Le vendredi, je lis! or introducing News headlines to Novices


On Fridays, my students walk into the classroom and rush to chose something to read:

  • a novel (I have a collection of graded readers from a variety of publishers, American and European),
  • a magazine issue (Scholastic or 1jour1actu), or
  • a news article in simple French  by Cécile Laine (if you don’t have the subscription, get it now or try one issue, you won’t regret, I promise!).

They settle for 5-10 minutes or so, reading individually at their own pace. At the end, they share with classmates what they understood. In the past, this was done in English; this year, our goal is to maintain this exchange in French, very scaffolded in the beginning. I call this Friday routine Le vendredi, je lis! One day, we’ll be brave enough to tweet our picture at #VendrediLecture.

There’s usually one problem with this set-up. I always find that my Novice students are not quite ready at the beginning of the school year for such an adventure and in the past, I delayed Friday reading with them until the second quarter. This year, I decided to try something different. Instead of waiting, on the second week of school,  I offered them a scaffolded reading task that involved news headlines. It looked like this:

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 10.13.14 AM

Students had a simple task of matching the images to the headlines. They were thrilled to successfully accomplish it. Confidence – check. Real life connection – check. Bursting American suburbia bubble by including news from around the world – check. Excellent discussion about guessing from context – check. Success on all fronts. The kids don’t need to know that the headlines were VERY carefully chosen; the fact that they were able to interpret authentic resources remains and it’s empowering.

So how does this work? The night before, I went through the headlines of respectable French media sources online such as Le Monde, Le Figaro, etc and chose the headlines that could be easily tackled by English-speaking Novices. Other possible sources for this task could be  Le Parisien, Paris Match, RFI, RTBF, Radio Canada, Jeune Afrique, and other news outlets from francophone countries. If you teach in elementary or middle school, 1jour1actu, Le Petit Quotidien, Mon Quotidien, GeoAdo, and similar sites that are aimed at younger public can offer a variety of news from around the world that would appeal to your students.

The headlines that I chose had to contain multiple cognates and have a compelling image that represented it well. The rest is simple – I took screenshots of the headlines (they can be typed too) and saved the images. I went with a low-tech version this time arranging images and headlines on one Google Slide that I projected on the board for my students. I numbered the images and included a letter for each headline so that we can remain in the target language for the matching task and get some repetition for the numbers and letters. This very first time, kids worked in groups to come up with matches (1-c; 2-g, etc); in the future, they will do it on their own first before comparing with group and class.

I plan to continue using this reading task with my Novices on Fridays. It seems that many of my  Twitter PLN approves. If you would like to try this idea, here are some variations that might work better for you or simply will help to keep it fresh if you chose to make it a (Friday) routine:

  • The High Tech Version: If your students have access to tech, you can easily gamify this task by presenting it through Kahoot, Quizziz, or even Google Forms with multiple choice headline options for each of the images. This also puts individual students on the spot as you can access the summary of their answers.
  • Varying Numbers and Letters: To help your students use letters and numbers in context, don’t feel limited to 1-5, a-e kind of scenario. Change it up, using random numbers and letters for matching.
  • Draw the Headline: Once your students got a good hang of this task, don’t include pictures, have them draw the headline. This can be done low-tech – teacher projects one headline at a time and students draw on paper – or high tech in 1:1 environments – using tools like Nearpod, Peardeck, or Formative where a picture can serve as a prompt and each student can submit an electronic drawing as their “answer”. In either case, you can compare their drawings to the original photo included with the article and/or choose the best illustration of the class.
  • Add on a Listening Task: Before matching the images, read the headlines in random order and students will have to chose which headline you’re reading – very useful for students of French as matching print and oral language is a complex task.
  • Complete the Headline: leave out a key word from each headline and display them separately. Students have to complete each headline with a missing word. You can accompany each headline with a corresponding image to make this task easier.

I’m sure you can think of more variations to this task than I have at this point. Adjust the task, the tech, the quantity of headlines, the sources, etc. based on your situation and most importantly on your students as you know them best.

Happy Friday reading!



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