term-long, weekly, and short assignments for university French (translating to other languages too) for #COVIDcampus #remoteteaching #remotelearning

The following examples are from FREN 101 and 102. More detailed versions of the assignments below, with marking rubrics for the term-long assignments:


Used for 2 years now, can be adapted to any level of language; this is the 2020 Summer version. 

This assignment is a combination of reflection about learning (apprendre) and language—a savoir-apprendre that complements the savoirs (knowledge) of this course—and an individual curated collection of your own found materials in and on French, creating an environment of personal wellbeing—l’art et la joie de vivre—a savoir-être (about être, being) that complements the savoir-faire (about faire, doing; and the intelligent application of knowledge to know-how) of your course and its materials.

For more about the raison d’être for the savoir-vivre (and savoir-être and savoir-apprendre) part of our course, see: “Savoir-vivre plurilingual intercultural learning portfolios” (O’Brien, 2018 and 2019 updates (1), (2), and (3)) and information about the UBC Faculty of Arts ePortfolios … for this course, for other courses, and for life. 

(“scrapbooking” regular weekly collection)

Individual curated collection of your own found materials in and on French, creating an environment of personal wellbeing: l’art et la joie de vivre. A regular weekly collection = at least one journal entry every week.


(“journaling” reflection on learning)

Reflection and commentary on your learning in French: what you are learning, how, and why; how your perception of French is changing over the course of the course; what connections you have found between French and your other UBC courses. Should include at least 1 journal entry per textbook dossier [chapter/unit/module] and at least 3 entries reporting back after visits to your instructor’s office hours, or other live interaction with/in French. This part of your FREN 101 written work may include English or other languages other than French—all other work produced in this course is in French—so that you can express yourself fully.


Arts ePortfolio via Canvas. This offers you the opportunity to include: 

  • your own writing (and other expressive media: photos and podcasts, for example) 

  • other text and images, sound, video, links

  • your own aesthetic, design, and organisation: further elements of creative and critical work, of reflection, of cognitive and metacognitive work

There are several ways of doing this (check with your instructor for what they prefer):

  • UBC Faculty of Arts ePortfolios (for students in any faculty) 

  • A site outside Canvas (ex. UBC Blogs; outside UBC ex. WordPress, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram). If your site, or the part of it for this course, is not public, you will also need to provide your instructor with the means to access it ex. password for password-protected blog posts. 

  • Write your journal in a physical paper notebook and take photos of it at the end of term, then upload them to a site as above.

Once you have set up your ePortfolio, please provide your instructor with its URL link in an accessible format, via the appropriate area of Canvas. Then start writing in your ePortfolio.


For the last two years, I’ve included a question about the term-long individual portfolio and/or group project on the final exam. Here’s the April 2020 version, for FREN 101 and for FREN 102:


This online version of an exercise developed earlier has been changed to incorporate formative feedback through check-in sessions at the first two of the three stages (instead of physical marking by the instructor), and with a question about the project on the midterm exam. Each stage adds grammar, structures, and thematic vocabulary progressively.  

Project purpose / learning objective: putting what you are learning into applied practice as active learning in our local environment, transforming savoirs into savoir-faire. (Bonus: thinking critically and creatively about location, and the local, while in the virtual.)

  • Stage 1: 
    • introduce your group
    • (video: students may of course do this in disguise, using animation, using everyday objects to make stop-motion animation, etc.)
  • Stage 2: 
    • Choose and go to a location that is free to access: a public beach, park, garden, museum, art gallery; a pole, sculpture, or other public outdoor art; a book in French in an online library (ex. UBC Koerner (Arts & Humanities) Library, UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, Bibliothèque nationale de France)
    • Choose an object (ex. a book, a work of art, an exhibit) or living being (ex. a tree) (BONUS: this stage also involves thinking about object/subject distinctions; a popular past choice has been the whale skeleton in the UBC Biodiversity Museum.) 
    • Write a dialogue in which you ask your object/being questions … and they reply. Include an image of your object. You may, if you wish, also include further images (please ensure that they are permitted, some inhabitants of a Museum should not be photographed).
    • (written)
  • Stage 3: 
    • Invite the object / being in Stage 2 of your project to talk about their habits and daily activities. Interview your guest: ask them questions, they reply, and so on.
    • (written + video)


Same adaptations for online as in (1) above. Also: options for peer-evaluation and/or open access public knowledge work.

This is a group version of the individual savoir-être portfolio, collecting resources that combine wellbeing with French language, Francophone culture, and a university and general culture of learning. (Possible topics: this assignment is almost infinitely possibly varied!)

Project purpose / learning objective: This project is an extension of your individual savoir-vivre portfolio’s curated collection of your own found materials in and on French. In that portfolio you’re creating a multisensory environment of personal wellbeing—l’art et la joie de vivre—a savoir-être (about être, being) that complements the savoir-faire (about faire, doing; and the intelligent application of knowledge to know-how) of your course and its materials.

In this group project, you’ll select a topic or specific area in common to your individual portfolios. This should be something that you all agree is important to you. It could be a broad category (ex. music) or narrow (ex. one specific song or other musical work per person in your group).

Present and describe your choice of Francophone wellbeing resource. Say why you think that it would be helpful for other people. Include images (audio and video too, if you wish and if it’s relevant to your topic).

You can either do that by writing fully collaboratively (= one single continuous text written by all of you), or writing a thematically-linked compilation of individual parts. Then each of you will record a short video, explaining your individual choice of wellbeing item and what it means to you, personally.

Submission (Canvas Assignments): PDF of group text + individual videos


This next section is just ideas, and optional. An instructor and class might also choose to integrate peer evaluation and/or open education public humanities aspects into projects in their course. This is subject to instructor and individual student preferences and agreement, the full informed consent of all concerned. It’s just an option and an idea. There are many other further options too … 

This assignment might also involve peer evaluation—an online O’Brien-style festive fair of learning— and/or making the written part public online (but not the video). Here’s an example of how I’ve used both of them, together, in a course in fall 2019: RMST 221B “Animal Reading” (1) peer-assessing work and  (2) “Humanimals Reading: a local public bestiary” public knowledge contribution. That was built in UBC Blogs (= WordPress); a UBC Blogs site can be created from within a Canvas course site. Another option would be a Wiki. UBC Learning Technology Hub can help you to set these up. First, though, read the LTH’s online guides: 


(all O’Brien materials CC BY-NC-SA licence)

UPDATE (June 2020)

Some people like Authority and Authorities. Here is an Official Authoritative Best Practices UBC Wiki page, “Reimagining Assessments”: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Reimagining_Assessments (last edited 2020-05-31)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.