Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jeu actif pour la rentrée

Here's a great activity for your francophiles-in-training that suits the first day back following the winter break (which of course would work equally well for la rentrée scolaire or after le congé de mars) I got this idea from a facebook group I belong to made up of intermediate teachers in Ontario - yet another salute to French teachers not reinventing the wheel, or feeling isolated!  

If you teach immersion grades 7+ or Core French grades 10+, this kinestetic game can be used with passé composé et l'imparfait or just with le passé composé in any level of core French below that. Who says the students need to even KNOW what the past tense is... if you model it, and make it fun, they WILL repeat! It's so fun and geared to kids' interests - themselves! - that you could use it just for team-building, as an icebreaker or warm up any class with French as the language of delivery, or if you are responsible for providing a DPA opporunity in your class time, while still having kids us the target language.

Here are the instructions:

  1. You may want to brainstorm vocabulary for possible activites or useful verbs (or have them independently think about what they want to say for a couple of minutes)
  2. Have students arrange themselves in a circle (on chairs, or just sitting on the floor if you have a younger crowd)
  3. One student, without a chair, starts by standing in the middle.
  4. Give them a starter:  Avez-vous jamais...? or Pendant les vacances, avez-vous...? (Using Est-ce que instead of inversion is fine too; choose whatever best suits your learners and their needs.)Note: Remember to offer the imparfait option if it applies.  For example, Pendant les vacances, est-ce que vous faisiez de la grasse matinée? Est-ce que vous passiez de temps en famille?
  5. The student in the middle makes an oral statement, and all students for whom the answer is "Yes" change seats. 
  6. Whoever is remaining in the middle without a seat asks the next question. Play continues.

One last tip.  You may want to establish a time limit or a certain number of turns in advance, as 
whomever was about to be the next to ask the question is sure to be disappointed when the game ends.

Hope you have a wonderful and restful holiday!

Monday, December 02, 2013

A Playground for K-12 in PEI

My bloggy-pal in PEI needs a favour for her school, and as always I'm happy to help her out. She's a sweet person, a dedicated teacher, and a doting, loving mom and family gal.

Lesson From The Middle

Krystal Mills is a grade 7 teacher-blogger from Souris, Prince Edward Island. Her school needs your help! They are in the semi-final round in a contest to win up to $140 000 for a new, inclusive playground for the school. As with many schools, students who are in wheelchairs have limited to no access to our playground equipment and recess time is not a time where they are physically able to interact with their peers. However, this social interaction is so important to their development and they deserve it! 

Her current school building will be demolished at the end of this school year and renovations are soon to be underway at the local high school building, which will make it the first K-12 facility in PEI. Playground equipment is not part of the budget and is not covered by the government. Her community applied for the Aviva Community Fund to help us out and they've made it through the first round.

Here's where YOU come in! To get into the final round (and be one of the projects in front of a panel of judges) we need votes. It takes just a moment to register your email (or you can log in using your Facebook account). After you have registered, voting takes literally just one second. You can vote once each day from December 2-11. 

Some incredible teachers have actually taken this on as a "Random Acts of Kindness" project and their whole class has registered and is voting for us every day! They'd love your shares via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blog posts etc. Any exposure is WELCOME and APPRECIATED! I know we can do this... we just need people like you to help get us there.

Krystal says:
"Thank you so much and I hope to send you an update in a month or two saying....

Please vote if you can find it in your heart to help out a (perhaps distant) Canadian community this holiday season. They would appreciate it more than you could possibly know!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Chanson de dimanche Vol #7 et Une Solde à TpT

Apologies for the rather extended break from my Sunday feature.  I've been finding a weekly commitment a bit much to actually complete, as it does take me at least a couple of hours to put together, plus the time it takes to write and share the blog post.  I'm going to keep on giving it a shot, but probably more like once a month.  Eek! I think that will be more manageable for me, given my family and work schedule. In any case, I'll still publish my blog (avec des activités basées sur une chanson) on Sundays when I do have something to share.

This week, I'm featuring a song called Décembre by a singer who is a true slice of franco-canadien culture, Roch Voisine.  The activities that I've prepared are at a couple of different levels as usual, but I've aimed a little lower than is typical. The song is nice and slow, which makes it easy to understand, and there are certain simple words that are repeated a few times, so I think even a grade 2-3 French class could handle some of these activities. Another thing I really like about it is that it's suitable if you have students who do not celebrate Christmas. Yes, there is still a reference to multi-coloured lights, but nothing too religious or holiday-focused, which makes it very inclusive.

In this 7th free download, you will find:
  • Two versions of a 'reassemble the lyrics' puzzle activity (one with only 4 chunks and one with about 10).
  • A creative draw-and-share activity for students to complete as they listen to the song, and then to practice some winter or holiday vocabulary as they talk about what they decided to include in their pictures.
  • Three versions of a cloze activity. One using just 6 simple word cards which students can hold up as they hear the word each time within the song, which you could assign them with or without the actual lyrics page in front of them. A second version has a word bank included, and a third version does not but the words are all very common even by grade 6 core French.

The grammar teacher in me really had to be fought down this time around as I considered including an activity to highlight the usage of the imparfait as well. There is some potential there, especially for older grades, to discuss how winters used to be spent when they were younger, and to share holiday memories.

There is an opportunity to develop some vocabulary as well, since much of the lyrics are made up of simple and common words, but there are sure to be a few news ones, even for elementary immersion students.

I also wanted to let you know, in case you haven't heard elsewhere, that TeachersPayTeachers is having its annual Cyber Monday sale starting at midnight tonight.  A huge thanks to Jen Jones for sharing this very appropriate graphic to help other teacher-authors to announce the sale.

Use the coupon code listed here for an extra 10% off at checkout, and many stores will be marked down up to 20% already, so that will give you the 28% discount listed.  (Pstt - a tip - it can be even more if you happen to locate the items that a seller marked down before setting up the sale price, as such items are twice-reduced plus still eligible for the extra 10% off at checkout.)

Happy online shopping and don't forget to download my holiday freebies, if you haven't already! Check out the free winter bingo too, which is great to use in the days leading up to the December break.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Middle-School Giveaway Contest

Who doesn't love a giveaway? Well, my blog buddy Krystal from Lessons From The Middle and Kate from Kate's Classroom Cafe have joined forces to collaborate on a giveaway ESPECIALLY for middle school teachers, as a little thank you for all you do!

(Of particular interest to my readers might be package #5 for foreign languages. Check it out & enter below!)

Middle School Giveaway
I'm excited to be part of this event and there are lots of fantastic prizes to be won, something perfect for whatever your role is in the middle school or junior high!
Middle school Thanksgiving giveaway

Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway -->

Friday, November 08, 2013

FSL and Reading Level

What grade level are YOUR students reading at? I understand that FSL is French as a SECOND Language and that means that students, even after 7 years of "immersion" (or what really amounts to XX hours of instruction en français per day/week/year/total) but I was pretty flabbergasted last year when it was such a struggle to get my students to read anything that was beyond a grade 2 level, with lots of pictures.

I took this photo over the summer when visiting a local book store, because it struck me that this was the series that was most "coveted" amongst my students, and as I've never really taught primary myself, I didn't realize just how low-level this popular character was.

The most discouraging part was that my students included a lot of very avid readers, but that excitement just didn't extend to reading in their second language.  I'm talking about material ranging from pretty intense fantasy, the typical teen lit, to definitely more adult literature (such as Room, and the Game of Thrones series).  It was seriously depressing for me to realize that my students just had no interest in building their fluency in their second language, and to see them walk into class with an English novel an inch or so think, and a teeny tiny 30 page "chapter book" in French.

In late September this year, I asked a student if I could take a photo of her book choices when I saw this:

This student did let me know that she'd already read The Lightening Thief in English, but we agreed that it would be an acceptable choice this once as she focused on some vocabulary development, and practising reading strategies in general. 

A very trusted and respected colleague has reminded me a couple of times to visit La Courte échelle for some good age-appropriate selections that are original francophone works. I would love for you to leave a comment with your favourite intermediate French novel. Feel free to link to a blog post as well, if you've already shared that information in a post yourself.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

More Great FREE Accented Fonts

As in my previous post, these fonts have all the accented characters you need to create print & digital materials in French, and are free for personal and commercial use. Always be sure to read and to follow the font maker's Terms of Use (TOU) which is sometimes contained in a ReadMe file or a PDF to know whether credit is required, and if donations are appreciated.


Monday, September 30, 2013

My multicultural welcome bulletin board

Smilemakers gave me the opportunity to review a product of my choice near the end of the summer.

If I taught in English rather than in French, OR if I taught a lower grade level, I would have been jumping up and down with excitement, since they have some really cute French motivational products (stickers, pencils, a great-looking French monthly calendar set). However, I'm certainly not complaining... those of you who teach in my wheelhouse know just how hard it is to find materials that will work for our age group. I chose a multicultural bulletin board set, since I'm notoriously bad at figuring out what to put up in my room, and I thought it would be a fantastic "welcome" for my students.  I'm very lucky to have found this a wonderful selection for my situation. My middle school students responded really well to it, guessing which languages were represented and trying out their pronunciation of each.

The bulletin board components were easily separated at the perforations, and they came apart very cleanly, due to the teacher-tested trick of folding along the perforations in both directions before trying to rip away! This set also came with enough desk name tags for even above-average sized classes (or for those teachers who tend to make errors when copying names, like me!) There were 32, to be precise. I also was really happy to see that the teaching notes/reproducible sheets that were included contained an "answer key" to which language was which. I was a tiny bit afraid I was going to have to research a few of them, but SmileMakers really has done what they can to make this welcome kit user-friendly for the teacher.  There are a few activities included, which are great for the beginning of the year and can easily result in presentations worthy of being displayed in the room prior to the first parent meet-and-greet opportunity.

I had to add my own little French touch as well. Here's what I came up with:

Check out SmileMakers' web site for some fantastic ideas... I swear they've even added some French posters which weren't an option just a few weeks ago.  Maybe they took seriously my plaintive plea that French teachers need more great resources readily available. 

Here's a tip - Consider combining your order with other teachers in your school to take advantage of the free shipping, especially since we know what those classroom budgets look like and realize that spending $75 in one location may not be realistic. Happy shopping!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

La Journée franco-ontarienne

I am very excited to have a guest post for you this Sunday for Chanson de dimanche, although I have to apologize for it not being available on Wednesday as was orginally the plan. (A word to the wise... don't let your virus protection expire. There are unpleasant consequences.)

Please enjoy this visit from fellow educator, and proud Franco-Ontarian, Julie G, whose fledgling blog, Mme Julie's Classroom is one all primary teachers should follow.

Ontario is a very culturally diverse province. Of these many cultures, nearly 600 000 people are part of the Franco-Ontarian community. The French language has been present in Ontario for over 350 years and the struggles for equality have lasted nearly as long.

Today, Franco-Ontarians are lucky to have schooling available in their first language and to have many other Ontarians seeking to learn the language.

It was September 25th 1975 in Sudbury, Ontario that the Franco-Ontarian community was given a symbol of recognition in the form of a flag.

The flag has two bands of different colors. The first band is green with a white lily in the center. The green represents Ontario’s summers and the hope and courage of those who fought for our rights. The lily is the symbol of francophones worldwide. The second band is white with a green trillium. The white represents our long hard winters and the struggles our ancestors went through to establish our francophone communities. The trillium is Ontario’s floral emblem.

September 25th, 2010 was the first official Franco-Ontarian day in the province of Ontario. The contribution of Ontario’s Francophone community to cultural, historical, social, economic and political life is officially recognized.  Franco-Ontarians of all origins, whether through maternal tongue, or in immersion schools, now have a day where they can gather and celebrate the French presence in Ontario.

photo by David Macdonald
That is why as a special edition of Mme Aiello’s “Chanson du dimanche” I am presenting you with the song “Mon beau drapeau” from composer Brian St-Pierre. The song talks about the early struggles for equal rights and how proud we are to have a symbol to represent us.

I encourage all francophone and immersion teachers to speak to students about the history and importance of this day and to have them proudly sing “ Mon beau drapeau”. You can play the song directly from the artist’s website, where lyrics are also available, but I prefer this YouTube video as students can see the flag flying proudly in several establishments and footage from the first official Franco-Ontarian day. Several activities are also available online in FESFO’s FIERS document, including a coloring story book that explains the history of Franco-Ontarians.  The history coloring book story is suitable for grades 3-6.

After reading the story, I also created a Jeopardy game that I like to play with students to see what they have retained, which I'm making available to you for free with a Google account by clicking the link above or the picture below - download it where you wish to save it, and print the last slide to have the answers in front of you while the class plays.

Bonne journée du drapeau franco-ontarien!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chanson de dimanche returns

Finally, I'm back. I took a little hiatus as I got back into the swing of things with the end of summer (always a busy time in my house with multiple family birthdays and other events) and back to school. And now, I'm looking to continue my weekly feature of a great French song with ready-to-go activities for the classroom.

Of course, all songs may not suit all classrooms, and certainly all activities aren't going to work as well with students at one level as they would with another. I'm open to your suggestions, as always!

I think I found a real winner this week - at least, for my class. Fingers crossed.

There are many serendipitous things at play here. I love that there's a video from last spring's South by South-West music festival - in Texas! that's pretty unplugged and musician-focused. I love that the song is called "Fox" since the kids in my class are going crazy singing this silly English song from a cuckoo Norwegian group that you may have - or may not have heard. With almost 47 million views, I'm not sure if you could have possibly avoided it. If you care to see Ellen perform it with Ylvis, for an extra laugh, please be my guest! Sorry, I just couldn't resist that little sidebar!

It's a great song! From what I understand, this musician Karim Ouellet is involved in all aspects of creating his music, and he seems really, truly talented (in my almost tone-deaf, untrained opinion). Fox is a very clear song to follow, and I'm going to ignore the fact that the message might not be totally appropriate for my class' grade level ("Donne-moi ta rose?" Oh!  I guess he really likes flowers, and would like to keep her flower  ROSE as a reminder of her. Plaster innocent expression on face ... and moving on!)

You can play a very good quality version right from the artist's website. Ouellet lives in Quebec by the way, but has a very multicultural background. He was born in Dakar, and raised in several countries, including Canada. I'm sure there is a very interesting, likely sad story there, but since it's already late in the afternoon, I won't do further research now.

On to the goodies! You can download my package of activities for free, which includes:

  1. a fill in the blank version of the lyrics, with the verbs identified on the same handout but requiring students to decide which form of the past tense to use (passé composé ou imparfait)
  2. a lyrics sorting activity to be used while listening - but with a twist... I translated it into English, so students really need to understand what they are hearing
  3. a vocabulary activity based on 10 words I selected from the song (probably too easy for my students, but hopefully useful & fun for other teachers
  4. answer keys for all of the activities.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Back to School Bonanza 2013

I'm excited to team up with a great bunch of middle school edubloggers for a Back to School giveaway!  Be sure to visit each of the blogs to collect the awesome FREEBIES we are sharing with you as well. - those make everyone a winner -  but there's also a great prize package which you can get an idea of in the image below!

My Back to School tip is to make the students in your class feel special/important. One thing I do at the beginning of the year is a Student Survey - pretty common, I think. So I add a little twist.  On the otherwise empty back of the sheet, I ask the students to share one interesting or unusual fact about themselves, and warn them that it will NOT be confidential. This is something they should feel comfortable sharing with the whole class.  It's important that they understand that, or this activity could be disastrous.

Then, overnight (or when I taught Core French and had up to 7 or 8 different classes on my schedule, sometime during the first week, so I could tackle just a couple at a time) I visit the website Discovery Puzzlemaker to create a "Getting to Know ClassX" crossword puzzle.  I make all the answers the students names and use the interesting facts that have been shared as the crossword clues.  For my FI classes, they write the information in French to begin with, and for my Core students, I asked them to write what words they could in French, and then I'd translate the rest of the clues in a simple manner, sometimes including key words in English at the end of the clue.

So, for my gifts to you, I offer the following:

Here's a simple compte-rendu (Book Report) template that you can use to get an idea of students reading & writing level in French. You could use it to have them a) recount details of a book they read in English over the summer b) select a book from your classroom library & report on the main details or c) use it as the basis for an oral presentation.

You can download some cute door decorations that indicate what's going on inside of French class here. These work GREAT for mobile teachers too!  Just write a note on the back indicating where they should be returned in case you leave them behind, before you laminate them!

And something special not shared elsewhere - this is the Word document I use as my Student Survey.  It's totally 100% editable as even * I * end up changing it a little bit from year to year, so feel free to add or remove anything that makes sense for your school, your students and your own preferences.

The prize information is a little hard to decipher since I can't get the graphic that the wonderful Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog created to display quite as large as I wanted to. Let me tell you, these 16 devoted teacher-bloggers have each selected a great item selling like hotcakes to contribute to a back to school prize package of teaching resources just for middle school.

I've contributed the brand new teaching unit I used last year for the film Un Monstre à Paris which my students really enjoyed a lot. Guess what? I used it in French of course, but this movie is also available (on
NetFlix, no less!) in English as A Monster In Paris and so I've included a Language Arts package as well. Rotten Tomatoes declares it 85% fresh... and it's great for classroom use! You may not have heard of it, but it's got great tie ins to hsitory (1910), natural disasters (flooding) and how societies deal with them, as well as wonderful connections that can be made to other classic literature (Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, among others) and fantastic music (which I'm pleased to say, my students actually preferred in French over the English versions).  You can check it out in detail in my TPT store shortly - a few computer issues have kept me from getting it uploaded as promptly as I planned.

Want More Back to School Goodies?
Enter our AMAZING back to school giveaway!
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