Monday, January 30, 2012

The weekend

Today we talked about what the kids did this weekend, as we do every Monday. It is honestly my goal for them to talk the entire hour, but it's funny how they think they're "pulling one over on me" by trying to drag it out. I just see so much benefit in this one silly activity. My kids get words like effrayant/scary, poulet/chicken, etc without me teaching those words explicitly. I realized today that most of my students will learn food vocabulary on Mondays by telling me what they ate at a restaurant...'s also a time for me to get on my moral high horse and ask them if the parents were at that party they went to and admonish them for playing violent video games. It's all done with a wink and a smile, but I hope they get my hidden message that I care about them and want them to make the right choices in life (not that going to a party without parents equals a life of debauchery...).

Hounding students

My department has decided this semester to "hound" students who get below a certain grade and make them re-learn the material through home study time and re-take assessments. Friday, I sent an email to the parents, letting them know about this new requirement and to let them know that their student didn't do so hot on the first assessment of the semester.

I got a response from a very conscientious parent telling me that her daughter is usually very good about studying hard the night before a test and asking how much notice they had for this test. My response was that my tests are unannounced because I want to know how much they have acquired, not how much they've memorized for a test. And now I'm nervous that this will not make the parent very happy. I know that I'm right...but it sounds weird telling a parent that you don't want his/her student to study. And I worry that in this culture of questioning and belittling teachers, I'll be taken to task for this. Thoughts??

Thursday, January 26, 2012

SBG and Assessments

I just gave a listening assessment to my first years and a reading assessment to my second years. The results were ho-hum...

What do you guys think? The class average was a low B, but with our SBG scale, that means that most of the students were not meeting my expectations. Did I give them a test that was too hard? Do I let it go because a B-average on a test is pretty good?

This week's stories

Well, we are back in the TPRS swing around my classroom. This week, we worked on "wanted to buy," "looked for," "needed," and "found it." I've found that it always works well if the main character is missing pants. The kids are instantly engaged. My first telling of the story went beautifully, thanks to the creative answers of my I led my other class in the same direction and had two home run stories!

Here was the basic story: some chick was missing pants and wanted to buy white pants with green polka-dots. She went to a nightclub (not sure why...probably because my first character lived in the Jersey Shore) and saw some outrageous singer there (think Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga). The singer had the opposite pants on (green with white dots), but the lead was not sad because she got to dance! At this point, I went over to my computer and queued up the French version of "I'm Sexy and I know It!" (it exists!). My lead danced (I had a great male actor in my second class playing the girl and he LOVED hamming it up!). Stop the music! There was a problem!! L'il Wayne worked at the club and he was mad. He tells the lead "No pants, no club." So the lead leaves and goes to a store. At the store, they have beautiful white pants with green dots. Sadly, the lead does not have any money (pretty impossible to carry money around with no pants), so she hits the worker (someone fun like an Oompa Loompa or whoever the kids suggest), who falls asleep and she returns to the club to dance some more. Everyone is happy and dancing at the end!

Things that worked: Adding the music and the silly dancing in the middle. Having "masks" for the famous people...I printed off color pictures and pasted them to card stock (thanks Carol Gaab for the idea). The idea that the actor doesn't have any pants on.

Hooray for home run days! My upper-level stories were not nearly as interesting this week. Oh well, maybe next time!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts at the new year

As I said in my last post, first semester was a firestorm! We hosted a family of five while they were between houses, I took a grad level class, I increased my work load by being full-time at one school (meaning an extra class and an extra prep...I now teach 6 classes with 3 preps)... It was busy! Plus, we, as a department, are making the jump to full-time standards-based grading.

Reflecting on the first semester, I think I did a pretty good job. We just got back from a trip to Quebec and my students did a fairly good job of communicating. They were blurting out stuff in French and didn't seem as afraid as kids from years past to try. I only had one student that I've had for more than a year take the trip, so I wonder what my results will be in the future. Another French teacher with kids on the trip commented that it seemed like my kids knew more than her kids, which is nice to hear. After her first year of teaching, she is ready to jump to TPRS for next year. Yippee! We could have all TPRS for French at the jr. high level!! Now what the high school has to say about that...we'll see...

I was a little down on myself at the end of first semester, thinking that I wasn't doing a very good job. I think it's because I started Pirates a little too early and didn't do enough comprehension checks and I lost a lot of kids. Now that we've started back on stories, I feel like they are getting the hang of things again, but that was a rough spot. Live and Learn

I hope to blog every day (as I said I would do at one point this year), but right now, having just returned from Canada, my brain is fried and I'm ready to go home and take a nap!