An “Imperfect” Unit on French Castles (Part 2 and IPA)

castle-clip-art_tI am happy to report that my French 2 students are enjoying their unit on castles as much as I had hoped they would.  While I was surprised by how little background knowledge they seemed to have about medieval history, they have expressed genuine interest in the information they have learned from the readings and videos.  Considering that we have had atypical class schedules every day to allow for standardized testing and weather delays, I’d say that their attention in class has been downright formidable!

Because I want the students to become familiar with some castles that I visit when leading student trips, I wanted to include a few lessons on the Renaissance and some specific Loire Valley castles in this unit. So following the lessons which I included in my first post about this unit, I am implementing the lesson included here: Renaissance Lesson

As the document shows, the students will read three pages from a children’s book on the Renaissance (Renaissance p. 4Renaissance p. 5Renaissance p. 18) and complete an IPA-style interpretive task.  Following this task, they will complete an information gap activity in which they discuss their versions of a royal family tree in order to fill in the missing facts on their copy. Family Tree Speaking They will then write a short biography about the Renaissance king of their choice.

Following this lesson, the students will complete a series of learning stations designed to familiarize them with the Loire Valley castles.  Due to the nature of the materials (teacher-made games, manipulatives, commercial video and authentic brochures) I can’t include them here, but I’ve included a short description below:

Listening Station: The students will watch a non-authentic Loire Valley castle DVD from Teacher’s Discovery and answer comprehension questions.

Reading Station: Students will read a series of brochures that I’ve brought home from visits to the Loire Valley and answer comprehension questions.

Castle Identification Station: Students will play a series of games that I’ve either made or purchased which are designed to teach them to recognize various Loire Valley castles.

Speaking Station: The students will converse in order to fill in a graphic organizer with information about various Renaissance kings.

After these stations, the students will complete this IPA about the French Renaissance and Loire Valley castles Castle Unit IPA

Reading: The students will read several pages from a children’s book about Chambord (Chambord pp. 1, 2Chambord pp. 3, 4Chambord pp. 5, 6) and complete an interpretive task.

Listening: The students will watch an authentic video and provide details to demonstrate their comprehension.

Speaking: The students will converse in order to fill in a graphic organizer about Francis I.

Writing: The students will write a chapter of Francis I’s memoir in which he describes what his life was like when he was king.

As always, I’m grateful for any feedback on these lessons and materials!



21 thoughts on “An “Imperfect” Unit on French Castles (Part 2 and IPA)

  1. Elisabeth

    This is amazing. Love your blog! I was just wondering how to make the imparfait more exciting this year!
    Merci 🙂

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I’m so glad that you found something and so grateful that you took the time to comment! My students really enjoyed this unit and I hope yours will, too!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Yes, I’m not very active, though. Mostly I just post some of my blog entries and participate in #langchat from time to time. I’m @lisashepard2.

  2. Clarice Hammett

    Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I am planning to do a similar unit with my French 2 class, as we are about to start learning the imparfait and I want to do something culturally relevant and outside of the textbook theme. Merci mille fois!

  3. Véronique

    Je viens de découvrir votre blog et il est fantastique! Merci mille fois de partager votre travail avec nous.

  4. Kim

    I just wanted to say thank you for this blog. I have used several of your lessons in my classroom, and it has helped me get a much better grasp of using authentic materials, incorporating culture, and focusing on forms, but not teaching grammar explicitly. Merci mille fois!

  5. Jennifer Geroux

    Bonjour Lisa!

    Could you share the games that you have created for the learning station? I would love to have some examples to start with! Merci d’avance!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      I have a trivia game, a Go Fish game using pictures of various castles, a game in which they match photos of castles to their names, etc. It’s all very old school, as I began teaching a castle unit long before the Internet was invented!

  6. Lana

    J’ai une question pour vous, Lisa. Dans votre IPA, communication interpersonnelle, les élèves doivent se parler pendant 3 minutes. La transcription de leurs réponses dans la grille jointe prend-elle place pendant ces 3 minutes ou après que le minuteur s’arrête? Merci infiniment de tout vos partages et précisions!

  7. Jennifer Geroux

    Bonjour Madame Shepard!

    Do you have a copy of the graphic organizer for the kings of France that you used during the Learning Stations that you could post here?


  8. Jen Murphy

    Bonjour Lisa,

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing all your wonderful materials. I learned so much along with my students about castles with this unit. Do you have any resources you use for teaching passé composé with the imparfait in context? I use Petit Nicolas stories, but would like to switch it up a bit and find some other authentic resources to better my teaching of these two concepts. I have been better able to get to 90% with all the other material we cover during the year, but still really struggle to maintain it every year when I begin to give them stories with both tenses in context. Thanks for any help you might have.


  9. Mme Callan

    First, I know I’ve said this before but it’s worth saying again: UN GRAND MERCI pour tout ce que vous avez partagé avec nous, les nouveaux/nouvelles profs de français. You have certainly saved my sanity more than once this year!

    Secondly, in the same vein of sharing materials, I just wanted to share learning stations that I created today and modeled after your Impressionist learning stations. These stations are based on the above description of your Châteaux de la Loire lessons plus an Edpuzzle version of the C’est pas sorcier video from your IPA, plus a writing activity! (My FR2 students and I are currently working on the differences between PC/imparfait.)

    All activities are linked to the stations worksheet :

    Amusez-vous bien !

  10. Jessica

    I am concluding this castle unit…it has been just wonderful! I also have a question about the IPA at the end for both the writing and the Interpersonal speaking. Do you recall if you allowed access to the reading documents during the speaking and writing activities? My instinct is yes, but then I also know those students who struggle are going to end up just reading and writing information verbatim from the authentic documents. Thank you so much for all your amazing units!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Jessica I don’t remember for sure, but looking at the IPA I don’t think it makes much sense for the students to have access to the reading for the speaking part, as reading would interrupt the flow of their conversations (which would take forever!!). It would probably be ok if they had the article for the writing, but I would encourage the students to summarize/synthesize information from the article as their writing will be much shorter.


Leave a Reply

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