Thursday, November 29, 2012

c'est l'hiver

Here it is all in one place, poems, songs, writing, art we did in grade 1 around the theme of winter and Christmas (with some 5 senses and seasons outcomes in there).  Winter unit materials are listed here along with several 'work on writing' options for students.  Posted exemplars of completed writing projects and booklets are often helpful for students during independent writing time.

More resources are regularly collected and curated on my winter Pinterest Board.

Winter word strips (vocabulary) for the unit

Winter visual dictionary (link includes both colour and black and white) for the unit, colour copies are laminated and available to students during writing.  By the end of the year we have a bunch of them on all different themes.  Especially helpful for reluctant writers or those who have difficulty transcribing from a word wall.

Black and white version glued into agendas or journals for writing (good communication tool for parents to show what students are learning).

"L'hiver" class collaborative books.  In kindergarten students simply add the names of their friends.  Students are also encouraged to label items in their picture.

In grade 1 students add the names of their friends and what they like to do in the snow.  Students learn to add "ent" to the end of verbs when more than one person is doing the action; jouent, glissent, lancent des boules, roulent.

We use this sentence structure in our daily journals too.

Students are encouraged to label their drawings as in K and in grade 1 enjoy adding speech bubbles to the characters in their picture.

Speech bubbles to cut and add to pictures, encourages students to write, add to pictures, small manageable writing areas.

 Song to the tune of "Sur le pont", reviews some of the sound blends we are learning in December and January.
Glue the sound and pictures in the right place, complete the sentence, draw a picture.  Make your own verse to the song?

"La chanson Chocolat" by Les Enfantastiques (lyrics here,  video and song below).

As we listen and later sing along students find and circle sound blends we know, ie: 'on', 'an', 'eu', 'oi', 'ette', 'eau', 'en', 'ou'.

We learn the sounds using the Jolie phonique images and hand actions.  This slide share gives you an overview of the Jolly Phonics program.

Example of actions and images for Jolly phonics (available in French from Amazon).

As a follow up to the song students write about what they, taste, see, hear in winter (maybe they could sip hot chocolate while they write?).

Un bon chocolat chaud mini book, "En hiver je goûte, en hiver je vois . . . " (work on writing centre).

This could also follow learning the Charlotte Diamond song "Un bon chocolat chaud".  I haven't found a subtitled version yet so I opted for the song above by Les Enfantastiques.

Use a sheet of construction paper to make a mug booklet.

I first saw the idea here at the Amazing preschool Activities blog.

Song "Un bon chocolat chaud" by Carmen Campagne (but not subtitled!).

L'hiver collage - art project.

We all started with many shades of blue paper for the base, a road and dotted line.  Then we built cities from scraps, newspaper, foil, and finally plastic snow bits.  See the post here.

This idea came from a great art site Deep Space Sparkle.

"Il neige" poem to accompany our collages (merci Mme Hecker!).  Use actions to help students learn and memorize the poem. Start to sing it whenever you're getting ready to go outside.

The poem is recorded below, not sure I have it quite right and will have to recruit come grade 2 students who recall the song for a recording!

Completed version and fill in the missing words.

Les cinq sens à noël mini book (work on writing centre).

Livre des cinq sens à complèter et à ajouter à nos panier de livres.

How to eat a gingerbread man mini book (work on writing centre - Jan./Feb.). Original post is here.

"Dans mas boule à neige" mini book, print on legal sized paper (work on writing centre - Jan./Feb.).

See the original post here (and many other variations on pinterest!).

This booklet includes a vocabulary bank of words.

Read the story Snowballs by Lois Ehlert.  Here is a site with some ideas for French winter titles. Her books are beautiful so I'd read it even though it's in English.

Sing the song and learn the poem "Rouli, roula".  I recorded it just so you can get the tune, it sounds pretty silly!

Photocopy budgets are always shrinking, perhaps many of these books and ideas can be inspiration for something of the students own creation.  I find that in grade 1 a blank page can be intimidating for students, hopefully these can at least be a place to start when students are working on writing during The Daily Five.

Other winter themed posts on this blog include, The Mitten unit (based on book by Jan Brett), winter mitten math journal, gingerbread man math journal.

 We made toilet roll santa's to go with the song.

See the Hedgehog blog here for instructions.

 Repetitive song the young students love about Santa getting dressed (Quand le Père Noël vient me visiter).  Printable song book is here.

I always forget the order of the song, Santa gets dressed from the feet up!

Students can write their own version of the song using this dictionary of winter activities:

Quand Madame Wiebe
va patiner
elle faut bien, s'habiller.
Elle porte des patins blancs.
Avec, un foulard rose.

Video of the song with lyrics:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

bibliothèque de salle de classe

For those who have expressed interest these are some of the series we have in our Kindergarten to grade 4 classrooms. These series are used for Daily Five, home reading and guided reading.  The classroom libraries are well rounded with both these types of levelled series of books, trade books, fiction and non-fiction.

Most of the series are followed by a link to the publisher's website.

Depending on your school's philosophy you may or may not decide to level your book collections. A handy website for this task is Atelier. You can type in just about any title and any publisher and this site will suggest a level that encompasses them all (many publishers use their own levelling system and they are rarely consistent across the different series).

In terms of best practice there is evidence that a book levelling system, especially when it segregates students and limits their book selection, is less than beneficial to students. The authenticity of this process has also been called into question as students transition from levelled books to the selection of books themselves for the pleasure of reading. Please refer to the book Beyond Levelled Books by Franki Sibberson and Karen Szymusiak to explore this further.

The Learning Commons teacher at École Edwards (librarian) is fantastic and supports teachers with ordering.  She knows what students like and how to guide students to books they might enjoy and be able to read.  As the younger classes come to the Learning Commons, they can choose their own books but are also encouraged to choose at least 1 French "I can read" book.  She has tables of books at the students' level to help with book selection.

Envol en littératie (scholastic):
- fiction and non-fiction

- especially good for k-1
- very simple beginning texts, students are pleased that they can read something early on in the year in French immersion, fiction and non-fiction
- simple stories are humorous because of clever and engaging illustrations

- photocopiable books, simple, inexpensive, k-1

- this series was purchased with multiple copies of each title for guided reading, they are in the bookroom and can be signed out each week by teachers

Alpha Jeunes
- also purchased in multiples and signed out by teachers from the book room

- comic book style illustrations, goofy stories, a favourite for grade 1-2

En avant (scholastic):
- mostly non-fiction

- non-fiction

- an older series, having the big books is convenient

- kindergarten, has big books, songs, multi media options, illustrations explain the story, very reader-ish but a good place to start when students have 0 vocabulary
- these are used for read-alouds early in the year in K (not "I can read") although by the end of grade 1 students remember the series and are surprised to find they can now read the stories they remember from K

- this one has been around for a while, humorous stories, a wide range of levels, seems to often be some of the first books FI students read

Grades 3 and 4:

Teachers find the students like non-fiction more in the later grades, they need something at their level but not babyish:

Scholastic biography series

- easy forst chapter books (my youngest son loved these because it was a "chapter book"!)

Choisis ta propre aventure
Junie B. Jones in French

À la une - cartoons & graphic novels (loved by older boys, harder vocabulary)

What's on your classroom bookshelves? What do you and your students in French Immersion love to read? Let us know in the comments section.

Thank you so much to Mme Cyrzan, Mme Masson and Mme Brownell for letting me look through your books and loiter in your classrooms!

Monday, November 12, 2012

the button game

Speaking French (or any second language) at school is like learning a new habit. We are in the habit of speaking English. We need to learn the habit of speaking French. It isn't easy.

Incentive and reward programs are a bad idea. They don't work. Just fire up Netflicks and watch "Freakanomics" (or read the book) and you'll hear the reasons why. Some quick reasons are the following:

  • there is no credible data that shows that they work
  • they set up internal competition
  • people always (always) find ways to cheat the system
  • reward programs undermine teamwork and cooperation
  • they create cynics and losers
  • they don't create a lasting commitment, they are temporary

Who's really up for arguing with Alfie Kohn, author of the article I got the above statements from?  Certainly not this little 'ole teacher.


How do we get them to speak French? I think the REAL answer might be AIM language training, but we'll need to put that aside for now (I don't have it but I plan to).

You are in a French Immersion class now, you know your shoddy award program isn't working, what do you do?

Enter the Button Game (grade 1 January):

  1. Each student gets 10 buttons in a container with a lid (the ziploc bags were a nightmare)
  2. The focus is to use the words we know. By this time in the year there is an understanding among the class about what might be the words we know.
  3. If a student hears someone using an English word, and they are pretty certain that it is a 'word we know' they have to provide the French word, "Non Shannon, ce n'est pas je walked à l'école, c'est je marche." and then politely say, "Donne moi un bouton s'il vous plaît."
  4. You can only take away a button from the same person once in the day. It was my son who proudly proclaimed I LOVE sitting beside so-and-so, she ALWAYS speaks in English, I got 7 buttons from her in 10 minutes. Yeesh.
  5. We play for a week frantically exchanging buttons. 
  6. Button taking is not allowed during a lesson, a student presentation, or carpet time, that just got crazy, it was mostly for during group work, independent work time, snack, lunch.
  7. At the end of the week we counted buttons and students recorded their personal button count.
  8. Is there a winner? Sort of. Whoever has the most buttons at the end of the week is now a button GIVER, they can't TAKE buttons the following week, now they can only reward with a button. If they hear their peers speaking in French during those independent times, in the hallway, in groups, at snack and lunch they can give them a button.
  9. The teacher gives and takes buttons too. The button GIVER can count up their buttons but if they still have the most buttons at the end of the next week we go down to the next highest button getter and make them a GIVER"
  10. By the end of several weeks there are lots of GIVERS and still some takers. We only play for a month or 2, otherwise it got distracting and we all lost our zeal for the whole idea.
The problems:

Oh the problems.
  • students will take buttons from some classmates and not others (ie: their friends)
  • students will bring buttons from home to beef up their stash (this never happened that I know of but, it totally could right?)
  • students will reward only their friends
  • students will argue
  • students will lie (I didn't know pencil was "mon crayon")
  • some students decided not to say anything for fear of saying an English word, there were a few quiet weeks, they eventually got over it . . . 
So shoot me now terrible teacher but my partner teacher and I did do this game in grade 1. We dealt with the problems. We talked to students about self-regulating, that the goal was to get in the habit of speaking French and to remind them that they do know lots of words, not all the words, but lots.

The gains:
  • everyone knew about and was talking about the button game, the students, the grade 2s, the parents, the mailman, buttons were all the rage, it was exciting, it really was
  • students were hyper mindful about the 'words we know' AND heaven forbid we do a unit about animals and learn some new words, MADAME WE KNOW THOSE ONES TOO
  • students spoke more French, it became a habit, do I have any data, ummm, er . . . no Mr. Kohn I do not have data . . .
But is it really a reward? Can we call it a gentle reminder program? A habit inducing idea? A button bonanza? I know, probably not, let's consider this post more a documentation of what happened rather than a suggestion of best practice (I am so the worst teacher ever).

Hopefully this post will generate some ideas, feedback, very few scathing comments, and maybe some button excitement just to spice up those dreary cold January and February months.

Safe to say Alfie Kohn probably doesn't subscribe to my RSS feed so let's say we keep this between us and our few hundred twitter followers hmmm?

What other language teachers are doing:

Madame Milou uses class Dojo - check out her post!