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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lessons From The Middle BTS Giveaway & a Late "Friday Freebie"

Yesterday (or was it the day before the day before...?) on my facebook page, I alluded to the fact that I had a new freebie coming your way. I located and uploaded the feedback sheet I made to correspond with my Current Events presentations in French, This is just a little something to keep me organized as well as to keep me focused on the expectations from the Ontario French curriculum which I aimed to be evaluating while students are presenting.

I'm considering it a late Friday Freebie, since I actually forgot yesterday was Friday until quite late in the evening! 

I am also excited to be part of a fantastic giveaway that Krystal, at Lessons From The Middle, is hosting to celebrate Back to School. She has amassed over $400 worth of prizes to be won (including my largest bundle on TPT!)
The prizes include . . .

Multiple TPT shopping sprees in sellers' stores to help you get all stocked up for a new school year ~ $10 Starbucks gift certificate to get the year started on the right foot ~ $75 gift certificate at WiseDecor to make your classroom even more inviting for your students with beautiful wall decals ~ $25 gift certificate at Black Rafter Soap Works to pamper yourself a little bit after the first big week back ~ Cool Duo Binders to get you organized easily ~ An awesome tote from Thirty-One - who doesn't love a new bag?

There are several prize packages to be won! Make sure to enter to win each of the prize packages - they're all fantastic and you don't want to miss out!

This giveaway runs August 10th-14th. Good luck!

Prize Package #1: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Package #2: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Package #3: a Rafflecopter giveaway Prize Package #4: a Rafflecopter giveaway Bonus Prize: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Math is Real Life (Yes, even for French teachers!)

When my bloggy friend Jamie (Miss Math Dork) let me know that she was launching this new link up, which she hopes will be a monthly feature, I just HAD to get involved. It immediately brought to mind a conversation I witnessed between teachers online earlier this summer.

A language arts teacher stated that everyone needed critical thinking and literacy skills, but really unless they are planning to have a career in medicine or as an engineer, our students don't really need science concepts in their lives. I thought to myself... um... WHAAAAA?  Everything we TEACH has a real life connection, and if we aren't even aware of that ourselves, we are really doing our students a disservice.  I have to assume that this was just a rare, off moment for this woman, because honestly, anything else is just TOO scary to consider!  Thankfully, someone else took some time to diplomatically try to set her straight.

I don't teach math.  I'm actually even a little scared of math! That doesn't mean I don't consider it important to life! Every time I struggle to correctly add excursion money I've gathered within the classroom, or to balance my chequing account (about semi-annually), I'm reminded of JUST how important it is. And no, I am not joking and no, I cannot believe I just admitted this in writing!!

So, now for a more fun real life example I've recently experienced... Vacation shopping!

This summer vacation, I went on a cruise for the first time. That meant a LOT was included in the up front costs. Mostly, I bought souvenirs. T-shirts for the kids, blankets, costume and novelty jewellery. (I tried on some of the real bling though! Just didn't splurge on it!)  I had to change percentages to decimals, multiply decimals, and tally in order to keep my overall trip costs in check.

About to have my hand firmly pinned down so I cannot use that paddle to bid!

Of course, this didn't only apply to purchases of items to bring home.  It was also an issue to contend with during shore excursions, when dining off the ship, and well... even when getting a little excited at the art auction!  We had a little bit of a shock when we ordered lunch at a beach restaurant in the Cayman Islands. The prices were listed in dollars and seemed quite inexpensive. Then we learned that we were unaware of the existence of a Cayman Island Dollar, which apparently equals $1.22 USD today. However, being in our bathing suits after a lovely swim excursion, the less-than-favourable exchange rate we were offered (more like 1.35, if I recall properly) was beyond our control.

Me, about to kiss a stingray!
When I looked at items in the duty free shops, I had to remember that the price listed was the actual price.  No tax!! (Loved this part as it meant there was less math for me to do! And I also found it the hardest to get used to once I was back home in Canada. I swear, the next three purchases I made with 13% HST (Harmonized Sales Tax, which is a combination of our old Provincial sales tax and the former federal Goods and Services Tax) attached to them, I told the cashier "That can't be right. Something must have scanned in incorrectly."  Nope. Just paying it forward for my old age security and health care. And of course the odd government initiative that turns into a boondoggle.

I bought a couple of bracelets at the on-board duty free shop. The deal was $25 (USD) for one, buy a second get $5 off that one; so, two for $45 US. Of course, I had to consider the currency conversion between Canadian and American dollars, so that was really $48.73 to me.  But what IF I'd bought the same items listed for those identical prices in Canada? With 13% tax on the the combined price for the two pieces, the amount equals $50.85.
(I have to add, that these bracelets WERE a real bargain because I have a similar one that cost about 6 times that amount two years ago!)

To make informed decisions while travelling, I had to convert percentages to a decimal in order to calculate tax implications. I had to (Jamie - what the heck kind of math is currency conversion??) and I had to keep in mind my total budget, both for particular purchases as well as the vacation experience as a whole - keeping a running total and subtracting amounts as I spent them from what I had "left" rather than return home only to face a depressing credit card bill, should I have over-spent.

Things got even more complicated when we dined with a lovely mother-daughter duo from the Netherlands, and we talked about certain prices in Euros as well. Really though, if you can approximately - or accurately - convert one currency to another, you can do it for any two currencies. It might just involve an extra step if you don't know exactly how two currencies compare to one another (i.e. the percentage difference!)

Here is a freebie in my TPT store with 3 worksheets related to money and currencies for French class. For those of you teaching French in Ontario, check the OERB soon for modules with a financial literacy focus that I had a hand in developing. They are suitable for a blended learning environment in grades 4-8, based on the financial literacy materials available through the OMLTA, but with many links to online videos, games and other tools.

Be sure to check out the other blogs linked up with their real life math examples from our personal experiences.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

My First Ever "Currently"

Those of you who are avid edu-blog readers might already be acquainted with Farley's "Currently" monthly link up feature on the Oh Boy 4th Grade blog.  Ive perused and commented occasionally, but never have I taken the opportunity to participate... probably because I haven't really thought about blogging until well into the wee hours (well... OK... really more like 9 p.m.)

I made it this time!!  YES!

Feel free to join in the fun - just check out the terms right above the Inlinkz gadget on her blog.

(And I realize that I broke one of the terms already - but HOW do I include a link to an item on my actual graphic?  I think I could figure it out, given a full day, but then I'd be too late to join in on Currently.  SO... instead I'm adding a fourth Back to School must have.)

I'm sure I've mentioned this product on my blog before. The seller is Jos76 and I found his circumlocation product so valuable in my class.  If you teach a foreign language (Italian, Spanish, French...) you ought to check out the resources he has to offer which can save you a lot of planning time!

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