So busy teaching- but here’s a memory from student teaching!

I will be writing posts about the beginning of school probably just around when school is over in June 😉 seriously, though, it has been a ton of work. I’ve made it through 4 days of teaching.

I was thinking back to student teaching and reflecting on having students make verb books. I did it for extra credit in my French 2 class and am going to require it in most, if not all, of my classes this year.

Student teaching taught me that while freedom in sentence-making is good sometimes, most of the time kids have a hard time coming up with whole sentences on their own. And sometimes, you get a gem like this, and just like my coop and I said “I’ll teach as long as they make me laugh more than they make me cry”:

"Are you losing weight this weekend?"

For those of you “non-French-speakers” the first sentence means:

“Are you losing weight this weekend?”

I had them come up with their own sentences for several required verbs, and this was one of the gemmiest of the gems.

And now I’m off to lesson plan until eternity.

Finished Student Teaching- It Flew By!

I’m turning in my magnificent portfolio tomorrow (and it’s nowhere near done), but I am realizing more and more how much I really learned- a WHOLE lot. Student teaching is such an efficient way to both introduce a student to the teaching world, and it’s a great cumulative way for the student’s certifying school to see the student put what they’ve learned into practice.

There were so many amazing things I learned and did, and so many methods and tricks of the trade I have yet to use.

Overall I am so thankful for the experience (and for the fact that my cooperating teacher was so nice), and I am quite happy to have finished all that work. Lots of work.

I do feel that it has prepared me in a lot of ways for teaching in my own classroom, so that’s very exciting.

Now it’s time for some graduation parties!

My How Time Flies…and lots of Grading to do!

This is my last weekend before my last two days of student teaching. Can you believe it!? I can’t. It’s flown. It has also been a monumental amount of work and time spent doing so many different little things.

I have a ton of grading to do this weekend. A few thoughts on this:

1) Why did I assign these projects?! (Heehee) Projects take a lot of time and energy to grade as opposed to just a clear-cut test.
2) Giving out a point by point breakdown for a rubric is always better than giving categories. The smaller and more specific the better. One class it’s easy going through the projects. The other class has 3 verb tenses and I’m going on their overall grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and verb conjugation. Aie!
3) Projects are fun. It has been fun learning more about all of these students. One girl said she had no pets. I told her to write that in French and then say a pet she would like to have. She said she didn’t want any pets. Her project has a picture of a rabbit with a caption about him being a rabbit named Jack. He’s also dead.

I asked her about this rabbit and she said all excitedly, “Oh yeah! He was right outside my house!”. I looked at her with a mixture of emotions displaying on my face and questioned, “Dead?” She laughed. “Yeah.”

She’s too funny. She calls me “ma’am” and I don’t really know why.

I love the children. I can’t believe that my time with them is almost over.

Extracurricular Events and the Students

So that’s why one of my stronger students turned in his project both late, and poorly done. He was one of the leads in the play!

I went to the play and really enjoyed myself. I usually have trouble staying after the first act of plays, and I continued to enjoy myself through the second act as well. It was the Seussical.

It’s funny to find out about kids’ extracurricular activities. It’s sort of funny until it interferes with class a lot or with their classwork and grades.

Oh the things we learn, the places we go. Fun to see kids in a different light- an out-of-the-classroom atmosphere.

I was surprised when some girls that I thought maybe didn’t even remember my name were like “Hi Ms. Teach” and it was fun. They really do like to see you at things. And the ones that pretend not to care or notice probably do care just as much, if not more.

Another day another cheater (learning again why it’s important to specify details even down to the writing utensil)

This French III class is really something. Some of them are eager to learn French and really want to feel like they can speak it and use it. And the other half of them or so? They count down the days every day and tell me they’ve never used French before.

I did have some good turnouts with the past tense in the French II classes today. And to the credit of this French III class, some of them did an exceptional job on their projects.

However.

I talked with the boys who “wrote out” the lyrics to the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold your Hand” (which didn’t even really fit the assignment). I showed them a printout that looked word for word, abbreviation for abbreviation, and weird random English insertion (“Yeh” only one time) twice, the exact same. If that sentence made sense. I don’t think it did, and neither did their first wrong move- cheating, second wrong move- thinking I wouldn’t find out, third wrong move- lie about it. They looked so squirmish and nervey that I did not even outright accuse them of cheating. They know they did.

So I told them they had to still make up half of the project, individually. And then!

I so kindly allowed a girl to do corrections on her quiz that she got4 out of 20 on (obviously didn’t study). She did a decent job with corrections, but still had some errors.

She comes back to me and says, “See the ones I starred? I think they were originally right and you marked them wrong”. I looked at them and they were indeed correct. I looked closer and realized she had written in pencil, and it looked a lot to me like she had erased them and rewritten them.

I probably should have just said that right out, but I’m not sure if it’s like how in retail you can’t outright accuse someone of stealing even if you see them, you have to call someone to stop them? I kind of mumbled something about it looking different than it did but I gave her another 2 points. So she ended up with 13/20 when she really deserved 0 now because she is a cheater. There is no way that I would have marked something right in one place and wrong in the other (it could happen, but I remember looking it over a few times). I don’t even know anymore.

I’m just a little bit disheartened about how this is all going down. This class is lazy and unethical, lying and cheating (using translators when I told them not to) and it’s not fair to their classmates who worked hard figuring out their sentences.

I also wish now that I hadn’t given so many projects so near the end because now I have to grade them and this class’ skill is lacking. Moreso their dictionary and resource-utilizing skills are lacking.

Who or what is this generation?!? About 8 of them had never heard the phrase “Don’t count your chickens until they’re hatched.”

It’s sad that I’m only doing a few months of student teaching and I’m already disillusioned with it. Maybe if I go take a nap it’ll get a little better, though that also means I will be up late again. Last week! That’s all I keep telling myself.

Cheaters!

With the travel brochure project in French II, I had a few kids who obviously used an online translator, and one of them I still don’t know why, because he is a great student and easily could have done the work. They earned low grades (I’ve started to change my mindset and realize I do not “give grades”. Students “earn them” (or not))…and I did offer them the option to write out new appropriate sentences for a few points more.

Present day, I have a project due in the French III class where they either had to make a collage, a video, or a song to describe themselves and a friend. It involves the past, present, and future tense, which should not be too difficult for French III students. They had to describe what they and their friends are like now, what they will do in the future (job, profession, school), and share a specific story (using past and imperfect tense) they experienced together.

Only one pair of students decided to do a song. And I let the students have some time to work on these projects in class. I checked over a lot of students’ lines, but it is difficult with 34!!! students in a French III class. I saw a few of the boys’ lines and thought they were making up a song and I was pretty excited. Anytime I later asked them if they had questions they said they were fine.

After class I get to look through what students turned in. I look at their lyrics and quickly see that it is a French translation of the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. I quickly pop the cd they gave me into a cd player to see if they did what I feared.

They did- they sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in French.

I looked at the translation and optimistically hoped that they actually did the translating. It had future and present tense, but no past tense. So that was the first part that was not to the specifications of the project.

Fast forward. I’m a young, modern teacher, who warned them not to use online translators because I would find out. Not only did they not make up stories, I found the exact site with the exact lyrics  that they turned in. So now the recording that I had thought was kind of endearing and was going to be hard to ask them to change goes to the dark side.

Not only did they not do the assignment right, they cheated, and their song isn’t even that good in retrospect. So they took a few minutes to look up French lyrics, used their computer to play the song quietly in the background and they sang in French. And the translation they found is not that great.

Tomorrow I will let these students know that that quickly I found them out, exact site (because of little things like “svp” instead of writing out “s’il vous plait” or “yeh” (which I had thought was cute of them before, but now I see it’s just a copy and paste pukefest of cheating)). It is just so difficult. To understand. And to deal with it in a diplomatic way. I guess just calling them out and making them do a project that resembles work will be challenging and embarrassing enough.

The Children. Do they not realize I was just a child recently too? My tech-savvy skills are not to be messed with.

A key tip-off that students used a translator is when there is a questionable word that looks suspiciously like an English word, misspelled, that didn’t make it through the translation machine. And they did not even bother to check it over after that.

Okay. I have to go de-stressify somehow. I don’t know how. I guess it probably will not happen until I am done with student teaching.

I will put in more of the positive experiences after I’m done, but this was too good not to mention. Kids! I’m not sure what’s the worst part- the lack of work ethic and effort, or the fact that they actually think I’m not going to notice?

Cherishable French I Essays (formerly known as “I hate grading French I Essays”)

French essays. I don’t like grading essays. The students’ abilities widely vary and I feel like giving a few points for effort. As a teacher in a flexible school I think I actually am able to do that and will.

So this assignment was to write two essays, an in-class assignment with an open textbook (and I gave them more than 5 minutes longer than I had planned ~27 min total)

Though there were a lot of errors, I give them credit because these are only French 1 students (and today the French 3’s told me they have “never written out sentences in French”). But it was sad that I found myself almost in tears when I saw a near-perfect essay.

And then I saw the other end of the scale and I had to get scanning. Here is the nearly perfect essay that made my heart sing:

nearly perfect french 1 essay- yay!

And here is one that made me simultaneously laugh and cry, and just plain not know what to do with it. I’ll give him credit, he really offers his French pen pal a lot of options for their visit 🙂 . My favorite part is the entire entirely inappropriate second conversation. My sub-favorite-part of it has to be “wii” instead of “oui” (yes)

hilarious french 1 essay…just…wow

I just don’t know what to say about this. (He’s also the student responsible for these peculiar “French” activities) It’s inaccurate, wrong, wrong again, and yet I can’t stop laughing. For non-French speakers “Cher” means “dear” (sounds like “share”) so his salutation makes….some…..sense…….and the rest of it? Again, I love the children. I really do.

More French, More French, We Need More French

I just got  my third evaluation from my Supervisor. A few of the marks were low (one due to the silly mistake of me asking the students who was absent that day in front of the supervisor)(I do make a mental note and try to keep track of it all, but that looked bad for my organizational skills). I was nervous that day and didn’t even have time to eat lunch because the cd player was acting up and it wouldn’t skip tracks so I had to wait for it to get to track 10 ( 🙁 ).

He said in the email that came along with the attached review of my performance:

A.  Use more French
B.  Use more French
C.  Stop trying to do too much in any given class.
D.  Use more French

So I am a little disappointed. I forgot that with the French I class I think it’s okay to use more English, but it’s not. It really should be a lot of French right from the beginning level on. It’s just hard because my cooperating teacher, and the school, and the children, and my excuses right now.

So my new focus for the last few weeks is my unit on the family, and, more French!

It’s hard. It means more planning, but probably just better planning and maybe even less stuff I’m trying to cram in for reasons unbeknownst to me. (My coop called me and told me to make sure I finish things up by the Friday before I am done. That way on Monday and Tuesday we can just have fun).

It’s sooo hard to student teach. Sometimes it feels nice and rewarding, but it’s only getting more and more time-consuming. Three more weeks of getting no sleep and doing a lot of thinking and planning.

Aie!

Poisson d’avril

The April Fool’s Day jokes went over well. The students really are pretty willing to do whatever I say, and they were just about to write 5 lines either in the present or future tense (depending on the class level). I didn’t let the joke go on too far. I was more concerned about them wasting the time and the paper than about them hating me.

I am just wayyyyy too busy. I don’t know how I’m doing it, surviving on 4 hours of sleep a night for the past three days, and it only looks like it’s going to get more busy.

Luckily my coop is a gem. She is kind, receptive, and understanding of the time and effort I’m making. She encouraged me to plan the end wisely so I am not grading and grading the last weekend and so I can have a few fun things for my last two days.

Another thought I’m having is, even if I was making $1 an hour for all the work I do, I would be making over 200 dollars a month more than I am (I’m not making much…get it in where I can). I wonder how many other student teachers out there feel the same way. Luckily I don’t have time to eat, so I don’t spend my money on food. Ha.

I think that’s a reason why you don’t see a lot of young Masters students student teaching. The older guys had the chance to save some money, and maybe they have a solid spouse thing going for them. That said, my boyfriend has been wonderfully supportive and helpful to me throughout this challenging time. I barely see my other friends and thusly have become accustomed to talking to animals about my day at school mostly. 🙂 Oh boy. Many a lesson plan more to go and no sleep in sight for a few more hours tonight.

This blog should shape up…probably not until after I’m done student teaching, but I will publish some of my journal entries that I do “each day”. 🙂

Poisson d’avril (aka “April Fool’s Day” in English)

Poisson d’avril, the French April Fool’s Day, is said to have started because of either the change of the calender (they celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1st and then switched it to January 1st and people left behind got tricked) or because of Spring coming and fish being easy to catch. There are probably a few other proposed reasons for the name of the holiday, but I’m here to talk about what I’m going to do for it.

I will hand out little goldfish crackers and make students write 5 sentences about their specific goldfish that are “all different”- this is a POP QUIZ and it’s worth a LOT OF POINTS. That should scare them. Then I’ll let them eat them.

In a few classes we’re going over the letters of the alphabet and I asked some students to spell their names out with French letters. I will tell them that I’ll spell out my first name (which they don’t know and maybe aren’t supposed to know)…I’ll spell out “G-R-A” and then tell them they have to do all the work if they want to know the rest of my name. At the end of class I’ll finish spelling my name “N-D-M-A” (Grandma!) Hopefully some of them will have been thinking about it during the whole class and guessing.

Other ideas that I had that I’m not going to do? Putting a funny slide or two into a powerpoint presentation. One of those “read all of the directions” quizzes that you don’t have to do all of it. Playing a weird song instead of a French listening activity. Make kids take out a sheet of paper and make them write what you say word for word, really fast, and it’s for a quiz grade.

I have a few more ideas but I’m not sure. We’ll see how it goes with the first class. And I have to keep in mind that kids might be getting ready to play tricks on me. Maybe not. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Happy Poisson d’Avril Day!