Upper Level Question

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6 thoughts on “Upper Level Question”

  1. My deal with kids at that level is to do tons of reading using Read and Discuss – R and D. But the traditional kids won’t understand a thing you say and hence are like French 1 kids in the oral/aural sense, if they are anything like other kids I have seen who were trained traditionally.

    So what to do if they don’t even know how to interact with you in a comprehensible input kind of way? Hopefully the group comes in with some good ideas, as I don’t really know what to say.

    Think about it. They can read but not understand the aural part. So you can do the R part of R and D but not the D part. Kind of hopeless if they don’t have the skills they need to discuss in the target language. Looking forward to what the group says….

  2. Carly, I’m not sure I have a lot to offer here; it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I dealt with anything resembling your situation, although I have combined 3-4-AP classes regularly. That being said, here goes …

    “Differentiation” is one of the big words thrown at us by administrators. Fortunately, TPRS allows you to differentiate to an amazing degree. So, think of what you have to do as differentiation for individuals, not differentiation for classes. If the two groups exhibit largely similar abilities in the language, why do you have to treat them differently as groups? Because one is “fourth year” and one is “third year”? Guess what? On the ACTFL Guidelines, they are both still Novice.

    As a German teacher, I regularly deal with multi-level classes. Your choices are basically the following:
    1. Keep the two classes separate and split your time between them, teaching a third-year curriculum and a fourth-year curriculum.
    2.Keep the two classes separate and treat the fourth-year class like an independent studies class and have them work on their own.
    3. Develop a two-year curriculum, and teach both groups together with alternating “A” years and “B” years.

    Option 1 is not really doable. You will shortchange your students and drive yourself crazy.
    Option 2 is doable only if the fourth-year students are highly motivated or interested solely in getting a grade rather than learning the language. In a transition situation, this may actually be the solution. Traditionally trained students continue with their worksheets and reading while you actually teach the third-year students.
    Option 3 is my choice. Years three and four are really further deepening of the things that have been acquired in years one and two. If your syllabus is not grammar driven, it doesn’t matter when you teach them certain things because they have been hearing the whole language the whole time. My two-year curriculum is more thematic and content based than years one and two. Here is what I do:

    A Year
    First semester (approximately): Virtual Vienna – students imagine they have moved to Vienna and have adventures in the city as we learn about it; the nature of our stories changes a bit as we pretend they are older and talking about things that they are doing in Vienna.
    Second semester: Fairy Tales, Poetry and Children’s Literature

    B Year
    First semester: Berlin today and yesterday – students have a similar experience in Berlin to the one in Vienna
    Second semester: The German Middle Ages

    Those broad themes allow me to do a lot of different things.

    As far as grading is concerned, I simply inform students that while we do the same things, I hold the fourth-year and AP students to a higher level of accountability than third-year students. Assignments are for the most part identical.

  3. I agree with Robert. Treat them as 1 group. If you really want to stir the pot, rewrite the course title to Upper Level French with a max repeat of 2 years to be available for juniors and seniors.

    If you MUST differentiate in some way, use a different rubric for level 3 and level 4.

  4. I’ve never done mixed UPPER levels, but I did have a mixed novice 1/2 class. (My school has k-12 language, and students coming in for the first time in high school get sorted into novice 1 or 2, versus the regular Span 1-4 curriculum for those with middle & high school experience.) I planned to just have alternate A & B years, treating the whole class as “Spanish I”, with different story focuses & novels for each year. Of course, administration split the classes on me so now it’s all novice 1 or all novice 2, but Robert’s 3rd option makes the most sense to me.

  5. Do what Robert says. You could do his option 2, but only if the conditions he said are met. I have a split German 4/5 and do what Robert does too. I just grade level 4 with a bit more leniency if you want to call it that.

    Robert – I WANT to see your materials for these four theme based semesters. What do I have to do to make that happen?!!! I know you said the one book is available to purchase. And the rest?

    Robert – I posted a question on the forum about native speaker students in class. Maybe you could take a look for me over there … 😉

  6. I also teach my French 4/5 class as one, with two years’ worth of materials. The difference in levels is that I give two versions of each assessment: some of the questions are the same, but some of the questions for the French 5 students are framed with more advanced vocabulary and/or require more thoughtful/elaborate responses. When assessing writing and speaking, I use the same rubrics but expect more of the 5s.

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