Category Archives: French 4/5 (AP) Units

La Quête de Soi: Les sexes et la sexualité: A mini-unit for AP students

genderRecently my French 4/5 class explored gender roles as part of the “Quête de soi” AP theme. They were really engaged by this topic, and we had some great discussions.  Here’s what we did:

Day 1: As a hook to this mini-unit, I began by showing this video  in which the vlogger, Norman, shares his ideas about some gender differences.  The students then worked with a partner to complete this quiz (p.1, p. 2, p. 3) from Phosphore magazine.  I insisted that they work in pairs, because I wanted to ensure lots of interpersonal communication in this lesson. I offered a prize to the pair who had the most correct answers, so that they would put a lot of thought into their responses.

Day 2: First I quickly went over the correct answers in order to award the prize.  Then I assigned a short comprehension guide over these pages (p. 1, p.2, p. 3) which explain the correct responses. After the interpretive activity, I assigned the written response.  This packet has all of the activities for this mini-unit.

Day 3: We started this lesson with a lengthily small group discussion about how boys and girls differ in various aspects of their lives.  These topics were taken directly from the article (p. 1, p. 2, p. 3, p. 4) that they read after this discussion and completed a serious of inference-based true/false questions about.  After responding individually, they discussed their responses in small groups. For homework they participated in an online discussion (on Canvas), in which they wrote about how their life would be different if they were a member of the opposite sex.

Day 4: As an additional interpersonal activity, I had the students respond to a series of controversial statements about how their lives might be different if they were the opposite sex.  I gave them 3 minutes to discuss each statement, and had a scorekeeper in each group keep score based on the types of responses his/her group members made.  I again gave a prize to the student with the highest score.

The students really enjoyed this mini-unit on a topic which stimulated some great conversations!

The Refugee Crisis: A mini-unit using political cartoons to address a Global Challenge


Although I hadn’t planned on addressing the “Défis Mondiaux” theme with my AP students until later in the year, I just felt this topic couldn’t wait.  Here’s a quick mini-unit I created to introduce the plight of the Syrian refugees to my French 4/5 students.

Day 1: In order to ensure that my students had adequate background knowledge on the basic facts regarding this crisis, I began the lesson by showing these two videos: 1)    2) . We watched them as a class, and I paused the videos frequently in order to ask questions to ensure comprehension. Following the video/discussion, I assigned this comprehension guide over this article to provide further information on the refugee crisis.

Day 2: I began the second day of this mini-unit by showing this video ( ), which depicts the conditions aboard one of the boats used to transport refugees from Turkey to Greece. Again, I used the video as a springboard to class discussion, rather than as a formal listening assessment.    It’s a powerful video and the students remained engaged throughout the viewing.  They used the remaining class time to finish the reading activity they began on Day 1.

Day 3-4: Now that my students have some basic information about the causes of the crisis, the challenges faced by the refugees, and how some European countries are reacting to the situation, I wanted to create an opportunity for my students to engage in some interpersonal communication related to the topic. Because I have a Syrian immigrant in one of my AP classes, I wanted to avoid any type of role play or debate that may have (even inadvertently) resulted in insensitive comments. Furthermore, due to the limited time I had for this unit, I did not want to assign a significant amount of reading, which would no doubt be somewhat laborious based on the topic. So, instead of assigning additional reading to provide stimulus for a discussion, I curated a series of political cartoons that the students will first discuss and then present orally to the class. Here are the steps to this part of the mini-unit:

  1. For homework on Day 2, I asked the students to look at this Google Presentation ( )   containing 20 political cartoons related to the refugee crisis and to select the one they would be most interested in discussing. They then typed their name next to the corresponding slide number on a separate Google Doc I created to serve as a sign-up sheet. Note: I wrote my own name next to #1 and #2, as I will use them to the model the activities.
  2. On Day 3 (tomorrow), I will project the first cartoon and guide the students in a discussion, using the same questions included in the comprehension guide . Next, I will project the 2nd cartoon and have the students fill out a copy of the comprehension guide , which we will then discuss as a class. After this preparation, I will either pass out Ipads or a photocopy of his/her selected cartoon to each student. The students will then orally discuss their cartoons with a partner  (first one partner’s, and then the other’s) as they each complete the comprehension guide for both of the cartoons in their dyad. For homework, the students will practice presenting their cartoon to the class, giving the information they filled in on the comprehension guide.
  3. On Day 4, each student will present his/her cartoon (which I will project) to the class, who will fill in a note-taking guide with the types of information included in the comprehension guide. Students will earn a presentational speaking grade for this activity.

Day 5: On day 5, students will begin a short assessment over this topic. For the Interpretive reading, they will read this article (p. 1p. 2p. 3p. 4) and complete this interpretive reading assessment . In order to replicate the format of the AP test, the questions are multiple choice and require both literal and inferential comprehension. The students will also complete this listening assessment over two additional 1jour1actu videos. Although these videos are quite simple, the results on my first IPA demonstrated that my new level 4 students aren’t yet proficient enough to interpret specific details from more complex recordings.  I may add a short writing assessment, in which the students would present an unfamiliar political cartoon in writing, based on a prompt which includes the types of information included in the comprehension guide.

Although this topic isn’t “fun,” the interest my students have shown in the videos and their enthusiasm in choosing their cartoons lead me to believe that they will be engaged by this brief unit on an important current event.

Entre les Murs: Incorporating film into an AP Curriculum

220px-Entrelesmurs Although many AP language teachers design excellent curricula by treating each AP theme in a linear way, I have chosen a slightly different approach.  Rather than designing my units around the themes or subthemes, I have designed each one around a film, and then woven the AP subthemes throughout the lessons for each film. The interlocking circle diagram used by the College Board clearly supports the interconnectedness of the themes and my syllabus was approved during the audit process, so I’m confident that this approach is appropriate for my students.  Successful results on the AP test and increased enrollment in my French 4/5 class has provided further support for this curricular design.

This year, the first unit in my AP class will be designed around the film, Entre les Murs.  Although the central topic of this unit will be Education (a subtopic of Contemporary Life), this film also addresses the following AP subthemes:

  • Diversity Issues (Global Challenges)
  • Economic Issues (Global Challenges)
  • Human Rights (Global Challenges)
  • Leisure and Sports (Contemporary Life)
  • Rites of Passage (Contemporary Life)
  • Professions (Contemporary Life)
  • Alienation and Assimilation (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Beliefs and Values (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Gender and Sexuality (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Language and Identity (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Multiculturalism (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Nationalism and Patriotism (Personal and Public Identities)
  • Age and Class (Families and Communities)
  • Childhood and Adolescence (Families and Communities)
  • Citizenship (Families and Communities)
  • Family Structures (Families and Communities)
  • Performing arts (Beauty and Aesthetics)

Before watching the film, my students will complete a series of learning activities designed to provide them with the necessary background knowledge to comprehend and discuss the film.  Following the explanation below, you will find a link to a 24-page packet of activities that I will distribute to my students at the beginning of the unit.

Lesson 1: Because this will be the first lesson of the 2015-2016 school year, my goals were to engage my students, get them communicating in French after the long break, and provide opportunities to review the structures required to narrate past events—an important expectation for Intermediate High students. In order to meet these goals I selected an authentic article from Phosphore magazine in which several teenagers tell about their favorite vacation memory.  In this lesson my students will complete a comprehension guide for this article, discuss their own vacation memories in small groups, write an article about their own vacation memory, listen to a video about low-cost vacations, discuss the video, write a blog entry encouraging French tourists to travel to our community and then prepare an oral presentation on the same topic.  Here are the pdf’s of the article: souvenir p.1souvenir p. 2souvenir p. 3souvenir p. 4

Lesson 2: In this lesson the students will look at a diagram/short article which describes the grade levels and exams which are included in the French school system.  This is important background information for further resources used in later lessons which will refer to grade levels and exams.  After a short discussion, the students will prepare a written and/or oral presentation comparing the two systems.  Finally, they will watch a Cyprien YouTube video and complete a related interpersonal and presentational activity.

Lesson 3: I designed this lesson to activate my students’ background knowledge about the Bac.  Although this important exam will not play a role in the film (whose students are middle school-aged), I think it’s important for my students to be familiar with this aspect of the French educational system.  Therefore, in this lesson the students will watch a short video as a hook to the lesson, read and discuss a brief infographic with statistics about the Bac, watch a news video with students’ reactions to their Bac results, and then discuss differences between the Bac and American college entrance exams.  Lastly, they will read a comic strip about the Bac, prepare an oral summary of the story and then write an e-mail explaining the differences between the Bac and ACT/SAT. Here’s the comic: le Bac

Lesson 4: In this lesson the students will be become familiar with slam poetry by watching and discussing the video, “Education Nationale” by Grand Corps Malade.  In addition to introducing the students to this art form, this video addresses some of the educational topics that will be presented in Entre les Murs.

Lesson 5: Finally—it’s time for the show! For the next five class periods the students will watch and discuss the film.  In the packet I’ve provided a glossary, as well as questions that can be used to assess comprehension and promote discussion.  During each “movie day” I will show about 30 minutes of film (which I will frequently pause to ask questions and check for understanding) and about 15 min. of conversational activities.  This conversation might include the questions in the packet, role plays, and “Controversial Statements” (see below). When designing role plays, I usually describe a hypothetical situation that the students will spontaneously perform.  Here are some examples from the film.


A: You and M. Marin and you’ve just come home from your first day of school.  Your partner wants to know all about your day.  Tell him/her about your day and your feelings about it.

B: You are M. Marin’s partner and today was his first day of school.  Find out all about his day including what his students and any new colleagues are like.


A: You and your partner are each students in M. Marin’s class.  Talk about how your school year is going and what you think of M. Marin and his class.

B: You and your partner are each students in M. Marin’s class.  Talk about how your school year is going and what you think of M Marin and his class.


A: You are Khoumba’s mother.  She has just brought home her “Carnet de Correspondance” with M. Marin’s comments about her behavior in class.  Ask her about what happened.  It’s up to you whether you will take her side or her teacher’s.

B: You are Khoumba and you’ve just shown your “Carnet de Correspondance” to your mother.  Explain your side of the story.


A: You are Wei’s mom or dad and you’ve just come home from your parent-teacher conference with M. Marin. Talk to Wei about what M. Marin had to say.

B: You are Wei and your mom/dad has just come home from their parent-teacher conference with M. Marin.  Respond to your parent’s comments.


A: You are Souleymane’s mom and you’ve just received a phone call from the school principal.  Talk to Souleymane about what the principal said and what you expect him to do to change his behavior.  Tell him what the consequences will be if his behavior doesn’t improve.

B: You are Souleymane and your mom has just gotten off the phone with the principal.  She’s pretty angry with you so you will try to defend yourself.


A: You are Khoumba and you’ve just come home with a cut above your eye.  Your mom wants to know what happened, so tell her.

B: You are Khoumba’s mom and you want to know why Khoumba has a cut above her eye.  It’s up to you to decide what you will do when you find out what happened.


A: You are Esmerelda and you’re angry with M. Marin for calling you a name.  You’ve decided to go to the principal about what happened.

B: You are the principal and Esmerelda has just told you about an incident with M. Marin.  Find out more about the situation so you can decide how to handle it.


A: You are Khoumba and you’ve just heard about Souleymane’s punishment.  You feel really bad about it so you go and talk to him.

B: You are Souleymane and you’ve just been expelled.  Khoumba has come over to tell you how sorry she is about what happened.  How will you react?

“Controversial Statements”

For this activity, I project a series of statements (one at a time) and the students discuss each one in small groups for 3-5 minutes. To add an additional dimension to the conversation, students earn “points” for the type of contributions that they make to the discussion. This system of points came from a resource I was given several years ago.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact wording for each level—my apologies to the creator!

1 – Makes a statement of fact

2 – Supports another’s opinion

3 – Asks a question

4 – Provides a dissenting opinion

5 – Unexpected provocation

I assign one student in each small group to be the scorekeeper who will make a note of how many points each person earns.  While I don’t actually assign the points that each student earns (in order to avoid pressure on the scorekeeper to fudge the scores), I find that this system really challenges my students to increase the depth of their discussions.  Here are some controversial statements I might use for this film.

  1. M. Marin est un bon professeur.
  2. M. Marin charrie trop.
  3. Un système disciplinaire avec des points est une bonne idée.
  4. Il est important que les professeurs aient une cafetière.
  5. M. Marin est raciste.
  6. Il est importants que des élèves participent come délégués aux conseils de classe.
  7. C’est la faute de M. Marin que Souleymane a été exclu.
  8. Marin regrette ce qu’il a dit à Esmerelda.
  9. Le proviseur devrait virer M. Marin.
  10. Souleymane mérite son exclusion.
  11. Henriette devrait aller à un lycée professionnel.

I may also have the students discuss some of these statements as homework on our class forum.  This would give them an opportunity to engage in written interpersonal communication, a skill that I often overlook in designing my lessons.

Note: I haven’t seen the film in a couple of years, so I will be able to add more specific role plays and controversial statements after re-watching the film.

Click here for the activity packet for this unit: Unit 1 Packet

Integrated Performance Assessment

After watching the film, my students will take the summative assessment for the unit—an IPA composed of the following tasks:

Interpretive Reading: The students will read an article about an educational reform related to ZEP schools (like Dolto).  I designed the interpretive task to mimic as closely as possible the question types found on the AP exam, while at the same time trying to address some issues I’ve had when designing previous AP-style questions.  Namely, I have found that my students are less likely to read carefully when presented with multiple choice questions.  I have tried various ways of addressing this problem in the past, and these are the modifications that I’m trying on this assessment:

  • I’ve required the students to underline the sentence(s) in the text where they found the response (for literal level questions)
  • I’ve required the students to justify their responses to inference and culture-based questions by writing supporting information.

Interpretive Listening: The students will watch a news video about the ZEP/REP reform and respond to multiple choice questions.

Interpersonal Communication: The students will play the roles of two teachers at Dolto who are discussing how the ZEP/REP reform would affect various students in the school.

Presentational Writing: Students (acting as a Dolto teacher) will write a letter to the French Minister of Education, requesting they be given REP status and explaining why their students need smaller classes and extra help.

Click here for a copy of the IPA: unit 1 IPA

Here’s a tentative agenda for this unit: unit 1 outline

I’d love to hear back from you about how you incorporate film in your upper-level classes!







Implementing a Passion Project with Intermediate Learners

Untitled-1For the first 90% of the school year I planned units that I thought would be relevant and interesting to most of my students. I was thrilled with the progress they made in their proficiency and for the most part they remained engaged throughout the year.  As a result, I’ve decided to try something new with my Intermediate learners. For the last two weeks of the semester (and as their final exam grade), I’m going to put each of my Intermediate learners in charge of designing his or her own curriculum. Each of my French 3, 4 and 5 students will research a topic of their choice and then present what they have learned to their classmates.  Their presentations, as well as the journal entries they will write to document their research, will determine their final exam grade.

Never having implemented this type of project, I did some quick research on Genius Hour and Passion Project ideas.  There are so many great ideas out there!  Based on what I found out, I’ve developed these guidelines: passionprojectdirections

The students will first complete a Google Doc with general questions about their topic, how it relates to a Francophone culture, their big idea question, some beginning research questions, and how they will share what they learn. ( Here’s a Word version of the document that I made:googledoc ) Afterward, they will have 5 class periods to research their topic in class.  I have encouraged each student to considering bringing in a device for this research and I have 8 classroom computers for those without a smart phone/tablet/laptop etc. They will only be permitted to read/listen about their topic in French while in class.  During the last 10-15 minutes of each class period (or at home), they will complete a blog entry (on the same Google Doc).  As indicated on the project guide, I will randomly select one or more blog entries to grade for each student.  For the second week, the students will create the visual aid for their presentation, create index cards, and practice their presentations.  Finally, they will present their projects to the class.  While I think many of the students will choose a Powerpoint/Google Presentation, I’d also accept videos or possible other formats that they suggest.

Although we won’t begin researching until this week, most of my students are excited about being able to study “anything they want.”  While I’m thrilled that they’re engaged by this project, I’m also more than a little nervous about putting them in the driver’s seat.  Like many teachers, I might have just a tiny bit of a control issue!  As a result, I’ve decided to assign a daily participation/interpersonal speaking grade. Although I don’t normally grade participation, I wanted to make sure to have some documentation about their work on this project. In order to justify this grade to the “proficiency voice inside my head,” I added a descriptor about discussing their research with Madame.  As I circulate among the students as they work, I plan on conducting quick interviews to gauge their progress, as well as make them accountable for staying on task. Even though I’m a little nervous, I can’t wait to see what these students come up with!

If you’ve implemented a Passion Project or Genius Hour, I’d love to hear your words of wisdom!


Everybody loves Stromae!

stromaeThis week I needed a quick lesson for my French 4/5 class.  I was being observed by the professor from the college from which my students earn dual enrollment credit, so I wanted to create a lesson that allowed my students to show their communicative abilities in a subject that would be of high interest to them.  Because they were familiar with Stromae and the animated video for Carmen had recently been released, I decided to develop a lesson around this song. Here’s the document that contains the materials for this lesson: Carmen

I introduced the lesson by projecting this infographic which explains various social media in terms of hamburgers.


After a quick discussion of the image, I had the students discuss their experience with various social media in small groups, taking notes so that we could then have a short whole class discussion.   Next, I passed out three different infographics showing the role of these social media, especially Twitter, in France.  I designed a task in which the students would discuss similarities and differences between French and American culture in regards to Twitter, but this was difficult, as the students didn’t have the same type of statistical information for their own culture.  I would amend this part of the lesson by either providing some American statistics or changing the task completely.  I do think, however, that it is important that the students have some background knowledge about the use of Twitter in France in order to understand the theme of the song.  In addition, this information was a good resource for the upcoming AP test.  At the end of the period we had just enough time to watch the video.

When I continue this lesson tomorrow, I’ll begin by playing the second video so that the students can see Stromae singing the song.  As they listen, they’ll fill in the graphic organizer with their thoughts and reactions to the song.  Then I’ll pass out the lyrics and have them discuss the vocabulary, key verses and theme of the song.  Lastly, they’ll write additional verses for the song.

Bonne Fête de Saint-Valentin

valinte I took a few minutes in between parent-teacher conferences this evening to make a few short interpretive activities to go with some of the Valentine’s Day infographics that I found on Pinterest.  Here’s what I came up with:

French 1: V-Day French 1 Infographic

French 2: V-Day French 2 Infographic

French 3: V-Day French 3 Infographic

Note: I’ve placed a few text boxes over the content that I didn’t feel was appropriate for my students.  If you do any reformatting of the infographics, you might want to double check that the text boxes are still covering the adult content.

Bonne Fête!

Le Petit Prince: A communicative approach


Le Petit Prince: A Communicative Approach

Although my teaching has evolved considerably over the past 25 years, one constant has been Le Petit Prince.  This novel has been part of my French 4 curriculum nearly every year and I love it more every time I teach it! Fortunately, my family understands my passion for this character, and I now have a wonderful collection of Little Prince memorabilia including jewelry, a lunchbox, and even a pair of hand-painted shoes.  Most of my students grow to love this novel as much as I do and often buy their own copies after they graduate. I was especially touched to receive an e-mail last spring from a former student who wrote to me to share an article he had read about the novel in The New Yorker.  Although I hadn’t realized it when he was in my class, this novel had meant a lot to this student and he was excited about coming across the article years after reading the novel in my class.

Last year, because my French 4 students were placed in the same class as my French 5 students (who had read the novel the previous year), I had to take a short break from my beloved novel.  For this reason, I’m especially excited to teach it this year!  Although I won’t start until January, I’ve spent the last two weekends revamping my materials in order to make sure that my approach reflects my current understanding of best practices.  I’ve included a link to the workbook I created at the end of this post.  Here’s a description of how I’ll teach each chapter. (The information in parentheses refers to the corresponding workbook section.)

#1: Advance Organizer (Part A)

For each chapter I’ve included a question or two related to the theme of the chapter.  The students will discuss these questions in order to prepare for the reading.

#2: Vocabulary (Parts B/C)

I’ll start each chapter by presenting a few key words from the chapter.  I’ve provided pictures for the concrete nouns (and some verbs) and French definitions for the others.  I’ll project the pictures on the screen and ask the questions which incorporate the new vocabulary so that they are familiar with the words before we begin reading the chapter.

#2: Introduction to the text (Part D)

I’ll begin by playing the animated audio version of the text I found on Youtube.  Here’s a link to the Chapter 1 video: . After they’ve listened, they’ll read the text and answer the comprehension level true/false questions for the chapter. The students will work in groups to read and answer these questions, and we will then go over them as a class.  I have chosen true/false questions here, because I find that they encourage discussion more than other types of objective questions.  When I go over this section, I always ask students to justify their responses with specific details from the text.  They have to explain why the item is either true or false.

#3: Inference Questions (Part E)

In this section, students read inference-based questions and choose whether they agree or disagree with each statement, providing evidence from the text.  I often have the students respond to these individually, and then discuss with their groups.  The nature of the questions encourages both an in-depth reading of the text and lively discussions, as there is often not a clear cut “right” answer.

#4: Role-Ply (Part F)

Next, the students work with a partner on the role-play based on a hypothetical discussion related to the chapter.  These role plays provide additional opportunities for interpersonal communication, as well as help the students to synthesize the material from the chapter.

#5: Key Quotes (Part G)

Lastly, the students discuss a key quote from the chapter and how it relates to their own personal experience.

While I developed these activities to maximize opportunities for interpersonal communication, they can also be adapted for other modes or for assessment purposes.  Because my grading system is based on language skill categories, I include assessments for each skill through this instructional unit. Therefore, I might occasionally have the students work individually on the true/false questions and submit them for an assessment of their accuracy (interpretive reading), rather than discussing them in class.  I might also prepare comprehension questions for the videos, in order to assess their interpretive listening skills. The “Citation Clé” sections can easily be turned into a writing assessment, rather than/after being discussed orally in class. I record interpersonal speaking grades as I circulate among the students each day, but students could also prepare a response to an inference question, quote, or role-play, for an assessment of their presentational speaking.

Here’s a link to the workbook I’ve developed. Le Petit Prince .  Although I condensed it into 25 pages for the purposes of sharing, I will probably add spaces for student responses so that the copy I give them will be considerably longer.  Also, since I just finished this work I haven’t yet seen it in printed form or used it in class you’ll probably find some typos or other errors—please accept my apologies in advance!  I’ll update the link if I find any glaring errors!

I’d love to hear your feedback on these materials, as well as your ideas for this novel.  Please share by adding a comment using the link above!

Monsieur Lazhar: An IPA for AP students


When a colleague told me that she thinks this is the hardest part of the school year, I readily agreed with her. As she said, all of the materials and lessons that we created over the summer have been implemented, and we don’t have nearly enough time to develop the ideas we have for our current units. With winter break still several weeks away, we’re forced to “fly by the seat of our pants” all too often.
For my Advanced French students (Level 4/5 combined, AP class), this meant that they watched Monsieur Lazhar with very little preparation. I had never taught the film before, and just didn’t have the time to prepare the introductory materials that would have enhanced their background knowledge of the film’s setting, themes, etc. However, they were very moved by the film and we had great discussions throughout the week we spend viewing it. After which I administered the following IPA: MLazhar
In the interpretive listening task, the students watched a video and completed the multiple choice assessment. I continue to be challenged by writing this type of assessment. While I don’t think this is the best way to assess listening comprehension, I feel compelled to prepare the students for the AP exam. As always, I would be grateful for any feedback that those more experienced with the AP test can provide. Because my students received dual enrollment credit from a local college, I have only had a couple of students who have taken the latest version of the AP test, so I have not spent nearly enough time looking at sample exams. While I have tried to replicate the types of questions that they might expect to see (main idea, inference, language in context, etc.), I am not confident that I am getting it right. My students continue to struggle, and I’m wondering whether my questions are too difficult or if they are just not yet proficient enough for the texts that I am choosing.
In the interpretive reading task, the students read an interview with the director of the film. Again, I did my best to write an AP-style multiple choice assessment. I actually had a student who achieved a perfect score on this one. Whoo-Hoo! He is, of course, a genius and probably one of the most gifted students I’ve ever taught. Many other students did very well, too, although I noticed that there were more errors at the end of the assessment. I’m not sure whether the questions were more difficult or if their brains were just exhausted and they started to shut down.
In the interpersonal communication task, the students practiced each of the role plays with a partner, and then I randomly chose pairs to present one or the other to me. (They did not have the same partner with whom they had practiced.) These went well, although I need to remind them to incorporate more detail from the film in their role plays.
In the presentational writing task, the students wrote a letter from M. Lazhar to the school board, asking for his job back. I chose this prompt in order to focus on the future tense after a few students requested specific review on “verbs.” Although I had not planned on focusing on specific grammatical structures in this course, I felt it was important to consider the students’ requests in this case. I can’t offer any information about how they performed on this task, as they wrote them with substitute teacher this week and the papers haven’t yet made it to the top of the “Grade me” folder, but there were no complaints upon my return. No news is good news!
I’d love to receive feedback on this work, please leave a comment!

“Le Selfie:” an authentic lesson for Intermediate students

woman taking a selfie
This week I continued my unit on social media with my French 4/5 students with a lesson on “selfies.” The students are so enthusiastic about this unit that I hate to see it end! I actually had to ask them to discuss more quietly—and they were all staying in the target language! As an added bonus, the lower level students are seeing terms like “Selfie” on the French 4/5 agenda and I have been overhearing comments like “I can’t wait until I’m in French 4 so that I can do fun stuff like that!” What a great unintended consequence of writing my agenda on the board every day!
Here are the activities that I included in this lesson, which took about five days.
1. Selfie infographic: The students a) discussed a series of pre-reading questions in their small groups and took notes so that they could share their ideas with the class as a whole and b) completed a short interpretive activity about the infographic.
2. (Note: 1/5/2017.  This video is no longer available.) The students watched a YouTube video in which a young woman gives advice about taking selfies. Although the young woman spoke rather quickly, the students were successful in answering most of the (English) comprehension questions that I had prepared—I think the silliness of the video motivated them to rewatch the video until they were able to understand most of it!
3. The students read a simple article, “15 Astuces pour reussir un selfie” and completed a comprehension guide based on the template in ACTFL’s IPA manual. ( This article addressed many of the same topics that the video did, which made it very comprehensible to the students.
4. The students presented their own favorite selfie to the class. I created a Google Doc Presentation and shared it with the students in the class. Each student was responsible for adding his/her selfie to the document on the first day of the lesson. On the 4th day, each student spoke for a 1-2 minutes about his/her selfie. Students who do not take selfies or chose not to share a photo of their own were invited to find a selfie online and add it to the google doc. One student added a selfie taken by a macaque and a few others used celebrity selfies. The students were able to do these short presentations without much preparation and they all enjoyed seeing each others’ pictures.
5. After 3-4 days reading/listening to these relatively superficial texts, the students read a more profound article about selfies and teen girls. For this article I prepared multiple choice questions, but included main idea, author’s perspective, vocabulary in context, and inference questions in order to replicate the type of items they will see on the AP test.
6. The students wrote a persuasive text in which they incorporated ideas from the article they had read—another activity intended to practice the skills they will need on the AP test.
7. The students watched two videos, both of which were about the “Love without Locks” campaign in Paris.
Here’s a link to a document with the materials I used: Selfie-Unit
I’d love to hear about other AP teachers have addressed the technology AP theme. If you’re willing to share your materials (or if you have feedback regarding this lesson), please add a comment or send me an e-mail!

Facebook is for fuddy-duddies: An Intermediate unit on social media

facebookI’m only a little bit embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t wait to plan this lesson. I’ve had so much fun pinning various infographics related to social media, but had never yet created a unit on this theme. Since I didn’t do much with technology in my combined 4/5 AP Class last year, I wanted to make sure I spent some time on it this year. Although my colleague and I plan to cover a few topics related to technology during this unit, I volunteered to develop the first lesson, which focused on social media.
As you’ll see in the document I uploaded below, I’ve included an interpretive reading task (an article about teens and social media) an interpretive listening task (two videos about teens and social media), an interpersonal task (discussion questions and role plays) and two presentational prompts.
I think this lesson will take about 4 days and this is how I have planned each day:
Day 1:
I will begin by projecting a few of the images on this google presentation:
I will project one, give the students 3 minutes to discuss it in their small groups, and then choose one student to talk about it for a couple of minutes for a formative assessment grade. When I have done similar activities in the past, I instruct the students to describe the image and then explain why it’s funny. After repeating this process with another image, I will pass out a copy of one of the social media infographics I have pinned (see my La Technologie Pinterest board) and have them discuss it in their groups for a few minutes. We will then discuss it as a class. I will ask them questions about what surprised them about the infographic, what their personal experiences were on the topic, and whether they thought there were cultural differences between the U.S. and France on the topic.
After this discussion time, I will have the students begin the interpretive tasks. Because I have 8 computers in my class, I will have all the students begin the reading, and then choose 8 at a time to do the listening. For homework the students will post a response to the first writing prompt on our Moodle site (Because they will comment on each others’ posts, this is actually an interpersonal writing task).
Day 2:
I will repeat the discussion activities by projecting a couple of more images and passing out another infographic. Then I will have the students complete whichever interpretive task they did not finish on Day 1. If any students finish both interpretive tasks, I will have them begin writing their response to the second presentational prompt. For homework I will assign them the task of reading their classmates’ posts from the previous evening and responding to at least two of them with both a comment and a question.
Day 3:
I will project a couple more images from the Google presentation and then have the students discuss the questions from the interpersonal task. I will then divide the class into two groups. One half of the class will work on the Interpersonal Tasks for the rest of the period and the other will complete their presentational writing (#2).
Day 4:
I will project a couple of more images and then divide them into the two groups and have them complete the opposite tasks. By having only half of the class speaking at a time, I am more able to provide feedback/formative assessment than I would be if I had to try and listen to 28 students speaking at the same time. For this evening’s homework assignment, I will have the reply to any comments they received on the interpersonal writing assignment.
I just hope the students have as much fun working on this unit as I did planning it!