Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I heart Excel Survey !

I am in love with Excel Survey !!!!

It is now official I think that Excel Survey is a fantastic tool. It is very easy and quick to create a survey and students find it clear to answer.
I use it to collect students’ voice data in order to plan my lessons and see where I need to go next. It is also quite useful to gauge if my students understood a concept or if I need to spend more time in class on a topic. Students can answer a multichoice question, or even better they can explain their answer with a short text. I like reading their reasoning so I can see if the learning is deep enough.

This week, I could see that students understood adjective agreement in French but their choice of
words was not correct. The concept was understood but they came up with answers like “the verb is feminine”. So the next lesson we went over the meaning of noun, verb and adjective. It is a wonderful learning opportunity which would not have happened if I hadn’t used Excel Survey or at least if I hadn’t listened to my students.

After creating the survey I put the link onto Moodle for the students to access. If (when) we are moving towards Teacher Dashboard school wide, it will even be easier to share the survey. But until then you can share with anybody as long as you share the link, in my understanding, you don’t need to have a Microsoft account to access the survey.

In conclusion, the important factor is to survey our students and listen to them to see where their learning needs to go, and Excel survey is a great tool to do it. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New Classroom !!!

A good news from a bad news...

As the Japanese teacher and I only teach a minuscule number of students at senior level, we have
been given a new room. This room used to be the Languages Resources Room and during the last term it has been refurbished. It looks amazing !!!

The new room is near my French classroom at the bottom level of the block. It has a new heat pump (great for winter and our hot summer!!) and a data projector. This is not very exciting as all our classrooms at school have one of each; the most exciting thing is our furniture !!

The Japanese teacher and I sat down and picked some tables which can put in different shapes (yuppie !!); we also got some bean bags and some ottomans. The idea is that students would sit and work where they want and how they want. We could have a reading corner, other students could work on a listening task while others could work with the teacher around some tables. This is a very exciting time for us, although we will start using this room only next year when all the resources are brought back to the room.

Although we could not change the shape of the room as we can't move the walls, this is a kind of  MLE for our combined senior classes. It is very heart warming
to see our students getting excited every time they peep through the window to
check how the renovation is going.

Now the goal for us is to ensure that we use this room as it is planned and not fall back into an old fashion teaching.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I ain't dead !!

I haven't been blogging in ages and for different reasons. Some reasons are personal (family life), health issues and some reasons are much more simple, like I needed a break to assess where I was.

As I  have found myself again, I feel ready to write once more. Although, I haven't been writing for 2
years now, it does not mean that I haven't been thinking for the last couple of years. Actually, I have been thinking a lot, in every directions and maybe it is why it has been difficult for me to write. Not only I have found myself again but I seem to know where I am going now so it seems much easier to channel my thoughts. The last 3 years have felt like a "ride on a horse with no name". Although the desert can be harsh, it can also liberate us from unwanted stuff....I feel invigorated and ready to tackle a lot of things and maybe even bring down some mountains. I feel like a strong teacher scared of nothing.

Let's recap where we are up to in August 2015. I am still teaching French in a rural school in New Zealand and I still love it like on my first day. In February, I have been given 4 hours a Cycle - we have a 6 day timetable- to do some Future Focused Learning at our school. I have also been involved in the Kia Eke Panuku Team- how to raise Maori achievement.

In other words, since Feb, I have been very busy and I have been very challenged. The most challenging thing for me has been to learn how to work with teachers. Indeed, I thought it would have been easier to deal with teachers than teenagers but it turns out that it is much the same and the challenges are actually quite similar. But I think this is a topic for another post =)

As I am typing on my keyboard, I am tying to think what is my priority today regarding my thoughts. Funnily enough, I think I want to rant a bit ! This is not very surprising for a French though! I am angry to see that schools in NZ are seen as a place where students come to get ready for a job.

I believe that if we were sending our kids to secondary schools for the only purpose of getting a job then they will be no point of doing so. At the end of Intermediate School (age= 12 y old), students should then learn how to become a baker or a builder as their primary and fundamental education is (or should be) finished.


Students should be sent to secondary school to be challenged, to be shown how to become a critical thinker and learn how to make informed decision. A student in high school should be taught how to find information and critique this information, in other words a student should be taught how to evaluate all the information available at his finger tips and not become a sheep!

Secondary school is not only a place of knowledge as content but also a place of critical thinking !!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Te Reo

I am learning Te reo. I have been learning now for about 3 weeks, I am learning alone using books and for the vocabulary I use language perfect (online game to learn vocab)
I love learning, and especially I love learning languages. I am very excited about learning Te Reo. Although I only say a few things I have already noticed it has made a huge difference.
with my students- For the first time in a long time, I put myself in the learning seat. As te reo is not linked to any  Indo European language, I can't make links to what I already know. If I were learning Spanish or Italian, I could make links with French or English, but with Te Reo it is impossible so it is quite challenging. However I am still making connections. I make connections with the grammar I already know, and I make connections with words. For example, awhina means helpful. the word reminds me of the word woman, and everybody knows that women are more helpful than men =) This connection works for me and it might only work for me but it is important that I tell my students about it. Thus they will be able to make their own connections with words in French. So learning Te Reo is making me closer to my fellow students  and will help them learning French. Also they can
see that in order for me to speak Te Reo I actually spend time working, and that work is the only key to success.
with Maori students- the Maori students I teach are very excited to come to my class to see/ hear which new words I have learnt. But what is more amazing is students I do not teach come to see me or run towards me in the playground to check my progress. They are smiling and even if they laugh at my pronunciation sometimes, they seem to be quite happy. I think it is because I show respect to their language and per extension to their culture. They know I only learn Te Reo just because ( I do not want to change job, I just want to learn because I want to be able to speak with others).


Kei te arikoha ahau =)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I teach a wonderful Year 12 French and a very nice Year 11 French. I have asked my Year 12 to come during their study class to teach my Year 11 about past tense in French. I had deliberatelly not spoken about past tense with the Year 11, as I had in mind that somebody else was going to do a better job than me.

and they did !!!

It was great to be at the back of the room listening to Year 12 explaining how to create past tense in French. All the students were engaged and asked heaps of questions.

It was a great exercise for both levels as "enseigner c'est apprendre deux fois" (teaching is learning twice). The Year 12 want to teach again as they said it had to become clear in their head before they could teach, and the year 11 said they could relate to the Year 12 much more than tome =)

I cannot wait to have another lesson like this one. I have learned so much as well by looking at my students teaching

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I teach MY students

I teach my students, not other teachers’ students.

What do I mean by that?
I have been extensively reading about teenagers and what/ how they are learning. I have been reading how they text, how they speak, what they like doing. I have been reading all that from teachers or from people in the learning business. As I was reading I have never taken the time to actually stop and look at MY students. I assumed that teachers around the world had the same students. So I thought that teenagers from Scotland were like teenagers in South Africa, who were the same as teenagers in the US or Australia.

How wrong was I.

One typical example is that I have asked my students how they text. They told me that they text like they write in English (proper !!!), they do not use text language and cannot stand kids who do.
As you know, I teach French in a rural high school in NZ. My experience, my students might be different from yours even if you teach in a rural high school in NZ. My experience might also be different from another teacher in the same school as me.
I made the mistake to assume how my students were. This year, I have been observing them (I should have done that years ago of course, but I cannot change that). By observing and asking them what they actually like, I have realised that they like touching stuff I have laminated, they like doing grammar drills, they like playing gameboards, they like conjugating verbs on individual whiteboards (the old way) and they like learning their vocabulary using Language Perfect online.

So now, when I plan my lessons, I do not plan them if I were teaching students in Australia or in Huntly, I plan my lessons if I were teaching my students, the ones who decide to take French in high school, the ones who like conjugating verbs and playing gameboards

Monday, May 21, 2012

MIE in Year 10 French class

A few weeks ago, I have asked my Year 10 French who wanted to be extended. (read this post if you are interested).

So a group of around 10 girls have been working on different projects ranging from clothes designers to French actress.

The only two directions they had was to study a topic they were interested in and use their brain. I have asked a fellow teacher to (re)introduce the SOLO Taxonomy to this group in order for them to ask good questions.

Last week, was their final week and they presented to the rest of the class their work. MAMMA MIA !!! I was very impressed by the quality of their work. Their presentation skills were remarkable. A student spoke about pétanque. Her presentation was out of this world. She had great research, asked herself superbe questions and at the end of her presentation asked her peers a quiz. She wanted to be sure that her friends listened to her. I was very impressed by her deep understanding of the topic. She was actually capable of answering questions the other kids asked. I can say that we have now in our class an expert about pétanque in our class.

Not only this little experiment worked well but the kids cannot wait to carry on. Some are already thinking about what they are going to do next. 

Speaking about engagement ??!!! Good way of measuring engagement in our classes =)