Saturday, April 26, 2014

How to use a Mannequin in your Classroom #12: Describing your daily Routine

Bonjour fellow teachers!  It's the end of April...a time of year when most of us feel tired and are wondering if we can make it to the end of the school year.  It's the time of year when we feel like we're just limping or maybe even crawling to the finish line.  Creativity wanes.  We find ourselves just trying to survive.  And our students probably feel the same way.  Believe me, I know...and I feel your pain. I want to offer you some encouragement.  It is for all of these reasons that something new & exciting is just what is needed in our classrooms.  For our own sake, and also for the sake of our students.  We can not hope to pass along enthusiasm for learning to them if we're not excited about what we're teaching ourselves!  I get excited when I try something new and it turns out to be successful, and that's exactly what happened last week.  I had an idea about a new story I could write about my classroom mannequins, Jacques & Suzette.  

I decided to create a story about Suzette having a really bad day...similar to the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, no good, very bad Day . Right now my French II students are learning how to use reflexive verbs and how to describe their daily routines.  So I wrote this story about Suzette's routine and how things went wrong.  Basically, she washed her hair with toothpaste by accident and got a comb stuck in her hair.  Then, she tried shaving with a new razor, and cut her leg.  In the story I used the vocabulary words (toiletry items) and reflexive verbs (to wash, to shave, etc.) that we're studying in the current lesson.  When students came to class on the day of this lesson, this is what they saw:

Suzette has a "bad hair day".
 Students said things like, "Is this for us?" and , "Madame, what's wrong with Suzette?" as they entered the room.  They were interested in the lesson before I even began to teach it. A mannequin with a comb stuck in her hair is so much more intriguing than the story in your textbook that is meant to teach the same thing.  And here's the REALLY exciting part.  One of my colleagues (thanks, Katie Beth!) let me borrow some theatrical make-up...some fake blood, which is truly amazing stuff in how much it resembles the real thing... so that I could make it look like Suzette really cut her leg!

I made a video on my iPad about Suzette's day.  I used the above photos and an app called Morfo which allows you to make a photo "speak", and I created the whole thing in the iMovie app.  Here are the results: (p.s. the joke about Kansas at the end is an inside joke in our class)

I was actually teaching students how to use reflexive verbs in the past tense on this day.  I showed the video to the students, and asked them to listen to how the verbs sounded.  After viewing the video twice, students were able to tell me (rather than me telling them) what the rule is for using these types of verbs in the past tense!  The next day, I gave students the text to the video with the verbs missing, and they practiced changing the verbs to the past tense.  So, this is what I accomplished with this short video:
  1. Students figured out the grammar rule on their own & were able to tell me what it was.
  2. Students practiced their listening skills while viewing the video.
  3. Students practiced their reading & writing skills when working with the text to the video.
  4. Students wanted to understand what was happening in the video because it was of high interest to them.
I have to say that I wasn't entirely sure beforehand that they would think this video was as great as I did.  But, they actually gasped when they saw the blood and laughed at the appropriate times.  And someone even said, "Madame, WHERE do you come up with these ideas?"  

It was not easy to come up with the time to create this, but I'm so glad that I made the time to do it while I was thinking of it.  It was definitely energizing for me and enjoyable for my students.  I encourage you to consider doing something new before the year ends.  Fake blood might be just what you need to make it to the finish line!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Encore Adopt an Escargot!

Attention fellow teachers!  If you're a teacher of French & you've not yet investigated adopt an escargot, I urge you to do so tout de suite!  Adopt an escargot is a brilliant idea invented by a retired teacher.  It involves students adopting a baby escargot (a shell!) & inventing the life of their child.  To have your students participate, you need to email Nancy (the creator of this wonderful program).  On the site, click on the image Pour le prof de français and then you will see a link to contact Le Grand Escargot.  You can purchase everything necessary from her for about $25 per kit (which is enough for a whole class).  Each kit includes beautiful escargot shells (unique colors & shapes) and each shell comes with a unique profile.  The kit also includes other activities such as a game, a template for a baby book, official adoption certificates and the right for your students to email Le Grand Escargot (the big snail).  The whole idea is incredibly creative & a fantastic way to involve students in reading, writing, speaking and understanding French.  

This year for adoption day, I packaged the "babies" in some cute red & blue party favor bags.  Here's what they looked like:

Students were allowed to pick a bag from the basket, but soon found out that a blue bag did not necessarily mean a baby boy.  When they opened their bags, they found a shell and their baby's profile, which told them if their baby was a boy or a girl, and a little about their baby's likes, dislikes and fears.

It is amazing to me each year to see how even the seniors in the class get so excited about this project.  Believe me, they are not too old to find this fun!  

This year I have the good fortune to finally have another French teacher in the building besides myself.  I asked her to act as the adoption agent on adoption day.  We named her Margaux Fargaux, and I even made an official badge for her to wear.

Agent Margaux arrived with the babies on the scheduled date & explained to students what a serious responsibility adopting a baby escargot was (in French, of course!).  She asked students to repeat the oath of escargot (found on the adopt an escargot site) after her with their right hands raised:

Margaux Fargaux did such a wonderful job!

She also put her official signature on each of the students' adoption certificates.

This year I also discovered that if you buy Avery labels, you can easily create custom labels by using the code that is given on the package.  I made these adorable stickers (in less than 10 minutes!) for adoption day.  I asked students to put them on their shirts and wear them for the whole day.  This served as excellent advertising for the French program!

We all had a great time.  I hope you believe as fervently as I do that learning another language is a fascinating & exciting process.  Convince your students of this by trying adopt an escargot.  REALLY.  If you find yourself feeling tired & lacking motivation, your students will notice & it will affect your teaching.  This might be just what you need to feel inspired again.  

Just do it.  Your students will thank you, I promise!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...