Thursday, 9 January 2014

Morning Mystery Messages

This week, I posted a resolution to address the challenges that I was having with my transitions from class to class.  I decided to implement a morning message for the days that I travel around the school.  I asked the homeroom teacher I work with to post the message (I emailed it to them in a notebook file) on their Smartboards a few minutes before I arrives in the class.  The instructions were simple, "Qui est-ce?"  The students knew that they were to read the message, and try and figure out who sent the note with their elbow partner.

This strategy was successful in that it focused the students and prepared them for French class.  They were actively using their comprehension strategies to guess the author.  Some students made great comments about the evidence they found in the note.  One student noted that "P.P" must be a girl because friend was spelled "amie."  But another student said P.P. could be a girl because the sentence started with "mon."  In the end, they did figure out that the author was "Tony Stark" aka "Ironman."  It was a great, short warm-up activity.

The Mystery Message also served as a type of diagnostic assessment for me on the students' ability to read in French.  This past term, we had been focusing mainly on oral communication skills, we had done very little in terms of explicit literacy lessons.  I asked the a few students to read parts of the note out loud, and made a few notes on my clipboard about where they had difficulty to help me plan a few lessons on accents and diphthongs.

One challenge I did have with this message, was that some students were so keen to just solve the question of who the author was that they didn't even read it before they started telling people their guesses.  Instead of relying on the message as mainly an oral and reading activity in the future,  I think I am going to print out specific slips of paper for the students to write down their guesses and clues on.  That way the experience is not taken over by a few more extroverted students.

Overall, I think that this was a great exercise for my students!  I am looking forward to trying to create more messages from more mysterious persons.

If you want to try this activity with your students, and you would like to use my message, click on the picture of the message for a larger version and save it for later.  To save, right click on the large picture, and select "Save As" to save to your computer.  To make my message, I used Photoshop and a torn paper vector I found here, and the logo vector here.       

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