Reflecting on PBL #1
Greetings fellow WL teachers! I hope you have all had a great return to the classroom, full of eager learners! I also hope many of you will be able to attend the ACTFL Conference in Philadelphia in about three more weeks. I am looking forward to meeting many wonderful colleagues, and as an extra bonus, spending some quality time with my son who is attending graduate school there.
I am very excited about how my newest PBL aligned project is going in my French 3 class this Fall. We are reading a set of classic stories called Le Petit Nicolas, in which a 7-8 year old boy tells stories from his point of view. The stories are very engaging, quite humorous, and the students readily identify with the characters. Once we have learned a great deal about Nicolas and all his friends, the students will begin the process of writing a movie script collaboratively in Google Docs. The scenario includes imagining the characters from Le Petit Nicolas as if they were 10 years older, now in high school, about the same age as my students, and in addition, creating a storyline which includes an American exchange student whom they must help to integrate into their lives.
I gave them a letter from the editor in chief of Gallimard Publications, the company which publishes the stories. Monsieur Gallimard invites the students to create the script and a film about Nicolas and his friends, and to situate them in authentic cultural contexts as they receive the American student into their social circle. I thought the letter was a bit long, but they were excited to undertake the project, and identified all the key know/need to know elements with only a little difficulty, and laid out some excellent driving questions.
That having been said, I am wondering how to tweak the primary driving question to be a bit less "high society" and more narrow to boot! Any suggestions you may have are quite welcome. The main driving question we identified are:
How can Nicolas and his friends help an American exchange student integrate into their high school, their family lives, their activities, and to French culture in general?
What do you think? The question matches the project well, but I also want to be sure we avoid any overgeneralized cultural stereotypes, as well as find a way to the narrow the focus enough that the students do not feel as though they must account for all aspects of French culture!
We are setting up an exchange with a group of teens in France so they can ask a group of real-life young people what they think about the project as it develops over time. They will have the opportunity to check their assumptions, as well as to glean ways of communicating verbally which are consistent with language patterns used by French teens today. They will undoubtedly enjoy the contact as well.
No matter what, though, the students a very engaged, excited, happy and learning! I am looking forward to seeing how the remaining element unfold over the next many days! More to follow soon.
Until next time,