Sunday, October 27, 2013

J'adore Halloween & Me encanta el día de los muertos, también!

J'adore Halloween! I don't know why, but I adore this season. I love apple picking, the beautiful colors of the fall leaves, and pumpkin farms. I enjoy dressing up and decorating the house with handmade drawings my kids make. This year, we are hosting a family costume party for a few close friends. We have spent the past month putting up spider webs, garlands and dreaming up spooky treats for the event.

I also love the celebration of Day of the Dead. Although, I have never formally celebrated it, I always spend time around this time of the year thinking about loved-ones who have passed. I really enjoy teaching this holiday to my students. I absolutely adore teaching more French with AIM this year, however, I am sad that for the first time in over 15 years, I am not teaching Spanish right now and therefore won't have the pleasure of sharing my love for this holiday with my students. After learning about the holiday, I know they would have enjoyed making a picture with picmonkey! Here's one I made of me and my groom as a sample for my students last year. 

I also can never have enough pins on my DoD Pinterest board. I currently have 415 pins, and by tonight, I'm sure there'll be more. I love the colors of this special celebration. Here's the link to the pinterest and here's an image of some of the pins:

If you see one of your resources on my board, thank you! I love following others and collecting great pins from other educators from around the globe!

I also have a public Edmodo folder for El día de los muertos, where I've collected a few project ideas and posts from Twitter and Edmodo friends. You should not need an Edmodo account to open the folder. Just click on this link to open and then navigate through the resources on the left hand side of the screen. Click on a resource to view. Here's a peak:

Since I am not currently teaching Spanish, and therefore unable to share my love of this colorful holiday, that's perhaps why I was inclined to start creating something new in French for Halloween. Since I don't have the chance to celebrate Day of the Dead, then I must find something cultural for this time of year...after all, it's my favorite time holiday! France has recently begun celebrating Halloween, so there we have it...a great reason to learn about Halloween en français!

First, I created this symbaloo, which you can read more about here.

I also updated my French Halloween YouTube playlist and my Halloween pinterest.

Then I started teaching "C'est l'Halloween" to my children. We have the entire left hand side of the symbaloo above dedicated to this fun, catchy Halloween song. Both my children adore this fun Halloween song by Matt Maxwell. We have our friend +Sylvia Duckworth  to thank for this great video which helped us learn the song. Both children sing along to the song, but my eldest (6) has done especially well, learning the words even better than me! There was one section in this where I had forgotten (La lune, elle est pleine)...luckily she started it off because I didn't remember. Bravo! Hear us here:

Next, I started creating a SMARTboard file full of fun French Vocabulary, drawing from this fun interactive Halloween activity by the amazing Jeanne de la Lune (+nathalie bonneau).

Then I realized that the vocabulary I was teaching could use a story. So I wrote one! This is not the first children's story I've written, but it's the first one that I'm really excited about. I have already begun uploading the various story files and activities to my TpT store. Between now and Halloween 2013, everything related to this story is available for a discounted price! Here's a link to the PPT file. Here's a link to the SMARTboard file. Here is the digital story video file. Also read to the end for an opportunity to win these resources!

If you're not interested in spending a few dollars, then I'd love to give you a sneak peak, so here you go:

I especially enjoyed having the chance to collaborate with Nathalie (a.k.a. @JeannedelaLune) again. Her images and voice bring this story to life! She is somehow able to speak slow enough for beginner learners, yet with expression in her voice that provides compelling comprehensible input. With her combination of awesome visuals and expressive narration, learners of all ages and levels will enjoy this resource. 

I also enjoyed collaborating with new and old Edmodo friends; Fabienne, Adeline, Amanda and especially Rebecca who was an immense help! Rebecca and I even collaborated across the miles in real time using a google doc! Fun! :) I also owe a shout out to several facebook and twitter friends who have helped me with feedback and sound know who you are...Merci beaucoup, mes amies!

I have also created an English version and plan to create more resources to go along with both versions as I create them! I have put together price-saving bundles as well for those who'd like to use a variety of different resources for the same story (more to come). Everything is available with this link. I hope to create a Spanish as well, at some point. In the meantime, here's another sneak peak into this story:

This project was so much fun...and it has really only just begun. Now that I've written one solid story that packs a punch of language learning, I want to write more! I am looking to connect with people who are experienced in this field...I am searching for options for future digital publishing and to expand beyond TpT. 

I will also offer a free download of the resources by random choice from the names of people who comment to this blog post by 9PM EST, Monday October 28th. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another AIMazing Day!

Yesterday was a magical day in my AIM-world! It was the first time we used the paper puppets. I honestly did not think it was going to be earth shattering...but boy, was I wrong! The students volunteered to come up in front of the room and hold the puppets. They moved them around to act out the play as we practiced saying it together, with my gestural support. 

The students really got into it and made their puppets act in such a funny was it hilarious! First, before we started, they asked me why the dog puppet was so enormous. The play calls him a "petit chien" but really, they're right, the puppet is enormous in relation to the people. We had learned the word "dinosaure" for one of the hats we used in a previous lesson, and one of the kids said something like "Yes, the 'little dog' is like a dinosaur." I am always amazed when students ask me questions in the target language. They are not always perfect, but after just 6 weeks of French, they are comfortable enough to create questions on their own about things that we have not really talked about before in class. It is so cool! Thank you, AIM!!!!

As we started acting out the play with the puppets, I realized I was missing some props. I was missing a bag for Henri to hide the dog in, for instance. I grabbed the closest thing I could find to give to the student holding the puppet for Henri. It was the wolf puppet, which when turned upside down, actually did work like a bag. The kids really got a huge kick out of using the wolf as a bag...I think it's one of those things  you'd have to see to truly understand just how funny it seems there's a bit of this happening in my classroom as I said something similar in last week's blog post. At any rate, the students really blew me away with this puppet activity. Everyone was reciting the play even faster than I could gesture...and laughing all the while as some of them moved the puppets around in funny ways to match the words. What a great way to start our lesson!

After our first attempt with "Put the words in order" (which they picked up on really fast), we played a review game. I had told them in the beginning of class: "If you work really well and really hard in class today, we can play a game at the end." Well, actually I was gesturing it and they spoke it for me...there is rarely a moment when the class is not speaking out loud in an AIM of the many reasons that AIM truly is an "Accelerative" method! 

Playing this game was one of those moments where you just love life, love your job, your students and you are extremely sad that the bell is going to ring and end it. I have to admit, though, that I am getting this sort of positively-good feeling about teaching more and more now with AIM than ever before. Watching my learners grow like never before is such a wonderful experience for all. They are doing so great and I simply cannot wait to see how far we make it in one year. I know they are feeling good, too...I can see it in their faces and eyes when we take a moment to talk about everything we know so far!

So back to the's my quick AIM Forum description of the activity, along with the link to download the game. Please note that I used this template created by Arik Durfee. Arik, if you ever read this, THANK YOU! This was a hilarious, engaging review game. The amount of giggles and belly laughs was more than I've ever heard in my classroom! Here's some screen shots:

The part they loved the most was the random bonus rounds that kept popping up here and there. They would have to read the clue, that would pop up after the message you see in the picture below. It told them to do things like: 
1. Stand up and dance Gangnam/French months Macarena/Le twist/etc.
2. Stand up and jump three times really quick
3. Come up to the smartboard and touch Frankenstein's head

I'd love to hear your ideas for more bonus rounds! If you think of anything, please let me know. The bonus part, I feel, was what kept them on their toes and it also made the game even more fun and unpredictable. They just never knew when the bonus would pop up and they were all on alert for it. I was amazed at how fast they were able to read and comprehend and then act out the request.

Later in the day yesterday, the Peace through Language club and I were able to volunteer in a first grade classroom. We did AIM's hat lesson that I mentioned earlier. The kids really love this lesson...whether they are first graders or middle schoolers! I think I have collected over 20 hats now. I need to update my picture, but here's some of them:

So basically, this activity teaches the little linguists about counting in context, the opposite verbs of "put on" and "take off" and the verb "fall" once again, in context. The lesson is just plain, good fun! By the end, there are students all over the place putting on and taking off hats and then they give them all to me. Once I have them all back, I stack them on my head, one at a time saying: "I'm putting on one hat now...Now I'm putting on two hats...etc. They get piled up so high that they start to fall. This caused quite a uproar in giggles with these little ones! AIM has you pre-teach the verb for fall so the students are hearing it again in the same day. The giggles that this activity got were the perfect opportunity to teach the verb "to laugh" so of course we learned that, too. We reviewed the expression, "Ça, c'est fou" as well! (That's crazy!)

There was a birthday in the first grade class this week, so we moved to the smartboard for some birthday fun with this symbaloo I created called "Joyeux Anniversaire." It has birthday songs and other fun goodies for little French linguists...but middle schoolers seem to find it amusing, too!

After singing "Bonne fête" and allowing the birthday boy to choose a link from the Birthday symbaloo, we decided to have a little Halloween fun. We used my other symbaloo: "C'est l'halloween" and we chose +Sylvia Duckworth's video of Matt Maxwell's song "C'est l'halloween." The children learned to sing the chorus and the parts with all the "oui, oui, oui's" and the "non, non, non's." Here's more about my Halloween symbaloo and here's what it looks 'll have to scroll right to see everything:

We also used +nathalie bonneau's "Un costume pour Halloween" which is one of the symbaloo buttons, and one of my all time favorite French resources for Halloween. 

They loved touching the buttons on the smartboard and seeing the boy's costume change. I was able to ask them some total questions, AIM-style, like "Is this a boy or is this a girl?" and "Is the boy a ghost or is the boy a pirate?" We did this all in French, of course, with complete sentences for answers. The little ones are also doing so great with AIM!

All in all, it was simply an AIMazing day! With such a great start of the year, I honestly wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up the excitement in the classroom...but so far, so good!

Listening to the laughs and seeing all the smiles yesterday just reinforced my passion for AIM Language Learning. Not only was it fun for the learners, but they were speaking in full sentences (and reading as well for the middle schoolers) from bell to bell. It is music to my ears. It makes my heart sing. I even hear from parents on a regular basis that their children come home speaking and singing in doesn't get any better than that! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Adventures in Acquisition: Week #6

So it was week #6 this past week and oh, what a week! There is just so much excitement in the classroom that I don't know where to start. I could write about my two points systems, one for individuals and the other for groups...but I think there's something even more exciting. If you'd like to read a little about my individual points system, visit my previous blog post here. If you'd like to read about the excitement during week #1 of class, visit here.

For this blog post, I will focus on what I see as a huge change from my past experience teaching with traditional methods. This is my first year where I am fully implementing the Accelerative Integrative Methodology a.k.a. "AIM."

I have never had more fun teaching than I am now that I'm using AIM Language Learning. We are just six weeks into the year, and I am already able to hold whole conversations with my students entirely in the target language. I have never had results like this...I am, in a word, "AIMazed!" My students are in their first full year of French. Last year they had 10 weeks of introductory French (& Spanish) in the Exploratory Language program I also teach. What I am witnessing now is so different from what I have experienced with traditional methods. The learners are so much more willing and able to speak spontaneously! Some students are even coming up with full statements and questions to ask me in the target language. I mean they are creating comprehensible language about things that have not been directly taught in class!

I had my first absence this week and I was able to explain to them (as they spoke with me as I gestured) why I missed their class one day this week. I also explained why I was very tired the next day. I used an AIM technique called TLSE (Teacher-Led Self Expression). This is used in AIM to promote spontaneous discussions in the classroom but instead of having the students listen and then ask questions at the end, they speak for the teacher as s/he gestures for them to speak. As we were talking about how we were doing that day, I gestured silently (for the most part) for them to say on my behalf: "I am very, very, very tired today. I am so tired! (I gestured with a lot of expression!) At 4:00AM today, my little boy wakes me because he is sick. He wakes me and he says: Mommy, I want to sleep with you. I am very sick. But he doesn't sleep. He says he wants to watch a video. So at 4:30AM, my little boy is watching a video and I cannot sleep. I am so tired today! I want to! But we have a lot of work to do and it is going to be so much now let's work!" The students are able to interject things like "Oh no, that's too bad" and ask pertinent questions like "Is your little boy alright now?"

We are also joking with each other, every day...I feel I am truly meant to be a middle school teacher...I love their goofiness and I adore that we are able to joke around entirely in French. For instance, at one point this week, one of the boy's heads was blocking a girl sitting behind him so she couldn't see me. I gestured for the class to say: "You know, (boy's name), your head is like a door...not like a window. (Girls name) cannot see because your head is like a door." The boy seemed confused like he had not ever heard the expression: You make a better door than a window. So afterwards he questioned, in disbelief: "My head is like a door?!?" I explained, "Yes because it isn't transparent and she cannot see." It doesn't sound so funny writing it down here, but the whole class was in stitches due to the boy's statement of disbelief that his head was like a door.

These are just two spontaneous communications that happened this week. There are so many more but now I'd like to write briefly about the feedback I received this past week. Never before, have I received feedback like I am now that I'm using AIM! Within just the past week, I have had a few different comments from parents and other adults observing my students outside of school.

First, a parent told me about her daughter, that I'll call Véronique:
"Véronique has been going around the house speaking and singing French constangly!!! Starting to drive me crazy! Should make you happy though."

Second, I saw the parents of one of my students today. The dad told me that his daughter, that I'll call "Simone" read the entire AIM play to him in French because she wanted to...just for fun. (It was not homework). The mom told me that she is amazed by what Simone knows so far at this point in the year.

Thirdly, another teacher in my school witnessed two of my students in a home she was visiting. She saw they were working on French. They were watching videos and practicing their vocabulary. She said they are speaking out loud in French and they were giggling and laughing and having a blast together with it.

If I started blogging about all the things that amaze me this year with AIM, I don't think I would have any time left for eating or sleeping! There's just way too many wonderful things....but then again, there can never be too many wonderful keep 'em coming, AIM! Keep AIMazing me! :)

C'est l'halloween

I just created this "C'est l'halloween" Symbaloo Here is the direct link.

I had so much fun making this. As I created it, I pulled from this amazing resource from +Sylvia Duckworth (Resources by theme). I also had fun trying out all the links with my own children. It was really interesting to see their reaction to some of the videos. For instance, my four-year-old son could not get enough of the "C'est l'halloween" song by Matt Maxwell. You can find all those links down the left hand side of the symbaloo. I also created a blubbr triv game for "C'est l'halloween. It's an interactive quiz that makes you listen more carefully to the lyrics. Find the interactive quiz here.

My children also really love the second row of resources which are mainly from +nathalie bonneau and LCF. I have learned that children of all ages enjoy Nathalie's animation website! Here it is...check it out! An all-time favorite from LCF's Babelzone is "La chanson des squelettes" that is wonderful for teaching verbs and the time! It is so awesome, that I created a blubbr game for this video, too! Check it out here.

Additionally, the third row is always a winner, as the kids adore Boowa and Kwala! You can read more about our adventures with them here. It seems that they simply cannot get enough of this one where they have to listen carefully and choose the proper ingredients to get the magic potion correct. I, personally, adore this song...I don't know why, but it's one of my all time favorite Halloween songs! If you'd like to hear that song while reading the lyrics, go here, and press on the little "P" to see "les paroles."

The kids got a kick out of "L'atelier des monstres". I was disappointed by the lack of audio, so what I did was narrate to the children what they were doing and I asked them questions as they were playing. Ex: "Qui veut choisir le nez/la bouche/les yeux/les oreilles maintenant?" They also really loved this eCard, but it is in English, so I narrated en français and told them what to click en français.

This was indeed a fun-filled project! Please send me any links you think I should add and I'd also love to hear your feedback! Merci beaucoup!

Le voilà:
Click here

Chantons avec Boowa et Kwala

Boowa et Kwala have filled our lives with the joy of singing and dancing in our target language! Thanks to, the "Sunny Earth Kids," Soleil and Géo, go around the house joyfully singing and dancing in French! I end up singing a lot of their songs and I often change the words to fit whatever is going on at that moment. I find that narrating our life, sometimes through singing, is one way I can keep the language input at a maximum without sounding like a narrator.

For anyone wanting fun, free resources for French or English, then UpToTen's Boowa & Kwala may be for you. It is geared toward young children and is available in English by clicking on the little flag that is found between the "Chercher" and the "Parents" icons at the top of the page. Depending on where you are in the site, the option to change the language may vary:
You can purchase the premium version that offers an ad-free version. There is also a version for schools!
The children are really enjoying the games section. I will write a future blog post about the games. When the kids were too young to play the awesome games, we used to listen to "les chansons non-stop" which has over 90 adorable songs with fun animations. We listened to these songs so many times that I have memorized several of the tunes and some of the lyrics. These are the songs that I change the words to in order to narrate our daily life and to create some fun kinesthetic moments in French. Here's an example of a favorite song that came to mind as we checked out our "new dance floor" which now is our living room:


Check out the adorable animation the above song came from. I can remember when the kids were younger, we used to play "La danse des bouées" and the children would follow the lead of Boowa et Kwala, falling dizzily to the floor at the end in hysterics! Sometimes they'd get me to join them. Writing this now is making me want to remind them of these times and see if they want to try it again! It is so perfect for language learning since they are actually acting out what they're singing.
Every song in this section has a little "P" by the control buttons at the bottom left corner. The "P" stands for "paroles," so by clicking the lyrics will pop up. I love this feature. Sometimes I needed that visual of the lyrics to be able to sing fast enough to keep up in French. I am not a native-speaker, after all, and I've been teaching Spanish for 15 years! I really appreciate this little "P"!!!!
Here are some examples of other songs that we listened to over and over that include something interactive and/or repetitious to boost  children's language acquisition.
Les grenouilles: Song that teaches how to count up to six, and we always like to croak like frogs at the appropriate moment! CROA! As a lover of puns, I loved the play on the words "quoi" and "croa"! :)
Bisou, câlin et doudou: I have sung Boowa's part as a lullaby for my little loves.
Dodo Boowa et Kwala: Another lullaby that we just love.
Moi je t'aime et toi tu m'aimes: A sweet song about friendship.
Dans ma potion: It doesn't have to be October for us to still seek this silly song out. The children are both really good about saying "Non merci" and I believe I have this song to thank! One of their all time favorite games actually goes along with this song. It's called "La potion de Boowa" and it's one of the games they still need my help with. I think they will keep at it until they don't need me anymore, though, since they think it's hilarious.
Quelle couleur avons-nous?: Love the art lesson included in this song.
L'expérience donne l'expérience: I love the message this song provides!
Peux-tu marcher comme un canard: This is another great song that packs a punch of language learning! We just followed Boowa's lead by copying Kwala and voilà! The kids internalized the meaning of the verbs "marcher," "nager," "voler," and "parler."
Il pleut, ça mouille: This is a very popular song...especially since we live where it rains quite a bit! It may be grey and rainy out when we sing it, but for some reason this song always makes us smile!
Noël est déjà là: Another pleasantly repetitious ditty. I am certain that Soleil and Géo understand the future tense and the verb "gâter" thanks to this song!
Même pas peur: This is another popular song in our household. The words have been changed up for the appropriate situation, but the "même pas peur" part is always the same. The children enjoy this song as it makes them feel brave in a painful situation.
J'aime te câlins: We sing the "câlins tout doux" part of this all the time.
Souris, fais cheese: Love the silly rhymes and especially "Truc qui finit en ise" that Boowa sings! LOL
Picnic: I don't know why, but this little tune is probably my all time favorite from Boowa et Kwala. It's really hard to choose just one, but I'd have to say this is it. Maybe it's because of the pure joy that dear little Kwala exudes by singing this song and doing her little happy dance. We do the happy dance with her as she sings! Sometimes I find myself singing this song, but most of the time we're not going on a picnic, so I'll change up the words to fit the fun occasion.

I could keep going on and on about the adorable songs and animations! Why don't you check them out for yourself! Here's a handy spot to choose by monthly themes. It's called "Events" and is one of our favorite go-to spots for some interactive fun with Boowa et Kwala.

Finally, another great thing about this website is that they seem to have something for many of the holidays we celebrate. For instance, check out this cute musical gift a child can create for their mom on Mother's Day! Fun stuff like this can be found on the Events page I just mentioned above.

We are so grateful to the creators of It is all around good, clean, engaging fun! The website states that it's geared towards 0-10 year olds, but I am definitely out of that range by a few decades and sometimes I find myself taking my own turn after the kids! The music fills our heads and we use it in our daily life. Being the only person my children hear French from, and a non-native speaker at that, websites like this are so appreciated! They are helping us provide fun with French to our children and that is the best gift we could ask for! So we'd like to say "Merci beaucoup", Up To Ten!!! You rock our Sunny Earth!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Spanish Playlists Galore

In celebration of my channel's 200th subscriber, I created this pinterest board with my Spanish YouTube Playlists:

Read the pin's text to get a general idea of the theme. To view all the videos in the playlist directly in YouTube, click "Visit YouTube." Hope you can find something useful!!!

Seems just like yesterday I was celebrating my 100th subscriber with a similar post like this for French Playlists. Here's that blog post, in case you would like it: French Playlists

I want to give a heartfelt shout out to my 200 subscribers! Thank you for being there! It's a pleasure sharing with you!!!