Friday, September 3, 2010

Brown Paper Bag Activity

The first homework assignment for 3rd year French involved a brown paper lunch bag.  I gave one to each student while explaining the assignment.  Students were asked to take the bag home and find 3 interesting objects to put in it that represented them in some way (unacceptable items:  pens, pencils, cell phones or car keys).  They were to come to class the following day prepared to explain to their classmates in French what was in the bag and why.  I divided the class into groups of 3 and had students present the contents of their sack to their group.  Then I assigned them to a different group of 3  and had them do it again.  While all of this was going on, I rotated in and out of the groups in order to make sure I heard each student and to verify that they could name the objects.  Here's my favorite photo of this activity.

This is a good assignment for the following reasons: 

  1. All students are engaged in speaking French.
  2. Students are talking about themselves, which makes it personal and interesting.
  3. Communication is more authentic because they aren't reading what they're saying.
  4. Everyone is saying something different, so those who are listening are learning new words.
  5. Anxiety is low because students are presenting to groups of 3 rather than addressing the whole class.
  6. Each student is making their presentation twice.
Why not try it yourself?

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