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|

8th grade French class read-aloud to Kindergarten

Yesterday was yet another example of the loving and supportive student-community that exists here at Berkshire Country Day School.

The 8th grade French class read-aloud their original short-stories, the final project in their 8th grade  French curriculum, which they composed entirely in French, to the TK/Kindergarten class.

It was an adorable show of affection from the oldest students in the school in front of their young peers. The 8th graders came to life in front of the class, animating their stories and sharing the excitement of what was happening in their novellas with the Kindergarten, helping them to understand through intonation and by showing their artwork, to then explain the storyline English after they had completed reading aloud.

Each 8th grader shared the moral of their story, important life lessons like the importance of saying thank you, to never giving up on a dream, to not taking things without asking, to fostering an adventurous spirit.

There were tales of a rabbit and farmer forming a friendship over the creation of a carrot patch, a lonely shark who finally makes a friend at his school under the sea, a frog who couldn’t jump but realized he was really good at running, and an unlikely friendship formed between a mouse and a baker sharing a cherry pie.

I am extremely proud of the effort and care that the 8th graders put into their stories.

Please take the opportunity to see the stories displayed on the board between the two language classrooms in the Ryan building!

*Check out the BCD Flickr page for more pictures of the students reading aloud.

Best,

Madame Daire

 

 

By |2018-05-30T08:55:31+00:00May 30th, 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|

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|

Gratitude Presentation

Thanks to all of our BCD Musicians for an excellent Fall term. Special thanks to Vocal Ensemble and our Thanksgiving Soup instrumentalists. Happy Thanksgiving, and looking forward to Arts Night (12/1/16) and Winter Music Concert (12/9/16)!

If anyone missed Soup today, or wants to revisit the memory, here is the text from our Gratitude Presentation. As read by our fabulous 9th grade narrators:

We are blessed with many gifts, and we take this time to acknowledge and appreciate them all. As a community, we value and cherish each other. We also know that not all things in this world are fair, and there is yet much work to be done to create a better place. Perhaps, at some future point, we will have that better world. Perhaps we will achieve a peaceful society. “When true simplicity is gained, we won’t be ashamed to bow or to bend,” the Shaker hymn suggests. We asked several BCD students to share which inhibitions they might cast off in order to move closer to that ideal world.

When true simplicity is gained, we won’t be ashamed to:
“Speak up for ourself and what we believe in.”
“Do the right thing, even if everyone does something else.”
“Support a friend that needs help.”
“Believe in yourself.”
“To asks questions and take time to be unsure.”
“Play with a new friend.”
“Believe in magic.”
“Help to others that are in need.”

“We won’t be ashamed to show others we care.”
“To give to the young and old alike.”
“Work together to solve problems without fighting.”
“Enjoy God’s creations.”
“To sing together in harmony.”
“Communicate using our words instead of violence.”
“To share jokes and laugh together out loud.”
“To have peaceful and democratic resolutions of world conflicts.”
“To act differently from the norm.”
“Express our true and authentic self.”

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By |2016-11-22T17:51:57+00:00November 22nd, 2016|

4th Grade Adventure to Art Omi!

Last Friday, our Fourth Grade students visited Omi International Arts Center in Ghent, NY, where they had an opportunity to get up-close and personal with internationally renown sculptural works. In conjunction with their study of architecture, the class focused on the sculptures of Architecture Omi, a special program that facilitates projects exploring the intersection of architecture, art and landscape – a sixty-acre ‘architect’s playground’. Highlights of the experience included meeting Chilean artist Nicolas Arancea Muller who shared insight to his building process and investigating ReActor,  a 44-foot by 8-foot structure that rotates 360-degrees atop a 15-foot concrete column. After our trek in The Fields, we enjoyed a much-deserved picnic lunch on the patio. The students are excited to get back to work on their own architectural models in the BCD studio!

By |2016-10-25T15:02:09+00:00September 26th, 2016|

Simple Music Practice Tips from Mr. Martin!

Music is a rewarding and lifelong journey that can begin at any time and place. Oftentimes the joys of music-making can be lost (for some!) by the dread of regular practicing.

I know our returning musicians are probably thinking about their private lessons for the year and (potentially) cramming in some last hours of practice time before Wednesday, September 14!

Please see below for a few simple practice tips for aspiring musicians of any age:

 

  1. Drink water and take care of bodily health. It’s good to stay active, but also make sure you feel relaxed and centered before beginning practice time. This is important to make sure no injuries occur, as well as to ensure a productive session!
  2. Warm up before practicing scales or repertoire. This could mean playing/singing long tones, taking deep breaths, or another warm-up technique given by your private instructor.
  3. Slow down! It is common for musicians to practice tricky sections of music at an inappropriately fast tempo. When learning or practicing a new/challenging section, make sure to take the tempo down to a crawl. Then work your way  up to the faster tempo.
  4. Quality over Quantity. There are a lot of varying opinions about practice time. For an adult, 1 hour of great practicing is worth 4 hours of mindless practicing. Or for a younger student, 15-30 minutes of daily practicing could do the trick. If you have more questions about developmental appropriateness and practice time, feel free to reach out.
  5. Be mindful of repetition. From an outside perspective, great practicing probably sounds like lots of repetition of various musical snippets of a piece. What the musician’s brain does, however, is practice getting one thing right (i.e. hand position or a tricky accidental note) and building on another element, in order to bring the piece closer to concert-ready.
  6. JOY. What a great privilege and opportunity to have the chance to play beautiful music! Even when playing a scale, we can bring expression and joy to that by thinking about how much we love what we do.
  7. Take time off. One mantra could be: Practice 6 days straight, and then give yourself a break on 1. Private instructors can give more specific advice on how to best take breaks and avoid burnout.

Thanks for  reading, and happy practicing to our BCD performers!

Musically Yours,

Mr. Martin

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Here’s a fun photo of me in soundcheck, preparing for a 2014 performance in Beijing, China.

(Feel free to reach out to cmartin@berkshirecountryday.org with any questions.)

 

By |2017-08-11T11:06:28+00:00August 31st, 2016|