In the chic suburb where I teach, students pride themselves on their health and fitness. Most play severals sports (or one sport on several teams), fit easily into their Lululemon leggings, shop at Whole Foods, and consider themselves to be in tiptop shape. Ask them how much sleep they got last night, though, and things start to look a tad worrisome. Maybe even shocking. Many get about as much sleep as I did when I returned to work from maternity leave. Not a pretty sight. "Comment dit-on tired?" is one of their first questions in the fall. Our school district partnered recently with Challenge Success at Stanford to promote student wellbeing and redefine success apart from test scores. Part of the process involved surveying students and parents. This topic is relevant, perhaps even epidemic. But you know us teachers...we see epidemic, and we think: opportunity!
Adding in a study of teens, screen time, and healthy sleep added an important dimension to my unit on les loisirs et la qualité de la vie. First, it provided students with new information that they did not have in L1 about the effects of screen time on their sleep. Second, it balanced out students' rosy portrayal of their wellbeing and allowed for a more nuanced self-assessment. All resources are pinned here.
To open this sub-unit, I like to start by asking students how many hours they slept the previous night where their phone was during this time, and who chose the phone's location - them or their parents. Lots to talk about there, with many students interested to hear how other families roll. I've also had them line up by bedtime and compare their faces to the face pictured below, or survey class members about bedtime and number of hours slept per night. Next, students can look at 2 simple infographics to provide some helpful terms as a starting point:
Students can read about why it's important to sleep well (in this article) and then work in pairs or as a class to make a list of dos and don'ts for healthy sleep, noting which suggestions they already follow and which they should follow going forward.
From here, we can read watch a video about French teens and their screens and do some interpretive work with it. This is a more challenging video about students' use and preference of various electronic devices. I found it on Madame's Musings but adapted the comprehension questions here. This simple article addresses the same topic in a written format and I've prepared IPA-style interpretive activities for it here.
Once students are sleep experts, they can complete an interpersonal TALK activity in which they discuss their sleep habits and make recommendations to one another based on what they've learned.
Et voilà...faites de beaux rêves! And please share your own resources on this topic in the comments section.
In the depths of winter, I undertake a long unit on leisure, vacations, and quality of life in order to escape a bit from the cold. This unit takes place between our winter break in February and spring break in April and is intended to give us some virtual sunshine and pleasure as we await the real thing. We are now firmly in Intermediate Low proficiency, and this unit exposes students to the past time frame for the first time.
My template for the unit is here, as well as my student Can-Do chart where they track their learning. I've also got the daily lesson plans if you're open to seeing something a bit messy. 35 days on this huge topic is all about "eating the elephant" as Greg Duncan would say...you've just got to go one bite at a time!
My authentic resources for the unit can be found on my Pinterest board.
I love my hook for this unit. It's the pop song C'est les vacances by then-child star Ilona Mitrecey, and the video has great visuals to get students started with my first Can-Dos:
• I can discuss activities (sports, games, music), pastimes and chores
• I can describe a trip by mode of transport, destination, and duration
I've created a cloze activity for the song, a pictogram for students to retell it with the new vocabulary, and then a group activity where students compare Ilona's trip to Italy with their upcoming vacation plans and their idea of an ideal vacation.
To add some more sports to the picture, we watch a promotional video from the recreation department of the Atlantic seaside town of Pornichet (where I did my first homestay in 1989!). Here's the listening activity to accompany it.
Then students are ready to produce some language of their own, in the form of a presentational project called J'adore jouer. My students are very athletic and musical, so this fits well with their passions. They simply choose an activity they love to do/play and share it with the class in a format of their choice. Here are the directions, rubric, peer evaluation, and notetaker for when students share their projects in small groups on the final day. The latter two documents really help students engage with one another during the project share, and they love getting immediate feedback on their presentational speaking skills.