Creative Ways for FSL Students to Show Their Thinking AND Develop 21st Century Skills

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Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude.                          -Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate

Teachers know that when students are engaged, amazing things can happen.  This is especially true for FSL teachers.  Second language teachers not only need to engage students, they need to motivate them to speak and complete work in a second language as well.  A growing concern for FSL teachers is how to accurately assess students who struggle to show their learning because of the language barrier of a second language.  Helping students develop their oral language skills is essential to the FSL learner and is probably the most important skill that we can teach our students.  This can be very challenging but with the rise of technology in the classroom, this task has become more accessible than ever.  FSL students can show their learning and thinking in innovative ways with nothing more than a camera and a few free apps.

The activities listed below are created for more advanced FSL learners (B1-B2) but can be modified to suit the A1-A2 learner as well.

Activity #1: Student Newscast/ Student Talkshow

21st Century Skills: communication, collaboration, creativity
Material Required: green screen (use two green plastic tablecloths from Dollarama if on a budget!)
Suggested App: TouchCast Studio, TouchCast Ext Cam

Turn any oral activity into a newscast or an opportunity for students to star in their very own talkshow!  Students work in groups to report on anything from a current news event to last night's school basketball game.  An activity like this allows FSL students to express themselves on familiar topics and the TouchCast app is an excellent resource to help them bring their ideas to life.
Activities could include:
-Review your favourite app
-Report on one event in  your community
-Interview a classmate or a francophone community member
-Create a how-to video

Group activities also provide students with authentic opportunities to interact with their classmates in French.

Why TouchCast?
For a free app, it is incredibly robust and allows students to create great videos with nothing more than a green screen. TouchCast features over a dozen themes such as News Studio, Talk Show, Sports Cast and Review It. If students have access to more than one tablet, they can use the TC Ext Cam app to add another camera to their recording.  TouchCast allows students to add any background they wish to their video, like a beach scene or even a famous monument.

Activity #2: Student Becomes the Teacher

21st Century Skills: communication, creativity, critical thinking
Suggested App: Apple Clips, TouchCast, Spark Video or Explain Everything ($$)

Let your students become the teacher by having them create short, creative tutorial videos to share with their classmates.  Video clips should be to the point and very visual. Encourage your FSL students to speak as much as possible to help explain the concept and use props or filters to make the video more engaging.
Tutorial topics could include:
-writing concepts such as verb conjugation, adjectives, feminine and masculine nouns
-a brief synopsis of an article read in class
-a review of oral language skills required in every day scenarios such as at a restaurant or asking for directions
As a teacher, you will know that students have completely understood a concept if they are able to teach it.

Activity #3: Video Discussions/Reflections/Debates

21st Century Skills: communication, critical thinking, problem solving
Suggested App: Flipgrid

Discussions are an effective way to help students practice oral language and are also helpful when promoting problem solving and critical thinking skills within our students.  As mentioned above, a major concern in FSL remains around the area of oral language being a communication barrier for students.  Video discussions can be extremely effective in the FSL classroom by removing the added stress of speaking in front of the class.  Video allows students to practice and revise their thoughts so that they are able to communicate a clear message.
Activities could include:
-Student reflection
-Exit ticket (Two things I learned today...)
-Debate a hot topic from the news
-Predict what happens next!
-Make a connection to the character
-Describe that article in 30 seconds
-Teacher-selected discussion topic
-Student-selected discussion topic

Why FlipGrid?
FlipGrid is a web-based app that makes it easy for teachers to spark discussion in their classroom. The free version allows students to share short video responses to teacher-created prompts and allows them to provide their classmates with feedback.  Check out the video above for a quick overview of Flipgrid and check out to see how other teachers are using this app to bring their classrooms into the 21st century!

The opportunities to utilize these ideas with your FSL class are endless!  I know some of these activities might be intimidating and daunting, but we owe it to our students to try and provide them with learning experiences that are authentic, engaging and meaningful.  Good luck!

Lindsay Deschamps


I am an Innovation Instructional Coach for District School Board North-East in Ontario, Canada.


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