Revising a Novice High “Journée Typique” unit with the ACTFL Core Practices

As I spend some time this summer revising units I have created over the past few years,  I want to make sure that I’m incorporating current best practices as I understand them.  Fortunately, ACTFL has provided a list of six Core Practices that have provided an easy to use framework for my revision work this summer. (Click on this link for a pdf with a full explanation of these practices.)  Although my own practice continues to be a work in progress,  I’ve decided to share how I used these Core Practices to modify a Novice High unit on “Ma Journée Typique.” Click here [updated 6/30/18) for a unit agenda to which all resources and materials have been linked.

Plan with Backward Design Model I began, as always, by first identifying the learning goals for this unit (which I will share with the students in this document) and then creating the IPA.  For the interpretive reading component, I chose an article from a series that 1jour1actu published a couple of years ago about how children around the world spend their summer vacation. I then created a context for reading this article–the student would be hosting a child from Sénégal and needed to know what his typical day might be like during the summer.  Based on this context, I designed the interpersonal task–the students will perform a role play between the teenager who is hosting the boy from Sénégal and a neighbor who has a younger brother in which they discuss what a typical day is like. Lastly, I defined the presentational writing performance–the students will write an e-mail to their house guest, telling him about what his days will be like when he comes to stay.

Use Authentic Cultural Resources Because I have designed units on daily routines and leisure activities in the past, I had already curated quite a few authentic resources that I would incorporate into this unit–although I couldn’t resist adding just a few more!  Among the resources that these students will interpret are French cartoons, Canadian children’s songs, French and Canadian vlogs, French children’s posters and online and print articles about daily activities in France, Canada and Sénégal. By interpreting these resources, the students will see the unit’s vocabulary and structures in a variety of authentic contexts and will learn about the daily life of young people in a variety of Francophone cultures.

Design Communicative Activities For each of these authentic resources, I created one or more interpersonal activities.  In some cases, I used the authentic resource as a hook at the beginning of a lesson.  In this case, I use a class discussion of the resource as a means to providing comprehensible input to the class as a whole.  In other instances, I create a pair or small group activity based on the vocabulary, structures and content of the resource. Because Novice Learners are highly dependent on memorized vocabulary, I design opportunities for lots of repetition in the form of picture matching activities and Guess Who games.  In order to prepare the students for the types of questions they will ask in the IPA, I have included several highly-scaffolded communicative tasks such as Interviews, Friendship Circles and Speed-Friending. 

Teach Grammar as Concept and Use in Context The structures that the students will need to perform the tasks on the IPA are primarily the present tense of a variety of verb forms, including reflexive verbs.  Therefore, I chose authentic resources that contained multiple repetitions of these structures. I then designed corresponding interpersonal and presentation tasks that would ensure that the students were able to use these structures in a variety of contexts.  In the case of reflexive verbs, for example, I started with a children’s poster on which a French child would write the time that s/he completed each step of his/her morning routine. The images on the poster will allow the students to establish the meaning of the new structure.  I then provided a list of partner interview questions, providing the 2nd person singular form of the verb. The following day’s Friendship Circle activity will provide a context for using the 1st person plural forms.  The sentences I wrote for the cartoon ordering activity will then introduce the students to the 3rd person singular forms, which will be reinforced in the Guess Who and Matching activities.

Provide Appropriate Feedback Creating activities that mirror the tasks on the IPA enables me to provide targeted feedback that will help the students meet the goals I have set for this unit.  Students will receive feedback on interpretive reading activities when we go over them in class or when I grade them using the same rubric that I will use on their IPA.  Using  Edpuzzle for formative assessments on several cartoon videos will provide immediate feedback on interpretive listening.  As I circulate around the room during interpersonal activities, I will provide individualized oral feedback on pronunciation, vocabulary, structures and content. Feedback on presentational writing and speaking will be provided by me when these formative assessments are submitted.

Use Target Language for Learning Although I have read a lot of great posts from members of my PLN about how best to meet the goal of 90% target language, I’ve found that when I incorporate the other Core Practices, I can come pretty close to meeting this one by default. Other than when providing whole class feedback on some of the IPA-style comprehension guides, my students and I are able to remain in the target language throughout these lessons.


Let me know if you have any questions about this unit!




Image Credit:

25 thoughts on “Revising a Novice High “Journée Typique” unit with the ACTFL Core Practices

  1. Lana

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing this thorough unit with us, you seem to never stop, where do you get the energy? 🙂 I have a question about the Reading A to Z site. Several of your posts mentioned using their e-books. Do you subscribe, is it expensive (I may have not been attentive enough, I failed to find their pricing) and worth the fee? And lastly, I was able to open all your attached Google docs for this unit, except for the IPA, it asked for permission, which I requested. Thank you again for your enlightening posts!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Lana! I haven’t paid for the A-Z site. I think I got a short-term trial subscription and just downloaded what I wanted. I have found some errors in some of their things, so I probably wouldn’t say that it’s worth it to subscribe. The materials might not quite meet the standards of authentic–I’m not sure whether they’re meant for native speakers or not. In a pinch I do use them for the lower levels. On the other hand, I really like the lower level texts found here: I think I paid about $15.00 for a set of several downloadable stories/simple non-fiction books.
      Thanks for letting me know about the IPA. I had forgotten to share the document, but I’ve fixed it now.

  2. Thuy Nishio

    Bonjour Lisa:
    I could not open the the first video in your Journee typique. Could you help me to open it?

  3. Kathryn Zetts

    I’m doing the unit you called “A day in the life” with my 3s because somehow they missed the daily routine vocab with the reflexive verbs. (I know you labeled it a French 2 unit but as a first unit of the year it is working.) Too bad I didn’t see this one first!

    Thanks much for your hard work and for sharing….

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Kathryn. I think either unit (or a combination of the two is definitely appropriate for the beginning of level 3. I also have some upper level students that haven’t worked much with these structures–that’s why I revised this unit for this year’s French 2 class. I hope all is well! Lisa

  4. Erin Burns

    Merci for all your hard work and for sharing!! I love this unit!
    I started my level 3’s with this unit and they are enjoying it!
    I am preparing the IPA learning stations and I have a question: you have the you boy from Senegal interview linked to the IPA prep day handout and the actual IPA, do you show them the interview in advance of the IPA or is it linked there for reference? I LOVE that the students know what to expect in advance I am just curious .
    Merci d’avance!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Erin. The interview that the students read at the learning station is different than the one they read on the IPA. In order to ensure that I am assessing their ability to actually interpret the authentic resource, I prefer to give them something they haven’t seen on the IPA. However, giving them a different reading with some similar content helps to build their background knowledge. I’m glad the unit is working out for you and your students!

      1. Denise

        Hello! I (and the students,too) have thoroughly enjoyed the Journee Typique unit. However, just as Erin noticed, the link to the practice IPA interview is the same as the link to the real IPA interview(both are the same article). Is there a possibility of getting the link to the other interview? Thank you so much.

  5. madameshepard Post author

    Hmm. I’m trying to trouble shoot. Are you clicking on the link in the context section or in the reading station section?

  6. Denise Erbele

    Hello again. So, Ma Journee Typique (blog)- which is in google slides- your last 2 slides are devoted to IPAs. The ‘Learning Stations’ Slide takes me to a doc which has practice activities. In the context section, you explain that the students will read an interview with a boy from Senegal: “so you read an interview with a young boy from Senegal.” The word ‘interview’ links to the article on Abass. In the actual IPA, you write “You want to know more about how he might usually spend the summer, so you read an interview with a young boy from Senegal. ” The word interview links to an article on Abass. I’m thinking that you perhaps didn’t mean to create the link in the context section of the Learning Stations??
    I so appreciate you devoting any second of your time to clarifying. I will be meeting with Laura Terrill tomorrow and want to have my ‘ducks in order’!!!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Okay, I think I’ve got it. I’m sorry that I confused you by including the link in the context section. The article for the reading is linked in the reading station part. It says p. 1 and p. 2. Does this help? (I would love to know the connection between this unit and your convo with Laura Terrill!)

  7. Shannon

    Good morning! First of all- WOW you are such an amazing resource. Thank you for sharing and being so open with your materials.

    Secondly, when I look at the linked IPA at the last page of the agenda, .. it’s for French 4/5 and on the topic of Sexual Discrimination. Is that an erroneous hyperlink?


    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks so much for the heads up! I am using this IPA as part of a handout for a presentation I’m giving this weekend and I didn’t even think about the fact that the document was part of this post. It’s fixed now–thanks for your patience!

  8. Elizabeth

    Hi Lisa,

    I am going through your plans to get some ideas for next year and trying to use some of your awesome resources. I am trying to find a different video for the discussion you have on slide 10, #1 of Ma Journee typique (blog). If you happened to remember the title I hope to find something similar to use. I greatly appreciate your time!

  9. ann


    I’m also going to begin French 3 with this as a review (and new info for some). Sometimes you include a timeline by day. Is there such a timeline for this IPA? If not, I’m sure I’ll figure it out, just wasn’t sure how much time to plan.

    I”m going to be incorporatin and creating MANY IPAs for French 3 this year….thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Jennifer

    Good Afternoon. I am so appreciative you have shared this work!! I have used your lesson on Impressionism in the past and my students just loved it. (then we followed up with a visit to the art museum where they explained to each other which paintings were classic and which were impressionist. They were so excited to have learned the content while accidentally figuring out the past tense!) I’m excited to begin this one next week. I’ve reviewed all the resources and completed the activities myself.
    I read through the agenda, but I wondered if you could give me an idea of how long the entire unit takes, and how much you are able to cover per day? I don’t want to rush them, and I want to make sure I am adequately prepared each day. clearly there are formative assessments built in, and I think I will get a feel for it, but if you have a guesstimate it would be helpful!
    Just FYI: There is one Edpuzzle that no longer works (content was pulled for copyright issues).

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Jennifer. Thank you so much for sharing your success with me! It means so much to know that my work played a small part in it! It looks like this unit took about 4 weeks–each slide represents one class period, but I was on a modified block (4 days/week with each class, 3 of which were 45 min. and 1 of which was 90 min.).

  11. Crystal DeBreaux

    Thank you so much for your amazing resources. I was curious where I could find the story Mama, l’enfant sénégalais. Is that an article or a magazine? Thank you so much.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Crystal. The article is linked to the Learning Station document (under Reading Station). Here are the direct links to the two pages: 1) 2) It’s an article from an Astrapi magazine.

  12. Jamie

    I just wanted to say thank you so much…. I am sinking this year with planning. At the last second, admin moved me from my position in Spanish to French, I’m teaching 6 different courses (4 levels of French, 2 Spanish), and I just discovered your site and these materials in January. Honestly, this may sound dramatic, but I truly think you spared me from some serious depression. I wanted to design units like these, but … time!!

    I REALLY appreciate all of your work, and the fact that you have shared them so freely…. thank you!!!

  13. Elliott

    I have been benefiting from your units for a long time. Thanks you so much for your generosity.
    I was trying to get the kids to say reflexive verbs and other chunked structures a little more fluidly and I love this activity that others have done. “J’ai…Qui a…” So I created one for this unit. This link should open for anyone. Please feel free to copy, edit and make it your own! Thanks again. Elliott


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *