Friday, April 27, 2018

"Teaching" subjunctive

I got a huge kick in the pants yesterday during a one-day workshop from TPRS Books (they offered it free of charge to a local district, which was kind enough to open it to any teachers in the area).  Mike Coxon and Craig Sheehy were the presenters (full disclosure, I was there to be trained to become a trainer in the future).

I think that this time of year is a great time to do a re-start (and probably would have been even better last month...but I'll take what I can get).  I learned/was reminded of so much that I brought to the classroom today.

First, I had gotten lazy about requiring choral responses and was losing kids because of it.  So I started with that, saying, "When I say Classe, you say Oui!  Classe? Oui! Classe? Oui!"

Next, yesterday at training, Mike Coxon put me on the spot and said that he wanted to learn some subjunctive.  Confession: I'm not good at it and I'm never sure if you do or don't use it with vouloir (to want)...but I went with it on the spot and then looked it up later.  So, I had two actors.  I started by saying, "Classe, il voulait que Shakira soit sa copine."  Then I checked in with the actor, "Bart, est-ce que tu veux que Shakira soit ta copine?"  "Est-ce que tu veux que Shakira soit ma copine?"  Etc.

So, today I decided to try it out in class.  I had two actors: my first actor we talked about who she did/did not want to be her boyfriend.  Second person, I told the class that I had a magic wand (and I pulled out my awesome hand-carved wand) and I need to find out what we wanted her to be able to do "Qu'est-ce qu'on veut qu'elle puisse faire?"  In first hour, we decided that we wanted the actress to be able to transform into a tiger.  So, I got out my wand, said my magic spell, cut the lights, and the actress disappeared (hid in the back of the room) and was replaced by a stuffed tiger.  Hilarity!

The third sentence was that I told my kids that I wanted that they all go to France with me next summer.  "Je veux que vous alliez en France avec moi."

It was great.  My first hour was super into it and laughing and really playing the game well.  And I was so impressed with how I was able to make the subjunctive seem useful and meaningful.  Thanks Mike, for pushing me!!  And, if I made mistakes with the subjunctive, please let me know because I am NOT great at explicit grammar instruction myself, so I can't figure this out on my own!!  And there are only a few phrases that I have acquired and they don't always match up with what is useful to students.

Edit: Since posting this, a couple of awesome-sauce teachers reached out to tell me that I had an error, which I have since fixed.  If I ever make a mistake, I hope you all will tell me about it.  And I will assume that it is coming from a place of love and not judgement.  We're all in this together, right?

Second thing that happened is that a lot of people said that we should just use the subjunctive when it comes up naturally.  Absolutely.  But, in my non-native speech, it hasn't been coming out naturally, so I need to force it a bit so it starts to become natural.  Teaching TPRS has been the best thing I've ever done for my own French.  Before teaching, "Il lui a dit" would NEVER have come out of my mouth on its own.  But, because I forced myself to start using it in stories from the very beginning of French 1, it now falls out of my mouth as well as my students' mouths.  So, in summary...YES, the subjunctive should not be "taught" should be used naturally.  But I am forcing it a bit to make it work for me.

Here are some videos that a student snuck.  She thought she was soooo sneaky.  But I was happy to have the video of a happy class and she agreed to share with me what she took.

PS-I make mistakes.  I'm not a superhuman.  I hate watching myself.  I cringe hearing the errors my French 3s make.  BUT the love of the language and each other is there.  I hope you can see it.

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Teaching Bart veut un chat-Day two and three

Like I said in my last post, I was rushing to get through one timeline on the book so that I could prepare my kids for this day.  There were a ton of activities that I could have done with my kids (student actors, parallel characters, snapshots, etc), but I chose to read it quickly and focus on making it fun since I didn't have to worry as much about comprehension.

So, to start class, we read the first page together again, but this time, when we got to the choice, I told the students to move to a part of the room to make their choice.  For this first choice, they all ended up back together again after splitting, so we read the next page together (where Bart listens to four people).  Then, I had them go to the corner to choose a dog, cat, turtle, or piranha.  I told them to read it with their group and raise their hand when they came to a choice.  As this happened, I would split them into smaller and smaller groups.  If a small group decided to stay together and read to an ending, I told them that they could continue on until they got to the end. 

By the end of the class, all students had come to another ending and you should have heard them excited to share their storyline!  I have to tell you that Mike Coxon and Jeremy Jordan wrote a twisted, awesome story that really spoke to my students. 

The next time we had FVR, a large number of students chose to go back and read Bart a THIRD TIME!!!!!! 

This choose your own adventure is really magic.  I can't wait for another one to come out.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Teaching Bart veut un chat-day one

Thanks to Mike Coxon and all the people at TPRS Books, I got a classroom set of Bart veut un chat, which I (full disclosure) helped translate (and am still finding spelling errors in...I must have read that thing a million times and errors still snuck through).  Mike asked me to teach it in my classes and let him know how it went.  So, here's what I did.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know!!

I did this first with my French 2 kids because I knew we could whip through it quickly and I was proud to share the book with my students.

We all started off on page one together. There wasn't anything too terribly interesting or difficult on page one, so I just read it quickly so we could get to the good stuff.  With beginners, I think you could talk about what makes someone happy, who has a MacBook, etc.  But I didn't want to drag this part out for my kids who have already acquired that language.

When we got to the choice, I let students vote to choose where we went next.

One class chose Coqui and we all turned to that page together. After we read the part about her having a Youtube famous cat, we talked about different famous cats. 
Image resultGrumpy Cat, Nyan Cat, and, my personal favorite: Keyboard Cat.  I let them in on the secret that Coqui's cat was Keyboard Cat, and we watched this video.

One class chose the parents, and we read that page and talked about chocolate.  Then, we discussed whether pets can make you happy.

Both choices end up with Bart talking to 4 people to decide which pet is the best.  We decided that the veterinarian and the biology teacher were both experts in animals.  After the biology teacher says that turtles are the best, we discussed that and someone brought up turtles eating strawberries, so we watched this clip.
When I read the dentist's recommendation, I did so in a creepy voice because what she says is so out there. "Piranhas are the best because they can eat humans"?!

Then, when we had read all the recommendations, we discussed which animal everyone thought was the best pet and why and I wrote up the ideas on the board.

Then, we voted again.  Sadly, both of my classes chose that he wanted a cat :(  No imagination, these kids...  When Bart searched for incredible cats on the internet, we did the same (I'm pretty comfortable with my kids and searching for things in front of them without fear of stumbling upon something that will get me in may want to try this on your own first).

The sad thing about this section is that one of the big jokes of the book is lost because it is supposed to say that there are NO cats at the library, but that got lost in the translation and the copy/paste of publishing.  So I just told my kids that.  We talked about the different types of cats, and when we got to exotic cats, I had to look up pictures of the hairless cat (again, make sure safe search is on)...and then a student told me about the Devon Rex cat that he was getting that weekend.  So then we had to look up videos of that cat. Image result for devon rex cats

Anyway, then we chose where he went to look for the cat and the kids chose the cat cafe.  Luckily, there was a vlog of a mom taking her two sons to a cat cafe in Paris.  Some of my students had no idea what a cat cafe was, so this was a great introduction.  I told them that they wouldn't be able to understand most of what was said, but to try and pick out one or two words and use visuals. 

On his way to the cat cafe, Bart meets a weird guy and we were able to use the conditional: What would you do?  Would you talk to the guy?  Would you run away? Etc.

The kids chose to talk to the strange man.  This page would be GREAT for acting out because the story gives the actors directions on how to act and what to do.  I read through it and acted it out myself because I was trying to go quickly through the story. 

Next, my kids chose that Bart looks in the bag, and we find out that the cats had been tested, which brought us to a discussion on animal rights vs. human safety.  We had a really deep conversation in basic French about who is more important, animals or humans? 

Of course we chose the strong cat and we ended our story quickly with the super ending, which I think was one of the fastest endings possible.  END OF DAY ONE.