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En franais, s'il vous plat

October 28, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

WILLIAMSPORT - Paula Moore began an afternoon French II class at Williamsport High School wearing a yellow duck floatation device, big round sunglasses and a white visor. She dragged a suitcase around the classroom as she spoke emphatic French, encouraging her students to use their French vocabulary to guess what she was packing in her suitcase for an imaginary trip.

Moore's unique approach and engaging style won her a spot on USA Today's 2006 All-USA Teacher Team. Twenty teachers from around the country were selected to the team by a panel of judges.

Carol Corwell-Martin, supervisor for the center for peak performance for the Washington County Board of Education, nominated Moore, who has taught French for 13 years at Williamsport High School. Former students wrote letters of recommendation to USA Today.

Students seem alert in Moore's class, but it would be hard to fall asleep. During her French III class, Moore says, "Excellent, bravo!" and "Ooh la la la la" many times.

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Moore calls on those who raise their hands and throws her hands in the air in "victory" when students answer correctly.

If students give wrong answers, that is OK, too. They still get points for participation.

French words are posted on various classroom items. The television is "une tl," and Moore's computer is "un ordinateur."

Instead of handing out worksheets, Moore devises interactive games. One game involves students asking each other questions, in French, about a story they read. Students fill out correct answers as they speak to each of their classmates.

The class later divides into two groups for a French version of "Hollywood Squares" before the bell rings.

Moore spends all of her 90-minute planning period devising the learning games and activities for her classroom, and grades papers at night, she said.

Moore fell in love with the French language in high school, and had the opportunity to study in France one summer, she said. She now organizes trips to France and Quebec for her own students.

A group is going to Canada this spring so they can apply their language skills to real life, Moore said. Hearing her students talk about art in French in a foreign city is the culmination of the fruits of her labor, she said.

John Davidson, principal of Williamsport High School, said Moore creates a "highly engaged, motivated classroom."

Moore lives in Hagerstown with her husband, Doug, and twin daughters, Kelsey and Lauren, who are in kindergarten.

"Teaching is all I've done," Moore said. "It's the only job I know and love."

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