La formation des lettres avec les élèves de la maternelle

Hi! Long time no blog post! Sorry about that - turns out pregnant Andrea is not my best Andrea ;) So, you may hear from me again soon, you may not - balancing is a struggle right now for me! #realtalk

Since the back to school season is coming sooner rather than later for the rest of you, I wanted to pop in today to talk about something that is a huuuuge focus for me and my students throughout the year. Letter formation!

Letter formation is a HUGE part of kindergarten! We need our students to know their letters and sounds like the backs of their hands if they are going to be successful readers and writers. Check out some of my favourite alphabet activities to do with my French kindergarten students!


As I'm sure you know, learning letters and sounds is a MEGA important part of kindergarten. If our students don't know their letters and their sounds, they probably aren't going to be able to read or write! It is our job to make sure that we build a super solid foundation for our students, so that they end up knowing their letters and sounds like the backs of their hands and can go on to be successful readers and writers.

Many students need a LOT of practice to get their letters down pat, and have a really hard time associating letter names/sounds with their symbol. There are lots of different things that I do with my students to help them master this important skill. Some activities are great to do whole-group, some are better in a small-group setting, and others I have them practice on their own during literacy centres.

Le meilleur jeu de communication orale

Happy long weekend! I can never quite believe it when this weekend rolls around, because it means that we are in the home stretch. The last "break" before the end of the school year! I love the extra day off, but I also panic a bit, because I am always concerned that I haven't taught my kids quite enough to have them 100% ready for grade one. There is always more to teach!

At this point in the year, I expect all of my students to be speaking in French all the time. And, although there are always exceptions, 99% of my students can and do make the effort to speak French as much as possible throughout the day (minus perhaps when they are on the playground and I can't hear them, ha!).

However, my big focus for communication orale at this time of the year tends to switch from are they speaking often? to are they speaking CORRECTLY? Although I teach at a francophone school, we are in a minority community, and the reality is that our students speak using a LOT of "anglicismes" and incorrect structure. In fact, our school improvement plan for elementary is totally centred around improving our students' correctness when they speak.

Today, I would like to share with you my FAVOURITE game for teaching and practicing correct sentence structure. In my humble opinion, it is the best oral communication game for young students. Read on to find out why I think so, and how to set it up and play!


Speaking with correct structure is important. I know that we are all about getting our second language-learners to take risks, and we don't want to correct them all the time for fear that they will stop trying, but I think it is super reasonable to teach and practice certain structures, and then expect students to use them. I have never had a student get upset at a reminder to try to self-correct a structure that we have practiced together.

Speaking is the foundation of all literacy. If our students cannot speak correctly, they will be unable to then write correctly, and read correctly - they won't be able to use the structure of a sentence they are reading to anticipate the next word, or self-correct, as they won't hear the mistake in what they said. So please, to help ensure their future success, help your students learn how to speak correctly, and expect them to use those structures that you have taught and practiced in every day conversation!

But, how can we teach and practice these correct structures in a way that is fun, engaging, and allows EVERY student to practice saying the structure over and over? Enter my favourite game...

Setting up our science centre - PLANTS

Well, spring is definitely hear in Nova Scotia! We haven't had snow in over a month, and it has been raining, raining, raining. Needless to say... spring fever is here, right along with it!

To combat spring fever, I have switched up our centres a bit, to keep my active little munchkins engaged. We have been working on observing with our five senses all year long. So, I decided to add a science centre into our rotation, where my students will practice using these skills independently, to make their own discoveries!

Tips and tricks for getting a science centre started in your French primary classroom. Plants are a great topic to start with, and this blog post has tons of ideas for getting your students exploring! There is also a FREE French poster about the parts of a scientist to build and display with your students.



We recently planted bean seeds and have been eagerly watching them grow. So, I figured that it would make sense to start out with a plant-themed science centre, and expose my students to other kinds of seeds, plants, tools, soil, etc.



Here is what our table looks like right now.

5 façons de travailler les RIMES en maternelle

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Hi! Today I would like to talk to you about rhymes. Rhyming is SUCH an important skill to master, especially for our primary students. But, do you know why rhyming is so crucial to teach and practice in kindergarten?

Read on to find out what it is that makes rhyming such a key aspect of phonemic awareness, as well as five ways that you can starting teaching and practicing rhyming with your students as early as tomorrow!

Rhyming improves overall language skills in our students, and is a big precursor to learning to both read AND write. Research shows a correlation between rhyming mastery and future reading preparedness in children, so we definitely want to make sure our students become experts at rhyming, especially if they haven't had much practice at home! Check out this blog post for 5 easy ways to practice rhymes with your primary students, in French!

We all know that rhyming is fun. When we give children permission to play with words and sounds, invent their own silly, rhyming nonsense words, and just have fun instead of being serious, they become more at ease with the language and more willing to take risks. Isn't that what we want most for our second-language students??

À quoi ressemblent mes centres de mathématiques?

Do you run math centres in your classroom?

I do!

However, they look VERY different from my literacy centres, so I thought I would pop in today and share what I do.

The main reason that my math centres are so different from my literacy centres is because of one simple thing...

TIME.

I only get an hour of math time a day, and it always ends up being cut short because of music or gym. I teach math via a workshop model, so by the time we warm up, learn our new concept, do our hands-on activity with our partners, do our independent work, and then regroup and share, there are usually only 10-15 minutes left in our block.

We simply don't have time to do math centres in the same way that I do literacy centres! So, what do I do to make sure my students have lots of opportunity for independent, hands-on learning and exploring? Read on to find out!

Wanting to add some math centres to your daily routine, but short on time? This blog post discusses how you can set up and run free choice math centres in your French primary classroom!



Unlike my literacy centres, my math centres are free choice. My students choose which activities they want to do, and who they want to do them with. I do not have a rotation board, and there is no requirement for them to try every activity - although, they often do. But, if they pick the same bucket day after day, that's okay with me.

Des activités de Pâques pour la maternelle

Hi guys!

Can you believe that today is April 9th? And next weekend is EASTER already??

Easter has always been one of my favourite holidays (yeah... I have a bit of a sweet tooth haha), and now that I am a teacher, the love has not stopped. There are so many fun activities that you can do in the classroom to celebrate Easter! I have put together just a few of the things I do with my kinders each year in this blog post.


All of the following activities have been tried and tested by me (and my students, of course!) and work great in kindergarten.

First of all, let's talk about...

CENTRES
You guys know that I loooove seasonal centres! What better way to keep students engaged and excited about practicing the same skills over and over? Here are a few centres that we have in our current rotation. Just click on any of the pictures or links to see where you can get them!

1. EEK! Lapin de Pâques
My students love EEK! In this version, they have to collect as many letters as they can before the Easter Bunny arrives. To collect a letter, one partner rolls a die. If they can correctly identify the letter that corresponds to the number they roll, they get to keep the card. But, if they roll an EEK!, all of their cards go back in the deck!


2. Fine motor colour sorts
I grabbed this idea from Pinterest this year. It is from Little Bins for Little Hands. A sweet parent sent in a big egg carton for us, and I provided the plastic eggs and pompoms. I just chucked everything into one of our fine motor bins, but I love how Little Bins for Little Hands used buckets!

FREE French Resource Library!

Hi!

I am popping in today to share something exciting with you! If you are currently a newsletter subscriber, you may have already gotten and/or will be getting an email about this, so if this is old news for you, bear with me for today. We will return to our regular scheduled programming next week ;)

So a couple of weeks ago, just before spring break, I ended up having one of those mornings. You know the ones. I overslept, wasn't ready on time, my dog REFUSED to pee, and it had surprise-snowed the night before and I didn't realize I needed to scrape my car until it was already past time to go. I'm also 21 weeks pregnant right now, and while I used to always have all my photocopies done and nicely laid out and ready to go the night before each day... that is just not my reality right now. #reallife

So not only was I not ready for the day, neither was my classroom!

Routine is a huge part of our day, however, so even when I am not 100% prepped for the day, it is still totally possible for me to run with our regular routine and not skip a beat (or at least, not much of a beat). But I did know that I wanted to use a couple of worksheets during centres that are featured as freebies on my blog.

Guys.

I am SO sorry. 

Enseigner et pratiquer la fusion à travers des jeux

Happy Sunday!

My aim was to talk about Texte dictée today, but... of course, I forgot to take pictures of them at school this week! So, they will have to wait for next week. Instead, I want to talk to you about how I teach my students blending - la fusion - or, how to "sound out" words. This strategy corresponds to the "serpent", if you use my animal reading strategies.

We all know that being able to sound out/decode words is key to being able to read. While it is not the first strategy I teach, it is definitely an important one, and you may find that many of your kinders are ready for it at this point in the year. The big question is, how can you teach decoding in a fun, effective way?

Decoding can be stressful for kinders to practice only when they are reading books. There are so many other things going on in their brains while they are reading! I find it works best to isolate the strategy and practice it using games. That way, my students already know that they can do it, and don't hesitate to give it a try in context. I can also control which letters and how many letters they are trying to blend at a time, and can adjust depending on their level of ability. By practicing in a relaxed, fun environment, my students don't always even realize that they are practicing something that is actually pretty tricky!

Read on to see a few of my favourite games and activities to do with my kinders who are ready to practice blending.



I like to practice blending using both nonsense words and real words. Nonsense words are fun and silly, and real words are obviously very important, as they are what my students will actually be reading in their books ;)

Comment gérer vos fiches de lecture

I've been talking all about guided reading lately! If you are just joining me now, click here to read the rest of my posts! And don't forget - if you love free stuff, subscribe below to my newsletter and get access to my exclusive FREE French resource library!


Running records - fiches de lecture. Hopefully we all know what they are - a tool to use to help us notice student reading behaviours, and then guide our teaching. However, most teachers I know still have questions about running records - namely, how to do them, how to find the time to get them done, how often to do them, and what to do with the results.

I believe that running records are a super important component of good guided reading instruction. Sometimes, we think we know our students and their reading habits inside and out, but… when we actually sit down, listen to them read, and write down exactly what they say or do, we may find that we don’t know them quite as well as we thought. The data obtained from running records can help save so much planning time - what your students most need to work on is written right in front of you! Sounds great, right?? Read on to find out how reading records look in my classroom!




Because I am such a believer in running records, I make it a goal to do at least one per day. Yup, one per day! If I hit that goal, it keeps all of my student data current within three weeks. Sound too optimistic? Don’t worry - I will explain how I do that below. But, before I continue...

La Saint Patrick en maternelle

Hey guys!

Somehow, it is already almost Saint Patrick's Day! #whereisthisyeargoing?? Today, I will be taking a little break from talking about guided reading to share what we will be doing in my classroom this week to celebrate all things green and Irish!

This week is our last week before March Break, so we will be celebrating hard, as we don't actually have school on Saint Patrick's Day. Read on for a plethora of fun, simple, exciting ideas - and even some free ones! ;)

Looking for some fun activities for Saint Patrick's Day for your French primary classroom? Look no further! This blog post is full of great ideas, including some free ones!



FIRST OF ALL...
I will introduce Saint Patrick's Day to my students using Lucy from For French Immersion's fantastic, FREE slide share presentation! Just click on the image below to find it for yourself.



ART
Art is my favourite, so we actually already got started with some leprechaun art last week! Look how cute their directed drawings are!

What my guided reading block looks like

Bonjour!

I have been talking a bit about what guided reading looks like in my classroom lately. Last week on my blog, I talked about how I sort my students into their guided reading groups. But once you have your groups together... what exactly should you be doing with them?!

Guided reading blocks look different in just about every classroom. As always, I feel the secret to success is finding out what works for YOU, in your classroom! On my blog, I love showing you how I do things. But, I don't pretend for a second that I know everything! I only know what works for me - so feel free to give it a try, and adjust as needed for your own students :)

Today, I will share with you what my guided reading block looks like in my classroom, and what general activities I squeeze in with each group during that time.

Looking for ideas for guided reading in your French kindergarten or first grade classroom? Here are some suggestions and ideas of what I do with my groups! (Lecture guidée maternelle)

I do guided reading from about 9:15-10:00am every morning. The rest of my class does centres at the same time, which really keeps me accountable - they LOVE centres and complain big-time if we miss them for anything! I do my best to see three groups per day, which only gives me about 15 minutes per group. However, if we get started late, I sometimes only get to see two groups - especially if they are reading higher-level books that are longer.

Here is our guided reading routine:

Putting my guided reading groups together

Bonjour!

I am coming up to the end of our second term, and despite the plethora of snow days, being on work to rule here in Nova Scotia since December, protests and a (one-day) strike, I have been thinking a lot about guided reading lately. Work to rule means that we do exactly what our contract specifies - no extras!! -  and I had to really time-manage and prioritize in order to get all of the important things done.

And to me, guided reading is extremely important.

It is my favourite time of day, and when I see the most progress in my students. It is when I get time to work with them (mostly) undisturbed at an excellent ratio of 2:1 (two of them, one of me). It is when I get to teach them about books, and all of the funny and interesting things inside of them. It is when I get to teach them how to read!

I am currently meeting three groups of students a day, two students to a group. So, I get to read with six students each day. Work to rule meant no assemblies and no PD, so, aside from snow days, I actually got to meet with six students each day, since December 5th!! And their progress has been remarkable.

Since guided reading has been such a focus for me lately, and it seems to be something that many teachers are uncomfortable with or not quite sure how to do, I have decided to write a few blog posts about what we do in my classroom - starting with how I put my groups together.

Putting your guided reading groups together is key to successfully teaching your French primary students to read. There are lots of factors to take into account when setting up your groups - check out this blog post for a few ideas!

My favourite French music to play in the classroom

Do you play mainstream French music in your classroom? Looking for some new songs to add to your Youtube playlist?

It is SO important to help our second-language and immersion students experience and celebrate French culture as much as possible! One way that we can do this is by playing mainstream French music in our classrooms - students may not always have the opportunity to listen to the radio in French at home.

As you may know, I teach in a francophone school. We are in rural Nova Scotia, in a minority community - French is rarely spoken in our community and many students only experience French at school/school activities and sometimes at home. A HUGE part of our students' education involves helping them learn to become proud of their heritage and their "francophonie". My school hosts many concerts and events to help students celebrate their culture and feel pride that they are francophone, and we are expected within our classrooms to provide students with as many opportunities to learn about and experience French and Acadian culture as much as possible. One way that we can do this is by playing mainstream music in our classrooms - students may not always have the opportunity to listen to the radio in French at home.

Even if you teach immersion and not at a francophone school, I still feel that mainstream music is equally important for your students to hear! Music is fun, and it is wonderful for young students to see and hear examples of French celebrities and learn to sing along in their second language. They will be exposed to new vocabulary, and you will probably catch them singing along to a French song stuck in their head throughout the day. Being bilingual (or on their way to being bilingual) is very special! It is important to provide our students with opportunities to celebrate and appreciate their language-learning. They may even find a new favourite song!

I aim to play some mainstream music in my classroom every day - usually during Free Play, snack time, or when they are working on a quick worksheet. Generally, I play it during times it is okay to talk with our neighbours (I do play other types of music throughout the day, as well - instrumental music during writing time (or any time I want them especially quiet and focused), and we do comptines/nursery rhymes in the mornings during our morning meeting). I always try to carve out some time to play mainstream music each day!

Notre routine de calligraphie

Do you teach handwriting and proper letter formation to your kindergarten students? Kindergarteners need LOTS of practice correctly forming their letters! It may not seem like a big deal if your students start at the top or start at the bottom or form their letters exactly right, but... it is! Read on to find out why I think handwriting is so important to teach and practice, and how I do it in my classroom.



So, why is it that we want our students to form their letters correctly? Why does it matter if they start at the top or start at the bottom or somewhere in between? Well, the answer is actually pretty simple. There is a right way and a wrong way to print your letters, and the reason it is so important to me to teach my students the right way has to do with both efficiency and neatness.

First - efficiency. Our students are emergent writers. They are doing everything they can and stretching their little brains to the limit just to get their ideas down on paper. They are already thinking about what their story is, what sounds they have already written, what sounds they need to write, where to find a sight word on the word wall, where they are supposed to put spaces, when they are supposed to add punctuation, etc. etc. None of this is natural and automatic for them yet. The last thing we want is for them to get so caught up in thinking about how to write an "s" that they forget what they are trying to write all together! We want their printing to be automatic and efficient. If your students know how to write all their letters properly without having to think about it or look at a model, then their brains have more time and space to think about what is really important - their ideas! When a student is sounding out how to write a word, they need to get those sounds down as fast as possible, before they forget what they are trying to say! We also don't want it to take an hour or so to write one word or sentence. We want our kiddos to get their ideas on paper ASAP!

Second - neatness. I always am asking my students "why do we write?". And one big reason for writing is sharing. We want to share our stories with others, just like our favourite authors share their stories with us. And it is going to be a lot harder for someone else to read our stories if our writing is illegible. By teaching your students to correctly and carefully form their letters, and giving them time to practice, you will be helping their little finger muscles and fine motor skills develop, and their printing will become neater and easier for everyone (including you!) to read.

So, how does one teach students correct letter formation?

Lecture guidée - Utiliser la première lettre (prépare ta bouche avec la mouche)

Teaching students to read is a complicated process! There are sooo many things that need to be happening in their little brains in order for them to become successful, independent readers. We need our students to both learn and use a whole bunch of problem-solving strategies in order to figure out unknown words and make sense of the text that they are reading. These strategies are not automatic (at first) - we must explicitly teach them, and give our students opportunities to practice them.

I wrote a detailed blog post about the seven strategies I teach my students (using animals) last year. You can find it here if you missed it, along with a free reading strategies poster. I have been working on the second strategy (prépare ta bouche avec la mouche) with one of my on-level reading groups, and thought it might be interesting for others to see.

When our students don't know a word, the first thing that we want them to do is look at the picture. PLEASE don't hide the pictures, and PLEASE tell your students' parents to not hide the pictures. Even if they feel their child is just "memorizing". Memorizing is an important beginning strategy, and the pictures are there for a reason!! Get them to touch each word if they aren't looking at the page and are just "spouting". They will learn to sound out words later, and pictures will be a huge help when that time comes! So, make sure that your students have mastered Regarde partout avec le hibou (look at the picture) before getting started with this second strategy.

Once they are picture-detective experts, we want our students to transition into looking at the picture AND using the first letter or sound of the unknown word as clues as to what the unknown word could be. Sometimes there is more than one possibility that makes sense, and using the picture alone is often not enough. We also want our students to check and make sure their guess makes sense. That is an important step - don't leave it out! Here is how I do it.