Posters and change

I’ve been elated about all the things coming together for my classroom that it really makes me happy about how much I’ve grown since last year.

As a snippet, last year I:

  • assigned HW from the textbook that followed a formulaic pattern
  • cared if you spelled a word completely correctly, including accents (students loved the word bibliothèque!) and masculine/feminine
  • covered up words on the wall that were crucial to a quiz/test
  • hardly spoke French at all, but expected students to
  • taught so many explicit grammar concepts I thought I might die
  • was mildly annoyed when students didn’t recall aforementioned grammatical concept. I mean, how could you NOT know that verbs ending in -yer change the y to an i in the boot forms in the present tense? And that with -ayer verbs, the spell change is optional? And that I always feel like a rebel when I write “Je paye” instead of “Je paie?” THIS WILL BE ON THE TEST, PEOPLE!

Whew. That is not a fond trip down memory lane. But one thing I did note about students, even when I got there (last year was my first year) — students couldn’t express their opinions! I started the year off in AP with such excitement, only to be completely shattered when my students didn’t know how to talk about how they felt. They could tell me what they liked, but that was about all.

So, when I stumbled across this GLORIOUS post from Martina Bex over at The Comprehensible Classroom, I saw her poster with opinion words and I knew that I had to do the same. When I browse Pinterest for Education, all I see are K-5, cutesy materials (seriously, HS teachers?! We can be cute – not childish – and post our stuff too!) I see TONS of anchor charts. And I’ve been thinking lately about the merit that anchor charts could have in my class. Who cares if you spell things right all of the time if you’re using phrases like “il me semble que” when you’re a novice?! Or if you’ve got the basics of a paragraph down, but need help remembering small connectors? Second graders get to have entire words up on a word wall, why should we assume that high school students can memorize entire sets of words in all 7-9 classes a day?!

Anyway, I’ve gotten express permission from Martina to post the posters that she created, but I’ve modified them to be in French. The only ones I didn’t recreate were her question word posters, since I mentioned here that I borrowed that idea from Creative Language Class.

The first one that caught my eye was her poster about expressing opinions. I knew for sure that I’d need to have this one around: Opinions PDF

Then, I just continued with the rest of them. So here are the rest of the posters she mentions.
Conjunctions and Prepositions: Conjunctions Prepositions PDF
Common storytelling words: Storytelling PDF
Vocab for telling a story: Pour raconter PDF
Academic writing vocab: Academic writing PDF (I added grâce à to this list because it’s one of my favorite phrases to use in academic writing)
Vocab for comparing and contrasting: Comparer Contraster PDF (Yes, I used “contraster” as opposed to “s’opposer” – cognates)

(The files are just like Martina’s so that you can match the French with the English together when you post. Her pictures show you that!)


I would like to provide a little note before you just download them all and run from my blog:

I am not a perfect human being. So, I used the words in French that I would use in these situations, the words I would be most prone to give my students. That being said, I may have used the wrong word altogether in some places. I had the English word to go off of, and a few times I had to look up the exact meaning in Spanish, so I may have gotten the context of some of those words wrong. If there’s something that you see that needs immediate correcting, please let me know! If you would like one of the words changed, because you do TPRS (did I mention that I do not?) and you prefer to use “ensuite” to “puis” or “par conséquent” as opposed to “donc,” please let me know! I’m willing to change that and send you a copy!

As for my fonts, I almost exclusively use Kimberly Geswein fonts for my classroom – I will probably have downloaded every font she makes available by the end of this school year. In all posters, I used KG Second Chances Solid (it also comes in a sketched that I’ve used elsewhere) and in the Opinions poster, my second font is KG When Oceans Rise and coincidentally, lyrics to one of my favorite worship songs. I usually download the fonts from Dafont but you can do so from her website, and she includes instructions if you’re not familiar with downloading your own fonts. She has an awesome commercial use policy, so as long as you don’t sell these for a profit, you should be good to use them.


Another huge shout out to Martina for allowing me to post these resources! I’ll post some pictures when they’re up in my room!


Work smarter, not harder

Well, the past few weeks have been busy to say the least. I haven’t had a concrete post to write because I can’t take credit for almost any of the work I’ve been doing.

One of my colleagues is always talking about “working smarter, not harder” when she shares resources with us, and I guess I never really understood the beauty of that until this summer. One of the things that I’ve been intent on doing before school starts is organizing myself. Last year was a year full of haphazard filing, making large stacks of paper, putting things in drawers and forgetting where they were, and forgetting to make the one copy I needed for today. I’m hoping to alleviate that this year, and all I’ve come up with is a conglomeration of ideas from different people.

My first, actually authentic idea was creating binder covers – For the AP themes, I wanted to have a place where I could put anything that might fall under that theme – from level 1 to AP, so I could pull from them at any time. I’m still working on compiling the documents, but I knew that I wanted to use binders — there’s something that I love about hard copies that digital filing will never replace. Maybe that’s because I’m awful at labeling files on my computer? Anyway, here are the binder covers I made – 1 for each AP theme.

Binder covers

After that, I’ve been thinking about different ways to organize myself so that I can focus on curriculum and the day-to-day activities I want to do. First, I made my own set of question word posters, based on this post by The Creative Language Class. Then, on twitter, Kara and Megan challenged me to make each of my images a cultural image, something that I had neglected to do the first time around. But honestly, I did NOT know it would be so hard to find a picture of a French person shrugging for the “why” poster! If you have any leads, let me know.

I haven’t gotten permission to share that document, so I’ll only give you a preview. Here’s what I have for the “qui” poster:

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.45.47 AM

Then, based on another Creative Language Class post and the inspiration of Colleen (@CoLeeSensei on twitter, where she shared her inforgraphic syllabus), I decided to update my syllabus using Piktochart. I drew a lot of inspiration from K. Soltis’ syllabus from the CLC link, and took a few ideas from Colleen, since my syllabus last year left a lot to be desired. On Piktochart, I used one of the free templates, but change the colors to teal and aqua – my favorite color palette!


Also, using different files that I’ve found on TPT, I created my own lesson planner. I know it seems silly, but those little squares blocked out in a week really help me to plan what’s coming up each week, and if it was any larger than that, planning for 20 classes a week would make my head explode. So, again, I’ll give you a preview of it, since I adapted a few other files:

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 12.13.39 PM

UPDATE: I forgot to include my new, exciting idea. It was suggested last year that I develop a system for students who finish early with their assignments. Most of that project is still in the works, but part of it will be based on these choice boards by Senorita Gilbert, and I plan on modifying this Sub plan document explained in Frau Leonard’s post. I’m excited to have sub plans that don’t require me to do tons of extra work!

I’m feeling much better about the organization of this year, compared to last year. I’ve also decorated my classroom pretty heavily and I feel better about the space.

Since I combined lots of ideas I found around the web, I didn’t have to do all of the work myself, and I’m really appreciative of all the people who shared their ideas so that others could use them! Definitely better to work smarter, since my first year was so hard!

What about you? What do you do to organize yourself for each school year?



Resource < Questions

Whew. It’s been an interesting summer, and by interesting I mean I’ve gone into a cycle of being REALLY excited about next year, to curriculum planning, to stopping everything and being terrified of next year, and then not doing anything but binge watching Netflix.

No matter. Today I was able to create a decent (I think?) authentic resource after compiling a lot of the things that I’ve learned from other teachers. I was inspired by this post from both Sra Cottrell and Sra Drew. I’ve never been able to make loogares work for me in French, but while at Camp Musicuentos, another French teacher found and shared a site with me that you can use to rent houses in the country of your choice. It’s like couch surfing, but a lot better, user-friendly, and less sketchy. Not restaurant themed, but really cool for something like planning a trip to a country.

The website that I used is called Air BNB, and I love that you can set both your language preference and your currency preference – so you could choose USD or the currency of the location you’ve selected. You just need to enter the desired location, the dates (irrelevant for my technology-free needs) and it pops up with not only a map of the locations given, but GREAT pictures. Once you click, there are pictures, comments, lists of amenities, and a novice-friendly chart of how many beds, baths, etc. there are.

Whew. Now that I’m done geeking out about this amazing resource, I’ll share with you my dilemma: what questions I should ask. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past few months, it’s that your authentic resource is only as good as the questions you ask, and that the questions make it comprehensible for students. I thought about just remaking the questions from Sra Drew’s activity to fit my house-themed needs, but that felt a lot like plagiarizing, so now I’m stuck. I guess I need to figure out the point of the resource before I ask questions about it, so I guess I need to solidify the purpose of this resource within the unit.

What about you – what kind of questions would you ask? What might you change about it?
Here’s the resource; pretty comprehensible even if you don’t speak French.

A plus!


Update: as of July 16th, 2014, Airbnb has redesigned its website, and in my opinion, it makes it even MORE user-friendly and uses more icons/pictures – something that will definitely be a plus for our novice learners!