AATF Technology Commission

Idea of the Month

February 2011 by Jemé Sutton

This is probably not new to most of you, but sometimes we forget things that we have used successfully in the past.  Use your projector or Smartboard to play “La Tapette.” Project pictures of vocabulary words onto the board.  The teacher calls out a vocabulary word in French or its English translation (if words are used instead of images) and the students try to “taper la mouche.” (Fly swatter activity) The first student to hit the correct word/image with the fly swatter hands off the ‘tapette’ to another player.  Play continues until all students have had a chance to participate.  Students can also take turns calling vocabulary for practice speaking and words that are not there can be called.  If a word/image is not projected the student must say, “Je ne le vois pas!” If they are right, they win the point.

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Fall 2010 by Jason Bagley

Delve into the legends and superstitions of different areas of France! This is a great site to use to teach superstition vocabulary, and a way to make comparisons to legends and folklore that is more known by American students. What a fun way to learn culture, make comparisons, and get off the normal pedagogical path! 


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May 2010 by Cherie Pettersen

Les Zrofs   [in their own words...]
Les Zrofs sont nés en juin 2008 grâce... à "la chanson du dimanche".  
L'envie de faire une chanson sur les profs, chaque mois.
Pour rigoler et faire rigoler. Pour ne surtout pas céder à la morosité ambiante.
A couple of very creative and musical teachers from "somewhere in Paris"  The name Zrofs  is apparently a contraction of Zorro and Profs - hence their "tenue".

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April 2010 by Marie Schein

A Semester-Long You Tube/Teacher Tube Video Project:


Intermediate to Advanced


One semester (Note: This project is only one aspect of the curriculum during any given semester.)


Access to a computer lab and video cameras.

Students will need to read and follow the online step-by-step instructions for Movie Maker or iMovie.


Some experience with Movie Maker and/or iMovie will allow you to assist your students through the process of storyboarding, filming, capturing, editing, and rendering the film for You Tube or Teacher Tube.

Skills practiced:

Speaking and Writing primarily, although Listening and Reading play a part in the acting and editing stages of the project.


Team project


Envisioned as a capstone project at the end of the second year of French, it can be modified to fit any Intermediate to Advance course at the secondary or college level.  You can set the parameters of this assignment to incorporate as many or as few objectives as you wish. 

This film project does offer a unique opportunity to review and practice grammar, develop writing skills in a creative writing context, improve pronunciation and clarity of output, explore the culture, and have some fun with an assignment that can be used as an alternative to the typical composition, research project, or verbal communication exam.  Seeing their films on the web is a plus factor that tends to trigger motivation.

For this particular 2-to-3-minute “feature film” project, students write a script with 3 or 4 characters and play the roles they have created.  The film must incorporate a common topic of conversation in French and use key verb tenses such as subjonctif, futur, et conditionnel  to share one’s opinion, talk about the future or imagine possibilities.  Students imagine a scenario based on a plausible discussion among friends at a café in France or in a Francophone country.  Suggested topics include politics, sports, plans for summer vacation, employment/unemployment issues, going green. 

Organization and Time Table:

(Note:  This project is time consuming, and your students may need your help to create a strict schedule of meetings to plan, film, and edit.)

 Stage 1:  The Proposal (2 weeks)

Students choose a topic, the specific film location, and draft a scenario.  They post their proposal in a wiki or a discussion thread to allow feedback from other teams.

Stage 2: The Storyboard (2 weeks)

Once you approve their proposal, students plan and sketch the storyline on a storyboard handout.  Plan at least one revision of the storyboard.

Stage 3: The Script (3 weeks)

Students begin to develop what will become a 3-to-4-page script of the dialogue and setting. Establish a revision schedule and at least one face-to-face meeting with each team to coach students through the writing process.

Stage 4: Making the film (3 weeks)

a) Recording:

Students record the scenes of their film.  This portion of the assignment takes a long time because students must first learn their parts before they can begin to film. You may want to schedule rehearsals to help your students with their pronunciation and elocution before they start recording.

b) Capturing:

Capturing refers to the actual act of downloading the recording in the computer and creating scenes in the storyboard in Movie Maker or iMovie.   At this stage, enlisting the help and support of colleagues who are very experienced in making online movie will be useful.  Schedule class in the computer lab.

Students should buy a 2G flash drive to store their movie.

c) Editing-Post Production:

Students may need to add or delete footage in their film.  Keep in mind that to produce a 2-to-3-minute You Tube video, your students may need to record a minimum of 2 or 3 hours of footage.

Stage 5: Previewing and Rendering the Film (1 class session)

This is the final stage of the project.  When all revisions have been made, students can follow the step-by-step directions in Movie Maker or iMovie to uploading their film in You Tube or Teacher Tube.

(Note:  If you choose Teacher Tube, the films may not post immediately because each submission must be cleared before it is allowed on the site.)

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January 2010 - Exploring the French Press by Audra Merfeld-Langston


  • familiarize students with various French-language news sources.
  • develop students’ awareness of varying cultural perspectives that influence reactions to world events and news reporting.
  • encourage students to follow international events in both English and non-English-language news sources.
  • compare and contrast French-language news sources with news sources from a student’s home country.

 Language level: This activity can be adapted for any level. Beginner students can focus on areas like layout, images, front page stories, and basic ‘construction’ of the online news source. Intermediate and advanced students will be able to concentrate more on the content and objectivity/subjectivity of articles.

 Length of activity: This activity could be completed in one class period or extended over several days or weeks (and assigned as homework), depending on the level of the class and the objectives of the teacher.

 To begin, you will need to decide what questions you would like students to address (see below for sample questions). If you plan to have students work on this during class, you will need to use a computer classroom. At the beginning of class, you may want to spend some time briefly introducing students to various online French-language news sources. Then, allow students to spend time exploring one or more websites. Encourage them to take notes on their findings, which they will later report either orally (class discussion or individual presentations) or in the form of blogs.

Here are some online French news sources:

Sample activity questions:

  • What are the different sections of the newspaper/magazine?
  • What kinds of events are covered?
  • What kinds of images accompany the stories?
  • What kinds of products are advertised? What does this reveal about the readership?
  • What are the top news stories?
  • Does the news source have an option for readers to post comments? If so, what kinds of comments do readers post?
  • What percentage of the articles seems to focus on local or regional news? national news? international news?
  • For each of the above questions: how does this compare to how information is presented in news sources from students’ home countries? What does this reveal about cultural similarities and differences?

Expansion activities for more advanced students:

  • Choose a news topic, such as a current debate or an international event, and have students read articles about the topic in two or three different news sources. Ask students to assess how the topic is treated in the sources. Can they detect a political leaning? Explain.
  • Have students choose a subject area or a specific news story and follow its development for several weeks. They could write journals or post blogs about their findings and reactions. They could also give brief oral presentations in class.

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December 2009 - Jing by Gay Rawson 

Using Jing: http://www.jingproject.com/

Jing is a program that lets you share screenshots of your computer and record videos of your onscreen action that are quickly and easily shareable with the world via a specific URL on the web that the program creates for you, instant messaging, and email.  The basic version is free.  The full version, called Camtasia, is also a wonderful program but one that you would have to purchase.  I use Camtasia at work and have Jing at home.  Jing is limited, especially compared to the full version, but was easy to use and functional.

I used Jing one day when I knew I had to be absent from class at the last minute.  I needed my class to work on a simulation but I needed to lay out the ground rules before they could start.  I recorded my screen as I narrated a PowerPoint presentation and then I sent them a URL of this file (had to be under 5 or 10 minutes I believe).  They then had audio and video of what they needed to do and were able to watch / listen to this file and complete the assignment.  They could watch it over and over again as needed.  I use this tool to make short video tutorials of how to do certain kinds of technology applications for my classes: I have a video about logging in to our blog, adding photos to our wiki, etc.   The students see my screen as I narrate what I am doing.  I dream of using this tool to create a video library of commonly asked questions that students could access outside of class when they want to review the passé compose or vocabulary words, hear the fairy tale we are studying again, or remind themselves about certain cultural notes.

Classroom applications abound:  Since it is a free download that works on PCs and Macs, you could have students record a presentation in the target language (with images from their screen) and send the link to the class.  It allows students to record themselves and hear it / revise it before submitting it to you  / the class.  For the presentational mode of communication, the applications are obvious but I also think it can work with interpersonal and interpretive modes as well.  Students can peer-edit each other’s draft Jing presentations before they do a live one in front of the class.  They can be assigned watching / listening to presentations from others.  This tool helps teachers achieve ACTFL’s Communication standard, in all three modes, in ways that are effective, fun, innovative, and appealing to today’s learners. 

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November 2009 - Using Allocine.fr to Learn About Current French Cinema by Denise Hamwey Wagstaff

The Web site, http://www.allocine.fr, is a great resource for teaching students about movies currently playing in France. The information on this site can be used to teach vocabulary, teach time and dates (interpreting movie schedules), practice reading comprehension (read movie summaries and comments from critics/viewers), practice listening skills (listening to a bande annonce in French) and to learn about culture (What kinds of movies typically play in a French theater?  Why do so many American movies play in France?  Why do the titles of foreign movies often change?  Who are some important French actors/actresses?, etc.).

There are many ways to use this site, at all levels of language. The following activity is one that has been used in a French 2 class at the high school level, as it follows the vocabulary theme of Ch. 1 in the textbook Bon Voyage 2. Allocine activity:

Visit the Google Doc activity: http://goo.gl/Z3C2d


October 2009 - Partner Projects by Paul Kueffner

Sauter les Haies avec la Technologie

 La raison d'être d'une langue est de communiquer.  Apprendre une langue sans l'utiliser pour communiquer est illogique.  C'est à cause de ceci que chaque année je cherche huit classes francophones avec lesquelles mes huit classes de français débutant puissent échanger les emails.   Nous commençons avec les descriptions de nous mêmes pour nous introduire et pour travailler un peu notre français.  Souvent nos classes correspondantes nous envoient des photo-portraits des élèves sur une page avec leurs descriptions sur une autre, et il nous faut deviner qui est qui.  Ce serait bien d'en faire autant, de notre coté, mais notre administration nous interdit d'envoyer des photos des élèves par email.  Pour contourner ce problème nous avons une solution qui reçoit non seulement la bénédiction de l'administration, mais aussi les kudos pour ses liens interdisciplinaires.

Puisque il nous est interdit d'envoyer les photos des élèves par l'Internet, j'invite les professeurs d'art dans notre bâtiment pour nous donner les idées des possibilités des autoportraits.  Ils arrivent avec les exemples de Picasso, Rousseau, Van Gogh, et autres, et ils distribuent le matériel : papier, pinceaux, peintures, crayons, pastels, feutres; tout ce qu'il nous faut pour laisser sortir les imaginations.  Au bout de deux périodes d'une d'demi-heure chaque, ils sont presque finis.  On a des résultats en Cubiste, Pointiiste, Réaliste, Fauviste, Impressionniste, et toutes les Néo…istes  aussi.  C'est absolument fantastique, et les images ressemblent aux enfants artistes, sans être des photographies. 

Quand ils sont secs et finis, nous mettons les tableaux dans un Scanneur pour faire les copies digitales.  Ensuite j'en fais un dossier PowerPoint avec un autoportrait sur chaque page.  Bof, vous dites, rien de nouveau là, et vous auriez raison.  En finir là serait vieux jeu.   Le truc intéressant, et ce que pas mal ignorent, c'est que PowerPoint vous permet d'enregistrer avec un microphone sur chaque page du dossier.  Après l'avoir créé, j'arrive en classe avec un microphone que je branche sur un ordi.  J'appelle le premier élève à venir et à dire les phrases descriptives que nous avons préparé à l'avance comme: "Je m'appelle Nathalie."  "J'ai neuf ans." "J'ai les cheveux noirs et longs.""J'ai les yeux bleues." "J'ai un frère et une sœur." "Je suis petite et intelligente."  Evidemment, les phrases peuvent varier selon les capacités de tes élèves, mais chaque élève finit par faire sa propre description sur son propre autoportrait.  Pour l'entendre, il faut simplement cliquer sur le haut parleur qui apparaît sur l'écran. 

J'envoie les dossiers préparés ainsi à chacune des huit classes que nous avons comme partenaires, et ils en sont éblouis.  Nous aussi, nous en sommes très fiers.  

C'est formidable comme projet, motivant pour les élèves, et pas difficile à faire.

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March 2009 - Producing Language with Voicethread Technology by Jason Bagley

Level: Any
Materials needed: Computer, Internet Access, Microphone
Idea:  Students (and teachers) can practice oral or written language
output using a voice thread.

Using the website http://www.voicethread.com, teachers can create an account
and have identities under each student under their own account, or have
students create their own account to participate with. Remember,
however, that if you use a school email address, teacher will have more
storage space.

Teachers can select a prompt, such as a picture, video, or other
authentic document as the focal point, or purpose for the voice thread.
Then students may comment with an oral or short written prompt. Once the
assignment is complete, the teacher can publish the voice thread, and if
the option is chose, other French speakers can comment on the thread,
creating an interactive environment!

Check out the voice threads on the website www.voicethread.com and do a
search for French to see what colleagues are doing and to get some great
ideas. Some great ideas are reaction to a literature piece, describing a
room or a person, introductions, etc.

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February 2009 - “A picture is worth…”: Telling Their Stories With Photos in Power Point by Marie Schein


a)   To invite Second Semester students to create a narrative that brings them to use passé composé and imparfait in a real world context.

b)   To give them an opportunity to create a continuous story in the past that will develop over a period of several weeks.

c)   To engage them in peer review

d)   To give them an opportunity to work on pronunciation and intonation

Tools needed: At least four but not more than 10 digital photos of a trip, family vacation, special event of which the students were a part.

Access to a language lab, Power Point, and Audacity

Length of project: The entire project can be accomplished in 4 to 5 weeks, but weekly outcomes can insure that students complete one phase of the project and submit it for a grade.  This project may or may not develop over a period of 4 to 5 consecutive weeks, depending on where and when the passé composé and imparfait are introduced in your First Year textbook.


To coach the students through this project, plan on meeting for class in the language lab. Prior to the first class meeting, ask your students to select their digital photos and be prepared to access them in the lab.  Provide a written set of instructions, detailing the step-by-step and week-by-week schedule of tasks and deadlines.


Each slide of this Power Point photo narrative must include a title and a two-sentence caption (for the first week), using passé composé and imparfait with a variety of verbs requiring AVOIR and ÊTRE.  Every week, new goals will yield new content.  The recorded narrative must be audible, and comprehensible.  Background music may be incorporated.

Week 1

Students pick the layout of the first 4 slides.   Typically at this point, they can only describe brief events in the past but they cannot describe setting or people since they have not studied imparfait.

Students work on developing simple sentences to narrate the slides.  I pair them and ask them to read each other’s sentences for clarity.  For this assignment, I ask them to use only the French they have learned so far even if it means that they will have to modify their thoughts and not say as much about each photo as they would want.

Once the students are happy with the captions, they begin recording the narration.  First, they use Audacity to practice, listen, and record again until they are comfortable with their performance.  I listen to them and give them feedback.  Peer listening and feedback activities can be added to the class collaboration. Then, they record the narration directly into their Power Point.

Week 2:

Schedule a second session in the lab to revisit the original story and ask students to add one or two sentences to each slide.  Students may create new slides to accommodate additional photos.

They edit their recording to reflect the new caption.

Week 3: 

Although the presentation of imparfait may not always directly follow the passé composé, many textbooks introduce it two to three weeks after passé composé.  At that point, return to the language lab and invite students to begin adding details to their stories that describe the setting and the friends or family members featured in the photos, using imparfait.  Students can record their new narration and imbed it in the Power point.

Again, peer review is part of the process for both the text and the audio.

Week 4:

By then the story has grown into a fairly substantial narrative.  Students can edit the slide design and revise their text.  The peer review session of the fourth week offers a chance to impact the coherence of the text.  It is time to incorporate transition words, check the logical development of the narrative, move slides and/or captions to construct a better chronology.

Students work on the audio component.

Publishing the Story:

If you use a course management tool such as Blackboard, eCollege or others, you can create a space where your students will publish their presentation.  I have used Power Point for this assignment, but recently at a conference, I attended a workshop about making stories in a more high tech style, using PhotoStory for Windows 3 to create the story, then, publish it YouTube.  It looked great, and I will try it this semester.

Possible Extension Activity in Week 5:  

This photo narrative can lead to a writing workshop extension activity.  Students focus on the story they have generated in Power Point and consider it as a composition in progress.  Schedule a series of lab sessions, assign teams of co-editors, and guide them through a typical writing workshop.   The photo narrative becomes the platform for the Second Semester composition assignment.

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September 2008 - Creative Writing in French by Jason Bagley

This month’s idea is a great (and free) way to promote creative writing while fostering an awareness of famous French art.

Have students use a daily journal, a composition notebook, or even notebook paper stapled together works fine. Each day project a copy of a famous Francophone masterpiece. The students must create a story to go with the work of art, explaining the background, why the subjects are the way they are portrayed, etc.

Give them about five minutes, as a bell ringer, to add to their story each day. Each day, the teacher collects the journals to give feedback so that students will learn from any mistakes that they made.
Everyone will enjoy the creative stories that are created, and be exposed to some of the world’s masterpieces.

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August 2008 - Movietalk! Comparing film genres and movies to boost conversation by Annalisa Mosca

 Objectives: practice of comparatives and practice of written and oral language skills

This activity can be done either as the preparation for or as the continuation of the in-class discussion. 

Modalities: for every discussion board (daily, weekly, etc.) the instructor gives the class an opposition of two movie genres. Some should be easy and obvious (les films romantiques vs. les films d'horreur) while others more difficult and not so evident (les films historiques vs. les film d'essai). On the discussion board the students should find similarities and differences for each of the given oppositions. The entire class can post on all of the oppositions or a few oppositions can be assigned per group of students. Also the instructor can have given categories "expire" after a certain so as to receive more immediate responses.

The activity can be modified by using actual films for the oppositions and proposing the film posters to students. In this case, I've had more success in presenting comparisons of films and remakes of francophone and American films of similar content (e.g.: Cyrano & Roxanne; The Professional & The Jackal; Mauvaise Foi & Jungle Fever/Save the Last Dance, etc.

Materials: forum discussion board or similar tool. Handout containing those oppositions, for the class discussion

Target language level: second or third semester proficiency (but can be adapted to any level, including beginner, depending on the teacher's desired outcome)

Time frame: at least one week outside of class.  One entire 50 min lesson for the actual discussion

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July 2008 - Create A Mini Oral Presentation Using Voki Speaking Avatar by  Denise Wagstaff (Melrose High School/Melrose, MA)

*Note:  students will need to create their own Voki account using a personal or school e-mail address

Voki is a free website which allows the user to both create a personalized avatar as well as record voice of up to 60 seconds.
This tool is a great way not only to use current technology, but to encourage students to speak French without having the fear of
presenting in front of the entire class and teacher.  The teacher can also embed the Vokis into a Web page or blog for further use of
current technologies.

There are many possibilities for using Voki at all levels of language.  The following lesson will describe how it can be used by beginning
language students (French 1/Elementary French) to introduce themselves to their classmates and/or teacher.  This lesson can be
done in a language lab or at home.  A computer is needed to create the avatar, while a cell phone or microphone can be used to
record the 60 seconds of voice.

Introducing Oneself Using Voki (French 1/Elementary French)

--After creating a Voki account, students will create a personal avatar.  The avatar can either reflect what they actually look like
(hair/eye color, dress, etc.) or can in some other way reflect their personality.  The purpose of the avatar is to give the students
the ability to creatively represent themselves.

--The next step is to create a voice for the avatar.  Students may only record up to 60 seconds, so the assignment must not be too lengthy.For example, a student introducing him/herself might start off by saying his/her name, then by describing his/her physical and personality traits (which are hopefully reflected in the avatar).

--When the Voki is finished (avatar + voice), the student must save it and then send it to the teacher's e-mail address.  This is an easy way to collect all student work.

--Upon receiving the links to student Vokis, the teacher can grade them at his/her convenience.  If the teacher has an interactive white board (such as a Smart Board), the different Vokis can be presented to the entire class (much like oral presentations). 

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June 2008 - Marketing to the world by Deb. Reisinger

Working in groups of 3-4, students create a digital marketing campaign geared toward a French or Francophone country.  Each group is assigned a product or service to market.  Based on the level of the course, products might represent existing items in a particular category (such as food or cars) or might be a variety of lesser-known or imaginary products (think Sky Mall). Building on their knowledge of French culture and basic marketing, students create a full-color magazine advertisement, a 30 second radio spot, and a 1-2 minute commercial (or a selection of these).  Projects are housed on a web site or server and presented to class as a formal group project.  These campaigns can be scaled up or down depending on class objectives and access to technology; while some classes might want to use iMovie to edit their digital commercials, for instance, others will prefer the ease of a Flipcam. 

Time frame: 2-3 weeks, depending on equipment used and desired depth of project

Language Level: Adaptable for all levels or for a business language course                                

Materials: Photoshop or equivalent for print ad; Audacity, Garageband or other free recording software for the radio spot; and a digital video camera or Flipcam for the commercial. 


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May 2008 - Le "Club des Internautes" avec Skype by Paul Kueffner, Cider Mill School

 Mes élèves de 4th et 5th Grade sont passionnés par les échanges que nous faisons avec le Skype. (www.Skype.com) Il s'agit d'un logiciel qui transmet les paroles, vidéos et documents entre deux ou plusieurs partenaires par moyen de l'Internet en temps réel.  Skype permet notre groupe à Connecticut de faire des vidéoconférences d'une demi-heure avec une classe en France gratuitement.   Nous nous arrangeons pour les séances environ une fois par mois, parce qu'il faut nous préparer -- mes élèves ne sont que les débutants en langue française. Pour trouver les classes en France (ou au ailleurs, comme le Canada) qui veulent parler, il faut utiliser l'annuaire disponible en Skype.  Vous indiquez le pays voulu, et je mets "école" dans la formule à chercher, sous le nom. Les profs avec des élèves plus avancés pourraient mettre "collège" ou "lycée".  L'annuaire donne les contacts possibles qui ont le mot voulu, et il faut leur envoyer un petit message pour voir s'ils seraient intéressés à vous parler. Si oui, il faut déterminer à quelle heure les échanges auront lieu.  Pour nous, il y a un décalage horaire de 6 heures avec la France. Les "Internautes" arrivent à mon école à 07h30, et nous contactons nos amis près de Nantes, où il est 13h30.Pendant une trentaine de minutes nous nous posons les questions (genre "Quel temps fait-il?; Quel sport préférez-vous?" etc.) Souvent on parle d'une fête - comme le Halloween, ou Ground Hog's Day, que les Français ne connaissent pas bien.  Parfois on chante une chanson française (Frère Jacques) ou on leur apprend une chanson américaine comme "On Top of Spaghetti". (On peut envoyer les paroles écrites en pièce-jointe.)  Nous avons apporté nos goûters favoris, et les exemples de nos hobbies.  Et, bien sûr, nos partenaires français, font de même de leur coté.  Un jour, nous avons montré devant la caméra comment se fait un sandwich Peanut Butter & Jelly.  Les agonies qu'ont émises la classe française quand ils nous ont vu le MANGER m'ont indiqué combien cette façon de communiquer est utile et efficace.   Essayez-le! 

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April 2008 - Save the Planet: Project Hand-outs on Whiteboard by D. Trudeau

If you dislike whiteboards but love the planet, here is one advantage of whiteboards over traditional blackboards: they can be turned into write-on projection screens. If you use transparencies, project them on the whiteboard and do your exercises normally, with the additional possibility of writing on the whiteboard. All types of exercises usually done on paper or using transparencies can be done this way: grammar and vocabulary, composition, pronunciation, cultural facts; fill in the blanks, mix and match, short answers, etc. If your classroom is equipped with a computer projector, take one step beyond to save the planet: project directly from the computer onto the whiteboard. This will save you the work of having to print out transparencies and the tedious task of putting them away after class. Another great advantage of computer projection on whiteboard is that texts and pictures can be easily edited or updated as needed, without wasting paper.


To teach the elision of mute “e”, I use “Le Poinçonneur des Lilas” by S. Gainsbourg. I project a version of the song without elisions on the whiteboard, and I play the song at the same time. The students have to find where there are elisions and when the composer purposely avoided them. We do the first two lines altogether, then each student comes to the whiteboard to do one line. We then discuss the rules that have been applied, and other phonetic changes (i.e. consonant assimilation) related to the elision of mute “e.”

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March 2008 - Biography of a French artist by Jason Bagley

Task: Students will create a biography of a French artist.

Ability level: All levels

Technology: Microsoft PhotoStory (Power Point can also be used)

Assignment: Students will use PhotoStory to “teach the class” about a French artist. They may include things like biographical information, characteristics of the artistic movement to which they belong, and examples of works.

Things to note: PhotoStory is a free download from www.microsoft.com. This assignment allows students to narrate in French, practice citation skills, and extend learning on an art unit from class.

Equipment needed: computer, PhotoStory, microphone, access to the Internet or examples of works of art

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February 2008 - Etudions à l’étranger ! by  Stéphanie Roulon and Geraldine Blattner


This is a semester-long wiki and blog-based project designed for beginners and intermediate students of French, which utilizes a computer-mediated classroom (at least once a week), and is made up of seven different components, all of which must be completed in teams of two continuously throughout the semester.  The objectives of this program’s activities are: 1) introduce students to creating, using and maintaining a wiki and a blog, 2) to acquaint students with the formalities of study abroad, 3) to prepare them for immersion in the French language and various Francophone cultures, 4) to promote basic cultural awareness, and 5) to encourage the development of language awareness in a specific context. 

Contents :

1)  A la découverte du monde francophone !

Language:  French

Content:  One detailed map, exploring all possible options for French study abroad programs available at your institution.  After researching and identifying each

Francophone region, ask students to provide a 100-word description (in French) of each location and post it to the class wiki.  At the end of each group’s entry, be sure to remind students to provide a link to the map and each of the websites they consulted in their research. 

Useful Links:



2)  On fait de la pub !

Language :  French

Content : After consulting the class wiki and selecting a program, students create a poster, any size, in an electronic format, which includes the following information :  country, city, host institution and provider, what semester(s) the program is offered, who it’s ideally suited for, whether or not there’s an internship available, the primary courses that are offered, the language in which the classes are conducted, the housing arrangement, and the eligibility requirements.  Students should provide a brief description of their group’s poster, as well as a link to the document itself, in their group’s blog.   

***list all websites and resources from which information was obtained.

Useful Link:


3)  Jouons aux cartes !

Language:  French

Content:  One illustrated map, any size, in an electronic format, which reveals the regional specialties, main agricultural products, monuments, customs, etc., through its illustrations.  Be sure to ask students to  include a key somewhere on the map, wherein each illustration is defined, and create a short description and link the map in their blog.  

Useful Links:

http://www.google.fr                                                                 http://www.yahoo.fr

http://www.wanadoo.fr                                                             http://www.voila.fr

http://french.about.com                                                             http://www.linternaute.com

***list all websites and resources from which information was obtained.

4)  On se fait un resto !     

Language:  French

Content:  After the in-class screening of different restaurant scenes (i.e. L’aile ou la

Cuisse, Le placard), visit http://paris.planresto.fr and click on “découvrir” (in the upper right-hand corner). Watch and listen to several of the video / sound clips presenting various restaurants.  Then students create their own establishment and menu, offering 3 choices for each course (3 entrées, 3 plats principaux, 3 desserts, 3 vins). They should design a name for your restaurant, and include typical regional cuisine on the menu, as well as some original dishes.

Now they want their restaurant to be featured on http://paris.planresto.fr, so they must  digitally record a video presentation of it (following the models) that lasts approximately 2-3 minutes.  Link their video to their blog along with a short description of the restaurant (i.e. location, specialties, hours).

Useful Links:



***list all websites and resources from which information was obtained.

5)  La paperasserie ! 

Language :  French

Content :  2 pages. Go to the French Embassy website and print out the application They would need for a visa to study abroad for six months.  Fill it out in its entirety for a fictional character of their choosing, making sure to include a passport-sized photo. 

Useful Link:


***list all websites and resources from which information was obtained.

6)  Vous. Moi. Toît !

Language :  French

Length :  1 page

Content :  Students look at apartment adds online in French (preferably in the same region as their program).  They choose 3 that they would rent and explain in a paragraph that they will post on their group blog why they have chosen them.  (Don’t forget to include photos and/or links, if available).  Then, they carefully look through the announcements for roommates on http://www.colocation.fr/homepage.php.  Pick 3 that you would consider living with and explain your reasons in a paragraph (also posted to the blog).  Finally, write an announcement of your own and post it directly on the website. 

Useful Links:



***list all websites from which information was obtained.

7)  Voici notre blog !

Language :  French

Length :  10 minutes

Contents :  Imagine that they’ve just completed this study-abroad adventure.  Students share what they liked and learned about it in an oral presentation to the class, incorporating the material in their group’s blog (maps, posters, photos, links, etc.)  After each group presentation, each class member must post their impressions of the other groups’ projects (i.e. what did you like, dislike, learn, want to know more about) on the class wiki.  Be sure to include at least 3 discussion questions with your comments. 

Project will be graded on cultural accuracy, originality, creativity, presentation, comprehensibility, and grammatical and lexical accuracy.

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January 2008 - Using Podcasts and Videocasts to Evaluate Speaking/Pronunciation Skills by Maria Schein

If you are looking for a different way to evaluate speaking skills through non-traditional activities, Audacity, iMovie for Macs, and Movie Maker for Windows XP can help. 

Try asking students to make an audio and/or video cast in lieu of an in-class task.  For example, at the beginning of the semester, you may ask your students to prepare a 5-minutes self-portrait to share with you and their peers.  They can download Audacity for free and produce a WAV or MP3 file that can be easily sent as an attachment to an e-mail or posted in a drop box, if you are using Web CT, Blackboard, or eCollege.  You may want them to produce a video presentation instead.  Check out the equipment available to you in your Computer Lab or Language Lab.  Both PCs and Macs have video making tools such as a iMovie and Movie Maker.  Many Macs have a built-in camera, but you can also invest in a few inexpensive eyeball cameras that hook up directly on the computer monitor.  Students can produce a short video and send it or post it in the location you specify.

Try recording your evaluation, using the same tools, to provide your students with personalized and communicative feedback.  Your students will receive more than advice to improve their pronunciation, they will be able to hear and see you demonstrate.

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December 2007 Classic Fairy Tales by Annalisa Mosca

Let’s create our own class fairy tale!

Objectives: practice, usage and review of the imparfait versus passé composé.

The class fairy tale can also be used to review other grammar (which will come out in the students’ writing) especially the use of the following: discours direct/indirect, les phrases passives, les pronoms relatifs, le plusqueparfait, la concordance des temps de verbes.

Modalities: the instructor begins a fairy tale with the classic “Il était une fois...” and writes a very first line/paragraph of the tale, making sure to include a strange twist.  Each student then continues the class fairy tale on the electronic discussion board.

Example of my beginning (used in my class): Il était une fois un lieu magique, la Frafantasie.  Notre héro, Gamin, y était arrivé. Mais une chose bizarre s'était passée: pendant le voyage il est devenu un chat, et on l'appelait maintenant ... ??

Materials: forum discussion board or simply paper (it’s more fun on the discussion board)

Target language level: third semester proficiency (but can be adapted to any level)

Time frame: one week outside of class on the discussion board, for the specific writing activity and its discussion of the imparfait versus passé composé.  You may choose to read the class’s fairy tale during a class period and act it out.

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November 2007 - Les regions de France by Denise Wagstaff

Create a PowerPoint travelogue project in which students “visit” various regions of France.  This project includes both pictures/photos as well as a writing component.

Objectives: to increase cultural awareness of the diversity of the regions of France; to give students the opportunity to express themselves in written French using a variety of tenses (future, passé composé/imparfait)

Time frame: 4-6 weeks (can be done entirely at home or partially during class time)

Language Level: intermediate (this project is best suited for a French 3 or 4 class)

Materials: PowerPoint

To access a description of the project & grading rubric, please go to:


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October 2007 Creating e-stories by Deb. Reisinger

Objectives: Students create personalized online slideshows with photos and voice overlay to demonstrate language abilities.

Time frame: Technology is very user friendly, so most work can be done outside of class.  Professor can create sample project to show in class, then students can work outside of class on projects.  Final project can be shared online using Web 2.0 sites such as Flickr, submitted to a central course management system for viewing, or displayed in class like a film festival. 

Language Level: Beginning to advanced.  For beginning levels, students can create photo stories of their families or dorm life.  At more advanced levels, students might narrate a personal story, describe their city, summarize an historical event, or frame a debate. 

Materials: Students need access to digital photos (personal or otherwise) and to the internet. Some user-friendly sites for creating photo or slide stories include Microsoft’s Photostory and Flickr.

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September 2007 by: Monique Navelet  

Idea #1

Computer project: Creating a comic strip.

Age Appropriate from 2nd grade up with modifications.

Technical knowledge requirements:

Power Point, scanning and internet research.

Pedagogical Benefits:

Students spend time reading, writing and speaking French.

1.      Choose a poem or a short story which can be illustrated

2.    Each student is in charge of illustrating  one or two sentences or a paragraph depending on the age of the students.

3.    The pictures are scanned in the computer For elementary school the teacher scans for Middle and High  schools the students scan

4.    Each student creates a Power Point Slide with the picture and the text.

5.    The slides are merged together for the final product to be shown to other sections.

6.    During the presentation the students read their sentence or their paragraph.

7.    If the students say that they cannot draw they can import pictures from the Internet.

This the simplest of the computer projects I have undertaken and it works quite well.

When and if you have technological support you can use Clicker 5 or Microworlds and have the students create their own games on the computer.

You can also use Imovies to obtain the same results. The students are acting out the poem or the story.

This would be a whole year project.

PowerPoint presentation created by my second graders at the Hewitt school is linked here.

Here is a link to another PowerPoint with lots of great links for French. Click here!


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September 2007 by Jason Bagley

 Idea #2

Target Culture: French

Language Level: Elementary to low Intermediate

Time Involved: 30-45 minutes

Objective: Students will work within a budget and go on a virtual shopping spree. They will then describe what they “purchased”.

Materials Needed: Internet

Description of Activity:

Students will be given a set budget (ex. 150 euros). They will then visit a French shopping or catalog site, such as www.3suisses.fr .  They will create an outfit within their budget and to their taste. When they are done, they can either make an oral presentation of their outfit, or write a paragraph, whatever goal you might want to accomplish.   If students have money left over, you might want to have them tell the class what they will do with it.

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April 2007 - Using Bandes annonces for oral testing  by Deb Reisinger

Target Culture: French and/or Francophone culture

Language Level: Elementary through Advanced

Time involved:  30 minutes for initial exercises which can then be replicated and completed outside of class as homework

Objectives: Developing oral comprehension and production skills, becoming familiar with French culture and cinema.


*      http://www.allocine.fr/ (Internet access with streaming capabilities)

*       Language lab with recording program such as Audacity (available for free download at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) and microphone OR iPod with microphone

*       Website to upload or send electronic files

Description of Activity:

Students will watch the trailer for a French film and record answers to basic questions.  To do a pre-listening warm-up activity, have students look at the affiche du film and describe what they see.  Then ask students to watch the bande-annonce (trailer).  After the first viewing, pose 3 questions for them to think about while they watch it the second time.  Based on the level of your students and the grammar and vocabulary you have been studying, some questions might be: Décrivez un des personnages que vous avez vu.  De quoi s’agit-il dans le film?  Quelle est l’intrigue?  Quel type de film est-ce (un film d’amour? un drame? un western?) et comment le savez-vous?  Est-ce que vous avez envie de voir le film?  Pourquoi oui ou non?  Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé dans la bande-annonce? Décrivez les enjeux culturels que vous remarquez.  etc.  You can either create a link to the trailer and copy/paste the movie poster into a course management site such as Blackboard OR have students navigate through the site itself.  [Students enjoy watching English-language films dubbed, so it’s fun to show them something like the Spiderman 3 trailer, but for the purposes of the activity, direct them to a francophone film.]  After they have viewed the trailer a second time, pose each question again, this time giving students 30 seconds to think about their answer and then 1 minute to record before going on to the next question.  They can do this in a language lab using a program such as Audacity, Divace, or Soundforge or an iPod and Belkin recorder.  After recording, they should upload sound files to your course management system, which you can review later.

Evaluation: How you evaluate this exercise will depend on your objectives, but the following breakdown has worked well: 40% communication (40%), grammar (20%), vocabulary (20%), accuracy of pronunciation (20%) and fluency (10%).

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March 2007 -  Creating a car Owner’s Manual using Microsoft Publisher by Kim Seferian.

Target Culture: France/Francophone Countries

Language Level: Intermediate (French III-Honors)

Time Frame: 4-5 45 minute sessions in a computer lab. The time frame can be adjusted to accommodate your needs to be a shorter or longer project.


Students will create an owner’s manual for a French car, demonstrating their knowledge of the imperative form of verbs and the subjunctive.


Computer with Internet Access

Microsoft Publisher (Template for activity)

Description of Activity:

Day 1:

Students will research the major French car manufacturers on the web for images and information on the car model that they wish to highlight in their manual.




Students will work on the cover of their manual, where they choose an image, display the make and model, as well as identifying information.

If students complete this, they can start on page two, where they choose an image of their car, and begin labeling ten items on the car.

Day 2:

Students will label the 10 items of their choice on their car. Students will need to be familiar with how to use a dictionary so that they correctly label the car. Some students may find car vocabulary on the Internet.


Students will work on pages 3-4 of their manual. In this section, they will create statements on how to care for the car. Teachers may alter this section to fit whatever their learning objectives are. I chose to have students complete 5 sentences using the imperative, and 5 using the subjunctive.

Day 4:

Students will edit their manuals for accuracy and final preparations before turning them in to the teacher for grading.


Car Manual Grading Rubric

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February 2007 - Creating Podcasts to Explore Study Abroad by Lara Lomicka Anderson

[originally published at the NCLRC http://www.nclrc.org/cultureclub/teachers_lounge.html]

Target Culture: France/Francophone Countries

Language Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Time involved: One semester

Objectives: This activity is designed to help students explore a potential study abroad site in a French-speaking country. Students also have opportunities to practice speaking and presenting their ideas to others. They work on listening skills (listening to other podcasts) and writing (text based blog entry(ies).


  • http://wordpress.com/: to set up a class blog
  • http://odeo.com/: to record audio for podcasts
  • Internet access

 Description of Activity[1]:

During the semester, our class will maintain 2 weblogs (4-6 students per group). You will be placed in a team and will be required to contribute to the blog three times during the semester; you will be asked to visit the other class blog and comment three times during the semester. The topic of each of the blogs will be study abroad. While some of you might be planning to study abroad and others of you not, these topics will give you ideas about the study abroad experience and if it would be an appropriate option for you.

For the blog posting, you will be asked to write 200 words including and a picture or link to (it is a good idea to write your posting on Word and then copy and paste it to the blog so that you have an extra copy) and create a 1 ½  minute-long podcast. For the other two postings, you will be asked to produce a longer podcast. Be sure to cite any sources you use when writing your blog or producing a podcast (with a link to the website, for example). During the week after you finish your blog/podcast, you should visit the opposing team’s blog and comment on what they wrote/said. If you as the author then respond to those comments left by your classmates, demonstrating in your answer that you read the comment, you will receive ½ point extra credit on your blog assignment per response. At the end of the semester, we will have a contest and ask French speakers to vote on which blog they felt was the most informative, entertaining, and creative. The losing blog group will then throw a party for the winning group during the last week of class. The topics are listed below:

 Context – study abroad

1. Blog (200 words) Introduce yourself – answer questions for study abroad application

  • Have you traveled or studied abroad before? Where?
  • Describe your family.
  • Tell us about your personal interests and hobbies.
  • Why are you a good candidate for studying abroad?
  • Why do you want to study in this country?
  • What do you want to achieve during your experience?

-Required image: picture of yourself

-Podcast (1 ½ minutes)– intercultural story/misunderstanding that occurred either in US or abroad and what you learned from it

 2. Interview (4 minutes) – Interview someone who has studied abroad. Prepare a list of 3-4 questions about study abroad (2 minutes) and then discuss stereotypes you have about French and what kinds of stereotypes they have about us. Are they necessarily true? Why or why not? (2 minutes)

-Required image: picture of person you interviewed (could also be a picture of interviewee taken while studying abroad)

 3. Podcast (3-4 minutes) – Research a French/Francophone town in which you would be interested in studying abroad. Then create an advertisement (what to see, do, eat, sleep, university, classes, etc.) for the city. Remember that you are trying to encourage your classmates to visit you here, so try to make it sound interesting and inviting.

-Required image: 3-4 pictures of the town


Blog Grading Rubric

Expansion: Students can present their projects in class using PowerPoint, posters, or other tools.

Variations: Students can introduce their state or region to a partner class in France or they can explore a certain region in France in-depth. Many variations are possible.

Sample projects for French:



1] The description and grading rubrics were developed by Lara Lomicka Anderson and Lara Ducate, The University of South Carolina

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January 2007 - Create Flowcharts with Inspiration by Gail Corder

Communication, Connections

Type of Activity: Flowchart using graphic organizer software such as Inspiration*

Concept to be Taught: Agreement of the past participle and choosing the auxiliary verb in compound tenses

Materials Needed: Computers with graphic organizer software

Duration of activity: 1 ½ to 2 fifty minute class periods

Description of activity: Students create their own flowcharts which illustrate the rules of agreement of the past participle and choice of auxiliary verb in compound tenses. First, give the students a written overview of the rules and exceptions. Next, explain what a flowchart is, a graphical representation of a process, which uses yes/no questions as its organizational structure.  Show the students an example of a flowchart they might create for the rules of agreement, but do not let them keep it. Explain that they must choose a yes/no question to begin the flowchart. The example uses “Is it a reflexive verb?” as the starting point, but they may choose to begin with a different question if desired. Traditionally, questions on the flowchart are represented by diamond shaped symbols.  Send students to work individually or in groups at computers equipped with graphic organizer software, such as Inspiration. They must create their own flowchart by setting up a series of yes/no questions which cover all the rules and exceptions. As the students work, circulate checking their work and pointing out areas which you see will not work logically. (Note: It is recommended that the teacher create his/her own flowchart first to think through the process and anticipate difficulties.) When students think they have finished their flowchart, give them a set of sample sentences with which to test it. They should use their flowchart to complete all the blanks. If they answer 100% correctly, the flowchart works. If not, back to the drawing board! This activity requires students to think critically, and is engaging for many different types of learners.

* Don’t have Inspiration? Many graphic organizers available for free, or students can use the Draw tools in Word or Excel.

December 2006 - Teaching with TV5 by Anne-Sophie Tzanetatos

The TV5 website is a wonderful resource for teachers interested in using videos to complement their classroom activities.  In a section for teachers, the website offers music videos, newscasts, documentaries, all accompanied by lesson plans adapted to all levels of French . Note that some videos play on Windows Media Player, but the majority use Real Player. It might also be a good idea to have a data projector and a good set of speakers. http://www.tv5.org

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November 2006 - Brochure Touristique - Projet avec Microsoft Publisher by Jason Bagley

Standard: Communities

Type of Activity: Tourist Brochure

Materials Needed: Computer lab with Internet access and Microsoft Publisher, printer

Duration of activity: 2, 90 minute class blocks as a minimum- OR you can break the project into smaller time frames and do it over several class periods.

Description of activity: Create a travel brochure for French-speaking tourists about your town, city, or area. Draw and label pictures of places you think they would like to visit, or use photos from other sources. Be sure to include important information such as times and days the places are open, the entrance fees, the type of food available, and so on. Before you make your final brochure, write a rough draft and have two classmates proofread it.

This activity can be used for any level of instruction, just modify the type or complexity of language expected.

Try to partner with the Chamber of Commerce in your area to see if they might be interested in publishing some of your students’ brochures!

View a sample brochure!

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October 2006 - SiteNous.com: Bridging Cultures through Web-Based Pen Pal Exchanges by Anne-Sophie Tzanetatos

SiteNous.com was born of the collaboration between a technology consultant whose wife and daughters shared a passion for French, and a French teacher looking for ways to improve pen pal exchanges. By combining their strengths and knowledge, they created a website to complement a French teacher’s classroom and provide opportunities to enhance intercultural communication.

Most teachers agree that pen pal exchanges bring reality into the classroom: French is not just a subject anymore but a language spoken by teens in other parts of the world. However, the logistics of organizing a successful pen pal exchange can sometimes be challenging: you don’t have the same number of students in both groups, some students find little to talk about with their partners, or you keep waiting for students who are always late in bringing their letters to you. SiteNous.com eliminates most of these problems by bringing all students together in one space at Internet speed.

Whether you are a beginning user of technology or your world revolves around new multi-media gadgets, this site has something for you. Set up as a virtual classroom, SiteNous.com provides each teacher with their own space, an online meeting place for their students. A beginning teacher can simply use forums to facilitate the interaction among his or her students while a more tech-savvy teacher might enjoy using such features as wikis, podcastings, file sharing or blogs. Teachers can customize their own space to fit their needs as time goes on.

In this international classroom, a group of students from Pennsylvania are in contact with a group of students from Tournai, in Belgium. Each month, the teacher posts a new topic to which students have to answer. Depending on the topic and the students’ level, these posts can be in French or in English. Students are encouraged to respond to each other and submit new ideas of topics and activities. On a more advanced level, students from both countries can work collaboratively on various topics, comparing and contrasting items of their daily life: what’s a typical day like? Where do you go on vacation? They can create photomontages, short videos, or PowerPoint presentations to be posted on the website.

It is important to note that student safety is of the utmost importance to SiteNous.com’s creators. Each classroom is password protected and accessible only to students registered in the class. All actions within the virtual classroom are recorded and a teacher can pull reports of all activities on the site. This is true also of chat rooms where everything is recorded even if the teacher is not present.

In addition to the virtual classroom assigned to them, teachers have access to a teacher forum where they can share ideas on how best to use the website and other tools. Small tutorials on the various technologies, from podcasting to videoconferencing, are also available.

SiteNous.com is a new website and still looking for teachers willing to try their hands at a new way to complement their classroom and/or approach pen pal exchanges. SiteNous.com is also trying to “recruit” French-speaking teachers who would like to be partnered with an English-speaking class. Note that it is not necessary to have a partner class for you to be able to use the virtual classroom. If you are interested or know anyone who might be, go to http://www.sitenous.com

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September 2006 - Musical Chair Composition Game using Microsoft Word by Lara Lomicka Anderson

Level: Intermediate

Technology experience: Basic (Microsoft word + editing tools)


Subject: You will write about your summer (fall/spring/winter) break: invent (or tell) an adventure or amusing anecdote that happened to you during the break. Use the past tense.


1. All students should sit at a computer (students who don't have a computer can sit in chairs and write). They open MS word, and begin to type an introduction paragraph about their vacation (the teacher can situate the context).  Students should set up the story (adventure, funny anecdote, etc.).


2. The teacher should bring a tape and/or CD to class in order to play music from the podium and have students move around (ex.: 5 seats forward, 3 seats backward, etc.) whenever the music stops. Each time the music stops, you have them move. You may allow 5 minutes one time or 2 minutes another time to write. Each student has to make a new contribution to the composition she/he is at when the music stops (and do editing if time permits). Each student may work on 4 or 5 (or more) different compositions during the class.


3. Students can take 5 minutes at the end of class to go back to the original document that they started, read what others have added and edit it. Students can vote on the funniest or most original (etc.) story.


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Page last updated 04/06/2011 12:37 AM

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