Class observation for: Valentin Duquet, French 202.
Class observation by: Cathy Nock, Interim French Language Program Coordinator. Syracuse University.
Description of class:
- Valentin has a music video playing in the background as class begins. The students are sitting in a U-shape around the perimeter of the classroom. He tells them that they will have a visitor from SU Abroad on Thursday.
- Valentin then puts a PowerPoint on the screen, and tells the students that they are starting a new chapter. They go over the new vocabulary and Valentin gives some examples. This segment is very interactive, as he asks them many questions and the students participate. He has them repeat difficult words to emphasize the correct pronunciation.
- He then asks them to work in pairs to discuss their free time activities (ex. 4) He then brings the class back together to share some ideas. Valentin helps the students with the pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. They talk about films, sports, Golden Globes, what clothing items they wear when they go out, and similar topics.
- Next, Valentin tells them to take out their phones to show photos of a leisure experience that they have had. He asks them to stand up and find someone to discuss a sports or cultural experience with. He circulates, asking them questions and making encouraging comments. After 3 minutes he tells them to switch partners. He encourages them to tell each other anecdotes, and ask each other questions. Then they change partners again. After a few more minutes, he brings the class together again. He circulates with a photo on someone’s phone to draw them into the conversation. The students describe museums, trips and activities. They then talk about the Olympics, skiing and skating. Valentin corrects their grammar and pronunciation as needed.
- For their next activity, Valentin puts a slide up that describes a role-play in which they need to plan activities for children. The scenario: they are working for a municipality, and they have 5000€ to spend to take a class of 7th graders on a cultural excursion for spring break.
- He puts them in small groups and tells them to debate and brainstorm what they could do with the children. They need to create a list of activities (using full sentences) and then the town leaders will vote on the best option. Students work, in French, to develop their plans. Valentin moves around the room and occasionally asks a question to the whole class about vocabulary. They talk about the attractions at the Asterix park in Paris, and he shows them images of roller coasters.
- He then has the groups prepare for their budget hearing – they must pitch their ideas to the “mayor”. He tells them to present their plans with enthusiasm and passion, and the politicians must be strict and ask questions. The groups propose hiking, amusement parks, and bungee jumping. Valentin helps with phrases like how much will it cost, and other students ask questions. He asks if anyone has a very extravagant project to share, and two students propose a trip that will involve bungee jumping, skating, sail boating, going to a park in Paris as well as going to the theater, bowling and the beach. Valentin gives the class one minute to ask questions about this project, and they have a good and somewhat humorous discussion.
- He thanks them, and class is dismissed at 11:30 a.m.
Comments and suggestions:
- This class was excellent, with ample audio and visual support, and a variety of activities designed to introduce the students to the new vocabulary. They respond with enthusiasm and do not resort to English. The group is obviously very interested in the cultural content and makes an effort to use the new words and phrases. There are some students who are still struggling with basic questions or statements, but Valentin gently corrects them and gives them opportunities to rephrase their sentences.
- The main class activities are scaffolded so that students are first introduced to the vocabulary: then they have a chance to practice it in pairs: then they move around and talk about their own personal activities with 3 different classmates; and finally, they are given the chance to design a trip that includes a number of real-world activities and budget considerations. The pacing is excellent, with sufficient time allowed for each activity, and time in between for whole-class questions and answers.
- Valentin is completely available throughout the class to help individuals and groups, and he does a great job of interspersing the pair/group work with “teachable moments”, without dominating the class discussion. The visual support on the screen (PowerPoint) is helpful and the students also can refer to their books for additional vocabulary.
- One minor suggestion would be to put the student’s phone on the doc cam in order to be able to quickly share an image on the screen.
- Overall, this was a perfect class in terms of content, pacing and teaching.