First week plans: level 1

It’s that time, isn’t it? To share first week plans? I can’t believe how fast July flew and August right behind it!

Last year, lots of readers loved that I shared my first week plans for level one, and I plan on doing a modified version of those this year. Since I got SO many questions about the picture I posted on twitter, I figured I’d share those again.

Thursday, August 17th – first day for students

  • We’re going to start early with an introduction to me, where I’ll be speaking lots of comprehensible French with pictures, gestures, etc.
  • Then, we’ll debrief about what worked and what didn’t, how speaking French doesn’t have to be hard, and what our roles are as teacher and learners.
  • Then, students will fill out a name card – they’ll write their name and draw a picture of something that they like. We’ll use these for the rest of class to do the typical first day circling activity. I call it “names and likes” because I really don’t like that other name.

Friday, August 18th

  • It has not yet been confirmed, but we usually have class assemblies on this day that kills the attendance in morning classes. So we’ll continue with names and likes at the beginning of class.
  • Then, we’ll head into a second day story, and I’ll have students draw along with me. We’ll talk again about how we understood what was happening and anything that was unclear.
  • Then, we’ll fill out student info sheets and I’ll circulate to hopefully get to know students a little bit. I figure this is an easy-enough activity that any absent students can make it up at home and return it.

Monday, August 21st

  • Again, we’ll review names and likes, getting to anyone that hasn’t been previously mentioned due to absence or time constraints.
  • As I mentioned in my last post – I purchased a first day station set that I don’t plan on using as stations this year. There’s a great “which one” activity where students get to know each other in groups, by answering questions that start with “which one (of us) …” and some of them are fun and silly. It also helps me get to know students.
  • I’ll also hand out syllabi this day, and maybe we’ll do the “syllabus scavenger” hunt, but I’m not really sure. If we do this activity, I need to shorten it significantly — it’s way too long for me to want to look over.
  • If time remains, we’ll start the crepe talk.

Tuesday, August 22nd

  • Today we start proficiency talks! We’ll read over the crepe sheet individually and as a class and talk about what that means.
  • Then, as a group, we’ll make a proficiency analogy. I plan on leading students through “bike riding” and what each level would be as you’re learning to ride a bike. Then, I’ll set students free to make their own scale. I’ll probably make a template for this on google drawing so that students can do it easily and we can practice submitting to Schoology and pairing our Google Drive to it.
  • If time, we’ll talk about what we think our goal is, and we’ll star it on the proficiency path from Shelby County Schools. I will collect, and these will eventually go in our interactive notebooks.

Wednesday, August 23rd

  • We’ll finish any proficiency activities we didn’t get to yesterday.
  • Then, we’ll start with introductions: “Bonjour, je m’appelle ______” We’ll hopefully get a chance to add on with “j’aime” if we remember those name and like activities.
  • If there’s time (Wednesdays are shortened classes at my school), we might start the good/bad ball activity that I stole from Sara Elizabeth, but I’m not sure if she posted about.

Thursday August 24th and Friday August 25th

  • In the state of Ohio, we’re required to do student growth measures, which we call SLOs (I think it stands for Student Learning Objectives, but after 4 years of only calling them SLOs, I don’t really know for sure) – in which we give a pretest and the same posttest at the end of the year. This is especially terrible for level one morale, since we do reading, writing, listening, and speaking, but it needs to be done. I coach students through by saying “this is the only assessment in my class that you won’t know the answers to, I promise!” and with lots of “don’t guess – this is the only time it’s okay to leave answers blank.”
  • We’ll cover listening and writing on Thursday and reading and speaking Friday. Speaking will be done through Flipgrid just to save time asking questions students can’t answer. I say, “listen to the question. If you can answer it in French, make a response, but if you can’t, don’t respond.” I rather have 1-2 videos to listen to than 100+ “I don’t know” videos.
  • SLOs are a huge pain in level one, but I grin and do my best. I refuse to let it damage the rapport I build with these kids.


The week after, we’ll probably get into cognate stations and setting up our interactive notebooks. I’m trying to decide when and what to do with the super seven verbs this year since I failed terribly at them last year.

What are your first week plans? I’d love to see the link to your blog or your ideas in the comment or on twitter! Sharing is caring!


My (same) infographic syllabus

I wrote recently that I planned on using the same syllabus for students as I did for last year, and that would be enough. (Raise your hand if you also sang that in your best Eliza Schuyler voice!)

So, some of the things that were “enough:”

  • My absent work policies
  • How to meet with me (even though the times changed)
  • My grading scale (ours is determined on a school/district level)
  • My materials – all of these worked for me last year, though I used funding to get coloring supplies for each class, so I nixed that.
  • Rules and consequences
  • The general framework of grading/redos/incompletes
  • Almost the entire second page (though I did delete a few topics we might not get to)

Things that needed changed:

  • Updated room numbers, times that I’m free, and rewording of some general information
  • The addition of the policy on translators – though not stated in the syllabus is that the first time (or, okay, two) it happens, they will be expected to redo.
  • A general “redo” catch-all if the assignment is not up to the standards I expect.
  • A window for assessment make-ups – anyone else have kids wait like a month to make up a missed assessment and wonder why their grade is so low?
  • My sliding grading scale – this was a MUST for this year and I love the way it turned out.
  • I ditched the parent/student signature portion – having kids turn in tiny slips of paper is what my nightmares are made of, and I never needed to reference them last year.

Where did I reinvent?

  • If you can call it that, I needed to make a version for my AP students. This included most of the same information on the first page, but the Intermediate 4 information on the back, as well as the AP themes and a grading scale that isn’t my favorite, but will work for this class (I wish I could have done it without numbers, but we don’t do +/- at my school.)

You can compare to last year’s syllabus here, but here are the new versions:

French 1:





ap-syllabus-17-_23631560 (1)ap-syllabus-17-_23631645

How are you making last year’s syllabus “enough?” I would love to see them! Feel free to link in the comments or share with me on twitter!

Same = enough

I cannot believe that it is August. And that August, as far as summer goes, is so SHORT! In my district, teachers go back on the 14th, and students return on the 17th, which is a jarring reality check after having the entire months of June and July off.

Recently, I was having a talk with Laura Sexton, who I not only consider to be a mentor, but a really close friend. As we were chatting, it came up that I didn’t know if I could reuse last year’s syllabus, or if I needed to make a new one. Another key component to this story is that last year’s syllabus is good. It’s pretty, I still love how it looks, it has almost all of the info that I need, can be resized/moved around/adapted easily, and only needs a couple of modest changes. I mused aloud if changing the color would be enough to make it “new” or “different.”

What Laura said to me next really hit me, and has stuck with me as I’m preparing this year’s back-to-school resources: “I think it’s a sickness that we can’t be satisfied and reuse.” Now, at first glance, that might seem like a harsh thing to say, but Laura and I have a great relationship and if you could see our looooooooooong history of GIFs, freak outs (mostly mine), encouragement, and real talk, you’d see it like I see it – as truth.

It’s a sickness to never be satisfied. I don’t know if truer words have ever been spoken about the plight I feel (and a lot of us feel) as a teacher. I am never content with things I’ve made in the past, always trying to redo them completely or make them better, and in the words of another amazing mentor, I’m trying to “sacrifice the good on the altar of the perfect.” (Thanks for those other heart words, Sara-Elizabeth!)

I’ve got a lot going on this year – teaching a new (to me – sort of) class, taking on grad school, being a part of the #langchat team, plus my personal stuff like “seeing my husband, ever,” “making sure there’s food to eat,” “pretending like my house is clean sometimes,” and my multitudinous church-related commitments.

So with Laura’s advice in my head and heart, I modified last year’s syllabus. I didn’t change anything major. I resized a few boxes. I changed the font sizes and deleted a few topics we might not get to. I added in that contingent about translators. I FINALLY remembered to add my sliding grading scale. I ditched the parent/student signatures because of the hassle that became last year. I took what would have been hours of work and got to allocate that time to things that I really need to do. And somehow, I’m not just okay with that decision – I’m happy with it. I still do love my syllabus. It covers everything I want. It looks good printed in black and white, and is only two pages. I think that’s a total win (and I will share it with you soon, I promise.)

What else am I planning to reuse this back-to-school season?

  • My back to school resources, like student info sheets, getting-to-know-you activities, and maybe the syllabus scavenger hunt (or maybe I’ll ditch that like I’m ditching French names.) I actually bought and made editable copies of these activities, so if you’re interested, I got those here (made for English classes but mostly applicable for WL!)
  • My proficiency activities from last year – crepe talk, movie descriptions, and analogy making are all still good and relevant. Maybe I’ll add in a few things here this year, but I won’t be starting from scratch.
  • My first few days of French 1 – although I’ll change their order around, these activities really seem to work for me each year and my students seem to really like them.

That leaves me time for those things where I might need to “reinvent the wheel” (for good, I promise):

  • My AP Syllabus that needs submitted to the college board (more on that later)
  • Short-, medium-, and long-term planning for AP (ditto)
  • Making Meredith’s file folder selfies work for me/my students
  • Deciding on a go-to rubric (maybe) before school starts


I encourage you to find ways this back-to-school season (and all year, really) that same = enough. Because with all that’s going on this year, same = enough and enough = amazing.