Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding French Language Apps for the Ipad

One of my biggest frustrations as we test iPads in my classroom has been finding appropriate FREE or nearly free apps that are in French.  I found a well made website that allows you to search only iPad apps that are available in French.

It is called: Mon App Store

By using the advanced search you can search by category, price, language and age group and more.

It is a great resource when you know how to use it. I spent a frustrating afternoon last week downloading app after app from the website and discovering that none of them were in French. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. It wasn't until yesterday that I stumbled upon the answer. Many apps in the app store are available in multiple languages HOWEVER they will always show up on your device in the language of your device. In order to view apps in French I needed to change my  Ipads language to French.

When you change your language setting your will find that some apps will change to the new language too. For example:

Guess who?  becomes Qui Suis Je?

I quickly discovered that many of the apps I had downloaded on the weekend were available in French after all. I had not a wasted my afternoon!  What did I learn today? I learned that there are actually a surprising amount of apps available in French and they are easier to find then I thought. Did you already know this? What is your favorite app to use with your students?

So how do you change your devices language? Check out the video below for quick instructions.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Our first week with Ipads

Mme Hawtree's grade 1's have Ipads! We don't get to keep them, we are just the guinea pig class. I am extremely excited to be able to try out this technology with my students.

Here is what we used them for this first week:

1) We used the Letters app for our daily 5 Word Work. 
Letters App

Letters App is a free app that acts like a magnetic board. Students can choose the color of their letters and place them on the board. They can also add pictures and other details. My favorite feature is that students can take a picture of their work. I had my students practice their words and then add their name. Then I had them take a picture of their work. I was then able to see quickly how the students did and who was able to complete the task.

The one challenge was that we only have 10 Ipads and all my students wanted to be involved. I had some students Read to Self while the students were working on words then we switched.

2) We used two apps Math is Fun 4-5 and Kidpedia for math centers.

Math is Fun 4-5
Math is Fun has a series of apps for different age groups. The free version gives students 3 games they can play. They other games are available for .99. This game focuses on number order and counting.
Students got to play these games as a math center. While 1/2 my class was working in their math binders playing a math game the other 1/2 was using the Ipads.  My students had a lot of fun doing this and it was interesting to watch them teach each other strategies for completing the games more quickly. 

KIDpedia Interactive Shape

KIDpedia Interactive Shapes is actually a language learning app. It includes 4 language and one of them, lucky for me, is French. The free app comes with shapes but for $1.99 you can also purchase other word collections like colors and letters. With my students I used the shape app to help us practice patterns. With a partner students took turns creating and completing patterns. All they needed to do is click on a shape and move it into position on the screen. As an added bonus the app reads the shapes name to the student in French.

The one thing that struck me while implementing these Ipads is how quickly students were able to learn to navigate them. As @mmorley said on twitter- your students won't be waiting for an in-service about this. There were many challenges when launching this project (a post for another day) but students ability to use the technology was not one of them.

So I learned some fun ways to use Ipads in my classroom this week. That is what I learned. I would love to hear your ideas. How are you using your Ipads? What are your favorite apps? Where do you go for resources and information on Ipads in the classroom?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Silent Shorts to teach big ideas.

Another year has begun and a new crew of grade 1 students have entered through my classroom door.  One of my biggest struggles every September is how to communicate the big ideas of community and respect to my students without using English.

While on Pinterest this summer I saw a pin from Shannon Wiebe for a silent short.

I realized that if I could get students talking about this video I wouldn't have to explain the concepts in English and I could give them the vocabulary to express some of these big ideas in French. I discovered that there are many animated shorts on youtube that I could use with my students.

 We have 3 big "rules" in our school and I use these with my students.

Je me respecte - I respect myself.
Je te respecte -I respect others.
Je respecte l'environnement - I respect the environment.

I used this video to spark a discussion on "Je te respecte"

We also had a lot of fun watching "Le Lutin" and talking about how we can respect our environment.

After watching  the students talked about what they saw with a partner. Then we discussed some of the big ideas as a class. Student provided their answers in English and I repeated them in French.
After we worked together to color some class posters for each rule.
You can access the posters in French here: French Posters
An English version of these posters is available here: English Posters

There are many possibilities here for French Immersion classrooms and for English classrooms as well. There are many ways we can use these videos with our students.

Sylvia  Duckworth has a Youtube channel full of animated shorts.
Check it out here:

So what did I learn? I can communicate big ideas with my students without saying a word.

Do you use shorts in your classroom? Any favorites? How do you use them? Do you have a good video suggestion for "I respect myself?" How do you communicate big ideas with your students?

A side note: sometimes I only want parts of a video. (I skipped a large part of the "fighting" between the lutin and the woman in the video above) I like to use because I don't have to download the video and can easily access it from anywhere.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Adventures Tweeting with Grade 1's

This June I tried something new ... inspired by @happycampergirl I decided I would open a Twitter account for my class and try twitter with my students. What an amazing experience!  It was an eye opener for me and for my students.

Every morning I would log on to Twitter before my students arrived at school to see what we would be reading today. Everyday I was surprised at the amazing learning that flowed out of those 140 character sentences. When my students came to carpet we would log on to Twitter and read the days tweets. Even my most reluctant readers were excited ... after all it was only a little sentence.

What follows are a few of my favorite Twitter moments:

One of my favorite twitter moments was when we were reading tweeter poems from @CE1_Fenez77. They were creating tweets with the format "Je ____, tu _____, il _________.Nous ____________.

I laugh, you laugh, he laughs, we die of laughter.
One of my bright stars said... "Mme did you notice that there is no s on the Je and Il words but there are s on the Tu words?"   This simple discovery led the class to a discussion on verb endings and suddenly many of my students were using proper conjugation for ER verbs in their writings.

After reading the poems above my kids wanted to try it to so we decided we would write rhyming word poems.

Here is a little rabbit that is hungry for a tree with an elf. :)
The students brainstormed rhyming words and created little one line poems. Everyone had fun we laughed a lot at the silly ideas that people came up with.

Good day, it is night here.
The students are not at school again till  Thursday.
One morning we logged on to Twitter to discover that there was nothing for us to read except a private message from M. Masson.
That little tweet led us to talk about international time zones. We found France on a map.  We talked about oceans and continents. We talked about how someone would get to France. We even discussed how we would order dinner when we got there.

M. Acou's class like posting challenging math questions.
Some days we would take a kick at them and see if we could use our problem solving strategies to figure them out. A great opportunity for my bright math stars to show us their stuff.

On more then one occasion classes posted pictures of their field trips.This allowed my students to see Paris through the eyes of students who were visiting. My kids were always excited when they saw a picture online and it was probably their favorite part of Twitter time. 
                                    Guess where we are!

These are only a handful of examples and all of them happened in the last month.  I can only imagine what adventures we would have had if we had been on Twitter all year. I learned that this is a tool that can lead to great lessons if you let it. You have to be willing to go with the moment and follow your children where they lead you but if you do - I promise this tool will WOW you.

Want to learn more? Check out the blog posts bellow.

50 ways to use Twitter:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When you don't know everything.

As the school year progresses my grade 1 french immersion students are getting more and more adventurous in their writing and some days I am beginning to think they are playing a game of stump the teacher. Comment dit-on "wakeboard"  madame? Comment dit-on "platypus" madame?  Thank goodness we live in the digital age - a little search and Mme has all the answers. At least that is what I use to do, but no anymore.

One of the biggest gifts we can give our students is the knowledge that they don't need to know EVERYTHING but that they can find out ANYTHING.  Instead of coming back with the answer I have started to have my students join me when I search for the answer. Often I do have the answer but I still look it up with students. It doesn't take any more time and it exposes students to one more resource for getting the information they need.

So how do you say platypus in french?  My current favorite translation tools is Reverso however the website is full of ads and not ideal for children.

With my students I use Google Translate instead:

I often imagine what I would have done without a computer... "Wouldn't you rather be writing about a cat? How about you say swimming instead?"  Thank goodness for Google.

I remember a university professor once telling us "When you don't know the answer - tell students "that is a good question - you should ask your mom or dad about that tonight and tell us about it tomorrow."  In today's age - even with primary students- I think teachers have a responsibility to say "That is a good question - lets Google that." or "That is a good question - I'll look that up and get back to you."    I think that in this day and age being able to find information is much more important than knowing information and students need to know that.

That is what I learned at school today.  How do you encourage students to get the information they need? How do you search with primary students?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Reflections on the Teacher Inquiry Process

I was lucky this year. I had the opportunity to participate in a Inquiry project sponsored by our union and the district. Teachers were invited to develop an inquiry question that applied to their practice and we were given release time to learn about what an inquiry project was and to work in collaboration with colleagues.

I say I was lucky but I have to tell you I didn't feel that way through the whole process. After our first session I turned to my teaching partner and asked her what we had gotten ourselves into. The whole process seemed overwhelming and frighting to me. Asking questions, monitoring our thought processes, collecting DATA and most terrifyingly reporting about the whole process to others.

The process proved to be a great experience for me. It gave me the opportunity to collaborated with colleagues, exchange ideas and struggles. It also help me focus my own practice, giving me a clear target to concentrate on and helped me look more closely at how I was teaching and why I chose to teach that way.  It wasn't an easy or comfortable process all the time, but it was enlightening for me.

Tonight was our "presentation and party" and it really wrapped up the whole experience for me. Explaining what I had learned and how I had learned it helped me really clarify my own thinking and hearing about other teachers process and findings was also very valuable. I learned a lot and I have a whole new crop of questions I now want answers to.

So why am I sharing this with you? I believe teacher inquiry is a very valuable form of professional development. Self directed, focused on real problems and real solutions for our own classrooms. It takes teachers where they are NOW and leads them somewhere better. I know for many it sounds frighting and I wanted to let you all know - I am a survivor of the inquiry process. (I want a badge that says that!) 
Was it a lot of work? Yes, yes it was. Would I do it again? You bet - where do I sign up?

The Prezi my group presented:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Using Prezi in the classroom

I discovered Prezi about 2 years ago and have been using it when I put on workshops.

What is it? It is a online presentation maker - a little like power-point but with more zoom.

What I like about Prezi is that it allows me to easily and quickly create a portable presentation that includes embedded video, links, images, text and PDF documents. I can create, edit, store and view my Prezi online or I can download a program for my computer. It also allows me to insert pre-made PowerPoint presentations and edit them with Prezi. It has pre-made templates for me to use but it also allows me to have a blank canvas to work from so I can create the presentation I want, the way I want it. Oh and did I mention that it is FREE for educational use?

Used Prezi before? If you haven't visited Prezi lately it is worth having another look. They have made some great updates in the last few months that have made this  program more user friendly and accessible.

One of my workshop Prezis:

So if I learned about this 2 year ago - why am I writing about it today? Well it just occurred to me that I could and should be using Prezi in my classroom too. I can make little movies that are easily embedded onto my classroom website that students can watch at home.

Here is a quick Sight-Word Review I put online:

My students can access it directly from my website and practice at home:

I can also "spice-up" some of my less interesting Smart-board lessons.  I discovered that I can save Notebook files at PowerPoint presentations and then upload them easily to Prezi. All I had to do was click File, then Export, the PowerPoint. So easy.

This is a Smart board Lesson I quickly converted about Piet Mondrian.

This week I plan on trying to create a story Prezi with my students in class. We can then post in on our classroom website and the students can read it to their parents at home. I'm excited about the possible uses in my class room. Are you already using Prezi with your students? How?

What to learn more? Check-out this Prezi on how to create a Prezi!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Make Sure the Pieces Work Together.

I had a wonderful idea last week. Well I thought it was a wonderful idea. For a final unit assessment task the students and I were going to make a video. I could see it clearly, children excitedly story boarding, planning and shooting a video about living and non-living things. Me, showing them how to put it all together using Movie Maker. It was going to be great.

I asked the school secretary if we had a digital video camera and was pleasantly surprise when I was handed a newish looking box. It was a JVC Everion - the thing even claimed to feature one touch YouTube downloads. I was pretty excited, everything seems to be in the box. Well almost everything. Whoever had used the camera last had forgotten to return the SD cards but no worry that was easy enough to fix.

I went through my pre-tech project checklist before launching the video making assignment:

  • Did I have all the cords, cables, dodads and programs needed to create a video?
  • Did I know how to record a video with the new video camera?
  • Did I know how to use the editing software well enough to show students?
  • Was the program installed on the computer I wanted to use? 
  • Did I have enough batteries,coffee and patience to launch a tech project?
The answers were check, check,check, check, and sure why not.

We went through the fun of preparing, planning and recording our scenes. The recording process was chaotic to say the least but the students seemed to enjoy it. Satisfied with the footage we had taken we were ready to move on to the next step... downloading our video. This is where the whole think fell apart.

It seems that I had checked to see if I knew how to RECORD a video but I had forgotten to check to see if I knew how to get the videos OFF the camera. This was the first hurdle. 2 hours and many internet searches later I had managed to download them.

Ready for phase 3: The movie making!

I opened Movie Maker and was frustrated to discover that the video I had shot with my students was not comparable with the program I wanted to use to edit it.. ARK! I had not thought this one through at all. I have a classroom full of students expecting to help me make a movie in at school tomorrow. Now I had to figure out how to use a new program or how to make my files work in Movie Maker.

In the end the solution ended up being a newer computer with a more up to date operating system. I used my home computer which had Windows 7 on it and the updated movie maker and it looks like I will be  able to create a movie with the clips the students and I filmed. Not the lesson I had envisioned but it will work.

So what did I learn at school today? 

Knowing how each piece of technology works alone is not enough. I need to know how (if) the pieces will work together also!

Before launching into a class project with your students test out all parts of the process on your own and make sure you know how the parts work together. You may be able to use all the individual products but if they don't work together it is going to turn your fun project into a technical nightmare. I learned my lesson.

What about you? Any technology compatibility nightmares? What products do you use to record and edit video with students?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Using Wordle to Make Word Choice Posters

I made a fun discovery today.  Wordle is a fun way to make work choice posters for or with your students. It can be used to create a visual list of synonyms for students to use in their writing.

Here is one I made this morning for the word  "grand" in French.

Wordle allows you to create word clouds for many URL's and it also allows you to enter your own word lists. Wordle lets you to customize the size, font and color of the words.

Steps for Making your Wordle Word Choice Posters: 

1) Choose a word that students are over using in your classroom.
2) For French words visit: and enter it there to get a list of synonyms. Copy the words by highlighting them, and then typing Control+C.
    In English you can visit: to get a list of synonyms.  Copy the words by highlighting them, and then typing Control+C.
3) Go to and select "Advanced" tab.

4) Paste the words into the first box by clicking in the box then typing Control+P.
5) Put one word per line. Remove any words you don't want to include in your poster.

6) Place : plus a number beside each word. The bigger numbers will give you larger words. Smaller numbers will give you smaller words. Consider making the words that you would like used more often larger.

7) Press go.
8) Use the random button at the bottom or the Layout , Font and Color tabs at the top to customize your Wordle.

9) When you are happy with your Wordle you can save it to the public directory or print it. You can also use the "Snipping Tool" in Windows 7 to save it as an image to use later

I am also toying with the idea of having students create their own analogue "Wordles" as a word work activity. So that is what I learned at school today. What do you think? How do you use Wordle?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Typing Accents the easy way... Really!

I love twitter. I always learn so much. Today I learned something from @LouisSulek via 
@sylviaduckworth. Louis Sulek  was kind enough to post instructions on how to easily type accents. This is something I thought I had a handle on but I just discovered that I have been doing things the hard way when it comes to typing accents in my french documents. I usually use alt keys or the French keyboard setting on my computer but I just learned that you can type both English and French texts using the same keyboard. It is called the United States- International keyboard.

Sounds good? Well here is what I leaned. Here are instructions for doing it in Windows 7:

So first you need to add the United States- International Keyboard to your computer.

1) Go to start.
2) Control Panel
3) Region and Language

4) Keyboard and Languages

5)Change keyboards....

6) Add

7)Under the English (United States) section find: United States International and select the check box.

8) Select Okay
9) Then make English(United States) United  Sates- International your default keyboard by selecting it from the drop down list.

For instructions for XP see the original article that Louis wrote here:

To type: é = ‘ (close to the enter key) then e
To type è= ` key (left of 1) then e
Follow the same directions but substitute correct letter to get à 

To type ê use shift-6 followed by e  

To type ç use ‘ (close to the enter key) then c 
To type ö shift-’ followed by o

To do capital letters follow instructions above but press shift key between the symbol and the letter.

I am so excited about this I had to share. I am looking forward to trying this keyboard with my grade 1's. So much less complicated. When I did typing activities with my students I often purposefully chose activities without accents or got then to write the accents in after. No more of that! :)

So today I learned how to use the United States International Keyboard. Do you have any great time saving tips for typing in French? Any great resources you use?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Places I am Learning from this Spring Break.

It is spring break here which means I have some spare time to catch-up on some professional development and reading. I thought I would take a minute and blog about a few of my favorite places to find ideas, resources and inspiration. So today’s blog is called:

Places I am learning from this Spring Break.

Twitter offers quick bites of pro-d without too much stress. The trick is to find great educators and follow them, then read what they have to say. Join in on the conversation by following hashtags that apply to you.  I personally love #edchat #frimm #kinderchat  and #langchat.  When I find someone who interests me I then follow them. Some of my favorite education tweeps are: @2learn2  @web20classroom  @WeAreTeachers  @Fr_Immersion98 @sylviaduckworth @MmeVeilleux

Check out for a great list of education hashtags.
New to Twitter? Check this out:
I started my page a little by accident not really understanding what it was but I love it. It forces me to look for targeted resources on my topic on interest and evaluate them in terms of quality and usefulness to others.  I also love the topic newsfeed that gives me a quick glance at articles connected to my interest areas and the ability to easily erase them when they aren’t useful to me. 

No really, stay with me on this one. It is all the fun of but without the “expert” tag.   Pinterest is a wonderful place to get introduced to new ideas and new teacher blogs, websites and resources.  It is also a great visual way to keep track of ideas you want to try. My art program has become much more interesting since I discovered pinterest.  The trick for me was to follow teacher boards that I found useful. I rarely follow all the boards a person has; only teaching boards that are useful for me.

You can check out my pins here:

Ten Videos Every Educator Should Watch.

This article was brought to my attention by Twitter. I am making my way through this list. Some interesting videos here to reflect on. A good reminder that I need to spend more time listening to TED talks too. 


I follow a lot of blogs and am a little behind on my reading.  Enter Spreeder to the rescue. This tool helps me “Speed Read” my way through those blog posts I have been meaning to read. Train your brain to look at words faster and find meaning. I use this to get through a lot of data quickly. When I find a rich document I need to read more slowly I go back and read it again without the tool.

So these are some of the places I am learning from today.  I would love to hear from other educators about what they are using. What are some of your favorite pro-d tools? What are your go to spots online?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

World Read-aloud Day - A Day Late.

In a French Immersion classroom I think reading aloud is vital to help students learn the flow, feel and rhythm of language. They also help students get beyond decoding and deciphering to feeling and hearing the stories. So for World Read-aloud Day (well the day after actually) I decided to look at ways I can get more read-alouds in my day.

My favorite lesson of the day ended up being about reading with expression. The kids had fun and so did I .  I learned playing with reading is as much fun as reading sometimes. 

I read them the story: Sortez de mon livre! by Nick Bland. 

When I started reading I read with no expression at all. The students looked at me strangely but Mme often does strange things so they waited. Then, I read the next few lines with expression.

I asked students what the difference was between the two and which they liked best. They all agreed they liked the second way best. They had great ideas about how it was different.  My favorite was the little guy who said "Les mots tombent et grimpent et vont partout." “The words fall and climb and go everywhere.”

I showed them some sentences on the smart-board and I asked them to partner up and read the sentence to their partner. Kids took turns spinning the spinner and then they would read the sentence again to their partners. They used the emotion on the board to decide how to read the sentence. Finally we would read the sentence “properly” as a class. We laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves.

Click here to download the smartboard file

I ended the session by sending the kids off to read a book from their daily 5 bins to their partner . They were told to practice reading with the "right" emotions. The students were really excited to be reading. The room was abuzz with expression, emotion and sound.

What did I learn at school today? Playing words and emotions is fun and got my students excited about reading aloud.