Friday, September 18, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - Bell Ringers

Bellringers for French class? But how can you do anything before all the students are arrived and settled? I think it's important to offer them some reason to get to class on time and get into learning. So I wanted to share two approaches with you. My own imperfect version that I've been setting up this year and another teacher's with a quite different style from my own.

Thanks again to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures who have organized this secondary level monthly blog hop.
I've had students journalling, roughly weekly, for a few years as part of my program. We do that on Thursdays (jeudi = journaux... get it?) I've mainly been using that for diagnostic assessment, or assessment for learning as we call it here in Ontario, and to encourage increased student fluency in their written work. This year, I've decided to actually mark certain entries. More about that in a future post!

Each Friday, we do Cercles communautaires littéraires. Students sit in grouped tables and talk about what they are reading independently in a structured, game-like way. This is a free activity a friend and virutal colleague introduced to me, and she shares it on TPT. Students love it and I enjoy the fact that I'm encouraging them to read, but not in a way that's too burdensome... the emphasis is on thoughtful reading and reflecting, and then the activity is oral in my class 90% of the time. Check out her cute but not too young bookmarks too, which tie in as they have the question forms for students to remind themselves what they ought to be thinking about while reading.

I do a quick grammar review one day per week. Today, because I actually noticed some students making errors in their journals last week with the present tense of irregular verbs, we actually did a little work there. (It shouldn't really be happening after 8 years of French Immersion, I know, but since when I looked over their worksheets, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, I'll chalk it up to summer brain. We're only in our second week of school.)

I'd love to be doing something musical one day a week, but am having trouble figuring out the logistics for this one. If the idea is to get students working as soon as they arrive, then how to handle that with a listening focus? Although we're a BYOD school, I haven't had a lot of luck convincing my students to use QR codes so far when I've offered them as an option. I'm open to other suggestions on that one!
And finally, I like to provide an image for students to discuss one day a week. Whether it's a funny cartoon, something pop culture related, or a strange image... the goal is just to get the students interacting in French, as well as focusing their attention. It's my little bit of fluffy fun. It can be content-driven though too. Check out this example for social studies.

So, that's my week planned out, hopefully with some ideas for you to try out as well in your intermediate or high school level classes.

And now for something completely DELFerent. Oh my yes, I have been chatting with a particular someone whose horrible puns are rubbing off on me! LOL.  Have you heard of the D.J. D.E.L.F. Dailies? You'll find a little overview on Steven Langlois' main web page for the D.J. D.E.L.F. kit, which is a great, highly adaptable and engaging resource, which is music-based-but-not (as truly it centres around teaching students the vocabulary, structures and routines they'll need to know to operate in everyday aspects of their life en français.) DJ DELF is tweeting and sharing via his facebook a little something to get you started each weekday. They're free, and it's a great way to get your students using social media in a realistic and pretty safe way within your program!

Whether it's the riddle of the day, a song to which you can have students reflect and share their opinions, or an image based activity, check these out & see what you think! He's even got a set of worksheets, if you like to have students record their thoughts on paper. To save trees, I was thinking those wipe off markers on laminated weekly sheets might work. Really... do whatever works for you. But get those kids thinking and sharing en français regularly and as early as possible.

Have a great, restful weekend!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Be Informed of New Resources & Posts

How do you follow blogs? If you just save them in a bookmark or favorites list and visit them every so often, that's one way that might have worked for you so far. As I know organization is on your mind, given that it's back to school time, you might want to give this a couple of minutes as well.
If you just keep track of edublogs from a list of saved URLs, you will find yourself sometimes scrolling through posts that were maybe timely and "expired" (such as contents, sales, and Christmas a couple of years ago when I participated in a flash freebie type event with a series of other middle-school bloggers... I think the requests to share that document have finally come to a halt. Although I had requests for months, if you weren't reading during the two week period & saw the blogs that were linked together, sorry, you missed it.)

Image by
If you're already well versed with the concept of following a blog so that you get notified in one place of new content, then I do offer an RSS subscription option in my sidebar. If you're interested but didn't know that was an option, feedly, gReader and Flipboard are free apps for your RSS feeds.

Another option specifically for blogs as opposed to any and all types of web content is Bloglovin' I like this option because, frankly life is busy. I have a certain amount of time available to breeze through blogs I want to read, and I don't want to be distracted by that while I'm also seeing updates from my children's school, local weather alerts, updates from the Ministry of Education, and whatever top news stories I might have decided to follow.
Bloglovin' allows you to skim through ALL the blogs that you decide to follow, teaching related or other, in one place. You can quickly skim, mark favorites, and even find new-to-you, similar blogs within this service. I highly suggest using at least a couple of categories if you follow different types of blogs. It will really help you keep things organized long term!

And if you want to know specifically when new things are added to my TPT store, something I don't always announce here on my blog, click the Follow Me star when you're logged into TPT.

What that does is (if it's your first time following someone on TPT) generate a daily summary email from TPT of new items, or if you already get that daily email from TPT, it just adds my new products to your daily notifications. Trust me -- I won't be overwhelming your inbox with my "New Product Notices". I'm simply not as prolific at creating things as some of my TPT heroes and heroines, since I spend my energy in lots of different areas of my life. If email overload is a concern for you, my suggestion is to visually scan that email when it arrives to see if anything catches your eye & then delete it if not. Leave it there or click through to add something to your wishlist (or buy right away if you're ready) if something does strike your fancy!

If you have another way to help teachers feel organized while staying in the loop with edublogs, please feel free to share it (through a link to your blog post, or short description) in the comments below.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bright Ideas - Portable Mini-Schedule

It's been a little while since I participated in the Bright Ideas blog hop, but they really ARE a great way to share tips with teachers, so for this month, I want to share an idea I got from a Special Education colleague a few years ago.

For any itinerant teacher, it's a great time-saving and frustration-reducing tip to keep a tiny version of your schedule on the back of your employee ID or security badge. This way, when you're at the opposite end of the school for one class and get a question about when you're available for a meeting during your planning time, or when you next visit a different group of students, you can answer right away with certainty. No worrying about one more thing to remember once you get back to wherever in the school your desk happens to be!

Photo of Bright Idea's tip from Teaching FSL of Mini Schedule on Employee ID

How to do this:

  • Measure your ID badge, minus any holes etc.
  • If you already have an electronic copy of your schedule, strip out any unnecessary info from your schedule (like exact times of the periods, or extra space you might have at the end to write in details)
If you don't, then make one OR test out how well taking a photo & then reducing it works.
  • Take a screenshot of your schedule and paste it into Word or PowerPoint (or another program).
  • Select the image you pasted & reduce the size to the dimensions you measured out... mine was 6.8 cm wide.

  • Print it out. Use plain paper or even a sticker sheet, if you have one available.
  • Stick the sticker/label into place. If you printed on regular paper, cut around it and tape it, or even superglue it in place. After all, you want that info to stay put for many months!
One last thing... if your district has a "reorganization day" like mine does, at which time teachers may be reassigned and schedules may completely change, you may want to just scotch tape it on until that date, in case you need to redo it from scratch!

I hope you enjoyed this tip! If you liked this idea, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and TpT for lots of other great stuff! Also, check out the other awesome promo-free teacher blog posts linked up below.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - Peeking at Pinterest

Last week, someone in an online teacher group ask me if I'd ever heard of Pinterest. I'm not normally one to toot my own horn, really, but since the question arose, I shared with her that my main Pinterest board was named as a great resource for French teachers in our province's professional college's magazine (Professionally Speaking, December 2014).

This conversation reminded me that I'd planned to write up a blog post about how I use Pinterest, as part of a cool secondary level blog hop organized by ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures who are two wonderful people I met last summer.

I use Pinterest to capture ideas, resources, materials and images that are of interest to me as a francophile and an educator.  To my main pinterest board, I pin anything and everything of use to French teachers. That might be anchor charts, funny memes en français, great tips for teaching grammar, short video clips, and fun or interesting worksheets, ready to print games, and other resources.

Those of you in Ontario may be interested in checking out my collaborative board specific to our province's curriculum.

I also collect ideas and resources specifically for Social Studies. Since I teach these subjects in French, most of the resources are in French already, or are cool ideas that are easily adaptable. Many of the pins are for grade 8 Geography & History, because that is my current grade level, but I also pin materials that are not specifically for my own grade, to help me keep track of great things that I want to refer to my colleagues. I have a small but growing board for CEFR-relevant teaching ideas and resources as well, and another for educational technology that could be of interest for French teachers.

image of Teaching FSL's Pinterest EdTech board

Finally, I do have a couple of Pinterest boards that are specific to my own classroom. I started pinning ideas for cheap and cheerful crafts after seeing some of my students struggle to come up with a plan for something they might be able to quickly, easily make without a large investment for my school's annual Entrepreneurial Fair, and I've also suggested to students (and shown them how) to pin images found online, and ok for educational use, that they might incorporate into a storybook, or other image-based project.

I'd like to end with a question to my readers: I haven't taken the time to pretty up my pinterest board covers. Do you care? If this is a worthwhile investment in making my boards a place you'd like to visit, then I'm happy to oblige. If not, then I'll just keep trying to pin quality content & support FSL teachers by curating the options that are open to us. Leave me a comment below to let me know!

For more ideas about Pinterest & your teaching practice, check out these middle & secondary blogs as well:

Friday, August 07, 2015

Congrats to My 3 Winners

It's time to announce the winners of my giveaway for French teachers ...

Image courtesy of Educlips

Congratulations, ladies! Not sure where the MEN are... I am pretty sure all 81 entries were by women, but that's OK.... the guys will figure out where we are eventually.

Now, I have a confession to make... I messed up a little bit in setting up the giveaway. Because the three prizes showed up on separate "pages" or tabs within the Rafflecopter widget thing, I mistakenly thought that the entries would be recorded for the separate prize packs. Alas, that's not what actually happened. So my plan is this...  Since Sonia is the first person I picked, I'll give her first choice, and the Meaghan will get second pick. Lorraine will be third. If someone had their heart set on something that is already claimed & is not interested in the remaining prizes, I'll simply choose a new winning entry. (So for everyone else, you're not completely out of luck just yet.)

I'm off to send out the emails to these ladies right now.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for more cool stuff in the near future!

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