Saturday, 21 September 2013

This and That

It's hard to believe that the first three weeks of school have already flown by.  Getting adjusted to a new school year always takes a few weeks but I am finally feeling like we're getting things moving in my classroom.  I've been trying a few exciting new things this year and can't wait to show you want we've been up to.

1. 20% Time -  I had heard about this project but never attempted it myself.  Thanks to the inspiration I found over at Education Is My Life over 120 students are partaking in this amazing project at my school this year.  I teach French Immersion and Extended French(late immersion), so all the work is being done en français and so far I am so impressed with their amazing ideas!  We have projects of all kinds just getting underway, everything from learning ASL to creating how to videos for all kinds of things(origami, DIY projects...etc), to photography projects and even research projects on special areas of interest such as the history of pirates.  My students are excited and so am I.  There is a buzz of work going on whenever they are in 20% time.  I can't wait to see where these projects take us.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

First week back!

Well the first week is done and it was AMAZING!  I was a little nervous starting school this year,  being new to my building meant meeting new kids and staff!  Yikes!  Well I had nothing to fret about;  not only are my students incredible but the teaching staff is beyond supportive!  This is going to be a wonderful year.

As a class, we are almost most done all of the activities from my Activités pour la rentrée package!  We still need to play the game with our Postcards.  Students each wrote two postcards - one was something they did this summer, the other something they didn't do - next week they will present their postcards and their classmates will try to guess which is real and which is fake.  So much fun!  During this activity, I am getting a really good look at their areas of immediate need in writing and the proficiency levels with the French.  Students really got into it when they realised that their would be a prize next week for the student who tricks the most people and the student who is most accurate when guessing about other peoples holidays.  It really kept them from telling others which was the truth and which was a lie.  I look forward to hearing their presentations.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Authentic Texts in the FSL Classroom

I am back from a wonderful camping vacation to d'Aiguebelle National Parc in Quebec.  It was a spectacular experience and is the inspiration for this post.

See how can you not be inspired by this beautiful lake!  This is le lac Haie which my husband and I canoed up and down on day 3 of our holiday.  This photo is taken from the amazing suspended bridge above the lake.  

Thursday, 15 August 2013

What's on Your Wish List??? Linky and Sale!

Have you had your eye on anything over at Teachers Pay Teachers? I know I have lots of great products I can wait to get my hands on during the annual sale!  Today I decided to participate in Teaching with a Touch of Twang's linky party!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Interactive Student Notebooks

I have been looking around for a way to make teaching history more exciting and interesting for both myself and my students. As I began to look online at what other teachers have been doing, I came across Interactive Student Notebooks.  I can see their application in any subject but for this year, I will be trying it in one particular subject - History.

I teach history in French to a large group of second language learners(3 classes).  The history textbooks are most often well above their reading levels which causes frustration, boredom and disengagement.  This year with the use of the interactive student notebooks, students will still use the textbook but not in the traditional fashion.  I will continue to use the textbook for graphs, diagrams, maps and even the wonderful primary sources which are embedded within it.  However, unlike in the past, I vow to not read large sections of the text  and ask my students to answer a series of comprehension questions. We will work through the topics together, filling in graphic organizers, foldables and diagrams.  Students will reflect on their learning and engage with the curriculum through a large variety of creative tasks.

I have begun to map out what our interactive notebooks will look like but upon suggestions from everyone I am not making one ahead of time.  Instead I will make one book with each of my 3 classes and students can follow along while we set up together.  Below you'll find the initial pages I will be giving my students.  Pages 1, 2 and 3 will be layered on the first page of our books, on the left students will be completing a Give me Five activity later on in the week once we have started using our books.  Page 4 is the table of contents which we will be putting on the second page of our books.

I must give credit to  I used her rubric and left page activities as the base for pages 2 and 3 of the document.  Also, the inspiration for page 1 came from the internet as well but I cannot find the origin of the file...sorry...if the file looks like your original please let me know I'd love to give credit!

Are you planning on using ISN books?  If so for what subjects?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Drama in the FSL classroom

Next year, I get to teach drama, en français, to two my classes.  As a student, I LOVED drama.  In fact, that might be an understatement.  I participate in the improv and drama clubs at school.   As a teacher, ummm, let's just say I've been a little less enthusiastic.  However, upon reflection, I am realizing many of the 'issues' I have with drama as a teacher are due to my lack of proper preparation.

Let's take improvisation as an example. It's easy, right?!  You show up with almost no materials, you think up skit themes on the spot and presto you have an improv class.  (At least that's what it felt like as a student)  I realize now that you need to have props with you for certain skits, parameters for the students and playing cards already designed.  It's great to get students involved in coming up with playing cards but I often find at the beginning of the year their ideas are too specific to allow for great improv.

So step one this summer has been creating those great playing cards that I will be able to turn to in an instant as a warm up activity or an entire unit on improvisation.  Here is an example of one:

Since I know that my students will be participating in an improv competition later in the year, I designed 100 cards to reflect all the information they will need to be familiar with before then.  However, at the beginning of the year, I am very likely to simply use the Titre field for ideas and ignore the rest until students are ready.  

So I am curious, what do you do to prepare for a successful drama class?  

Mme Jones

p.s. If you are interested in the improv cards, the image above will take you to my TpT store where the cards are FREE until midnight

Thursday, 25 July 2013

First Week Activities

I am always very curious as to how each teacher starts off the year with their students.  What procedures do they teach? How do they set up their room?  What is the first activity they have students complete?   Each of these things sets the tone of your classroom for the year.  The importance of these first few days is immeasurable.  This year is the first in my career where I will start off the year with a core classroom on the first day of school (in fact I have two core groups this year).  So far I have come up with four activities I want my students to complete that first week of school.

1. I want them to fill out a very brief questionnaire.  It gets the most basic information about them and their access to technology.  [As an aside, none of my first week activities involve tech because I have limited access to it and I want to see what kinds of tech the kids have before making grandiose plans]

2. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...C'est moi!  Is an activity to let me know about some of their likes and interests. 


3. Personal pennant is an open ended activity where students create a pennant that represents themselves.  It has to include their name, age and a small photo/picture of themselves.  Otherwise they can put whatever they want on them.  Student's pennants will be put up around the room to create a sense of community. 

4. The game two truths and a lie inspired this activity.  I was looking for a fun way to collect a writing sample from the students right away this year, so I came up with this post card game.  Students will create two postcards. One with something they did this summer and one with something they wish they had done this summer.  The goal is to stump the other students when they present their postcards later in the week. Each student will have a sheet to keep track of their guesses on.  The student that stumps the most people will win a small prize at the end of the activity.   

So there you have it!  Those are the four activities we'll get started on during the first week of classes this year.  What activities do you have students complete that first week?

Mme Jones

Thursday, 18 July 2013

My First Giveaway!


I hope you are all having a spectacular week.  It has been HOT HOT HOT here!  I am just popping in here quickly to announce my very first giveaway!

My French Rainbow Classroom Theme kit contains 170 pages of goodies for your FSL classroom!  Many of the files are editable using Adobe Reader!  It has everything from tones of labels, to CAFE headers and bookmarks for your lucky students.

If you wanna find out more about this product, head on over to my  Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  

Congratulations to Valerie M!  

I hope you enjoy the classroom theme!  

Mme Jones

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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

QR Codes in the FSL Classroom

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer.  I know I have been relaxing and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.  I've also been playing around with QR codes for my grade 7 Extended and Immersion French classroom.  

I noticed last year that many of my student use their hand held devices to look up words for spelling or meaning, for correct verb conjugation and for translation.  However, I also found they were frequenting websites that I did not necessarily approve of.  My solution for the upcoming school year is to offer them the permission to use their devices IF they are willing to stick to the websites that I have posted up on my board.  Currently, I have 4 websites I'd like them to use on a regular basis.   

I like Bescherelle for the same reason I like the students to use a 'real' Bescherelles in class, it can help them conjugate any verb in any tense.

Dictionnaire Larousse - I have these in paper format at the back of the room and honestly, students rarely use them however I am hoping to change that this year.  It's hard to get them to understand that when we don't know a word in English we don't look it up in another language to find it's meaning.  

I know there is a lot of debate about the use of translators in an FSL classroom, particularly online ones.  However, I have this pennant pointing them to Word Reference.  I like this site because it does not translate whole sentences, it provides great examples of the word used in context and allows students to easily select the correct vocabulary term as opposed to just picking the first one that pops up. 

Bon Patron is great for editing student composition.  I refer them to this site often.  It will help students pick out the most obvious grammatical errors.  It does not catch everything but certainly points them in the right direction.  I like this site because it will explain the grammatical rules to the students when they hover over the highlighted text.  Students can correct short texts for free or you can purchase an annual subscription for 15$ but my students never have.    

Are there any other websites you would want students to be able to easily access?   I'd love to hear from you!  

You can pick up these posters for FREE over here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Thanks for stopping by, 
Mme Jones

Friday, 12 July 2013

Early Classroom Setup!

I know. I know. We JUST started our holidays 2 weeks ago!  But with my other half being out of town and my entire program being moved to a new school, I felt the need to be there to ensure that all my stuff got moved over and to play around with the layout before my classroom floors get buffed over the holidays.  I am so glad I went early!  I was in about a week before all the textbooks and things we were bringing with us were to be delivered.  This is what I walked into:

The room was pretty much packed up and ready for me to take over but it simply was not my style.  I spent half a day in there just reconfiguring these desks into a layout I liked. (I hate scratching up the new floors so I always do this before if possible)  I knew that I wanted them grouped as opposed to in rows but was unsure of what size of groups to make.  In the end, you'll see I went with 4 large groups (2 of six and 2 of 8)  This classroom is very small and I wanted to make it feel like we had room to move around so in the end I put the groups off to the sides of the room.

After sorting out my desk arrangement and looking around for supplies.  I made a list and headed to the fabric store.  The bulletin boards were in pretty bad shape and I wanted to breath new life back into them.  I decided that simple black fabric would due the trick.  First I pinned the fabric up and then went along stapling it as I pulled the fabric tight.  Once the fabric was on the main bulletin board.  I was left trying to come up with way to hide the water damaged cork board above the windows.

I eventually found some old black bristol board and put it up there to cover it up.  My plan is to have all my students bring in family photos that we will put up above the windows to personalize the space.  The cork boards are much to high for me to be putting things up there on a regular basis.

Due to the very small size of the room, I decided that I would keep the decor very simple and streamlined. My hope was that by make the room look cohesive it would give the impression of a larger room.  Take a look at what I ended up with before I left the other day.

This is the view from my desk.  On the bulletin board is our CAFE menu and the Boggle game which students enjoy when they have a minute between activities.  The two large totes will have hanging folders for each of my students.  I will hand back work into their files and when they miss a day, I can simply add the work they missed directly into their folders.

As you can see this is my small desk area, behind that little door is the smallest closet.  It is the only storage in this entire classroom other then the shelves in the previous pictures.  Beside my desk there is a penent flag that says: Objectifs.  I will list each classes learning objectives for the day/week depending on what we are doing.

Since I have more chalk board then I need I decided to put my word wall up on one of them.  I believe it will make it easier to add and remove words as we work through various units of study this year.  Directly beside the door I have my message centre.  I have two core classes this year, each of them has a separate homework calendar to help them keep on top of things.

The last thing I added was a pennant banner which goes from one end of the room to the other.  I am certain I will make other adjustments to the room before September but I feel like there is not much room to add more things and I really like the simplicity of the space.

Hope you enjoyed the early tour of my room!

Mme Jones

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Thursday, 11 July 2013



I've been M.I.A. for numerous months now but I will be posting here once again as soon as I get things updated.  I've just recently moved into my 3rd classroom in the last 12 months to things have been hectic to say the least.  I look forward to sharing what's going on in my Grade 7 Extended and Immersion classrooms this year. 

To keep up with all that's going on in my classroom follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Mme Jones

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Challenges and Rewards

Often the most rewarding experiences come from facing and dealing with challenges.  Making the decision to change classrooms and schools mid-year was certainly challenging for me as an educator.   But as with most challenges the rewards have been worth it all.  

I have spent the last 3 weeks getting to know my new classes which are filled with inquisitive students who are driven to learn.  I have had the opportunity to challenge them academically and push their limits.  They have risen to every challenge I have laid in front of them and come out victorious learners.  

My grade 7 Extended French students have written stories, read books, responded to video clips, conducted research, set goals, conversed more in French then ever before I am told. 

This week we welcomed the arrival of the French Forest of Reading books, which have been nominated for Le Prix Tamarac Express, into our classroom.  Students are overjoyed at the wonderful selection of books and are really pushing themselves to understand the texts.  Over the next few months, students will be reading 5 of the nominated books and voting on their favourites.  I will read 1 of the nominated books as a read-aloud to the class starting in February.  Each student will then be required to read 4 of them independently or with a student partner.  We are also awaiting with great anticipation the arrival of new books for our classroom library.  I cannot wait to see them biting into great books.  I am thrilled with their eagerness to read.  

Students are also enjoying their morning writing prompts.  Typically, I put an image up on the board and with the caption: Raconte-moi cette histoire!  The images are often taken from this Tumblr site. There is often English writing on the image which I just edit to French. Students are really enjoying the process of just writing whatever comes to their minds.  Students can then use the ideas that come from these prompts as a starting point for larger pieces of writing.    

Although, I am told by my students that they are speaking more French then previously I would still like to see some large improvements in this area.  Particularly when they are speaking with each other.  Start next week I will have my Je parle en français board up.  Students will each start the week with a level 4 in oral communication and each time they speak in English they must move their name down the line on the black board.  In the past is has made a huge difference in my classrooms as I use it as a part of their oral communication marks for the term.  I will try to remember to get a snap shot of it for my next post.   

Have a great week everyone! 

Mme Jones

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year, New School, New Class...Oh my!

In mid-December, I was offered a new position, at a different school teaching grade 7 Extended French (a.k.a. late French Immersion).  I was thrilled to take the position that will begin this Monday but also overwhelmed at the thought of moving to a new school and having to set up over the Christmas break.   Thankfully, a good friend came along to organize my classroom library one day, the custodial staff at both my old and new school were an amazing help and my wonderful husband came in to set up some extra computers for me.  So in 3 crazy days, my new room went from chaos to this: 

The classroom had only one computer and so my lovely husband brought two of our old laptops back to life for student use!  Hooray! Students will be doing research and hopefully blogging from back here.  

This will be the go to place for student information.  I houses our Devoir/Homework board, the calendar and will have any news related items added to the top.  

 My tiny desk and one of my student groups ready to go for Monday! 

Our bilingual classroom library.  As I am teaching grade 7 French Immersion 
and 5/6 and 6 Language Arts.  

View of the back of the room.

 View of the front. 

It was challenging setting up this room as my classroom has 4 doors off of it.  The door you see above leads to a small storage area that I share with other classrooms.  To my left in his photo is the door to the hall and then to my right at the back of the room is a door that leads into the grade 8 classroom.  In addition to those three doors there is a door that leads outside directly from the classroom.  It will take some getting use to but I am very excited to teach in this space and to meet the students from all 3 of my classes!   

Monday I plan to hit the ground running with some getting to know you activities and a quick assessment of where their at.  After that, we have 3 short weeks before report cards to get to know each other.  Here we go!   

Have you ever changed teaching assignments mid-year?