Monday, August 30, 2010

How to Use a Mannequin in Your Classroom #1: Get Your Students Interested!

Today was the first day of classes!  My French I students were introduced to our classroom mannequin named Jacques DUBOIS.  I told them that they'd be hearing a lot more about Jacques' life as the year goes on.  Jacques also has a girlfriend named Suzette, but students don't get to see her until French II which helps to create a sense of anticipation as they go on to the next level of language study.  My students truly adore Jacques, and I find that I have an easier time getting their attention when I use him to teach something new.  Here is a photo from today's class.  You can see that Jacques has recently been in the Tour de France :).

Are you wondering where I got Jacques?  Years ago, JC Penney donated him to my French classroom when a student asked if they'd be willing.  Suzette was purchased from an antique store for about $150.  Stay tuned for more ideas about how I use Jacques in class!

Friday, August 27, 2010

8 Reasons Why I Love Teaching French

The beginning of a new school year is a good time to remind yourself why you're in this job to begin with.  I'm sure you all have your reasons.  In case you're interested, here are mine:

 #1  I love speaking French and France.  This is definitely one of my passions, so it's enjoyable to share it with others and easy to be enthusiastic about it.  I learned French in France, but when I arrived, I could barely say or understand a thing.  I was part of an incredible university program which offered 65 different levels of French to students from all over the globe.  The only language used in my classes was French, so I learned through immersion.  I understand what it takes to go from not understanding a language to becoming fluent.  It's not an easy process, but it is possible and it's fascinating.  Here's a picture of the city where the university is located.

 #2  My students make me laugh.  I really enjoy teenagers.  They are so full of life and are often very witty and frequently amusing.  Here are a few favorite photos from last year. 

#3  Teaching is meaningful.  Life is short and earning lots of money isn't a high priority for me.  Making a difference in this world while I'm here is.  Teaching provides an opportunity for impact and influence on the next generation.  I find that having a positive influence on even one student makes it worth it.  Don't you agree? 

#4 Teaching is creative.  The possibilities for being creative in a language classroom are endless.  I really enjoy that part of this job.  Last year I made a bûche de Noël (a French Christmas cake) for my French III class.  Here's a photo.

I use life-like mannequins in my classroom as I've mentioned before.  I plan to share many ideas about how I do this as the year unfolds, so if this interests you, be sure to check back.  Here's a photo of one of my mannequins.  His name is Jacques DUBOIS.

#5  Teaching requires learning.  I believe that the best teachers are those who are continually learning and growing themselves.  I find looking for new and improved ways to be more effective in the classroom interesting and stimulating.  This year I'm going to start a classroom blog, which I've never done before.

#6 Teaching means being part of something bigger than yourself.  I like being part of something bigger than my own life and my own family.  It makes my life richer. Wouldn't you agree?

#7 The rewards outweigh the cost.  I'm sure you'd agree that teaching is hard work and not for the faint of heart.  But when a student shares how I've made a difference in their life, or when I'm able to participate in helping a wayward student change their ways for the better, it's truly priceless!

#8 Variety in schedule.  I find life in the classroom to be intense.  I enjoy the rewards of hard work, but I also love the fact that teachers have time off at holidays and over the summer.  I like being able to change my focus from the classroom to spending time at home and doing things with my family during my vacations. 

Teaching matters!  Have a great year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Something NEW for Parent Orientation Night

Parent Orientation Night (or Open House, as we used to call it) is coming up quickly at my school.  This is an important night for making a good impression!  I'm trying something new this year called a Prezi.  If you haven't heard of it before, it's described as the "zooming presentation editor".  Here's the Prezi I plan to use when I speak to the parents of my French 1 class. (Please be patient as it seems to take a few minutes to the gray bar at the bottom)

Why not try it yourself?  It's new.  It's different.  It's free.  Create your own at Prezi-the zooming presentation editor.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shortcut Keys for Accents on Stickers

Help your students succeed by providing them with information available at their fingertips.  My students can never seem to find or remember the shortcut keys for French accents that I've taught them to use while typing.  This year I bought some white shipping labels (stickers).
Then I printed the shortcut keys to insert French accents in Microsoft Word on the stickers.

Soon I will give my students a sticker to attach to their French binders where they'll be able to find the information more quickly!

Of course this assumes that they won't lose their binders :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prizes for your students

Make your classroom a place of surprises by rewarding your students often.  I like to use French products as rewards so that students can learn about them.  Most of these items were purchased at local grocery stores (Busch's and Heartland Marketplace). The favorite prize seems to be the limonade.

I try to give away several prizes in each class at the beginning of the year in order to set a positive tone.  Sometimes I give prizes at random ( for example, I might hide a sticker under a random desk before class starts and give the prize to whoever chooses that desk).  Sometimes I ask a difficult question that I know not everyone will be able to answer, and award the prize to the student who answers correctly. 

This is a relatively easy way to motivate students without having to give something to each person, and I'm always amazed at how much interest and enthusiasm it generates.  The only item not purchased locally is the box of Bonne Maman Tartelettes Citron below.  Those were a gift from French friends who were visiting us this summer, but I will share them with my students!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recycled Pocket Folders

Make something new and interesting for your classroom and get yourself excited for the adventure of a new school year!  You can even reuse and recycle at the same time.  I reused some pocket folders.  For this one, I made a collage out of magazine pages and glued it to the folder.  Then I covered the whole thing with clear packing tape.  I think they will last a long time, and they'll be fun to use, too. I plan to use these for collecting homework.

Do you notice the mannequins in the pictures?  I used these because I have life-like mannequins in my classroom.  Stay tuned, because I plan to share many ideas about how I use these mannequins to teach French!

Here's one that I covered with an old map of Paris (left).  On the right is my lesson plan book.  I used an old map from the French university I attended for the cover.


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