A Day in the Life…

Sad man holding pillow and the clock

Like many of you, I spend a lot of my summer trying to get a good head start on my planning for the following school year.  This year I began by revising my first unit for my French 2 students, which focuses on the theme of discussing a typical day.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the theme of “Daily Routine” is often criticized by proficiency-based teachers.  This seems to be because many textbooks have used this theme to present reflexive verbs without adequate authentic context. While this may be true, as I was previewing the French children’s magazines I recently purchased this topic came up again and again.  Many of the articles that I chose for their cultural content included information about a typical day in the life of the children who were interviewed for the article.  As a result, I have chosen to begin my French 2 course with a unit on “A Day in my Life.”

Can-Do Statements

As has been my practice, I began planning this unit by choosing/modifying the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements that I wanted to address. Because the targeted proficiency level for my French 2 students is Novice High, most of my Can Do’s are based on that level.  However, since my students have excellent reading skills, I chose an Intermediate Low Can-Do Interpretive Reading Can-Do.

Interpersonal Communication: I can exchange some information about my daily routine.

Presentational Speaking: I can tell about my daily activities using phrases and simple sentences.

Presentational Writing: I can write about my daily activities using practiced material.

Interpretive Listening: I can understand simple information about a character’s daily activities in a cartoon video.

Interpretive Reading: I can identify some information from an article about someone’s daily routine. (Intermediate Low)

Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA)

The next step in my planning was to prepare the IPA for this unit.  I began by choosing an authentic magazine article in which Francophone students discussed what gets them up in the morning (previously shared in this post) and creating an interpretive task according to the ACTFL IPA Interpretive template. I then created interpersonal and presentational tasks based on the types of information included in this article.  In addition, I included an interpretive listening task based on a cartoon video in which the character is taking a bath—a typical daily routine activity.  Although this video is not closely integrated to the interpretive reading task, I think it’s important to assess both reading and listening skills in each IPA.  Therefore, I’ve sacrificed the integrative aspect in order to include an authentic text which is appropriate to the proficiency level of my students.

Lesson Plans

Having created the IPA, I turned toward creating the lessons that would provide the students with the necessary skills to perform successfully on this assessment.  Each of these lessons is based on an authentic written or oral text and includes corresponding interpretive, interpersonal and presentational tasks.  Because the Can-Do’s at this level clarify that students at this level are highly dependent on memorized speech, I have included a few additional activities designed to help the students memorize the words and phrases they will need on the IPA.  These “non-authentic” activities include:

  1. Educational daily routine videos that will be used to reinforce vocabulary and as a springboard for personalized questioning. (See agenda below for links)
  2. Guess Who  game  which requires students to ask and answer questions about daily activities.
  3. Matching Activity in which students will describe what the people in images are doing.

The last lessons before the IPA will be a series of learning stations in which the students prepare a rough draft of their presentational writing task, practice their interpersonal task (with different partners), listen to similar cartoon videos, and read an additional authentic article.

Here are the materials I created for these lessons:

  1. Unit 1 Activity Packet (Requires this article: Mama p. 1, Mama p. 2
  2. Unit 1 Learning Stations (Requires this article: Nadine p. 1Nadine p. 2
  3. French 2 unit 1 agenda
  4. Unit 1 IPA (Requires this article: matin p. 1 matin p. 2 matin p. 3 , p. 4)

As always, all feedback is welcome!

30 thoughts on “A Day in the Life…

  1. Megan W

    Thank you! It was great to see your unit pacing agenda and the kind of homework assignments you give students to prepare them for the following day’s tasks. I admire the homework design. There is a big push in my district to cut down on homework because students report feeling tons of stress with the hours they have each night. These kinds of assignments would certainly appeal to those kinds of concerns!

    As I read through your unit agenda, I had a question about the formative speaking checks you do in class. You say how you’ll randomly select a few students each day. Do you do these formative assessments in a group setting with the whole class? I mean, do you choose a few students and have them give their answers just at their seats while the others listen? Or, do you pull students over to your desk and do this one by one? I ask because I’d be wondering about students (in the group setting) just “copying” other students in their answers, where the students you call on later might do better than the first few students. On the other hand, if you had students come over to your desk one-by-one, I was wondering what kind of work you had the other students do during that time? All your lessons seem so active and seamless from one activity to the next, I’d like to learn from you!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Megan. I usually have the kids do these informal formatives in front of the whole class. I’m not too worried about the kids copying. I don’t really think they could remember several sentences that they heard. On the other hand, if they did learn some structures from listening to a classmate, I think this could be a plus. My formative assessments aren’t weighted very heavily, so I’m not too worried about some students having an unfair advantage. In fact, I allow students to redo formatives, so I would happily allow a student to try again if s/he didn’t do well on one of these. When I do summative speaking assessments, I pull pairs (interpersonal) or individual students (presentational) up to my desk for their performances while the others are working on other parts of the IPA.

      1. Megan W

        Thanks! And for the presentation writing tasks (before the IPA), do you occasionally collect or check any to give some structured feedback to students?

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Yep, I collect their packets at the end of the period and grade/provide feedback on readings and writings as time allows.

  2. Stephanie Turner

    Bonjour! I just found your blog today and it looks as though it will be very useful to me as I adopt a more performative approach. Merci beaucoup d’avoir partagé votre travail, c’est très généreux de votre part!

    Two comments: first , I caught a typo on Section E of your IPA: I think in question 2, you mean devenir.

    Secondly, I’ve never seen a French assessment where students use so much English. Is this typical for an IPA at this level? Merci!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Thanks for letting me know about the typo! As for the format/use of English, I use the template provided by ACTFL in their IPA manual. I use more French on my IPA’s in French 3 and all French in French 4, but that requires some modifications to the template, I eliminate the key word section and use multiple choice for the Guessing Meaning in Context. I see value in using English for reading comprehension, because it allows me to assess pure comprehension. I find that Novice students can understand more than they are able to produce, so I think the English helps them show me what they know. Thanks a lot for your questions and comments–keep them coming!

  3. Dianne Tiner

    Thank you again for being so generous and sharing so much. I am studying this unit in detail because it’s what I will start the year off with in my French 2 class and I would like to create more units like it, which I will of course share with you! I do have a few questions for you. 1. You list an enrichment activity on the rattrapage day. Can you give me an example of what activities you do for enrichment? 2. In your lesson plans there are several links to videos to review vocabulary and Q/A is listed after it. Do u spontaneously think of questions and ask them? Do u prepare them like your listening comprehension questions in your activity packet? Do the students respond to u orally or written? 3. By then end of your unit, have you made sure you have called on all students to do at least one of the presentational speaking activities? 4. I have this question probably because of anxiety about departing from a textbook. Do u provide your students with a list of key vocabulary and possible grammar concepts you want them to master/comprehend by the end of the unit? I have watched all the videos and they will get exposed to so much vocabulary about daily life (yeah!) but how do u communicate with them what is most essential? Thank you again so much!!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Bonjour! It’s my pleasure and thank you for your great questions. Answering them helps me reflect on my own practices, which was the main reason I started this blog. I have used a variety of independent enrichment activities over the years. Often, I had extra reading/listening activities related to the unit theme. However, when I started creating my own lessons, rather than using a textbook, I just didn’t have the time to create additional enrichment activities. Now, I have a set of books and articles that they can choose from to read. I have a very generic comprehension guide that I have them fill out and then I give them a few points of extra credit. I like to build in a rattrapage day, because it helps me keep the make up work under control, but sometimes I end up having to give it up, because other activities have taken longer than I thought they would. As for the videos in the lesson plan, they were a last minute addition and I’m still a little hesitant about whether I’ll actually use them. I feel like I “should” use only authentic resources, but also feel that these videos could help build the students’ vocabulary. Currently, I’m planning on using them as a little warm-up activity at the beginning of class–I’ll just play and then pause to ask spontaneous questions like “A quelle heure est-ce qu’elle se reveille?” I think this could be a good way to build the students’ listening and speaking skills, as well as help build in additional vocabulary. Yes, it will be by goal to call on every student for a presentational speaking. More than likely, though, this won’t be possible with 30+ students in the class. Fortunately, I also take formative assessment grades on the speaking that they do during the interpersonal activities. Although I can’t get to everybody during every activity, I think that I can provide a speaking grade/feedback for each student during this unit by combining these two types of speaking activities. As for your last (and most important question)–Nope. The materials included in the post are the only things the students will have. I know it’s a paradigm shift, but it’s my believe that the “most essential” is what the students need to use to meet the Can Do’s. By preparing the presentations, talking to a partner, writing the paragraphs, and listening to the videos, each student will end up acquiring the vocabulary which is essential to him/her. The tasks on the IPA are open-ended enough that it doesn’t really matter whether or not each student memorizes the exact same words. As for the grammar concepts, I designed the unit so that the students would start using some reflexive verbs. I don’t plan explicit instruction, but I do answer questions and provide them with the chart. Other than that, the expectation is that they will start acquiring the structures as they complete the communicative activities. I hope I’ve answered your questions, please let me know if you have more! Lisa

      1. Dianne Tiner

        Ok! You answered all of my questions so thoroughly. I love your answer for my last question even though it makes me the most nervous! What is essential to each kid will vary. That makes sense! 🙂

        Do you ever have kids (maybe ones who transfer to you since you’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’m sure your students are used to this system in your classroom) ask you for vocab lists or grammar notes, etc…? My students will be coming from the textbook, lists and notes for everything system and I think they might have a bit of difficulty transitioning to this new way of learning. I’m totally ok with that because I can already see they will greatly benefit and they will learn, retain, and be able to use their French so much more! So I guess my question is how do you handle new kids who are not used to this at all? Thanks again for being such an inspiration!

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Actually, last year was the first year I ditched the textbook so it was a transition for everybody. I had always supplemented with a lot of authentic materials, though, so they really didn’t seem to notice much difference. The kids that were new to me last year (French 2 who took French 1 in middle school) were very positive. Several mentioned that they liked “learning this way.” The students were especially positive about IPA’s. They find them very low stress because they don’t have to “study.” Please keep in touch and let me know how your school year goes. I’d love to know whether my students’ reactions were typical, or if your experience is different!

  4. Mlle D

    Thank you for sharing this lesson. I am making going to make a different an IPA, using the MAMA article with another project for my students. Do you remember which Astrapi issue you found this article?


  5. Chris

    Hello again!

    At the beginning of a new school year…do you ever do verb reviews? In the past, with level 3 …I review all verbs er/ir/re and irregulars. I am wondering, if this should be just a thing of the past since they are mainly drills out of context. Thanks!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi, Chris. Since I switched to a more proficiency-based methodology I have not been explicitly reviewing grammatical concepts at the beginning of the year. I find that the communicative activities we do are enough to remind the students of what they need to know.

  6. Chris

    Thanks – I never liked starting the year that way…too many verbs at once!!

    I actually use the same infograph for vacations that you do. I made a google doc survey for my students so we could compare ourselves to the French!

    If you have trouble viewing or submitting this form, you can fill it out in Google Forms.
    Les Vacances

    Comment est-ce que vous aimez passer les vacances d’été?

    * Required
    Où est-ce que vous aimez passer les vacances d’été *
    Une réponse
    Dans une ville
    À la mer
    À la montagne
    À la campagne

    Qu’est-ce que vous aimez faire pendant les vacances d’été? *
    Choisissez 3 réponses
    Une promendade dans la nature
    Vous reposer
    Vous retrouver en famille
    Nager, la plage
    Visiter la ville et les musées
    Faire du sport
    La gastronomie
    Sortir, faire la fête
    Le parc de loisirs
    Les festivals, les concerts, le théâtre
    Le bricolage, le jardinage, la pêche
    Le shopping

  7. MlleT

    Hi, Lisa. Thanks so much for sharing your materials! It’s been fun to read everything that you’ve created. 🙂 Do you by chance have another link to the articles about Mama and Nadine? Both of the scanned copies are very dark and print almost entirely in black. I’d like to use the great resources that you have prepared, but I know these documents will be too dark to read off the screen or to photocopy.

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hi! I’m sorry about the quality of the copies. The background on the originals is very dark, so it doesn’t scan or copy well. I was able to make it legible for my students by playing with the settings on the copier, but it’s certainly not ideal. I don’t think I can do much better with my scanner, either. A reader shared a link to a great article about daily life in Senegal. (See the comments) I wonder if you might want to substitute that article as an interpretive activity? I’m planning on doing so next year, as the Mama and Nadine articles are each several years old (They were the best I had at the time.) I wish I could be of more help!

      1. Heather

        Hi, Lisa! I am currently using this unit with my French 2 students, and I love it! I had a few questions left after reading the other comments:
        1. Do you recall where you found the article for Nadine? Is it also from Astrapi?
        2. Do you have a subscription to these magazines, or do you just pick up copies when you travel?
        3. I noticed the structure of this unit was different from the Level 1 Foods unit you published earlier. Was that a conscious change? If so, is it because of the level of the student? Or has your product changed as a result of your experience developing these units?
        4. I would like to work with another French teacher in my building to create a unit of this type for another topic in our curriculum. Is there a topic you find particularly engaging for which you have not yet had the time to develop a unit and IPA?
        I am truly grateful for your generosity in sharing your work. Thank you for inspiring me to do better, and showing me _how_ you do this.

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Hi, Heather. The Nadine article is from a magazine called Planete Enfants which is published by Bayard, and intended Francophone kids in Africa. The issue in which this article appeared is one that I picked up from a vendor at a conference many years ago (I’m embarrassed to say how old it is, but it works for this unit). I pick up magazines when I travel and have also started choosing one subscription per year. Because I pay for them myself, I don’t feel I can do more than one a year. Last year it was Phosophore, and this year it will be Astrapi (still waiting for my first issue). Because I pay for these out of pocket, I’ve decided to alternate the level so that I develop a good library for all different classes. I’d love to reflect more on the differences between the units you mentioned–what changes did you notice specifically? I think I’ll probably be using most of the same units this year, although modifying them based on new resources I’ve curated, the needs of my students, etc. If you’re willing to share, though, I’d be honored to see what you create! Thank you so much for your kind words! Lisa

    2. madameshepard Post author

      Another idea would be to retype the articles. You could add some photos from the Internet to make your document more engaging, and the language would still be authentic

  8. Stacy Paleen

    Love this unit!
    Should there be a page 4 for the IPA? The questions reference a few people who are not mentioned and the vocab refers to page 9 which doesn’t seem to be there.
    Thanks, again, for always being so willing to share!!

    1. madameshepard Post author

      Hmmm. I see 4 pages and the IPA “worked” with my kids. Maybe if you can give me some more information about which names you don’t have I could do some trouble-shooting when I get a chance. Lisa

      1. Stacy Paleen

        For materials you state:

        Here are the materials I created for these lessons:

        Unit 1 Activity Packet (Requires this article: Mama p. 1, Mama p. 2
        Unit 1 Learning Stations (Requires this article: Nadine p. 1, Nadine p. 2
        French 2 unit 1 agenda
        Unit 1 IPA (Requires this article: matin p. 1 matin p. 2 matin p. 3 )

        I only see 3 pages for “matin” but a few of the questions on the IPA refer to what appears to be a fourth page.
        Thanks for helping me out!!

        1. madameshepard Post author

          Mystery solved and thanks for your patience! I was looking at the post where I originally posted this IPA and all four pages were there. Your reminder that I had also included most of the pages on the later post helped clear things up. I’ve added page 4 to this post, too. Sorry about the confusion!

  9. Jo Dougherty

    Hi Lisa! First of all, thank you so much for your generosity in sharing all of your hard work with us! And secondly, congratulations on your teacher of the year award – you are obviously very deserving!
    I’m hoping to use this Day in the Life with my 2s this year and in looking at your agenda, I see that you list a “10 trucs faciles” interpretive reading task, but I’m not finding it as an attachment anywhere. Can you help, please? Merci d’avance!

  10. Leslie

    Thank you so much for sharing so much information. I am looking at your Agenda and for Day 2 you have a video that is posted in the document. However, the video no longer exists. I have found a few videos that could work but I worry that they speak too quickly. Do you remember what it was or do you have a replacement video for this?

    Thank you again for everything you have done and that you are so willing to share.


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