Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A must-see documentary

In teacher's college we were always told that one of the most important ideas behind teaching is to let the students do their own learning - that is, it is easy for us as teachers to give them the answers, but it's when they work hard themselves to get to the answer that true and permanent learning will unfold. That is why I encourage any teacher, parent, child, family, to consider watching the documentary "One Clip at a Time". It is an extremely moving story based on the fact that one student, had one question, and his teacher allowed it to be turned into a project that would quickly become international. The story behind the film is about an 8th grade class studying the Holocaust. One of the students asked the question "What does 6 million look like?" This questions turned into a school-wide project of collecting 6 million paperclips to represent every person lost during the Holocaust. 
To me this is an incredibly inspiring story and a beautiful reminder to all teachers of how amazing our job is, and how amazing it is that we have this ability and opportunity to influence young minds, IF, we let them. If you chose to watch the film, please feel free to post any comments below.

Here is the link to the preview and official website
Here is the link to "like" the project on Facebook

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Beating Summer Learning Loss

Studies have shown that students lose between one and two months' worth of academic knowledge each summer (see interesting article from Edutopia). How can you beat this? Here are 8 ways to use Edmodo over the summer to keep students engaged and learning, and for some creative ways for teachers to stay connected as well (for the full article click here). 

1. Create an Edmodo summer camp
2. Get involved with Edmodo reading groups
3. Participate in a concept study (for teachers)
4. Create an alumni group
5. Have students create Science projects
6. Engage your new students (if you already know who your students will be)
7. Host Professional Development Sessions (for teachers)
8. Contact new teachers (for teachers)

The debate of course is, do students and teachers actually need the break? Should teachers keep in touch with students over the summer or is it OK to take the break and disconnect? What are the pros and cons of keeping schools open year-round (the above article from Edutopia discusses this in more depth)?
Would love to hear your thoughts! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What will you do over the summer?

A Bucket List for TeachersWhat will you do this summer? I know I started a list back in January already of "will get to this in the summer"... Here is a great article that gives 10 suggestions for each teacher to do over the summer (for the original article click here):

  1. We all know the temptation to start planning for next year, but take a break from everything teaching for one week. Two. Maybe an entire month. You’ll be better when you come back to it.
  2. Read a book that’s just for grown-ups.
  3. If you have your own kids, let them plan one wandering, wild, carefree day. The kind that’s hard to have when there are piles of paper to grade.
  4. Whether or not you have kids, plan one of those days yourself!
  5. Take this challenge: Go to Target and buy NOTHING for your classroom. Can you do it?
  6. Make an investment in your professional life that matters to you. Maybe that’s taking a course on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about. Maybe it’s catching up on this year’s Newbery winners. Whatever your interests, the summer is time for professional development on your terms.
  7. Make it a goal to connect with a colleague you don’t know very well or with whom you haven’t always seen eye to eye. A summer barbecue or coffee outing is a nice opportunity to get to know one another outside of school walls—and established teacher cliques.
  8. Work on a “feel good file” that reminds yourself about the good parts of your job. Include thank you notes from students, inspirational quotes, that mantra from your favorite teaching professor—whatever makes you think, “Yes. This is why I teach.”
  9. As soon as you get that new class list, reach out to every student on it and say hello. You don’t have to do anything fancy or “Pinterest-worthy”—a simple phone call does the trick. (And may be the most important step in setting yourself up for success next year!)
  10. Remember, summer break is like New Year’s Eve for teachers—grand expectations can lead to disappointment. It’s okay if you don’t read every book, finish every house project or cut out every last decoration for next year’s bulletin boards. It’s okay if you don’t have a traditional summer break or are working a second job, too. The next few months will still be filled with small, simple joys. Look out for them!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

FREE tutorials for variety of web tools

Are you overwhelmed by the million different types of online tools available to you? Not sure where or HOW to begin? Wait no more!!! Here is a link with fantastic beginner's guides to a variety of common online tools such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google, and more. My suggestion would be to focus on one thing at a time or you will get overwhelmed. Don't worry about the fact that other people keep track of 10 blogs a day, post 20 tweets by 9am, or have created 8 new boards on Pinterest each week... there will always be someone who does more. So do what works for YOU! :) Enjoy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Inspiring Stories BY kids For kids

A couple of weeks ago I planned a unit on Biographies (French). Our motto for the unit is "Inspire, and be inspired". The goal of the unit is for the kids to interview someone inspiring in their lives, and to write a short Biography on them. 

To start, I wanted to expose them to a variety of Biographies - not just any kind, but ones that they could relate to as 9 and 10 year-olds. I found an absolutely phenomenal website that does just that! Even though all the stories are in English, we discuss them in French. The website, called Inspire My Kids focuses on a wide variety of topics, such caring, fairness, compassion, responsibility, etc. It contains a wide database of inspiring stories and videos of people from all ages. 

This website, I'm sure, can be used in many, many different ways. Please let me know if you have used it and in what ways. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Poetry Cafe in French

Looking for a fun and interesting way to get your students to speak and present in French? Put on a "Poetry Café"! We learned about and practiced a variety of poems (email me if you'd like the Poetry Booklet with all the poems ready to print  and practice) on a variety of topics throughout the month. Once the students decided they would like to present them to their parents, they chose their best poem from their Poetry Booklet and wrote a little paragraph on why that was their best one (good time to talk about critical thinking and not just writing because it's pretty... because it's my favourite... because I like it...). Now came the time to prepare our Café! The students came up with a whole list of ideas that they wanted to do, so here's some of them:

  • "Publish" the poems onto a big piece of chart paper and add illustrations
  • Use a microphone
  • Make donuts and coffee mugs out of cardboard and hang them from a ceiling (looked really good!)
  • Bring in checkered table clothes to put over the tables
  • Make a "menu" for the parents (AKA a list of who presents when)
  • Bring in Coffee and apples for parents (some parents brought home made brownies as well!)
  • Make a background/welcome sign for the presenters
  • Create their own invitations (incl. how/when to RSVP, advertising light refreshments, time/place, etc.)
  • Create invitations for the Principal and VP
  • Have a student be the MC, have 2 students welcome and seat parents
  • Students run the whole show... teacher relaxes! (most of the time!! hehe)
It was an outstanding show and performance by all of the students! Best of all, it was all done within an hour so parents could easily go back to work in case they came during their lunch break. 
The students loved hosting their parents and were excited about speaking French! 

Monday, March 11, 2013


I'm curious to know if other teachers use "online classrooms" such as Edmodo, and if so, what are they and how do you use them? I have used Edmodo since the very beginning of the school year and have found it to be an absolutely amazing tool for various reasons: 

  • Builds a kind and caring classroom community where students can talk to each other, share information, compliment each other, and find common interests (every student and parent signs an agreement at the beginning of the year explaining what it IS and ISN'T supposed to be used for and consequences for when rules are broken)
  • Saves paper! Homework can be posted on Edmodo, whether it's a link to a game or article, or an assignment they can do on the computer and then upload again back onto Edmodo
  • Communicate with parents - parents can create an account as well, where they can monitor what their child does/says online 
  • Networking opportunities!!! We participated in the Global Read Aloud (I highly suggest it!) and connected with a classroom in another country to discuss the book we were both reading, and share thoughts, opinions, and activities
Please share if you have any other thoughts or ideas on online classrooms. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

French Grammar Exercises Website

Everyone always talks about using "authentic" writing pieces in the classroom to teach grammar and that students do not learn grammar by doing worksheets. Depending of course on the students you have, I believe that using a combination of both is very beneficial. I believe it is important for students to practice the grammar after they've been introduce to it, in order to consolidate their learning. 

I love using the good ol' "Comptines" to teach grammar - the kids love them! I pick a Comptine that has grammar components that I want to teach/introduce to the class, and we get real silly about reading them. Sometimes we add actions, other times we whisper-read it or try to read it with really goofy voices. After having read it a couple of times, I close the book and see who has memorized it. They LOVE trying to prove that after only reading it a couple of times they have it memorized. It's great because not only do they have fun learning grammar, they also get practice speaking proper grammar! :)

So after we learn our Comptine, I have students go to the Le Point de FLE website and practice what we've learned. This website may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get familiar with it, it's got amazing (and fun!) resources for students. Some are listening exercises, which they love doing as a class, or, you can send them to the computer lab and have them do it on their own. 
I would love to know if you have other "must-have" French Grammar websites!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Math Websites

I have, thankfully, stumbled upon two new and amazing (yes...FRENCH) math websites. I have added them to my "Math" page, but here they are as well. 

Math Frog - Grade 4-6. Complete units, games, and lessons to go along with all strands of Ontario curriculum. 

JeuxMaths -  Great website with a ton of games, worksheets, crossword puzzles and more - in French!!!

If you have any French Math websites, please share!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Liebster Award

Something made my day today - Leah from Teacher Talk nominated me for the Liebster Award. I have no idea what it means or what it is, nevertheless, it was exciting! Especially since it is meant for bloggers with 200 followers or less - that is definitely me! :) 

The idea, I guess, is that I post a bunch of random facts about myself, answer the questions that Leah has posted and then nominate 11 other blogs and post a list of my own questions to them. I agree with the others that it sounds like a lot of work, but if it means that more people will be able to connect and share ideas because of it, I am all in! (See the bottom of this post for the "real" meaning behind the Liebster Blog Award)

So here are 11 facts about myself:
1. I was born in The Netherlands
2. I have a younger brother
3. I bite my nails way too often!
4. I love playing squash.
5. I speak 4 languages. 
6. I like making funny voices. 
7. I played the violin for 15 years. 
8. I lived in Chile, El Salvador, and Mexico
9. I am obsessed with Glee and everything about it. 
10. I had coffee with President Uribe of Colombia
11. In the past 4 years I have had over 10 Xrays done (needles to say I'm clumsy).

Leah's Questions:
1. Favorite country you have visited?
2.  Healthy baking or tasty baking?Tasty Baking - is there any other kind?
3.  Who is your hero?
My mother.
4.  Are you introverted or extroverted?
5.  Biggest splurge purchase you have ever made?
Buying my first car.  
6.  Something you are proud of?
Being a teacher. 
7.  Christmas break or summer holidays?
Summer holidays. 
8. Worst part about teaching?
There is none. 
9. Best job perk?
Being able to use my funny voices at work and not get stared at like I have 3 heads (AKA being able to be a kid at work).
10. coffee or tea?
11. Best gift from a student?
 An appreciative letter including a bracelet.  

Blog nominations:

***The real "gist" of the Liebster Award is that there is no real award. There are no judges, no special rules. No website with an official team to congratulate you and hold your hand. It's mostly what you want it to be. If you receive the award, you can 1) accept it and 2) pass it along. It's that easy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Show and Tell en Français

Well... my new year's resolution of posting a blog once a week was clearly wishful thinking. Nevertheless, happy new year to everyone! I hope you were as excited as I was to get back into the classroom! I felt so recharged, refreshed, and full of new ideas!

The first thing I wanted to do with the students was a show and tell en Français. We spent the first couple of months reviewing grammar, getting comfortable speaking in French around each other, and learning a ton of new French words. Now it is time to put all of that together. Here are the links (to Google Docs) to the rubric and outline I used. The rubric is for a 3/4 French Immersion class in Ontario, Canada. Let me know if you find it useful. 

If you are also teaching a French class, what are some ways you are getting back into the swing of things? What sorts of projects do you do to get the students to speak more in French? 

Click here for the outline.
Click here for the rubric.