I can’t believe another semester has already gone by! The fall was much busier than I expected, but it was a good type of busy with lots of rewards and great activities.
I spent most of the fall semester trying to incorporate even more methodology from the Summer Language Institute, and I think the results were very good. The curriculum is fresh and natural, and the student success rate has been particularly high.
The real beauty of this past semester was less about data and more about community, though. Our school’s homecoming theme for this year was “We are…”, and the French Club rolled with it. We had Nous sommes… posters all over the school throughout homecoming week, and the students chose Nous sommes la révolution as the slogan for this year’s French Club t-shirt. I think it speaks volumes about these students’ perspective on their role in our school community. Our goal is to foster awareness of French language and culture at school and around town, but this particular group of students sees a bigger picture — one that shows their appreciation for French values like solidarity and brotherhood. For them, French Club is a medium for improving our school as a whole, finding new ways to engage more classmates in academic and cultural activities, and connect to current events.
Our annual field trip to the international festival at Columbia State was a huge success. This year’s group was so large that we had to take two busses and three teachers! There were dozens of GCHS students on the stage for the group dance, and I really enjoyed seeing students talk about culture with the crafters in the lobby and explore information about college during their visit. The trip is always a great community-builder for our program.
My students’ response to the attacks on Paris was very emotional. It was moving to see their genuine concern for the situation because it showed me how much their personal attachment to the culture has grown. The French Club officers met on their own over that weekend and created a banner for the school cafeteria. It’s now covered in signatures and surrounded by posters from individual students. Our French Week activities, which were going on around the same time, were all the more meaningful for our school community this year.
One of my goals for this semester was to bring back the Cherokee lesson for Native American Heritage Month. Over the last few years, Pulaski has made several improvements to its Trail of Tears signage and museum, and I wanted my students to know something about a cultural reference that they see every day. We watched a video about the Kiduwa immersion school and listened to the language being spoken and sung. Then we learned about its ingenious writing system. Students learned how to transcribe their names — some also choose animal names using online resources — and then made personalized name cards for display in the hall. For the second half of the lesson, students practiced basic Cherokee conversations with each other to be presented in front of the class. As an optional assignment, students drew cartoon strips incorporating the Cherokee phrases we studied.
I’m very happy with the progress we made in the fall semester, and I’m excited to see what we’ll accomplish in the spring!