Friday, November 17, 2017

ACTFL presentation: Keeping it in the Target Language

Oh. my.  I just presented for the first time at the largest conference of foreign language teachers to a PACKED house!!  I am shocked, amazed, still buzzing...all of that.  I'm not even sure if what came out of my mouth was words, but it's over and I got lots of compliments, including one from a HERO, Annabelle Allen (La Maestra Loca).



If you want to see my presentation, click here.  Thank you all and let me know if you have any questions!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

FLAM 2017 presentation: My name is Bess...And I'm a TPRS teacher

Well, I did it.  I "came out" as a TPRS teacher this morning.  For the past eight years, I have been hesitant to say "I am a TPRS teacher" for fear of being laughed out.  So I've resorted to saying things like "I don't really use a textbook" "I use comprehensible input" "We talk a lot in class about our lives."  So this morning, I put myself out there at the state conference.  And no one threw tomatoes!! 

If you were here, THANK YOU for your support and for listening.  Thank you for your thoughtful questions and dialogue.  Here is a link to my presentation if you want the links to my student samples (which are links to other parts of this blog). 

Thanks to Senora Dentlinger for allowing me to use her awesome CI Umbrella graphic.  And many thanks to all of my mentors who have given me the motivation and confidence to share with others.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Class reading of Les Aventures d'Isabelle

OMG!  I decided to read Les Aventures together with my level 2 kids (yes, easy, but a great way to make everyone feel confident...especially since my kids come to me from 3 different French 1 teachers and we're trying to get on the same page) this week.

I only have 5 copies of the book right now, so I used a document camera to project the pages.  I wasn't quite sure where I was going to go with this simple chapter, and the magic happened!  I really focused on questioning the students about every sentence or two.  Here are some of the questions I asked, based on the first chapter of the book:

  1. How old was Isabelle's mom when she had her?
  2. Do you think that's young to have a baby?
  3. What is the perfect age to have a baby?
  4. Am I, at 38, too old to have a baby?
  5. Would you like to have a baby at 17?
  6. If her mom is brunette with brown eyes, what do you think her dad looks like?
  7. (and here, someone suggested she might have been adopted) Could her mom have adopted her at 20? (then, someone suggested she could have adopted her as an older child when she was older or Isabelle could have been kidnapped.)
  8. Do any of you have a parent who travels a lot for work?
  9. Who the heck still uses a real camera?
  10. Who wants to be famous?
  11. Do famous vets exist?
  12. How about famous dancers? (then we named some)
  13. Can you be a famous dancer and then be president?

The higher-order thinking was off the hook and when we finished the chapter in my afternoon class, a student said "Can we keep reading that book?  It was really fun." 

I have to admit that I honestly thought that teachers who quoted their students saying similar things in the past lived in a utopia where every student is the child of a college professor or something.  Now that it's happening in my class, I'm astounded!

FVR this year

This year, I started my reading program a little differently, focusing on making sure that students knew how to pick a just-right book, taking out the authentic books out of my library (for now) and increasing the days per week that we read.  I have seen a HUGE difference!

First, the kids are FINISHING books!  When they finish, I have them write a quick post-it review (title, stars out of five, one or more French words to describe the book, and their name) and they put it on their spot on the wall.  I got this from someone else, but I don't remember who...

Second, the kids are TALKING to each other about the books!!  At the end of FVR, I hear them asking what their book is about, where they are in it, and if they like it.  On their own!

Third, there is NO GROANING when I say that it's time to read.

Fourth, I am 1/3 of the way through my own French book already this year...

Read my next blog post to find out about another way reading is working well this year!

3rd Week of school

I have to admit that I didn't think I was going to survive this week.  I haven't yet gotten into a routine where I feel like I know what I'm doing...  But I haven't given up yet because I want to be a better teacher this year than I was last year (It was a hard year for me).

BUT!  It was a wonderful week full of really great things that happened.  Here's what I did:

French 1:
Monday, we started with a "warm-up" where they had to fill in blanks with a word bank (Like Il _____ Jeff.)  Then, we did special person and sang Bonjour and the Alphabet song together.  We also started our first song together, the ridiculous Foux de Fa Fa.
We continued the week doing special person, spicing it up finally by finding out what people like and what they can do.  This brought us to watching a video of David De Gea's best blocked goals and things like that to add some interest.  Free write.

French 2:
Monday we talked about our weekend, started a new song (this week is the classic Aux Champs Elysees), and continued with special person.
Tuesday and Thursday we did Special person and FVR.
Wednesday we took a break from special person and sang children's songs and did an EdPuzzle about a French girl introducing herself.
Friday, we read the first chapter of Les Aventures D'Isabelle together.  I'm planning to blog about how awesome this was later today or this weekend if I have time.  Free write

French 3:
Monday we started a new song (Laisse tomber les filles), talked about our weekend and continued our stories from last week.
Tuesday we retold the extra details from the story and did FVR.
Wednesday (short day), we read and then we just hung out in the language.
Thursday, we did an 8-panel re-tell of our story.  I wrote the sentences on the document camera, they copied the sentences and then drew a picture representing each sentence.
Friday, we read all of the stories and looked at the pictures.  Then, they did a free write.

French 4/5:
Monday we started a new song (je te pardonne), talked about weekend and then continued talking about education by discussing the easiest/hardest classes and compared a high school class load in US with a class load in France.
Tuesday we talked about the differences between our district and the urban district and which education was better and why.
Wednesday I handed out articles in such a way that each student in a group of four had a different article to read.  They were supposed to read it at home and prepare a brief summary to start a discussion the next day.
Thursday, students recorded their discussion, trying for each student to speak for at least five minutes.

Friday, August 25, 2017

2nd week of School

Still plugging along...  We had Monday off so we could go catch a total solar eclipse.  It was pretty dang amazing, and if you ever get the chance to see one, it is worth the time and drive.  We drove about 45 minutes away to try and avoid clouds and rain and it was breathtaking.

Came back to school Tuesday and this is what we did:

French 1: Still plugging along with Special Person.  We added the Alain Le Lait song Bonjour as a break from the Special Person.  I'm struggling with French 1 because they are very slow processors but they get very easily bored with repetition.  I'm trying!  I had them get out a piece of paper for every student in class and we started writing "notes" on the kids we already interviewed.

French 2: Song bellringer. Talked about the weekend for about 10 minutes and continued with Special person.

French 3: Song bellringer. Talked about the weekend for about 10 minutes and then used Madame Shepard's Edpuzzle over an eclipse video.  My original plan was for the students to do this as an individual activity, but the wifi wasn't working for a bunch of students, so we did it as a group.  Then, we read part of an article about the eclipse.  The students said that it felt less difficult because of the background experience they had of just seeing an eclipse the day before.

French 4/5: song bellringer. Talked about the weekend and then did the eclipse activities from French 3.

WEDNESDAY:

French 1: Another day of special person.  Threw in Bonjour a few times, took notes, and took a True/False exit quiz.

French 2: Bellringer. FVR. Continued with special person and they started taking "notes" on their classmates.

French 3: Bellringer. FVR. We started talking about who wants coffee as I was trying to blend PQA, TPR, and a story together like I saw Alina do this summer.  We found out who liked coffee, what kind of cream they liked, and where to find the best coffee in LS.

French 4/5: Bellringer. FVR. We talked about coffee too, but it was 6th hour, so it fell a little short.  New plan for the week!

THURSDAY:

French 1: Because I've been on the struggle bus, I started class by asking them how they are and we talked a little bit about the weather.  All of this was extremely simplified with pictures and quick translations.  Then, back to special person, notes, and a quiz.

French 2: Bellringer. FVR. Continued special person.

French 3: Bellringer. FVR. Continued talking about coffee.  In my 1st hour class, there were actually kids who really wanted coffee and we had a great discussion about a teacher in the building who provides coffee, sugar, creamer, etc to his kids for only 50 cents a week!!  In my 5th hour class, the kids don't want coffee anymore, so we switched gears and found out that one student wanted dark chocolate and a different student had some in his backpack.  Boom!  Actors up and we started a story.
French 4/5: Bellringer. FVR. We started a "unit" on education by discussing after high school plans.  Then, we talked about favorite teachers and I had students write an adjective describing their favorite teacher on a Post-It note.

FRIDAY:

French 1: Talked about how kids are doing and found out that one student was doing well because it's Friday, so we had to watch the French version of Friday.  Then, I had them do a reading assessment where I had statements in French about the kids in class and they had to answer oui or non.  Then, more special person.  We finally got to the question about what the student likes to do.  Then, the kids did a 5-minute free-write to show what they've learned this week.

French 2: Bellringer. I had them do a reading quiz where I had statements on the board in French and they had to write who would say that (ex: I come from Indianapolis).  Then, another special person and a free write.

French 3: Bellringer.  I took the very first story from the latest edition of LICT and made it into an embedded reading.  Kids read the simplest version to themselves and then I asked them comprehension questions.  Easy, they said (well, i hope so since it's from French 1 curriculum!!).  Then, I gave them version two to read with a partner.  Finally, I gave them 3rd version, which is the original version in the curriculum.  They highlighted the new phrases.  They said it was easy.  Hopefully it will give them confidence for future readings so I don't hear so much groaning.  Finished with a free write.

French 4/5: Bellringer.  (I'm so proud of how this turned out today!!!)  I took the Post-It notes and we put them on the board with like words next to like words (sympathique and gentil were on the same line).  Then, we talked about which were essential for a good teacher.  They had to debate their POV and I threw in counterpoints when needed (when they said energy was absolutely necessary, I asked which students had had our English teacher while she was going through chemo and then I asked those students if they learned from her despite her lethargy...).  At the end, we voted on the essential, and the class decided that intelligence was the only truly necessary attribute of a good teacher.  Then, we watched a video of kids talking about their favorite teachers (the second video here).  Finished with a free write.

That was this week.  Still channeling my inner Alina and using a lot of her attention grabbers and breaks in the lesson.

Friday, August 18, 2017

First three days

As I wait for my contract time to end on this Friday ;), I thought I'd blog about how the first three days of school have gone for me, and what I've done so far.

French 1:

  • Day one, I started out by giving them a brief introduction of my class and me, then had them "write" in French for five minutes so I could see what they already know.  What a surprise, but they only knew like one or two words.  Good!  I am starting from scratch!  Then, we started by asking one student what her name was.  I was surprised because I had everything on the board and I thought I was being very slow and deliberate about pausing and pointing...but I guess not because one of my students (thank God for him!!) visibly showed his confusion and frustration, which made the rest of class much better for everyone else.  Before we started asking the girl about her name, I taught them the signs for Repeat, Slow down, I don't know that word, and Write it down.  We really only had time to talk about this one girl and her name.  
  • Day two, they started class by answering a few questions about themselves so that I can know now if there are any problems I need to be aware of.  Then, we continued on with names, adding what the first girl's preferred name is and adding a second student (my confused vocal student).  We were able to talk about both of their names, preferred names, how they are spelled and compare them to my name.  Things are starting to go more smoothly.
  • Day three, we added a third student, and another question, "Where do you live?".  Turns out, we all live in the same city!  Imagine that!  
French 2:
  • Day one, same brief introduction and same five minute free write, but we were able to go faster when it came time for the Special Person.  I was able to find out a student's name, preferred name, and grade before the bell rang.
  • Day two, we filled out the questionnaire and then we went back to that first person and added where he comes from, whether or not he has a license and car.  We were also able to talk about what he likes to do.  All about the one kiddo.
  • Day three, we started class with a song (Toi Plus Moi) activity, and then talked about reading.  I read some quotes that I got from Bryce Hedstrom's page and then we went over the PowerPoint on comprehensibility.  I narrowed down my FVR library significantly at this point and told the kids that I only wanted them to choose from the level one novels for the time being.  I had them organized easiest to hardest.  I really think that going over that PowerPoint made a HUGE difference.  Kids were able to understand how easy something had to be for it to be enjoyable.  At the end of the hour, I had seven out of 45 students who were ready to check out a book.  And I told them it was an option for level 2 and that they could check out a book if they were really interested in it!
French 3:
  • Day one, intro, free write, and then we chatted about the summer in French.
  • Day two: they fill out the questionnaire and then instead of me leading the special person (since almost all of them went over the questions with EVERY student in their class last year), I had them interview each other and they are presenting their partner, along with 3 interesting facts, to the class.  I was hesitant to ask them to do this, but they really rocked it!  There were quite a few errors (like saying il est huit ans instead of il a huit ans), but nobody stood up there and looked un-confidant.  I was very impressed.  We didn't have time to get through all of them in one day.
  • Day three: I introduced our first song (Sarah par Kyo), we did the reading presentation and read (in this level, 17 out of 34 students checked out a book...but they were encouraged to check one out more so than the level 2 kids).  
French 4/5:
  • Pretty much the same as French 3

Some things that I've changed from NTPRS: 
  1. I have word posters for each level for the words that "come up" each day.  I'm hoping that by keeping them visible, I will remember to circle the structures and not just use them once and then forget them.
  2. I am doing a pretty good job of remembering to stop and do brain breaks about every ten minutes of direct PQA, TPRS, etc.
  3. I am using more gestures and call-and-response.  I have done the Alina "mais" call and also the "Classe?" "Oui"
I think that's it so far!  I'm REALLY REALLY happy about how reading went today.