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Teaching French on a block schedule can be challenging, but with the right techniques and strategies in place, it is possible to create an engaging and effective learning environment for students. Block schedules are often 90 minutes or longer, which means that teachers need to find ways to make the most of their time with their students. It’s not as simple as just doing two days worth of content in one day, as this is unlikely to be a successful tactic.
Planning for the block schedule
One important aspect of teaching French on the block schedule is planning ahead. French teachers should plan each class period carefully in order to make sure that students are engaged and learning throughout the entire session. French teachers should also plan for review sessions, as well as provide opportunities for practice and assessments.
Since the longer time given by the block schedule can get overwhelming for students, it’s a good thing to plan for transitions between activities as well as brain breaks. Students can only learn so much at a time, and an entire block period of new information will cause them to tune out. Students are the most receptive to new information at the beginning of the class period, and there is generally a second period of attention that happens a little more than halfway through the class. Planning should take this into consideration – new, important information should be presented during these periods of attention.
With longer periods of time, it is important to overplan. It’s easier to come up with more activities that are not necessarily going to be done due to running out of time than to get 50 minutes into the block and realize that you don’t have anything to do. Routine can also help – I plan that every week when we have our block day, my students will spend 15 minute doing free reading in French. Knowing that I really don’t have to plan a full 90 minutes is less intimidating – I know that 20 minutes will be vocabulary practice, 15 minutes will be reading and I am left with 55 minutes of class time.
The block schedule and technology
Another way to maximize teaching time during French block classes is to use technology. French teachers can utilize online French learning tools, such as websites and apps, to supplement their teaching and provide students with extra practice opportunities. Students often will enjoy games like Gimkit or Blooket. I make sure that each week on my block schedule day we spend about 20 minutes practicing any new vocabulary from the week. It’s a nice break from presenting new material and allows students some processing time.
It is important to remember that in a CI classroom, French on the block schedule can be less about memorizing vocabulary and more about developing conversational French skills. A block schedule is perfect for providing students with conversation practice, as well as activities to encourage them to use the language in real-life situations. Teachers can also incorporate multimedia components like videos and songs into their lessons, which can help make French learning more engaging and interesting. Watching just 10 minutes of a French tv series or YouTube video can add a little bit of culture while also being highly interesting.
Flexibility on the block schedule
Finally, French teachers should be flexible when it comes to teaching French on the block schedule. French students are likely to have a variety of different needs, abilities, and learning styles which can impact their ability to comprehend the material being taught. The block schedule is a great time to try different things – perhaps teach the same content in several ways in order to reach more students. Take the time to come up with a variety of assessments and practice activities that address the same standards and let students choose which ones work for them. Choice boards are a great way to organize this.
One big consideration that you should plan for is absences. Unfortunately, a student who is absent on a block day can miss quite a bit of material. It’s important to plan ahead for how you will deal with these absences. If you introduce lots of new material on block days, this can be very difficult to make up.
Giving students extra time for practice or doing activities like FVR or enrichment activities can help because you might view them as not as vital to student success as some of the other activities. If you plan that your block schedule will include the same amount of time devoted to new material as your non-block classes and the rest of the time will be enrichments, you may be able to deal with absences more easily.