Saying “Au Revoir” to Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp

Student Waving from DeskMy French 2 students are going to begin the second semester by learning how to discuss what happened at school.  Planning this unit proved to be a huge challenge for me.  While I have managed to focus on meaning, rather than form, in designing their proficiency-based units so far this year, this one would be different.  For the first time, I would be expecting these students to use a different tense when speaking and writing.  I just wasn’t sure how to teach them the rules, without resorting to what I have done for the past 25 years–direct instruction on the conjugation rules for 1) regular verbs, 2) irregular verbs, 3) être (Vandertramp) verbs, and 4) reflexive verbs. Since none of these groups occurs in isolation within authentic sources, I had found myself relying on worksheets and other instructional materials to provide the students with the practice that they needed to master each new set of rules.  In spite of my carefully organized lessons and exhaustive, repetitive exercises, most of my students needed several additional months of instruction before they were able to use the passé composé accurately. As I have become more knowledgeable about how language proficiency develops, my expectations have become much more realistic.  The unit that I am sharing here will not teach your students to accurately use the passé composé with only three weeks of instruction. However, I believe it will familiarize them with the structure to the extent that they will be able to discuss school experiences in a comprehensible way.

Here’s the unit packet of activities and an explanation of how I plan to teach the unit.  The length of each lesson is an estimate at this point—some lessons might extend to the following day so that the unit might take longer than this plan shows.

Unit Activity Packet: French 2 School Unit

Day 1.  I’m beginning this unit by watching the first three minutes of an authentic video in which a teenager describes a horrible day.  I will play the video to the whole class, stopping it frequently to ask them questions about what the girl did. (Ex. Elle s’est réveillée en retard? Elle s’est habillée? Elle a pris le petit dejeuner?)  While my students have not had much exposure to the past tense, I think they will be able to understand these questions and answer with a oui/non.  I will then have them individually check the statements that reflected what the girl did and then replay the video so that the students can check their answers.  Finally we will orally discuss the correct answers as a class, giving the students lots of comprehensible input of the passé composé.  Next, the students will interview each other in order to find out how their partner’s day compared to the one shown in the video.  The students will not be required to formulate their own responses at this point, but will read either the affirmative or negative response that is given. Lastly, the students will write a short note describing their (real or imaginary) morning.  This activity will most likely be completed as homework. I will give them this resource packet Unit 6 Resource Packet with model sentences to help them with this and other tasks in the unit:

Day 2 Warm up: I will begin this period by asking the students questions about their previous school day.  I will choose questions from the resource packet, so that the students will not have to formulate a response on their own.  I will then give them a few minutes to interview each other using these same questions.  As a follow up, I will ask them questions about their partners’ day. This will provide additional comprehensible input of the third person forms of the verbs. Next, I will assign the interpretive activity in which the students will read an authentic comic strip about a boy who got caught cheating at school. (Pablo a copie) In addition to writing a summary and answer true/false comprehension questions, the students will identify specific phrases in the comic which are written in the passé composé. In this way, the text will not only provide an opportunity to increase interpretive skills, it will also provide contextualized examples of the new structure. After the students finish the reading activity, they will complete the interview activity which follows. For homework, they will write a paragraph about a real or imaginary experience in which they cheated.

Day 3 I will begin this day with the warm up activity described above. I will then show them the first part of an authentic video about a French middle school student’s day.  Although the video is not narrated in the past, I chose it for the cultural information that it presented about French schools.  I will stop the video frequently so that the students can answer the comprehension questions. These are written in English, since their purpose is to assess the students’ listening comprehension.  This will be an informal, formative assessment as we will most likely discuss the correct responses as a class.  Next, the students will review what they saw by checking the statements which reflect what happened in the video. These French sentences, as well as the follow up discussion of them will provide additional  passé compose input. In the next activity, the students will interview a partner in order to compare how his/her school day compared to Arthur’s (the student in the video).  Lastly, the students will write the script of a hypothetical video for Arthur, in which they tell what their day was like. Again, this writing assignment will probably be completed as homework.

Day 4 After the warm up activity described in Day 2 (students will switch partner’s each time), the students will read an authentic blog in which a character from Astrapi magazine describes an incident that took place at school. The students will work individually on interpretive tasks before interviewing a partner about his/her own experiences on the subject of class punishment.  Lastly, they will write a hypothetical follow-up post in which “Lulu” explains how the issue was resolved.  (They will be reading Lulu’s follow up post later in the unit.)

Day 5 After the warm up, the students will watch the second section of the video about Arthur.  They will again answer English comprehension questions, check the French statements which refer to events that happened, and interview a partner.  As a presentational activity, they will continue their script for their hypothetical video to Arthur.

Day 6 By this time, I think the students will need a little break from the routine of the Interpretation-Interpersonal Communication – Presentation cycle. So, today I will mix it up a little bit by devoting the entire class period to interpersonal communication. The students will begin the period with this Guess Who game: Devinez-Qui-Game (1) (The directions will be on one page and the pictures will be copied back-to-back.) Next, the students will interview each other in order to complete a Venn diagram comparing their previous day at school.friendship circle (I will handwrite some examples of the correct “nous” forms, as they won’t have had much exposure to these forms at this point.

Day 7 For today’s warm up, the students will play a two truth’s and a lie game.  Each student will write three sentences about their previous school day (relying heavily on the sample sentences in the resource packet).  Two of these students should be true and one should be a lie.  I will then call on students to say their sentences to the class.  Next, I will call on a student to guess which of the sentences was a lie.  If s/he is correct, it will be his/her turn to say the sentences s/he wrote.  Play will continue for as long as the students are engaged—probably 5 to 10 minutes.  After this warm-up, the students will complete the interpretive and interpersonal activities for the last part of the Arthur video. Because there is no presentational component, they may have time to begin the final interpretive task, Lulu’s blog entry in which she describes how the situation in her earlier post was resolved.

Day 8 After an additional round of two truths and a lie, the students will complete the interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational tasks related to Lulu’s second blog.

While it will be some time before the students can accurately communicate about past events (ACTFL says this is an Advanced task), these introductory lessons should provide an important first step at contextualized use of these structures for communicative tasks.  Stay tuned for how I will use learning stations to further reinforce the concepts in this unit, as well as for the IPA that I will use to assess their learning.

 

45 thoughts on “Saying “Au Revoir” to Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp

  1. Kimberly

    Merci beaucoup. A friend just shared this with me and this is truly a lifesaver. This is my next unit and I have been looking to change this unit in this fashion but so much stuff has been going on ( I am the department chair) and I haven’t had the time to organize my thoughts. Thank you for being a teacher who shares to help me get started down my path to change.

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Oh, my gosh. Thank YOU for taking the time to post such a nice comment. It’s great to have such great colleagues to walk this path with me. I’ll look forward to hearing how it goes–please keep in touch! Lisa

      Reply
  2. gigi

    Merci beaucoup. J’aime beaucoup cette façon de travaille, je l utilise aussi de temps en temps par manque de confiance en moi, mais maintenant que je vous ai lu, je vais continuer à élargir l horizon.
    Ps: je n ai jamais réussi à me servir de Mme VANDE.,,.j ai senti que repère les structures avec les oreilles et les yeux étaient plus efficaces pour accepter les détails répétitifs
    Merci pour le partage

    Amicalement
    Gigi

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Merci de votre commentaire et je suis tout a fait d’accord en ce qui concerne les yeux et les oreilles!

      Reply
  3. Natalia

    I loved the disaster morning unit opener! Here’s a short wordless animation on the same topic that would reinforce both the vocabulary and the passé composé. http://youtu.be/wEKLEeY_WeQ It would be great to do it MovieTalk style to introduce/reinforce the vocabulary because it is so repetitive and has an outstanding ending! Thank you for sharing your work, it has given me many ideas and added to my lists of authentic resources. Merci!

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank YOU so much for reading and for taking the time to leave such a kind comment. I really means a lot!

      Reply
  4. Rebecca B.

    What a great video on la vie au collège. My French 7 colleague and I look forward to adapting your interpretive worksheets to the needs of our students. Thanks so much for this valuable resource!

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment, Rebecca. I’m so glad you found something here that you could use. I included another video from the same original source on the School Unit IPA, in this post: http://madameshepard.com/?p=316 . In the video, younger students older students questions about College. Your students might like this one, too.

      Reply
      1. Rebecca B.

        Thanks! Your work is a tremendous gift to all of us French teachers out there. The high quality of your instructional materials combined with your not peddling them for cash is inspiring!

        Reply
  5. Kerri

    Love, love, love! I have 3 French 2 classes and am going to try this with all 3 classes. One of my classes has more lower learners than the other 2 classes. I’m curious as to how they may react to learning for the meaning instead of the concept. I have two reference photos, from AATF Facebook page, that I will include in student packet. Thank you for posting your lesson, but with honesty as you go along with the process. You have inspired me in putting my best foot forward in trying a new approach with my students.

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Kerri. Thanks so much for your kind comments. When I posted this, I hadn’t implemented the unit yet, but I was actually really pleased with how it went. The kids are able to discuss what they did at school using the verbs correctly. Nobody asked any questions, so I didn’t go into any detail about why you sometimes say je suis and sometimes j’ai. I did have to give them a couple of reminders about pronouncing the e/accent aigu, and I have some that are trying to put a me in front of all of the verbs. You’ll have to let me know whether your students make any of these errors and how the unit goes in general. I’m going to follow up with a Martinique trip unit where they will continue to use passe compose to talk about what they did on an imaginary trip. I’ll probably introduce a few rules, now that they’ve gotten familiar with the structure. Thanks again and let me know how it goes! Lisa

      Reply
  6. madameshepard Post author

    Oops, I was just in the process of approving a comment that was sent earlier today (1/28), and my dog bumped my hand, sending the comment into a black hole in cyberspace. If you sent a comment, and don’t see it here, please accept my sincere apologies and also, please resubmit!

    Reply
  7. Kerri

    Bonjour!
    I recently found a lesson titled “Unité 2: Les Fournitures Scolaires”. On Google, it is linked to your website, but I can’t find it in the archives. I have it printed out and the kids are loving it and are progressing nicely. The first video link on page 3, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JET4cy1XL3g. It isn’t available. Is there another way to access this link? Let me know. Thanks a bunch:-)

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Kerri. I found the post that you’re talking about–it was called Separation Anxiety, so that’s probably why you couldn’t find it. It was the first lesson I wrote without using a textbook, hence the title. I’m glad the lesson is working for you (but sorry that the video isn’t). I don’t think there’s any other way to get it. It wasn’t a professional video, just a teenager showing off her new school supplies. I think you could probably find a similar video if you did a search on youtube.com, but you would, of course, have to write different questions. Let me know if I can answer any other questions!

      Reply
  8. Kerri

    Thank you for your response. Ahhhhhh…..that makes a lot of sense now. I was started to get frustrated and thought that it was a techy thing…LOL. I truly appreciate you getting back to me. I admire your creativity and am truly enjoying your blog. Going in with an open mindset is leading me to taking some new pedagogical risks. Merci!:-)

    Reply
  9. Emily

    I came upon this website just by searching about DRMRS…and boy am I glad I did. Thank you so much for deciding to share your hard work with strangers. Your generosity has already helped me and other teachers add welcome variety to our lessons, and I’m sure it will help many more in the future. I aspire to create unit plans like yours and share it with others, too!

    I used your Devinez-Qui game activity today in class, and my students really enjoyed it. I wanted to let you know that they noticed there are two Maurice characters. We changed one to Marcel. 🙂

    Merci mille fois,
    Emily

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Emily. Thanks so much for your nice comments and for letting me know about the mistake. I’ll try to fix it today. I’m so glad you we’re able to find something you could use and I’ll look forward to seeing your materials when you’re ready to share!

      Reply
  10. Erin

    I was SO happy to stumble across this! In our district, we re-wrote our level 1 and 2 curriculum for all languages and are following the proficiency model, believing that it is what is best for our students. I have been teaching for 24 years and I don’t have a problem letting go of the ‘old’ way of direct grammar instruction, however, I have been struggling with coming up with ideas as to how to get them to communicate in the passé composé without the direct teach. What you have posted here is PHENOMENAL! I shared it with our district coordinator and she was very impressed as well, as French resources are so hard to find! I would love to stay in touch and share ideas as we go through this proficiency journey! Bon travail and bon courage! 🙂

    Reply
  11. Kathy Z.

    I’m coming late to the party, having linked back to this post form your post on the same topic in early January 2016 (because even your “old” lessons are so much better than mine!).
    It’s interesting that you say
    “…. it will be some time before the students can accurately communicate about past events (ACTFL says this is an Advanced task)….”

    because I found some references to describing past events in sample learning targets for Novice-Mid. I linked to the Novice-Mid NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-do Statements on the Ohio Dept. of Education Site. Under Interpersonal Communication, statement 8 is “I can answer a variety of simple questions.” Two of the sample learning targets are

    –“I can answer questions about what I am doing and what I did.”

    and

    –“I can answer questions about where I am going and where I went.”

    Do you think it is just a matter of the degree of complexity or accuracy of the communication about a past event, that puts it here in Novice-Mid, and also in Advanced?

    I’m curious to know your thoughts! Merci, as always!

    Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      I’m so glad you brought this up, as I was surprised,too, about this Can-Do. I hope that someone more knowledgeable will share their insights.

      Reply
      1. Natalia

        From my understanding of ACTFL proficiency levels, at the Advanced level, learner can use ALL 3 tenses in all forms with reasonable accuracy in contexts appropriate to that level. Which means that he will be able to juggle several tenses in a discourse using them correctly most of the time. I will certainly get a better insight after my OPI training this summer (provided there’s enough participants for the workshop that I signed up for). Care to join me in CT?

        However, our students can’t get there if we don’t expose them to healthy doses of past from early on, especially in French where passé composé is so complex. When at Novice level proficiency benchmark states “what I did”, I would expect what we usually expect from Novices – chunks of memorized expressions that they can only use in a certain context. For example, I teach my students very early how to say “I went” and a few other high frequency expressions to describe what they did over the weekend. I expect them to be able to use exact same expressions in the same context; “I form” with reasonable accuracy, all other forms … well, that’s another story.

        Does this make sense or am I completely off?

        Reply
        1. madameshepard Post author

          Hi (and sorry it has taken so long for me to respond!) I think your response makes perfect sense. At the Novice level I went/I did/etc. are lexical items–the students can use these chunks to express meaning, but don’t have control over the tense as a whole. I also agree on the importance of exposing them to ALL forms of the passe compose long before they are expected to be able to use them accurately and consistently. In the past, when I only allowed my students to see the forms in small groupings (regular verbs, irregular verbs, etre verbs, reflexive verbs) the road to accuracy was so much more arduous than it is now. My students see the forms intermittently in the first year, start producing memorized chunks in the second year, and most have pretty good control by the beginning of the third year. All without filling in any blanks, I wish I would have figured all of this out a long time ago!

          Reply
  12. Karen Oberlander

    Chère Madame, I’ll concur with all these posts–dynamite curriculum. Since I started teaching, I’ve been cobbling together my own mishmash of TPRS and general comprehensible input since I started out initially underwhelmed by the textbook format. Four years later, I’ve grown frustrated and longed to dive into a curriculum that is both comprehensible, rigorous and one that forgoes direct instruction. Your use of authentic resources is wonderful and I started with your unit “Une journée à l’école”. One question: did you change the unit recently? I initially printed out something that didn’t have the English sections in Arthur’s story and it wasn’t broken up with the Astrapi blogs either. Or am I imagining?

    Merci mille fois!

    Reply
    1. Karen Oberlander

      Please disregard my question above. I figured it out because I read your other post about having modified this years unit. I agree with you. I think the one with Arthur’s story in one spot is much more streamlined. Once again, thank you for sharing all your marvelous thinking and work. It’s helping me see through the murky waters of building curriculum.

      Reply
    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks! I just spend a lot of time searching! I try to include the links to various resources, is there something specific you were wondering about?

      Reply
  13. Michelle

    Bonjour!

    I love your units! Your work is great and I am forever thankful for your willingness to share them to help out other teachers create proficiency-based classrooms. I was wondering if you had an IPA for this unit introducing the passé composé or if you waited until the students got through the next unit “From the Midwest to Martinique” to give them a summative assessment.

    Thank you for your help!
    Michelle

    Reply
  14. Amanda Barker

    Wow! These are fantastic ideas and they are so engaging and interesting, I love the use of authentic materials and videos! Can’t wait to try them in my classroom 🙂

    Reply
  15. Laura

    Well, I’ve been reading your blog for two years now, and have always wanted to try your activities. Due to not having scanning machines, color printers, someone to help me laminate, cut, and get the materials together, I was never really able to use an entire unit in the classroom, only a bit here, a piece there.
    Today, I have organized this lesson on a flipchart, which will help me enormously to keep everything organized. I am going to take the plunge, and try to teach the ability to narrate a past event using the passé composé and the imperfect using this unit that you have so generously shared with the world.
    I will let you know how it goes. How on earth do you do it? You are indeed an inspiration . It is so easy to find you on Google now! You should apply for a Macarthur grant, for you truly deserve to be the recipient of such a grant since you are helping so many people.

    Laura

    Reply
  16. virginia browne

    Bonsoir Madame Shepard,
    I am a beginning teacher and your units have really helped me put into practice what I learned in graduate school about backwards design, communicative activities and reflecting on our practice. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am curious about the final IPA for this unit and what the summative assessment was like. You’ve already been so generous, I feel greedy for asking. I would love to hear from you about what you did for this, even if you are unable to share the final product!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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