Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Solo taxonomy and a Year 10 French

Today I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I was looking at my Year 10 French. I saw engaged kids who used their brains although we are studying daily routine which is not very exciting!

When my students leave school I want them to speak French, of course !!!, but I want above all that they open their mind to the rest of the world.
Since Learning At School Conference, I make sure that my students do activities which are high order thinking.

After looking at the life of a child from a 1/3 world country, students wrote a text about their own life, their own daily routine. Today they had to find the consequences of their daily routines on both their life and the 1/3 world country child’s life. What will/could be the impacts of their daily routine on their future lives?

I divided the class in small groups with a “French expert” in each group. I am aware that this activity was extremely challenging as my students have been studying French for only 1 year. After a few minutes, each group was working very hard.

I was of course very proud of each student’s effort but I have to admit that I was even prouder of a struggling student who could help in her group. Although this student has learning difficulties, she was able to contribute in her group with her strength. It was also very interesting to see that each group came up with a different point of view on the consequences of their daily routine. Students who are usually very good did not extend themselves as much as I thought they would, whereas students who are less capable shined during this activity even if their level of language was lower than better students.

Most groups came up with the idea that education takes a major place in life. According to them, one of the massive difference between them and a child from a 1/3 world country would be access to a good education. Students reckon that if you do not have access to a good education, you do not get a good job. If you do not get a good job, you won’t make good money. If you don’t get money you won’t eat good food which will lead to malnutrition and disease.

Overall it was a very good and engaging activity. I will definitely do another activity like this one. What is amazing about this type of activity is that children do not need to be fluent in the language they are using.

Monday, March 22, 2010

French camp at Tui Ridge

French camp has been another success !

Two teachers of French, from Cambridge High and from Hamilton Girls High, and myself have been organizing a French camp for the second time now.

The camp lasts 2 days, starts on Thursday morning and finishes Friday afternoon. This year we looked after 150 students who come from the Waikato and The Bay of Plenty. This camp targets students from Year 12 and Year 13. Kids have to speak French of course for the full duration of the camp. I always thought that students would not like speaking French to each other (shame of their low level of language) but actually they all make an effort and use French almost all the time.

After going through the Douane where they have to give home baking, students have a brise glace activity to go through. During the afternoon, each student goes through some activities directed by teachers. As it is a French camp, there is food for about 3000 people and we stop often for a big or a small snack.

In the evening after dinner and a French quiz, schools have to present a show to the other schools. My students presented the story of the 3 little pigs in mime. I think everything went well.
Thank god that DVD has been invented because after what it seems like 58 hours of crazy teenagers, it is nice to watch a French movie (Bienvenue chez les Chtis) before to go to bed at midnight.

On Friday, after croissants (of course !!!) and 2 slots of activities, it is time to do a bit of prize giving.

Overall it was another fantastic French camp. I enjoyed myself and although I was VERY tired I cannot wait the next one.
I have to add that without the help of the teachers of French from the Waikato and the bay of Plenty this camp will not exist. Merci à tous !!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bringing expert in a French class

Although I am a true French ( with the accent and all), I wanted my students to hear somebody else’s story about their life in France.
I thought that a kiwi living in France would give them another point of view of France that I cannot present. My experience of France is unique as somebody else’s experience of France would be.

After a fast search on Mr Google, I have found Kim Martelli who blogs about her life in France. She is a kiwi and used to go to Katikati College. I wrote her an email explaining that I wanted to bring an expert in class via Skype. Without hesitation she accepted.

This morning, during period 1 (9 am), Kim had a 35 minutes skype conference with my Year 13. The kids were of course shy (and giggly !!!! As you can imagine teenagers dealing with a new situation) and asked questions that came up naturally. The only boy in the class had, of course, to ask if French girls were hot or not !

After the conference, the students carried on their conversation and asked me other questions. It was nice and exciting for me as their teacher to see the experience continue even after the conference. I was very happy to see them thinking.

As I come from Corsica and Kim lives in the center of France, it was also very interesting to listen to her describing her food experiences. She told the kids that it was hard for her at the beginning to get used to the massive amount of butter used in the French cuisine. Her experience is totally different than mine, as we don’t use butter where I come from but olive oil.

Over all it was a very positive experience that I would love to do again

Monday, March 1, 2010

Failure does not have to be a bad thing

When I arrived in the UK what shocked me the most was the fact that you could not tell a child that he wasn’t good at something. It seems that failing at something was the most degrading thing on earth, so degrading that people didn’t even dare saying the word.

Well, actually we are not all tall and beautiful, we are not all slim and attractive, rich and intelligent….some of us are small, some are not as academic as others etc.. Why should we not admit it ??!!! I am small and I am never upset that people tell me I am small, because of the simple fact that I am actually small.

When I was at school, I was very bad at maths (and biology, and physics, and chemistry, and English !!!!) but I am ok with that. My teachers told me at a young age that maths was not my bag, and thank god they did !! If they hadn’t told me that I wasn’t good at maths, I would not have discovered that I am actually good in grammar and I would not enjoyed doing a degree in linguistics. I am very happy that my teachers were honest and so I could discovered my talents.

Although I failed at maths (and biology, and physics, and chemistry, and English !!!!) I have excelled in other areas which have given great pleasure in life. If my child could not sing at all, would I tell her that she can sing perfectly ?? Or will I help her to find something she enjoys doing ??

We don’t have to be good at everything, and I think it is acceptable to be bad at something at school because that could lead us to something much greater.

I suck at maths and I am happy !!!!