Paying Homage to French Innovation

As students in Ladane du Boulay’s class bid “adieu” to French 2, they ended the school year with a final project highlighting their appreciation of French inventors.

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Rather than answer multiple-choice questions on a final exam, students tackled a different test of their French knowledge through research and presentations about historical greats like philosopher, mathematician and scientist René Descartes and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. 

Clara Nalle ’24, who researched educator and inventor Louis Braille, embraced the idea. “With a final exam, you take all the information you learned throughout the year and you have to study a lot all for one test, but with a project, you can show what you have learned in a less stressful way,” she said. 

That was du Boulay’s intention in assigning the interest-based final project. “Students can showcase their abilities by demonstrating tenses we have used, their mastery of grammatical structures and the vocabulary they have learned,” she explained. “It’s fun because the students have a connection to the project by learning about a variety of inventors who not only contributed to French society, but to society as a whole.”

Hanna Fresca ’23 liked the idea of “a project where we can learn more about the culture and apply our knowledge.” She shared that she “chose les frères Lumière (the Lumière brothers) who are best known for their work in cinematography and film.”

In addition to writing an essay about their inventor’s life and contributions, students made a presentation to the class. Du Boulay was impressed with their efforts and said that “I love these ‘aha!’ moments they’re having learning from their peers,” she said. “It’s a more meaningful and authentic way of assessing the students' work.”

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