Monthly Archives: April 2015

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.

hamburger

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.

A Novice High IPA on “Les Loisirs”

computer

This week my students will be completing their IPA on Les Loisirs.  I’ve been really pleased with their work throughout this unit, and I’m looking forward to seeing their results on this IPA.  While I began my journey into proficiency-based/non-textbook/non-explicit grammar lesson teaching with a significant trepidation, I am thrilled with the results of my new methodologies.  These students are now writing comprehensible connected paragraphs about how they spend their free time and using a variety of present-time verbs with some accuracy.  They are able to discuss these activities with their peers and they can understand some details given by native speakers on these topics.  While their writing and speech are not grammar-free, I did not produce perfect speakers and writers when I taught using more traditional methods either.  What I know for sure is that this year was the most satisfying of my 26-year career.  My students, many of whom have diagnosed learning and behavioral disabilities, are experiencing academic success and feeling proud of their achievements.  I couldn’t be happier for them!

So, here it is, my penultimate French I IPA:  loisirs_ipa

For the interpretive reading task, they will read an infographic about French opinions of an ideal weekend and complete interpretive tasks based on the ACTFL template.  I have designed this assessment based on the ACTFL Can-Do “I can sometimes understand short, simple descriptions with the help of pictures or graphs.” My students have been reading increasingly complex infographics all year, and I know that they will be able to accomplish this task without much difficulty.

For the interpretive listening task, they will listen to two different news reports about leisure activities that are of interest to these students. The first is about technology-related leisure activities, and the second about sports and exercise. These resources will be significantly more difficult than previous videos, many of which have been cartoons, but I chose them because of their relevance to the topics we covered in class. The fact that many of the requested details are numbers, a notoriously difficult linguistic concept, will further challenge these students. Because this task is closer to what would be expected of an Intermediate Low-Mid learner, I will score it accordingly.

For the interpersonal task, the students  will discuss their leisure activities with a partner.  While I have not always written an interpretive task that is clearly dependent on the interpretive one, it is my goal to do so as I evolve in my understanding of evaluating students’ language performance and proficiency. Therefore, I have included a requirement that they discuss how their leisure activities compare to those that are listed in the infographic. Therefore, this this task will address the Novice High Can-Do “I can exchange information using texts, graphs, or pictures.”

For the presentational writing task, the students will write an e-mail to a hypothetical exchange student about their leisure activities, therefore addressing the Novice High Can-Do “I can write information about my daily life in a letter, blog, discussion board, or email message.”  After receiving feedback on similar messages that they wrote throughout the unit, I think the students will be prepared for this task.

While my district and state have established the expectation that students will reach the Novice Mid level of proficiency by the end of French 1, it is my opinion that this Novice-High assessment is appropriate for these learners.  Because each task is based on the theme we have been studying, I have higher expectations of this performance-based assessment, than I would for an unrehearsed assessment of overall proficiency.

Les Loisirs: A Novice Mid unit on leisure activities

browsing-15824_640As I began planning my French 1 units for fourth quarter, I took a fresh look at the ACTFL Can-Do Statements for the Novice Mid proficiency level. This is where I expect my French 1 students to be by the end of the year and I wanted to make sure that I addressed any areas in which they needed additional preparation.  As I looked at the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do’s, I realized that I definitely had some work to do.  The statement “I can ask some simple questions” jumped out at me.  Many of my Level 1 students rely heavily on yes/no questions in their interpersonal communication.  Although they have recently begun using qu’est-ce que and qui, I have not adequately prepared them to be able to ask and answer when and where questions as mentioned in the example Can Do statement.   I also realized that they need a lot more vocabulary in order to adequately address the statement “I can communicate same basic information about my everyday life.”  While they learned how to talk about what they like to do, I have not spent nearly enough time on activities that would teach them to talk about what they do/are doing.  With these goals in mind, I began developing this unit on Les Loisirs .

Lesson 1: The students will begin by reading an infographic on French leisure activities and completing an interpretive task. They will then interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and the frequency with which s/he does each one.  Next, the students will write a short paragraph about their own leisure activities.

Lesson 2: The input for this lesson comes from a video about French leisure activities.  I will play the video as a whole-class activity, pausing when necessary to ask questions.  While students at this proficiency level cannot be expected to independently interpret many details on a video like this, they can pick out key words.  After the video, the students will complete an interpretive task in which they fill in a Venn diagram comparing their preferred leisure activities with those of a partner. They will then write a paragraph about whether they have much in common with their partner, based on what they learned when completing the Venn diagram.

Lesson 3: The input for this lesson will also be a video, in this case it is about video games.  I think this will be a high interest topic for these students and will provide a good hook to the lesson.  Following the video, the students will interview a partner about his/her leisure activities and complete a table with details that s/he finds out by asking information questions.  The final task of the lesson will be a paragraph in which the students describe what they do during their ideal Saturday.

Lesson 4: As with the previous two lessons, this one will begin with a video.  I should note that the reasons I have chosen to introduce these lessons with videos are a) My students always struggle with listening and b) Video interpretive tasks (as I use them during instruction) are less time consuming than reading tasks.  Since I control how often I stop the video, rewind it, etc., I can spend as little or as much time as I need.  On a reading task, I feel it’s important to give the students as much time as they need.  Because of the diversity in reading proficiency in my class, reading activities often take an entire class period.  Because I’m specifically addressing interpersonal communication in this unit, I want to make sure my students have enough time to adequately complete these tasks.  In this lesson, the students will complete a “speed-friending” conversational activity.  As a follow up presentational activity, they will write a note about which friend they had the most in common with.

In addition to these activities, I will spend lots of time asking personalized questions regarding my students’ leisure activities so that they are able to correctly answer information questions by the end of the unit.  My IPA is still a work in progress, but I’ll make sure to include it in my next post!

For those of you that are assessing your students on the ACTFL Can Do statements, I’d love to know how they’re doing!

Once upon a time: A fairy tale unit without any fairy tales

cinderellaNow that my French 2 students have been introduced to both the passé composé and the imparfait, I wanted to introduce them to the idea of using these tenses to tell a story.  Although I will not expect them to be able to correctly narrate past events consistently for some time, I did feel they were ready to be exposed to this challenging concept.  Unfortunately, developing this unit was much more difficult than I had imagined!  I had originally planned on using fairy tales to introduce the use of these tenses together.  Although I realized that classic fairy tales are usually narrated using passé simple and imparfait, I naively thought that I would be able to find authentic simplified or modernized versions that were written in the passé composé.  In spite several hours combing the Internet, as well consulting my virtual colleagues, I was not able to find what I was looking for.  Even when I widened my search for other types of stories, most of the examples I found were narrated in either the passé simple or present tense.  While I could have simply rewritten one of these stories using the two tenses, it was important to me that my students read an authentic text for input.  As a result, I ended up choosing a blog entry by the imaginary character, Lulu, from Astrapi magazine to provide an authentic context in which the two tenses are used to narrate a story. I had used a couple of her entries in a school unit with these same students so they were familiar with the character. As described below, I used this text to provide an authentic model for the use of the two tenses, and then provided a series of teacher-created activities in which the students would use them to narrate/summarize a series of authentic texts.

« J’ai encore un doudou! » (Lulu/Trotro packet )

I began the introductory part of this unit by give the students a copy of one Lulu’s blog posts, in which she describes an event from a recent class trip.  Due to the nature of this lesson, I did not prepare an IPA-style interpretive task like I usually do.  Instead, I gave the students pictures of a few vocabulary words that they would need to understand the gist of the story and a list of details to fill out in French. While I usually ask interpretive questions in English with students at this level, I wanted them to start to get a feel for the way the two tenses are used in this lesson. Preparing French statements allowed me to present additional examples of the tenses used in context and presented opportunities for the students to use the tenses in a controlled way in their written responses.   To further call the students’ attention to how the imparfait and passé composé are used to narrate past events, I then gave the students a series of statements and asked them to choose whether each sentence referred to background information or an event that happened.  While I had originally planned on this being a manipulative activity (I was going to make cards with the sentences and place them in two separate columns) time did not allow me to do so this time, so it was a pencil/paper activity.  To my surprise, most of the students correctly identified the type of sentence, but seemed to do so without paying any attention to the tense of the verb.  In fact, when I asked which of the two tenses were used for background information and which was used for events that happened, I got lots of blank stares even from the students had correctly completed the table. As a follow-up activity, I had the students number the events, in order to reinforce that idea that the passé composé is used for events that move the action of a story along. Following these input activities, I divided the students into pairs and gave each pair a set of pictures (lulu-doudou pics – printed on cardstock) which represented different aspects of the story.  The students spoke in French to put the pictures in order and then I called on randomly-chosen pairs to orally summarize the story using their picture cards. The nature of the cards required that the students use both tenses and they did so quite well.  For homework, the students wrote about this event from another character’s point of view. I felt this activity would allow them to rely heavily on the phrases they had seen, while still creating their own sentences. As a final step to this lesson, I asked the students to write their own blog entry for an experience similar to Lulu’s.

Trotro et le cerf-volant (same packet as Lulu)

While I wanted the students to have additional experience seeing the two past tenses in context, I did not have enough class time to devote to another written text.  Instead, I decided to show the students a short video about one of their favorite cartoon characters, Trotro l’ane.  I first gave them a handout with pictures representing some key vocabulary and then played the video, stopping occasionally to ask questions using the appropriate past tense.  To provide further examples of the verbs used in context I gave the students a question/answer matching activity based on the video.  Lastly, the students discussed a series of screenshots from the video in order to put them in chronological order by writing #1 under the first, #2 under the second and so on.

Rafara (rafara worksheets) 

The main focus of this lesson on story-telling is the authentic book, Rafara.  It is a text that is used by many French elementary teachers and I liked the idea of incorporating Francophone literature with these students, especially because this unit will be followed by a study of the film, Kirikou et la Sorciere. While the passé simple is used in the narration of Rafara, the activities I developed will allow the students to see the passé composé and imparfait in context. The original text will be quite difficult for these students, but I think the nature of the story makes it appropriate for practicing summary and narration.  Although I purchased a copy of the hardcover book through amazon.com, I will give the students a packet with this pdf: http://laclassedecharlotte.eklablog.com/rafara-a58890841 (rafara ) The text is the same as the book, but the format is more practical as it has fewer pages. This teacher divided the book into 5 “textes” and I will use her same divisions.  Each of the first four sections will form the basis of a one day’s lesson, and the fifth will be used on the assessment for the unit.  For each lesson I have developed the following activities:

#1: An interpretive task in which the students identify key words, fill in supporting details, and guess the meanings of new words using context clues.

#2: A manipulative activity in which the students work with a partner to match questions and answers about the text.  (I have included the questions/answers in the document, but I will make a larger font and print this page on cardstock for the manipulative activity.)

#3: A series of pictures that the students will use to practice retelling the section. (Coming soon!)

#4: A true/false formative assessment to be used at the end of the lesson.

(Note: Before beginning these lessons, I will show this video to provide some necessary background knowledge to the students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJQyNWhrHUQ )

 

As a summative assessment the students will complete an IPA with the following sections:

Interpretive Reading: An IPA-style interpretive task. (Rafara ipa )

Presentational Writing: The students will summarize the entire story using the pictures.

Interpersonal Speaking: Students will retell the story with a partner.