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!!!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I just discovered your blog. I have never thought about using a mannequin in class before. Thank you for sharing your ideas. P.S.: I'm curious to know what your joke about Kansas is. :)

    1. Merci, Jenn, and you're welcome. I enjoy sharing ideas with other teachers! As for the joke about Kansas, a student absent-mindedly answered the question, "Was anyone in the class born in another country?" with, "I was born in Kansas"...and it took him a few moments to realize what he had said :). It became our class joke for the year. The student was a really good sport about it :). Thanks for stopping by my blog!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...