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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