Teaching second languages through inquiry and project based learning.

I am given a curriculum to teach French as a Second Language to my grade 5 students that looks something like this:

My Elementary School
Our Friends—The Animals
Clothes
My Home

 

Le Festival du Voyageur*
Four Holidays and Celebrations*

 

and other areas of interest.

 

Now I don’t know about you, but the last time I talked to a 10 year old, they did not consider animals their friends, they do not care about how to count in French and they most definitely do not want to to learn Valentines’ Day vocabulary so that they can do a word puzzle for any other reason than to waste a class period.

I realized this when we started our animal unit and looked at the worksheets I was given by our provincial government that would supposedly teach my kids all about animals. Since I had a sub, they started them and we essentially threw that out the window quickly. I went down to Calgary and walked around their zoo, talking to them about their rebuild after the flood and activities they did with students to help redesign parts of the Zoo. I also learned about why the penguin habitat looked like I was at one of the magnetic poles. This inspired my project to create a Grade 5 redesign of our local and rather boring zoo. Thanks to my amazing team member, she took my idea and helped organize it on paper.

Task:

Redesign the enclosure at the Edmonton Valley Zoo for one of the animal residents. The new enclosure needs to reflect the animal’s natural habitat in the wild. Your newly redesigned enclosure needs to include signs written in French that explain to the zoo visitors the following:

  • the parts of the animal
  • what the animal eats
  • where the animal can be found in the wild
  • what predators the animal has or what animals your animal preys on
  • the size, lifespan (in the wild and in captivity) of your animal, the number of babies it has and how often
  • the other types of animals that can be found in the same area as your animal

You will be presenting to your classmates the newly designed animal enclosure for your animal.

 

My students have never been so excited to learn or work on a project. I loved this quote from one of my girls who will tell it like she sees it:

“French hasn’t been my favorite subject but it is getting fun because we get to choose an animal and label it in French!”

I’ve started working with my French 7s on the vocabulary through using things like sports, designing their own Alberta based ice cream flavour, and soon we will be designing a restaurant, learning to order off a menu and cooking the food. We’ll rotate through the roles so they can all eat, serve and order.

I am starting to love going to French 7 and they are starting to hand in their work a little bit more often. By engaging their interests and giving them something to work towards, both of my grades of French are starting enjoy the class a lot more. Listening to myself and their reactions to things, I find I am going back to my love of the French language and the fun things that I got to do as an Immersion student. Bringing that to my students now makes me love what I do even more.

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From Class Blog: Our September

We had a very busy September in LC 5A. We are still waiting to hear about the portables – but we are starting to get excited. More details to come.

In Science, we are working on our classroom chemistry unit. We’ve made slime rocks and are about to make ice cream in the next week. We know the difference between reversible and irreversible changes and we know where we can find them.

In Math we are working on Estimation and Benchmarking in our Whole Numbers unit. We played a card game for estimating sums and looking at the 3 estimation strategies.

In Language Arts, we have learned the proper format for writing a letter. We also looked at self evaluation and working with feedback in Google Docs.  We wrote a letter to our teacher telling us about what makes us the person we are. We also have worked on how to pick a good book to read, when to abandon a book, and how to buzz about the books we are reading.

In French we have worked on Months, Days, Time, Numbers, and Classroom vocabulary. We are currently designing our dream classroom.

In Social Studies we are worked on creating our own resource in Google Maps. We are going to be starting our inquiry project in the coming week. We started looking at what makes a powerful question and we have worked on our research skills. We are also working on interviewing people as we have found out that everyone has their own story of how they got to where they are.

We are continuing finding out what good digital citizenship is and how we can be good digital citizens. Our conversation with Cst. Lucas really helped!

Below is our Storify with out tweets and pictures.