Day one in the books, and it was so great to see all the faces! In a way, this year was easier to prepare for: no need to clean my classroom, do seating charts or run off copies. On the other hand, I had to learn some new skills and couldn’t use my lesson plans from last year.
All in all, I thought it went well today. My first three classes were French 3 Honors (my son being in my first period of class). There were a few familiar faces, and some of my students from last year’s 2 regular class had moved up. I didn’t feel as much pressure to put on a show. They knew that even though I wasn’t comfortable with the Zoom format, I would not let them down and give it my all every day. Normally, on the first day of 3 Honors, I introduce myself with images in the background and take small breaks for the students to talk in pairs/ groups about themselves. Then, I have a competition where they unscramble questions in French (where was Mrs. Chop born? How many children does she have) and answer them in French. No time for that today as our classes were only 25 minutes, so this was what I did instead:
- After greeting students and telling them the day’s objectives in English, they took out their phones to do a Kahoot that was all about Madame Chop. So this year, instead of focusing on listening, they focused on reading. After some of the questions, I would go into more detail about a particular fact and an accompanying image (sometimes in French, sometimes in English) and then come back to the Kahoot.
- I had to spend the last five minutes showing them around my Canvas page, so they knew where to find everything since this is our main form of communication during virtual learning. I invited students to stay back if they wanted to chat with me individually, and some of them did. This effort will make it much easier to learn their names.
French 1 was next and the one that I thought was going to be the hardest. I normally do Card Talk on the first day, but I didn’t want to waste time with making cards in class (so I assigned it in a Google slide for homework tonight). Instead, with the whiteboard behind me, I introduced myself, girl/boy, teacher/student and told them some things I liked. The kids did choral responses and did thumbs up/ thumbs down for adore and déteste. With gallery view in Zoom, I was able to see all their faces and even ask some of them about their interests: Do you like tennis? baseball? basketball? We learned that one boy liked tae kwon do, and voilà- I wrote up the words “les sports de combat”. Next, I shared a slide with a paragraph about me in the first person, and I told the students to mute their microphones and translate the paragraph from French to English. Then we came back as a class. I read the French and they translated in English. I’m confident that I met my learning objectives:
- Students will listen to spoken French and understand most of what is being said.
- Students will read a paragraph in French and understand most of what is being read.
- Students will learn some new words and cognates.
- Students will be able to speak some words in French.
Finally, I had my 35 French 4 Honors students. Because I had them all last year, it made the virtual teaching so much easier. I spoke entirely in French to tell them what we would be doing today, and then with pictures as support, shared about my good memories of summer vacation. Next, I put them into breakout rooms of 5 people each and I took time visiting each room and talking with the students individually. Unfortunately, the class period was too short and the last few breakout rooms didn’t get the chance to say much to me. I might have to save the interpersonal speaking for the days we have fifty minute classes. It was so great to see their willingness to speak in connected sentences with such confidence. A year ago, there were definitely some kids who lacked the confidence to speak.
All in all, it was so great to see new faces and especially the old, familiar ones. Fingers crossed that we will be back in the classroom soon!