Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Curriculum maps

This week, I got an email from Nathan on the moretprs list. He had tried to post his curriculum maps to the list, but it won't allow attachments, so I asked him to send it directly to me.

When I finally got around to opening it, it was amazing! Our district is REALLY pushing common formative assessments and GLEs and powered standards, etc. I was having a really hard time figuring out how to take what I do in the classroom and making that fit into these little boxes where traditional teachers write -ir verbs. He did an extraordinary job of making that fit. I feel good about it and hope to take what he has done and make it fit with my curriculum. It will also really really really help me to have something to give to the high school teachers who are not very excited about my TPRS "experiment"

After years of requests for this, I am going to share them here.  If you are the owner of this information and want me to take it down, please let me know!

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Gathering steam...

I feel like the year is finally getting into a groove for me. I have a pseudo-schedule that I'm pretty much following for every week. On Monday and Tuesday, I have story time. For now, that means circling with balls. I write everything down on white bulletin board paper stuck to my white board with magnets. If I fill up a sheet, I write it on the board and copy it down later. I keep two sheets of words up at a time...after that, I write them down and give the kids a non-scored quiz to see which words they've internalized. I tally the score and if more than 15-20% don't know a word, I recognize that they need more time and I try to recycle it as much as possible. The words that they do know, I write down in a spiral (keeping one list for each hour). I think what I'm going to do is have the students copy down the list every time we reach 20 words. Then, those become no-excuse words that they should know. I can quiz and test them on these words at any time. That way, there should only be a couple of students in each class who need to study the words...everyone else has internalized them. It's a lot of paperwork and recycled paper, but I figure it's less than if I handed them all workbooks and worksheets throughout the year, right?

Okay, so that's what I've been doing on Monday and Tuesdays. With my first year kids, on Wednesday and Thursday (we have blocks those days), we do a little reading. I write up a story based on the vocab we've been working on and adding a few new words that I know they don't know. I read it in French, then they tell me what words they didn't understand. I write them on the board and then we read it chorally in English. After that, I ask a bunch of questions about the story in French. We are also learning basic introductory vocabulary that doesn't fit well into a story. The first week, we went over What's your name and responses and how do you spell that? The second week, we added How old are you? The third week, How are you? The fourth week, Where do you live? and Describing people for this week. I think that's going pretty well. They have a hard time switching gears when we go into this because it's vocabulary that we mainly use on block days and not during story-telling (except for I usually ask my actors what their names are when they are acting). We are also working on the alphabet and counting during these days. The last thing I do on block days is the TPR commands. I don't know why, but I HATE teaching this way. I can never think of what to tell them to do and it just doesn't feel good to me. Does anyone have any helpful hints for making this better?

On Fridays, we do our PAT. So far, we've watched Telefrancais and French music videos, played Boules, played vocab games, and eaten French food. It's worked out really well and the kids really look forward to it.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, we also sing on the block days. We sing some authentic songs like Alouette and some silly songs like If you're happy and you know it (in French)

I'm feeling really good right now. I just wish I had some help coming up with stories and song activities...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Excited to talk

With my first year students, I haven't really encouraged them to talk or make any sentences yet. Today, I was teaching them some basic introductory vocab like "How old are you?" Then, I left the room and came back in so that they could ask me those easy questions.

First question from a student: What's your name? (Great! We learned that three weeks ago and have been reviewing it a little bit)
Second question: How old are you? (Good, we're practicing that today)
Third question: Do you play football? (Wow! We hadn't practiced this at all as a question for a stranger...only in context when circling with balls)
Fourth Question: Do you dance like Beyonce? (Umm....awesome. Where did that come from??)

My kids were really excited to be given the opportunity to blurt out anything they could in French. A couple of times during this activity, I had a girl raise her hand, and instead of asking me a question, she told me part of a story that we had told in class while circling with balls. An example: Madame Hayles loves Johnny because Johnny plays basketball better than Lebron James. I was floored!

Then, we were doing some easy TPR stuff and I was ordering the kids around and playing Madame dit with them...and one student asked if they could order me around! Of course, I said yes. So they were telling me to sing slowly like Justin Bieber. And sit down slowly and dance and sing! It was fun. And it was great because instead of being intimidated by speaking FRench, they were SUPER excited about it. They couldn't WAIT to show me what they could do.

What a wonderful reminder of why I'm doing this!!

Hitting the wall...and getting back up

It's not just me, because I've read other posts from people who are hitting the wall... I'm getting worn out. I'm not as excited as I was on the first day, when I was super-emotive. I had a couple of blah days, but I feel like I'm getting back into it.

Today, with my first years, I abandoned circling with balls and instead started with a basic story using some TPR verbs. So, I had a boy who wanted something and he went somewhere and there were multiple things there to choose from. Okay, that sounds confusing, so I'll just tell my story from 3rd hour. There was a boy. His name was Barcon le garcon. He was 6013 years old. He walked quickly, backwards to the circus because he wanted a tiger. He wanted a yellow tiger with red stripes. There were three tigers at the circus. He looked at tiger number 1, but tiger number 1 was really a bear! He looked at tiger number 2, but tiger number 2 was blue with green stripes. He looked at tiger number 3, and tiger number 3 was yellow with red stripes! But, tiger number 3 had 7 heads. Barcon wanted a yellow and red-striped tiger with only one head. He was sad.

One of my students said on the way out, "That was my favorite story so far!" It was really stupid and didn't take long at all. Not a lot of new vocab (except there is and wants...) and zero preparation from me!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two weeks in...

So many things are going so well so far... Friday, I went to one of my administrators, who I've worked closely with in the past on some problem students. I said to him, "I don't think I'll be needing your help this year...I really feel pretty comfortable with classroom management and how my classes are acting this year." He asked me to elaborate and said, "I'm glad to hear you say that. I've noticed a difference just in the way you carry yourself this year." He then asked me to send a staff-wide email on what has been working for me this year in the classroom. I haven't done that yet...not sure I have the balls to pat myself on the back in front of the whole staff.

Here's something that hasn't been going so well. Maybe we can work together to find a solution... Today, after the lovely three-day weekend, my fire wasn't there. I was talking about my students and what they like to do, but I wasn't really excited about it. I think I've been so worried about the kids getting bored that I'm projecting that to the kids. I'm worried about it, so it's becoming boring. I have to sell it more...

My other problem is that my second year kids, who went wild last year, are getting fidgety sitting all day. I've tried to mix it up by singing active songs and having a couple of students act...but I'm still telling one story (one really really long story) and they all want to be part of it. Thoughts?