Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teacher of NCEA

I teach NCEA….I am ashamed of what I do but it is the truth I am a NCEA teacher !!!

When I go to a party, which is not often enough !!!, and that I meet new people, they ask me the question that everybody asks when you meet someone “what’s your job?”. So far I have been lying to this question, too ashamed to admit what I actually do. I look straight and answer with my thick accent “ I teach French!”.

Do I ?? Do I really teach French???

I would say that 70% of the time I do. Unfortunately during the remaining 30% of my teaching time I teach NCEA.

Let’s start for the beginning: I teach geeks,I know I should not use that word but it is true, they are geeks and they only want to get Excellence at NCEA, a Merit being a failure. And knowing that NCEA French requires students to know and use weird grammar structures that French native speakers would never use I have to teach kids tips on how to introduce those structures onto their writing.

NCEA is not about communication, it is not about if you can share opinions or understand other people’s ideas. It is about creating sentences with some “pourtant, mais, cependant, où, qui, que, dont etc….” (however, but, where, who, which etc..).

I have a Belgian student in my class this year who is a French native speaker. I had to teach her how to pass the exams as she was not writing the required structures. She was failing although she speaks fluently French. Thank god I was here to tell her to produce strange sentences that nobody would say !!!!

In NZ we are SO lucky to have a very good curriculum, but at the same time we have NCEA which does not allow us to actually teach the curriculum. Because my students want an Excellence, I actually spend time in class teaching them how to pass the exam. If I don’t they will fail for sure. If a French native speaker cannot achieve, how can a kiwi pass???!!!!

So yes I teach NCEA

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pam Hook changed my life

Last week I was lucky enough to participate to a 2 day PD with Pam Hook and Julie Mills about SOLO taxonomy.

Sometimes you go to a PD and while the presenter makes his show, you think to yourself “right mate, what you say is very good but I don’t want to end up with 18 cats because my husband left me after I spend 10 hours to do one of your activity!!!!”

It’s true it happens heaps. You go to a course and it was a waste of money and a waste of your precious time. I become very tight with my time as it seems to run away from me.

Last week was not like that at all. Sometimes you meet someone who transforms your life, and this person for me is Pam Hook. Not only she has transformed my life but she has also transformed my students’ life.

My year 9 are working on “clothes and description”. After this fantastic PD, this week they wrote a piece or work on their uniform. They had to first describe their uniform, say why they like it or not (explain), imagine their ideal uniform and explain why they chose each item (e.g. mon uniforme idéal aurait un pantalon car c’est confortable). I gave them “serait” and “aurait” (would be and would have) as it is a Year 12 grammar structure. I was very impressed by the quality of their work.

What was the best thing about this activity is that the kids could express what they wanted, they were not stopped in one year. I mean that the time when they had to wait to be in Year 12 to do/learn something interesting is over. They used their brain and they produced something of an extraordinary quality