Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I just love it when my students enjoy one of my new products!!  This year I spent time creating a game of "Pioche".  (Go Fish in English)  After spending time speaking with my European friends and my French Canadian ones I found that the two areas call the game of Fish two different names.  In areas of France children play "Pioche" and in Quebec my friends' children played "Va pêcher".  No matter what you call it, it's a great way to bring an easy childhood card game into the classroom while reinforcing not only "speech" but also a theme of vocabulary of your choice.  My students are using my "Noël" collection and are playing Pioche with Christmas vocabulary cards.  Each game has 120 cards so that the students can collect 2 or 4 of a kind. I have put the vocabulary pictures here on green cardstock so that they last longer.   If you are interested, visit my store at:

Look for French Christmas Fun in the classroom!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good old fashioned fun!

As we head into the Christmas holidays
 and it becomes more of a challenge to keep our students focussed on learning, it's more important than ever to have "fun" in your classroom.  Not only will it make the time go by much more quickly for both the students and yourself but it is the perfect way to reinforce all of the basic French skills of reading, listening, and speaking with a board game or two! Monopoly, Scrabble, The Game of Life, Clue - just to name a few - all have French versions of their English counterparts.  Yes, the major publishers have them available but we were able to find them at a lesser cost through a toy store (on-line shopping).   :) 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Creating a story

Today I wanted to promote not only speaking skills but also wanted to encourage my students to listen to each other!  We started by spending some time "speaking" about a picture on the screen.  The picture was suggesting a "theft from a filing cabinet with only gloved hands being seen" in the picture.  It was a great way to create mystery. After the students spoke about the picture for a period of time, I had them create a story together.  One person started the story and we continued to circulate around the room until the story was done.  Each student added a little bit of information and each created more twists and turns as the story continued. It became very complicated with new characters coming into the story as it progressed.  Upon completion of the "oral story", I asked all of the students to spend some time "writing" the story that was just told.  There were varying successes in this part of the activity as some had better memories than others.  Also, some were just better listeners than others.  It was a great lesson to promoting a "oneness" in our room while practising in the target language!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Teaching comprehension

There are so many things that we can learn quickly but "comprehension of a second language" is not one of them!  Improving comprehension takes time and lots of repetition and practice.  When students are not yet able to understand everything that they hear in the foreign language we need to work at strategies to help them understand SOME of what they are listening to.  The more difficult the listening "podcast" or "tv commercial" or "speech" the longer it will take the students to get to a point where they understand most of what is being said. 

Today, I had my students watch a short video which was advertising "la fête des lumières", the festival of lights which starts tomorrow in Lyon, France.  I gave only a very short introduction to the video and then asked the students the write down all of the words that they understood as they were listening to and watching the video. I then asked them to use those words in a very short "quick write" of 6 minutes in length.  I didn't care what they wrote, I just wanted them to use some of the words that they heard.  I also wanted them to realize that they couldn't spend 10 minutes deciding about what they were going to write.  (a huge time waster when time in the classroom is precious)  When students are asked to write something they don't always have the vocabulary at their fingertips in order to write something of a higher quality.  This gave all of my students a place to start.  I then showed a second video where I had the students do the exact same thing, only this time the short video was about a short story that we had recently read and are studying in class. (La Chasse-Galerie)  Again, my goal was for the students to create a vocabulary list for themselves.  This list will now be used to study from in preparation to writing their culture test about the French Canadian short story.

As is always the case, the class has a large variety of abilities.  This exercise was difficult for some and much easier to do for others. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Let the students create the topics!

While working on authentic conversation scenarios I decided to have my students role play from a picture of a man talking on the phone. Let the authentic conversations begin!  Within two minutes of asking them to do so, out came all of the cell phones in my class and all the students began talking!  It was such a funny sight! They were really getting into the "scenario"!   As I circulated around the room to listen,  the conversations were truly varied.  Some spoke of what they did the day before, some of money owed to someone else, while others spoke of pets and even food.  The topics of the conversations were not assigned by me, just the picture prompt.  I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to challenge the students to stretch their vocabulary; and so I decided to put a bit of a twist on the activity.  I wrote all of the topics on the board and  asked the students to find their original topic and then to look at the topic listed below theirs.  That one would be their next conversation starter!!  I then set my timer for a quick two minutes, and off they went again!  I want my students to push the envelope, so to speak, in order to be better risk takers in terms of their language skills and their attempts at becoming better conversationalists. I know that with practise, even their conversations will improve!  Give it a try! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Wow! It's been crazy busy these past couple of weeks!   I can hardly believe where the time has gone!  Had some fun with my senior class this week when I put up a picture of a man proposing to a woman in a restaurant.  It didn't really look like a very fancy restaurant but he was down on one knee with ring in hand.   We did a role play where they took turns playing both people in the photo while I circulated around the room to listen to the conversations.  When you first think about it you might think that this would be an easy task for seniors to do, but really, it posed some challenges for them.  How do you express the feelings that you can see in the photo?  There was a wide variety of conversation but many had the one thing in common that I was surprised to hear; and that was the use of "vous" in the conversations.  It was a true testament to the fact that we always tell our students to be "polite" when speaking in French and that the French people truly cherish this part of their culture.  On the flipside, it was also the perfect time to remind students that you must take each scenario into account in order to determine whether "tu" or "vous" should be used.  We chuckled about it when debriefing about the topic knowing that we certainly should be "familiar" with our future spouses should that be the end result of the "conversation".  :)  It was also a great opportunity to talk about what possible conversations could be occuring.  Perhaps the answer was not "yes"; perhaps it was "no".  What could the followup response be?  How would the conversation continue should the answer be no. Are there terms of endearment that might be used during the conversation?  Would you tell the other person that you love them?  Do you have a "loving name" that you might use with your future spouse?  A great conversation to have.  Once we had discussed these kinds of things and also brainstormed some more vocabulary and ideas on the board; my students redid the role play.  What an improvement!!  Truly getting into character is most important!!  :) 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm having a sale!

I'm having a sale at my store Nov. 8-11.  Come by for a visit!  :)  Click on the link "teacherspayteachers" on the right hand side. :)

Monday, November 5, 2012


Well, it's been a few days since I've blogged.  It's been crazy busy at my school and with parent/teacher/student interviews and fighting a nasty cold, I've wanted to just curl up with a blanket in the evening!  Now that I'm feeling much better I thought I'd share a "parlons" activity that we did today in my class.  I introduced "inversion" questions today and so I thought it crucial that the students practise making these questions before getting into anything in the written form!  We began by having each student write down 'ONE' Est-ce que question.  I had each student say theirs aloud giving me the opportunity to make any corrections for them before doing the next step of changing them into "inversion type questions". 

My students sit at round tables which allows them easy access to each other when doing speaking activities.  The perfect number at a table for this activity is an "odd" number of students!  The first student asked their "est-ce que" question aloud to the person beside them. That student changed the question to an "inversion style" question.  And finally, the third student would have to answer the inversion question, preferably with a full sentence answer in French!  The next student (fourth student) would then begin again with HIS "est-ce que" question.  Then, the student next around the table would change the question into inversion, and the following student would once again answer the question.  With an odd number of students, each student will eventually get to ask their question, have the opportunity to change a question into inversion, and finally answer an inverted question!  I wandered from table to table while the students carried out this activity.  They did a very fine job!!  :) Give it a try in your class!   Next day?  We'll do a little writing with these questions.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parlons français!

My students have been learning how to make simple one and two verb sentences in the present tense all revolving around the vocabulary topics of food, drinks, sports, activities, and school subjects.  After working on this for about a month and a half they are now putting their expertise to work!  Each student has a "sondage" in their hands and they are circulating around the room to complete the survey.  In French of course! :)  Before beginning the survey they needed to complete some of the questions on the "sondage" as some were "fill in the blanks" so that they students could personalize the survey to their preferences. The sondage is a full page in length and so this activity took at least 15 minutes of "speech" time to go through the list of questions.  It could certainly be divided in half in order to do 2 mini surveys.  If you are interested in this "sondage" it can be found in my teacher store at Teachers pay Teachers.  Here's the link: 

:)  Lorraine  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Belgium learning stations!

Belgium - Site matching activity - pictures are stapled into a file folder for easier use

Here are two of four Belgium stations used in my classroom last week to reinforce our Belgium Unit. This product is available at TpT:

Inside/Outside Circle

Inside/outside circle is the perfect way to have all of your students speak to each other at the same time while practising their French!! Today, after teaching how to make inversion questions I had the students create 2 questions revolving around the topic of Belgium which we have been studying over the past few weeks.  Next, I numbered each student either "one" or "two" and had all of the 'ones' sit in a circle facing outwards.  The 'twos' then chose a partner and sat their chairs facing a number one partner.  With all of the chatter in the room I use a "bell" to initiate a change in partner while the students are participating in the oral activity.  The 'inside' circle students asked their 'outside' circle partner a question in the inversion form about the country of Belgium.  The outside circle students then answered the questions to the best of their abilities.  After each student asked their questions I rang the bell and the outside circle students moved 'one space' to the left.  Their new partner once again asked their 2 questions and the outside circle students answered once again.  Since each student is speaking at the same time, they are getting MUCH practice and with a variety of students.  The inside circle students do not move.  This allows for different partners each time the outside circle students move to the left.  To add variety, after a few 'moves to the left' I have the outside circle students then be the ones to ask the questions and the inside circle students answer the questions. This activity can EASILY go on for 15 minutes!  Great speech practice for everyone! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

On parle comme un robot!

That's what we did today in class! :)  We've been working on "l'impératif" for a bit now  but I wanted to further reinforce the concept.  After reviewing the "hows and whys" of using imperative I asked the students to pretend that they were robots.  They were to write about 5 imperatives as if they were going to give directions to another robot.  I told them to have fun with it and to think about fun things they could ask their classmates to do.  - en français, bien sûr! After spending some time creating imperatives I wandered around and helped make any corrections or clarified the directions where necessary.  They were definitely getting CREATIVE!  When ready, we all wandered around the room and gave "commands, orders, or advice" to do things within the classroom.  Students were touching their noses, ears, eyes, jumping on one foot, "running" around the room, singing "O Canada" and turning around in circles.  It was so much fun!  Lots of laughter and lots of learning!  :)  I'm confident that when they submit their worksheets next week that they will be done very well!   Need a worksheet on "impératif" to reinforce your lessons? If so, check out my store! (French - Impératif - worksheet and answer key) 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Interesting article

I thought this was an interesting article regarding French spoken around the world.  :)

Happy World Teacher Day!

Happy World Teacher Day everyone!   We were treated today to coffee, tea and treats by our administrative team at our school.  :)  It was very much appreciated!  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

French inventors and inventions

What would our world be without "pens" or "eyeglasses" or  "photos"?  We often hear about the high tech scientific inventions but what about the inventions that just make our life a little easier?  - sitting in a chair instead of on the floor, eating our meals with knives and forks instead of with our hands .....   Who are these people and where have they come from?  Many of them are French inventors from France, Belgium, Switzerland and even Canada.  I recently had my students do an internet research project about inventors with French backgrounds.  They each researched an inventor, wrote 3 paragraphs - one about the life of the inventor, the second about the invention itself and thirdly a paragraph about how the invention has left its mark on our daily lives.  Some of the inventions included:  margarine, aspirin, Braille, sewing machine, saxophone, pencil, cellophane, Velcro and even the bikini!  These were obviously the ones that at first glance would make doing research the most exciting but I didn't want any of my students to know anything about what invention they would learn about until they had "chosen the name"!  With pieces of paper hidden in an envelope each of my students pulled a name one by one to their mystery inventor.  - Blaise Pascal, Louis Réard, Jacques Cousteau, Louis Braille, Nicolas Conté, Rudolf Diesel, just to name a few.   Away they went - to the internet to discover just a little bit more about our history and the people who have helped make our present the way it is.  I have since marked these projects and I must say that I am more than thrilled with the information that they learned.  Last class we sat around tables and shared what was learned.  Their next step is to become the "inventor" themselves!  What will they invent?  - an automatic pooper scooper? a machine to clear the table for us after dinner? - The list is really only within the limits of their imaginations!  I can't wait to see their new discoveries!   If you're interested in doing this project with your students please check out my store. -     French Inventors Project        French - A new invention

Enjoy!  Happy creations!  :) 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Café Culturel - learning with a twist!

In order to promote multiculturalism in our French/Spanish subject area my colleagues and I decided to create a "café culturel".  Once a month during the school year we have planned special mini-events in our area to enhance the learning of Spanish and French culture.  During the past week in our classes we told our students that Café Culturel would be starting this week.  Our focus today was to bring students in and promote a relaxed atmosphere while playing French and Spanish café type music in the background.  We stocked up on "chocolat chaud" and provided the kettles to go along with it. Our students came in with their own coffee mugs, French books, and smiles to enjoy our café atmosphere.  Along with the chocolat chaud?  Some French work too.   :)  = Learning with a twist!  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Keep it real!

Getting creative with your lessons is as important as keeping it "real".  Although students are increasingly knowledgeable about technology and about much of what it has to offer, there is nothing more enjoyable than watching students bond over a good old fashioned "board game"!  While having fun students are gaining much more.  My students here are engaged in social interaction which is a crucial skill to becoming a contributing member in our society, they are reading in a foreign language (French in this case as the board game is indeed a French version), and they are communicating in both French and English while playing the game.  Keep the enjoyment in the game by purchasing board games that are familiar to them.  Although playing board games is not as prevalent in homes today as in the past, it still exists and can be a valuable tool in promoting language learning in your class.  I try to have a board game day every couple of months in the school year.  The students look forward to game day and know that they have a choice of several games.  If you have very large classes and do not necessarily have enough "board games", have students play the games in pairs.  Two heads are better than one when reading the French directions or clues within the game.  :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Learning through "creativity"

As a teacher we all know that just "listening" to the information given to us is not enough for most of us to "truly learn" something.  When I think back to some of the best memories in my past in terms of being the student I look fondly upon my first "sewing" project where I felt proud of my "creation".  That yellow blouse that I wore for months on end until it almost fell apart was a testament to what I had learned in my Sewing 9 class.  I'm sorry that I don't remember the teacher's name but I do know that she gave me a skill that has continued with me throughout my years.  Yes, I even made my own wedding dress; and it all began in Sewing 9.  So, how do we spark the desire to learn in our students?  How do we know when what we are doing in our classrooms has truly made a difference?  Is it when a former graduate comes back to visit?  Or is it when you see a newspaper article in the local paper about something wonderful that a former student of yours has done?  or is it a simple email sent from afar that helps you realize that "something" you did sparked an interest!  The creativity that we use in class does make a difference!  We don't see it on a daily basis necessarily but we do see it!  Create a project that forces the students to go beyond the books.  Whether it be to the internet to retrieve information, or to a community member in the town or even to a local shop to explore opportunities that exist for future occupations.  Create!  Create!  Create!  Our students love to make things.  They loved to make mud pies when children; they loved to make lego cars and trucks and planes.  We must not just turn the pages but instill in our students the desire to go beyond the "easy" and to "strive for that extra achievement".  Creating something is so personal and after all is done, we all love to see something that we have created ourselves.  Hmmmm,  what will I do next in my classroom?  What will you do?  :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Role playing to promote oral expression

Role playing is not just for drama class!   Today in my senior French class I started my class by showing a photo on the screen of a family having a large turkey dinner.  Thanksgiving is not too far off here in Canada as we celebrate it in October and so immediately the students thought that the family was having their Thanksgiving dinner.  :)  I had each table spend five minutes brainstorming French vocabulary that they could use to describe the photo.  Afterwards, each table took turns to create a list on the whiteboard.  They were not allowed to repeat any of the words and so the last groups really had to put their thinking caps on!  We discussed the vocabulary briefly and they were very impressed with the number of words generated. (and so was I)  There were five people in the picture enjoying the meal and so I numbered off my students 1-5 at each table.  They really didn't know what kind of a "twist" I was going to put into the activity until I assigned each of them a role corresponding to a person in the photo.  All the number 1s were "le grand-père", 2s - "la mère", 3s - "le fils qui porte les lunettes", 4s - "le mari", and finally 5s - "a young girl - probably a daughter".  Their task? -   Each table of students needed to pretend that they were the family in the picture and that they were having a normal everyday conversation during the evening meal.  IF any of the vocabulary written on the board worked for the conversation then they were able to use it.  If not, then they needed to get creative with the conversation.  The conversations ranged greatly!  - Everything from "great potatoes, Mom" to an "argument at the table between two siblings" occurred.  Regular conversations occured!  "Pass the salt, please".  This was a great way to start conversation between students who might not know each other very well yet too as they were able to do the activity sitting at their tables without having to move around the classroom.  Make the students comfortable and language learning WILL OCCUR!  :)  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kim's Game

If you've ever been to Brownies, Guides, Beavers, or Scouts (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts) you will surely have played Kim's Game.  I don't know where this name came from or even if it truly is the correct name but this is what I remember it as from my days in Brownies and Guides.  I now play this game in my classroom when I'm working with classroom objects in French. Throughout the day today I collected classroom objects - ruler, pen, pencil, eraser, stapler, piece of paper, my mini Tour Eiffel, textbook, paperclip,  dictionary and so on.  I have them all ready to go for one of my classes tomorrow.  My students will have a few minutes to review their classroom vocabulary before we begin and I will put the box lid of "goodies" on a desk - covered with a towel at first - in the middle of the classroom.  My students will then close their books, pull out a sheet of paper and a pen and come to view the objects for a time limit of "one minute".  They are not allowed to pick up the items, move them or take notes while looking at the group of items.  They just need to memorize as many of them as possible.  When I cover up the items again they rush back to their desks and frantically write down as many of the items by memory as possible.  The student with the most items correctly listed and (hopefully) correctly spelled will be the winner.  My students love this game!  :) 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Social interaction using the second language!

Wow!  Two weeks into school now and so many names to learn! :)  I'm not sure if it gets easier each year or not but I do know that by being interactive in the classroom certainly helps!  Today I used my teaching resource found on the TpT site called "Trouvez quelqu'un qui..".  It is a combination "classroom bingo" card and a "trouvez quelqu'un activity".  Today I used it as an introductory activity with my students.  Of course, I played along also showing the students that learning each others names is just as an important part of social interaction as using "French" in the classroom.  I first wanted to be sure that everyone was familiar with the vocabulary and so we discussed it first.  The students had to go to another table first so that they are up and out of their seats and interacting with each other. Simple "est-ce que tu..." questions were used and the students willingly asked each other questions.  There really was a buzz of activity and French speaking in the class.  Their goal was to have the entire card of squares with other students names in them, but accidentally I saw another way to play the game. 

Because the card with the boxes says 'bingo' across the top (in order to use it in that fashion at another time), some of the students worked at completing "a line" and then called out bingo.  Wow! Another way to play a game.  The students got to meet new students in the class and I got to reinforce the learning of their names!  Parlons!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

2 things!

Why is it that no matter how long you have been studying French that the "numbers" seem to be the last thing to get "stuck" into the brain???   We all know that when we first start learning a second or third language that one of the first things for us to learn are the basic numbers.  So, my students came into class today at the end of the day and happened to find a "lotto" card left behind from a previous class of students.  Immediately, they recognized it and wanted to play.  It really wasn't anywhere on my lesson plan but "Why Not?".  We all made "lotto" cards and focussed on a range of higher numbers to put a bit of a better challenge to the game for the grade level.  The students were engaged and had fun at the same time.  Did it really take away from my lesson?  Not really.  It served as a reinforcement activity for the kids!  Having fun, promotes learning!  I have seen numerous "bingo" cards written in many ways.  Whether you choose to play "bingo", "loto", or "lotto", the results are the same.  Engaged students!  even the older students enjoy a game now and again.  :)

Secondly,  a proud teacher/parent moment!  My daughter has recently graduated from high school and is off to pursue her post secondary dreams!  Some of her fellow high school students have been posted on YouTube in a video presenting their artwork.  It is on display in an administrator's building downtown.  Check it out! and of course, enjoy!   Here's the link:

Monday, September 10, 2012


I'm always amazed at the wealth of availability of on-line videos to help enhance classroom lessons.  Today I began a unit about Switzerland in my classroom and was able to share exciting "tourist" type videos with my students to peak their interest as well as to help them learn about this very exciting small country.  There are so many countries from around the world that put up videos promoting their homeland. In doing so, they not only promote sites of interest, but the culture of the people, food specialties and traditions from long ago.  Before beginning a unit about another French speaking country I like to see what my students know about it before we begin.  For Switzerland, the most common pieces of information was their knowledge of cheese, chocolate and the Alps.  One of the videos also allowed us to discuss what it means to be a "neutral" country in the world.  This was definitely a great springboard to our unit. I look forward to continuing our exploration next day. :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dictionary usage

Deciding whether our students should use a "paper dictionary" or an "on-line" dictionary is often a confusing question.  For language learning it sometimes poses an additional difficulty in that there are so many websites that provide translation to the general public that it sometimes interferes with our students' true learning of the language.  There will always be someone or something that will help our students outside of our classrooms but being able to guide our students to make wise choices is still very much in the forefront of our educational responsibilities.  After attempting to "convince" my students that some websites are better than others when supplementing the teachings in the classroom and after trying to have them use only "specific" ones designated as "approved" by me, I had my students do a dictionary activity in the classroom yesterday.  It definitely was with mixed success.

My goal was for the students to see that each of the sites including using the paper dictionary had its merits, but instead all they seemed to find  was that each had a varying number of entries for one "searched for" word.  I did this activity with my grade 8s.  I am not going to leave it though.  Next week I will put the sites up on the screen in my classroom and we will explore the sites together.  On-line work is a great way to explore what the world wide web has to offer, but it is always nice to see that there is also a place for us as educators.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wow!  Today was the first day back to school with my students!  I always find it so exciting to see the students come in with smiling faces - all eager to succeed and to do their very best for the school year.  I know that for some it's "turning over a new leaf", for others "it's a new school with new challenges".  Whatever their situation is they are all there to do their very best and to learn as much as they can while "fitting in", which we all know is the most important aspect for the majority of the students.  We have a multi-grade leveled "homeroom" in our school.  It's actually called a "TA" which refers to Teacher Advisory group.  Our students are from grades 8-12 and we have "families" in the same TA.  This allows the parents to have one main "contact" teacher at the school so that it is much easier when there are 2 or 3 of their children in the school.  I love it when the younger siblings come in and join our TA.  The family dynamics are always so interesting to watch.  Over the past 20 years of working in this model I have seen all of the family members mix in like a paint pot.  Everyone mixes together.  It's just like the children in the neighbourhood where everyone plays together no matter what their ages.  Our TA is very much like that also.  Tables of students sit together and at each one there are always students of varying grade levels.  The younger ones look up to the older ones as role models to see what is expected of them for their futures. The older students help out the younger ones to make the adjustment to secondary school that much easier.

Tomorrow I will help to give out resources to the students in my French classes and meet some of these classes also.  One of the main things that I will do with them is to open up a class blog for 5 of my 7 classes.  If you look at the tab above the posts you will see a "tab" referring to blogging.  Have a look!  It's just a bit of a window into what I do within my class.  Can't wait until tomorrow!  :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Getting Started

Hi everyone!  Well, here we go!  I have recently joined "Teachers Pay Teachers" and have found it to be the most amazing site ever!  There are so many wonderful resources and ideas from teachers around the world that I just couldn't pass up on this wonderful opportunity. After having taught for so many years I consider myself to be a "seasoned" teacher :)  and love to not only stay current in my teaching strategies but also share what I have learned with others.

I want to be the teacher who is not just handing out worksheets to do but someone who enjoys what I do while trying to be as creative as possible whenever possible.  By having 3 children go through the secondary school system, I think it's allowed me to stay current and to better understand what the youth of today finds interesting.  I will not bury my head in the sand and let the time go by. So, with my new groups of students coming into the classroom this coming week I will once again dive in to learn about who they are (not only their names but who they are!!) and to share my love of my French subject area with them.  In turn, we will learn together as technology progresses at a rate that continues to be baffling to many of us.

Enjoy your long weekend!  See you Tuesday! :)