In 1989, our school received a gift of a French film without subtitles (Cyrano de Bergerac) as part of our exchange program. We knew our students wouldn't understand the film unless we did something to make it comprehensible. At the time, our district was in the throes of a staff development strand on learning styles strategies. So a colleague (Nan Ward) and I sat down and wrote lesson plans for Cyrano making sure that we addressed all learning styles. We instinctively broke the film down into segments of 10 to 15 minutes each and then built activities around those segments.
We then tried the lesson plans with our students and were blown away with the results. Our students' listening comprehension improved dramatically. We couldn't believe how much they understood. Their speaking skills improved since the activities emphasized using language in context. Besides, they enjoyed the activities so it was never a chore for them to contribute. Writing skills improved since we frequently asked for short compositions and they were required to answer questions in writing. Reading improved, not only through questions, but also by virtue of the fact that we picked out excerpts from the original play for our students to read.
We were so impressed with the results that we decided to take this on the road. We attended a number of conferences in Illinois and even presented at the national ACTFL conference. Many teachers told us that what we had was something teachers wanted and needed and that we should be selling our lesson plans—not giving them away.
Our small business has grown, as have our offerings. And our customers have been very kind in providing lots of that positive reinforcement that is sometimes lacking in teaching. You let us know directly by phone or notes, by sharing with other teachers at workshops, through comments on FL Teach and through just plain word of mouth what you think of our lesson plans and you have been very kind. We thank you for your support these past years. Judy Sugarman