Hodgepodge Bag of Tricks

I’ve been using this phrase throughout my 31 years of public school teaching. I’ve seen movements and buzzwords and best practices come and go, but the real bottom line is we want students to use the languages we teach. There, again, are strong opinions: language purists, grammarians, communicators, users of only TL, PBL, TPRS; the list is endless. So, do what works for you and your students and consider that students and classes are unique, so you may need a variety from time to be inclusive and to encourage student success and of course language use in conjunction with culture. Rather than go into a lengthy debate, I thought I’d show you a 1st year lesson; I’ll contrast this with an AP lesson in a future post.
Goal-to introduce the idea of different people doing different activities. (grammar point -er verbs).
After evaluation on personal likes and dislikes (previous lesson), we watched lyrics (there are some 8th grades in the classroom) and heard Stromae’s ‘Alors, on danse.‘ Kids tapped their toes, danced in their seats and were generally attentive. [Authentic Resource]. I slowly scrolled through lyrics and asked them to shout out words they could guess. Then I asked, “If we’re talking about dancing and singing, why were there so many words like problèmes, dettes, divorce? They got it-13-15 year olds! “Well, you’re going to have issues, so why not sing and dance to get through them?!”

We did a walking survey: Tu chantes? Tu danses? Je chante/je ne chante pas… Then we added other activities, most were cognates, but we still just used the tu-je combination.

Day 2-Story time. We listened and some sang along to ‘Alors, on danse’ again. Then it was storytime. I usually present picture stories, but this week I’ve added stuffed animals to get across the idea of singular and plural. I added exaggeration and extra details thanks to Nancy Feigenbaum’s FLAVA presentation on TPRS (Se me olvidó)  that I saw last weekend. Here’s the shot of the story-post lesson.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 5.54.02 AM

They did not see the story while I was telling it; they did answer questions as I was telling and repeating. [TPRS and TL Communication] We spent a long time telling, with them shouting back answers, and the tiger and the zebras being added in. Then I showed them the written story; I read it; they read it and we figured out who was singing or dancing in each sentence; we acted out. I asked them to find the spelling that went along with each person I had listed. Some picked out chanter (the infinitive) for ‘il’ because in one sentence they did see he likes to sing. Students wrote in the spellings and we talked about not hearing differences except with chanter, chantons and chantez.

I emphasized that the chart might be helpful when they were writing and that some people even liked the purple chart with only the last letters to help them remember spellings. We talked about the difference in j’aime chanter et danser vs. je chante and je danse [grammar]. We’ll spend a month on the activities that people do-mostly talking, but also writing and adding to their pen-pal letters they’re getting ready to send to students in GhanaScreen Shot 2014-10-04 at 7.00.35 AM who are also studying French [authentic written interpersonal communication]. Then in two weeks, they’ll tell me about themselves and family and friends if they want [mopi and pals evaluation]. That speaking will be the basis  of my growth evidence, my Smart Goals, for my professional evaluation. Even more exciting, I script as they talk and then show them at the end of the year how much more they’ve said and how they’ve grown as French speakers.

Yes, it’s a hodgepodge, but it seems to work.

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