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!

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