Saturday, June 17, 2017

Assessments on Canvas

I've been enjoying a relaxed summer schedule to work on things for next year at a comfortable pace.  

One of the things I'm working on is moving our assessments from paper to our learning management system, Canvas.  I was hesitant to test on Canvas when we first started using it two years ago because it was all so new and there was so much for both me and the students to learn.  

This past year we gave our semester exams on Canvas successfully, and I've been using it more for assignments as well, so I think I'm ready to put regular quizzes and tests on Canvas as well.  

It takes some time to input the quizzes, but then the grading is quick and there's no paper to deal with.  I only have German 1 and 2 next year, so it seems like a good time to switch those classes over.

Here's what a vocabulary quiz will look like:

Nouns have two boxes, one for the article and one for the noun, so that students can get partial credit if they miss the article.  Verbs have just one box.  These questions are graded automatically by the computer.  Other questions are teacher graded: 

I am requiring that students type ß and umlauts correctly.  It's something that we practice in class, and I include the special characters in the instructions for students to copy and paste if they have difficulty with the character codes.  On the first quiz of the year, students still receive full credit even without the umlaut but get a reminder that they need to use umlauts correctly on all future assessments.

All of the vocabulary questions are in question banks, so students' questions will not be in the same order as their neighbors, and it makes generating a parallel quiz for a retake a snap.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ordinal Numbers, Feste und Feiertage - Updated Notes

Aaaah, summer!  Time to relax and think about changes I'd like to make for next year.  

Yesterday I updated my guided notes for ordinal numbers and holidays.  Here's what they looked like this year:

And here's the new version:

There are a couple of good videos on the topic of ordinal numbers:

And a Deutsche Welle video about folk festivals:


The notes file is here.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Friday was the last day of school for students.  Teachers go back for one final day after Memorial Day, but basically, it's summer!

The last week of school was pretty much all exams and study periods (and one painfully long 3 hour homeroom period for computer collection), so I had quite a bit of time to clean up my room, sort through old files, and look ahead to next year.

I'm scheduled to teach three sections of German 1 and three sections of German 2 next year, which if you're doing the math, you'll notice is full time.  I started at 1/3 time, then was 2/3 time, and the last two years I've been at 5/6 time.  I specifically applied for this position four years ago because I only wanted to teach part time.  But enrollment has increased, so my teaching load has increased too.  To be honest, I'm still trying to get used to the idea of being full time, but that's where things stand now.

I am excited about teaching only two preps which I have taught before from this textbook, which means I can change and improve things and start to implement some of the ideas I've had along the way but haven't been able to implement because I was just trying to keep my head above the water.

I modified my guided notes for German 1 on German Nouns and Gender to make them clearer and more visually appealing.  I changed the day and date heading a bit and also added a student understanding self-evaluation element:

I am a bit skeptical about how much of an impact having students evaluate their understanding really has on learning, but it's part of the Marzano rubric we're evaluated by, so here it is.

Here's what the new notes look like:

Here's the file if you'd like them.  Happy summer!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Quick Tech Tip - Making Learning Apps even better!

I LOVE Learning Apps!  I've blogged about it several times before, and if you haven't checked it out yet, now is the time - it's fantastic and free!

One of the small disadvantages of Learning Apps is that it doesn't have a way for me to easily check students' progress/completion of activities.  

But, a short while ago, my wonderful colleague Molly, who teaches Japanese and ENL, mentioned to me that of you create an "App Matrix" with several activities, it does show when students have completed an activity.   



And, the check marks remain, even if students close the page and go back to it.  Game-changer!

We're into final exam review season now, and I've been doing a lot of paperless review, with online activities.  It gives students instant, personalized feedback, which, as I learned in my May professional development activities, has a significant impact on student learning:

Along with Quizlet in multiple choice Test mode, which is how the final is set up, German 1 has done

and German 2 


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Elmo und Bert kochen

I am a huge fan of both Sesame Street in English and Sesamstraße in German, so whenever I get to use Sesamstraße in my lesson, it's a good day:

Our current topic in German 1 is food and restaurants.  Students have learned several adjectives - lecker, süß, salzig, scharf - to describe how food tastes, so it's a perfect time to use this clip:

We watched the clip as a whole class and talked about it using schmecken and adjectives.  

Then, I wanted students to do some independent writing in response to the video.  I have some really great digital interactive notebook templates from Danielle Knight ($7 through Teachers Pay Teachers), including this one for retelling a story:

I used it to create a PowerPoint worksheet with clips from the video and questions for the students to answer:

Normally, I would just print out the worksheet and students would complete it on paper.  But since we are 1-1 with laptops, I made an assignment in our Learning Management System where students downloaded the file to their computers, typed their answers in the boxes, and submitted it to me digitally in the LMS.

I was a little nervous about how my students would do with this since I haven't given this type of download-write-save-upload assignment before, but it went very smoothly!

When students submitted their work, I could view it easily in the LMS:

Students got to see clear color pictures from the video and had a link right at their fingertips to watch it again if they needed to.  

It was a great way for me to assess how they were doing with their comprehension, vocabulary, and ability to form complete sentence answers in German.  It also held them accountable for completing the assignment.

I could even make corrections and leave comments quickly and easily on the students' work:

I'm definitely not a technology for technology's sake person, and I don't think I'll have a paperless classroom anytime soon.  (Probably not ever -  there's really nothing like a good foldable for pronouns!)

But there are times when technology really is a useful tool to enhance learning, and I feel like this was one of those times.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


I tried playing Löffel (Spoons) for the first time this week with my German 2 students, and it was a big hit.  Every student was actively involved, and I had several requests to play again.  That definitely counts as a win!

I had read about using Spoons as a review game at Teaching to Inspire, which gives a really good overview and things to consider when designing your own game.

Only a few students were familiar with the card game Spoons, so it took a few rounds and explanations until everyone was clear on how to play, but after that they were off, practicing German vocabulary, and having fun.

I had made sets of 4 cards for each vocabulary word.  For example, there might be the German noun, the gender (der/die/das), a picture, and a sentence describing the word in German.  Students tried to get all 4 cards for one vocabulary word in their hand.  Our current topic is technology vocabulary, and you can access my cards here.

We had prepped for the game by working with the cards the previous class, just trying to sort them into sets of 4 so that they would have some familiarity with them before trying to collect them in a game situation.  I think this helped a lot, especially since this was their first time playing Löffel.

The student without a spoon at the end of a round wrote a letter in the word "Löffel" on his or her desk with a dry erase marker.  The goal was to be the person with the fewest letters at the end of the game.

You'll need to dedicate a good chunk of time to playing, especially the first time.  Probably because it was new to students, we spent 25-30 minutes playing and none of the players collected all of the letters in Löffel.  Still, I think it was time well spent because it really got everyone engaged with German to German vocabulary from the unit.  Not bad for the last month of school!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cupcake Wars

Last Tuesday was my favorite day of the school year.... Cupcake Wars!

The advanced food and nutrition classes have a competition every spring to create the best cupcake, and teachers are asked to volunteer to judge the entries.  I have been doing this since my first year at Bloomington North, and I really look forward to it.

This year I was a judge for first period, which was a small class with only three groups.  The Cupcakes were The Better Red Velvet, Oreo Red Velvet, and Pink Lemonade.

All three were delicious, but my personal favorite was Pink Lemonade.  There are several judges, so I am not sure which cupcake was the final winner, but it was a delicious morning!