Thursday, January 31, 2013

Football Widows (who are also teachers/parents)... Attention, Please!

Now YOU have something to be excited about as well!  This coming Sunday, my favourite Teacher Resource web site, TeachersPayTeachers is having a site-wide SUPER sale! 

Many individual sellers will be reducing prices (by up to 20%, on all products, in some cases!) and if you use the coupon code "SUPER" when you check out, then the web site further reduces the price by 10%.

Those of you who teach math probably understand the reason why it's 28% instead of 30% without explanation, but if it's really bugging you, let me know in the comments below & I can explain further.

And another announcement...

My one-year blog anniversary is in a couple of weeks! Stay tuned for a great giveaway contest I'm working on with the help of my blogging and other creative teacher pals.  I find it very exciting - and you'll think so too when you see all the fabulous swag that could be yours!

(Yes, I still use "swag" in THAT sense! After all, it's also Oscar season.)

Hope you are as pumped as I am!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Freebie - French Quick Response Slips

Happy Manic Monday!  I've got a little freebie for you today, that I used last year as a bit of an incentive for students to be on time & settled in, which worked well thanks to the help of YouTube, and other online sources.  Think "Bellwork" but with a visual twist.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

(Note: I don't recommend trying this if you're on a cart.  It needs to be set up before the students arrive since the idea is to get them settled in & capture their interest.)

I would show a short (30 second to 3 minute) video clip or display an interesting French image. Then I'd ask a fairly simple question either based on the visual or inspired by it. (Often they would be personal questions with no real wrong answer... to promote the idea that effort = success.)

An example of one thing I used was this video.

After, I removed the chart paper covering the question which I already had on the blackboard...

"Selon toi, quelle est la meilleure raison d'apprendre une autre langue?"

All answers submitted went into a monthly draw by class for a visit to our tuck shop.  Here's the raffle ticket that I used.
Mme Aiello - French Response Ticket Freebie
Graphic Frame by Ashley Hughes ( on ticket from MS Clip Art Gallery

Since I felt a little guilty about using so much paper for my seven and a half classes, to be a little bit more "green", I used our Risograph machine and copied high volumes on the back of "GOOS" paper. (That's what we call paper that's already been used, but on one side only - aka Good On One Side instead of the less cool-sounding "scrap paper")

You could also use this freebie as an exit ticket related to a more content-specific question or to have students ask a clarifying question which could be part of the review next period.

I hope you find a use for it!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Word Reference vs Google Translate

Do you let your students use an online translator, such as Google Translate or what was once the leader of the pack, Bablefish?  I don't. EVER. And I feel very strongly about this, in case you couldn't tell.

Some teachers that I work fairly closely with disagree with me on this point, and it irks me that students are excited to come visit me to proudly proclaim that another teacher gave them an A (or level 4) for a project that (s)he knew was done with a translator.

The dictionary that I recommend to my students is Word Reference.  But essentially I tell them if they see the word "TRANSLATE" anywhere on the web page, it's probably not a resource they ought to be using!

Aside from the ability to look up a word in French to find its English equivalent(s) and vice versa, there's a whole other aspect to WordReference that I just ADORE! I don't routinely show it to my core French students, but I introduce it to some that really strive to learn, as well as the type that will turn to a translator to express themselves given no other option. And I've definitely been showing it to my immersion students this year. At the bottom of any definition page, there are links that will show where in the forum the word you are searching has been discussed in a variety of settings.

The 'forum decorum' is that someone posing a question related to a particular usage has to try a translation themselves, and then others will pitch in to help them. I love that, because you know how I feel about collaboration in learning... I'm all for help, but love it when people are willing to try on their own, or to say "This is what I've got so far..." My goal is to leave them with some life-long skills for using their second language, even if it isn't perfect.

It's important to teach them how to use the forum links at the bottom of the page when they're looking up a word, for compound nouns as well as discussions. Too often, they look only for the first definition or two and stop there... students need modeling and opportunities to practice skimming the resource for the best match in the context they have.

I tell my French language learners that they need to search for a single word in a dictionary, and if it's part of a compound form or expression, to look below the standard definitions for that information.  This is typically true in paper dictionaries as well.

What's your favourite online dictionary for second language learners?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Another Magical Product Swap - January 2013

Today I have the pleasure of featuring an activity given to me by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources (whose literacy centres, math resources, word walls, and many other products can also be found at TpT and Teachers Notebook).


Mrs. Raki currently resides in Morocco and is learning French. (She has a few FSL products currently in her store, and is considering expansion in that area - please feel free to let her know if there's something you see that you'd like "en fran├žais" for your own classroom!)

My daughter opted to try out her "Kids Create the Test" product where students have the opportunity to write their own test questions related to something they've read. Of her own accord, she opted to write the potential test questions in French! Of course, maman is proud! It really is incredible to me that I am actually raising a bilingual child... even if the other one is still unilingual for the time being. But I digress... Back to Heidi's fabulous printable that ANY teacher can use in a variety of situations (and it ONLY costs a dollar). My daughter decided to make up questions about a Junie B. Jones book that she's recently read in French.  I think the English title is "Party Animal" although the title shown here translates as "breaks everything". I guess I can see the connection.

Sorry for the poor colour - just got a new computer and haven't reinstalled Adobe Elements for colour correction yet!

The good news is that my daughter accepted NO instruction from me WHATSOEVER on this project, which goes to show you how easy it would be to use in the classroom.  The bad news is that she would accept no instruction from me... so that means that the questions weren't necessarily as "thick" as I would have liked them to be.  This experience certainly would provide a chance to discuss what makes a good test question with a class.

There is room for three multiple choice questions, including their correct and alternate answers, and a space provided for the student to indicate what the correct answer is. I see this serving two purposes; first, a quick assessment will tell the teacher that each child understood certain aspects of what they read. Second, it makes things a little more efficient for the teacher should (s)he actually use the student-generated questions to create a multiple choice test.

My little second grade test-driver decided to write the answer out in full in the correct answer location, but I'm pretty confident that the 8th graders I teach would have simply written the letter corresponding to the correct answer.  Either works! 

It's always great to find a simple tool that will work in so many different settings!  Don't forget to pop by Raki's Rad Resources to see what other fabulous finds there are... there's sure to be something for everyone in her 400+ products!

Don't forget to hop over to her blog to see what her boys think of my French Animal and Insect Bingo.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Teacher-Bloggers OUTSIDE of the USA? Who knew!?!

My blog post title is totally tongue-in-cheek of course, but sometimes it DOES feel like almost all of my bloggy friends are located in our friendly neighbour country rather than here at home.

That's why I'm really excited about the possibilities of who I might meet in this link-up party.  Michelle Lundy at Making It as a Middle School Teacher always has the most original linky ideas.  (Note to self... ask Michelle HOW she gets those creative networking juices flowing!)  I'd love for you to join me if you have a Canadian teacher blog to share, or if you teach French in any corner of the world!

This link up is open to any teacher-blogger outside of the USA, at any grade level, any subject or specialty area.  The instructions are really easy to follow, so I'll be checking back in to meet you!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Tidying Up in Progress

Please pardon my mess!  My blog has gotten a bit disheveled over the past few months, and I'm loooong overdue for a little housekeeping.

If there's anything in particular that drives you bonkers when you visit me here, now is the time to have your say!

Sometimes you make more mess when you're in the process of cleaning up though, so please forgive the holes, gaps, overlaps, and floating bits of html code over the next week or so.

Be well!

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