Whether your classroom is high-tech or no tech, Makerspaces and STEM challenges are amazing ways to encourage authentic interactions in French.  If you aren't familiar with Makerspaces or STEM, I've added several great resources at the end of this post.
In a nutshell, a Makerspace is a space where students can gather to invent, tinker, build and share knowledge. Students are given the opportunity to explore different skills such as coding, sewing and construction in a self-directed environment that promotes creativity, problem-solving and collaboration.  Makerspaces encourage students to come up with real-world solutions through exploratory tasks and challenges.
Typically, a Makerspace should be situated in a public area where makers have room and opportunity for hands-on work.  However, if this is not an option for you, a Makerspace cart is a viable alternative.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) is based on the idea of educating students through an applied approach.  STEM challenges (ou STIM en français) help develop life-long skills such as collaboration, problem-solving, communication, and resilience.  Challenges are student directed and usually feature low-tech materials such as cardboard, straws, tape, etc.

How can I incorporate Makerspaces into my FSL program?

I personally love STEM and Makerspaces in FSL because it provides students with an authentic opportunity to interact with each other in French.  One of the only requirements I have when running a Makerspace is that students speak in French.  The total engagement that comes with STEM and Makerspaces is a great buy in for even your toughest students.
Makerspaces and STEM activities link directly to the Ontario FSL Curriculum.  Examples below are from the Grade 5 French Immersion expectations:


STEM Challenges

A1, A2 Example
I've slowly been accumulating and creating french STEM challenges for FSL students.  You can find a variety of low-tech challenges on my webpage www.labrigade.weebly.com
STEM challenges can be found under Défis STIM.  There are several different STEM categories such as construction, cardboard and Lego.  I continuously add new content to this site so check back often for some ready to use challenges for your students.
A2, B1 Example
Examples of Required Material:
            -toothpicks
            -spaguetti sticks
            -cardboard
            -newspaper
            -tape
            -glue
            -popsicle sticks
            -marshmallows
            -balloons
            -tinfoil

Acquiring Supplies: 
A great way to acquire supplies throughout the school year is through your students.  Send a letter home at the beginning of the school year with a list of items similar to the one listed above.  Ask parents to keep an eye out for these items when shopping at the dollar store or when sorting through the recycling. Check out a great example here from www.morethanaworksheet.com.

High-Tech Makerspace ($$$$)

One of the biggest challenges of starting an FSL Makerspace is the lack of resources in French.  As mentioned above, I have slowly been collecting and translating resources and posting them at www.labrigade.weebly.com.  High-Tech Makerspace exploratory activities and challenges are found under Dash and Dot, Sphero and LittleBits
Check back soon for activities for the KIBO, Makey Makey's, LEGO WeDo 2.0  If you are interested in adding more high-tech options into your Makerspace, visit www.makerspaces.com or click here for a comprehensive list of robots, kits and software that will enhance any Makerspace.

Low-Tech Makerspace ($)

A Makerspace doesn't have to be anything fancy.  If you have cardboard, art supplies and LEGOs you're in business!  Consumables are a great way to keep costs down and like STEM challenges, you can approach your students and parents to help keep your Makerspace fully stocked.  One of my favourite low-tech Makerspace is the "Make It Better" challenge.  Students find an item that they use in every day life and they need to redesign it to make it better.

Resources

Here is a list of resources that I have found extremely helpful when setting up a Makerspace and STEM challenges in my classroom:









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This post is an extension to Interactive and Engaging FSL Activities That Get Students Talking.  Each activity listed below is organized with CEFR descriptors as well as "I Can" statements.
**All activities require the use of tablets and specific free apps, however they can easily be tweaked if this technology is not available in your classroom.**

Activities for A1 Learners

Goal: I can act out the meaning of sentences

Using Legos, the Stop Motion app and iMovie students can creatively act out the meaning of sentences provided by the teacher.  In the examples provided, students were asked to act out the meaning of sentences related to proper behaviour at school. Students used the Stop Motion app to create their videos, then used iMovie to record their voices.

This type of activity could also be used for several other CEFR "I can" statements:
I can express my basic needs
Students can create a Lego classroom with Lego characters and review all the basic needs that could be expressed when they are at school:
        -Est-ce que je peux aller aux toilettes?
        -Est-ce que je peux emprunter un crayon?
        -Est-ce que je peux aller boire de l'eau?)

I can use basic greetings expressions
Students can enhance their Lego setting with hand drawn backgrounds and practice different greetings that are appropriate for particular social settings:
      -greeting friends at their home
      -greeting parents
      -greeting sales staff
   

Goal: I can express my feelings

The selfie has become one of the most popular forms of self-expression making it an effective tool to use in the classroom.  By simply using the Camera and iMovie, students can explore different emotions through selfies.
For this activity, students take a variety of selfies to show the different emotions learned in class.  All selfies can be uploaded into iMovie so students can orally describe the emotion that is being shown.

Activities for A2 Learners

Goal: I can understand the main points of a short video or a short message

Recap is a free student video response app that allows students to record and submit short video responses and quick self-assessments.  This is a great app to use in FSL to promote oral communication!  Students can respond orally to teacher prompts and receive feedback in return.
Get your entire FSL class talking!  Use this app after listening or reading activities so students can submit oral responses to comprehension questions.    

Goal: I can describe myself, where I live, my interests and hobbies, and my daily activities

It's time to spice up the traditional "Je me presente" activity! Get your students to create an audition clip for a reality TV show such as Survivor or The Amazing Race. This app smashing activity uses ChattepixEraseExplain Everything and iMovie. See the attached video for an example of what the final product could look like! This is the example I provided students so they could see the possibilities of this app-smashing activity.
Step 1: To get this activity started, find background pictures that could be used in the audition video.  Google Images is the best place to look!
Step 2: Take pictures of students and use the Erase app to erase the background.
Step 3: Insert the background picture and the student's picture in Explain Everything.  This is where you can manipulate the student's picture so it's the correct size and in the correct location on the background.
Step 4: Take a screenshot and import the picture into Chatterpix. Students will now include their oral description of where they live, their interests and hobbies, and why they would be the perfect candidate.
Step 5: Import all Chatterpix videos into iMovie to create one video! Students can also include background music.

Activities for B1 Learners

Goal: When I can't think of the word I want, I can use a simple word meaning something similar

The following activity essentially turns Spark Video into a wordless picture book that allows students to become the storyteller. The objective of this task is to challenge students to narrate the story by only using French words.  If there is a term that students are not familiar with, they must replace it with another word that means the same thing.  Students do not have access to dictionaries or translation programs.
If this is the first time students do this activity, I recommend that the picture book images be provided to the students by the teacher (Google "wordless comic strip" or "wordless picture book" to find some great images). See examples below.



Next, students will import each picture into Spark Video and narrate a short story based on what they see in the pictures.  Students can also include a description of the setting and a description of the characters.  Spark Video is a great free app for this activity because it limits students to narrating only one slide at a time.

Goal: I can listen to short narratives and predict what will happen next

This is an extension activity to the one described above but the teacher becomes the storyteller. Find images of a picture story, import and create in Spark Video, then provide students with your version of the story.  However, don't give away the ending! Students will have to complete the story themselves by predicting what they think will happen next.  They can complete their prediction in Spark Video and share with the class.
Encourage students to share their work with the class by having an awards ceremony with categories like "Best Ending" or "Best Choice of Images".







It's not easy being an FSL teacher.  You need to juggle second language learners while making sure they acquire listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

Here are a few useful apps that I believe all FSL teachers could use with their students to help strengthen French language skills.

Boukili

Focus: Reading Skills, Listening Skills, Oral Skills


Boukili aims to stimulate children to read and help them attain different levels of reading proficiency by exploring the 54-book collection developed by Mini TFO
This app also includes mini games, quizzes, and a passport system to help motivate students to achieve higher levels of reading.
Students have 3 options when opening the app:
    -mode narration
    -mode solo
    -mode enregistrement
The more students read, the more activities they can unblock from their passport.

Scratch Jr 

Focus: Writing Skills, Reading Skills

Bring Scratch Jr and coding into the FSL classroom by simply switching your keyboard's language to French!  This engaging app allows students from all levels to code games and design projects in French.  Test your students with teacher-created challenges or provide them with step by step instructions that they must follow in order to be successful.

Miitomo

Focus: Reading Skills, Listening Skills, Writing Skills, Oral Skills

Nintendo uses Miis as the basis for an intriguing new social experience (...) The real fun begins when your Mii starts asking about everything from your favourite food to what you did last weekend.


This interactive app allows students to create their own avatar or "Mii" to interact with the game and their classmates.  The purpose of the app is for students to learn more about each other through their Mii's.  By switching the language setting to French, students can practice each essential language skill: listening, reading, writing, oral.  This app is not recommended for beginners.

Plotagon 

Focus: Writing Skills, Oral Skills
Plotagon is a 3D video making app that allows students to create their own animated stories. This app features loads of options for characters, emotions, backgrounds, and actions. Take it a step further by having your students record their own voices when creating their animations! 
The downfall of the free version is if students want to share their videos, their only options are to publish to Youtube or the Plotagon site.


Pixton Comic Maker

Focus: Writing Skills, Reading Skills

Finally, an alternative to BitStrips! Pixton Comic Maker is a free app with endless possibilities.  Some key features include fully posable and expressive characters, a searchable prop library and backgrounds grouped by theme. FSL students can use Pixton to tell a story with words and pictures, describe emotions with customizable characters, or even explain a new concept learned in class.





This article is the first in a series of how Explain Everything can be used effectively in the FSL classroom. The versatility and simplicity of Explain Everything is best used to help students build understanding, share knowledge and capture their thoughts.

Interactive FSL Notebook

Teachers and students can continuously send and create content through Explain Everything in order to build an interactive notebook that highlights student learning throughout the school year.  Interactive notebooks can be used for reviewing new concepts and completing assignments.  The reason I chose Explain Everything is because it also provides the option of documenting student voice.
Here are a few ways that Explain Everything can redefine your FSL classroom:

Online Resources/videos

Explain Everything makes it easy for teachers to share interactive resources and videos with students.  Why reinvent the wheel when the web is filled with great websites that provide great resources, such as IDELLO, TFO and even YouTube!  Simply press on the "+" to input videos and web browsers into an EE project.

Student Reflections/Practice

Picture prompts can be both funny and engaging!
This is a great way to get students talking and practicing oral production.  Provide students with simple written or verbal prompts then ask them to record themselves speaking for at least 1-2 minutes. Students also have the option of bringing in a picture to refer to while they speak in EE.  If FSL students intend on taking the DELF, they must be able to talk about themselves for several minutes so this is an effective way to practice!

Examples of Reflection Prompts:
-Qu'est-ce que tu as appris en écoutant le clip?
-Qu'est-ce que tu as observé  dans le vidéo?
-Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé?
-Quelles compétences métacognitives as-tu utilisé?
-Es-tu d'accord?

Examples of  Practice Prompts:
            A1 Learner: I can 
                  -Parle-moi de ta famille (parents,
                  -Quelles sont les choses que tu aimes? Que tu      n'aimes pas?
                  -Parle-moi de tes amis.
                 -Quelles nourritures aimes-tu manger?
            A2 Learner:
                   -Où es-tu né? Décris ta ville.
                   -Quel sujet aimes-tu le plus/le moins à l'école? Pourquoi?
                   -Quelle est votre film préférée? Pourquoi?
                   -Que fais-tu pendant les vacances, le weekend?
            B1 Learner:
                  -Veux-tu aller à l'université ou au collège? Pour étudier quelle matière?
                  -Comment te vois-tu dans 10 ans?

Get creative by providing students with pictures as prompts!  This could also allow students to explore different vocabulary
                                         

Teacher tutorials

As educators, we know that students work and learn at different paces which is why it is essential to provide extra support to those students who require more processing time.  Short, engaging video tutorials are great resources to provide students with so they can access and re-watch the lesson whenever needed.  There are a few great apps to help teachers create tutorials such as iMovie, Spark Video, TouchCast Studio, Book Creator, and of course Explain Everything! The example provided here was created in Explain Everything and exported as a video.


Interactive, authentic activities that focus on all areas of the CEFR 

The interactive touch and record features in Explain Everything allow for so many great opportunities for authentic learning in the FSL classroom.  Students can show their learning while speaking which reinforces the authenticity of activities.

Example of authentic activities:

A1: I can make simple purchases and make statements involving numbers, quantities and cost.


Find animated pictures online through Google Images.
In these examples, students are provided with a quick scenario on the first slide, then they must record themselves in a one-way interaction with the sales staff.  This type of activity could also be used in several other situations like at the restaurant, at the corner store, or even at the cinema concession stand.


Challenge your students by adding extra slides with different scenarios.  For example, at the clothing store they could be told that the item they are looking for is not available and they need to look for something different.










A1: I can understand simple directions to get from X to Y, by foot or public transport.

For this activity, students are provided with an animated map and an audio recording of the teacher giving directions.  Students must listen to the recording and use the pen or highlighter to draw the directions on the map.

A2: I can order something to eat or drink
Create an EE project with moveable images that students could potentially purchase.  Using the record feature, students record themselves ordering items while moving them into place.


A2: I can discuss with others and organize an outing
This activity should be collaborative.  Provide groups of students with scenarios and ask them to talk it out!  Students can use the "New Video" feature to show their interaction or they can import avatars instead.  Some scenarios could include organizing a birthday dinner for a friend, getting together to see a movie, or meeting up at a friend's house after school.


Stay tuned for more ways to help redefine your FSL class with Explain Everything! If you are doing something innovative in your own class, I would love to hear about it!


As a former FSL teacher, I know that one of the most difficult parts of teaching a second language is being able to provide students with engaging, authentic scenarios where they can practice their discussion skills.  What's even more difficult is getting students to WANT to speak in a class setting.
Each activity listed below is organized with CEFR descriptors as well as "I Can" statements.  If you are unfamiliar with the CEFR framework, check out https://deniscousineau.pbworks.com/f/A1+complete+package.pdf.  This site provides an overview of the descriptors as well as handy rubrics to help evaluate at which level your students are achieving.

All activities are created for A1 and A2 learners, however each activity also includes ideas on how to enhance it for more advanced learners.
**All activities do require the use of tablets and specific free apps, however they can easily be tweaked if this technology is not available in the classroom.**

Goal: I can use a series of simple phrases to describe myself and my family

Activity #1: Create an Avatar

App: Plotagon
Plotagon is an amazing FREE program that allows students to create animated stories with up to two characters.

Using Plotagon, FSL students can complete the following activities that will get them talking AND keep them engaged!

The only downside to the free version of Plotagon is that students can only share their videos through YouTube.  I recommend creating a private, student page so that the videos can be shared with a link.
Activity:
Using Plotagon, students create an avatar that looks like them. Using this avatar, they can create a scene and record their own voice to describe themselves.  Students can also animate their avatar by adding appropriate actions to go along with what they are describing (for example, if a student says "Je n'aime pas les souris" they must animate their avatar to look afraid).
Vocabulary: colors, parts of the body, clothing, physical traits, personality traits, age
Take It a Step Further:
-Students can create avatars for their entire family, as well as for fictional characters.  Each avatar will need to be described using the same vocabulary as above.
-Turn this activity into a listening exercise by choosing a few student creations to show the class.  After each listening activity, ask students specific questions about what they heard to test comprehension.

Activity #2: Describe Yourself and Family Through Pictures

App: Spark Video
Spark Video is a free app that allows users to create polished, professional-looking videos in minutes without any design experience required!  This app enables FSL students to record their voices in short increments for easy storytelling, projects and even student-created tutorials!
Activity:
Students import pictures of themselves, friends and family members into Spark Video.  Using the record feature, students talk about themselves and what they see in each picture.  They can also add icons to further elaborate on their thoughts and feelings.
Vocabulary: hobbies, activities, physical and personality traits, friends, family
Take It a Step Further:
-Use this activity as a formative assessment by not allowing students to write down what they want to say.  This activity should be done orally without any prior preparation to test the students' oral skills.
-Turn this activity into a listening exercise by having students listen to teacher-created examples.  Ask other french speaking colleagues to contribute their stories so students can hear different accents and voices!

Goal: I can handle very short social exchanges

Activity #1: Play out an authentic conversation in a specific location

App: Plotagon
Activity:
With a partner, students practice authentic conversation and vocabulary that could potentially be used at specific locations such as the restaurant, the bus stop, in the home, and at the office. Once a location is chosen, students create a scene and record their voices to practice a variety of real life exchanges.
Vocabulary: location related, greetings, sociolinguistic conventions
Take it a step further:
-Provide students with authentic scenarios or problems that they need to play out, such as:
         -Restaurant: the food is cold and they want to return it
         -Home: student missed curfew and parents want to know why
         -Office: student is late for work and the boss wants to know why
         -Bus Stop: student is lost and asks for directions

Activity #2: If objects could talk, what would they say?

App: YAKit Kids
YAKit is a free app much like ChatterPix where students can make any photo talk, however unlike ChatterPix, it allows several different characters to interact! Students can be extra creative by changing the pitch of their voice, adding animated mouths, eyes and props, and even bringing in funny talking characters. Also, make your recording longer by adding several different scenes!
Activity:
Students find and take a picture of 2 objects around the classroom.  Next, using YAKit Kids, students create a scene and come up with a script for what the two objects would say if they could speak to one another. Students record the conversation through the app and make the objects talk!
Vocabulary: objects in the classroom, greetings, polite exchanges
Take It a Step Further:
-Students plan a mock interview with their favourite celebrity or television character.  Students create questions to ask as well as answers for the celebrity.  Students can work individually or in pairs.
-Students can create an interactive oral discussion in just about any location around the world with anyone or anything they'd like! Challenge your students to be as creative as possible and use all learned vocabulary. Maximum 1 minute in length!

Activity #3: Interactive Bot

App: Duolingo
Duolingo is a free language-learning app that delivers short lessons to help students level-up and even compete with their friends. Students can follow interactive lessons or they can communicate directly with a virtual language bot that help prepare students for real-life conversations. 
Activity: Provide students with 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each class to have a quick discussion with the Duolingo bot.  Students can choose from several different scenarios such as ordering food, giving and asking directions, shopping and much more. Ensure students use the microphone feature so they work on their oral production skills.
Vocabulary: Discussions are only available once students achieve certain levels, therefore students will already be exposed to the vocabulary needed to be successful.
Take It a Step Further: 
-By using a simple messaging app or Google Docs,  students pair up and create their own Duolingo bot!  Students interact completely through messaging and by using the microphone feature. The teacher can provide topics of conversation.
-Organize a Google Hangout session with another FSL class and have students ask questions to learn more about the other class. Connect with another class through www.frenchplayground.com

I hope these activities help engage your students! Leave a comment below with how you are transforming your FSL classroom!






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#5: Tiny Tap 

Tiny Tap makes it easy for teachers to create interactive lessons, educational games, flashcards, and fun quizzes in all subject areas.  If you can't find an app that suits your needs, create your own with Tiny Tap!

Tiny Tap empowers you to create your own interactive educational activity and share it on the Tiny Tap marketplace for others to play and learn from.

Using this app in the classroom:
-Formative assessment: Find out what students learned from the lesson in an engaging way!
-Student-led learning: Students create their own app to teach other students important concepts.
-Collaboration skills: Students create an app with a partner to teach other students.

#4: Showbie

Showbie is the fastest, easiest, and most effective app for assignments and feedback in your iPad classroom.
Using this app in the classroom:
-Workflow: Share work with your students. Students complete the work inside the app and send it back for feedback and grading.
-Organization: Keep your students organized with due dates, and voice note reminders.
-Assessment: Provide verbal or written feedback directly on the student's work.
 -Parent Communication: Invite parents to see their student's work.

#3: Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an interactive screencasting whiteboard that allows students to record everything they do within the app.  This includes their voices, their drawings, and the movement of their pointers.  The record feature allows students to record their thoughts and reflect on their work and the learning process.
EE makes it easy for teachers to create and share video tutorials, online manipulatives, and interactive lessons.
Students can import an existing presentation, draw and highlight over the top while verbally explaining, and export a movie that encapsulates their understanding much better than the mere slides.
Using this app in the classroom:
Student voice: Students can complete work directly in the app and orally explain their process.
Checklist: Ensure students completed all expectations by asking them to orally explain and point out where they accomplished each expectation.
Teacher tutorials: Support students by creating tutorials that can be accessed after class.
Student-led learning: Students support other students by creating their own tutorials that can be shared with the class.
Assessment:Provide oral and written feedback directly on student work.

#2: Swift Playgrounds



Swift is a fun and easy way for students to experiment with code. It requires no coding knowledge and it teaches students to master the basics of coding by solving interactive puzzles.  The app also contains additional challenges that let students explore code and create programs.

It was created exclusively for touch screens and features a coding keyboard so you can write programs in just a few taps. Beware, this app is highly ADDICTIVE!

Using this app in the classroom: 
**Check out the Teacher Guide in iBook Store "Swift Playgrounds: Learning to Code 1 & 2"
-Language skills:Students practice basic language skills in order to code their product.
-GRIT: Students are consistently challenged and encouraged to revise their work in order to be successful. 
-Collaboration:Students work collaboratively to complete challenges.
-Critical Thinking: Students are not only thinking critically to solve challenges, but they can also modify and build their own programs.


#1: Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions is a virtual reality teaching tool that lets you lead or join immersive virtual trips all over the world-get up close with historical landmarks, dive underwater with sharks and even visit outer space!
Bring your students on a guided tour of over 200 different expeditions!
This is my favourite app of the month because it allows the students to explore outside the classroom walls without ever leaving the classroom.  Teachers have access to great talking points, engaging questions and interesting facts that make the expedition experience so much more meaningful than just showing pictures. This app is a game changer!

Using this app in the classroom:
Science: Take your students on an interactive tour of the human body to learn about the heart, the respiratory system, the nervous system and much more.
Geography: Visit different ecosystems, national parks and cities all around the world.
History: Travel to historic sites around the world, famous museums and war sites.
Language: Visit the setting of your novel or promote deep discussion in the classroom while visiting the world.
Career Studies: Explore career expeditions with your students to learn more about jobs and careers such as engineering, aquarists, scientists, and aviation.

5 ways to use Explain Everything in the Math Classroom

#1: Interactive Lessons with Student Voice
Instead of handing out the typical Math worksheet, engage student by creating an interactive lesson in Explain Everything. Students can complete their work directly in Explain Everything and provide an oral explanation to justify their answers. If students prefer using paper and pencil, they can take a picture of their work, import their picture into EE then record their oral explanation of how they reached their answer.  Encourage students to use a pointer to help explain each step they did and why.



      


This is an excellent way to identify any misconceptions and is also a great way to guide teacher instruction.  In the following example, the student's formula is written incorrectly but once the student explains her work, she proves that she actually understands the formula.




#2: Student created tutorials
There is no better way to see if students truly understand a math concept than to make them teach it!  Ask students to create a 1 to 2 minute video tutorial that will help teach other students.  Encourage students to use a variety of tools such as models and simulations to help explain their process.

#3: Teacher created tutorials
As educators, we know that students work and learn at different paces which is why it is essential to provide extra support to those students who require more processing time.  Short, engaging video tutorials are great resources to provide students so they can access and re-watch the lesson whenever needed.

#4: Virtual Manipulatives
Explain Everything makes it easy to provide students with a variety of virtual manipulatives such as:

         Counters http://bit.ly/2e4xnxn


                
Algebra tiles  http://bit.ly/2e4yVrh


            
Fraction strips http://bit.ly/2eyJ9Fz



                Fraction circles   http://bit.ly/2eojbCG



  
  Integer counters http://bit.ly/2eAm54A




                Pattern blocks http://bit.ly/2eogl0e

                Protractor http://bit.ly/2eojxsF


                Ruler http://bit.ly/2eLz2t0

**All templates are downloaded to Dropbox.  Once downloaded, the only way to access files is to open them directly through Explain Everything**

#5: Teacher Feedback 
Explain Everything is an excellent tool that can be used to help teachers assess student understanding but it can also be used to provide students with meaningful feedback in Math class.

Challenge yourself today by trying one of these ideas in your math class. Your students will thank you for it!