Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Binder

I was reminded early this morning that I have another organizational tool that I have not shared with you all.  It goes perfectly in my space with the class folders and clipboards.  This is my extra copies binder.  It sounds so trivial, but once again, this is another tool that has saved me so much time and headache.

Every time I run copies of anything homework or notes related, I make extra copies and put it in the binder.  I've found that take 8-10% of your class (maybe more if it's notes over a longer unit) is the perfect amount.  My class of 31 gets 3 extra copies in their space. 

This is great because if a student needs a copy of notes or lost their copy of homework, they can go over to the binder and get it without having to ask me.  I don't have a printer in my room so it saves me from having to quick run down to the printer or writing myself a note to remember to make X copy for so-and-so.

I have the binder divided by level.  I also have a few extra sections of stuff: empty foldables, retake forms, etc.  Every quarter I remove any white papers (all of my notes are colored, so I like to keep those in there) to clean it out. 

This works really well! The only time kids have to ask me for something is if all of the copies are gone out of the binder. With it being only a binder too, it doesn't take up a lot of space.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Passe Compose Lego Activity

The passe compose is always one of the trickiest things to teach (and learn!) in French.  I always take it VERY slowly, one chunk at a time until we get through it all.  We started in October and are just now wrapping up all three together.

My students did fairly well one chunk at a time, but once it came down to not only remembering which category you were in (avoir, VANDERTRAMPP or reflexive) but what pieces you need for each category, things started getting messy.  They were adding reflexive pronouns to VANDERTRAMPPs, agreement to avoir, it was just a huge mess.

To help them work through this, I decided to take them back to the building blocks of each type, quite literally.  Courtesy of my son, each group was given big plastic legos.  I labeled the legos in advance and each group received: subject, avoir/etre, reflexive pronoun, past participle and agreement.  I used tape on each one so I could write those categories in permanent marker on the legos without ruining them.  Then, around the room, I put cards with a subject and a verb.  Their task was twofold.  First, they had to figure out which category of verb it was in the passe compose.  Then, they had to get the right lego pieces and write the corresponding word on the lego piece with dry erase marker (this works awesome..wipes right off).   Once they did this, then they could write out their full answer on the sheet by putting the pieces together.  They could check their answer by lifting the card.  The answer revealed was the "pieces" they would have done as well as the full written out answer.

It seemed silly to me, but they really enjoyed it.  It got them thinking about the different parts of forming the past tense depending on category and it helped them to visualize how it all goes together.

In hindsight, I wish I had done it as we learned each type as well, not just when putting all three together.  Definitely something to do next year!

Friday, February 13, 2015

9 Websites that do the Work for You

Every time I come across a useful tool for making my job easier, I bookmark it.  As teachers, we rarely have time to eat lunch, let alone make complicated puzzles and other things.  To make life even easier for everyone else, I have decided to compile a list of said links.  Most are applicable to any content area, but a few are language specific.  What do they all have in common? They do most of the work for you while still letting you personalize the content.

1. Crossword Puzzle Maker

2. Random Number Generator

3. Stopwatch- the bonus to this one is it can automatically repeat and make sounds.. great for stations

4. Family Tree Maker- great for laying out a family tree when teaching that vocabulary

5. Word Cloud Maker

6. Word Search Maker

7. Clock Face Generator

8. Word Scramble Generator

9. QR Code Generator Template- this is one of my FAVORITES

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015


One of the hardest things about teaching the past tense is helping the kids to remember which verbs are the VANDERTRAMPP verbs that use etre to form the past tense instead of avoir.  This method was taught to me in high school (so I cannot take credit for it), but it works so well that I feel the need to pass it on to the rest of my readers!

There is a story about Barbie and Ken that uses each of the 17 VANDERTRAMPP verbs.  It escalates quickly and is slightly morbid (which.. you need mourir in there right?) but it always seems to work for the kids.

When I was in high school, we were required to memorize the story.  That method worked well, but who has the time to tell themselves the story as they are trying to remember whether to use etre or avoir to form the past tense of a verb?  I've done a few different methods with the story.  My favorite is having pairs of students illustrate the story.  This helps them to visualize each verb as it "happened" and then they tell the story to the class like a storybook.  We also just say the story together every so often to solidify it into their heads.  I've also done activities where I remove the verbs (after they know it) and the first person to get them all in correctly wins.

Feel free to use it for your class!

Un jour, Barbie est née.  Elle est venue au monde avec un BANG.  Elle est devenue belle femme et Ken est tombé amoureux d’elle.  Un jour, il est revenu la voir et ils sont restés ensemble.  Ce soir-là, ils sont allés chez elle.  Ils sont descendus à la cave, mais il est tombé.  Alors, Barbie est sortie chercher de l’aide.  Elle est revenue avec une ambulance.  Ils sont arrivés à huit heures chez elle, mais ils sont entrés assez tard parce que l’ambulance est passée par (INSERT CITY HERE) en venant de (INSERT CITY HERE).  Ils sont partis rapidement de la maison, mais Ken était dans une condition critique.  Alors, ils sont rentrés trop vite et ils sont montés dans un arbre.  Et c’est comme ça qu’ils sont morts.  Quel dommage.

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