Campbell Ainsworth’s French II class embarks on a student-directed exploration of French historical figures.
What do Victor Hugo, Coco Chanel, and Jean Jacques Rousseau have in common? Campbell Ainsworth’s French II class knows! This year, Campbell guided his students through an exploration of French history with this fun and inventive project. Students research a French historical figure of their choice and present their findings on this figure to the class, describing their life, their works, and their accomplishments, all in French. Classmates ask questions and seek clarification. Then, the student leads the class in an activity, putting their classmates’ understanding of the material to the test. A wide range of historical figures were discussed, in fields as disparate as philosophy and fashion, while classroom activities ranged from short quizzes on the material presented to practical demonstrations of Impressionistic artwork. At the end of class, Campbell announced that each student would have to pick another student’s presentation and write a paper on the information.
“I like this activity because I find that students love to teach each other and their enthusiasm for the subject they choose rubs off on the others,” says Campbell. “Giving the other students a specific task to do during these presentations is important because not only does it keep them engaged, but the presenter really has to make an effort to make themself understood. It helps them practice their oral and listening skills in an authentic way.”