Connecting the Dots

My Learning Environment & Situational Factors  

This secondary class has two sections of about 25 students in each.  It is a French Honors level 3 course, heavy in new grammar concepts and verb tenses.  The class meets daily (5 times per week) for 55 minutes.  The course will be delivered in a blended fashion, with in class presentation as well as online delivery of material and a lot of online practice and assessments.

The physical elements of the learning environment are desks grouped by 4 which rotate every quarter, a smart board and access to a computer lab with rather outdated and slow computers.  Students can also use their smart devices in class as we have internet access.

The course has a digital platform called Passports and a school-wide digital platform called D2l where assignments can be shared and turned in.

By level 3 the expectations are that the students begin to communicate at the Intermediate level consistently and also communicate in the present, past and future with ease.  The grade expectation to continue on to the next level is a 78%.  French is not a graduation requirement, but an elective course.  Many students however have the expectation that they should receive an A since this is an elective and also that they should not have to work too hard for it.  This can create some disillusionment since I regard a grade as something they earn, not something I give out.

Foreign language Learning is a practical subject which uses both convergent and divergent thinking. Convergent because juggling two languages forces learners to focus on one at a time while silencing any interfering thoughts or information. Divergent because the student is constantly assessing two different cultures, making comparisons, taking in all the different manners in which they can accomplish the communicative task and being open-minded towards new things, cultures and ways of thoughts.  Balancing and using both convergent and divergent thinking promotes creativity in the student.

 My students live in Chester county, one of the top 25 richest counties in the US.  It is more of a rural area, with many horse farms and beautiful green landscapes.  While not every students comes from an intact, middle-class family, the majority do.  Very few of the students have ever been to a francophone country or gone abroad.  Most have a very good attitude about learning the subject and are excited to learn, however they are often very critical and negative towards their ability to speak the foreign language well, holding very high expectations for themselves. Last year 80% of this class came with learning goals for the class.  60% felt that they met those goals.  The fact that this is an Honors level class means that the students are for the most part serious about their education, highly sensitive regarding their GPA, and also involved in multiple other Honors and AP level courses, thus creating a very stressful workload for them.  Many are also athletes or performers in choir or band, which makes further demands on their time.

Before taking French 3 they must have passed French 2 Honors with a 78% for the year, so they have demonstrated a basic knowledge of present and past tense, and the ability to communicate about many different personal topics.

I am entering my 8th year of teaching High School, and I must admit that while I am always excited at the beginning of the year, I have found that I no longer hold on to the belief that it will get easier.  The sheer load of the material I need to teach and the limited time I have to prepare it and assess it makes it an overwhelming task throughout the year and I usually reach burn-out status around April.  I grew up in France until the age of 16, and in college studied and then received a Masters in the language, so it is something I love deeply and am passionate about teaching.  My strengths are that I am not a traditional book and lecture teacher, but rather try to be creative in my teaching so as to involve the students as much as possible.  I firmly believe students CAN and SHOULD learn another language as it truly enriches their lives by expanding their world and their understanding of it.  I work hard to learn new methods of teaching and to incorporate new ways to reach and teach the students.  

 

A year (or more) after this course is over, I want and hope that students will display a love and knowledge of the French language and culture, as well as the ability to communicate in a way that satisfies them and reveals to them their ability to learn and add significant skills to their repertoire, thus furthering their joy and ownership of learning and their delight and curiosity about the world.    

        My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for the course is to create students who are:

  • Culturally aware and knowledgeable regarding foreign countries, values, traditions and languages.
  • Successful at communicating and connecting with people who speak another language.
  • Respectful global citizens with an enhanced and enlarged view of their world, enriched with the knowledge and beauty of different cultures.
  • Creative and curious thinkers able to discern and create innovative solutions and ways of making connections in and to their world.
  • Able and willing to take ownership of the learning process, fully engaging and owning it and able to transfer that skill to other subjects.

Foundational Knowledge for French 3 Honors Unit 1

  • Vocabulary enabling communication regarding human emotion, teen destinations, family types, childhood activities and weddings.
  • Present tense (regular and irregular)
  • Past tenses (both perfect tense and imperfect)
  • Conditional and future tenses
  • Traditions in a French wedding and comparisons with their cultural norms  

Application Goals- Students will use:

  • Critical thinking, in which students analyze and evaluate their culture and the French one
  • Creative thinking, in which students imagine and create dialogues, presentations and blog/journal entries
  • Practical thinking, in which students use their knowledge of the language to successfully listen, speak, read and write in the target language

Integration Goals – Students will make connections:

Among material in this unit and the students’ own personal, social, and/or work life, comparing and contrasting their culture to another.  They will continue to make connections between our language and the target language both in syntax and lexicon.

 Human Dimensions Goals

Students will learn about their own culture regarding family life and marriage as well as school life, and be able to articulate their values and preferences regarding those themes.  They will also be able to share their thoughts and show respect for students who feel differently.  The ability to be open minded is emphasized.  Students will be able to speak knowledgeably about the French culture and values regarding those same topics.   

Caring Goals

I hope that students will adopt an open mind towards traditions that are different from their own, while growing the ability to look at their own culture through an open mind as well.  I hope that students will learn to have respect for different cultures and will not be afraid to engage with people who are not from similar backgrounds as theirs.

  “Learning-How-to-Learn” Goals

How to become a self-directed learner of this subject, i.e., having a goal and learning agenda of what they need/want to learn, and a willingness to complete the “road map” I provide in order to achieve it.  I show the way and they make the journey.  Students will take the initiative if they are weak in a certain area and seek out help when it is needed, being able to self-analyse, self-direct and self-advocate.

Students will also need to take ownership over their learning by checking due dates, retrieving course information online, completing research on their own, working in groups and submitting assessments on time.  They will also fill out a leadership self-analysis each week along with an engagement level survey, showing reflection and the ability to monitor their own learning.
Now for the columns…

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – Overarching Course Goal

Learners will become respectful global citizens with an enhanced and enlarged view of their world, culturally aware and knowledgeable regarding foreign countries, values, traditions and languages.

Learning Goals Learning Activities Assessment Activities
Foundational

Students will be able to recall present tense and past tense to describe families and childhood in the TL

Students will be able to memorize new verb stems and endings to discuss and explain views on weddings and work in the future and conditional tenses.

Students will be able to compare wedding traditions in the US vs in France

Students will be able to translate authentic materials into their language.

Students will be able to understand authentic speech in the TL on the unit topics.

Online verb games in all 4 tenses
Online videos with explanations of the tenses needed for review
Online videos with explanations of the new tenses
Class activities/games for vocabulary practice and tense practice
Listening activities in class and online
Speaking timed practice with partner with given topics
Reading of authentic materials as groups
Online multiple choice recall quizzes for vocabulary and verb tenses
Voicethread where they discuss the topics for a determined amount of time after listening to the prompt
Timed journal writing where they explain differences in cultural values on the unit topics (to be corrected and put in their blog)
Reading comprehension
Application

Students will be able to perform dialogue and role-play situations regarding the unit topics.

Students will be able to practice the grammar in order to demonstrate the ability to respond in spoken and written form to the given prompts and questions this unit delivers.

In class dialogue writing and practice for the role-play
In class practice games (pop-up, Kahoot and Quizlet live) with the grammar and vocabulary needed for Voicethread and journal writing
In class preparation for the spoken and written assessments
Role-play with a partner
Find the mistakes – correct the paragraph
Voicethread where they discuss the topics for a determined amount of time after listening to the prompt
Relaxed journal writing with prompt(to be corrected and added to their blog)
Online discussion responses
Integration

Students will be able to compare cultures and languages as well as state their own opinions in both written and spoken forms

Students will be able to extrapolate meaning from authentic material from the foreign culture

Readings for cultural understanding
In class viewing of interviews, songs and documentar with comprehension questions as groups
Culture comparison presentation (of their own choosing)
Authentic reading comprehension of two songs
Human Dimensions

Students will be able to extrapolate which values matter most to different cultures by distinguishing the importance placed on varying aspects of the culture

Students will show respect for differing opinions by practicing good listening skills and an open mind

In class circle discussions
In class readings and research
Practicing respectful attitude during class interactions
Preparation and quality of argument during in class circle discussion
Original insight from the research, presented through means of their own choice
Caring

Students will be able to demonstrate an open mind regarding different family, wedding and work traditions by explaining and comparing them to their own culture

Graphic organizers to prepare for Group skits
Research worldwide variety of family and wedding traditions – compare without judging
In class discussions
Group skit
Learning how to learn

Students will be able to assess, appraise, reflect upon as well as score their participation, engagement level and leadership level when it comes to their own learning

Use the online platforms to review as needed and access extra help
Self advocate when they need help by coming to the round table to meet
Participate and show leadership in their group
Show up prepared and with an open mind and strong work ethic to invest in their own learning
Weekly Leadership assessment grade (they give themselves)
Weekly Engagement survey
Weekly round table meeting with teacher