Always Enhancing French Classes—And a Win!

Bonjour et bienvenue to the 2018-2019 school year!

Over the summer, I spent time preparing materials for the new year. I tapped into new resource providers, like the publisher Bayard-Milan, and I am looking forward to implementing new resources in partnership with what is currently in circulation for native-speaking students in France. I’ve built on my visit last Spring to the International School of Boston (ISB), a bilingual French-American school, have reviewed my notes, and am bringing new ideas into play this year throughout the various grade levels here at BCD. While visiting ISB, I spent the day shadowing French teachers in different grade levels, 1st through 5th, to get a firsthand account of a day in the life of a French immersion school.

Reading in the target foreign language is a pillar in strengthening a student’s aptitude and comprehension. In French class at BCD, I will continue to include French stories and French language educational magazines into daily classwork, which will encourage the students to learn about themselves, the world around them, and about expressing their unique personality … in French!

In keeping with my goal of encouraging reading in French, earlier this summer I applied for a grant through the French Consulat General in Boston. https://boston.consulfrance.org/-English-

The grant was titled “The Magic of Reading in French; ” its goal is to bring free books to children enrolled in French classes in both public and private schools across New England. The objectives of this fund are to:

  1. Trigger children’s curiosity for French language and culture;
  2. Expand kids’ French language skills – all under the guise of having fun with French books;
  3. Improve and strengthen existing French tracks.

And…drum roll please…

On a gagné! We won! 

When I arrived on campus last Friday, I found four big cardboard boxes full of brand new French books for BCD! These 70 books will contribute greatly to our school’s French-language literature resources which will be used in French class across the grade levels. I also encourage students and parents to borrow books as often as they’d like to read at home.

The different resources and the experiences I refer to in this post, combined with the enriching, culturally appropriate, and level-appropriate novels and multimedia tools we currently use in my curriculum, will help enable the continued discovery and encouragement toward the enjoyment of literature in French at BCD.

I hope that you have all had a fun summer! I, along with my colleagues, are so happy to welcome you back to the BCD campus this week, or to campus for the first time if you are a new student and family! Here’s to a great year!

A bientot,
Madame Daire

               

 

By |2018-09-06T11:58:56+00:00September 4th, 2018|

7th Grade French Invité Spécial

On Monday May 21 I had the pleasure of introducing my 7th grade French students to my father-in-law, Philippe Daire, who is currently visiting from France.

Philippe was born in Paris in 1934, and was 5 years old when World War II broke out in Europe.

He spent 40 minutes with our class telling the students about his childhood, how his mother had to send him to ‘La France Libre’ (Southwest France) where the German army had not yet claimed control, to live with his grandparents, as Paris fell to the German army in 1940. For more than 5 years of his early childhood, he was seperated from his parents; he barely knew his mother, as she had to remain in Paris to work, while his father, Maurice Daire, a member of the French army, was taken as a prisoner of war and was held for several years in a German work camp in Austria.

Philippe was 11 years old when he saw his father again.

Philippe’s father-in-law, Roger Leduc, was a member of the French Résistance movement, and he spoke to the way that this collection of civilian “soldiers” fought against the Nazi German occupation of France and against the collaborationist Vichy régime during the Second World War. He told the students how English bombers would fly over the channel and drop military rations by parachute to the Résistance troups hiding deep in the forests of France.

It was a unique and rare experience to be able to hear a firsthand account of life in France during World War II, to learn how his life was affected, starting with what a child would notice the most… a shortage of chocolate, to the more severe and debilitating results of the war such as food & coal rationing, to clothing rationing, as with each year supplies grew more scarce and prices grew higher. Young French men were sent to Germany for STO (service de travail obligatoire) to run the German factories and be their work force … and for men such as Philippe’s father-in-law who decided not to join the STO to instead become become freedom fighters/ aka La Resistance who answered the call of General DeGaulle to fight behind the lines of the German occupied France in the effort to sabotage and slow down their forces.

Philippe shared with the students his emotions, the emotions that he can remember, of feeling utterly hopeless in the face of the German army, to the glimmer of hope that arrived in the form of American ‘flying air-fortresses’ that could be heard flying high above France in 1944 & 1945.

Visite – Philippe Daire

The students prepared questions to ask Philippe at the end of his presentation, ranging from inquiries regarding his personal experience of growing up during the war, to whether or not he had ever met a Nazi. He told of his encounter with a young German soldier in the streets of his village in the La France ‘libre’, one who was barely 18 years old, how through a child’s eyes the man seemed normal and kind, but how the terrifying reality of why he was in France and what he was a part of would haunt him for the rest of his life.

I feel that our students found Philippe’s visit to be enlightening and special, as with each day, month and year that pass our world sees fewer and fewer survivors of World War II.

I hope that they will remember his words in the years to come as they begin to study WW II in more depth in their Upper School and High School history classes.

Madame Daire

 

 

By |2018-05-22T13:52:34+00:00May 22nd, 2018|

BCD French Students at county-wide poetry recital competition!

Bonjour à tous!

On Tuesday March 6th, four students from BCD participated in a foreign language poetry recital, along with more than 50 students from schools all over Berkshire County.

Three eighth graders and one seventh grader committed to memorizing a poem in French, and then recited the poem in front of their peers, teachers, and two judges.

There were students from four world language disciplines represented yesterday; French, Spanish, Chinese, and Latin, from beginner level to native-speaker level.

Some of the poems that our students memorized include; ‘Composition Francaise’ recited by Jack B., and ‘Le Bouquet’ recited by Anje C., both by Jacques Prévent, ‘En Arles’ by Paul-Jen Toulot and recited by Sean S., and ‘J’ai Fait Un Bouquet’ by Gilles Vigneault, recited by Halle D.

Students were judged on several criteria including memorization, pronounciation and intonation.

Anje C. took home 1st prize in his level, for a flawless recital of his chosen poem, ‘Le Bouquet.’

I am very proud of the initiative and dedication that all four students they showed in memorizing and reciting their chosen poems!

The poetry assembly was organized and sponsored by B.O.L.T, the Berkshire Organization of Language Teachers, a local organization which “provides a community and quality professional development for world language educators since 1982.”

I am looking forward to another strong BCD performance in 2020, as the competition is held every two years.

Best,

Madame Daire

 

By |2018-03-07T16:17:43+00:00March 7th, 2018|

Gr. 7 French & Spanish classes combining our forces!

Bonjour, hola everyone!

Senor Silva and myself, Madame Daire, wish to share with you a bit of what our 7th grade world language students are up to!

For the past month, the students in each class have been working on their individual ‘voyage’ ‘viaje’ projects in which they each created a slideshow and spoke about where they went, what they did, saw, ate, etc.

Those initial presentations were done in each class, individually.

Today, we brought the two classes together so that the students from each language class could present their trips to each other.

The idea of exposing the students in a full language immersion experience, to hear a presentation in a language that they do not know and are not familiar with, creates an environment where language is celebrated and recognized by both the specific language learners and those that are entirely new to the language.

The students can see the similarities between the two foreign languages, and the English language. Seeing the cognates, the context and expressions used help them to understand the ‘jist’ of what is being said.

The connection between images and the spoken word are also important tools in any language learning experience.

They also have a taste of what it is like to teach their classmates a language!

We will continue our dual presentations which will hopefully start to build excitement for our 9th grade trip to France and Spain in 2020, which is the cherry on top of the Word Language program at Berkshire Country Day School.

Cordialement / Sinceramente ,

Madame Daire & Senor Silva

 

By |2018-02-28T15:16:39+00:00February 28th, 2018|

Breakout Box Challenge: Growth Mindset with Grades 5 & 7

Fifth Grade continues to explore aspects of Growth Mindset, not only in our weekly Brain Game sessions, but also in our academic subjects as well. This past Friday, we visited the 7th grade who had spent the past few weeks developing a Breakout Box challenge to help us review for our test on India.

If you’ve never heard of a Breakout Box, it’s an activity inspired by escape rooms—those group challenges that have popped up everywhere and can be done with multi-generational groups of relatives or friends. You’re trapped in a room (literally) and given a series of challenges, a few clues and a ticking clock to remind you that you need to step it up! Sometimes the escape room is a room, but it can also be an empty apartment or even an Egyptian tomb you need to excavate!

The Breakout Box is similar in that it’s an immersive collaborate learning experience where groups of students work together to solve puzzles and codes that allow them to unlock several padlocks, and ultimately, the box itself.  The challenges encourage critical thinking skills and teamwork, and help to develop perseverance, along with giving an opportunity (in our case) to review concepts and themes of ancient India.

After providing 7th grade with the content I wanted to review, advisors Sue Benner and Sarah Pitcher mentored the students to create the challenges. And on Friday, we finally got together. I’m happy to say that 5th grade managed to unlock the box by the end of the period, and we loved the opportunity to spend time with the 7th grade. Ad added bonus was the surprise treat inside the locked box. Thanks to the Upper School students and Mrs. Benner and Mrs. Pitcher for their tremendous efforts  to create this simply stellar brain game!

Hope you enjoy these photos from our Breakout Box session!

By |2018-02-14T12:47:30+00:00February 13th, 2018|

7th grade Buche de Noel

Bonne année 2018!

Oh what fun we had in 7th grade French class prior to the holiday break.

I wanted to share some pictures from a special project that the 7th grade French class was able to enjoy as a reward for being the first French class out of our 6th, 7th and 8th grades to earn 20 points in the ‘8 minutes consécutives en francais!’ competition. This friendly competition is to promote full immersion into speaking in French during class time. For each 8 full minutes that we speak in French, as a class, a point is earned.

Each of the 3 classes worked hard to take the lead, but the 7th grade was the first to reach the goal. Their reward was to have a ‘fete’ where they embarked on a culinary adventure…making their own Buche de Noel from scratch, and then enjoying it, bien sur!

Each student brought in a different ingredient to assemble the buche.

We spent one class period making and baking the buche, and another class period decorating, eating, and learning about the recipe.
One the second day, once the bowls were washed and the last morsel of the cake enjoyed, the students were tasked to put in order a jumble of the recipe directions, all in French.

Here are some pictures of the fun we had!

Best,

Madame Daire

 

By |2018-01-02T10:57:32+00:00January 2nd, 2018|

How We Celebrate ‘National French Week’ at BCD!

National French Week is a country-wide celebration of all things French, organized by the AATF (American Association of Teachers of French). This year marks the 17th year that this tradition has been celebrated with activities and projects taking place in schools, communities, and AATF chapters across the U.S.

Here are some of the themes that the AATF has identified that can be highlighted during the celebration of all things Francais:

This year it spanned from the 1st – 7th of November, and here at BCD we celebrated in our own unique way!

Each class level was assigned a different theme to focus on from French art, to music, geography to literature, with French cuisine peppered in…bien sur!

In our 4th grade classroom, students created their very own ‘Mon Restaurant à Moi’ menu, geared towards and highlighting classical French dishes. It was a great exercise to promote students creativity, as well as learn what makes French cuisine unique.

In 5th grade, the students were each assigned a famous French artist, such as Monet, Renoir and Cézanne. They each excelled in their research and understanding of the artist to whom they were assigned and came out of the project knowing more clearly why these artists and their works are still revered today.

Our 6th graders focused individually on a quote from the novel Le Petit Prince which we have begun to read in class. They took their quotes home to delve into the meaning of the quote and asked themselves whether or not they agreed with the message the author was trying to convey. They then presented their project to the class, in French, including a drawing or painting which they felt helps depict the meaning of the quote.

In the 7th grade, these young music-lovers chose a favorite contemporary or classic French musician to present to the class. The artists ranged from Debussy to Zaz, Vanessa Paradis to Satie. It was a wonderful overview of the richness of French musical history, showing firsthand the diversity and range of the genre.

Our 8th graders just wrapped up their first trial-run of being a ‘guide de tourisme’ and presented in pairs on a particular region of France. Each pair created a 3-fold brochure with which they highlighted the cultural attractions and historical relevance to the area, as well as regional culinary specialties. They all did a great job in ‘selling’ their regions to potential travelers/classmates.

Each class, no matter the content, learned something new and pertinent to the country whose language we are immersing ourselves in this year!

Learning a language is not an approach through which books and resource materials are the only useful tools. Being familiar with cultural specifics of a country plays a major role in the second language immersion experience, and will come into play throughout our curriculum at each grade level throughout the school year.

S’il vous plait, come by our French room to see the students work!

A bientot!

Madame Daire

By |2017-11-14T15:41:45+00:00November 14th, 2017|

Amazing (Winter Music Concert)

Weren’t they great? I am still recuperating from being blown away by our talented young musicians in grades PreK-9. From “Peace is the World Smiling,” to “White Winter Hymnal,” each student really brought their best self to the stage and to all the rehearsals before as well.

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Looking forward to seeing what our performers do at Arts Night 2, Spring Concert, Private Lessons Recitals, Arts Night 3, and LS Spring Musical in the New Year! Until then, time for us all to bundle up by our hearths and enjoy some seasonal festivities…

Thanks to each and every BCD community member, you all helped bring our 2016 Winter Concert to life. Special shout-outs to Mr. Lee and the Facilities team, Mr. Spitzer for mounting Student Art, our ebullient co-M.C. Ms. Doherty, and our creative team of parent and student Elves who helped setup the beautiful concert space last night.

Lucky me to teach these amazing young musicians. Lucky us to enjoy listening to the final product of their efforts! You can access some Audio from our Winter Concert and Arts Night performances available on SoundCloud! Thanks Ms. DelCarpine for recording.

Musically Yours,

Mr. Martin

www.soundcloud.com/bcdmusic

By |2016-12-09T17:38:31+00:00December 9th, 2016|

A Message from the Art Studio…

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”
– William Bennett, Former US Secretary of Education

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As our Lower and Middle School students shift studios for the trimester and our Upper School students settle into new Arts Block electives, we all look forward to the creative challenges, opportunities, and discoveries that lie ahead!

**SPECIAL REQUEST**
Mr. Katz is seeking old skis for a project with students in the Wood Shop. If you have questions or are able to contribute, please contact Mr. Katz directly: jkatz@berkshirecountryday.org.

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By |2016-12-09T04:50:48+00:00December 9th, 2016|

Join us on Dec.1st for ARTS NIGHT!

The BCD Arts Team is pleased to present the school’s first Arts Night on Thursday, December 1st from 3:30-530PM! Featuring artwork by Kindergarten through 9th Grade students, musical performances, and poetry readings, this festive evening will showcase our bright young artists while providing a community venue to share the creative accomplishments of our students during the fall trimester. All families and friends welcome! Refreshments will be served and the live performance set will begin at 4:00PM.

P.S. Parents – If you would like to volunteer by helping to provide refreshments for this event, please contact Ms. Sicurella at ssicurella@berkshirecountryday.org. Thank you!

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By |2016-11-23T16:42:11+00:00November 23rd, 2016|