Reflections on Our Virtual Mardi Gras Celebration

I recently blogged in this post about how I planned to celebrate Mardi Gras with my students.  I shared both hybrid and virtual activities.  After we had our virtual celebration the Wednesday before break, I wanted to share some reflections from myself and from the students.

What Went Well
-The students were so creative with their costumes and dishes!  There was such a great variety of cultural elements to share.  Some students dressed up in medieval attire, some made masks or unearthed masks that their family had acquired during travels to New Orleans or other locales, one student dressed up her grandmother in Mardi Gras attire, and another made a jester costume complete with face paint!  Quite a few students dressed up their dogs and stuffed animals.  Students who didn't dress up prepared dishes like King's Cake, gumbo, jambalaya, and pralines.
-Students' reflections showed me that they got a lot out of the experience.  Because they got to see so many costumes, masks, and dishes, they got a lot of exposure to the different ways Mardi Gras and the Carnaval season are celebrated.

What Didn't Go Well
Ultimately, although in most classes the majority of students participated, there were some classes in which many students were unprepared or unwilling to turn on their cameras to show what they had prepared.  This left the class with far fewer opportunities to explore Mardi Gras.  This continues to be a challenge with virtual learning.  Some students who were hesitant to turn on their cameras did email me photos of what they had prepared.

Below are some photos that students sent in:

Click here to view more!

Students also completed a follow up assignment in which they shared what they learned and what they thought looked cool from their classmates' creations.  Here are some of the things they said:

"Roi du carnaval de Nice 2009, France 2" by fr.zil on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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How We Celebrated Chandeleur Virtually

Well, I've been trying to post my new hybrid and virtual ideas related to holidays before the holiday actually occurs so that readers have an opportunity to use any resources they like in their own lessons, but in this case, I'm a little late to the game with this post on Chandeleur, which occurred on February 2.  I figured that many of these ideas could be of use to readers next year or at any time for any type of virtual taste test, so I'll share it now.

In this post, I shared how we did our first virtual taste test of the year for National French Week.  Whenever asking students to buy or prepare a dish at home, it is important to have an alternative for students who may not be able to obtain the dish or ingredients.  For the National French Week taste test, I offered to provide students with a treat if they asked me.  For the Chandeleur taste test, I asked students to prepare a batch of sweet or savory crêpes at home.  For the students who weren't able to make crêpes, I couldn't very easily provide them with ingredients, so I devised a non-food alternative (and any student was technically free to choose this, they didn't have to have "extenuating circumstances").  The alternative option was to either draw/design an ideal crêpe and list what would be in it, or find a photo of an ideal crêpe, but they must be prepared to describe what's in it (in other words, don't just save the first image you find on Google without learning about what's in the crêpe).  I provided students with a document laying out these options, as well as a description of the difference between sweet and savory crêpes, links to batter recipes, and ideas for fillings.  See the document below, or click here to view it full size.

Students were given this information well in advance so they could plan ahead.  Then, leading up to Chandeleur, students learned about the holiday with the Nearpod lesson below, which includes some facts in French followed by a Time to Climb.  Email subscribers will have to view this post on the blog to see the Nearpod and videos below it:

Then, we watched the videos below. Please contact me if you would like me to share a subtitled version of the videos with you.

After Chandeleur, students sent me photos of their crêpes, since a Zoom screenshot simply doesn't do it justice.  Here are some of their creations (plus a behind the scenes batter photo!):

Finally, after our virtual taste test, students had a follow up assignment, in which they had to answer the following three questions:

1. What kind of crêpe did you make/draw/find online? Was it sweet or savory? What was in it? If you made it, did you enjoy it?
2. Describe one crêpe that another student made or designed that you'd like to try. If you were absent, name another type of crêpe you've heard of or seen that you'd like to try.
3. Name one fact you learned about crêpes recently (for example, how they are made, what they represent in Chandeleur, where they originate, what types exist, etc.)

Here are some of the things they said in their responses:

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Mardi Gras 2021 in French Class (UPDATED 2/11/21)

NOTE:  I'm reposting this, as I added some additional resources.

Like just about everything we normally do in our classrooms, Mardi Gras is another celebration that will look quite different in my classroom this year.  In the past, I blogged here sharing how I normally celebrate in my class.  This year I will be incorporating a lot of those resources, but I have modified them and added some new ones.

First, we will watch the video below, as we always do (email subscribers will need to view this on the blog, as always).  It is in English and it is dated, but it really gives a great overview of the history of Mardi Gras and Carnaval.  I have put it into an EdPuzzle because there is a short segment featuring some rather risqué costumes that I don't feel overly comfortable showing middle schoolers, so EdPuzzle allowed me to crop it out:

Then, we will talk a little bit about the difference between Mardi Gras and Carnaval and look at a few photos of how it is celebrated around the world, and not just in the francophone world.  I show photos from this gallery.  Be aware that some of the photos in the gallery may not be school appropriate.  I have selected which photos to show beforehand.

The following day, students will learn a little more about three locations where Carnaval and Mardi Gras are heavily celebrated:  Martinique, Nice, and New Orleans.  In the Nearpod below, students will watch snippets of videos showcasing Carnaval in Martinique and Nice, and then I will share my own photos of New Orleans, with narration in French.  Students will have an opportunity to review some of what they learned the following day.  Don't mind the little French Club reminder at the beginning!

Update 2/11/21:  A reader just informed me that the YouTube videos in my Nearpods come up as 404 errors!  This is so frustrating, as I had no idea!  The videos work fine when I present the lesson.  I have reached out to Nearpod for assistance and they are looking into the issue, but in the meantime, please click here or scroll to the bottom of the post for a playlist of videos included in the Nearpods in this post.

Normally my students make masks ahead of Mardi Gras to wear in class the day we are celebrating it, but with so many students learning from home, it is difficult to get the templates to them, so I am changing things up a bit.  Students will be given this document (see below) with two choices for our Wednesday virtual day just prior to Mardi Gras:  they can either dress up (or dress up a pet or stuffed animal) in some type of Mardi Gras-related costume, or they can prepare a dish for Mardi Gras to show the class.

On Wednesday, students will get into breakout rooms on Zoom to show off what they prepared.  When we come back to the main session, some students will be able to share with the entire class if they choose to.  Then, if time allows, I have created this Quizizz to review what they have learned.  As a follow up, students will be asked to submit answers to the following three questions:

1.  What did you prepare for today's class?  Please describe the dish or costume.
2.  Name one dish that someone else prepared that you thought looked delicious.
3.  Describe one costume that another student was wearing that you thought was near.
4.  Name one fact you recently learned about Mardi Gras and/or Carnaval.

Finally, on Thursday and Friday before break, students will learn more about Black History in New Orleans via the Nearpod I made below featuring more of my photography.  Then students will learn about how New Orleans is handling Mardi Gras this year (thanks to my friend and colleague Meg Chance who shared these awesome videos of Yardi Gras house floats!).  Finally, students will learn about the song "Au bal masqué" by La Compagnie Créole and the updated version of the song they made in 2020 to promote mask usage.  As I mentioned above, the YouTube videos aren't playing properly, so please click here or see the bottom of the post for a playlist of all the videos included in the Nearpods in this post.

Here is a playlist of all the videos embedded in the Nearpods in this post, since they don't seem to be working properly in the Nearpod.  I also included a longer house tour video, which I did not show in class, but I posted it on my Canvas page for students to explore at their leisure.

The Princess and the Frog © Disney.  The use of low-resolution copyrighted images from the movie in this post is thought to be permissible as non-commercial educational use under the Fair Use Exception to the U.S. Copyright Act.

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