Sunday, 28 October 2012

Halloween Activities!

Will you be doing some Halloween activities with you students this week?  I know we will be because my students seem to just love Halloween.  Me, personally, I could take it or leave it.  We always spend some time around Halloween learning C'est l'halloween by Matt Maxwell.  

This song has so many great childhood memories for me.  Every year we would sing this song in class near Halloween. I have continued the tradition with my students and every year they are thrilled to hear it again and partake in a sing-a-long with me.  After we've sang the song at the beginning of class, we start on a few Halloween activities I have created for them.  This year we'll be focusing on les virelangues d'Halloween.  Over the last few weeks our Virelangue de la semaine has been Halloween themed.  This week students will write their own tongue twister and post them around our classroom.  Students will then vote to select certain ones for a Halloween award.  Categories are:  most creative, scariest, most difficult and silliest.  If we have time students will illustrate their tongue twisters and we'll create a classroom ebook from them.  My hope is to have students record themselves saying their tongue twister and embedded the audio into our ebook using iBooks on my MacBook.   

What kind of Halloween activities will you be doing this week?  I'd love to hear what you are all up to.  

I'm having a Halloween sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  15% off everything until October 31st!  

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Oral Journalling using the iPads

Well over the last week, thanks to the suggestion of a colleague, I downloaded an App called Disp Recorder onto my classroom set of iPads.  This particular App allows you to do a screen-capturing on your iPad.  The FSL teacher in my says:  "This is perfect for oral journaling!"  and jumps around all giddy.   

When my students arrive in class they now do one of two things: oral journaling or journal writing.  They find out which we're doing my logging into the e-learning portal for our classroom.  When we're doing oral journaling students find an image available for download in the News Feed for our class.  Pictures range from cartoons to classroom snapshots that I've taken.  Such as this Simon's Cat image.   

From there students are asked to either describe everything they see or to create a story based on what they see.  When they complete their oral journaling they upload them to our course where I can then access and listen to their journaling.  Students are LOVING it and so am I.  This App is really giving me the ability to demonstrate to parents their child's oral language skills.  My beginner students are describing in words or sentences what they see, my more advanced students are telling great stories about the images.  I also like that I am able to hear where my students are getting stuck and offer them up either new vocabulary or strategies depending on the situation.    

Have you come across any great Apps for second language classrooms lately? I'd love to hear from you! 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

What have we been up to?

Last year, I fell into a trap where I stopped posting when things got crazy at school and in life.  This year I am truly working towards consistency with my blogging as it truly helps me grow as an educator.    I will do better, I promise!

So what have we been up to for the last 3 weeks at school?  LOTS of cool stuff!

In primary we have been doing lots of signing lately.  I have a group of little sweeties that just love to sing.  I have been making great use of Sylvia Duckworth's YouTube channel with these guys.  They can all count to twenty thanks to this video I scooped up from the channel.  My 1/2s squeal with delight when I play this song and dance along with the worms.  Most of them know all their days of the week because of this song, which I use before we do our calendar each day. I like this song because it is slow enough that they are getting the pronunciation correct!  And just for fun, we've been learning L'Abre est dans ses feuilles, which is a favourite from my childhood.  So much fun is happening in my class this year.

I think my biggest challenge for me with primary FSL was that there are no strict guidelines as to what has to be taught to them. (i.e. there is no curriculum in Ontario)  The focus in my board is on oral for these students but it took me a long time to let go of now having assessment pieces in my hands and letting go of much of the 'paper' work.  This is where technology has saved me!  Although I don't have iPads when I am teaching the primary students, I do have my personal computer and my iPhone which I have been using to take clips of the students interacting and filing them the same way I would with 'paper' assignments.  It's been life saving for me and honestly the students love to see and/or hear themselves doing many of the activities!  The best part is I don't feel the pressure to try and remember everything I am hearing them do.  I can always fall back on the recordings for more accurate assessment after class.

In my junior/intermediate classes we are adapting to using iPads in FSL. We have installed the French keyboard and have started doing some great writing on our iPads.  I've spent much of the first month teaching procedures/rules for iPad usages and reviewing materials from last year.  This is the first time I have taught Core French for two consecutive years in one school.  I am pleasantly surprised at what they remember and how easy it is to trigger their memory when they don't.  This month we will start our guided reading and get things moving along at a much faster pace.  I am so excited to see how these iPads affect their learning of a second language.  

What have you been up to in your classroom over the last few weeks?