Story Script for a Music Video

In this blog post I want to share an activity to make authentic songs comprehensible. The idea is not mine– it comes by way of Kara Jacobs. She has created examples of the technique in Spanish and I am hoping I can bring the community of French teachers on board.

Kara writes a script to tell the story of a music video. Well, actually she writes all kinds of stories and one type of story that she writes is from music videos. I find this idea to be ingenious because it is another way to give comprehensible input to your students while sharing a song with them. Songs grab students’ attention and are as such a way to get students to engage with material.

Here are the steps following Kara’s format with the French resources linked to start you out while using the song Rien à vous dire by Jérôme Minière.

  • Give students a sheet with six boxes. Read the story out loud, stopping at the end of each paragraph. Students draw what they hear on the handout.
  • Show the video.
  • Have students read the story. Collect back the story.
  • Have students unscramble the story.
  • Play Quizlet live with blanks for the verbs in the sentences.
  • For homework, students rewrite the story and change three things, including the end of the story. Have them use their pictures to remember what happens in the story.
  • Students read their stories to their group and the other group members need to identify the changes. Group votes on the best story. Teacher reads out loud the best stories and the group members become the actors for the mother, father, boy / Jérôme, teacher and a couple students. Maybe do three stories.
  • Teacher has students underline the verbs in their stories and does a class workshop to correct the verbs. Students hand in stories for teacher to read and respond to content and humor only, not verb tense.

I think that stories from music videos work well with Intermediate Low learners. There is yet another great way to deliver comprehensible input for songs that I think works better for Novice Mid learners and I learned from posts by Elizabeth Barron on Musique Mercredi. Elizabeth write stories about penguins to preview vocabulary from current songs. I wrote a penguin story in the same style. You can see the original Penguin Stories on the Musique Mercredi Music Facebook page. Join the group and search on Elizabeth Barron’s name.

Fighting the Winter Doldrums with Games

There are many large group games that prioritize communication and are perfect for the proficiency-based classroom. In addition, these games work to strengthen relationships between students and increase the intent to speak because they are fun.

You will find game ideas under the games category to the right. To escape the winter doldrums, I have added three new ones into my 8th grade French I class that I want to share with you as well.

Alibi A detective is chosen and he or she leaves room, next the person who committed the crime is chosen. The detective returns and starts asking “Qu’est-ce que tu as fait (tel jour) à (telle heure)?” The students answer one by one making sure to add in detail. The more detail the better because the second time around, the person who committed the crime changes one little detail, so the detective has to listen carefully. The others have to listen carefully as well because sometimes someone will say they did something with someone else and the story needs to line up. Ex “Je suis allé au parc avec Alexandra parce qu’elle adore jouer au basket.”

Celebrity This is a guessing game between two teams. To make your numbers work, maybe run two games going at the same time in the class. There are three rounds with the same names: 1. Describing the celebrity 2. Acting like the celebrity and 3. Using one word clues. Players start by writing the name of a celebrity on a slip of paper without showing anyone else. One team starts and picks a leader. The teams try to guess the names of the celebrities their leader picks from the pot, one by one for a minute, describing each. Switch teams and continue play until all the slips are used up. Then run the other two rounds with new leaders. At the end, count up all the points to determine a winner.

The Newlywed Game Students get in partners of two people who know each other well. The teacher helps the students who don’t have an obvious person to work with. Each player should have a piece of paper and a writing utensil. The teacher asks random questions that the students were not aware of beforehand. One student writes down her answers to the question and the other writes down what she thinks her partner will say. As a group go over answers of the pairs, and then repeat the process with the pairs changing roles. The goal is for the pairs to match answers. The pair with the most matching answers wins. From: Using Games In A Foreign Language Classroom by Amy Talak-Kiryk

Presenting a Session at a Conference

This post is about presenting a session and as an example I am sharing one I presented at MaFLA 2018 called Cartoons, Sitcoms, and Competition Shows: French television as authentic resources. The set of slides for the presentation and all the handouts are linked below. You may enjoy those resources for your own classroom and not just as an example of how to present a session at a conference.

I am an advocate for teacher leaders. I think that experienced educators can help other teachers with their planning, instruction and assessment. We are generous with our students and we can be just as giving with other professionals, and it benefits us all. There are many ways to do this. What I have found that works for me is to help others with instruction by showing them my discoveries along the way. I know that other teachers have their own style, so I share my ideas as a start, hoping that they might be inspired to try my activity and make it their own.

I attempt to share with other teachers through conversations at work, through shared curriculum files with teachers in my district and by gathering with teachers from other towns in a Professional Learning Community. And then I like to share my activities with a wider audience through presenting at professional conferences. I am new to this, having only presented twice at the state level and once at the national level. There may be multiple conferences that are accessible for you. For me there are opportunities at the national, regional and state level:

  • The ACTFL Annual Convention and World Languages Expo — national, moves between locations, but comes to Boston and DC regularly. Usually held the week before Thanksgiving. Proposal are due in January.
  • Northeast Conference in New York City. Usually held the second weekend of February. Proposals are due in May.
  • MaFLA Conference in Springfield, MA. Usually held the fourth weekend in October. Proposals are due in April.

Each organization has a different approach to conferences. Check the website to better understand on what basis they will accept a proposal so you can tailor your session according.

To present at a conference, you will need a great idea for a session. While much of your own personal magic is your teaching style and how you build relationships with your students, in order to showcase those skills you start with a something new and cutting-edge to catch the interest of your attendees. The new technique will offer you a chance to showcase your style of teaching. At my state conference last year, the new idea that I highlighted was Picture Talk, my own version of Movie Talk, which proved to be a new instructional tool at the conference that got a lot of buzz. Some of the attendees had experience with Movie Talk and for them I was able to share how I use it. Some had heard of it but hadn’t tried it and for them I could show them the way. And, for still others it was a new idea and I could lead them to take a risk to try something new. I was able to give all these teachers a new tool for their tool box.

Once you have that new idea to share, then you will need to find your objective and content for your presentation. My overall objective was to show other teachers ideas for how to provide input in the proficiency-based classroom. And the content I decided to present was French television. I chose the content because I knew that I had a lot of examples and experiences about television to share with teachers. It has been my experience that attendees love to walk away with a folder full of resources to try out. They want to try activities that are already done for them before trying to create their own.

French television shows

You will find my presentation and my shared materials in this folder. I urge you to share what you know with other teachers by presenting a session at a conference.  You will undoubtedly be happy with the results as your fellow teachers will be ecstatic to benefit from what you have discovered along the way.

Making a Project a Task

Inspired by the book While we’re on the Topic by Bill Van Patten, I have been thinking about how tasks, as opposed to activities, fit into my teaching. And mostly recently, I have been exploring how a project in the World Language proficiency classroom can become a task. My most clear understanding of a task in this context is when students research, write up and present information, the class then does something with that information, like infer, rank, rate, group or compare.

In this example, students present information in a guessing game format and the rest of the students have to infer who the person is that is being described. Then, when students present a famous French-speaking person, the rest of the class listens to rate, rank, group and compare the people.

Please access documents from the folder or linked below.

  1. I begin with a pretest to see what famous French-speaking people the students know by asking the area of expertise of the person. I do this as a google form and after we share the answers in charts. (You can copy mine from the folder linked above and edit it.) Then we do a guessing game. The teacher reveals one by one twenty clues in French on slides about an American or internationally known celebrity. After each clue, the students write down a guess. They can change their mind as to who it is along the way, but at the end they have twenty guesses written down. The last slide is the picture and name of the person. To score, they tally how many times they wrote the correct answer.
  2. Students in pairs create their own guessing games about an American or internationally known celebrity. They use my presentation for some language and ideas on how to build clues from general to more specific. They are very quiet and secret about their person. I gave my students a template to fill out with clues and a template for the slides, which I shared with them online.
  3. The student-generated guessing games begin. In my class I had all the games submitted to me and was able to present them without the class knowing the authors. I read the clues. There are many surprises and laughs. Nobody shares how many points they got because that isn’t the point, but it makes it fun.
  4. Now for their individual projects students chose a famous French-speaking person from a list. I go over the project overview and some useful vocabulary. They fill out a note taking form about the person by researching them online. Then, their project is to make five slides about that person to present to the class or a poster with a crossword that asks for information on the person.
  5. Students finish their projects. As they finish, they get paired up and the students who are presenting practice with a partner. Students finish their work for homework.
  6. Student presentations. The other students fill out this organizer while listening to presentations. Then, students read the posters, take more notes and do the crossword puzzles.
  7. In a post-test in a Google form (found in the folder linked above) students rate the people they heard about for how interesting they were. The teacher then displays the ratings as graphs and the class discusses. The teacher shows the findings from another class or the year before and the class compares. Next, students group the people they heard about in terms of area of expertise with a handout. And then, students rank the people based on different criteria. The class, in an effort to use student opinion to inform instruction, then go back to the teacher’s original list of people to study and edit the document for the following year’s students, commenting on whether there are enough people listed for an area of expertise and whether the people listed are interesting enough to warrant researching. The class conversation is in French and the teacher jumps in to ask guiding questions, like “why do you feel that way?”, “what did that person achieve?” and “what was that person’s contribution to society?” The students refer to their notes as they discuss.

In order to clearly explain this technique, I have another example for you on another theme, for a unit I call “Le style des jeunes”. Students are asked do a presentation of what clothing middle school students wear, each student presenting 2 outfits. While the other students are listening to the presentations they take notes in a graphic organizer and after the presentations I have the students complete this task where they are asked to evaluate what students wear and why.

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

The 10 Best French Short Videos for Picture Talk or Movie Talk

Picture Talk, or Movie Talk, is gaining momentum in our World Language community. I have blogged on this technique that is an extension of TPRS storytelling, or in my layman’s terms a great way to deliver language input in the novice high to intermediate low classroom. I like that the teacher uses pictures to show the students what she is talking about. For me, it is a great way to present interesting language input and to get the class talking as they predict or create a story together.

Cupidon Movie Talk
Cupidon — ESMA Movies

I am slowly building a library of short videos connected to themes that are frequently taught in beginning French. Here are some videos to add to your collection, with their corresponding themes:

Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu— Les activités
Simon, Je veux pas aller à l’école— L’école
Les Sisters, Doudou La Chance— La maison idéale
SamSam, Une journée crocochemardesque— La routine de la journée
Les Sisters, Telle soeur, telle soeur— Qu’est-ce que les jeunes font en été?
Lait Drôle de la Vie— La rentrée
Cupidon— Ma ville
L’or bleu— L’environnement
Au fil de l’âge— La famille
Le cadeau— Les animaux domestiques

When you first get started with Picture Talk, it helps to use the videos and resources that more experienced teachers have found. It saves you a lot of time and you can get right to using them in the classroom. IFprofs is a platform for sharing French education resources and there is a page on movie talks that has linked videos and other resources, like the slides. You will have to sign in to access it. I especially liked two videos that I found on IFProfs and am now using them, so you will notice I left two for others to use. I always consider giving back to others by sharing!

Music to share with students

We are back to school and I am trying to connect with my students and one way is through music. I play music for them because I believe it is a way to understand culture better, but even without that I would share music because I think it is powerful to use the arts in teaching.

Here are some relatively new songs that I will be sharing with my 8th graders this year:

Soprano – À la vie à l’amour
Bénabar – Feu de joie
Bigflo et Oli – Dommage
OrelSan – La pluie (avec Stromae)
Lou – A mon âge
Nassi – Rêves de Gamin
Keen’ V – Tu Réalises
Angèle – La Loi de Murphy

There are other songs that I incorporate in teaching for language input. These songs here, on the other hand, I will use for the class to listen to and comment on. I am hoping that students can talk about their opinion of the music, message and the video. If you are looking for ideas on how to do that, a great resource is the files from Mercredi Musique on Facebook, especially the one that is called the same name “Musique Mercredi”.