Noël for Novices

christmas-1084884_960_720It’s hard to believe that this is the third year that I am posting a Christmas unit! This year’s plan, based on my current French 2 students’ needs, includes many resources that I have used in the past with either French 1 or French 2 classes.  However, I’ve added some new resources (some of which were created by an awesome new colleague!), and linked each resource to the corresponding lesson on the agenda.

Here’s the agenda (New link: 6/30/18) and a quick summary.

Day 1: I’ll introduce some vocabulary by discussing pictures and then play a commercial Loto game. I’ll pass out this vocabulary packet as a reference during the unit.

Day 2: This lesson, which focuses on Saint Nicolas, includes an introductory video, short reading, Edpuzzle and pair activity in which students describe pictures in order to determine whether each one is the same or different.

Day 3: This lesson, on the topic of Santa, includes a reading and pair matching activity.  I didn’t have a great copy of the reading so it’s kind of blurry.  If anyone has a better link, I’d be very grateful for it!  After the pair matching activity, I’ll orally describe a few of the pictures and have the students write either the number or letter (depending on which they have) for a formative assessment.

Day 4: This lesson on Christmas traditions throughout the world includes a video from a family living in France, an infographic about international traditions, and an info gap activity in which students fill in an agenda of Christmas activities.  As a follow up assignment, the students will write a message describing their week’s activities. (This lesson will take place on a day on which we have 90-minute classes.)

Day 5: This lesson, which focuses on traditional Quebecois holiday activities, includes an introductory video and info gap activity.  I hope to add an Edpuzzle to this lesson, too!

Day 6: In this lesson we will watch a video from a site about decorating Christmas trees as a class before the students complete a series of interpretive activities for the text from the same site. The students will then practice explaining the steps to decorating a tree using pictures they have drawn.  Although I’ve included a pair matching activity here, it seems unlikely that we’ll have time for it.

Day 7: The students will interpret an infographic about Christmas eating habits in France, discuss their own eating habits, and then compare them by creating a Venn diagram.

Day 8 & 9: The students will complete a series of learning stations designed to prepare them for the summative assessment on this unit.  Each station is designed to be completed in about 30 minutes.  Because Day 8 is a 90-minute class, the students will have one station remaining for Day 9.

  • Listening Station: Christmas Edpuzzles
  • Reading station:  Story about Santa
  • Speaking station: Students will be given the role of either a French or Canadian student and will discuss their holiday pictures.  
  • Writing Station: Students will write a draft of their summative assessment.

Day 10: The students will complete the interpersonal speaking and presentational writing portions of their summative assessment. (Described on this IPA.) The interpretive portion of this assessment, their midterm, is still a work in progress as we are creating a multiple choice version to accommodate our school’s requirements.

Joyeux Noël!

34 thoughts on “Noël for Novices

  1. Lisa Mullin

    This is fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing! Do you by chance have links or copies of some of the videos and reading you’re using? Thanks again! Joyeux noel!

      1. Sarah Russell

        Is it a settings issue to get the hyperlinks to work? I’m not sure why but I’m not able to get them to open. (And I really want to see what’s in there!!) Thank you

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Hmmm. I think they’re working for others. I’m not especially tech savvy so I’m not sure what to do. When you open the agenda are any of the activities underlined (to indicate a hyperlink?)

    1. madameshepard Post author

      In order to be respectful to students of all backgrounds I approach this unit as an aspect of French culture. I have not included any personalized activities, for example– all interpersonal activities involve a role play. So far my students from all religious backgrounds have enjoyed these activities, although your situation might be different!

    1. Monsieur Nason

      I also wanted to add an interpretive listening activity that I used last year too. The news report is about the maché de Noël in Strasbourg. The link for the video is at the top of the document.

      One more clip I do like to show (although it is in English) on the day before winter break is from Rick Steves. It is one of the only clips I show all year that is not in French. The students liked seeing the contrast of ville and campagne when it comes to Christmas.

  2. Erin Urquhart

    “Merci” does not hardly convey my HUGE thanks! This is wonderful! As my colleagues and I continue on our proficiency journey, we are always looking for ways to address culture in the target language and this is PERFECT! MERCI!!!

    I am having trouble with the link in your agenda for Day 5 for the Reading. When I click on “Lecture” it says I don’t have permission. Can you tell me what that reading is about? Maybe I can find a similar one to use.

    Again, MANY thanks!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Oops, I had the wrong setting on the Google doc. It should work now but let me know if it doesn’t.

      1. Erin Urquhart

        Ça marche, maintenant! Merci! I do that all the time in Google– forget to set my settings so everyone can see, then we go to do an activity and the kids can’t access it! LOL

  3. Jayne Barrett

    Thank you so much for all the wonderful lessons you share with us. I am a second year teacher and your units have been a godsend for me. I love the way you teach – I wish I could be like you one day!

    Joyeux Noël et tous mes voeux pour 2016

    Jayne Barrett

  4. Ally

    Bonjour– I must say I just LOVE your units so much. They are really helping me right now with a pets unit I’m doing in French 4. Thank you so much for being so willing to share!

    I wonder if you have a document anywhere that outlines which units you do with which level, in what order, and for how long? This would be super helpful to me to see yours as I feel really disorganized at times. We have curriculum renewal coming up and, while I’ve been working really hard on proficiency-based units, I need to think about how to put them all together.

    Thank you so much!!!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Ally. Thank you so much for your kind words. I wish I had a curriculum guide I could share with you, but I change my topics every year. I’m at a new school this year, so I’ve had to change many of the topics I have covered in the past. I’m so sorry I can’t help! Lisa

  5. Kathy Zetts

    Hi Lisa,

    I used parts of this last year, and liked them, so…merci beaucoup!
    A question about Day 4 on the agenda (it’s not labeled that, but it’s a 90-minute block). The writing activity is a letter to Grandmother saying what the student/writer DID the previous week, based on the partner activity (trying to find a mutually convenient time to go shopping). Do your French 2s know past tense at this point in the year? I thought you generally introduced it later in the year? If they don’t know it at this point, do you tell them to just write the letter in present tense?


    Bonjour Lisa,

    Est-ce que vous faites cette leçon pour français 1 aussi? ça me parait un peu difficile. Merci pour tout!

      1. Kathryn Zetts

        Ok…so, hypothetical question, if you don’t mind–would you use this unit with French 1s if you were teaching French I this year? As you noted, some of the resources were drawn from previous French I units, and it’s also posted to “French 1 units”… (and my French 1s are using some of those French I units you previously created!!).

        I’m asking because I sometimes feel like I am doing something wrong when I have to “drop back” a bit (as in, use one of your French 1 units for a French 2 class, or a French 2 unit with a French 3 class). I feel like maybe I taught them poorly or insufficiently, with the result that they seem to be behind (when they struggle with a unit that “should” be at their level). Does that make sense?

        I guess we have to “meet them where they are”…..

        My goal is to have a French 3 class that can handle your French 3 units with ease! not sure it will happen, but I’ll keep at it

        Thank you again for your lessons and your reflections!

        1. madameshepard Post author

          I do not think anyone should feel like they’re doing anything wrong by creating, selecting and/or modifying resources based on the needs of their students. I agree whole-heartedly that we must meet them where they are. We all teach kids that have varying amounts of experience, motivation and skills for language learning. As teachers we also have diverse expectations of our students. I personally create lots of opportunities for stretch in my activities. I don’t ever expect them to get all the answers on interpretive tasks or to be entirely accurate on interpersonal and presentational tasks. While I don’t ever want to frustrated my students, I do want to encourage them to take risks. As their teacher, I know that you are the only person who knows where that “sweet spot” is for your kids. Many teachers have told me that they use my units with a different level and I think that’s awesome. In fact, when I started at a new school last year, I used some ” French 1″ units with French 2 because of the curriculum in my new district. Vive la différence!

  7. Kathryn Zetts

    Bonjour Lisa,

    Nice Edpuzzle about Trotro and the snowman. I think there might be a typo in the question at 2:05 where Trotro’s dad asks about “cette flaque d’eau” but the best of the possible responses is “What is this puzzle?” I don’t know if it is possible to edit edpuzzles; I’m planning to just alert my students to it.

    MERCI BEAUCOUP, comme toujours!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks so much for the heads up! I fixed the error in my version, but feel badly for anyone who may have copied it!

  8. mme kelly

    Awsesome! Quick question: on Day 2, I don’t see the introductory video for St Nicolas? do you have that link by chance?

    Merci mille fois!

  9. Jessica

    It seems the vocabulary packet for Day 1 has been deleted.

    There is the powerpoint of vocabulary in the agenda on Day 1, but I
    suspect that is different than the vocabulary packet? Anyone else have it?

  10. Lana

    I know it’s a long shot, but I’ll ask just in case 🙂 On the agenda’s slide 6 (day 6) you mention a partner speaking activity, but there’s no hyperlink taking us to it. Might you still have it? Merci!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, I think ot must have been a pair matching activity about Christmas trees. I probably didn’t have it linked because I made it before Google was invented. I’m looking now to see if I have it as a word document.


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