I’ve said this in many other blog posts, and I’ll say it again… Teaching writing to primary students can be a huge challenge – especially in their second language! This is why I use Thematic French Writing Word Banks.
Toss pandemics, virtual teaching, hybrid teaching, back & forth between online and in person on top of that, and it’s no wonder many of our students are behind.
If you’ve read any of my other blog posts about writing, you know all about my writing block routine and how consistency sets my students up for success.
In this blog post, I’ll share more about my French writing word banks specifically and how they help my students become more confident and independent in their writing – whether at school or at home!
Print Version of the French Writing Word Banks
When we are learning in person, my file folder word banks are a huge go-to for my students. They LOVE them!
Simple to prepare and easy to use, they are like primary-friendly mini dictionaries for a variety of themes.
Your students will be able to use them to help them write stories, lists, cards, and more — any time of the year!
You can decide how many word banks you want your students to have access to at a time, and how they can access them. I prefer to keep all our relevant themes in a milk crate, and students can flip through them to find the themes/words they need.
These French writing word banks are really helpful for students who want to write Christmas stories in September, or about Halloween in June; times when you usually wouldn’t have those words out and available. They’ve solved so many problems for me!
They take a bit of time to prepare, but are simple. Perfect for prepping while watching Netflix! Remember, there is no need to print all the word banks if you don’t want to. You can also start with a few, and add more and more throughout the year.
How to Prep the File Folders
First, you’ll choose the themes you would like to print. Print all the pages that go with the theme, plus the articles page to go on the back (optional). Then, glue the cover pages each on the front of their own file folder. Glue the dictionary pages inside, and the articles pages on the backs. Don’t forget the tabs! :)
I highly recommend laminating your file folders if you can, so they will last longer.
NOTE: Each word in each word bank also includes a symbol(s) in the corner to show if the word is masculin, féminin, pluriel, or if it starts with a vowel. By providing this information, students are then able to choose an appropriate article that MAKES SENSE in their writing. It helps our second language learners avoid sentences like “J’aime ce le chien!”.
If you use these word banks, you will need to teach your students how to use the symbols beside each word as well as the articles page to help them find an article that makes sense for their story.
This will likely take a long time to master for many students, with a lot of teaching and review from you. That’s okay! Just keep modelling what to do, and as they are ready, your students will understand better and better.
Are my students perfect at this? Not a chance! But we reinforce it during our “Phrases fantastiques” routine, and more and more students are becoming aware and working on it as the year progresses.
Digital Version of the French Writing Word Banks
The first year I had made the file folder word banks and used them with my students, there was a ton of success, which was awesome to see! Of course, we ended up switching to online partway through the year. Bummer!
I wanted my students to still be able to have access to some sort of “visual dictionary”, like our word banks… but of course, I couldn’t send everyone their own set of file folder word banks.
So, I made a digital version to use with Google Slides!
The digital version includes a hyperlinked table of contents (students click on a picture of the theme they want and it takes them to it), 14 different themed slides where your students can find a variety of words with correct spelling, and 1 slide showing « les déterminants » to choose from.
I only included 14 because it felt like a big ask to get my students to navigate through more than that. But, I might add more someday.
I just uploaded the digital version of these word banks as a “Documentation” in my Google Classroom (I have a section for “Student Resources”). Then, when my students are working on their writing, they are free to find it and use it anytime.
Some parents also chose to leave it open for their children during our asynchronous writing block, and they just used it if they wanted/needed to.
Any tool that helps my students become more independent is a win in my books, and these word banks are no exception!
If you want to check them out on TPT, you can see them at the links below:
Adding these tools to your writing teacher toolbelt can help all of your students feel like successful, more confident writers – and you’ll love the stories they’ll tell!
Also, if you feel totally lost about how to teach writing in a French primary classroom, don’t worry… you’re not alone! I get so many questions about writing that I made a freebie guide that outlines my philosophy, daily routine, and even includes a sample lesson. You can check it out HERE. :)