Tomorrow, at daybreak

There’s a poem by Victor Hugo that I used to teach in my French III/IV/AP class called “Demain dès l’aube.”  It describes a pilgrimage that a man (Hugo) takes to visit his daughter’s grave. It’s quite comprehensible for that level with just a few introductory activities.

Demain, dès l’aube, à l’heure où blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m’attends.
J’irai par la forêt, j’irai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fixés sur mes pensées,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courbé, les mains croisées,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l’or du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j’arriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruyère en fleur.

Victor Hugo

One of the aspects of the poem I loved the most was this beautiful feeling that, while Hugo and his daughter had long ago passed, each time that I read the poem with my students he was taking that trip again and by doing that I/we were honoring both of their memories. 

My sister, Amber, died on October 8, 2022 – a casualty of the opioid epidemic.  Having become addicted to pain killers she had been homeless for over eight years and was, at the time, living in a shelter.  Her heart, damaged from years of abuse, finally stopped.  She had just turned 45.

Before addiction took over, my sister was my best friend.  We could not have been more opposite.  She once told my dad, “We have some questions about why we are so different.” While my sister was in high school, I did her Spanish homework and when she got to community college I did her French homework for her too. (I didn’t mind conjugating verbs and she hated it.)  Terrified of flying, she didn’t travel and when I did my teaching exchange in France, she called me one day and told me to “stop f-ing around and come home.”  She never understood why I had to go.

My sister was funnier than me, bolder than me and ten times more outgoing.  

Amber hated the morning, so no need to leave at daybreak.

Silence would not be tolerated, so I will listen to gangster rap.

When I arrive, instead of flowers, I will put on Tommy Boy to watch with her.

And then I’ll read her a book, just to annoy her.

Me and my sister.

Demain dès l’aube

Day 1:  


Give vocabulary in your favorite way.  I use pictures and gestures for these words.

Word Catégorie sort.

Give the students the words from the poem in no particular order and ask them to sort them into categories.  There needs to be at least two words per category and the name of the category can be in English.  For example: Nature words, or words that start “s”, or adjectives or places.  

Day 2:  

Fast Dictée

A fast dictation is where you read too fast for students to get every word.  The dictation for this is basically the poem.  One morning a man leaves at dawn to go visit his daughter’s tomb.  Because it is said too fast, students end up with holes in their dictation.  In groups they have to figure out which words are missing.  They’ll use the complete dictation to do 

Numbered Heads Together, but Standing Up

I don’t know what this activity is called.  One member from each group goes to the front with their dictation in hand and you ask questions.  They can look at the paper until they raise their hand with the answer, then they can’t look any more.

Day 3:

Brief introduction to Victor Hugo

Read/listen to the poem. As students listen, have them highlight words that have to do with nature, the body, sadness.

Illustrate the poem.

And sometimes I would have the student write their own versions, with a trek/important task that they had to do.

Google Forms Test Security

I get asked all the time how to make Google Forms secure for test taking so students don’t cheat.  Whaaaat?  Students want to cheat?  Whaaaaat?  This technology…now all the sudden kids what to cheat.  They never did that before.

Here are some ways you can make your Google Forms tests more secure.

Walk Around and Supervise

If you’re unable to walk around and make sure kids aren’t cheating then assume they are.  There’s nothing that will ensure test security better than the teacher walking around.  That said, sometimes you can’t walk around and supervise.  (Like when you go back to work after back surgery and have to teach in a back brace for three months.  I did no walking around during those tests. ) One of my colleagues says if you walk around you can tell who is trying to cheat because they are very concerned where you are while everyone else is focused on the test.

Here’s some other things you can do:

Use Sections

Sections split your test up into “pages.”  Then you can shuffle everything on that page.  If you have a picture with questions about it the picture may appear at the end of the webpage, but I’ve given hundreds of Google Forms tests and as long as students know that they might have to scroll up or down to find the image there has never been an issue.  In general, I try to limit the number of questions per section to less than 10.

Click on the equals sign to add a new section and shuffle the questions in the gears.  Questions are shuffled within each section.

Add a Code

You can add a code by using data validation.   The first section of my test is name, and the code.  I usually make my code a number and as soon as everyone is “in” the test I change the code.  This way, students can’t log in unless they get the code.  Require the question.  Pro-tip: Check your test before you pass it out.  I’ve had teachers say that the correct code showed up when students typed in the wrong answer.  I always use the “number” “is equal to” and then add “Sorry try again.”  I add the code in the first section so that students enter their name and then wait for me to give them the code then they start the test.  

Stop Accepting Responses

As soon as the last student is done, turn your form off.  This will prevent anyone from accessing it when you don’t want them to.  When I begin a test, I keep the form off and make everyone click on the link and get the “This form is no longer accepting submissions” page, then I turn it on and then I have everyone refresh and then they start.  I just like for everyone to be on the same page.

Remove the Link

In Google Classroom you can add the form directly by clicking on the Drive icon and adding it.  This will allow you to import grades (if you want.) One of my colleague doesn’t do this and instead posts the link to the form in Google Classroom and as soon as student have taken it, he deletes that post from Google Classroom.  If you do this you won’t be able to post your scores in Google Classroom.

Establish Test Taking Procedures

A long time ago I got some advice that was revolutionary: establish test taking procedures and if someone doesn’t follow them you don’t get accused them of cheating- they just haven’t followed the procedures.  I had a student log in from home and take a quiz once.  I was highly annoyed, but fair play to her because I hadn’t explicitly said they couldn’t.  I add to all of my assessments now “Only assessments done in class and supervised will be graded.” And then I establish these procedures:  “You can have these tabs open:  Google Classroom, the form, and a tab with the accent codes on there.  If you have any other tab open you will earn a zero for not having followed test taking procedures.”  I add this in Classroom and I say it.  You could also add it to the form if you felt like you needed it.



Resources for Accents

I updated what I give my students so they can learn how to do the accents because the amount of time in college class I am willing to devote to this is 0.  (Note: For younger learners, I believe it’s important to devote as much time as you need to teach students how to do the accents.)  My students have all types of devices so this covers everything.

I’ve made a one page webpage guide for students or teachers.

And I’ve made a printable slide deck with the key codes.  There are four per page so the kiddos can tape to their device.  And one full page for the Chromebook for my college students.  Note: The PC laptop without 10 key codes in the slide deck- I got this to work on one computer, but not another and I don’t have a PC without 10 key to figure out why, so I recommend if your students have that to advise them to use the Character Map.  I’ve left them in the slide just because I wanted to and in case it was useful for someone.


I always ask students to practice and here’s my practice sheet.


#edublogsclub – Pop Culture

Wow.  What a topic- How do you use pop culture in class??… Well, first, because I teach French, I have to have two pop cultures: mine and French; or even Francophone, which to even think about keeping current of “Francophone” pop culture gives me heart palpitations.

I find pop culture a bit of a hit or miss; by that I mean in my family unit I have a picture of the Kardashians and some students don’t know who they are!  (I know right?!)  And I have a picture of the Royal Family and some students don’t know who they are!  (Mind Blown!)  I prefer to use Pop Culture references that are humorous or will get a reaction out of students.  So, I have decided to stick to the bare basics:  The Simpsons, Beyoncé and Brad Pitt.   (Justin Bieber* used to also be a regular  reference, but not so much lately.) It sounds silly, but you can’t do comprehensible input and ask students questions about people if they don’t already know who they are and it’s hard to go wrong with those three.  I’m so grateful that the Simpsons have been around forever, because they are features in many a unit.  And there’s rarely been a time that I can’t throw in Beyoncé or Brad Pitt and not have that work out.

As far as French pop culture goes, I give myself a grade of “eh… significant room for improvement.”  First, I don’t have the time or inclination to be spending hours exploring the latest in French culture.  I’m happy if I get everything planned and the laundry done in one weekend.  I follow Cyprien and Norman on Instagram and along with all the news French Twitter feeds I follow, I call that Good Enough to Get the General Idea.  If I were going to plan something specific about Topic X, I would spent some quality time on the Internet researching current French popular culture on Topic X.  And I imagine that if College Me were in college now, College Me would be as connected via Internet as any 20 year old French person, but I just don’t have the time that College Me had.  College Me would have already watched everything in French on YouTube.  College Me would be following everything getting as much as possible from all of that.  (College Me doesn’t realize how good she’s got it.)

(* Let’s go with 7ish years ago I used to talk about Justin Bieber a lot.  Freshmen girls loved talking about Justin Bieber, so so did I.  So much in fact that some girls brought me a four-page size poster of Justin from some teeny magazine which I put up on my wall immediately.  One day I was out and I came back and my Justin Bieber poster had been signed, “To my number one fan, Bethany, Love Justin.”  This was my colleague being funny.  So the next year when I got a new group of Freshmen girls who loved Justin Bieber, I had some girls walk up to me after class and they said really quietly, “Madame, is that poster really signed by Justin Bieber?”  We were bestest buddies after that.)

#edublogsclub – Free Web Tools

I thought this prompt of free tools was intriguing and I encourage you to read post, “Supporting the Community.”

My absolute favorite free web tool is Google Image Search.  It revolutionized my lessons- being able to pull in images on anything at any given time.  But that’s not a very interesting or unique tool.  (However, if it went away I would cry.)

My real free tool is  This has also revolutionized my lessons. Edpuzzle allows me to add questions to video, either uploaded by me or pulled from any number of sources, including YouTube.   I can have students watch a video at home and ask them comprehension questions about it. I can differentiate the same video and have a challenge version.  It links to my Google Classroom so all of my students are enrolled and I can see who has or hasn’t watched the video.  I can make it so they can’t skip ahead; I can make it so they can.  I love the versatility of to add in authentic videos with questions.

#edublogsclub – Photo

(And with this post, I am caught up.)

This week’s (or let’s be honest, last week’s) prompt is a photo.  I didn’t even have to think about which photo I wanted to use.  I chose my favorite photo of la cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg.  It’s a gothic cathedral that took 300 years to build and the distinct feature of only one tower instead of two.  This photo is of my favorite view; when you come from the side street and all of the sudden all you can see is this magnificent architecture.  It was my favorite walking route when I lived in Strasbourg and even if it might have been longer to get where I was going, I always chose this side street because of the view- it’s a sight that will take your breath away every time and never gets old.  It is truly magnificent.

Notre Dame de Strasbourg


Stop Motion Video via Google Slides

I’m an expert at stop motion video.  By that I mean my classroom is next to the Computer Media and Pathway Academy (CAMP) film rooms and every year I get to participate by proximity as 60+ students film stop motion videos for a couple of weeks.  With that depth of knowledge and expertise, I set out to make a stop motion video intro for my new tech tip series for my school called “Tech Bytes.”

First, I knew I needed to draw.  I thought about using stock images, but I knew it would be just as easy to make my own, plus then I knew I had full rights to use them.  I tried Google Draw, but it didn’t have what I needed so I used Sketchpad.  Then I created my apple and copied it into a Google Slide.  I have zero actual artistic talent and I wanted to use the Slides to approximate the movement.  I pasted in apples in different slides in different positions until I had what I needed.  It took me an hour to figure out how to make a bite on the computer because I have zero artistic talent.  I wanted to ask the art teacher for help, but she was giving a final and that seemed rude, so I figured it out myself.

Once I had all of the slides together I could click through and see that I had the “animation” correct.  Finally, I downloaded each slide as a jpg and then imported them into iMovie.  Once I added the music, I asked the CAMP teacher to look at it and help me fix it because she’s the expert.  She, of course, had some very useful advice.

Overall, this was a moderately simple project and I think students could use the same steps to create an animated stop motion video themselves for projects or story telling.  Even if you didn’t have iMovie, publishing the slide deck and auto-advancing the slides would allow for the movement.  Students could make their own short films!

Here’s the very first Tech Bytes