Jour de la Terre (2): Les Espèces Menacées

environment 2In between the endless hours of standardized testing and weather delays, my French 3 students have been working on a unit on the environment. (If you missed the first half of this unit, see this post) While this topic might not be as engaging as others we have studied this year, I think it was important to develop the students’ vocabulary on this subject, as many of them will be enrolled in AP French next year. As those of you who teach AP already know, the environment is an important subtopic for the “Defis Mondiaux” theme that is part of the AP curriculum.

Having completed lessons on global warming, pollution, and preservation, we were ready to move onto the most interesting part of the unit- a series of lessons on endangered animals. I have included a unit about animals in my French 3 curriculum for the past several years and have found that my students, like me, are especially engaged by this topic. While my treatment of the topic was quite simplistic in past years (students chose an animal from Francophone Africa, researched it, and presented it to the class), I wanted to kick it up a notch this year by focusing more on how global perspectives relate to the problem of endangered species.

Here’s the packet of activities that I prepared:Environment Unit – Pt 2

For the first lesson, we watched a Brainpop video about endangered species. I projected the video and played it to the whole class, using the French subtitles for additional scaffolding. I stopped the video frequently to check for understanding and give the students time to answer the written comprehension questions. Although I have previously used English for these questions, we have recently welcomed a new student into our French 3 class who speaks very little English. Having been educated in Rwanda, she is a fluent speaker of French so I am using as much target language questioning as possible. Following the video, the students took the quiz that is included with the video as a formative assessment. The following day, the students read an infographic about poaching and rhinos and completed an IPA-style interpretive task. They incorporated the information in this article into a letter to the government of the Ivory Coast.

After this introduction to some of the causes of animal endangerment, I began preparing the students for an individual research project/presentation on an endangered species. Although I do very little direct vocabulary instruction at this level, I felt that these students would need to develop a bank of shared vocabulary for their upcoming presentations, so I devoted the next couple of days on activities designed to build this vocabulary. On the first day, I gave the students this illustrated vocabulary list:Animal Unit Vocab . I then placed my collection of Beanie Babies on the chalkboard ledge and asked various questions, using the new vocabulary. (Quel animal a une corne? Combien de pattes a l’autruche? Quels animaux ont des griffes? etc.) Next, I divided the class into pairs and gave each pair a Beanie Baby. (If you don’t have a collection of Beanie Babies, pictures of animals would, of course, work just as well.) The students practiced describing their Beanie Baby with their partner for a few minutes, after which I randomly selected students to present their animal to the class for a formative assessment. I concluded this lesson by showing the class the ever-popular Capucine video: .

I began Day 2 of vocabulary instruction by again placing the Beanie Babies on the chalkboard ledge. This time the students played 20 questions. (Students picked an animal and their partner asked yes/no questions in order to guess which animal they had chosen.) Next, the students completed a pair crossword puzzle communicative activity. For this activity, student A is given a puzzle in which the horizontal answers have been filled in [Pair XW (A)] and Student B is given the same puzzle, but with the vertical answers filled in[ Pair XW (B) ]. (Neither partner has any clues, just a puzzle grid.) The students use circumlocution to provide clues to each other until both students have a completed puzzle. As a follow up to this activity, we played a round of $100,000 Pyramid. For this game I project a Google Presentation on which I have typed four vocabulary words per slide. I divide the class into two teams, and then choose two players from Team 1 to begin. Player A is facing the screen and Player B has his/her back to it. Player A uses circumlocution to give clues to Player B, who earns one point per correct guess in the 60-second time limit.

Now that the students had become familiar with some of the vocabulary they would need to discuss various endangered animals species, it was time to begin preparation for their individual research projects. In order to provide an element of student choice, I downloaded this sign-up sheet (Sign-up Sheet) into a Google Doc that I shared with the class. For homework the students typed their name next to the endangered animal they wanted to research and present. I then gave them one class period to complete the research guide on the front page of this document:Endangered Animal Project. We used the department Ipads for our research, and I circulated among the students to make sure that they were using only French resources. The students will then use this information for the written and oral presentational tasks that are described on the second page of the project document. In order to use my eight classroom computers effectively, the students will be divided into groups and will rotate among these three stations as they prepare for the summative assessments for this unit. Station 1: Students write the rough draft of the written presentational task. Station 2: Students watch a series of videos about endangered animals, which will serve as their interpretive listening grade for the unit (Endangered Animal Videos). Station 3: Students read a series of children’s books about animals. At this station, students choose from several children’s books about animals and complete short interpretive activities designed to further develop their reading proficiency. After each group has circulated among these three stations, they will present the animal they have researched to the class. Lastly, the students will read an article about an endangered animal and complete an IPA-style interpretive task for their unit assessment.

It’s nice to see how much the students have been affected by learning about endangered animals. The decreasing numbers of many of the species really shocked a lot of them and there were plenty who asked about what they could do to help. I felt it was my duty to provide them with resources like the GoFundMe blog which would give them further information on that.

Although the students won’t be presenting for a few more days (more standardized testing!), they’re excited about their work and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with!

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