Having fun with students during remote classes: a mini-unit on Les Loisirs

Tonight I quickly put together a Jeopardy game for the end of a very short unit on Les Loisirs. It came from a strong desire to do a fun activity with my students. I like, as my readers know, the format for Jeopardy games on playfactile.com, but even though I have mentioned it before, I am recommending that platform a second time for remote learning. Over Zoom the teacher can screen share the game and students take turns playing for their team. I think you will find it fun too.

So, here is a set of slides for a mini-unit on Les Loisirs and here is the promised game. As I just completed it in a hurry tonight, let me know if there are any mistakes and I will correct them. And, it’s a crazy world out there, so I hope you find some fun in your teaching. And, as always, I would love to hear where you find that fun in the comments below.

P.S. If you like Jeopardy, here is one more for you, one that I wrote with the help of a colleague a while ago.

Update your resources on Identity to create a set of lessons for remote learning

When you go back to school in September, it might be smart to have a toolbox of remote learning lessons should you need them. While we hope that we will be teaching in person, there could quickly be a reason due to the pandemic for you to have a few individuals, part of the class or the whole class learning remotely. To that end, let’s address updating your identity unit and make a few changes to produce a set of emergency remote learning lessons.

Let’s start with my example, a set of lessons where I incorporated activities around talking about one’s identity, in a very limited way because of the simple language available to a Novice Mid student. My thinking here is that my students will get a brief introduction in the first months of studying French so that they can then build on it as their proficiency increases.

At the end of the lesson there are two activities to talk about diversity. One is a way for us to acknowledge membership to different groups and to discuss it and the other is a simple poster to read from UNICEF to connect to the value of having an official identity.

I hope there are some ideas here that you can borrow for your teaching. And, more importantly, if you have some additional resources and activities for the Novice Mid learner, share them with your networks and here in the comments so that we can all learn together.

Planning for September: Remote learning lessons on La rentrée

We have made it to the end of the school year. Remote emergency teaching has been challenging at best. The question we are all asking ourselves is, “What have we learned from this experience should we go back to remote teaching?” As teachers we have a lot of hope that we will be back in the building with our students in September. Most of us know what and how we would teach if that is the case. As teachers we are also planners. What can we do now to plan for teaching remotely again?

I am trying to have a few sets of lessons for remote learning should I need them in the Fall. My latest attempt is a set on La rentrée. It fits in nicely after my set on Je me présente. Please tell me what you like about these lessons and what you would change. I need the help of all of you to continue to get ready for whatever may come next!

La rentrée Copy for Blog

My motivation behind putting these on my blog is to share my efforts. If we all share then the job becomes less demanding and we all learn from each other. Please provide feedback or questions if you are able in the comments.

Se présenter, a Remote Lesson

Here is set of lessons on Se présenter for a synchronous class on a platform like Google Meet during which you can share these slides by sharing your screen. After, you can post the slides to a learning management site like Google Classroom, giving each student their own copy. While you are presenting you can do some of the activities together and preview some of the other activities without taking the time to do them. Next, during the asynchronous time, students can work through the activities at their own pace.

There are three simple technology tools that I incorporated into these lessons, EdPuzzle, Quizlet and Flipgrid. EdPuzzle is a platform where the teacher can ask students questions during a video. Create a class so you can see your students’ scores. Quizlet is an online flashcard and vocabulary game tool that gives students lots of repetition with a set of vocabulary. I always tell students which games to play in what order. For this tool as well, create classes so that you can see your students’ progress. Fligrid is a tool where the teacher leaves a video to start a conversation and the students respond via video.

Use Flipgrid at the end of this set of lessons to do the assessment. Post a video where you record yourself doing what you are asking the students to do. Your students will post videos to respond. Then you can enable the comment function and assign students to respond to their classmates. In order to make it fair to all students, there are two key things to do that I learned from Rebecca Blouwolff, the ACTFL teacher of the year. First, make sure to disable the like function to avoid student competition. Second, ask students to respond to someone who doesn’t have a response yet. That way, hopefully at the end of the assignment each student will have one response. Through Flipgrid you will have an assessment for which you can give students feedback. Try to be specific and personal in your comments to try to motivate students.

This set of slides wouldn’t be your full lessons for greetings and leave-takings, it would be just part of the unit and then you can adapt your regular in person lessons to flesh out the rest of the unit. I hope you will get something out of this resource, whether you use it as it is or take inspiration from it to do something else!

C’est délicieux: All the effective components in a simple set of remote learning lessons

The most important piece of this blog post is the example. Here is a set of slides that is written for Novice High Students learning French. It is a week’s worth of remote learning, to be done at home. There are opportunities for live lessons with the teacher, but the set is intentionally simple and streamlined to not include any additional apps or technology tools. If you desire, there is room for you to add in apps like Quizlet, EdPuzzle, Fluentkey, Google Forms, Peardeck and Flipgrid, but I am encouraging you to use this set of slides as is, without additional tools, to keep it simple for you and for your students.

My intention with sharing an example is to show you how to include the components of effective lessons in your remote learning lessons while keeping your lessons simple. To start, when writing remote lessons, we have to draw in students, so the theme has to be specifically targeted to interest students and very relevant to their lives. At the same time we are trying to make it relevant and interesting, we have to build on vocabulary that we have already introduced in our classes and limit ourselves to vocabulary that we are teaching in the unit as we want to give students the building blocks for the tasks we are asking them to complete. Try to make sure your list is not too long and is high frequency language. And then we also have to find creative ways to repeat the vocabulary as repetition allows for students to acquire the language.

I tried to simplify the task of writing remote learning lessons into a limited list of tasks:

  • Determine the length of time and level of your mini-unit of lessons. This will help you choose how many activities to include and what level of can dos to address.
    Choose a theme and an essential question. Make a title slide with the theme expressed.
  • Find 3-6 authentic resources. Enter them into your slides. I like to find a couple readings, most often infographics, and a few videos.
  • Plan what students will be able to do by the end and plan backward to come up with the targeted vocabulary. Take vocabulary from the authentic resources and from the formative assessments you plan to do along the way. Make a slide of the vocabulary.
  • Plan the activities that students will do with the authentic resources as a way to build to the summative assessment, even if it isn’t going to be graded traditionally. Make sure to include the three modes in your activities, Interpretive, Interpersonal and Presentational.
  • Create a summative assessment for the set of lessons so that you can give students feedback about their progress. It is through this feedback that you can motivate students to complete the lessons.

Vary your activities. To respond to things they have read, ask students to answer questions on the material, make captions to match to pictures, order events in a story, sort ideas into categories or check off items on a list. Ask students to respond to questions about themselves or ask them to interview others and then report back. When they listen to a story, ask students to pick out some vocabulary from the story or ask them to identify the characters and the setting. To be clear, these activities are carefully planned for teaching for proficiency.

Try to be clear in your directions. You will notice that for the level that I teach, I have made my directions in English. And, you will also notice that I attempt to highlight in blue where I would like to see students respond.

Your lessons should be the strongest materials that are on topic that will interest the majority of students. And, they are the ones that will be accessible to most students. Limit yours lessons to only the best resources. And, your interactions with students should be as personable as you can make them to try to motivate your students to participate. With proficiency based activities, topics of interest to students, personable feedback and authentic resources, you are making the best attempt possible to draw in students.

Keep remote learning simple 2: Taking a Break

I was encouraged by the response to my last blog post. Teachers want to keep their remote teaching simple for themselves as much as for their students. More students will be able to access your materials if you keep them simple.


The example that I want to share with you this time is a week-long set of lessons about taking a break. I have included two videos, one is a kids’ cartoon and the other is a children’s book, and then there are three infographics. This lesson is for Intermediate Low learners of French. The theme of the lessons, taking a break, has a strong Social Emotional component which is relevant as we are finishing up the school year during the Coronavirus pandemic and need to practice self-care.

If these lessons would work for your students, I suggest that you post this set of lessons to your students on the School Management system that they use, giving each student their own copy. The students will fill out the responses on the slides and submit them back to you for feedback.

These lessons are self contained and don’t rely on external apps or technology tools, yet if you know that your students are comfortable with some technology, I have a few options for you. You can use EdPuzzle for the cartoon and a Google form to present the video of the children’s book. Yet another idea is that you could make a Quizlet vocabulary quiz using the vocabulary phrases that I gave when I asked students to make their own dictionaries. I think that those are three ways that technology could marginally enhance the lesson.

In addition, I want to show you how you could use Flipgrid and give some hints on how to do some live teaching with this lesson. One way to use Flipgrid is as a daily message to greet your students, briefly present the material you are teaching and then ask the students a question that they will respond to by sending back a video to you. For this lesson specifically one of your Flip Grids could be about how you take a break, using the vocabulary that is introduced in the lessons, and then ask students how they take a break. In your live teaching segment, you could put students in breakout groups to ask and answer the questions of the interview and then you could have a chance to ask students the questions in the class discussion slides. Alternatively, you could go over all the slides with students during your live teaching segment.

Again, I want to encourage you to use these slides just as they are, without the added technology, keeping your remote learning teaching as simple as possible, again both for you and for your students.

Here is the set of slides for Lessons on Taking a Break

EdPuzzle of Bernie & Corneil Cartoon
Google Form of video of Children’s Book Rien du tout

Questions for Rien du Tout

Simple remote learning lessons for French class

In the move to remote learning this Spring of 2020, it is tough to make lessons equitable when some students may experience technology and connectivity issues. In this blog post I want to show an example of how to keep lessons simple. I will share with you a low-tech yet online solution for providing students with lessons for a week.

My example is a set of slides on Google Drive that serves as lessons that students can work on independently. While the lessons include links to video clips, everything the students have to do is contained in the slides. There aren’t any exterior apps that are used and therefore difficulty remembering usernames and passwords or issues with returning work to the teacher.

You can give each student their own set of these slides by posting to your school management system. They write their answers to the questions right into their own copy of the slides and return them to you in the school management system.

By supplying you with an example of a week of lessons, you can then adapt it to use the technology that you know your students can handle. For example, you can take the videos and post them to EdPuzzle or Fluentkey and make the questions a quiz. You can ask the questions in the lessons on Flipgrid or Voicethread and have students post back to you videos of their answers. You can take my vocabulary list and make a Quizlet out of it so that students can quiz themselves on the vocabulary before doing the activities. Or, with this content, you can have your students respond through a Google Form or a quiz on Canvas. It is my hope that you make this your own but that you also consider using my low-tech version so that it is as simple as possible for your students.

In addition, this lesson has possibilities for live teaching, if that is available to you. The discussion questions that I ask can be questions that students ask and answer. If you use Zoom, you can create breakout groups of four and ask students to ask each other the questions. And, when you come back together into the large group, students can complete a Zoom poll to reflect on their use of the target language. Another option is if you run a live class you can share your screen and go over the slides with the students.

Here is a link on Google Drive to the lessons made around the opening sequence of the film Avril et le Monde Truqué. The theme of these lessons is Science and Innovation. I hope you will find them useful.

I would love to post another set of lessons for you in the near future. To that end, please tell me in the comments what works for you and what would be helpful changes. Thank you.

Resources for the lessons:
French Review Article
Canberra Alliance Française Packet for the Film
Images from the Film

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 excellent blog French Tool Box for giving me a start to this unit. You will see reference to materials from the blog.

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 numbers 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 them 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