Mastering French
Louisa Fish-Sadin
Louisa Fish-Sadin
High School Faculty
Religious Studies, Dance, French
April 10, 2019
In the second semester this year, the high school French 1 class has begun a focus on active study strategies and the brain science behind them. Students are building a toolkit of study strategies that are backed up by evidence, and required reflections and assessment wrappers ask them to build metacognitive practices to evaluate their own study strategies. Reflective thinking, goal-setting, and revision are important parts of a Sacred Heart Education. Here’s an example of what that looks like in French this month:
In late February, students took a midterm exam that included material from the entire French 1 course so far. When they took the exam, they first answered several questions in writing about what they knew, what they felt nervous about, and exactly how they had prepared for the exam. When I returned their exams last week, they were asked to look over any errors they had made and write down what they noticed about the types of things they had struggled with. Then, for homework, they reflected on the following questions:
  1. What content (use of particular vocabulary, grammar, skills) did the midterm demonstrate you have mastered?
  2. What content (use of particular vocabulary, grammar, skills) did the midterm demonstrate you have not yet mastered?
  3. Of the things you identified in question #2, what are 2 you would like to focus on mastering in the next 2 weeks?
  4. Describe a regular study practice that you will begin in order to master the 2 content chunks you identified in #3. (What, specifically, will you do? When? How often? How will you know you are approaching mastery?)  
The following class day, students engaged in a lesson about the science of memory and repetition, and revised their answers to question 4 based on that experience and teacher feedback about the scope of their chosen “chunks”. They then shared their “2-in-2” (two content chunks in two weeks) with their tablemate. Students are enacting their 2-in-2 plans, and their chosen content will be re-assessed at the end of March, at which point they will engage in further reflection and strategizing about how their 2-in-2 strategy went and how they might amend it going forward.
Here is one student’s plan:
I will … “quiz” myself on the conjugations of words and actually write down the [verb] charts. I will do this at least once a day for each category [of verb]. I will know I am approaching mastery when I can [write] the charts and make sentences without struggling to remember.
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