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How can I support my child in French Immersion?

Here are some ways in which you can support your son or daughter this year–whether or not you speak French. 🙂

Valuing French

  • I show an interest in my child’s school day
  • I show an interest in extracurricular activities in French
  • I ensure that my child has access to books, CDs, videos, and games in French
  • I ask my child about what he or she is viewing, reading, or listening to in French
  • I register my child in French activities
  • I encourage my child to speak French at home (if I don’t understand, my child can teach me!)
  • I admire my child’s ability to speak French
  • I recognize his or her progress in French
  • I find ways to contribute to my child’s school life
  • I try to learn French words and expressions and use them with my child
  • I don’t mind being in situations where I don’t understand everything
  • I serve as a mentor to my child by correcting my own French

Using resources in the community

  • I encourage my child to socialize with other French-speaking children.
  • I provide support for my child’s homework
  • I make use of the resources suggested by the school
  • I talk with my child about French-speaking people who are involved in the arts, in politics, or in sports.

Enriching my child’s communication skills

  • I take time to read, interact, and play with my child in my own language.
  • I am proud of my language skills
  • I take advantage of situations that help my child discover the value of speaking more than one language.

* Borrowed from the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. 

My approach to teaching 2019

September 2019

Welcome to the 2019-2020 school year!

About me

My name is Jaclyn, aka “Madame Dexter”.  I will be teaching your child on Tuesday-Friday this year.  I have taught French Immersion at Trafalgar since 2007 and walked the halls in the early 90s with pimples and braces; my mom also attended Trafalgar in the 60s, so I have a long history in this school and I’m pretty sure the building hasn’t changed.  I have two adorable/monstrous little boys, Ben and Blake, and in addition to teaching French, I am passionate about triathlon, yoga, meditation, skiing, mountain biking, and reading.

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I am looking forward to getting to know all of you more throughout the year, and welcome you into the classroom anytime.  On that note, if you have a special skill or talent that you would like to share with the class, please let me know!  Throughout the year, I will keep you well informed of your child’s progress via weekly newsletter emails, which detail what we have done during the week; Freshgrade updates, where you can view your child’s scores on various assessments; and of course this blog, where you can find photos of many of our activities throughout the year.

Below is my current teaching philosophy and how I teach French, which are in perpetual evolution based on the particular needs of my students from year to year.

Relationships/Social-emotional well-being

Healthy relationships are vital to all of our mental and emotional well-being, and this is of particular importance when children are entering a new school, learning a new language, and most significantly, a new time of life (let’s hear it for the pre-teens!).

It is my first, and by far most important, goal that your child feel happy, well supported, and part of a community, within both class and the school as a whole.  At Trafalgar, we endeavor to “build each other up”, among both the staff and student body.  I make it a priority to role model this and practice it with the students regularly.  To that end, we hold gratitude circles, random acts of kindness days, and class meetings, to ensure everyone feels heard, accepted and supported.  It is important to me that students feel like school is another home.  I also have a “Needs” box in which students can anonymously put a card in the box to communicate something they would like to see more of or share a situation that is happening in class of which I may not be aware.

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Movement

We need to move!  I have seen great benefit to adding more movement into our days.  First, it puts everyone in a better frame of mind.  Further, it improves memory and thinking skills; it gives us a break and allows us to connect socially, and leads to learning that is more efficient.  Brief: it is time well spent!

The class and I begin every morning with some movement–often a run or walk around the school, some yoga poses, stretching, and mindful breathing; sometimes we will take turns sharing gratitude towards others in the class.  Then we begin our learning activities.  It is a great way to start the day.

In order to refocus and settle down, or pep up low energy (rare!), we will often do some jumping jacks and push-ups, planks and squats right in class, and then get back to work.  I ask students to be mindful of how they feel prior to this and if they notice any difference afterward.  The answers I receive are positive and I hope to instill good habits that students can use to help change their mood, frame of mind, ability to focus, be resilient, and much more.

In addition, if I notice that a particular student is really off-task or struggling to focus or find a good frame of mind, I will suggest a run around the school or some other activity that suits them, and will help them return with a different perspective.  I do my best not to penalize ‘negative’ behavior, but to understand where it is coming from and do something that will help the kids manage it themselves in a more constructive way.

 

Teaching French

I teach using the Accelerated Integrated Method (AIM) developed by Wendy Maxwell, from whom I received my training.  AIM is a relatively new mode of teaching language that uses gestures, story-telling, active collaboration and oodles of repetition. The use of high-frequency vocabulary, introduced with gestures and contextualized in stories, drama, songs and dance, allows students to rapid achievement of oral and written proficiency.  Learn more about the AIM philosophy at https://www.aimlanguagelearning.com/.  I have found no other program that compares!  We base all of our language learning around class plays (two per year), which you will be invited to see in the winter and the spring.  Students will all have access to an on-line portal where they can practice songs and gestures, watch the play, and more.  Your child already has a login and I hope he/she/they takes advantage of this excellent resource on a regular basis.  https://class.aimlanguagelearning.com/account.  Login and password are both: student name-last name.  Par exemple:  jaclyn-dexter; jaclyn-dexter.  Happy learning!

In order to prioritize learning of French and to facilitate rapid language development, there is a huge focus on French/Math/PE & Health until after Christmas break, at which point, Science and Social Studies become a regular part of the program.  During the past three years of teaching grade 6 FI, I am finding it to be more efficient and effective to place a heavy focus on French/Math/Health during the first part of the year, since the fluency with the language needs to be adequate before adding in the more complex vocabulary needed for Science and Social Studies.  That is not to say we won’t do anything related to the Science and Social Studies curriculum since the “Big Ideas” are very broad and can be touched on through a variety of activities.

 

Homework

In general, I do not believe in assigning homework for homework’s sake.  However, for the first couple of months in the French Immersion program, I find that students benefit immensely from practicing the gestures and songs on the AIM portal for 5-10 minutes 1-2 a week, as well as practicing their multiplication and division facts 5-10 minutes 1-2 nights a week.   Other classwork that is assigned and not completed during class time will be homework, but I give plenty of time to finish in class, so if students use their class time efficiently, they will not have homework. Weekly spelling quizzes will begin the third week of September and will require some home study as well—we do practice the words in class and they are all from the high-frequency vocabulary that is used in the play as well as in the oral and written class work, so it should not be overly onerous.  The immersion program is an additional challenge, and I try to inspire students to want to work hard to achieve great results.

Mindfulness practice

We teach by example.  To this end, I endeavor in our busy and hectic days to be a grounded and present force in the lives of my students.  I practice meditation, yoga, and mindfulness and do deep breathing every morning in my car before I enter the school, so if you see me in my car with my eyes closed, you will know what I’m doing!   It gets me in the right frame of mind and reminds me of the bigger picture before entering the classroom each day.  I share this with openly with the class, and we practice daily mindful movements, mindful breathing, visualization, and talk about our feelings before and after.  We do this in Frang-lais or English, to allow for open communication.  I try to model vulnerability, openness, making mistakes, apologizing for actions in my day-to-day interactions with the class.  During the year, the class will visit the Shambahla meditation centre, which really lends some credibility to our class practice, and the students find it very interesting and have many questions!

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Monthly Class Auction

I hand out class money for positive behavior—offering to help a classmate, tidying up the classroom, speaking French, lending encouragement, etcetera.  Once per month, students are able to buy and sell goods at our auction.  Goods can include something home-baked, gently used toys, clothing or books.

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Differentiated Instruction/Backward Design

I begin with the end in mind, and base all of the class work and activities around the big ideas and core competencies.  This ensures that we use class time efficiently and wisely, and that activities are not just ‘filler’ but are part of a bigger picture.  I offer students different ways of approaching topics and displaying their knowledge, and the AIM program suits this well as it is kinesthetic, visual, aural and verbal.

 

I am excited for another great year!  This is a large class of 30 students so we will all need to cooperate and be on the same page in order to make it as successful as possible.  I thank you in advance for your precious home collaboration!