Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Singing to Learn Spanish

Collecting resources for "Singing to learn Spanish" is one of my I just had to share this "interesting selection." Thanks to +Diego Ojeda  and Fabiola Valdez for tweeting/retweeting it! Check out my right side bar to find more resources for "Singing to Learn Spanish!"

Friday, September 13, 2013

Acquisition App #3: Class DoJo

As a relatively new AIM teacher, the transition to a TL-only space is a work-in-progress. I am looking for exciting ways to encourage my eighth grade learners to speak only French for the entire 40 minutes of class. AIM incorporates several different rewards systems that are tried and true. One of my favorites, was developed by +Sylvia Duckworth and requires students to earn points in groups and then add them up, entirely in the TL at the end of class. They end up learning all the numbers, as points can get up really high. They also learn math and math related vocabulary in addition to the motivation factor as the team with the highest number of points wins a prize! I plan on implementing a group incentive once my students are ready to sit at their tables. Right now, all the tables are set around the outside of the room and the students are up closer to me, sitting in chairs.

This week, I started an incentive system for individuals who speak only in French for the duration of the class. If you are familiar with AIM, I am using this system to replace "les cartes." Class Dojo is the app/website that I have chosen for this reward system. Please view the end of this post to see how my wonderful Edmodo PLN is using Class Dojo in their classrooms!

So, early this week, the students started passing over the "magic line." I have this placed inside the room before the area where all the students sit. The students do not cross the line until I invite them to do so. This is done after we have completed our AIM entry routine. Once they cross that line, they are not to speak English. If they do, they do not earn their class dojo point for the day.

I do not police the kids...this is an honors system. If I do hear English, I stop and gesture for the class to say, "Everyone must speak in French, please." At the end of the class, I gesture for the class to say: Who spoke only in French today? For the first days, I used this script with the students...I'd gesture for them to say it with me. As it takes some time to have each student stand up and say what they need to say, now I ask all of the students who spoke only in French to stand up all at once and say this:

 (I spoke only in French today. I want a point, please.) After they say this with my gestural support, they all walk up to the SMARTboard and press their name on our Class Dojo site. I have it set up with an avatar for each of them. It looks something like this:

 After they have all pressed their avatar, I push the "magic button" that awards the points and I have the speakers turned up high for them to hear the sound effect. At the end of every month I will do a drawing with the names of the kids who have the highest number of points. The winner(s) of the drawing will earn a special reward. 

This is all new to me but so far it seems to be really helping them stay in the Target Language, et ça, c'est fantastique! If you have any thoughts or ideas about this system, I'm all ears! Perhaps there's something I can tweak? I am also looking for ideas for rewards for 8th graders. What works for your middle school students? I'd love to hear your ideas. Merci!

Here's the Edmodo help from my wonderful PLN:

Thank you, Edmodians! You Rock!!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweetest Thing

Last night my four-year-old son said "Je t'aime" (I love you) to me for the first time in French. What an incredibly special moment that was....after years of not pushing him to speak French due to his language delay, it was the sweetest music to my ears!!!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reading for Multiliteracy

Every other night, it's my turn to read to the children. My husband reads to them in English and on my nights, we have a large selection of books from Scholastic Canada that the kids choose from. They know that the top level of their bookshelves are en français and the lower level is in English.

Tonight, we chose an all-time favorite: "Max et les maximonstres"!!! (by Maurice Sendak)

The kids tend to be a little hesitant on French nights...they really prefer the comfort of English as they hear it from everyone else in their world...and even from me as it is the only language my husband understands and it is also my native language. When it's my turn to read, they often ask if I can read in English, but they know the answer will always be "non." Tonight my daughter said "I like it when mommy reads to us but I wish it were in English." I am on a mission to change this! So tonight, we chose a favorite and the kids were able to participate a little more than usual. I read the familiar phrases, leaving out a word or two on every page for them to fill in. Even little brother, who is speech-delayed, was able to be successful at this en français! Every month when I get the Scholastic Canada flyer, I want to buy more and more books, but I'm thinking I need to slow down a little, and allow the children the pleasant repetition of some favorites. Then they can start helping mommy read like tonight!

The second book we read tonight included a pleasant surprise. The children love playing with Mimi la souris, created by +nathalie bonneau and available on her website. Well, the second book had a character named "Mimi la souris" and they just got a hoot out of that. We had read this same book ("Le printemps de Martin lapin") several months ago, but had not read it since so this was like a new-found treasure.

Now I'm brainstorming more ideas of how to keep this momentum to change my children's attitudes towards French story time and French in general. One thing I did this summer seemed to help. I hosted a French summer camp in our home. I hope to do more of that sort of thing soon in my community! The kids seemed to really enjoy being leaders and helping me teach other French.

I think it may be time to start using AIM Language Learning with my husband and kids together. I have a 50 hour unit of instruction, an AIM "kit," called "La poule Maboule" that is perfect for my children's ages. It's just finding the time while also trying to fully implement the revolutionary methodology which has thrown me a bit of a learning curve this year. I know that in time, it'l all come more naturally. I think that daddy will be more motivated closer to our big trip to France which is not for a few years. We will definitely need to teach "La poule Maboule" to him by then!

What else can I do?
I find this blog post to be very helpful...but what do you think? What are your ideas for raising children in more than one langauge?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Adventures in Acquisition: Week #1

What a great first week....the best first week in my career thus far! Why? It's because of AIM Language Learning! This is the year that I am finally able to fully implement AIM. I cannot wait to add more to may Action Research on this revolutionary methodology developed by Canadian educator extraordinaire, Wendy Maxwell.

In this quick blog post, I'll highlight, in no particular order, the "adventures in acquisition" that stand out in my mind from the first four days with students.

In my first week, students groaned when the bell rang to leave class because we were playing Hachi Pachi CoSiKi. They laughed hysterically as I piled over a dozen hats on my head and they fell to the floor.

I heard from parents that their children are enjoying the class and I heard through the grapevine that there's one student who doesn't like anything about school, but is coming home saying they love French! 

I have never been more thrilled to receive an assessment resource! I'm excited because this will be the first time ever I am providing my students with the ability to succeed on assessments written entirely in the TL! Yay, AIM!!!! Here is the link to the resource below.

With my eighth grade classes, whom I had last year for Exploratory Language class, I was super pleased to hear how much French they retained over the summer. We learned French for a grand total of ten weeks last year. I used AIM, but was unable to fully implement due to the short time frame. The students were speaking in full sentences from day one this week! They remember their entry rap and many of our high frequency questions and answers. Woohoo!!!!
With AIM, I am implementing a class rewards system with points for students who stay entirely in the TL during class. They were super excited to see their Class DoJo avatars and they seem happy and ready to start this challenge next week!

My eighth graders quickly remembered our alphabet song with zero reteaching. Read more about this special song here.

That is just awesome as I am a fanatic about students knowing how to spell using the alphabet in class. I feel this one of the ways I help students establish awesome pronunciation. Here's more about how I teach stress the vowels for pronunciation perfection.

Yesterday I started preparing for Monday's exciting lesson. I am introducing our first AIM play! Here are the marionettes as they sit on my desk waiting to be mounted on straws. Notice the awesome paper weight gift I received yesterday morning in my mailbox from my principal! :)

Now below are the marionettes all ready for Monday! I mounted them on the straws and they are ready for action! I am super excited about is a momentous event as it is the first time I'm introducing an AIM play to a class! I cannot wait to see how it goes!

What a whirlwind week! I'm exhausted...all this fun with AIM is wearing me out! It is the absolute BEST type of exhaustion I can think of! Bring on the weekend naps...I need to store up some extra energy for next week's adventures in acquisition with AIM!

What are your first week highlights? I'd love to hear!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sunny Earth Camp

This summer, I hosted a summer program in my home for neighborhood children. It was quite an experience for all! There aren't any French-speaking families in my area, so I wanted to encourage my children to use the French they know in a fun context. I also wanted them to see that other people in the community value language learning. This camp really did the job! The other goals of the camp were to provide the neighborhood children with exposure to a language at a young age. At our local school, language learning begins in grade 7. This camp was also my first step towards more lengthy programs in the community. It gave me a chance to see how it would go, given the small venue of my great room and basement "kidzone" for the games.

Sunny Earth Camp provided me with many learning opportunities and as always, I learned more from my mistakes than from the successes. For example, having a wide multi-age group of children can be challenging! We had children ages 2-8. For the most part this worked, but I quickly realized that the 2-3 year olds would sometimes need a parent to stay and participate with them. Also, I learned that my own children, even though they are within the age range, did not always behave like perfect angels and sometimes needed daddy to step in to help. It is true that my children are more advanced than any of the other camp participants and I must remember that. They may be the same age as the others, but they understand French well as I have been speaking it to them since birth. The best lessons for them were when they could help me teach or act as a peer leader of the group...what fun that was!!!

None of this is really that surprising. Despite any bumps along the way, the experience was positive for all. My children enjoyed being able to excel and help teach the other children. They also thought it was super cool to have so many fun kids over at the house at the same time! They were always excited when they learned we would be hosing another camp. That is a good thing as my ultimate goal, other than the joy of teaching young children, was to help boost my children's desire to learn and speak French. I think that Sunny Earth Camp definitely helped! I am so thankful to the many parents who chose to bring their children to join us this summer! MERCI!!!!!!

I used this AIM Language Learning Kit as a resource (scroll down in link to see samples of videos we used) along with a variety of fun videos, songs and active games. To read more about AIM, check out my AIM google doc. However, to fully implement AIM, I need to set up future programs to include more than just a few hour-long sessions in the summer! I cannot wait to make this dream come a reality! I am already speaking to community organizations to see where the best venue would be.

As everyone was arriving at camp, learners would gather around the table for the first few minutes to color and decorate name tags and/or other various coloring sheets. There were cultural coloring sheets and French alphabet books and other fun take-home activities at the table for children to choose from...but usually, I'd limit the sheets to what we were working on that day. For instance, if we were learning our fun "Girls and Boys" song by Melanie Cody, then I'd ask the children to color the picture for their gender.
Once everyone arrived and had a few minutes to color, my daughter would help me sing the "Assieds-toi" song by +Ann Chiasson.  I added a "viens ici" section first, to bring the children over to the carpet in the great room, then we sat with an "assieds-toi" verse. (I've been told by a couple parents on different occasions, that their child has been "caught" singing this "Assieds-toi" song!)
On the "Boy/Girl" day, after we were settled at the carpet, the children really enjoyed singing and doing the actions to the very active Boy/Girl song! First it says "Girls stand up, girls dance the twist, girls do a spin...girls sit down." Then it's the boys turn "Boys stand up, boys jump up high, boys run really fast, boys sit down." After singing and acting out the song, we'd then play around with the words for boy and girl, learning the AIM gestures and practicing our pronunciation and pairing them with the proper person for their gender. Here's my expert helper a morning before a camp:

The learners thought it was the absolute most hilarious thing when they would purposefully call and girl a boy and vice versa...this hilarity stemmed from my daughter, I'm sure! The giggles were unstoppable! :)

From the AIM kit (a 50 hour unit of instruction), we used this "Bonjour mes amis" song along with the "Au revoir" song. I also pulled from various methods used in AIM.

After our welcome song, we would take a few moments to learn how to ask and answer the question: What is your name? We sang a little song with the names. Before we moved on, everyone was given the opportunity to ask and answer this important question! We then moved on to "How are you?" Of course there was a lot of acting out the different responses! Here is my helper reading her first French words to the class:

We would then usually take a "brain break" to watch a fun video. Here's one example of a video created by +Sylvia Duckworth  :

We often would play the "Am Stram Gram" game I made up that combines to different children's French, one American. Am Stram Gram is a choosing rhyme, kind of like Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. This French rhyme is great for learning the French sounds, but doesn't mean anything. I combined the rhyme with "One Potato, Two Potato" or "Bubble Gum" and the kids really enjoyed being the one to do the "choosing." They never wanted to stop until everyone had their turn! I was able to stop saying the rhyme with them after a couple times, too.

Other "brain breaks" included were 5-a-day dancing routines which helps the children learn directions and other command forms in a fun kinesthetic context:

We also had some other kinesthetic fun with Jeanne de la Lune's Robots by +nathalie bonneau. The children really enjoyed learning these high-frequency verbs TPR style:

In between all these active songs and actions, we would use the language in context and/or use it to play games. For instance, after learning the numbers, we went downstairs to the "kidzone" in the basement. I had a couple balloons down there that we used to play a number game the I found from this blog post by Spanish Playground. The kids used their numbers in sequence to count the balloon hits. They really enjoyed that game!

The children learned a very special French alphabet song:

At our last camp, we made crêpes! Many of the children had never had them. They all enjoyed them with nutella, despite the other healthier choices...some added some peanut butter to the mix and one, yes, just one, tried a crêpe with apple pie filling. Many asked for seconds and a couple even asked for thirds!!! 

For more videos from our camps, check out this YouTube playlist.

Here's some parent feedback from the camp:
"My daughter absolutely loved French Camp this summer. She was excited to learn new words and when she came home she may have "forgotten" what she did when asked, but she'd be singing the songs and counting to her sister when they played. Overall, I think it was a positive experience for her and her little sister is excited to do it next year!"

Here's feedback from a Thank You card:
"Thank you for inviting my daughter to Sunny Earth Camp. She enjoyed her time with you. Your passion is contagious, and the incluence you have had on my daughter is terrific. Thanks again."

Sunny Earth Camp was really fun...I'm looking forward to future camps and events of this nature and I know the kids are, too! That makes it all worthwhile!! Woohoo! Life is an adventure in learning!

What are some of your favorite language adventures? I'd love to hear!!!

Thanks for reading! :o)

Here's my sample flyer for what will hopefully be coming soon to my neighborhood:

Sunny Earth Camp
French for Little Linguists

Teacher: Audrey Misiano                                    
For little linguists ages 5-7 
No previous French required
40 minutes bi-weekly for 1 year
Play performance in French at end of camp

In order to accelerate learners French abilities, I will use the Accelerative Integrative Method (AIM) for language learning. Instruction is provided almost entirely in the target language. AIM provides an arts and literacy-based approach to language learning. The program incorporates stories, drama, music and dance into the learning, which helps children become emotionally engaged in language learning. Active fun will be the fuel that drives the learning process. On the last day of the camp, the little linguists will perform and present what they’ve learned to their families and friends: “La Poule Maboule” play, entirely in French!!!

Purpose: This language camp will provide children with the ability to communicate using basic French. Videos of short segments of each lesson will be uploaded to YouTube for campers to review at home (parental consent required). If families go the extra mile at home using our uploaded lesson videos along with other AIM supplies and resources compiled by Sunny Earth Academy, “campers” and their families may continue their learning outside of camp hours and teach others in their family.

Sample Lesson Outline
Entry routine: Rap
Greetings: Song/Calendar/Weather
Story Time/Acting/Reading
Circle-time activity/Game
Story Time/Acting/Writing
Dancing/Play practice
Farewell routine

Acquisition Game #1: Hachi Pachi CoSiKi

Image source:

Getting the first day butterflies? Well, I am! Tomorrow is my first day with students and I am finally able to fully implement the Accelerative Integrative Methodology fully. Woohoo! So, of course, I must start my year off with a good AIM game! The original AIM game is called Hachi Pachi, but I have updated the game with a second level of active play. This new game is called Hachi Pachi CoSiKi. Here's my previous AIM journal entry about this fun name game:

This great AIM game got an update from my period 2 class who adores another similar game called CoSiKi. We combined the two into one. The person who's "Hachi Pachi" makes movements and changes to a new movement when the volunteer is not looking. Here's a video of the result.
Rules are given entirely in TL AND the game is to be played ENTIRELY in the TL (as with all AIM activities!)
I'll give steps here in English:
1. Volunteer A goes into hallway
2. Volunteer B is Hachi Pachi
3. Volunteer A comes in and has to figure out who Hachi Pachi is
4. Hachi Pachi's job is to be the leader of the group. The group follows his/her lead and makes the movements that change when Volunteer A is not looking. This portion of the game is from another game my students love called "CoSiKi" where students have to guess the chief of the group who makes the movements.
5. Volunteer A gets 3-5 tries (you choose and let them know in rules ahead of time how many guesses they get) to ask people "What's your name?" If the person answers "My name is____"(not Hachi Pachi) the entire class must stop motions (including Hachi Pachi) and say "Oh no, that's too bad! Where is Hachi Pachi?" Volunteer A keeps guessing (# of tries determined prior). If Volunteer A doesn't figure it out, you can have the entire class point to Hachi Pachi after the guesses are gone: When everyone says "Where is Hachi Pachi?" everyone points to him/her and say "Hachi Pachi is there!" When volunteer A guesses the real Hachi Pachi, everyone celebrates: That's fantastic! S/he is Hachi Pachi!
A thing to consider: You may want to require that Hachi Pachi must change movements every 15-20 seconds or can be hard for Volunteer A to guess if Hachi Pachi never changes motions. Also, if everyone is looking at Hachi Pachi, it'll be too obvious. The kids will figure this all out!
This game can be played (after the first time of getting to know the rules) in under 5 minutes...I sometimes play it on Friday's 5 minutes before the bell. It leaves them begging for more and sad when the bell rings! I always review all the rules because this gives them a chance to hear more comprehensible input and provides a reminder of how to play.
Have fun with this great name game and stay tuned for updates to this blog as I hope to find time to blog about future fun AIM games!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Acquisition Appy-ness for Teachers with iPads

What's one sure way to ensure acquisition abounds in your language classroom?

VISUALS!!!!!  Here's one techie way to provide your learners with a variety of engaging visuals!

Are you a teacher with just one iPads? The Reflector App allows you to wirelessly mirror your iPad onto your desktop in order to project on your white board for whole class viewing! The Reflector App is NOT available in is not an app for your iPad, but rather an app for your computer. It costs $12.99, but in my opinion, it is well worth it!!! It is my new favorite techie tool for teachers!!!

Would you like to learn more? Well, here you go:

First, there's this wonderful blog by +Stephen Lai that will explain the tool. It's called "Teaching with iPad" and it's full of wonderful tips, tricks and app ideas! Here is the blog's homepage. Next there is this helpful link that teaches you how to record using your Reflector app. I have tried it out. You can see the result of my first try below. It records audio, too!!!

Hope you enjoy the Reflector app as much as I am!!!

For more techie tools for teachers, check out this collaborative Pinterest board: Techie Tools for Teachers! via +Emilia Carrillo +Tracy Brady and yours truly! :)