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 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!
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