My students look forward to a Mardi Gras party all year, so they can eat in class. I might as well take advantage of it! I created holiday unit in French II. The students learned all about the 14th of July (la fête national) and how Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the world. In this way, I let the students dictate what is being taught. I will not just take a day out of the year to have a party, but I will create a unit based around an authentic cultural experience.
The summative assessment for the section on July 14th is a performance task using Voicethread.com. The students create a scrapbook summarizing how they celebrated the holiday in France, being “invited” by another student who happens to be “studying abroad”. An opportunity for interpersonal communication is generated as students ask the “host” what they will be doing, seeing, eating, etc., Some of my students during this section of the lesson asked me, “Can we review how to form questions. I feel like not everyone is doing it right. We need to go over it.” Imagine my marvel…. “Sure I’ll teach you the interrogative!!!!!,” I say. Retention of a grammar point desired to be taught by students because they “need” to know it will always be higher than that of a discrete grammar point which has no meaning.
We need to teach grammar as a function of the language, and language as a means to communication! Let the students and the desire to communicate dictate what “needs” to be taught!