Franco-American Educational Exchange Network

Helping French and American Classrooms Connect

Any ideas on ways to create sustainable links between U.S. and French Classrooms?

With all of the technological advances today, it should be easier than ever to connect French and American students for educational exchanges. What are teachers doing? Do you have any examples of partnerships that have developed that are working well? Any challenges?

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http://teachers.net/mentors/french is a browser with the latest 25 posts from the French Teachers Chatboard. The main site http://teachers.net/ is a hands-on, up front teacher networking site with chat rooms, chat boards, live meetings, live conferences, job chatboards, teacher mailrings, and the new Teachers.net web ring to promote your own WWW page. It's a very busy page so take some time to sift through the various links of opportunity.
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Here is an interesting link as well- there are many different ideas of how to connect classrooms through the internet...
The attached file has some interesting exchange ideas...
Attachments:
Excellent ideas. Thank you!

Jen said:
The attached file has some interesting exchange ideas...
Every year I search for email partners for my eight classes of beginning French students. I want each class to have a separate class that they communicate with throughout the year. We try to do about one or two exchanges a month, but it varies with the vagaries of school schedules and curricular requirements. Since I have been doing this for many years, sometimes I continue with the same teacher for several years, though our classes each year obviously change. The most useful "clearinghouse" for finding email partners that I have found is: Cartables.net It is a website set up for FRENCH teachers (not teachers of French). If you go there and click on "causeries" and then "correspondance" you will find requests from francophone schools all over the world who are looking for other classes to communicate with. French classrooms at all levels typically have "Correspondances" with another class as an annual goal. I have worked with classes from Reunion, Guadeloupe, Morocco, Mali, Senegal, Belgium, and of course from all over France, thanks to this site. It requires that you register in order to post your own request or to interact with the teachers who have posted requests-- as does this site -- so it is not really difficult. When I checked today there were 75 requests from schools that ranged from Paris to Morocco by way of Germany. The students went from First Grade to High School, with a preponderance of younger ones at this point. I have found that posting on Cartables.net with a description of the type of exchange I want (in French, of course) usually results in about fifteen responses within a week. There is obviously a lot of traffic on the site. School started in France today, so teachers may be starting to get their technology acts together shortly. I would give it a try if you'd like to dip your toe into email.
Hello!
Have you tried "epals"? I'm in contact with different classes in the US and we are exchanging ideas to work on next year with our students. I'm preparing activities that could involve both sides. If it's OK, I'll tell you about what we did and what worked,
Nathalie
The beginning of a partnership is very important. It often depends on teacher to teacher exchanges by phone, skype, mail long before the students become involved. The two (or more) teachers (American & French) brainstorm and decide on a common theme (history, geography, ecology, music, theatre, arts etc.), and follow a precise schedule of different short activities (letter writing, blog, video etc) for their students. The schools must have compatible computer and videoconferencing material on both sides. The head of each school must be kept informed. The classroom partnership can commence. In order for it to become sustainable relies on the teachers' ability of passing on their work to other teachers, year after year and giving feedback to the head of the school. Involving documenalists is also a guarantee of sustainable work. Finally, it is better to find a school in a state which has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the French Regional District in which the school is located.
This year I thought I might change things up a little for my elementary school students. I added my name to a list of teachers interested in doing "Flat Stanley" on the Cartables.net website. In France, he's called "Clément Aplati". Essentially it entails sending a drawing of a kid ("Stanley") from one classroom to another. A journal is sent with him, and the host students complete it with typical activities, things eaten, and special events. Host students get to take Stanley home with them so they can take souvenir pictures with him in front of the house, at the local historical sites, at the football game, or whatever. After several weeks (or longer), Stanley is sent back home with his collection of souvenirs, pictures, and messages from all his friends. Each exchange is a little different, depending upon how the teachers want to to do it. It can even be one-way, if a teacher only wants to serve as a host, or only as a "sender". Sometimes the results can be quite elaborate: http://www.flatstanley.com/success_stories.php
In any case, I was immediately swamped. Fifteen different teachers (so far this week) asked if they could send their Clements to us in Connecticut. It was obviously 'way more than I could handle. My goal of using as much French as possible means it takes a long time for my beginning students to write anything. We'd still be filling out Journaux in August. The classes in France are also interested in working on their English, which does not help my efforts to teach French. What to do? Rather than disappoint more than a dozen teachers and all their students, I recruited classroom teachers in my building to host the extra Clement Aplatis for me. They are going to use their classroom visitor as an excuse to teach their students how to use the computer to research about the town in France that their "Clement" comes from. They're going to write postcards about our region, and send them back to France. They're going to take pictures and email them back to the class in France. Some teachers will send a Flat Stanley of their own out to their corresponding French school, so the children can have him ask questions for them in the journal that goes with him. I am going to put up a map showing where all the different schools are, and we'll be able to add pictures from our research or if we get sent any.
Everyone is very excited about how simple the project is to do and how they can adjust it to serve their individual needs. The long-term aspect of the visit - most of the Clements are being sent out in October (in time for Halloween here!) and will be heading home in January - gives teachers plenty of time to work things out or develop new ideas. The Internet has made it easy to set up this exchange in less than a week. Teachers can make it as high or low-tech as they wish, and everyone should be pleased with the results.
To follow-up on the Clément Aplati exchange.  It is not high-tech, except that some of the French schools have posted our responses onto their webpages and blogs, and I have been communicating with them on occasion via email.  It is unbelievably successful.  Third grade students (8 yrs old) in my school are writing paragraphs about the adventures they are having with their French visitors, and taking pictures of their activities together.  They are going together to Boston, Vermont, New York City, Florida, and just about everywhere in between.  This week, one class (of about 22 students) handed me more than 90 pages of their work, to send back to Rillieux la Pape.  Our superintendent of schools was impressed by the quality of their work, as well as the quantity, that this project motivated them to produce. .

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