La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: A Unit for Intermediate Learners

(Edited 7/9/19)Like many of you, I teach a mixed level class that includes students in both French 4 and French 5, some of which are taking the course for college credit and/or in preparation for the IB exam.  While the brand-new French 4 students are understandably intimidated by being in class with the French 5 students, I have found that I provide the best learning environment for these students by keeping them all together for our class activities.  In fact, there is such a wide range of proficiency at this level that it is not always apparent to outside observers which students are in each class. So, while I assess the two groups differently, the activities for the following unit have been developed for a range of Intermediate learners. (7/9/19: new linkto the agenda to which all the documents are linked.  Each lesson is briefly described below. 

Lesson 1: I will begin this lesson by eliciting student responses on their definition of family, after which we will watch a video in which French people respond to this same question.  The students will then complete an interpersonal activity in which they ask each other for information which is given on the other’s infographic.  The students will then discuss their own families, giving the same types of information that was included in the infographics. Students will spend any remaining class time discussing differences that they noted between their own families and what they read about French families. For homework they will add photos of four different “family” members to Google Slides for a short presentation they will later give.

Lesson 2: The students will begin this lesson by discussing a series of quotes about families in their small groups, explaining their understanding of the quote, whether they agree with it, and providing an example from their own lives or a text to support their opinion. Next, we will review object and disjunctive pronouns by completing a couple of interactive activities together and then individually. After this review, they will watch a video by the vlogger, Norman, and answer questions using these pronouns.  Because this lesson will fall on a 90-minute block day in my class, we will also study a family-related song before I give them 10-15 minutes for free voluntary reading.

Lesson 3: In this lesson the students will again exchange information from a section of an infographic, this time on families in Quebec. (Each member of the dyad will have a different section of the same infographic and will have to find out information from the other’s section.)  The students will then write the introduction to an essay comparing French and Quebecois families. (They will not write the entire essay, due to time constraints.) 

Lesson 4: Students will begin by reading an article about polygamy in Senegal.  Rather than preparing a comprehension guide for this text, I have assigned Cornell notes.  Although this is a new strategy for me, I think this activity will help prepare the students to discuss this text the following day.After discussing the polygamy text by asking and answering the questions they wrote during the Cornell note-taking, the students will take a short quiz to assess their comprehension of the article.  They will then listen to an interview about a legal case regarding a polygamist in France and complete a comprehension guide.

Lesson 5:  After these lessons on family structures in three different Francophone countries, the students will present four members of their own “family” by sharing pictures and information about each person they have chosen.  While I seldom assign class presentations in order to avoid undue anxiety among my students, I will ask students to speak to the class as a whole this time so that we can all get to know each other better.  I believe the topic will be quite low stress as the students will not need to memorize new information or use complicated vocabulary.  The students will then provide this same information in writing via an email to a prospective exchange student. Because some of these students will be taking the IB test in the spring, this assignment has been designed to practice the e-mail text type.

Lesson 6: In this lesson I will present the animated short film, Au fil de l’age by playing it and stopping frequently to ask questions about what was happening/what happened. The students will then write a summary using screenshots from the video. Finally, the students will complete an assessment in which they matching sentence starters to the appropriate completion, a common task on IB interpretive assessments.

Lesson 7: In this lesson, the students will discuss quotes about grandparents before creating Cornell notes for an article about grandparents’ rights in France. They will then discuss the article by asking the questions they created while note-taking.

Lesson 8: In this lesson students will exchange information from infographics in order to compare same-sex marriage in France and Canada.  Finally, they’ll watch a 1jour1info video about same-sex marriage and complete a comprehension guide.

Lesson 9: The students will read an article about same-sex marriage and complete an IB-style comprehension guide. Next, they’ll watch a Cyprien video on the same theme.  While Cyprien’s videos are not always appropriate for classroom use, I did not personally find anything objectionable about this one.  In fact, I found that his self-deprecating humor on this topic might spark some interesting discussion.Finally, the students will synthesize what they learned in the article and video by writing a “To Do” list for the mayor who married the couple in the article.

Lesson 10: In this lesson, we’ll address the next subtopic–adoption. The students will read an article and then take notes using a technique that I learned from a professional development opportunity on critical thinking. I will assign each student a colored “hat” (just a card with a picture) to wear as they read an article about adoption.  Based on the hat they are assigned, they will take notes on 1)the facts presented in the article, 2) their personal reactions, 3) the negative aspects of the ideas in the article, 4) the positive aspects of the ideas in the article, or 5) creative solutions to the problems discussed in the article. (I won’t be assigning the blue hat this time.) The students will then discuss the article according to the perspective of their hat, filling in the corresponding sections of their graphic organizers.This will be my first time implementing this strategy and I’m really excited to see how it goes! Finally, the students will watch a video about adoption and complete a comprehension guide.

Lesson 11: I’ll introduce our final subtopic, blended families, by leading a discussion of three comics on this subject.  Next the students will read the blog entry of a comic character who describes a conflict between a friend and her stepparent. The students will complete a graphic organizer with the causes and effects of this conflict and then discuss their ideas with a partner.  Finally, they will write a response to the blogger’s friend with advice to improve her relationship with her stepmother.

Lesson 12: In this lesson the students will prepare for their IPA on this unit by practicing the role play which will be performed for the interpersonal task and a draft for the presentational writing task. (In order to ensure spontaneous speech, the students will not know their role or their partner in advance of the assessment, but I do provide the prompt so that they can start formulating some ideas.)

Lesson 13-14: The students will complete the interpretive reading task of the IPA while I call up random pairs for the role plays. They will then complete the presentational writing task.

Note: Because of the length of this unit and the fact that I was following it with a film that would have its own IPA, I did not end up administering an IPA at the end of the unit.  (I did, however, formally assess several of the tasks that the students completed throughout the unit.  You may click here for the link to the IPA that my colleague and I had developed for this unit.

I am hoping that this unit will provide ample opportunities for the students to get to know each other, develop confidence in their communicative abilities, and practice some of the skills they will need to be successful on the IB test.

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34 thoughts on “La Famille dans le Monde Francophone: A Unit for Intermediate Learners

  1. Jennifer Geroux

    Salut Lisa!

    So, it looks like you are at IB school now. Does this mean you are no longer teaching AP? If not, could you tell me how the IB summative assessment portions are different/similar to the previous summative assessments tasks you had students do in your units? Also, are you now starting with this family unit with your upper level classes rather than the “Starting Off On the Right Foot”? I teach a French 3/4/5/AP blend and a French 3/4 blend and am wondering if I can use this for both of these classes? Sorry, I have so many questions!! Please feel free to e-mail me if that would be easier!
    Jennifer Geroux

  2. Mary Merkle

    Thanks for posting this – the polygamy article and video, in particular, have generated much discussion and interest.

  3. Clare

    You resources are a life saver – thank you for being so generous! I am in my second year of teaching AP French and your links to videos keep the curriculum fresh for myself and the students. I truly appreciate your hard work.

  4. Laurie Van Houten

    Bonjour, Lisa,

    I’m using your family for 4/5 with great results. Have you posted the interpretive IPA yet? I can certainly make my own, but would rather not have to reinvent the wheel if I don’t have to.

    Also, does your district ever let you travel to train other teachers? We’re in Grand Rapids Michigan and would love to either have you come to us or go visit you.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Laurie. Here’s the IPA: I’ll be giving it later this week so I can post it on the blog then. If you’re not a member of ifprofs and aren’t able to join let me know and I can send it. I would love to meet you. I’m a native Michigander, so I would love to travel there, but my administration has given me a limit of 4 conferences this year and I’ve reached that limit in commitments. You are, of course, welcome to come to KC!

  5. Stacy Attafi

    Was wondering about the IPA as well! I don’t see it on IFProfs. Thanks so much as always for sharing!

  6. Megan

    I am a first-year French teacher and am really trying to start off with thematic units, using the ACTFL Can-Do statements, and the works. I was wondering if you knew of a community that I could share ideas with, or just gather ideas from? I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed by it all, along with having a same-level teacher who does not seem to share the same philosophy as I do, and I think having a community of like-minded teachers from all over would help.


    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Megan. Are you on the French Teachers in the US Facebook page? I think they’re a great resource. There’s also a great community on Twitter at #langchat.

  7. Lana

    I don’t think that Facebook group accepts any new members. I have tried to join twice and got no response, even though I had followed their suggestion to include being a French teacher in my profile, alas!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I’m one of the moderators. I can add you, but you’ll need to either try again or friend me temporarily. ( I can only accept requests or add my FB friends)

  8. Véronique

    Merci Madame Shepard. C’est vraiment gentil de partager vos leçons. Je commence le thème « famille et communauté » avec ma classe d’AP la semaine prochaine. Je vais utiliser une partie de votre unité. Il y a un film intéressant sur Netflix « C’est quoi cette famille! » pour parler de la nouvelle dynamique familiale en France et également « Il a déjà tes yeux » pour le sujet de l’adoption.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Mais, oui! J’ai regardé les deux films et ai choisi Il a déjà tes yeux. Vous trouverez mes leçons pour le film sur le blog si ça vous intéresse. Lisa

      1. Veronique

        Merci beaucoup Madame Shepard. I am looking forward to starting my unit on “La famille et la communauté” with my AP class. I wish I had time to extensively cover the unit the way you do. Can’t thank you enough for sharing. Merci milles fois.

  9. Jennifer

    This is a great unit! I’m not allowed to teach same-sex marriage because I teach in a Catholic School but I did use the other aspects of the unit. I did put them in a different order with adoption last as I then followed this unit you il a déjà tes yeux. Magnifique! Merci Mille Fois!

  10. Kirsten Larwin

    Hello Lisa,

    I wonder if I can inquire about your experience offering dual credit. I am in the process of articulating my courses with a community college and while I feel confident about being able to tweak my courses, the order in which we cover material, etc. , I hoped to learn something (anything!) from some one who has done it before! I am in Oregon, by the way. Which FR course began receiving credit? 3? 4? AP? How many credits did each course receive? Which ones? Thank you!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I have worked with 3 different colleges in the past 10 years. In each case, the students received credit in French 4 and French 5. The number of credit hours depended on the college. I was fortunate in each case that I could teach the curriculum I had created, rather than using the college’s curriculum and materials. If you’d like to discuss further, feel free to email me at Bon courage! Lisa

  11. Bobby Sullivan

    Bonjour Madame,

    The link to the lessons plans no longer works. Will you be adding it to IFProfs ou TTP instead?

    Merci d’avance,
    Bobby Sullivan

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank you for letting me know about this problem. I wish I knew what caused it, but I’m not sure what happened. I’ll try to figure it out, but in the meantime I’ve added a link to a different version of the lesson plan. If you have any trouble with this one, please let me know so I can do some more trouble-shooting! Lisa

      1. Katie Reed-Elinoff

        Bonjour Madame!

        The links are still not working. Have you had any luck in figuring out what happened to them?

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Thanks for letting me know. I began updating agenda with new versions of each document but cannot finish this evening. Please check back tomorrow.

          1. madameshepard Post author

            I’ve updated the post and each of the links. Please let me know if there are any that don’t work.

  12. Carol Orloff

    Bonjour! I downloaded the article about Mama, l’enfant senegalais” but I can no longer find it. I know that I got it from you – can you send it to me? I hope you are doing well!


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