Category Archives: French 3 Units

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

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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 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

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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!

 

Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Italian_cooking_icon.svg?uselang=fr

 

Developing Context: An example from an IPA about the environment for Intermediate French students

environmentAs promised a few days ago, I’m sharing the IPA for my environment unit in today’s post. One of my goals this year has been to create more integrated contexts for my IPAs. As a Novice IPA creator, many of my early attempts could best be described as performance-based assessments organized around a common theme. Thanks to targeted feedback from my peers, I have become more proficient in my writing IPA-writing skills and my recent assessments have been more tightly integrated around a specific context.

Although it might seem counterintuitive, I have found that I can more easily create a context if I have already chosen an appropriate authentic resource for the interpretive reading task. For example, the text for this IPA is an article from a French teen magazine in which students are interviewed about what they do for the environment. After choosing this text, I asked myself why my students might find themselves reading an article like this one (besides for my class!). One possibility might be that they were going to be attending this school as an exchange student and wanted to know more about it. Next, I needed a recorded text that would be relevant to this context. I got really lucky on this one! When I did a YouTube search of the name of the school, I found a video in which students and staff members discuss how they are meeting their goals of being a more environmentally-friendly building. Does it get any better than that?

After the interpretive tasks were created, I needed an interpersonal task related to this context. Under what circumstances would one of my students find herself discussing the information in this article and video with a French teenager? Hmmm, both the article and video mentioned “eco-délégués.” What if one student in each dyad was a delegate who called the American exchange student to interview him about joining this program when he arrives at the school? This context would allow each student to discuss her own personal habits as well as why certain behaviors are important—the targeted structures for this unit.

Lastly, I developed a presentational writing task that would allow these students to synthesize information they gleaned from the article, video and conversation. Since the students will discuss the role of the “eco-délégué,” I decided an authentic writing task would be to write a letter to the facilitator of this group, asking to join. This context will allow the students to write about their own behavior in regards to the environment as well as to demonstrate their interculturality about French educational programs related to this topic.

While I may continue to struggle in fully integrating the tasks on my IPAs, I’m happy with the way this one came together. If you have any hints that have helped you choose appropriate context for your IPAs, please share!

Jour de la Terre: A unit for Intermediate French Students

environment-303693_960_720Tomorrow my French 3 students will start their unit on the environment. Although I developed a unit on this topic last year (click here for post), I’ve made some significant changes in order to provide more opportunities for interpersonal communication. Here’s a short explanation of what I’ve planned for this year:  (Click here for the student packet.)

Lesson 1: Global Warming (2-3 days). In this lesson the students will watch a video about climate change and fill in details. After watching, I’ll allow them a few minutes to discuss their responses in small groups to provide increased interpersonal communication. This video replaces a Brainpop video that, unbeknownst to me required a subscription. I’m not sure why I was able to access these videos at the time, but since I’ve lost the ability to do so I’ve substituted other videos for each lesson. After the video and discussion, the students will read a short document (included at the end of the lesson) with things one can do to save the planet. I chose a shorter, simpler text than I had used last year, in order to shorten the amount of time spent reading as well as provide more language chunks that could be used for the interpersonal activities that follow. After the reading, the students will play a game in which they match behaviors and suggestions from the text that they read (Note: there’s an error in the directions, the yellow cards should be in the pile and the orange cards should be arranged face down). The purpose of this game is to introduce the phrases that they will be using to make suggestions throughout the unit. Each suggestion includes an impersonal expression requiring the subjunctive, which is a structure I’ve targeted for the unit. After this game, the students will interview a partner about the behaviors suggested in the text. I discovered last year that the students needed some more guided tasks before performing the open-ended role-plays that I had planned. After the interviews, the students will write a note to their partner with suggestions for how they can be more environmentally-friendly. I’ve included some sentence starters to further scaffold this task. Lastly, I’ve added the interpretive reading task from last year’s unit (Article: p. 1, p. 2)and two additional videos related to climate change. I’m not sure whether time will permit me to use this resources, but I’ve included them just in case.

Lesson 2: Pollution (2-3 days). As with the first lesson, I’ve begun with a short video that the students will use to provide details and then discuss. After the video, the students will be assigned either the A role or the B role, and will read the corresponding article. After this interpretive task, each A will be paired with a B and will complete this interview activity. Again, I’ve developed a highly scaffolded task to enable the students to begin acquiring the targeted structure. This interpersonal activity will again be followed by a presentational writing in which the students make suggestions to their partner based on his/her responses. (They will speak with a different partner than they had spoken to in the previous lesson.) I’ve included last year’s interpretive reading (Article: p. 1, p. 2) and three interpretive listening tasks to be included in the lesson as time permits.

Lesson 3: Deforestation (2-3 days). I’ve begun this lesson with an interpersonal task in which the students discuss two images related to deforestation. Next they’ll watch a video about deforestation and discuss the details they were able to identify. After the video, we’ll do a “speed-friending” type of interpersonal activity in which the students write 5 questions and then interview a series of classmates. For this activity my students will be seated in pairs of rows that are facing each other. They will have 3 minutes to interview the person in front of them and when the three minutes are up, the students in one row will get up and move one seat to the right. This will continue until each student has interviewed 10 classmates. The students will then write a note to one of their classmates, giving suggestions for becoming more environmentally friendly. Once again, I’ve included the reading from last year’s unit (Article: p. 1, p. 2) as well as additional videos on the topic.
Since it’s still a work in progress, I’ll include the IPA for this unit in my next post.

Integrating Culture Across the Modes: A Noël Unit for Intermediate Low French Students

 

Christmas decorations

I’m taking just a few minutes for a quick share tonight.  In an earlier post, I shared some activities that I developed to integrate culture in all of the communicative modes with my Novice Mid students.  In this evening;s post I’m including a few lessons I created to do the same with my Intermediate Low/French 3 students.   Click here for a packet of activities and keep reading for a short explanation of each lesson.

Lesson 1: In this lesson I played a short video to introduce the tradition of the yule log cake.  I then assigned partners and gave each member of the dyad a different article.  The students read their articles and filled in the information they could find in the packet.  Then they discussed their information with their partner, who had read the opposite article.  Although I intended for the pairs to fill out a Venn diagram as described in the packet, due to time constraints the students just discussed their information and filled in the missing information for the questions in the packet.  This worked out well, as they did a Venn diagram in the next lesson.  Although I didn’t end up assigning the Presentational Activity, I had originally considered adding it, based on timing.

Lesson 2: In this lesson, one partner watched a video about Christmas tree traditions and the other listened to a video on the same topic.  They then discussed the information they found and completed a Venn diagram comparing the information in each source. As in Lesson 1, time didn’t permit me to assign the Presentational activities.

Lesson 3: As in Lesson 2, half of the students read an article while the other half listened to a video.  I was consistent in assigning A/B roles, so that the students who listened in Lesson 2 did the reading in Lesson 3 and vice versa. After the interpretation phase of the lesson, the students discussed their information and took a pair “quiz.”

Although these activities were challenging, the students remained engaged throughout the three class periods I dedicated to these cultural lessons.  Following the third lesson, I introduced the same story project that I described in this post from last year. I did, however, add an interpersonal communication task to the IPA/Learning Stations in which the students used circumlocution to complete these pair crossword puzzles (Partner A, Partner B). My students love these pair crossword puzzles and they were a very effective way to review aspects of French holiday traditions that the students had learned in past years.

Using Cartoons to Assess Interpretive Listening with Novice Learners

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This week’s #langchat discussion about interpretive listening revealed that we language teachers are very diverse in the way we approach this skill, especially with novice learners. Although I reflected at length on the topic of assessing listening in an earlier post, I’d like to specifically address a few of the questions that came up during Thursday night’s discussion.

Question #1: What resources are appropriate for novice learners? While some teachers are hesitant to use authentic resources with early novices, I have found that first semester French 1 students can successfully interpret carefully selected authentic materials when given level-appropriate tasks.  My go-to resource for these students are cartoon videos for the following reasons:

  1. These videos were made for novice language learners—young children in the target culture! As a result, the vocabulary and sentence structures are relatively simple and the linguistic input is supported by strong visual cues. This is exactly what our novice learners need.
  2. The wide selection of these videos ensures that there are several choices available for any theme we’ve included in our novice curriculum. My favorites for my Level 1 and 2 students are Trotro, Petit Ours Brun and T’choupi et Doudou, because of the broad range of topics covered and the comprehensibility. I also occasionally use Peppa Pig with my level 2 students. Although originally recorded in (British) English, the French translation was clearly intended for French-speaking children, so I do consider these to be authentic resources.  However, the target culture would not, of course, be represented in these videos.
  3. Cartoons are very engaging to my students. They look forward to their turn at the computer and a few students have even mentioned that they have watched additional episodes of the series at home, “just for fun.”
  4. As authentic resources, these cartoon videos often integrate cultural products, practices and perspectives of the target culture. When Petit Ours Brun puts his shoes under the Christmas tree, his grandfather comments on the delicious turkey, and he wakes up to presents on Christmas morning, my students learn relevant cultural practices regarding Christmas celebrations in France.

Question #2: What types of tasks are appropriate for novice learners? I realized as I participated in Thursday night’s #langchat that I have interpreted ACTFL’s descriptors regarding interpretive listening differently than many of my colleagues. The Novice Mid (my goal for level 1) NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Benchmark for interpretive listening reads, “I can recognize some familiar words and phrases when I hear them spoken.”  If I understood my colleagues’ responses correctly, many of us may be assessing listening by having students list the words and phrases that they hear.  Because it isn’t clear to me how this type of task would demonstrate interpretation/comprehension, I ask students to answer questions to show comprehension of the video, but phrase these questions in a way that the students can use previously-learned words/phrases (along with visual context clues) to respond.  This year I am using a multiple choice format for my formative listening assessments using our district’s recently-adopted Canvas learning management system.  Although I don’t feel that multiple choice is appropriate for many language tasks, this platform has the advantage of providing immediate feedback to my students.  In addition, since creating and assessing them requires a minimal time commitment on my part, I am able to provide more opportunities for listening than I was using other task types.  Lastly, this format provides students with additional context clues.  Their listening is more purposeful as they are listening for a specific response, as well as to eliminate distractors. While I typically use open-ended question types on my IPA’s, these multiple choice quizzes, which the students complete individually at a computer, provide the majority of my formative listening assessments.

In order to save time, I create these quizzes directly in Canvas, which unfortunately makes them very difficult to share.  For the purposes of this discussion, I’ve uploaded a Word document of screenshots from a quiz I made this morning for the video, Trotro et les cadeaux de Noel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRcv1pVaitY ). As this document shows, the questions that I’ve created enable these Novice Low-Mid students to demonstrate their ability to interpret this text using only previously-learned words and phrases and visual clues. While most of the items assess literal comprehension, I’ve included a few questions that require the students to make inferences and guess the meanings of new words using context clues. Here’s a quick explanation of my thought process for each question.

#1: While each of these questions would be appropriate to the context, my students will probably understand “pour moi” when they hear it.  They will also be able to eliminate the 2nd choice, because they know the word for Santa.  Although I’ve used the other question words in class, the students are not using them yet.  I included them in the distractors to encourage the students to start thinking about how questions are asked.

#2: This question is a “gimme.”  The students know the word for book and have visual clues as further support.  I created the question to improve the students’ confidence, enable all students to have some “correct” answers, and to provide more context for further questions.  As you can see, I write LOTS of questions, because I find the questions themselves provide important context and help the students follow along with the video.

#3: “Chouette” is a new word for these students, but it appears in a lot of children’s literature/videos and I think they’ll enjoy using it.  The context should make the meaning of this word clear.

#4/#5: The students have learned the word “jeux-video” so I think they’ll get “jeu.”  Also because Trotro also uses “jouer” I think they’ll understand it’s something to play with rather than listen to.

#6/#7 Students can answer by recognizing the previously-learned words “gros” and “belle.”

#8: Although this question does not assess listening comprehension (the word appears in written form), it does provide a contextualized way to introduce a new vocabulary word.

#9: The students can listen for the word “content” as well as eliminate the distractors based on previously-learned words.

#10: The students have heard “maintenant” repeatedly, but it hasn’t been formally introduced.  If they don’t recognize it, they should still be able to eliminate the other choices.

#11: Although the students will not understand the entire sentence in which it appears, they should be able to answer this question by identifying the word “cadeaux.”

#12: I’m curious what my students will do with this inference-based question.  They should recognize the phrase, “Moi, aussi” which should enable them to infer that Boubou got the same gift.

#13: The students should recognize the word “jouer” as well as be able to eliminate the distractors based on previously-learned vocabulary.

#14: The students should be able to use the visual context to guess the meaning of this new vocabulary.

#15: The phrase “c’est moi” should enable the students to choose the correct response for this one. As with several other items, I’ve included the transcription of the entire sentence to introduce new vocabulary—the verb “gagner.”

#16: Although my students won’t be able to use the linguistic content to answer this question, I’ve included it to encourage inference based on visual context clues.

#17: I’ll be curious how they do with this one.  “Bateau” is an unknown word and although they’ve seen “mer,” I’m not sure they’ll pick up on it.  Some might pick out “pirate” but I’ll be curious how many are able to answer this one correctly.

#18: The students have heard “rigolo” and this word even appears in Trotro’s theme song.  In addition, they should be able to eliminate the distractors based on previously-learned vocabulary.

While there’s nothing especially innovative about this assessment format, after completing many similar tasks during their first semester of language study most of my level 1 students are pretty accurate when completing this type of formative assessment.

Question #3: How should interpretive listening be assessed? I did want to make a point about grading these formative assessments.  Although I do my best to create questions that are mostly at the students’ current proficiency level, with a few items thrown in to encourage “stretch,” I rely heavily on my students’ results to determine how close I came to hitting this target.  Therefore, I do not decide how to grade these assessments until I have data on how the class scored as a whole.  In other words, this particular formative assessment will not necessarily by worth 18 points.  If, for example, the highest score is 16, I might make this the maximum score. For teachers that do not record a score on formative assessments, this isn’t an issue of course.  I only suggest that we expect and allow for student errors when assessing interpretive listening (even using objective evaluations) just as we do when assessing the other modes.

I’d love to hear from any of you who are willing to share your experiences and ideas about assessing listening with novice learners!

Image credit: www.gallimard-jeunesse.fr

“Je quitte la maison” a lesson incorporating a vintage text into a 21st century classroom.

As I mentioned in this previous post, a constant in my teaching practice over the years has been the inclusion of several Petit Nicolas stories in my curriculum.  Although the stories were written decades ago,   I find them ideal for my Intermediate Low’s (French 3 students) for the following reasons:

  • The author’s conversational writing style provides lots of input on high-frequency vocabulary and structures
  • Many of the stories have a corresponding cartoon video (on Youtube) that features a similar, but updated story line-great for interpretive listening tasks.
  • The stories are easy to find—I have most of the collections, so a quick trip to the copy machine provides the text to all of my students; no lengthily Google searches required!
  • The stories are humorous and engaging to the majority of the students.
  • My students love the first feature film (They’d probably like the second one, too, I just haven’t bought it yet.)

This week, we read the story called “Je quitte la maison.”  I’ve used this story for several years, not only because it’s cute, but also as a contextualized way to introduce my students to the future tense.  Click here for the comprehension activities I created for this story (described below).

Day 1: I did a quick introduction of a few new vocabulary items, and then had the students make some predictions about what might happen in the first part of the story.  Although I hadn’t yet formally introduced the future tense, my students had seen a few examples, so I could quickly explain the use of the tense in the predictions.  I also have a poster in my room as a resource, so I can refer to it throughout these lessons. After the predictions, the students began reading the story and supplying information regarding details of the story.

Day 2: I began the period by verbally discussing the details that the students had provided. The students then discussed the inference questions in small groups, and then as a class.  I was really happy with the way that these inference questions led to both a deeper reading of the text and some lively conversations.  It was so exciting to see many of the students being able to express their own ideas without relying only on repeated phrases from the story! As a final activity, I had the students fill in possible meanings for the future tense verbs in the sentences I had included in their packet.

Day 3/4: I repeated the Day 1-2 activities with the second half of the story.  Although the students felt that the story was very difficult at first, they were all eventually able to construct significant meaning from this authentic text.

After the students had finished the story, I assigned a series of learning stations to facilitate the extension activities I had created.

Listening Station: I intended for the students to interpret the cartoon version of this story that I have used for the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, I discovered quite late in the game that this particular episode is not currently available on Youtube, so at the last minute I had to punt by finding other videos on the theme of running away.  Due to the time constraints caused by the “missing” video, I created a series of multiple choice questions for these videos directly on Canvas, so I’m not able to share them here.  The first video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXIKD2RLRU8)  includes interviews and skits (?) about parent-child conflicts, the second (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93y7RNR4ATk) is a child-made video about a runaway (I only had them watch the first 12 minutes) and the third (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4X_-6cnqT4) was a news story about an actual runaway.  The feedback from my students is that these videos were very comprehensible and I liked the opportunity to include some current cultural content in the videos.

Reading: The students interpreted an online article with advice for parents of teen runaways and completed an abbreviated comprehension guide.  Although I was concerned the article might be too challenging, most of the students found it appropriate to their level of proficiency.

Writing: The students wrote a letter from Nicolas to his parents, in which he explains his plans to run away gain the following day (as suggested in the story).

Speaking: The students completed two separate communicative activities at this station.  In the first, a pair crossword, students used circumlocution to provide clues which enabled their partner to complete his/her copy of a crossword puzzle (Puzzle A, Puzzle B).  The students really enjoy these activities and they provide an excellent opportunity for the students to create with the language. In the second activity, the students performed a role play between Nicolas and Alceste on the hypothetical next day from the story.  I had the students practice both roles with the other members of their group, and then randomly chose pairs and roles for a speaking assessment.  While the students didn’t include as many details from the story as I’d hoped they would, they were able to create meaningful, unscripted dialogues.  Although I hadn’t expected the students to have any accuracy in terms of the future tense at this point, many of them did use this structure correctly in their role plays.