George Lucas Educational Foundation

Back to school...

Back to school...

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Back to school - exciting words or words to cause a fit of disappointment? I hope it is the former for you and not the latter. As for me, I have big plans for the new year. First of all, I plan to use much more humour this year. I have found that teens normally respond very positively to humour. Even the most reluctant learners are more wiling to engage, to work harder than they would otherwise, and to be more respectful — to me and to each other — when I show a willingness to be open, more relaxed, and to tell a few jokes, even if they turn out to be bad ones (notice how I avoid taking responsibilty for the jokes being bad!). One key point is to say your jokes are bad, and that they should laugh at them anyway under penalty of torturing them with puns ad infinitum, or some other form of unpleasantness. Well, it is not so unpleasant, as it turns out, since they tend to laugh at the even the puns. Secondly, since I have a new Promethean board in my classroom (not just any one, but the 96" model! Sorry, not really bragging, just JAZZED), I am going to have TONS of fun bringing the world to my kids visually! Dude, this thing is HUGE! It is an amazing teaching tool. Part computer monitor, part tablet, part TV screen, part movie theatre backdrop, we can watch everything from music videos (en francais, s'il vous plait) and YouTube videos about counting, the alphabet, etc., and the infamous Ananas, who stars in Téléfrançais, to the news on TV5, speeches by Président Sarkozy, and by PM Stephen Harper. If I were a wagering man, I would place my bet that Ananas will win the popularity contest among these three candidates. What do you think? Cool, right? Thirdly, the students are going to get much more individualized attention this year, even though I have classes of 36. How, you ask? Well, I'm glad you did ask! I was fortunate to be chosen, along with one of my special colleagues in Spanish, to receive a grant from the Napa Learns Vintners Association to buy a class set of netbooks and a wireless network for each of our classrooms. As a result, my colleague and I will now have one to one computing for our students. I plan to use Edmodo to post my daily agendas, with handouts and links embedded. The links in the agenda will point to our on-line learning resources, and kids will be able to move at their own pace in class and at home, fully engaged in their learning, and supporting one another to reach the objectives. While the students are working, I will be able to move around the room to check in on how they're doing and to prompt them to persevere. I am going to group kids in teams of four to support each other in Project-based Learning teams. The students will use wikis as digital portfolios to post their projects as proof of their learning, and to show to the rest of the class. I hope also to link my classes with classes in France, in Canada, and in Francophone Africa, so they can share their work and see what students are learning in other countries. Am I ambitious? Yessir! Overly so? We'll see. I may not get all this done the first week or month of school, but I don't expect to do that anyway. However, I do have plans! I have goals and ideas! I am excited about them and I think the kids will be as well. I have had a summer to think and to dream! Don't wake me up until it all comes true!

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