"My teaching, and quite frankly my life, has never been the same since
[observing Allison’s classes]."
[observing Allison’s classes]."
A few years ago, I wrote a one-page story for my fifth graders. (At this point in time, students started French in fourth grade, so my fifth graders were still relatively basic with their language capabilities.) It's pretty ridiculous and the kids start to roll their eyes about half-way through the story, but they enjoy it and I believe it has some pretty useful elements. (I have since created two more Christophe stories but have not done anything with them in my classes. I literally wrote them yesterday!) I also intent to upload some of my accompanying materials to TPT, so when that happens, I'll let you know. (And I have A TON!) One of my favorite follow-up activities is really simple, and could be adapted for multiple situations. Because I've been teaching this story for so long, I basically have it committed to memory. I project the story on my screen and stand facing my students. I then attempt to recite the story from memory. When I finish each sentence, my students indicate whether or not I have said the sentence correctly. One point for Madame for back-door input! (Sometimes I legitimately screw up, especially with the times and kinds of balls, and sometimes I'll do it on purpose. My kids LOVE it when I make mistakes, and it's one of my favorite/easiest comprehension checks.)
I originally wrote Christophe et la balle de golf in French, but there were a number of requests in the elementary CI Facebook group for an English translation. So, that cohort is currently benefiting from my sleep issues!
Here are some of the main reasons why I like this story and think it's successful.
1-It's repetitive. Five of the seven paragraphs have the exact same formula, and the other two are similar in their set-up. This allows for the students to become familiar with certain structures, and my brainwashing woks, I mean, they internalize the phrases. I have loaded the story with some important and useful phrases, so the students are repeatedly exposed to things they might actually say!
2-I sneak days of the week and times in there! If you noticed in the note above, there are seven paragraphs! I know, I'm crafty! (I wrote an even simpler one with different times when I decided to use the story earlier in the year.) I get a silly amount of joy when I feel like I am doing something cunning.
3-It's absurd. I kind of modeled Christophe after one of my favorite "literary" characters from my childhood: Amelia Bedelia. All of that being said, I am seriously considering writing a series of Christophe stories to publish. I'm not in love with the options for younger elementary students out there in French. I wanted something simple, short, and accessible. So, when you don't find what you're looking for, sometimes you have to make it yourself.
4-It's accessible. I know that not everyone one lives in an area where golf is a "thing," or even exists. But maybe the format will be helpful to you and you can adjust it to fit your needs and the needs of your students.
So, PLEASE talk to me! Would you be interested in this? I would originally publish them in French, but would happily do an English version. I feel like I might be able to fill a gap that exists; I am be excited to create materials that will be useful to folks, but I want to be sure I'm meeting y'all's needs. Let me know in the comments, or email me.
Allison Litten 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.