La Manie Musicale: year two!

Hey all, sorry to be absent from the blogosphere lately!

I’m just letting everyone know about my (really late!) plan for Manie Musicale. I had a lot of help choosing songs from Megan, who has a great list of songs for her upper levels. I wanted to change some things up from last year, because I’ve used some of last year’s choices in class already. (PS you can see last year’s logistics here)

Here’s my plan of songs for Manie Musicale:

  1. Papaoutai – Stromae VS Est-ce que tu m’aimes – Maître Gims
  2. Comme ci comme ça – Zaz VS Elle me dit – MIKA
  3. Place de la République – Coeur de Pirate VS Là-bas – Baptiste Giabiconi et Marie Mai
  4. US Boy – Jena Lee VS J’ai cherché – Amir
  5. Tombé sous le charme – Christophe Maé VS On danse – M. Pokora
  6. Tout ce que t’es pour moi – The Garlics ft. Amisiac VS Tourner dans le vide – Indila
  7. French Kiss – Black M VS Andalouse – Kendji Girac
  8. Le Sens de la Vie – Tal VS Avenir – Louane

Are you planning on doing Manie Musicale? I’d love to hear your choices and what you plan on doing!

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

We intend to leave in a month.

2. 
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.

Planning:

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!

Weary

Friends, I am weary. I am worn, and I am exhausted. The Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November is almost over, and whether you believe it exists or not, it has gotten the best of me. I sit here, typing this post with a stack of 90 IPAs that I’ve had for over a week that I haven’t touched. I sit here, with 105 assignments to look over and give feedback on. I sit here, with approximately three school days left until a break that I have needed for a very long time. And man, am I tired.

I failed this week, and I failed hard. But, according to most people’s perspectives, I did all of the “right” things: I introduced new vocabulary in context. I started with input. I gave graphic organizers for students to categorize information. I gave exit tickets. I scaffolded the material in a way that seemed appropriate. I checked for understanding. But, despite those efforts, I failed. I pushed kids to produce language before they were ready. I asked questions for choral responses and got frustrated when individual students didn’t know what words meant. I spoke the target language and misinterpreted that my students were comprehending it. I didn’t give appropriate time to process new vocabulary – vocabulary that came much too fast for my students. I got upset that students didn’t remember all of the words we had learned early this year, even though we reviewed them recently and they had no questions. Yesterday was the culmination of several weeks of impatient, overworked, under-appreciated teaching, and I lost it.

My husband and I are in the process of buying a house. We met last night with our realtor, and on our way out, my realtor reminded me for the millionth time: “Wendy, if you ever want to get into realty, you’ve got a job.” And yesterday, I really wanted to say “yes.” I looked into it, by the way – realty. To get your real estate license in Ohio, you need to complete 120 hours of class before you take the tests. And I laughed. “120 hours,” I thought to myself, “that’s about the amount of time I put into 2 1/2 weeks of teaching!” I want to say that I’m exaggerating, but I honestly don’t think that I am. Last night, as my realtor made that joke that probably had some truth behind it, I felt like I could quit.

We went to dinner, my husband and I, and I remember sighing really loudly and saying, “why do I love teaching when teaching doesn’t love me back?” And I think that I meant that I feel undervalued. I feel under-appreciated. I feel forgotten. And I wonder, with all of the assessing, checking, data collecting, and teaching that I’m supposed to be doing – with all of the immediate and appropriate feedback that I’m supposed to be giving – where’s mine? Where is someone, observing me and saying, “whoa, whoa, whoa, Wendy. You’re giving me a red flag today – let’s back up and try that lesson again!” Where are the people to really help me understand what I’m supposed to be doing each step of the way? Where are the reminders that I can use all of the fancy buzzword activities in my class and still miss the mark?

Last night, my loving, wonderful, amazing, patient husband looked back at me and said, “because you love kids. You love helping them with their lives, and you love seeing them do well.” Man, did he nail it. There are so many frustrations of my job – the never-ending cycle of grading and feedback, the lesson planning that consumes my thoughts from the time I open my eyes until the time I go to bed, the times when I have to call parents and guardians because of behavior, discipline, or worry. I’ve cried way more than once over the stresses of this job, but more than anything, I have joy. I well up with pride when I grade a wonderful assessment, I smile from ear to ear when students try to create with the language, and I spend my time amazed by what students can do with what I’ve taught them. My husband reminded me of why I cannot give up.

In case you’re on the edge of your seat, no, I am not going into realty. What kind of example would I set for my students if I quit every single time I failed in the classroom? What message would I send if I didn’t learn from my mistakes and try to be a better teacher for them? What would it mean if I became bitter from lack of recognition, praise, or aid, and just gave up?

It is so normal to be weary. In the light of social media, it feels like everyone we know only does well, so we don’t show our issues! But Meredith said it best when she said that the “highlight reel does not necessarily highlight real.” While people have been going crazy over my new I cans, I’ve been more disheartened with teaching than almost ever before. I was in a meeting yesterday where I told someone that this has been my best year of teaching, and I meant it, and then I had the worst day of my year by far.

Teachers, we will get a rest soon. We’re almost there. Keep going. We may be weary now, but next week, we’ll have a chance to reset. Stay strong.

“I can” goal stamps

Wow, am I sad that I won’t be at #ACTFL16 – it’s only Monday and I’m already seeing so many great tweets and plans to meet up … I’ll have to be there with you in spirit!

In other news, a lot of people have been asking to see my new document that includes I cans for my unit on family and homes. I can’t take all the credit – I’m always inspired by Megan and Kara’s stamp sheets, and I got a few of my I cans from Melanie and Kara’s work this summer at Camp Musicuentos!

Here’s a few Q and As about these new stamps.

So what are you doing now? Currently, I only stamp about half of the I cans in a unit – those that will require an assessment. Here’s an example of the one I planned on using for this unit before I had a change of mind!

So why are you changing what’s working now? I’ve wanted to do I cans like they do at Jefferson County Public Schools (credit again to Kara and Megan), but it’s always the logistics that get to me. But, I’ve decided that there’s nothing like combatting logistics by just implementing something to see how it goes, as evidenced by last year’s 90% TL experiment! I’ve really been working this year to say the “I can” every day, so that students can see what we’re doing and how it relates to the bigger picture, but I also want them to see them all the unit goals at once. Since I only stamp after assessments with my current stamp sheet, they don’t always see how the little I cans transition into the bigger ones.

How did you do it? So, after a little inspiration from Kara and Megan’s new Adios Textbook! site, I went for it. You guys already know that I’m a sucker for Piktochart, and it didn’t disappoint, again! I really took the time to write the I cans that I wanted, to put them in what I thought was a logical order, and to show students how they will progress, including bigger assessments.

How are you going to check each goal? To be honest, I don’t know. I think I’ll accept them as students can show me, but not during the middle of class. I’ll probably stamp them as I see kids complete them, whether that’s during the performance checks I try to do at the end of class, as kids participate during class time, and/or during some kind of stations, where I can check in with a few kids at a time as we go. I really need to get a self inking stamp so I can do it more spur-of-the-moment.

And what about grades? I’m going to be honest, I don’t know if I plan on grading them. I want kids to master each I can. I want them to see how each I can plays a bigger role in what we’re doing. I want there to be a reason that they complete them. I want them to want to show me what they can do. But I don’t know if grades are the motivator. And if so, do I grade each I can based on how well they did it? Or do I take it for “completion?” Since they need to show me each goal as they’re able to do it, can I set dates to enter them in the gradebook? Or should I really look at them all by the end of the unit, since they’ll be able to redo them as they need? I don’t have these answers. So I’ll update you as I decide!

What are the ACTFL proficiency levels for? I plan on helping kids to track their proficiency across all units, so I imagine that either I (or they? maybe both?) will circle the level that corresponds with their end-of-unit performance!

Anything else? I’m really nervous that I set these in stone, and now I have no room to deviate from that – that’s why there are blanks (thanks, Thomas Sauer, for the tip!) Also, what if the unit drags on and I want to skip a couple, or I realize that they’re not what I really wanted? I guess that will make me better for next year.

Well, if you’ve been with me this long, I should at least give you the full document, no? Here’s what I’ve got going for this unit, I’m honored to hear that inspired so many of you!

I always worry that I don’t vary the wording of these enough. As always, I welcome your feedback!

maison-i-cans

#langchat sessions at ACTFL!

In the event that you’re reading this hoping to see me at ACTFL, sadly I will not be attending. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t help out my fellow tweeps who will be representing #langchat while in Boston!

Here’s a list of langchatters who will be presenting at ACTFL – be sure to stop by and meet them, attend their sessions, or share the name with a friend!

Friday, November 17th:

1:15 PM – #authres in FLES – by @SraWillis and @MaryJoAdams1

1:30 PM – Chat it up – engaging students in twitter chats for proficiency – by @kmcneese and @RhulsHuls

2:30 PM – Using target language: it’s not just about what you say but how you say it! – assisted by @profepj3

3:45: Party Like it’s MMXVI: The Fun and the Fruit of 21st Century Latin Teaching – by @IndwellingLang

3:45 PM: Canela: A Movie Unit for Spanish 1 by @karacjacobs

5:00 PM – Detour Ahead! Overcoming road blocks to staying in the target language – by @profepj3

Saturday, November 18th:

8:00 AM- part of the impACTFL voices series: Pathways to Proficiency – by @profepj3 and @SECottrell

5:15 PM Textbook as AID: Adapt, Incorporate, Ditch – by @SECottrell

Sunday, November 19th:

8:00 AM – Yes we can! The NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-do Statements with Early Language Learners – by @Nathanlutz

8:00 AM Interpersonal Speaking Boot Camp: Live-Graded Power Stations by @MmeBlouwolff

Why I #FridayFeedback

Looks like I’ve got to clean out the cobwebs forming in the corners of my blog for this one.

Do you get feedback from your students? Do you get feedback from your students and actually read it? Do you get feedback from your students, actually read it, and then use it to inform your teaching? I know, it’s really hard to do. I’m sometimes a mix of all three, but I’ve really been trying to be better.

There’s a ton of research that shows that choice is a motivator for students, so I love little opportunities to get them to tell me what they like in class. I also love hearing their opinions, because while 50% of students tell me that they loved the most exciting thing we did that week, the other 50% tell me that they like the activities that I thought were “boring.” They like the activities that weren’t as engaging, but helped them with little aspects, made them feel confident, or got them out of their chairs for a few minutes of a day that seemed long and dull otherwise. It reminds me that even when I don’t think a lesson went over well, my students got something out of it, even if it’s only a few of them. It also helps me plan activities for the next week of class, with students’ ideas fresh in my mind.

That’s why I use Friday Feedback – coined by Creative Language Class and shared with me by Allison Wienhold. At the end of each Friday, we wrap up a few minutes early, I remind students of the activities we completed this week, and they write about their favorite one and tell me why. I love reading the “why” parts. I’m going to share a few of my favorite ones from last Friday with you:

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I hope you feel inspired to get feedback from your students! I’d love to hear how it goes!