I asked myself this same question when I started teaching at a rural, low-income school where the most up-to-date resources I had available to me were at least ten years my senior. I'm here to tell you that it's possible, but it can be tough. Here are a few tips I've learned along the way.
Tip 1: You don't have to pay for your resources
Let's face it, as teachers we do not make enough money to pay for our own resources, at least not in my state. Many of my colleagues will go and spend hundreds of dollars to buy pre-made courses that they end up modifying anyway.
If you're like me and you are simply not capable of buying your own resources, then don't! There are plenty of places where you can find free online resources to teach your students French. For example, you can visit my grammar pages which have exhaustive resources to teach and practice grammar topics at all levels. You can also find resources at sites like French Spanish Online, Frenglish News, Tex's French Grammar, Themes (done by the same school), French-Resources.org and the like.
I like to search through University sites, and I have actually found that sites specifically designed for students in Great Britain to study for the GCSE exams are extremely helpful! A lot of the grammar sites that I come across have sister listening sites or have links to activities. Make sure to bookmark EVERYTHING, because you never know when you could use it.
The bottom line is, the resources are out there, and somebody has probably already done the work for you. Check out my resources pages to find activities as well as more links to great sites that can help you out; some pages are currently under construction but are coming soon!
Tip 2: Don't be afraid to make your own resources out of what you already have available to you
I'm painfully aware of how difficult it can be to make your own activities and resources, but the reality is that your students will benefit greatly from activities specifically-tailored to your particular curriculum. Keeping that in mind, don't be afraid to create your own resources using information from texts and sites that you have available to you! So what if your text is ancient, that doesn't mean that you can't use a part of an activity and make it better.
For example, in one of the first texts I used I was working on a clothing unit in which students were studying the fabulous styles of the 80s. One of the activities was for students to look at a photo of a boutique and choose an outfit, then describe the outfit using the unit's vocabulary and grammar. Instead of having my students choose outfits from my parents' generation, I chose to allow the students to go to H&M France and do the same activity. I used the same requirements and guidelines that were already laid out in the text, but I made the activity much more authentic and meaningful for the students. I also did a follow-up, long-term boutique project that you can find here.
Tip 3: Put the impetus on your students
Oftentimes I will find myself taking upwards of three hours to create an in-depth, multi-layered activity that only takes up about 45 minutes (or less!) of class time. Sometimes I have to take a step back and ask myself how I can make this easier on myself and better for my students. I have found that I can make my activities much more interactive and engaging when I have my students do some of the work.
For example, when I was given a level 3, 4, 5 combined class my first year of teaching I was killing myself coming up with vocabulary lists specifically-tailored to each level's needs according to what they were each studying. After two units of this I decided I was through, so instead of playing the guessing game of which words the students did and didn't know and creating the vocabulary lists myself I decided to let the students create their own lists.
For each reading and listening activity I would give my students a minimum number of new vocabulary terms to identify, for example 15 terms. While completing the activity, students would write down any vocabulary they did not know and add it to a Quizlet list that was shared with the class. As a group, each level would have to come up with at least 60 vocabulary terms per unit. As the classes added to their lists, I would go through and check definitions and make sure that the students were choosing vocabulary that was appropriate to their level. Having the students create their own vocabulary lists made quizzes easier for me because I could simply print off a quiz from Quizlet with 20 random terms chosen from their 60. I found that the students enjoyed identifying the vocabulary they felt they needed and they did much better on vocabulary quizzes when they had chosen the terms themselves.
As time went on and I learned a little more about how I wanted this process to go, I began to add a few base-level terms that I wanted all of the students to know for a specific topic, such as home vocabulary. For the groups who did not come up with enough vocabulary by the end of our unit, I would create their list from a different group who had done their work, making it a little harder on the groups who did not do as instructed; it only took one unit for them to learn to create their lists.
I did something similar with graphic organizers to check for comprehension of reading passages; instead of coming up with questions, I had the students summarize the passage and I graded their understanding based on the identification of the major events in the reading. Here is the graphic organizer I most often use for reading comprehension. I found this helped with cross-curricular reading skills development.
So I hope some of my tips helped to encourage you to ditch your outdated textbook without losing your mind. Please keep reading my blog to continue to keep your French classroom up-to-date and relevant for your students. Keep an eye on my resources pages as I continue to update and post new assignments and activities daily! You can also follow my class blogs to see what my students are doing in class. Feel free to steal and share anything you find on my site!
Welcome to my blog where I share tips that I have learned as a young teacher with little to no resources seeking to create a relevant, rigorous French curriculum.
Click on the link to find resources that are useful in the French classroom!
My name is Mme Probst and I am a French teacher who, after years of struggling to find resources without a text, decided to share my resources with the world so that other teachers didn't have to do the same.