Monday, April 16, 2012

Senegal Lesson Ideas

Ever since I have returned from Senegal, I've been thinking of ways that my experiences in Senegal could be used in various subject areas. I have developed lesson plans or activities for Literature, History, and Art classes. The links below will take you to a Google document containing those lesson plans or activities.

Senghor Dilemma Tale Activity - iMovie Directions (coming soon)
(Please see me if you would like to look at the book or my translation.)

I look forward to creating more lesson plans and would welcome your suggestions for future lesson plans or activities.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tell the Truth Tuesday - the Senegal edition

In the tradition of Lisa and Laura Roecker, who are hilarious and amazing, I would like to present my version of Tell the Truth Tuesday.

1. I was so excited to go to Senegal, but I was scared too.
2. On my first walk around the hotel neighborhood in Dakar an hour after the plane landed, I seriously wondered if I could live here for a month. The fish guts at the market may have contributed to that feeling.
3. A few days into the trip, I wandered through the HLM market in a small group and I felt completely at ease. I loved Senegal and I knew it would be a great experience.
4. I totally thought I would have no problem staying in the small village of Ndondol because I grew up in the country. The small town/country upbringing helped, but not nearly as much as I thought.
5. I loved giving directions to my village home by saying "walk down the path and when you get to the big baobab tree, turn left and go in the gate."
6. I have never felt like so much of an outsider before. It was so hard, but such an enriching experience.
7. I now have a network of French educator and college student (les bébés!) friends who I met and bonded with on the trip. They are amazing!
8. I hate malaria medicine. Honestly, if malaria didn't frighten me, I would have stopped taking the stuff.
9. The people of Senegal are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. I may have been a "toubab", but they treated me like a member of their families.
10. Enough time has passed that I actually want to eat fish and rice again.
11. I miss Senegal - the people, the food, the beautiful country,...
11. Not enough people know how amazing Senegal is, and they really need to know.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Book I Am Most Thankful For...

The wonderful Beth Revis asked on her blog what book you are most thankful for and for me at least it's a really difficult question to answer. I have so many books that have ben influential in my life. However, I starting thinking about books that have been important to me that relate to my trip. I found one - Le Petit Prince by Antoine de St. Exupéry.

I first read the book in my high school French 4 class when I was a junior. It was the first book I read in French and it was the first time I realized that I could really understand French. The whole premise of the story of repressed childhood dreams and the difference between adults and children. I can still close my eyes and see those first pictures of what looks like a hat and it's really a boa with his last lunch inside him. The story reminded me as someone on the verge of true adulthood of graduation and college that you should always follow the stars and live your dreams. It also serves as a reminder even today that some of the most important lessons about love, friendship, dreams, etc. are the lessons we learn as children. We should always treasure those lessons.

So how does this relate to my desire to go to Africa and my trip to Senegal? Well, Le Petit Prince introduced me to baobab trees and I have loved them ever since. I took so many pictures of them in Senegal that I lost count. Check out the example below - there are many more. I guess in a way, Le Petit Prince made me curious about Africa and my curiosity grew into my desire to go and see Africa for myself.

Also, when I was in Senegal, we stayed at L'Hôtel de la Poste where all the famous aviators through stayed when flying through Africa. One of them was St. Exupéry. The hotel's keys are shaped like airplanes too!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FLANC Presentation

This weekend (October 14-15) I am presenting at FLANC (Foreign Language Association of North Carolina) with my Senegal friends. We are splitting our presentation into two different sessions. The session I am help with focuses on how to incorporate Senegal of the past into the classroom.

Whether or not you can attend FLANC, I am going to share my section of the presentation with you below. In an effort to save paper and trees, I am not going to print off all of the teaching materials, but you will find links to them in Google Documents below.

My presentation focuses on Léopold Sédar Senghor and the influence of griots on Senghor's writings and life. First of all, if you have never heard of Léopold Sédar Senghor, you have been missing out. He was the first president of Sénégal and a world-famous poet. He is also one of the founders of the Negritude movement in literature.

There are numerous ways that Senghor can be incorporated into the classroom, but I focused on two areas: children's literature and poetry.

Senghor was co-author of a book written to teach children in Francophone Africa how to read. The book is called La Belle Histoire of Leuk-le-lièvre. It is very readable and incorporates many wonderful aspects of African literature such as trickster tales, dilemma tales, etc. To utilize this book, I created activities using different aspects of the book for different levles. The documents are linked below by level.

This book is available for purchase at

Also, it is necessary to include Senghor's poetry in the French classroom. Since his poetry is readily available in French and English, it can be used with all levels of French students. I have included two possible poetry projects and some examples below.

I hope that you find this information useful! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Senegal Reflection

Here is a iMovie reflection of my experiences in Senegal for one of the classes I took. It's in French, but if you can't understand it, you can still enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Creative Batik Experiences

Okay...first of all, I promise to blog more about my adventures in Senegal and include pictures this time. But I want to start my US postings with a classroom activity inspired by my trip. (Yes, I started a sentence with a conjunction, but I did it for effect.)

In Senegal, I had a chance to do make a piece of authentic batik using hot wax and fabric dye. I "drew" on the fabric with hot wax and then the people at the hotel dyed the fabric. I waxed over the white cloth first and then had it dyed pink. Next, I "drew" over some of the pink with the hot wax and had the fabric dyed dark blue. I don't have a picture of the finished product yet and my camera battery is dead, but here is my piece after the pink dye.

(I'll try to get a finished product picture up soon.)

I loved this experience so much that I wanted my students to be able to experience it too. However, hot wax and fabric dye aren't really exactly safe to use with large groups of students. The possible accidents and messes were scary to think about. Luckily, the Internet helped me find The Artist Woman who does glue batik with her students. You can check out her directions at here.

I decided to do my practice one using a motif from my awesome friend Beth Revis's two novels Across the Universe and A Million Suns.

First, I drew what I wanted to do. Please remember, I'm not an artist.

Then, I took a pillow case and put waxed paper inside it and slide
my drawing under the waxed paper. That way it didn't stick to
the pillow case later. Then I "drew" over the areas I wanted
to stay white with blue gel glue.

Then I painted over the glue with acrylic paint. You can buy it at Walmart.

Finally, I soaked the cloth in hot water for 30 minutes and rubbed. The areas with glue came off and here is the finished product.

It was so much fun and so easy! I really want to try this with my students this school year.