Sunday, July 12, 2020

8+ Picture Books for Grade 6 Social Studies (Strand B)

I can't say for anyone else, but because I had to bring home all of my teaching resources and materials this summer, I feel like I am positively drowing in books at the moment. I'm not complaining though, (even if some other family members are!) The only downside is not being able to find what I want as I try to create a few new resources for the next school year!

This post contains affiliate links, but they are all books I've owned, purchased for my school, read, or borrowed from someone to use with my own immersion students.

I figured I might like to share some, for different teaching purposes or for different types of classes. I plan to highlight others, if I can get back in the blogging habit. The set of resources that I'm currently working on getting added to my TeachersPayTeachers store is intended to share the learning progression that I created and used for my Grade 6 Social Studies course during emergency distance learning this past spring. For thsi reason, the picture books that I selected below seemed like an obvious place to start.

Please do your professional due diligence and use a trauma-informed lens when selecting something to explore with your students. Grouping them by interest (especially when teaching via remote learning or in a blended learning format) can be one way to allow certain students to use a resource they will absolutely love and benefit from, without subjecting all members of the class to the same material, if you have some that would be traumatized or disturbed by the content. Parental or family communication is a key part of this navigating this territory as well, in my humble opinion.

Pablo trouve un trésor

This is a long time favourite of mine. It makes me weep a tiny bit almost every time I share it with a class. It's a great introduction to the idea of "Les bidonvilles" for grade 8 Geography, but also equally well received when exploring various global issues with students in grade 6.

It's a lovely story, with somewhat of a happy ending, and a great way to start discussions about happiness, mindset and varying levels of quality of life. I also adore this this picture book is not a translation, so that means your students are unlikely to know this story unless you share it with them.

PowPow t'es mort

This is a picture book that might be used to discuss how, although many of our students might enjoy playing first person shooter games, this violence is far from a game to some other children living in the world - possibly even in our own communities - today.
Get it here from Amazon.

Voici Viola Desmond or La Détermination de Viola Desmond

Looking to introduce the topic of systemic discrimination based on race, specifically as it relates to Canada? The picture book Voici Viola Desmond is a gentle way to do so. I have a resource that I've made and used with my own students on multiple occasions which included discussion questions if you need some support with the planning. Check out the preview to give you a better idea if the materials will work for you!

Get the picture book here from Amazon.

The second book I have listed covering this same Canadian is another - possibly simpler (less detailed about Viola's past accomplishments) but also a little less attractive to younger students - picture book option.
Get it here from Amazon.

Réfugié n'est pas mon nom

Unfortunately I bought this late in the winter and did not have a chance to use it with my students this year. But I thought it would be a perfect way to teach cross-curricularly and share the plight of refugees, highlighting that they are whole people with varied interests, hopes and dreams, rather than simple one group with a simple label.
Get it here from Amazon.

Une Petite bouteille jaune

This one was recommnded to me by a high school colleague (shout out to Elaine!), who I also convinced to nominate it for the FSLGRA. It has not been selected for that initiative yet though, through our voting process each spring. I feel like it could be used in grade 8 French Immersion, but might be too much for grade 6. Check it out and leave me your thoughts in the comments below, if you like!
Get it here from Amazon.

Le crayon magique de Malala or Malala: l'histoire de mon engagement pour le droit des filles

This inspiring young woman is so relatable, popular, and well known amongst middle school students. Either of these books are a sure winner in your Junior or Intermediate FSL classroom.

There are also tons of related teaching material for Malala to use, such as newspaper articles, short videos, and even texts like tweets or other social media posts.

La Princesse de l'eau claire or Les enfants de l'eau


These are two beautiful little picture books to explain the importance of accessible drinking water to students, and how for children and women (typically) have to go, how hard they have to work for it in some parts of the world.

Nibi a soif, très soif

This is a great picture book to show students that access to potable drinking water is not just an issue in other countries, but also in our own! I tend to want to explore this book while teaching Strand A, and learning about accomplishments of various indigineous populations within Canada. I like to highlight success stories and to show them along with some background information about discrimination and systemic barriers, such as lack of access to things we take for granted as privileged Canadians.  

Get it here from Amazon.

I hope this has been helpful! I know I have other great books for Social Studies in my collection, so maybe I can add a part 2 eventually. Feel free to drop me suggestions (especially of francophone books that you have found and successfully used!) in the comments below!


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Have You Signed up for the #FSLGRA Yet?

I recognize that we educators have a lot on our plates for the current school year, at the moment. Educators are adjusting to being out of the school buildings unexpectedly. Some are planning and running synchonous learning, while others are trying to figure out what off-line learning opportunities we can extend to our students - and in many cases, to our own children. But at some point, this WILL end - or at the very least, it will change. More regular programming will resume, and even if that looks different  that what it was like before, routines will get reestablished. 

Here's my plug for you to plan ahead a bit, amidst all this chaos. The French as a Second Language Global Read Aloud accepted nominations of great francophone books, from simple picture books to novels (ideally under 200 pages!) up to the end of March. Voting is happening RIGHT NOW. 

A bit of thought now, and some collaborative open-source style planning later in this school year,  over the summer, or even into the early fall can lead to a fabulous interactive and authentic experiential learning opportunity for your own students and many other classes full of FSL students next fall! For more information about the #FSLGRA, read this in English or this version en français.

My tip is to not think of  the GRA as an "add on" to your existing curriculum, but to think about which aspects of the curriculum you will be addressing through the GRA, and just let that learning happen. It's ok to not do the same things your would normally do year after year. New experiences will be great both for you, and for the students. Model risk-taking and pushing oneself out of one's comfort zone with your students. If you're wondering what kind of book makes a good nomination, think about the following:

  • Is the language level appropriate and accessible (with teacher support) for a French language learner, at the level you have in mind?
  • Is the topic engaging for the grade levels you have in mind?
  • Are there any curricular and topical connections that you and other teachers could exploit for enhanced learning (please think beyond just grammar & vocabulary, but of course those could have a role as well)?
  • Is it reasonably affordable? (For example, for the primary grade levels, it often makes sense to select several picture books. Those that are priced closer to $10-15 are a better option than those in the $30 price range, since we recognize that many teachers buy these books out of their own pockets. Even when they don't school budgets tend to be stretched to begin with.)
  • Is it readily available? Ideally, if it can be purchased from more than a single source, this works out best so that teachers buying just for the FSLGRA don't exhaust the supply, leaving others stranded and unable to participate)
  • Is it fairly recently published? This is important both for availability - we won't select something that is out of print - and for issues of cultural appropriateness in many cases.
  • Is it written in French? This isn't an absolute deal-breaker, but it's very much a desirable quality, especially for higher grades where students might be tempted to access the book in English, or have already read it in English, and thereby diminish the experience somewhat. 

New to teaching French as a Second Language and not overly confident of your ability to recommend ideal books yet? Tha's ok. You can still sign up here, and come along for the ride, with whatever grade & programme you happen to be delivering next year. We go live for our third year on October 19, 2020.

Save the Date for the 2020-2021 French as a Second Language Global Read Aloud

Voting for this third annual installment closes tomorrow! Help us to choose which books, amongst the nominated titles, we will actually use collaboratively next fall.

If you're looking for more information about what types of learning experiences you might offer to your students through this initiative, you can either explore the hashtags (explained in the introductory blog, linked above) in social media, or check out our Google Sheets for the past two years. They list many of the ideas and resources created, sourced, and shared by our teacher-participants. 

Be sure to notice that there are FOUR tabs along the bottom of each file, so that you can explore the levels of the FSLGRA that are most relevant for you. And remember - many hands, lighter work!  Please share whatever ideas and resources you make that are connected. These resources stay available for teachers to explore with a single partner if they wish, or even on their own with their classes as they see fit at times outside of the official FSLGRA timelines.

General timelines of the #FSLGRA planning & activity cycle
From about November to February, nominations will be accepted again for the coming year, assuming we maintain our momentum. When taht time period arriveswhenever you're ready to nominate a book, here's the link for the nominations. (Please note: This link won't allow you to nominate while we are in the midst of voting, narrowing down the nominated books, or preparing & conducting the actual read aloud project itself. Some times our attention just needs to be directed elsewhere!) 

Friday, April 10, 2020

9 Francophone Songs Connected to the Ontario Geography Curriculum

I love to use music with my students. I wish I did it even more than I currently do. With that in mind, I started keeping a list of songs that might be used in Geography or Social Studies class. Here are 9 French songs for you to check out and see if they suit your students, school climate and teaching style.

Nous quitterons la maison

A pop song about flooding in Quebec, helps students to discuss the effects humans have on the environment and the effects changes to climate have reciprocally on humans.


Samian is an Algonquin rapper from Quebec. He has several songs which may tie in to your topics of study in Social Studies or Geography. You may have to consider how political your teaching environment allows or encourages you to be, as well as to do some pre-teaching around cultural sensitivity to effectively use his music, but if you can, I find it's worth the work.

Enfant de la Terre
La paix des braves - Quebec provincial government-Cree agreement
Plan Nord - environmental damage through government-sponsored development.

Bidonville by Claude Nougaro 

(Warning: Contains the 5-letter word starting with "m" in French that is an "s" word in English & a passing reference to prostitution ("Les filles qui ont la peau douce; La vendent pour manger" - Girls with soft skin sell it to eat)
IN the grade 8 curriculum, slums or shantytowns can be a difficult concept for kids in privileged environments to get their heads around. This song would be just one tool to address that curricular concept.

Here's another version on Youtube from 2013, performed live as part of a concert against racism, hatred & discrimintation, which is another excellent curricular connection.

And I found a third slightly jazzier version, from the acoustic ska band Tryo available here, without a "real" video. I personally feel that my students would appreciate this version the best.

Les Enfantastiques

Brought to you by kids in Belgian schools, there are several traditional and original songs to explore with a Geo class. If you're familiar with Kits United and like their school-friendly sound, then this is a fantastic find. They have 170 songs currently listed on the Les Enfantastiques website!  Take time to explore those beyond what I've lsited here and please do share your observations and connections in the comments below!

L'Union fait la force is great when exploring the changes near the turn of the 20th century in working conditions in Canada. It's also a fabulous opportunity to learn about the cultural significance surrounding this French phrase, and to compare it to English equivalents.

Polyglotte Bruxelles is a song celebrating linguistic diversity, which could come into play even in Primary-level Social Studies classes, when discussing our families in an inclusive way and learning about our communities.

A song that focuses on access to water and bodies of water around the world, Le trésor de demain, could come into play in both Science and Social Studies or Geography classes.

Drought and having to walk long distances to access water are covered by Est-ce que la pluie tombera bientôt?

I hope that you and your students benefit from at least one of these suggestions in the near future!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Extended French Read-Alouds at Home During the Covid-19 Crisis

If "not enough time" was my excuse for not maintaining my blog before, I guess that reason has flown out the window now. Plus, like other parents, I'm at home trying to figure out how to supplement my own children's "productive time" without stressing them or me out too much. I'm just aiming for active brains, and low-key enough to keep everyone well, mentally and emotionally.

You probably know of lots of sources for short French texts and audio texts already. Personally, I have been looking for something a little longer. Here's what I've managed to find for us.

I follow several children's authors on social media. For English audiences, I've noticed a number of people doing read-alouds for kids, or giving teachers permission to do that for their own classes of students. In French, this has seemed a little scarcer. (What's new, right?) Well today I was excited to spot something new. Pierre-Luc Bélanger, a fairly prolific francophone author who is also a teacher, according to his profile, decided to share an unpublished work via read-aloud on YouTube. It's called Les folles aventures de Florimond Fleury au cirque. You can find his introductory video, and then check out each subsequent chapter as well. There are ten chapters plus a prologue. If your students or your own kids watch one per day, that will carry you through two weeks of at-home learning! Merci beaucoup, M.

You may have already heard that lots of edtech companies have made things free - for now - as well. Audible is one such source. I've seen lots of posts referring to how they have free ebooks for many langauges. For French, there were only 21 books in total when I looked. And some are the typical public domain French literature - Le Compte de Montecristo & several contes. However, there were a few GOOD options as well, for junior-intermediate immersion students or possibly even high school French langauge learners.   Porteur de masques, Le journal d'Alice (Tome 1), La course des tuques, and L'école des gars (Tome 1) would be my picks for extended reading through listening. If you like, you can look for an ebook version of these novels as well, so that your child can read along while listening to the audio book. In my house, I'd be perfectly happy with either of my kids listening to the audio book on its own though as well. For this, you'll have to download the Aubible app.

Check out on facebook the page for le Festival de littérature jeunesse de Montréal as well. These are shorter reads, but whole stoybooks at least. Wednesday posts will be for older readers, they say. That might be something helpful to keep in mind when trying to find something to appeal to various ages.

There's also a facebook video recording that I found of Un Cheveu sur la soupe by the publisher 400 coups. This one is a little off - I'm not judging because I've not attempted recording myself live while reading - but the picture book is displayed backwards. Probably still totally acceptable for just looking at the illustrations though, I'd think.

Two requests, before I go:

1) If I'm wrong and there are folks who need a list of where you can access various shorter texts for children to just read, please let me know.

2) I'm happy to add other sources if you have some great leads. I'm aware of other books read aloud on Youtube, but I'm trying to honour copyright even in this tricky and surreal times.

I hope that helps someone out there!  Stay safe, stay indoors, and stay sane, mes amis! Please do feel free to share the link to this post, or my tweet about it, to parents and teachers who you think may wish to be informed.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Peer Editing - Short Stories

Salut mes amis!  I've really fallen out of the blogging habit.  I enjoy it, but it does take a bit of time and energy. I hope to keep on sharing some ideas and dialoguing with other French teachers through this medium.

I came across a quick single-page resource I made that I thought could be useful to other junior/intermediate immersion teachers or possibly even to Core French secondary teachers. Have you had your students write short stories before? If you have, you probably realize that setting them up for success by reviewing the parts and essential elements of a story is important, but also, the quality of the final product is highly dependant on the level of planning and editing.

This will be useful to you in particular if you've already taught students about some basic editing codes. I've mentioned spelling, grammar and punctuation in this guiding sheet. If you need some ideas about that, please feel free to let me know in the comments below. I'd also like to hear if you have students write short stories or not, and why. And finally, please note that you may well use a different term than I do in my class for short stories en français. I went with the path of least resistance and highest comprehension on that point.

Veuillez noter:  Just updated to fix a couple of embarrassing typos brought to my attention by a fellow teacher. Merci beaucoup pour l'aide.

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