Greetings! I teach French at a junior high school in California. In an effort to keep pushing my own practice, I’ve been looking for ways to infuse more technology into the classroom and not just for me in my presentations but also, and more importantly, for the students to utilize in their creation of content and exploration of the French language and the cultures that it represents. I have typically shied away from using technology due to limited access. At my present school, this is not a problem. Therefore, I decided to take a lesson that I always teach in French 1 about the family and update it by infusing technology into the unit.
These students are just beginning to explore the concept of family and how the meaning of family might be similar or different depending on our cultural backgrounds. They will be doing some cultural readings about family life in France and other parts of the French-speaking world, and they will, of course, learn French vocabulary for family members. In addition, they will also learning the verb être (to be) which is critical in describing people in the language. This unit is typically challenging for the students, as it forces them not only to focus on their subject verb agreement but also their adjective agreement and placement. This is becauase adjectives in French usually go after the nouns they modify and must agree with them in gender and number.
This topic is by no means new. This same information has been taught for hundreds of years. However, I recognize that students of today also need myriad opportunities to create and express themselves linguistically and in writing through the use of technology. They must be prepared for full participation in the relatively new (historically speaking) web-based information culture of which they are already a part.
By pure serendipity, the school district subscribed to Google Apps and purchased some Chromebook carts for all of the district’s schools last semester. As a staff, we have been receiving some training on the various applications available to us—in particular Google Docs and Google Slides. For the majority of our students, the Google Apps suite is very new. Because of this and since I wanted the students to create presentations on their own or a fictitious family of their choosing, utilizing Google Slides only seemed natural and logical.
I decided to create a lesson in which the students will create and present (in French of course) a Google Slides presentation about a family. They must use accurate French incorporating text with necessary accent marks while creating attractive slides that use pictures ad/or clip art to reenforce their meaning. I also created a web-based rubric to make how they will be graded more transparent for them. My lesson plan can be found here. The rubric used to grade them can be found here.
This lesson echoes the assertion of Thomas and Brown (2011) that “the new culture of learning focuses on engagement within the world” (p. 38). This is in direct contrast to a model where the teacher is teaching the students about the world. The French 1 students will be creating their own unique compositions in French through Google Slides. In addition, the lesson also addresses Hobb’s (2011) five core competencies of literacy practices: access, analyze, create, act, and reflect.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.