Sunday, June 14, 2009

RESOURCE: 100+ Links to Use with Kids

I love using the internet and computers with my students, and earlier this tear, blogged about some websites I created to use with my classes. I had long been desiring a more on-the-go and dynamic way to keep these valuable links up to date and to add to them on the fly, and the news that Geocities will soon be closing has prompted me to migrate the links over to my profile at Delicious. I can add to these links using any web browser (rather than waiting until I at home with a webpage editor), and I can easily remove broken links. I can also filter which links the students see by sending them directly to the link for a tagged set. For example:
When I let my students use resources like this, we have a standard rule that they are only allowed to click on links that I provide for them. So if a link sends them to YouTube, they can watch that clip, and that clip only. If they click on anything else, they lose computer privileges. If you plan to use these links with your students, I encourage you to surf safely and to teach THEM how to do so with a rule like this one. Our school IT person had a fit when I told him I wanted to send students to YouTube, but once I showed him that these were quality links and that the students were being taught to surf them safely (which is an important computer skill to teach them!) he unblocked YouTube for me and let me use it with the kids, who greatly enjoyed the experience and never even thought about clicking away from the safe links I provided them.

How could you teach with these? The possibilities are endless! My students particularly enjoyed the various types of music videos. A favourite activity of mine was to let them pick their favourite and have them keep a list while they watched of every word they know which they heard during the video. You could have each student keep their own list and then have a contest to see who can get the most words!

Feel free to post to the comments if you have other ideas for using these links!

Friday, June 12, 2009

UNIT PLAN: Daisy La Chienne

I wrote this story as a year-ender for my SK classes. They had been doing colouring book-based work for most of the year and acquired a good working vocabulary. I am trying to get them ready to start proper plays next year. The story involves Daisy, our principal's dog (you could of course edit the file to use the names of dogs your students might know) coming to school to look for her friend. I made a little cahier of activities as well. They had a little trouble with the word search, but enjoyed everything else. Don't under-estimate SK kids---they can handle real work:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

INFO: Music Friday 101

I do music with my Jk and up classes every Friday and thought I would post some info on how that works. Later, I will do a follow-up post where I list the songs I covered this year and how each of them went over.

The cds I used were mostly Kidzup, Jacquot, Charotte Diamond and Kidzup with a smattering of Matt for the older classes. If I were teaching more older students, I would use Matt more, but the vast majority of my students are JK/SK and, next year there will be a pre-K class too.


1) If I never hear 'La Belle Pieuvre' again, it will be too soon Smile It's a great song, don't get me wrong. The kids LOOOOOVE it. They love it a little too much. I had classified this as a junior song, but the senior kids would not give it up and asked for it every week. So on music days, I was doing it with SEVEN classes. Every. Single. Week. Perhaps after a summer off, I will be ready to try again Smile

2) Songs with repetition are great. Je Suis Une Pizza is a perennial hit, and there is a song I found at the library called 'Dans Mon Pays D'Espagne' by Marie Martine that my senior kids enjoyed. Other good ones for repetition are B-I-N-G-O (Kidzup), Kumbaya (Matt), Jouez au Hockey and Nageons (Jacquot) and Y'a Un Chat (Charlotte Diamond).

3) I found a great Kidzup cd on that has many little kid songs they already know in English. With a few exceptions, these were the only songs I did with the JK kids. I started with Mouton Noir (Baa Baa Black Sheep) and it's a fairly long song with many verses. By Christmas, they knew ALL the words and could do it perfectly. Don't under-estimate the little ones! It'll take a few tries, but they'll learn it.

4) They love the powerpoints. I was teaching three computer classes a week in addition to the French and had little time to make new ones. That is one of my regrets about this year; I know when I did have them, it made such a difference. What I do is rip the cds onto my mini-laptop and then I can run the whole class, Powerpoints and all, off the one machine like a glorified jukebox.

5) As far as structuring the classes goes, I typically will spend the first ten minutes introducing a new song. I will always play it once through with no Powerpoints, no explanations, just straight up, and have them listen for words they know. Then we'll go back with a Powerpoint or whatever props, and go over the words, have them repeat etc. We'll practice once or twice. Then it will be request time, and they can request previous songs we have done.

6) The last five minutes, I reserve for a video. This will typically be a short Disney clip in French, usually the part from the movie with a song. I like using stuff they know in English so I don't have to deal with comprehension issues. The goal of this portion of the lesson is not for them to sing along, but rather for them to be exposed to French media and for them to begin to listen for words they know and to develop the comprehension that they DO know a lot of words and are great little French speakers! Second term, I mixed it up a little and brought in YouTube finds which did not originate in English. Bebe Lilly and Pigoo were runaway hits!

7) With my older students who know songs already from JK/SK, they asked for the music Fridays right away. With my younger kids, I began by just teaching a few songs here and there (not on a Friday) so they had one or two to work on, then introduced the formal 'music Friday' in late October (C'est L'Halloween is a good first song to introduce this type of program). This way, they had a repertoire already of a few little songs we could practice.

8) I use my music manager software to help me run things. I have all the songs loaded onto my mini-laptop, and what I did was assign each one a genre of either 'junior' or 'senior.' Then I rate the songs---unrated songs have not yet been taught, 1 star is a junior song which has been taught, 2 stars is a senior song which has been taught and 3 stars is one the whole school enjoys. I have smart playlists set up which automatically add songs to the list based on these stars. For example, my 'junior untaught' playlists has all songs with the genre 'junior.' My junior teaching playlist has all songs which are either 1 or 3 stars (i.e. the taught junior songs and the taught whole school songs). When I am prepping for the class I go through the two untaught playlists, pick the song I want and click on the appropriate star to add it to my teaching playlist.