Starting off on the right foot: Using the language and getting to know each other

footAs many of you know, I relocated over the summer and will be teaching in a new school this year. After spending the last 15 years in a building where August meant mostly reconnecting with my former students (only the Freshmen were new to me each year), in a couple of weeks I will welcome about 150 brand-new faces to my classroom. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to death! As a relatively introverted, somewhat anxious person, the challenge of learning a whole new school culture, finding my way around a humongous new school, and connecting with all of those new students is nearly overwhelming.  

While I have pledged to be patient with myself when it comes to finding my way around my school and its policies, getting to know my students simply can’t wait.  Therefore, I’ll spend the first few days of school on learning activities that will help me learn more about my students, as well as introduce them to the types of communicative activities I’ll be assigning to help them increase their proficiency.  Here’s what I have in mind for each of the classes I’ll be teaching:

French 2 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting a self-portrait.

Day 1 I’ll show the students these self-portraits from TV5Monde. As I project each one, I’ll facilitate class discussion by asking the students questions about what they see, as well as personalized questions using the same vocabulary.  I’ve prepared this handout as a reference as I’m not sure whether they will have been introduced to the vocabulary required for these tasks. Next, the students will listen to these descriptions (Darius, Cheryl, Deivan Anastasia and complete this comprehension guide. (I’ve chosen to provide the students with direct links to the mp3 files rather than the TV5Monde website so that they do not have access to the transcripts.) For homework the students will prepare (and submit electronically) a self-portrait (drawing, painting, phone selfie).

Day 2 First the students to write out a script for presenting their self-portraits. As they are writing I will circulate and provide feedback.  Next, the students will present their self-portrait to classmates using inside/outside circles. Finally the students will compare self-portraits with a partner and complete a Venn diagram with details they discuss.  

French 3 In this class the students will be introducing themselves to the class by presenting 10 things about themselves.  

Day 1 The students will work in small groups to read this blog (Edit 7/27/2019: While this blog is no longer available, a Google search of “Tag: Ma vie en 20 questions will yield many similar blogs that could be used for this activity.) and complete this comprehension guide.  Then they will answer the same questions in the space provided.  Finally, they will circulate among their classmates, asking questions in order to find a classmate who has the same answer for each question.  

Day 2 The students will listen to this video and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and facilitate a class discussion by discussing what Benji says and asking personalized questions based on his information. Lastly, the students will write a script for their own “10 Things” presentation which will be submitted for feedback before being recorded.  

French 4/5 In this class the students will be introducing themselves by preparing a presentation on 12 things they have done.  

Day 1 The students will listen to this video and fill in this comprehension guide. I’ll then play the video and discuss it so that students have feedback on their comprehension. (7/28/19: This document has a hastily typed up partial key for the activity.)

Day 2 The students will read this blog and fill in this comprehension guide, which they will then discuss in small groups.

Day 3 The students will write a script for their own presentation of 12 things they have done.  They will then trade papers with a classmate who will fill out this feedback form. The students will then revise their scripts, which will be graded according to this rubric. For homework the students will record a video of their own presentation and submit it via Schoology. For the next day’s homework, the students will listen to three of their classmates’ videos and respond to each one with a comment and follow up question.

It is my hope that these activities will help me get to know my new students as create a focus for using the language from Day 1.  If you have other suggestions about how you achieve these goals with your students, please share!

39 thoughts on “Starting off on the right foot: Using the language and getting to know each other

  1. sylvie escande

    your new students will still discover that they are the luckiest students of French in the world!

  2. Véronique Musengwa

    You are a fantastic teacher and I have no doubt that your students will love you! Thank you so much for continuing to share your lessons with us. They inspire me so much! Bonne rentrée, Lisa!

  3. Cécile

    I understand your nervousness, yet I have no doubt your students are going to love you and your class. All the best for your new adventure 🙂

  4. Audra

    Madame Shepard, I wish you good luck and happiness in your new school! They are very lucky to get you as a teacher! I am eternally grateful to you for posting what you do! They really help me out! Thank you!

  5. Stephanie

    Best of luck to you! You will be amazing. Your students are very fortunate to have you. Thanks for sharing your lessons with us. They are wonderful

  6. Nicole

    Fun activities!!! Might have to use them with my students just to get them back into talking! I’m selfishly going to miss happy hour and having you close, but I’m so happy for you and thankful for technology!!!

  7. Gigi

    Dear ms Shepherd.
    I wanted to wish you all the best in new school.
    You joy and creativity will shine where ever you go.
    You are sn inspiring and courageous teacher.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas and diffusing a ray of hope in joy in education

  8. Patricia LONG

    Mme Shepard:
    I have seen you here and there in French teaching on-line. How great to find a home base of yours! I am so impressed with your courage and willingness to put it out there that you do not know, are trying something new, are not sure. That was the first thing my high school French teacher impressed me with.
    I want to offer a hint for the Cultural Pyramid lens of product, practices and perspectives. This is how it was explained to me: The product is what you see (what is made)in the culture, the practice is what they do (activities), and the perspectives are what they believe (values) which drive the other two. Have you seen it drawn out? Sometimes it looks like an iceberg or pyramid, sometimes it’s better upside down, depending on how diverse the products are! Or perhaps how difficult it is to discover the perspective!
    Sometimes, I have had better luck doing the pyramid with my students to help figure things out. Kids are so smart.
    I would love to hear back from you!
    Mme Patricia Long

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank you so much for the suggestion about using a pyramid. I think that construct will be really helpful for my students and myself!

  9. Megan

    I love this! Great way to kick off the year without a bunch of “review” or filler activities. I plan on using these for my classes!

  10. Beth Wills

    Merci beaucoup! I love these ideas, and I’ll be using the activities with my new classes this year. Just one question – about the Level 3 recording – are those presented to the class, posted to a website, or just e-submitted to you?

    Thank you!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I was thinking that they would post them to Schoology and then each listen to a few classmates’ and respond. I’m still a little up in the air, though. This is my first year of 1:1, so I’m not sure how I’ll end up integrating technology when it comes to presentations.

  11. Thuy

    Bonjour Lisa:
    I tried to listen to what Benji said, I could not understand what he said for fact#3, 9 and 10. Did he say his name is is Benji Le Boss?(9) anything else? Also number 10, did he just say he wants to make a video about him so that we get to know him better. We cam let some comments and share with him?

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Thuy! I apologize for taking so long to respond–my school year started this week and I’ve been swamped! In #3, he just says what type of camera he uses for recording his videos, a Canon 700D. In #9 he says that he used to call himself Benji Le Boss (instead of Benji la Banane) and that he made some not rotten videos that he’ll show in another video. For #10, I was just looking for his name and age (although he adds a conclusion about the reasons for the video.) Of course I did not expect my students to be able to understand everything in this video! I chose it as an example of the task I would be asking them to do and also to find out more about their proficiency, as they are all new to me. In most cases, my students were able to pick out that he was American, spoke English, played the guitar, ukelele and drums, likes goat cheese and loves video-editing. Bonne Rentrée! Lisa

  12. andrea

    Madame Shepard,
    I can’t seem to locate l’infographie for Les Jeux Olympiques. Would you be so kind and mail it to me and tell me where to find it.

  13. James LeBaron

    Loving everything you share as usual.

    I have nothing of substance to add right now, however, other than that photo of the foot has been on my screen for the past hour, and I just realized that it’s a LEFT foot. :^)

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I love that you noticed that (I, of course, did not) and that you shared your observation.I can always use a good giggle so Merci!

  14. Robin

    Merci beaucoup for your wonderful ideas and well explained lesson plans.

    I used your level 4/5 lesson and it has served as a great way to get to know each other as well as review past tenses. One activity I that I did to discuss the reading of the blog was based on the organizer you used. I had students fill this out, and then I labelled 4 corners of the room with “j’ai deja fait”, “je suis certain de faire”, “je ne ferais jamais” and “j’espere faire un jour”. I read several of the most interesting statements off the blog and students went to the corners based on their responses. Students then volunteered some of their statements or their experiences if they visited the “j’ai deja fait” corner.

    Again, thank you very much

  15. Jen

    Best of luck with your new school! I find your blog so inspiring and have no doubt that you are a wonderful teacher! I just wanted to pass along an idea for the first day. I pass around a tin filled with popsicle sticks and have each student take as many as they want. Then I explain that for each popsicle stick, they must write something personal to share with the class. It’s very funny for the students that take a hand full!

  16. Mary Beth Hills

    Your students are so lucky to have you! Good luck at your new school 🙂 I, too, am starting out at a new school this year, so these first week activities are very helpful. Thanks for the post!

  17. Barb Milliken

    Salut Madame!

    As always, merci merci merci pour tout ce que vous faites pour nous!! I am currently doing your “La Famille” unit and I am lost trying to find the crossword and board games. Maybe those components are no longer available?

    I am also doing your Sarting off on the Right Foot ideas in one and four. I am not sure where I would be without you. As I venture out onto the path of teaching for proficiency I am trying to not feel soo guilty about stealing your ideas. I am doing it in hopes of getting the feel for a framework and then once I know, feeling better about experimentation. I’d tell you this on twitter but its much too long!! 🙂

    Barb Milliken

  18. mmesidell


    I am getting so many wonderful ideas and projects from you and just can’t thank you enough! I was wondering about the video for the level 3 class. When I click the link it says that the video is unavailable. Do you by chance have it saved on EdPuzzle as well?

    Merci mille fois!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Salut! I’m so glad that you’re finding some resources you can use! Unfortunately, I don’t have the video saved anywhere. I made a note in the post for future readers. Let me know if you have any other questions! Lisa

  19. Fran

    My students loved the 10 Choses Sur Moi lesson, thank you! An alternative video (since Benji’s is no longer available) is

    . It’s less detailed and less challenging than the Benji video, but it works well for this year’s French 3 class who are less proficient than last year’s.

  20. Nathalie

    Bonjour Lisa!
    For French 3/day 2, you said that the Benji video is no longer available…what was it called? Is there a way to find it somewhere?
    Merci !!!


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