Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Create a Musical with French Students - or Watch One At Least!

Don Meiners is one talented guy!  He is an experienced high school French teacher here in Ontario, who takes a very unique and novel approach to having his students participate in French.  Over each summer break, Mr. Meiners sits down and repeatedly watches a recent children's movie.  He does this to transform the film into a musical production "en français" that his students will perform for others, raising money for various charitable organizations with the modest ticket price they charge.  Don writes original lyrics to popular tunes that the students will recognize and to which they will respond emotionally.

His students then work hard all year creating costumes, choreographing dance moves, recording music, learning lines, and then practicing, practicing, practicing.  There's a a place for everyone to contribute in Mr. Meiners' classes, whatever their language level or interest.  Everyone loves music, and dancing, and dressing up like a lemur!  Ok, well, maybe that last one isn't for everyone, but SOMEBODY'S gotta do it!

I recently took about 100 grade 7 students to watch "Kung Fu Panda" performed - in a simplified manner - in a 50 minute French presentation, filled with song and dance.

Elmvale District High School's Core French Students Performing French Musical Version of Kung Fu Panda



We included all three levels of French (core, extended and immersion) for this trip, and I'm glad we did!  I would like to say that all the attendees loved it, but that wouldn't be true.  When I asked my core students for their impressions right afterwards, they curled their noses up at it.  But when I pressed them a little, they felt that it should be offered again to next year's grade 7s, if there is a chance to do so.  I think it just wasn't cool to admit to liking anything French!  Many of the immersion students however were very enthusiastic about it!

In previous years, Mr. Meiners' students have also performed Madagascar, Toy Story, Alvin & the Chipmunks, and Shrek.
(Madagascar performance photos courtesy of Elmvale District High School web site)

When you make arrangements to attend the show, Don sends you a CD and accompanying lyrics in advance so that you can prepare your students to comprehend the plot line better, and yes, perhaps even to sing along!

I attended Mr. Meiners' OMLTA workshop a few years ago, and was awed by this man.  (You can read the workshop synopsis here.)  Basically, the gist of his workshop is that anyone could do what he does, but I beg to differ.  I sat there stumped, unable to rhyme anything at all in the fill in the blanks activities that he gave us to practice with, let alone fathom the idea that I would be able to sit down and write lyrics... yes, even simple and repetitive ones... to a dozen songs or so!


I can't help but hope that in the future, he makes his creations available to other French teachers brave enough to engage their students in this all-encompassing dramatic approach!


3 comments:

  1. I loved reading this post. I will be teaching 6-8 science next year so it's nice to meet you. I popped over from A Teacher's Treasure.
    pfulk@cox.net
    First Class Teacher

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for stopping by, Pamela!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm a new follower of your blog! Just stopping by from the giveaway at A Teacher's Treasure!

    Joni @ Kinderkidsfun.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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