Yesterday was a professional development day and it was probably one of the best PDs that my district has put together. In addition to a content area session, there was a keynote given by Dean Shareski (@shareski) who presented about embracing a culture of joy. It was a moving presentation that made me reflect on my role as a teacher and a mother – and yes, I did shed some tears.
One of the main themes in the keynote was how teachers need to bring joy back into the classroom and that not every activity needs to be tied to a standard. I thought I would share a couple fun activities that I complete weekly with my students.
Last year, I started incorporating music into my classroom by playing a French music video every week. I decided to play the same song in every level because it would allow students in French to share a similar experience and it would create less work for me. I create a Google slide for each artist that includes basic information about them (name, age, birthplace, genre, interesting facts etc) and a link to the music video. Last year, I had students copy down the information from the slide onto a notes page, but it served no purpose, as I didn’t have students do anything with the notes that they took and I didn’t grade it. Instead, students discuss their opinion of the song and music video. I know that I could do something more with every song, but I simply don’t have the time to create a cloze/interpretive activity for each of my levels and I feel that it would take the fun away. Students rate watching the weekly music video as one of their highlights of class and many of them listen to French music outside of class, which is a win!
In addition to the weekly music video, my students learn about a French speaking country. They are presented with clues and try to guess the country. The clues start out very vague and then get more specific. I tell students not to shout out the answer, instead, I encourage them to raise their hand when they have the answer. Once the final clue is read, I ask for volunteers to say what country they think it is. Then I include pictures and/or a short video that highlights the country. This activity takes about 5 minutes and it can be completed at the beginning or end of a lesson or even as a brain break. I use this in all of my levels, but am looking at switching it up next year by making the clues in French for my upper levels. The students get excited when they see the colorful slide with the clues. I do not require students to do anything with the information that is presented, it is just a fun way to learn more about different French speaking countries.