutes, I gave them a formative assessment in which I made 10 true/false statements about Nicolas (the first “identity” on the game paper). The students also finished the guided note-taking activity.

This is what I have planned for the rest of the unit.

Day 3: We will watch a short video about Martinique and the students will answer comprehension questions. They will then complete an interpersonal activity in which they describe what they did on vacation to a partner who will select the appropriate vacation pictures.  Lastly they will complete a worksheet which requires them to write sentences about what various people did in Martinique.

Day 4: Students will watch another video and then complete a cooperative activity in which they work with a partner to put historical events in chronological order, based on information in each of their articles.

Day 5: Students will read an article about vacationing in Martinique and complete an interpretive task.  This will count as the interpretive reading portion of their IPA.

Day 6 and 7: Students will use Ipads to research various places and activities in Martinique for their virtual trip to Martinique.  They will then complete a journal of the activities they did each day of their trip.

Day 8 and 9: Students continue working on the rest of their IPA, which includes the following tasks: 1)Presentational Writing: Blog entry about trip to Martinique, 2)Interpersonal Speaking: Discuss trip to Martinique with partner, 3) Interpretive Listening: Video about Martinique.

Day 10 and 11: Students will present their trip to Martinique to the class using a Google Presentation of photographs from their trip.

Here are the resources I’ve prepared for the unit:

Student Resource packet: Martinique vocab & grammar , Student Activity Packet: martinique unit , Guess Who Game martinique_guesswho(rev.)  Pair Activity Martinique pair act. Worksheet martinique ws, Manipulatives for history activity: history_manipulative, virtual trip packet: martinique project, IPA: Martinique IPA





Saying “Au Revoir” to Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp

Student Waving from DeskMy French 2 students are going to begin the second semester by learning how to discuss what happened at school.  Planning this unit proved to be a huge challenge for me.  While I have managed to focus on meaning, rather than form, in designing their proficiency-based units so far this year, this one would be different.  For the first time, I would be expecting these students to use a different tense when speaking and writing.  I just wasn’t sure how to teach them the rules, without resorting to what I have done for the past 25 years–direct instruction on the conjugation rules for 1) regular verbs, 2) irregular verbs, 3) être (Vandertramp) verbs, and 4) reflexive verbs. Since none of these groups occurs in isolation within authentic sources, I had found myself relying on worksheets and other instructional materials to provide the students with the practice that they needed to master each new set of rules.  In spite of my carefully organized lessons and exhaustive, repetitive exercises, most of my students needed several additional months of instruction before they were able to use the passé composé accurately. As I have become more knowledgeable about how language proficiency develops, my expectations have become much more realistic.  The unit that I am sharing here will not teach your students to accurately use the passé composé with only three weeks of instruction. However, I believe it will familiarize them with the structure to the extent that they will be able to discuss school experiences in a comprehensible way.

Here’s the unit packet of activities and an explanation of how I plan to teach the unit.  The length of each lesson is an estimate at this point—some lessons might extend to the following day so that the unit might take longer than this plan shows.

Unit Activity Packet: French 2 School Unit

Day 1.  I’m beginning this unit by watching the first three minutes of an authentic video in which a teenager describes a horrible day.  I will play the video to the whole class, stopping it frequently to ask them questions about what the girl did. (Ex. Elle s’est réveillée en retard? Elle s’est habillée? Elle a pris le petit dejeuner?)  While my students have not had much exposure to the past tense, I think they will be able to understand these questions and answer with a oui/non.  I will then have them individually check the statements that reflected what the girl did and then replay the video so that the students can check their answers.  Finally we will orally discuss the correct answers as a class, giving the students lots of comprehensible input of the passé composé.  Next, the students will interview each other in order to find out how their partner’s day compared to the one shown in the video.  The students will not be required to formulate their own responses at this point, but will read either the affirmative or negative response that is given. Lastly, the students will write a short note describing their (real or imaginary) morning.  This activity will most likely be completed as homework. I will give them this resource packet Unit 6 Resource Packet with model sentences to help them with this and other tasks in the unit:

Day 2 Warm up: I will begin this period by asking the students questions about their previous school day.  I will choose questions from the resource packet, so that the students will not have to formulate a response on their own.  I will then give them a few minutes to interview each other using these same questions.  As a follow up, I will ask them questions about their partners’ day. This will provide additional comprehensible input of the third person forms of the verbs. Next, I will assign the interpretive activity in which the students will read an authentic comic strip about a boy who got caught cheating at school. (Pablo a copie) In addition to writing a summary and answer true/false comprehension questions, the students will identify specific phrases in the comic which are written in the passé composé. In this way, the text will not only provide an opportunity to increase interpretive skills, it will also provide contextualized examples of the new structure. After the students finish the reading activity, they will complete the interview activity which follows. For homework, they will write a paragraph about a real or imaginary experience in which they cheated.

Day 3 I will begin this day with the warm up activity described above. I will then show them the first part of an authentic video about a French middle school student’s day.  Although the video is not narrated in the past, I chose it for the cultural information that it presented about French schools.  I will stop the video frequently so that the students can answer the comprehension questions. These are written in English, since their purpose is to assess the students’ listening comprehension.  This will be an informal, formative assessment as we will most likely discuss the correct responses as a class.  Next, the students will review what they saw by checking the statements which reflect what happened in the video. These French sentences, as well as the follow up discussion of them will provide additional  passé compose input. In the next activity, the students will interview a partner in order to compare how his/her school day compared to Arthur’s (the student in the video).  Lastly, the students will write the script of a hypothetical video for Arthur, in which they tell what their day was like. Again, this writing assignment will probably be completed as homework.

Day 4 After the warm up activity described in Day 2 (students will switch partner’s each time), the students will read an authentic blog in which a character from Astrapi magazine describes an incident that took place at school. The students will work individually on interpretive tasks before interviewing a partner about his/her own experiences on the subject of class punishment.  Lastly, they will write a hypothetical follow-up post in which “Lulu” explains how the issue was resolved.  (They will be reading Lulu’s follow up post later in the unit.)

Day 5 After the warm up, the students will watch the second section of the video about Arthur.  They will again answer English comprehension questions, check the French statements which refer to events that happened, and interview a partner.  As a presentational activity, they will continue their script for their hypothetical video to Arthur.

Day 6 By this time, I think the students will need a little break from the routine of the Interpretation-Interpersonal Communication – Presentation cycle. So, today I will mix it up a little bit by devoting the entire class period to interpersonal communication. The students will begin the period with this Guess Who game: Devinez-Qui-Game (1) (The directions will be on one page and the pictures will be copied back-to-back.) Next, the students will interview each other in order to complete a Venn diagram comparing their previous day at school.friendship circle (I will handwrite some examples of the correct “nous” forms, as they won’t have had much exposure to these forms at this point.

Day 7 For today’s warm up, the students will play a two truth’s and a lie game.  Each student will write three sentences about their previous school day (relying heavily on the sample sentences in the resource packet).  Two of these students should be true and one should be a lie.  I will then call on students to say their sentences to the class.  Next, I will call on a student to guess which of the sentences was a lie.  If s/he is correct, it will be his/her turn to say the sentences s/he wrote.  Play will continue for as long as the students are engaged—probably 5 to 10 minutes.  After this warm-up, the students will complete the interpretive and interpersonal activities for the last part of the Arthur video. Because there is no presentational component, they may have time to begin the final interpretive task, Lulu’s blog entry in which she describes how the situation in her earlier post was resolved.

Day 8 After an additional round of two truths and a lie, the students will complete the interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational tasks related to Lulu’s second blog.

While it will be some time before the students can accurately communicate about past events (ACTFL says this is an Advanced task), these introductory lessons should provide an important first step at contextualized use of these structures for communicative tasks.  Stay tuned for how I will use learning stations to further reinforce the concepts in this unit, as well as for the IPA that I will use to assess their learning. (IPA)

A literature-based Christmas lesson for Novice High learners


Although I created a complete unit on the theme of Christmas for my French 1 students, my curriculum allowed me to spend only a few days on Christmas with my French 2 and French 3 students.  Since these students had learned Christmas vocabulary and French holiday traditions in previous years, I decided to focus on literature-based activities and assessments for these students. I felt that it was especially important for my French 2 students to get some exposure to narrative texts, as they have read primarily informational texts so far this year.  Although my French 3 students have read a few Petit Nicolas stories, I knew they would enjoy reading and writing holiday-themed stories during the last few days before Winter Break.

I began this lesson by having the students read a Christmas-themed story.  I prepared a simple set of English comprehension questions to help guide their comprehension, but did not assess them.  The purpose of this first story was to provide a model of a narrative text.  The French 2 students read Le cadeau du Père Noël (le cadeau) and answered these questions : lecadeau The French 3 students read La Galette de Père  Noël (la galette) and answered these questions: galette

Next, I had the students fill out the following graphic organizer with the plot elements for the story that they read.  Because I had never specifically taught plot elements in the past, I didn’t know what background knowledge they had regarding narrative texts. Fortunately, they were able to match up the French vocabulary for various plot elements to those that they had learned in language arts classes and were able to complete the graphic organizer in a few minutes. This is the graphic organizer I prepared for this activity: conte_graphicorg

Now that the students had reviewed the plot elements of a story, they were ready to begin writing their own.  I passed out a blank copy of the same graphic organizer, and asked the student to fill it out with information about their own story.  I hoped that by beginning with this step, the students might be less overwhelmed than if I had just asked them to make up a French story.  Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, the students seem very excited about writing their stories and one even mentioned that, “This is the most fun thing we’ve ever had to write in French.”

Now that each of the students has an outline of his/her story, I am going to have them continue to work with narrative texts over the next few days as they complete a series of learning stations (which will be their IPA for this mini-unit, as well as their Midterm Exam grade).  At the Listening Station, they will watch to 2-3 videos about Santa Claus and complete a comprehension guide.  At the Reading Station, they will read another Santa-themed story and complete an interpretive reading assessment, while at the Writing Station they will write the first drafts of their stories. The French 2 classes will have an additional Interpersonal Speaking station at which the students will describe the pictures on Christmas-themed stickers to a partner who will choose the correct match from his/her set of stickers.

French 2 Learning Stations/IPA:French 2 Noel IPA     French 3 Learning Stations/IPA: noel_ipa 3

Note: I have one French 3 student whose religion prevents her from participating in any activity which relates to any type of holiday/birthday celebration.  These are the alternative reading and listening activities that I developed for her: Alternate Interpretive

After the students have completed these stations, they will produce a final draft of their story as well as present it orally to the class.  I think these presentations will be a great way to use the block of time that is set aside for our midterm exams, as the students will have already completed the other portions of their performance-based exam while at their learning stations.  For the presentations, the students will prepare a Google Presentation a visual aid to support their storytelling.  The images on the Google Presentation can be drawings, clipart, photographs, etc.—any media that will help the students retell their story and help their audience (classmates) to comprehend it.  I know the students are nervous about this part of the assessment, but I explained that they don’t need to memorize their written story exactly, they just need to summarize/retell it to the class.

The students seem excited about this project and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re able to produce!



Joyeux Noël : A unit for Novice Learners


One of the great things about being a French teacher is that a wide variety of themes can be used to advance the proficiency levels of the students.  For this reason, I’ve always felt very comfortable teaching a unit on Christmas.  I know that the students will be introduced to a variety of vocabulary and structures as they complete the interpretive tasks in this unit and that the fluency and accuracy they develop through the interpersonal and presentational tasks will increase their overall proficiency.  While I have always focused on Christmas as a target culture celebration (avoiding religious-themed texts), the diversity of my students this year makes this essential.  In my French 1 class alone, I have students from 17 different countries!  As a result, my activities will focus on vocabulary acquisition and Francophone culture, with few or no personalized responses.

I will begin this unit by passing out a packet with the communicative goals, vocabulary, and structures for this unit.  In my French 1 class, I am going to concentrate on question words as a structure.  I chose this structure because of its important role in increasing proficiency in the Interpersonal mode.  I’ve introduced the vocabulary by presenting each word in the context of a sentence, which is depicted in a picture.  I’m hoping that this will help the students increase their sentence-length communication as we work on the vocabulary.  Here’s the packet:2014 packet_noel

For the next week the students will begin memorizing the vocabulary through a variety of activities.  For the first couple of days we will play a Loto game that I purchased from Teacher’s Discovery.  This helps the students hear the correct pronunciation of the words over and over again.  While I sometimes call just the isolated word, at other times I say a sentence which includes the word.  The winners have to say the words in their winning row, which enables me to provide further feedback on pronunciation. After we play as a whole class, I also have them play in small groups, with the students taking turns calling the words they need to make a Bingo.  This enables me to circulate around the room, providing additional feedback on pronunciation.

In addition to the Loto game, the students complete a variety of interpersonal activities to practice the vocabulary as well as increase their fluency and ability to negotiate meaning.  In the following document I have included three separate partner matching activities— each focusing on either snowmen, Christmas trees, or Santa Claus.  For each of these activities the students will number a sheet of paper according to the number of pictures in the activity.  They will then take turns describing a picture to their partner, who will tell them the number or letter of the picture on their paper which is the same as the picture that their partner describes.  Each partner will fill in the letter next to the corresponding number on their sheet of paper.  While I don’t grade these papers, I will often do a quick formative assessment in which I describe five of the pictures and they write down the corresponding number or letter, depending on which they have on their paper.  In this way I don’t penalize a student whose partner has given him/her the wrong number or letter during the interpersonal activity.  Here’s a document with the activities:noel_matching

In addition to these matching activities, I’ve created several activities which require partners to describe their picture in order to figure out which items are missing.  These are easy to create by beginning with a coloring page (see Google Images), printing two copies, and whiting out several items from each copy and then photocopying the originals.  I also have used Christmas stickers to make activities in which a pair of students are each given the same ten stickers (stuck onto cut up index cards).  One student places the stickers in a row and then describes each sticker to his/her partner (a binder between the two prevents them from seeing each other’s stickers).  After all ten pictures are described, they remove the binder to check whether they completed the activity correctly.

Throughout this week, the students will also complete a variety of interpretive reading activities designed to teach them about holiday celebrations in Francophone and other cultures.  I have included some interpersonal activities with these readings, but have changed the context of these interview questions so that they are not Christmas specific.

In this activity, the students read about Christmas traditions throughout the world and complete an interpretive activity: Quelques traditions de Noel dans le monde

In this one, they complete an interpretive activity about Christmas shopping, and then interview a partner as a follow-up interpersonal activity: Shopping de Noel dans le monde

The presentational activities that the students do during this unit will mostly involve describing pictures orally and in writing.  This skill is appropriate to their proficiency level and will avoid requiring the students to use the vocabulary in a personalized context, which I don’t feel would be appropriate for these students.

Here’s the IPA that I prepared for this unit: noel_ipa

For the interpretive listening the students will watch a video about a donkey who goes sledding.  For the Interpersonal speaking, they will take turns describing holiday pictures in order to decide whether each one is the same or different.  For the Presentational writing they will write an e-mail about French holiday traditions and for the Interpretive reading they will read an article about European holiday traditions.

Joyeux Noël!

Six Reasons Why I Love Learning Stations

Although I have left behind many of the teaching strategies that I relied on earlier in my career, some techniques continue to be valuable in a proficiency-oriented classroom. A strategy that I continue to implement is the use of learning stations. A recent French 2 unit on grocery shopping reminded me of the following advantages of incorporating learning stations into my classroom instruction.

#1: Learning stations enable me to incorporate authentic materials in their most authentic form. While the internet gives us access to limitless authentic materials, actual concrete objects that were brought back from the target country are inherently interesting to students. They love seeing the French price tags on items that I’ve purchased and always want to know whether I’ve “stolen” items such as menus and other realia. It is often difficult, though, to procure enough of an authentic item for the entire class to use simultaneously. However, if I divide my class into small groups, a few grocery flyers, for example, are sufficient for an interpretive task. IMG_20141007_140608_625-1
#2: Learning stations allow me to make the most of the technology I have available to me. I have eight computers in my classroom. When I divide my classes of 25-30 students into 4-5 different station groups, I am able to have my students use the classroom computers to access authentic videos for interpretive listening tasks. The students shown here are able to watch their Peppa le Cochon video at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as necessary in order to improve their comprehension.
#3: Learning stations allow me to incorporate manipulatives into my lessons. While it would be cost prohibitive (and a storage nightmare) to buy enough play food to use for these grocery store role-plays, learning stations made it possible for these students to use the play food that I do have, as well as some spare euro coins, to lend authenticity to their interpersonal task for the unit. In other units I’ve been able to use authentic and teacher-created games that would not be possible with an entire class. IMG_20141007_140551_927
#4: Learning stations allow me to provide better feedback to my students. During the learning station phase of a unit, I generally position myself near the students who are either practicing the interpersonal task for the IPA. In this way I am able give the students very specific feedback on their progress, which I would not be able to do if I were circulating among an entire class who was working on the same task. By having my students write drafts for their presentational task at a learning station, I am also able to give them more detailed feedback, as I have only about seven or eight papers each evening, rather than a set of 30.
#5: Learning stations give me a little breathing space. While each set of learning stations requires a lot of advanced preparation on my part, once we begin this phase of instruction, my work is basically done. There are no copies to be made at the end of the day, a new agenda does not need to be written on the board, etc.
#6: Learning stations allow me to show off a little. There are many times that we need to be able to demonstrate our best practices to others. This might be for a graduate class, evaluation by an administrator, or National Board Certification. It is always a challenge to decide what those evaluators will see during the short time they will be spending in our classroom or watching us on a video. When we invite others to see our students working on learning stations, they can see how we teach all modes of communication, 21st century skills, several state standards, etc. in a single lesson. When required, we also have a lot to reflect about when a single lesson includes so many different activities.
These are only a few of the advantages of using learning stations in a proficiency-based classroom. If you use learning stations, I’d love to hear the reasons why!

Food for Thought

The title of this post comes not only from the fact that I have prepared a couple of food-related French 2 lessons to share, but because I have been doing a lot of reflecting on the changes that I have been making in order to focus more on increasing student proficiency. When a colleague asked me what I meant by proficiency-based teaching, I realized that I could not explain in only a sentence or two what this term meant to me. Since even a Google search did not identify a universal definition or specific methodology, I can only share what I have been doing and how the paradigm shift has worked in my classroom. To see specific examples of the types of lessons I’ve designed, please see my other posts on this blog.
Curriculum: The most important change that I have made is to develop a curriculum that is totally independent of any textbook series. In the absence of this resource to guide my instruction, I chose ten to twelve broad themes for each of the classes (Level 1-5) that I teach. I then follow the following steps to create a unit for these themes.
Step 1: Choosing the unit goals
In order to ensure that I’m choosing appropriate goals for each of these thematic units, I rely heavily on the ACTFL Can-Do Statements for the targeted proficiency level of the class. For French 1 I am beginning with Novice Low statements, but will transition into Novice Mid later in the year. In French 2 I use mainly Novice High statements, in French 3 I use Intermediate Low-Mid, and in AP I use Intermediate Mid-High. In many cases I can use an exact statement as a goal, but when necessary I modify a statement to reflect the content of the unit. In this way I am essentially filling in the blank line after the prepared statements.
Step 2: Choosing the authentic texts
In planning the learning activities for each unit, I have relied heavily on Amy Lenord’s description of the authentic lesson cycle ( Based on my understanding of her ideas, I select an authentic text for each lesson and then create interpretive, interpersonal, and presentation tasks related to the text. I have found that each lesson cycle takes about two to three class days, so I choose about four authentic texts for each unit. This enables me to cover a unit, including the IPA, in about three weeks.
I begin my search for authentic texts for these lessons by checking the Pinterest boards I have created for each theme. Relying on my colleagues to pre-select relevant, high-interest and appropriate texts has saved me countless hours of research. As described in my earlier posts, I rely heavily on infographics, especially for novice learners and to introduce a theme. Based on the proficiency level of the students, I also use children’s magazine articles, children’s stories, and lots of web-based materials.
In addition to these written texts, I also choose authentic recorded texts related to the theme of the unit. Usually videos, these texts might not be directly related to the written text, they do reflect the theme of the unit. In my lower level classes, I use lots of cartoons, because their visual nature provides important context for the novice learners. Some of my favorites are Trotro l’Ane, Petit Ours Brun, Caillou, and Tchoupi et Doudou. Youtube searches on each of these characters will reveal the titles of several different episodes, many of which complement commonly used themes. With my Intermediate students, I usually opt for news videos or other more formal recorded materials.
Step 3: Creating the learning activities
After choosing each text, I develop an interpretive reading task based on the template provided by ACTFL in Implementing Integrated Performance Assessment ( Based on the text I have chosen, I will use some or all of the sections on this template. I do not personally feel that this template works for well for listening, so I usually develop basic comprehension questions for the videos I use, although I try to include multi-level (main idea, supporting detail, inference) questions.
After preparing the comprehension guides for the interpretive tasks, I develop the interpersonal tasks that the students will complete after reading and listening. For my Novice learners, I usually provide personalized questions based on the reading that they will ask a partner. For the Intermediate students, I write more open-ended discussion questions related to the information in the text.
For the last step of each lesson, I design at least one presentational task. For this activity, I give the students some type of scenario related to the authentic text (usually the written one), and they respond in writing or orally.
Although I have been mostly pleased with these lessons, I’ve found that adding a vocabulary-building game or other not-quite-authentic activity here and there helps to add a little bit of variety while still increasing proficiency. As the year progresses I hope to find the right balance between these types of activities.
Step 4: Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA)
Since each lesson is essentially a “Mini IPA,” this type of assessment works well in my classes. In addition, my students are very comfortable with IPA’s, because I began implementing them last year, as a result of some professional development that I had done. Although I am describing the IPA as Step 4, it is actually the first step that I complete when designing the unit. By writing the IPA before creating any of the other lessons, I can ensure that each task prepares the students for what they will be expected to do on the IPA.
Before beginning an IPA, I give the students a day or two to prepare. During this stage, I give them time to practice the interpersonal task (although they will not be allowed to choose their partner on the actual IPA) and to write rough drafts of the presentational writing task. My interpersonal IPA tasks are less structured than the tasks that I assign for the individual lessons. For example, rather than a set of specific questions, I will give them only a general situation or theme and they will be required to ask the appropriate questions to develop the conversation. Based on the needs of the students, I might also give them time to practice some of the specific skills needed for the IPA during this time. For example, in a recent French 1 unit on school supplies, I gave the students time to complete interactive vocabulary activities on the computer in addition to the rough draft and interpersonal practice time.
When writing the IPA, I again begin by choosing both an authentic written and recorded text, and then creating a comprehension guide, based on the ACTFL template. The students usually complete these two tasks on the first day of the IPA. On Day 2, I assign the final draft of the presentational written task and then call up pairs of students to my desk for the interpersonal assessment.
While these steps seem to be working well for me so far, only time will tell whether they will enable my students to meet the proficiency goals I have set for them. I’d love to hear back from any of you that have developed other methods of increasing student proficiency in your classrooms!
In the meantime, here are a couple of examples of authentic lessons from my current French 2 unit on Mealtimes.
le temps de l’alimentation

The Ugly Eggplant: A Novice-High Unit on Food Waste



I’ll start this post by admitting that I knew nothing about European Parliament’s resolution to reduce food waste until the adorable ads, videos, and infographics on this topic started appearing on my Pinterest feed.  I was excited to develop this theme because I thought the visuals would pique the students’ interest in the topic. Although I originally thought I would add this theme to my AP curriculum (because of its fit with Global Challenges), I realized as I began to create learning activities that students at a lower proficiency level would be able to interpret the materials I had chosen. I loved the idea of being able to introduce an AP Theme at this level of instruction!

Unit Goals/Can-Do Statements

I chose the following Novice High ACTFL Can-Do Statements as the learning goals for this unit.

Presentational Writing: I can write basic information about things I have learned.

Presentational Writing: I can write information about my daily life in a letter, blog, discussion board, or email message.

Presentational Speaking: I can present basic information about things I have learned using phrases and simple sentences.

Presentational Speaking: I can present information about others using phrases and simple sentences

Interpersonal Communication: I can exchange information using texts, graphs, or pictures.

Interpersonal Communication: I can exchange some personal information.

Interpretive Listening: I can understand simple information when presented with pictures and graphs.

Learning Activities

This unit continues three lessons on the theme of food waste, each of which is organized around 1 or more authentic infographics/visuals.  I’m anticipating that each lesson will probably take 1.5-2 class periods.

Hook: I’ve included a short video as a hook for each lesson.

Interpretive Tasks (Reading):

Lesson #1 and #3 begin with an A/B interpretive task.  Students will be divided into pairs and assigned either the Partner A or the Partner B infographic + corresponding comprehension guide.

Lessons #2 begins with an authentic visual listing ways to prevent food waste.

Interpersonal Tasks:

In Lesson #1 and #3, the students will discuss the information from their respective infographics in order to complete a graphic organizer.

In Lesson #2, the students will interview each other about their own habits as they refer to food waste.

Presentational Tasks:

Speaking: Each lesson includes a directive to be prepared to present the information from the interpersonal task orally.  I will call on just a few students to do so each time, as a formative assessment.

Writing: Each lesson has a written task which involves synthesizing the information from the interpretive/interpersonal tasks.  In Lesson #1, they will write a message in which they summarize what they learned about food waste.  In Lesson #2, they will write a note to their partner, based on his/her responses to the interview questions.  In Lesson #3, they will write a short report comparing food waste in France and Canada.

Interpretive Tasks: Listening

At the end of each unit I included an authentic video and corresponding comprehension guide.  I’ve placed this task at the end of the unit because I think that the students will be more prepared for it after completing the other tasks.  I am expecting these tasks to be extremely challenging for the students and I would only consider their work as a formative assessment. In addition, I will provide extensive support in terms of playing the video several times, stopping the video at key points, or arranging to have the students complete the activities individually, using the classroom computers, so they can pause and replay as needed.

Here’s a link to the unit Le Gaspillage Alimentaire

(I’ll include the IPA in my next post).

Feel free to use any of these activities if you find they fit with your style and curriculum—just proofread for errors, especially since I haven’t used them yet.

I’d love to hear any feedback you have on this unit!