I teach a Grade 3/4 split in Ontario. Meaning, I teach half of the day in English and the other half in French. Subjects taught in French are Math, Social Studies, Visual Arts, and of course the French language.
The main thing I've been perfecting over the years are my centres. Students love them because they are hands-on, engage, and interactive, and I love them because it gives me an opportunity to read with each and every student in the class at least once a week. (See my display to the left - please forgive how awful it looks! Any suggestions on how to make this "pretty"?)
The way I've set it up is that twice a week we block off an entire morning just for centres. Each centre runs for about 15min and there are 6 of them, with 4 students in each group. So it takes up a good hour and a half.
At the start of the year we create the centres together, where the students and I discuss what are goals are for each and what are acceptable activities to do at each centre. I like to give the students a lot of freedom and choice so that they can truly chose something they enjoy doing. I always tell them that if they start to get bored with them, that we'll have a class meeting to discuss new options.
Here are my centres explained in detail:
Lecture Guidée avec Mme
This is your typical centre where the students gather around my reading table and we dive deep into a book. I chose which book the students are going to read since I want it to be at a level that is "just right" for them (I may change this at a future date). Depending on the group, we can do a variety of activities:
- Each student takes a turn reading a page out loud and discussing words we're unsure about
- Making predictions, visualizing, making connections, etc.
- Doing research about what we're reading (if it's non-fiction)
- Word play (with a group who may be at a lower level)
I keep my chromebook open during this centre and jot down notes about the students and their progress. This has helped me tremendously during report cards or parent meetings.
Believe it or not, this has become one of the students' favourite centre. Why? Because they can literally do whatever they want as long as they're writing. Some of the activities include:
- creating a website
- research project on Google Slides
- making a Google Forum and posting it to Twitter
- writing in a journal/Google docs or writing a book
- writing comic strips
- using an image and writing a story to go along with it
- using emojis in a story
- writing out a presentation for a type of "TedTalk" they want to record
Centre de lecture privée
Your typical "read to self" centre. They can chose any book they like as long as it's in French. We talk a lot about this centre at the beginning of the year and how it needs to in fact be productive. I don't have them do any logs or any reading responses because I want them to just sit and enjoy reading. For some students this is difficult so we make an anchor chart at the beginning of the year on how they can make this centre productive by talking about looking up words they don't know, making predictions or connections, tweeting about what they're reading so they can connect with other students across the world, etc.
I have two QR codes posted in the class beside my "beautiful" centres anchor chart that students can scan and be connected to listen to stories in French. I have found two websites I really like and are great for their level:
- Tumble Books
- Les 5 au quotidien website
If you have any more, please let me know!
Sometimes I have them do a response to what they've listened to, but we don't always get to that.
ParlerThis centre of course is all about speaking French! I'm trying to give them a lot of freedom here because I want their conversations to be authentic.
An app I have found super useful is called "Chatterkid"! The students take a 30sec (or less) video recording of anything they want, and then they can alter the images! They have had a blast doing this!
I always have them upload their videos to their own personal Sesame Snap profile, not only so that I can view them later but also so their parents can see what they do in French every day and how their French language skills are advancing. Plus, when they know their parents are going to be seeing what they're doing they tend to do a much better job! ;)
Some other activities include a French board game that gets them talking (plz email me if you'd like a copy; I just printed and glued it on some card stock), creating interviews with each other (pretending to be celebrities), looking at images in magazines and talking about them, etc.
I found a really cool version of "Guess Who" that you can play in both English and French! I will try and upload a picture of it when I can. Basically, the students grab from a pile without looking, and put together a character. Just like the original Guess Who game, they have to ask questions and try and figure out what their character looks like. The neat thing is that there is a little noteblock that comes with the game that guides the students' questions... and it's in French!
Other games they play are Duolingo or "Lis et Dessine" (I have a huge set of little laminated cards with random sentences on it; one students reads the sentence and the other draws out what they've heard on a white board or ipad; plz email me if you'd like a copy!).
There are many more examples and ideas that I'd love to share so if you're interested in more details, please let me know! Also, if you have any suggestions on how to improve, I'd also love to hear it!
For this year I'm thinking of letting students choose which center they want to do instead of having them go in a rotating fashion. As long as they do each centre once by the time we're done then that's OK with me. Not sure how that will work but I'm all about giving them more autonomy and teaching them how to make their own decisions.