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Currently in my class, we have been focussing mainly on the "stratégies de comprehension." I started at the beginning of the year, teaching the first five on the list (Je regarde les image/ I look at the pictures; Je cherche les mots-amis/ I look for cognates; Je cherche les mots-connu/ I look for words I know; Je lis la salle de classe/ I read the classroom; and J'infere/ I infer.) I added at the beginning of the year "J'utilise le dictionnaire/ I use the dictionary" because I thought that was an important skill to learn right off the bat.
I think they are great tools. I have the same pictures and words hanging in my classroom, and in the students' homerooms as well. I refer to them constantly. We have used them explicitly in most of our activities. But, the students still do not use them on their own. They know all the strategies and what they mean. And they can use them when I tell them to. But they are not making the connection to use them on their own. How do I get them to that level? This is a new challenge for me. When I taught these strategies in the past, the students used them frequently and without being told to do so. My current students do not, which means I need to change something to encourage them to use these strategies. My goal is for these students to use these tools on their own without my direction.
I found an article on Edutopia about helping students to become "deeper listeners." This got me thinking about how have I been encouraging my classes to be active listeners. I had not taught active listening explicitly. When I spoke to my colleagues about this question, they agreed that our classes have a difficult time listening, actively or otherwise. Active listening hadn't been taught explicitly in their homeroom either; so one strategy I want to try is based around this idea. I would like to use the Think-Pair-Share (Pensez-Partenaires-Partagez ?) strategy in FSL class. Students would speak about a text they had listened to, collect some information about what they needed to listen for, and how they had understood or misunderstood it. I would have to prepare some vocabulary for this activity, but I think that it would be valuable to practice active-listening. This activity would be very short: 3 minutes listening, 3 minutes in partner discussion, and 3 minutes in sharing. I want it to be short so we can do this activity often. What activities do you use to encourage active listening?
With this in mind, I believe that I may have to do more work with metacognition in my classes. This creates a new set of challenges, because speaking about one's own thinking is difficult in one's own language. How do I encourage students to reflect on their learning when their vocabulary is so limited? One strategy that I want to use is an "exit ticket" for students to complete at the end of the class that deals specifically with student learning. I want to give them time to think about their learning process, and the challenges that they may have. Another strategy that I have used in the past and may fit here, is using sentence stems that help students form their thoughts on metacognition in French. What do you think?
I don't mind sharing either! If you would like to print out my strategy cards for your own use, please do! I have them hanging up in the class, and I carry a set on my cart for traveling purposes. Click on the link below for a PDF of the comprehension strategy cards. I hope you find them helpful!
Comprehension Strategy Cards: