We all agree that teachers are heroes, right?! But there aren't nearly enough good films about the extraordinary role that teachers play in transforming children's lives. Les Choristes is a favorite of mine because it's got a simple, yet rich story, a variety of engaging child and adult characters, and lots of themes to mine in discussion. Even my year 1 students can really dig into this film and its themes with a little guidance. Here's my Pinterest board with a few links to other great lesson plans on this film.
I spent 6 days on Les Choristes and could easily spend more. My student Can-Dos for the unit are:
I can name and describe the main characters in this film
I can describe the overall story arc of the film
I can summarize key scenes from the film using il dit, ils disent, il écrit, ils écrivent
I can talk about themes in the film
And my essential questions are:
What makes someone a hero ?
How can art change us ?
Why do people abuse their power?
I've made a packet with all my student materials for this unit here. It includes:
1. Questions about the trailer, which you can view here
2. Important vocabulary - words kids need to know in order to talk about the plot
3. Table to record information about key characters (I assign one character per student; then we do a jigsaw share at the end)
4. Just a few key questions about the film
5. Activities from this site with key images and the order of events
6. Cloze activities for two songs, Caresse sur l'océan and Cerf-volant (last year the chorus teacher taught these and students performed them at the winter concert, which was an amazing coincidental tie-in)
7. Table to record information about school discipline today, in the film and in students' grandparents' generation (they do a brief interview for homework to gather facts for that)
You can see my daily lesson plans here and my homework list here if you're interested. My favorite part is when we predict how the film might end, before watching the final 15 minutes or so. Students post predictions on Padlet and comment on them. See an example here.
The unit concludes with 3 stations, which are IPA-ish assessments by mode:
1. Interpretive reading assessment using excerpts from Clément Mathieu's journal.
2. Write a paragraph about school discipline in the film, in our school and in your grandparents' generation OR the role of music in your life OR a teacher who's changed you for the better
3. A conversation using the TALK rubric. Here's the prompt: Participate in a conversation about discipline, school rules, and various punishments at WMS, in Les Choristes, and in your grandparents’ generation. Students can use the table they've prepared as a reference for support.
Here's the rubric I use to assess the paragraph and conversation all together. Usually I'd have 2 separate rubrics, but this is such a short unit that I go "lite" just this once.
What are your favorite films to teach in French I? I also use Une Vie de chat - post here!