AATF EXEMPLARY PROGRAMS FOR 2020
- Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL
- Boiling Springs High School, Boiling Springs, PA
- E.O. Smith
- Kettering Fairmont High School, Kettering, Ohio
- University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI
Amos Alonzo Stagg High School, Palos Hills, IL
AATF member: Nitya Viswanath
Amos Alonzo Stagg High School has a wealth of opportunities for students who are curious about the world and want to know more about French language and culture. For my students, who come from vastly different backgrounds culturally and economically, language studies can be transformative. For some of my students, travel is not even in the picture economically, socially, culturally. Regardless, I know that travel will be possible for all students someday, maybe not always during high school. In the meantime, our program works hard to ensure that our students’ French language education can open eyes, ears, minds and doors to future opportunities- to a future driven by curiosity and a desire to keep learning about the world.
There is so much that we (me and our very supportive administrative team) can accomplish right in our classroom and in our community to provide language opportunities as part of the Stagg French Program. My students and I “travel” – to Paris, Dakar, Martinique, Québec, Beirut, Antananarivo (the capital of Madagascar), and to so many other Francophone places. My students can gain global perspectives regardless of whether or not they can afford to travel. My students whose parents come from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo also provide stories and perspectives to help us understand the Francophone world. Our connections with our penpals in Bauges, France and our visits from the Québécois players on the Chicago Wolves have been ways to bring the world into our classroom. And being in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, we’re able to visit culturally significant places such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Holocaust Museum where we can continue to explore sources of Francophone cultures and histories.
The growth of our program has taken time and is still a work in progress! Now, nine years into developing this program, we have so much to offer our students and we want to continue to grow. For all Stagg High School students, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in the French program, we offer the French Circle, a student-led language and culture club where students can engage in interactive activities that explore facets of French culture like music, fashion and festivals. We are a member of the National French Honor Society, a program offered to students who stay enrolled in the French program for multiple years of study and meet the academic and cultural requirements. We are the home of current and former gold, silver and bronze medalists in Le Grand Concours, the National French Contest. We offer cultural fieldtrips for French classes levels 2 and above that allow our students to connect their classroom language learning to the outside world. We’re also very proud that our students leave the program confident that they can converse in French. Students in Level 4 / AP are in 100% French language settings and are able to function in the language with confidence. We offer opportunities for students to earn college credit through the Illinois Seal of Biliteracy and the AP French program and we have students who continue French classes at the college level. It’s been our pleasure and privilege to learn about and work with organizations with Francophone connections like Expanding Lives (https://www.expandinglives.org/ ). And we’ve invited speakers into our classroom, such as visits from Francophone members of the Chicago Wolves, to help students interact with Francophone speakers and hear the stories of people from the Francophone world. We are working constantly to connect our students with opportunities that push our students grow socially, creatively, and academically through their work with the French language.
Creativity, collaboration, communication, flexibility- these are all 21st century skills. We are proud to be able to help students develop these skills in our program, along with a compassion and concern for the world around us. We love that our students leave the program with a sense confidence that they know something about the world and want to keep learning and interacting, via their interest and passion in French language and Francophone cultures.
Stagg French students meeting with students from Expanding Lives. The girls are from rural areas of Niger and from Bénin where girls are not often given opportunities to get an education. They are given scholarships to attend a leadership seminar in the Chicago area and to continue their educations upon return back to their homes. Our students volunteered for a day as local ambassadors while the girls were in town, using their French skills to communicate.
Boiling Springs High School, Boiling Springs, PA
AATF members: Cindy Bailey, Michael Bogdan, Emily Mater
The French program at Boiling Springs High School is served by one full-time teacher, one shared middle school / high school French teacher, and one shared high school French / Spanish teacher. We work collaboratively with our Spanish teacher colleagues for a dynamic, innovative, and highly-respected World Language Department. Two of the three French teachers are National Board certified and are the first and only two staff members in the entire district with that distinction. All have studied abroad in Francophone nations. All are members of and participate in local, state, and regional professional development conferences as well as the AATF Susquehanna Valley Chapter.
All seventh graders take an introductory French course as part of their creative arts cycle; this graded course meets for one trimester. Eighth graders choose between French I, Spanish I, or are placed in a remedial reading course. Most students who complete the first level at the middle school are able to begin in the second level at the high school. Due to semester block scheduling, some students take two credits in one year. Language is considered a core subject.
While many French programs are showing enrollment declines or are under attack, we have found a resurgence in interest in our program, realizing that it is the result of the faculty providing strong lessons and unique opportunities to our students. These opportunities include biennial trips to France, participation in the Grand Concours, French Club activities, the Société Honoraire de Français, National French Week, National Foreign Language Week, an international dinner, pen pals in the Toulouse area, local competitions, internships, and service opportunities with our Special Education Department.
All French teachers follow best practices for language teaching. Through stations, our 1-1 laptop program, flipped lessons, and collaborative learning, we work to put the learner at the center of instruction. We teach 90% to 100% in the target language and provide students with the skills to progress to that goal as well. Through regular and honors classes, and sometimes courses with a special education professional, we strive to meet the needs of diverse learners. We started to achieve our goal this year of moving forward with a revamp of our curriculum to focus on IPA assessments and culturally-based units. We already have moved our grade books and assessments to Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational modes of communication, as reflected by the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards.
All three of us are proud to be French teachers. We hope to continue providing our students the opportunities to discover other cultures as they learn about themselves and their place in our connected world. Recognition by AATF has been a significant honor, one that we have fully publicized to our school and community so that all are aware of the strength of our program and the strength of the students with whom we have the pleasure to work each day.
AATF member:Melissa Tubbs
The E.O. Smith French program, run by Melissa Tubbs since 2013, has experienced steady growth and now counts 113 students across 6 classes and 5 levels. Thematic units in all levels 1 through 3 each have performance-based formative and summative assessments that are assessed on rubrics using ACTFL and department-specific skill standards. French 4 now has an AP option with the number of test takers increasing yearly, and French 5 is a semesterised ECE course in conjunction with UConn. The curriculum boasts thematic, vertically aligned units across all levels, using adapted and authentic materials and relevant topics that connect to students’ lives. These include (but are not limited to): cuisine, health, interpersonal relationships, growing up, shopping, travel, music, art, sports, theater and cinema, just to name a few. The French 3 and 4 curricula are written in the 6 College Board AP strands. A cornerstone of the French program is the Mastery approach to learning and the Peer Tutoring support program, which have proven over the years to instill a better work ethic and ensure a stronger grasp of the content on the part of both tutors and tutees. The success of Mastery learning in the program would be impossible without the commitment and enthusiasm of peer tutors, many of whom were once tutees themselves. As of this year, 23 World Language Honor Society tutors (juniors and seniors), and 12 preservice sophomore tutors assist 40 tutees on a weekly basis. The E. O. Smith French program has multiple opportunities for travel and service learning: a biannual exchange with a lycée in Quimper, Bretagne, France; a smaller weekend trip to Quebec; a Société Honoraire de Français; the aforementioned Peer Tutoring program; and a more informal French Club, organized each year by dedicated seniors. It is a small but mighty program, and a wonderful group of students who make their teacher very proud!
Kettering Fairmont High School, Kettering, OH
AATF member:Mary Townsend
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI
AATF member: Jessica Miller
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire French section promotes multilingualism as the key to intercultural understanding through a wide variety of courses and programs: a certificate in French proficiency, a French minor, and a French major, including a teaching track. Dr. Jessica Miller, Dr. Lise Hoy, and Prof. Amanda Hilson teach student-centered classes in which examples from la francophonie provide multiple perspectives, celebrate the diversity inherent to French studies, and give a voice to underrepresented groups. The curriculum is based on clear program outcomes that are assessed yearly.
Finally, Dr. Hoy and Dr. Miller have worked together to develop upper-division courses that will pique students’ interest. Dr. Hoy developed a course on French gastronomy, as well as a course on the city of Paris through history. Dr. Miller updated the pronunciation course as a content-based class on the theme of creativity with a multicultural focus, and created two 400-level class: one on the topic of environmental and linguistic diversity, and another on the topic of social justice.
Despite national and local challenges impacting language studies, the current numbers indicate that UW-French is strengthening. Today, there are 102 students with a declared French program, the highest number recorded in available data (2001-present), with a significant from 67 students only 3 years ago in 2017. The French program at UW-Eau Claire is undeniably strong for a mid-size liberal arts university in a Midwestern town.
Efforts to articulate the curriculum in order for students to meet program and course outcomes, to offer courses that are culturally relevant and updated, and to advise and support students have been effective and need to continue.