We are just starting up our second week of distance learning. As a mom, it’s been interesting. We have these cute cat assistants who don’t understand when school is in session, my dining room table has been taken over by math books, manipulatives and graphic organizers, and we are already struggling to complete work on time. I’m always great at schedules, but it’s been a struggle in our house.
On the teacher side, I’m trying to figure out how to teach a communication-based class through a computer. I’ve been working to come up with meaningful assignments that are also accessible to all students. I want to provide work that will be interesting, just challenging enough, yet something they can manage during an extended time alone. Here are some ideas I’ve got for facilitating distance learning for French students.
1. Engage them with music.
You might already know that I love music in the classroom. It’s one of the best ways I know to help students retain certain structures. You know when a song just gets stuck in your head? Music can help those verbs you’ve been teaching get stuck in their heads.
During this period of distance learning, send home links to songs you want your students to listen to. You can email them, make a PDF to share in your digital classroom and link songs on the document, or for an added challenge, have older kids find songs to share with others. (Make sure to have them send YOU the songs so you can approve them first! 😉)
2. Send home packets they can work on at their own pace.
If you have any of my vocabulary and grammar packets, these are a great resource to send home to students during distance learning time. They are designed to be mini-books, so the grammar explanations are there with practice questions they can do.
You CAN provide these to students using password-protected sites, but they MAY NOT be shared on teacher websites that are accessible to the public. If you have questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Use digital task cards.
If you aren’t using Boom Cards™ yet, this is a great time to start! Boom Cards are paperless task cards that students can play on devices with a modern internet connection. There are reporting features with optional paid memberships that allow you to monitor student progress and get scores even when you are all working at home! To help schools affected by COVID-19, Boom Learning℠ is giving away Ultimate Memberships to new members through June 2020. Click here to learn more.
Here’s a peek at a free deck you can use to help students practice present tense irregular French verbs.
4. Be realistic about the work you are assigning.
I know you want to make progress. I’m sure you have a lot of pressure to provide work, but you’ve had very little time to actually figure out what that work is going to be. Don’t feel the need to scramble and throw a bunch of work at your students. I have so many friends who are literally freaking out at the amount of work their elementary kids are receiving. I can only imagine what high schoolers have been sent!
It is totally okay to shorten assignments right now. You should shorten assignments right now! Distance learning for French doesn’t mean you need to assign a full hour of work each day per subject. Kids cannot work for 8 hours a day at school, and they definitely won’t be able to do it at home.
5. Don’t feel the need to try out a bunch of new things.
As a parent, I’m sitting here trying to navigate some of these sites for the first time, and I’m pretty tech savvy. It has definitely been a learning curve. I also have access to technology, although I know that a lot of families might not. Everyone is still in crisis mode at this point, so don’t overcomplicate the situation with a lot of new things.
While you might have to learn something new, such as Google Classroom or Zoom, in order to teach remotely, you’re only going to frustrate yourself and your students if you try to take on too much. Do what you can manage in the beginning. If you want to add new ideas later, that’s great! Give everyone time to adapt and give yourself time to really understand the new platforms before you move on to the next new thing.
Distance learning for French doesn’t have to be intimidating! You’ve got this! 🙂
Happy (distance) teaching!