Category Archives: Musings

On Letting Go of Labels

One of the highlights of my time at ACTFL 2019 was a short conversation I had with Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell in the ACTFL Playground Saturday morning. She and her co-presenter, Laura Sexton, had presented a session, PBLL + TCI: Love Connection or Divorce Court that really resonated with me.  In this presentation, Sara-Elizabeth had adopted the persona of TCI (Teaching with Comprehensible Input) and Laura had played the role of PBLL (Project-Based Language Learning) in a skit based on a game show. This format created a context for a detailed conversation about the differences between TCI and PBLL. It was the first time I had heard two experts in our field openly discussing the disparities inherent in these methodologies and I couldn’t wait to find out how the characters in their dramatic presentation would resolve their conflict.  Of course, by the end of the session PBLL and TCI realized (as Laura and Sara-Elizabeth had years earlier) that the two strategies could be used together to build proficiency.

I was so thrilled to see these two amazing women demonstrate a way to bridge the divide that many have perceived in the world language community. It is an unfortunate reality that the labels we use to describe our teaching methodology can sometimes create a wall between “us” and “them.” In fact, I have witnessed some very difficult conversations between those teachers who identify as “CI,” and those who have chosen the “proficiency-based,” label. However, I couldn’t agree more with Sara-Elizabeth who later tweeted that the dichotomy between being a CI teacher OR a proficiency teacher is “NOT A THING.” It was such a relief to have someone as knowledgeable as Sara-Elizabeth so succinctly summarize my own beliefs. Although I sometimes use the term “proficiency-based” to refer to my own constantly-evolving teaching style, this is not meant to deny the importance of comprehensible input for language acquisition.  In fact, I fully agree with Sara-Elizabeth’s explanation (via Twitter) that “proficiency can’t be built without CI and the result of CI is proficiency.”

While most 21st century language teachers understand the role of comprehensible input in building proficiency, there is less agreement on how best to provide this input. Current methodologies differ in both the specific strategies and the types of resources that are suggested. Based on our training, experience and community, many of us have aligned our practice with one of these methodologies and may even identify ourselves as “I am [methodology].” It is so validating to be a part of a specific community and I understand the desire to identify as a member of a specific group. However, I think that doing so sometimes negates the fact that we are more alike than we are different. I love Sara-Elizabeth’s suggestion that we instead describe our practice by saying, “I use [strategies].” In my opinion, doing so encourages us to go beyond the limits of our labels and incorporate strategies based on our knowledge of our students, our unique personalities and experiences, and the requirements of our teaching environments.  Furthermore, by letting go of our labels we might facilitate more inclusive conversations with teachers whose language teaching journeys have led them in slightly different directions than our own. 
https://pixabay.com/illustrations/discounts-discount-label-promotion-2894129/

World Language Teacher Summit

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been selected to present at this year’s World Language Teacher Summit! When I “attended” (it’s an online conference so I never had to leave the couch) last year, I never imagined I’d be submitting a video of my own this year. If you’re interested in seeing my video, “Engaging Students in the Interpretive Mode” or any of the videos submitted by these fantastic language teachers, click here for your free registration. (Note: This is an affiliate link and if you purchase anything I might receive a commission.)


Bonne Rentrée: 2019

Today I just wanted to share a quick beginning of the year post.  The chronological nature of a blog can make it difficult for new readers to find helpful posts. So, as I did last year, I’ve created this list of links to past posts that included complete unit plans.  Keep in mind that these units were not all created or taught in one year. I switch things up based on the curriculum of my current school and the interests of my students. In addition, each post reflects where I was on my journey toward proficiency at the time I wrote it.  I have continued to evolve, and you will no doubt improve upon the plans that you find here!

Bonne rentrée à tous!

French 1 Units

Bienvenue à la classe de Français: http://madameshepard.com/?p=752

Bienvenue: Partie II: http://madameshepard.com/?p=789

Ce que j’aime: http://madameshepard.com/?p=855  

La Famille: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1110

Bon Appétit pt. 1: http://madameshepard.com/?p=282 (petit déjeuner)

Bon Appétit pt. 2: http://madameshepard.com/?p=321

Bon Appétit pt. 3: http://madameshepard.com/?p=345

Noël: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1282

French 2 Units

Les Loisirs: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1335

Ma Journée Typique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1340

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1387

Mon Look: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1278

C’est quoi, une maison idéale?: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1406

Les Tâches Ménagères: http://madameshepard.com/?p=502

Joyeux Noel: http://madameshepard.com/?p=267

Allons en Martinique: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1424

Les Châteaux (pt. 1)http://madameshepard.com/?p=415

Les Châteaux (pt. 2) http://madameshepard.com/?p=445

Une journée à l’école: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1081

French 3 Units

Bon Appétit: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1193

Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=111

Les Vacances: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1345

Les Campeurs (Petit Nicolas) http://madameshepard.com/?p=200

Les Animaux de Compagnie: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1261

Les Impressionnistes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1389

Le Jour de la Terre: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1136

Le Gaspillage Alimentaire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1287

Joyeux Noël: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1418

Ma Bonne Resolution (La Santé) : http://madameshepard.com/?p=1428

La Préhistoire: http://madameshepard.com/?p=516

Je t’aime:  http://madameshepard.com/?p=1589

Je quitte la maison (Petit Nicolas): http://madameshepard.com/?p=1013

French 4/5 Units

Cultural Stereotypes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=80

La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1376

Communication et Media: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1397

Le Droit a l’Education: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1450

Les Droits des Femmes: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1469

La Laïcité: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1128

Le Petit Prince: http://madameshepard.com/?p=219

L’Immigration:http://madameshepard.com/?p=880 Click here for the agenda of a more recent version of this unit.

Mixed Levels

First week of school: http://madameshepard.com/?p=1246

Halloween: http://madameshepard.com/?p=897

CSCTFL 2019

It was such a joy to meet so many virtual colleagues at this year’s Central States Conference. I was grateful for the chance to see old friends and make new ones and I was so inspired by the presentations I attended. It was an honor to see so many attendees at my own session on Saturday morning. (For the record, I didn’t think to take a picture until my presentation was over–those that are leaving did not walk out in a huff!)

For those that are interested, here’s a link to my presentation, “Incorporating Authentic Resources Across the Modes.”

Incorporating Music: A Sample Lesson for Intermediate Learners

In order to prepare for an upcoming workshop, I’ve been creating some materials for using songs in the language classroom.  While I incorporated several songs during my last two years in the classroom (I blogged some of my lessons here), I wanted to add a few more ideas for my workshop participants.  Fortunately, some awesome language teachers out there have blogged lots of great suggestions for using songs and I relied heavily on ideas shared by others (see bibliography below).  

One activity that I hadn’t had time to prepare when I was in the classroom was a Picture Talk with a music video.  (Click here for a great explanation of Picture Talk.) In order to demonstrate this strategy, I chose the song, Je te le donne by Vitaa as the video illustrates a sweet story that I thought would be engaging to students.  To implement this strategy, I would use the screenshots in this Google Slides Presentation to narrate the narrative depicted in the video.  I have included a few questions on the slides, to help guide the Picture Talk.  As directed on slide #23, I would not show the actual video until we had discussed the first 22 slides, as a way of building anticipation. While I created this Picture Talk with Intermediate learners in mind, the questions could easily be modified for Novices.  

In addition to the Picture Talk presentation, I prepared this document with additional activities that could be used when using this song with Intermediate learners.  On the first day, I would lead a short discussion of the pre-reading questions and then play the song (without showing the video). Although not included on the document, I would create a cloze activity for the students to complete as they listened. After going over the cloze activity, I would have the students complete the interpretive activities (B & C). If time permits, I would then have the students complete one of the presentational writing activities, although this could also be assigned for homework.

On the second day, I would have the students do the pre-viewing collaborative storyboard activity in preparation for the Picture Talk. Following the Picture Talk, I would have the students complete the interpersonal and then presentational activities.

For other great ideas on using songs in the classroom, here’s the bibliography I compiled for my presentation:

Do’s and Don’ts for Using Vocabulary Lists

Recent conversations in my workshops and with my online PLN have me thinking a lot about the role of vocabulary lists in a communication-based classroom.  As I look back at my evolution in teaching for proficiency, my use of vocabulary lists has changed significantly. For years I introduced the vocabulary in the textbook by having my students repeat the words on the list and then complete textbook activities, most of which were not communicative in nature.  I then assessed my students’ memorization of this vocabulary in isolation through objective-style questions.

As I transitioned away from teaching from a textbook, the role of the vocabulary list changed, too. It became my responsibility to compile a list and share it with my students. Therefore, it was up to me to determine which words and structures my students would need to complete the communicative tasks that I had created for each unit. As you’ll notice from reading my posts, I have created various types of resources to scaffold communicative tasks for my students during the past few years.  For my novice students, I often created an illustrated list of key vocabulary items, as well as a list of sentence starters. In other cases, especially with my French 4/5 students, I never quite got around to creating the list–and my students acquired the vocabulary they needed to complete the communicative tasks anyway! So, based on my own experience, here’s my list of Do’s and Don’ts. What would you add?

Do’s and Don’ts for Using Vocabulary Lists

  1. DO wait until you have designed the unit to create the list.  It is only after you have selected your authentic resources, customized your NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Dos, created your communicative activities, designed your summative assessments, etc. that you will know what vocabulary your students will need.
  2. DO wait until your students have received lots of comprehensible input in which the vocabulary is embedded (via authentic resources and/or teacher talk) before providing the list.
  3. DO include sentence starters in which the vocabulary is embedded on your list (rather than just isolated words) to scaffold communicative tasks.
  4. DO provide space for your students to add their own personalized items to the list.
  5. DO create opportunities for students to focus on vocabulary in a communicative context. This Interactive Word Wall is one idea!
  6. DO provide opportunities for your students to practice their circumlocution skills.  This pair crossword activity is one of my students’ favorites! (Click here for the sample puzzle.)
  7. DO provide lots of opportunities for your students to use context clues to figure out the meanings of new words.  I like to give the students lots of practice for part V of the ACTFL Interpretive Template by typing sentences from an authentic resource and underlining the word whose meaning I think they can guess.  I provide multiple choice answers to scaffold this task for my novices.
  8. DO avoid straight L1-L2 translation when creating activities/review games in Quizlet/Kahoot/Gimkit/etc.
  9. DO avoid assessing your students’ memorization of vocabulary in isolation.  Instead, assess your students’ overall interpretive, interpersonal and presentational skills.
  10. DON’T be afraid to eliminate the list altogether, especially for Intermediate Mid-High students.  Your students will most likely learn the words they need by communicating about a topic throughout the unit.

Please share your Dos and Don’ts in the comments below!

A New Beginning

As some of you know, I have decided to transition out of the classroom at the end of the school year.  (The photo shows a lovely gift from a student in honor of my retirement.) This was a difficult decision to make and I will miss my students enormously.  There are many reasons why I’ve chosen this, my 29th year, to be my last. My grandsons, Oli (born April 25, 2017) and Remy (expected July 8, 2018) are two of the most important ones!  (Yes, both my son/daughter-in-law and my daughter/son-in-law have been kind enough to provide me with a baby boy to love on in the past year!)

Although I will no longer have a classroom of my own, my passion for the work of language teaching has not waned in the slightest.  I cannot imagine a life in which I am no longer creating lessons, collaborating with colleagues and providing professional development to other language teachers! Therefore, I’m happy to announce my next venture, Shepard World Language Consulting, LLC.  I have already been invited by several districts to provide professional development and revise curriculum over the next few months and am so excited about this new chapter in my professional life!

I still plan to maintain this blog and will add posts when I have ideas to share. In fact, I hope to add some lessons that I created this spring when I have some time off later in the summer.  I do want to let my readers know, though, that I will soon lose access to my Google Drive at school.  I have been busy making copies of my materials on my personal account, but it may be some time before I am able to recreate the agendas with hyperlinks to the new copies of each resource.  My suggestion to all of you is that if there is anything on the blog that you would like to use, please make a copy of the Google Docs as soon as possible.  (Word documents that I created before June, 2016 will not be affected.) Thank you for your patience as I work to update the last two years’ work over the next few months!

Bon Courage to those of you that are in the final stretch of this school year and Bonnes Vacances to those of you who are enjoying some well-deserved rest and relaxation.  Please keep in touch if you have any questions on anything that I’ve shared here, or if you’d like to schedule professional development or curriculum revision in your district.

Happy Summer!

Focus on Function in a Unit about Women’s Rights for Intermediate French Students

As some of you might know, I had the great honor of interviewing Laura Terrill, co-author of The Keys to Planning for Learning (purchase here) as part of a #langbook discussion on Twitter.  (Our interview was featured in this podcast.) As I read the 2nd edition of this crucial text, one new understanding that I gained was the vital role that language functions play in teaching for proficiency.  I definitely  have not been intentional enough in creating opportunities for my students to communicate using various functions, so this was one of my goals in designing my latest unit for my French 4 and 5 students.  Here’s a link (Updated 5/24/18: new link) to the agenda for the unit to which the resources I created are linked. A brief description of each lesson can be found below.

Lesson 1: Since the functions of Describing and Asking/Answering questions are typically the mainstays of my communicative tasks (along with a liberal sprinkling of Telling and Retelling Stories), I wanted to pay special attention to the functions of Expressing Feelings and Emotions and Expressing Advice, Opinions and Preferences in designing this unit.  Here’s a link to the agenda with the resources for the unit I created with this goal in mind and here is a short description of each lesson:

Lesson 1: In order to introduce my students to a few aspects of sexual inequality in France, I’ll begin the first lesson by projecting a short infographic and leading a brief discussion about relevant cultural practices and perspectives in France and the U.S.  Next, I’ll give the students a more detailed infographic and ask them to complete statements expressing their opinions and emotions about facts in their infographic in order to practice the structures they’ll need for these functions.  After discussing their reactions to the infographic in small groups, they’ll listen to a video about La Journée de la Femme and respond by filling in a table with details they have understood.

Lesson 2: As a hook for this lesson, I’ll play and discuss a video about La Journée de la Femme. Next the students will listen to part of a video about the history of women’s rights in France and complete a manipulative activity in small groups.  Next each student will be given one of two different infographics with important dates for  women’s rights in France.  After filling in a graphic organizer with their opinions of the most important events in this movement, they will discuss with a partner (who had the other infographic) in order to reach a consensus about the most important dates.  I think this activity will provide an important opportunity for the students to engage in the function of Expressing Opinion.

Lesson 3: The hook for this lesson is a video about women’s rights in Tunisia that I will discuss with the class in order to provide background information about the perspectives of another Francophone culture. The students will then complete the manipulative for the second half of the history video before beginning work on a short written presentation about one of the women who played an important role in the women’s movement in France.  In order to ensure that the students are focusing on expressing advice and opinions, I have chosen a prompt in which they are writing to the French postal system to nominate one of the women to be featured on a new stamp.  After finishing their letters, the students will discuss their choice with a partner in order to try to convince each other that their woman is the most deserving. (Lessons 4 and 5)

In Lesson 6 I will assign the first summative interpretive assessment, an 1jour1actu article about the experiences of women from different generations.  Because some of these students will be taking the IB exam, I have used used questions types that are part of this test in my assessment.

In lesson 7 I will turn the focus toward women’s experiences in the workplace.  As a hook I’ll present a short video with women’s statements of their experiences and then an infographic with key dates. Next, I will send the students to a website with period videos related to different aspects of the women’s movement, along with the reactions of experts in the field.  Although we’ll only be using the videos related to the workplace, there are a wealth of great videos related to other aspects of gender equality here.  I’ll have the students select one of the videos to listen to and prepare a short commentary.  The next day (Lesson 8) the students will present the video they selected, as well as their commentary, in a gallery-style presentation. Rather than a generic presentational rubric, I have created one that specifically addresses the extent to which the students presented their opinion of the video in order to ensure that they focused on this language function.

Lesson 9: After a short video hook, I will facilitate a brief whole-class discussion of French products, practices and perspectives illustrated in an infographic on sexism in the workplace.  Students will then read an article about work equality from 1jour1actu and fill in a Cornell note-taking template.  The questions they write will form the basis of a small group discussion on the article.

In Lesson 10, I will project an infographic on sexual harassment and discuss it with the students before assigning an A or B infographic to each student. Students will then discuss the information in their infographics in order to compare details in a “top hat” diagram.  The students will then complete a table with information from a video about sexual harassment.  

In Lesson 11, I will introduce other types of harassment by discussing an infographic and drawing. I will then have the students discuss a very short film on the topic of harassment at school.  In order to facilitate their discussions, I have created an Edpuzzle and embedded discussion questions at various points in the film.  The students will then annotate a short article about sexual harassment in Belgian schools and discuss it with their groups.

In Lesson 12 I will give the second summative interpretive assessment–an article about sexism in schools with IB-style questions.

In Lesson 13 I will have the students take a quiz on gender stereotypes (the same quiz I used in this lesson) and discuss their opinions of each item in order to select the correct answers.  I’ll give a small  prize to the pair with the most correct answers in order to encourage the opinion-giving.  We’ll then go over the correct answers in class (this will not be a graded activity). We’ll continue with the topic of gender-based stereotypes in Lesson 14 by completing a short comprehension guide of the answers to the previous day’s quiz and then taking a formative assessment on a video about stereotypes.

In Lesson 15 we’ll look at Tweets in which people express how their lives would be different if they were of the opposite gender.  (Finding PG-rated Tweets on this topic was not as easy as it sounds!) The students will then read and fill in a comprehension guide about an article on the same topic.  Next, the students will write a paragraph of their own expressing how they think their lives would be different if they were a member of the opposite sex.

In Lesson 16, I will have the students sign-up to present one of the political cartoons I have curated about gender inequality.  The students will answer a series of guiding questions about their cartoon. In Lesson 17 they will present their caricatures, gallery-style, to their classmates.

In Lesson 18 the students will complete the final summative assessments of the unit.  In the interpersonal task they will discuss their opinions with a partner in order to select which of several political cartoons (I will select a few of those I included in the Google Slides) would best illustrate a blog post on the role of women in French culture.  As a presentational writing task they will then write this blog post.

I hope that the lessons I have created will allow my students to progress in their proficiency, especially as it relates to expressing feelings and opinions.  Let me know what you think!

Making Learning Visible

Thursday evening on #langchat we had a great discussion about what had worked well for us in 2017.  When I shared that I had begun having my students graph their progress toward proficiency, several people expressed interest. So I thought I’d type up a quick post about what we’ve been doing and what I’ve learned from the process.

I began by passing out this document when I returned the students’ first IPA of the year. Although I am clearly evaluating classroom performance in my assessments, it is important to me that my students see their progress in terms of language proficiency, so I use the proficiency rubrics from the Ohio Department of Education for presentational writing and interpersonal speaking. As the directions on the graph document indicate, I had the students place a dot in the appropriate square for each IPA and then draw a line connecting their dots.  I had them use the same graph, but two different colored lines for presentational writing and interpersonal speaking.  Here are a few of the graphs from my French 2 classes:

    

    

There are a few reasons why I consider the simple task of graphing proficiency/performance progress to be one of my successes in 2017.  For one, I LOVED the conversations that I heard among my students as they completed their graphs each time.  It is so much more meaningful to hear “I moved up to Intermediate Low 1” than “I got a B.”  These graphs are also a great visual for my students.  As we transition toward teaching for proficiency (and away from discrete point assessments) some students question “what” they’re learning.  These graphs help students to see their progress in a concrete way.

These graphs also inform my instructional and assessment practices.  Because nearly every student performed lower on the 3rd IPA, I had to take a long, hard look at this assessment (from this post).  My conclusion is that the prompts that I used for the writing and speaking tasks did not encourage the students to stretch in a way that would demonstrate their highest proficiency/performance.  Few students ask the variety of questions that would enable them to demonstrate Intermediate interpersonal communication and most did not include the compound sentences, creativity and cultural competence described in the Intermediate descriptors for the presentational mode. I clearly need to either change these prompts and provide additional direction and targeted practice the next time I teach this unit. I also wonder whether some of the results may indicate a lack of evaluator reliability on my part.  As with most rubrics, there is a bit of subjectivity and I hope to increase my consistency as I continue to use these rubrics.

Image Credit: http://www.publicdomainfiles.com/show_file.php?id=13489790414892

Musings on Unit Planning: Designing the Interpersonal Tasks

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

Novice Activities

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

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

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

Partner B: Il a beaucoup de livres?

Partner A: Non, il fait des maths.

Partner B: Il mange son crayon?

Partner A: Oui, il mange son crayon.

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

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

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

Partner A: Tu prends le petit déjeuner?

Partner B: Oui, je prends le petit déjeuner.

Partner A: Tu te lèves?

Partner B: Non, je ne me lève pas.

Partner A: Tu t’habilles?

Partner B: Non, je ne m’habille pas.

Partner A: Tu te réveilles?

Partner B: Oui, je me réveille.

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

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

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

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

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

Partner B: J’ai 10 chauve-souris.

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

Suggestions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Intermediate Activities

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

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