How to Start the Year with Pocket Chart Poetry in your French Primary Classroom

Has this ever happened to you in maternelle?

It's September, and your kindergarten students know pretty much nothing about being in school.

You're bustling about trying to teach them how to properly use scissors and open their lunch boxes... forget about learning to read and write!

At the beginning of the year in maternelle, it can feel like you are putting out fires and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Our main goal is to keep everyone happy, alive, and in one piece!

I've always struggled with letting go of the idea of jumping right into learning.

We have so much to cover, and so little time!

Plus, what in the world do you even DO with these 20 five-year-olds if you don't start teaching right away?!

I don't like wasting time.

Spending all of September and October learning how to walk in a line and use a glue sponge can feel like a waste of time sometimes, even though I *know* it's an important and crucial investment.

But man, sometimes, I just want to TEACH!!

This year, I snuck something new into our September/October routine, and it helped us out a lot.

This new activity helped my students pick up on some important academic skills while also learning about our routine and my expectations, so I felt like I was doing my job... and my students were building the foundation they needed for the rest of the year (behaviour-wise AND academically).

Curious about what I did differently this September?

Read on to find out!

Looking for a perfect activity to add to your alphabet routine in your French primary classroom? Pocket chart poems are perfect for la rentrée in maternelle and/or in première année. Check out this blog post for some tips and ideas for helping your students start the year with French pocket chart poetry!

How to Do Guided Reading with Students Who Have Limited French

A few weeks ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine who teaches in another school board.

(We both teach en français, but I teach with the francophone board, whereas she is teaching French immersion with an anglophone board).

We both teach maternelle, and so we experience many of the same experiences and frustrations.

Even though my students have French heritage, most of them do not speak French at home, so it can be challenging for them to reach our expectations and outcomes.

Our outcomes assume that they DO speak French, and fluently.

One difficulty my friend and I both share is that even though lots of our students can't really speak French yet, we are still expected to teach them how to read.

Guy. I don't know if you know this, but...

You can't read if you can't speak!

It feels so silly to me that we are expecting our students to LEARN TO READ (aka use all THREE types of clues - visual, structure, and sense) when they can't even speak yet.

How is that fair to our students?!?!

If a student can't speak, they can't use the structure or the sense to help them read.

The end!

They can use the visual, sure... but how frustrating must it be for our students to try and decode a word like "hippocampe" based solely on the visual clues, when in English (or their first language), they could simply look at the picture and know the unknown word must be "seahorse"?

Anyway.

Teach them to "read" we must, and we do, but ouf! - what a unique challenge for us, eh?

Before we can get these students to successfully read even a simple level one book, they will need to practice the sentence structure AND the vocabulary over and over and over again.

Since my friend and I were sharing the same frustrations, I assume it is not a challenge unique to us.

I thought you might be looking for some tips and tricks to help with this, too.

So, read on for some of my tips & tricks for doing guided reading with these students who aren't yet speaking much French.

It can be a huge challenge to teach your French immersion students to read if they don't even know how to speak French yet. Check out this blog post for some ideas to help you meet these students at their level! #lectureguidee #maternelle #frenchimmersion


How to Reuse Your French Classroom Posters for Student Référentiels

If you're a teacher, I am CERTAIN what I'm about to say is something you already know from first-hand experience, but teachers don't receive a lot of (any?) money to help outfit their classroom.

I had to start my teaching career with recycled alphabet posters - none of which matched!

My students were probably so confused because in one area of the classroom, D was for dragon, in another, D was for dauphin, and for their writing folder linking charts, D was for dinosaure!

But I didn't have much choice - I didn't have the money to buy three copies of everything, or the time to make three versions of the same alphabet myself.

I've gotten a bit smarter and a bit more resourceful over the years, so today I want to share a little tip for you that has worked really well for me and my students.

We need to create/purchase sooo many resources for our classrooms, so today I will share a way to "double dip" and re-purpose any digital posters that you buy on TPT!

Everyone knows that teachers have to spend money out of their own pockets in order to stock their classrooms. If you've every purchased digital posters (alphabet, numbers, colours, etc.), check out this blog post for a simple tutorial on how you can reuse them for student référentiels, too!

*Before I get started, I want to take a second to remind you that pretty much anything you purchase on TPT is for ONE classroom only. You can check it out for sure on each individual product's Terms of Use page, but that's the default. If you want to share a resource with a colleague, you can purchase another license at a reduced rate on your purchases page. This is a tutorial for how to repurpose one purchase for your OWN classroom, not for someone else's! Thanks so much for respecting our time :)

How to Make the Most out of Your Small Group Math Time (en maternelle)

Fun fact: prior to last year, I always taught math whole-group.

I knew small group math would be valuable, but I didn't have the TIME to sit down and figure it out, and my students were still getting great results with how I was teaching math whole-group.

(I do a workshop model, with hands-on practice with a partner every single day, so my students were still getting lots of great math experiences.)

Buuuuut, as you may or may not know, I missed half of last year because I was out on maternity leave.

I came back to work in January, and I felt so behind in math!

My students still hadn't even mastered numbers 1-5, and not only had I not taught any content yet, but it often takes me a few weeks to get the workshop model off the ground.

I knew I wouldn't have enough time to make sure every student was meeting every outcome in the few months I had left.

With whole-group math, it can be hard to see who isn't grasping each concept until it's time for evaluations. By then, most of the class is usually ready to move on.

It can also be challenging to make sure every single student is staying on task and making the most of their hands-on practice.

If a single set of partners gets off task, you may have to spend all your time helping that group... and completely miss what the other students are doing.

It was simply impossible to make sure everyone was always writing numbers correctly, counting correctly, using 10 frames left to right, etc. - I'm only one person!

I still LOVE teaching math whole group, I do still teach math whole-group every day, and I still think it's extremely valuable.

BUT, I needed something more last year. When I finally sat down and hashed it out, I found something that I loved and wanted to continue with this year, too...

Small group math!

Read on to see what our routine looks like.

Looking for ways to make the most of your small group math time in your French primary classroom? Check out these tips and example routine and give small group math a go!

How to Get Started with Guided Reading in Maternelle

This is my seventh year teaching maternelle, and it STILL blows my mind I get to help teach children to read.

I remember my very first year teaching, when I had my first ever guided reading group sitting across from me at the table. 

I had absolutely NO IDEA what to do with them!!!

I had three pairs of eyes staring expectantly at me and no idea how to even START to teach them how to read the words on the pages of their new level one books. 

You need to know so many things to be able to read... what do you teach first? 

How can you make your students feel successful from the very first lesson?

I think other grades have an advantage when it comes to teaching reading (aside from the fact that their students' brains are older and more ready haha) - their students have all already been taught at least *something*, and have a jumping off point.

But what do you do when your students are starting from nothing?? 

How do you get guided reading off the ground? Where do you even BEGIN?!

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

I actually don't start my guided reading lessons with small groups.

I start them whole-group!

What?? How can that be? you may be wondering.

Well, read on to find out exactly what I mean!

Do you teach Kindergarten in French (French immersion or in a francophone school), and struggle to get started with guided reading? This blog post will help ensure you get off on the right foot with your maternelle students!



5 Blog Posts from 2018 You May Have Missed

We all know teachers are busy.

And I mean, BUSY.

I thought I was busy before, and then I had a baby, and all I can say is WOW.

You teachers out there with more than one child and no stay at home parent, you ladies & gents are the real heroes of the world. 

2018 was a whole new experience for me.

I went back to work when Leah was 5 months old, and her dad stayed home with her (thank you Canada for amazing maternity/parental leaves!)

Even with Ben at home, life got CRAZY and I had to get really good at prioritizing and really bad at procrastinating. 

(I have always been a procrastination queen, so it was a hard habit to unlearn 😉)

As a family, we have our feet under us a lot more solidly now and are once again finding time to do the things we enjoy.

For me, that means going to the beach, playing hockey, and stalking teacher blogs!

In case your 2018 was as insane as mine, I decided to compile a little list for you of my top 5 blog posts you may have missed in 2018.

As I said last week, I posted a LOT of content in 2018, and unless you are the most loyal of readers (if you are, THANK YOU! ❤️) it's pretty likely you missed some of it.

The following posts didn't get shared via Facebook or email (yet), and only just started making the rounds on Pinterest, so you may have missed them. 

Click on any of the titles or images to go read the posts in their entirety!

2018 a busy year for you? Check out these five blog posts from Maternelle avec Mme Andrea you may have missed last year!

My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2018

2018 was a year for the books - and for the blog!

Despite going back to work with a five-month-old baby, said baby turning one in August, AND planning a wedding (jk... wedding planning is not my strength and I totally hired a wedding planner haha), I still managed to publish more blog posts than ever before in 2018.

In January 2018, my aim was to survive heading back to work, and I didn't set any other goals for myself at the time.

But, I do love me some accomplishments, so once I got my feet back under myself, I did set a few.

Knowing full well I would likely fail (but not caring!), in spring 2018, I set an ambitious goal of blogging every week from April-December.

I am super proud to say I mostly stuck to that, only missing a week in July and a week in November - not too shabby!

In fact, this is my 43rd blog post this year, smashing my previous record of 25, and more than doubling how many I posted last year (I blame the newborn for that slow year hehe).

Side note: That's the beauty of setting an "impossible" goal... even if you "fail", as long as you show up as much and as often as you can, you are likely to end up MUCH more successful than if you had never set t in the first place ;)

Since I managed to post so often, I was curious to look back on my stats for the year and see which blog posts from 2018 were the most popular.

In case you missed some good reading, I figured I would share my top 5 here with you!