Worth Paying For

Curriculum is worth the price. I believe our departments should purchase materials for us to use in our teaching. And, let’s let the experts with degrees in curriculum writing decide on the themes, essential questions and the can do statements and make the activities and assessments to support them. Then teachers can add in playful games and up-dated authentic documents.

There can be so many rich resources in an online textbook, especially in the ancillary materials. I like the graphics for professionally made info gap activities and the video series with an on-going intrigue. Should you be fortunate enough to have a budget for a textbook series, consider one like T’es branché where in the ancillary materials there are IPAs, topical readings with questions and online readers with glossed words.

But like many of you, I have been teaching without a textbook ever since that became the fashion. It means that I spend a lot of time writing materials and that my activities are all amateur. So, I don’t mind paying out of my own pocket for affordable resources as I think that smart ideas that have already been tried with students are worth it, but I have trouble finding quality ones. Sometimes you have to sacrifice diversity in the people who are represented in order to use paid-for materials. Usually you can’t find paid-for activities based on authentic documents. Yet, when you find a good reasonably-priced resource it is invaluable. In this post I am going to share quality paid-for resources that teachers can afford on their own. I hope that it will save you some time to know what’s available. All of these are found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

My first set of resources is Movie Talks from MadameSay:

I love how these three Movie Talks have images that can be talked about with beginning level language. And, I find MadameSay’s stories and activities to be high quality and I can use them as they are. Movie Talks are fun and motivate students. These purchases have saved me hours of preparation in planning for my students.

The next resource is one I have mentioned before on these pages, Le Petit Journal Francophone from Toward Proficiency. This is a short journal of news summaries. I paid for the full year and I love how it is updated monthly with current content. As I said for the Movie Talks, I appreciate this content because it is so accessible. These are good for Intermediate Low learners. You can see the resources that I have used with news summaries in my post on Current Events in the World Language Classroom.

And finally, I want to share with you two projects. The first is a guide for a 20-questions guessing game that my students always enjoy made by World Language Cafe called Famous Francophones. Start by having your students guess. Then, they research a famous person and make a guessing game for the class. Making guessing games for classmates is a highly engaging project. This purchase was so valuable. Secondly, from Madame H there is a selfie project for Une Journée Typique. My students like to make fun of the over-the-top selfie or just take pictures without themselves in them. One of the best part of this resource is the scaffolding it offers for the project. You will love the graphic organizer.

Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment with what you think is worth paying for!

Further Jamboard Ideas

In hybrid and remote learning, we no longer pass out sets of manipulatives for our students to match or sort and we don’t set up images around the room for a gallery walk. Jamboard is an opportunity to bring these back to the classroom. Let’s allow our students to return to matching, gallery walks and sorting.

In a unit about food, I do a Movie Talk from Petit Nicolas on the cantine. To give you some context, here are the slides and here is the script I use. One of the activities you can do with a Movie Talk is to ask students to match pictures with captions. On Jamboard, give each student a copy of the pictures and captions. They drag the caption to the matching picture.

Gallery Walk
A gallery walk allows students to react to different items posted around the room by leaving their commentary on a sticky note. Comments can be anonymous or color coded. With Jamboard, you can share one presentation for the whole class to edit and students can leave stickies on each board. In this example, we had just listened to one minute of five different songs. The students then posted a sticky about their opinion of each song.

This next activity was made in collaboration with teachers at the Middle School level in Brookline, Massachusetts. I would like to thank them for their help. You can give students categories for sorting as a way for them to show their understanding of the categories. In this example, student sort foods into the different words that describe the tastes.

For a version of each of these activities, click on the underlined heading above each section. To use my example, you will have to make a copy first. Then you can post the copy to Google Classroom for your students.

This post is a continuation of my last post, so if you missed that one please take a look for more Jamboard guidance. And, thank you for all the warm responses. I love hearing from you, so please keep the comments coming by letting me know what you think you may be able to use.

Jamboard: a tool for the World Language Toolbox

I appreciate following Rebecca Blouwollf @MmeBlouwollf and Joshua Cabral @WLClassroom on Twitter. Recently, they have both given examples on how to use Jamboard, so I took notice. Rebecca tweeted about supporting Interpersonal Speaking by having students agree and disagree with statements. Joshua tweeted about two activities where students add personal information to a board.

These ideas helped further my thinking. In my current unit for novice students, I was missing the part where students take phrases and combine them into sentences. Manipulating stickies on Jamboard seemed like the perfect answer. This is a first step to eventually talking with their classmates about activities that they do every day. I ask students to form sentences that describe their activities. Coach them to delete stickies they don’t need and to add in new ones with their own phrases.

To build their language skills further I then devised a way for students to order sentences before they write about the activities of their routine.

In this current unit students also speak about the times of the day they do different activities. I have been stumped about how to give my students practice telling time in an engaging way. So, I came up with the idea to use Jamboard as a game that would encourage practice. I made a Snakes and Ladders game board and added pawns the students will move around the board. Students read the time on a Quizlet flashcard and if they get it right roll the die to move around the board.

Have one student run the flashcards on their device and the other represents both themselves and their opponent by operating the die and moving the pieces on the game board. 

You can make copies of my Jamboards to use right away with your students. Then, you only have to share them on Google Classroom as assignments giving each student their own copy.

Les phrases

Ma routine

Serpents et échelles

My message to all teachers as we teach our last few days before break, we are all better for the new tricks we have learned during remote and hybrid teaching. Please remember to share your strategies with those in your network and to leave a comment here if any of these ideas might work for you!

Curriculum of thematic units for remote and hybrid learning

This post is a summary to help you navigate my site better and to encourage you to revisit some earlier posts. You will note that each unit has authentic documents that include music videos, infographics, articles and clips from television shows. I use technology tools like Quizlet and EdPuzzle and give you links to ones that are ready to go. 

We are fast approaching our winter break. Teachers are tired and need more than ever the support of collaboration. Please share my resources and your own wide and far. Let’s help each other through the winter months of the pandemic. Below these seven themes work together to form a French 1 remote or hybrid curriculum. It is my hope that you will find at least some of these materials to be helpful in your teaching.

Je me présente

La rentrée


Les loisirs

À l’école

Pour se reposer

C’est délicieux 

Current Events in the World Language Classroom

I wanted to share with you three different ideas of how to address current events in the World Language Classroom to encourage students to interact with the news. I hope that in modeling the activities you might want to make your own resources and if so, you can find articles and videos to make your own lessons from these sources:

Image from 1jour1actu. Download their free bi-weekly edition.

1jour1actu and Mon Quotidien are both free current events sites for French young people. In contrast, Petit Journal is a paid resource and it is written for French language learners. You can consider the advantages of each one for your students’ needs and interests. 

One way to jump into using current events is to ask students to match headlines or short descriptions with pictures as I did in this example using materials from 1jour1actu. I like to do this at the start of class. When I ask students to work in pairs they discuss their understanding of the words in French and collaborate to further their understanding.

Or, to employ a different idea you could choose a comic strip and video on the same topic from 1jour1actu. As an example, at the beginning of this year my students read a comic strip (on the third page) on Covid-19 and watched the accompanying video. As they read I asked them to look up words on the wordreference.com site. We watched the video together as a class and I paused the video and asked questions. You could put your questions into an EdPuzzle instead, if you wanted to hold each student accountable.

A third idea is to have the students work in pairs, each reading one of two articles. I used this one from 1jour1actu on Macron’s announcement for quarantine with one from the Petit Journal Francophone. There is also an Mon Quotidien article on the same subject that you could use instead. Then, they have to complete this graphic organizer in English together, identifying the information that was in the first or the second article or both. I like that they have to use higher order thinking in order to classify the information.

I hope that you will find an idea here to inspire you. Please leave a comment if you find anything you can use! In conclusion I want to leave you with one more resource. Here is a form I have been using for years when I ask a class to read a current events article, especially the “l’info en grande” articles from 1jour1actu like this one on Mars, (on the 4th page). It has gotten a lot of use and I hope it can be useful in your class.

À l’école: Mini hybrid / remote unit on the school day

I am teaching two remote classes and three hybrid classes, so I develop activities to be delivered electronically. The activities can be posted on a School Management Site and the slides can be used for visuals while teaching live in the classroom or via screen share in virtual meetings. To share them with you, I put them in this Google Drive folder. Please take note of the Lesson Plans document, where there are explanations, sequencing, reference to which slides to use when and links to the activities.

I am repeating myself here, but I want to yet again highlight the importance of sharing materials during this time. My materials may have typos that I have missed or be incomplete in some way, but I hope you will find value in them as a start to planning your own lessons. I have found teachers to be tired and full of anxiety. I am sharing this mini-unit to try to help my virtual colleagues and I encourage you to share where you can, whether it is in your school with a close friend or on the Internet. We all need each other now.

I like this topic, the school day. Schools are places where students are coming together whereas for the rest of their time they are isolated and away from their friends. Rally your class around the topic of the school day. Hear from them about their experience. And, encourage them to talk to their classmates, all on the topic of the school day.

Having fun with students during remote classes: a mini-unit on Les Loisirs

Tonight I quickly put together a Jeopardy game for the end of a very short unit on Les Loisirs. It came from a strong desire to do a fun activity with my students. I like, as my readers know, the format for Jeopardy games on playfactile.com, but even though I have mentioned it before, I am recommending that platform a second time for remote learning. Over Zoom the teacher can screen share the game and students take turns playing for their team. I think you will find it fun too.

So, here is a set of slides for a mini-unit on Les Loisirs and here is the promised game. As I just completed it in a hurry tonight, let me know if there are any mistakes and I will correct them. And, it’s a crazy world out there, so I hope you find some fun in your teaching. And, as always, I would love to hear where you find that fun in the comments below.

P.S. If you like Jeopardy, here is one more for you, one that I wrote with the help of a colleague a while ago.

Screencast Video Tools in the World Language Remote Classroom

I have been hearing a lot about the importance of establishing relationships with students. Students learn from teachers who value them. And, they feel supported by teachers who allow themselves to be known by their students. In September when I return to the classroom I will be teaching in a hybrid format. I am concerned that teaching with a mask and teaching through the computer will put distance between me and my students, so I intend to make some videos from home with my mask off.

I want to tell you about using Screencast-O-Matic to make videos for your students because it could be useful while you are creating World Language lessons for remote learning or for live lessons when you have a mask on. The tool is free if you limit yourself to 15 minute videos. I have upgraded because I use it to do pre-recorded webinars for teachers, but you don’t need to.

There are so many benefits to filming yourself. A video is, first of all, a close-up view of the teacher and it can be clearer and more succinct than an in-person interaction. Students can watch a video over and over if they are having trouble catching something you said. When you film with Screencast-O-Matic you can show your slides and show your face so that students benefit from both. For these reasons, this is a tool that I will continue to use for years, even after the pandemic.

To try to get you thinking of what you could record, in this post I want to address the idea of recording personable brief pieces about yourself which are opportunities for students to get to know you better. And, I want to show you how to use these pieces as that “teacher talk” that you do in your classrooms to introduce the material that students can expect to learn in the unit and that you are modeling for them to use the material themselves at the end of the unit. To this end I have three examples for you.

Each of these three examples are just that, examples. Obviously, you can not use my videos because they are for my students to get to know me. By the way, it is really hard for me to share these with you because they are personal and not perfect, which is exactly the point. We film ourselves not to seem perfect but to be who we are. The lighting isn’t perfect, we stumble on our words, I am not a native speaker and yet I share these with others and I didn’t even do my hair and makeup for the session. You get the idea. I am a flawed human and I model that for my students every day and hopefully it makes me more personable and allows them to take more risks.

Here is the first video. Maybe you want to try one like this. I will show this to my beginning students the first day of class. It is a video of me introducing myself speaking all in French.* I ask the students to listen to it to see what they can understand and not to worry if they don’t get everything. Then, afterwards, I ask them to share with the class the strategies they used to try to understand. This sets us up for the year to try to learn how to take a breath and understand new language.

In this second video I am doing something that I am sure you have done before. To teach school supplies, I show the students my bag, take out the supplies that I have and comment on them. I do this at the beginning of the unit as an introduction and then the students see authentic videos where school supplies appear. My video is the easiest and most accessible of the ones they will see. I go slow and repeat, but I use full sentences and natural rhythms of language so that they hear real language. Afterwards, I post the video to Google Classroom with some true false questions about quantity and color of the school supplies for students to answer. For example, I don’t say “True or false, this is a pencil.” but instead ask, “True or false, Madame has three pencils that are yellow.”

While those two videos were for Novice speakers, my third video is for continuing language students. In this video I am sharing the activities I do during the pandemic before I ask students to share with me what is possible for them to do when social distancing. I will show the students the video and then ask them true false questions to see what they remember.

Thank you for reading my blog posts. I have really enjoyed the appreciation and the comments I receive. Would you please consider leaving a comment to say what topics you film or are going to film?

If you want to see more ideas for Teacher Talk videos, see my YouTube playlist called Teacher Talk.

*Please note: the presentation about me is an excellent idea from Creative Language Class.

Movie Talk for Remote Learners

Many of you rely on Movie Talks to tell stories in collaboration with your students. It seems it has become as popular as TPRS stories once were. And now that many of you have tried remote teaching, I am sure you have experience of how to do Movie Talks virtually. I would love to talk with others about their techniques.

So the other day, I wrote out my ideas and sent them to a trusted friend and the following lesson plan is the result. Please take a look to see if you can benefit from any of these ideas and then leave a comment below to tell me what you have found that works.

Can do statement: I can narrate events.

To do a Movie Talk with remote students, you can use the screen share function to share the slides and ask students to work in their “journal” (their composition notebook).

Unmute students.
Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu Movie Talk
Show the slides and ask students the questions. Students will use the pictures to try to answer by predicting what happens in the story. (If this doesn’t go well because all of the students are trying to talk at once, you can mute the students and take suggestions in chat.)

Mute students. Watch the video of the story Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu — linked in the slides as well.

The last slide has six pictures. The teacher asks the students to take out their journals and number one to six. Then the teacher describes one of the pictures and the students write the corresponding letter.

Unmute students
Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu Group Reading
Ask students to read the captions for the pictures out loud to the class.

The last slide has six pictures. Put students in breakout groups of four. The students tell each other what is happening in the pictures and write the descriptions down in their journals. Students prepare for everyone in the group to be able to give the answers. After three minutes, the teacher reunites the group and calls on individual students to volunteer to say what is happening in each picture.

Students will need to have a copy of the slides to see the pictures while they are in breakout groups. Post the Describing Pictures to Google Classroom. Having them write in their journals while working with their peers, helps them stay focused in breakout rooms.

Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu Questions
While this looks like a quiz and the students can see what they get right and wrong, it is a disguised reading activity. The purpose of having the questions is to hold the student accountable for reading and working to understand the information.

Rhapsodie pour un pot-au-feu Presentational
Show the students the sentences with the verb endings highlighted. Read the sentences to the students. Ask the students to take out their journals and write the sentences paying attention to the verb endings. Check work with the slide that has the answers.

In their journal, students write a paragraph starting with, “La mère veut que la famille soit à table, mais c’est très difficile parce que…,” and ending with, “À la fin, la famille…” Students are to add 5 activities that different family members do. Students can put their answers in this Google Form.

September 2020

When we are headed back to school in September, the learning our students will need most will be in the realm of social emotional learning. How do we address this while still practicing French? I have put together some resources to help start off your school year.

Here is a set of slides dedicated to running Advisory Circle in French. I have labeled them for the corresponding proficiency level. There are opportunities to greet other students, share with classmates and play games. I am planning to use these ideas in the beginning days with my continuing students.

I hope they inspire you and add to your plans for La rentrée 2020, a precarious time for us all.