Are you looking for ways to build community within your classroom every Monday and Friday to get to know your students better? Do you want structures such as “I went”, “I saw”, and “I played” to flow effortlessly from their mouths? You need Weekend Chat! This is my go-to activity on Monday and Friday once we finish FVR (Free Voluntary Reading).
Here is why Weekend Chat needs a spot in your CI toolbox:
- It’s a no-prep activity that works for all levels.
- It’s highly personalized.
- It uses a foundation of high-frequency language and adds vocabulary that your students actually care about.
- It teaches your students how to ask questions, respond to questions, and ask follow-up questions to get additional details.
- There’s no better way to get your level-one students naturally using the past tense.
I recommend that you start by telling the class about your own plans for the weekend (Friday) and what you did over the weekend (Monday). First, your students are interested in what you do outside of school. Second, this gives them some time to think about what they did or were planning on doing instead of you listening to crickets because you put the entire group on the spot right off the bat.
I recommend that you jot down some brief notes about what your students tell you they are doing on Friday so that you can ask them how it went on Monday. They will a.) be impressed that you remembered, and b.) feel like you actually cared about what they had to say. Following up on Monday also gets you double the reps on vocabulary germane to the topic and contrasts the past and present tenses.
I do not accept “I’m going to sleep” or “I slept” as responses. You as the teacher really can’t do much with this in terms of follow-up questions. A student who responds with this every time may be trying to avoid interaction or it is possible that he doesn’t feel confident enough and/or doesn’t have the language to talk about what he is really going to do or what he really did. You may need to scaffold this student’s answers and ask some yes/no and leading questions.
If you have a class that has trouble getting started with an activity like this, you can ask, “Who is going to the game tonight? Raise your hand.” At this point, you know who is going, so you can ask them any number of follow-up questions such as:
- “With whom?”
- “Who do you think will win the game?”
- “Do you know anyone who is playing in the game?”
- “How many games have you gone to this year?”
- “Are you going to go anywhere to eat before?”
- “What are you going to do after the game?”
Once you know about the student’s plans or what he or she did as well as a few of the above details, you are ready to start circling. This is where you ask those yes/no, either/or, and fill-in-the-blank questions.
“Class, Ashley rode horses with her best friend, Adi, on Saturday afternoon.”
“Who rode horses? That’s right, Ashley and Adi rode horses.”
“Did they ride zebras?” No, they didn’t ride zebras, they rode horses.”
I do Weekend Chat in our class circle (I’m deskless). Higher level classes can do this activity in pairs if you feel that they are capable of giving one another quality input. I have each student ask three other people what they’re planning to do or what they did. Once we reconvene into our circle, I’ll ask several students to share out what the people they talked to are doing or did. This is also a great way to reps on the third person verb form.
The real language acquisition value in this activity is the questioning process. Students need to hear you ask questions over and over before they start to feel confident in their ability to answer them.
Leave me a comment below and let me know how it went!
French Weekend Chat for Friday (w/L1 translations) Special thanks to Terri Bierasinski!
French Weekend Chat for Monday (w/L1 translations) Special thanks to Terri Bierasinski!
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