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Recently, I had a great experience in my room. My class (grade 7/8 French Immersion) has been working together with the grade 1/2 FI class in our school.  Together we have been learning different math concepts and practicing our oral communication skills en français.  We have had some decent success working with our young friends (mainly due to the great planning of my colleague @mmeboere ) and I would say most of my students have benefitted from the experience (as much as any 13 year old will allow or admit).

The aha, if you will, came after my colleague suggested that we try some ‘coding’ together.  My class has dabbled with coding throughout the year; participating in the Hour of Code and using scratch from time to time.  I would not say that I had been very successful at engaging my class in the idea/benefits of coding.  But the suggestion of trying to code in French with primary and intermediates working together really had me intrigued.

We chose to use Lightbot (free app) mainly because of the existing option to change the language.

Regardless of the language, once introduced, my students quickly became hooked. I will spare you an explanation of the game/program, but encourage you to check it out.  Anyone can grasp the idea quickly, you’ll see.  Some of the strengths of this type of program include the embedded problem solving and the instantaneous feedback that it provides.

What quickly grabbed my attention during this activity was how effectively our students were communicating in French.  Students were discussing new vocabulary, giving directions and even strategizing on how to solve the puzzles.  The engaging tool had helped to strip away the awkwardness that sometimes comes with communicating in a second language.  I always enjoy tricking my students into communicating in French.

We have discussed extending this activity to include our other FI classes.  Our original class worked well because we had enough iPads (devices) with the app to share between our buddies (partnered groups).  This could however, easily work as a whole class activity.  If you put the puzzle up on a smartboard/projector you could ask your students to write/draw their own pattern/solution and read aloud.  You could also organize them into small teams and have them co-solve the puzzles.  You could also use floor tiles or linking cubes and have students create their own puzzles and have others discuss and act out the solutions.  Lots of opportunities to problem solve and communicate in French (or any other second language).  The Lightbot App offers English, French, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish as language options.   If you are looking for more info about getting started with coding, this is the Link for you, enjoy!

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