Published: Dec. 17, 2019

I am a product of the school system where I now teach with a passion for sharing the Francophone world with my students.  I was selected as the Pisgah High School Teacher of the Year in 2015 and the 2018-2019 prof de l’année for NC-AATF, I earned my Global Educator Digital Badge designation from the North Carolina State Board of Education in 2018. Outside of teaching, I love traveling, crafting, snow days and coffee!  

I teach High School French, levels I- IV, in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. In this season of stress and testing, I decided to create an advent calendar to share Christmas tidbits from around the French-speaking world.  Due to various factors, we lost some instructional time, so this became a way to continue input.

I got the idea to use Wakelet from a Christmas Countdown created by Erin Flanagan, shared in Wakelet’s newsletter.  During the semester, I maintain a passport project via Wakelet, having my students take a cultural deep dive into various francophone countries, so I knew it would be the perfect for this passion project.  As a tool, it streamlines sharing curated information, and the best part is: it’s FREE! If you want to learn more about the many ways you can use this tool with your students check this out:

I select news articles, videos and recipes that would interest my students.  I post a new video, article, recipe, factoid etc. daily...focusing on member countries of the OIF (Organisation Internationale de la Francophnie).  

Some topics thus far:

  • RDC : Noël malgré la crise politique 

  • Chanté Nwel - Aller mon voisin - Martinique et Guadeloupe

  • Recettes de cuisine africaine pour Noël - Cameroun, Burkina, Congo et plus encore!

  • Les cadeaux tendance - Le département d'outre-mer de la Guyane française 

On our last day of instruction I had our advent of the day as our Quasimodo (bellringer/warm up activity) on the board: L’art traditionnel haïtien est marqué par un produit local typique à chaque période de Noël : le fanal.

More resources on the fanal tradition (in French) and a YouTube  clip (also in French).

After we had completed some Gimkit review, I gave my students free time to study or to create their own fanal.  Our drafting teacher is familiar with Haitian culture through a mission trip and several of my students went to borrow some design tools and share our idea with her and her students.

I created a rough idea(In a pinch a cell phone flashlight works well to illuminate your fanal!):


and two groups of boys created these!  

I asked my group of French II students their opinion on the project:

The calendar is really cool, I learned a few things I didn't know about French Christmas. The legend of Pére Noel is really cool especially.” -Gabrielle M.

I enjoy the advent calendar because its interesting facts that make me feel warm about christmas.” -Emma W.

The Advent Calendar, in my opinion, is a fun way to learn about the different cultures of countries, how they are similar to ours or how they are different. Mademoiselle Burrus' idea is something I've never seen any teacher do before, and I look forward to the rest of the days!” -Jada R.

If you or your students would like to follow along and catch a little holiday spirit check it out on Wakelet:

May your days be merry and bright, wishing you a glorious winter season!

Joyeux Noël!  - Emily M. Burrus, French Teacher at Pisgah High School in Canton, NC.