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  Christo Gnat (650) 637-4880 ex: 1626 French Teacher

Christo Gnat

From the mind of Mr. Gnat...


     Welcome to the virtual Room 26, where you can learn about my journey to Ralston, my classes, and read a bit of my creativity.


     I spent my first 18 years in Santa Rosa (known mainly for being in wine country) before embarking on that awesome journey of going to college at UC Santa Cruz.  I took a smattering of courses of such variety as Muppet Magic, Creative Writing, Electronic Music, and of course the top three French courses.  After a year and a half of undeclaring my major, I took Intro to Linguistics and Syntax 1.  The latter was deemed by a poll of students to be the second-most difficult undergraduate class UCSC offered, just behind Astrophysics.  It's a good thing I loved it!  It was all about problem solving, critical thinking, and solving language puzzles.  I graduated with Kresge College Honors in the Spring of 2008.  The next Fall, partially in search of myself and partially in search of my future, I traveled to France all by my lonesome and stayed in hostels for six weeks as I really got to know the country, language, and culture that I studied in high school and college.  A couple months after my return saw my realization that I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. 

     I didn't realize I had made the wrong assessment about the kind of teaching I wanted to do until I reluctantly gave up my two part time jobs to take the long-term substitute job at Ralston.  I took over for a 6th Grade English teacher who had changed careers.  After my first day, which was amazingly enlightening, by the way, I realized that I no longer wanted to pursue an elementary school position because I realized I love working with students at the middle school level, helping them grow into responsible high schoolers, and ultimately being a bright spot for students in a sea of chaos.  I say this last part because most of the people I've talked to have described middle school as they "survived it".  I hope I can be not just a life raft but also a lighthouse, inspiring them amidst a billowing storm of awkwardness, change, and pressure.  

     During my second year of teaching, I offered to teach French.  This was in part because the French Program at Carlmont High School was trying to get more students interested, but mainly because I wanted the challenge.  I could be a French Teacher!  And ever since, I have loved observing how fast my students learn to speak, read, write, and understand French.  I am not from France, but my wide range of experiences from 8th grade through today, a passing score on the AP French test, and a degree in Linguistics allow me to share my passion for the language with students and set them up to enjoy French for the rest of their lives, like I have.


What students do in my classes:


French students must practice being French, which means you will read, write, speak, listen, think, and draw in French (yes!).  Learning a second language is building upon your current foundation of language.  All it takes is some patience, hard work, and practice.  Your understanding of English will improve too, which is a nice side-effect.


French 1A (7th grade) students will get better and better at having conversations about a variety of topics and will develop their ability to use regular -ER verbs correctly (each one has 4-6 times as many forms as their English versions!).


French 1B (8th grade) students will exponentially expand their language abilities and make choices in what aspect of French culture to teach to the class, and many choose to attempt a French recipe from scratch.  This always leads to culinary learning and more than one story about how something burned or turned out just right!  We will also listen to new and classic pop songs and students will fill in the French lyrics... if they are listening closely :)


6th Grade French Exploratory students will have fun learning new vocabulary, singing songs, playing games, and expressing what they like and don't like, and ordering food, all in French!  For 9 weeks, students will gain a pretty solid foundation of French.  Even if they think they don't like French - they learn the language without realizing!



Now for a spontaneous creative short analogy, which is an incomplete story that does have a theme (message):

From the land of "why not?" comes the fabled speed-thinker Johnny Roosevelt, who, through tireless practice and unwavering dedication to avoiding the "crowds of gamer gangs", accomplished what none other could: complete victory by respect.  His friends would all be jealous as he quietly tells them of his feat.  They would stand in awe, not comprehending how such a winner could be found in such a losering game.  They would ask him to retell his tale over and over until they felt satisfied that they knew his secret, but they wouldn't realize, at least at first, that this triumph cannot be duplicated by pressing a certain pattern of buttons or repeating all the right moves.  No, this was a victory by wit, creativity, and above all else, kindness, because in life, kindness is the power that does the most damage. 


Contact me...
  Christo Gnat (650) 637-4880 ex: 1626 French Teacher