French I Evaluation

I wanted feedback from my students about their French classes this year. To see the Wallwisher larger, just click on the image.  Sometimes it is challenging to hear feedback from students but mostly it’s an interesting perspective. Students knew that I would be moderating the comments…alas, I did sense a lot of honesty in their comments.

Wallwisher is an awesome resource. My students enjoyed participating in the discussion without needing a pen or paper.


Hosting Student Group from France

For many years, I have been trying to get a group of French students into our area. The main causes I haven’t been successful is the timing has never worked. In my first years of teaching, I worked full-time during the summer. Then, as life continued so did the passing goal of hosting a group of students. Married one fall and baby the next year…it seemed I had excuse after excuse to justify not organizing a group. Finally, we took the plunge and hosted a small group during spring break this past school year. The first hurdle was convincing a group to visit Wisconsin.

Who wouldn’t want to visit Seymour, Wisconsin? The best part about Seymour is the people. I find the community of Seymour to be welcoming, gracious and caring. We do not have the Empire State Building but we do have a warm hearted community. We work hard and enjoy the closeness of families. It is also a wonderful place to work.

Langauge and Friendship is a company based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have had the privilege of working with them since 2000. They found a group for us that fit our needs. We were so excited! Their pictures and profiles came into my classroom. The excitement was contagious. Everyone couldn’t wait for our French students to arrive!

Whenever you have the opportunity to travel with students or host students, you never know what is going to happen! This year, our group arrival date was the time of the Icelandic volcano eruption. They were delayed 6 days. I cannot imagine the stress the organizing French teacher must have felt during that time. Email after phone call, all of my hosting families told me the same thing. “We are so sad about the student’s shortened visit. Is there anyway they can stay longer?” It was the best possible reaction.

Six days later the students arrive. You must try to imagine this scene. All of the ten hosting families were there…some with all of the siblings. My students are holding banners and balloons. Bienvenue…Welcome to Seymour. The yellow school bus arrives down the highway and turns into the parking lot. All of my families are yelling and cheering. They have finally made the trip!

On the second day of the trip, our school was hosting prom. Many of the American students brought their host student to the prom. It was a wonderful cultural sharing of teenage life and fun! The students attended classes with their hosting student. All the students felt very comfortable in our school. We took a few local field trips to Lawrence University and Lambeau Field (of course).

The students were a wonderful addition to my French classroom. It was a living curriculum. We were saddened when the students’ trip quickly came to an end. It was a wonderful experience for our community and school. I look forward to hosting again in the future!

Last day of School

There is something really cool about working the last day of school. Teachers arrive to school giddy. We share a breakfast together and have a few laughs. We reminisce a little about the school year and perhaps share some of what our plans are for the summer. Then, the great evacuation of the school. Most, if not all teachers are out of the building. I admit most if not all years, I have been an evacuee. Today, I set aside time to work and clean. It’s amazing to have some time to decompress at work and clean up my thoughts before I step out of the building. There is an amazing presence at school in this moment. A calm has arrived after the parties and storms. It is a wonderful time for reflection and awe.

In early September, my family will be four instead of three. I have been thinking about how to prepare for the changes in my family as well as in my classroom. In both realms, I feel different. As a mother, I feel a bit older and wiser…I have been told too many times how my second child will be challenging and for lack of a better word…a stinker. Yet, I feel I understand the role of a mother better. As a teacher, I feel I am getting closer to the role of the teacher as facilitator or in the shadows more than as the “sage on the stage.” For many years, I have felt the need to entertain my students or make them laugh with my mistakes in travel and language learning. I have tried so hard at times to be genuine and sincere that it was almost painful. I understand better now how to balance being genuine with giving students more opportunities to learn together and have fun in learning! I feel through my Twitter PLN I have been back in college again. It has been amazing learning with people passionate about education. The faculty and staff are amazing in my school as well. Some of my best Twitter experts are my coworkers!

A physical change in my classroom will be no teachers desk. I’m not sure about the chair yet. Today, I emptied my desk of school supplies and arranged them for my students in a cabinet they have access to during class. Sometimes, I feel my students just need a rubber band, a paper clip or a stapler. Can’t we talk about French??? Parlons de la culture française!!! Mentally and physically, this takes me away from the front of the room. I have always taught from all corners of the room….but this change will be dramatic. I will work from a table next to my students…instead of in front of my students. From a management standpoint, it’s going to rock! I can’t believe haven’t done this years ago.

A part of my PD over the summer will be to participate in Shell Terrell’s #30goals. As soon as we have the internet at our house, I will start the challenge. I will be posting my challenges and successes on Twitter and on this blog!

I can’t believe this year is over….I am looking forward already to adventures this fall! Happy summer!

I’m going to be a big brother

This was my attempt to learn how to use the Storybird Web 2.0 Tool. This is a little book about my son trying to understand the idea of a new little brother.  Storybird is working on allowing students to publish in French. I am looking forward to this next step!

Terry learning about his brother by profhutch on Storybird

Using Batik in the French Classroom

This project was inspired by my sister Theresa who is an Art teacher in the Minneapolis School District. It was her idea to have the students create cell phone bags from the basics. I modified the lesson to the French classroom as I included vocabulary on sewing and culture in Senegal.

The students were given the fabric and the materials. They were to sew their own bag. Then, after sewing, they were to create a design on the bag. After the design was made, the students used wax to inhibit the coloring of the dye. Then the students dyed their bags. The final step was sewing the closure on the top of the bag.

Most of the students really enjoyed the project. In fact, they wanted to do more projects! Some students still use their bags for carriers for the cell phones. It was a success!