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 emerging 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. 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?

La lecture guidée en maternelle - How to Teach Your Students to Look at the First Letter

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.

Kindergarten students have so many reading strategies to learn before they become independent readers! If you're looking for some tips for teaching your French maternelle or première année students how to look at the first letter of an unknown word, check out this blog post.