Thursday, December 27, 2012

L'Ecole New Video: The Paths We Choose

1. According to the neuropsychologist, Eric Lenneberg, in his book Biological Foundations of Language, 1967, the capacity to learn a language is indeed innate, and, like many such inborn mechanisms, it is circumscribed in time. If a child does not learn a language before the onset of puberty, the child will never master language at all. This is known as the critical period hypothesis. This research was from a lecture given by Timothy Mason at the Université of Versailles, St. Quentin. It is available here:

2. An interview with Dr. Bialystok summarizes her findings. It is available here:

The NY Times also profiled Dr. Bialystok, which is available here:

3. According to Dr. Wilder Penfield and Dr. Lamar Roberts, Co-Authors, Speech and Brain Mechanisms, the human mind retains a ‘functional plasticity’ for a period of time that lasts from ages 3 to 12. This biological flexibility makes it the optimum time for language learning. More details can be found here:

4. The American Psychological Association studied bilingual speakers. Brain-imaging research has shown that when people switch to another language, their brains make constant use of their executive control network, which involves the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, Broca’s area and the basal ganglia. Working out those brain areas may make these people better able to perform other activities that require switching, such as visual searches where people are asked to find the incongruent image or pattern. The study was summarized on the APA website:

5. According to Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto of Dartmouth College, children who have been exposed early to a second language possess an overall "cognitive edge." Numerous studies have also linked language education to higher scores on many standardized tests. A synopsis of the work can be found here: 
Additional details about Dr. Petitto’s work on bilingualism can be found on the Society for Nueroscience website here:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Temps médievaux

Classe de CE1 et CE2 travaillent sur le moyen âge:
 The Lady and the Unicorn is often considered one of the greatest works of art of the Middle Ages in Europe. Five of the tapestries are commonly interpreted as depicting the five senses – taste, hearing, sight, smell, and touch. The sixth displays the words "À mon seul désir". This tapestry's meaning is obscure, but is commonly considered as representing love or understanding. 

Students were assigned to work in groups of 8 to reproduce one of the tapestries using felt. They did an outstanding job putting all the elements together, especially because using a glue gun was a challenge at times.
The lady is taking sweets from a dish held by a maidservant. The lion and the unicorn are both standing on their hind legs reaching up to pennants that frame the lady on either side. The monkey is at her feet, eating one of the sweetmeats.

À Mon Seul Désir
The lady stands in front of a tent, across the top of which is written "À Mon Seul Désir", an obscure motto, variously interpretable as "by my will alone". Her maidservant stands to the right, holding open a chest. The lady is placing the necklace into the chest.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lego Robotics and Mindstorm Programming are coming to the French School

The French school is now offering a Lego Robotics Club: Sandrine and Yassine went trough an intensive training with Tom Bickford, (Executive Director for Maine Robotics) to learn how to build and program robots to do what we want. There are many different steps that the kids are going to learn through the club:
The kids will learn how to build following a plan. Some plans have 70 pages.
 Write a program to make the robot turn, grab, move and even  talk
Et voilà Bob !
We can't wait to have little robots running through the school. This week-end, some of our students went to the Maine FIRST LEGO League Championship at the Civic Center in Augusta. We watched 72 teams competing.  The kids were able to drive some of the high school 's robots.  
If you want to learn more about  Lego Robotics, check out the website at :

Quelle couleur?

In the preschool class, we are working hard to prepare our book of colors! We are creating one page for each color using different techniques: painting with rollers, sponges, toothbrushes, making imprints of corks, stamping different kinds of papers or cotton.   The "moyenne section" children are also learning to reconstruct and write the names of some colors. We love to look at all the pages that we have already finished and see our book getting built!

Nutcraker Backstage: Maine State Ballet

Students in grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 went to see the Nutcracker Backstage at the Portland Merrill Auditorium on November 27th. The show demonstrates how the ballet's special effects function. In the ballet, there is a tree that is towering 40 feet above the mouse battle. This tree is the tallest ever on Merrill Auditorium's stage. They showed us how the 10 man crew is making the tree grow and shrink. Also they showed us how the snow falls on the dancers and how they clean up and re-use the tiny pieces of paper over and over again. Full-scale Nutcracker productions require a large number of dancers, many of them children; this year more than 200 Maine State Ballet dancers and students from Maine State School for the Performing Arts participated in one or more performances. 
We had a great time!

Le petit chaperon rouge et autres contes de Perrault

Last week, Joe Scott came to the school to tell us some French stories by Charles Perrault.
We listened to: "Little Red Riding Hood"  (Le Petit Chaperon Rouge), Puss in Boots  (Le Chat Botté), The Ridiculous Wishes  (Les Souhaits Ridicules).  Some stories were a little hard to understand because some words were in old French. Fortunately, Joe brought some objects to describe each story. Some parts were fun, some parts were scary or mysterious. 

Joseph Scott, is a retired French teacher with 45 years of classroom experience and a wide variety of presentational experience.  He is an active member of the Alliance Française of Providence, RI and was recommended to the school by the Cultural Attache Office at the French Consulate in Boston. 
We hope Joe will be back with more stories !

Merci Joe !

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

5th- Grade Geometry

In 5th Grade Math Class, we are currently studying Quadrangles. In a first challenge, we had to assemble as many quadrangles as possible using 4 identical right-angled triangles. 

After finding all 12 different quadrangles, we classified them and learned about their specific properties. We are now creating a learning poster that contains all the different quadrangles (square, rectangle, lozenge, parallelogram, trapezoid).  
You can see the result in the classroom.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let the french fly!

La nouvelle aventure de Christian Fleury et David Simard nous emmène dans le Maine pour y découvrir les vestiges de la culture francophone. Construit chronologiquement, ce court documentaire scrute d'abord l'histoire de l'immigration francophone aux USA à travers le récit de ses personnages attachants venus d'une autre époque. C'est seulement vers la fin que nous entrevoyons, ô douce ironie, un avenir pour la culture francophone qui pourtant fut pratiquement balayé par la réussite sociale et l'intégration culturelle des générations antérieures. La rencontre avec les artisans de l'École française du Maine ouvre cette perspective inattendue, ici l'illustration parfaite de la libéralisation de la société américaine qui tend à valoriser sa diversité. C'est sans nostalgie et avec une simplicité technique des plus contemporaines que les réalisateurs abordent ce sujet méconnu.

A great documenary on Maine's French Culture, featuring the enthusiasm of our school staff .

We thank Québécois Film producer: DAVID SIMARD

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast for School Community

On November 21, the school community gathered for a Thanksgiving meal, prepared and served by parent volunteers and jointly sponsored by the Parents' Association and the School. In the Community Hall of the South Freeport Church, 120 students and parents sat together to enjoy the delicious turkey dinner, complete with all of the fixings, including stuffing, green bean casserole, carrots, turnip, and potatoes - brought directly from Northern Maine by a school parent with family up in "The County". Everyone enjoyed not only the wonderful food, but the opportunity to share in conversation with other members of the school family, including teachers, parents, grandparents and friends. This was a wonderful event, and the School is grateful to the volunteers who made it possible. Some parents cooked, set tables, and served, while others stayed afterwards to stack chairs, fold away tables and clean up. Many thanks to all who pitched in to help, and to those who took the time to join us.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Suzuki Concert November 19, 2012

Congratulations to all of the students who performed in the Suzuki Concert on November 19, 2012.
Their daily practice and weekly lessons paid off, and the concert was a great success. Thanks to the music teachers and parents who guide the children each day, without whom such an achievement would not be possible. Thanks to all of you who came to attend the performance and encouraged the children in their pursuit of music. We hope you will enjoy this short video which captures a few highlights of the concert.

“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” 

“When Love is deep, much can be accomplished”        Dr. Shinichi Suzuki,  1898-1998

Saturday, November 24, 2012

French Ministry of Education (AEFE) ~ Washington, D.C. Nov 14-16, 2012

"Nous ne construisons pas chez les élèves la conscience malheureuse de leurs insuffisances, 
nous construisons chez eux la conscience heureuse de leurs capacités."
"We do not build in the minds of students the unfortunate awareness of their shortcomings,
we give them the satisfying awareness of their abilities."

"L’estime de soi et l’autonomie des élèves sont les clefs absolues auxquelles se mesure la réussite."
"Self esteem and independence are the keystones used to measure accomplishment. "

"Ce que les élèves sont capables de faire : c’est très exactement l’évaluation que nous mettons en place.""What students are able to accomplish:  that is precisely the assessment we have designed."

Joëlle Jean
Pédagogical Director at  AEFE / French Ministry of Education ~ Washington, DC ~ Nov 15,  2012
Translation by Willy LeBihan

Body Painting in Kindergarten

"Bon appétit ! Monsieur Lapin"

Lire à la maison {Reading at home in first grade}

Vous pourrez désormais retrouver quelques histoires lues en classe, pour les écouter à la maison à partir d'un livre numérique. Pour tourner les pages du livre, il faut cliquer en bas à droite.
Pour entendre le texte lu, il faut cliquer sur l'icône "lecture".
Pour accéder au livre, il suffit de cliquer sur "Livre 1" ci-dessous.

You can now find some stories read in class, to listen at home from a digital book. 
To hear the text read, just click on the "play" icon. 
To turn the pages, you must click on the bottom right. 
To access the book, just click on "LIVRE 1" below.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Winslow Homer at the Portland Museum of Art and the crêperie

Last Tuesday, the 4th and 5th graders went to the museum to admire the fantastic exhibit called “Winslow Homer and Maine”, featuring many of his most acclaimed masterpieces such as “Weatherbeaten”. Nature in its wildest state is a theme we have been exploring for some time in art. The docent was extremely helpful and knowledgeable and the students had a great time learning about the artist’s life and techniques. After the exhibit, we went to have lunch at the crêperie…everything was delicious and we left with full stomachs and big smiles on our faces. What a great day it was!

Projects with Colors in Preschool

At this time in the preschool class, we are working on colors. We are learning their names, how to sort them, and we are also going to create a book of the colors. We have already made the cover using ink. We are very proud to make our own books!

Nature Works inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

Pebbles by Andy Goldsworthy

Pebbles and Hole by Andy Goldsworthy

Nature has been an on-going theme in our art classes these past few weeks…Studying the art of Andy Goldsworthy was a logical follow-up to the rest of our discoveries. The children first researched his life and his art in little groups. They were absolutely mesmerized by his work…he finds inspiration in nature and uses natural elements to do his sculptures and photographic work (stones, leaves, sticks…) In groups, the children discussed a project and the material they would need. We then went on an expedition in the forest to collect all they needed. Afterwards, they started working on their sculptures only using glue and thread as elements to unify their works. You can see the amazing sculptures that they have created in the hallway!- La classe de CM1 et CM2

Japanese Maple Leaves by Andy Goldsworthy
Ouisty the Oyster- student work

Emperor of Fall- student work

Everest Mountain climber Ed Webster

Mountain climber Ed Webster came to L'Ecole Française du Maine to tell the students all about his adventures hiking the Himalayan Mountains, including the highest peak- Everest. He gave 2 presentations, one to grades Kindergarten- Grade 1, and another to grades 2-5. Some parents also attended to hear the presentations. Ed's presentations were interactive and passionate, including photos and objects he brought back from his trips. He explained that life is very different; there are no roads or shops everywhere like here, no trees either, and people do not eat the same things we do or dress the way we do. But children are the same everywhere; they go to school, play and run around. The children were very excited by the idea of camping in the snow. He explained that it was a dream to climb as high as the planes fly, and that he had to work very hard to prepare for the hikes. Sometimes it was very hard, exhausting, and even dangerous. Sometimes he was scared, but with his guides, they encouraged one another, and they were able to reach the top. Before he left, the children were able to touch all of his gear: his shoes, his hammers, and ropes that made it to the top of Everest. Encore bravo et merci, Mr. Webster!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Portland Symphony Orchestra Youth Concert- Tchaikovsky and the 1812 Overture

Our students were fortunate to attend this sold out performance on October 22nd at Merrill Auditorium.
From the PSO website:  "This concert is devoted entirely to the music of one composer – Tchaikovsky! You’ll hear some of the greatest classical music ever written, and learn about one of the most famous Russian composers through a conversation between Robert Moody and an actor who portrays Tchaikovsky. We’ll recreate historical moments from the composer’s life and celebrate his place in musical history."

Preschool attends PSO Kinderconcert: Fire in the Big Top!

On the 17th of October, the preschool and kindergarten classes went to Freeport high school to watch their first kinderkonzert of the year. There was a professional brass band playing music just for us! We were very impressed! The band accompanied a story about two kids who were going to watch a circus. It was sometimes a little scary, especially when there was the tiger, but we enjoyed it a lot!

Freeport High School Students Visit

Today, the class of CM1 and CM2  shared some reading and math skills with 7 senior high school students (French level 5). We are not sure who was the most intimidated. We taught them about French grammar and explained what " verbe transitif and intransitif " are. They taught us how to do a division in the English style!! We cannot wait to meet them again to share. And the moral was : It is better to learn a language when you are young because it is easier to understand. You may have the chance to meet these students. They have to spend 1 hr a week doing community service, which they plan to do her at L'Ecole Française du Maine. It will be great for the school to partner with them. Some of the high school students may come to help out at our Thanksgiving Luncheon, or with covering books in the library.