Monthly Archives: November 2016

Mon Look: A Mini-unit and IPA for Novice High French Students.

clothes-311745_960_720In order to implement the curriculum in my new school, I developed a short unit on clothing for my French 2 students.  Because time did not allow me to address this topic as globally as I would have liked, (See this post by Rebecca Blouwolff for some great ideas!) I thought I’d share the lessons I created, as well as the IPA I will use to assess the students.

Day 1: As my agenda shows, I used a cartoon, Trotro s’habille, to introduce some common clothing words. I first had the students watch the video and complete an Edpuzzle on their own. Following this individual interpretive activity, I played the video to the class with frequent pauses for questioning.  My questions addressed both comprehension of the video, as well as personalized questions about the students. After watching the video as a class, the students worked with a partner to put screenshots from the video in order and then match the appropriate caption to each picture. (I print the files on cardstock and then cut apart the squares, making enough copies for each pair.) Although I originally planned to have the students doing a story retelling as a formative assessment, time didn’t permit me to do so.  Instead, I made eight statements about the video and the students indicated whether each one was vrai or faux on a sheet of looseleaf.

Day 2: On the second day, I choose an infographic, “Etes-vous un hipster?” as a hook for the lesson. The students then used H & M’s website to fill in the name of various articles of clothing on a handout that would become their vocabulary sheet for this mini-unit.  They then completed a pair matching activity.  I formatively assessed this lesson by orally describing several of the pictures from the pair activity and having the students write either the number or letter from their pair worksheet.

Day 3: The students began by reviewing clothing vocabulary with a series of web-based activities and then completed an interpretive reading activity based on an infographic about Barney from How I met your mother.  Lastly, they completed an Edpuzzle for Petit Ours veut s’habiller tout seul.

Day 4: In this lesson the students completed the same activities for Petit Ours veut s’habiller tout seul as they had done for Trotro s’habille.

Day 5: Students completed a series of learning stations that allowed them to communicate about clothing in each mode.

Day 6: As a hook to this lesson I played a Cyprien video.  I then modeled some new phrases by giving my opinion of the articles of clothing on a Google Slides presentation.  I then gave the students a handout with these expressions and had them practice giving their opinions of additional slides in small groups. To further reinforce this vocabulary, we did an inside/outside circle activity with magazine pictures of various outfits.

Day 7: In this lesson each student was assigned to one of the slides on the Google Presentation of pictures of outfits.  The students wrote a paragraph describing the articles of clothing and giving their opinions of each one.  They then exchanged papers with a partner and read their partner’s paper and chose which slide s/he had described.

Days 8 and 9: IPA

Although I think this mini-unit would be improved by including a stronger cultural component, these activities did allow the students to increase their ability to communicate using high-frequency clothing vocabulary.

Give Me Five

handAs I was reading this month’s Okapi magazine I came across an ad for a free new app from Bayard press called Give Me Five by Phosphore. This app sends five short news stories to your device every day at 5:05 p.m. (French time).  While I hope to eventually have the students read the articles outside of class, I’ve begun implementing this resource by choosing an article and projecting it for the class. (Note: there’s a website with that provides the same articles.) After simply discussing a couple of the articles this week, I created this document which I will copy and give out at the beginning of each week (I see each class 4x a week). I’ll then project the article I’ve chosen for the day and give the students a few minutes to complete the comprehension guide, after which we’ll discuss their responses as a class.  Although the articles are difficult, I think that with the appropriate resources (, my students in Level 3 and above will be able to get some meaning from the articles. While I might not have time to implement this activity every day, I think that this resource will be a great way to introduce my students to current events and high-interest cultural topics.

Using Rubrics to Assess Interpretive Reading

rubricLast night’s #langchat was hopping!  One of the most lively discussions had to do with the topic of using rubrics to assess students’ communication in the interpretive mode.  So, at the request of @MmeBlouwolff, I’m sharing a few thoughts about how I use rubrics to assess reading in my classes.

Like many of my colleagues, I did not understand how I could use a rubric to assess reading comprehension when I first began using IPA’s.  It was not until I saw the ACTFL Interpretive template, that I realized I didn’t have to assess comprehension with discrete point measures.  After adopting the question types suggested by this guide, the switch to a more holistic grading system made perfect sense. A student’s comprehension is not adequately assessed by the number of questions they answered correctly, any more than their presentational writing can be evaluated by counting spelling errors. Furthermore, our current understanding of the interpretive mode of communication does not limit us to evaluating our students’ literal comprehension of a text.  Instead, we are encouraged to assess inferential strategies such as guessing meaning from context, making inferences, identifying the author’s perspective and making cultural connections.  Using a rubric to measure student growth on these skills allows me to show my students what they can do, as well as how they can improve their interpretive strategies.

Here’s a look at a sample of student work and how I used a rubric to assess both the student’s literal and interpretive comprehension. Please note that although I relied heavily on ACTFL’s Interpretive IPA Rubric, I changed the format to make it more similar to the Ohio proficiency rubrics that I use for the interpersonal and presentational modes.  In addition, I modified some of the wording to reflect my own practices and added a numerical score to each column.

As the completed rubric shows, I ask my students to assess themselves by circling the box which best reflects their own understanding of their performance on each section.  In addition to providing an opportunity for self-assessment, this step ensures that the students have a clear understanding of the expectations for the assessment and encourages goal-setting for future performances. This process also provides me with important information about the students’ metacognition. In this case, the student seemed to feel very confident about his/her responses to the Guessing Meaning from Context section, in spite of the fact that he only guessed one word correctly.

After collecting the assessments and student-marked rubrics, it’s my turn to assess the students.  The use of a rubric streamlines this process considerably, as I can quickly ascertain where each student’s performance falls without the laborious task of tallying each error.  I simply check the appropriate box on the rubric, and then project a key when I return the papers so that each student receives specific feedback on the correct responses for each item.  

When it comes to determining a score on the assessment, as a general rule I assign the score for which the student has met all, or nearly all of the descriptors. I do consider, however, how the class does as a whole when assigning numerical grades.  I am frequently unrealistic in my expectations for the Guessing Meaning from Context, for example, and as a result I do not weigh this category very heavily when assigning a final score.  In the case of this student’s work, I assigned a grade of 9.5/10 as s/he met many of the descriptors for Accomplished and demonstrated greater comprehension than the majority of his/her classmates.

While the use of rubrics for interpretive communication might not work for everyone, I have found that holistic grading provides better opportunities for self-assessment, encourages students by providing feedback on what they can do and saves me time on grading.  

As always, I look forward to your feedback, questions and suggestions!

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