Thursday, 10 November 2011

SMART response systems + AIM = success!!!

This week I have been utilizing the under used SMART response receivers that my school had lock up in a cabinet.  These response systems allow each and every one of my students to participate in modeled activities with instant feedback. 

So this week as my grade 3/4s looked at Choisi le bon mot activities as a class.  I had them log in as they arrived to class.  We did our entry routine and we read the first page of the play in a choral reading.  After I was done the reading I put this question up on the SMART board:

                 1.Est-ce que l'histoire s'appelle _______________. 
                       a-) Boucles Violettes  
                       b-) Le chat et la lune. 

Then and just waiting to see what happened.  (Keep in mind students already know how to use the receivers and are familiar with them).  What did I notice?  Half my students were able to answer the question without me even reading it.  Then I proceeded to read the question aloud.   Another group of students were able to answer.  Finally, I asked the question again allowing students to offer up an answer.  During this time my lower level students punched in the correct answer.  The beauty of it is, the minute I hit Stop assessment students see their score on the receiver.  Students loved it, what a great motivator.   

Next week I'll hand out page 1 of Choisi le bon mot and rather then having students copy the answers onto their sheets, they will punch in the correct option to their individual receivers.  I can then upload all their answers to my computer and provide them all with feedback or we can take them up as a class!  The possibilities are endless and since they work in pairs and multiple classes are doing the same play, I see my photocopying going way, way down!  

Monday, 7 November 2011

Meeting Sylvia Duckworth and AIMing it up!

I have to say I got very lax about posting here and for that I apologize.  I was shall we say uninspired. 

All that has changed now though.  During the last weekend of October I had the great pleasure of traveling to Toronto to take part in an AIM workshop put on by Sylvia Duckworth.  As someone who thought she was pretty familiar with the program I have to say I was blown away.  Although I have been 'using' AIM over the last few years, I cannot say that I have been utilizing the program to it's fullest potential.  So often it's lack of success in my classroom was caused by my slip ups into English and my unfamiliarity/uncertainty with the program.  Over the course of two jam packed days, Sylvia along with Dan(forgive me I cannot remember his last name) and Renée Villeneuve demonstrate exactly how to utilize this program to it's fullest potential, they were all amazing.  It was exciting to meet Sylvia, who I had been following on twitter for quite sometime, the amount of knowledge she brought with her was outstanding.  Her demonstration with her class was inspiring and showed us all just what could be accomplished using AIM! 

I guess the most obvious thing I learned was exactly how to scaffold an activity(particularly in writing) so that students off all levels could be successful.  It was so obvious and yet something that was completely missing from my program.  Before, I would ask an open ended question and when the students could not answer I would give up.  Now I ask an open ended questions at times (for my more advanced students) but try to stick to question partielle and if that stumps them, then I immediately and in a positive tone switch into a question totale.  My students are happier and so am I.  

Another aspect that has really changed for me, is my intermediate program.  I was so hung up on the curriculum expectations that I was failing to see how far behind my students were.  At the begin of last week, we as a group started over.  I instilled the pas d'anglais rule, which is going well and we are working on Salut mon ami!  Students are so much more happy, and they are not frustrated!  Today we even played a game, where we reviewed vocab, from the previous week that we had worked on.  I had students line up in two lines, and had a sort of face off with each other.  I would gesture and first person to say the correct word got a point for their team.  It immediately pointed out my struggling students to me in an obvious fashion without them even noticing!  Brilliant! 

I look forward to seeing how quickly my intermediate students progress and how well they will do.  I can already see some teenage attitudes shifting!  What can I say, it's going to be a great year with AIM!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ready for week 3!

I cannot believe the first two weeks of classes are already over.  This last week was just like a huge roller coaster ride for me.  Let me give you the break down. 

1. Monday, start talking in French all the time in class with students.  Woohoo! Huge success very little resistance.  I am thrilled with progress I am making.
2. Tuesday, find out ipods/ipads will be ready for use early next week!  YAY!  I am excited for my intermediate students to create media projects en français.
3. Wednesday, find out that I have been surplus and will likely be moving school.  Stress levels hit an all time high.  I love my new school and really do not want to move.
4. Thursday, find out that principal has worked some kind of magic by talking with the board about the effects of losing a teacher on our school.  I get to stay at my school!  Hooray! 
5. Friday, busy day followed by long trip to meet my brand new little niece.  Awwww. 

So everything was fairly positive except for that huge hit on Wednesday.  I have to say that I am so excited to have amazing administration at my school this year.  My principal stands behind each of us on staff and really puts the well being of all our students at the forefront of all he does.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.  

This week I know that things will continue to come together as students acquire more vocabulary and really get the chance to communicate with their peers en français.  I never would have guessed that students would be so enthusiastic.  I was thrilled this week when I slipped up in my 5/6 class and said a few words in English, one of my students immediately said: "Mme tu parles en anglais!"  I took the opportunity to have the entire class remind me to talk in French just like I would do to them.  It was an amazing moment for them and me!  

Have a great week everyone! 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Selecting AIM plays

Well I have met all my students and things are going well so far.  I must admit that I did not start my year all in French.  Some days wish I had, and others think the way I am doing this is fine as well.  See I am new to my school and all my students.  I felt the need to quickly get to know some of them and have some knowledge of students names in order to get things going.  I know it can be done in French, however at this point in my career I was not ready for it.  Sometimes it has to be about what we're ready for too. 

So now that I have met my students and they have complete some activities with me.  I have a much better sense of where they are at with FSL.  I have begun making my play selections.  I will be teaching at least 2 classes the same play in, with the exception of 2 groups which need their own play.  Here is my breakdown:

1/2 La poule Maboule - I truly love this play as an introduction since students really enjoy this play.  They recognize the story immediately and see to chime in almost instantly.  This play will be great for this group because I only see them for 20 minutes/day right after recess AND I have to move them to the upper floor after they have changed.  In reality I am getting about 10 minutes with these guys each day.  Wish me luck!

2/3 Le chat et la lune - This play is almost identical to La poule Maboule.  I think it'll be great because I seem to have many reluctant learners at this point in this class.  It's an easier play that allows for lots of great success.

3/4 and 4/5 Boucles Violettes - Great transition play.  This play is a set up from Les trois petit cochons but not such a huge step that they will struggle.  The 4/5 class may have time to do a second play since I see them for 30 minutes rather then 20 minutes a day.

5/6 - A very keen group with a fair bit of exposure to AIM will be doing Marc le magicien.  I think it's a bit of jump for them but I will scaffold the concepts and make it possible for them.  Biggest plus here is they are so keen.

6/7 and 8 Chaperon Rouge et le loup fou, students are excited to be working with this text.  We talked at length today about different options for final projects that integrate a tone of technology if they choose.  These students are looking forward to being creative but I am not convinced they have the fluency needed for this play yet.  We'll work on it through out the year!  I have no plan for a second play so we'll take it slow and do lots of review with them. 

Choosing the plays this year was challenging since I don't know my students all that well.  However, I am confident that with time and lots of review each of my groups can be successful with their plays. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Classroom Tour!

Front of my classroom.  The only walls that have anything on them right now.  Boarder is not complete.  I ran out will fix it as soon as I find some more. 

Well there you have it.  My classroom.  I have six groups of four around the room and table at the top of my carpet.  That beautiful wooden chair and stack of drawers are my home base since I made the decision to remove the teacher desk from my classroom this year.  Behind my chair I have my volume scale.  I will indicate what the volume should be at all times so that students have a visual reminder.  I also have my assistants of the week poster.  Since I have approximate 200 students going through my room each day, I assign them each a number, my assistance poster will list 2 students numbers each week as my helpers.  Makes it easy for all classes and takes up very little room.  To the right of my board are the behaviour charts I will be using.  Although I have to admit that I create this before discovering Classdojo.  Click the link and take a look for yourself.  It's truly is a brilliant classroom management tool.  I cannot wait to try it.

This front wall is full of my must haves in my classroom.  What visuals are a must in your classroom?

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Planning primary FSL

I always find it interesting in Ontario to plan for grade 1-3 FSL since we in fact have no curriculum until grade 4.  It allows a lot of freedom to teach what you feel is important.  For me I have 4 goals to my first term in FSL, grades1-3.

1. Students talking in French 100% of class time. 
2. Students are engaged and learning. 
3. Students can identify familiar words and their meanings.
4. Students have the ability to sound out familiar words from familiar and unfamiliar texts.  

This is where I absolutely LOVE AIM.  It gets there attention and they love the plays, this year my 1/2's are doing La Poule Maboule and my 2/3's are doing Les trois petits cochons.  The AIM program will allow me to hit my targets and have them well ahead of the curriculum by grade 4.   I love the primary students, they are always so eager to learn.  They love that the plays get them up and moving.    We will spend 90% of our time working on oral activities this term so that they can speak with each other in French.  My ultimate goal is for them to LOVE coming to my class.

I often wonder what other FSL educators in the province do with the primary students.  I know within my board there is a considerable amount of variation.  Do you have primary curriculum?  What are your goals as a primary FSL teacher? 

Mme Jones

Monday, 22 August 2011

In Need of Inspiration

So this evening, I have been wandering around online looking for inspiration for my intermediate classes in particular.  In FSL, I can hook them in Grade 1-5, 90% of the time.  Grades 6-8, it's like a 50/50 game.  I need to find a way for them to see the value of what we are learning.  A friend posted this video which I love on Facebook today.  It really got me thinking.

How can I change what I am doing so that I am engaging kids?  How can I keep them from being bored?  How can I infuse my classroom with creativity when my goal is to have them grasp a language?  How can they acquire the language and be engaged?    It's all a big jumble in my head right now to be completely honest.  

What I do know is this, kids will learn if they are interested.  So if my goal is for them to be engaged, then let them help select topics for projects.  Guide them rather then tell them.   has a great sign up in her classroom that reads : This is Not a Telling Classroom: This is a Partnership.  Brilliant!  Now to brainstorm ways to make this concept work, in elementary, in a second language class.  I know I can do this, I just have to think about what it will look like in my classroom.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Falling in Love with Twitter!

It's not like I live under a rock and had not heard of Twitter or heard people rave about it,  but it just seamed that every time I looked at it, I saw a huge jumble of insanity.  Like trying to follow 100 conversations at once.  But this summer, actually this week, I read a post by Sylvia Duckworth on her website:
Dear Foreign Language Teacher:
If you were on Twitter...
Let me tell you, I learned a tone just watching the presentation she put together.  I learned so much that I signed up again for Twitter.  This time was different though, I had been shown the treasure that existed on Twitter, and so I began to look for resources online to help use Twitter.  I sat quietly at home watching my first #ntchat, and as I watch, I saw the magic of Twitter, I saw all the amazing teacher talking about things I was passionate about.  Never had I imagined that Twitter was this wonderful.  So to Sylvia Duckworth a huge thank you for showing me what I was missing.  This served not only as a push for me to try something new, but a lesson I will carry into my classroom this fall.  
Learning something new is something intimidating and scary but it is so worth taking the plunge.    
Mme Jones

Thursday, 18 August 2011

More setting up!

Well today I went to our school board's resource center.  It is, aside from the Internet, my most valuable tool available to me for free in my school board.  There are hundreds of books, activities, movies and technological device available for teachers to borrow.  While I was there I picked up several big books that relate to the plays I'll be covering this year, some audio books for my listening centers and 3 AIM kits that my school had not purchased yet, which by the way are going to save me my sanity.   Let me explain....

See as a Core French teacher when you walk into a new school you have no idea what they have been covering, which plays they have already done and where their language skills are at.  Now I know this is the same for all subject but I find what is most challenging is often the schools have AIM kits but the students have done almost all the plays available at their school.  Trying to figure out which ones to start the year with without getting the dreaded "We did this last year!!!" is almost impossible.  Now thankfully, the previous French teacher is still teaching at the school this year and she was able to provide me with the plays they had already done. But like I said before to get a play that no one has done, is almost impossible with what I have on hand at school.  So the 4 plays that my 7 classes will cover are all new.  I have no fear of them having done it before which allows me to start planning my first few weeks of classes right now!  Hooray! 

I'm off to plan some more.  I should have some classroom pictures up sometime next week! 

Mme Jones

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

AIM? Centers? Technology? What to do with Intermediate FSL Students?

Lately, I have been obsessed with coming up with a fun and creative way to teach French to my intermediate students.  It always seems that around grade 6, students become complacent.  In fact, they start to regress in their language acquisition.  I believe there are several factors that contribute to this real or perceive regression in their abilities.
  1. They are turning into teenagers and French is just to cool.  Now this is the easiest argument to make.  Often, I feel it's an excuse more then a real factor.  Many pre-teens are not eager about history, math, art, drama or school at all. 
  2. French is not supported and/or valued at home.  Now this I believe does contribute to some, and only SOME of the problem.  I have seen this time and time again, where you call home because students are having difficulties either academically or with behavior in French and you get the standard response : "Well French does not really matter.",  "It's not that important",  "He/She just hates French".  The list could go on but you see what I am getting to.  Although this one would be easy to go along with I still feel like it's an excuse.  So let's keep digging for some real reason. 
  3. They are bored.  I have to say this is the reason I believe they are regressing.  The lessons, activities and assignments are no longer engaging and fun to them.  In my school board, like many others, we have bought into the AIM Language Learning program.  For primary and junior it can be a great tool for getting students talking in French and understanding language.  The problem is, that although each of the plays increase their vocabulary, the intermediate students perceive it as being repetitive with the same types of plays and activities each year.  I have to say that for the most part I agree with my students.   
So what am I going to do about it?   I have a few ideas floating around in my head right now.  First, I have selected a play from the program that the students are familiar with and will easily be able to modify and adapt.  I have selected Le Chaperon Rouge et le loup fou.   Second, students will be doing centers this year instead of all teacher lead activity.  Keeping in mind that I only see my students 30 minutes/day. I will start with a 5 minute mini lesson and then move them into rotating centers.  My idea right now is that they will spend one full class at each center.  Right now I have 6 centers planned.  Guided Reading, Gesture Practice(at the TV), Computers (I have 2 computers + my SMART board), Writing, Independent Reading and Games (which is really grammar).  Finally, centers will be interrupted at 6 week intervals for group projects.  Project will be technology based, our first one will be for them to create a 30 second trailer or commercial for their production of Le Chaperon Rouge et le loup fou.  I have borrow video cameras and laptops from the our resource center so that students can successfully complete their project!

So what do you think, AIM + Centers + Technology, can I hook them back into French?  I hope so!!!

Mme Jones

Monday, 15 August 2011

I ditched my desk!

After 4 years of saying I just wish I didn't have a desk, I finally took the leap today and asked the custodian to please remove my desk from my room.  I cannot wait to go back and see it gone. 

I truly believe that it will help me be more engaged with my students.  I have found over the last few years that I sometimes find myself stuck behind it.  When kids have questions, one walks up to the desk and then suddenly I have a huge line and I'm not walking about the room anymore.  I am sure other challenges will come up with this new setup, like where on earth am I going to keep all MY stuff, but I feel the benefits for my students will make it all worth while.  

When I am done setting up I will post pictures of my new room, sans desk! 

Wish me luck,
Mme Jones

Welcome to my blog!

To say that I have been inspired by other teacher's blogs, is to put it mildly.  I hope to spread some inspiration on my little blog and have some fun too. 

Mme Jones