La Laïcité en France: A mini-unit and IPA for Intermediate French students

In a couple of weeks my French 4/5/AP class will conclude our unit on immigration with a series of lessons on the role of secularism in French culture. My goal in creating the activities to accompany the resources I chose was to ensure that I was inclusive of my diverse learners while at the same time accurately presenting a cultural perspective that is dramatically different than that of my community. As I found during my long-distance walk in France last summer, the topic of laïcité was guaranteed to create a lively discussion with my French hosts or other hikers. While I enjoyed these conversations, I have avoided any type of debate in this unit in order to create a safe learning environment in my classroom which contains students of various religious and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, the activities that I’ve created (click here for the student activity packet) were designed to provide the students with the background information they would need in order to make accurate cultural comparisons.
Here’s a quick agenda of how I’ve planned to implement these lessons:
Day 1: My students will watch a video about laïcité from and answer a series of comprehension questions designed to familiarize them with this concept. Next they will discuss a series of posters about this theme in small groups. Finally, they will write a paragraph comparing the cultural perspectives regarding the separation of church and state in the U.S. and France.
Day 2: First we will discuss one or more of the images I curated in this Google Presentation
( Next the students will individually watch a video about laïcité and complete a graphic organizer/comprehension questions. The students will then discuss their answers to the comprehension questions in small groups.
Day 3: We will continue discussing images from the Google Presentation as a warm up and I will then assign the reading comprehension tasks to accompany the Charte de la Laïcité. After going over the correct responses, the students will complete the discussion activity in which they compare our school culture to the rules outlined in the chart.
Day 4: We’ll begin the class by discussing their conclusions from the previous day’s discussion activity. Next, the students will perform the role play several times, changing roles and partners each time.
Day 5: The students will complete the interpretive reading and listening portions of the IPA. (I’ve chosen a multiple choice format in order to prepare the students for the upcoming AP test.)
Day 6: The students will complete the presentational writing task while I call up pairs of students for the interpersonal communication assessment.

Image credit: By Olevy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

26 thoughts on “La Laïcité en France: A mini-unit and IPA for Intermediate French students

    1. Laurie Van Houten

      Thank you for helping to get started on the IPA journey. I am having trouble finding the reading you used for the Laïcité IPA. It’s listed on the student packet as E. La Charte…, but the website is not working. I’ve found some other sources but would like to see what you found as well.

      I’ve been working on a clothing unit for French I and will post for others when it is complete.

      1. madameshepard Post author

        Hi, Laurie On the actual IPA I used a reading about school cafeterias. The formative assessment reading that I think you’re asking about was just the actual Chart that is posted in French schools. I checked the link that is listed in the student packet and it is working for me. I’m not sure why it isn’t working for you. I wish I could be more helpful!

  1. Natalia

    Ohhh… I did a mini-unit on religion and laïcité earlier this year right after we discussed Paris attacks. I love that you included more political cartoons and I would have wanted to do that too but my unit had to evolve based on the interest of my students and that was not it. Instead we did this:

    1) defined what religion is using the song by Stromae House’lellujah to jump-start our discussion (; we had a GREAT discussion comparing music and religion (I got the idea from this blog post

    2) defined laïcité through these documents:
    – image with definition from this page (
    – watched these two videos in jigsaw kind of way: Les clés de la République – La laïcité ( and the one you used from 1jour1actu

    3) read an interpreted La charte de la laïcité à l’école expliquée aux enfants by 1jour1actu ( I liked it better for visuals and simpler language. I created this comprehension guide that includes the document in it ( 1jour1actu also had their own guide that I used as a review/vocabulary builder the day I was absent (

    And this is where my kiddos got latched onto the idea of “signes religieux à l’école” and we veered into that direction exploring their own controversial points of view on what should/should not be authorized (religious freedom vs security) through this article ( and these images ( and Students worked together to create “arguments pour et contre les signes religieux à l’école” and practiced their eloquence in concentric circles speaking activity where they were assigned a point of view and had to counter their partner who had the opposite POV.

    At the end, my students recorded their opinions on Flipgrid on whether religious signes should be allowed at school and we shared it with our corresponding class from France. The French teacher confided “Nous pouvons nous réjouir d avoir réalisé un culture shock virtuel!” and they responded with French point of view.

    Here are some other resources that you may find useful/helpful (or just for your stash)
    – new video (
    – comic-style explanation of laïcité (
    – awesome blog post with excellent visuals that I found towards the end of out study (
    – results of a contest – images (
    – opinions of kids as the law was just introduced 10 years ago (

    Thank you for sharing your IPA. I actually chose the same video for comprehension part but yours reminded me to get my questions in French more often, I’m guilty of English for most interpretive tasks on assessments.

      1. madameshepard Post author

        Hi, I”m sorry but I don’t have a key. I would definitely throw out any questions that weren’t clear! If you have specific question, I might have a chance to look over it this weekend! (Also, I grade these very generously. I create a range of scores for each grade, rather than any type of straight percentage.)

  2. Lara Owlett

    This may be a silly questions, but for Part F, is there a fixed “oui” or “non” for each of those questions? Or do you more or less look for how their justified their opinion of whether or not each situation would happen in France?

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Not silly at all! I think there was probably enough evidence in the text for most of them (one way or another), but definitely some gray areas! (My expectation was that they would answer based on their understanding of the Chart, rather than their own opinion.) Let me know if I need to be more clear!

      1. Evelyn

        Oh, OK that helps – I kept telling them it was “interpretative” and if they could develop a good argument pour ou contre, several answers were possibly right! It’s great practice for my pre-AP French class!

  3. Jennifer

    Thank you for your travail. I am looking forward to working with this with my AP students–Natalia thank you as well. Because this is AP level, I want to stretch it further. We just discussed the choix du prénom and how it expresses individuality–I am using that as a segue! Can’t wait to get started…

  4. Heidi Edel

    Thank you for sharing so many awesome resources! I made questions about a video I found online using your template. The video can be found here:

    The questions are below.


    Heidi Edel (Shepaug Valley School, CT)

    Français 4/5 Nom ____________________________________
    La Laïcité à l’école

    Port du voile ( Regardez la vidéo et répondez aux questions suivantes en français.

    1. Le port du voile est-il interdit / pas interdit ?
    Dans l’espace publique _________________
    Donne des exemples « d’espaces publiques » _______________________________
    Et le voile intégral ? ______________
    2. Quels autres pays interdisent le voile intégral ?
    3. Qu’est-ce qui est interdit dans les établissements scolaires ? _________________
    Cela s’applique à qui ? _______________________________
    Quel type « d’école » n’est pas concerné ? _______________________________
    4. Le port du voile est interdit dans la fonction publique. Donne des exemples :
    5. Le port du voile est-il interdit dans les entreprises ? Explique :

  5. Meredith McKeown

    Would you have a link to your immigration unit for level 4/5? I can’t seem to locate anything on your site…

      1. Lana

        Dear madame, thank you for your wonderful resources! While looking over your “Immigration” agenda, I noticed that a comprehension guide was mentioned but not linked to Slide 2, item 2 (read an article then fill in the comprehension guide). Is this something you still have? Merci infiniment!

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Hi, Lana I’m sorry but I don’t seem to have access to the articles or that comprehension guide anymore. I’ve edited the agenda to reflect this.

  6. Ellen Reiss

    Thanks for this resource – it’s wonderful! I have been teaching a unit on La Laicité for several years in AP French, and was looking to streamline/refresh, and this works beautifully. I already use some of these resources, and some are new. Looking forward to getting started.

    I usually kick off this unit by showing the clip of “Quais de Seine” from the film Paris je t’aime.
    Here are some questions I give to students after viewing:

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I use this clip, too!!!!!!!!!!!!! (And I cry at the end every single time) I love your questions!!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Oops! I just looked at the post and realized it was a series of posters. I’m sorry but due to the amount of time that has passed I don’t remember what they were.


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