Saturday, 7 July 2018

CEFR Activity Centres: The Details


I blogged before about the CEFR learning Centres that I use in my classes for students to get some extra Oral Communication practice. And that post was okay, but It didn't get to the details about how I went about taking a free resource available online, and turned it into independent activities for my students.

So, now I'm going to fix that situation; I'm going to show you how I made the centres I use in my classes; where I got the resource from; and how I got my students to use them independently.

Step 1: Download the resource- The CEFR in the Context of Ontario's Schools




This PDF is the bulk of the work for my centres.  A super-talented groups of teachers compiled the research and the activities for this toolkit.  And its free!  This is where I got the activities and images from.  It is mostly all set up here.  You have to print the entire kit which is about 85 pages (and I did it in colour) to get all the pieces for the centres.  The front material is also really helpful in explaining how to use this resource effectively, as well as some of the theory and philosophy of the CEFR.  If you don't have this, you SHOULD!  I have it in a binder AND printed out into centres.  I use it a lot.  Download it, you won't be sorry.

Step 2: Laminate and collect the activity centre components


Making the centres so that they will survive a busy French class is a bit labour intensive.  I laminate some of the pages so that I don't have to make the centres over and over.  I haven't had to remake it in 3 years, so this little bit of prevention will save your resource.  Here is a list of the pages that I printed in color and laminated.  (I bought a mini laminator at Wal-Mart for about $20 and just did it myself.  It has saved me tons of money on lamination over the years.)

Activity pages to print in colour and laminate: 17-20; 22-23; 25-29; 31-39; 41 (just laminate); 43; 44-51 (laminate only, its in B&W); 53; 55; 57; 61 (laminate only); 64-67; 68 (laminate only); 70-72; 74; 76; 78-79; 80; 83-84.

Some of the pages are in black and white, so they don't need to be printed in colour, just laminated.  Once they are laminated, then I cut the activities into cards and pieces according to the activity.  There are 17 activities (I think) so there are enough for students to pair up and complete the activities in a class.  I like to laminate the activities so that a) I don't kill a small forest in photocopies for each student that wants to do the activity and b) so that students can reuse all the centres year after year.

Step 3: Compile the activities


I was storing the activities in plastic page protectors, but they were too flimsy.  So I bought some plastic file folders at the dollar store and now I use those.

Some activities will need extra tools.  I added thin dry erase markers for any of the writing activities so students can write on the laminated sheet, and erase it for the next person.

Also included in the centres are the instruction/ conference pages (for example page 24) for the students to consult.  I have my students role play as the interviewer/ interviewee.  Each students has to take turns as each role.  They follow the script on the sheet, and peer assess each others' progress, as well as an "I can" card (for example page 14 of the resource) so students knew what their learning goal was for each centre.  There are blank "I can" cards in the kit, I made French versions for my upper year grades to refer to.

Once all the cards, tools (markers etc.); instructions and "I can" cards are in the centre, its ready to use.  You could make cover pages for the centre like I did, but its not necessary.

(For the cover pages, I found a corresponding picture online, added the title, and stuck the instructions to the back.  I can't share them because I don't have rights to the pictures, but they are quick to make up if you want.)




Step 4: Using the Centres



In class, a few times a month we have learning centre time.  I stored them in 2 bins, and students choose a partner and a centre and get to work.  There is a sign-out book for the centres, and I have students let me know who has which kit.  This helps me keep track of the pieces too.

For student use, I made a simple checklist based on page 13 of the resource for each of the students' books for them to chart their progress through the centres.  It is also a way for me to note their assessments of each other.

While students are completing the centres, I walk around and assess their abilities and work with my strugglers.  It runs pretty smoothly.  Student know that when we have our conferences (3 a term) that I can pull out one of the centres as a warm up for our conference.  So they know they will have to do 3 centres for me.  They never know which one I will choose, so they have to get through all of them!  Usually I choose the centre they have practiced the most-- je ne suis pas un monstre.

Additional centres


I have added a couple of centres that are not included in the toolkit, but that are components of the CEFR.  Once was a card/ note writing activity.  I bought a few French greeting cards and laminated them.  Students used an erasable marker to write a quick message on the card and their partner would time and check for errors.  I did a similar centre, only using a postcard from a french speaking country, with the same idea.  You can come up with centres depending on the focus of your lessons.  I have a few I'm thinking of adding this summer.  When I make them, I will share.

So I hope this helps clarify how I made and use my learning centres in my Core FSL classes.  It seems like a bit of prep work, but it was worth it in the end.  My students were engaged in their activities, and they were speaking French with each other.  It is a great resource!  


Monday, 9 April 2018

Intercultural Classroom: Table/ Group Signs


On my quest to incorporate more interculturalism in my core FSL I have created little things and activities to add a cultural component to my classes every week at least.  One thing that I incorporated was group names; and those group names are different Francophone countries.

Each of the groups in my classroom has these frames (Tolsby frame from IKEA) with some information cards in it.  As a group, students would read the cards the first day with their new country, and as a group learn the statistics on the card.  (I changed the countries throughout the year so students get to know more than one.)

Through out the month, I will do different activities with that information.  Two activities my students like the best is the running dictation, and the scavenger hunt.

Running Dictation:

Take the additional stats from the students table country and make several copies. Put the copies up around the walls of the classroom (or even the school building).
Put the students in small groups. Each student has a role: there is the runner, the recorder and the checker.  The aim is for one of the students in each group to walk to read the passage on the wall. They remember some of the facts and walk back to their group. They quietly dictate what they remembered to their partner, who writes it down. They pass it to the checker to look for errors. Each trip to the wall must be done by a different student than the previous turn.  Over several turns they will build the page of information. This means they really do have to run back and forth because students will only remember three or four words at a time.
The winning group is the team that finishes first - although you need to check for mistakes (Or have a judge/ judges with the fact sheet to look for errors!). If there are mistakes, they must keep walking to check!  It is a great reading activity-- it gets students to think about the structure of the sentence to try and remember more and more of the information.  
Scavenger Hunt:
I hide additional facts about the countries around the room (or school) and students have to collect the additional facts about their country.  They know it is a fact about their country because I have the flag for the country on each fact.  Students go in pairs or groups to collect the facts around the school.  The first group to find all 5-10 facts, wins. (I made a trophy for the groups that win. Each time we do a group activity, that's what the "countries" win.)  
Sometimes the activities are smaller, like this one: I have the students look up a house in their group's country.  Draw a house from that place (for example Senegal) and a house from your neighbourhood.  Some students label parts of the house, others list differences-- it all depends on the the students abilities.  That comparison is really important in intercultural understanding- it is important to humanize the "other" so that we can see the similarities in contrast with the differences.  These are successful activities too.  
In order for the students to win at these games, they have to be at least a little familiar with the information on their table.  It's not a big cultural focus, but its a good way of incorporating la Francophonie into my classroom.  
In case you want to try this out, here are the cards I made for you to print out and use.  Please let me know of other activity ideas you use them for!  (They are double sided for use in the TOLSBY frames.)
**The link for these cards is also added to the printables page, for easy sharing.  

Thursday, 5 April 2018

I wrote a resource! La Francophonie: Haïti

It has been a while since I posted anything of substance on this blog.  Désolée! I have been really busy.  I know, I know... Everyone is busy... but I have been too.  One project that I was working on, and have since finished and now I can share, is that I wrote a resource, La Francophonie: Haiti (ISBN9781554099504)

The lovely people at Tralco-Lingo Fun asked me if I would create a resource about Haïti because information for FSL teachers and students was lacking.  Since my new focus/ obsession is Interculturalism in Core FSL, I jumped at the chance.

I have had a love of the country of Haiti for a while.  I find its history fascinating, and its people amazing and resilient.  So, naturally, this resource definitely comes from that perspective.  The resource is full of activities that I have done with my grade 7 and 8 classes, and touches on the theory of interculturalism; the history of Haiti and the culture, with numerous activities to get your students thinking and speaking!

Here's the description from the Tralco website:

"A chance to learn about something new: a history and culture that most students have not been exposed to in their classes! Haiti. The author has used these activities in her classes. 
Students will glimpse into Haitian culture and make connections to their own culture. Teachers are provided with the necessary background knowledge while student activities provide opportunities to explore this culturally rich former French colony. The activities touch on all four strands of French language learning (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing).  
The complex history of Haiti unfolds and includes Haiti from being a slave colony of France to a free state, all in a student-friendly way. Using Google Earth, students will also explore Haiti's geography. They will then delve into into the particulars of the Haitian language, fun folklore, lively music and food with optional hands-on activities. 
A reading activity to exercise critical-thinking will get students thinking: Why is Haiti a poor country? To answer this question, students will have to draw on the knowledge they gained learning about Haiti’s history. There are also lists of resources (websites and online videos) for teacher info to enhance lessons as well as providing opportunities for social justice learning."

If you want to check it out, you can visit the Tralco-Lingo website at www.tralco.com and look at some sample pages.  I could add a sample here.  Would that be helpful? I would love to know what you think!  

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Quick Post: Are you going to the OMLTA Spring Conference?


Bonjour!  This week is the annual Ontario Modern Languages Teaching Association's (OMLTA) Spring Conference!  If you haven't been, consider coming for a day or two.  This year I'm on the planning committee; so in addition to my lovely logo I created for the theme, I will be at registration (say hi!) and presenting a session on Interculturalism in Core FSL (definitely say hi!).

The key note speaker is Dr. Katy Arnett who wrote my favorite DI resource Languages For All and the Key note speaker on Saturday is Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis who wrote I am Not a Number a book winner in the Forest of Reading Book Awards. They should be interesting and informative addresses.

The OMLTA Conference is Friday March 23 and Saturday March 24 at the New Delta Hotel by Mariott (Formerly International Plaza in Toronto (by the airport.) You can register (still!) by going to the OMLTA website or clicking this link.

I hope I see you there.... And if I did see you there, that's why you are visiting my blog, thanks for following up!  If you would like to download or share my presentation slides, you can click here, and visit my "Conferences" page to see what other presentations I have given (and are available to download.)


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Game Changer: Winbridge Personal Amplifier

This is the WinBridge Personal Amplifier System.

Its super small and light, but loud enough for my classroom.  Recently, I was really sick, and the medication I have to take leaves my throat raw, and dry, so I lose my voice a lot.  And I teach French.  Since, I can't do that without a voice, I have to use an amplifier so I can talk after first period.

It is great.  Its loud enough for my students to hear me with straining my voice.  Its portable, so it works while I'm walking in the hallways or library, or outside-- anywhere!  It is saving my voice.  And I think that one thing teachers take for granted is their voice.

We speak a lot.  More than many other subject teachers.  And that can wear on your vocal flaps and damage them.  Especially if you are raising your voice often.  I've retrained myself to speak normally with an amplifier.  And it has made such a difference.

With my students, they can hear me.  Even if there is a little chatter.  Some of my students are hard of hearing, and this has helped them too.  My classroom is calmer because I'm speaking more calmly-- not having to project my voice so much.

I paid $45.00 for my PA on Amazon.ca.  It comes with the microphone, a belt so you can wear your speaker, and USB cable for charging.  One full charge lasts me all day.  You can play music through the speaker from a USB drive too.  If you are worried about your voice, or if you have never thought about the wear and tear on your voice, consider getting some type of amp.  Your voice with thank you.

** This is not a sponsored post.  I'm just an Amp convert.  It has helped me immensely.  I hope it can help someone else.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

All About Unit Planning



I got a couple requests on Facebook, to write a post about unit planning.  I am NOT an expert in unit planning.  I do my best.  What I am, is a hyper-organized, teacher who likes a solid plan before diving in and teaching my classes something, but I like to have enough flexibility to add and take away as I teach.  Here, I will share what I've learned (so far) about unit planning, and a unit plan that I have used a few times, and that has worked well for me in my core French classes.

What I've learned about unit planning (so far):


Start with the “skills” you want your students to learn in mind:  This is different than starting with the end product in mind, since maybe the learning that will be displayed may not be a physical product.   For example, you will see with my unit plan “Je me presente” I don’t have one final task or product, but several tasks focused around skills.  One example is being able to talk about what you like to do in your free time.  Another skill looks at voicing agreement, or disagreement.  These skills are transferable, and are included in the skills required for level A1 expectations for the DELF exam.  For me, measuring the students’ ability, is more important than measuring a student product.  For me, the end is usually a series of skills in line with the CEFR foci, which become our learning goal and success criteria.  I always plan to answer the question, “Why do we have to learn this?” If I can’t answer that, then I don’t have a solid goal in place for the students.  My end goals always have purpose and relevance to my students lives.


Assessments for days: Assessments are woven in throughout the unit: I think that assessment (especially in languages) has moved past the unit plan ending with something tangible to mark.  Assessment should be woven in throughout the unit, so by the end of the focus, the teacher should be able to chart the students’ improvement through the series of assessments.  In my plans, the curriculum expectations each activity covers is included in the plan for each section of the unit.  I also include how the students will demonstrate their knowledge. 

Create activities/ lessons that help students meet your objectives: I get my activities and lessons from anywhere!  Sometime theres a good reading in a resource I have, and I can use that.  Sometimes, I will make the resource up for the students to use.  Once, I used a Tim Hortons job application in French and we did a lesson about filling in forms in French! 

Figure out what resources you want/ need to use: Do you have a great reading resource?  Did you buy a really cool looking game?  Students bugging you to make slime in class?  Use what you have, trade with colleagues, gather what you can, and this can help you plan your lessons.

Plan your materials: What is the progression of the lessons?  They have to have the vocal before jumping into a procedural activity.  Think about every lesson building on the one before.

When possible, plan something interdisciplinary: For one unit, my colleague was doing a shoe collection and fund-raiser for Senegal.  I planned with him to add a shipping vocabulary and  letter component for the kids my students were already invested in helping.  And the letters were a hit!  The students in Senegal loved having someone in Canada to write to.  Totally authentic because the student needed to work in French to ship the shoes and explain the project to the corresponding charity in Africa. 

My example unit plan:


My plans have changed a lot through the years.  And they change every time I write a new one.  I don’t usually use a template: I use a 3 column table to plan my activities in my unit.  I used to be very detailed in writing down my unit plans.  I made sure that I had ALL the information I needed written out, and I NEVER deviated from the plan.  This was very difficult to maintain because teaching does not always let you follow your plan— especially in terms of timelines. So you will see in my two examples, how different my plans have become.  (Click the image to see the plan- Prêt à voyager, Grade 7 and 8 Core FSL)

Templates:


Template are a really good way to write a unit plan, and as a newer teacher, I used this template often to write my plans for Core French.  It was helpful to me for a number of reasons:
  • If I used the template, I knew that I wouldn’t miss any of the important parts of planning.  
  • The template helped organize and streamline my thinking when planning.  Kept planning from being overwhelming.
  • Having a template that I had on my computer, made it easier to change part of the unit that may not of worked, or the timeline I had initially put.  Which made it easier for me to follow the plan.
Now that I feel more comfortable teaching, and more confident with the Core French curriculum, I just type out what I think is needed to get to the ending skills.  Now, most of the time, I plan out the big lesson activities (especially if they take a lot of preparation) and the little practice games/ strategies based on Oral communication are not included in the unit plan.  But, as I was learning to be more comfortable and confident in unit planning, I found a few ready made templates really helpful.
  1. Lakehead universtiy template- I didn’t go to Lakehead, but this was a great comprehensive template with tons of information on it.  No guesswork in creating a good plan.
  2. TLC Unit Planner UOIT This was great for me to get my thoughts down, and figure out the process to which I would get my students to the end result.  It can be hard to figure out what lessons you need to plan, and how to break down teaching each step.  And this helped me see the progression of my lessons into an overall cohesive unit.  
  3. My own template: is a mixture of the templates that I had used in the past.  It has all the information I need, and its not too rigid.  I can add to it when I need to.

Secret sharing time!: I don’t always sit down and plan a whole unit at once.  Sometimes, I know where I want the students to end up, so I plan lessons based on where the students are.  I collect them, and they become a unit for me to use at a later time for my classes.  There is no rule saying that your units have to be completely planned before you teach them.  You can try things, and then add them to your plan.  Sometimes, you’ll have a winner of an activity, and you will add it to the unit.  And sometimes, you’ll try and make a weird game that was too confusing and not fun… And you won’t add it to the unit.  

Like much of teaching, unit planning is about creativity, adaptation and meeting your students where they are.  You can have the most amazingly written and meticulously planned unit, and it can flop.  Or, you can have fun with it, keep it loose, and come up with some pretty great activities and units.  

What does your unit planning process look like?  I would love to see what other teachers think in the comments below!


Friday, 3 November 2017

Oral Communication Activity: Les montres

Its tricky finding ways to get early Core FSL students (Grades 4 and 5 in this case) to speak to each other in French.  That's why sometimes I get students to make props to facilitate those conversations.

One of the lessons we were working on was telling time in French.  We did a few lessons learning about the clock and how to tell time from both analog and digital faces.  Then to practice, we did this activity I call for students to have authentic conversations in French.


For the first part of the activity, I had students make a faux-lex watch (a joke they found very hilarious. Every old can be new again...) Each student got half of this page; they coloured and decorated it, and wrote a time on the face.  Then they cut it out and voilà!... a fake watch to use.

Then students walked around the room asking each other the time.  A conversation went like this: "Bonjour (nom)!  Quelle heure est-il?"  "Il est six heures"  [The student writes down the time on their tracking sheet] "Merci beaucoup! Au revoir!"  And the student found another person to talk to until their page was complete.

And that's the activity!  Students really enjoyed making their watches, and talking to each other.  They were really proud that they could have a conversation in French.


Here is what the worksheet looked like:







Want to try it in your class?

If you are interested in downloading a PDF to use in your class, you can find the worksheet here

...and the watch reproducible here.

How do you get students to practice telling time in your class?  What activities have worked for your students?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

New school year, new school! New activity: Connect 4

Wow, quite a long absence from this little blog!  Désolée! I changed schools this year, and everyone knows what a task that can be.   But, I'm starting to settle into the swing of things here at my new school, and slowing changing the students' attitude about FSL education!


I thought that I would share a numbers review and introduction activity that I did with my grade 4/5 classes.  We started with numbers 1-20, and this was a little game to get them practicing their numbers and simple addition in their heads.  Math and French!

This quiz game only needs this worksheet, and 2 dice for each pair and a different color pencil crayon or highlighter for each player.

The rules are really easy, students play in pairs.  I always say the youngest person goes first.  Player one rolls the dice, and reads the numbers on the dice in French.  Then they must say the equation in French (For example: a player rolls 5 and 2.  They must say "cinq plus deux font 7").  Whatever the total is, that student can choose one circle with a 7 in it and shade it in their color.  Then player two repeats the process.  The goal is to colour 4 circles in a row to win the game.   That's it!

My students loved this game.  They ask to play it.  And they do it in French!  So it was a winner.



For the older students, I created a similar board for our Je Me Présente focus questions.  They also
enjoyed the game too.  And it got them talking.  For the older students, I added squares that say "Extra!" so that they got a free space.  I have a difficult student, who threatened his French teacher last year, who comes in now and sits with a friend and PLAYS THE GAME, in FRENCH!





So if you would like to try it, you can download the worksheet here.  You can save paper by
printing a class set, and using counters or something instead of colouring the sheet.






If you would like to use the Je Me Présente version, you can download it here.

Monday, 27 March 2017

French Beyond France: Intercultural Resources for La Francophonie

It has been a while since I have posted-- but with good reason!  I have been working with a group of teachers on a TLLP, a Teaching Leading and Learning Project for the past 8 months.  The title is French Beyond France: Intercultural Resources for La Francophonie.   In essence, it is a document that catalogues free resources that teacher may want to use to support their teaching of intercultural awareness and understanding in FSL class.

There are some really great free multimedia resources out there, but who has the time to sort through it all to see how it can be used in class, and whether or not it supports the curriculum?  So, part of our project was to look at those free resources and make them useful to teachers.

This weekend our team will be presenting our findings and our project at the OMLTA spring conference in Toronto.  We are presenting on Friday, so if you are at the conference, and are interested in learning more about teaching intercultural understanding, come on out!


With permission, I have created a page for our TLLP on my blog.  It is under the tab French Beyond France.  On that page, you will find a brief introduction to what our project entails, and a PDF viewer and download to the actual document.  If you do read or use it, please let me know.  I would love to hear your feedback!    



Saturday, 7 January 2017

My students, My kids

This year was… difficult for me.  I had taken a break from reflecting and my blog because in a few cases it was too hard to think of how I wanted to talk about what this year has done to cement my feelings on what my students are to me.  Of course they are my students.  But they are much more than that in most cases.  


The first time I introduced myself to the Parent Council at my school I said, “I’m Stephanie and I teach French.  I don’t have any kids, or on the other hand, I have 300 kids depending on your point of view.” I was referring of course to my students.

Most teachers I know refer to their classes as “their kids.”  When I was a newer teacher, I didn’t really understand why that was.  I mean, we teach these students for a year, maybe two and then they move on.  The parents of the students are the people who have the most impact on these kids, and care for them throughout their lives.  They are the people that can call their children, “our kids.”  

But I was wrong.  I’m their teacher.  And they are “our kids.”

After 7 years, and 500+ students, I get it.  I get it.  

At the beginning f my career, I was transient, and never stuck around a school longer than 3 months.  Such is the life of the Long-term Substitute Teacher.  I loved my classes early in my career, but I thought that since I was there for such a short time, I was a blip in the education of the students I taught.  

I was wrong.

In 2010-2011, I taught a class of girls in Toronto.  They were all gifted, an had amazing parents and support in their lives.  I taught them as a Maternity-leave sub for one year.  Professionally, it was a great year.  I was able to try many pedagogical ideas like inquiry; no set schedule for subjects; student-driven learning projects; and social-justice infused lessons.  They kids were so eager to learn and do anything.  I felt I was my freest and most creative as a teacher that year.  Private school can be a gift like that.  I had great relationships with the parents, and they were very involved and supportive of all my ideas.  We had a fun year.  But at this school, students usually had the same teacher for 2 years, and once my year was up, they regular teacher would return, and our fun education adventure would end.  They would be enthralled with whatever their regular teacher did, and I would move on to the next chapter.  

Of course the last day, the girl cried- but eight and nine-year-old girl do, so we said goodbye, I cleared out my room and looked for work again. They weren't “my kids” anymore.

Except they are “my kids.”  In 2016, in June, I got an email: 

Hi Stephanie,
I don't really know if you remember me. I'm Kate, you taught me grade 3 at the linden school. Well anyways, me, Sara, and Lia all just graduated grade 8 and I've been really sad and thinking about grade 3 a lot. I just re-read "the past is Present" and some stories I wrote with friends that year. I found a bracelet you gave me and a painting of the letter S that you did in class. I'm leaving this school not by choice and I'm never going back so I wanted to thank you for such a memorable year and I can't believe it's over and was 5 years ago!!!!!!!!
Thank you so much,
Kate 

As soon as I saw the email address I knew exactly who it was, albeit a nine-year-old version of who she is.  I remember changing her lessons to be more challenging for her, and her struggle of learning to challenge herself.  I remember the tears of frustration and anxiety when she was overwhelmed, and how proud she was when we decided to send her project on flight to the city-wide science-fair in Toronto.  She loved painting, especially on canvas.  That year she climbed the CN tower to raise money for WWF.  And so on.  

She emailed me because she was nervous about moving on to high school.  Moving from private to public school, and not knowing anyone.  I could see how she changed, citing her parents “irrational reasons” for making her change schools. I smiled as I read the emails, because she’s talking like a teenager.  

It clicked.  My students are “my kids.”  They contact me when they need reassurance.  And I keep tabs on them.  And I care about them.  Long after I teach them.

I’m writing this reflection because I saw this story in the news this week:
http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/newsreleases/36854  A former student of mine was shot in Toronto in October [(warning graphic video)
http://toronto.ctvnews.ca/watch-suspects-seen-in-pizza-pizza-murder-video-1.3125675], and they arrested the men responsible.  I heard the story in October, and was numb at that time, as I had two former students (in the town I live in now) die tragically in the summer.  Having three (former) students die in their youth was a tragic thing to go through.  I was very upset for a long time.  Some friends and family did not understand my sadness.  “You were just their teacher” is something I heard often when I tried to explain my feelings.

Yes, I was their teacher.  For a year I saw them every weekday, and helped them struggle with new ideas and concepts while they were learning.  I celebrated with them when they accomplished something.  I comforted them when they were hurt.  I became involved in their lives by necessity— because how could they learn if there were challenges in their lives?  If we found they were hungry, as a school we found ways to feed them.  So when I say that teachers feel that these are “our kids,” we mean it in the sense of the community/ village it takes to ensure that our kids grown up healthy and happy and educated.  

So I was more than just their teacher.  I was responsible for their education, and much more.  When they hurt, I empathized with them AND help them find solutions.  When they are scared, I try to assure them that they have the skills to succeed.  And when they die, I hurt.  


My students are my kids too.  They are part of my village.  And I won’t let anyone tell me differently.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Instant Feedback for Students- Using Google Forms, Google Sheet and FormMule

Howdy mes amis!

I have been asked by a couple of teachers to share how I provide instant feedback to my students.  Its actually pretty easy with the right tools.  My school uses Google Apps for Education, but even if your school doesn't you can still use these Google applications to send results to your students instantly!

Because I find videos easier to follow when I'm learning something new, I recorded a short (under 5 mins!) screencast showing step-by-step how I install and set-up FormMule to send students results to them.



In this video I will be sending quiz results, but in the past I used it to send results of major projects and other assignments.  Its a handy tool to have in your kit.  I hope you find this video helpful!


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

CEFR Practice Centres


I use the CEFR to guide my teaching practice, quite a bit.  And even though many of the elements included in the CEFR are practiced through my own lessons, sometimes students need some extra time to fine tune their confidence and abilities in these skills.  Most of my student fall into the level A1 category, a beginner speaker who needs highly structured interactions with a fair bit of support.

Some of my grade 8s are approaching a level A2, still a beginner, but with a little more skill and confidence to converse in French, still with some support and preparation.

In order to give them a little more independent practice, I created some practice centres using the amazing and free resource found here.  This document was created for FSL teachers in Ontario, when we were just beginning to use the CEFR to guide our practice in earnest.  Not only is the explanation of how and why using the CEFR is a great idea, there are resources for level A1 included in the doc.

I took the resource, and printed it out in color, and then created practice centres by separating the activities and housing them in page protectors in a box, so students can grab an activity and go somewhere to work on them.


Above is an example of a reading practice activity.  Students take the cards out of the bag and have to match them to a headline.  To assess this skill, I cut up a real French newspaper and magazine, and the students had to match the headline to the photo.   To make the centre, I printed out the descriptors from the online package, printed the graphics from the package, and I made a quick cover for the centre to show students the expectations of the activity.  I made the covers to help students choose centres at their level.  


Most of the activities are meant to be done in partners with and interviewer and an interviewee, so students got a chance to be both roles, but there are a few that can be done individually.


For the partner activities I created peer evaluation sheets, so that students could give constructive feedback to their partners.  Students kept that feedback to give to me when assessing them, and I could see if they used the feedback to improve.  It was a great tool.


For the writing activities, I laminated some postcards and greeting cards I bought that were in French.  Students then wrote their notes in wet erase marker, documented their writing in a photo and sent it to me and their partner for feedback.  Then they erased their card, and it was ready for another student.

The students enjoyed the activities, and got some good practice doing them!  I will be using them again this year!  (If you are interested in any of the handouts I created for this activity, contact me and I can post them. )

How are other ways you use the CEFR to guide your teaching practice?