Reading with purpose-to develop a love of reading

Building reading competence seems to be a bit more challenging these days. Maybe it’s just me, but students seem quite reluctant or incapable of guessing while reading. We have to provide a comfortable environment to encourage guessing. Moreover, teachers need to find ways of attracting students to reading of any kind-for information [see and for pleasure. I feel it’s somehow related to our testing culture that demands ‘the right answer.’ So how can we build reading? –By following what good parents do with children as they grow. Read children’s books to your students-in class or in a reading circle on the floor in the library. Let students read for fun without an assignment attached. Or, read with a fun assignment. Read song lyrics and use them for a variety of reading steps: pick out words you can guess, pick out verbs that look similar to ones you’ve seen recently, which activities refer to a future event?, which phrases use an object pronoun? Which words go along with our area of study [Earth Day for example] Look at a related website and repeat the steps above. When does the song change from lyrics in one language to another? Link reading to a visual and show the visual first-a personal video, a tourism clip, a feature film. I used to think this was the reward after the reading, but so many topics can be enhanced if you teach about them saying: remember when you saw… [A previous student’s video about daily routines, the advertisement for the Col Vert campground, Petit Nicolas, The Phantom of the Opera are such examples worth a preview.

As students abilities progress from catching words and phrases to understanding details, the assignments and readings can become more involved. However, to remind students and yourselves of the joy of reading, check out Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader. Also, allow students to create the guidelines for reading rubrics or documentation. Then push the action of reading in various modes: silently reading to yourself, teacher reading with excessive expression to aid comprehension, student group silent reading, student group reading aloud. Encourage students to pause and pick out key words or ideas/summaries to avoid painful translating. Other strategies follow:

Reading Comprehension/Creative Responses

• Sequencing: have students run to the front of the room with one sentence about a part of the story. Students come up with the sentences (or you can write them for the first go-round) and then put them in order. They may not repeat something someone else has said, so they have an advantage of writing quickly. For those who are stuck, you can allow them to look again at the story, but no one is allowed to quote directly.
• Comprehension-all of the statements about the story are somehow false/wrong. What needs to be corrected?
• Find a current event on line related to the story we read. Explain how it is relevant. Or to start, you make the connections.
• Pretend that you are a character from the story. Dress up and act out a scene.
• Read and answer questions in English to prove comprehension.
• Tea party-have tea and discuss your opinions about an author/story.
• Culture lessons-what is the history, cultural practice, art behind the story?
• Take offs-See my FLAVA presentation wiki for a creative response list
• Songs-find a song that represents a story you read and explain the connection. The song can be in English or the target language.
• Draw what happened in the story, no words. Or explain how drawings/clip art you show relates to the story
• write a list of 10 key vocabulary words that you had to understand in order to get the story
• write a list of 10 key words that would help you summarize the story
• write a letter recommending or not this reading to a friend
• find a picture that targets a topic of the story; insert it into and have students record their comments
• use songsmith from microsoft and create your own song that responds to the story
• use journals for students to write a personal response to the reading-when was a time you felt like the main character, experienced the same as in the story, etc Play music while they are writing and set a time limit.
• If at first the readings are too hard, you write the summaries and have students match the sentences to a specific number of lines in the story.

Stations in the World Language Classroom

This is a follow-up post to the #langchat Twitter discussion last night. I frequently use stations in my classroom, with all levels from 8th graders to seniors, levels 1-AP French and the occasional Spanish class.

Logistics: Stations are a great way for everyone to be engaged in a variety of language activities. Students can be randomly divided by counting off or you can use your standard cooperative learning techniques. Groups should not be any larger than 4. You can then determine the number of stations or with a large class, you could actually have two groups per station. As the teacher, you can decide for all activities to be independent with you as monitor, constantly walking, answering questions and refocusing students or you can be at one of the stations to facilitate conversation, read a dictée or assist with a more challenging task. Allow about 10 minutes per station for the first attempt. This lets students know your expectations: be on task! Students should record answers, provide a reflection or have some accountability at most, if not all, stations and this should be turned in at the end of class. To make things easier on yourself, especially the first couple of times, ask:
“Are there activities that I’ve previously used that would work well in this structure?” No need to always recreate. Students need to be trained, so plan on trying this type of classroom organization two to three times, not too far apart in your planning, to establish the routine. It’s messy, but always ask: is it messy because a lot of students were involved in a lot of language learning? If so, bravo!

Sample activities:
Pictures make great prompts: descriptions, activities, tenses appropriate to levels, items to shop for. You can also provide questions to discuss or a form for a pre-writing chart but with more mature students, they could also independently discuss or journal, follow their own tangents.
For a more structured speaking, provide a textbook or on-line picture sequence; students role play those represented. Remember-no prewriting, just practice and they raise their hand when they’re ready for you to listen.
With a computer: web quest or topical search, reading, quia, response to a tv news story, youtube without lyrics-what did you hear; follow with same song with scrolling lyrics. How close did you get?
More traditional practice-focused vocabulary or structural practice; make this no more than one of your stations.
Listening: have the content up and ready to go; students may listen as many times as they like-which is different than they’re able to do as a whole class.
Reading-have selection available on line or copied so students can highlight, pick out cognates, find ‘known’ words, summarize or apply to unit of study.
Other ideas? Please share!

Musique en français

This is a list of Singers and Songs in French (authentic resources!) that can be linked to discussion of certain vocabulary or structural topics. Classifications have just begun and will be continually updated. Most are available on youtube and if you add ‘paroles’ to your search, you’ll see the lyrics as well-although the clip-officiel-is usually better for discussion purposes.

Zaz-Je veux-l’impératif
Zazie/Obispo/Patricia Kaas-J’attends de nous-le subjonctif
Edith Piaf-La vie en rose
Isabelle Boulay-C’etait l’hiver-imparfait
Mc solaar-Concubine de l’hémoglobine-poésie-identité-défis
Johnny Halliday-Le Rock et Roll est né-histoire de la musique francophone
Tryo-Hymnes de nos campagnes-l’environnement
Faudel-le rai-musique franco arabe-il y a
Stromae-on danse-français 1
Christophe Mae-C’est ma terre-environnement
Sinsémilia 2004-Tout le bonheur du monde- futur conditionnel
Coralie Clement- Beau fixe-Français 1-couleurs, je suis, identification
Carli bruni-Toi de moi-rime,activités cloze, poésie: comparaison/contraste
Manu chao-multilingual
Olivier Maje Dis-moi-l’impératif
Joyce Jonathan. Tant pis-pronoms d’objet
Tal-Le passé-contraste de prononciation-er,é,e
Amel Bent-Ma philosophie-élèves plus avancés
Vitaa- Ma sœur-Passé compose imparfait temps composés
Pink Martini Je ne veux pas travailler-self explanatory!

Building Communication

From: “Cammie R. Williams”
Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ways to build oral proficiency

Use whatever the topic is for Q and A (conversational straight from text such as ‘what do you like to do?’ or finish a statement ‘If I saw [ Justin Bieber],…). Students are up and walking around the room. They fill out a chart(See sample below) to record the answers they hear from other students. Students are encouraged to respond with a DIFFERENT ANSWER each time. Having them get out of their seats also goes along with brain research-purposeful movement helps learning.

Simple example: Working with reflexive verbs in the past.

Q: (In target language) What did you do this morning? As students record, don’t worry about perfect grammar. They can use short answers and you can direct them to record in target language or English-whichever seems more appropriate for the level. The point is to keep talking and keep moving. The first couple of times are messy; they have to be trained. You can also call ‘Time out’ and give a reminder of varying vocabulary, repeated structure problem (i.e. forgetting reflexive pronoun) Don’t give up. Usually have them talk to 5-7 people. Limit the time. Also, for variation, you could do a longer interview and talk to fewer people. Students hold onto their sheets and turn them in at midpoint and end of 9 wks. They might record on a colored piece of paper or mark with a sticky tab to find easily.

Chart of responses: Sample for above situation.
January 30 What did you do this morning?
Name Answer
Robert I woke up at 6.
Sue I brushed my teeth.
Ann I didn’t put on makeup.

Information gap or tables/Find someone who: Questions posed in target language to find someone in class that fits situation.
Has a sister
Has a mom with blue eyes
Has a step-father
Likes to ride bikes
Travels in the summer
Plays hockey

Bell ringer: Interview questions written on active board and students record answers from partner. With upper levels, recording is not always needed. Just talk and then ask for a couple of examples.

Single picture on activeboard. Say anything you can about this picture. All students are talking at same time to each other. Variation: brainstorm words; write words up and then students use to build sentences.

Picture story. Students draw four to six blocks related to vocabulary topics and tell you their ‘story.’ These can be very simple for lower levels but connectors and a variety of people should be used as they advance during the year. They DO NOT WRITE what they are going to say.

Voicethread. Teacher posts picture to account and then shares link. Students record comments related to picture. They DO NOT WRITE what they are going to say.

Restaurant scene: Students create a menu to use as a prop. They take turns ordering, playing the role of the customer/waiter. They DO NOT WRITE.

Use checks, stamps or signature cards for students as they participate; use rubrics for more involved activities. You don’t have to evaluate all participation; talking to each other counts; it doesn’t have to be perfect every time. It’s a process. Just as multiple writings improve the skill of writing, so it goes with speaking.

As you can see, the point is for students to have multiple opportunities for interpersonal communication without a memorized situation. This will help build communicative competency during the year so that the final assessments (that are open-ended and allow students to just talk on a topic, without preparing in advance) are manageable and do show each person’s growth.

Cammie R. Williams, NBCT
William Byrd H.S.
French Teacher and Dept. Chair