La fête des rois, Hybrid Style



With la Fête des rois just around the corner, before break I knew I had to find a way to somehow adapt this holiday's customs to suit our current hybrid model.  In this post, I outlined how I used to introduce this holiday to my students in the past.  One of the traditions I always did was have students eat cupcakes as a stand-in for the Galette des rois.  Having students consume food in the classroom is a definite no right now, especially when many of them aren't physically there on a given day.  So, here's what I've "cooked up" for la Fête des rois.


-First, as always, we will learn about the holiday with the help of this wonderful PowerPoint available to download on TES, which I then translated into French.

Next, students will watch the video below to see what a Galette des rois looks like (as always, email subscribers will have to view the post on the blog to see it):


Then, I will read "Petit Ours Brun aime la galette des rois."  There is also a version read aloud on YouTube by a native speaker that absents students can watch:


Finally, for "le tirage des rois," I have made a spinner for each class on WordWall.  It kind of looks like a pie (or a galette des rois!), and it will randomly land on a student's name.


The student the spinner lands on will be considered to be the person who had the fève, or figurine, inside their piece of galette, making them king or queen for the day.  If the student it lands on is physically present in the room, I will don a pair of gloves and hand them a crown (provided by Burger King!) to wear.  I will not place it on their head like I have in the past.  If the student it lands on is in the other cohort and thus attending from home, they will get their crown on Thursday or Friday.  And finally, if the student it lands on is a fully virtual student, I will mail them a little certificate (because, unfortunately, a crown is too difficult to mail).



This will take up most of an hour-long hybrid lesson that I will give on Monday and Tuesday, January 4th and 5th.  The 6th is a Wednesday, and since that is our virtual day and classes are only 30 minutes long, I opted to do this in the days leading up to it.  I also have this playlist of related videos in my Independent Exploration collection for students to browse on their own:


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First Steps with Flipgrid!



Flipgrid has been around for awhile now, but I didn't jump on the bandwagon until this year when my colleague Sarah took the time to show me how amazing it is.  Flipgrid has become so important this year, because hybrid learning makes it very difficult to assess speaking.  Assigning students a Flipgrid video gives them an opportunity to practice speaking, and since the videos are private (unless I get their permission to share them), it's a fairly non-threatening environment.

Here's what I love about Flipgrid:

-I can moderate videos, which means I can keep them private.  Some of my students, who are in their first year of French and have fewer opportunities to speak than they normally would, feel self-conscious about speaking, and having all their classmates view their videos would increase their anxiety.

-Students can easily add emojis, filters, and images.  Not only does this add a little excitement to the assignment and make it more fun, it allows students to hide their faces, and for some students, that decreases their anxiety about speaking.  I also incorporated emojis into an assignment where the emojis represented the vocabulary they were using in their video

-It's integrated with Microsoft, so students can use accounts they already have (this is really important in New York State, where everything has to be Ed. Law 2D compliant).

-I can create a sample video for them to view or respond to, as well as written instructions.

-Students can write a script that appears on the screen as they read it.

The only thing I don't love is that it is not currently synced with Canvas, our school's LMS, which means students don't get a notification reminding them if it's overdue, and I don't get a notification on Canvas if a student submits a video.  I have enabled email notifications, but I never seem to get them.  This means, if a student submits a video late, they must inform me so I know to look at it.

The first assignment I gave with Flipgrid was for students to watch my video and answer my three questions.  Here is a sample of the results that I put on my class blog (as always, email subscribers will have to visit the post on the blog to see it):


For the second assignment I gave, I made a sample video acting as a student, and asked students to make a similar video, stating information about themselves and their (real or imaginary) family.   Here is my sample video:


Here are some of the results:


Those of you who have been using Flipgrid for awhile probably know that it was originally designed for students to respond to each other using video.  With my students being first year learners, I just don't think they are ready for this yet, but it's something I may explore in the future.

All in all, Flipgrid has become a valuable tool for hybrid and virtual learning, and I only wish I had started using it sooner!

Do you use Flipgrid with students?  How do you use it if so?


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Hanukkah, Christmas, and Winter in the French-Speaking World



This coming week I will teach one hybrid lesson and one virtual lesson before we leave for holiday break.  I really like to share with my students what Christmas looks like in France, but this year I expanded my lesson to include information about Hanukkah in France as well as Christmas in Martinique and winter in Quebec.  First, on Monday and Tuesday, we will watch portions of the videos in the playlist below (email subscribers will need to view the post on the blog):


I combined the videos and hand subtitled them in English for students.  If you'd like access to the subtitled version, feel free to contact me.  Next, we will examine the lyrics to "Vive le vent" (Jingle Bells) in French and English as an opportunity to explore how translations are typically not done word for word, especially with songs.  Then we will listen to the song, the first video in the playlist below:


The other videos are songs students can explore independently.  At the end of class, students will see what they can remember from the lesson with this Quizizz.  On Wednesday, students have an opportunity to show off (virtually) French holiday dishes, bûche de Noël, gâteau de Hanouka, or Hutzel Wecken if they chose to prepare one, or share a photo if they prepared it in advance.  Then, students will watch this Nearpod video depicting a Christmas market in Strasbourg.  Absent students will be able to complete the activity via EdPuzzle below:


At the end of class, students will play Quizlet Live using this vocabulary set.

Do you incorporate Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter traditions into your lessons?  If so, how?


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Collaborative PowerPoints Part II: More Ideas!



This is my second post about using collaborative PowerPoints in class.  Click here to read my first post, where I discuss the basics of how to set one up and provide a few ideas.  In this post I'll share some more activities I've done with them.


(Email subscribers need to visit the blog to watch the video)


Some of my students' "Qui est-ce ?" projects:







Click here to view more!

Templates for the activities mentioned in the video:


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What's In a Name? Part II

Back in 2016 I wrote this post about the use of French names in the classroom.  While I still agree with all the benefits I proposed for adopting French names in that post, I have since shifted away from having students use French names and in this post I will explain why.


Why I Used to Do It

The main reason I used to allow students to choose a French name because many of them enjoyed it!  Students would often want to know how to say their name in French anyways, so I gave them a list and let them choose their equivalent or closest match or a completely different one.  There are a few other reasons I mentioned in the post, but ultimately it came down to it being a tradition that students enjoyed, and it helped them learn how to pronounce a few French names.


Why I No Longer Do It

Well, to be honest, there are actually quite a few reasons I no longer do this as of this year.  Over the years, I started to notice some things about this practice that felt bizarre or inauthentic.  First, as one person commented on my 2016 post, many students come to believe that everyone has a different name when they travel to a French speaking country.  If I had a student named Jack who went by Jacques in class, it wouldn't be uncommon for Jack to believe that he should pronounce and spell his name Jacques if he were in France.  This is obviously not true, and even though I would explain this to my students, many of them remained confused about this.  When I started my pen pal project with a school in France, the students used their French names at first.  The teacher in France asked me why I did that, and he said the students thought it was bizarre.  In other countries outside the United States, students don't adopt a new name when they study a foreign language.  Then, this post from Spanish Plans sort of summed up a lot of things I was already starting to think.  In the article, the author makes the point that if you make students adopt a new name when studying French, it's like telling them their name isn't good enough for a French speaker.  It also gives students the impression that speakers of the target language only have stereotypical French-sounding names like Jean-Paul or Suzette, when in reality, French speakers have names that originate from all sorts of languages, not just French.  I have had native French speakers as students who did not have French names.  How can I tell them they need a new name in my class?  How can I tell a student named Nathan or Emma that their name isn't French enough when those are two of the most popular baby names in France right now and millions of French speakers have those names?  I also started to realize that if I only allowed students to pick from names that originated from French, I would inadvertently be ignoring a huge population of French speakers in parts of the world where most names typically originate from other languages, such as African languages or Arabic.  I eventually added some Afro-French names to my names list, but ultimately, we know there is really no limit to what kind of name a French speaker can have, and showing students a narrow list of names that only originate from a few languages gives off the impression that a French speaker would not have names from other languages.  

Another point that the post on Spanish Plans makes is that a name is a part of a student's identity.  If we can't use the student's real name, we can't connect with them as well.  Annabelle Allen a.k.a. La Maestra Loca, quoted on her blog Dale Carnegie when he said "The sweetest sound to a person, is the sound of their own name."  Her post about saying students' names as much as possible makes this same point of how important a person's own name is to him or her.  I know this to be even more true this year as I have begun addressing students by their REAL names!  Psychology and interpersonal experts tend to agree that people feel more important and more special when you address them by their name.  This year, with so much reduced face to face time with students (and my inability to greet them at the door like I normally would), I try my very best to address every student by name every day when they come in my class or sign onto Zoom.  Using their real names for the first time after ten years of addressing students by their French names, I feel like I am building a more authentic connection with them, and that is more important than ever this year.

Now one thing I did tell my students this year was that I am likely to pronounce their name with a French accent, especially when I am already speaking French.  I told them that this likely how their name would be pronounced if they traveled to a francophone country.  Figuring some students might be interested in choosing a French names or want to know how to say their name in French, I incorporated a little bit about this into one of my lessons earlier this year.  First, to teach them, how to say "His/Her name is" I created this graphic showing French speakers with a variety of different names originating from different languages (it should be noted that these are stock photos from Unsplash and that I made up their names and ages):


I then shared the following reasons with my students why they would not be receiving a French name:

-Because your name stays the same no matter what language you’re speaking. You don’t translate it when you go to a French-speaking country.​

-Because native French speakers have names that derive from many different languages, so there’s really no such thing as a “French name.” “Emma” and “Nathan” are two very popular names in France, and yet neither of them come from French. In Africa, many people’s names come from African or Arabic languages. Think about it: even though you speak English, all your names don’t necessarily come from English. I have had students with Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese names, for example.​ It’s very possible, even if your name doesn’t come from French, that there’s a native French speaker out there with your name, so who am I to tell you that your name isn’t “French enough”?​

BUT REMEMBER…​ It’s very hard for the brain to switch back and forth between languages, so if I’m speaking French and I call on you, I will probably pronounce your name with a French accent, especially if it’s a name that could already be French. I’ll probably do it without thinking about it!​ This will help you know how a French speaker is likely to pronounce your name. My first name is Samantha, which is not French, but when I am speaking French, I pronounce it with a French accent because it flows more easily.


So where do you stand on this argument?  Do you give your students target language names?  Why or why not?

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