Petit Prince Chapter 18

If it seems strange that the 18th chapter of Le Petit Prince – by far the shortest chapter in the novel – gets an entire blog post to itself, please just do me a solid and continue reading because this chapter is accompanied by one of my favorite student projects ever.

In this chapter, the little prince meets a flower in the desert. He’s lonely and looking for friends, so he asks the flower if she has seen any men. The flower, being that she lives in the desert, has only seen about six or seven men, and she tells the little prince that men lack roots. This quote becomes the basis for our project.

To prepare for our project, we read the chapter and then discussed the purpose of roots -what do roots do for a tree? What happens to the tree as a result of its roots? We discuss how roots grow strong and anchor the tree, provide it with stability and allow it to grow. We discuss that, as a result of the tree’s growth, the tree can grow leaves, flowers or fruits that can germinate and create more trees. We also talk about how roots can be hard and ugly, not always visible above the surface, but without them, the tree can’t grow and nor can it nourish another tree or plant, or give shade and oxygen to humans and animals.

Then they receive the following prompt (in French): Draw a tree. Put yourself in a hole in the middle of the tree and write your name in its bark. Then, use words or images to create your roots – think about your family history, your interests, your religion, etc. How have your roots allowed the rest of your “tree” to grow? How do you use your tree’s “growth” (leaves, fruit, etc) to nourish the “roots” of another?

We took a day to draw our trees, and then I had them record an explanation of their tree to Schoology. The oral explanation is done with no advance preparation – I do not allow them to write their comments down beforehand or to practice before recording!

I was very pleased with the results of this project and got really good feedback from the kids as well. They seemed to really like the project and put in a lot of effort! It was also a nice way to break up the reading of the novel. 10/10, would do it again! Below are some photos; to see an example of one of my students’ oral presentations, click here.

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Petit Prince Chapters 10-17

French 4/AP continues on our journey of reading Le Petit Prince! It’s been going well, but is a long process due to the number of chapters in the novel and how often we stop to write/discuss/draw/summarize/etc. This is exacerbated by end of year field trips, AP tests, senior exams, and so on. Unfortunately I won’t have time for the mini-unit on soccer that I planned for this year which is a SUPER bummer, but I’m hoping I can start with that in a few of my classes next year, to re-cap the Euro Cup that’s happening in France this year. Otherwise, I plan on giving my exams prior to the official exam day, so perhaps on that long class period we can get out on the pitch and my soccer kids can show us how it’s done.

So, what’d we do for Petit Prince chapters 10-17?

Chapter 10

I printed out the illustration of the king that accompanies chapter 10, and asked the kids to write all over it and surround the king with as many words and phrases as they could in response to the question, “What makes a good king?” We discussed this together as a class, and then I read the chapter aloud to them as they followed along. When we finished, they journaled on a quote from the chapter – It is more difficult to judge yourself than others. They discussed their responses to this journal in small groups.

Chapters 11 and 12

I handed each small group a stack of post-its and had them read chapters 11 and 12 together (for my independent readers, they read alone). On each post it they had to tell me the following things:

  1. Key vocab they wanted to remember
  2. A quote or passage that they found interesting and why
  3. A 10-word summary of the chapter
  4. A question they had about the chapter

It was at about this point that I had a TON of kids out for AP testing and didn’t want to continue the book without them, so with those remaining in class, we did a roleplay in which the Little Prince’s flower is visited by a butterfly – what would the rose tell the butterfly about the Little Prince?

Chapter 13-14

The students read these chapters alone and updated their character maps. There was still a ton of AP testing going on at this point, so it was not as interactive as I would have liked it to be. We played Freeze Frame to re-cap the major events of the book so far.

Chapters 15-17

We had a couple of big discussion questions for these chapters, as the Petit Prince makes his final stop on his trip, on the planet Earth. The first was: How would you describe the earth to someone who had never heard of it?

In responding to this question, I asked the students to draw a visual representation of the Earth and note it’s major physical features, as well as other things they thought were important to know. We did a roleplay in which one person was the “alien” and the other had to explain the Earth to that person. We also did this as a whole-class activity, with me playing the role of “alien.” I really tried to ham it up and make them dig deep with their language – for example, a student would say, “There are big cities with buildings!” and I would respond, “What’s a building? Who goes there? What do you do? Why?”

Our other discussion question was about the role of snakes in film and literature – What do you think of when you think of a snake? In what stories does a snake play a big role?

We also played The Marker Game to review and did a few listening assessments.

Coming up next – we just finished what is probably my favorite project to do with my kids that follows Chapter 18 of Le Petit Prince. Stay tuned!

 

 

La Révolution Française: Sequence and Assessments

Last year when I went to OFLA, I was really inspired by the message that both Dave Burgess and Carrie Toth communicated to their audiences, which was to teach subjects that we ourselves are passionate about. The basic principle being that students will latch on to our enthusiasm, and engagement will grow.

FrRevPoster

This year I’ve really tried to take that advice to heart and teach more things that I enjoy – like my mini-unit on privilege, and devoting each Wednesday to listening and singing a new song in French.

In addition to French and music, one of my other major passions is history. I love history. I am a huge history buff and could literally talk all day about how our history is constantly reflected in our present. So, I decided that in my level 4/AP split we would tackle one of the most monumental historic events of all time – the French Revolution.

I was nervous to present this material as I had never taught such a unit before. Let me say first and foremost: This unit was RICHLY enhanced by the resources put together by Noemie Neighbor and I am so, so grateful that she has put this work out there for other teachers to use. 

The French Revolution is a massive unit to teach and Noemie did a great job of breaking it all down. I followed her general schema but incorporated my own level-appropriate assessments, starting with the background information of the Ancien Regime, les Lumieres, and why people were starting to question authority. We went through the major events of the Revolution, and today just finished up our unit following the execution of Louis XVI. There is a LOT more to it after that, of course, but I mostly wanted to highlight how drastically the Revolution changed the entire centuries-old structure and traditions of not only France, but nearly all of Europe as well.

My sequence went basically like this:

Week 1: Life during the Ancien Regime – the separation of society into the three “Estates” and what life would have been like for each social class and the financial troubles of the monarchy.

Week 2: How the Enlightenment influenced the push toward Revolution and the consequences of the American Revolution. Reader’s Theatre of an abridged version of Candide by Voltaire (Tresors du Temps textbook!) and the students worked in small groups to present basic information about major Enlightenment philosophers.

Week 3: The first events of the Revolution – calling of the Estates General, mostly. The students journaled from the perspective of a pre-Revolution citizen of France and compiled their own cahiers de doléances with a modern twist. We watched clips from La Révolution française, available on YouTube.

Week 4: The taking of the Bastille and the March to Versailles. The students did an interpersonal writing assessment via a discussion board on Schoology to determine whether these events were a.) necessary or b.) important to the cause of the Revolution.

Week 5: The development of the Declaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen. We read the major articles from the DDHC and compared them to our own documents, namely the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The students also prepared a guided debate during which they imagined they belonged to a certain demographic and had to argue yes or no based on their given identity.

Week 6: The attempted escape of Louis XVI, the war with Austria, and the trial and eventual execution of Louis XVI. We voted on Louis’ execution after an in-class “Tug of War” activity during which students placed post-it notes with their comments on a spectrum with “Yes” on one end and “No” on the other.

My assessments for this unit included:

Interpersonal Writing: Schoology debate on the necessity and importance of the taking of the Bastille and the March to Versailles.

Interpretive Reading: Selections from Candide and an authentic document/primary source from a witness present during the taking of the Bastille (Tresors du Temps textbook, believe it or not!).

Presentational Writing: A journal from the perspective of a French citizen under the Ancien Regime.

Presentational/Interpersonal Speaking: Both modes were assessed during our debate on the DDHC.

Interpretive Listening: Assessed while watching clips from the film La Révolution française and an informational clip regarding the invention of the guillotine.

This unit also allowed me to review some past grammar points that sometimes get a little sloppy as time goes by: adjective agreement, passé composé vs. imparfait, and subjunctive were the major points addressed during this unit.

I will write a follow-up post later this week containing links to some of the supplementary resources used during this unit.

Bonne continuation!

 

Kiva Projects – the results

I wrote last week about finishing up a unit on privilege  with my 4/AP split. Part of that unit looked at microfinance and the website Kiva, which offers microloans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. My students each selected a person on Kiva that they wanted to represent in a short video, and I am offering the top 3 a small monetary prize. I’ve narrowed it down to 11 videos currently, which you can view at the links below.

In general I was happy with their work but one thing I will definitely add to this project’s rubric and all future video/audio projects is a section regarding the quality of the audio recording. I was a little let down by how many students had videos that were incredibly creative or in which the language was really great, but they had a TON of background noise in the video (why insist on recording in front of the bathroom with a continuously flushing toilet?? I’ll never know!) or they spoke in a terribly monotonous voice. Definitely a bummer, but generally speaking the product was good.

Below you’ll find links to the videos that we narrowed down to our “top 11”. Please take a moment to “like” a video or two that you think is really well done! Bear in mind that these are intermediates and they did ALL of this work themselves, so their language is at times messy and inaccurate but they are very brave in wanting their work put out there on the internet. It’s also nerve-wracking for me as a teacher to put my students’ work (and yes, errors!) out there for the world to see! 🙂 Enjoy!

Kiva Top 10 Playlist

11th Video – Created with Powtoon (our current frontrunner)

Privilege: A unit for Intermediates

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Last year at OFLA, I was incredibly inspired by Carrie Toth’s workshops and sessions in which she talked about getting students involved in communities beyond their own through service learning projects (all in Spanish, too!). One that really stuck with me was the project she did (inspired in turn by Kristy Placido) that had students researching borrowers on Kiva who were in need of loans to grow their local businesses. Both teachers had students choose a borrower, create a video to promote him/her and then the classes voted on their favorite videos. The incredible part is that both Carrie and Kristy put up their own money to offer as a prize for the winners.

As soon as I heard Carrie describe this project, I knew I had to bring it into my classroom, and my French 4/AP split was the perfect environment to do so. While I teach a relatively culturally-diverse student population, the socio-economic diversity is not as marked. Most of my students are lucky to come from pretty fortunate families, and my school does its best to be as charitable as possible to not only our community, but the communities around us as well. Every February we have a “charity week” that raises enormous sums of money for local charities – last year was upwards of $57,000 – so thankfully the spirit of giving really is a part of our overall school culture. Still, though, I wanted to give students to the opportunity to go even beyond our own state and examine the fact that literally billions of people in the world live in abject poverty, and also to reflect on how they can use their privilege to give a leg up to those who need it.

The Intro

I introduced the notion of privilege by co-opting the activity that I once saw on a BuzzFeed article in English. As luck would have it, this same article had been translated into French – perfect! In short, I dragged my classroom trash can to the front of the room and told the students that I would give them a prize if they could throw a wadded up ball of paper into the trash can without leaving their seats. As predicted, there were outbursts from the students in the back of the class as the students in the front were easily able to toss their paper into the trash can while the students who were further away faced many more obstacles. I asked why the students in the back were angry, and whether or not the students in the front did anything to make this task easier on them. This led to a really valuable discussion about privilege – what it is, how you can be aware of it, and how you can use your privilege in a meaningful way. How could the students in the front of the classroom have helped those in the back while still adhering to the requirement of not leaving one’s seat?

After we discussed this, I wrote the word privilège on the white board and had students write their ideas of what that word meant to them around it. They all took it very seriously and I was impressed with what they were able to come up with!

The Input

During the next two-three days after the introduction, the students did a lot of reading and listening about the state of poverty in the world and the practice of microfinance as a way for entrepreneurs in developing countries – who otherwise don’t have access to their local banking systems – to create a business that earns them money to support their families but also services the community they live in. The cool thing about Kiva (and other microfinance sites like Babyloan) is that you’re not just throwing a donation at an agency with a big money pot; it’s a loan that helps an individual do something meaningful and that they will eventually be able to pay back once their business gets off the ground.

Reading

We did a couple of jigsaw reading activities where small groups of students were responsible for reading the following documents and reporting out to their classmates on what they learned.

L’extrême pauvreté par zone géographique

2,9 milliards vivent avec moins de deux dollars par jour

Mettre fin à la pauvreté est à notre portée

Le microcrédit à Brazzaville in the Thèmes textbook (Vista Higher Learning)

Listening

We also did some listening activities about the principles of microcredit and about Kiva itself.

I introduced the basic idea of Kiva/microcrédit with the animated video L’histoire de Pedro. We did a CLOZE-style activity, but I typed up an English translation of the video and had the students fill it in with English while listening to the French. (You can get that here).

Then, we watched a more in-depth report from ARTE.tv. I stopped the video after Jennie from Paris speaks, but you could easily continue on with it. The students filled out some (admittedly superficial) comprehension questions (You can get mine here).

The Product

The past couple of days, just as Carrie and Kristy did in their classes, my students spent some time perusing Kiva and finally chose a borrower to focus on. They made their videos today and tomorrow we’ll narrow down the “best” ones who will be in competition for a monetary prize from me. I will not be voting, but I’ll have the kids watch each others’ videos on YouTube and the top like-getters will come away with the prizes. I’ll share some examples tomorrow!