Micro-unit: Les partis politiques français

 

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In an effort to expose my students to as many cultural topics as possible before the AP test, I did a very quick, brief overview of the French presidential elections and the political parties in France. And I mean very quick. I could (and should) have done a lot more with this concept but I’m feeling a little panicky about the amount of material I have to get through in the next eight weeks so we did a very brief micro-unit so they are at least familiar with the system and the candidates, should anything crop up this year’s test (given that it’s an election year).

I slapped together a brief dossier (this does not include an article I found on 1jour1actu) for this micro-unit; there’s not much in it, it’s more of a guide to help me and keep my students organized.

Day 1: Look at the graphic on the front page of the dossier and brainstorm the major values of French politics; are they similar to or different from our values? How so? Examine the logos on page 2 and try to guess where the parties fall on the left-right spectrum. Watch this video from 1jour1actu: Ca veut dire quoi, droit et gauche en politique? The students then used their devices to go on I Side With and filled out the survey to find out which French politicians/political parties best fit their perspectives on a variety of issues. We culled vocabulary related to politics and political stances during this activity as well.

Day 2: We explored some of the articles from the presidentielle 2012 dossier on 1jour1actu, bearing in mind that the candidates are not currently relevant but the practices and concepts are basically the same. I also cut up the pieces of a document shared by a fellow teacher on the French Teachers in the US Facebook page (thanks, Debbie McCorkle!) that broke down the viewpoints of 13 major French political parties on issues such as the economy, the European Union, immigration, terrorism and the army, and the environment. I put students into pairs and assigned them a political party to be the “expert” on, then they had to share out to their classmates, giving only the essential information before moving on.

Day 3: I did a quick direct lesson (in the TL, of course) on how the French president is elected (le suffrage universel direct), how many elections there are (le premier tour, le deuxième tour) and how long a President is in office in France (5 years). We looked at some of the survey results from Le Figaro regarding current candidate popularity, and then did a Venn Diagram of all of our findings thus far regarding similarities/differences in French and American political parties and processes (days 1-3) I then assigned everyone the identity of a French politician for an in-class “primary” debate.

Day 4: Students researched their candidates’ viewpoints on major political issues (immigration, economy, etc) as well as the viewpoints of 1-2 opposing candidates to prepare for our debate.

Day 5: In-class whole-group role play with me as the moderator. I asked questions about various issues and called on “candidates” at random to express their views and challenge the viewpoints of their “opponents.” We also did a quick AP-style reading from a textbook on the voting process in France.

There you have it! Fast, a little shallow, but still relevant and engaging for my students, particularly since it’s been a year full of politics in the United States.

 

January: What I Read

When I was younger, I used to read for pleasure all the time. I had, literally, hundreds of books (still do, probably). I’m not sure why, but I got out of the habit of reading for pleasure while I was in college and didn’t really pick it back up again once I hit the workforce. I realized last year that it kind of bummed me out that I wasn’t reading more, since I think it’s a big part of self-care, so I did the 2016 Popsugar reading challenge and read about 20 books on the list of 40. While I didn’t get all the way through the challenge, I really enjoyed having a goal to meet and categories of books to read (like “a book with a blue cover” or “a book that’s 100 years old”) rather than “Read this exact title” because I could tailor the challenge to my tastes. So in December I decided to do the 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge and I’d really like to make my total more than 50% this time!

Here’s what I read in January, and how I’m counting it for the challenge.

1. 97 Orchard:97orchardcover.jpg An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman

Challenge category: A book with a subtitle

I’m a big history person (particularly social history, or anything that has to do with real people) and I happened to visit the tenement at 97 Orchard street this summer when I went to New York. I saw this while I was in the gift shop but didn’t buy it, so I decided to pick it up when I saw it at my local library. The book focused less on the actual families than I would have liked (and as it was advertised) and more on the food trends of the demographics to which they belonged. Still, it was interesting to see how people lived (and ate) in turn-of-the-century New York, and how culinary traditions from the “home country” ultimately became our culinary traditions (or have been totally lost since then).

 

2. The Pearlpearl.jpg That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Challenge category: A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you / A story within a story

This book came highly recommended from a friend of mine and has generally favorable reviews on Goodreads but I was decidedly not a fan. I found it poorly written, poorly edited, and had such little connection to the characters or setting that it could have been a book about anyone, anywhere – not the situation of Muslim women in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Likewise, for all the fuss they made about Rashima being the descendant of a woman who supposedly played a huge role in the King’s palace, she was there for all of about four chapters and didn’t actually accomplish anything or play any kind of significant role at all. Nevertheless, I finished the book and like I said – it seems many of the people who reviewed it on Goodreads enjoyed it, so you can come to your own conclusions!

veldhiv3. Je vous écris du Vel d’Hiv: Les lettres retrouvées by Karen Taieb (preface by Tatiana DeRosnay)

Challenge category: A book of letters

As I mentioned above, I am a HUGE history buff (in fact, it’s my minor) and one of my areas of specialization during my undergrad was France at war in the 20th century. I was fascinated by the story of La Rafle, and how little there was in terms of documentation – almost nothing was left behind, save for a photograph of a buses full of people parked outside of the former Velodrome d’Hiver in Paris. So that Taieb was able to track down 18 letters, written from inside the Vel d’Hiv, and put together the stories of the people who wrote them is, I think, remarkable. Hard to read, but important and so, so necessary. I think there is an English translation available to any non-Francophones who are interested in reading it.

Read anything good lately?

Les Griots d’Afrique

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As part of French 3’s “Legends and Supernatural” unit, I wanted to address the griot storytelling tradition of Francophone Africa – and WOW I did not anticipate it being so hard to find #authres for this mini-lesson. To be honest, I almost abandoned it all together but I’m glad I didn’t because it shaped up to be an interesting lesson! Plus, it exposed my students to a culture that I tend to shy away from because I am not as familiar with it as I would like to be.

Here’s my lesson sequence:

Day 1: I did a TPRS-style story to illustrate the role of a griot in society. I had one student play a griot, and several others play the roles of people in a village who want stories or songs for their family history. The students just had to act out what I narrated.

Day 2: We did the “C’est quoi un griot, d’abord?” reading with accompanying questions, then watched a TEDx video (in English) of a griot playing traditional instruments and singing; in the latter half of the video he explains what a griot is. We then started the process of watching a video of a griot (I think – at least an African storyteller) tell the legend of L’Homme et le hibou. This is a VERY challenging video; I provided the students with unfamiliar vocabulary and also asked some guiding questions in English to help them figure out what to listen for.

Day 3: We continued with the L’Homme et le hibou video and then broke down together how the story fits the typical characteristics of a legend (animals, magic, personification and a lesson). Then we watched the trailer for Youssou N’Dour’s documentary I Bring What I LoveI had the students do a CLOZE exercise of his explanation of his heritage and upbringing as a griot. There are English subtitles for his French speech, but they are very much just paraphrasing what he says and do not correspond word-for-word to his dialogue; you could alternatively just play the audio first and the video later. I would recommend at this point playing one of N’Dour’s songs.

Day 4: We read the legend Comment le lion devint roi and decided together if it fit the characteristics of an African legend or not. The version of the legend I used comes from http://www.conte-moi.net and there is audio and accompanying exercises in addition to the actual text.

Day 5: Begin the final assessment; the students work in groups of 2-3 to retell a legend, griot-style (or they may write their own legend). I have given them strict parameters in order to keep it simple enough for their proficiency level and also asked that they create a slide of images for any unfamiliar vocabulary that may come up in the legend, to make it more comprehensible for their classmates. We’ve spent the entire semester working on past tense narration, so that is really my linguistic focus for this assessment.

Here is a link to my resource packet for this lesson. As per usual, if there are language errors or formatting things you would like to change, please fix them on your own copy.

Bonne continuation!

 

 

Le Nain rouge de Détroit

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I’m in the middle of a unit on Legends & the Supernatural with my level 3 students and I think it’s going well! I love units like this, that are so rich in culture and it’s a perfect opportunity to address cultures other than France, as both Quebec and Francophone Africa have very rich storytelling traditions. I’ve also made narrating in the past tense my major grammar focus for this entire semester, so reading legends lends itself well to that.

Additionally, being that we live near a “francophone” city (Detroit), I also wanted to incorporate a little bit of local history. The legend of the Nain rouge is unique to Detroit and features the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. I wanted to have my students read the legend but could NOT for the life of me find an authentic French version of it anywhere online!! I did, however, come across a very old (like, late 1800s old) book called “Legends of le Détroit” that included a chapter on the Nain rouge and I used that to write my own version of the story in French, which you can find here. Please note that I’m not a native speaker, nor is my colleague who proofread it, so if there are mistakes or whatnot, please fix them to your liking on your own copy!

We did some Reader’s Theater to accompany this legend, and afterward we discussed the Marche du Nain Rouge that takes place in Detroit every spring, to drive away the Nain from the city and hopefully prevent any more bad things from happening in Detroit! It was a cool bit of local/regional history and allowed me to show how French culture is still alive in our own area.

Bonne continuation!

 

C’est Halloween!

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On veut des bonbons! (You know, from the Têtes-a-Claques video. Anyone? Bueller?)

I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of Halloween, but my students are! Last week I shared some of my My Favorite Spook-tacular Resources for French Class but since then a few more resources have cropped up that I would like to add to the list and incorporate into my instruction!

My French 3 kids will use a lot of the resources from the link above, but I’m always on the lookout for opportunities for my upper levels (French 4 and AP) to work on their comparison skills since that’s such a huge part of the AP test. We won’t spend a ton of time on Halloween since we’re right in the middle of our Haiti/L’eau, source de vie unit but I didn’t want to totally miss the opportunity to address the differences between Halloween and Toussaint (and their cultural links)!

I’m not sharing the work I’ve made to go along with the following resources since my students haven’t done any of this yet and I know some of them are aware that I keep a blog. I almost always follow a traditional IPA format, though, and at the end they’ll do an AP-style cultural comparison.

Articles/Infographics/Videos

Infographic: Halloween: de plus en plus populaire

1jour1actu: Qu’est-ce que la Toussaint?

1jour1actu: Ceux qui sont contre Halloween

Video: La Toussaint, une tradition toujours très présente chez les Français

After we interact with these documents, we’ll work on stating our opinions about both holidays with a Beyond “Oui” and “Non” speaking activity, then work in partners to do a comparison of the two in order to prepare for our cultural comparison.

My students also LOVE this crazy Halloween video by Têtes-à-claques, so we’ll probably watch it again as per our tradition.

 

My Favorite Spook-tacular Resources for French Class

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Most days, I can say that I really don’t regret my decision to study French instead of Spanish. I think the French language and culture have a lot to offer students! That is…until the end of October rolls around, my students are squirrely, Halloween is approaching and Spanish teachers have a great cultural and linguistic opportunity in Day of the Dead and French teachers get…la Toussaint. Womp womp.

I’ve done lessons on la Toussaint before and while it’s been a great educational opportunity, it’s not exactly the most engaging subject as Toussaint tends to be eclipsed by the two-week vacation that all French students get in honor of the holiday (which no one really celebrates beyond laying mums on a loved one’s grave).

My French 3 kids have JUST started a unit on Legends and the Supernatural (previously done at the end of last year with my level 4 kids), so they’ll be seeing most of these resources but they really could be adapted to (almost) any level. Our grammar focus for all of first semester in level 3 is passe compose and imparfait, so this unit lends itself very well to narrating stories in the past!

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a way to use the language to honor this spooky season, consider some of these resources!

MovieTalk

Alma (used in conjunction with this article)

Dirt Devil commercial 

Vampire’s Crown

The Black Hole

Video/Listening Resources

Créatures Fantastiques: Le Loup-Garou du Québec

Créatures Fantastiques: Le Windigo

A la découverte des catacombes avec Donia 10 ans

The Michel Ocelot film Les contes de la nuit

Story Time: Experience Paranormal

Le Conte des trois frères (Harry Potter)

Reading Resources

Most of my reading resources for this unit are self-created Embedded Readings of the following stories:

Le Nain Rouge de Detroit (try as I might, I cannot find a document that is already in French, thus I created it myself based on the details here)

La Peau de chagrin by Balzac (far too long/difficult to read in class; embedded version with the highlights is the way to go)!

Barbe Bleue by Perrault (I choose this one as it is particularly scary/gory for a fairy tale!)

Les Lavandières de la nuit

Article: J’irai dormir dans les catacombes!

Et voilà! Hopefully these resources will help carry you and your students through the spooky  Halloween season (and help take the sting out of not having a calavera to decorate or an ofrenda to build)!

Le séisme en Haiti: A unit for French 4/5AP students

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Well, in a fashion true to myself, I’ve probably bitten off a lot more than I can chew this year! In addition to my normal class schedule of French 2-AP, I’m still working on writing curriculum for our county (we’re on to French 3 this year!). I’ve also signed on to participate in the World Language department’s leadership team as we attempt to move toward a more proficiency-based model, my building’s Continuous Improvement team, and I’m mentoring our newest Spanish teacher. I’ve also been wrestling with some health issues that, after a minor surgical procedure last week, should hopefully be fully resolved (cross your fingers for me).

Life doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon, but while I was recovering last week I was inspired by the #langchat topic of cross-curricular collaboration and started planning a new unit for my French 4/AP split. I thought it pertinent to address the hurricane that blew through the Caribbean last week, Hurricane Matthew, causing further problems for the already impoverished nation of Haiti. My plan for this unit is to address the initial disaster that hit Haiti in 2010, the huge earthquake, and how the billions of dollars in humanitarian aid were effectively squandered. The second phase is to examine how access to potable water is a basic human right (à la Carrie Toth) – and that 1 in 10 people worldwide do not currently have access to a safe water source; Haiti is certainly part of that demographic.

I’m hoping to collaborate with my colleagues in science to do a water-testing lab, and to perhaps have one of the science teachers who traveled to Haiti for volunteer work last year come in to talk about his experiences in the country. My cousin is also a pediatrician who has traveled to Haiti on 3 separate occasions with Doctors Without Borders and I’m hoping she might have time to contribute something as well.

Today I’m sharing the introductory part of my unit, which I hope will familiarize my students with the country of Haiti, as well as how the country was affected by the massive earthquake in 2010. The packet I’m sharing here is a SMALL sampling of the numerous resources I’ve bookmarked and I anticipate that it will take the rest of this week to work through (with pauses for our normal Mercredi Musique routines & our obligatory grammar study). I will  use the other resources as a supplement if time permits. You can use it as you see fit – eliminate the grammar portion if need be and correct any language errors you might notice). You will also need to change the prompt for the Présentation Ecrite section, as it is personalized for the in-school experiences of my students. I also do not claim to know if the work I’ve asked the students to do is totally level appropriate for a 4/AP class; I mostly have no idea what I’m doing 🙂

I’ll share the rest when it’s finished!