My first Movie Talk

Good morning, world!

I was actually kind of sad to have an ice storm and terrible road condition day off today because yesterday I tried my hand at my first Movie Talk, and I have to say, it was AWESOME! I was really excited to continue those activities today!

Before I tell you about my experience, you can read more about Movie Talk from Martina (who links a few others) and view the Movie Talk resources that I bought from Carrie Toth via TPT here.

So, how was it?

First off, I love that buying this from Carrie gave me a week’s worth of resources without supplementing any of my own! I did need to do the front work of changing it all to French, but hopefully that’s something that you can purchase from Carrie in the future!

Second, I was worried. The clip itself is right around 4 minutes, with about a minute of that being credits. How was I going to make a 3 minute video last for a whole class period? Being the person that I am, I had prepared an extra activity just in case the talk lasted 20 minutes I looked silly. But the first time I did the talk, which was, in my opinion, the worst of the run-throughs, it took 40 glorious minutes. We had just enough time to watch the whole video again with sound, and for me to pass out an exit ticket for students to complete. And each time, the questioning, pausing, and gesturing got better. I asked better questions. I got better responses.

Third, my kids were SO INTO IT. I was worried that they would be completely bored with it, wondering why we’ve been looking at one clip for so long. Around the end of class, they did get a little squirrely. But have you seen this video? The kid throws a completely adorable dog on the floor. And then later, he kicks it. My kids were so emotionally invested, one girl actually cried. And the plot twist ending? My room fell silent and I could see the emotion on my students faces change. It was beautiful.

Four, I am a total ham. I think I get it from my father, but regardless, I was able to capture a lot of students attention with emotions. Together, we were ecstatic when a puppy popped out of a box (I had led them to believe that it couldn’t be a dog), we were intrigued by the dog’s condition, we were devastated at how the boy treats the dog, we watched in wonder as the most adorably animated dog played and ran with no regard for how the boy treated him. And for some of us, our hearts melted when we finally understood why. I don’t know if the talk would have gone as well if the video wasn’t so emotionally charged.

Five, I got a lot of advice before I did this, and I’ll pass on the best nuggets for you: personalize the questions and lean on what students already know. Since I don’t teach structures in the same way that most Movie-talkers do, I has some apprehension. There was a LOT that my students didn’t know, but I could point to the clip, gesture, draw, or write it down. I stuck with what we knew (describing things and people, emotions, activities, like/love/hate, some question words) and leaned on cognates for the rest (une balle, irresistible, entre, ignore, etc) and it went well. The things that weren’t known or cognates I wrote, drew, or gestured. There were a few things that I needed to clarify in English, but that was it. As for the questions? Personalization all the way. “The boy plays video games – do you play video games? What video games? The boy is playing on the sofa – do you play on the sofa? The boy doesn’t like the light when he plays video games – do you play video games with the light?” “Does the boy like the dog? Do you like the dog? Do you prefer cats or dogs? Does the boy prefer cats? Does the boy want to play with the dog? Do you want to play with the dog? Do you have a dog at home? Do you play with your dog?” The possibilities are endless but it stretched what was happening and kept us in the TL for a LONG TIME. Wow.

Some thoughts for my next Movie Talk:

I think next time, I’ll try to place a brain break in the middle for added suspense, and maybe a short run-through of what’s already happened in the clip. I don’t know if that will work, because a) we might run out of time, and b) my students might turn violent if they don’t get to the end!

I need to get better at giving students options that aren’t yes or no. I tried to give the either/or options since my baby novices aren’t great with open ended questions yet.  I asked a few open-ended questions and they went okay. Some even blew my mind with what they could say! I got better as the day went on, but practice makes perfect!

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite MovieTalk moments:

One of my classes gets really into everything, they have the best attitudes, and they love to be silly. They were really in tune to the Movie Talk, but also noticed that we were spending a lot of time on it.

One student, upon looking at the clock, “Madame, what are you doing? You said we were watching a short clip. We’ve watched less than a minute of the clip and it’s been 25 minutes real time!” My response? “Je suis magique.”

Another student, who was feeling impatient at all the pausing, kept sighing. My response, “Tu as un problème avec moi?” Him, with confidence: “OUI.” In response, I kept pausing each frame RIGHT before the boy in the video opens the gift. “Madaaaaaaaaaaaaame,” my student shouts, “you’ve paused at least four frames and we are STILL IN THE SAME SECOND OF THE VIDEO.”

I was asking a lot of my students if they preferred cats or dogs. In the lead-up story to this Movie Talk that we did last we, the girl was allergic to all the gifts her boyfriend bought her. I asked a girl, “tu préfères les chiens ou les chats” and she said, “je suis allergique!” I responded, “il y a des chiens hypoallergiques! Tu veux un chien hypoallergique?” The girl nodded, but the class LOST IT. I couldn’t figure out why, so I wrote “hypoallergique” on the board. Turns out, they thought I told her that she was allergic to hippos.” Go figure.

I gave an emoji exit ticket, which asked about two things that students learned that day. One students wrote, “I learned that Madame likes to mess with us and the word for paws is pattes,” as if those two things were similar, concrete examples.

Last week, during the lead-up story, the only gift the girl wasn’t allergic to was a dead fish. Turns out, she has a huge collection of dead fish. In my last class of the day, I asked a student if he preferred cats or dogs. His response, with the straightest face I’ve ever seen? “Je préfère un poisson mort.”

I hope that this inspires you to find, look into, or try a Movie Talk in class! This was my first experience, and I promise that it won’t be my last!

#OneWord2017 – Intentional

It’s no secret that I had a rough 2016 – from beginning to end. I know that I’m not the only one, but it has inspired me to do another #oneword for the year – intentional. I love this #oneword because it speaks to both my personal and professional lives.

The definition of “intentional” is one of those weird ones that uses the word in its own definition, so I’ve broken it down to the root word, intend.

According to, intend means:
1. to have in mind as something to be done or brought about; plan:

We intend to leave in a month.

to design or mean for a particular purpose, use, recipient, etc.:
a fund intended for emergency use only.
What does this mean for my professional life?

In class:

This year, I want to structure activities for my students that are intentional. I want to know my end goal, and to create meaningful activities that push my students to reach that goal. Too often, I “fill space” with activities that might not have a communicative purpose, might not actually go with the unit at hand, or my tired brain used because I had nothing else.

Out of class:

My students know that I don’t give homework very often. I think this backfires, because when I assign it, they grumble more than normal. However, my choice options have seen great returns! I want to choose out-of-class activities that push my students toward a goal, that activate prior knowledge, or that hook them into the next activity.


I plan a week at a time because I don’t know how to do it any other way. This year, I’d like to be intentional about planning a unit at a time – macro-planning at the start, and then micro-planning for at least two weeks at a time, even if those plans shift. I think this will help me to see where we’re headed and not fill my time with meaningless activities that don’t really help us toward a goal.

I cans:

I did so well at the beginning of the year when I planned I cans in tiny chunks, Sara-Elizabeth style. Instead of using the big, “I can say how I am,” I broke it down into “I can say if something is good or bad,” “I can say if someone is happy or sad,” etc. That worked much better than what I have been doing, “I can ask and answer questions about …” – yikes! I want to be intentional about scaffolding I cans for students to measure small progress toward bigger goals!

TL use:

In the first semester of this year, I was AWFUL at TL use. I forgot to just do it, and had some kind of hidden agenda. I need to be intentional about providing ways for both students and teacher to use the TL for a purpose, not just because I feel like I need to. I’ve changed my ideas about input this year (post to come, I hope?) and need to get myself back on track with input-related activities that intentionally help my students use the TL and again, push us towards new proficiency or other goals.

That’s all I’ve thought out for now, but I’m sure that this year, I’ll find out more uses for my #oneword.

I could go on and on and on about how the word intentional relates to my personal life, but I’ll just summarize that it includes building relationships, how I spend my down time, how I structure my days, and what work I take home from school and when.

Are you planning a #oneword to guide your year? I’ve love to hear about it!