TAPIF Spring Lesson Plans for Lycée and BTS

Hello TAPIF friends. I already did a list of the lesson plans and general job duties I used last semester for my lycée and tourism BTS classes, but here are the additional ones I’ve used this semester that, I would have to say after a bit of lesson-planning experience, are probably a bit better. While last semester the teachers pretty much asked me “present something on this topic,” this semester I was given a lot of room to do what I wanted with the classes with more general guidelines like “do something related to progress.” This semester, I also had the added odd job of transcribing a lot of audio material and making copies for teachers when they were busy.

Groundhog’s Day

I was mostly joking with myself when I came up with this lesson, but it has 100% been the most successful lesson I’ve had all year, and could be adapted for every level from seconde all the way up to BTS. First, I asked if anybody had heard of Groundhog’s Day, or knew what a groundhog was (giving the hint that some call it a marmot, which is the same as the French word). I then explained that it was an American holiday (make sure to explain that this word does not always refer to “les vacances“) celebrated every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with Punxsutawney Phil the Groundhog. At this point, I would usually review the vocabulary for the different seasons as well as the vocabulary for “changing of the seasons” and “to predict.” I would then draw the two different scenarios where the groundhog sees his shadow and hides underground for six more weeks of winter or leaves the ground for an early spring. Then, I would make sure the class understood everything by asking them who celebrated Groundhog’s Day, where it took place, and when it was celebrated. I would then review the conditional of if/then phrases (i.e. If Phil sees (present tense) his shadow, then there will be (future) six more weeks of winter). Then I’d have the class get into groups of two or three and invent their own holiday to predict the changing of the seasons using the conditional and answering the same who/where/when questions. If there was any time left, each group presented their holiday and we’d vote on the best one. The answers were incredible! (“If you shave your arm hair and it grows back in two weeks, then spring will come early,” “If Nugget the Chicken poops on a baby, there will be six more weeks of winter,” “If your love kisses you on February 14th, then spring is already there”).

Music Videos

This was a lesson I distinctly remember doing all the time back in my high school French classes. Basically, just make a worksheet based off of a music video including lyrics with missing words, a related grammar lesson, and discussion questions (my favorite way to have discussion, by the way, is to give them a few minutes in small groups to look over the discussion questions, prepare their thoughts and some vocabulary, and then come together as a class for the big discussion). I had a lot of success this semester with the music video for Declan McKenna’s “The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home”, for which I made this packet.

The Women’s March/Women’s Rights in the USA

After Trump’s inauguration, there were, of course, the Women’s Marches‘s around the world (there was even one in Montpellier!), so I designed a lesson around the current event. First, I asked if they had heard about the Women’s March and explained why it happened. I then brought up a web article that listed the number of participants by each city for students to read and practice their numbers with. I absolutely cannot find the article anywhere online anymore: however, this article would work just as well, and has the plus of practicing dates.  I then brought up these three pictures each representing a different wave of feminism and had the students describe the picture to me and what they might think that wave fought for. I then passed out this timeline cut up/without the years/mixed up to groups of two or three and had them try to put them in order. To finish the class, I gave them the years for each event and asked if any of the dates surprised them and how it compared to France.

The Super Bowl

I started by, of course, explaining what the Super Bowl was. I then took a few statistics about the Super Bowl from here, and listed them scrambled on two different sides of the board so that there was a column of numbers and a column of nouns (i.e. gallons of beer, pounds of popcorn, cost of one ad, number of people watching) and had the students match the two, saying–of course–the full phrases when guessing. I then showed a few Super Bowl ads and had them answer questions like:
What is this ad selling?
Who is it for?
Is it effective?

American Stereotypes of French People

Okay, the plan for this one is super simple but worked so well. I literally just asked about a dozen of my American friends “what is your stereotype of French people?”, compiled their answers (luckily, I have one ridiculous friend who gave answers like “Every French person’s home will include a table laid out with charcuterie, wine and cheese,” “Each French person knows someone who makes French bread professionally,” “They make excellent little spoons,” “French people, who I have come to know intimately, love cigarettes as much as they detest our American superiority,” among others; he was very inspired by the prompt), brought them to class, and had each student read one statement. The conversations that came from this were enough to fill the hour. IF that hadn’t been the case, I was going to have the students write up a scene where one of them was an American by French Stereotypes and the other was a French Person by American Stereotypes, but we always ran out of time before we got to this.
P.S. bonus if the French think it’s disgusting that women would have hairy armpits and you are, consequently, a woman with hairy armpits.

Slam Poetry

As a personal bias, I think slam poetry is the best form of poetry. In terms of teaching English, though, it is a definite asset to teaching poetry because it includes listening comprehension, and a level of non-verbal communication that is always helping in teaching a foreign language. For my slam poetry lesson, I used Sarah Kay’s “The Type”, because she speaks a little more slowly than many slam poets (and also just because it is one of my faves). I followed this worksheet in teaching it.

BTS Tourism Specific

BTS, in my experience at least, has been the most difficult section I’ve had, and inspiring motivation can be difficult at times. However, I did try to make some tourism-specific lesson plans for them:

  1. I showed this documentary about Lake Powell in conjunction with this packet, and a follow up with the more touristy Arizona Highways TV spot on the same topic with this one. Going through both took a little under two hours.
  2. I made a presentation on Mardi Gras in New Orleans and we compared the traditions with those in Pézenas. We then divided the class in two and each group had to try and convince us which one was better.

 

 

35mm

As a Christmas/New Year’s/Getting-In-To-Grad-School gift to myself back in December, I got a Pentax Spotmatic film camera off of Le Bon Coin and I absolutely adore it. Here are a few pictures from around the region, namely Pezenas (my town), Castelnau-Le-Lez, Mèze, and Montpellier. (These are pictures of the pictures taken by my digital camera woops).

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Canned Peaches

A quick poem I wrote this afternoon while trying not to get peach juice on my computer.

My cupboard is stocked with canned fruit
waiting to fall forward
into lids peels back,
fork tongs stuck in
uncondensing sweetness out.

in this battle against
Hunger stalking
the unrequited Love at the heart
of this chore called living.

I have never been hunting
or planted an orchard.
Never warmed my hand beneath
the feathers of a hen nestled
against her eggs to take
what I need, or
sewed myself to water
by the stitch of fishing lure.

No,
these hands have always eaten
the legs propping them up, fingers gnashing
around the curved edges of cans piled high
as me, bringing cheeks to the knife-sharp
corners of metal ripped open,
praying that the edging caresses won’t rip
back, and get iron-rich blood as sticky as juice—
but not quite as sweet—
everywhere.

How the Fuck to be an Adult: A Syllabus

HUM101
Topics in Aesthetic and Humanistic Inquiry—Real World Expressionisms:
How the fuck to be an Adult?
Section 1, Course #6408
MoTuWeTh 2:30-3:35
LA 205
Fall 2017
3 credit hours

Professor: To be determined
Contact Information: See weeks seven/eight in course schedule

Course Requirements:
All first semester freshmen

Course Description:
How, exactly, does one “grow the fuck up?” This phrase has come to permeate contemporary culture (and, perhaps, every culture preceding this one dating back to whenever humans went the route of not just being born knowing how to walk like, say, a motherfucking deer would) through its malicious ability to effectively punctuate the end of whatever argument in which it is employed. I’m breaking up with you. You killed my cat. You didn’t pay your bills. You let Grandpa go to the grocery store unsupervised and now all we have to eat are these tiny sausages that make him feel like he’s having tea with the queen, you fucking child. And yet the very commonality of this phrase has dulled its meaning to the point of cliché and, subsequently, led to a lack of clarity that leaves us to wonder what exactly is being insinuated by the vague implications of “growing up.”

This course, Humanities 101 “How the fuck to be an Adult?,” will teach the basics of what the fuck it means to grow up and how the fuck to do it yourself. This class will focus on how to successfully complete the everyday banalities of adulthood that are not sexy enough or are perhaps just too useful to be taught in a normal public school environment. The structure of this class consists of weekly readings and written responses that accompany required in-class discussion. You will learn how to read, write, and discuss texts and topics critically, as well as how to emotionally support your peers in the designated “cry and hug” periods allocated at the end of each class.

Methods of Assessment:
Grading will be based on the following:

  • 40% of total grade: papers and/or creative projects totaling 15-35 pages of writing;
  • 15% of total grade: one researched essay totaling 8-12 pages;
  • 5% of total grade: one 2-5 page annotated bibliography on a topic, book, or issue related to the course;
  • 10% of total grade: oral reports, debates, group presentations;
  • 15% of total grade: participation. This portion of your grade will include some or all of the following: class attendance, active and informed class discussions, ability to express emotion in a healthy, but definitely noticeable, in-class manner, individual hugs, group hugs, back-pats, “I feel you, man”s, and human pyramids;
  • 15% of total grade: one portfolio documenting various aspects of an average week in your life at the conclusion of the class, including but not limited to finances, meals, schedules, relationships that have lost their luster, small talk, and daydreams, all working in tandem to create a general sense of both success and ennui;
  • Total: 100%

Course Schedule/Outline:
Subject to Change

Weeks One and Two:

FINANCES

Topics:

  • How to pay taxes
  • How to take out loans
  • How to make a budget
  • How to get a mortgage
  • How to get a good price from the devil for your achin’ soul

Activites:

  • Ice breakers
  • Power Points
  • Spread Sheets (with pictures)

Homework:

  • Negotiate the price of your soul with said devil. Make sure to bring in said price to class for discussion and comparison. Habituate yourself to said comparison, as this is a dominating factor in choice-making in the oncoming adult world.

 

Weeks Three and Four:

COOKING

Topics:

  • How to boil water
  • How to boil pasta
  • How to heat pasta sauce
  • How to uncork wine

Activities:

  • Boiling water
  • Boiling pasta
  • Heating pasta sauce
  • Don’t drink in class, you dumbass

Homework:

  • Invite your parents over for dinner and treat them to your newfound cooking delights. Record their reactions to the meal. Bring in for discussion/comparison.

 

Weeks Five and Six:

CLEANING

Topics:

  • How to do the dishes
  • How to do laundry
  • How to clean a kitchen
  • How to clean a bathroom
  • How to clean everything else
  • How to manipulate roommates/significant others/family members/passers-by on the street to clean your residence for you

Activities:

  • Power Points
  • Spread Sheets (sans pictures)

Homework:

  • Clean your dorm, you Lazy Freshman. You have mushrooms growing in the corner of your bathroom and you can’t ignore that shit forever. It is not healthy, and you are embarrassing your parents, which you should, also, habituate yourself to by the way. Remember the pasta incident last week? Remember that sound your mother made when she looked at what you made, like she wanted to be proud but it got caught up in disappointment’s arms and could only squeeze out so much? Remember that that sound will haunt you in your sleep for the rest of your life. This, like competition, will constitute a significant aspect of your coming adult life.
  1. Whichever students get passers-by to clean their dorms for them will get the “Tom Sawyer Award,” which is, actually, chocolate.

 

Weeks Seven and Eight:

COMMUNICATION

Topics:

  • How to conduct charming small talk
  • How to fake a smile/laugh
  • How to talk on the phone
  • How to write an effective email
  • How to find contact information online and through the yellow pages
  • How to tell your grandpa that he can’t live off of tiny sausages forever despite the whole royalty thing, considering
  1. They are, in fact, tiny and, therefore, not enough calories to subsist on alone, and
  2. He already has high cholesterol for crying out loud, and doesn’t he want to meet the grandkids someday? You’re not going to have them for nothing.
  • How to effectively/ineffectively navigate significant others from initial flirting/honeymooning to the banal process of “grooving” and “being comfortable,” and, for when comfort has finally stifled all will for excitement and living, vocabulary for how to end things in an adult-like manner that will give you the proper high-ground for calling the other out on “growing the fuck up” and the propagation of this contemporary cultural cliché to help you through the break up. How to navigate the conversation of children in order to provide Grandpa with those grandkids he keeps asking about, assuming that the tiny sausages don’t get to him first.

Activities:

  • Talking to each other
  • The Weather
  • Game: “It’s not you, it’s me”

Homework:

  • Conduct a successful social interaction. Record. Bring in for comparison.

 

Weeks Nine and Ten:

POLITICS

Topics:

  • How to vote
  • How to read the news
  • How to protest and/or be complacent
  • How to keep a responsible social media presence representing your views

Activities:

  • Power Points (with pictures)
  • Spreadsheets (without pictures)

Homework:

  • Read the news

 

Weeks Eleven and Twelve:

Group presentations on The American Dream and how to individually interpret it for your personal goals as well as the contemporary socio-economic standpoint of America right now.

 

Week Thirteen:

THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving lasts all week here, motherfucker. Go boil some pasta.

 

Weeks Fourteen and Fifteen:

FINAL PAPERS

Requirements:

  • Critical reflection on topics covered in this class, including both original research and the topics’ place in your everyday life on a personal level;
  • Documentation of your average week, exhibiting the tools covered over the course of HUM101;
  • Letter from your parents about what they think;
  • Letter from your peers about how they feel compared to you;
  • Letter of thanks to your professor;
  • Final evaluation of the phrase “growing the fuck up,” and how you feel you fit into its narrative after HUM101 in conjunction with your first semester of college. Please answer: How much have you grown from the class itself? How much have you grown from personal experience? Which is more painful? Which is more effective?

 

A Guide to Resting your Tired Dogs whilst doing the Self-Discovery Thing: or, my February Vacation Travels to Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Brussels

[S]leeping can be a form of emotional escape and can with sustained effort be abused…[G]ambling can be an abusable escape, too, and work, shopping, and shoplifting, and sex, and masturbation, and food, and exercise…[A]nonymous generosity, too, can be abused. Having sex with someone you do not care for feels lonelier than not having sex in the first place afterward. It is permissible to want.

Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace

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Brussels, Belgium

If, at some point, you find yourself in a position where you are Twenty-Two-Years-Old and Fresh-Out-Of-College and, on top of all that, say, an English teaching assistant in Middle of Nowhere, France, you may find yourself perpetually on two-week vacations from the usual grueling Twelve-Hour Work Week you normally have to endure of miming the English language at classrooms of bored French students while pretending you Didn’t Know You Weren’t Supposed to Give Political Standpoints in the French school system because your Académie never actually gave you any formal training anyway. Luckily, in Middle of Nowhere, France, you may also be that One Lucky Bastard in your Académie who lives in a high school without rent, and, since you are Young and wanting to do the whole Self Discovery Thing, you are now afforded to leave said high school in order to Travel Europe for the two week “Winter Break” period in February that is a thinly laïc-veiled disguise for Lent.

Because, I mean, the apartment in the high school in the Middle of Nowhere is great, and probably the best place you’ll get for some time, but you really have to ask yourself sometimes what the history of your current fucking mattress could be. How it could possibly be as lumpy and painfully uncomfortable as it is. Why there’s that one perfect, lipped canyon running right down its middle that, if you accidentally roll into, has you suddenly touching its back side. Why, if you put too much weight on one end, the whole thing completely flips over and throws you out. It smells bad; you know why, but it’s still disconcerting.

You want to escape from this mattress.

You want to escape from this Middle of Nowhere. Even if just for a little.

You start by escaping to Stockholm, Sweden where one of your friends from the aforementioned recently-left college back in the US has recently moved to start an internship. In Sweden, you may sleep on a twin-sized mattress that is more comfortable than a piggy-back ride on God’s fecklessly smooth back-skin. The sun is gone most of the time up there too, and your friend and yours’s version of tourism mostly consists of large consumptions of alcohol over gossip and bitching and, later, when you are both reasonably comfortable being bad tourists, The Bachelor. These factors help foster the deepest cocoon of sleep you’ve had in ages, and help you trudge around Sweden’s dark, snowy cold to look at palaces and fjords and squares that you’re sure must be quite pleasant in the summer. You will try to buy food in Swedish, but spoken with a Danish accent that makes them just give you meat regardless of what you tried to ask for. As a vegetarian, this will make you uncomfortable in an accepting, polite kind of way that rips apart your digestive system. Sweden will make you miss the year you studied abroad in Denmark. Not the country of Denmark itself, but the time itself. Europe is teaching you, this time around, that your obsession with place is a misconstrued projection of experience, and that the two are not necessarily the same.

Afterwards, you will go to Amsterdam, specifically for the Vincent van Gogh Museum, because you bought a book of his letters in London and they really fucking spoke to you, man. In trying to get to your Dutch mattress late the first night, you will realize that you booked a hostel an hour outside of Amsterdam itself and struggle to follow its directions to “go to the lighthouse” in a country whose language sounds like a Sims dialect. You will wander around in the snow for an hour with all your luggage until somebody at the gas station gives you directions. You will find that the tourists in the Netherlands really like their mattresses too: in an All Day Long kind of way that makes it so you don’t really make the normal hostel friends that you might otherwise. The beds, to be fair, are terribly comfortable, if a little smelly and rattled by club music all night long. But you are exhausted from Amsterdam anyway. You will lose your first day in the van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum in an engrossing, inspiring way that makes you forget that you only have two days there. Van Gogh will be crowded, and you will be more into watching the security guards fight the tourists to stop taking Selfies and try to teach them that Technology is an Affront to Art (actual security guard comments) than perhaps the paintings themselves, even if you cry at the crows (which you clearly remember described in the letters as “vast stretches of wheat under troubled skies, and I didn’t have to put myself out very much in order to try and express sadness and extreme loneliness.”) The second day, you will go on a walking tour in the pouring snow and feel ashamed for not being able to take anything away from it save the memory of being desperately cold and fighting off the advances of an Australian who really wanted to go on a canal tour with you. Afterwards, you will think about buying drugs, but go and read in the library where it is warm for hours and hours instead. In the end, Jean Tinguely from the Stedelijk is This Trip’s Discovery: an artist who focuses on machines, movement, and modernism. His letters, in French, are on display about how love is an act of movement, how life is an act of movement, and they are moving in a way that stays with you, even as you say Goodbye to Another City That Must Be Lovely In The Summer and move on to Brussels.

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Snow on the beach in Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Whose mattress is also quite nice, but whose pillow is of lesser quality than Amsterdam’s or Stockholm’s. You like Brussels immediately for being beautiful in a way you can tell doesn’t take itself too seriously. You will go to a Lenten church service in German for some familiar, High Mass Smells. You will be told “vous êtes belle” by a stranger who seemed sincere– and not drunk– on its steps outside. You will get film developed in what turns out to be a man’s living room. You will drink beer and eat chocolate. You will gawk at the beautiful Art Nouveau architecture everywhere. You will figure out why \it is an Art Nouveau City on a walking tour that teaches you that Belgium earned its wealth by killing half the population of The Congo at the turn of the century, when Art Nouveau was at its height. You will go to a Musical Instrument Museum that is actually not as good as the one in Phoenix. You will go to the Magritte Museum on surrealist painter René Magritte and realize that surrealism makes so much more sense when you read poetry, like you recently started regularly practicing. You will spend Valentine’s Day drinking alone, nostalgically, on the cold, hard cobblestones of Le Grand Place, and make a brief cameo on Brussels News for doing so.

In the Netherlands, you will subsist on Dutch Chocolate when you get hungry.

In Belgium, you will subsist on Belgian Waffles when you get hungry.

You will not feel very well.

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Brussels, Belgium

You will, most importantly, take a wide and varying combination of planes, trains, and God Awful Overnight Buses to traverse Europe, and will fall deeply asleep on every single one of them. You will practice finagling your body into contortions your mattress in Middle of Nowhere, France does not ask of you in order to sleep, and your Morning Body will come to grips with an ache it almost never knows. It will just want to get to a hostel’s bed, or, even, back to the Familiar Discomfort nestled in the Middle of Nowhere’s lumpy mattress.

You will learn, here, what it means to Rest. Learn what it means to live in this Work of Escaping from Work and Adulthood, from the Real World and Home and the USA, you Twenty-Two-Year-Old Self-Discovery Stuffer.  Learn that Escape gives you that ache that only comes with travel, the kind that wants nothing but Arrival.

If, at some point, you find yourself in this position, where you are Twenty-Two-Years-Old and Fresh-Out-Of-College doing the Whole Self-Discovery Thing, remember that life is an Act in Movement. When you are tired from travelling, ask what Rest you really get from your bed at home? The comfort you chose to leave because it was meant for leaving. Go. Travel.  Get Away from it. All of it. When you get tired, lay down. And see where you got.

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Stockholm, Sweden

Big Muddy

In light of discovering Frank Lima (who is brilliant beyond words) and resistance.

Always remember that you were formed on top of those mountains
you see spindling up from the once flat earth in want
of open air’s weathered
love,
like infant fingers learning to reach up towards a clasp,
or tiny lungs learning to grip
air into hungry screams.

That sky, who answers want with
the cold beauty of snow, will watch
you wear your days away, my dear,

under the tender heat of a risen sun — touch:
a verb meant to melt.
Think lover melting skin smooth
underneath a goosebump’s forgotten breath —
in order to fall down and run with the river
eager to fill the shape of its given banks,

the banks that will dump dirt into your soft arms
until you are plump and heavy and called something like
“Big Muddy.”

Rivers do not run back upstream, Big Muddy,
but down
down
down
down
down
the length of the vein
(or scar)
running across the country’s face all
the way to the once flat ocean, where you will remember
those mountains where you were once snow
and climb up into a wave
reaching for the storming sky heaving with water
to take back what you need in order to feel

full.

In Defense of Discomfort/In Defense of the News

I have not read the news in a week.

I watched Donald Trump get inaugurated on Friday and got so upset by his speech (and, later, the fact that the administration removed numerous parts of the White House website including information about Americans with disabilities, climate change, LGBTQIA rights, and the option to read the website in Spanish) that I came close to breaking a door going home only to start a nasty fight with someone and then cry.

And, since Friday, I have happily let myself retreat back into my cute little French life that is so easily distanced from the United States, even if I did participate in Montpellier’s Women’s March on Saturday. I’ve been watching a lot of The Bachelorette, spending a lot of time with the significant other, and occasionally reading election memes on my Facebook page. And while there is, of course, nothing wrong with continuing to have a life in light of Donald Trump’s unfortunate existence, any protest I have engaged in since the inauguration has been extremely comfortable for me. This post-inauguration weekend activism has very much been on the conditions of my privilege, if not only as a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered, abled woman from the upper-middle class, but as an ex-patriot who doesn’t even have to live in the US right now. Where I am right now makes comfort easy, but I have made the conscious decision to keep it so by removing myself from what is happening and choosing to not read the news.

The news is fucking upsetting right now. I got an email from my mom this morning that said she has to stop reading it because it makes her physically sick. When I (guiltily) told her she had to keep at it, I went to go look for myself for the first time in said week and was unable to even click on any of the articles past their headlines because the stories scared me so much.

But the thing is, this is a scary, upsetting, uncomfortable time, and it has to affect people in positions of privilege so, even if what it reports on does not impact the cushion of that privilege directly. The news, if reading good sources, is (I would argue) always a little upsetting, and this is probably a large factor in why it is not terribly popular.

From my experience, though, the most common resistance that I experience as a privileged person is through being informed. Everybody has real, valid problems, and I don’t mean to diminish these by any means, but the news helps put them in perspective with other, real, valid problems that do not necessarily resemble one’s own. I would argue that a large factor behind the election of Donald Trump was a bigotry bred from this exact focus on one’s own issues and failing to recognize the scope of the world outside what feels familiar.

So let’s be upset. Let’s be mad. Let’s read the fucking news, and stay informed in ways that will not let us be comfortable. Let’s make sure we are prepared to have well-informed, concretely evidenced arguments ready when confronting bigotry and ignorance in our everyday lives, and not allow others to be comfortable either. Let’s have our days ruined by events that may not personally involve us by making the fight against those events something we consider personally important.


I know all news is, on some level, biased, but so is any media whether it be digital, printed, or through conversation. Everything is up to the individual to challenge and interpret themselves, and this, certainly, does not exclude the news. Anyway, my point is, my personal favorite news sources are:

  1. Al Jazeera
  2. BBC News
  3. Democracy Now
  4. NPR
  5. Last Week Tonight (comedy, yes, but actually extremely well researched, and brings up stories you don’t hear everywhere.)