French Proficiency-Based Unit on Clothing

It is March and in public schools the month feels long. We look forward to Spring vacation and for some of us teachers, our inspiration is shot. Lately I am getting requests from teachers for ready-made materials because the teachers are busy, burnt-out or lacking motivation. As the days get brighter and the weather warmer, I wanted to offer a ready-made unit for my readers.

Please find the unit plan and materials for a Novice French Unit on Clothing in this shared folder. Pieces of this unit you will recognize because I have shared them before, but this is my updated unit for the current year. A good place to start is with the unit plan and the teaching slides. Please note on the teaching slides that there are frequently links in the speaker notes to the corresponding documents. And, it is worth mentioning that my students keep a journal in the classroom where they do all of their work, such as complete graphic organizers, write a hint for a guessing game or complete an exit ticket. I read through the journals periodically and respond to the ideas.

What does it mean to update a unit? Well, this new version relies on the template from Leslie Grahn and makes use of her suggestions from her One lesson at a time materials on Clothing with a Conscience. Leslie helps us understand how to use authentic resources and include all three modes of communication. This helped me greatly with my instruction and I hope it helps you too. In addition, I have added in references to gender neutral clothing. So my unit is updated in its approach as well as, in part, in its content.

I am not able to completely revamp the unit every year. I don’t have time for that. But these little changes help respond to current advances in teaching and new topics of student interest. It is my hope that you find some inspiration in this unit!

Les héros

I am always trying to plug into topics that interest my Middle School students. My latest attempt is the twin topics of Heroes, meaning people we admire, and Super Heroes. I found excellent materials on a blog Les Crayons de Delf and modified the activities to create some lessons for Novices.

Here is a mini-unit to address heroes.

Essential questions: Who is a hero? What are their accomplishments?

Can do statements

  • I can understand descriptions of people and their accomplishments.
  • I can read about changemakers to inspire me to reflect on and take action to make my community and world a better place.
  • I can name a hero and what they do.
  • I can identify who is left out of the discussion of heroes.

Here are slides to use while teaching

Activities for lessons

Hook video: Soprano – À nos héros du quotidien Play first minute 20 seconds of the video and ask students to tell you what is the main idea depicted in the story of the video.

EdPuzzle: C’est quoi un héros ?

Have students do the reading on changemakers. Have students look for words for professions. Show slide with all of their pictures and say their nationality / occupation / un fait divers and students say who it is.

EdPuzzle Greta Thunberg

Talk about real life heroes. Ask students to identify a hero and say what they do:

  • ___ est un héro. Elle / il / iel est activiste / écologiste / journaliste.
  • Elle / il / iel… aide / sauve / donne / lutte pour / lutte contre / travaille (pour)…

Read two slides about superheroes

Hand out lyrics. Play song Super Mamie. Have students underline words they know.

Readings on Superhéros. Hand out first reading to groups of four. Play the Lucky Reading Game. Here are the questions.

Akinator: We are going to play the reverse guessing game Akinator, trying to get the Akinator to guess a Super Hero. We use the readings about the Super Hero for background information to help us answer questions. 

Kahoot: Les superhéros 

Students create a plan for their own superhero

Students in groups talk about their super heroes. Show students sentence starters on the slides to help them share the information from their charts.

Reading: Noms de rue Teacher reads out loud the excerpts on the slides. “Can anyone give a summary in English, not a translation?”  Ask the class to share five facts in French with their discussion groups. Share out to the class. Then, ask students to put the reading away.

Show students the pictures from the reading on the slide. Have a class conversation where they say as much as they can about the picture. “What do you see? What do you know about that?” Ask yes and no questions to help them along. Lead the class to what would make sense for them to talk about and what they have the vocabulary to talk about.

Shared Writing: Ask students to give sentences about what we discussed together. Teacher writes them down.

Shared Reading: Teacher reads the finished paragraph back to the students.

Put the paragraph away. Have students write sentences from what they remember of the group writing. Then have them write one sentence of their own. 

Non gendered language in French family unit

When a person has told us that they are gender non-binary, we refer to them with language that is not gendered. In addition, when we are speaking to people who have not specified their gender or to all people, we can use inclusive terms that aren’t gendered, we can use traditional language that is gender neutral or we can alternate between feminine and masculine forms.

In the French language there isn’t an official way to use gender neutral language. We have to go looking for examples in newspapers and explanations online for ideas of how to do this. While there are ideas for making language gender neutral, I need to clearly state there are no official rules and not everyone will accept these options.

Here is a slide deck to use in your teaching. Of course, these additions are not static nor are they finalized. As the will evolve and change, keep in touch with others about the latest accepted versions of non-gendered speech.

A French Unit based on Teaching Tolerance Lessons

Our national standards and many of our local frameworks call for teaching for Social Justice. From Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell I learned that stating up front an enduring understanding would help to guide my social justice units. This time I decided to look to Teaching Tolerance for a little additional help and was able to select the following enduring understandings:

  • Everyone has multiple identities.
  • Peoples’ identities are similar in some ways and different in others.
  • It is important to see my identities as well as the identities of others in the stories I read.

You can see the lesson on Discovering my Identity on the Teaching Tolerance site.

And Teaching Tolerance informed my essential questions…

  • What do stories teach us about identity?
  • What makes an identity?
  • How are other characters in stories we have read as a class similar to and different from me?

... as well as some of the activities I incorporated in the unit.

Then I shared my unit with a couple colleagues. One guided me to rely more on the target language in my instruction and the other helped me to portray diversity from a lens that is empowering and not pejorative.

In these lessons I try to make transparent for students how to use tools to deepen their observations and therefore their understanding. These tools are 1. Reading strategies (accessing prior learning, cognates, using images and being persistent), 2. Referring specifically to the text to answer questions 3. Using critically minded questions to further understanding.

Here are the teaching slides to go with the unit.

Can Do Statements

  • I can say whether or not I liked a text.
  • I can say how characters in books are the same or different from me.
  • I can answer requests for basic information about myself.
  • In my own and other cultures I can identify some texts that reveal a stereotype or exaggerated view of a culture.

Homework during the unit. Here is a book for students to read Venue de Loin, a few pages every evening for homework during the unit.

Each day begins with a few questions for discussion to get to know each other better. The teacher teaches the sentence starter to answer the question and possible different answers that the students might want to express. This teaching of vocabulary is building toward the writing and speaking at the end of the unit.

Day 1 Previewing vocabulary
Hook: Song that speaks of tolerance Je suis comme toi
Invite one student to project their screen on the white board. They will operate the activity but all students can participate. Lead them to play Je suis comme toi Lyrics Training Slide 2

Chorus from song Slide 3
Interview and explanation of song Slide 4
Explain that they are from Madagascar Slide 5

Watch the videos together and then ask students to do the EdPuzzles:
Betty au Sénégal Portrait d’enfant ARTE Junior Slide 6 EdPuzzle
Aya en Tunisie Portrait d’enfant ARTE Junior Slide 7 EdPuzzle

Day 2 Reading Strategies — Poem and Comic strip
Comment t’appelles-tu? D’où vient ton prénom?
Où habites-tu?

Warm-up Discussion: Talk with your students about their identities and what makes them who they are. Teacher takes notes on a side white boarf. Qui es-tu? Sentence starters on slide 9.

With the Jamboard presentation of well known characters from books, brainstorm words in French that identify them. Share the presentation on Classroom and ask students to post stickies to describe one of the characters they know. Point out that work is anonymous. Briefly highlight stereotypes and caution against making assumptions or judging people based on a single characteristic. For instance, being a girl doesn’t necessarily mean you like to play with dolls; being a boy doesn’t necessarily mean you like to play sports. Evaluate descriptions for stereotypes.

Grammar: Use slides 11-12 to explain the spelling changes used to describe boys versus girls. Comment on grammar for those who are gender neutral.

Discuss reading strategies:

  • Look for words you already know
  • Look for cognates
  • Use the images to help you
  • Don’t give up – keep trying

The two readings for today are meant to be done quickly, as they are warm-ups for what comes next. We want to show students that it is ok if they can’t translate every word of the reading. And, that it is good to approach a text by reading for general understanding as opposed to translating the whole text.

Poem: Partout
What do we know about the narrator?

Hand out J’ai neuf ans Reading and Questions
Who is the girl in the comic strip? What do we know about her?

Day 3 Identity and Race — Poem
Dans quel pays es-tu né?
D’où viennent tes parents?

Fill out Identité
What makes one different from others, refer back to our conversation at the beginning of the unit.
What defines who you are? To what groups do you belong?

Look at posters Ce sont tes droits slides 14-15 and discuss
Read Droit à une identité slide 16 and discuss
Why is it important to have an official identity? Why might you need one? Why should it be a right? Is access to resources or power linked to the social construct of who a person is perceived to be? When?

Go over the anti-bias text dependent questions
Read À mon frère blanc
In English have students ask questions from the list of anti-biased text dependent questions
Other students answer
Teacher records on a side whiteboard the students’ answers to questions so class can have the notes to refer to later

Students read about students in Senegal and complete a checklist about them versus students in our school

Day 4 Cultural Identity: Senegal

Stations day: The teacher will assign groups and will give each group a station where they will start. In their assigned group, students will work through the station and move on the next one.

Here is a document with links to everything you need. The first station is a reading about Senegal with questions to answer on a Kahoot, the second is two EdPuzzles, the third is writing a paragraph about the country of Senegal, next students speak with the teacher about their free-time activities and lastly students compare their own culture to the culture of Senegalese students.

Day 5 Ethnicity — Excerpt from a novel
As-tu des frères et des soeurs? Qui d’autre est dans ta famille?
Qu’est-ce que tu fais pour ton anniversaire?

Define Race for students. Define Ethnicity. Is one a better term to use than the other?
Your race and ethnicity are one aspect of your identity
Explain who Senghor is
Listen to children’s book of his poem Homme de Couleur slide 18
In pairs, fill out questions and discuss
If useful, as a class return to the anti-biased text dependent questions

Discuss how stories are pathways to increase our empathy for others.

Present Je suis amoureux d’un tigre with the fiche
Read Extrait Je suis amoureux d’un tigre
In pairs, answer Questions
As a class, in English have students ask questions from the list of anti-biased text dependent questions.

Homework: Moi en dit mots
I first show my model. Ask students to go to Nuages de mots and write a paragraph in French that describes their identity or refers to groups they are in that describe their identity.

Day 6 Immigration — Song
Qu’est-ce que tu fais pour le Halloween?
As-tu un animal domestique? Lequel?

Teacher reads the script that tells the story of the song, stopping at the end of each paragraph
Students draw illustrations to the story that they hear in this form
Teacher hands out script for students to read to themselves and finish off the work
Students listen to the song slide 20 and watch the video

Go over the homework for the unit on the book Venue de Loin, reread the book aloud.
Watch the video and do this sheet.

Homework: Journal entry, Mon identité
Show the students my journal entry slide 21 on my identity and ask them to write one of their own.

Day 7 Evaluation of texts
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes manger?
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire comme loisir?

Look back over the different forms that we saw: comic strip, 2 poems, narrative writing, 2 songs and 2 Childrens’ Books. They all appear in Google Classroom with other books we have read as a class this year. Choose one to review. Write your answers into the graphic organizer. Then we will share as a class.

Review adjectives to describe people and how to make comparisons.

Ask students how they themselves are similar to and different from the characters in the stories they read. Ask how that made them feel.

Questions pour mieux se connaître slides 23-25
In pairs, students ask and answer the questions from over the course of the unit. Students complete a T-chart in their notebook and report to the class how they are different and similar to each other.

Day 8 Assessment
Interpersonal TALK Assessment: Ask students to have a conversation in groups of six where each one of them speaks five times. Have them ask and answer questions from the Questions pour mieux se connaître. Students will learn about the diversity in the class and reflect on who they are themselves to prepare for the writing assignment.

Presentational Assessment: Students write letters to introduce who they are to the French family they will be living with on exchange.

I hope that you will find materials in this post that you can include in your own unit on Identity.

Beginnings in Social Justice Instruction

The book Words and Actions: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell gave me new insight for when I decided to write an original social justice unit. AF_carles-694x1024After consulting the publication, I chose to write a unit centered around the social justice theme of gender, which I think is a rather easy, entry-level theme. There is an obvious tie-in as this summer, in June and July 2019, the Women’s World Cup is being hosted in France. As such, there are many articles on gender equality in the French press right now, so it was easy to find authentic documents to support the unit that I have decided to call “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles”.

The small steps that I learned from Words and Actions provided great gains. The first was defining a takeaway. When deciding on a theme and essential question, it is advised to define a social justice takeaway, much like an enduring understanding. My theme is “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles” and my essential question is, “How is access to and experience with playing soccer influenced by gender?” So, after thinking it through for a while, the understanding that I wanted my students to have at the end was “Preconceived ideas of gender impact girls’ access to sport”.

AF_daghigh-694x1024As I mentioned, there are currently many authentic documents available on this theme, so I chose a couple ads, an article on a web page, an infographic, a few posters, a clip from a film, a few television reports and a music video, which are all shared with you via the link below. Words and Actions helped me think through how to integrate the posters into my lessons through three steps. The first step “Setting the Stage”, helped me ask students to analyze messages from the culture by paying attention to images as well as words on the posters that promote women’s soccer. Then through the “Critical Thinking and Discussion” step, I learned to have students share their initial impressions and interpretations through discussion of the posters with their peers. I gave my students sentence starters to encourage them to engage with their classmates. For the final step, “Digging Deeper in the Topic”, I was able to have students identify their own messages and make posters themselves.

AF_heidemann-694x1024I am sharing with you all of the activities for the unit in this folder, to inspire you to try this on your own. A good place to start is with the teacher slides presentation. Don’t miss the notes in the notes section. If any parts of the unit work for you or if the whole unit does, please use it. I would love it if you would comment below to tell me what you were able to incorporate.

Thematic Unit: Les fêtes

I consider teaching for proficiency to still be in its youth. While there are some things we have figured out, we still have a long way to go. To that end, I wish that there were more models for French teachers. Online you can see full units on the sites called Madame’s Musings, Ma revolution française and World Language Laboratory. I want to take what I have learned from these teachers and show another example of a unit from my point of view to further the conversation and better support other teachers.

I aim to create units for Middle School students where the theme is at least vaguely of interest to students, with at least a small social justice component, where the unit is centered around authentic resources and there is input before students are asked to speak. In addition, as I want this unit to be for my 8th graders, I wrote it at the Intermediate-Low level. If you are a regular reader, you will see in this unit on Holidays many of the same types of resources that I rely on regularly.

All of my resources are linked below or you can use the link for the folder.

To begin, I chose my theme and essential question:

  • Theme: Holidays and Celebrations
  • Essential Question: In what ways does culture influence celebrations and customs?

These will probably need to be revised later, but it gave me a start. Then, consulting the ACTFL Can Do Statements, I chose some:

  • I can talk with someone about holidays and celebrations.
  • I can describe what is needed for a holiday or a celebration.
  • I can ask and respond to simple questions about dates, times, places, and events on invitations.
  • I can write about a holiday or a typical celebration.

Again, these will need to be added to and revised, but they are a start. Based on these, I wrote a TALK-style assessment for the end of the unit.

As I got started on choosing authentic documents for the unit, I knew that like usual I aim to include a short video, like an ad, that I may do a movie talk for, a song, a simple reading like an infographic or an invitation, an article written for children and some sort of information about a related social justice issue. To use these resources I will want to make slides about me to share new vocabulary, an interpersonal task, a presentational written component where students will make materials to inform other students and a task. I wanted students to sort terms, circumlocute and interview each other. All of these are familiar activities that my students do every unit.

Thank you to the now defunct blog French Tool Box for giving me a start to this unit.

So, here are the resources for the unit:

Jour 1
Start the unit with a Movie Talk, Erste Ad. For more of an explanation on Movie Talk, see my previous post.
Show screenshots and have students predict the story, leaving out the end. Then show students the slide with six pictures from the story. Describe one and they say which one it is. They can number 1-6 in their journals and write the letters that correspond.
Students read Erste Ad Script
Show students six pictures and students retell the story in partners
Students predict the ending
Show the whole video Erste Ad, including the ending
Students use the final set of pictures to retell the story

Jour 2
To introduce the vocabulary of the unit, show presentation Vocabulaire Les Fêtes (Edited from French Tool Box) and talk about yourself and your customs.
Includes Minons video Joyeux Anniversaire

With slide, ask Questions Personnelles (Ideas from U of Texas at Austin)
Qu’est-ce que tu fais?
1. Est-ce que tu sors en costume pour fêter Halloween?
2. Est-ce que tu manges de la dinde à Thanksgiving?
3. Est-ce que tu regardes des feux d’artifices le 4 juillet?
4. Est-ce que tu fêtes ton anniversaire avec un défilé?

Quizlet: Les fêtes (Edited from French Tool Box)
Handout Vocabulaire Les Fêtes
Ask students to do flashcards and match

Jour 3
On the third day, I present two holidays, Chandeleur and Eid-al-Fitr and on the fourth day students read about Le 14 juillet. With these holidays and the ones students celebrate, the class will then have enough background knowledge and previewed vocabulary to start talking about holidays themselves with an interpersonal activity.

Presentation La Chandeleur

Presentation Eid-al-Fitr

Interpersonal Les Fêtes

Jour 4
With handout Une liste des fêtes, students sort terms with hand out On which holiday, found on slide 39 of presentation Les Fêtes.

L’actu du jour fete nationale Reading. You will want to make an activity to hold students accountable with this reading.

Questions Les fêtes
Students answer questions for themselves

Jour 5
Give students an index card and have them write a question about holidays on one side and their answer of the other. I have students make two concentric circles and then the inner circle rotates after each question to change partners. The answer on the back is to show the partner if they get stuck.

Reading: Invitation

Circonlocution, found in presentation Les fêtes
This is a variation of Taboo, played as teams. 6-8 words on slides projected one at a time to the class. In the teams, choose a scribe, a describer and the rest of the group guesses. Only the describer is allowed to look at the list. They use circumlocution and gestures if necessary (no English!!) to get the group to guess the list of words. The scribe can guess and also writes down all the words. First team to finish the whole list wins that round. Rotate roles and play again.

Jour 6
Question – Question – Exchange: Print slides 46, 47 and 48 from the Presentation Les fêtes and copy as needed. Cut into cards with one question per card. Make enough for the whole class. Students read off their cards to a classmate and answer the question. They continue the conversation for as long as they have something to say in French. Then they exchange cards and move on to make a new pair with another classmate.

LGS (Le Groupe Swing) – C OKAY song and activity

Play Quizlet Live with Quizlet Les fêtes from above

Jour 7
A natural connection to social justice when teaching holidays is to talk about religious tolerance.

Show slide 50 from presentation Les fêtes to talk about practices and perspectives.

Show students useful vocabulary on the board
Reading: Les actes antisémites, use the first and last page of the reading

Students complete Reading the news handout

Have students do the conversation from the reading, each taking a role

Jours 8-10
Present the project for the unit to the students. There is an excellent free resource online for this if you google “French II Les fêtes et les traditions en France” which is from The Rose Tree Media School District. I didn’t ask for permission, so I won’t share the link.

Return to look at the list of holidays
Have students pick a holiday to research and present to the class

Have students present to their classmates in small groups. Students record information on handout Gallery Walk Les Fêtes

After students are done, they complete Task Les fêtes to show their understanding of holidays.

As a whole class, play Kahoot

Jour 11
TALK assessment — See previous post

While groups from the class are doing the TALK assessment, the rest of the class can do Quizlet Learn, with the link above

Thank you, dear reader, for considering this unit. I would love to hear from you either with a like or with a comment below. There very well may be typos or improvements– don’t hesitate to let me know what I can improve. And, if you like part of this resource, please put a comment to say what works well for you!

Proficiency-based Instruction: A thematic unit on bread and pastries

When I learn a new idea for an activity from another teacher, I am always interested in getting more context on how that teacher fits her activities into a whole unit. On these pages I have been posting activity ideas and so I now want to show you an example of what a whole unit would look like for me. This unit is on Le pain et la pâtisserie, a very delicious and accessible topic for students. Students are likely to encounter baguettes and croissants by the time they are in school. This unit will build on their understanding of French foods and will permit them talk about foods from France. All of the materials are in this resources folders and are also linked below.

The focus of my instruction is input. The students get input from teacher talk and from readings and videos; there is one almost daily. The reading input is accessible because I use picture books and infographics which both have limited text and lots of images. And the videos I use are short and straight forward. Accessible input is where the learning of the language happens. I make sure the there is repetition of content over the course of the unit and that lessons are structured around the can do’s and attempt to keep true to the vocabulary that will be needed to do the assessments at the end.

You will also notice that I like to have students start out the class in a circle. They get out from behind their desks to start with little warm up conversations. I have cued how I get those conversations started, but the teacher also keeps the conversation going by reacting to students and training students to ask follow up questions.

Day 1
To warm up, talk with students about what foods they eat and don’t eat, using foods that are cognates or otherwise familiar. Then play Four Corners asking students to move to a corner based on their opinion of the food you say, J’adore ça / J’aime bien ça / Ce n’est pas bon / Je n’aime pas du tout could be the names of each of the four corner.

Video Je teste la nourriture and Activity Je teste la nourriture

Show slides with different French foods and students ask each other in pairs what they think of those foods, using the vocabulary from the video. Activity with the slides 3-20 of presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion

Day 2
Form a circle with the students for a warm up. Students ask their partner about their food preferences. They should be prepared to report to the class afterwards. Then, ask what fruits students eat, how often, what they like. Use cognates like les cerises, les kiwis, les bananes and les oranges, as well as others. Hand out Picture Dictionary.

Show the videos of the clip from the TV show Parents Mode d’Emploi and Le meilleur pâtissier band announce, using slides 21-25 of presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion. Ask students the questions on the slides.

Reading Je mangerais bien un enfant Teacher reads the book aloud stopping the ask the class questions as she goes.
Demande à ton partenaire:
Pg. 9 Selon sa Maman, comment est Archille ?
Pg. 17 Nommez trois choses les parents d’Archille ont proposées.
Pg. 28 Pourquoi Archille veut manger des bananes maintenant ?

The questions Students asks the teacher the questions. Teacher answers to model how to answer. Students think ahead to their answers to the questions and ask for vocabulary that they need.

Les Devoirs: EdPuzzle Le Meilleur Pâtissier

Day 3
Form a circle with the students for a warm up. Have the students ask and answer with a partner: Qu’est-ce que tu aimes comme fruit ? Qu’est-ce que tu n’aimes pas comme fruit ? Ask students what they eat for breakfast. Introduce cognates les céréales, des crêpes and des croissants. (Point out that the French wouldn’t eat crêpes for breakfast, but for snack or dessert.) Refer to the slides 26-43 of presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion as you go.

Video Petit Déjeuner and Activity Petit déjeuner.

Students turn to their partner and try to speak about bakeries for three minutes.

Game Pictionary

Exit ticket: Write a description of a brunch you would like to eat. The description should include the food and beverages served. Il y a… Then write how you liked the food. C’était…. Share with your group.

Day 4
In order for students to be successful at the Interpersonal Assessment at the end of the unit, ahead of time the students need to practice asking and answering questions with Question, Question, Exchange, an activity where students each have a card with a question. They ask each other the questions, answer, exchange questions and then go on to find a new partner. Find question cards on slides 44-48 of presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion

Les petits déjeuners du monde web site. Ask students to read through the web site and find which country’s breakfast they would like to have and to explain why.

Day 5
Play Maître d’ which is an activity where the teacher asks a question and tells the students how many students to include in their discussion group. Students all answer the questions and discuss for as long as they can. Then, the teacher calls another round.

Reading Petit Déjeuner Équilibré and Activity Petit Déjeuner Équilibré
Put reading up on your school management system and print activity.

Using slides 49-51 of presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion, show the videos and ask questions on the slides.
Le succès de la boulangerie française 0-0:43
Pâtisserie Gaston Bordeaux 0-0:44

Vinz et Lou Picture Talk— ask students to invite or predict a story with the pictures in the slide presentation. Ask students a lot of questions and offer some choices for them to decide between. After, show the students the Video Vinz et Lou and then have them read the next slides with the story printed on them. Finally, ask the students to write a retelling of the story.

Day 6
Videos Ca suffit le gaspillage

Slides on the three fold problem of waste

Circonlocution Slides 52-56 of the presentation Le Pain Slides for Discussion
This is a variation of Taboo, played as teams. In the teams, choose a describer and the rest of the group guesses. Only the describer is allowed to look at the list of words on the board. They use circumlocution and gestures if necessary to get the group to guess the list of words. First team to finish the whole list wins that round. Rotate roles and play again.

Play Kahoot

Les devoirs: Study using the Can Do’s on the Picture Dictionary

Day 7
Interpersonal Assessment
Presentational Writing Assessment

A roadmap for a proficiency-based unit: My go-to activities

Five months ago a teacher I am continuously inspired by named Rebecca Blouwolff asked for our top-ten go-tos in a proficiency-based lesson. I am finally ready to answer on behalf of me and my colleagues, Jess Levasseur and Heather Pineault. Here are our favorite activities that we use in our thematic units. For me, this is a timely post because I have been asked by a couple first-year teachers who are starting next week what exactly happens in a proficiency-based classroom.

You can find all of the resources in this folder as well as linked below. As Rebecca asked for in her post and subsequent Twitter challenge, these activities give students repetition without the activities being repetitive, get them moving, and push them to use language motivated by a strong intent.

  1. We usually start the unit with a hook video. With this video we are asking students to activate prior knowledge on a topic and to get excited about the theme. For all of my examples, I am going to use the theme of the environment. This video is the trailer for a movie called Demain. I first saw the video on the site TV5 Monde.
  2. The next activity we got from Rebecca and we call it Partner Vocabulary Definitions. Students memorize their word or definition, and leave it at their seat.

    green grass field under white clouds
    Photo by Scott Webb on

    They then look for the partner who has the corresponding word or definition by discussing theirs with their classmates. I am happy for another activity that gets students moving and interacting.

  3. I use a multi-column chart to have students think about the vocabulary and sort it. Have the students brainstorm anything they can in French to fit into the categories.
    This is one of many chances to interact with the terms of the unit. Another way to use a chart is when reading an article in order to pull out vocabulary on the theme, like this one here that works this article.
  4. The bulk of the input happens through authentic documents. Students read infographics and articles, watch videos, read picture books and listen to songs. Students do a comprehension guide for these, like the one I made for the song. (The infographic I linked leads to the interview interpersonal activity in number five.) I feel like we are creating a great collection of accessible readings and videos for our students and can post them to our school management system so students can take a second look outside of class.
  5. Students are asked to do interpersonal activities using the input from the authentic documents. I always rely on Lisa Shepard’s blog for interpersonal activities. This time I made two my own based on her work. One is an interview and the other is a graphic organizer to compare partners’ habits. We are always trying to get students to communicate with a purpose.
  6. We first learned Question – Question – Exchange from Creative Language Class and ever since it has been a pillar of our units as it is the moment where my students get the most chances to speak from their own point of view.
  7. I have my colleague Jess Levasseur to thank for the game Spoons. Students sit facing each other with a Spoon between them. If the teacher reads a statement that is true, the students compete to be the first to grab the spoon and win a point.
  8. And I am equally appreciative to my colleague Heather Pineault who has us playing Circonlocution every unit. In this game students use circonlocution and gestures to get the group to guess the list of words.
  9. This next one goes under repetition without being repetitive. In every unit we play a Kahoot game, which really just takes ten minutes. It is yet another way to see the material again.
  10. And I will finish with yet another way to spiral back on the material a final time, a Jeopardy game made on the Factile site.

I leave you with my top-ten go-to activities.

Mini-Unit: Coupe du Monde 2018

Would you like to join my students and me for a mini-unit on the World Cup? I am planning to start one day ahead of the first game which is on Thursday, June 14th. This folder has all the resources.

Start with a video to pull the students into the excitement. Here is an ad Fiers d’être bleus for the World Cup. This isn’t about language input, but instead about setting up the big idea for these lessons. Later in the unit keep the excitement going with this Coca-Cola ad.

And, here are the Can Do’s:

  • I can talk about an individual’s country of origin and nationality.
  • I can talk about who is the best athlete and why.
  • I can give details about the 2018 World Cup.
  • I can understand the lyrics of a World Cup song.
  • I can talk about the social responsibility of sports.

Now let’s get started with activities for novice high to intermediate low students. My students will choose one of the teams and work in groups to make a slide with a picture of the team, name of the country and the nationality of the players and highlight a top player, describing him. From the site Livre de Sepienta you will find the following handouts for each team:

  • Présentation pays coupe du monde (1-4)
  • Carte nomenclature équipes foot coupe du monde 2018

Print each of these in color, cut and distribute to groups. And here are some good photos of the teams for students to include in their slides. When students have completed their slides they can present them to the class. This is an opportunity for students to talk about countries and nationalities and top athletes.

At this point you may want to have students practice the names of the countries who participate in the World Cup with this Quizlet Coupe du monde 2018– pays.  Ask students to begin by using the flashcards and then playing Match as homework. Next class students can compete at Quizlet Live. Later in the unit students can do the same with another Quizlet called Coupe du Monde. Before they play, pass out to them the Picture Dictionary Coupe du Monde.

Then, starting on June 15th, the day after the first game, students will fill out the table with scores as games are played and discussed in class. Here is the schedule to print and hang in the room. How many games you discuss depends on how long into June your school goes. We go late!

On the site I found a good reading called Coupe du monde 2018 that includes two activities. Students will write in names of countries under the heading of the correct continent and will match descriptions of mascots with the pictures. From this reading students have the content to give details about the World Cup. This will be, in my classroom, the opportunity to practice questions and answers with students.

Who are the famous people who will play? Who would you give the best player prize to? I chose a few videos of some of the famous players. Students discuss the one they would choose as the best player and explain why. I used this article as my resource and made this slide show.

While you are viewing the slide show linked above, take note that I have included two activities, Circonlocution and Maître d’. Use these as ten minute warm ups in class to get students speaking. Also to start class, note that I have slides with the latest scores and pictures in Actualités de la Coupe du Monde. Use the scores to discuss and fill out the Tableau Mondial. Use the pictures for partner turn and talk discussions.

The singer Tal has a song for the World Cup called Mondial. Find the video here. And, Black M has made the official video for Senegal. Students are asked to read the lyrics in pairs and watch the video and complete a Song Analysis, from Mercredi Musique. Or, here is an activity to do with Gainde.

For homework during this unit, I have a Google Form Coupe du Monde reading that I made with an infographic from 1jour1actu. And, I found an EdPuzzle made by another teacher, Quels pays participent à la coupe du monde. You may consider assigning either of the Quizlet sets for homework too. I ask students to do the Learn game until they reach 100%.

Our next activity is a competition in teams to solve math word problems about soccer in French. The questions are in this document Défi Foot. Cut out the questions and stack in the middle of the team. They turn one over and start and as they finish each question, they pick a new one and continue. Answers are submitted to the teacher to determine who has the most number right in the quickest amount of time.

And finally I will have the students make a Coupe du Monde Review Game to review vocabulary and I will discuss with the students Inequality and the World Cup. Here is a Slide Presentation (that I edited from Oxfam and translated) which pairs well with readings on soccer players who have acted for change called Foot rebelle— in my class we will read about Drogba and Socrates. In order to talk about what regular citizens like our students can do for change, you may want to talk about Malala and have students do this reading or you can have them view this video.

If you get a chance to go outside with your students, here are some community building games to play outside in the target language. At my school the last few days start to feel more casual as many students go off to camp. These games are a way to enjoy ourselves when we aren’t really doing curriculum any longer:

1. Le Beret Two teams of an equal number of players line up facing each other about ten meters apart. Give each player a number on one team and then repeat the same number to give each player a number on the other team. A ball (the béret) is placed in the middle. The teacher calls out two numbers and the students with those numbers race to grab the béret and run back to their own line without being tagged by the player from the opposite team. If they are tagged they join the other team.

2. Les nations (also known as Spud) Each player decides what country to be. We go around the group with the players sharing what country they are. One person starts with the ball in the center of the bunch. At the beginning of each round, the person with the ball (who is in the center of the bunch) throws the ball upwards to the sky while yelling a country. Everyone disperses and runs in all different directions away from the bunch except for the person who was called. That person catches the ball and then yells “Stop” (in the target language.) When he or she yells this, everyone must freeze. The person with the ball then is allowed to take three giant steps toward any player. He or she throws the ball and tries to hit someone. To dodge, players are allowed to move all parts of their body except they may not move their feet at all. If a player is hit for the first time, he or she loses the right to one of the three steps. The person who was hit becomes the new thrower; otherwise, the thrower who missed loses the right to a step. The next round begins and play continues.

3. Avez-vous vu mon extraterrestre? (A variation on Duck, Duck Goose) Students are seated in a circle sitting down. One player walks along the outside of the circle asking, Have you seen my extraterrestrial? That player describes one of the sitting students by the color of his hair or eyes, clothes, physical or personality characteristics or what he likes. Once the player recognizes that he is being described, he must run after the player who described him until he gets back to his place. If he is tagged, he must sit in the center of the circle.

And you can end the instruction with a Kahoot quiz Coupe du Monde 2018. As for assessment, I like to record students using Voicethread. I don’t know if you will be able to access the one I made here, please let me know if it works. If not, I used the picture below and gave a prompt for the students to record:

“This is a picture of the French goalie saving a goal in the game against Australia. In French, say as much as you can about the World Cup. Consider including:

  • The name of the event, the World Cup, and details you know about it.
  • Who the teams are who are playing. What the nickname is for the French team.
  • What group they are in.
  • Who you see in the photo, i.e. players and a goalie.
  • What they are doing.
  • Invent details you don’t know. The score of the game, who won and who played well.
  • Talk about a famous French player on the team.”


I hope you will have fun with your students with this end of the year mini-unit!

Les jeux olympiques

Creative Language Class did a one day training in my district last year and it has changed how we think about Interpretive Activities. Until then I was making Interpretive tasks that asked for students to find words or to mark statements as true or false. Creative Language Class explained, as you can read for yourself in this blog post from Kara Parker, how to include higher order thinking skills by encouraging students to react to what they hear and see in videos. Kara’s idea is that it is real world communication to have students tell someone else about the video or give their opinion about it.

You will see in the slide presentation that I am following the Creative Language Class lead. I show a video and then ask real questions that while they are accessible to beginning language learners, they get students to think and express themselves. At the end of the slide show there is a slide with many athletes on it. The teacher describes an athlete and the students say which one it is. For students who have learned ages, nationalities, sports and physical descriptions, this is a chance for a lot of repetition in communication. Students can then do the guessing game with each other.

My students yesterday got especially excited about the Olympic Games. Students couldn’t wait to talk, so I thought I’d share what we did so that you can introduce some Francophone athletes to your students before the games begin and you could see how I have tried to make our tasks use higher order thinking skills. You will find my materials here.