Monday, 8 December 2014

Unit Planning Templates: New Curriculum, Achievement Charts, CEFR Principles

I recently attended my third "Français à Coeur" Conference in Kingston, organized by the Eastern Ontario Staff Development Network (EOSDN). The focus of the day were the links among the revised Ontario Curriculum, the achievement charts used for assessment and evaluation, and the principles of the CEFR.

Among other topics, I was intrigued by and encouraged to extend my thinking around:
  • Planning for sociolinguistic conventions (who is the audience?)
  • Planning for pragmatic competence (what is the purpose? How will the skills be used?)

Here is a wonderful planning template for units, which was distributed and discussed at the conference:
  • Planning template for units
    • PDF format
    • These sheets are ledger size (11 x 17) and can be reduced on printers
    • Adapted from template on

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Quick & Easy Tips to Start with Technology in Core French

It can be daunting for some of us core FSL teachers to integrate technology into our classes, particularly if you are à la carte (and I have been there).  For those starting out or looking to take that first step, I offer some quick ideas here:

#1: Tech in a Foreign Land
Colleagues would tell me, "I teach in someone else's classroom, so setting up and taking down technology will eat up 5-10 minutes of my class each day."

Solution: Recruit 2-3 students in each class to be your tech crew. I trained my crews to automatically set up the equipment as their teacher was transitioning to my arrival (get projector out and lined up with screen, connect to computer, ensured classroom teacher had saved work and logged out, etc.).  They even entered my login name and all I had to do was enter my password and we could begin within seconds.

#2: Simple Listening Centre
I was looking for an easy way to create a listening centre at which 4-6 students could watch videos or listen to music (or both).  I had headphones and one desktop computer.

Solution:  I bought a 5-way audio splitter, and we plug it into the headphone jack of the computer. I created a simple playlist of our favourite songs and videos on youTube. Students sit in a semi-circle facing the computer and are all able to see and hear the songs. One person is selected each day to facilitate the song-choices.

image from  No endorsement of Belkin intended.
Sylvia Duckworth has created a wonderful document with step-by-step instructions on setting up your own youTube playlist here:

#3: Interactive without SmartBoard
One year, I found myself without a SmartBoard (or a classroom) after having built many of my activities around the interactive feature of the SmartBoard. I still had access to a data projector and laptop in most classrooms, but wanted to continue some of our favourite warm-up games and activities.

Solution: A wireless mouse and wireless keyboard. We easily passed around one or both of them to students at their desks, who could then still interact with the same software or websites we had used in the past.

Great site for games, easily used with wireless mouse:

Blogger's note: I acknowledge the irony in using a blog promoted via Twitter to write an article for those who may be starting out with technology.