Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A year with Toni Twiss

Toni Twiss has spent a year with us at Matamata College, succeeding Richard Vandijk, as our ICT Facilitator.

Toni had to fit some very big shoes as Richard is a very good ICT facilitator but she managed it….very well. Toni has helped me during the whole year and actually saved me from boredom.

Before Toni arrived I was very bored and was never presented with challenges. It didn’t feel like working in a school but more like in a factory where everyday goes by and you feel you do the same things….over and over again.

Then arrived Toni !!! Thank god!!! If Toni had not come you would have found or dead in the staffroom or I would have to take drugs in order to forget I was in the staffroom!!! Toni made the staffroom a place where one can learn and discuss about good teaching practice. She shared her knowledge generously and was never crossed when I had a “thick day” ( or a thick month!!).

Toni Twiss is going to be missed a lot in our school…..I will miss her incredibly as I am very scared to be very bored again next year

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Core subjects versus Option

In most schools in New Zealand, timetables are done in such a way that there are “core subjects” e.g. Maths, sciences, english etc and “option subjects” e.g. Languages, cooking, woodwork etc…

In most students’ minds and, unfortunately, most teachers’ minds, core subjects are seen as very important and option subjects are seen as unimportant, invaluable subjects where one can mack around and where work is optional.

Last week, I went to a NZALT meeting and we started to speak about the fact that, as language teachers, we do not like that senior managements speak about Core subjects versus option subjects. We thought it is time to find another word than “option”. As the meeting ended we were not able to find a right word.

I know that changing a word would not obligatory change people’s set of mind but I reckon it would help. I was speaking with a teacher from a respected private school and he said he has the same problem with his pupils not willing to do any work as his subject (French) is seen as optional, which means for the students that no work is required.

When I was at school, option had another meaning. And as I am not that old, one can not say that the word has evolved ! Latin was for example an option. An option was then available only to people who could intellectually follow such a course. An option was a subject quite elitist that not everybody could chose. Although French in NZ is still very elitist, the subject does not seem to be seen as an important subject.

I would love to see teachers to change their view on optional subjects and realise that option teachers teach a lot to the students, like literacy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Easi Speak Microphone

Although they are very small and look like toys, I have been very impressed by the Easi Speak microphones. I have been using them to record my students NCEA speech. The sound quality is extremely good and the teacher who moderates the speeches said that she could hear/ understand words that she had been unable to hear before.

Using Easi Speak is very easy. Last week-end I recorded myself reading some articles in French. After recording I just plugged the microphone onto my computer, dragged and dropped the MP3 from the microphone onto my desktop and bingo!!! It was done. Then I could put the sound on a wikispace, blog or as I did that time, I sent the mp3 to my students via email. I know my year 13 were very happy as they could listen to a true French article only a few weeks before the exams.

Until now I have been borrowing a microphone from another teacher at school, but as today I will use my own ! Today I received 2 new microphones!!! A very happy day..

Thursday, October 29, 2009

use of ICT in classroom

I am going to be nasty here, and maybe I should feel guilty…..or not.

The school bought 16 notebooks a little while ago. Fantastic!!!! We now have 16 keys to explore the world. We share these notebooks among 5 or 6 teachers.

I try to book those laptops regularly, and sometimes (most of the times) unsuccessfully. Maybe I should plan my lessons 6 weeks in advance, but that would be being organised! And then I think “well fair enough, other teachers must use the laptops effectively and they need them more than I do”

2 days ago, one of the teacher I share the laptops with was away and some relief work had been set (by her). I had to help the reliever to set up the laptops etc..

Then I had a look at the work set up. The kids had to use the internet to create crosswords. No explanation was provided at all.
The next day the same situation started again, except that the kids had to use Word to write a story.

What shocked me here was the fact that it is not because you use a computer that you re using technology effectively. What is the point of spending $16000 to create a crossword? The students engagement and their learning are not greater because you use a computer instead of a piece of paper. The question here is “what is the point of making a crossword?” What is the learning? Where is the thinking here? Where is the teaching?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

French visit in my class

Last week a French lady came to spend the day with me in my class. She is thinking of becoming a teacher, maybe, perhaps….she had a bad experience at school and she is not sure if she wants to spend the next 20 years at school.

This lady spent the full day with, to see what a secondary teacher does. My first class was a year 9 French (of course French coz I am a French teacher!!!). The students had to make photos of them expressing verbs with their body. They could use a photo camera or a mobile phone. The lesson started and some kids had forgotten their mobile phone. They asked me if they could use my Chinese made mobile, which they love, to make some pix, I lent it to them and off they went outside taking some dressing up clothes on their way out.

Suddenly the lady looked at me and told me “ Oh my god but do you trust the kids with your mobile phone? Are they allowed to be outside? Don’t you want to stay with them outside to check on them?”

It was the first time she visited a school outside of France, and she never experienced a class where the kids are in charge of their learning. She was also very surprised that I was not lecturing my class.

I have not thought about my own experience at school for a long time. And it is very true that in France teachers lecture a lot, actually that is the only thing they do. This type of teaching suited me a lot when I was at school myself, but as a teacher I do not lecture, and I always make a point of making the kids responsible of their learning.

The fact that this lady was with me all day made me realise how much I have evolved in my teaching since my first class when I used to only lecture, exactly as I have been taught.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Smart enough?

I have Smartboard Software installed onto my computer, and I have had it for 2 years or so (maybe 3, time flies !!!). I have to admit that I don’t use it a lot because I use heaps Powerpoint which I find very interactive. I use it mainly when we watch a video and the students have to fill in the gaps using a air mouse. You see I don’t have a IWB and I live very well.

Feeling a bit guilty I tried during the holiday to create a presentation using smartboard software.

I made a movie to show what the activities are on the presentation. I hope you can understand my thick French accent- no hope for me to lose it ever as I have been living in an anglophone country for 9 years now!!!!!

I added this post because I would like to know if I am on the right track. Are there other tricks and tips that I am not aware of?? I actually need some help to know a bit more about IWB.

I have found a lot of inspiration here and

Friday, September 25, 2009


What a surprise….

Today during a lesson with my year 12/13 we had a very interesting and surprising conversation.

I found a French text from a very old book at the back of a cupboard. The text was dated from 1972 (well before I was born!!!) and was about Education.

The author was arguing that schools should prepare students for their future life and that students should learn what they need and what they feel like learning to prepare them for their future instead of being taught what teachers think what students should know. As I said the text is more than 35 years old.

The whole class then started to discuss the text. One thing leading to another, the students started to criticise the way they are taught and said a few things which surprised me.

First, they admitted that they would rather being lectured. They reckon that they need to simply being told the knowledge and they complained about the lack of notes given by the teachers.

Second, they think that at the beginning of the year, each student should be put into a group according their learning style. Thus, all the visual learners would work together and would only make visual activities-and so on for the other type of learners. They think it would be best for them as they reckon that they are wasting their time doing activities that aren’t of their learning style e.g. during a lesson, a teacher usually tries to cater for all type of learners by proposing different activities; if you are not a visual learner, you will not learn by doing activities that are targeted to kinaesthetic learners.

They also criticised group work when they are asked to go through exam results together into groups. They would rather want to have the teacher going through the right answers.

At last they also complained about the fact that there isn’t enough “current affairs analysis”. They would like to be more in touch with the world and with what’s going on.

I thought it was very interesting to know what they really want from school and now I need to digest all the information they gave me to adapt my teaching to their needs.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

shocking !!!!!!!!!!!

Shocking works

This week I twitted what I was doing with my year 12 French class. Tonitheisen asked me to elaborate, which I did, but I thought (sometimes it happens) “well, why not blogging about this activity!!!??”

The last topic of the year is “Sex, drugs and alcohol”...actually it is “Give advice”, but I have noticed that if I say to the students that we are going to study “sex and drugs” they are very engaged and work very hard :-)

Revenons à nos moutons.

Last year, at the NZALT conference in Wellington, I have learnt this wonderful activity.

After teaching the students how to give advice (si j’étais toi, à ta place, il est recommandé de etc..) I put them into groups. I give a picture to each group. They have 7 minutes to write (spelling does not matter) a story explaining what has just happened to the people on the photo and give an advice.

Of course I gave them pix which are very shocking. I want them to be inspired and I want to present them with an opportunity to give an advice.
At the end of the 7 minutes, each group has to tell their story and their advice without showing the picture. The other groups try to understand what their story is about.

In the lesson, each group end up having several photos. I try to keep the pace very fast to keep them engaged and excited.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Extra Normal ???

On Saturday , I discovered Xtranormal, but I can not remember how ( post pregnancy brain- at least this is my excuse!!!). You can make 3d movies. It is very easy to create a short movie. Of course it is not perfect, I think they are speaking too fast but it is free and I think it could be very good in a Language class.

It took my 15 minutes to create the movie. I will check if it is blocked at school, if not I could use it with year 9 in 2 weeks after the exams.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


During lunch time I went for a walk ( yes I actually left school during school hours!!) with a teacher who used to work in the science dept and now works as a relief teacher. She is very tall, scary and she is very talented working with difficult kids. It is always amazing to see all the hard gangsta ( you see I use hip words??) kids behave so well when she teaches and they learn so much with her.

Get to the point Florence!!!

During our walk she said that she was very amazed how students use very bad language in class and that they do not respond to detentions. It is true that students will get detentions after detentions and will not change their behaviour. My friend reckons that something is missing in the pastoral sector at school.

I was actually thinking about what she said during our HOD meeting ( ooops!!). I think it is not so much that we should invent means of torture to make kids change their behaviour, I think that they are not getting out of school what they should.

Usually the kids misbehaving are kids not achieving...what about if we were proposing things at school that could interest them instead of asking to produce complex texts in English when their level of language is very low. If John likes horse riding and is passionate about it, why not proposing a course about horses. I am sure that John would then not misbehave anymore and stop swearing at teachers.

It is time to rethink about what the word EDUCATION means really in practice.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

French Speech Competition 2009

Pourquoi ne pas les frapper tant qu’on y est ??!!!

Yesterday was a very good day. It was again French Competition day at Waikato University (thanks to the Alliance Française).

I took 3 year 12 and 3 year 11 students. Off we go in the van with Mrs Lyons behind the driving wheel. After few “ OMG we are going to die!!!”, we arrived safely at Uni.

We were warmly welcomed by Ruth Bourchier and Dr. Jennings, like always and everything went smoothly. I had to judge 24 students of Year 11 with the help of another French teacher from Hamilton.

Students had to produce a speech of roughly one minute and had to answer 2 questions (all in French of course).
Teachers had to pick the 3 best students of each year. It was very hard as all the kids made immense efforts, but we finally managed to pick three.

So far so good.

When I went to my 6 students who had already done their speech, they asked if they won. I had to tell then no (unfortunately!) but what hurt me the most it is when they wanted to know their grade. After checking their grade on a sheet, I realised that monsters teachers had given grades like 7/20 or 8/20.

Let’s be clear here. It was not an exam at all, it was not NCEA, it was a competition for students to meet other kids from other schools who study French, it was a day where students can be proud of their achievements, it was a perfect day for students to have their confidence boosted. Instead I have to tell my students now that they got crap grades!! I am so angry as I don’t understand why a teacher with a heart would do that.

My colleague and I (both judges of year 11) gave 20/20 to the first winner, 19/20 to the second and 18/20 to the third. As for the other 21 students in our group they all have been given between 15 and 17.

When a child that I had judged asked what was her grade I told her 16/20. She was so happy !!! She said to me “ wouah!! It is only 2 points from the third”. She couldn’t see that almost all the students had similar grades. For her, yesterday was a positive and wonderful experience and she can not wait next year to enter again the competition.

I don’t understand why teachers would do that to students! Kids have been very hurt… actually they haven’t because I lied to them and told them they got 15 !!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

news podcasting

So simple so effective

My year 9 French are learning how to describe people (physical appearance and clothes). And I have to admit they have never been very excited to be tested on it because they don’t find it very relevant I suppose.

Because this year, the Board of Trustees bought us 16 notebooks,I decided the kids could start podcasting. I wasn’t sure if they would like the activity…..suspense..very intense……

I put the students in a front of a virtual newspaper article using fodey where they could read in French that a teacher from our school had disappeared and that everybody was looking for him/her everywhere.

Their task was to produce a radio announcement describing the teacher of their choice.

I was amazed by the amount of work the students tackled. They were very engaged, excited, they wanted to know more vocabulary of a year 11’s level. I was so happy!!!!

We had some News Jingles to the podcast and Voilà !!!!

Mission accomplished!!! Kids produced some work of a very good quality and enjoyed working hard

Saturday, August 15, 2009

another dollar

I am going to scream!!!

If I hear one more time in the staff room “mmmmh!!! Another day another dollar” I am going to scream or strangle a teacher.

Ok in New Zealand our terms are roughly 10 weeks long and we have 2 weeks off. So I don’t know why teachers are still teaching if it is so painful for them to come back to school. I hear the same phrase every Monday morning !!!

Don’t take me wrong, I LOVE my week-ends and my holidays and I (be careful here, I might shock you here) don’t miss the kids. Why would I miss my students? I am a normal human being with a life. I actually always find a bit creepy when teachers tell you that they miss their students. I want to show the students that you can be happy with your life, and so can they. And my life does not stop at 3 pm!!

Because I love my week-ends, I love coming back to school on Monday morning. I have chosen my job very carefully and to be honest I would not have another job. I hear other teachers saying exactly the same thing but still complain on Monday morning.

Voila! I feel much better now, merci :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Franseme 2009

Franseme 24 juillet 2009

Ruth Bourchier, French National Advisor, asked me to present a little thing at Franseme this year. What an honour!!!!

The setting was so nice, Ferndale House in Mount Albert. Well, if I were a bit organised I would have read the program properly and realised that Ruth told us that it was very cold in the house. Of course I came half naked and I froze all day….note to myself: next time read what people send you!!!

I am going to jump to the last intervention. Simon Curnow, French teacher at Kings College, presented some videos made by his students after reading Candide, Voltaire and L’Etranger of Camus. First of all I couldn’t believe that some students in an English native speaker country could study these books as they are so hard ( I studied Candide when I was 16 in France!!!). And then I was amazed by the high quality of their own interpretation of the books.

First, I felt very bad as I don’t do this type of literature in my classes, but then I felt quite inspired. His presentation was very good ( short, I love short presentations!!!!) and straight to the point.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t assist to Anne-Lise Perrier’s workshop as hers was at the same time than mine. She presented the last songs and artists in France. She was kind enough to give me the booklet she gave to the other participants. It is where I have learnt about Grand Corps Malade. So on the following Monday I used his song about Saint-Denis with my year 12/13. They loved it and thought I was very cool ( quite easy to fool teenagers!!).

Ruth Bourchier showed us how an oldie can become a fantastic activity. Her workshop was about how you can make a Dictée become a communicative activity by simply guiding the students through some vocabulary to speak about their work. After having done the dictation itself you present the students with a sheet full of sentences they can use to speak about their work and their peer’s work. Before marking the work, each student compares his work with his partner and then they both compare their work with 2 other partners. It is using one task to make students speak in French in class.
As soon as I could I create my own dictation and tried it on with my students. Although it was very challenging, they loved it and it increased their vocabulary in French. I have heard students using sentences from the “dictation sheet” in class.

Overall it was a fantastic day. And most important it gave me a bit of a boost in the middle of winter and filled my head with new ideas ( I also got a beautiful present to present a workshop there !!! ). What more to ask ?? :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why do we all need to be life long learners

I am reading an article by Bruce Hammonds, “ Why do we all need to be life long learners”, that makes me think, especially one thing. When Bruce Hammonds write “For students to remain positive towards learning our classrooms learning communities need to provide students with the following vital elements.Students need to be given choice about what it is they are to learn...”, it actually makes me feel good.

I explain. Last week, I asked my year 9 students what they want me to teach them. I have enough of teaching them what I HAVE to teach them. So I asked my students. Some boys want me to teach them about cars, well I felt embarrassed at first because I know nothing about cars at all, and then I said to myself “ you know what that could be a good thing for me as I would learn something”. But what actually surprised me is that my students want me to teach them about what I am supposed to teach, I mean they asked to be taught about “giving directions in French, shapes, animals etc…”, exactly what I will teach them soon.

I am thinking that next year instead of teaching the curriculum, I am going to ask the students at the beginning of the year what they want to learn, knowing anyway that they would ask for the topics from the curriculum. If I start that way they will feel more enthusiastic and will feel that they are in control of their own learning. I hope by doing that they stay happy learners.

I will write another post about that in a year time to say if it works :-)

French immersion week-end 04-05/07/09

Last year Ruth Bourchier, French National advisor, organised a French immersion week-end in Wellington at the beginning of our winter holiday (July) just before the NZALT meeting. This week-end was very interesting for both Kiwis wanting to ameliorate their French and the Francophone presenting workshops. We all learnt heaps during these 2 days.

Due to the success of that week-end, Ruth has been begged by several people to organise another one this year.

And here we are it is the French immersion week-end and once again it is grandiose!!!

The venue was Kings College in Auckland. I had obviously heard about it, who hasn’t?, but I had never seen any picture of it ( Yes I know I live like a yokel in my country house with the cows!!). OMG!, I thought I was in a Harry Potter movie (with better actors though). The buildings were stunning and the grounds were incredible. Mr Simon Curnow (French teacher at Kings College) was a fantastic host and we felt like diplomates.

I have to admit that I enjoyed terribly Saturday during which we played divers games, I think I haven’t laughed like that in years.

There were teachers from all the country and heaps of francophones. 6 of them presented workshops, among them myself. I was very happy to attend others workshops as it gave “un coup de fouet” after a hard and long winter term. I feel now very refreshed and enthusiastic. I came back home with my head full of ideas and I have already started to work on new activities. I am so existed about what I have learnt during that week-end.

I really can’t wait the next one :-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Powerpoint is not dead

Powerpoint is not dead!!

Funny that I read heaps of people saying that Powerpoint is not a 21st century tool in ICT. Well I disagree.

With my first computer I used Powerpoint like a Overhead transparent, of course like every body did, but now I make my presentation so interactive and so engaging that students are very enthusiastic in their French class ( especially in a country where languages are not valued at all). And I have to admit that my imagination is my only limit regarding presentations.

I don’t want to sound French ( you know complaining and arrogant) but I have seen a lot of powerpoint online that look very dated although they have been produced last Monday. Powerpoint is not about little animation that fly on your screen ( things like that do not make students interested, they are not mentally retarded, at least not all of them).

The best tool for me in Powerpoint is the trigger button - you know this word will appear when I click on this picture ( or something like that). This is where the presentation becomes interactive, and not because you have chosen a pretty background.

As you know (because of course you read my post regularly waiting for the next one with impatience!!) I have a Mac (yes a Mac with a capital letter) since ...I think May or something like that. I was so excited when the school gave it to me, I almost made the wheel. (because I am very flexible). But then I realised that in the Powerpoint which is supported by the Mac, there is no Trigger!!!! Catastrophe. I cried and I almost gave the computer back because for me Powerpoint is so powerful that I could not live without the trigger thing. (later we found a solution and now I have Virtualbox installed).

For me Powerpoint is not to be used as a slideshow. Do you use your computer only for word? Have you spend your school budget buying a data projector or an interactive whiteboard and you use them only to project Word?? For me it is exactly the same thing for Powerpoint. If you use PPt as a slideshow (I mean pictures move, slide change and youpi students should be excited) no wonder that you think that PPt is not a 21st century tool.

Ps: I don’t get paid by Windows to promote PPT (unfortunately!!)

Pps: If Mr Gates is reading this post ( I know he does coz he is very interested in what we do at Matamata College’s French department!!) I would not mind to be paid to promote your products :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

enjoyment in teaching

I have just read Sonja’s post on e-learning Research,”Learning-the question of enjoyment", and a million of thoughts are running into my head ( I actually didn’t think my head was big enough but obviously it is).

My first reaction on why learning is sometimes no more enjoyable for learners is maybe because Teachers don’t enjoy what they are doing. How can you make people excited about something you are not even enthusiastic about??

Why are teachers not enjoying what they are doing?? This I have got no answer for. Have they chosen this job only for the holiday? Are they in front of the class for the security of the job ( no recession in teaching)? Are they not paid enough? I have to admit that maybe the fact that teachers get paid peanuts might make the sparkle of teaching leave pretty quickly, but really it is the main factor, or could it be??

I do believe deeply that if you are having fun you will learn better and faster. It is why I try to make lessons varied and I make a point of having a good relationship with my students. I make fun of them, a lot!! (dead easy though!!). But I also have noticed that if what you are asking to the kids is too easy they do not have fun finding the answer. They like finding it hard. For some kids, fun means thinking and being challenged. Do we challenge them enough??

One thing I am sure about is that to have enthusiastic students we must enthusiastic ourselves. ( Oh so profound!!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

rethinking my teaching

Je n’ai peur de rien

This year I have been rethinking totally my teaching. I feel like a rebel on my harley scared of nothing and nobody.

So instead of teaching year 9 what I should teach them, I started to teach what comes up in class in our daily conversation.

It doesn’t make any sense, does it?? Well let me explain.

I am supposed to teach them about introducing themselves, numbers, months, family etc… sometimes I was coming into class with a lesson plan, what are we going to learn today “family”. But then John ( I actually don’t teach any John, but sounds so likely I could teach one!!) comes in and is eating chocolate. I could scream at him and tell him that he should not eat chocolate in class, but why would I do that when I can ask him for some chocolate instead? So here we are I ask him in French (of course), and I help him saying that he had some chocolate but he ate it all. So of course I am very upset because it means I will not get my usual dose of sugar ( I steal a lot of lollies from the kids, they are stealing my youth I steal sugar from them!!) but instead of crying out loud I start to teach them to say “je l’ai déjà …”. ( I have already…)In a previous lesson they had learned how to say what they did the night before (it gives me a good occasion to bully them about the programs they watch on TV. :-) ) so now we can combine the both.
E.g. Qu’est-ce-que tu as fait hier soir?
J’ai lu Harry Potter
Which becomes je l’ai déjà lu

So after 2 terms of French (well not really coz they miss a lot classes due to sport and other commitments) the little year 9 understand heaps of French. They actually ( yes I mean ACTUALLY) understand questions in present tense but also in the past tense, then they can give me compliments when they want something from me.

So far I have noticed that their French is well advanced compared to previous years. I might be a bit late in my curriculum but the benefits are extreme!!! I will reassess things later and see if it is worth it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

learning for the pleasure

Et la culture alors on en fait quoi?? Des confettis??!!!!

I am a teacher of French and (unfortunately for my accent when I speak English!!) I am French. I live in an English native speaker country (New zealand) and I have to answer all the time why should we learn another language. ( this need another post)

In NZ, the languages which are taught are generally French, Japanese, Spanish, German and Te Reo (Maori).

First I hate when I tell people that I am a teacher of French they answer straight back that the students are “SO lucky to have me as a teacher”. To that I ask “Why?” ( is it because I am extremely pretty? Or because I have a high sense of fashion? Or is it because I work like a slave for peanuts, literally ??) people answer it is because I am a TRUE French and when I speak French I obviously don’t have a kiwi accent.
To that I want to answer bull**** but I am too polite. Yes I am French but it does mean that I am a good teacher, I could be very crap while a kiwi could be a fantastic and motivating teacher.

So this is my first “coup de gueule” !!!

Then next one. Languages here are not compulsory at school. I hate when people tell me that they would like their kids to choose French as an option so they can go to France on holiday. Do you only pick a language so you can spend 2 weeks in your life ordering a Coca Cola or a meal at a restaurant? I think this is wasting a lot of your energy.

I have learned English at school for the pleasure, I never wanted to actually go on holiday in England or in NZ. But not only English. I learned science and maths until last year at school and I never use science in my job. However, I am extremely happy to be able to place the liver and to roughly understand the theory of relativity (I think I do anyway!). I love learning just for the pleasure, and why can we not teach at school just for the pleasure, just for cultural purposes and nothing, not for your 2 week holiday in Brazil??

When I learn something, I feel so happy and proud of myself in the evening when I go to bed. I go to bed a bit less dumb than in the morning when I got up, and it feels so good. Learning a language is the same, your learn it for pleasing you, not for your exam, not for a job.

Voila!! I feel relieved that I got that out of my chest :-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

twitter again to the rescue

Yes another one!!!!

Bon alors ok you have heard it from so many sources that you know it by heart now. But because I am so egocentric I am going to tell you about my experience.

A few months ago, @tonitones introduced me to twitter and what a bless. Since then my life has changed, well maybe not that much but it sounds so dramatic and powerful when one writes it down. So I have been twittering heaps since then ( and not only about me drinking a cup of tea as my lovely husband thinks I do). One day ( can’t remember when exactly as time is so relative!!) I wrote on twitter that I was studying Le Petit Prince with my year 13 French. At that point @tonitheisen answered and told me that she was studying it as well with her class in Loveland-Colorado. Long story short, @tonitheisen decided we should create a common wiki. In a week-end she created it and sent me the address on the Monday.

Then the fun started… @tonitheisen put some resources and I did the same ( I have to admit that she put much more than I did). Later my class had the fantastic surprise to find on the wiki some videos of their american friends introducing themselves and their school. So of course we had to do the same. From then started a ping pong game with videos until the summer holidays started in the US.

Well this would have never happened without twitter. Really what is my chance to meet someone from a country on the other side of the world who teaches the same book as the same time.

Merci monsieur twitter

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

online collaboration

Comme le monde est petit

I am really happy to be 32 in 2009 ( did I say 32? I meant 21 of course!!) for one reason : the Internet (with a capital letter to show how much respect I have for it). You are going to ask me why I like the Internet so much. I will answer to you in only a few words (you see I am not so boring after all!), it is because it makes the world very small.

Although I live in New Zealand in the middle of nowhere ( my neighbors are cows, literally speaking) I feel in the center of the world, thanks to the Internet.
I would say a month ago (maybe 2) I met @msfrenchteach on Twitter. An one day I asked who wanted to work on an online work using etherpad. @msfrenchteach answered quickly and after calculating the difference between our times ( oooops I have forgotten to say that @msfrenchteach is in the US) we made an online appointment.

I picked my year 12 French (their 4th year of French) and told them roughly what we will be doing (couldn’t tell much because I wasn’t sure of what will be happening). So here they are at school at 8 am (we start usually at 8.30) ready to work. Skype and etherpad are on. So after a few minutes giggling (teenagers the same everywhere!!) they were ready to work hard. We spent one hour online asking each other questions. I was just here to help them in case of emergency, like a dictionary. I have to admit I was so proud of them. I was looking at them working with pleasure, they were so excited to speak with other people so far away. And I know they were not lying because at the end they asked me when we will do that again.

When I said to people about this experience they all asked why I didn’t do that with a French school. Easy to answer. When you are 15 or 16 you don’t feel very confident and you know that your level of French is not very high. Why would I have put them in front of kids who speak fluently French. Realistically we all know how boring it is to speak with people who just start to learn a language, it requires a lot of patience that you don’t have when you are 16. But I do believe that you feel ok when you speak with people who have the same level of language as you ( hope that what I write makes sense!!, bloody French can’t even write English properly ☺ )

This experience was wonderful for me and the students and we can not wait that @msfrenchteach has finished her summer holiday (we are so selfish) to have another online collaboration

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My new MAC

long life learner

For years now I had Pc and only PC. Of course I had seen Mac, or should I say I have seen people using MAc in front of me, but I have never really had the occasion using a MAC myself....but a computer is still a computer isn’t it? And because I have been using PCs for so many years I thought “ Well don’t need to be a genius to know how to use one of these beautiful white MACs!!!”

Yeah right!!!

Because I have been moaning for so long at school about not having a MAC, “ I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC, I want a MAC,!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the Deputy Principal must have had enough of hearing me and to make me shut my big French mouth, she gave me one.
So, with my new MAC, I came home and started to looks so cool. But after the week-end, when I had to actually teach, I realized that although MAC is quite easy to use, I couldn’t teach! I asked the kids to be patient and told them that it would take me a little while before I can be as confident with a MAC between my hands as I was with a PC. Funny enough, the students who usually sigh if things don’t move as fast as they want were really nice, patient and so understanding!!! I was honest with them and I think they were patient because they saw me as a learner for once and not as a teacher.

Actually, this is a lie because as being French leaving in an English speaking country, I am always a long life learner. I don’t have an Uni degree in English (I have learnt English on building sites), the kids know that and I always make clear that although my English is not perfect (far from it ) I am not ashamed to speak and I am definitely not ashamed if the students want to correct my English. Aren’t we role models? Of course we are!!! So it is really good for our students to see us as long life learners.

So last week when I had for the first time in my hands my beautiful white computer and I looked like a retard in front of my classes, I felt at ease because I proud to be a long life learner.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

another powerpoint

I love Powerpoint and I think it is a fantastic tool to engage students and to make lessons interactive

Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh mon Dieu!!!!

Alors I know that Richard Vandijk has already spoken about it in his blog, but I feel I have to write something about it as well as a French teacher. Richard spoke to me about Stu’s Jeopardy on Twitter. I thought it was really strange because he knows I already have some Jeopardy games, I use Powerpoint for that. But well, Richard is really clever ( he is Dutch) and if he recommended me a site I should have a look . Well, merci mon Dieu I did!!!! This version of Jeopardy has been made for me ( and for you as well it is why I have the urge of speaking about it!!!). it is free (Yes!! free, gratuit, gratos, donné, offert..), I love that word!!!, the only condition is that you have to send the creator a quiz that you created. Speaking about creation, it is so easy it is incredible!!! Usually when I use the Powerpoint template it takes a million years to create a game ( I grow a beard every time!!!) but with this one it is fast, easy, clear (don’t need to have a PHd to understand how it works or being a geek who has not seen day’s light in a decade) and if you make a mistake ( it never happens to me!!!) dead easy to fix it.

So I jump onto the programme and created a game for that afternoon for my year 13. I thought why not making a whole Jeopardy on conjugation revision?? So I did exactly that. A few minutes later my afternoon lesson was ready. The students came in and I told them what will happen during the lesson. They were not that excited as we play heaps of games and they already Jeopardy as I said earlier. We played. They used their brains. And at the end they asked if I created the game myself ( I wish I was smart enough!!!) and begged me ( yes I used Begged!!!) to create more quizzes. 16/17 year old teenagers thought the game was really good and when I asked them if I was doing more quizzes would they want to play they said “of course, it is cool!!!

Voilà!! I just wanted to share my excitement about this game because it is a really good game.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

songs in MFL class

kids and I love singing in class ( and dancing as well actually!!!) I only use true material in my class. I use songs that I love, new or old ones, and we sing along. it helps the students to memorise grammar structures more easily. I use smartboard software for that, because it is easy and interactif.

Monday, April 27, 2009

relevant assessment

Toni asked me if I can make assessment relevant to the students. I would say that I try as much as I can. Of course, I can not change NCEA ( NZ equivalent of GCSE and A levels) but I try with any other assessment. I love the idea of the students learning more about French culture. We live so far from France and it is really hard to make it real for the kids. I am going to give you an example. I asked my year 10 to make a research on a French singer. I give them a list of singers to actually help the students who are struggling. If they want to choose a singer who is not on the list it is ok with me. And then I ask them to find relevant information about this singer. I do not tell them what to find because every body is interested in something different. For some kids the singer’s favourite course might be more interesting than how many albums s/he has sold! My only instruction is that it is forbidden to copy/paste from the internet because if they copy/paste they do not learn anything. I had fantastic work from the kids. I remember some presented the singer and they created a quiz to see if you followed their presentation. They even did some Powerpoint presentation with videos found on Youtube.

I was really proud of their work and they learned so much by having no directions because they worked towards something they were interested in, it was relevant to them, they enjoyed it so they worked bloody hard….and they were successful of course.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

la nourriture. que choisir?

amis terriens salut,

A fast and easy powerpoint that I use with year 10 with food topic.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What do I think when I teach??!!!

OK, so Toni wants me to put a new post about my teaching. Yeh right, but now comes the question "Do I really know what I am doing?"
I teach French in a rural school (year 9 to 13) in New Zealand. French is an option and as you can imagine the community does not really see the point of learning a foreign language in NZ; and anyway we speak English in NZ and everybody speaks English in the world don't they??!!!
So it is a struggle for me to keep good effectifs. When I started in 2006 we had 2 year 9 and no year 13 because nobody wanted to carry on French. In 2009, we have 3 year 9 and one year 13 (OK only 5 kids but still!!!).
When I reflect on my teaching and that I look at what I am doing in the class, I would say that I concentrate on making my classes enjoyable. If the students enjoy my class they will work harder, and if they work harder they increase their chance of succeeding. If they succeed they will carry on French. So to make my classes enjoyable I try to vary the activities as much as possible. I love ICT as it is a fantastic tool for engaging students, but I also dance and sing heaps (with a funky plastic microphone) and I always make sure that students are pushed hard. I have really high expectations and I do not lower them down. One of my priorities is to always teach what the kids want me to teach even if it is not in the curriculum. It is sometimes more important to capture a student that is interested in " how is a day at school in France?" than force feeding him with "l'accord du COD place devant le verbe"!!! If you captured this child, if you have answered his questions, you might have captured him for the rest of the year. I am thinking right now about this girl N who is so out of her depth in French, but who is also so excited and she even gave me some easter chocolate!!!!!

So how do I teach???? What is my philosophy of teaching ( what a grown up word!!!)? Well I work hard to make my lessons enjoyable. Am I a clown in front of my class?? I'd say "Yep, all the time"


Monday, April 6, 2009

writing can be fun


here is a video to show a powerpoint that I use with writing. kids have to write the text before it disappears. they all enjoy it because it is quite challenging.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I am going to show you how to through a tomato at my face ( sounds quite weird to actually to write that down!) using the mighty Powerpoint

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I demonstrate how to use the Draganddrop macro in a French lesson (here teaching subjonctif to year 12) and I use self mockery to involve kids in my class

Friday, March 20, 2009

at last!!!!


here I am at last blogging like a geek

this is going to be a space about teaching French in an innovative way that will involve kids so much that they will take French up to year 13 ( in my dreams at least :-) )