I like to use magazines in my senior classes. I base two assignments on magazines articles. The first is an article summary and critique and the other is a presentation based on an article.
For the summary, students choose an article from French-Canadian magazines such as L’actualité, La Presse or Le Devoir. They have to also give their own opinion about the topic raised in the article they’ve chosen. I like this activity because it increases their vocabulary and their confidence. Core French students are reading an article that was intended for Francophones, so they’re very proud of themselves for having read and understood it. They also familiarize themselves with current events.
Another assignment I have them do is an article presentation. The concept is similar, but it is an oral activity. They need to choose an article, summarize it orally for the class and then ask the class 3 questions based on the article to start a discussion. This is great too because it encourages spontaneous conversations, which is one of my goals. It’s easier to do in the senior classes because they’ve had more exposure to the language. The challenge will be to have simpler spontaneous conversations with the junior classes more often. This activity also helps with a combined class because at least it’s an activity that the grade elevens and twelves can do together. It’s initally difficult to get the grade elevens talking because they’re intimidated by the grade twelves, but I slowly chip away at it, and eventually they get more and more comfortable.
I hope these ideas help you with your combined classes.