After just over two years of teaching the French AIM program at Calvin Christian School, I find that I’m really enjoying it!
Here is a description of the top 4 things I like about the AIM program:
From the start of class time until the end, we sing songs, move around, read, and speak together using French. Each grade is learning a dramatic story with amusing characters which make us laugh as we listen to, read, and retell the story. With its emphasis on developing listening and speaking skills, students are actively engaged in hearing and producing French for the whole class time. Each French word is gestured by me, the teacher, so students can actually watch the language unfold, and be prompted by each gesture to speak with confidence and accuracy in French. Aural, visual and kinesthetic learners can easily remember vocabulary, and can actively engage their whole bodies in learning the language.
Sometimes, learning the AIM way is so different, it almost seems weird! Weird in a fun way. Gone are the vocabulary lists to memorize. Gone are the formal verb conjugations. Gone are the endless sentences to rewrite. Gone are the lengthy paragraphs to decode. AIM provides meaningful, engaging, authentic communicative activities. As a result, students first listen, then speak, then read, and then write in French (strictly in that order), which is the reverse of how many of us have learned French (but is, in fact, how one learns a first language)! Because the gestures help the students speak with accuracy (grammatically and with correct pronunciation), they gain confidence in speaking French right away and develop strong listening comprehension skills. From there, the vocabulary embeds in their brains, so that when the written word is introduced, it has strong meaning and can be easily retained. In addition, a big difference from traditional programs is in verb conjugation. Instead of introducing all forms of regular and irregular verbs, AIM uses conjugations in first person because these conjugations all sound the same. In order to express the plural, AIM uses conjugations for “on” (we) and “tout le monde” (everyone). These controlled verb conjugations allow students to create full sentences, which then increases their ability to effectively communicate complete ideas right from the start. This increases fluency, which increases satisfaction, which increases desire to communicate more - all of which increases teacher, student, and parent happiness!!!
It offers full support.
During class time, the teacher is the main support for the student, guiding the choral French speaking using gestures, and prompting students individually to speak with gestural support as necessary. Outside of class time, AIM teachers and students all have access to the AIM web portal in which we can view and hear each song, story and play. In addition, each word and gesture that we learn is accessible for review. For parents, the web portal and website offer more info on the AIM philosophy and methodology, and a means to encourage and help their child in learning the vocabulary of his/her specific kit. For AIM teachers, there are excellent resources and supportive networking opportunities with AIM professionals and colleagues. Parents: if you would like to get your child connected to this AIM web portal in order to review at home, please email me for login info at firstname.lastname@example.org
The kids are speaking French! Teachers share with me that they hear their students using French phrases appropriately with their peers during other classroom activities. In the hallways, students are greeting me and each other in French and carrying on short, impromptu interactions using French. Parents tell me that their kids are conversing in French at home, as well as noticing French on signs and packaging. Some kids are even singing the AIM songs at birthday parties together! Their brains are absorbing it, their mouths are producing it with confidence, and their hearts are enjoying it. Ça, c’est fantastique! I’m pretty sure that primary and junior CCS students like the AIM French program for the same reasons that I do! So, just ask them: “Est-ce que tu aimes la classe de français? Pourquoi?”, and please report back to me! :)
Madame Van Eek
Parent/Teacher Conference Tips
Calvin Christian School's vision is that all God's children are “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:17). Conferences are a wonderful way for parents and teachers to partner together in Christian community towards this vision. Conferences not only deepen the parent/teacher relationship, but they also help each to have a better understanding of the gifts, concerns, needs and goals going forward for the child.
So how can we make the most of a parent/teacher conference? Whether it's your first conversation or an ongoing conversation with the teacher, here are a few suggestions to help you get started:
BEFORE the Conference
Be sure your child understands that the conference is nothing to be worried about. Rather it is a time where we are all coming together to talk about how to help your child best. Have a discussion with your child and find out what subjects they enjoy. What are your child's strengths/weaknesses? Talk about any concerns your child may have either academically or socially. Write down any questions/concerns you may have. Prioritize the list in case you run out of time.
DURING the Conference
Be on time. The conference evening is often fully booked and each minute of your conference is precious. Remember that we all want the same thing: the best for your child. Ask the important questions first. If there are still items that you wish to follow up on, make plans with the teacher for that follow up. Take notes. Respectfully discuss differences in opinion. By communicating respectfully together these differences in opinion, we can reach a greater understanding of the child. Work together to create an action plan of ways that you can support your child at home in areas of struggle. Thank one another for the time taken to celebrate and support your child. Pray for one another.
AFTER the Conference
Talk with your child. Emphasize the strengths and positive points discussed with the teacher. Be honest about the concerns. Fully explain any action plans that were made to help support the child. Start those plans immediately. Remind your child that this conference is intended to help the child. Keep in touch with the teacher especially if any action plan was created. Support one another in prayer.
The parent/teacher conferences are intended to be a wonderful tool in deepening the understanding of each child and developing communication between home and school. By following these before, during and after tips, our hope is that your parent/teacher conference is a meaningful time.
~ Mrs. Van Voorst
Assessment is an exciting and important component of good teaching. A teacher conducts assessments before learning takes place, while learning is taking place and after learning has taken place. In the education industry, we usually say, assessment for learning, assessment during learning and assessment of learning. When the teacher readies the student for learning, the teacher may wish to know what the student already knows, or what the student has already mastered. Assessment for learning indicates whether the teacher's lesson plans and unit plans need to be modified. Then, as learning occurs, the teacher may wish to know whether the student is progressing in meeting the skill objectives or learning outcomes. If not, what can be done? The teacher may decide the appropriate learning has happened, or provide additional lessons to provide the students opportunities to meet the skill objectives. Then finally, there is the summative test or assignment. At this point, the teacher conducts an assessment of learning. Much good work has gone into preparing the student for a final assessment.
Calvin Christian School has embarked on a whole new set of reporting protocol regarding student performance. This protocol exists to provide parents with information early in the school year concerning student work habits, behaviour and academic performance, by means of a progress report and a parent/teacher conference. Both the teacher and the parents love to see the student growth and achievement. The progress report serves as an early indicator of student achievement, and indicates areas for growth and improvement. The progress report becomes the basis for further reporting at the subsequent parent\/teacher conference. The motive behind the reporting protocol is to give parents and students time to follow “next steps” so that by the time a student obtains the final report card for the semester, much good work had been done by teacher, the student and parents in preparation for assessment of learning.
Mr. T. Postma, Principal