Whew! Please forgive me for not having posted to the blog in awhile. As many of you know, the end of the school year can be quite hectic. Even though the school year is already over or nearly over for most of you, I still wanted to share some of my favorite end of the year activities. If you see one that you like and don't have a chance to implement it this year, keep it in mind for next year!
Write Diamond Poems
Diamond poems are very simple symmetric poems about a person or thing. On the first line is just the name of the subject of the poem. On the second line are two adjectives describing it, followed by three verbs on the third line, two more adjectives on the fourth line, and a synonym for the subject on the last line. I have my students write these to a teacher with the French on one side and the English on the other. It's a great way to teach masculine and feminine with adjectives too!
Have a Pique-Nique
When the weather gets nice, students are always begging to have class outside. Before taking them out (usually the day before), I teach them about pétanque, which is a French variant on bocce ball. Most students are familiar with the concept, but very few are aware of how much of a staple it is of French culture. I also teach them a vocabulary game called Volez l'objet in which 8-10 items are spread out, and two teams of five students each are lined up next to the items. The teacher yells out a number (which is assigned to one person on each team) and an item (both in French bien sûr !), and the student that grabs it first gets a point for their team. Some classes really enjoy this game, while others do not. Most students really enjoy the pétanque, though. I also encourage students to bring in items such as pre-sliced baguette and Nutella, Orangina, cream puffs, meringues, and croissants to enjoy while we're outside. One year, a local bakery even donated baguettes for the students.
Write a Poem About Your Students
I had a professor in grad school who wrote a poem with a line about each student in the class. It was really fantastic, but over 130 students (and French that needs to be kept comprehensible), that's not really an option for me. Instead, I wrote a poem with generic phrases about what we did during the year, and then I named off each of their French names in rhyme. Because French is so easy to rhyme, it's really quite easy to do. For example, one couplet might be: En septembre vous parlez juste un petit peu/Mais en juin vous parlez beaucoup, en groupes de trois ou de deux! An example of a couplet using students' French names: Guillaume et Zoé, Béatrice, Émilie/Élisabeth et Bernard, Catherine et Henri. Once you get going, it's a lot of fun! It's a nice way to say good-bye to the students that's a little more unique than just the standard "thanks for a great year" speech.
Invite Guest Speakers
The end of the year is the perfect time to have guest speakers. This year I had the owners of a local crêperie come in and serve crêpes to my students (an annual event that normally happens in December, which I'll outline in more detail in a future post). In the past I've had a man from Sénégal come and talk to my students (and we had a Senegalese cooking contest), and another year, a woman who spent two years in Burkina Faso with the Peace Corps. The day after she came in, students made their own African pagnes, strips of cloth with vibrant patterns that could be worn as wristbands or hair ties.
Showcase the Year in Style with Animoto
Slide shows have been around longer than the Internet, but you'll be hard pressed to find a program that makes them more beautifully and more easily than Animoto. All year long, I take photos and short videos of my students working on classroom activities. Then, at the end of the year, I upload them all to Animoto and set them to French music. For privacy reasons, I can't share the slideshows I've made here on the blog, but Animoto's website has lots of fantastic examples.
Give Out Awards
Our department has an awards ceremony in June where each teacher honors two students. In addition to that, I am distributing certificates to students who participated in the National French Contest this year, and to a few students in each class who really went above in beyond all year long in their effort and attitude.
Create a Video for Next Year's Students
For the past two years, I have had my students create a video to ease incoming students' tensions about learning a new language. First, I break up the class into groups and have them prepare a couple sentences or a short dialogue to act out on a given topic. I have five classes, and there are 5-6 groups in each class, and each group gets a different topic (there are a couple I use twice). The students record the sentences and I subtitle them and put music in the background. Not all students have to appear in the video, but all must participate in creating the script. Students the following September are amazed to see what they will be learning in the course of a year! At the end of the video, I have students share their thoughts about learning a language, and what made the process easier for them. It's much more credible coming from their peers than from me! Again, due to privacy issues, I can't share the videos my students have made here, but I'm sure if you use your imagination you can envision something just as good!