Our students always enjoy food lesson plans. I do not know if it is because they are growing during the Middle School years but, truth be said, THEY LOVE FOOD!!!
I recently came back to the US from my Summer Trip to Europe. During the summer, I was having picnics almost weekly. Picnics in Europe tend to be on the grass, not in tables and benches like we usually do in the US. It may sound like a silly little nuance but, to me, it makes a big difference! I am a huge picnic lover.
So, taking into account that we live in sunny Florida and that the days have been beautiful lately, I decided to give my students a quite fun first assessment: a speaking test during a French pique-nique! Yes, they loved the idea! Some parents told me that their kids kept talking about the picnic for days, they were eagerly waiting for our pique-nique test/activity.
Before the due date, I made sure that students understood that a good behavior was VERY important in order to complete this assignment. I only have 18 students in this class, but even so, I was very clear when setting up my expectations. This exercise is a hit it or miss it. If students were to misbehave, talk randomly without an established order, then the entire class time would be lost… They understood my expectations and, when the day arrived, they took turns to speak, and they participated at appropriate times. Also, I made very sure that they reviewed the content days in advance so that they would be prepared to implement the grammatical/vocabulary aspects of the lesson. This way, they were able to use partitifs, food vocabulary, and irregular adjectives more confidently, and correctly.
All students brought something to eat (we made the list the list in advance, and the item brought was part of their grade in order to make sure that everybody did their part).
Pros of this activity:
– Motivation. Students get motivated to speak and to participate because: 1) it involves food 2) it is outdoors 3) they want to show up their skills to people that may walk by 4) it is an out of the box/different exercise, and changing the scenario makes a HUGE difference for them.
– Implementation. They get to enjoy the World Language classroom as they see themselves implementing the content in a real-life situation.
– 100% French speaking. The fact that I made it very clear that I would take 1 point off for every sentences spoken in English was key to push them to speak French 100% of the time.
– Listening/Speaking skills in one. In this activity we are developing both skills (Teacher/peer listening, and interacting in the target language).
– Student led. Even if, as a teacher, we have to direct the conversation, it is important that we also leave room for improvisation and for peer conversations to come up randomly. This way, students feel that the conversation is developing in a natural way, not artificially, just like we would do if we were having a real picnic.
Cons of this activity:
– Timing. Class time may be too short in order to fully evaluate each student. In my school, class periods are 43 minutes long so it was a bit short, but even so all students were able to speak. I had to rush at some points in order to catch up with the time, so having longer periods would really help.
– Distractions. Since we were sitting outdoors, students were sometimes distracted by other teachers/peers that would walk by. This is not a big deal for me, but it does happen.
To me, the pros in this exercise make it all worth it! What do you think? Please write a comment below and tell me what your opinions are about this type of assessment. Also, if you decided to use it in your classroom, I would love to read how it went!
Please find below a little video created by our awesome Technology Specialist, Lee Howell. Enjoy, and bon appétit!