Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's Ahead in 2013?

Michelle at Making it as a Middle School Teacher aka Making it (and smiling) had a great idea for a link up party, as we all prepare for a new year to begin.    You'll notice that the oh so common weight loss and organizational goals are both prominently featured on my list of resolutions!

If you have questions about anything coming up for me, my blog-room door is always open.  I feel like I've actually already made so many more goals than I can possibly list in these little bubble-spaces. Ha!

What do you expect the upcoming year will hold for you?  I'd love for you to tell me about it in the comments below, even if it's later in the year when you have news that you can share!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Soaring Through Secondary Blog Hop - Today!

One intermediate-senior blog hop wraps up and another one is starting!  It looks like Samiyah is my giveaway winner, and I'm arranging the prize with her via email.  Congrats, Samiyah!!

I love, love, love that so many new high school and middle school teachers are joining the teacher-blogger community, and I'm so excited to share some of these new (and not-so-new) blogs with you. It's always seemed like a struggle for those of us who teach higher grades to find new and exciting (balanced with tried and true) activities and lessons to use in our classrooms. I think in the Soaring Through Secondary Blog Hop, hosted by Teaching High School Math, you'll find something interesting to download (please don't forget to comment, after looking over your new resource!) or to follow for future creations!

Other teachers in the Blog Hop include:
Science in the City
Science Teacher Resources
Live, Teach, Create
Miss Math Dork
Mrs. O'Donnel's Room
A Lesson Plan for Teachers
Night Light Lessons (spanish resources!!)
Life on the 4th Floor
and PoetGrl

And now, on with the goodies!  I've got a gift for middle & high school French as a Second Langauge teachers to easily make & give to their students.  It's a set of 4 bookmarks with a holiday theme.

I included one for Christmas, one for Hannoukah, a Kwanzaa version and a "read over the winter vacation" version for students that do not celebrate any of these holidays.  Print them on cardstock, cut them out, laminate and trim again for a useful but cute trinket for your students this week!

For 24 hours only, as part of the Soaring Through Secondary Blog Hop, I've also changed a paid item to a free one on TeachersPayTeachers. Please enjoy my printable Accent posters for your classroom or computer lab!  I'd love for you to rate it if you like it, and suggestions are always welcome as well! (Note that you will not be able to leave a rating comment after I change the price back to $2 tomorrow.)

I hope you enjoy it!  Please be sure to check out the next blog, which is Miss Math Dork!

Thanks for checking out our blog hop, and Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

12 Days of Gift-mas Lives On!

I've stopped sharing my Christmas oral chain activity for free since my day of the blog hop is over.  I hope those of you who grabbed a copy enjoy using it this year, and for years to come!  Just a tip - you may want to take a little extra time to laminate the cards once you've printed them... it will save you money for ink down the road, and definitely you'll be glad that the activity is ready-to-go in the future!

Remember that the giveaway contest is open until the end of the day on the 13th of December, so you still have time to enter if you didn't already... and pass the Rafflecopter giveaway link to your French teacher friends!  They'll thank you, I'm sure!  (We are always the last to know, it seems, doesn't it!?)

One last thing... be sure to check out the other foreign language teacher coming up in this middle school blog hop!  I don't know yet what she's offering, but I've personally bought some of her materials in the past & I know it will be good!

Monday, December 03, 2012

12 Days of Gift-mas Blog Hop: Day 3

I'm SO excited to be a part of this fabulous group of teacher-bloggers. I hope you were able to check out Addie Education's post for Day 2!  It's not too late to join her giveaway, even if you did miss out on the holiday freebie!

Where ELSE would you expect to find me nestled for this fantastic teacher collaboration? C'est ça, exactement!  Three French Hens coming your way....

I have a brand new holiday-themed French product which I'm really proud of, and I'm offering it as my holiday gift to you. This challenging communication chain activity will allow your students to practice describing Christmas vocabulary old and new.

J'ai... qui a... Christmas French activity

It's free today only! Download your copy now through this Google Drive link or by clicking the product image. After midnight on the 4th of December, if you're still interested, you'll have to visit my TPT or TN store to buy a copy instead!

And so now, on with the other holiday goodies!  You can download a few other holiday-themed freebies from my store as well, if you haven't already. I have a set of four printable bookmarks which you can gift to your students, two puzzles and a huge multi-option winter-themed bingo package complete with calling cards, word wall cards and enough unique combinations for even your biggest class!



Last but not least, my first Rafflecopter giveaway is down below! One lucky teacher will win $25 worth of products from my store! They could be for your own use, or what a fabulous thing to pass along to a new French teacher on your list! Remember I WILL need to collect an email address from the winner, within 48 hours of the December 13 end of day contest closing!
(Since I'm still trying to keep up with the "big girls & boys" in this blog hop, I won't make you cash it all in at once... you are allowed to wait & see what I add to the store over the coming months!)

I hope you enjoy my holiday gifts to you, and please remember to visit the other middle & high school bloggers throughout the 12 Days of Gift-mas! Tomorrow, head over to Mrs. Orman's Classroom to see what she has to share with our middle and high school friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sticker-free Tip for Straightening Students' Desks

I don't know about you, but I was jealous of the blog posts and pinterest tips that I saw about keeping  students' tables or desks straight. I'm not one to "zip tie" things together because I like to have my  learners work in different configurations too frequently. And I've seen the "sticker on the floor" trick but NO school that I've ever worked in has had custodial staff that would be excited about that option.

Enter my fun alternative... use wet erase markers to mark the location of desk legs!

Frame courtesy of the 3AMTeacher 

I checked out this plan with our head custodian beforehand, so no one was surprised.  The marker leaves enough of a mark that even with a quick mop, it doesn't rub off 100%. You can actually see off to the left side the remains of the previous mark (which I left deliberately for you to have a better idea!) where the desk was placed a few inches away.

Students can quickly see where their desk ought to be whenever it's time to tidy up.  It saves me from straightening desks at the end of the day, or reminding the kids throughout the day that my hips may be a tiny bit wider than theirs.  So far, it's working (with bi-weekly touch-ups) and everyone's happy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Online Teaching Materials on Sale

Cyber Monday is upon us again! Has it really been a full year?!? Wow! For those of you who might not know, black Friday is a retail event of sorts in the US, following the American date of Thanksgiving. It denotes when retailers can expect to be "in the black" (aka profitable!) in the lead up to Christmas.

Cyber Monday follows that as an online sale date that has evolved over the past decade or so. (Don't quote me on my historical accuracy here!) It's typically one of three huge sale dates at TeachersPayTeachers, also fondly known as TpT. Most sellers will be offering 20% off, and then there's a coupon code for an extra 10% off when you checkout!


The wonderful, the fabulous, the talented, the tireless Michelle of The 3AM Teacher blog has created a link up for some of the teachers offering this discount on their stores, to give us a chance to highlight our favourite products.

So, here goes... my favourite things in my own store which I urge you to check out (shameless self-promo!) - because you can get all three for UNDER $9 - are listed here.  Click an image to go straight to the item on TpT.
I'm still in love with my latest big project, which centres around viewing the Warner Brothers Pictures movie Ant Bully in class.  There are a ton of activities at different levels, which is great for differentiating.  Do you have a split level class in high school?  I think they will LOVE this!  I've used it with my grade 7 & 8s and fine tuned it after it had been classroom tested (by myself & other teachers with whom I shared it).

I've used this product in my Core French classes for a number of years. It's very helpful at the beginning of the year, but could be introduced at any point, especially if you're looking to make a change & have students using French more in the classroom. Along with a student handout (that can be enlarged into a poster) there are several games & activities to reinforce their meaning and to get them saying the phrases.  Repetition is key!

Ok, so maybe the Hunger Games movie & book furor is dying down a little, but there are sequel movies coming out!  (Thanks Lionsgate & Suzanne Collins!  I can't wait!)  To be frank, I'm dumbfounded as to why this hasn't received any feedback.  I love it, and my students really were excited about it and enjoyed the activities.  I'd love it if you've purchased this from me and found it lacking in some way to let me know... the Contact form on my blog (or my email) is a perfect way to express dissatisfaction in a discrete way that a TPT seller can try to set things right for you!
Here's a final tip... you might want to set up your wishlist now to facilitate shopping once the site gets busy!
Why not check back in during the sale and tell me what your favourite find/purchase is - or was, if it's one you bought previously?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tips for Efficient Reporting - Link Up

Progress reports have gone home, and the first set of parent-teacher-student conferences are now behind us.  Before we know it, the time will have arrived to be working on the next set of report cards.  With this thought in mind, I figured I would take an opportunity to host my very first linkup.  (This is also known as a "Linky Party" in the blogging world, but that term just makes me giggle! LOL) I'd love for you to join me in sharing tips for Efficient Reporting with other teachers!

Background © The 3 AM Teacher
My first of two tips actually comes to you from a colleague of mine and was a suggestion she shared with the staff at our school last year. Right on the assignment description handout or evaluation sheet that you provide to students, include at the top the exact expectation the product or process is addressing.  (For those of you in the US, "expectation" is the current Ontario term for what I believe you refer to as "standards".)

My second tip is regarding handling "two stars and a wish" type of description feedback on student performance. (Check back in a week or two for examples of this printable form.) I created a couple of versions of feedback slips, and find that what works best for me is to write on the feedback forms before I've cut them apart to distribute to students. Then I can either photocopy or scan my handwritten comments, and place these in a folder (electronic or paper!) Every couple of weeks, it only takes a few minutes to type up the most pertinent pieces of feedback that I've already provided to students. This allows descriptive, anecdotal comments to be generated for individual student report cards so much more effortlessly. Clearly, it's NOT effortless... but breaking the task into little bits instead of having to handle it all at once makes it more manageable and reassures me that I'm what I'm including represents the entire reporting period, not just whatever was most recently accomplished.

What tips can you share with other teachers to make the process of reporting on student progress less stressful, more accurate and efficient?  I'd love for you to link up!
  1. Write a blog post to explain your tip or introduce your downloadable resource for efficient reporting. 
  2. Save the button (image) that I've included above for this link-up, and add it to your blog posting.
  3. Then add a link to this posting to the image. (To do that, right-click the title of the post and select Copy link address. Then select the button image in your blog post, click Link and paste the copied URL into the web address field.)
  4. Finally, come back to this page to add a link to your published blog post!

That's all there is to it!  Can't wait to hear what is saving you time, energy and stress when report card time rolls around!

PS: Thanks to Michelle Lyn Tsivgadellis of the 3 AM Teacher blog, a wonderfully talented clip artist for the background I used in my link up button. I couldn't get the copyright info to display properly in the image caption!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

10 Places to Share your Teaching Materials, Grow as an Educator

Have you benefited from the wealth of free and inexpensive quality resources that other teachers have shared in this increasingly connected world for the 21st century educator?  I challenge you to join in on the activity!  Before 2012 ends, fine-tune and share ONE original lesson, PowerPoint slideshow, project or organizational tool that you have created.  I promise you, it's addictive!  When you get positive feedback and appreciation from other teachers, you'll feel rejuvenated excitement and passion for teaching!


1. Ontario Education Resource Bank

The OERB (aka Resources eLearning Ontario) is a database of teaching materials that is freely available to all publicly funded schools in Ontario. Contact your resource person if you were unaware of it and need your school's login name and password. Once logged in, there is a captioned video to show you step by step how to upload a resource that is your own original creation, a modification of something else in the database, or that you have permission to share (in a way that can be modified by other educators).

2. TES Connect

This is a teacher resource web site in the UK, which means that it might be easier to borrow ideas from than it is to contribute to, since I'm personally not thoroughly familiar with the curriculum in England. However, I know I have some colleagues with teaching experience there, so who knows... maybe this is the perfect "home" for your test, unit, or novel study! (Updated to note: This site is no longer all free!)

3. Your school district's electronic bulletin board system

Do you even know if your board has one?  Then this is the perfect place to "start small"... just keep in mind that small risks = small returns.  Personally, it was much more satisfying to me knowing that a bigger pool of French teachers
clipart from

4. Twitter or email 

Save your materials as a shared Google Doc, for example, and email/tweet out the link to the teaching community.  For a list of teaching related hashtags for Twitter, see my blog post from last spring.

5. Teachers Notebook & Teachers Pay Teachers

You knew that one was coming, I'm sure!  This is my referral link to TpT.  If you sign up as a seller there using this link, I would receive 5% of your sales for 24 months.  This comes out of the web site's portion of your sales, and costs you nothing extra or makes you miss out on any opportunities.  It's entirely a win-win!

There is no such thing as a free seller's account at Teachers Notebook, but that's because they operate on a different business model. This web site is funded by ads, and from a modest setup fee from teachers who wish to open an account there.  If you want to give it a go, I'd suggest trying TpT which has higher traffic.  Once you have a feel for how you might do, paying $20 and moving to TN, then helping them to promote the site may be the way to go for you. (Updated: Teacher's Notebook is now defunct)

6. A Teaching Blog

Start your own teaching-centred blog - Edublogs, Blogger and WordPress are popular free options - or approach another French teacher about contributing a guest post on his or her blog (wink wink, nudge, nudge!)

7. OMLTA message board

It's been eight months since the Ontario Modern Language Teaching Association launched a chat board on their web site, and it's yet to see a lot of traffic.  We all know nothing drives interest amongst a group of teachers like "free stuff" though, right?  Lead the way... start a trend!

8. Contribute to a Teaching Publication

Write an accompanying article about how to use your material, or about a new teaching approach you tried with it, or some other topic to submit to any foreign language publication, again with links to a Google Doc (or other file sharing system).

9. Teachers.Net

This website has been around a while and is highly underused, in my opinion.  I see way more potential in Teachers.Net than it's currently living up to, but I do have to say that one thing I don't love about it is how publicly searchable discussions on this site appear to be.

And last but not least...

10. Tool-specific/Approach-specific Websites/Wikis

There are lots of more targeted web sites for teachers to share their materials, such as a portion of the ReadWriteThink web site. Bitstrips, Voki, and smartexchange for Smart Board or for Promethean board (Select Resources from the Menu bar, and then Submit Resource) are a few more that come to mind.

Just keep in mind that you may want to have a look around for the terms to which you are agreeing when you upload your material to share in a particular location.  I believe that some of these sites require you to sign over ownership of the materials to them, while others allow you to maintain your own copyright.

I'd love it if you'd post a link to something you've shared as a result of my post!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Montreal Thrift Shop Loot

Guess where I stopped in during my family's summer vacation, to help get ready for a French Immersion intermediate level classroom this year?

That's right!  I visited a certain "Value" store!  I looked around for a variety of ideas that might be handy for my class, but  - call me boring - the only thing I ended up buying were books. These seemed more appropriate than the Core French level books I already own, so I was very happy with my find.

Can you believe it was only about $30 for my treasures?  I was considering buying JUST a second copy of the traditional verb conjugation hard cover student book, Bescherelle, for about $18 on its own.

Unfortunately, I have not yet read all of these books myself, so there is the possibility of there being something in there that isn't quite age-appropriate. So far, the students have ONLY been drawn to the Disney movie books, but they are reasonably text-heavy, so for a little bit of personal reading, I've been allowing it if they forget their own book.

I also had an opportunity to snap photos of a few other things that I found interesting.  I'm not quite sure how I'll use this, but I'm open to any suggestions that you might have!

À la prochaine!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Five Virtual Field Trip Ideas for FSL Classes

Resource dollars are tight, as is time to cover the curriculum, and there sure are a lot of forms to fill out for educational experiences that take place outside of the classroom - especially if it involves significant travel.  Why not try one of these 5 virtual field trip ideas for your francophiles-in-training?

Live Video Chats

Use Skype or Google + to video chat with other classes learning French, or with francophone students learning English, whichever you prefer for your students... or whatever you manage to arrange through your network of contacts.


The Louvre has an extensive web site. - In addition to the virtual tour, they also offer a database of all their art, so you can set your own mini-tour on a theme or artist, or even create a web quest for your students to complete.

How about the Virtual Museum of Canada, with tons of content (including accompanying lesson plans!) in both English and French?  (try to give a couple of examples!!)

Try the Ontario Science Centre's virtual tour, which includes in the Démonstrations section lots of try-it-yourself experiments. How about some fun homework? Pass out some LifeSaver wintergreen candy in class and tell students they need to perform this scientific observation. (Note: All the videos linked in throughout the site seem to be only available in English.)


The variety of virtual peeks inside people's homes around the world provides a wealth of opportunities for learning. Options range from having younger students describe what they see, and give instructions to find a particular room in a given house (i.e. "Où est la salle de bains, Monsieur?") to asking students to compare and contrast rooms in their own house to what they see elsewhere, make inferences based on layout, select accommodations and explain or defend their choices.

Virtual French apartment tours:

Virtual French house tours and floor plans:

Historical Tourist Sites

For grade 7 History in either official language, this 360 degree live virtual tour of Quebec City from the Observatory might be interesting to explore.  Turn on the option to "afficher les points d'intérêt" if you'd like blue dots shown to indicate main historical sites, with pop-up labels.

The Mother-load

Of course, Google Maps street view can be used to tour virtually any city in the world. Take a walking tour of any francophone downtown core, compare and contrast rural and urban neighbourhoods in Canada & France, research some middle school addresses around the world and check out what the buildings look like, and use Satellite view for a general campus layout as well.

What great virtual field trip am I missing for intermediate level French classes? Please leave a brief description, as well as a link if you can, in the comments below!

Monday, September 17, 2012

My First "Manic Monday" Contribution

I don't know if you are familiar with Manic Mondays on Classroom Freebies (a web site set up by Charity Preston, of the Organized Classroom Blog) but it's something I seem to keep missing.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Creating a free item worth sharing within 24 hours is not something I can usually accomplish, with school and home commitments combined with my fondness for online chatter. Luckily for me (or maybe luckily for you!) I just happen to have a Graphic Organizer freebie that I put together to use in my class! I'm having my students present articles that they found online or in print newspapers to share a current event that interests them and to start a discussion.
If you prefer to keep it simple, you could easily use just the first page, but I added a "verso" (second side) as an extension, for my Actualité unit with an oral interaction and inquiry focus.

In my class, the students are required to conclude their current events presentation with a thought-provoking question to stimulate conversation in the classroom. I evaluate the presenter on certain agreed-upon criteria, but also the other students need to show evidence of critical thinking and expression of their own opinion and ideas.

This is great for differentiated instruction/assessment as well.  You could easily ask students to fill a certain number of sections, or assign different questions for students, depending on what you wanted to evaluate.  I hope you like it!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

3 Things I Learned on Vacation

My students were greeted back to the classroom this week with a diagnostic writing activity of sorts, asking them to reflect on their own summer experiences, so I thought it would only be fair for me to share a little of my own!

Wonderfully quiet and private beach near Souris, PEI.
1) During my summer vacation, I learned some interesting information about sea creatures... For example, that dead jellyfish don't sting, and that sand dollars are like a type of urchin.

My son holding a starfish in St. Andrew's NB.

I even got to learn about some larger sea animals, as we went whale watching in the Bay of Fundy and despite a terribly cloudy, foggy day, we were able to spot a couple of minke whales (which, to be honest, I didn't even know existed before!)

2) My family and I noticed that PEI is serious about its waste management!  Yay for that province and its wonderful residents. I suppose this comes from being an island in the first place.  
Overall, it seemed like land was used much more intelligently there than it is in the parts of the country we are more used to exploring. But specifically, I was amazed by the composting bins that were located even outside of restaurants, and the tri-bin garbage system that was in place at a cottage we rented - one in the kitchen area and another in the washroom. As someone who tries at home to remember to bring empty toilet paper rolls all the way to the recycling bin in the garage, I thought this was a wonderful plan!
3) As a French teacher, visiting second-hand stores and popping in to various locations in New Brunswick (Canada's only officially bilingual province!) and Quebec to scoop up a few copies of "authentic text materials" (like maps, business cards, take out menus, back-to-school flyers) was so fun! More on my Village des Valeurs haul later!

Et alors, maintenant c'est à vous la parole... what new things did you learn on your summer vacation?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Ultimate Middle Years Giveaway and Blog Hop

This week, I'm participating in a blog hop and giveaway hosted by two fantastic middle school edubloggers, Krystal Mills of Lessons From the Middle and Ann Smith of Innovative Connections. Visit one of their awesome middle school blogs for the details around the great package of freebies you'll get for completing the blog hop challenge, and for more information on how to enter to win some of the fabulous prizes (worth $300 in total!) available in three prize packs to be won.

Going Back Fully Stashed

The blogger I'm featuring for the hop is "Scipi" a long-time fellow TPT'er and awesome educator! The goal of Vicky's blog, Go Figure with Scipi is "to cure one mathphobic at a time". 

She posts unique, classroom tested teaching strategies, math humour and math lessons that can be immediately used in the classroom. She has lots of experience in meeting middle schoolers' need for hands-on activities and is very good at developing lessons that require critical thinking and problem solving skills.

You'll want to visit Vicky's blog & store often - she's a lovely, helpful, caring math teacher!

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