Thursday, 29 March 2012

French Cafe

At school this week we have been busy planning our French Cafe. The French Cafe is an event that showcases our students French language abilities in a fun and creative way. Each French class gets to perform a 3-5 minute act in the show, whether it be a song, dance or short play. We also have all the classes watching at different times. The scheduling can get a little tricky, but the students love to both perform their act and then have the opportunity to watch other classes perform as well. While the students are watching the acts on stage, we will have our older classes act as servers for the cafe. Students can order croissants ahead of time, as well as apple juice. Another way to incorporate French culture into the French Cafe is through art work on the walls of the performing space and students' work being displayed on the cafe tables where students are sitting at to watch the show. This year we have decided on posters with French cultural symbols for the walls and some French restaurant menus to add to the tables. Students will have fun practicing for their cafe act, and they will learn some new French language skills and vocabulary at the same time. Also, parents love to come in to see their child perform so the French Cafe is a great way to get parents involved in the French language program.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

La compassion dans la salle de classe

A few weeks ago I attended a conference for junior teachers (teachers who teach grades 4-6), and the theme was creating a caring, compassionate classroom. The ideas I got from the conference can certainly be applied to any FSL classroom. It is so important to create a caring, compassionate classroom atmosphere in a second language classroom because students need to feel comfortable enough to take risks and try to pronounce new vocabulary words. At the start of the year, it is a good idea to have the students share some of their own personal stories in the target language to help create a classroom community and to get to know each student. An activity that was introduced at the conference was to have students work in pairs and each pair is given a circle, a triangle and a square. The pair is then to arrange the three shapes in a particular design. After giving the students a couple of minutes to decide on the position of their shapes, the students are then told that each shape represents a person in a bullying scenario. One shape is the bully, another shape is the victim and the third shape is the bystander. The students would then discuss in their pairs which shape represents which person in that scenario and why. Addressing the bullying issue upfront and discussing it is a good way to set expectations for student behaviour in the classroom and set the stage for a compassionate second language classroom. Dr. Larry Swartz, a professor for the teacher education program at the University of Toronto, has focused a lot of his research on creating caring classrooms and addressing the bullying issue in schools.  Here is a link to a video of Larry Swartz talking about the importance of creating caring classroom environments. Two books that I recommend that promote a caring attitude are Le Vol du colibri by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas and L'homme qui plantait des arbres by Jean Giono. In the words of Dr. Seuss "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not." (From the movie The Lorax).

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

La Tour Eiffel

Whenever possible, I try to incorporate French culture into my lessons. A fun way to do this is to focus on famous French monuments and cultural activities in France as part of daily language lessons. I have recently taught a mini-unit on the Eiffel Tower. I taught a grammar lesson on the past tense using scenarios related to the Eiffel Tower and traveling to France. I included a reading comprehension activity by which was great because it had reading comprehension questions to answer that went along with the article on the Eiffel Tower. I also did an art lesson where students were shown a picture of the Eiffel Tower and then sketched their own version in 3D. We outlined them in black marker and added sparkles to represent how the Eiffel Tower is lit up at night. There are some great books out there that feature the Eiffel Tower as well, including Un Jour avec la Tour Eiffel by Victor Simiane, Rendez-vous à la Tour Eiffel by Elzbieta and Le Grand voyage by Jean-Olivier Heron. The Eiffel Tower theme fits well for this time of the year because of March Break, and many students are going on vacation and traveling. After March Break, the students will be able to tell about what they did on their vacations using the past tense. Bon voyage!