Tag Archives: French 1

Separation Anxiety: Planning a Novice Low unit without even looking at the textbook.

With less than two weeks before school starts I’m trying to get my first couple of units planned for each of the four courses that I teach.  As I continue on my journey to leave the textbook behind in favor of a proficiency-based approach, I find the beginners (French 1) the most challenging group.  There’s something a little scary about being solely responsible for deciding what they need to know at each step along the way!

As I planned their curriculum for the year, I decided that after a week or so spent on greetings, I would begin by teaching them the vocabulary and structures they would need to talk about school supplies.  It seemed to me that if they successfully acquired this vocabulary, it would be an important first step in my maintaining a 90% target language classroom.

I began the process of planning this unit by choosing the authentic materials that I would use to introduce the vocabulary to the students. As you can see by downloading the link below, I came up with an office supply website, two YouTube videos where teens presented their new school supplies, and a school supply list from a French middle school.

For each of these resources I developed both Interpersonal and Presentational tasks to reinforce the vocabulary from the Interpretive activity.  Each of these tasks will result in a formative assessment, as I will collect and assess the Interpretive tasks (Reading/Listening), assess some of dyads for the Interpersonal tasks (by spending a few minutes with various pairs as they complete the task), randomly select pairs to orally present the information gleaned from the interpersonal task (Presentational-Speaking), and collect and assess the Presentational Writing task.

Although I did not have a specific grammatical/structural goal for this unit, I found that I was incorporating the verb avoir into most of the interpersonal activities that I developed– an important novice level structure.  While I haven’t yet written the Integrated Performance Assessment for this unit, I feel comfortable that I can expect the students to use this structure (at least the first and second person singular forms) on the interpersonal task on this evaluation.

If you are looking for proficiency-based activities to teach school supply vocabulary to French 1 students, feel free to use any of these activities—and make sure to let me know how it goes!

Here’s the document with the activities: schoolsupplieslessons

For those of you who are farther along in the process of proficiency-based teaching, please consider sharing the process you use to plan a unit without relying on the vocabulary/structures presented in the textbook.

I’ll look forward to hearing from you!