Advanced French students compose children's books

Monticello High School French instructor Madame Erica Bryant admits a “perfect storm” led to a very successful student-led effort that saw her fourth-year French students writing children’s books and reading them to Lincoln Elementary first graders.

“During the fourth quarter of their last year, I kind of like them to take the lead, I kind of turn it over to them. I tell them, ‘this is your victory lap. What do you need to do to cement your French learning?’” said Bryant.

Past classes have spent the final nine weeks reading a novel or compiling a history project. This year’s group decided to study animals and write about them.

The nine students went further by asking, “what now? What will we do with these books?”

Well, inspiration often comes out of the mouths of babes, and in this case it was Bryant’s first grade daughter. She came home with news that, “mom, we’re getting ready to do animal stories at school.”

For Bryant, the timing was perfect. She suggested her French 12 class shift gears to compose children’s books about animals in French, which received a very warm reception.

“They were springing out of their chairs! They said, ‘Madame, can we do that!’” she said. “It was just open of those perfect storms.”

Working in groups of two or three, some students drew original artwork, while others used Photoshop to make stock photos their own. Google Docs and Google Slides did the trick, and students collaborated through Chromebooks. Some authors laminated and/or bound their books.

On April 18 the high schoolers spent time reading the bilingual books – they featured both French and English writing – to first graders at Lincoln.

“To see our first graders absolutely absorbed in what those students were doing, it was incredible,” said Lincoln Principal Mary Vogt.

Despite the revelation from her daughter, Bryant claims, “I can take little credit for this. This class took their own suggestion and ran with it.”

“They read with such feeling,” she added. “I was almost in tears.”

A humorous moment for Vogt came when some Lincoln told the French students “gracious” on their way out.

“That was a little letdown for the students,” chuckled the principal.

But overall, it was more than a successful endeavor, according to Bryant.

“It was amazing,” she said.


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