Yesterday was Tuesday and Teach it Tuesday just didn’t happen. It was my first day back to work after having a full week off (doctor’s orders) and then spring league outdoor volleyball started and then it was 9pm and I was ready for bed.
Today’s post is a combination of my usual Wednesday post with a Teach it Tuesday vibe and I am bursting to share it with you! Meaghan mentioned in her last post that although it’s only the beginning of May, she’s already feeling the “end of year push” we educators tend to experience. I can relate! While my science lessons are still going strong, my French lessons are rather dwindling. I have a few French teaching friends who claim that at this time of year French becomes especially challenging to teach because students are becoming increasingly distracted by sunshine and end of year activities. I guess this statement is true for all academic subjects, but I think the disengagement in French class happens almost over night because, let’s face it, a lot of students just “don’t like French”. I’m also only in my first year of teaching French and I have a lot to learn about it; therefore, my students’ lack of interest is definitely not the entire reason that French class has been falling a bit flat lately.
I will confess that lately I have been feeling rather uninterested and uninspired by French too. I knew I needed to whip something up that would fuel our French fires and carry us through a few more weeks of quality lessons. Enter the recycling and revamping of an age-old French project: The Vacation to a French Speaking Country.
I had so much fun planning this project on Monday night; I pulled myself off the couch and got really into it for an hour and a half. I took an idea a teacher friend of mine found for free on Teachers Pay Teachers (thanks, Tom!), but I changed it around and added all kinds of my own details. This project is a “Franglais” kind of project – the reading/writing is done in English, but the topic of study is a French speaking city/country where culture is largely the focus. Check it out:
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For this project you will need access to actual travel information (think: Travelocity.ca, The Lonely Planet, etc.) You will plan a trip, based on accurate information, for at least three days to a city in a country in the French speaking world. The information should be written up as if you were creating an itinerary for a person to actually take the trip. The information should include the following:
- Airfare (cost per person) and airline /2
- 2 hotel prices/names /2
- daily schedule/itinerary /10
- description of 5 tourist attractions /10
- 3 restaurant reservations including menu (breakfast, lunch, dinner) /6
- background information of the city (history, etc.) /5
- plans for transportation /5
- various maps of the city (including transit maps) /5
- special events happening during your trip /5
Some examples of French speaking countries you might be interested in traveling to:
*remember, you need to choose a specific city within the country of your choice
- Côte d’Ivoire
- French Polynesia
- Saint Lucia
This project will be marked using the 4 point scale for expectations (1 = not yet meeting, 2 = minimally meeting, 3 = meeting, 4 = exceeding). Presentation and layout of your information is very important, for example, you might want to create a brochure to keep all your details organized. The information you gather is also very important – be original and unique with this trip planning process. Try to avoid copying and pasting directly from the internet – add your own touch to the trip! You are creating the vacation of a lifetime; really make sure you’re selling this trip by adding as much detail and creativity as you can.
Note: I also created a note taking sheet to go along with this assignment.
Unsurprisingly, I happen to be an extreme planner when it comes to vacations. I used my folder of France related travel documents (ticket stubs, plane tickets, baggage receipts, museum pamphlets, Metro maps, etc.) from 2012 as a demo project and I spent almost the entire French block introducing this project to my class. I think they are actually excited about it because I am really excited about it! I may have just defied one major middle school rule: “If you pretend something is cool, they will hate it and vice versa”.
Some of my students have traveled outside of Canada, so they have a slight idea about how this whole travel planning process works. Others have never been on an airplane before! I think that learning how to read a public transportation map, book a flight, coordinate travel plans and dates and create a stellar vacation itinerary are really important, applicable life skills. When I was 16 and going to school in Germany I visited a friend in Vienna for three weeks. Keep in mind I come from a small town that (still) has a barely functioning transit system, so rapid transport, in this case the UBahn, was definitely a new experience for me. Within a matter of days I had that entire system sorted out and I can remember how accomplished I felt…it’s a good thing, knowing how to get from one’s apartment to the closest H&M. I share these kinds of life stories with my students because what it all comes down to is that I just hope they grow up to be good, kind and adventurous humans who positively contribute to the world. Traveling broadens horizons and has only ever taught me lessons that have served to shape me into the person I am now.
The introduction to The Vacation to a French Speaking Country project ended with a comment by one of my students. She said, “Two of my friends an I have already started a list of our favourite countries, including Switzerland and the Bahamas, and we want to travel there during our gap year before college”.
I consider this a partial mission accomplished. French class is exciting again!