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

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