Today was the first day of semester 2. I have one grade 9 French Immersion class and one combined grade 11 / grade 12 Core French class. Since my goal is to increase students’ fluency by incoporating structured oral activities into my lessons, I decided to have them jump right in and start from day one.
First and foremost, a good ice-breaker activity in French class needs to do the following:
a) Be interesting and engaging
b) Get all students participating
c) Get students comfortable with one another
d) Get students comfortable with taking risks
I found an activity on-line entitled “Moi” that helps students get to know me, and at the same time, has them learning about each other. I wrote a list of words on the board that have special meaning for me and I asked students to look at the words and decide what they represent for me. They shared their ideas and I would continue the discussion, trying to have them contribute as many ideas as possible. The idea of the activity was not for them to guess correctly, but to simply get them talking. And it worked!
Then, I had students create their own lists and share the list with a partner. It was their partner’s task to guess what the words meant. Then we shared as a group.
I must admit that at the beginning, it was the grade 12 students who did all the talking. This is definitely a challenge with a split class — the younger ones are intimidated by the older ones. I see it as my job to get the grade 11 students comfortable enough to speak and take risks.
I have another speaking activity planned for them tomorrow. This time, they will have to circulate and speak to every single member of the class. I’ll let you know how it works out!