Monthly Archives: December 2014

L’Amour – A Unit for Intermediate Low French Students

je t'aimeWhew!  This unit was a lot more challenging than I expected it to be when I typed the word “Amour” as a unit theme writing my French 3 syllabus in August.  Never having taught this theme without a textbook, I had my work cut out for me when planning this unit.  There is such a wealth of authentic written and recorded resources related to this topic that I didn’t know where to start.  Deciding that it would be simplest to start at the beginning, I chose a chronological organization for the unit (La Rencontre – Le Rendez-vous – L’Amour – La Rupture – Le Mariage), and then began the process of selecting materials that I hoped would be engaging, comprehensible, and appropriate to my students’ ages/developmental stage.  Trust me, as soon as you type “amour” into any search box, you will get a lot of hits that you would never want your students to see!  As an additional challenge, I wanted to make sure that the resources I chose helped to establish an inclusive classroom environment for my GLBT students, as well as respect for the beliefs of my students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds.  Lastly, I wanted to focus on the language function of giving advice, which was a natural fit with the theme of this unit.  Here’s the 15-page activity packet that I came up with—I’d love to hear your feedback! Amour Activities

Here’s an explanation of the activities in the packet, and approximately how long I think each lesson in the unit will take.  Note: My lessons tend to take longer than I think they will!  If it seems that this unit is taking too long, I will assign some activities as homework, or eliminate them, based on the needs of my students.

Etape 1 – La Rencontre (Days 1-3). In this lesson the students will first read an article with tips on how to approach someone that they’re interested in.  I thought that the students, who often feel socially awkward at this stage, would be interested in the concrete advice given in the article.  After this reading, the students will discuss some of the suggestions from the article in their small groups.  I have included a space for them to fill in their group members’ responses, in an effort to ensure that all students are actively participating in the discussion.  I will also circulate around the room and provide feedback during this portion of the lesson.  Next, the students will watch a video in which an animated character gives advice to a human teenager.  I wasn’t familiar with this series of videos, but I think that the animation in the video might be engaging to the students.  As a culminating activity, the students will write a message to a friend in which they give advice on how to approach a potential love interest.  As with all of the learning activities in this unit, I have kept the directions gender neutral in order to be as inclusive as possible.  On the second (?) day of this lesson, the students will both read an infographic and watch a news story on the theme of dating websites.  They will then practice and perform a role play between a teen and parent who are in conflict over the teen’s participation on a site de rencontre. I envision giving everyone about 10-15 minutes to practice, and then randomly choosing 3-4 pairs (not the same dyads as the practice activity) to present in front of the class for an assessment.  Because there are several role plays in this unit, I will be able to assess all students by the end of the unit.  Furthermore, by focusing on this type of interpersonal communication, rather than personalized discussion, I can avoid requiring students to discuss feelings that they might not be comfortable sharing.   For a presentational activity, the students will then write a message in which they make suggestions to a younger sibling who has enrolled in a meeting website.

Etape 2 – Le Rendez-Vous Amoureux (Days 4-5) In this lesson, the students will watch a video on how to call someone to ask them on a date, and complete a role play in which one calls the other for a first date.   They will then read an article with first date advice (Le premier rendez-vous) and write a note to a friend which incorporates suggestions from the article.

Etape 3 – L’Amour (Days 6-7) The students will begin this lesson by watching a video in which young children explain their ideas about what love is.  They will then read an article in which French teens discuss how they expressed their feelings/kissed someone they liked for the first time.  (Quand se declarer…) One of the couples in this article is a same sex couple.  While I thought about eliminating this portion of the article, I decided to leave it in to support my desire to provide an inclusive classroom environment.  While I do not expect this to create problems in my school, I understand that the same might not be true in other school cultures.  After these interpretive activities, the students will practice and perform role plays in which they give each advice about giving a first kiss, and then write a real or imaginary story about their own (hypothetical?) first kiss.

Etape 4 – La Rupture (Days 8-9) Since all good things must come to an end, the students will watch another video in the previously-described partially animated series with advice about breaking up.  They will also read an article with break-up advice, before discussing the suggestions in the article with a partner.  As a follow up activity, they will write a note to a friend who is going through a break-up and offer him/her advice.  The students will then read a more in depth article with suggestions to parents about how they can help their teenager survive his/her first broken heart.  They will then role play a conversation between a parent and teenager.

Etape 5 – Le Mariage (Day 10-12?) This lesson continues to be a work in progress, and I am not sure whether I will actually use it.  I struggled to find materials related to marriage that I thought would be engaging to students who are most likely several years away from being married.  While I wanted to introduce some cultural connections, as well as vocabulary related to marriage, I’m not finding a good fit between the videos and articles I found about Mariage pour Tous/French weddings and making suggestions/giving advice.  I may keep working on this—and add my revisions to this post, or drop it all together.  In the meantime, I’m leaving what I came up with in the document, in case it’s of use to anyone else.

Bonne Année!

Le Petit Déj: An introductory unit on French mealtimes for Novice learners

petitdej Although food is the last thing I want to think about after several days of holiday feasting, my syllabus says that my French 1 students will begin studying French mealtimes when we go back to school on January 5th.  Therefore, in my downtime during the first few days of winter break, I’ve developed the following unit to teach my students how to discuss and describe what they eat for breakfast as well as to compare typical American and French/Belgian breakfasts. Here’s the packet I will give the students which contains all the materials and resources for the mini-unit.   Le-Petit-Dejeuner (1)

I think these activities will take about 4 days, and this is how I plan on conducting each lesson.

Day 1 The students will first watch a short instructional video showing the students what food items are included in a typical French breakfast.  They will check each item that they hear and we will then discuss the correct answers.  Afterward, the students will interview a partner about how often s/he has each of the items on the list.  I will then ask a series of questions (Ton partenaire prend souvent du café? Ta partenaire prend souvent du yaourt ? etc.) before assigning the writing activity in which the students compare their breakfast habits to a partner’s.  If there is time remaining in the class period, the students will begin the interpretive activity in which they read an article about breakfast in Belgium. (Edited 11/5/19: Click here for the infographic. )

Day 2 I will start the period with the video (III) activity since I will be conducting this as a whole class activity using the projector.  After discussing the correct responses, the students will do the accompanying interpersonal pair activity, with a partner other than the one they spoke to in the previous day’s lesson.  Lastly, the students will have time to finish the interpretive reading activity about breakfast in Belgium.  Because this is an individual activity, I like to assign it as the last activity in the period to allow for differences in reading pace among the students.

Day 3 I will begin this class with a video (IV) after which the students will complete the “Guess Who” interpersonal activity.  After a couple of rounds of this game, the students will write a paragraph about their own breakfast habits.

Day 4 I will begin this activity with a short interpretive activity about typical American breakfasts.  After all students have completed the reading (early finishers can start the presentational activity), the students will complete the pair interview based on this article.  Lastly they will fill in a graphic organizer comparing French and American breakfasts.

Day 5 The students will take a formative assessment on breakfast vocabulary.

Whew.  Week one is planned for French 1—only 3 more preps to go!

Have a peaceful holiday season and winter break!


A literature-based Christmas lesson for Novice High learners


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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