Learn to leverage a language instruction circle in 20 minutes

By the end of this instructional video you will be able to:

  • Plan for a circle in your classroom using materials and ideas for activities ready-made for you
  • Build community in circle with your students
  • Engage in supported communication with you students

I first learned about the idea of the circle as community-building through Developmental Designs, a curriculum developed through a non-profit called The Origins Program. The method endorsed daily circles in homeroom or advisory. Using the circle as an approach to build community acknowledged that students can only learn when they feel safe in their relationships with teachers and other students. Developmental Designs tells us that relationship building doesn’t happen unless structures are put in place for it by teachers. Currently, many educators are using Restorative Justice circles. I found that when my students are familiar with sharing in a circle, there is a level of comfort that helps make it work in language class.

Using circle to promote language proficiency has a similar yet different intent. In the World Language community we hear from Stephen Krashen, a linguist, that language is best learned in low-anxiety environments. The community building brought about by circle facilitates trust and feelings of safety. Later, through the work of Darcy Rogers and the rest of the team at Organic World Language (OWL), I saw World Language best practices added to the circle, for example using the target language for instruction. Since OWL started giving workshops in 2009, I have seen other language teachers take the circle and make it their own. There is a lot of support out there for you to build your own practice of a language learning circle. My goal is to get you started and then hooked and next leveraging your own circle!

Learn to do Movie Talk in 20 minutes

I am starting a new series called “Learn to in 20 minutes”. In this series I am going to give teachers like you instruction for how to use different techniques in language instruction. This first installment is on Movie Talk. I have found that there are many teachers who want to learn this technique that they may have heard about from others. I hope you feel like I keep my word and truly teach Movie Talk in 20 minutes.

 

Please join the learning by entering a comment here on the Blog. Tell my readers how you use Movie Talk or tell us what you like about Movie Talk. Thank you!

Travel like a teacher: Paris

Many of the teachers I know travel frequently and quite a few of them travel with their own young kids. That awareness brought me to want to share some tips of how to travel like a teacher, this time to Paris. If you only have two days in Paris for your kids while they are in elementary school, collective wisdom says to bring them on a river cruise, to the Tuileries Gardens, to the Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre, to visit Notre Dame or the Sainte Chapelle and climb up the Eiffel Tower or (better yet) the Arc de Triomphe. But if you have more than two days total, then this post is for you.

To travel like a teacher, my first piece of advice is to get on the metro and head for a destination outside of the center. Try Parc de la Villette, Republique and Montmartre.

Parc de la Villette is where I saw a couple shows at the Zenith before I had kids. Little did I know before last Monday that there are attractions for families, like fun free playgrounds that work even for older elementary kids, gardens and a canal to explore. The playgrounds were innovative with zip lines and an amazingly long slide and the gardens were unique and compelling with water features and a large tower to climb. I got my younger two slushees from a fair-grounds type truck. And, we had steak haché and salads at La Petite Halle, which has great retro decor.

On the same metro line as the park, pop out at Republique. The Marché des Enfants Rouges has amazing stalls and some seating for many different food options to suit different tastes and all of them looked delicious. It is a covered market with an outdoor feel. Head to the Square du Temple to play on the super creative play structure and on to the Museum of Arts et Métiers, where you can learn a lot about inventions and technology. IMG_0163I would highly recommend the audio guide in English and definitely spending a lot of time in the Transportation and Construction exhibits. For an afternoon snack, there is an outstanding bakery called Du Pain des Idées near the Canal where we chose plain croissants because all the amazing choices made it too hard for us to decide on something else. May you do better. Powered by our snack, we walked along the canal, took pictures from the bridges, explored the great shops along the sides and checked out the locks. For dinner we would have enjoyed eating at so many different places, we settled on the very kid-friendly Acqua e Farina for wood-fired pizza.

Now to travel off in a different direction, my next suggestion of a good kid destination is Montmartre. This will not surprise most readers as it is a super popular destination for tourists. Like all of them we enjoyed looking down on Paris from Sacré Coeur. To explore the other sites in this former village just beyond the border of Paris, wIMG_0172e hired an excellent guide from Moontown Walking Travel and I don’t want to give away all of his ideas, but this Conde Nast Traveler article will bring you to many great vantage points where you will get to know the neighborhood better without the crowds. And stop in a café along the way to soak up the vibe. Yet I need to put in a plug for a private walking tour with a guide. Our guide Gil,  told my kids anecdotes about the famous inhabitants of the neighborhood, stories of the history of the important events that happened there and summarized pieces of relevant literature. He made Montmartre understandable to an 8 year old, while speaking to my three children as the intellectual small people that they are.

Back in Central Paris, I have a few recommendations as well. Over the years we have loved staying at the Hotel Michelet Odéon. The 6th arrondissement is a quick walk to the sites in the center of Paris and the hotel is located near the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is the best place in town for children to play. The renovated playground was re-opened in June of 2019 and is excellent for ages four to nine. There is a zip line, large sandbox with diggers and a pail on a pulley among other sand elements, swings and a large structure to climb up then take the slide back down. You have to pay to enter, but the fee is minimal. It’s the drinks just outside the playground the are expensive. The other big attraction in the garden is the toy sailboats to let drift across the main basin. For a nearby lunch or drink, I like Le Vavin, a quick walk from the park. Also in the city center, you can walk around the Parc Rives de Seine, Les Halles and the plaza and fountains by the Centre Pompidou, all of which are great with kids. For dinner, stroll along Rue Montorgueil to choose a restaurant.

Our family has loved our three recent trips to Paris and my husband and I have great nostalgia for the three years we lived in Paris when we first got married. I hope that this post has shared my love of the city as a destination with kids. Please write a comment to tell me what you love to visit or are planning to see in your travels.

 

Beginnings in Social Justice Instruction

The book Words and Actions: Teaching Language Through the Lens of Social Justice by Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell gave me new insight for when I decided to write an original social justice unit. AF_carles-694x1024After consulting the publication, I chose to write a unit centered around the social justice theme of gender, which I think is a rather easy, entry-level theme. There is an obvious tie-in as this summer, in June and July 2019, the Women’s World Cup is being hosted in France. As such, there are many articles on gender equality in the French press right now, so it was easy to find authentic documents to support the unit that I have decided to call “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles”.

The small steps that I learned from Words and Actions provided great gains. The first was defining a takeaway. When deciding on a theme and essential question, it is advised to define a social justice takeaway, much like an enduring understanding. My theme is “Le foot est un sport de garçons ET de filles” and my essential question is, “How is access to and experience with playing soccer influenced by gender?” So, after thinking it through for a while, the understanding that I wanted my students to have at the end was “Preconceived ideas of gender impact girls’ access to sport”.

AF_daghigh-694x1024As I mentioned, there are currently many authentic documents available on this theme, so I chose a couple ads, an article on a web page, an infographic, a few posters, a clip from a film, a few television reports and a music video, which are all shared with you via the link below. Words and Actions helped me think through how to integrate the posters into my lessons through three steps. The first step “Setting the Stage”, helped me ask students to analyze messages from the culture by paying attention to images as well as words on the posters that promote women’s soccer. Then through the “Critical Thinking and Discussion” step, I learned to have students share their initial impressions and interpretations through discussion of the posters with their peers. I gave my students sentence starters to encourage them to engage with their classmates. For the final step, “Digging Deeper in the Topic”, I was able to have students identify their own messages and make posters themselves.

AF_heidemann-694x1024I am sharing with you all of the activities for the unit in this folder, to inspire you to try this on your own. A good place to start is with the teacher slides presentation. Don’t miss the notes in the notes section. If any parts of the unit work for you or if the whole unit does, please use it. I would love it if you would comment below to tell me what you were able to incorporate.

Story Script for a song you may have missed on restaurant vocabulary

This is my third and final post on writing story scripts for music videos. My intention in explaining story scripts in this blog post and then offering two examples (one in that same post and another here) was to give our community of French teachers a start into the practice.

media.nrj.fr_436x327_2016_02_l-e-j_9207I am hoping you will especially appreciate this third and final example because it is a song with relevant vocabulary for teaching beginning French that you might have missed. La Dalle is a song by L.E. J. that came out in 2015 and was the group’s first original piece. If you aren’t familiar with the group, you might enjoy introducing them to your students because the group’s musical style is so different than the music that our students listen to on their own accord that the song may surprise students and interest them for its uniqueness.

This is the intended order of the activities:

  • Read the story script to your students, stopping after each paragraph for them to draw a picture that illustrates that part of the song in this graphic organizer
  • Handout the story script to the students so that they can read it for themselves and make any finishing touches on their pictures
  • Play the video a first time for the students
  • Students do on Quizlet the matching activity three times each to become more familiar with the restaurant vocabulary in the song
  • Handout the activity that goes with the song and play the song one more time for students to read the words of the song as it plays
  • Ask the students to write a summary in their journals of what happens in the video of the song

You will notice that this technique, that I learned from Kara Jacobs, offers the students multiple chances to interact with the vocabulary from the song. If you want to continue work with it, don’t miss this resource from TV5 Monde.

Please let me know in the comments if you have tried a story script for a song and what has worked for you!

 

Travel like a teacher: Eastern Townships, Quebec

You may have already heard of the Cantons de l’Est, the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Coming from New England, the area has its own unique culture and yet is so accessible and relatively affordable. This year I went with my active twin 8 year old boys. Last time I was with my parents and my daughter. We always have good meals, walk around towns and do some great book shopping for my French classroom. This is a great trip for a weekend or three nights in the Fall or Spring.

I love the trip for the opportunities to be active outside and for the artisanal local products that you will enjoy in the restaurants or take home with you. With my sons, we got out for both a bike ride and a walk in the woods at a marsh. We tried Poutine from the kids’ menu at Café de la Brulerie, which was not really our thing, and buckwheat crepes at Belania d’Amour, which we liked much better. At two restaurants we went to there were wood-fired ovens, which is not surprising given the cosiness that the Quebecois seek out in the cold winter months. My boys liked seeing the large machinery at the ice creamery in Coaticook. And, we returned home with honey, Belgian-style chocolate and Duck rillettes all made right where we bought them.

Here are some hints for getting to know small-town Québec near the US border. Using Mont-Orford as a base, all of these places are nearby in the towns of Magog, Granby and Coaticook.

Mont-Orford
Hotel Cheribourg 
This is a comfortable hotel, even though we stayed in the off-season between snow and summer activities when the dining room is closed. With restaurants nearby, a café and the local supermarket, finding food wasn’t an issue. My boys enjoyed the well-equipped game room and the pool. The rooms are nicely set up and include a refrigerator and a coffee maker.
Steforno Woodfire pizza restaurant and gelato
Belania d’Amour Café with delicious healthy smoothies and buckwheat crêpes
Le Four à Bois d’Orford Wood-fire restaurant for pizza and pasta
Ducs de Montrichard Made-right-there duck rillettes to bring home in jars
La Mie d’Orford Breakfast at a deli-style restaurant with a focus on homemade

Granby
C. A. R. T. H. Y. Bike path
A great outdoor activity in this region, after all the snow activities, is biking. The bike path between Granby and Waterloo is beautiful and well maintained. I would highly recommend a half-day ride on the dedicated bike paths, viewing birch trees and reservoirs. Rent bikes in Granby right on the path at Sports aux Puces VéloGare.IMG_5802
ZooGranby
Excellent zoo. Really high quality in terms of animals and habitats. A place to return to again and again. I was last there in 2009 and have wanted to go back ever since. Please note that in April, the zoo is only open on the weekend.
Librairie Jeunesse Le Repère
A children’s book store with an extensive collection of French-language books. The staff is extremely helpful. My boys loved that her baby was sleeping right at the store while she helped me. They found that to be so intimate and lovely.
Café de la Brulerie easy to return your bikes and walk over for a coffee or a meal

Magog
Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises
A nature center at the marsh with extensive paths for walking. We loved the visitor center even though most of it was in French and my sons don’t speak French.
Chocolats Vanden Eynden Belgian-style chocolates and a window into the factory

Coaticook
Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook
Walk along the deep gorge and dare to walk the long suspension bridge that crosses to the other side.
La Laiterie de Coaticook
Visit the ice creamery to take a look into the factory and have a taste as well.
Miel pur Délice Honey producer and sellerIMG_5865

A story script for a powerful video on Immigration

I have blogged before about Story Scripts.

Immigration is a timely theme in the World Language classroom and I was pleased to be able to address it with my 8th grade French students in March with the help of materials from Catherine Ousselin’s unit Que suis-je et d’où viens-je? Mes origines and mon identité.

In teaching this unit, I wanted to do a new Story Script and thought that a perfect fit would be Chez Nous by Patrick Fiori featuring Stromae. You might need to read the blog I did on Story Scripts to make sense of these resources. Here they are:

To give an idea of what it looks like to draw a story, here is an example from one of my students:Chez nous example 2