Thursday, 18 May 2017

Amplify the learning

If you have been following this blog, you know that we are developing engaging activities to help our students use French “beyond the walls of the classroom”.  I recently read the book “Amplify” by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke.

After reading, what really stuck with me was the authors’ message: if there is good pedagogy, then technology amplifies learning.

I think this is true of our project.  In our early days, Bev Moss and I reflected after playing a “Guess My Number” game with her class.  We did a Google Hangout and her class had to guess my number and I also had to try and guess theirs.  We took turns.  It was the day after Halloween in fact, and I was at home on maternity leave.  She asked me casually (in French) what I was doing that afternoon.  And I lifted up some of my kids’ Halloween Candy and proudly shared: “Je mange les bonbons de l’Halloween de mes enfants”.  We laughed and modelled a bit of conversation in front of her students.

Afterwards, she had a conversation with her class.  They were excited about the hangout and inspired.  They shared that they could understand what we said to each other and were very proud.  She pressed them further and they shared all kinds of listening and speaking strategies that they had used.

This kind of stuck with me because our initial data has revealed that students are very comfortable using non-verbal strategies, and less comfortable using verbal strategies.

While the activities we are developing are without a doubt engaging.  It really is what you do afterwards - the reflect and connect piece, if you will, that is really important.  Help students identify their strengths, their needs and their next steps in learning.  And then, most importantly, give them a chance to practice and apply their skills!

Jen Aston

OMLTA sharing #FSLBeyond

It was the most wonderful time of the year!
OMLTA Spring conference time.
A time to learn, share, make connections and my favourite-- Meet-up/Tweet-ups!
#fslchat selfie
We were invited to share our TLLP project work as a double-session.  We felt very fortunate to be able to share and connect with so many dedicated and inspiring educators.  

We discussed taking FSL beyond the walls of the classroom by connecting with other classrooms and francophone friends in order to promote authentic, action-oriented communication.  Transitioning from oral production to interaction experiences among students, and beyond, can seem daunting.  We shared tools and strategies that proved to work well with our students.
To name a few:
Qui suis-je? Leveled up!
Google Drive Speaking Penpals
Battleship Skype
Deviner le numero
Today's Meet

As well as promoted different social media outlets as ways to connect beyond the walls of our schools, educator-to-educator, with the click of a button.
Why?...Why not?
Quoted from the 2013 FSL curriculum:

Here's hoping to continue to connect and grow.

OMLTA presentation link 

TCDSB,TVDSB, LDSB, LKDSB brought together via #fslchat

Box of LIES Hangout

What FUN!  Level of engagement was at an all-time high today with Box of Lies Hangout.
A great idea developed by Jen Aston, Box of Lies #fslbeyond Hangout encompasses critical thinking, spontaneous use of the target language and tremendous motivation.
For an example of the interactive game, you can view this brief Jimmy Fallon clip:

I modeled this game with a few students in class, which immediately sparked their interest! Students started bringing in odd and interesting items for our boxes and we created anchor charts with what we thought could be useful vocabulary and expressions when playing the game live.  Our goal was to play with other schools via webcam online and, of course, to win!  Students brainstormed possible lies as well as questions they could ask to dig deeper into the truth... or suspected lies.  
I connected with interested educators via Twitter and we compared classes and schedules.  This is the tricky part.  As FSL teachers with a range of grade levels and periods in a day, finding someone with a similar timetable or shifting around timetables to accommodate a Hangout can prove to be difficult. That being said, it's definitely worth it!

We set up out laptops, projectors, speakers and boxes in anticipation.  We also sent a few teasing Tweets to keep things interesting.

We start with introductions, welcoming each other to our schools and then the games begin!
Teachers played a quick rock-paper-scissors to determine a starting school and we lost.  
Not for long though!
Schools took turns inviting students to open boxes and describe what's inside.  Students decided if they were going to tell the truth or lie.  The opposing school used the target language to ask questions to clarify and check for telling facial expressions or gestures.  Then we voted!

Box of lies Happy Dance

 "C'est un masque de Batman avec une grande fleur rouge."

Box of Lies proved to be a very rich, action-oriented task.  
The students loved it-- their teacher even more ;-)

C Okay Student Twitter chat

One of the highlights of this year was definitely our C Okay student Twitter chat. My 7/8s were enticed by the idea of using Twitter in the classroom and I was excited the connect with other classrooms to chat en fran├žais! My students were exploring pop music from a variety of francophone regions when we realized that the C Okay music video had an interesting background story and positive message about resilience.  We also realized that when the video is  played in segments, in reverse, it tells a story.  This piqued our interest and sparked some great observations and conversations!

I wanted to empower my students with the vocabulary and expressions they needed to express their opinions with confidence and ease, so we started by creating a re-tell of the video.

We started by creating a simple re-tell of the music video events in small groups.

Their re-tells worked as powerful scaffolding for their preparation of questions for the chat and to reflect on their answers. Next, we brainstormed questions.

We wanted the questions to be meaningful and thought provoking. This is what they decided on:

 Again they worked in groups to reflect upon how they might answer with joy notes however they were encouraged to leave room for spontaneous interaction during the live chat.  We spread the word via social media and created a little buzz! The kids were pumped and so was their teacher!

Let the chat begin!
Unfortunately it was a Snow Day for some of our planned participants.
Regardless, we were thrilled to have 5 schools join in on the conversation.
The students were very motivated and the hour flew by.  I was so impressed with the level of engagement and their responsible use of Twitter. They displayed true digital citizenship and a very positive footprint.  Can't wait to plan our next #fslbeyond student chat!

In future I think we'll spend more time on anticipating other student responses and prepare ourselves with what language we might need for possible feedback comments. Though the conversation was flowing somewhat authentically, it was definitely trickier in their second language. I'm proud to say
that none of the students reverted to English (though some to emoji!) and they expressed feelings of accomplishment that they were able to do so.
It was definitely a proud teacher moment!