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 ?? :-)