Let students create the input!

Wow. It’s been about a month since I blogged about my rough start, and first I just want to thank everyone who commented, tweeted, or otherwise supported me after I spilled out my thoughts and soul on the internet. I would have burnt out long before now if not for your love and support, #langchat.

Things those of you who read that post might be excited to learn:

  • THE RESA IS OVER. (Unless I don’t pass, but shhhhhhh!)
  • Setting a date for only French in my classes; eep!
  • Finding a sage/CI balance, at least for now
  • I’m trying my hand at “Music madness” this March. More to come on that later.


What I’m REALLY posting about today is my new-ish found revelation to use the things that students create as extra input for my classes. Duh!

Earlier this year during a chat, John (@CadenaSensei on twitter – follow him!!) and I talked about how this year, we want to get extra repetition of vocab/structures by using what our students create as secondary input. That way, I don’t have to create EVERY SINGLE THING that my students are doing, they get to see their work as an example used in class, and I can stretch the input of those structures without coming up with a million examples myself.

What do I mean by this, you ask? Well, right now in my level 1 class, we’re doing short comparisons. I’m following the Creative Language Class unit on homes (edited for French, of course) and the last I can we have is “I can compare homes around the world.”

For starters, we’ve been comparing two specific homes (House A is bigger than house B.) I asked students a lot of yes/no, true/false, and then “which is” questions about this topic: Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.29.11 AM

We soon move to making comparisons about houses from different countries, too, for example:

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 10.29.24 AM

After students get the necessary input on the “X est plus ____ que Y” structure, then I start letting them make comparisons on their own. One activity we did once I thought students felt comfortable was to find their own pictures and compare any two homes they wanted. They had to write two true and one false comparison about the two homes. I was able to wander and give individual feedback while students used their devices for this activity.

The best part of this activity? I have about 300 sentences with visuals that compare two houses and I didn’t make them myself.

For my next trick, I selected some of the examples that were submitted to me via Schoology, cleaned them up, checked for errors, and enlarged the text. Now, I have a TON of examples to use in class this week.

For starters, I’m going to have students read over these 9 student-created examples and highlight the true/false statements. I’m excited about this repetition of input, having students not only read each statement, but pick the one that doesn’t fit, and to showcase student examples. I specifically chose a lot of students who might not have their work used as an exemplar in other classes. Here’s the version I hope to have students highlight this week: Comparison quiz 9

How do you use students’ work to inspire new input? I’d love to hear about it :]


Engage them with videos!

It’s no secret that I’ve been inspired by Megan and Kara at Creative Language Class to incorporate more video clips into my daily routine. I just wanted to share a few that worked for me, so that you can use them in your class, too!

The first video I want to recommend pairs really well with the Novice Listening Form by CLC (this is a link to their copy in Spanish – French version is coming soon!) even though there aren’t words. My novices are almost finished with a unit on “Me and my activities” and I think that several of them are really close to Novice High. When I was introducing sports and athletes, I found this really great commercial when Zinedine Zidane (a French football player) plays rugby to promote the Rugby World Cup. After we filled out the form, we talked a little bit about the rules of rugby, and why Zidane was not the ideal rugby player (he’s too short/small/thin, etc). Students loved this video because they’ve never really experienced rugby, and who doesn’t like seeing a crazy tackle or two? At this point, I didn’t make any predictions, but I think that you could, and I plan to in the future.

The next video that I found also didn’t have words, but this was a GREAT review of activities that the dog/his owner like and don’t like to do, as well as descriptions of both of them. By the end of the day, I had questions to guide students in their predictions (Does the dog like to eat? Does the dog like to play?) – they made these predictions while the first frame of the video was showing – it was important for me that students could see the dog before making these predictions. Students were OUTRAGED at the end that this was a commercial for IKEA; I think that in the future, I’ll have students predict what this is a commercial for (dog food, to warn about obesity, etc.) My students also loved learning the word for “obese” when talking about the dog! What an engaging video that reviewed necessary structures!

And, last but not least, I’m trying my hand again at a sort of “MovieTalk” (read more about MovieTalk with a demo courtesy of Martina Bex!) that talked about what other people are like and like to do. I pre-taught some of the vocabulary from the video (playing outside, breaking [something], and setting [something] on fire – kids loved learning these words!) We make predictions during the video; I stop at set points and give my students a choice of what will happen next. As an extension, I think I’ll give students screenshots of the video and ask them to retell what happened to a partner or to put the events of the video in order and then draw illustrations; I haven’t decided which would work best! Students loved that this was short, made by Disney, and the ending was great! Stopping and asking questions during the video really does add intrigue and excitement – my students REALLY wanted to know what would happen next!! This one was not culture, which is sad, but I’m hoping it can further a discussion about hobbies here and in France, and if we think that French people are as addicted to tech as we are!

I’d love to hear how videos are engaging your class or share any other videos that I’ve used – let me know in the comments or on your blog!

Quoi de neuf?

I was planning a post to update what I’ve been working on in my classes, and of course, Melanie got there first. We’re always on the same wavelength.

Truth is, I’ve been so concerned with this year’s changes, that I haven’t been focusing on the language. Rather than 90% French, we’ve been spending class in 90% English with some French on the side. Over the weekend, something “clicked” and I feel refreshed and energized about speaking the language! I need to engage kids with culture – every day! I need to develop activities that keep kids in the target language!

I watched the Musicuentos Black Box podcast on staying in the TL; and Senor Fernie mentions that we should have a bank of activities with simple directions that so that students know what to do in the TL.

I’ve also noticed that my classroom lacks of mass amount of culture. At the high school, we’re not really supposed to put up posters or other aids, so I’ve been fighting with how to get culture embedded. A million thanks to Kara and Megan over at The Creative Language Class, because I’ve been using all of their tips and tricks to embed culture into the each lesson.

So what exactly AM I doing in class?:

  • Using simple directions, modeling, and cognates to start activities. Sometimes I leave out unnecessary words. Today, prepping for a gallery walk-style activity, I said, “chaque personne, huit post-its,” and said the names of several students: “Mae: huit post-its,” “Erin, 8 post its.” My sentences didn’t have verbs, but we’ll get there. I was overwhelmed by how much students understood in the TL during several activities this week.
  • LEADING with culture! Kara and Megan at CLC have really inspired me to inject culture into every day. With a little help from their ideas, I’ve created a French version of their novice listening form, and of their cultural aspects sheet. You can look out for both of these in their Mercado soon (I’ll let you know when they’re up.) EDIT: 11/3/15 The cultural aspects sheet in French is now up in their Mercado!
  • I’ve started a YouTube playlist of videos that can inject culture into my lessons – I hope to gain a few each week and build up to having one for each day, if possible. They can serve as mini brain breaks, but we can do an activity after watching them twice, which will bring everything together. You can view my YouTube playlist here. This is another inspiration from Kara and Megan – check out all of their posts on using YouTube in class!
  • I’m working on some activities to share soon, so please hold out for a little longer! I’ve decided that I need to stop holding back and share what’s working, even if I don’t think it’s great or innovative. To hold you over, here’s an activity where I’m having students find the names for sports in French. I left the top left blank so that you can give your own directions. Sports tweets

Thanks for bearing with me as I change around what I’m doing around here! What’s going on in your class? I’d love to hear about it!