New Year's Resolutions for teachers

New Year's Resolutions for teachers

It's almost time to think about New Year's resolutions.  Now, I'm not here to talk about losing weight or cutting your spending.  Those are things you can decide for yourself.  I'm here today to bring you some totally doable TEACHER RESOLUTIONS!

Wouldn't it be great to have your weekends?  To not work every night?  To be healthy? To really improve your teaching?  These are things all teachers want, but how do we do this?  Read on!

Resolution 1. Don't work all weekend.

First, let me say that I worked all weekend for many years.  Sunday was spent locked in my office, grading papers, putting in grades, planning lessons, cutting apart manipulatives, and even, at the beginning of my career, turning my hands blue, green, and purple washing overhead projector pages. Yes, my first teaching job had no projector to hook to my computer.  I didn't even have a whiteboard to write on.  I had a screen with an overhead projector, and every single lesson I taught had to be written on these pages.  Sigh....

In the end, I realized that I was working so hard that I could not continue at that pace.  I began to get burned out.  I would bring papers home, but I could not make myself grade them.  And guess what?  My students still learned even if they had to wait one more day to get their homework back.  They still scored so well on their assessments.  They still took the AP test and rocked it.  So, what can you do to not work all weekend?

1.  Stay late one night a week to grade and plan.  

I was a coach, so on game nights, I would stay after school at 2:30 until the game at 7:00, grading papers and planning as much as I could.  It wasn't all bad.  I'd get my favorite take-out and watch Grey's Anatomy on my computer.  I'd also gain 4 hours that I would have been working on the weekend.  :)

How I catch up on grading and keep on top of the papers

2.  Grade some papers together in class.

Do you have to actually grade every single paper?  I don't think so.  Do you think each student looks thoroughly at every correction that you have made?  They don't.  When you have 150 students, as I often did, and if you give daily homework, which I usually did, that equals over 1000 papers a week to grade.  Who has that kind of time?   I say that we should make the grading count and make sure the students understand the corrections.  

At the beginning of class, when students are doing a bellwork activity, have them put their homework on a corner of their desks.  You can take attendance and do all the other things required of you, then do a quick walk-by with your favorite stamp, marking pages completed on time.  Then you can take five minutes to grade the homework together, pick it up, give a completion grade, and you have saved yourself time, explained the answers, and assigned a grade.  

Want to make it even easier?  I give packets for each unit.  We grade the assigned page, and I pick up the packet at the end of the unit.  Students have the packet to study from, and I assign less grades.  You can pick it up weekly if you feel like you want to have more grades.  Does that allow for lazy students to cheat?  Sure, if they have that inclination, but they will find a way anyways.  In my class, assessments count for 60-70% of the grade, and homework counts for 10%, so they know better than to cheat.  If they don't master the material, they won't get a grade that says they did.  

3.  Laminate!

Yes, this takes time on the front end, especially if you have to do the laminating yourself, but once it is done, all you have to do is open the file cabinet and pull out the resource.  So, what can you laminate?  Speaking cards, task cards, board games, or anything else that students don't write on.  Your future self will thank you.

4.  Formatively assess.

You need to know how your students are doing, but you don't have time to grade all of the time?  Use individual whiteboards.  Use the whiteboards to formatively assess students on verb conjugation, vocabulary, math facts, or anything else that you are working on.  You know what they need to practice, they have fun, and you don't have grades to input.  You can buy a set, or make your own.  A set from a teacher supply company is about $30.

To make your own:
Go to the hardware store and find white panel-board.  It comes in a large board, but most large stores will cut it for you in 12" X 12" or 12" X 16" for a few dollars extra.  Total cost for 24 boards is about $15.

5.  Let technology work for you.  

Have you tried Boom learning yet?  At Boom, you'll find digital task cards that kids love.
It is awesome, because you can find already-made activities by fellow teachers, kids love the technology aspect, and the activities are self-checking!  I love to use them for my son at home, and he thinks the practice is a lot of fun! Want to try out a free deck?

Digital task cards from Boom Learning for practicing the passé composé with avoir and être

Grab these free avoir/être passé composé cards HERE!

Resolution 2.  Take care of yourself.

Every year, just before or after a vacation, I get sick.  I push myself so hard, and eventually I collapse.   I spend the vacation sick in bed, rather than enjoying my family and friends.  So, what can you do?

1.  Rest!  

Yes, that is easier said than done, but it is so important!  Make sure you are getting enough sleep and not pushing yourself to the max all of the time.

2.  Make the most of your weekends.  

Make sure you are getting some quality downtime doing something you love.  Whether it is going to the movies with your kids, getting dinner with an old friend, or simply taking a walk, make sure you are taking time to do something you love.  If your weekend consists of grading papers, lesson planning, grocery shopping, and laundry, you won't be ready to go back to work on Monday.  Take some time, even if it is one hour, to do something just for you.  

Take time to do something you love each weekend. Get your weekends back!

3.  Find the joy in what you are doing.

Look for a few fun ways to teach your subject, and then build a resource library with some of your favorites.  Once you have done an activity once or twice, guiding a class through it becomes so easy, and kids get so excited when they come in your room and see a favorite activity.  You are in your room all day, maybe even doing the same activity 5-6 times a day.  Shouldn't it be something you want to do? When you and your students are having fun, learning happens naturally, you'll find yourself smiling, and the day seems to fly by!  

4.  Celebrate your successes.

Benchmarking, constant assessing, and endless paperwork can make teaching become so much less personal than it should be.  Sure, when your class scores well or your principal comes in at just the right moment to see a great lesson, you can pat yourself on the back, but don't forget the small things.  Did that student who has struggled all year have an Aha! moment?  Did you find a new activity that your class loved?  Did you lead a great community service project?  Did you make a child who never smiles share a big smile with you or someone else?  These are all worth celebrating.  Test scores are important, but they are not why we became teachers.  Don't forget why you are there, and celebrate the little things you do that make you a good teacher.

Celebrate the small successes that remind you why you became a teacher.

5.  Become a better teacher.

Take classes that help you focus on what you love about education.  Learn new technology.  Visit other classrooms or other schools.  Ask for help.  Have a colleague observe you or ask your students for feedback.  Growing as a teacher never stops unless you stop trying.

Click here to get a FREE resource to get some feedback from your students.

Resolution 3.  Don't be afraid to say no.  

You want to help.  I get it.  For several years, I was a full-time teacher to 150 kids.  I also finished my Master's, coached,  wrote curriculum for four courses, and served as the district Foreign Language Chair.  In my spare time (as if), I tutored a family on the weekends.  I just never said no to anyone, because I knew I was capable, and I didn't want to let anyone down.  I also needed those extra jobs, because I was paying for my degree on a teacher's salary.  In the end, I got the work done well, but I lost touch with some of my oldest friends.  People just don't understand the demands of teacher life.  When I realized how much I missed certain friends, or how long it had been since I had done some of my favorite hobbies, I said, "Enough is enough."    Ten years later, I have stepped down from so many roles, and I'm a lot happier.  Sure, I have been offered some positions that would be great on a resume or make me feel like I'm more accomplished professionally, but I turned them down.  I don't feel bad explaining that my family comes first.  Does it make me a lesser teacher?  NO!  I am better than ever now, because I am not pulled in twenty directions.  I'm dedicated to creating meaningful lessons for my students, to connecting with each and every one, to being the best me I can be for everyone I love in my life.  I make time for my girlfriends.  I take hikes with my family.  I attend every activity my son does, and I'm loving where I am in life!  💖

So, what about you?  What do you want to do in this year?

December deals!


I love this time of year, but as a teacher, I also know how crazy it is for my family!  I want my classes to be fun, but the kids are ready for break.  I want my lessons to be engaging, but... I am ready for break!

To help you keep the rigor and the fun, I've decided to bring you December deals!  I'll be uploading a ton of new resources this month (I've already done a few, if you've been following along!) and for the first 24 hours, they will be 50% off.  This is a great way to stock up on some fun resources that make great supplements to your already-great lessons, but I've also been adding some winter and Christmas-themed activities.  I'll continue to add them until I have uploaded every new thing I've created!

You can find each deal in my FEATURED ITEMS of my store.  The daily deal will be marked down 50%.  Click the image below and you'll be taken to my store where you'll see the daily deal.


Here is today's resource.  It is a fun supplemental winter-themed pack that is perfect for your newest beginners and your second-year students.  I give activity packets over winter break, and this would be a perfect pack to give as a take-home packet.

Here are a few pages that you'll find.  It includes a vocabulary list, a word to image activity, a word search, word scrambles, and 8 sentence scrambles.  

I hope you can find some fun ideas and enjoy the biggest savings of the year!
It is almost break!  Keep it up!  :)

Top wishlisted items this fall

It is almost here!  The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale!  This is the best chance of the season to get super-low prices on some things you've been wishing for!  My store will be 20% off and you'll save even more with the TpT promo code : Cyber2016

What's even better?  My BUNDLES are already marked down 20%, so with the sale and promo code, you'll get nearly 50% off the price of the individually priced items.  So, which items are on your wish lists? I'm sharing the top 3 wish listed resources from my store here.  If you don't already have them, you should seriously check them out!

This is the most-wishlisted item in my store (other than my Ice-breakers which you probably don't need in the middle of the year).  It is also one of my top sellers, and for good reason.

These student self-evaluation forms for secondary classes from Mme R's French Resources are one of the most popular items at her store.

This is fully in English, meaning it is perfect for any subject matter.  This also makes it great to use at parent-teacher conferences or to keep in a student portfolio to share with families any time you meet. There are 3 versions, so you can use one document with middle-schoolers and pick a different one for high-schoolers!  It is perfect if you teach multiple levels!

French passé composé speaking task cards

This also happens to be one of my top-sellers!  If you have trouble getting your students to speak, you really should check out my speaking cards.  They are so interactive, easy-to-use, and fun for students.  Because the students aren't called on to speak in front of the entire class, they are not intimidated to try.  To make it even easier for you, I've included a handy sheet that has 5 ways you can use them in your classroom!  They are so easy to use, and once you see how much your classes love them, you'll definitely want to come back for more!

These 5 projects from Mme R's French Resources are really engaging for beginners. They are one of the top wishlisted items at her TpT store.

This is my top-selling bundle!  It is perfect for your beginning students, but since you'll also get full-French versions, you can use this in a second year class also!  With this bundle, your class will do some fun projects using the basic French they learn in their first two years.  Includes:

1.  A family tree

They will create a family tree and write a paragraph about a family member.  It's great because it reinforces family vocabulary, possessive adjectives, and adjective agreement all in one.

2.  All about me

This one is perfect after your students have attained some basic vocabulary and structures.  Students create a PowerPoint all about themselves and present it to the class.  This one is great because there are a number of topics to choose from, so students get to pick the areas that interest them.

3.  Weather presentations

This is my favorite, simply because it is so fun!  You'll be able to introduce French geography to your classes effortlessly as they create weather reports while playing the role of meteorologists!

4.  Clothing catalog

When you're teaching a clothing unit, this one is a must-have!  You can assess their use of adjective agreement and placement, correct use of vocabulary, and even the adjectives ce, cet, cette, and ces if you want!

5.  French menu

A perfect project for beginners, because who doesn't love French food?  You can incorporate this so easily into your French food unit, and you can even extend the learning by having your kids role play waiter and customer using their own menus!  It is so fun!  Even better?  You'll get a vocabulary list to print for your classes, so if your resources are lacking some practical vocabulary, you'll be set!

I hope you'll take advantage of the great savings during the sale!  I know how precious your time is, and I'm blessed and honored to be able to share a bit of what I do with all of you!  Happy shopping! :)

7 ways to incorporate movement into your classroom

Why movement is important in learning and how to incorporate it into your lessons

Remember when you were in school and you sat for most of the day, listening to teachers talk?  I used to go to the restroom during class just to have a reason to move around.  Obviously, as teachers, we want our students focused, we want them listening and participating, and we don't want them leaving for the restroom just so they can move around.  Younger kids have recess, and we know that helps, but what about our secondary students? Can we really expect them to sit still most of the day?

Movement is so important for learning.  It increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, helps them maintain focus, and decreases incidences of behavior that are usually related to boredom or a child's inability to sit still for one more minute.  Fortunately for foreign language teachers, there are so many ways to bring movement into your classroom with little or no preparation on your part.  It does mean that you have to be ready for movement and noise, but I promise that once you get used to students moving around, you'll wonder why you had them sitting so much in the first place!

Here are some easy ways to bring movement into your classroom.

1.  Role playing

Foreign language is a class that is perfectly geared for this type of movement.  Are your students learning food vocabulary?  Have them role-play waiter and customer.  Are you teaching the subjunctive?  Students can play the role of parent and child or teacher and child.  There are endless ways to role play in a foreign language class!

2.  Ball toss

Get some cheap blow up balls or even small stress balls.  Divide your class so that you have groups of about 6-8 students per group.  Give each group a ball, have them form a circle, and do your practice drills out loud.  If you are teaching verb conjugations, you can call out or project on your screen the subject and verb and have the student with the ball conjugate the verb.  He/she then throws the ball to another player in the group and play continues.  Learning vocabulary?  Call out vocabulary words and have students give the French equivalent.  You can even ask the students who answer to give the next question.  It is so much fun, and because throwing things in class is usually a big no-no, students LOVE it!

Tossing a ball is a fun way to practice verbs, vocabulary, or review for tests.

3.  Montrez-moi !

Call out verbs and have students act out the verb.  For example, when you say "courir," students run in place.  When you say "manger," students pretend to eat.  My students love this one!

4.  Play charades

Write your vocabulary words on cards and have students act them out.  It's quick, simple, fun, and requires a very minimal amount of preparation on your part.  Up the stakes and make it a competition between teams.  

5. Have learning stations.

This is not just for little ones, but unfortunately, a lot of secondary classrooms don't feature these.  They are more work, and when we are busy, a printed study guide is so much easier than various learning stations.  What if you made your test review in stations?  You could still take the same study guide, but instead of printing a five-page document that students may or may not finish, you could print strips with the most important questions (I sometimes just write them on index cards), post them on your wall, and have students walk around the room with a partner, answering the questions.  This one depends on the size of your room, but I have had some small classrooms where I can still get 20 questions on the wall.  You can have them write in their notebooks or give them specific papers, but the point is that they move from question to question and keep focused.  My students LOVE it when they come in and see the cards on the walls.  Really, it is the same study guide that I would have given, but I have just found a way to make it fun!

6.  Stand up and stretch.  

Take two minutes at the beginning of class to help kids reset.  I do it right at the bell, before most students have done their bellwork.  We stand up, stretch our arms to the ceiling, lean left, lean right, touch our toes (if we can!), stand back up and lean back, stand up straight and twist left, then twist right.  You can do more if you want, but this is often enough to get the class focused and ready to work.  I also love neck circles for afternoon classes, because it really helps that shoulder tension from sitting all day.


7.  Use structured activities geared towards movement.

I feel that movement is key to learning, and my Teachers Pay Teachers store is full of activities and games that require movement.  They are wildly popular, so I'll share some of my favorites here:

French speaking cards

These speaking cards are perfect for secondary students who need to move!  There are a number of fun activities that you can do with these cards, but here is my favorite.

1.  Print off the cards and give one to each student.  There are 32 cards, so chances are, you won't use them all.  Just pass out the cards that best match your vocabulary.

2.  Give each student a question and have them read it for comprehension.  Have students form 2 circles, one inside of the other.  Each student should have a partner.  The inside circle faces the outer circle.  (If you have an odd number, just substitute someone in each time and have the odd student out help other students.)  The students from the inside circle ask their questions first.  Their partner responds, then asks his/her questions.  When all pairs have finished, the outside circle moves one partner to the right.  Continue until all questions have been asked.

3.  When you collect the speaking cards, you can have students return to their seats and you can formatively assess them by calling out random questions.

French conversation cards are a great way to get students speaking! Use them as a speaking activity during class, as bellwork, or as exit tickets.

Click here to see these passé composé speaking cards.

Task cards and Scoot! game

This activity is a lot of fun and will get students moving!
Here's what you do:

1.  Give each student an answer sheet.
2.  On each desk, tape one question.  Tape them in order, so when students move from question 1, they will go to question 2.
3.  Students start with the question on their desks and then progress to the next question.  So, a student sitting at desk 10 would start with that question, then move to question 11.
4.  Give students a set amount of time to answer the question, then say "Scoot!"  If you want to use French terms, you can say "Filez" or "Bougez."
5.  I normally do 20 questions at a time, because I think this is about the amount of time my students like to play.  This activity comes with 40 questions, so you can do two rounds or you can play on two separate days.  The extra questions are great for a learning station or as bell works if you don't think you'll play twice.

Click here to see these avoir and être task cards.

 Find Someone Who...

This is another favorite in my classroom.  Students get to move around and ask questions in French, so it perfectly aligns to your standards and incorporates the movement that is so crucial!  Plus, because they are not speaking in front of the class, it is less intimidating for your shy students.  This activity is perfect for any level of French, but I love it for beginners who really need the extra push to speak French!  This bundle contains the beginning topics for a French 1 curriculum.  After each activity, there is a sheet with the same questions that can be used as a follow-up homework or even as a speaking assessment!  Includes rubrics to simplify the job for teachers.

Find someone who is a great way to get French students speaking.

What do you think?  Why is movement so critical and what great ideas do you have to get students moving?  Please post them below!  

Teach French grammar with music!


Do your students struggle to use French structures correctly?  You are not alone! I wanted to share with you some resources that I find extra-helpful.  I have used them in class and with my son at home and they have been a huge hit with all of the kids!  What's even better than kids loving a resource?  When that resource helps kids transfer the information into long-term memory.  So, how do you do it?


If you're familiar with my resources and my teaching, you know that I love to have students speak and listen as much or more than they read and write.  Why?  Because you want to hit all of the four areas of language proficiency : speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  Plus, because all students learn differently, our job is to provide adequate practice for all learning types.

Using music activities is wonderful, because students hear it, see it, and write it.  I took the vocabulary learned through these songs and extended by adding a speaking element.  You can see my speaking activities here:

If you need some fun and meaningful ways to help your French students speak more French, you're in the right place!  Click here to find activities for beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes!

So, what is this resource that I am so excited about?  

I have found a French teacher named Franck Brichet who has written grammar songs that he sings in class with his students.  In the past, I have bought some grammar CDs with music that I hoped would meet my needs.  Sadly, I really didn't like the music, and neither did my students.  The CDs might have had good content, but my students groaned when I played the songs.  So... I would say that it wasn't effective, because we couldn't even hear the music for the complaining.  However, these songs are sung by a native speaker, they have catchy lyrics, and the music is really nice.

I first used one of the songs on a gross and cold February day.  Everyone was in that kind of a mood.  You know it : no one wants to work.  Everyone wants a day off.  It's cold.  Half of the kids have some sort of illness that makes them want to just sit there passively.  I needed help finding a way to motivate kids!  And worst of all, we were pretty deep into French grammar.  What a time to try and find some fun!  Luckily, I found a song about the imparfait, so I printed the activities, and gave it to my students.  You can see a preview of the song here:

Within minutes, I heard their sweet little voices (6th grade, so still pretty little) singing along.  The song ended and they BEGGED me to play it again.  So, I did, and they sang along again.  It totally lifted my spirits.

I taught the same lesson 5 times that day, so you'd think I would have been sick of the song, but I wasn't.  Even better, they totally rocked their conjugation quiz that week.  I could see their heads bobbing while taking the quiz, because they all had the song in their heads.  :)

His Teachers Pay Teachers store has songs you can download one at a time, and each song comes with vocabulary and grammar printables that help students practice the skills in writing.  I bought the entire set, with all of the songs and the activities, and it has come in super-useful!

 He also has made videos if you prefer to offer the visual.  Here's an excerpt from one of my favorites about teaching -er verbs.  It's really catchy!

It doesn't really matter what age or level you teach.  Franck has songs that teach colors, days of the week, -er verbs, the passé composé, the imparfait, and many more topics. My students love them and my little one (in first grade) asks to listen to them all the time on the way to school.  His favorite is the colors song.  Here's a video I found of Franck showing the song and how to use it in class.  


You can check out his Teachers Pay Teachers store here for some great songs and activities.  He also has a website where you can find his videos and learn more about his resources. Click on the image below to visit that site.  I hope you love them as much as I do!


What do you think?  Is music a helpful tool for language learning?  Please comment below!


How to keep students talking in the target language

Tips for how to get French students to speak to speak in class.

Do your French students speak too much English in class?  As a foreign language teacher, I know how much we all want our students to speak in the target language, but that doesn't mean it always happens.  I get that it is hard and you sometimes want to give up.  I even had a boy once who, several months into my class, told me to stop speaking Spanish so much, because he couldn't understand me.  I teach French, so...I won't call that my greatest teaching moment.  If you want to speak and hear more French in your classroom,  here are some tips that can help your students speak more French each and every day.

1.  Put visuals all around them.  

If you want them asking questions in French, give them a visual prompt so when they speak English, you only have to direct them to the visual.  If they need to go to the restroom or sharpen their pencil, they need to ask in French.  These easy-to-teach expressions will get your students speaking early and every day.  They'll feel successful at communicating their needs and you will have set the expectation early.  Need some handy classroom expressions to print?  Here are two versions with the same expressions.  Choose the version that will look the best in your classroom.

                        TheseFrenchclassroomexpressionsignswillhelpyourstudentsspeakmoreFrenchinclass!Clickheretoseemore!           TheseFrenchclassroomexpressionsignswillhelpyourstudentsspeakmoreFrenchinclass!Clickheretoseemore!

2.  You need to speak more French.

I know that this can feel weird when you think they don't understand and it can be exhausting because you spend so much of the day acting out what you are saying so that they do understand.  However, if the expectation is to speak French in your classroom, it starts with you.  So, here's what you do:

a.  Speak slowly, repeat yourself, use visuals in all of your presentations.  

They are only going to hear the language from you, so they need to hear it all the time.  So you need to teach verb conjugation?  They may not understand everything you are explaining in French (I've had a lot of kids who don't understand what a verb is, let alone what I mean by conjugate).  You can make a nice presentation with PowerPoint (or whatever your chosen method is) and this will allow the students to SEE what you are talking about, so even if it is in French, their understanding will be greater than if you are just at the board speaking English, explaining it.  

b.  Use gestures.  


Imagine that you are trying to speak English to someone who can't understand you.  You will act out the words, use body language and gestures until they get it.  It should be that way in your classroom.  So you feel silly.  So it is a bit tiring.  So you go slower than you wanted to.  All of these things will go through your mind, but it is okay.  

If you feel silly...well your job is to teach them, not to be cool, and if you do it consistently, they won't remember that you acted sort of silly.  They'll remember how much they learned from you.  When they take that first trip to another country (if they do), they will write to you about how cool it was that they could speak to everyone.  Trust me, I get these emails EVERY YEAR.    

As for the tiring part, teaching can be tiring anyways, and the acting part does make you more tired, that is true.  However, you can develop it into a sort of play and instead of spending so much time copying things that they will throw away, you can actually be using the language that you love.  

So you think you don't have time?  If you only have 1 hour per day 4-5 times per week, you get approximately 16-20 hours per month.  Over a year, that is about 180 hours.  Imagine that you are in a foreign country, hearing only that language 12 hours per day for 1 month.  That is nearly 400 hours.  Will you be fluent in one month?  No, but you'll be more natural in your speech and start to understand more.  So, given this math, your classroom NEEDS to be a place where they hear French and only French so that they can learn to understand as much as they can as fast as they can.  You don't have enough time to speak English in there.  

c.  Use as many cognates as you can.  

So there might be a word that is used a bit more than the cognate.  You can teach it later.  If you are in a first-year class, your goal is to stay in the native language as much as possible, so use the words that they can understand first.  I recommend having a visual of the word.  "Je chante" may not sound exactly like they would pronounce it, but they should be able to recognize the written word, and they'll associate the sounds with it, making later reading practice much easier.

3.  Give them plenty of ways to use the language with classmates.

There are so many fun ways to practice.  Are you teaching food?  Buy some fake food and have them role-play restaurant or grocery store scenes.  Are you teaching clothing?  Do a fashion show.   Are you teaching adjectives?  Bring in magazines, have them flip through them and describe the people to a friend sitting nearby.  It doesn't always have to be an organized activity that will result in a grade.  For your sake, you want to practice more and grade less!   Think of your class as the place they get to come to play with language and have fun expressing themselves, not the place they come to conjugate verbs.

Related : French speaking for beginners

If you want some structured speaking activities, my store is FULL of them!  I have speaking cards, interviews, skits, and Find Someone Who activities for all levels.

Click here to see all my speaking activities.

4.  Put it in their hands

During group discussions or partner work, we know that kids naturally slip into their native language.   We need to help them stay in the target language by giving them the tools to do so.  I developed these sentence starters for intermediate and advanced classes who still need some help with their conversational language.  I print them on cardstock and put them on rings to pass out to groups of students.  You can even purchase a big box of rings and have students make their own sets.
To make it handier, I also made a printable sheet with the English translations for them to keep in their binders.

Speaking prompts and sentence starters for French students

Grab these French sentence starters for free here.

5.  Don't have a lot of idle time in your classes.

The minute students have free time, they will speak to their friends in English.  This is natural, but needs to be discouraged.  Do you need 3 minutes to take attendance?  Put up a bellwork activity.  Do you need to pass out papers?  Have them turn to a partner and tell what they did over the weekend.  You can then randomly pick on a few people to report back what their partners said.  Once they know that you have this expectation, it makes it easier to maintain it.

6.  Have an incentive program.

In my class, I print off a bunch of Euro coins (about the size of index cards) and I give them to students who are doing a great job staying in the target language.  In return, they have some great incentives.  I have suckers, little prizes (even high schoolers love silly toys) and also fun rewards that they can "buy" with their Euros.  Here are a few fun reward ideas:

a.  Videos

In my class we LOVE music, and we watch a ton of music videos.  I try to build in some free time once a month where they can use their Euros and choose 3-4 videos we have watched in class.  I don't let them recommend others that I haven't seen, because you never know if it is appropriate.  If you want, you can have a due date for video recommendations and then pre-watch videos they want to see.  I have actually found some great French singers this way.  Kids who love your class will go home and search the internet for anything cool that is French.

b.  Change the seating chart.

This is my students' favorite.  Of course, you'll want to pre-approve it, because some kids just can't sit together, but they love to have some control.

c. Game time - class incentive

Once a month (I always do the first Friday of the month) I build in 20 minutes of game time.  Students can play my board games (not always French-related) with their friends, and I have a carpet and floor pillows that make it feel even homier.  I do this when a certain percentage of the class is making a solid effort to stay in the target language.  Classes that don't qualify will probably still get a game that day, but it is my pick, and it is definitely educational.

I'd love to acknowledge Sonya DeHart Designs for the digital papers used in this post.  Please check out her store here:

What are your success stories for keeping it in the target language?  Please comment below!

5 fun fall ideas for French class

5 fun fall ideas for French class

Do you love fall?  Me too!  I love the clean smell of the air and the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet.  I love camping and bonfires, trick-or-treating with my son and taking long hikes. Everything about it seems re-energizing and relaxing and cozy at the same time. a teacher, fall is not my favorite.  The days get shorter, meaning I'm going to work and coming home in the dark.  I'm starting to learn who those kids are who will make my day harder. The honeymoon period is over, and we are really all just looking at each other every day, knowing that we've got a long road ahead of us, so we need to make this work.  I love teaching and I love fall, but I don't love being a teacher in the fall.  So, what do I do to keep it fresh and fun while maintaining my expectations and rigor?  (Note the key word here: rigor).  My bosses would be proud.

Well, if you're familiar with my teaching ideas, you'll know that I LOVE to have fun in class.  Yes, we have standards and deadlines and all the paperwork, but that doesn't mean that we can't still do some fun things!  So, here's what I do with my classes.

1.  Take a walk.  

I can hear you now.  But I can't just take a walk.  I have to teach.  My principal would never let me.  I have too much to do.  Okay, I get it.  I'm not talking about just going for a nice, leisurely walk.  If you are in an area with sidewalks and the neighborhood is okay for walking, take a class for a 10 minute walk around the block, then have them come back in and write about it for 5-10 minutes.  You can have them share their writings or keep them private, it doesn't really matter. What is important is the movement and the fresh air.  Some possible topics:
* How does sunlight affect your mood?
* Do you think high schoolers should get free time outdoors like younger kids do?
* What did you see, hear, smell on your walk?
* What are the negative effects of sitting still too long?
* What is your favorite outdoor activity?

2.  Celebrate!  

If you are permitted to celebrate holidays in your school, Halloween is such a fun one to do in foreign language.  You can listen to fun songs and teach vocabulary that students might not ordinarily learn in  a textbook.
If you want more fun ideas for fall and links to great songs for fall and Halloween, check out my FALL TEACHING PINTEREST BOARD.

3.  Decorate!  

I love to change up my room.  I have to admit that it is a little less for the kids than it is for me.  I mean, I spend 8-10 hours per day there.  I want it cute!  Need some decorations?

Click here for great blog post about French fall teaching ideas and get a FREE banner for your class!

Don't miss the word wall that goes with it!  It's a great way to painlessly introduce vocabulary that your students won't learn from textbooks!

Want a painless way to enrich your students' vocabulary?  This word wall is a perfect decoration for your October classroom!

4.  Have a party.  :)

One of my favorite parts of being a foreign language teacher is that we can sometimes get away with things that others can't, because we have to teach that cultural aspect, right? Well, the Spanish teachers have it easier, because El Dìa de los Muertos is more festive than la Toussaint, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate somehow, does it?  November 1st has always been celebrated in my class by making crêpes.  I've been lucky enough to be in schools with a cooking room, so in exchange for some student-delivered crêpes, those sweet teachers swapped rooms with me for the day.  

Don't have a cooking room?  Have students research some French foods they can make at home (if your school allows) and have a potluck.  

5.  Get them speaking!

You all know I think students should be able to speak French, not just write it.  So, here are some fun activities for Halloween, and there's even a Halloween-themed Find Someone Who...!

Want something just for fall?

If assemblies and spirit rallies are getting your schedule all mixed up, this FREE writing activity for beginners is a great way to reinforce some learning in a no-stress way. One class is ahead of the others? No worries! This quick writing activity can be used to reinforce and review while the other classes catch up.

Have a great fall!

10 ideas for teaching introverts

Do you struggle with ways to help your introverted students?  Do you need ideas for how to reach those students who just don't talk?  Check out this blog post for some great insight and teacher-tested tips for teaching introverted students!

I'm a very introverted person.  I often wonder why I ever thought teaching would be the right career for me!  The noise, the constant talking, the constant PEOPLE.  I go home tired, and all I want is some quiet time.  This was easy before becoming a mother, but as any parent knows, little ones are rarely quiet.

After looking hard at my situation, I realized that my love of peace and quiet has not changed, but sadly, my empathy for other introverts went out the window when I was pressured to meet certain standards, differentiate, incorporate speaking, movement, learning stations, hands-on activities, real-life situations, presentations, and so much more.

When looking at how teaching introverts is different, the first question we need to ask ourselves is if we really understand what it means to be an introvert.  Does it mean the student is shy?  Not always.  Does it mean he/she doesn't like others?  No!  It has to do with how our brains are wired.  An introvert has a nervous system that reacts more to what is going on around him or her, so overstimulation comes easily and the student is often left feeling worn out and in need of quiet after long periods of time with others.  On the other hand, an extrovert feels best with more stimulation, so extroverts feel best when a lot is happening.

I could just see certain students shrink into their chairs when I said we were going to play a game or do a speaking activity, and although that would have been me as a young student, the teacher in me just wanted them to participate.  I struggled a lot with what to do that would meet the demands of my course while respecting the needs of all students.  If you're familiar with my resources and philosophy of teaching a foreign language, you'll know that I think getting students to speak is really important.  So, what can we do when we need students to speak, yet they want to remain quiet?

1.  Assign groups.  

Whether you choose groups ahead of time, number off, or use grouping cards, assigning groups can be a huge help to introverts.  I remember my teacher saying, "Everyone find a partner!" as if that was the easiest thing to do for everyone.  I would get a sinking feeling in my stomach every time.  If only she had seen that this was torturous and just gave us a partner, I'd have loved partner activities!
If you need a way to group kids, my grouping cards make it painless to put kids into groups of 2, 3, 4, or 5.  Check them out here:

Do you need a painless way to group your students?  Do you want to introduce French vocabulary and culture effortlessly?  Check out these cards!

2.  If doing group work, try pairs rather than large groups.

This will allow for your introverts to have some quiet discussion with someone and your more social kids will still get to talk and work collaboratively.  Think, pair, share is a great way to incorporate group work into your class without stressing out an introvert.

3.  Don't insist that students always work in new groups.

I have a really hard time with professional development presenters who come in and say, "Everyone stand up and find someone in the room you don't know."  I already might not want to be in that meeting, so I surely don't want to have some strange, uncomfortable conversation with someone I don't know.  To me, talking to people I don't know is really hard, and as an adult, I'd rather just not.  I have learned to navigate the expectations of the teaching world which are sometimes set for extroverts, but I don't do my best work in this environment.  We need to remember that some of our students are this way.  Do we want them to learn the concept we are working on?  If so, we need to understand that some kids will shut off when they are socially uncomfortable.

Intoverted students have a hard time with group work.

4.  Give them a quiet place to work.

The constant noise and over-stimulation of a classroom can be over-whelming for an introvert.  My favorite teacher let me go to the library to work during independent work time, and I was able to do so much better.  Even a quiet corner away from others is a nice option to have.  If neither of these is an option, allow the introverts to sit on the sides or in the corners.  Sitting in the middle of the classroom is a lot of stimulation and can be really uncomfortable.

5.  If you have younger kids, allow them to read or play board games during recess.  

Not all kids want to run around and play games at recess.  For some kids, they will recharge the best by having quiet time.  If you want or need all kids to go outside, you could have a place where kids could sit and read or do a quiet activity.

Introverts often need quiet time during the day. Allow some quiet time during recess.

6.  Challenge your introverts to participate by raising their hands when they really want to share, and then make sure to call on them!

As teachers, we know that some students raise their hands every time we ask a question.  They may not know the answer every time, but they will raise their hands regardless.  On the other hand, the introvert may never raise his/her hand.  If you want to encourage them to speak, you could challenge them to raise their hands a certain number of times per week, but make sure that you do call on them when they do!  It's very easy to call on the same kids, so make an effort to give everyone a chance.

7.  Don't base their participation score on how much they speak.  

Is there another way to show that they are participating?  Active listening, maybe?  Good effort during partner time?  Are they writing reflectively?  These are all ways of participating without waving their hands in the air and speaking for the sake of getting points.

8.  Help them embrace their own personality.

Being introverted does not mean disliking people.  I like people a lot.  It's why I became a teacher.  However, introverts need quiet time in order to recharge their systems.  I feel drained after an entire day with people, yet when I spend a quiet day alone reading, working in my yard, or even working at the computer, I feel peaceful and relaxed.  Liking quiet is not a personality defect, and in fact, many people in the modern world could benefit from a little less stimulation.  Don't try to change an introvert.  You'll likely be amazed by what you see or hear from an introvert if you give him or her the time and space to show understanding.

Take time to talk to connect wsith your introverted students.

9.  Make sure to speak to your introverts each day.

I know this sounds silly, and as teachers, we want to think we speak to every child every day.  However, when I see 150 students a day and the pace is so fast, I have to make the effort to look at each student and greet them at my door.  Even a friendly smile and greeting personally addressed at an introvert will make them feel welcome.  I had teachers who NEVER,  not once, ever, spoke directly to me.  It really was like I didn't exist to them, because I wasn't raising my hand and demanding attention.  Twenty years later, I still remember how it felt to go hours without anyone really noticing me.  Sure, I'm quiet, but I'm not invisible!  I think some teachers would not have even noticed if I never returned to their classes.  Sadly, I've had students tell me that I'm the only person all day who spoke to them.  Imagine if I hadn't made that effort...

10. Dim the lights.

Many people overlook this, but this is another form of over-stimulation.  Those florescent lights are too bright, and they can really do a number on an introvert's nervous system.  As someone who is bothered by the lights, I have found a way to turn off half the lights in my room.  While I have to admit I did this for myself because I got a lot of headaches, I have now spent 13 years with a half-lit classroom, because I have found that all kids really like it.  I am lucky to have windows, so we aren't in the dark, but the natural light is calming for all kids.  Those who need the bright light sit directly under the side that is lit, but otherwise, the rest of the class has always loved the calming effect, and they usually ask to turn them off if I haven't already.

What about you?  Do you have any tips for teaching introverts or anything you wish people understood about what it is like to be an introvert?

5 ways to help your students master avoir and être!

Conjugating French verbs is tricky, but using the right verb is even trickier! Students often confuse avoir and être. Get tips here!

Do your students struggle with avoir and être?  Do you constantly hear things like, "Madame, je suis fini!" or "Pendant le week-end, j'ai allé au cinéma"?  I've taught in three schools with three entirely different groups of students, and these mistakes happened everywhere.  I've talked to French as a second language and French immersion teachers from all over, and they all report having issues with these two verbs.

So, what do we do?

1.  Correct students each time.

I know we want our students to feel encouraged to speak, but allowing these mistakes to happen early on allows the mistakes to settle in the brain that way, and students have a harder time breaking the habit. Worried about discouraging them? You can ask them the question back, using the correct verb. For example, if a student says "Je suis peur" you can ask "Pourquoi tu as peur?" While you're not directly correcting them, you're helping with conversation skills, and you have provided the right verb (for a different subject), and those are both steps in the right direction.

2.  Incorporate speaking into your class.

I'm sure you know that I am a huge believer that we need to integrate a lot of speaking activities in our classrooms.  I love grammar, and I've always enjoyed grammar packets in English and French.  When I learned Spanish, I loved those grammar packets, too.  However, the reality of it is, even if we love grammar, our kids probably do not, so we need to get them speaking and interacting.  It is only through the actual use of the language that we will get them to retain the information correctly.

I love Find Someone Who activities because they are quick and easy to use.  They will provide reinforcement for the already great lessons you have planned.  Best of all, my Find Someone Who resources include printable questions that you can assign as follow up homework or use as a speaking quiz.  You'll also get French and English speaking rubrics!

Find someone who peaking activity for French verbs avoir and être

3.  Have fun with writing.

Something simple that we love to do is use our wipe-off boards and have verb races.  If you have tablets, those work great, too! I break students up into 4 groups, and have one student from each group race to conjugate the verb correctly.  The student who raises his/her board first with the correct answer wins a point for the team. For differentiating between avoir and être, I put cloze sentences in a PowerPoint and I flash one sentence at a time.  If you need some examples of good present tense sentences and a follow-up homework, this avoir ou être activity is one of the most popular items in my store.  It comes in an all-French or in an English version for beginners.

Click here to check out this avoir ou être resource.

Present tense avoir and être worksheet to help students differentiate between these French verbs.

4.  Incorporate technology into your classroom.

Have you checked out Boom Learning yet?  These digital task cards are fun, easy-to-use, and they are self-checking.  If you have students who need extra practice or students who are always finished first, all you need is a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet with a modern browser, and students can practice their grammar concepts on their own!  

                           Digital task cards for French passé composé with avoir and être

Click here to get this FREE fun digital task card set from my Boom Learning store.


5.  Play with dice.

We use dice in my classroom all the time.  I love to play games and have fun in class, and when the kids are having fun, they don't even realize that they are learning!  Plus, they are speaking French, which is super-important!
Here is a quick and easy game you can do with sets of colored dice.  You'll need approximately 10 dice in two different colors.  I use white and blue because that's what I found on sale at the toy store, but any two colors will work.  
You simply write two columns on your board, and in the first column, you'll number from 1-6, then put a subject pronoun next to each number.  In the second column, you'll put an adjective, an age, or something that would finish an avoir or être expression.  
If practicing the passé composé, you'd put a mix of verbs conjugated with avoir and être.  
Here's what it should look like:

Blue die                                  White die
1. je                                         1. 14 ans
2. tu                                        2. faim
3. il/elle/on                               3. intelligent
4. nous                                    4. besoin d'un crayon
5. vous                                    5. grand
6. ils/elles                                6. jeune

Give each group one die of each color. Students roll both dice and conjugate the correct verb needed to complete the sentence.  They can answer orally (my preferred method) or you can have them write on a sheet of paper.  Students take turns for the desired amount of time, and when you think they have had enough practice, you can call on a few students to make complete sentences.

These kinds of drills bring an element of fun into your classes, get students speaking, and best of all, they require very little prep on your part!  

I hope these have been some handy tips.  What do you think?  Are avoir and être more difficult than other verbs?  

                     Help students use avoir and être correctly.

Save yourself time and money with digital task cards!

                                        Paperless, digital task cards for French

Do you love task cards but hate the time and money you spend printing and cutting?  Do you ever wish you could assess your French students but not spend so much time grading?  Well will LOVE this new format!  

Why did I want make digital task cards?

Maybe your school limits your paper use.  Maybe you have 150 students.  I know I normally do!  I want to assess them all, and I want to do it often, but I can't keep up with the grading and still do everything else I need to do.  These cards are amazing, because they require no paper and they check themselves.  Even better...students get immediate feedback.  And best of cards are modeled after the same task cards from my store that many of you already love to use!

So, why are these so great?  

1.  We've already talked about the paper restrictions.  If you are restricted on printing, these are handy, because they require no printing.  You can use them on smartphones, tablets, computers, or even put it on the board for whole-class play.

2.  You always have that one student who finishes first.  Task cards are great, because they are a fun way to review or enrich without giving the student busywork.  As more decks of cards get added, you can add to your library and students will have fun choosing activities that suit their needs.

3.  You don't have to grade these!  They are self-checking and you can get performance reports to see just how your students are doing.  Even better:  students know just how they are doing!  Imagine using this for a quiz review!  You could even assign a deck as homework instead of printing off a study guide.  

4.  You will save prep time.  There is no prep here.  You can access decks from the Boom Learning website or the Boom Learning app stores at Google Play or Apple and you are set to go!  

5.  It's fun!  Kids love anything new and different, and working on a computer or tablet is just fun!  It's interactive, nice to look at, and different from the standard paper and pencil.  Plus, kids can earn badges for doing well, making it feel like they are playing a game rather than learning.  

Create your free account and check out these great digital French task cards now!  Do you want to get started and make your own cards?  Here's a handy referral for you:

Want to check out a free resource that is a perfect back-to-school review?

French digital task cards for practicing avoir and être verbs

Click HERE and test out this passé composé review of avoir and être as auxiliary verbs.

I'm super-excited about these cards, and I've been having so much fun making these decks.  And great news! They are now available for purchase at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

A bit more about Boom Learning

If you purchase from Teachers Pay Teachers:
Users new to Boom Learning get a three-month free trial of student progress reporting for up to 150 students. Your trial includes the ability to make up to 5 free DIY decks. You may upgrade or cancel at any time. Boom Cards play on modern browsers (released in the last three years) on interactive whiteboards, computers, and tablets. Boom Cards apps are also available. Not sure if your browser is modern enough? Try a free Boom Cards deck first. When you redeem your purchase, Boom Learning opens an account for you if you do not already have one. If you do not subscribe at the end of your trial, you will be able to continue using Boom Careds with the Fast Play feature. Fast Play does not track individual progress. If you do not subscribe, we will delete your student records 3 monts after the expiration of the trial to protect student privacy.