Que fait le chef du jour?


The school year is wrapping up (how are we already at the end of May?!), and I don't know about you, but at the end of each school year I like to take a kind of inventory of what worked well for me and what I would like to change. 

One thing that I changed after my very first year teaching (and that I have stuck with ever since!) was how I do classroom jobs. 

The first year that I taught, I hadn't quite caught on to keeping things as simple as possible. I had an elaborate classroom job chart, and struggled to keep up with remembering to change the jobs out each week, and reminding students to do their jobs. I also had an "Étoile de la semaine" - basically, one student was the star of the week, and could bring in show and tell one day, a story to read another day, etc. etc. 

It was a lot to manage.

And for what?? There aren't really any outcomes about doling out classroom jobs. Assuming their responsibilities, yes... but I can easily evaluate that during about a million other moments each day.

Now that I have accepted that fact that I am the kind of teacher who can barely remember to change the daily schedule, let alone classroom jobs, I am really happy with my post-first-year decision to keep things as simple as possible and go with an EASY, prep-free alternative. Now, in my class, we have a Chef du jour - which is code for super chill for the teacher, but SUPER exciting for the students

If you are also the kind of person who struggles with keeping your classroom chore chart up to date and remembering to send notices to the correct parents when it's their child's turn to be Étoile de la semaine, read on for my recommendation!

All about "chef du jour" - a super easy, prep-free alternative to classroom jobs!

First of all, you may be wondering what is a chef du jour? 

Basically, a chef du jour is a single student who is your personal assistant for the day. In exchange for their labour ;), they get to do a show and tell in the morning. 

Yup - super simple!

My chef du jour is in charge of passing out papers, taking things places (the library box, notes to the office, cafeteria money, etc.), being first in line (this saves SO. MANY. ARGUMENTS and SO. MUCH. PUSHING!), and helping me model/demonstrate games and procedures. They also are responsible for turning on and off the lights, fetching me scissors and glue when I forget to bring them to the carpet, and anything else I may need.

And they love it!!! They love helping all day. They feel super important and like I wouldn't be able to survive without them.

(Let's face it - I probably wouldn't haha)

As I said before, they also do a show and tell (montre et raconte) in the morning. 

My show and tell is suuuuuper informal. I don't send anything home to practice or ask parents to help them prepare a big presentation. You can totally do that, though, if you want! Home projects in maternelle just aren't really a big thing in my school, and not everyone has the support at home to make a formal presentation happen.

I do evaluate eye contact and volume as they present, as well as their ability to spontaneously respond to questions/comments in French. But that's it!

When they do their show & tell, they explain what they brought, and I ask them why it is special to them. Then, they can choose two friends who have questions or comments. Simple! 

My favourite, favourite, FAVOURITE thing about chef du jour is that ONLY the chef du jour can bring a toy. Nobody else! It seems to make sense to kindergarten logic that it is a special thing for the chef, and they get really excited to choose a toy to bring when it's their turn. 

Now, you may be wondering what our chef du jour routine looks like. It's nothing fancy!

Over the summer, I write all my students' names on yellow stars. I bought one pack of star cutouts from Staples (I think... or maybe Scholar's Choice?) a few years ago. I laminated them while they were still blank, and I write their names on them with Sharpie every year when I get my class list. At the end of each school year, I "erase" the Sharpie with hair spray! You can also write over their names with white board marker and erase - that takes the Sharpie off, too. 

You could also just print some star clip art (there is a ton on TPT!) on card stock and laminate, if you can't find the star cutouts anymore. I hang the stars up with thumbtacks along the side and bottom of one of my bulletin boards. I do my turns alphabetically by first name.

At the end of each month, I send home a calendar to parents with my students' names written in each box when they are the chef. I don't send home any other reminders - if they forget, they can just wait until their next turn. If they are sick or we have a snow day, I do allow them to share turns with the person the next day. 

I use these editable calendars from Mme Emilie on TPT. It's super easy to just type my students' names in each box. 

Each morning, after our how are you circle, we sing our chef du jour song. It goes to the tune of Frère Jacques and is literally this:
Qui est le chef du jour, 
Qui est le chef du jour,
______ est le chef du jour,
______ est le chef du jour,

Then we move their star to the special chef du jour spot and they do their show and tell! Their toy stays in their backpack all day after that, except they are allowed to play with it during free play in the classroom or if it's inside recess :) 

And that about sums it up! If you give it a try, let me know in the comments. Hopefully it will help make your life a little easier - we all know that we don't need more to manage and stress about in our lives! You should never be doing more work than your students ;)

All about "chef du jour" - a super easy, prep-free alternative to classroom jobs!

Mes projets d'art préférés pour le printemps

Happy spring - I think it's really finally here!

I don't know about you, but there is just something about spring that makes me love teaching art even more than usual (which is saying a lot!).

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I have enough energy to get the paint out without hesitation ;)

If you feel the same way I do about spring, here are a few of my favourite projects for inspiration!

This is my number one favourite!!! That artist woman is BRILLIANT, and if you haven't read her blog before, go do it right now!!

These trees always turn out beautifully, and are a huge hit with parents. And my students are always really proud of them, too!

Here's a few from this year:

3 façons de s'assurer que les élèves parlent français TOUS LES JOURS!

We all know that in order to learn a second language, our students must SPEAK that second language.

Makes sense, right?? You learn to speak by speaking!

This means that it is SO, SO important to maximize the amount of time that all of your students are speaking - not just one or two. Often, I am sure you'll find that when we ask a question to the class and get our students to raise their hands and wait for us to call on them, it is always the same few students answering our questions over and over!

And other times, a whole day can go by before you realize that you didn't speak to a particular student - especially the shy or quiet ones! We are SO BUSY and there is so much going on in the run of the day in maternelle. It is really hard to seek out the quiet students for conversation when we have 10 or so noisy and excited students scrambling for our attention.

But we HAVE to make sure that ALL of our students are getting equal opportunities to speak and practice French, each and every day, if we want them to become successful and fluent in their second language.

Small group time is great, but it isn't enough. If you're like me, you don't see all your groups each day. And there is so much more that our students need to know how to express!

One of my mentors/teacher heroes did a PD session with us recently, and I will never forget what she told us. She said:

Un bricolage facile pour le printemps

Happy Spring!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed over the years that I LOVE spring art projects!

Last year, all the students at my school performed a spring concert near the end of the year, and we needed some decorations! I left it a little bit last minute, so I needed to come up with something quick and easy... and I wanted something that would use up some of the odds and ends left from other projects and activities.

So, we made these adorable spring birds using paper plates!

(Side note - these would work well for just about any season - just use fall colours in the fall (or black for crows!) and red in the winter for cardinals.)

Un bricolage du printemps facile mais beau pour les élèves de la maternelle - a quick and easy spring art project for kindergarten

Here's how to make them:

Cahier interactif en maternelle? OUI, tu peux!

If you are a maternelle teacher just like me, you may have seen pictures and blog posts and products floating around called "Interactive Notebooks". Interactive notebooks (cahier interactifs) are a super cool tool that your students can use to keep track of what they are learning in an engaging and interesting way.

Students use a notebook or scribbler to keep track of what they learn and any activities they complete pertaining to the topic being taught. They cut out lots of interactive pieces and glue them into the notebook or scribbler.

However, there is one biiiiig drawback for maternelle.

They require a LOT of cutting and a LOT of gluing!!

They are often complicated and the amount of prep (read: cutting!) that students have to do is sometimes even longer than the learning activity itself, when it comes to our youngest learners. So, while I have borrowed some ideas from the interactive notebook movement over the years (like having a scribbler for my students to use to glue certain activities into instead of using tricky duo-tangs for everything), I have mostly just been sighing with envy when I have seen intricate and beautiful interactive notebook products uploaded to TPT.

BUT, this year, I have finally sat down and figured out a way to make interactive notebooks happen in my classroom!

Yes, that's right - I have a solution that makes interactive notebooks a possibility in maternelle :)

French Close Reading with the book Trop de lapins

Happy Easter Monday! I hope that you enjoyed/are enjoying a fantastic holiday weekend with your family.

I am just popping in today to talk some more about Close Reading in French. You may remember that I posted about it a few years ago - HERE and HERE.

I have had soo many requests over the past year or two to create more resources for French Close Reading, but I've had such a hard time finding both enough time and the perfect books!

But, I am really excited to be here today to talk about some close reading activities that we did with one of my new favourite books - Trop de lapins by Trace Moroney.

(PS - I got my copy of the book from Scholastic. It was the Offre spécial in the March 2018 catalogue)

First of all, in case you missed it before, what is close reading?

Close reading is what you are doing when you read a text or a book thoughtfully and critically. You focus on important details and patterns within the book, and develop a deep understanding of the book (what happened, how/why the book was crafted, the meaning of the book or certain passages, etc.). It is reading to analyze and reading to understand!

This can be tough in a second language. But, it is possible!

In maternelle with my school board, we are expected to teach and work on the following reading comprehension strategies:
- Faire des prédictions
- Activer ses connaissances antérieures
- Relever les points importants
- Créer des liens
- Se poser des questions
- Visualiser
- Inférer
- Analyser
- Faire la synthèse

It's a lot! Especially for my students who speak English at home. We tackle these strategies using close reading. When we close read, we study the same book for about a week.

Teaching these strategies is so important. Reading is about so much more than just decoding, and sometimes we forget that. I have definitely caught myself patting myself on the back and congratulating myself for teaching students to successfully decode... all while forgetting that reading is so. much. more!

Reading is about understanding!

Without understanding and being able to make deeper connections with what you are reading, there isn't any joy in reading. I don't know about you, but I don't want to teach my students to read just so they can "level up".

We all know that life and academics are much, much easier if you are a proficient reader. I want my students to love reading! I want them to read all the time, and find joy, adventure, knowledge, and so much more from books.

This can only happen if they understand and connect with what they are reading!

Close reading is a great way to dive deep into some great stories and books during whole group time. I get to do the tricky decoding work, so that their brains are free to do the deep thinking work. And we all know that practice makes perfect - our students won't learn to do this efficiently on their own if we don't practice with them!

(Close reading is also a great way to sneak in some writing practice - both shared and independent!)

Trop de lapins by Trace Moroney is my latest favourite close reading book! Because of the bunnies, it was perfect last week, right before Easter, but it is also great any time of year. The actual theme of the book is about becoming a big brother or sister and all of the frustrations and joys that come along with it. It is a great fit for when you are teaching about families or changes within families!

We started off our study of the book by doing some predictions. I usually will do either predictions or visualizing on our first day of close reading. In the story, the big brother ends up having a little temper tantrum and yelling at his mom in front of his new baby siblings. We read the story up until that point and then predicted what might happen next.

We first shared our ideas out loud, and I picked one to draw on chart paper. We decided on a sentence to write, and we wrote it together (shared writing). My students came up and wrote the sight words they knew, and helped me decode new words.

Then, everyone recorded their own predictions independently. It's okay if they use the same idea as me, or if they have another idea (I did get "my" idea from another student, after all!).

This student thought that the big brother would be sent to his room!

On Day 2, I always like to check for understanding. Sometimes, we will put the story in order, but if there are a lot of events that aren't super sequential, we will complete a T-table of things that did/did not happen in the story. They did a great job at this!

After completing it together, they went to work and completed an independent sort.

We also used this story to make connections (we shared a time when we felt frustrated and/or threw our own little tantrums), explore new vocabulary, and look for the problem and the solution in the story.

We finished off our week by doing one of my favourite directed drawing activities from Proud to be Primary. I always like to try and incorporate a little craft or art activity at the end of a week of hard work. Check out our cute bunny drawings!

If you are interested in trying close reading en français in your classroom, I currently have resources for three books in my TPT store:
- Trop de lapins
- La vie secrète des bonhommes de neige
- Gédéon va à l'école

I do have some more in the pipeline, and I am hoping it won't take me as long this time to get them out! I really appreciate all of your requests, and am so happy that more and more French teachers are giving close reading a try!! :)

French Stamping Ideas & Activities


Just popping in today to talk a bit about stamping in maternelle. My students LOVE using stamps! Variety is the spice of life, and stamping is a new and exciting way to make words.

Of course, stamping is not without its problems when you are doing it with a bunch of five year olds! The biggest problems I have come across so far when stamping with my students are: 

1. Making sure my students understand the correct way to use stamps and ink (ie. not for creating temporary tattoos or to help the local police station with fingerprinting),

2. Keeping our stamps ORGANIZED so that my students can find the letters they need right away, and not waste valuable time,

3.  Getting my students to use the stamps to make actual words, and not to just fill the page with as many random letters as possible.

I usually have stamping as an independent centre. This means that only some students are stamping at a time (usually two), and I am busy with another group and thus unavailable for direct supervision. So, if the aforementioned problems are happening, then stamping is not going to work out. Read on to see how I run the stamping centre in my classroom, and to hear my tips for keeping things running as smoothly as possible!

Problem #1: Following correct stamping procedure

As with anything in maternelle, teaching procedures and expectations has to happen first, before letting them loose. One thing that I find really helpful when introducing stamps is to give my students time to explore them and use them for fun, before expecting them to create words, patterns, or anything else academic.