Back-to-School Recipe Roundup!

Something not many people know about me is that I actually really love to cook! I enjoy finding and trying out new recipes to feed my friends and family. With the Back-to-School season upon us, cooking can sometimes feel like a chore – just one more thing you have to do before you can even think about relaxing. I don’t have children to contend with, but I always try to make dinners that generate a lot of servings, so I can have lunch the next day and leftover dinner at any point in the week.

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Here are a few of my favorite go-to “bulk” recipes! As a general rule, I try to avoid eating a lot of red meat and stick mostly to poultry-based dishes. I’m trying to expand my horizons to include fish but…it’s been slow going.ūüėČ

Buffalo Chicken Chili from¬†Gimme Some Oven:¬†This is the perfect fall/winter soup. I love buffalo flavored anything, and this chili definitely packs a punch. For simplicity’s sake I sometimes use ground chicken instead of shredding chicken breasts myself. I also usually only use 1/2 the amount of chicken broth recommended by the recipe, so 2 cups broth and 2 cups water, as a way to cut down on the salt. I’ve done it both ways and it makes no difference in the flavor.¬†This recipe also freezes really well, so I like to portion out individual servings and pop them in my freezer for easy lunches or dinners down the road.

Mexican Quinoa Casserole: There are a ton of variations of this on the internet, and mine is kind of a mix of all of them. Like the recipe above, this casserole freezes well! Here’s how I usually do it:

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa until the water runs dry, and then cook according to package instructions.

While the quinoa is cooking, crumble 1 pound of ground turkey (or beef, chicken, whatever) in a skillet with one yellow onion. When the turkey is cooked, mix in 1/4 cup of water and some taco seasoning (either storebought or homemade РI opt for making my own). Put the turkey mixture into a large bowl. Chop up 2-3 bell peppers (any color) and 1 jalapeno (if you like spice). Put them in the skillet with a little glub of olive oil and cook until soft. Add the peppers to the large bowl with your turkey mixture. At this point, you can also toss in avocado, black beans, corn and/or tomatoes (all according to your preference).

Add the cooked quinoa to the meat and veggie mixture and combine. Sometimes I add a little¬†salsa for flavor and moisture. Spread the mixture into a¬†greased 9×13 pan¬†and top liberally with¬†cheese (I like the Mexican cheese blends). Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs from Simply Recipes: This is literally the easiest recipe ON THE PLANET. All you do is mix up the honey mustard dressing, drizzle it over the chicken, and bake. I like to serve it with a side of brown rice and this crispy baked broccoli. 

Baked Pasta with Sausage and Spinach from¬†Skinnytaste:¬†Confession: I do not like lasagna and I think spaghetti is boring. This, however, is HANDS DOWN my household’s favorite recipe. We eat it regularly, as it is highly requested by my other half. I like this recipe because it’s simple, yet hearty, and satisfies my pasta cravings. For this recipe, I¬†make the following changes:

Omit the ricotta (I don’t like it)

Use fresh spinach in favor of frozen (the globby-ness of frozen spinach weirds me out)

Use regular old green-bottle grated Parmesan in favor of the Pecorino Romano cheese (for simplicity)

So there you have it! These recipes are all in my regular rotation during the school year and for my 2-person household, each one makes more than enough for dinner plus several lunches throughout the course of the week. AND they’re easy! If you have any recipes to share, please do! I’m always looking to add to my arsenal.

And if you’re like me and enjoy ending your evening with a little nightcap, ahem…I find that¬†The Drink Kings¬†have some excellent concoctions!

 

 

 

#AuthresAugust: My Favorite Print Resources

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I’ve blogged before about how some of my colleagues call me the “resource queen” and to a certain extent it might be true – I do spend a¬†lot of time scouring the web for authentic resources for my students. As much as I love a good infographic, though, over the past few years I’ve also really enjoyed using informative children’s books in my classroom and I tend to stock up whenever I’m in France (though you can buy them online too!). Bad news for my suitcase, great news for my personal library!

While my library does boast some of the “classic” children’s literature – Harold and the Purple Crayon, Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, several Dr. Seuss titles, and more – I really like using informative children’s books that explain a concept. Even better if it’s tied to our current thematic unit!

Here is a list of my go-tos and favorites!

L’histoire de France en BD¬†by Dominique Joly and Bruno Heitz

I own two copies from this series, which presents the history of France in comic-book form: De la Révolution à nos jours and La Révolution française. My upper-levels have loved them both and I really appreciate how they present complex historical and political concepts in simple, child-friendly language with tons of visual support.

The Dis Pourquoi series from Fleurus

I love the illustrations of this series, and how it addresses so many common questions that could fit into literally anything you teach. Each book answers, in child-friendly language,  a wide variety of questions like what is a friend?, why do we cry?, why is it bad to throw paper on the ground?, why are there people who sleep on the street?, why do moms and dads have to work? and so on. Super cute!

Mes Petites Questions from Edition Milan

Each book in this series addresses children’s questions related to one specific topic – France, Paris, life and death, love and friendship, religion, soccer, school, seasons and the list continues. I only have a few so far but if I could buy one of each I would!

Questions? Réponses! from Nathan

This is a similar series to Mes Petites Questions but geared to a slightly older audience. I bought two on my most recent trip to France Рone about soccer, and the other on World War II for my AP students to use this year.

66 Millions de Fran√ßais…¬†by Stephanie Duval, Sandra Laboucarie and Vincent Caut

This is another book I just bought so I haven’t had the chance to use it in class yet, but I’m really excited about it! It’s like an infographic in print form and each chapter focuses on a different aspect of France’s identity, like¬†What does it mean to be French?¬†or¬†France, country of rights and obligations and my personal favorite, France seen from elsewhere.

I buy the bulk of my books in France, but there are certain occasions when I need to order something online, so Amazon.fr (or .ca) and FNAC are my go-to sites. Happy reading!

 

#authres August: version fran√ßaise

WHOA – talk about long time, no blog! It has been an¬†insanely busy summer to say the least. About a week and a half after school let out, I went to France to spend two weeks in Vichy at¬†CAVILAM – Alliance Fran√ßaise¬†on a scholarship from the French Embassy in Washington DC. I was lucky enough to be able to arrive a few days early in order to spend some time in Paris, and to stay a few days after the end of my¬†“internship” to spend some time sampling the grape-based products of Bourgogne with a dear friendūüėČ. After returning from France I had a quick weekend for some R&R before jumping into the county-wide curriculum development project I’ve been participating in for the last two years. We wrapped up our work on French 3 yesterday, which means I get one day to relax (and facilitate the last discussion for our #langbook study!) before getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow. Thankfully that should be the last “big” event of my summer – I’m looking forward to having some down time to watch the Olympics and to finally get started on my planning for the fall. I don’t think I’m going to majorly overhaul any of my other classes but I am teaching a full section of AP French this year which will take up the rest of my attention for August!

Inspired by¬†Maris’¬†#authres post, I thought I’d share some of my favorite authentic resources for my French classes. Since I ditched the textbook back in 2013, I’ve relied heavily on authentic resources in all of my classes – even for novices! I’m such an #authres fanatic, in fact, that it’s become kind of a joke among the members of my curriculum team – I have a weird knack for finding things that are useful at just the right time. (Insert monkey-covering-face emoji here).

Please note –¬†I am 100% aware that my resources tend to lean heavily toward France and not so much toward the Francophone world. Unfortunately my knowledge of the Francophone world outside of l’Hexagone is severely lacking – please feel free to share any resources you may have from the DOM-TOM and Francophone Africa! Clearly, I need them!

Favorite general resources

  • http://www.1jour1actu.fr¬†– This is my go-to when I’m looking for any kind of easy-to-understand video or article as it’s geared toward children.
  • @LeParisienInfog Twitter account for infographics on any subject
  • Forumdesados¬†Online forum for teenagers
  • TV5Monde¬†News and culture from around the Francophone world
  • L’Etudiant¬†News and culture for a student audience
  • UTexas Fran√ßais Interactif¬†This is cheating as it’s not TECHNICALLY authentic in that it’s not made for a native speaker BUT I’ve found their interviews and videos really useful and my novice students appreciate how easily they can understand the speakers.

School Unit

Activities Unit

Travel Unit

Social Media Unit

Opportunities Abroad Unit

Impressionism Unit

There you have it – 50 resources to start your year!

A Play on Write, Draw, Pass

If my students had an all-time favorite activity, it would probably be Martina Bex’s¬†Write, Draw, Pass.¬†It’s like the game telephone, but written and with images. They love to see how well the story stays together (or how crazily it falls apart!) as they pass the papers around.

Last week, I needed a quick, no-prep way to work on si clauses with my level 3 students. We’re not going super in-depth with it, just enough to say “If I did _________, then ______ would happen.” Since the imperfect (the part after “if”) and the conditional are SO similar in French (they have the same endings!) the students really need practice differentiating between the two since they always tend to make it either usingly ONLY the imperfect or ONLY the conditional. So, I busted out Martina’s Write, Draw, Pass template and we made a story chain!

For simplicity, I provided the very first “If” clause and the students filled in the rest. Of course, I went with “If there was a zombie apocalypse…” and in the first box, the students had to finish the sentence with what they thought WOULD happen. After that, they passed it to a neighbor, and the neighbor drew a picture that represented the first sentence. They passed again, and in the third box, they continued the story using the last half of the first sentence as the beginning of the next “If” clause. So it went like this:

If there was a zombie apocalypse, I would fight the zombies. If I fought the zombies, the zombies would die. If the zombies died…etc.

When the kids got their original papers back, they had a lot of fun seeing how their original scenario panned out!

And, of course, because you can never have too much of a good thing, I adapted the same activity to my level twos who are currently working on the difference between the pass√© compos√© and the imperfect. We used Amy’s¬†One Sentence Story¬†template and created a Write, Draw, Pass story chain one sentence at a time. It was fun, which at this point in the year is super necessary (still three weeks left! gah!) but still requires them to use their language and keep their brains thinking!

Bonne continuation!

Crazy Teacher

Don’t let the title fool you: this post isn’t about me. (Although I¬†am¬†a crazy teacher. Especially right now.) “Crazy teacher” is just the name of a super-fun activity that you can use to spice up reading any novel! I read about this activity in¬†this article¬†and thought it would be perfect for my French 4/APs as they continue reading¬†Le Petit Prince.

Something to know before you start: this activity works best with a shorter reading selection, so either a very brief chapter from a novel (this was the case for my students Рchapter 19 and 20 of Petit Prince are very short) or a shorter significant passage from a novel.

The “game” has four steps that each build on one another and help students’ comprehension of the text as well as retelling a story.

Disclaimer: This activity is VERY LOUD. You may want to warn your neighbors.

Step One: The students read the passage aloud to themselves in the most dramatic, enthusiastic voice they can manage. It needs to be WAY over the top in order to be fun!

Step Two:¬†The students re-read the same passage aloud, using the same over-the-top, dramatic voice but now they have to add hand motions to accompany what they’re reading. So if the text says, “The Little Prince ascended a huge mountain” they need to use their hands to show¬†ascended and¬†huge mountain as they read.

Step Three: The students pair up and ask each other questions about the text, still with as much enthusiasm as they can possibly muster.

Step Four: Crazy Teacher! This is the ultimate part of the game – the crazy teacher part! One partner is the teacher, and another is an eager student. The crazy teacher needs to summarize the chapter to the student – again with total drama, but also incorporating charades, hand gestures and props (if available). The student has to react to everything the teacher says with complete gusto.

The kids were reluctant at first when I explained the activity, but they got totally into it very quickly and even asked to do it again today! With everyone acting totally crazy and dramatic, there was no time to feel anxious Рduring the first two steps, no one is paying attention to anyone but themselves and the book!

Bonne continuation!

Petit Prince Chapter 18

If it seems strange that the 18th chapter of¬†Le Petit Prince –¬†by far the shortest chapter in the novel –¬†gets an entire blog post to itself, please just do me a solid and continue reading because this chapter is accompanied by one of my¬†favorite student projects¬†ever.

In this chapter, the little prince meets a flower in the desert. He’s lonely and looking for friends, so he asks the flower if she has seen any men. The flower, being that she lives in the desert, has only seen about six or seven men, and she tells the little prince that men lack roots. This quote becomes the basis for our project.

To prepare for our project, we read the chapter and then discussed the purpose of roots -what do roots do for a tree? What happens to the tree as a result of its roots? We discuss how roots grow strong and anchor the tree, provide it with stability and allow it to grow. We discuss that, as a result of the tree’s growth, the tree can grow leaves, flowers or fruits that can germinate and create more trees. We also talk about how roots can be hard and ugly, not always visible above the surface, but without them, the tree can’t grow and nor can it nourish another tree or plant, or give shade and oxygen to humans and animals.

Then they receive the following prompt (in French):¬†Draw a tree. Put yourself in a hole in the middle of the tree and write your name in its bark. Then, use words or images to create your roots – think about your family history, your interests, your religion, etc. How have your roots allowed the rest of your “tree” to grow? How do you use your tree’s “growth” (leaves, fruit, etc) to nourish the “roots” of another?

We took a day to draw our trees, and then I had them record an explanation of their tree to Schoology. The oral explanation is done with no advance preparation – I do not allow them to write their comments down beforehand or to practice before recording!

I was very pleased with the results of this project and got really good feedback from the kids as well. They seemed to really like the project and put in a lot of effort! It was also a nice way to break up the reading of the novel. 10/10, would do it again! Below are some photos; to see an example of one of my students’ oral presentations, click¬†here.

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Petit Prince Chapters 10-17

French 4/AP continues on our journey of reading¬†Le Petit Prince! It’s been going well, but is a long process due to the number of chapters in the novel and how often we stop to write/discuss/draw/summarize/etc. This is exacerbated by end of year field trips, AP tests, senior exams, and so on. Unfortunately I won’t have time for the mini-unit on soccer that I planned for this year which is a SUPER bummer, but I’m hoping I can start with that in a few of my classes next year, to re-cap the Euro Cup that’s happening in France this year. Otherwise, I plan on giving my exams prior to the official exam day, so perhaps on that long class period we can get out on the pitch and my soccer kids can show us how it’s done.

So, what’d we do for Petit Prince chapters 10-17?

Chapter 10

I printed out the illustration of the king that accompanies chapter 10, and asked the kids to write all over it and surround the king with as many words and phrases as they could in response to the question, “What makes a good king?” We discussed this together as a class, and then I read the chapter aloud to them as they followed along. When we finished, they journaled on a quote from the chapter –¬†It is more difficult to judge yourself than others. They discussed their responses to this journal in small groups.

Chapters 11 and 12

I handed each small group a stack of post-its and had them read chapters 11 and 12 together (for my independent readers, they read alone). On each post it they had to tell me the following things:

  1. Key vocab they wanted to remember
  2. A quote or passage that they found interesting and why
  3. A 10-word summary of the chapter
  4. A question they had about the chapter

It was at about this point that I had a TON of kids out for AP testing and didn’t want to continue the book without them, so with those remaining in class, we did a roleplay in which the Little Prince’s flower is visited by a butterfly – what would the rose tell the butterfly about the Little Prince?

Chapter 13-14

The students read these chapters alone and updated their character maps. There was still a ton of AP testing going on at this point, so it was not as interactive as I would have liked it to be. We played Freeze Frame to re-cap the major events of the book so far.

Chapters 15-17

We had a couple of big discussion questions for these chapters, as the Petit Prince makes his final stop on his trip, on the planet Earth. The first was: How would you describe the earth to someone who had never heard of it?

In responding to this question, I asked the students to draw a visual representation of the Earth and note it’s major physical features, as well as other things they thought were important to know. We did a roleplay in which one person was the “alien” and the other had to explain the Earth to that person. We also did this as a whole-class activity, with me playing the role of “alien.” I really tried to ham it up and make them dig deep with their language – for example, a student would say, “There are big cities with buildings!” and I would respond, “What’s a building? Who goes there? What do you do? Why?”

Our other discussion question was about the role of snakes in film and literature – What do you think of when you think of a snake? In what stories does a snake play a big role?

We also played The Marker Game to review and did a few listening assessments.

Coming up next Рwe just finished what is probably my favorite project to do with my kids that follows Chapter 18 of Le Petit Prince. Stay tuned!