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

seisme

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!

 

A Play on Write, Draw, Pass

If my students had an all-time favorite activity, it would probably be Martina Bex’s Write, Draw, Pass. It’s like the game telephone, but written and with images. They love to see how well the story stays together (or how crazily it falls apart!) as they pass the papers around.

Last week, I needed a quick, no-prep way to work on si clauses with my level 3 students. We’re not going super in-depth with it, just enough to say “If I did _________, then ______ would happen.” Since the imperfect (the part after “if”) and the conditional are SO similar in French (they have the same endings!) the students really need practice differentiating between the two since they always tend to make it either usingly ONLY the imperfect or ONLY the conditional. So, I busted out Martina’s Write, Draw, Pass template and we made a story chain!

For simplicity, I provided the very first “If” clause and the students filled in the rest. Of course, I went with “If there was a zombie apocalypse…” and in the first box, the students had to finish the sentence with what they thought WOULD happen. After that, they passed it to a neighbor, and the neighbor drew a picture that represented the first sentence. They passed again, and in the third box, they continued the story using the last half of the first sentence as the beginning of the next “If” clause. So it went like this:

If there was a zombie apocalypse, I would fight the zombies. If I fought the zombies, the zombies would die. If the zombies died…etc.

When the kids got their original papers back, they had a lot of fun seeing how their original scenario panned out!

And, of course, because you can never have too much of a good thing, I adapted the same activity to my level twos who are currently working on the difference between the passé composé and the imperfect. We used Amy’s One Sentence Story template and created a Write, Draw, Pass story chain one sentence at a time. It was fun, which at this point in the year is super necessary (still three weeks left! gah!) but still requires them to use their language and keep their brains thinking!

Bonne continuation!

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!

 

 

Petit Prince Chapters 5-9

French 4/AP continues to plug along reading the Petit Prince and developing their Interactive Notebooks as we do so. I think the work we’ve been doing so far has been useful, but so very time consuming. Much more than I had anticipated! I hoped to average about 2 chapters of the novels per day, but am usually only getting through 1, between all of the pre-reading, during-reading, and post-reading activities. I think I need to cut down a little bit! That being said, I do feel as though my students have a more profound understanding of the novel.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 addresses the baobab, a fairly big symbol in the novel. In real life, a baobab is an enormous tree also called the “tree of life” that bears an extremely nutrient-dense fruit. For the Petit Prince, however, a baobab represents a problem that, if too long neglected, may not be easily solved. For a pre-reading activity we watched a short informational video on the baobab trees. We read the chapter, and then the students cut out a printable I found online of a baobab tree and decorated it with what they thought were our community’s biggest “baobabs” and why.

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The “baobab” printable is on the left hand side.

Chapter 6

Chapter 6 is very short, so we talked a lot about what sadness is/what do you do when you’re sad and journaled accordingly in our notebooks. The students read the chapter in their Reading Clubs and each group tried to come up with a 10 word summary for the chapter! It was fun to see how creative they could get and oddly enough, my “lowest” readers in each class had the most comprehensive 10-word summaries!

Chapters 7 and 8

These chapters are so important to the development of the book, as they are the chapters when we meet the Petit Prince’s flower for the first time! As a pre-reading activity we journaled about our best friends and added chapter vocabulary to our notebooks. We read the chapters via our Reading Groups, but summarized as a class. Finally, for our post-reading activities the students did an Inside/Outside summary for the flower. They used one page in their notebooks and drew a vertical line down the center. Right on the middle of the line, they illustrated the Petit Prince’s flower. On the left hand side of the page, they had to describe the outside of the flower – what physical characteristics does she possess? On the right hand side of the page, they did the same but for her interior characteristics – what kind of personality does she have?

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Inside/Outside drawing for the flower.

Since this was a Friday I wanted to keep the mood light, so we also used this day as a chance to re-cap all of the vocabulary we had studied so far via a game. I chose several illustrations from the chapters we had already read in class and had the students partner up. One partner sat with his/her back to the board and an iPad in hand with the Educreations app open while the other partner described the image in as much detail as possible. We compared their drawings to the originals, and then switched roles so each student got a chance to describe AND draw!

Chapter 9

This is the chapter in which the Petit Prince prepares for his big voyage and bids farewell to his flower. We started first with the following prompt: What objects does the Petit Prince possess? If you were stranded on a desert island, what objects would you want to have and why? It was a good jumping off point for a review of the conditional, which my students are familiar with but tend to use inaccurately/confuse with the imperfect as they are so similar. We discussed as a group and then I read the chapter aloud. We also took the time to add to our Character Maps and update/tidy our notebooks. Chapter 9 is a sort of natural “breaking point” between sections of the story so it was a good place to stop – tomorrow we will assess on what we’ve read so far!

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Working on the Character Map – document from Carrie Toth.

Interactive Notebooks and Le Petit Prince

So, I’m embarking on a new adventure – one that I actually thought I would never attempt but that after some time and consideration, came to be the most logical conclusion for the next unit in my French 4/AP split.

Combining interactive notebooks and novel study.

Let me admit up front that beyond what I’ve seen on social media (Pinterest, mostly), my knowledge of interactive notebooks is incredibly rudimentary. I get the concept but since I’ve never planned on doing them I haven’t done much investigation, but that’s definitely about to change!

I’ve known since the beginning of the year that French 4/AP would be reading Le Petit Prince. I want this to be a positive reading experience to them, since most of them have never read a novel in French before (we do lots of other kinds of reading, including fairy tales and legends) but I also wanted them to exhibit deep learning in the process as there is a lot of symbolism and metaphor in this novel. And, superficially, I wanted each student to have a place to organize their notes and activities for the novel that was separate from the rest of their school stuff. While my students are relatively responsible young people, most of their French supplies get stuffed into a two-pocket folder and I don’t want anyone to lose any key pieces of the puzzle as we move through this unit.

I’m sort of just jumping in with both feet and I’m not sure what to expect of this experience but I’m excited and my kids were surprisingly thankful that I provided them all with individual notebooks just for this novel. We read chapter one together today and did a pre-reading survey, a vocabulary foldable and a journal entry already (I’ll share more specifics in my next post!) but tomorrow I’m taking a page from Carrie Toth’s book (punny, I know) and splitting them into groups based on their reading preferences. Each group will have a slightly different task to complete based on their needs (to be recorded in their interactive notebooks) and all will begin the same Character Map.

Not to get even more ahead of myself, but I am also considering using the Seesaw app as a supplementary resource to allow students to post their best/favorite journal entries, illustrations, notes, whatever as an individualized assessment tool. So instead of telling everyone “turn in the journal entry from chapter one” I might ask them to take a photo of their best journal entry from chapters 1-5 and upload it to Seesaw for me to assess.

I’m hoping to keep a record of the process here in the blog. If you have any ideas or suggestions, PLEASE feel free to share!

 

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!

 

What We’re Loving Right Now

Happy February!

Things continue to truck along here in my salle de classe. As I blogged earlier, this year has been challenging. That’s still true, but we’re trying to keep on keepin’ on. Scheduling cards went out last week and thankfully, many of my students plan to continue their studies in French. 20 out of 30 Level 2s want to move on to Level 3, and a whopping 30 out of 35 Level 4s want to continue on to AP. My one sticking point is the jump from Level 3 to Level 4 – only 15 out of 36 have signed up so far. I’m not sure what the disconnect is, unfortunately, but it looks like I should have a full schedule for next year, but I’m terrified that after a year of a regular AP class I’ll probably be back to teaching a split, but that’ll be a worry for a year from now.

On a more positive note, here’s what we’re loving right now.

1. Mercredi Musique continues to be a huge hit in most of my classes. I was absent on Wednesday last week and thought we’d just have to wait until the next Wednesday, but there was such a demand that we did Mercredi Musique on Thursday instead. My formula is pretty simple – we listen to a song by a French/Francophone artist and watch the music video (if there is one) and afterwards, the students discuss if they liked/disliked it and why at their tables. Then, we sing the chorus together.

2. Fizz Buzz is a super-easy brain break that my kids have a love-hate relationship with. I can’t remember where the original idea came from, unfortunately! We stand in a circle and count in the TL, basically, but the twist is that whenever you get to a number that has a five in it or is a multiple of five, you say fizz. If the number has a seven or is a multiple of seven, you say buzz. This causes just as many groans as it does laughs, and as a bonus, helps the kids remember their numbers in French as well.

3. The French Revolution is our current until in my Level 4/AP split. History is one of my huge passions – I can nerd out big time when it comes to discussing the French Revolution, the two World Wars, or the women’s rights movement. I really wanted to infuse more of my own passions into my classes and thought the French Revolution was a great place to start. There are so many parallels between French and American society in that particular time period it really makes for a great cultural comparison. Plus, the kids are already somewhat familiar with the Revolution from their history courses, so they’re enjoying seeing it now through the lens of a culture they’ve spent four years studying. It’s been a lot of fun!

Side Note: I would LOVE a TPRS Publishing book related to the French Revolution. How cool would that be?!

4. Schoology Discussion Boards have completely changed how I assess Interpersonal Writing – meaning, I actually assess it now. The Discussion Boards have been super awesome for controversial topics; for example, we most recently did a debate in Level 4 about whether or not the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen should be adopted as law by the Assemblée Constituante and the French monarchy. Each student belonged to a group that would have been represented during this time – the monarchy, the nobles, the clergy, the Tiers-Etat and women – and had to argue “their” viewpoint and respond to others’ posts. My class of 26 generated over ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY posts in one 50-minute period! Some of them even started integrating hashtags in French and attached Revolution-related memes to their posts. The feedback I got was overwhelmingly positive so the Discussion Board will be sticking around!

Bonne continuation!