Book covers and SSV

At my school, we HAVE to give kids their textbooks. They’re barcoded through the library, and students check them out … So, my students picked up their textbooks this year even though I’m trying to get away from using them as a resource.

So, to make sure our (new) books don’t end up wrecked, I had each student cover their textbook in a paper bag book cover, something I learned when I was in school. I did a how-to in class, and most of the students did okay. Then, the next day, we went to the computer lab so that we could do some research on cultural topics.

I had each student pick a French person or monument/place. They had to find 8 facts about that person/monument/place, and then draw it on their book. It was a really simple project, but it got even some of my upper level kids to find out new information!

I had some students go above and beyond! Here are some examples:


These two students were able to represent Stromae very well!

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Next year, I will try to find a way to make students find facts in French! We did English this year because I didn’t have a great way to show each student a credible internet fact site for each different option they selected. That, and I wanted to make sure they chose something of interest to them!


Other things that have been going around here are:

Trying out self-selected vocabulary, à la Amy Lenord! I tried recreating her “happiness ritual” post with my French III class and it worked out pretty well! We needed to review and also start on daily routines, so I used this infographic to start the class:


We talked through the infographic together, and then I handed out comic strip-style paper to have them create “une journée 100% ‘toi-ien,'” a word which I totally made up the night before.


I’ve tried out SSV with three of my classes and it seems to be working well. I’ve also got most of my classes on about 70% TL, so that is a huge success for me! I ultimately decided that easing into 90% would be a good strategy for me; I was worried about losing kids in the switch. I’ve seen kids drop a language class for a much simpler reason than “she speaks (comprehensible) French the whole time.”


I also borrowed an awesome idea from Kare at Creative Language Class, where I greet students at the door with the current vocab topic! Right now, I’m greeting my French I classes with “ça va” but I’m hoping to move up to some other ideas. Here’s the original post by Kara.


I’m hoping to have even better things to blog about soon (like 90%) but until then, this will have to do!


À plus!

Choose a partner …

“Get with a partner and …” I’m pretty sure that most students don’t listen to instructions after these words are said because 1) they’re so excited to work with a friend of theirs, or 2) they’re terrified because they’re shy and don’t want to work with someone else.

This year, I decided that I was going to end some of the madness and chaos that is choosing a partner. I know that the shy kids won’t get over being shy because of it, but I’m thinking that it’s going to be a good step in the right direction.

You may have seen these floating around before, where students pick a partner to be their “Rouge” partner or their “Paris” partner. I went with cities so that I could work in culture! So, each students chose a different partner for each city on my list, and now I can say “trouve ton partenaire de Nantes!” and kids can group accordingly. I also got to talk about each city a little bit. I included telephone number on the two biggest cities in case students want to text each other if they missed school, or want to study/are confused about something.

I’ve included the document that I made, though I approximated the exact location of the cities myself. Also, I played around with who students could partner with. I ended up with something like this:

Paris: choose someone you know well
Lyon: choose another person you know well
Marseille: choose a student you’ve never worked with before
Bordeaux: make a boy/girl pairing (to the best of your ability)
Toulouse: a second boy/girl pairing

Camarades de classe cities

I haven’t decided about Nantes or Strasbourg, so I’m definitely up to your suggestions!

Nervous habits and Balderdash

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. I blame color guard camp (which sounds so much cooler than plain old “band camp.”)

Confession time: I have a nervous habit of cleaning and organizing. I do this when I’m stressed, when I’m bored, and when I’m nervous. So this summer has been all about cleaning and organizing my SUPER cute classroom (no bias here!) and not about designing instruction.

Actually, because I’m so nervous about it, it makes me want to organize MORE things. And clean MORE. When I think about this school year, I’m actually a mess. I know that the first thing I want to do is change to 90% TL/TCI practices. I’m excited (though terrified) to do this. I know that failing is a part of the learning process, but as teachers, we’re expected to never fail! The pressure alone is crippling.

But apart from that, I don’t know what to DO. What activities should I do? What cultivates students practicing the language? I can have them talk to each other, sure. But in classes of 30 students, I’m not always great at keeping everyone talking. I always hear talk of graphic organizers for things like authentic resources, but I wouldn’t know how to start making one. I realized that I don’t have many of my own original ideas, and I don’t actually know if that’s a bad thing. I think another one of my nervous habits is scrolling OTHER people’s blogs for ideas …

I can’t leech off of other people’s resources forever, but I did want to link to a few that I’m excited to try.

Questions crunch by Amy Lenord

Some kind of inference organizer like Creative Language Class

Using instagram for vocab by Señora Dentlinger

Using photopeach as an AP assessment like Musicuentos

Something applicable to my student’s day-to-day life, like Sra. Spanglish wrote about with Healthy Habits


My newest breakthrough, however, is my own idea! It comes with a rousing game of Balderdash with some old friends. Man, that game is so creative and I love it. I once found out about a real problem I have while playing – haptodysphoria!


Anyway, if you’ve ever played Balderdash (which, even though there are newer boxes, always seems to come in that already faded color – what’s up with that?) you know that there are five categories: Peculiar people, Marvelous movies, Laughable laws, Incredible initials, and Weird words. I was looking for ideas for my AP students to journal each day, and I think this would be fun/interesting/helpful for them. I would set each day to a theme, for example, Mondays might be words. Then, I’d post a word that students should know, and they need to be able to write about it – I think this would be a great step in circumlocution. Alternatively, I could write a word that’s relevant to the AP theme at hand and students would have to craft a definition for it. I think I’ll try out both.

So, the week would look something like this:

Monday – Words (explained above)
Tuesday – People (name a famous Francophone person, also related to an AP theme, and have students write about them. If unknown, students could look them up and write about them. Not sure if they should guess first.)
Wednesday – Initials (again, give an acronym that’s relevant and students define it based on theme … then look up the real acronym, of course, and write about what the organization does/what it means/who it applies to)
Thursday – Movies (I think for this, I’ll show some kind of clip – commercial, news, movie, etc. and have students write about it)
Friday – Sentence completion, so that it starts out like the laws in the game that you have to finish (this might be a great way to review grammar. I’ll post the beginning to a sentence and students will have to complete it. They’ll write a little bit more on the topic, but this could be fun/silly for Fridays.)


I think I’m going to test it out – one of the things I wanted to do in college was write a little creatively on some topics, instead of analyzing literature all the time. This will give students a chance to be silly, while learning about AP themes and practicing their writing skills.

What do you think? What might you change about the types of journaling? I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it all plays out.