Saturday, November 21, 2015

Bright Ideas: Fix your PowerPoint Alignment

For this month's Bright Ideas Link up, I've got a tech tip for you. Not too high tech, so don't get overly excited. :-) It's more of an old school pet peeve of mine. This is for anyone who uses PowerPoint slides they've created in their teaching practice, whether to present lessons, to deliver staff training, or even just to post something as simple as the class agenda on the projector!

You know how PowerPoint is perfectly formatted for making a presentation, in terms of the page size, default orientation, and bulleting? Well, that's all fine & dandy until you want to do something beyond the usual.

For example, for this assignment I included a list of the Ontario drama expectations we were meeting.

But then, what happens when I add in a new section and decide I want two "lists" or groupings instead of soooo many bullet points?

When I go to turn off the bullets...

... the alignment gets all wonky.

So here's how to fix that! First, if you cannot already see the ruler bar (indicated by the blue arrow in this image below) then you need to turn it on. To do that, click View, and then click the checkbox beside Ruler to activate this feature.

Then, you see the little gray markers on either side? These can be adjusted manually as you wish. If you click and drag the rectangular bit at the bottom , it moves both the top and bottom triangles (or pointers), keeping whatever distance between them there is already. The top is for the first line indent and the bottom pointer is for every line after that in a "paragraph".

One last bit... I find it best to type all your text first & then worry about formatting the alignment, sizing and everything elseafteryou have your content more or less in place. PowerPoint can make you nutty if you worry about it too much as you go along... think of it as just one part of the revision process. (Just as you'd go back over to look for typos, fix up your formatting at the same time!)

Note: I don't think this option exists at all within Office 365 if you're using that version, but it does (with minor appearance changes) in all previous versions of PowerPoint.

I hope you liked this tip, and if so, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and TpT for lots of other great stuff! This is also our "Year in Review" post so you can check out my other 2015 blog post for Bright Ideas, as well as revisit a collection of other awesome promo-free tips from the teacher blog posts linked up below. If you wanna go way, way back, 2014's Round up post is still available too.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Proud member of the OCT

As a parent, I'm relieved to know that my kids are in good hands each year with teachers who are current on both curriculum expectations, professional standards, and modern approaches to learning.

As an educator, I'm proud to belong to a professional group such as the Ontario College of Teachers. I belong willingly to a number of other associations for my professional networking, access to educational resources and because it's a priority for me to stay upto date with educational trends based on the latest research. The College is unique though. It exists as a self-regulatory body for the K-12 teaching profession in Ontario. This body is responsible for licensing our teachers, setting high standards for them, and ensuring that teacher education programs meet certain specified criteria. As such, it's not an optional professional group. Having worked in other domains as well as teaching (including an education-related position within a hospital setting, and an accounting firm) my opinion is that is that membership in self-regulatory organizations has great benefits and demonstrates trust in a profession. Having OCT after my name acknowledges that I belong to a professional community with high standards, one that is deeply committed to their students as well as to their colleagues.

Ongoing Professional Development that meets my own needs and interests is important to me as a teacher. I participate regularly in a variety of learning activities and professional dialogues, including on Facebook, which those who read my blog regularly will already know. This year, I am contemplating a new challenge - an Additional Basic Qualification course. So far, I've been happy teaching the intermediate-senior set (which is grades 7-10, and then 11-12) but I'm starting to think about moving to a lower grade and I want to be well prepared for that. Because the College approves teacher education programs, we can be assured that the content conforms to the professional expectations which are set out.

In addition to approving courses for teachers' certification in this province, there are both ethical standards as well as professional standards of practice established by the College. Many people think first and foremost of the College's disciplinary role when a certified teacher is accused of breaching one or more of those standards, but I'd argue that the more important role is that those standards are set and communicated in the first place. Proactive rather than simply reactive is surely the way to go when it comes to our children's education and well being. Within the Professionally Speaking magazine (Pour parler profession, for the French version), there is a feature that I personally love which allows teachers to ponder case studies, and determine what the best course of action is, reflecting upon the professional and ethical standards. It's perfect for schools to take a look at within PD sessions or within teams as well as for individual teachers to read at home. Another great thing that the College does is to highlight fantastic teachers and share the aspects of their practice that are exemplary. (Check out my favourite one, highlighting a French teacher I've had the honour to meet and interact with, as well as to share professional discussions online.)

Parents can learn more by signing up for "The Standard" a newsletter geared specifically for parents who wish to know more about teacher accreditations and similar topics.

Teachers can check out the Professional Advisories issued by the College, consult the publications they receive via mail or electronically, as well as finding out more at the Ontario College of Teachers website overall.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

All Treats, No Tricks: Secondary Smorgasbord

Here in Canada, we celebrated our Thanksgiving two weekends ago. In the USA, this holiday of gratitude and geniality (let's not get into the historical origins here & focus on moving forward together, you know?) is marked in November. In between, we both look forward to some Halloween fun. One thing I'm sure many teachers are thankful for is that the post-Trick-or-treating candy crash can happen quietly at home this year instead of in our schools.

Many of us think of how we can help others around these holiday seasons. I'd like to offer up to you a graphic organizer to prepare students to give a presentation... a persuasive one to help your class or school charitable club decide who to support with their efforts at fundraising or other types of giving. We selected a recipient within the microfinancing web tool Kiva, but you can certainly help out closer to home, or find another way to lift up others in our global village if you wish.

Use this in French Immersion, Core French as well as in standard classes or organizations, since I've included three different versions (including one completely in English) from which you, or your students, may choose. Did I mention that it is EDITABLE? Change it to suit your own students' needs! I just ask that you share the original link with other teachers along with your own.

Thanks once again to Pamela and Darlene who are the masterminds behind this wonderful monthly opportunity for secondary edubloggers to show that WE care about sharing and connecting just as much as our kind-hearted and helpful primary colleagues!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tricks & Treats: A Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by this Sunday morning.

Today's blog post is part of a Halloween Blog Hop with several other fabulous Canadian teacher-bloggers. Many thanks to Erin Beattie who is hosting this holiday-themed blog hop. Be sure to check out her awesome blog at some point during this event, and at any other time as she always is working hard at sharing something with her readers.

If your students celebrate Halloween and your school has no policy against participating in this holiday (which has always been secular to my mind, but I know some people would deeply disagree!) then my tip for you in the French or other second language classroom would be to use this opportunity to encourage students to practice and perfect certain expressions that will be useful to them in a number of situation (i.e. guy with pickaxe in his head is HOPEFULLY a description your students WON'T need to use with any kid of regularity in French!). So get them talking about something they are excited to talk about anyway, their costumes and plans, their favorite media related to this holiday, the best costume they ever saw... and don't treat celebrating Halloween as a major French cultural undertaking because there are few places where francophones really celebrate Halloween in the way we do in North America.

To this end, I made a fun activity for students to use to express their preferences and opinions. It's a Halloween conversation game based on the wooden tower building block game called Jenga. Get students talking about what they want to talk about anyway, but in French.The questions require students to read (possibly using resources available in the room to confirm meaning and acquire or reinforce vocabulary), speaking (to answer the questions before placing the block they've pulled out of the tower to place it on top) and listening (to pay attention to their partner or group members' answers and decide if a point is awarded) as well as possibly the opportunity to respond to add their own reaction to classmates' answers.

This activity is free to download in my TPT store for a limited time only! Grab it this week if you think you may use it. And please, I remind you that things people share with you for free are still their intellectual property so please feel free to share a LINK to this activity with another teacher if you loved it, and not to actually distribute the file itself, electronically or otherwise.

See the image that follows for the "secret word" that you're collecting from this web site. You'll need this for the Rafflecopter entry further down in this post. We're giving away 4 gift cards to TeachersPayTeachers. Awesome, right? Be sure to enter.

... and please continue to "haunt on" by clicking the image below the Rafflecopter widget to go to the NEXT education blog in the list!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you're looking for more Halloween activites in French, I also have this spooky Halloween recipe idea in my store. It's an oldie but is still popular and a great way to practice talking and writing about quantities, body parts and using the impératif (or infinitives if you prefer, as is typically more common in recipes).

Friday, September 18, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - Bell Ringers

Bellringers for French class? But how can you do anything before all the students are arrived and settled? I think it's important to offer them some reason to get to class on time and get into learning. So I wanted to share two approaches with you. My own imperfect version that I've been setting up this year and another teacher's with a quite different style from my own.

Thanks again to ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures who have organized this secondary level monthly blog hop.
I've had students journalling, roughly weekly, for a few years as part of my program. We do that on Thursdays (jeudi = journaux... get it?) I've mainly been using that for diagnostic assessment, or assessment for learning as we call it here in Ontario, and to encourage increased student fluency in their written work. This year, I've decided to actually mark certain entries. More about that in a future post!

Each Friday, we do Cercles communautaires littéraires. Students sit in grouped tables and talk about what they are reading independently in a structured, game-like way. This is a free activity a friend and virutal colleague introduced to me, and she shares it on TPT. Students love it and I enjoy the fact that I'm encouraging them to read, but not in a way that's too burdensome... the emphasis is on thoughtful reading and reflecting, and then the activity is oral in my class 90% of the time. Check out her cute but not too young bookmarks too, which tie in as they have the question forms for students to remind themselves what they ought to be thinking about while reading.

I do a quick grammar review one day per week. Today, because I actually noticed some students making errors in their journals last week with the present tense of irregular verbs, we actually did a little work there. (It shouldn't really be happening after 8 years of French Immersion, I know, but since when I looked over their worksheets, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, I'll chalk it up to summer brain. We're only in our second week of school.)

I'd love to be doing something musical one day a week, but am having trouble figuring out the logistics for this one. If the idea is to get students working as soon as they arrive, then how to handle that with a listening focus? Although we're a BYOD school, I haven't had a lot of luck convincing my students to use QR codes so far when I've offered them as an option. I'm open to other suggestions on that one!
And finally, I like to provide an image for students to discuss one day a week. Whether it's a funny cartoon, something pop culture related, or a strange image... the goal is just to get the students interacting in French, as well as focusing their attention. It's my little bit of fluffy fun. It can be content-driven though too. Check out this example for social studies.

So, that's my week planned out, hopefully with some ideas for you to try out as well in your intermediate or high school level classes.

And now for something completely DELFerent. Oh my yes, I have been chatting with a particular someone whose horrible puns are rubbing off on me! LOL.  Have you heard of the D.J. D.E.L.F. Dailies? You'll find a little overview on Steven Langlois' main web page for the D.J. D.E.L.F. kit, which is a great, highly adaptable and engaging resource, which is music-based-but-not (as truly it centres around teaching students the vocabulary, structures and routines they'll need to know to operate in everyday aspects of their life en français.) DJ DELF is tweeting and sharing via his facebook a little something to get you started each weekday. They're free, and it's a great way to get your students using social media in a realistic and pretty safe way within your program!

Whether it's the riddle of the day, a song to which you can have students reflect and share their opinions, or an image based activity, check these out & see what you think! He's even got a set of worksheets, if you like to have students record their thoughts on paper. To save trees, I was thinking those wipe off markers on laminated weekly sheets might work. Really... do whatever works for you. But get those kids thinking and sharing en français regularly and as early as possible.

Have a great, restful weekend!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Be Informed of New Resources & Posts

How do you follow blogs? If you just save them in a bookmark or favorites list and visit them every so often, that's one way that might have worked for you so far. As I know organization is on your mind, given that it's back to school time, you might want to give this a couple of minutes as well.
If you just keep track of edublogs from a list of saved URLs, you will find yourself sometimes scrolling through posts that were maybe timely and "expired" (such as contents, sales, and Christmas a couple of years ago when I participated in a flash freebie type event with a series of other middle-school bloggers... I think the requests to share that document have finally come to a halt. Although I had requests for months, if you weren't reading during the two week period & saw the blogs that were linked together, sorry, you missed it.)

Image by
If you're already well versed with the concept of following a blog so that you get notified in one place of new content, then I do offer an RSS subscription option in my sidebar. If you're interested but didn't know that was an option, feedly, gReader and Flipboard are free apps for your RSS feeds.

Another option specifically for blogs as opposed to any and all types of web content is Bloglovin' I like this option because, frankly life is busy. I have a certain amount of time available to breeze through blogs I want to read, and I don't want to be distracted by that while I'm also seeing updates from my children's school, local weather alerts, updates from the Ministry of Education, and whatever top news stories I might have decided to follow.
Bloglovin' allows you to skim through ALL the blogs that you decide to follow, teaching related or other, in one place. You can quickly skim, mark favorites, and even find new-to-you, similar blogs within this service. I highly suggest using at least a couple of categories if you follow different types of blogs. It will really help you keep things organized long term!

And if you want to know specifically when new things are added to my TPT store, something I don't always announce here on my blog, click the Follow Me star when you're logged into TPT.

What that does is (if it's your first time following someone on TPT) generate a daily summary email from TPT of new items, or if you already get that daily email from TPT, it just adds my new products to your daily notifications. Trust me -- I won't be overwhelming your inbox with my "New Product Notices". I'm simply not as prolific at creating things as some of my TPT heroes and heroines, since I spend my energy in lots of different areas of my life. If email overload is a concern for you, my suggestion is to visually scan that email when it arrives to see if anything catches your eye & then delete it if not. Leave it there or click through to add something to your wishlist (or buy right away if you're ready) if something does strike your fancy!

If you have another way to help teachers feel organized while staying in the loop with edublogs, please feel free to share it (through a link to your blog post, or short description) in the comments below.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bright Ideas - Portable Mini-Schedule

It's been a little while since I participated in the Bright Ideas blog hop, but they really ARE a great way to share tips with teachers, so for this month, I want to share an idea I got from a Special Education colleague a few years ago.

For any itinerant teacher, it's a great time-saving and frustration-reducing tip to keep a tiny version of your schedule on the back of your employee ID or security badge. This way, when you're at the opposite end of the school for one class and get a question about when you're available for a meeting during your planning time, or when you next visit a different group of students, you can answer right away with certainty. No worrying about one more thing to remember once you get back to wherever in the school your desk happens to be!

Photo of Bright Idea's tip from Teaching FSL of Mini Schedule on Employee ID

How to do this:

  • Measure your ID badge, minus any holes etc.
  • If you already have an electronic copy of your schedule, strip out any unnecessary info from your schedule (like exact times of the periods, or extra space you might have at the end to write in details)
If you don't, then make one OR test out how well taking a photo & then reducing it works.
  • Take a screenshot of your schedule and paste it into Word or PowerPoint (or another program).
  • Select the image you pasted & reduce the size to the dimensions you measured out... mine was 6.8 cm wide.

  • Print it out. Use plain paper or even a sticker sheet, if you have one available.
  • Stick the sticker/label into place. If you printed on regular paper, cut around it and tape it, or even superglue it in place. After all, you want that info to stay put for many months!
One last thing... if your district has a "reorganization day" like mine does, at which time teachers may be reassigned and schedules may completely change, you may want to just scotch tape it on until that date, in case you need to redo it from scratch!

I hope you enjoyed this tip! If you liked this idea, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and TpT for lots of other great stuff! Also, check out the other awesome promo-free teacher blog posts linked up below.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Secondary Smorgasbord - Peeking at Pinterest

Last week, someone in an online teacher group ask me if I'd ever heard of Pinterest. I'm not normally one to toot my own horn, really, but since the question arose, I shared with her that my main Pinterest board was named as a great resource for French teachers in our province's professional college's magazine (Professionally Speaking, December 2014).

This conversation reminded me that I'd planned to write up a blog post about how I use Pinterest, as part of a cool secondary level blog hop organized by ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures who are two wonderful people I met last summer.

I use Pinterest to capture ideas, resources, materials and images that are of interest to me as a francophile and an educator.  To my main pinterest board, I pin anything and everything of use to French teachers. That might be anchor charts, funny memes en français, great tips for teaching grammar, short video clips, and fun or interesting worksheets, ready to print games, and other resources.

Those of you in Ontario may be interested in checking out my collaborative board specific to our province's curriculum.

I also collect ideas and resources specifically for Social Studies. Since I teach these subjects in French, most of the resources are in French already, or are cool ideas that are easily adaptable. Many of the pins are for grade 8 Geography & History, because that is my current grade level, but I also pin materials that are not specifically for my own grade, to help me keep track of great things that I want to refer to my colleagues. I have a small but growing board for CEFR-relevant teaching ideas and resources as well, and another for educational technology that could be of interest for French teachers.

image of Teaching FSL's Pinterest EdTech board

Finally, I do have a couple of Pinterest boards that are specific to my own classroom. I started pinning ideas for cheap and cheerful crafts after seeing some of my students struggle to come up with a plan for something they might be able to quickly, easily make without a large investment for my school's annual Entrepreneurial Fair, and I've also suggested to students (and shown them how) to pin images found online, and ok for educational use, that they might incorporate into a storybook, or other image-based project.

I'd like to end with a question to my readers: I haven't taken the time to pretty up my pinterest board covers. Do you care? If this is a worthwhile investment in making my boards a place you'd like to visit, then I'm happy to oblige. If not, then I'll just keep trying to pin quality content & support FSL teachers by curating the options that are open to us. Leave me a comment below to let me know!

For more ideas about Pinterest & your teaching practice, check out these middle & secondary blogs as well:

Friday, August 07, 2015

Congrats to My 3 Winners

It's time to announce the winners of my giveaway for French teachers ...

Image courtesy of Educlips

Congratulations, ladies! Not sure where the MEN are... I am pretty sure all 81 entries were by women, but that's OK.... the guys will figure out where we are eventually.

Now, I have a confession to make... I messed up a little bit in setting up the giveaway. Because the three prizes showed up on separate "pages" or tabs within the Rafflecopter widget thing, I mistakenly thought that the entries would be recorded for the separate prize packs. Alas, that's not what actually happened. So my plan is this...  Since Sonia is the first person I picked, I'll give her first choice, and the Meaghan will get second pick. Lorraine will be third. If someone had their heart set on something that is already claimed & is not interested in the remaining prizes, I'll simply choose a new winning entry. (So for everyone else, you're not completely out of luck just yet.)

I'm off to send out the emails to these ladies right now.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! Stay tuned for more cool stuff in the near future!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Middle & Secondary Teachers are the TOPS

These are my awesome secondary teacher-educational author friends whose stores you simply must pop by as the TPT sale gets underway today (which I know I already told you, but a reminder never hurt - you don't want to miss this deal!)

Aren't you bummed when a seller you follow forgets to put their store on sale? Well, join us to celebrate LESS planning, MORE summer today and tomorrow and pick up those materials you've had on your mind for up to 28% off! Check out these top secondary teachers for some great deals on top resources!

Remember to use the Promo code for the extra 10% off all the items you put in your cart!

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Great Back to school items discounted for TpT Sale

It's too soon to think about Back To School, I know! In the southern US though, teachers are back in class tomorrow! And TeachersPayTeachers is offering up a coupon code August 4-5 so we may as well take advantage to start planning, even though in Ontario we are really only half way through the summer break!

I needed to select two things in my store to showcase for this link up, so helpfully hosted by the Wise Guys for us secondary types (grades 6-12). First, one great back to school item I wanted to bring to your attention...

The expectations for Ontario's FSL curriculum (which was new last school year, hence the date on the cover) are also available in a fully French version if you prefer. I think deciding which is a better choice for you depends on in which language you tend to offer your rubrics and other communications around curriculum expectations and achievements.

And secondly, I needed to chose a great top selling item. This one, Expressions utiles pour la salle de classe française, is perfect for back to school as well.

Even in my Grade 8 immersion class I need to review some basics... otherwise, I've found if I assume I can skip this step in September, some kids are saying "Comment dit-on LOCKER?" all year long

Go ahead and fill your Wish List ~or~ your virtual Shopping Cart today with all the great things you plan to get at a discount tomorrow. Individual sellers may mark down some or all of their products sooner - visit my Secondary Friends' stores in the links below. Use the TPT Coupon Code BTS15 while you check out of the site after moving all your selected goodies to your Shopping Cart on August 4-5.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Book review of FL for Everyone

Foreign Languages for Everyone: How I Learned to Teach Second Languages to Students with Learning Disabilities by Irene Brouwer Konyndyk was published in 2011.  This is a book I hadn't heard a lot about but rather which I stumbled upon in my online forays into quality professional resources I could read myself and recommend to others who were struggling in their roles as French Teachers. I was excited in reading over Irene's website and decided to email her. She graciously sent me a copy to read myself as well as one to give away.

Foreign Languages for Everyone is a practical, easy read. You know you're reading something a fellow teacher wrote, even though it's got loads of references and a great glossary at the back of the resource. Its focus is on including all learners in the joys of learning French (or another second language) but considering how to program for those who learn differently. Ms Konyndyk is a college-level professor of second languages.

I found myself firmly underlining the second line of her preface.
Maybe the adjective I ought to use is "angrily" - an emotion not directed at the author or the book, but at my experience with the system of second language teaching in Ontario.  So many times, students were exempted from my Core French classes (which are mandatory in this province!) and felt like I'd somehow failed them or that the system didn't have enough faith in me as an FSL teaching professional.

The author talks about the importance of routine, multi-sensory teaching, and "Testing For Learning" (a little shorter than assessment for/as learning, right?). There is also a lot about the importance of metacognition, but it's really presented in a very different way than the suggested prompts in our current Ontario curriculum documents, elementary or secondary. (A little off topic, but I'd love to know in the comments below whether your district or province/state provides scripting, required or otherwise, for the teacher to speak in class!)

Ms Konyndyk's approach is not high-tech, but that's a positive thing. There's nothing about how some latest and greatest technology is going to make such a difference and capture the students' attention. If you have limited or no access to technology, no problem. And if you do, great - just incorporate it where it makes sense to augment your program further.

Her student intake form is the longest one I've seen, and in a regular classroom, I might think that was a problem but it makes total sense in this situation. When you have a group of learners who learn differently, and who come to you with a history of difficult learning experiences, it just makes sense to get to know them as thoroughly as you can. Did I not just describe 75% or more of intermediate grade Core French classes?

All of this good stuff... and then she covers 9 Best Practices. These pages in my copy of the book are covered in squiggles, exclamation points and excitedly scrawled notes to myself. Trust me, many of these things you are ALREADY doing, but there are just some fine tweaks that we can make to better suit some - or all - of our learners. (One example - she addresses the use of the target language & how to gradually move to it.)

You should check out this resource as a different way of looking at meeting the needs of our exceptional learners, including those with multiple LDs, autism or other challenges.

Be sure to enter my giveaway just for French teachers now. One of the prizes is a signed copy of this PD resource!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Noël du campeur - une vente

Joyeux noël du campeur!  J'ai réduit les prix de quatre de mes ressources favorites par 50%
Je voudrais remercier Mme Andrea pour la belle image pour notre promotion et Les Créations de Stéphanie pour l'idée et le rallye-lien!

Je vous offre ces matériels, chacun à un prix excellent! La promotion est seulement aujourd'hui.

Mon produit le plus récent, pour le français et le drame, une mini-unité pour le Théâtre des lecteurs. Je l'offre actuellement comme une partie d'un des prix dans un concours sur mon blogue, mais si tu n'as pas envie d'attendre, va l'acheter directement (puis si, en fait tu es le gagnant ou la gagnante, tu pourrais donner une copie à une collègue).

Unité pour le roman "Au pas camarade". Tu peux en lire plus dans cette publication de mon blogue.

L'ensemble bilingue (version du test et rubrique en anglais et en français, pour les enseignants et enseignantes qui enseignent le même cours de Géographie ou des Enjeux globales dans les deux langues) d'une dissertation/un test au sujet des inégalités mondiales.

Et finalement, un ensemble d'un jeu de Bingo avec le vocabulaire des animaux et des insectes. (Des affiches + les deux niveaux complets de ce jeu.)

J’espère que tu trouves quelque chose que tu aimerais utiliser en école avec tes élèves cette année! N’hésite pas de me poser des questions en avance si tu veux vérifier les détails d'un produit.

N'oublie pas de rendre visite à ces autres boutiques qui offrent des rabais jusqu'à 50% le 25 juillet seulement.

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