Monthly Archives: August 2015

Les Vacances: An Integrated Performance Assessment for Intermediate Low French Students


vacation-149960_640As promised in an earlier post, I’ve prepared an IPA for the vacation unit I developed for my French 3 students.  Before administering the IPA, though, I want to make sure that my students are prepared for the types of tasks they’ll be asked to perform.  Therefore, I’ve created a series of learning stations (Vacation Stations) that the students will complete during the four days preceding the IPA.

Listening Station: At this station the students will watch a series of videos related to the theme of vacation.  The videos I’ve selected include both cartoons, similar to those that the students watched during the unit, and news stories like those they will hear on the IPA.  I got a little over-enthusiastic while I was working on these stations, so I ended up with more comprehension activities than my students could possibly finish in a 48 minute period.  I’ll probably assign a few of the videos as homework instead, as I think the more listening they do, the better!  Note: If you use these listening comprehension tasks as written, you need to add additional spacing for the responses.  After creating these questions, I decided to make multiple choice quizzes on Canvas for these activities, so I have not included the spaces here.

Reading Station: At this station the students will read an article from 1jour1actu (connais-tu-lhistoire-des-grandes-vacances-en-france). Because the interpretive reading activities during the unit were infographics, I wanted the students to prepare the students for the more challenging reading (also from 1jour1actu) that they will read on the IPA.

Speaking Station: Here the students will interview the other members of their station group about their summer vacations.  This activity will give the students lots of practice asking and answering the questions they will need on the interpersonal task on the IPA.

Writing Station: At this station the students will write an essay about their real or imaginary vacation. It is my intention that the feedback they receive from me on this assignment will increase their success on the presentational writing task of the IPA.

After completing these stations, and receiving personalized feedback, these students should be ready for this IPA (IPA )in which they:

  • Read an article (Moins de vacances) about the history of summer vacation in France
  • Watch two news videos about summer vacation
  • Interview a partner about a real or imaginary summer vacation
  • Write a blog post about an imaginary summer vacation

My students have done a great job on the first two lessons of this unit and I’m looking forward to seeing them demonstrate their progress on this IPA!

Assessing Proficiency: A SLO Pre-Assessment for French 2 Students

board-361516_1280In Ohio, as in an increasing number of states, teachers are now evaluated (in part) on the extent to which their students meet the Student Learning Objectives that have been set for them.  Fortunately, both the Ohio Foreign Language Association and the Ohio Department of Education have encouraged us to develop SLO’s based on student growth in proficiency.  Therefore, within the first couple of weeks of school, I will be giving this pre-assessment(French 2 SLO Pre-AssessmentSLO Article p. 1SLO Article p. 2t) to my French 2 students.  Rather than assessing their work using performance rubrics, as I do for the unit IPA’s, I will use these proficiency rubrics to assess this IPA. I will then give a post-assessment (IPA that is unrelated to a recent unit of study), to assess student growth.

How do you measure growth in your students?

Les Vacances: A Unit for Intermediate Low French Students

vacation One of the first units I created when I set aside my textbook in favor of authentic materials was on the topic of vacations. I’ve learned a lot in the year since that time, so I decided to revise that unit to reflect my new understandings.  This packet (2015 Vacation) includes the following lessons:

Lesson 1 The first lesson in this year’s version incorporates one of the same infographics that I used last year.  However, this time I created French rather than English questions for the supporting details in the interpretive task.  Due to the simplicity of the text, the students I am confident that the students will not have any difficulty providing the correct responses. Using French in the questions allows me to model correct past tense conjugations which will then be repeated orally when we go over this activity in class. These same verb forms will then be used in the interpersonal and presentational tasks.

Lesson 2 The interpretive tasks in the second lesson comes from a Trotro cartoon, which was also included in last year’s unit.  This time, however, I created an interpersonal and presentational task to accompany the cartoon.  In the interpersonal task the students will discuss images from the video in order to co-create a summary. Although I have included the pictures in the packet, I prepared an alternate activity (trotro pair) which would require more significant negotiation of meaning. The students will use these same pictures to guide an oral and/or written summary of the video.  Both the interpersonal and presentational activities provide opportunities for students to continue developing their ability to discuss past events, an important step in increasing their proficiency.

Lesson 3 In this lesson the students will interpret a quiz provided by an RV rental company.  I think this will be a high- interest text, because teenagers naturally enjoy taking quizzes like this. For the interpersonal task, the students will predict their partner’s responses to the quiz questions, and then interview this same partner in order to verify whether the predictions were correct.  It is my intention that incorporating the present tense here will help avoid the students’ overgeneralization of these forms. The students will, however, use the past tense to present (orally and/or in writing) their own ideal vacations, giving the types of information that was targeted in the quiz.

Lesson 4 The students will interpret another cartoon video in this lesson—Le Petit Ours Brun.  Screenshots are again provided in order to support the interpersonal and presentational tasks.  Here is an A/B activity (pob pair) which will require greater negotiation of meaning.

Lesson 5 In this lesson I have re-used an infographic from last year’s lesson.  The value of this particular text is that it introduces a variety of vacation activities.  Due to the nature of the infographic, I could not authentically integrate the passé composé in the interpersonal task.  I did, however, use the incorporate the imperfect of vouloir.  I believe this is a good way to implicitly introduce this verb form, which could be used in later tasks. The corresponding interpersonal activity is a highly scaffolded interview (repeated from last year’s unit) which provides the students with the opportunity to see and use a variety of verbs in the passé composé in a communicative context. The presentation tasks require the students to describe a miserable vacation. I think the students will enjoy the creativity of this task, which I may assign as a Discussion (blog) on Canvas, our learning management system.

Lesson 6 In this final lesson, the students will watch a Peppa Pig video and then summarize it, first with a partner and then as a presentational speaking and/or writing task.  Due to the number of images included, I think the A/B tasks would be overwhelming for the students.  However, I may create an opportunity for more negotiation of meaning by copying the pictures on cardstock, cutting them apart, and then having each student take half of the stack.  They could then discuss the picture cards in order to put the story in order, using the manipulatives.

I’m anticipating that each of these lessons will take from 2-3 days, depending on whether I assign both the speaking and writing presentational tasks for each lesson, whether the writings are completed in class or as homework, whether I have the students work individually on the videos or we listen to them as a class, etc. As has been my practice, I will most likely assign the preparation of the speaking presentations as homework, and then randomly choose a few students to present for a formative assessment.  In a later post I’ll share the IPA that I will use as the summative assessment for this unit.



5 Steps to Implementing Learning Stations in the Language Classroom

station folderMy readers asked such great questions about learning stations after my recent post, that I decided to write up a quick “How To” for those who are new to learning stations.  In this previous post  I commented on some of the reasons why I find learning stations to such a valuable teaching tool.  Today, I’ll just mention a few practical considerations. These are the steps I suggest when designing learning stations.

Step 1: Decide how many stations you’re going to have.   In some cases your resources will determine the number of stations you must have.  In my classroom, I have eight computers (including mine).  Because I like to include a computer station, I can never have groups larger than 8.  This means that if I have more than 32 students, I must have at least 5 stations.

Step 2: Determine the maximum number of students you will have in each group. (In other words, divide the number of students in the class by the number of stations.) This step is important because it will help you determine how many sets of materials you will need at each station.  I usually organize my stations according to language skill, sometimes with a game or computer station thrown in. Some of my station activities are done with a partner (such as the speaking) or a small group (some of the games), so I need to have the appropriate number of manipulatives for the number of groups.  For example, in the French I introductory unit, I will have about 8 students in each group.  I’ve instructed them to divide into groups of 2-3 for the games, so I will need at least 3 sets of each card game that I’ve created (if there’s only one game at the station).  If there is more than one game, the subgroups might be playing different games, so you might not need 3 sets of each one.  However, keep in mind that if there is more than one activity at the same station, the students will not finish at the same time, so you need to have a couple of extra sets. For example, if a group of 8 is divided into 3 groups (3 + 3 + 2) to play Go Fish, Memory, and Loto, it would not be enough to have one set of each game.  The Go Fish group might finish before the Memory and Loto groups, and would not have anything to do.  Stations work great for engaging students, until someone doesn’t have work to do.  I usually have a few enrichment activities, but students will resist starting something else when they know that they can play a game in 2-3 minutes.   Three minutes is a lot of time!  My students tease me for my now famous saying, “You still have 3 minutes, that’s 16% of our class period.”

Step 3: Decide the logistics.  In this French I unit, I wanted to spend only 2 days on each mini-lesson and I wanted to have some time to introduce the vocabulary at the beginning of the first day as well as a formative assessment at the end of the second day.  As a result, I determined that I would have 30 minutes per day to spend on stations. Therefore, I planned four 15-minute stations that would be completed over a 2-day period.  At other times, I create 48-minute stations and the students will do one per day for 4 days.  Note that it is vital for logistical purposes that kids stay in the same group every day and that the order of rotation is decided in advance and remains unchanged. For example, if on the first rotation Group A is Speaking, Group B is Reading, Group C is Playing, and Group D is at the computer, then on the second rotation, they each group moves one, so Group A is Reading, Group B is Playing, Group C is at the Computer and Group D is Speaking.  On the third rotation, they will move in this same order.  Once I have assigned each student to his/her first station, I usually just have them follow the order in the packet, with the understanding that when they get to the last station, they’ll go to the first one.  Another logistical consideration is absent students.  I usually tell them to join their group on their return, and schedule time for them to make up missed station work, so that I don’t end up with too many kids at one station.  The problem, of course, is if they missed the Speaking Station.  If I’m using the Speaking Station for formative assessment purposes, I might have an absent student move out of order if I won’t max out the number of students in a group.

Step 4: Design the station activities.  Stations allow me to implement so many resources that I wouldn’t be able to use otherwise, so I try to take full advantage of the fact that I don’t need 30 copies of any materials I use.  Authentic books and games, realia, teacher-created or purchased manipulatives, etc. can all be incorporated into stations.  I try to create more activities than I think the students will have time to complete, in order to avoid downtime (see above.) I also suggest organizing the materials in a way that increases time on task.  For the computer activities, I put all of the links on Canvas (learning management system) so the students can just click on the links. The materials for each of the other stations are in a folder labeled with the name of the station.  For the Speaking and/or Game station, each set of manipulatives is in a baggie which is labeled with the name of the activity.  (Hint: Make each set a different color so that if you find a card that isn’t in a baggie, you know which set it belongs to.) Keep in mind that each group will be starting with a different station, so the stations can’t be dependent on each other.  In other words, you can’t have the Writing students write about something they read at the Reading station, because some students will be at Writing before Reading.

station folders    manips

Step 5: Create your groups.  Depending on your own objectives, you might choose more homogenous or heterogeneous grouping.   I do try to have even-numbered groups when possible.  This allows everyone to have a partner at the speaking station (unless someone is absent).  Therefore, I might have a group of 8 and one of 6, rather than two groups of 7.  I usually try to have students work with students other than those they are seated near during station time so that they can get to know each other.  As a practical matter, I like to use the Popsicle sticks that I make with students’ names to organize them into groups before the first station day.  It helps me to visualize the personalities in my groups if I have this manipulative.

I hope this post has cleared up some of the questions that people had.  If not, keep those questions coming and I can address them in a future post!




Bienvenue Partie 2: Designing IPA’s for Novice Low Learners

bienvenue2 In conversations about Integrated Performance Assessments, my fellow teachers often share their concerns about using authentic texts with beginners. There seems to be a widespread belief that true beginners cannot derive meaning from texts created by native speakers for native speakers. I hope that these assessments, which will be implemented during the unit I shared in yesterday’s post, will demonstrate that even Novice Low learners can read and listen to authentic texts when the tasks are designed to correspond to their proficiency level.

As I explained in yesterday’s post, I created two separate IPA’s for this unit.  As often happens in real-life school settings, instructional decision-making is influenced by many factors.  Because this unit will not yet be completed before the interim progress report grades are due, I prepared a short IPA to be administered after about three weeks of instruction.  This assessment will provide information to my students and their families regarding their ability to use their brand-new language skills in an authentic context.

IPA #1 (Revised 9/14/2015)

As you can see, I did not follow the exact order (Interpretive-Interpersonal-Presentational) that is recommended in designing IPA’s.  In this case I used an alternative format to better meet the context of the assessments, which was a visit to a Francophone school.  Therefore, in this IPA the students will first listen to an authentic video about holidays and then read an article about France from an authentic children’s magazine (Les Pays…08082015) Next, they will respond to a note from a student in the class.  Lastly, they will answer the school secretary’s questions.  Although all of my previous IPA’s have incorporated student- to-student interaction for the interpersonal task, I will play the role of the school secretary in this instance, as the Novice Low ACTFL Can-Do’s reflect the students’ ability to introduce themselves at this level, but not to interview others. This is the “secretary’s” script:


Comment ça va?

Tu t’appelles comment?

Comment ça s’écrit ?

Tu as quel âge ?

Quelle est la date de ton anniversaire?

Merci, Bonne journée.

Au revoir.

IPA #2 (Note: the video used for the listening assessment is no longer available, but a search on “Mes fournitures scolaires” on Youtube might provide a similar video. Edited 9/21/19: The text for my original IPA is no longer available.  However, Stacy Nordquist has generously shared a similar IPA that she created using a recent school supply list: IPA   List

In this summative assessment for the unit, I continued the context by explaining that the students were now preparing for their first day of school in their temporary home in Morocco.  Before the first day they will 1)Read the school’s list of required supplies (Interpretive Reading), 2) Listen to a video in which a student presents her school supplies (Interpretive Listening), 3) Discuss their school supplies with a neighbor (Interpersonal Communication) and 4) Make a list of school supplies they need to buy (Presentational Writing).

French 1 Unit 1 Formatives

As shown in the tentative agenda I included in yesterday’s post, I will administer a quick formative assessment after each lesson.  These quizzes are designed to assess the extent to which the students are able to identify new vocabulary words.  Any student who is not successful on any of these quizes will be given an opportunity to receive additional instruction and retake the assessment. As with the first IPA, the red text is teacher script and will not appear in the student copy.

Image Credit:

Bienvenue à la Classe de Français: A Novice Low Unit


In planning for the upcoming year, I really struggled with how to approach my introduction to French 1.  I have so many goals for these students, including:

  • I want to encourage the natural excitement that new learners have.
  • I want them to realize that language learning is fun.
  • I want them to understand that they are responsible for their own learning.
  • I want them to realize that they already have skills that they need to understand French resources.
  • I want to move them to start learning some aspects of the target culture AND (most importantly)
  • I want to help them achieve a Novice Low level of proficiency.

With these goals in mind, I designed the first unit as a sequence of lessons in which I would present a few basic words and phrases and then the students would complete a series of learning stations designed to help them acquire the vocabulary. By using learning stations as the primary vehicle for delivering this instruction, I hope to create a sense of self-efficacy in my students as well as provide multiple pathways to developing their emerging language skills. In addition, this lesson design will allow any students who miss the first few days (a common occurrence due to schedule changes, summer vacations, etc.) to work independently to make up missed lessons.  Lastly, using learning stations allows me to incorporate games and manipulatives that engage my students.

On the first day of class, the students will get an activity packet (French1unit1packet) and I’ll share this tentative agenda (french1unit1agenda) via Google docs.  I’ve designed each learning station to take about 15 minutes, so in each 48-minute period, I will begin by spending a few minutes introducing or reviewing the vocabulary with the whole class, have the students complete two stations, and then conclude with either a short whole class activity, such as a video, or a formative assessment (if it’s the second day of the lesson). Because I haven’t used these particular stations yet, I’m not sure about the timing.  If I find that the stations are not taking 15 minutes, I will modify the schedule accordingly.  Some of the reading activities may take longer than 15 minutes, so I will encourage the students to finish them when they have time at other stations.  Many of the computer stations are long, too, so I will encourage the students to work on uncompleted activities at home.

Here’s a quick explanation of the stations I’ve designed for each lesson, as well as links to some of the materials I’ve created. .

Lesson 1: Les Salutations

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice greetings.

Speaking: Students will practice two conversations, one formal and one informal.

Game: Students will play Memory to match French and English greeting words. Here’s a template (Greetings memory cards)

Writing: Students will write the conversations from the Speaking station.

Lesson 2: L’Alphabet

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice recognizing the letters of the alphabet.

Speaking: Students will dictate names to a partner, who will write them on a whiteboard.

Reading: Students will be given several authentic articles about forest animals and will fill in a table with cognates and other words that they can figure out based on context clues.

Game: Students will play an authentic board game that I purchased several years ago in France.

Lesson 3: Comptez à 10

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice the numbers 1-10.

Speaking: Students will 1) Dictate numbers to each other, 2) Play a loto game ( ABC_123 Loto )and/or 3) Play Memory using regular playing cards.

Reading: Students will complete an authentic color by number.

Game: Students will play Go Fish with regular playing cards.

Lesson 4: Comptez à 30

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice the numbers 1-30.

Speaking: Students will 1) Practice dictating numbers using a whiteboard, 2) Quiz each other using purchased flashcards, and 3) Play a guessing game.

Writing: Students will practice writing out the numbers by filling in a crossword puzzle (Crossword 1-30)

Game: Students will play Loto, Memory (Game Cards 1-30), and Go Fish.  (The same cards are used for both Memory and Go Fish.)

Lesson 5: Présentations et Géographie

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice asking and giving names and ages.

Speaking: Students will practice a conversation which incorporates several of the skills attained in the introductory unit.

Writing: The students will write out the same dialogue that they practiced orally.

Reading: Students will read an authentic article about France (France) and complete a comprehension guide. (This article can also be accessed through this link:

Lesson 6: Le Calendrier

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice calendar vocabulary.

Speaking: The students will complete a pair information gap activity (Famous French Birthdays )in which they ask each other for the birthdate of several famous French people.

Reading: Students will read an article about French holidays and complete a comprehension guide.

Game: Students will complete a pair activity in which they give each other clues to enable each other to fill in missing words on a crossword puzzle (xw Axw B) .

Integrated Performance Assessment #1

As the agenda shows, I’m going to give the students their first performance assessment at this point.  Although there are still a few lessons to go in this unit, I wanted my students to have performance grades on their interim progress reports, so I’ve included the short assessment described in the agenda. I plan on sharing this assessment in a future post.

Lesson 7 : Dans mon sac à dos

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice school supply vocabulary.

Speaking: Students will 1) Ask each other whether they have pictured items and either circle or cross out each picture and 2) Play Memory or Go Fish (I’ll use the pictures from the packet to make pairs of cards).

Writing: Students will list items in their backpack and complete a crossword puzzle (sac a dos xwcrosswordpuzzle) .

Game: Students will play Pictionary and Hangman with new and previously-learned words.

Lesson 8: C’est comment? (Students will complete all 4 stations in one day—they’re short.)

Note: Due to the nature of the teacher-created activities, which require the use of color, I’m not able to share them here.

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice colors.

Game: Students will play teacher created Loto game.

Speaking: Students will play Pictionary with colored markers.

Writing: Students will fill out a crossword puzzle.

Lesson 9: Dans ma salle de classe

Computer: Students will complete a series of interactive exercises to practice classroom object vocabulary.

Game: Students play Pictionary and Hangman.

Speaking: Students complete pair matching activity (classroom matching )

Writing: Students write sentences describing classroom.

As the agenda shows, I’ve planned one review day and then it will be time to implement the 2nd IPA of the year.  I’ll share this assessment in a later post.

Note to Readers: All of these materials are newly-created and haven’t been used with students.  In fact, I haven’t even printed them for my own use yet.  As always, please proofread carefully!

(Photo Credit:

Bonne Rentrée à Tous!