5 Reasons You Should Make More Time for Syllables

Real talk!

If you're a teacher, too, I'm sure that I don't have to tell you this... but, sometimes we have so much going on that we can't remember to cover #allofthethings.

I blink and then it's March and I haven't even covered HALF of the things that I planned to cover by now!

It can be so easy to be tempted to skip over or rush some of the simpler things that probably everyone knows anyway.

Like syllables!

My first year of teaching, I thought that syllables were easy and obvious and that I didn't need to spend much time on them.

Of course, if you've read my other blog post about syllables, you already know that that was a mistake!

When it came time for my students to read words in chunks and "fusionne" them together, they hadn't had enough practice with syllables, and we had to backtrack in order to continue moving forward.

Now, there are a bunch of reasons why I LOVE teaching and practicing syllables with my students.

Read on for my top 5 reasons I think that you need to make more time for syllables in your teaching day!

Not sure why syllables are SO important for your primary French second-language students to learn? Check out this blog post for 5 reasons why you NEED to be making more time for syllables in your teaching day!


5 Festive Activities for Your French Kindergarteners

You know it, I know it, we ALL know it.

December = Christmas = crazy!

You're tired, your students are wired, and elves on shelves are popping up all over the place (provided you can remember to move them around, of course).

Did I mention we are all tired??

In my blog post last week, I mentioned that you should try to give in and embrace the Christmas crazies throughout the month of December.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

In my classroom, we celebrate all month long!

I try to choose activities to help us cover some of our outcomes, and I find when I incorporate some holiday spirit, my students stay pretty engaged.

(Plus you can always *gently remind* them Santa is watching if they get off task, haha!)

Read on for five of my favourite December activities I do year after year!

5 Festive French Songs your Maternelle Students will LOVE

WELCOME TO DECEMBER!

December is a wonderful month (hello, Christmas), but it can also be INSANE! 
As in, scraping-children-from-the-ceiling-on-repeat insane.
Between Christmas concerts, Christmas concert practices, special Christmas dinners, sleepy students due to community events, an abundance of SUGAR and chocolate, rogue elves on the shelves, and general excitement and anticipation, it is no wonder our students are bouncing off the walls.
In my opinion, the best way to get through the December/Christmas crazies is just to embrace them, and accept that this month is probably going to be a bit more chaotic than the others.
(Except maybe September, haha)
In my classroom, I happily accept my students' joy and immense love of everything Christmas-y, and use it to keep their engagement as high as humanly possible. 
We do Christmas literacy centres, we do Christmas math activities, we read about Christmas, we write about Christmas, and we SING about Christmas! 
Les chansons et les comptines are so, so important in maternelle, especially in a second-language classroom. 
We try to sing all year long, but I really kick it up a notch in December!
My students are definitely more excited for Christmas songs and poems than any other kind of song or poem. 
Read on for my top 5 French Christmas songs to learn in maternelle!

How to Warm your Students up for Guided Reading

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Confession time: 

My guided reading lessons used to be a HOT MESS.

I had learned how to use literacy centres to give the rest of my students meaningful time to independently practice the skills that I had previously taught.

I had grouped my students more or less based on what they needed to learn.

And I had a nice little table to bring them all to.

A nice little table where we would all sit together and they would stare at me expectantly, waiting for me to teach them to read.

"Umm, what?!" thought first-year-teacher-Andrea.

"How the heck do you teach someone to read??"

Honestly, I never really learned that in university. And my practicums were all with students who already knew how to read (grades two, three, and four)

I had no idea how to start teaching someone to read, from the very beginning, when they know pretty much nothing!

Luckily, I discovered Pinterest and teacher blogs and it was like a whole world opened up to me.

I could learn about what other teachers were doing (mostly in English), try and find a way to make it work en français, and build a routine and lesson plans that were inspired by someone who knew what they were doing, rather than being pulled out of what felt like thin air. 

And if you teach maternelle, I am sure you are familiar with the wonderful beauty that is routine

A guided reading routine helps me and it helps my students. When we all know what is coming next, we are more efficient and we can get a lot more done. 

We don't have an abundance of time for our guided reading lessons, but we have a lot of skills to learn and practice, so this efficiency is crucial for my students' success.

Explaining our entire routine in one blog post would be way too much, but today I would like to talk about the beginning of our guided reading lessons - our warm up. I will come back in future posts to talk about other pieces to our guided reading routine puzzle.

Curious about how to warm up your maternelle students at the beginning of your guided reading lessons? Check out these NO PREP games and ideas that will help your students practice four essential pre-reading skills! | Lecture guidée


Just like when you play a sport and need to warm up your muscles, our students need to warm up their brains before diving into the huge work that is guided reading.

To help my students warm up, I like to do a quick game that targets a pre-reading or reading skill they need to work on.

We may play a game to work on breaking sentences into words, words into syllables, or syllables into sounds. 

We may work on rhyming, or we may play a game that helps us practice sight words. 

Or, we may play a game that helps us with our 1:1 correspondence, or one of our animal reading strategies.

Some of the games we play do involve some prep ahead of time, but today I want to share some warm-up games that you can play with your students that don't require any prep ahead of time, but that will still help you work on four key pre-reading skills.

How to make a word wall that will ACTUALLY get used

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases you make via links on this site, at no additional cost to you.


I have always had a word wall in my classroom, ever since my very first year of teaching.

That first year, my word wall was a tiny, dusty mess of too many words stuck up with thumbtacks, squeezed into not enough space on a bulletin board high up in the back corner of my room.

Guess how often it was used?

Yup - NEVER!

Can you relate?

I quickly realized that it wasn't worth the upkeep. What's the point of adding new words to a place my students would forget was even there?

My students couldn't see the words, they couldn't reach the words, they couldn't use the words... I'm not even convinced they actually knew the words were even there.

Well, I am a problem solver, and I realized after that first year that my word wall situation was a problem I had to solve.

I needed a word wall that my students could actually USE - one that was interactive, central, big enough that I could easily fit all the words we needed, and attractive enough that my students would be inspired to go and check it out. 

I decided to take the plunge and try converting my big whiteboard at the front of the room to a word wall.

It was risky because I felt a bit panicky about losing all that "teaching" space. 

But, since I took that plunge, I have never looked back. My word wall has remained on my whiteboard, even after moving classrooms this year.

Interested in seeing what it looks like? 

Read on to see how I set up my word wall now!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


PREPPING YOUR SPACE


I use almost my entire whiteboard for my word wall now, but in the past, I would leave a chart paper-sized rectangle in case I needed to stick up a poster or do a little bit of teaching up front. 

This year, I moved classrooms and the front of my room where the whiteboard is located isn't ideal for teaching, so I just went ahead and used the whole thing as my word wall.

Once you decide how much space your word wall will need, use masking tape to make a large rectangle. Inside the rectangle will be your new word wall!

Here is an affiliate link for the kind of tape that I use. 
I need two rolls to get my whole word wall done.

I divide the big rectangle into two long sections by putting another strip of tape horizontally along the middle.


Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


I add vertical strips of tape to create boxes. I make one box for each letter, but I vary the sizes of the boxes depending on how many words we will typically learn for each.

(For example, we learn about 0 sight words for w, x, and z each year, so their boxes are small. But, we learn a ton of words that begin with a and l, so those boxes are bigger.)

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!

ADDING LETTERS


I write the letter for each box right on my whiteboard using a black Sharpie*. 

Yes - a Sharpie!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


It actually comes off easy peasy. Just colour over each letter with a whiteboard marker at the end of the year and erase (or have your students do it!).

Students always end up anonymously erasing letters written with a whiteboard marker, and in my humble opinion, taking the time to print out pretty letters and stick them on just isn't worth the time or the headache when they all start to fall down and/or get lost.

(Been there, done that!)

Just write them up there once with a Sharpie and you are set for the whole year!

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!


ADDING YOUR WORDS


With the exception of student names, I only add words to our class word wall as we learn them

In September (and most of October), my students' names and my own name are the only words on our word wall.

Then, when I teach a word to the whole class, we add it to the word wall.

I print my words on cardstock from Michael's and laminate them using these laminating pouches*.

My words all have magnetic tape* on the backs, so they are easy to put on and pull off.

During our writing block, I model how to go and find the word on the wall, take it back to our spots, write it, and then return it. 

Sometimes I have to model it approximately 100 times before it sticks for everyone 😉 

Here is what our word wall looks like all set up:

Looking for step by step instructions for turning your white board into a word wall (mur de mots) in your French primary classroom? Check out this blog post!
My word wall words are from For French Immersion on TPT!


IF YOUR WHITEBOARD IS UP TOO HIGH...


This year, I moved classrooms. 

Before I moved rooms, I was told that the whiteboard could be moved down to a low enough level that my students would be able to reach it (it was a high school classroom previously).

Well, someone made a promise they couldn't keep because apparently, the whole wall will have to be demolished in order to move the whiteboard down, as the tracks are in the cement!

(which is probably not gonna happen anytime soon 😉)

I firmly believe that there is no problem that can't be solved, so I asked for a stage to be built instead. 


It still isn't ready, so for now, we are just using a step stool to help us reach our words, but it should be ready pretty soon.

Functioning, interactive word walls are SO VALUABLE and can make a huge difference for our students.


Even if you can't use your whole whiteboard as your word wall, or have someone build you a stage, do whatever you can to make sure that you aren't left with a dusty and forgotten word wall hiding in a corner somewhere, like mine was.

I would love to see what your word wall looks like, and how you are making it work in your classroom!

Snap a pic of your word wall and post it on Instagram. Don't forget to give me a tag (@mme.andrea). I am always looking for new ideas and ways to improve, and LOVE peeking inside of other teachers' classrooms! 

PS - Are you a member of my Free French Resource Library yet? There are TONS of valuable freebies in there for you to use in your French primary classroom. All you have to do to become a member is enter your name & email below and click the pink button. I will send you an email right away with the password to get into the library!
* Affiliate link



4 Tricks for Boosting Math Vocabulary... en français!

Bonjour!

As I am sure you've noticed (if you teach math en français), math is a special kind of challenge in the second language classroom.

In order for students to learn and understand the concepts that you are teaching, they need to have enough of a grasp of the language to know what you are talking about.

Adding lots of visuals while you are teaching helps, of course, but it isn't always enough.

It can be exhausting for our students to understand even basic instructions in their second language, leaving little energy left over to solve the actual problem you are asking, or follow the directions to a hands-on activity.

Students might also feel too overwhelmed or intimidated to participate actively in their second language, and/or to ask questions when something is unclear.

For these reasons, I think that it is really important to start focusing on math vocabulary and "math talk" en français, right from maternelle.

Even if la communication orale isn't something that we often think about in regards to math, I really believe that it has a very important place in our math blocks, and we should be working hard to incorporate it as much as possible!

In this blog post, I will share with you some of my favourite activities for teaching and practicing math vocabulary words both in isolation and in context, and my favourite trick to get my students speaking more often (en français!) during math time.

It is my hope that these tips will help you get your students speaking and understanding more math words than ever before!

It can be a special challenge to teach math in your students' second language. Read this blog post and learn 4 tricks that you can start using right away to get your students speaking and understanding more during your math block. Perfect for the French primary classroom!

Des devoirs en maternelle?

Bonjour!

I am popping in today to discuss *another* somewhat controversial topic. ;)

(If you missed it, I wrote a potentially controversial post this past summer about whether it is better to teach a letter a week or a letter a day in maternelle.)

I want to talk today about homework in the primary grades!

Throughout my teaching career. I have heard lots of different opinions on homework in maternelle, and I have also had the chance to form some of my own, which I will share with you in this blog post.

First of all, I want to discuss a little bit about whether or not I think homework is even necessary or appropriate, and if there is a place for it in maternelle.

Then, I will explain what it should/should not look like to be most effective, what exactly I send home, and what are our homework "routines" that help things run smoothly.

My hope is that by the end of this blog post, you will come away with some new thoughts and ideas around homework, and maybe some ways to help make the homework that you do send home (if you send any) more meaningful and relevant.


SHOULD YOU EVEN BE SENDING HOMEWORK?


First of all, I feel I should mention that I do believe there is a place for some homework, even in maternelle.

But, it's not very much!