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.

New Beginning: Getting to know you

Classrooms are repopulating this month. Thursday I will have my students back in the classroom together. My students have been in two cohorts in the hybrid model and don’t know each other, so I will be introducing the students to each other.

I will start with some pair work to keep the interactions less stressful for the students. My seating chart was made with some smart pairing in mind and I will have these students get to know each other through asking and answering questions. I appropriated the slides I have used in the past for playing Maitre d’. I have decided to play this game in a new way, taking Social Distancing into account.

Ask students to sit on their desks so that they maintain three feet of distance. Pair students with a person near them and have them ask and answer four questions before they get matched up with a new partner. One hint for this kind to work is to ask students to respond with everything they can say in French and when they are done to fall silent. When the teacher hears they are done, the teacher will advance to the next slide. In addition, cue the student of the pair who is closest to the door to start and then alternate.

Once students have gotten to know three other students through questions and answers, I plan on having them use what they have learned by doing a Kahoot class trivia game. I got the idea from Señora Chase’s blog.

And finally, we will play a few interactive games that are able to be played while still maintaining social distancing. The games are explained on these slides. The games are fun and a good way to get to know each other and they also promote proficiency at the Novice level.

I wish you well as your students return to the classroom!

Reader: Qui parle français? Livre 1

Individuals in a culture share knowledge of the same people. When I listen to a podcast or read a book, there are references to real people who it is understood that the listener or reader will know. In Novice French I want to introduce my students to people world-wide who speak the language they are learning, so I have found this reader to be helpful. The purpose of my post is to share with you one way this reader could be incorporated into your students’ learning.

The can-do statement for intercultural communication is: I can describe famous people who speak French.

You might want to start with a video of why people around the world speak French. This EdPuzzle of a video from 1jour1actu could be a good start. Then move on to a Quizlet that introduces high frequency verbs in the first person. These phrases appear again and again in the readings and teaching them up front will support your students. Next, have the students do the short one-page readings on the different personalities. After the students read, ask them to communicate five facts about the person to a partner, then have them share these facts as a whole class.

At this point get students to talk without having the text in front of them. Show the students a picture of the person. During your class discussion, ask students to say any detail about the picture, the person or who the person is. Then, after the class discussion, write a paragraph together to collect all the ideas that were shared. The teacher can write on the white board while the students say sentences. Once a paragraph has been completed, read the paragraph back to the students or have them read it with you. As a final step, erase the board and ask students to write three sentences about the person in their journals. For a challenge, ask students to add in one original sentence, for example what they think of the person.

The reader is very accessible to novice learning and provides them with entry-level information. At the end of the lesson, extend their learning with an authentic document. For example, here are three EdPuzzles for your students:

.I hope you will find these materials useful with your own students!

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.

A French Unit based on Teaching Tolerance Lessons

Our national standards and many of our local frameworks call for teaching Social Justice. As I have mentioned in past posts, from Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell I learned that stating up front an enduring understanding would help tp guide my social justice units. This time I decided to look to Teaching Tolerance for a little 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 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.

As I have said before on these pages, the unit that resulted is very much a work-in-progress with issues that need to be resolved, but my guiding mantra is to share generously and see what I learn. It goes without saying, not everything you find on the Internet is of quality and like you always do, evaluate my work for your own criteria.

In these lessons we will 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 Interpretive Communication

  • I can identify some phrases describing a character in a story.
  • I can recognize a familiar memorized line from a poem.
  • I can recognize a song’s refrain.

Can Do Statements Interpersonal Communication

  • I can agree and disagree with my classmates about whether or not they 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.

Can Do Statements Presentational Communication

  • I can identify the type of text.
  • I can say whether or not I liked a text.
  • I can comment on whether the characters were similar or different from me.

Can Do Statements Intercultural Communication

  • In my own and other cultures I can identify examples of literature.
  • 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:
Christophe en Martinique Portrait d’enfant ARTE Junior Slide 6
Turereura en Polynesie 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 Jamboard. 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 Jamboard students answers to questions so class can have the notes to refer to later

Day 4 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 refer to groups they are in that describe their identity.

Day 5 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 6 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 7 Assessment
Presentational Assessment: Write a letter to introduce who you are to the French family you will be living with for your exchange in France.

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.

The unit seems long from these directions, but is actually pretty simple once you know the materials better. Thank you for taking these resources into consideration. I hope that some of the ideas here with be helpful to you!

Worth Paying For

Curriculum is worth the price. I believe our departments should purchase materials for us to use in our teaching. Let’s let the experts with degrees in curriculum writing decide on themes, essential questions and can do statements and make the activities and assessments to support them. Then teachers can add in playful games and up-dated authentic documents.

There can be so many rich resources in an online textbook, especially in the ancillary materials. For example, I like the graphics from professionally made info-gap activities. Should you be fortunate enough to have a budget for a textbook series, consider one where in the ancillary materials there are IPAs, topical readings with questions and online readers with glossed words.

But like many of you, I have been teaching without a textbook ever since that became the fashion. It means that I spend a lot of time writing materials and that my activities are all amateur. So, I don’t mind paying out of my own pocket for affordable resources as I think that smart ideas that have already been tried with students are worth it, but I have trouble finding quality ones. Sometimes you have to sacrifice diversity in the people who are represented in order to use paid-for materials. Usually you can’t find paid-for activities based on authentic documents. Yet, when you find a good reasonably-priced resource it is invaluable. In this post I am going to share quality paid-for resources that teachers can afford on their own. I hope that it will save you some time to know what’s available. All of these are found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

My first set of resources is Movie Talks from MadameSay:

I love how these three Movie Talks have images that can be talked about with beginning level language. And, I find MadameSay’s stories and activities to be high quality and I can use them as they are. Movie Talks are fun and motivate students. These purchases have saved me hours of preparation in planning for my students.

The next resource is one I have mentioned before on these pages, Le Petit Journal Francophone from Toward Proficiency. This is a short journal of news summaries. I paid for the full year and I love how it is updated monthly with current content. As I said for the Movie Talks, I appreciate this content because it is so accessible. These are good for Intermediate Low learners. You can see the resources that I have used with news summaries in my post on Current Events in the World Language Classroom. Some articles make their way into my thematic units to be used year after year, not just one time as a current event article. For example, an article on Pagnes is now in my unit on clothing.

In addition, I want to share with you two projects. The first is a guide for a 20-questions guessing game that my students always enjoy made by World Language Cafe called Famous Francophones. Start by having your students guess. Then, they research a famous person and make a guessing game for the class. Making guessing games for classmates is a highly engaging project. This purchase was so valuable. Secondly, from Madame H there is a selfie project for Une Journée Typique. My students like to take pictures without themselves in them, so it isn’t truly a selfie project. One of the best parts of this resource is the scaffolding it offers for the project. You will love the graphic organizer.

Finally, I rely on Mme R’s French Resources and Chez Shepard for some of my speaking activities. Mme R’s French Resources packets come with writing activities as well that are more traditional and address grammar and are of value too. You can sort through these resources for what fits your approach. Consider her packets on School Subjects, Family, Foods and Drinks and Clothing. If you purchase one of these look for the Student Interviews where students ask each other questions and then report their findings in a paragraph, the graphic organizers where students can fill in information about themselves and their preferences and then speak about it with a partner and the info gap pair activities. Chez Shepard has full units, for example consider her unit on Snacks. If you purchase it, I recommend the paired activity where student exchange information and record their answers on two different authentic resources on the same topic.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment with what you think is worth paying for!

Further Jamboard Ideas

In hybrid and remote learning, we no longer pass out sets of manipulatives for our students to match or sort and we don’t set up images around the room for a gallery walk. Jamboard is an opportunity to bring these back to the classroom. Let’s allow our students to return to matching, gallery walks and sorting.

In a unit about food, I do a Movie Talk from Petit Nicolas on the cantine. To give you some context, here are the slides and here is the script I use. One of the activities you can do with a Movie Talk is to ask students to match pictures with captions. On Jamboard, give each student a copy of the pictures and captions. They drag the caption to the matching picture.

Gallery Walk
A gallery walk allows students to react to different items posted around the room by leaving their commentary on a sticky note. Comments can be anonymous or color coded. With Jamboard, you can share one presentation for the whole class to edit and students can leave stickies on each board. In this example, we had just listened to one minute of five different songs. The students then posted a sticky about their opinion of each song.

Sorting 1
This next activity was made in collaboration with teachers at the Middle School level in Brookline, Massachusetts. I would like to thank them for their help. You can give students categories for sorting as a way for them to show their understanding of the categories. In this example, student sort foods into the different words that describe the tastes.

Sorting 2

In teaching for intercultural competence, we frequently have students compare their own practices to those in a different culture. The example of this activity is done based on a reading. Students sort practices into the Venn Diagram to show what the student in Dakar does, what we do and the activities that are done by both. (Please note there is a second page to the Jamboard. You can use this page to do a guessing game about the people featured in the article.)

For a version of each of these activities, click on the underlined heading above each section. To use my example, you will have to make a copy first. Then you can post the copy to Google Classroom for your students. How you share it is based on how you are going to use it with your students. For most of these, share a copy for each student. For the Gallery Walk, allow all students to edit the same Jamboard.

This post is a continuation of my last post, so if you missed that one please take a look for more Jamboard guidance. And, thank you for all the warm responses. I love hearing from you, so please keep the comments coming by letting me know what you think you may be able to use.

Jamboard: a tool for the World Language Toolbox

With 20 years of teaching Novices, I am still understanding better each year how to support them in acquiring language. Let’s unpack what Novices are doing to improve their proficiency. During World Language class we are having them communicate on high-interest topics by having them negotiate the language to express meaning to others. While Intermediate students create with language, Novices use practiced and memorized language to express themselves.

Let’s look at how the tool Jamboard can be used for students to take phrases and combine them into sentences. On this Jamboard I ask students to group and order the stickies to form sentences to describe their activities. This is a first step to eventually talking with their classmates about activities that they do every day. Coach them to delete stickies they don’t need and to add in new ones with their own phrases.

To build their language skills further I then devised a way for students to order sentences before they write about the activities of their routine. This is a start to building from writing sentences to writing paragraphs.

In this current unit students also speak about the times of the day they do different activities. I have been stumped about how to give my students practice telling time in an engaging way. So, I came up with the idea to use Jamboard as a game that would encourage practice. I made a Snakes and Ladders game board and added pawns the students will move around the board. Students read the time on a Quizlet flashcard and if they get it right roll the die to move around the board.

Have one student run the flashcards on their device and the other represents both themselves and their opponent by operating the die and moving the pieces on the game board. 

The next activity is for a different unit, one on clothing. I want to address how to support Novice students when asking them to read an article on a controversial and timely topic and then express their opinion in one sentence, more of a fit for Novice-High students as this is definitely a higher skill level. My students read an article on dress codes, with a lot of help from me. Then, they moved stickies that I had written mostly using language from the article to show what they agree and disagree with. This step allows them to process the input from the article and prepares them to participate in a conversation.

You can make copies of my Jamboards to use right away with your students. Then, you only have to share them on Google Classroom as assignments giving each student their own copy.

Les phrases

Ma routine

Serpents et échelles

Tenue correcte

My message to all teachers as we teach our last few days before break, we are all better for the new tricks we have learned during remote and hybrid teaching. Please remember to share your strategies with those in your network and to leave a comment here if any of these ideas might work for you!

Curriculum of thematic units for remote and hybrid learning

This post is a summary to help you navigate my site better and to encourage you to revisit some earlier posts. You will note that each unit has authentic documents that include music videos, infographics, articles and clips from television shows. I use technology tools like Quizlet and EdPuzzle and give you links to ones that are ready to go. 

We are fast approaching our winter break. Teachers are tired and need more than ever the support of collaboration. Please share my resources and your own wide and far. Let’s help each other through the winter months of the pandemic. Below these seven themes work together to form a French 1 remote or hybrid curriculum. It is my hope that you will find at least some of these materials to be helpful in your teaching.

Je me présente

La rentrée

Mes origines

Les loisirs

À l’école

Pour se reposer

C’est délicieux 

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 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.