Une Journée à l’école : An inductive introduction to the passé composé for Novice High French students

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One of the most challenging aspects of my growth in standards-based teaching has been to design lessons that allow my students to acquire the grammatical structures they will need to increase their proficiency. While I have found that most of my students will internalize many structures, such as the use of various articles, many verb forms, irregular adjective forms, etc., other structures require a bit more direct attention.  It has been my experience that the formation of the passé composé is one such structure.  While I understand that this structure would eventually be acquired, I have found that designing lessons that draw the students’ attention to this form and then encourage them to use it to express their own meaning have been effective in improving their overall proficiency. In general, the unit that I shared in this previous post, was very effective in introducing the passé composé to my Level 2 students.  As a result of this unit, my students began using the past tense in their speaking and writing, and were able to understand this structure in context when listening and reading.  While they continued to make errors in choice of auxiliary and agreement (as expected), they also demonstrated their ability to form this tense in new contexts as the year progressed.  In fact, I was happily surprised that this knowledge carried over during the summer and these students were able to discuss their vacations at the beginning of French 3 with no direction instruction or review of the tense. Because this unit was so effective, I will reteach it with only a few modifications.

This unit (click here for the student packet)  consists of five different written or recorded authentic texts, each of which is accompanied by an interpersonal and presentational task.  I have made a few changes, based on last year’s results.  The first of these is that I eliminated the English comprehension questions from the video in lesson 3. I found that completing these questions was very-time-consuming for the students, and providing feedback required too much English on my part.  Instead I will pause the video and ask French comprehension during the viewing phase.  I will then give the students time for the French true/false questions at the end of the segment.  While I included the activities for all three segments in one lesson (they were spread out in last year’s packet), I will most likely intersperse these listening activities among the other lessons to provide variety and increase engagement. The other significant change that I made was to select a different text for the final interpretive reading.  The text that I chose last year was quite difficult for the students, and I preferred that they read a less challenging text in order to focus on the new structure. In addition to the lessons in this packet, I may include some of the supplementary activities in the original post, as well as a Movie Talk activity using the video shared by a reader (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEKLEeY_WeQ&feature=youtu.be).

24 thoughts on “Une Journée à l’école : An inductive introduction to the passé composé for Novice High French students

  1. Stephanie T.

    This sounds great! I did not see the Pablo comic in the packet. Is it elsewhere? Comme toujour, merci beaucoup de partager!

    Reply
  2. Rachelle

    If anyone is interested, I put the first part on EDPUZZLE (I. Une journée à l’école
    Comprehension. Watch the video and check each thing that happened to this girl on the first day of school.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_tbSmPDBz0 ) The video is called “journée(s) de rentrée”. You should be able to search it on edpuzzle.com.

    Merci de partager ces leçons !

    Reply
  3. Holly

    Bonsoir Lisa!
    I started standards based grading last year and stopped when I went on maternity leave. It was a brutal first semester because I wrote everything myself for all 5 levels! Finding the facebook group was a godsend and this is the second unit I’ve started heavily based on your work. The Carmen unit was so great, but I was nervous about how kids would do with the passe compose without direct instruction. I started it today and I am so impressed with your work! Holy cow, putting all the passe compose together is such a great way to give them exposure before the boring grammar. It was amazing to hear them using the past right away. The stronger kids were curious about the formation and the others didn’t have to worry about figuring something out that requires lots of memorization right away. Thank you so much for your generosity. You are inspiring and have made me a better teacher!

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Oh, gosh Holly. Thank you so much for your kind comments! I just finished this unit with this year’s French 2 students and had similar reactions. Let me know how the rest of the unit goes!

      Reply
  4. Natalia

    Lisa,
    First of all, thank you again for sharing your ressources! I had used or modified most of this unit last year with my French 3 students and it was a success. I have to say though that I do prefer the original Astrapi blog “Toute la classe a été punie”; it appears more relevant to content of “Pablo a copié” that contained much of the vocabulary and concepts helpful to interpret that blog.

    Speaking of “Pablo a copié” This year my class is one of THOSE! I am sure, you know what I am talking about:) As my son was sick last week, they had to navigate that article on their own and boy did they whine (thankfully to the sub, not me) that they could not read the cursive font. To the point that many were not able to complete comprehension activities (I do know that about 50% of those were lame excuses, but nonetheless). So for the next day, I typed up the narrative of “Pablo a copié” to eliminate the issue. You can find the story here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JSIQstee4DIds7Nq5WoOku-ry1LueFoTG_gWYkzYwkc/edit?usp=sharing. Feel free to modify for your students if they need a “non-cursive” environment 🙂

    Reply
    1. Stephanie

      Merci! This is very helpful. I was afraid to use cursive with my students. I noticed a couple of typos: pini instead of puni, and end-quote marks that aren’t needed. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        Merci à vous!
        Typos are my invisible friend 🙂 And as far as quote marks, I first wrote it in more of a narrative and then changed into dialogue to preserve better the original source; missed deleting those extra end-quote marks. I think I fixed them all now.

        Reply
  5. Fran

    Hi, Lisa. This approach to the PC is clever – learning by sight and ear instead of the classic avoir/etre/DRMRSVANDERTRAMP approach – and I’m interested in knowing a bit more about how it went for your students. Looking over this post and the previous one for the “Une Journée à l’école” unit, there was a reference to an IPA and stations. Did you end up implementing those the last two years (I didn’t see links to them)? If so, how did the students do on the IPA with the new method of presenting / practicing the past tense? Thanks so much for your inspiration!

    Reply
  6. Margaret Spires

    I have been working with this unit in both French 2 & 3 this past week. For French 3, it fits with Bien Dit 3’s ch 1. For those students I had taught the pc in a traditional way last year. For the French 2’s, many of them had studied the pc before, but some had not, and they were unsure of themselves but fine as they gave answers. I didn’t do the whole packet because my projector died on Wednesday, so, faute de temps pour bien préparer, I presented them today with a powerpoint on the pc. My question for you, Lisa, is: do you follow these wonderful lessons with an abbreviated formal grammar lesson, or have you sworn off grammar in the classroom?

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      While I have not sworn off grammar, I did not present a formal grammar lesson after this one. I found that as I continued to expose the students to the PC throughout the year they began to internalize the structures. Consistent, accurate use of the past tense isn’t expected until Intermediate High+, so I don’t worry about the students knowing all the forms at this point. An advantage I’ve noticed about NOT teaching rules is that they make many fewer errors. For example, it’s been years since I’ve heard, “J’ai prendu…” because they don’t learn the -re/u rule. I definitely encourage you to do whatever works for you and your students, though– Vive la différence!

      Reply
  7. Madame Joule

    Hi, I have been going through a lot, and I don’t have time to fill out the packet myself for the answers. IS there a link I could go to? I just recently had a baby, is why I’m asking.

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      I’m so sorry but I don’t have a digital key. I have changed schools since I wrote this post and my new curriculum does not lend itself to using the unit. Therefore, I don’t even have a paper copy I can scan. I’m sharing your comment in the hopes that someone else might be able to help. Courage!

      Reply
      1. Kathryn Zetts

        I’m not the most organized (or tech-savvy) person in the world, but I did use the “Pablo a copie” activity. If I can find my hand-written key I can try to share it with folks, but I am not sure I know how to do that. Email me, perhaps? share on google docs (but I am not real sure how to do that)

        Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Bonjour. I’m sorry, but I don’t. I’m no longer using that unit as a result of changing schools 2 years ago

      Reply
  8. Sheila Conrad

    Hi Lisa! I have a question – Do you allow students any notes when they do the interpersonal speaking assessment? I was thinking of allowing them to use the resources packet pictures without the text.

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, I don’t allow any notes (and my students didn’t seem to need any) but I think pictures would be a good way to scaffold the task. In fact the Can-Dos include a picture prompt for Novices Mid (?) Tasks. ( I don’t have the Can-Dos in front of me, so you might want to double check that.)

      Reply
  9. Sheila Conrad

    I have incorporated a lot of what you created here with my current French II class and it’s going really, really well! I honestly don’t even get mad when they say “J’ai arrivé” at this point, because they are using past tense verbally and in writing with so much more ease than with my old way of teaching. Merci, Lisa!!! You don’t know how much of a game-changer this was for me. ::Virtual hug:: -Sheila in Iowa

    Reply

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