This year, I added another element to prepare for the Harkness-inspired discussions that we had in class.
As a way to build vocabulary and fluency, the students’ homework was to record their response to a given question using Flipgrid (https://www.flipgrid.com/). For example :
Quelle est la place de la technologie à l'école? Use at least 10 of the vocabulary words from "Vocabulaire no. 1" in your response.
This allowed me to give written feedback to students on their oral performance in various areas:
- Grammar: Je veux répondez > répondre
- Content: Next time give specific examples to support your claims.
- Pronunciation : outil (ne prononce pas le 'l' final)
- Vocabulary : Attention: bénéfique (pas bénéficial)
The flow of oral activities was generally :
- Launch with an open-ended question (Assessment as Learning)
- Flipgrid practice question (AforL)
- Peer assessment (AforL)
- Flipgrid practice (AforL)
- Self-assessment (AasL)
- Harkness-inspired discussion (AofL)
Overall thoughts on the Harkness tables from students:
Things which went well
- being able to prepare and to loosely refer to my notes
- during the peer-assessment, the listener knew what to look out for
- self-tracking kept me on track because I knew what the teacher was looking for; it wasn't a surprise
Things to be improved
- “We need the skill to build on other people's ideas…we don't know where the conversation is going to take us.”
- “If we always have to invite someone to speak, it’s difficult for someone who has an important point to jump in.”
- self-tracking: kept on forgetting to check it off; wanted to follow the conversation instead
End-of-year reflections from senior French students (FSF3U, FSF4U, FEF4U) 2017-2018:
What are two things that you learned that will help you in the future (not necessarily related to French language/culture specifically)
- Group conversations
- My oral speaking skills are better than they were at the beginning of the year in terms of everyday conversations.
- How to have active conversations
What are you most proud of accomplishing this year in French class?
- I am proud that I improved my French speaking in the Harkness tables and daily group discussions.
- I am proud of how much my oral capabilities have developed.
- When I think back to the beginning of this year, I felt very shy and thought that no one could understand what I was saying. Now, especially after our Harkness Table, not only do I think others can understand most of what I am saying, but I speak much more often with a louder and more confident voice. This is not only important in this course, but in all subjects and life in general.
I would recommend this course to someone who…
- would like to further develop their speaking abilities
- wants to further their knowledge in French in order to allow themselves to speak it proficiently and effectively in a conversational way
- is good at written French, but wants to get better at conversational French
I’m looking forward to implementing these strategies again this year and revisiting approaches for current events discussions.
How do you use Flipgrid in your classroom?