Teach it Tuesday: Language Arts Gems

This is going to be a quick post to give a few ideas on some of my favourite activities for language arts right now:

Partner Reading

I started doing this activity last year with a novel study and it has become one of my favourites. It is so simple but allows for some great opportunities! I pair kids up (we have AB partner magnets with their names so that’s quickest for me to do in the morning after attendance) and they read the assigned chapters out loud to each other switching at the paragraph or page, their choice.

Things I love about it:

  • The sound of 15 kids reading out loud (but quietly) at the same time!
  • How easy it is to just read with a partner that you don’t know well (I’ve noticed much easier than having a discussion at the middle school level)
  • The ability to poke my head in and listen to kids read – for assessment or enjoyment!

Beginning, Middle, End Writing

Reluctant writer writing away

This activity is originally from 6+1 Traits of Writing but I’ve adapted it a bit to fit with in class and tutoring. For one of the students that I tutor, this is the only activity that I’ve done where he has willingly sat down and wrote almost a page! Basically you just give students the beginning, middle, and end of the story and they fill in the rest.

Things I love about it:

  • It allows for creativity without that feeling of being totally lost in options that can come with creative writing
  • It can be adapted to different interests and situations (for tutoring we threw in the dogs name – always a hit!)
  • This activity can easily be accessed by students of different ability levels as a quick write with guidance
  • I think already having the ending there takes away the pressure of getting your story to the end and helps students write

Quote and Note

I’ve written about this one before (here) but it continues to be a favourite! I haven’t been able to get as in depth into this one this year due to time constraints but it has still been rather effective after a lot of scaffolding to get them to the right spot.

Things I love about it:

  • The concept is simple for students to understand but the writing you get can be really in depth
  • Again, it allows students to access at what level they are at
  • It really helps me to get a good idea of students comprehension of the novel we are reading

What are some of your classroom favourites these days?


Go To Lessons: French

Since it’s almost that time of year for us… BACK TO SCHOOL! We thought we would do a couple of posts on our “Go To Lessons” for different subjects. Along with this, our Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) site is up and running so go check it out!

Whether you are a substitute teacher or a classroom teacher we are hoping our ideas will start some inspiration for sharing those NEVER FAIL (ha!) lessons that you use.

I’m going to start with my “go to” lessons for French. I find French is the one subject where it’s always good to have a back up lesson in mind when you are substituting – and I know I always love those one off lessons that are a little more fun for a core French class.

1. Guess Who

I got a Guess Who sheet from a prof in my education program but I feel like it is pretty easy to create your own (if I make my own ever I will let you all know!). The sheet I use has 9 different aliens with various amounts of eyes, mouths, legs, etc. Basically I go over the key terms for the different body parts, how to ask questions (“Est-ce qu’il a…”) and then review the numbers briefly. I usually do a couple of rounds where I choose the character and they have to come up with a question in a group to narrow down their options. After we do a couple of rounds as a full class I have them play within their groups. This lesson is usually good for a 45 minute class when you go over the question asking and key terms before you play.

2. “Ami! Ami?” by Chris Raschka

Like any good substitute, I carry around a good supply of go to books in the back of my car. This is one of my favourites! I have a sheet (available for free here) that I carry with me in case I need a quick lesson for a French class. With the students in small groups I have them cut up the phrases and try to put them in order. It’s usually pretty tricky to get it exactly right but I try to get them to look for clues (like punctuation) and I explain to them that it is just a simple conversation between the two boys from the cover. After they are done we read the book and they see how many they got in the right order. If there is still time at the end I get them to read the parts of the book in two teams (with points for expression or prizes if you carry them with you!)

3. Verb Corners

This game requires a bit more knowledge of French then the other two but it is pretty simple to play and can be done indoors or out! I use four different verbs that they know how to conjugate (usually avoir, être, faire, aller) and put each verb in a different corner. With everyone in the middle I yell out a conjugated form of one of the verbs and they have to run to the corner with that name (e.g. “Je suis” and they run to être). If we are outside, after a couple of rounds for practice I have it become a race and the last one to the corner has to shout out the next conjugated verb from the middle (with help if needed).

Hope these ideas are helpful for you!

What are your “Go To French Lessons”?


Learning in the Last Weeks

Whew! I can’t believe how close I am to the end of my first year of teaching!

Things have been pretty crazy these past couple of weeks from behaviours to finishing projects to marking and report cards! There has been so much to do and often the stress of it all has made me feel less like myself and more like a drill sergeant. Some afternoons it’s all I can do to keep them relatively on task for about 50% of the time…

But then they produce projects that still blow me away! Like  our “French Storybooks” we just finished this past week.

Le Monstre Sous Mon Lit

Le Monstre Sous Mon Lit

We have been working on writing, editing, and illustrating these books in class for about 3 weeks now and the last ones were handed in on Monday. Then, on Tuesday afternoon, we walked down to a nearby elementary school to share our books with a French Immersion Kindergarten class. This is the second time I’ve done Kindergarten French buddies with a middle school FSL group and I really love it each time! This visit was especially cool because the kids were so excited to share their books that they had worked so hard on.

Students reading together

Students reading together

One of my favourite parts of this day is watching how the older kids react to being around the little ones. There are some that light up just as you expected – the ones who are caring and nurturing on a daily basis. I like seeing them in their element looking after a little buddy but the students that I really love to watch are the ones who are disruptive in class or often being disciplined for their words or actions. Sometimes these kids are the ones who connect the most with their little buddy. Seeing one of my most difficult students reading with his buddy and then being a positive role model for the rest of the afternoon just melted my heart!

Each student read their story to two or three little buddies and then we went outside to play a game together. It was a great experience for my students to be in a French Immersion environment and see that they know more French than they think they do! When we were playing a counting game outside (similar to “Je passe”) it was so fun to watch my students interacting with the little ones and trying to be good role models.

After school I drove home with the biggest smile on my face because even on these long (and boy can they be long!) June days of school, I still am able to find such complete happiness in my job. My only wish is that I would have done more buddy days this year – we all had such a good time!

I hope you have some wonderful end of the year stories in your classroom! Please share them with us 🙂