Le 13 novembre: A Lesson Plan for Novice French Students


Like many of you, I have spent the weekend processing how to address Friday evening’s terrorist attacks with my students tomorrow.  Although I consider myself a planner, this is not a lesson that can be planned.  As of this time, I do not know how much my students will understand about what happened, what questions they will have, and to what extent they have been affected by these horrible events.  So, although I won’t have a plan, I will have some resources available, and will decide how to implement them based on the needs of my students.

In order to show my students the extent to which people around the world have been affected by the events in Paris, I’ll probably show them these pictures:


Depending on their interest, I’ll also show this video of Francois Hollande speaking (with English subtitles):http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/europe/100000004036880/french-president-on-paris-attacks.html?playlistId=100000004037210

I think that my students would also benefit from seeing Cecily Strong speak French, in Saturday Night Live’s intro:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJ_hoMig06M

In addition to these audio-visual resources, I have prepared both a French 1 and a French 2 comprehension guide  for this Astrapi article: Attentats-Paris

Finally, I will also encourage any interested students to express their condolences here: http://franceintheus.org/spip.php?article7170

In addition to curating these materials for my Novice students, I’ve chosen this post by Rick Steves to share with the families of the students who plan on traveling to France with me in March: http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/dont-be-terrorized/

Image Credit: Jean Julien

40 thoughts on “Le 13 novembre: A Lesson Plan for Novice French Students

  1. Kayla

    Merci beaucoup pour cette idée! J’étais en train de décider comment aborder ce sujet avec mes élèves demain quand votre blog est arrivé dans ma boite de mail! J’apprécie surtout le lien de Rick Steves; j’emmène aussi des élèves en France cet été et je crois que ça va bien leur aider!

    1. Toni Theisen

      Merci mille fois. I saw that great article and was going to work on it today. thanks for sharing such as great doc that will help our students understand this horrible situation.

  2. Evelyn Ready

    Thank you so much! I teach grades 6-8, and my heart has been heavy this weekend. I was struggling with how to present this to young students, yet we are obligated to bring them understanding. This helps tremendously.

  3. Julie

    Thank you for this post! I could not determine how to best handle this situation with my classes. Your resources will be very helpful.

  4. Jennifer Patrick

    Thank you for doing what I’ve been trying to do all weekend. I have been following you since June and really admire your work. You have inspired me and helped me find the courage to cut my dependence on the textbook and do more meaningful, relevant, and timely activities.

  5. Jeanne Boin

    Merci!! I have been struggling with this all weekend. I teach middle school French and I know I need to talk about this tomorrow. I’ve put together some ideas, but your lesson plan is helping me pull it all together. We have a penpal exchange with a school in Paris and we’ll be making a poster to send to them.

  6. Kari Greenan

    Merci beaucoup! I have been following your posts since last summer (when I first discovered them) and I even told my husband that I knew you would put together something on this sad and very emotional topic. I hadn’t yet seen the SNL intro and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all the fantastic work you do and SHARE. It is very much appreciated by this teacher in Duluth, Minnesota.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I’m so honored to be part of your spousal conversations! I know that you were not alone in your tears and that I shed many of my own this weekend. I still don’t know how I’m going to get through watching the videos and talking about this with kids. Bon courage!

      1. Jeanne Boin

        It’s going to be a very tough day. I can barely think about it all without tears. Paris (and France) is such an integral part of who I am that this all brings me such pain. Bon courage à tous!!

        I’d also like to hear more from those of you traveling to France with students. My group is for late September and I’ve already had to respond to a parent concern. I will definitely use the Rick Steves article. That’s close to what I’ve already told the parent. But this I will send out to all.

        Merci for your thoughts and support.

  7. Annette Hallaux

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful and generous sharing. These horrific acts require us to respond. I feel that our jobs as language teachers is to help our students view themselves as world citizens. I appreciate your guidance in approaching this sad topic.

  8. Madame McPheeters

    Merci mille fois! I have been working on what to do in class tomorrow and you have fabulous work! I started my journey with IPAs and letting go of the textbook last year and you have been a true inspiration-in fact I presented on IPAs at our state conference in October and had great feedback. My kids will be making a peace wall out side my class room and my French 3 class will be putting together a video to tweet out. Merci encore!

  9. Laura

    wow – that is a great idea of how to help the students process this event that occurred in paris. I too was wondering how to provide a plan. – I saw Cecily Strong speaking French on SNL and now you have a great idea of how to use it in lesson plans.


    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks, Tiffany. These are great materials and I’ll definitely use them with my upper levels tomorrow!

  10. Monsieur Nason

    Je vous remercie ! I can’t express how thankful I am for sharing these wonderful resources and ideas. Like you, I have been spending this weekend trying to process how to proceed with my lessons this week. I have also been perusing the 1jour1actu, Mon Petit Quotidien and Okapi websites for other ideas for this week. With my novice level students I am not sure if I will spend a couple of days discussing the events and using the resources or if I will leave it just for tomorrow only and then go back to my original plans for the week. However, for my intermediate/advanced students, I have made the decision to spend this entire week on it. I feel that I must and here are some of my thoughts/ideas for topics for beyond tomorrow’s lesson: to talk about laïcité in France, freedom of expression (I know this doesn’t exactly correspond as it did with the January attacks on Charlie Hebdo but, I think it is an important topic), djihad and terrorism, the refugee crisis, among others. My ideas and thoughts are very scattered right now and I know that not all of these topics necessarily link up in an easy way but I strongly believe that we as French teachers have the responsibility to tackle this issue & some of these issues in any way we can to better help our students what has happened and why it has happened. I know not everyone will have the same thought or be able to replicate my plans as I teach high school students who will be at university next fall and can be challenged with these tough questions. Any thoughts people have would be helpful, too. Again Mme Shepard I can’t thank you enough for inspiring and sharing with all of us!

  11. Kasey Kaiser

    Merci mille fois! I am a brand new teacher, and was struggling with how to approach this, with what is appropriate and what is not. Thank you for your resources, you are greatly appreciated.

  12. madameshepard Post author

    I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your kind comments and wonderful suggestions. I am so honored to be among such a dedicated group of professionals and I will be thinking of all of you tomorrow. My very difficult day will be a little bit easier knowing that my colleagues around the world will all be addressing the same fears and tears in their own classrooms. Bon courage à tous!

  13. Kerri

    Like others have mentioned here, thank you, thank you, thank you. Our middle school kids were not present when the 9/11 attacks occurred. This is their reality. This is where we turn a tragedy into an educational moment to hopefully strengthen the front line against these awful monsters. Kids are curious. I had many students ask me serious and very insightful questions about the awful attack on the United States in 2001. This is their time to understand on many levels.

  14. Tiffanie

    Merci mille fois! Like so many others, I was wondering how to approach this subject with my middle school French students tomorrow. Your post was just what I needed! Thank you for sharing!

  15. Kris Hart

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I’m sure tomorrow will be a deeply difficult day for us all, and as you said, it helps to remember that none of us are alone.

  16. Mme Macaron

    Thank you for your post.

    Listening to FranceInfo today, I heard a report about a group of French Imams who visited the site of the Bataclan shooting sites and sang the Marseillaise.
    Here is part of the radio report (too bad it is not all there!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqLCpjkYW0s

    Like Janeen, I ask myself what can we do?

    I’d like to share this excerpt from Le racisme expliqué à ma fille by Tahar Ben Jalloun. Though the acts of Nov 13 in Paris are ones of terrorism and not of racism, his suggestions are ones that our students can do on a daily basis.

    “Mais, avant l’arrivée des immigrés, est ce qu’il y avait du racisme en France?”
    “Le racisme existe partout où vivent les hommes. Il n’y a pas un seul pays qui puisse prétendre qu’il n’y a pas de racisme chez lui. Le racisme fait partie de l’histoire des hommes. C’est comme une maladie. Il vaut mieux le savoir et apprendre à le rejeter et à le refuser. Il faut se contrôler et se dire «si j’ai peur de
    l’étranger, lui aussi aura peur de moi». Apprendre à vivre ensemble, c’est cela lutter contre le racisme……Sache enfin que chaque visage est un miracle. Il est unique. Tu ne rencontreras jamais deux visages absolument identiques. …Chaque visage est le symbole de la vie. Toute vie mérite le respect. Personne n’a le droit d’humilier une autre personne. Chacun a le droit a sa dignité. En respectant un être, on rend hommage, à travers lui, à la vie dans tout ce qu’elle a de beau, de merveilleux, de différent et d’inattendu. On témoigne du respect pour soi -même en traitant les autres avec dignité.” “

  17. Evangeline

    Thank you for sharing this valuable resource. I am a French teacher in Pensacola, FL and wish to discuss these events in a meaningful way with my high school students.

    Evangeline M.

  18. Veronique

    Merci pour ces leçons qui vont nous aider à aborder le sujet avec nos élèves de niveaux divers. C’est définitivement un sujet que l’on ne peut ignorer cette semaine, ou du moins aujourd’hui en classe.

  19. Sarah Baker

    Thank you so very much for sharing your materials! I normally teach Spanish but am asked to teach French 1 now and then. This is one of my French years and I hadn’t been sure just how to approach it. You have helped me (and many others, I’m sure) tremendously. Thank you!

  20. Mary Kaubris

    Merci mille fois! Thank you so very much for sharing. The horrific events deserve our time and attention in class, and I have found all of what you’ve shared to be incredibly useful. Thank you for your work and for so generously sharing.

  21. Mlle Knopps

    Merci beaucoup pour tous!!
    I just finished these lessons with my middle school French students. It was difficult for them to understand that they are living through history but all of your links and worksheets helped a ton. I even had some parents thank me for teaching this to my class and I wanted to give you the credit for it.

    “Our 6th grader brought home the handout you shared about the attacks in Paris…and we just wanted to say thank you! The piece was really well done, and it was amazing to us that 1) you found such a good resource so quickly, and 2) integrated it into the kids’ lesson.

    I’m really grateful that our child and the other students are learning about French culture and current events along with grammar and vocabulary….”

    Your hard work is greatly appreciated!

  22. Kerri

    I want to thank you for your ingenious ideas!!! This gave me a chance to give my students the opportunity to connect to the feelings their parents/family members may have felt when we were attacked on 9/11. I truly enjoyed the conversations that occurred in my classes. Kids are curious and I was able to nurture that in a beautiful and organized manner. Merci mille fois! My 8th graders, even my weaker or less interested students, created a flyer saying #JESUISPARIS, sold them for 50 cents during lunch periods. They are waiting for a fund to donate their money .They were hoping that the Southern California university that the young victim was studying, would create a scholarship in her name. If anybody knows of an organization that is collecting funds to support the families that have been affected, please let me know. The passion of my students continues as we prepare for holiday break, they asked me to put up Christmas lights, but bleu, blanc, et rouge. Thank you for helping me reach my kids!!!


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