Anyone who doesn't think that "spring fever" is an actual thing is NOT a teacher! We are all doing what we can to keep our sanity right now. (I just realized that we only have 2 weeks of school left!) So here are some simple concrete activities and tips to help you make it through the final push. And be sure to follow Justin Slocum Bailey's advice and cut yourself some slack.
1-Write, Draw, Pass (From Martina Bex) This is one of my favorite super-low-prep, fun, and engaging activities. The potential for amazing follow-up activities is huge-kids write true/false questions, cut them up and have the kids match the drawings to the sentences, cut them up and play Memory. So many things!
2-Running dictation (Also from Martina Bex, but this post is from another blog) Get your kids up and moving with another low-prep activity. (I have some videos of this on my Instagram page.)
3-Qui a volé les biscuits de la boîte à biscuits? There are a lot of ways to modify this, and I'll soon be publishing a blog post highlighting a couple of my adaptations that connect directly to what we're doing in class.
4-Kahoot/Socrative/Quizlet-Not only do these activities take some of the pressure off of us, they are great assessment tools.
5-Textivate-These take less than 5 minutes to prepare, and have a TON of activities. Great for days when you just need a little down time (or for a sub!)
6-Tongue twisters-Always good for a laugh, and great pronunciation practice
7-Movie Talks-Don't reinvent the wheel, STEAL ALL OF MY STUFF!!
8-Guess the number-I often use this as a brain break because it's quick and easy. Write a number on a white board or piece of paper, and hide it from the students. Students guess numbers, and you tell them either "too high" or "too low." The great thing about this is you can do it with any size group of numbers. With my kindergarteners, I start with 0-10. I will increase the range as the kids get older and have a greater knowledge base with numbers.
For more activities and ideas, check out these other posts from Justin:
Zero prep activities
That thing you used to do
And be sure to visit my blog!
I have uploaded a bunch of resources to my TPT page to accompany both the French and English version of this story. (I'll add more English resources if there's an interest, so let me know if that's something you'd like! Enjoy!!
I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS CONFERENCE
The intimate setting allows participants to interact with each other and the presenters in casual settings. And boy, do we have some powerhouses! The fact that I am able to put my name along side Justin Slocum Bailey, Joey Dziedzic, Tina Hargaden, Linda Li, well, gosh all hemlock!
We will also have some evening activities planned! And it's in my neck of the woods (the Upper CT River Valley, or the Upper Valley), so come and hang out chez moi!
Soo...here are the details!
Registration: options for lunch and no lunch
Lodging: Comfort Inn in WRJ, discount available; you must call (you CANNOT make the reservation online) before 1 July and reference code Express Fluency Conference)
Manchester NH airport: 1 hr 20 min
Boston Logan: 2+ hours
Burlington VT: 1.5 hrs
The Dartmouth Coach is an easy way to get from Logan to the UV. Drop-offs in Lebanon, NH and at the Hanover Inn in Hanover, NH. (It has snacks and a movie!)
There is free public transportation in the Upper Valley with Advance Transit. There is a line that goes to the Comfort Inn from the Hanover Inn. It is also possible to get from the Comfort Inn to the HACTC, where the conference is, but does require a line change. There is also an Enterprise Car Rental in WRJ, close to the Comfort Inn.
LOCAL ATTRACTIONS AND SITES (all sites are in Vermont, unless otherwise noted)
Montshire Museum of Science (Norwich)
King Arthur Flour (Norwich)
VINS-Vermont Institute of Natural Science (Quechee)
Hood Museum of Art (Hanover, NH)
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
Quechee Antique Mall (Quechee)
Simon Pearce glassblowing (Quechee)
Quechee Gorge (Quechee)
Main St. Museum (WRJ)
Billing's Farm (Woodstock)
Dan and Whit's(Norwich)
Upper Valley Aquatic Center (WRJ)
Saint Gauden's Memorial (Cornish, NH)
Here is a list of additional activities!
Dartmouth Outing Club website
Appalachian Trail (NH/VT)
Mt. Tom (Woodstock)
Boston Lot Lake (Lebanon, NH)
Hurricane Hill (WRJ)
Hazen Trail (WRJ)
Ballard Trail (Norwich)
Milt Frye Nature Area (Norwich)
Here are some of my favorites!
Tuckerbox (WRJ): coffee shop and Turkish food
Trail Break Taps and Tacos (WRJ)
Phnom Pehn (WRJ): Vietnamese
Yama (Lebanon, NH; the Hanover location is no longer open): sushi and Japanese
Carpenter and Main (Norwich)
Molly's (Hanover, NH): very family friendly
Tuk Tuk (Hanover, NH): Thai
Market Table (Hanover, NH)
Ramunto's Brick and Brew (Hanover, NH)
Salt Hill Pub (Hanover, Lebanon, and W. Lebanon, NH): three locations in the UV
Elixir (WRJ): my favorite bar!
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.
If someone were to look at my Google image search history, they may question my sanity. (Well, that probably happens on a regular basis, anyway!) But I am a staunch believer in "a picture is worth 1000 words" in the language classroom. I love to spend Sunday mornings with some chill music, coffee, and my computer to root around the Internet for the wackiest, craziest photos I can find.
I have been presenting a lot on Movie Talk recently. (Haven't seen my MT session? You can see the presentation from VFLA this year here!) One of the things I discuss in the presentation is how I teach vocabulary and all of a sudden I realized that my approach may be worthy of a blog post! So, here you go!
The specific example of my standard in-class vocab introduction that came to mind was when I was doing the Movie Talk of the Monty the Penguin commercial. (If you haven't seen it, grab some tissues and check it out, and download my supplemental materials.) I was teaching the word "present." Sure, I could (and did) show simple photos like this:
I ask a lot of questions about the presents here. How many? What colors? How big? What do you think are in the presents? What colors are the ribbon? Is the present on the right open or closed?
You can certainly get a lot of mileage out of basic pictures like this. But....wouldn't it be more fun and interesting to show crazy photos? Like these?!?!
My Google image searches are extremely deliberate (and can be pretty darn specific!). Again, when working with the Monty the Penguin MT, I wanted to teach two basic word: "hides" and "plays." I chose pictures that contained vocabulary that the students already knew, or had simple cognates, so I could ask more circling questions around the images.
My students knew the words tree, boy, hat, cat, girl, little. So, my questioning went something like this. "Who is hiding behind the tree? Who is hiding under the hat?" (If I had a class that had already worked with prepositions, I could ask questions with longer answers: Where is the boy hiding? And if you want a good MT for prepositions of location, check out the Simon's Cat "The Box" video with ALL OF MY ANCILLARY MATERIALS HERE!)
For the "play" photo, I would ask about the number of people in the photo, little or big kids, etc.
Another one of my favorite examples of fun photos comes from my slideshow for the "Lily and the Snowman" MT. (Don't know it? Read all about my snowman unit, and steal my stuff that goes with it!) The word was "melted," but I also wanted to teach "to melt." What better way to show that than with...fondue! (And when the kids made the connection between the French and the English, well, the looks on their faces was priceless.)
We started with the photo on the left, talking about what had melted, under what circumstances things melt, at what temperature, etc. Then, before showing them the photos on the right (which I did one at a time), I asked them about what they would put in melted cheese. Then we talked about the first photo. I then asked them if there was anything else they would eat that was melted, and we brainstormed more possibilities for dippers for chocolate fondue. (Of course, I threw in some gross combos just to keep them on their toes and engaged.)
Perhaps some of these ideas got the wheels turning in your brain to explore some new ways of bringing new words/structures into your classes. What are some of YOUR favorite ways to introduce vocabulary?
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.