The French Corner 2018 Recap

Now that 2018 has come to a close, I'd like to recap some of the things that happened in and out of my classroom this year.  There were some exciting times, some new things tried, and new places explored!

In February we had our annual crêpe event, where parents come in and help prepare crêpes that the students order in French and serve to each other.  Click here to read an older post about the event.

Also in February, I received a grant for more iPads for our department.  This means our department now shares 30 iPads, and students no longer have to share devices!

In April, students collaborated once again on ABC books, modeled after a French ABC book we read in class.  Click here to read an older article on the project.  What made the project different this year was that students got to go into sixth grade classes and read their ABC books to younger students.

In May, French-Canadian rapper Webster came to our school and put on a concert for our students.

Also in May, I tried this positive adjectives activity for the first time.  Every student had a piece of paper and they kept passing their papers to the person next to them, adding a positive adjective to the paper.  Click here to read more about it.

Also in May, we resumed our elementary French project, where middle school students taught mini French lessons to elementary students.  This is such a fun project for all involved!  Click here to read more about it.

In the fall, 7th graders went 1:1 in our school and I tried out a whole host of new activities and platforms, such as Canvas and Gimkit.  Click here to read more about what I experimented with this fall.

In November, my colleague Robin and I went to our first ACTFL convention in New Orleans.   I got to meet some of the teachers I follow, learn some new techniques at workshops, and soak in the culture of the Big Easy.  Click here to read more about my ACTFL experience!

Happy New Year, everyone!

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New Idea - Gimkit for Catch Up Days

I recently blogged about a new game called Gimkit, where students win "money" for answering questions and can buy upgrades with their money to try to get ahead in the game.  What's cool is that the game does not require students to look up at the SMART Board at any time.  They are working completely independently on their devices although they are all participating in the same game.  Well, I recently had the idea to incorporate Gimkit into a catch up day.  Do you ever have so many students who have to make up, turn in, and retake things that you decide to just give them a day for it?  Well from time to time, I do just that, but it's always a struggle to find meaningful work for the students who are all caught up to complete.  So I had the idea to have a Gimkit game running.  In order to keep the environment quiet and respectful for students working, the music was turned off, students had to silence their devices, and the leaderboard was not displayed for students to look at and comment on (and I could display information about make up work on the board).  There was enough time during the period to play two games.  For the most part, students were pretty respectful and remained quiet most of the time, and the other students had an opportunity to get caught up on work.

Do you ever do catch up days?  How do you keep the caught up kids engaged for the period?  Will you try Gimkit?

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My First ACTFL Experience!

Last week, my colleague Robin and I headed down to New Orleans for our very first ACTFL experience!  We got to experience all that this culturally rich city has to offer, attend a variety of sessions, and I got to meet some of the teachers and bloggers I follow on social media!  In this post I will share some of the photos I took, but if you'd like to see more, head on over to my photography blog.

The program guide was a bit overwhelming!  I've never been to a conference with so many workshop choices!  The mobile app was really useful in helping me sort through them all and pick out my top choices.

The exhibit hall was huge!

Some of the highlights:

-At Deborah Lindsay's IPA Pre-Conference Workshop, I learned a lot about the different ACTFL proficiency levels and examples of tasks that can be incorporated into an IPA

-At the Teaching New Orleans session, presented by Chiara Azzaretti, Dr. Annie Doucet, Jacqueline Sarro, and Parjest Thevenard, I learned about some of the ways you can draw on the language and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana in the French classroom.  One presenter showed a clip from a documentary called "Le bijou sur le bayou têche, (click the link to watch it on YouTube), which highlights the difference between cajun French and creole.

-I got to see Valérie Greer, who, along with her colleague Wendy Mercado, authors the Liven Up Your Language Class site.  If you haven't already, check out all their fun activities!  I first met Valérie and Wendy at NYSAFLT Summer Institute 2013, and we've been sharing ideas ever since.

-I got to meet Catherine Ousselin, whom I've been following on social media for years!  Her presentation was done in French.  It was nice to get some immersion in while I was there!

-At the Comprehensible Input in 30 Minutes a Week, I got to see some of the bloggers I follow present on CI, including French teacher Cécile Lainé (pictured above).

It was a huge turnout for the opening session on Friday morning!

Keynote speaker Dan Buettner captivated the audience with his stories about life about areas in the world he has designated as "blue zones," where people have been documented to live the longest.

When I wasn't at the conference, I was out in New Orleans soaking up the culture.  I took this photo at St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.

I love that the street signs are also in French!

Fleur de lys hanging off the tree is a nice touch.

Beignets at Café du Monde are a must-eat!

This statue of Joan of Arc was a gift from the French.  There is an identical statue in Paris near the Louvre.

I had the escargots at Galatoire's!

I found a bit of French on my way out of Mulate's restaurant!

I loved sharing my photos and stories with students when I got back.  Having visited New Orleans for ACTFL I not only picked up some new ideas, I also gained some cultural experiences that will enhance my teaching.

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10 Things I'm Thankful For

This is just a quick post.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to share ten things I am thankful for as a teacher:

1. My students, who come to class eager to learn every day (and I'm not making that up!).
2. My colleagues, whom I can turn to with questions and can collaborate with.
3. All the bloggers whose blogs I read; I get so many ideas from other teachers!
4. Being able to teach at the same middle school I attended as a kid.  It gives me a stronger sense of community and connects me better to my students.
5. Being 1:1 this year; it has facilitated the use of technology in the classroom.
6. When students say "Merci !" as they walk out the door.
7. When a student gives me a thoughtfully written card (especially if it's written in French!)
8. The opportunity to be able to share my ideas on this blog.  It's exciting to connect with other educators/
0. Having had the opportunity to attend the ACTFL Convention in New Orleans this year!  Stay tuned for a forthcoming blog post on the topic.
10. Having a job I enjoy going to every day!
What are you thankful for as a teacher?

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Qui suis-je ? An Activity to Practice Saying Where You're From

This is one of those activities that I honestly can't remember at this point if I adapted it from someone else or if I made it up myself.  At the beginning of the year, when students are learning to say where they're from, it gets pretty boring after they ask each other once where they are from and then magically they are all from the same town.  This activity allows students to use that same vocabulary but in a way that keeps things interesting.  Each student will assume the identity of one of the people in the image above.  I used to use celebrities, but I kept having trouble finding celebrities they would know for each nationality.  Then they will, with their partners, have a dialogue that goes something like this:

Student A:  Tu es américain ? (Are you American?)
Student B:  Non, je suis canadien.  (No, I'm Canadian.)
A:  Tu es de Sudbury ? (Are you from Sudbury?)
B:  Non, je suis de Toronto.  (No, I'm from Toronto.)
A:  Tu es Bobo ?  (Are you Bobo?)
B:  Oui, je suis Bobo.  (Yes, I am Bobo)

This is kind of hard to explain to students in French, so I just have a student come up to the front and model the dialogue.  Before they begin, I reinforce the meaning of "de" (of) and when you can and can't use it.  This is one of the concepts I am looking for them to practice in this activity.  The great thing about it is if some students finish early, they can just repeat and choose different people.

How might you use this activity in your classroom?  What might you change about it to suit your students' needs?

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What I'm Loving So Far This Year

I hope everyone has had a nice start to their school year.  I am having a great year this year, not only because I have a real dynamic group of students, but also because I have been trying lots of new things.  Here is what I am loving so far this year:

My colleague Sarah introduced me to Gimkit.  It's been described as Kahoot on steroids.  Basically how I would describe it as a self-paced series of multiple choice questions, but with a twist - students are earning "money" and they can cash in that money for upgrades that help them earn more.  The upgrades get you such things as more money per question, insurance against losing money, and streak bonuses.  I had fun playing it at our last department meeting.  To make your own, you can start from scratch or import from Quizlet, which is what I did.  I used it in class a couple times to practice numbers, and the students loved it.  They are still asking me when we are going to play it again.  Have you ever played Gimkit with your students?

Connect 4
I found this resource on Stephanie Bass' blog.  You can visit her blog to download the template.  The idea is that students take turns rolling two dice, and add the numbers out loud.  The student fills in a number on the sheet that matches the total they rolled.  Students use different colored pencils or markers to fill in.  The first to get four in a row wins.

Online Quizzes
Since going 1:1 this year, it has been really easy to give assessments online.  I've been using Canvas, our school's new learning management system, to create and administer them.  I love how it gives you an overview of how students did, an item analysis, and a place to give feedback or comments to the student.  Now instead of passing back papers, I just have them login and see how they did.  I also love the immediate feedback on multiple choice questions.  Now when I want a student to correct their work, I direct them back to the assessment online instead of a piece of paper they might have lost.  Do you give assessments online?  What platform did you use?

Vieux McDonald
My colleague Robin introduced me to this great idea.  One day last year, I heard lots of fun singing coming from her classroom, so I asked her what she was doing.  She explained that she had her kids sing "Old McDonald" in Spanish to practice pronouncing the vowels (they say A-E-I-O-U instead of E-I-E-I-O).  She also uses it to teach the animal sounds.  She gave signs to students to hold up when their animal came up, and then only that student made the sound of the animal.  She even gave me her signs because she was retiring, so all I had to do was pull the Spanish labels off and replace them with French ones.  It was a fun and goofy activity enjoyed by all!

This year, not only do we have a full class set of iPads to share among our department, but each student also has their own Dell Cloudbook.  This makes games like Quizlet Live (above) a lot easier to play.  Students can also access programs like Microsoft Word on their devices and easily create work to turn in digitally.  I can on the fly have them access a variety of programs on their devices if I want to do a quick wrap-up activity.  It's fun uncovering all the benefits of 1:1 as the year unfolds.  If your school is 1:1, what is your favorite thing about it?

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Back to School 2018 Post

Well I don't know about you, but my summer sure flew by.  I have a lot to look forward to this year at school.  Here's what's got me excited for the year to come:

ACTFL in New Orleans
My colleague Robin and I will be attending ACTFL in New Orleans for the first time in November.  I am excited to learn new things, meet other language teachers, and see New Orleans for the first time.  Are you going to ACTFL?  If so, please let me know in the comments!

Revamped Curriculum
Robin and I revised our middle school French curriculum this summer, moving away from a grammar-heavy approach and more towards a comprehensible input model.  I know the students are going to benefit from the changes we have made, and I will enjoy teaching it more!

This year, for the first time, all my students will have Cloudbooks.  We also have a set of 30 iPads in our department, 10 of which are new this year thanks to a grant.  I am looking forward to being a 1:1 classroom for the first time, and using some of my favorite apps and programs in different ways, as well as some new ones.  What are your favorite 1:1 programs?

What are you looking forward to this year?

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