Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas for Responsive Teaching

This year, PD has looked a little differently in my school board than it has in the past. I had the opportunity to experience a "collaborative inquiry" for literacy that was specific to French Immersion students (and their teachers).

There were multiple foci, it seemed, but one recurring idea that was deeply entrenched in the format of the collaborative planning and teaching cycle was that of teaching in a responsive way.  I expect I'll be dipping into the well of things I learned through that more than once and sharing some thoughts here.

So, what does "responsive teaching" mean? Basically, respond to your students' needs - in the moment. At times, it almost FELT like the goal was to get us used to flying by the seats of our pants (we were not allowed to plan anything ahead of time, were discouraged from bringing FI resources along with us to the planning sessions, plus for the three-part lesson that we planned, we only were supposed to plan the minds-on and activity portion of the lessons, leaving the wrap-up or consolidation portion of the lesson plan for after we had delivered the lessons and gauged how it went. ...... I'm sure the REAL intention was to help some teachers move away from just following what's pre-scripted in a purchased teaching resource pack.)

I never feel great about flying by the seat of my pants, even if I don't work from a script, so I had an idea to make myself more comfortable.

A folder of tools that I can rely on for switching gears in the middle of a lesson if things aren't going exactly as anticipated makes me feel a lot more effective as an educator. Sure, I know lots of instructional strategies and can differentiate my lessons in a number of ways, but somehow, knowing I've got a few tricks already photocopied and ready to use at my finger tips helps me to feel more prepared and professional.

I call it my "Responsive Teaching Folder" and it sits within a magazine holder, right next to the one for Emergency Supply Lessons.

Here are a few ideas for items I've placed in mine:
  • exit ticket slips ( a couple of variations)
  • brainstorming or mindmapping templates.
  • blank T-charts
  • Venn diagrams
  • SVA charts (or what is known as a KWL chart in English)
  • Conversation dice templates
Of course, there are a ton of other strategies I use (think-pair-share, and thumb temperature checks come to mind right away) that just aren't going to go into a folder as a photocopied paper. However the Responsive Teaching Folder just reminds me that I already DO use these strategies, and am accustomed to switching gears mid-lesson when my learners clearly need that change.

I'd love for you to leave me a comment below if you have other ideas for things to include in my classroom folder. Be sure to visit some of the other Bright Ideas blog articles in this month's link up as well.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Classroom Management Tip for the Class Lawyer

Classroom management... just as important for the success of any French teacher as the teacher's fluency! What are the things that drive YOU crazy in class and suck up your teaching energy? I'd always prefer to focus on teaching rather than dealing with situations, but of course they come up regularly, and I try to use them as teachable moments as well.

Here's an idea to help squash the classroom junior lawyer, which is one of my pet peeves. You know that child who simply MUST speak up on behalf of his or her friend when you ask another student to stop fooling around, or to focus on their work? Avez-vous un "avocat de classe"? Certainly I want to respect my students' perspectives and have them feel that their voice matters. That should not derail the entire class though, and I feel that learning how to advocate for themselves, or for others, needs to be done in a respectful and diplomatic way. That's an important lesson for them in becoming future engaged citizens, right?

Have them make an appointment to come discuss their concerns with you outside of class time. Do it right within your plan book, agenda, or scheduling tool within your handheld computer (aka iPhone, android or tablet). If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to carve out time for and to phrase properly! This could be during lunch, recess, or after school... whatever works in your case.

I'd love for you to share here what other strategies have worked for you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

CAFE en français

In my corner of the world, there has been increasing attention paid to the Daily 5 and CAFE methods of ensuring you are offering a balanced literacy program in the French classroom. Although I'm pretty sure that this isn't something that will quite work out for me in grade 8, I'm always interested in finding out how things work and of course adapting anything that will enrich my students' learning and make my life easier at the same time.

So I figured it would be a good idea to share what (little!) I know and the resources I've gathered to learn more.  There are already a ton of places that you can read more about what the Daily 5 is, and how the CAFE methodology works.  I always suggest going right to the source when you are ready for the full, clear explanation. As usual, my focus is on helping other FSL teachers, so I won't go over all the basics.

Instead, here are various free signs to choose from, pre-made and ready for your class thanks to caring, dedicated teachers just like you! (More about that below!!)

From La Classe de Madame Bernice, you can download a set of animal-themed green and brown CAFE headers. If polka-dots are more your style, visit Keshia Leger on TPT. They each offer a slightly different translation for the acronym. I only read the CAFE book in English, not in French, so I'm not sure which was officially adopted by the translator but you can of course use whatever works for you. For a spring or flower-themed bulletin board, visit La classe de Zazou and download this set of 4 CAFE header signs.

Some "Word Work" ideas as task cards, free from Crapouilleries (I like the ideas & always appreciate cute frames BUT really wish those creating cute things in French would stick with fonts that include accents! See two previous blog posts about this, with font suggestions, here and here or if you're making something just for personal use in your own school, then be sure to check out KG Fonts which are all accent-friendly and gorgeous. She offers licences if you wish to use any of these fonts more publicly or for profit.) This one on TN which includes both the headers AND matching strategy cards is pretty good, but you'll still need to write in an accent or two before you laminate, if you're anything like me. Finally, one more super attractive set from Profs et Soeurs and you have enough to at least set up your classroom, I think.

If you're interested in the resources, you can order the Daily 5 French version of the book or in English.
 as well as the CAFE method book in English.

In closing, as I was saying above, please remember that the people who took the time to put these cute and helpful resources together are other teachers just like you. They may be in their first or second year of teaching, or their thirtieth. They may have families, financial challenges, and health concerns. But they've decided to share their hard work ... with you!  Please remember to contribute what YOU can as well. If you have a great activity that will help other teachers why not pass it along? Those of you who are already active on TPT or maintain a blog have a ready-made place to go.  If you don't, this blog post suggests some other ideas for helping out our French teaching colleagues. One final note, especially for the TPT or TN creators... it's my understanding that "The Sisters" as they are called do NOT permit their trademark names to be used in items for sale. Do your own research to make your own decision... we're all adults here, after all.

Want to find out more but not quite ready to purchase the resources yourself?  Consider borrowing them out of any professional libraries that you have access to, search on Pinterest, as well as checking out this facebook group for English teachers using the Daily 5 and another one for French teachers.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

12 Great Pinterest Boards for Middle School Teachers

Hello my teaching-blog friends.  Twelve middle school bloggers who happen to also be educators have compared notes and decided to share with you our favourite Pinterest boards targeting 6th-8th grade teachers.


We hope you enjoy checking out this cool variety of teaching ideas. Be sure to browse our other Pinterest boards while you are there. Happy pinning and following!

 Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog recommends the Middle School Freebies Pinterest board. You can find other great things by Kristy at 2 Peas and Dog Blog

 Pam from the Desktop Learning Adventures Blog recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Hot off the Presses Latest Middle School Releases Find other great things by Pam through her blog. 

Ellie from Middle School Math Moments recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Middle School Math You can find other great things by Ellie by visiting her Middle School Math Moments Blog

 Jennifer from the 4mula Fun Blog  recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Success in Secondary You can find other great things by Jennifer in her TPT store, on her blog, and on her facebook page.

 Sidney from Teaching is a Gift recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Gifted Teaching Ideas 

 Kate from Kate's 6th Grade Classroom Cafe recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Grade 6 Tricks of the Trade You can find other great things by Kate by following this link: Kate's 6th Grade Classroom Cafe Blog

 Stephanie from The Creative Classroom recommends Anchor Charts as her fav middle school Pinterest board. Find other great things by Stephanie at her blog.


 Jamie from Miss Math Dork recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Math is Real Life You can find other great things by Jamie by following this link: Miss Math Dork Blog 


 Kim from Teaching Math by Hart recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Number Sense You can find other great things by Kim by following this link: Teaching Math By Hart Blog

 John from An Educator's Life recommends Reading Ideas You can find other great things by John and his buddies at An Educator's Life Blog 

 Erin from Miss Lifesaver recommends the Pinterest board School Stuff for middle school ideas.

 I recommend a new favourite Pinterest board (for ALL middle school teachers, not just French ones): Magnificent Middle School 
You can find other great things I want to share by following me here at Teaching FSL.

  Looking for other Middle School ideas? Check out the Middle School Blog Log

A final note... at least four of us on this list are Canadian.  Did you figure out who? 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reminiscing - Ontario Blogger Meetup

Last September, a couple of other Ontario teacher-bloggers & I got together at a conveniently located Symposium Café.

Please allow me to introduce them... from left to right.

First, we have Patti Firth of Madly Learning. She came on the teacher-blogger scene in a big way, with lots of creative and wonderful ideas in the spring of 2012. What did I most admire about Mrs. Firth? Two things... her go-get-'em collaborative Canadian attitude.  I had an full out, forehead slapping "Why didn't I think of that?" moment in June when she ran a Canadian teacher blogger link up.

Secondly, her prior blogging experience which made it possible for her to create her current blog in a very professional way from the get-go, not making a lot of the beginner mistakes most of us have had to make, while we stumbled along before we learned to stand.

The growing Firth family has kept Patti a bit quiet online lately - congrats again, Patti!

Madly Learning
Hooray for Brownie Points
Realm of Gaudet

Next to her is Nicole Brown who you'll find at Brownie Points. She's a primary teacher not that far away from me. We met online, even though we actually work for the same school board.  Isn't it funny how that works sometimes?

Next in the orange is me.  :-) Not quite sure WHAT I was doing that made me the only blurry one in the photo. Too much caffeine as usual, perhaps.

At the other end is Mrs. Gaudet, sometimes blogger & resource teacher that you can check out at Realm of Gaudet. She's got a great presentation there outlining some fabulous tech tools for helping ELL students, which you should definitely check out.

There were a couple of others awesome teachers who were hoping to make it that had other things life throws our way come up, but I sure am hoping to do this again.  It's so fun to network & collaborate AND to have a little "girl time" simultaneously.  So, with that in mind, I was thinking it would be GREAT to plan a little restaurant get together in the spring. If you're interested in receiving an update, please fill out this contact form.

(Male bloggers invited too!) Can't wait to hear from you!

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