Leveraging EdPuzzle through Live Mode

I am excited to share with you that EdPuzzle can be employed with the whole class together by using the Live Mode feature. Showing your class a relevant video with embedded questions, gives students input on the theme you are presenting in your unit. The language will be used in context and the video makes the input more compelling. As you watch the video with the class, especially at the Novice level, Live Mode presents the opportunity for you to talk students through an interpretive activity.

The video you play will pause to ask questions, the questions appear on the students’ screen for support and you can give students time to think. Then, each student at their own device answers. While their answers could be used as an interpretive formative assessment, another reason to have students answer questions is to keep them engaged. As I have been moving away from frequent assessment toward prioritizing input, I use the embedded questions as a guide to keep students engaged in the input.

Here are 32 EdPuzzles for you to consider using with your Novice French students. Copy the EdPuzzle, make a class of your students and assign the video to your students as a link on your Learning Management System. From the page on EdPuzzle where you see the assigned video, you click on Live Mode, then the students follow the link and the activity begins.

Within these examples, find one that is useful for the current theme you are presenting to your Novice students and try using the video as an additional source of input. I think that you will find that alongside the other ways you deliver input, this will further the repetitions of vocabulary that lends itself toward talking about oneself and describing, two Novice skills, and Live Mode will become an additional tool to advance your students’ proficiency.

Watching TV to teach language

The Disney show Weekend Family, that streams on Disney +, has characters of color, a same sex couple and a complex blended family. As it is a family show, the scenes depict scenarios that revolve around our students’ experiences, for example being dropped off at Dad’s for the weekend, making food together for Sunday brunch and getting kids out to activities like swim class. These are great contexts for Novice language.

As I see this show as an opportunity to teach language, I started thinking about how I could make the dialogue in the show comprehensible for my students. I want to make lessons that draw in learners, preview vocabulary, tease out cultural commentary and set up an activity that isn’t about language but uses language. The first step, I decided, is to make sure that the activity isn’t about evaluating students for a grade, but is about making the language in the film accessible.

Allow me to share with you the activity that I designed for the first two episodes of Weekend Family as an example of how to make input comprehensible for Novice learners. Here is a folder were you can find all of the materials. Use the slides with the whole class. And, you can make copies of the Google Forms by doing “control click” or “right click” on the thumbnails visible in the folder, then post them to your students’ Learning Management System like Google Classroom. 

You will notice that students preview lines from the episode prior to watching. I carefully chose lines that are important to understanding the main ideas. In class I have to translate some of these lines for the students, but once they have the meaning, then they are ready to use the language. These are the steps:

  • Teacher gives a few points of cultural commentary from ideas brought up in the show
  • Students in pairs guess who will say each line
  • Students in pairs predict what will happen in the segment we will watch
  • The class as a whole shares predictions
  • We watch the 7-12 minute segment together and students confirm who says what and answer one comprehension question

The work that the students are doing is not to evaluate them. It is to lead them through the input and to make it possible to watch the show to try to understand the main ideas. 

It is important to note that I am not attempting to teach the vocabulary that the show revolves around, I am teaching frequently used French vocabulary that builds on the other stories my students have heard in class. For example, when Fred first presents his children and his ex-wives, there is vocabulary around description. When the new girlfriend meets the ex-wives, there is vocabulary around saying hello and introducing oneself. When they are making a brunch out of just the leeks, there is vocabulary around preferences, “I don’t like leeks”. This distinction is important in how to teach language through watching a television show with your students.

How to extend authentic resources

I love using authentic resources in my thematic units because when students read or watch a text from another culture, they make cultural observations. When you find a good authentic resource you will want to get as much out of it as possible, that is you will want to extend that authentic resource. In this post I want to remind you of ideas for communicative activities in all three modes to use to get the most out of authentic resources.

– For a reading, ask questions to lead the students to scan the text for words or to read the text to gleam the main idea.
– The first time you show a video, show it without sound and ask students to write three sentences to say what happened in the video. Then, students share what they wrote. Next, play the video with sound and afterwards ask students to compare what they understand now with what they thought the video was about.
– Make a script of a short segment of the video. The script can be the straight transcription of what was said or the script can be a simplified retelling.

– Have students make personal connections to the text by asking them questions about themselves that relate to what was explained. Ask questions and give answers either in pairs or groups.
– Discuss details on the topic of the reading or video, first in pairs and then in the large group. Then do a “shared writing” where students and the teacher construct a paragraph of linked sentences and the teacher acts as a scribe to write down the sentences on the white board as they go. As a final step, the teacher reads the sentences to the class while they read it from the board silently to themselves.

– If personal connections were explored in the interpersonal activity, then students can write about their own practices as they relate to the topic to explain them to a penpal or to offer explanation for a student who is new to school. Or, have students explain these personal connections in a video as a vlog post to share with students from a different country.
– After a “shared writing”, have students write a summary of what was said during the conversation. They can repeat what was written down by the teacher word for word, or change it to simplify it. Students can then be asked to elaborate on the topic by writing their own sentences.

To give you an opportunity to try out these activities here are a couple authentic documents that might be of interest to your students. I used them in my unit on describing family and friends.

La famille de l’émission Magic: Website and Questions
Brebis et Chiens: Video and Reading

To better understand how I am using these activities in the unit on Describing family and friends, check out the unit plan in this post.

Dollar Street: Images of families from around the world

“People in other cultures are often portrayed as scary or exotic,” says Anna Rosling Rönnlund, the inventor of Dollar Street. “This has to change. We want to show how people really live. It seemed natural to use photos as data so people can see for themselves what life looks like on different income levels. Dollar Street lets you visit many, many homes all over the world. Without traveling.” 

La famille Mbusya

In a unit on families, the images from Dollar Sense can give students information to answer the question “What is a family?” To get to that answer, students can observe families from different countries around the world.

To start, preview the site with your students. Then give them an assignment where they read about different families, think about the information and do some writing for themselves. The sample assignment that I linked here is for Novice level students.

How have you used Dollar Street in your class?

P.S. Thanks to the comments by readers, I was able to make a second activity that is similar using the site Là où je dors

Movie: Une vie de chat

Every year I get a few requests for materials to use with a film. I always direct teachers to this excellent packet to be used with the film Une vie de chat.

This is a film that I can recommend because teachers can buy it on Amazon Prime with the audio in French and show it in their classroom from their own computer. Teachers aren’t always able to buy DVDs in French in this country and even if they already own a film, many schools no longer have the ability to show DVDs. An additional problem is that some of the French movies that appear on Amazon Prime and Netflix don’t have the audio in French. You will see on this blog materials for Belle et Sebastien and the French audio isn’t available on Amazon Prime. So given all this, I figure Une vie de chat is a good film to share with teachers seeing that all teachers can access it.

Please find below sample activities from the packet to do with your students in order to use this film to teach language and culture. Depending on the level of your students, they might have trouble understanding the film. For example, my students who are Novices can’t understand the dialogue of this film. I was able to show it when I had students who were Intermediate Low.

If you do rent or buy the movie on Amazon Prime, you will have it on your own account and won’t be able to leave the movie for a substitute teacher without sharing your login information. I don’t see films as a very good activity without the teacher seeing that while your students watch the movie you will probably need to repeat lines for them and stop periodically to explain in simplified French what is happening. My suggestion for this film is to watch it with your students, to comment frequently in simple French as the action is happening and to repeat important lines a few times.

I love sharing a film with a class. The shared experience is very rich as you share the emotions you feel with others. Enjoy!

Here are the teaching slides

Preview the film
Show the poster
Here are some questions to explore the imagery and design:
a. Qui vois-tu sur l ́affiche du film?
b. Qui est le personnage principal?
c. Quand est-ce que la scène a lieu?
d. Quelles impressions as-tu? Est-ce que ça fait peur ? Est-ce que c ́est menaçant?
Mystérieux? Pourquoi ?
e. Dans quel pays/ dans quelle ville est-ce que le chat vit? Trouve une preuve.

Show two posters
Compare the English version of the poster with the French one and spot the differences:
a. Quels sont les 4 personnages qui apparaissent sur l ́affiche anglaise?
b. Compare le titre français et le titre anglais du film. Pourquoi sont-ils différents?
c. Quel titre te semble le plus accrocheur? Pourquoi?
d. Quelle version de l ́affiche (anglaise ou française) préfères-tu? Pourquoi?
e. Imagine, en quelques phrases, l ́histoire du film.
f. Fais une liste de thèmes et de mots-clés liés au film.
g. De quel genre de film s’agit-il d’après toi?
un film d ‘horreur, une comédie, un film policier, un film d ́amour

Hand out the vocabulary for descriptions

Students describe the characters on the slide

Guessing game. One student describes a character and the other students identify which one.

Bande annonce activity

First scene, 3 minutes
Do a Movie Talk with Une vie de chat Picture Talk
Give students the handout of vocabulary
Ask students to read the Script
Ask students to do Scramble (here’s the answer key)

While watching the film
Page 7 of the PDF

After watching the film
Page 12 of the PDF

Qui parle à qui? with the slide

Match each character with the right description with the slide

Page 19 of the PDF

Strategies for reading with Novices

Here are strategies for teaching reading so that the next time your students are tackling a text, you can rely on these ideas. I have ten to share to support you in your teaching of reading to Novices.

  1. Choose an accessible text. For this post I will refer to a text that I used in the first few months, La langue français dans le monde. Look for simple, short texts with images, good use of color and italics or bolding to bring out meaning. Prioritize maps, infographics, lists, ads and labeled images.
  2. Give students a paper copy to read and write on or have them on their devices open the reading in an application like Notability that allows them to mark it up.
  3. Start by previewing the topic. Ask students their personal opinions or their own practices related to the theme.
  4. Define some of the most relevant words you think the students won’t know and read out loud to students the key parts of the text from slides with bolded words that will help with overall meaning.
  5. Remind students of their reading strategies in their first language. Ask them to look for clues in the title, pictures and cognates and remind them to use the context.
  6. Continue by having them reread the whole reading in pairs to discuss and puzzle through it.
  7. As the teacher, I walk around to check in with my students. I allow them to ask vocabulary questions and when they do I put translations on the board for all to see.
  8. Tell students that they are reading for the general idea. Beginning readers need to learn that they don’t need to understand every word, but instead to get the idea.
  9. Ask if one student can help the class understand by stating the general idea of the text in French. Ask students questions that check for comprehension.
  10. Make connections with the reading. In this case I showed a video with a lot of images and little text. Students saw the names, flags and some images of different Francophone countries. Then I asked them to tell me something they observed and to say whether it was something they knew already or new to them. Make sure to bring out the cultural and justice ideas by asking students to make connections.

Other examples of Novice readings:
Calendrier scolaire avec prénoms
Fourniture Scolaires Liste Modèle
Pour une rentrée scolaire éco-responsable
A chaque classe son emploi de temps
Pour le quatre-heures

Vos stars préférés en 2021

Example of readings that was rewritten to be Novice:

Poetry Month, my small contribution

April was poetry month and I was teaching my novices a unit on school, so I incorporated in my lessons Pierre Ruaud’s poem “Pour la rentrée”. How to use this authentic resource? Well, I would want my students to understand the meaning of the words and the playfulness of the poem. Culturally I know there is a great tradition in France of teaching students to recite poetry, so I decided to ask my students to do the same. And, I see the rhythm of a poem as an opportunity to work on pronunciation.

I have a novice low activity on pronunciation using names that I have shared on these pages before. I use it in the first few days of class. This activity, two units later, would build on that work now that the students have been speaking the language for longer.

Here is the poem. You can use this handout for your students.

And, here are the slides that I used in teaching this lesson.

The steps were simple. I read the students the poem in English while they looked at the French. I then read the poem in French and asked them to listen to the pronunciation. I asked them for their observations and then I gave them a brief lesson on pronunciation using words from the poem. Next, I asked students to practice using a video of a French student reciting the poem and then record themselves reciting the poem on Flipgrid. This technique can be used with any poem, of course!

I have a second example to share, to show you how to use the same technique with a different poem. Here are the slides and here is the handout.

School then and now

I am showing the trailers of two different films to get students to use their observation skills to compare school 70 years ago and now. My students are novice learners, so there is limited language to rely on to do these activities.

What I like about this activity is that the students observe and compare and are able to use language that is given to them to show their ideas. Here is the presentation with the trailers from the two films and the graphic organizer.

You will see on the edges of the graphic organizer suggestions for language for the students to use as they compare school then and now. Students will show their thinking by organizing the terms into ones that describe school in 1949 and ones that describe school in 2019.

Please note there is a swear in one of the trailers. It doesn’t bother me because I usually mute the audio quickly at that point!

My motivation for making this very scaffolded assignment was to build towards having students compare their school to one in another part of the world. I included in the presentation a video on school in Montréal for your students to compare with their school. The video is an excellent look into perspectives in Québec and it addresses teacher / student relationships, support for LGBTQ+ students and recreation during the school day.

As a further activity for students to prepare for comparing schools, I have included an activity for a song from TV5 Monde. The vocabulary that is employed in the activity will give students additional vocabulary to rely on. It is my hope that by including additional parts of the unit you will see how the Venn Diagram activity can be used to support students speaking in French about culture.

Resources for Novices for Black History Month

Before I begin, here is the lesson I ultimately ended up with and here is the reading.

In celebration of Black History Month I went looking for relevant resources that would interest my novice students. I came up with three different inspirations and want to share them with you to show you how I decided to proceed. A good source for help with evaluating the different possibilities is this resource on teaching Black History from the Anti-Defamation League.

I thought about taking a picture book and pulling out the themes that are relevant to the black experience in our country. I found the beautiful book Toc Toc Toc Papa où es-tu? The language is simple and the themes are of interest to my students. Watch the video of a reading of the book and I promise you will feel deep emotion. Ultimately, I shied away from this idea because I couldn’t find the right approach to addressing the stereotype of missing black fathers. I didn’t feel like I had the authority to bring that up with a group of students. And, I thought in my majority-white classroom, the stereotype of the missing black father would be hard to unravel in a way that did not make my few black students uncomfortable.

I then wanted to discuss racism with this video as a starting point and present a person who fought against racism. I could think of no one better than Aimé Césaire, who is presented in this brochure and this video. I thought I would also be able to share some of his poems. This felt like a better fit for my expertise but try as I may, I couldn’t make the level of language work for my students, it was just too advanced

Along the way I found this excellent and accessible video about the importance of Africa telling its own story, but then couldn’t connect that to what I wanted to teach.

At this point I realized I needed a text that was truly accessible to Novice-Mid students and I found it in this comic strip. Unfortunately, pieces of the comic strip were problematic. I didn’t love the idea of trying to present Toussaint Louverture as “the black version of Napoleon” or “the first black hero” and wasn’t willing to show an image of a hanging man. But, I liked the idea of discussing the slave trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas and to concentrate on Toussaint Louverture’s heroic actions. My solution was to shorten the reading for my students and take out an image of a person hanging.

Allow me to address the point that we don’t want to teach and reteach slavery as the only theme of Black History that we address. I hear you. I will need to expand my repertoire of resources to include other themes. I am just getting started and don’t have many models to rely on. The reason why I chose this reading is that Toussaint Louverture responded to slavery in Haiti by rising up and it is that act that I am concentrating on in this reading.

Next, I had the problem of making the language and the concepts in the comic strip accessible to my students. I realized that I needed to explain in simple language some of the background information, so I set out to make some slides in simple language with key words bolded. Then I glossed some of the words from the comic strip. With the shortened reading that is linked above and with these slides, you can recreate my lesson if you wish.

Along the way, I spoke with my French colleagues and asked them to read the comic strip. We worked together to understand what would be the best fit for students. And, I listened to their advice on how to precede. I am pretty confident that the resulting lesson isn’t the best out there, but it is a start for me, in teaching Black History. Please let me know if any of the steps I took sound familiar to you.

P.S. If your students are progressing towards Intermediate, don’t miss this post on Black History Month from La Libre Language Learning. And if you use CI resources (which I incorporate too!) here is an outstanding idea for Novices from Toward Proficiency.

Current Events in the World Language Classroom

I wanted to share with you three different ideas of how to address current events in the World Language Classroom to encourage students to interact with the news. I hope that in modeling the activities you might want to make your own resources and if so, you can find articles and videos to make your own lessons from these sources:

Image from 1jour1actu. Download their free bi-weekly edition.

1jour1actu and Mon Quotidien are both free current events sites for French young people. In contrast, Petit Journal is a paid resource and it is written for French language learners. You can consider the advantages of each one for your students’ needs and interests. 

One way to jump into using current events is to ask students to match headlines or short descriptions with pictures as I did in this example using materials from 1jour1actu. I like to do this at the start of class. When I ask students to work in pairs they discuss their understanding of the words in French and collaborate to further their understanding.

Or, to employ a different idea you could choose a comic strip and video on the same topic from 1jour1actu. As an example, at the beginning of this year my students read a comic strip (on the third page) on Covid-19 and watched the accompanying video. As they read I asked them to look up words on the wordreference.com site. We watched the video together as a class and I paused the video and asked questions. You could put your questions into an EdPuzzle instead, if you wanted to hold each student accountable.

A third idea is to have the students work in pairs, each reading one of two articles. I used this one from 1jour1actu on Macron’s announcement for quarantine with one from the Petit Journal Francophone. There is also an Mon Quotidien article on the same subject that you could use instead. Then, they have to complete this graphic organizer in English together, identifying the information that was in the first or the second article or both. I like that they have to use higher order thinking in order to classify the information.

I hope that you will find an idea here to inspire you. Please leave a comment if you find anything you can use! In conclusion I want to leave you with one more resource. Here is a form I have been using for years when I ask a class to read a current events article, especially the “l’info en grande” articles from 1jour1actu like this one on Mars, (on the 4th page). It has gotten a lot of use and I hope it can be useful in your class.