Sunday, 28 July 2013

Drama in the FSL classroom

Next year, I get to teach drama, en fran├žais, 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