Category Archives: French 3 Units

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 

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.

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In a Nutshell: 5 Steps to Designing a Thematic Unit

As a result of several recent questions by members of my PLN who are beginning their journey to a more proficiency-based methodology, I have created this outline of the steps I take when creating a thematic unit. While I am planning a series of posts with more detailed information about each step, I’ve included basic information about the process I use, as well as an agenda with resources for an Intermediate Low unit on vacations, in this post.

Step 1: Determine what I want the students to be able to do at the end of the unit and write a Can-Do statement for each mode of communication. Because ACTFL has not yet released their new version of the Can-Do Statements, I based these Can-Do’s on the current benchmarks. These statements are based on the Intermediate Low descriptors, which is my targeted performance level for these students.

  • Interpersonal Communication: I can participate in conversations about vacations using simple sentences.
  • Presentational Speaking: I can present information on a vacation using a series of simple sentences.
  • Presentational Writing: I can write briefly about a vacation using a series of simple sentences.
  • Interpretive Listening: I can understand the main idea in short, simple messages and presentations about vacations.
  • Interpretive Reading: I can understand the main idea of short and simple texts about vacations.

Step 2: Create the Integrated Performance Assessment. For an in-depth explanation of how I design IPA’s, please refer to this previous post. In short, I 1) Select an authentic written and/or recorded resource, 2) Create a comprehension guide based on the ACTFL IPA template, 3) Create an interpersonal task based on the authentic text and 4) Create a presentational writing and/or speaking task based on the authentic resource and interpersonal task.

Step 3:  Identify the structures, vocabulary and skills the students need in order to demonstrate the targeted proficiency level on the IPA.  In this unit, I determined that the students would need to learn/acquire the following language, structures and content.

  • Vocabulary related to the topic of vacations.  This would include terms for vacation activities, lodging, transportation, etc. While these students will be familiar with some leisure activities that are part of a typical vacation, a greater variety of vocabulary will allow for more detailed performances.
  • The ability to use past tenses to describe vacations they have taken. While these students used some past tenses in French 2, they will need lots of exposure and practice to be able to use these structures, albeit with expected errors, on these performances. Because the descriptor, “I can usually talk about events and experiences in various time frames” is part of the Intermediate High benchmark,   it will be some time before I will expect these students to easily use these structures. However, by providing opportunities for students to use past tenses in a variety of contexts in this unit I am preparing them to eventually reach this level of proficiency.
  • Cultural background on French products, practices and perspectives.  Because I assess my students’ cultural competence as part of each mode of communication, it is important that they have adequate preparation in determining these aspects of culture throughout the unit.

Step 4. Create a series of lessons that will allow the students to demonstrate the targeted proficiency level on the IPA. Having determined the students’ needs in terms of vocabulary, structures and content, I create individual lessons designed to fill these gaps. These lessons will provide the students with multiple exposures to the targeted vocabulary and structures as well as learning activities that will allow the students to practice/receive feedback on their use of these structures. Here is a simple explanation of the steps that I usually take in designing each individual lesson for a thematic unit. 

A. Determine an organizational structure for the lessons. Based on the theme of a given unit, there are many ways to break the topic into smaller subtopics to provide an integrated structure for individual lessons.  In general, I find it works best to begin with lessons that will provide general information on the topic before focusing on more specific details. So in this case, I began with lessons focusing on general vacation practices and then added tasks related to specifics such as beach destinations, vacation activities, traveling with friends, camping vacations and packing for vacation. Because I curate authentic resources on Pinterest boards for each unit that I teach, I often begin the process of creating subtopics by looking at the resources I already have, and grouping them according to subtopic. This saves a considerable amount of time compared to choosing subtopics and then finding appropriate resources. (Of course, I end up searching for additional resources after I have a skeleton of the unit design.)

B. Create a hook for the lesson.  I choose an authentic written or recorded text to present at the beginning of each lesson.  Presenting simple texts such as infographics or short videos allows me to provide comprehensible input as I talk about the information in the text and ask personalized questions incorporating the vocabulary, structure and content of the text. Click here for a transcript of a sample discussion during the hook portion of the first lesson in this unit based on this infographic.

C. Design an interpretive activity for the lesson. I choose an authentic resource that the students will read or listen to and create a corresponding learning activity/formative assessment that will allow the students to interact with this text.  While I will go into greater detail about this aspect of lesson design in a future post, you will find several different examples in this and other units in this blog. In my opinion, this is the most important part of each lesson, as it provides the basis of the interpersonal and presentational activities that follow.  In addition, because I don’t use a textbook in my classroom, the authentic resources used in the hook and interpretive activities provide the vocabulary and some structures that the students will use in their performance assessments. Note: You will notice that most of the authentic resources used for the interpretive activities in this unit are written texts. In order to ensure that my students have adequate opportunities to interpret recorded texts, I’ve included several video-based formative assessments (using Edpuzzle) that the students will complete in class or at home throughout the unit.

D. Construct an interpersonal activity based on the content, vocabulary and/or structures in the authentic resource. The interpersonal activity provides students with an opportunity to use the vocabulary and structures that were introduced in the authentic resource to create their own meaning.  In addition, as they negotiate meaning on these tasks they are practicing the skills they will use on the IPA with additional scaffolding. Based on the authentic resource and the targeted proficiency level, I incorporate a variety of different types of interpersonal activities.  At the novice level, I often focus on vocabulary-building activities such as those described in this post or even this one. As students reach the Intermediate level and are able to create more with the language, I often integrate interpersonal and interpretive activities by having the students co-create graphic organizers (such as in the 1st and 2nd lesson in this unit) or discuss responses on target language interpretive assessments.

E. Devise a presentational writing and/or speaking formative assessment. These activities provide the students with scaffolded opportunities to synthesize the vocabulary and structures introduced in the lesson to create a written or oral product. The scaffolding provided in these formative assessments, as well as the individualized feedback I will give on many of these tasks, will provide the support the students need to demonstrate growth in proficiency on the IPA. Note: While I have included an idea for a written or spoken presentational task for each lesson, it is unlikely that time will permit me to actually assign all of these tasks.  Instead, I will choose from among those tasks as time allows.

Step 5: Administer and assess the IPA. Because the format of the IPA mimics the organizational structure of the lessons in the unit, the students should feel confident in their ability to be successful on this assessment.

Stay tuned for additional posts on each step of the lesson design and let me know if you have any questions!

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A Votre Sante: A Unit for Intermediate Low French Students

As we begin creating our own thematic units, rather than relying on those presented in our textbooks, we are faced with the challenge of selecting themes that are relevant to our students while at the same time preparing them for authentic situations in the target culture as well as high-stakes testing such as IB or AP.  In creating this unit, my goal was to help my students learn the vocabulary they would need to express the symptoms of common illnesses as well as study health concerns that are relevant to them at this point of their lives (such as stress and lack of sleep). I also wanted to lay the foundation for other health-related topics that will be included in next year’s IB curriculum.  Here’s a quick summary of this unit and a full agenda, to which the materials are linked, can be accessed here.

Day 1: I started the unit with the topic of stress because I thought this would hook the students.  I began by projecting an infographic showing symptoms, sources, and remedies for stress. (Note: As I selected sections of the infographic to project, I was intentional about which effects of stress I projected in order to avoid those that were less appropriate for class.) Discussing this infographic provided an opportunity to provide lots of input to the students and introduce them to the vocabulary they would be using throughout the unit. After this input phase, I projected images from an infographic and had the students discuss what they saw in each picture, as well as what stress reduction strategy was being depicted. (The students discussed with a partner, and then I randomly chose students to share their ideas with the class.) I then projected the original infographic so that the students could compare their ideas to those of the original author.

Day 2: As a lesson hook, I showed a short video about stress and exams.  I then had the students discuss pre-reading questions related to their own stress, followed by a short comprehension guide for an 1jour1actu article about kids and stress.  Using French comprehension questions, rather than English IPA-style questions, allowed us to discuss this formative assessment as a class. The students then discussed what they had learned from the article, as well as their own stress, in order to create a Venn diagram comparing student stress in France and the U.S. Lastly the students wrote a paragraph comparing and contrasting stress in the two cultures.

Day 3: I began this lesson, which focused on the role of exercise, by projecting an infographic with data about French health habits, especially those related to exercise.  Asking questions about the infographic, as well as personalized questions about the students’ habits, provided input for this lesson.  The students then completed an interpersonal activity in which they formulated French questions (based on an English cue) which their partner answered based on information in his/her infographic.  Lastly the students completed a comprehension guide on a short video about exercise.

Day 4: Because I had a 90-minute block on this day, I assigned a series of learning stations to enable the students to use all modes to communicate about the role of sleep in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At the interpersonal station, each student was given an infographic about the effects of a lack of sleep.  The students discussed the information in their infographics and filled in a graphic organizer with facts that were found only on Infographic A, only on Infographic B, or on both infographics.  I encouraged the students to share simple facts, using their own words, rather than reading directly from the infographic in order to ensure their partner’s comprehension and encourage negotiation of meaning. At the reading station the students read an 1jour1actu article about sleep and filled in a graphic organizer with main ideas and supporting details. At the listening station, the students first watched a video and filled in a graphic organizer with main ideas and supporting details, and then completed an Edpuzzle for a second video.

Day 5: As a hook to this lesson I played the Stromae song, le Sommeil. I then had the students interview a partner about his/her sleeping habits, based on the ideas from the first video from the previous day’s lesson.  In order to ensure an adequate negotiation of meaning, I created an A and B form, so that each member of the dyad had different topics to discuss.  The students then wrote a message to their partner in which they gave advice, based on the video, about how their partner could improve his/her sleeping habits.  In order to introduce an interpersonal component to this writing, I may have the students write a response to the message they receive, indicating whether or not they will follow the advice and why/why not.

Day 6: I provided input to this lesson on common illness by projecting an interactive quiz about colds and flu. After submitting the class’s responses to the questions and projecting the results, I projected a comic that the students discussed with a partner before discussing as a class. The students then watched a short video about the flu and completed a comprehension guide.  Lastly, the students completed an interpersonal activity in which they compared the symptoms of a cold and the flu based on infographics they read.

Day 7: Because I had a sub on the day of this lesson, the students worked individually on an IPA-format reading comprehension guide to accompany an infographic on the flu. (Most students did not have time to also completed the comprehension guide for the cartoon video I included with this lesson.)

Day 8: Students continued their study of common illnesses by watching a cartoon video and then writing a message in which they explain their symptoms and treatment to a principal in order to excuse their absence. (I didn’t use the speaking activities in this packet this year, but have left them in the document for anyone who might be able to use them.)

Day 9: While preparing this unit, I curated several health-related infographics that I did not feel warranted an entire lesson.  I used these “orphan” infographics as a basis for a short presentational speaking activity.  In this one 90-minute period the students selected the topic that most interested them, read the corresponding infographic and then prepared a Google Presentation with images that would help them remember the key facts of the infographic, as well as ensure that their listeners understood the information they would present.  During the last 20 minutes of the period, I conducted a health fair. The class was divided into two equal groups and one half of the students presented while the other half chose a presentation to listen to.  The listeners took notes on what they learned from each presentation.  After several rotations, the two groups traded places so that the listeners became the presenters and vice versa.  The advantage of this style of presentational activity was that presenting to one classmate at a time reduces anxiety for the speakers, while still allowing me to assess each student as I circulate during the presentations.

Days 10-12: Next week the students will read a Petit Nicolas story called “Je suis malade.” On each day, I will play the recorded version of about a third of the story as the students read along.  (I have a hard copy of the story from the book in which it is found, but the text can easily be found on line.) They will then complete the true/false (with justification) items that correspond to that day’s reading in small groups.  This question format encourages interpersonal communication as the questions are written in French and many require deeper interpretation of the text. Depending on time, I may also assign the grammar-based exercises that I’ve included in the packet.

Day 13: In order to review the story and practice circumlocution the students will complete a pair crossword puzzle. For this activity, each member of the dyad is given a crossword puzzle in which half of the clues have been filled in.  The students must give his/her partner French clues so that s/he can fill in the answers on his/her own puzzle.  My students love these puzzles and the last time I used one, two students asked if they could take it home and finish on the bus!

Day 14: The students will write Maman’s diary entry for the day that the majority of this story took place.  This prompt will encourage the students to reread the story for details about Maman’s point of view as well as prepare them for tomorrow’s interpersonal assessment.

Day 15: The students will complete an interpersonal assessment by performing a role play based on the Petit Nicolas story.  I will have the students practice the role play with several different partners, switching roles each time.  I will then assign a partner and have all of the dyads simultaneously record their role plays.  In this way I can assess all of the students in one day.

Day 16: The students will complete an Edpuzzle for a cartoon video based on this story.  Due to the differences between the story and the cartoon, I prefer to leave this assessment for the end, so that the students don’t mix up what they read with what they watched on the interpersonal and presentational assessments.

As always, I welcome feedback on this unit!

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

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

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

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

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

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


L’Impressionnisme: Updated lessons for Intermediate Low Learners

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons 8-9: Learning stations for Renoir.

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not just “man’s” best friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting off on the right foot: Using the language and getting to know each other

footAs many of you know, I relocated over the summer and will be teaching in a new school this year. After spending the last 15 years in a building where August meant mostly reconnecting with my former students (only the Freshmen were new to me each year), in a couple of weeks I will welcome about 150 brand-new faces to my classroom. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to death! As a relatively introverted, somewhat anxious person, the challenge of learning a whole new school culture, finding my way around a humongous new school, and connecting with all of those new students is nearly overwhelming.  

While I have pledged to be patient with myself when it comes to finding my way around my school and its policies, getting to know my students simply can’t wait.  Therefore, I’ll spend the first few days of school on learning activities that will help me learn more about my students, as well as introduce them to the types of communicative activities I’ll be assigning to help them increase their proficiency.  Here’s what I have in mind for each of the classes I’ll be teaching:

French 2 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting a self-portrait.

Day 1 I’ll show the students these self-portraits from TV5Monde. As I project each one, I’ll facilitate class discussion by asking the students questions about what they see, as well as personalized questions using the same vocabulary.  I’ve prepared this handout as a reference as I’m not sure whether they will have been introduced to the vocabulary required for these tasks. Next, the students will listen to these descriptions (Darius, Cheryl, Deivan Anastasia and complete this comprehension guide. (I’ve chosen to provide the students with direct links to the mp3 files rather than the TV5Monde website so that they do not have access to the transcripts.) For homework the students will prepare (and submit electronically) a self-portrait (drawing, painting, phone selfie).

Day 2 First the students to write out a script for presenting their self-portraits. As they are writing I will circulate and provide feedback.  Next, the students will present their self-portrait to classmates using inside/outside circles. Finally the students will compare self-portraits with a partner and complete a Venn diagram with details they discuss.  

French 3 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting 10 things about themselves.  

Day 1 The students will work in small groups to read this blog and complete this comprehension guide.  Then they will answer the same questions in the space provided.  Finally, they will circulate among their classmates, asking questions in order to find a classmate who has the same answer for each question.  

Day 2 The students will listen to this video and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and facilitate a class discussion by discussing what Benji says and asking personalized questions based on his information. Lastly, the students will write a script for their own “10 Things” presentation which will be submitted for feedback before being recorded.  

French 4/5 In this class the students will be introducing themselves by preparing a presentation on 12 things they have done.  

Day 1 The students will listen to this video (Note: 7/10/17. This video is no longer available.) and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and discuss it so that students have feedback on their comprehension.

Day 2 The students will read this blog and fill in this comprehension guide, which they will then discuss in small groups.

Day 3 The students will write a script for their own presentation of 12 things they have done.  They will then trade papers with a classmate who will fill out this feedback form. The students will then revise their scripts, which will be graded according to this rubric. For homework the students will record a video of their own presentation and submit it via Schoology. For the next day’s homework, the students will listen to three of their classmates’ videos and respond to each one with a comment and follow up question.

It is my hope that these activities will help me get to know my new students as create a focus for using the language from Day 1.  If you have other suggestions about how you achieve these goals with your students, please share!

Resources for Planning and a Food Unit for Intermediate Low French Students


As regular readers may have noticed, I ended up taking a hiatus from blogging this spring.  It all started when I welcomed an awesome student teacher to my classroom who was so well-skilled in proficiency-based instructional methods that I didn’t need to create any new lessons for several weeks. Then I decided to relocate closer to family, creating a whirlwind of life changes which including finding a new position, selling a house, buying a new house, moving and setting up a new household.  Needless to say, I had to put aside my blogging for a few months!  However, now that I’m settled into my new home I’m anxious to share some of the materials I’ve been working on for my new students.

Creating units for students that I’ve never met, in a school with a different curriculum and culture than the one I left has been a bit of a challenge.  Although I don’t know much about the proficiency level or personal interests of my new students, I can’t wait until August to begin preparing instructional materials for my new kiddos.

Besides, reading Chapter 1 of The Keys to Planning for Learning for #langbook has me thinking about all of the ways I can improve my planning and I’m excited to start implementing some of the ideas that are reinforced in this book.

I decided to start with my French 3 curriculum, since I will have three different French classes this year–half of my school day.  In addition to reading The Keys to Planning for Learning, I completed the self-assessment survey provided by the TELL Project before developing this unit.  As a result of this self-assessment, I realized I needed to be more intentional in developing daily objectives for my lessons. Although I had previously created Can Do Statements for each unit, I hadn’t provided my students with a clear objective for each lesson.  I have therefore included daily performance objectives in addition to the Essential Questions and Can Do Statements for this unit.  

Because the first theme in my new French 3 curriculum, “Nourriture,” is so broad, I have broken it down into three topics–breakfast, school lunch, and Francophone specialties. This Google Slide Presentation contains the unit plan as well as links to the materials I’ve created/borrowed for each of the 19 lessons in the unit.I am hoping that this format will improve transitions, encourage the students to work more independently and allow absent students to complete work from home. It will also facilitate sharing this work as I can continue to make edits/correct errors without having to reload word documents to this blog. While I’ve previously shared some of these materials, many others are new, including several Edpuzzle video quizzes that will serve as formative assessments in the 1:1 learning environment of my new school.  

While I have not included assessments in the presentation, you can click here for the breakfast IPA and here for the school lunch IPA. As the agenda shows, the students will prepare a presentation, rather than a full IPA as a summative assessment on the Francophone specialty topic.


As always, I welcome feedback on these materials!


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