Ways to Reinforce Geography in French Class



Perhaps a better title for this post would be, "Ways to Reinforce Where French is Spoken," since a major part of geography for me is just getting students to realize that French is spoken in other countries besides France.  Here are a few of the ways I do that.



I keep a container full of pens with flags of francophone countries for students who need a writing utensil.  The name of the country is also attached to the flag.

When we're learning about weather, I give students an assignment where they have to describe the weather in a French-speaking city for a week.  You can read more about it in this post.



For National French Week one year, I had my French Club draw flags of French-speaking countries outside the school with sidewalk chalk.  You can read more about it in this post.



Also during National French Week, students bring in dishes from various parts of the French-speaking world, and point to the country that it's from on a map.  Students keep track of what they ate on a sheet and write their favorite item.

When time allots at the end of the year, I do a project with students where they create a short commercial for a French-speaking country or region using Adobe Spark Video.  You can read more about it in this post.

Outside my classroom, there is a bulletin board where I feature student work during most of the year. At the beginning of the year, though, I feature photos taken in French-speaking countries.  The above bulletin board features a map with photos pointing to different French-speaking countries on it, and the below bulletin board features photos I've taken in French-speaking areas.





I have some posters around my room which I created which show off the French-speaking world.  The one above is also the header for my classroom blog.  The one below is one we often point to when discussing where in the world a particular French-speaking country is.





In my post Using Google Maps to Reinforce Francophone Geography, I share how using photos taken in French-speaking countries and then placing them on a map can be a great speaking activity.



Another weather activity I do with students is to create a weather forecast on the iPads using Adobe Spark video.  You can read more about that activity in this post.



Guest speakers are another great way to get students exposed to the culture of countries you may or may not have ever visited yourself.  I've had guest speakers who lived in or were from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and France.  Often times the visit was accompanied by some type of project or activity to tie in to the presentation.



In the front of my classroom, I have flags of French-speaking countries and organizations that use French.  I reference these at the beginning of the year when discussing the usefulness of French and where it is spoken.

So, what ways do you use to reinforce geography with French students?

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My Experience Norming with Students



Last fall I started following Annabelle Allen aka La Maestra Loca (read her blog here) after seeing her present at ACTFL in New Orleans.  Recently I read her blog post about norming your class with your students and I decided to try it in my own classroom.

It is important prior to this activity to explain what a norm is, since many students aren't familiar with the term.  Our school has a saying that the principal says on the announcements every day, which is, "Be safe, be respectful, be responsible."  I explained that these are examples of norms.



Above is a student sample of a worksheet I had them fill in, following steps similar to those outlined in Annabelle's blog post.  First, they individually list their hopes and dreams for the class, citing one long term goal, and one short term goal.  Then they worked with one or two other classmates to generate three norms to help them achieve these goals.  It's important that students understand that their goals are outcomes and that their norms should be steps they can take on a daily basis to achieve them.  Some students were unclear about this at first and were putting things like "be fluent" as norms, but with further clarification, they caught on.  Eventually, they paired up with another group and pared down all their norms to four norms.



Once they had settled on their norms, one representative came up to the chalkboard and wrote each one.  Then, everyone took turns coming up to the board circling their favorite norms.



The chalkboard after one class finished the activity.

At the end of the day, I looked at which norms were written and circled the most and I generated a list of four norms to post in the classroom.  Here it is:



The beauty of this is, this pretty closely matches what I've always tried to instill in my students at the beginning of the year, but now that they've thought critically about this and come up with it themselves, it means so much more to them.  Thanks Annabelle, for sharing this wonderful idea!

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