Benefits of Google Classroom for K/1 Remote Learning

A few weeks ago my friend Megan Hume delivered a great PD on Google Classroom to our Kindergarten colleagues, and that inspired me to write this post about how it has been helpful for me teaching a combined K/1 class.

Sketchnote I made while listening to Megan’s fantastic PD on Google Classroom a few weeks ago

Why Google Classroom?

  1. It has helped me collaborate with my two grade level teams during this remote learning experience by having shared grade-level classrooms. I also love being able to reuse relevant posts, because certain things (such as read-alouds and letter sound resources) are great for both Kindergarten and Grade 1.
  2. Scheduling posts helps ease my mind about forgetting to post something on a certain day, and helps make things more predictable for families.
  3. Being able to reuse posts means that I can easily share these resources with parents in future classes that I teach.

Do you use Google Classroom? What are your favourite benefits of using it?

Remote Learning Resources & Ideas for K/1

Now that I’ve lost track of which week of remote learning we’re on, here is a post highlighting a few of the resources and activities my Kindergarten and Grade 1 students have found particularly engaging. Each week I make a Kindergarten learning choice menu, and collaborate on a Grade 1 choice menu with my incredible Grade 1 colleagues. Those asynchronous menus are complimented by whole group, small group, and individual Google Meets throughout the week.


Here is my example, and the next activity has a great connection for 3D objects.
Looking forward to seeing what the young entrepreneurs come up with!
This fun literacy/numeracy combination was inspired by Jillian Starr.
Thanks for this idea and so many others Laurie McIntosh!
This one was a lot of fun! I got the inspiration from one of Laurie McIntosh’s fabulous weekly grids.
I got the idea for this one from Jillian Starr.
My students loved building houses for the petits cochons. I got the inspiration for this one from Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt. I linked to this fun musical version of the story that my students absolutely LOVE.
This is another fun one connected to the petits cochons. Here is the vocabulary document that I made that I made.


This is one that I include each week: building our two Handwriting Without Tears focus letters with loose parts.

ChatterPix: This was an early favourite, and great for encouraging students to speak French. At the beginning of April, one of the parents in my class told me that it was the best thing to happen to them in weeks. We’ve provided a number of prompts including making something from your maison speak, and getting a plant or animal to say why it loves printemps.

Google Slides: I recorded myself (with Online Voice Recorder) saying the names of letters to make letter recognition slides for my Kindergarten students. I also recorded myself saying letter sounds and complex sounds to make slides with the amazing French sound LiPS-style visuals from Centre for Literacy. (They distributed them at Teachers’ Convention so I imagine they would send you a copy for your classroom use if you ask.) One of my students was so excited to use these after our first GMeet with them that he asked me about 50 times when he would get “the cool buttons”.

Screencastify: This Chrome extension has been absolutely essential to my remote teaching for taking videos of all kinds of things!

Google Meets: Each week we have a whole class meeting to read a story together and check in with one another. I also run small group sessions to practice particular language skills such as letter recognition, letter sounds, conversational French, and reading skills:

  • Reading Raz-Kids books together through screen sharing – I love the pen/highlighter feature, and my students have enjoyed getting to choose “a sticker” at the end of each book because you can put star or smile icons on the page. ⭐😊
  • Letter sounds Google Slides (see above) – I use these as a pre-reading warmup with my Grade 1s.
  • Uppercase letter search – I sent them this PDF so students could colour it or families could write their own, and I played on a Google Jamboard while sharing my window. (My Kindergarten families have told me that they prefer low-tech options wherever possible, with Google Meets being the exception so that we can connect with one another, so I opted for paper copies rather than trying to get them an on-screen version.) I sent out a video of myself playing through the game as well in case anyone wanted to play again or could not make it to a Google Meet.
  • Lowercase letter bingo – my Kindergarten students loved the uppercase search so much that I made a bingo version for lowercase, and we played with the same sort of printable/Jamboard/pre-recorded arrangement.

I’m going to close with this quote I heard while listening to Dr. Jody Carrington‘s online course this week, because I found it really resonated with me and gave me some comfort:

What has been working for your class during remote learning?

Connecting with “Why?”

I’ve been thinking a lot of this idea of my “Why?” – raison d’être as we say in the French Immersion biz – this week because I took part in a fantastic webinar on Saturday with Dr. Jody Carrington. I made this Sketchnote because I LOVE making and sharing Sketchnotes, and I was thrilled with the positive feedback from my fellow educators. I love this because it’s fun, it helps me process what I am hearing, and it helps me share my learning with others for maximum benefit.


That love of sharing, and getting rolling with Dr. Carrington’s online course this week, inspired me to revive my teaching blog. I’m not about to list all the times this has happened, give one of those “Sorry for not posting in so long” posts, or make any big promises to my blog, but I do have some ideas I’d like to explore in future posts – whether that ends up being here or on my teacher Instagram: @madame_i_am. (I’ve found a really great Instagram community of primary French Immersion teachers that provides me with so much incredible inspiration, and that format has served me quite well in recent years.)

What have you been thinking about this week?









On Friday I attended APPIPC 2016. It was wonderful to meet new people and to see some French Immersion colleagues from my previous school district as well as my Professional Specialization Certificate in Teaching French Immersion program. I learned a lot, and got some inspiration to try some new things. Before I start sharing my notes, I want to share these cool stamps that I bought at the conference:


Les simulations globales par Emilie Prunier

Simulations globales are educational role-playing activities that are particularly good for Social studies and Science. They allow for the incorporation of oral and written language, as well as art and movement. For example, you can study a given time period by putting yourself into the role of a historic character, and supplement the role-playing with mini-lessons. I am interested in trying them out because they allow for choice, inquiry, exploration, and differentiation.

Passionnés de réussite par Égide Royer

  • Early intervention is important. Initiatives like Thirty Million Words and Strong Start encourage parents to speak and read to their young children.
  • Success at school is one of the best ways to combat poverty.
  • It is important to avoid jumping to conclusions.
  • It is important to send positive messages home to parents.
  • Moi, lire? Tu blagues! is a French resource for supporting boys’ literacy.
  • Educational programs and summer camps help to prevent “summer slide”.

L’apprentissage par problèmes par Nancy Des Ormeaux

Problem-based learning is about proposing problems that are loosely structured, similar to real-life problems to get the brain to find a variety of solutions. The problems are driving questions with a problem that needs to be solved. Learners think critically, analyze, and solve problems. This approach allows for engagement through choice, excitement, active learning, and differentiation. It leads to exploration of why and how questions. Students explain their reasoning and learning process, discover hidden talents, and innovate. Some of the examples that she gave were:

  • Design a ring for somebody with a budget (science: rocks and minerals, math)
  • Where would be the best place in our community to hide from zombies? (science: weather, math, social studies: geography, natural resources)
  • Make a 3-D model of the island in Lord of the Flies (English, math)
  • Plan a family trip to 5 B.C. attractions on a $2000 budget (social studies, math)
    • Describe each attraction as a pamphlet, website, journal, prize package, etc.

She mentioned that Rubistar is a great resource for creating rubrics. I am looking forward to trying out some problem-based learning with my class this year!

Have you done any simulations globales or problem-based learning? What are some of your favourite ideas and resources?

APPIPC 2016 pré-congrès

This afternoon I went to a workshop by Égide Royer called Pour la réussite des garçons à l’école (helping boys to succeed in school). It was part of the APPIPC 2016 conference about French Immersion education. (I was very fortunate to be chosen by my district to have my registration fee and TTOC paif for by a bursary – merci!)

Here are some ideas and resource that were mentioned:

  • Égide Royer’s website, with information about his many books
  • There are a lot of persistent myths in education, particularly about punishment and consequences. For example: when punishment doesn’t work, the solution is to increase the intensity of the punishment.
  • An approach to problematic behaviour: name the behaviour, provide the student with 2 options for solutions, ask them what the plan is, and thank them.
  • Acknowledge positive choices and behaviours.
  • Encourage students to consider careers that are not “traditional” for their gender.
  • For Canadians at age 15 there is a one-year gap in average reading levels of  boys and girls (CME, juillet 2013).
  • Boys have higher rates of behaviour issues at school, ADHD diagnoses, and autism.
  • Ways to help boys at school include: giving them responsibility (i.e. power), physical activity, and being ‘firm but fair’ (e.g. logical consequences after sufficient warning).
  • Male reading role-models are important.
  • is an online reading program for boys.
  • It’s important to have a large variety of texts available.
  • Stay “cool as a cucumber” when working through behaviour challenges, and remember that behaviour has a function.

I look forward to the rest of the APPIPC conference tomorrow!

My Classroom for 2016-2017

I found out the week before school started that I would be getting my own grade 4/5 French Immersion class. When setting up my classroom, the first thing I put up on the wall was this acknowledgement of the traditional territory:

This past week I started doing Choix littéraires (Daily 5) with my class. We started with four choices, but will start a listening to reading station when we get some headphones. Here is the whiteboard where they make their choices, using a star-shaped magnet with their name on it (made from cardstock and magnet tape):

On the smaller papers I highlight the names of the students who did that activity, so that next time they remember to make a different choice. This next photo shows some of the Daily 5 materials and the boxes where each student keeps their duotangs and notebooks.

I turned our chart paper box into a Boggle board for Daily 5:

Here is the inside of my classroom door, with a welcome sign, MindUP poster, and some decorations that my students made in Art this week:

I have invited students to bring in postcards and photos from their travels so that we can put them up around our world map. 

Canada, minerals, and prepositions, oh my!

This photo shows a reading nook, subject organisers, and my desk in the background:

This is the French side of our bookshelf. The English books are kept on the other side.

This board has our SMART goals, student & teacher responsibilities, and arm art that we made to represent ourselves.

I’m looking forward to a great 2016-2017 school year with my grade 4s and 5s!

À la prochaine!

Mlle. B. Allen

French Immersion Tapestry Conference

For the tri-district Pro-D day on February 19th, I attended the French Immersion Tapestry Conference. Here are some of the ideas from Shauna Nero‘s keynote address and her Rendre l’apprentissage visible workshop that relate to my professional inquiry question about how to motivate French Immersion students to speak French:

  • Teach students about the goals and benefits of the French Immersion program.
  • Make common vocabulary and phrases visible to students.
  • Give students videos and other media to react to.
  • Provide students with authentic experiences and opportunities to speak French, such as:

How do you encourage your students to speak French?

How can we foster motivation for French Immersion students to speak French?

As a new teacher (as of January) looking to learn as much as possible, I took the advice of my final practicum mentor teacher: I got a mentor. I signed up for my district’s new teacher mentorship program, and was accepted. I was lucky enough to get a fabulous, experienced mentor who teaches the same grade level and at my school. I really can’t over-state how lucky I feel about all this. Gushing aside, this program is built around an inquiry process, and my guiding question is: How can we foster motivation for French Immersion students to speak French?

This is an age old question, and one that gets a lot of knowing chuckles and sighs from people in the biz. Ironically, I find that motivates me to continue looking at this question.

During my Educational Psychology courses at UVic, we learned about motivation in terms of the 3 A’s presented by Alan McLean on Education Scotland’s The Journey to Excellence website: autonomy, affiliation, and agency. Check out this video to hear more.

I will post soon about some ideas that I have encountered, but in the meantime please feel free to comment with your ideas and/or frustrations related to this topic!