Monday, 5 June 2017

Battling It Out Between Clases

Setting Up a FSL Battleship Game

Looking for a simple and engaging way to connect your students with other FSL students?  Organize an on-going game of “L’attaque des Navires” or “L’Attaque Navale” (with a grateful nod to Battleship by Hasbro, for which no copyright infringement is meant).

This is an ideal game to encourage use of letters, numbers, strategy, problem solving, and the use of the 2nd person plural (vous).


Key vocabulary your class needs first:

Le grand navire


Les traversiers

Le canôt




Prepare them to ask and answer the questions. This proved to be an interesting process between our 2 classes (with Bev Moss of London), as we each taught them different ways of interacting. The result?  Some puzzled looks at first, but then the realization they understood the meaning!

On va tirer à….

Je pense qu’il y a un bateau à….

Je choisis…

Non, vous avez manqué.

Oui, vous avez frappé (our favourite phrase to hear!)

Review your class strategies for listening for comprehension and to interact. How do I make meaning from what I am hearing?  What is I don’t understand what is said?

(Bev also did an amazing job at teaching la politesse to her students. Whenever we missed, they provided the bad news with, “désolé, mais vous avez manqué.”)

Set Up The Game

1.     Set a regular time with the other teacher to connect via Google Hangout, FaceTime or Skype. Don’t try to finish the game in one class. It builds excitement and provides opportunities for reflection if you play over the course of a few weeks.

2.     Provide your students with a copy of the blank gamesheet. The top section is for recording your guesses, misses, and hits of the other class’ ships. The bottom section is to record the location of your ships.

3.     As a class, decide where you will be placing your ships. Have students record these locations on the bottom section of their sheet.

a.      Le grand navire – 5 spaces

b.     L’explorateur – 4 spaces

c.      Les traversiers – 3 spaces (2 of them)

d.     Le canôt – 2 spaces

4.     Don’t underestimate the need for some classes to review how to use a grid system, and how to play the game.

5.     Let the game begin. Each class takes a turn “firing” at the others to try and hit (and sink) the ships. All students should have the opportunity to either ask or answer a question.

6.     As the students become more comfortable, encourage them to introduce themselves to each other, to say hello, good luck, goodbye, etc.

7.     Resist the urge to step in and repeat what they said or heard. Encourage students to help each other en français. (“Qu’est-ce qu’il a dit?”)

Extensions / Assessment

·      For those asking and answering questions: proper terms, fluency, confidence, pronunciation, level of prompting, shows understanding to interact, etc.

·      I will often check each students’ game sheet to see if they have correctly kept track of the guesses.

·      Before each round begins, you can do a review of what has been asked, what has been hit, what area of the grid is still left unexplored, etc.

This game is an easy and meaningful way to begin your #fslbeyond journey, and to connect your learners with other learners. Bonne chance!

My Incredible Journey

As with everything in life, there is a beginning.  This was certainly a beginning for me.  Being invited by Jen Aston to be a member of this FSL Beyond the Walls TLLP team was very exciting.  It all started because we were at a meeting together where I happened to mention having attended Sylvia Duckworth's courses.  Of course, being asked to be a part of this was also more than a bit unnerving.

Our first TLLP team meeting served to amplify that last feeling.  Everyone else capably talked about blogging and tweeting, doing this, that and something else with various Google apps among other applications that I can't even recall and certainly didn't recognize at the time.  And, of course, the main technology integration for the classroom would be iPads. Well, I knew how to turn the screen on.  As we divvied up the work, I tried to find a simple task so I could at least contribute something. And we were off...

                    It greatly helps to be connected to a group of people who are supportive.

Upon returning to my school the next day, my principal inquired about the day and the group.  I candidly responded that I felt completely overwhelmed and way in over my head, but I accepted the challenge.  It was definitely going to be about mindset.

I opened a Twitter account and a week later posted my first tweet which included a picture and the support of a colleague.  I began to explore the apps on the iPads and attended the iCon conference to listen, learn and think about how to incorporate these new ideas into the student learning.

Then came the first BIG test, a Google hangout near the end of October.  I was fortunate enough to have Jen available to be my partner on the other end, but it worked and my students were able to witness risk-taking before their eyes.  I have done many hangouts since then, and my students have even commented how much calmer I am now, even when we have a glitch with the technology.

A few weeks later, I got caught in the act!  At Bit16 in Niagara Falls, I taught another newbie how to post a tweet!

Bit16 was a great experience! Being able to connect with others using technology in their classrooms, and sharing ideas, especially where it pertained to FSL, was inspiring.  At the same time, I remember leaving the conference with the thought of there is so much to learn, so many avenues down which to turn: how could I be wise and not be overwhelmed and feel that I had not done enough?

Over the course of the past few months, I have made comfortable choices for myself and my students. It has been exciting to take them "beyond the walls", give them a purpose for learning and watch them grow in confidence.  The technology has afforded us this opportunity through Hangouts, oral penpals, chatrooms, shared Adobe Spark video files, to mention a few.

Twitter has been a great social media tool for networking, sharing and receiving ideas.

And now I am completing my first blog.

If I can do this, so can you.  It requires baby steps, risk-taking and the patience to allow yourself to make mistakes, ask questions and carry on.  Don't look to the left or to the right and compare yourself with what others are doing.  Be comfortable in the place where you are now and go forward.  But, go! After all, if you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat!

(A huge thank you to our fantastic TLLP team members who encouraged me all year!)

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Our Activities and the CEFR

When I first described the "Box of Lies" activity to a colleague, she was a bit alarmed, concerned that the activity was more of a "B1" skill than a "A1" or "A2" skill according to descriptors in the CEFR (Common European Framework). You can find the lesson plan here. However, the strategies that we target in that activity in speaking and listening are definitely in line with our curriculum.

A sample of an appropriate Ontario Curriculum Expectation from Core French Grade 7:

Listening to Interact:
A2.1 Using Interactive Listening Strategies: identify and use interactive listening strategies to suit a variety of situations while participating in social and academic interactions (e.g., list key ideas from an oral text and confirm them with peers; provide relevant feedback when appropriate and/or requested; know when to interrupt politely to offer an additional point of view; use respectful body language when participating in a discussion; use appropriate vocal prompts to signal empathy, interest, and personal regard in dialogues and conversations)
“Je suis d’accord”, “Tu as raison”, “Tu l’as dit!”, “Tout à fait!”, “Tu as tort”, “D’après moi”, “Selon moi”, “À mon avis”. (2) Teachers can demonstrate the use of “pouvoir” to indicate possibility and phrase questions and interruptions courteously (e.g., “Peux-tu expliquer…?”, “Peux-tu répéter…?”).

Speaking to Interact:
B2.1 Using Speaking Interaction Strategies: demonstrate an understanding of appropriate speaking behaviour in a variety of situations (e.g., speak clearly; look at the listener/audience; demonstrate an understanding of when to speak and when to listen; take turns; ask questions and paraphrase information to confirm understanding; request repetition and explanation from peers when meaning is unclear; acknowledge the contributions of others before stating their own views; show respect for different points of view) Teacher prompts: “Quelle stratégie est efficace pour confirmer ta compréhension pendant une interaction (p. ex., une discussion, une présentation)?” “Quelles sont les stratégies que tu trouves les plus utiles pour encourager les autres à participer à une conversation?” “Avant de parler devant un groupe, pourquoi dois-tu penser aux stratégies qui seront utiles pour retenir l’attention de ton auditoire?” “Pourquoi est-il important de s’exprimer clairement lorsqu’on demande ou donne des instructions pour se rendre à un endroit?”

To me, these are skills that someone would use in A2 for sure.  But as soon as you get into points of view, you are edging into B1.  If you are new to CEFR levels, a friend recently explained them as this.

A1 - They are in their "house" talking about familiar things that are close to them.
A2 - They start moving beyond their house and into familiar community things.
B1 - They are able to express a point of view on a familiar topic.

B1 and B2 gets to where they are able to express their thinking more abstractly.

I love the CEFR levels, but we cannot let them limit our students because a certain grade should be contained in the "A2" box for instance.  I feel that a lot of the activities we have done through this project have pushed our students beyond their expected CEFR level.  In fact, in some cases, they have been self-motivated to go further than their curriculum expectations for their grades.

This year I had the opportunity to be certified as a DELF correctrice.  It was an amazing and challenging 4 days of training.  And while I can't use the resources in my teaching practice.  I know my knowledge will have an impact on my classroom next year.  Are you thinking of being certified too?  I highly recommend the experience!  Find some training near you this summer!