For those of you know me, you are well aware of my addiction to Movie Talk (AKA Video Chat, AKA Clip Chat). I'll be doing my MT session at MaFLA next week and NECFTL in February, and presented on it five times this past summer. FIVE. I am legitimately obsessed.
Someone just posted a question to the iFLT/NTPRS/CI Teaching FB group about a good MT for French I. I believe that ANY MT can be adjusted to work for ANY level, but I wanted to take a moment to write about the year I based the entire content of my third grade program on four Simon's Cat videos: Fetch, The Box, Snow Business, and April Showers.
We started the year with a Card Talk, where students drew what they liked to do. This allowed us to talk about weather, times of year, people, all kinds of stuff! We spent a solid three or so weeks on this. Here are some of the activities we did on my SmartBoard with the information we gathered about students in the class.
For the picture on the left, we dragged the pictures from the bottom next to the names of the students who said they liked that particular activity. (The screen was originally just the names and the picture at the bottom.) The second picture is a set of true/false questions I asked my students orally; they wrote theirs answers on individual white boards. When I showed the third, we talked about which weather is best for which activities; this is always great because of the discussions that arise organically. There are invariably kids who like to play baseball in the rain, and we talk about how it's dangerous to swim when it's storming. The last contains sentences for goofy paired Pictionary (animals that like to do different activities, the same ones that the kids drew for the Card Talk); one student in the pair closes their eyes, the other looks at the sentence, then I cover the sentence up and the "open-eyed" students draw what they read for their partners to guess.
We then examined some pictures of kids around the world with their favorite possessions. (Ooooh, culture!) This is such a rich set of photos for Picture Talk-it's so powerful and can get you milking ALL FIVE OF THE FIVE ACTFL C's!! (Teacher mic drop.) The conversations can be so rich, and doing things like Venn diagrams, descriptive paragraph composition, and, comparison charts can really get the kids thinking about cultural differences. (The one picture that's fascinating and scary at the same time is the Ukranian boy with his toy gun collection.)
Our first MT of the year was "Fetch." It doesn't connect 100% with our Card/Picture Talks, but it has a cat and a dog and a stick and throwing and it's just fun. Simple, basic, repetitive. That's the key to a good MT.
After our first term ended, we worked with "The Box." This one is fantastic for prepositions. (BTW, it's also the video I use as a demo for when I present on MT. Someone in the group always has a cat, and we talk about how the cat may or may not like boxes. It's great.) Students make their own little paper boxes, and we play around with putting different manipulatives in them. (Confession-by the end of our work with the boxes, I did break out some Skittles for us to put in and under and beside and behind our little boxes. Life's short, right?!)
Once the weather turned, I cued up "Snow Business." Both"Fetch" and "Snow Business" have great structures for gestures. Gestures are important for me as I work with younger kids and they really benefit from that physical/oral connection. A friend of mine once told me that everything in my classes revolves around people or animals throwing things, stuff breaking, things falling....What can I say, I know what I like and what works for my kinds. I mean, if it ain't broke....
There are a couple of moments in the year when I deviate a little from Simon's Cat. During the winter, to mix things up a little, we do our Chapin/Cochien unit, which is always a ton of fun. I tie things to animals as much as I can, because, well, who doesn't love to talk about animals! I find that this unit is really beneficial from a linguistic perspective. Asking students to split words into syllables is not always easy, especially in L2, and it's not something one would think of being an "important skill." But it really is a cool exercise, and cognitively beneficial, I believe.
You can read about the unit in more detail here.
In their ELA class, third graders study folk tales. In our third term, starting in March, we read Le Petit chaperon rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), which takes us all the way through May. I love this unit because it ties into what the students are studying in their other classes. It uses a familiar story, so their affective filters are low. I scaffold it such that by the end of our work with the book, they are able to retell the story to me as I use a doll house and small stuffies and figurines to act it out. For some reason I can't upload that video to YouTube, but you can watch it here. The very last activity is homework: students retell it to a parent with images from the book, no written text in front of them. It's a powerful exercise.
So there you go-a year with Simon's Cat! I hope this give you some ideas. What are some videos you think that could serve to be the cornerstone of a year's curriculum?
I've been dying to write more about my Card Talk activities; I continue to work with establishing norms and expectations with my students, so that has delayed the release of some of my class videos. In the meantime, here's something to make your life easier. SOCRATIVE!
Below is a 10 minute tutorial video I made on how to use it. Watching this might be the best way to spend 10 minutes this weekend!
Let's start with the most important feature of this assessment tool: IT'S FREE!!!!! No, it won't cost you a thing! (There is a pay option, but I haven't explored it.)
This is an incredible website that allows you to create quizzes that kids can take on devices or through a web browser. You can add images to questions, insert a variety of kind of questions, decide if you want students to be able to go back and revisit questions, allow or disable instant feedback, and randomize question and answer order. You can't add audio, but I will often set the pace at "teacher-directed" and read questions to my students.
But the absolute best part is the data you receive at the end. You can get a whole class spreadsheet, individual question information, and a question-by-question analysis for each student. And let me remind you that you need not spend a penny!
Here are some examples of the reports you get.
(The top two are individual students, bottom left is whole class question, bottom right is whole class spreadsheet)
I hope you are able to use this tool soon, let me know what you think!
Here is the first installment of my “Card Talk” video series. I am excited to bring you along this journey with me !! Let me know if you have questions or ideas.
There have been a lot of questions and conversations around Card Talk in recent days. I start the year with Card Talk with my fourth graders and, when I taught third grade, I did it with them, too (though different topics). I thought I'd do a series of video posts about how I structure it, what my goals are, what happens with input and output, and what "stretching" activities I do. ("Stretching activities"... Is that a real expression? If it isn't, I think it should be. I have a tendency to make phrases up, or rename something that already has an established term!)
Anyway, I just wanted to give y'all a heads up and a teaser for what's to come. (PLUS, if I put it out in the Interwebs, I HAVE to do it, right?!) I plan on recording my first video this weekend to set the stage.
In the meantime, check out this video from two years ago, the first year I did my "Hungry Planet" unit (outlined in this post). It's sort of mid-unit, and short, but it will least give you a preview of things to come.
Talk to you soon!
There are no words to express how unbelievably excited and honored I am to be part of an incredible community of teachers and coaches this year. Join me, my friend and colleague Tina Hargaden, and a host of other top-notch teachers in the CI Liftoff Curriculum Club! Use this special link to sign up; registration ends on Sunday, 8 September.
Tina is the author of A Natural Approach to the Year and the owner of the CI Liftoff Facebook Group. Her latest brain child, this Curriculum Club, has lesson plans, a curriculum framework, weekly office hours, and webinars with special guests including Justin Slocum Bailey and Annabelle Williamson, AKA La Maestra Loca. Added bonus-earn PD credit!! The support that you will receive through this group will help you feel confident about your teaching. PLUS, you'll be less stressed, and what's better than that?!?!
Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions. I ran my first office hours yesterday; I learned so much from the participants and it was an inspiring and educational experience for all involved. It truly is an incredible program, so please consider joining us.
Here is what some fellow New England teachers are saying about CI Liftoff and the Curriculum Club:
"I am 100% obsessed with Stepping Stones. I'm LOLing as I read this incredible book. Last year, I followed ANATTY with my students K-8, but this fall I'll be teaching Spanish 1 and 2 to HIGH SCHOOLERS! I am so humbled to have achieved this personal goal so early in my career as a language teacher. I have you and this group to thank! Your ideas, encouragement, and positivity were essential during my first year as a teacher last year. I would have gone nuts without you all!"
"Can I just say that ... today, [I am] actually sitting here watching my daughter swim and NOT stressing about what I’m going to do with my students next week? Because I’m totally not stressing! Finally! I’m brand new to all of this CI and I feel like I could cry at how awesome this Curriculum Club is. I signed up yesterday and there it was—daily, scripted out, “say this and then do that” step by step. To feel such support is beyond anything I could have hoped for. Here’s also hoping that my lack of stress will be an advertisement to the rest of my WL to give this new stuff a try too!"
Allison Litten, the 2019 VFLA TOY, teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public K-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This year she is teaching kindergarten and grades 1, 2, 4, and 6.