Not just “man’s” best friend

puppiesAs many of you know, I relocated during the summer and am teaching in a new district after 15 years at my previous position.  While I would like to say that my transition has been seamless, that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.  I am discovering that it takes a long time to build the types of relationships that I took for granted in my previous role.  While I know that with time I will develop the type of rapport with these students that I’ve enjoyed in the past, I wanted to speed up the process by spending time on a theme that might be more engaging to them.  As I was thumbing through that month’s Okapi magazine looking for inspiration, I saw a series of articles that suggested a topic that I thought just might work.  After all, what’s more fun to talk, read, listen and write about than…………..puppies and kittens?!?!?

So here it is, my first unit entirely devoted to kids and their pets.  

As the agenda (Updated link: 7/3/18)demonstrates, I started by showing an infographic about the popularity of various pets in France. We discussed it as a class, compared which pets were most popular in our class and why different pets were more or less popular in France. The students then completed a graphic organizer with the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pet in their small groups. (I explained that they needed to discuss their ideas so that everybody in the group had the same answers.) The lesson ended with an Edpuzzle based on a video in which an expert discusses the differences between cats and dogs.  

I began the second day by projecting some Tweets in which people discussed their pets.  We learned a lot about cultural perspectives regarding pets from these authentic texts and many of my students could identify with the sentiments expressed in the messages. Next I showed a video which introduced the vocabulary for items that new dog owners need. This provided the students with the vocabulary they needed for the following activity in which the students “bought” items for their hypothetical puppy at French pet stores.  The students were really engaged by choosing these items and enjoyed showing them off to their partners in the follow up activity. In order not to leave out the cat lovers, the lesson ended with a video/Edpuzzle about welcoming a new cat.

The third day began with a commercial featuring cute puppies which we discussed à la Movie Talk.  Then the students read an article about dogs from an Astrapi magazine. After completing a comprehension guide, the students reviewed direct and indirect object pronouns with an activity based on the same article. This resource packet provided the students with a quick review.

The hook for the fourth lesson was a public service announcement that we discussed. As the lesson’s interpersonal activity, I had them look at an infographic for three minutes, and then discuss what they remembered with a partner.  The students then read another infographic and completed a comprehension guide.

The fourth day’s hook was a quiz about dogs that I had the students take on their devices.  We then discussed the questions and answers as a class and I gave a prize to the student with the highest score. The students then reviewed object pronouns with an additional Astrapi article before a “speed-friending” activity in which they interviewed classmates in order to select the best petsitter. (I encouraged the students to give outlandish answers if they didn’t think they’d enjoy petsitting). The students then wrote a message to the petsitter of their choice.

The fifth day started with a video in which a young man describes his relationship with his pet.  There are a couple of “gros mots” in the video but since my students presumably don’t know these words, I felt comfortable showing it.  The students were able to understand some of the video and we had a good discussion about pets being part of our family. Next the students watched a video (with an Edpuzzle) to prepare them for a role-play in which they would take turns playing the role of either a teen who wanted a pet or a parent who didn’t want one.  Before turning the kids loose to have their conversations, I had them suggest reasons that a parent might give and I wrote these in French on the board.  Students in each class shared with me that they had had this exact conversation with their parents, so they were experts on what parents would say! I then gave the students 3 minutes to have an unscripted conversation with their partner, and then another 3 minutes with the same partner, but with the opposite role.  We then changed partners, and repeated the conversation (once for each role).  After a third pairing, I assigned a fourth partner and had the students record their conversation on their devices so that I could provide feedback and a formative assessment score.

On the 6th day (Monday) we’ll watch and discuss a cat video.  Then I’ll have the students watch a cartoon individually and answer questions using object pronouns. The final activity for the day is an article about a boy and his cat from the Okapi magazine that sparked the idea for this unit.  I’ll probably allow the students to work in pairs on these activities to build in some interaction since there is no actual interpersonal activity in this lesson.

On Tuesday we’ll begin with a short video about adopting a cat and then the students will look at ads for adoptable cats and discuss whether they are interested in each one and why.  I’ll write some phrases on the board as they come up to support their discussions. I’ll call on a few students to respond in order to provide some accountability for the activity.  If time permits I might have the students write a short message explaining which can they would choose and why. Lastly, they’ll complete an Edpuzzle for a video about adopting a cat.

Our next lesson (which won’t be for a few days because of conferences and testing), will begin by discussing a video in which a young man discusses his dog. Next the students will discuss ads for adoptable dogs, just as they had done for the cats.  I might extend this activity to have them try to convince their “sibling” that their choice is the best one for their family.  Lastly, the students will watch a cartoon and complete an Edpuzzle.

The following day will be spent preparing for the IPA .  I’ll have the students suggest some questions that a shelter employee might ask someone who wanted to adopt a dog or cat, as well as write a draft for the presentational writing.  

The final day or two of this unit will be spent on the IPA . Although it’s a short unit (so that I will be left with enough time to cover the curriculum), I think it’s a worthwhile one.  I have noted a much higher level of engagement during this unit than I had during the first few weeks of school, and I’m optimistic that  the students’ enthusiasm will continue to grow as we all get to know each other better!

32 thoughts on “Not just “man’s” best friend

  1. Kathy Zetts

    Merci beaucoup ! My French I students last year asked for a unit on pets, and we did a short one (mostly vocab and talking about whether we had a certain pet); plus they got one of the infographics you shared on the final exam–but this is much more fun!

    They are only in French II this year, so I may modify this, or just do it for the French IIIs and tell the French IIs they should sign up for French III for next year…. 😉

  2. Mary Root

    Ton travail est trop impressionant! Superbe. Et merci de l’avoir partagé, surtout les infographiques. Mary Root

  3. Stephanie Potier

    Merci d’avoir partagé vos bonnes idées. Avez-vous vu ce site (La Société Protectrice des animaux?
    Je fais aussi une unité à propos de l’adoption des animaux et mes élèves adorent faire semblant d’adopter leur propre animal de compagnie. Je suis bénévole au centre d’adoption des animaux et il y a des familles de notre communauté qui ont décidé d’adopter des animaux à cause de nos activités et conversations en classe!

  4. Anna

    Merci beaucoup! Vos idées et vos projets m’inspirent! Je m’interesse beaucoup à votre IPA – Est-ce que vous pourriez le poster? Ou peut-etre, je ne l’ai pas vu? Merci d’avance!

  5. Lindsey

    Fantastic job as always! I don’t know how you do all that you do! Quick question. I was reading through the unit agenda and in the “super doué les pattes” comprehension sheet is there supposed to be another article “fidele au poste” that they are supposed to use to find the sentences? I was looking ant I couldn’t find it.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Oops–sorry about that. I just ran and uploaded the missing pages to the agenda. Unfortunately, I noticed too late that the bottom of each page is cut off. I typed the missing words onto the agenda so, if necessary, you could add them by hand. Mes excuses!

  6. Jessica

    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and I love all of your resources that you generously share! I just watched a webinar about doing IPAs everyday and things are finally starting to click! I see how well thought out each of your lessons are and that each one goes through the same process of interpretive, interpersonal, presentational. This process helps students get used to IPAs so that they will know exactly what to do on the unit IPA. I’m excited to begin planning this way and I know that it will create for more engaging lessons and units. I only wish I had more time! I am always impressed with your work and thank you for sharing your hard work! Your students are so lucky to have you as their teacher.


    Merci pour tout!

    I used this resource with my French 3 and we just finished. It was a success. I added some Edpuzzles and a padlet. I appreciate all you do and for getting me thinking differently about teaching. I will also add some movieTalk in my classes.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I just finished this unit with this year’s group and also added a couple more Edpuzzles. I need to learn more about padlet!

      1. Nathalie

        For the padlet, I asked them to chose an animal at the shelter, and post a picture. Each student had to reply to another student with feedback on how to care for the animal. It was fun!

  8. mme kelly

    hmm! GREAT Unit! I couldn’t access the video for “material necessaire a avoir un chien”? any chance you have the link saved via keepvid, etc.

  9. Lana

    Lisa, I haven’t had any luck opening the EDPuzzle in the slide #6 of the agenda. Did you delete it from their site? I was able to see all the other EDPuzzles you attached and that one does not come up at all. Did it have to do with caring for a pet to help prepare for the role play described below? Thank you!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, unfortunately this video was removed from Youtube so the Edpuzzle doesn’t work anymore.

  10. Aurelie

    Thank you again for these wonderful ideas. Quick question with the tweets:
    There’s a lot of “argot” and french swearing. How do you bring this up to your class to make it as educational as possible?

    1. madameshepard Post author

      As for the argot, my personal viewpoint is that I want my students to learn the language as it is spoken. I find that they are very interested in learning slang words, texting abbreviations, etc. Unless I’m missing something, the only sweating I see in the tweets is “ptn.” I don’t remember anyone asking about it, but I would probably just say I didn’t know (or maybe that it was a word I wasn’t going to teach them.) With today’s technology, it would be impossible to prevent students from learning inappropriate words, but I do try to select Tweets that are PG-rated.

  11. Kathryn Zetts

    If you want more examples of the object pronouns, try the videos “Une souris verte” (many youtube versions) and “Ella, elle l’a” by France Gall (I prefer the “clip officiel” from –I think-1987). “Une souris verte” actually kind of fits with the theme–one might have a mouse for a pet.

  12. Kathy Zetts

    Bonjour Lisa…et merci (again),

    I just printed off the packet mentioned for day 3 (because I lost the binder I had from the last time I used this unit….sigh). All of the “I can” statements in the Goals section are preceded by the letters “IL”. Could you please tell me what that stands for?

    I don’t remember that from the last time but that could just be a faulty memory on my part. Thanks again!

    Kathy Zetts


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