Spark in the French Immersion Classroom 

French Immersion teacher and Vice Principal Katherine Burden has taught at Laronde Elementary for over 15 years and in the Surrey School district for 28 years. Laronde is currently the only full French immersion school in Surrey.

For more than four of those years, Spark Reading has been part of her students' daily learning in the classroom and at home.

Spark is a digital library filled with 122 French titles, 720 English titles, and 131 decodable books available to teachers throughout the school. The library is used in classrooms from kindergarten through grade 7. Katherine loves recommending Spark to her colleagues because it offers a rich library of both French and English books.

Opportunities to Listen, Read, and Practice

Katherine integrates Spark's collection of 122 French Readers into her literacy and Math instruction and uses the English collection for Language Arts lessons. She appreciates that all Spark French titles have a Read Aloud feature, where French-speaking actors narrate a book, and that select titles include a Listen to Myself Reading feature, where students can record themselves reading.

"One of the things I love about Spark," she shares, "is that along with being able to see and read, my students can hear someone read the story and hear that different accent and how it's pronounced. Then, when they're reading, they can check to ensure they pronounce it correctly."

Personalized Reading Options In the Classroom and At Home

With students reading at various levels in both French and English, Katherine finds Spark invaluable for tailoring reading assignments to match students' interests and abilities.

"In grade 3, we start doing English instruction. So, we have students reading at very different levels. Some kids are reading Harry Potter in grade 3, while others are reading pre-primer books with basic sight words. Having a selection of books at all those levels is amazing because you can tailor the book choice to your students' specific needs."

Katherine also highlights the Turtle Island series, available in both English and French. This series allows students to engage with the same story multiple times, enhancing their fluency and comprehension. Plus, it's a fantastic way to incorporate First Nations studies into her lessons.

Spark Classroom Ideas from an Immersion Teacher

Some of Katherine's favorite ways to use Spark include silent reading, homework, and creating book collections for lessons. Below, she shares her strategies for using Spark to support these activities.

Silent Reading

Katherine's school has two iPad carts, which she pulls into her classroom during the school day so students can use Spark for silent reading.

"They'll put their headphones in and listen to the story or just read along with it. The part I love is that it can be so individualized because they'll open up their book, choose to listen to it, watch the words, and follow along. While others are just reading and doing their own thing."

At-Home Reading

Katherine assigns personalized books to each student based on their reading levels and interests to read at home for 15 minutes with parents and caregivers for homework.

"Having a child in the French Immersion program can be challenging for those who don't speak French, but Spark makes it easier. Students can choose books to read at home with caregivers and use the Read Aloud feature to hear and practice the correct pronunciation."

She explains that it's an excellent way for families to engage in their child's learning.

Collections for Class Time

Katherine also creates book collections for lessons, such as Canadian books for a unit on Canada and a Math collection that includes the Mathologie French titles.

"Those Mathologie books are amazing because they can do so much math with them, and they don't even realize they're doing math. I love that!"

To learn more about Spark's collection of 122 French titles, click here