Saturday, 15 February 2014

Writing Activity: Mon Caractère

Writing activities are usually an ordeal in FSL class.  My students have specific challenges in writing in English, as well as French.  As a result, I find that I have to be very strategic in creating writing activities for my students.

This activity/ project that I came up with was meant to be a bridging activity between the focus questions from our last unit "Je me présente," to our new focus around "Les bandes-dessinées."  Before we started this activity, we learned the third-person singular of the verbs "to be" and "to have."  We learned how to apply the questions of "Je me présente" to other people.

To engage their interest in writing, I thought that it would be fun to create cartoon characters and write about them.  I found these great drawing sheets while browsing Pinterest, and thought they would be perfect to help the kids create their cartoon.

They loved the drawing part.  I encouraged them to create silly characters-- characters that they would want to write about.  Some didn't even use the books.  The example that I created was a Viking-turned-father named "Sven."

I created the example as a way of modelling the writing we were going to do.  I made sure that I followed the Gradual Release of Responsibility model here because writing in French is fairly new to my grade 4s.  We read the paragraph about "Sven," and the students thought it was funny.  We looked at the structure of the paragraph they were to write.  Built into the activity, were questions and prompts to remind the student to write in complete sentences.  I worried about being so rigid, I wanted to students to be creative with their writing, but I wanted them to feel confident that they could write a paragraph in French.

During the modelling part of the lesson, I made sure that the students knew that they would have to bump-up their paragraphs by adding 2-3 original sentences.  We added some to my paragraph together.

For the next step of the activity, we created a paragraph through a shared writing activity.  I drew a  large version of a cartoon on some chart paper, and using the prompts, as a group we wrote the paragraph.  Because my students needed a little extra practice to build their confidence, in small groups we did a second shared writing activity.  Then each group shared their paragraphs.

For the last step, students drew their cartoon and wrote a paragraph about them.  Students really enjoyed this project.  They liked that the drawing books I had made for them helped them draw something they were really proud of.  Their paragraphs were creative, and well written!  And many of my students could write them independently.  I liked that they were working independently in FSL class-- this is a rare occurrence.  Until recently, my students have not had the confidence to complete something without assistance in some way.  I was able to work with small groups of students who were having trouble.

Here are some examples of the work my students created:

To read the paragraphs, click on the image for a larger version.

This was a great writing project for my students.  They were really interested in each others work, and we did several gallery walks after we were finished.  

To add an oral component to it, I'm thinking of having the students interview each other about their characters.  We have a great article which is an interview with a real cartoonist in our books (Acti-Vie 1: Les aventures d'A-V).  We will record the videos on our ipads.  I will let you know how those turn out!

Here are the materials I used for this activity.  I copied 20 drawing booklets for drawing the characters.  I put them in duo-tangs so that we can use them again.  

No comments:

Post a Comment