Ms. Laurence's French Class

Yesterday I went to visit my new friend Ilana Laurence (aka "Ms. Laurence" to her elementary school students) at the Grace Church School where she teaches French. I was struck by how lucky the kids are who have her as a teacher - she is not only delightful and smart, she has also integrated new technologies into her classroom in a way that makes language learning easier, more fun, and more connected to the kids' lives. In addition to her blog where she posts songs and video clips (she films her students in class with her Flip), she uses a SmartBoard in her classroom, which is kind of like a big iPhone touch screen projected on the wall. This allows her to grab images off the Internet to illustrate words they are learning (the day i visited I saw a train station in Paris) and her students can come up to the screen and match the on screen words with the images by dragging them with their finger. I can tell you nothing that cool ever happened in my French class! First of all, I didn't even have French until seventh grade and my French teachers all seemed to be out of central casting and varied from cranky to mean. One threw chalk at us regularly. Though some of you were probably luckier, I suspect many of you had language teachers who were more like mine than like Ms. Laurence. I hope my sons will be able to learn from a Ms. Laurence one day, and I truly hope there are hundreds of other like her, a new generation of teachers making foreign language learning fun and relevant for today's global kids.