Projects combine well with language use

Fr 7 Shoebox room

Since the methodology I employ is about creating stories with student input, each story is completely personal to the class.  As a result, interest remains high because of their ownership.  I’m in a project-based school, so anytime I can add a hands-on, crafty classroom activity to the story mix, the students like it.

Last week I needed sub plans for when I took the 8th grade class to Québec.  This shoebox project was the perfect content for a substitute to monitor.

Before the Christmas/Winter holidays we had been working with some actual facts about Napoléon, intertwined with creative touches about what ‘he was REALLY like’ (per the students).  We then moved to writing and filming the wedding reception for Napoléon and his bride Joséphine.

In January, we invented a story of Joséphine living in her château and which of the many rooms was her favorite (la salle de bain – the bathroom).  Then I threw in the monkey wrench that she had lost something.  This got the kids using ‘elle a perdu’ – she lost.

I let them compete in pairs for the quirkiest item she had misplaced.  They voted on their peer’s suggestion of Napoléon’s favorite hat with the pink feather plume.

Here is where the shoebox-sub plan entered in.  The week before my Québec trip I had them pick a room to construct.  Students brought in a shoebox and their supplies ahead of time. During the week they looked up 5 logical items to label in French and place in their room.

Monday, my first day back, we went over how to say all those directional adverbial phrases like ‘behind/next to/under…’ etc.

Then yesterday, they presented their shoe-box rooms to their classmates and continued the story.  “Joséphine lost the X and looked for it in her Y room.  She looked next to the A, but it wasn’t there.  So she looked in front of the B, but….and so on…finally she left the room.”

What was wonderful and unexpected was that one girl decided on her own to place the lost object IN her room and asked to present last.  So we had a logical conclusion to the story.

For me and for the students it was a delightful project.   Today in class as a follow-on, I plan on rehearsing the whole story together and reviewing the location phrases.  We might do a pop quiz on the English meaning of the phrases, just for kicks and to keep them on their toes.


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