Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bright Ideas "Best of" Round Up

For ten months now, Shelley Gray of Teaching in the Early Years has inspired a couple of hundred teacher-bloggers to share thousands of ad-free posts with great tips to our blog-reading audience once a month. She called this the "Bright Ideas blog hop" and then it became a link up. First, I want to thank Shelley for her organization, her initiative and - in case I haven't mentioned it before - being an awesome person!  We got to spend a little time poolside together last summer and she's so genuine and such a kind, warm person and educator!

This month, we're recapping our Bright Ideas posts in case you didn't get to read them all.

My first Bright Ideas post in April was to share an idea I had following a four-day PD experience through my school board, in which a group of French Immersion & Language teachers focused on building literacy through responding to students' learning needs in the moment.

Here's a possibly-too-frank moment: I initially found co-planning and co-teaching (under short time constraints, without being able to bring any resources with me, not knowing my co-teachers) quite stressful, and this tip was a way for me to cope with that discomfort. Feel free to revisit this by clicking the image from the original post.

For MFL teachers, in May I talked about a web site I'd discovered full of multilingual videos, and how it's connected to social activism in a way. Read more about Viki here.

Forming Literature Circle groups in a different way was my topic for June. Please read about the approach I used last year here.

In July, I told a personal story and encouraged you all to collaborate even more than you do now. It's funny how my PLN has continued to expand since then and I hope yours has as well. You can revisit that by clicking the image here.

August's Bright Idea was about what I use for Bingo chips in my class and some tips about how Bingo can continue to be used in French class. You can check it out below.

My most recent post is perhaps my favourite. It's a tip for using photos to help with field trip organization and gives students who are old enough to explore a bit on their own a little "social accountability". Check September's Bright Idea post out here.

I hope that you've enjoyed the useful tips I've shared in the Bright Ideas link up, and that you have found something that you can try yourself. This month's link up is below for tons more bright ideas from my international teaching friends! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall OMLTA Conference 2014

Well, it came and went...quick as lightning. The fall conference put on by the OMLTA each year in a different Ontarian community is just a single day, so it's a great single hit of PD and teaching energy. This year, the conference was in Cambridge, at a beautiful - absolutely stunning, really - historic school called Galt Collegiate Institute.

Somehow, I missed getting my standard issue bag for pamphlets, which turned out to contain a number for door prizes, but I still got to take away a couple of things. The mug was a thank you from the OMLTA for presenting a session. (Thank you, OMLTA organizers for the opportunity & the mug.) The cute canister was a door prize which I won the evening before, at a wine & cheese event at Cambridge city hall. It contained another mug & a spatula, donated by Chef à l'école.  (Thank you, chef Suzanne!)

My presentation was about using older materials that you have in new ways, and I promised attendees would walk away with six strategies to use with whatever their favourite older materials were. I hope I delivered on that!  I was a bit nervous, sharing that this was my first OMLTA presentation, but I think after a few minutes, I was "warmed up" and feeling a little better about how the session was going. If you weren't able to make it, you can still judge for yourself how well I hit my mark by checking out my presentation here.

I'd originally planned to share more take away items (create ones just for the presentation, as well as to share some I've used myself) but a few things led me away from that decision...

1) OMLTA requests to only send them material that abides by copyright (i.e. that we've created ourselves)
2) knowing all of our students have different experiences & needs
3) knowing that various teachers have access to various older materials, and how frustrating it is to find a great idea that you cannot use because you don't have the "right resources"
4) a belief that we really do have a lot more teaching tools at our disposal than we tend to think!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and there were some great ideas shared by others. The sessions I attended were about Poetry In Voice, using Google Drive & Apps in French (core & immersion - high school), and about basing your entire French program for the year on exploring various authentic tasks linked to an imaginary trip to a francophone destination. I'm positive that I missed just as many fabulous sessions as I attended. Be sure to check out the OMLTA website in early November to access any handouts, files and other information presenters share there. You have to be a member to access it, but I highly recommend that. It's well worth the very small sum annually!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Giving thanks, with a sale

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian teaching friends. Joyeuse Action de Grâce à mes collègues canadiens. 

Some Canadian bloggers were chatting about how truly thankful we are for the opportunity to collaborate that TeachersPayTeachers has given us, and of course, how thankful we are to you, our readers, fans, friends and customers for inspiring us with your words of appreciation and gratitude when something you've found in our stores goes particularly well, helps you out of a challenging situation in the classroom, or just saves you a ton of time that you can then spend with your friends and family...or even recharging with some alone time.

To show our gratitude to you, the wonderful teacher stores you see in the graphic (or in the link up below) will be discounting their materials. You can also click the link to my store in the sidebar --->
If you have a few minutes, check to see if you'd like to clear our any items on your wish list, or peruse new things that might have been added to any of the stores that appeal to you.

Enjoy your long weekend, Canadian teaching families!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Bright Idea for Teen Field Trips

I teach grade 8. We like to try to give our students a chance to stretch their wings... try out their independence in safe ways throughout the year. Of course that applies to things like finding an organizational system and developing study habits that work well for them as individuals (and simultaneously don't make their parents too crazy!) It also applies to some learning activities that take place outside of the school, like field trips.

So this month, I have a tip for those intermediate and senior teachers who accompany or organize learning excursions. If your field trip includes a "free time" option as ours often do (within clearly defined and chaperone-monitored boundaries), here are a couple of things you can do to make sure things run smoothly. We already use a buddy system, informing students that they are under no circumstances allowed to be travelling alone within the area established, and establishing an acceptable group size based on what we know about the area, merchants' attitudes towards students in that area, student needs, and other information.

I thought a great addition to this now that our school has parents sign a media release form would be to quickly snap photos of groups the morning of the trip with the teacher's phone.  That way, any kids who might tend to get ostracized are less likely to be ditched by their group members, as there's a little more accountability built into the "commitment" the students are making for the day.
Also, heaven forbid, if a student (or group) were to be unaccounted for at any point, you've got a recent photo... including what the teen set out wearing that day!

If you liked this idea, be sure to follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and TpT for lots of other great stuff! Also, check out the awesome promo-free blog posts linked up below.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Théâtre des lecteurs

A recent follower of my blog asked if I knew where she could get Readers Theatre materials for her core French class. (As an aside, see this interesting write up by Aaron Shepard of all the variations of spelling we find... maybe French is easier in this case!) That's also an excellent source to check out if you've heard of Readers' Theatre but really aren't sure what it is, and here's a good one page overview in French including suggestions for student accommodations.

I too have been in the same boat as Meaghan and wondered where on earth I'd find RT scripts suitable for my FSL class, especially once following a conversation with a very lovely English colleague who wasn't FSL qualified but also not FSL petrified. She commented that supply teachers who end up in a French class should never find themselves unable to teach, because there are tons of things they could do, including just pulling out a Readers Theatre script and getting the kids busy with that. Ha!  I thought... just Ha!

Well, English RT scripts may be plentiful and possibly even fairly easy to whip up yourself, or to have the students write, but French ones are a little scarcer... dramatic pause... but they DO exist!

5 sources of RT FSL scripts

Cheneliere has a kit that you can buy. A little pricey as an option if you're just looking to pull something out in an emergency or for a couple of days. Pros's a traditional publisher and your school or board might be more willing to dish out the money for that than for individual teacher-created resources. They also come with some activities and rubrics (although I don't believe either have been or will be updated any time soon to match the 2013 Ontario French curriculum expectations.) 

Ms Joanne is a French Immersion teacher in B.C. who has placed a whack of RT scripts, mostly based on the classic fairy tales, on TPT. She sells a bundle for $16 or you can buy them individually. Check out her free version of Blanche Neige to give you an idea of whether it'll work for your students.

Scruffy Plume has had a recent update to their website. This site has been around a good long time, but the appearance and navigation was a little hard to bear. They've jazzed up their site a lot recently, and it's still a work in progress. They've got scripts for Greek myths in French, aboriginal tales, and several other appealing options. The accompanying grammar sheets may not get as much use today as they would have in the past, but really, the play's the thing, right?  ;-)

TFO has a bunch of texts for what they call "Lecture en spectacle" available for free download, for educational use. Not all are RT scripts, but if you comb through the grade level tabs, some named "Conte à lire" are (Le chef et le charpentier, for example). I'd say almost no text beyond the grade 2 level are for Core French, on this site, but many could be used in different ways in immersion classes. Or maybe high school Core French.

Dramaction has a ton of scripts to share, from drama teachers in Quebec to other drama teachers (en français). Not all would serve as Reader's Theatre, but some certainly could, with minor reworking.

And of course, there's AIM as an option, which I didn't include in my "top 5" because I feel like the plays/scripts are either something you legitimately have access to and use, or you don't.  No one is about to go out and purchase an AIM kit just to do a Reader's Theatre activity in their classroom. But keep it in mind if you have colleagues that use the accelerated integrated method but you yourself don't.

If there's a good source that I've overlooked, please let me know in the comments below!

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