Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I've recently started showing parts of the German evening news, the Tagesschau, to my German 3 class. You can find the most recent day's news show as well as archives of previous shows at the website.

It's an interesting cultural comparison to look at how the news is presented and how it compares to U.S. news shows.  Students usually know some background on the top stories, which helps them understand more of what is said.  One of the features I especially like is that you can turn on German subtitles, which really helps my students understand what they are hearing.  

Today, for example, the lead story was about the earthquake in Nepal, so we watched that segment and discussed new vocabulary like Erdbeben (earthquake) and Opfer (victim).  It's a great way for advanced students to improve their listening comprehension and expand their vocabulary!

Monday, April 27, 2015


My German 2 students have a vocabulary quiz coming up next class on the topic Verkehrsmittel (transportation), so to review yesterday, we played Lotto/Bingo, which is something we hadn't done in quite while, and all three of my classes had a great time.  It's a pretty easy, low-prep way to practice, so I thought I'd share it here.

When students first come in to class they pick up a Lotto card.  Their bell work is to write 24 of their current vocabulary words in German on the Deutsch side of the card and in English on the Englisch side of the card.  This gives each student a different card without my having to make 30 different versions, plus it gets students writing the words one more time in German, which helps with their spelling.  A completed card looks like this:

To play, students start with the English side up, and I call out the words in German.  Since I enter the vocabulary lists into Quizlet, it's easy to print out small cards with the words so that I can choose them randomly.  When a student gets 5 in a row, we clear the cards and play again.  

Once we've had about 3 winners on the English side, I have students flip to the German side.  I call out the words in English, and now they have to find the German.  This is harder, and I do let students use their vocabulary lists if they need them - my goal is for everyone to participate and to practice.

I normally don't like giving students candy as a prize (I should probably write a post about this some day), but I had some leftover Werther's Originals hard candies that one of the German exchange students brought when he did a presentation to one of my classes.  When those ran out, I gave out little prizes that I had leftover from my elementary ESL days - scented markers, erasers, and temporary tattoos.  The temporary tattoos were probably the most popular!  

If you'd like a copy of the blank Lotto template, it's available here, though it's very easy to make your own.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

German INBs

The end of the school year seems like a good time to reflect on things I did this year that worked and things that didn't... and make plans for next year.
I absolutely love some of the interactive notebooks I've seen other teachers create with their classes.  Last year I tested the waters a bit by making some foldables with my students, which went well.  

I had students glue or tape the foldables into their German binders, which also contained notes, vocabulary, and homework.  It was a good system but used a lot of paper, and binders are pretty bulky.

This year I decided to jump in with both feet and make the switch from binders to composition books.  Some of my students never got around to putting pages in their binder rings, and I do a lot of guided notes, so I thought having students glue pages into composition notebooks would solve this problem and use less paper.

When I say I jumped in with both feet, I probably should say I dove in headfirst into deep water because the plan was for students to have two notebooks, one for notes and homework and one for vocabulary, and EVERYTHING would go in to those two notebooks.

It did not go well.

I don't think the ideas were bad, but it was just way too much to implement all at once.  Here's how the notes looked.  

I definitely underestimated the amount of time it would take me to reformat everything I had created last year to a new size.  Plus, I started teaching German 3 for the first time this year, so I had a lot of prep to do for that as well.  

The vocabulary notebooks were good, but students were always asking which notebook to put which things in, which drove me batty.

Trying to put homework in the composition books was just too much gluing.

After a few weeks, I threw in the towel and went back to binders.  It went much better.

Students have sections in their binder for notes, vocabulary, and homework, but it's all in one binder.  

The lesson I learned was an essential one, especially for beginning teachers: Don't try to do everything all at once.  Baby steps.    
                 Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down images by

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ideas Worth Sharing: If It Were My Home

My blogging inspiration, Sarah at Math = Love, is starting two new series on her blog.  The first is called Stuff Worth Sharing, and the intent is to share internet resources that she has found to be helpful.  

I really like the idea, especially for German teachers because we are often the only German teacher in a particular school so there isn't a colleague next door teaching the same thing to bounce ideas off of.  Also,German internet resources are not as plentiful as resources for other subjects, but there are some good ones out there.

In fact, this one just showed up in my Twitter feed the other day, courtesy of NPR's Morning Edition, and it's great!  The site is called, and it allows you to compare the size of countries around the world with your home country.  

Here you can see I've placed Germany on top of Indiana.  It's bigger, but not that much.  

Often in discussions with my students about car ownership, public transportation, or housing in Germany, it becomes clear that they don't have a good sense of the difference in population density between the Midwest and Germany.  This site gives them a concrete image of the relative sizes of the U.S. and Germany.  I definitely plan to use it with my first year students next year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cupcake Competition

Today was one of my favorite days of the school year - the Cupcake Wars competition in the advanced nutrition classes!  Teachers are asked to volunteer as judges, and I am more than happy to participate.  

They were all delicious, and I got to take some home to share with my family, so my kids love this day too.  The winner this year was Starbuck's Chocolate (not pictured here), and my kids and I loved the caramel apple (at 5:00 in the picture).  Can't wait to do it again next year!

Monday, April 13, 2015


My school corporation is in the process of becoming 1-1 with digital devices.  Students in the elementary and middle schools have iPads, and at the high school, students will be getting HP tablet-computers next fall.  To start the process, today was Digital Device Distribution Day (D-Day) at my school.  

Here I am with my new device.  Now I just have to learn to use it!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Small Change...

...makes a big difference!

When I moved into my classroom at the beginning of the school year, one of the things I really didn't like was the location of my computer.  Because of where the outlets are located, it faces away from my students.  So, when working at the computer, I have a great view of my quilt

but my back is to my students.  And no teacher in her right mind wants to have her back to her students for long!

I tried moving things around at the beginning of the year, but the cords weren't long enough.

Then, on Friday morning I had an epiphany!  What if I just moved the keyboard and monitor and left the big CPU (is it even still called that?) box where it was.  Were the cords long enough?  (I'm sure many people would have though of this before the last 6 weeks of school, but better late than never, right?)

So, on Friday afternoon during my prep, rather than grading, I moved furniture.  Here's the end result:

It's fantastic!  I can look at my class while taking attendance, rather then having to glance over my shoulder, enter attendance, glance, enter, repeat.  And when students are taking a quiz or test, I can do things at the computer while still keeping an eye on them.  I guess it's the little things that make a real difference!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Adjective Endings and Coloring

I saw in the news recently that coloring books are becoming popular among adults as a way to relax and relieve stress.  Today in German 2, we did some coloring too.  I had introduced Adjective Endings after Ein Words the previous class, and the first activity today was to color the picture at the top of their notes.  (Pictures are from My Cute Graphics)

Some of my students got really into it.

This one has a pizza delivery guy on the left and two zombies on the right.  

And in this one the people are green.

Students weren't quite as excited to fill in the articles and colors with adjective endings, but most of them did get them done eventually.  (Not all of the answers above are correct!)

We took a break for some students to present dialogues, and then students did the activity below to practice in a format similar to the quiz they will take next class.

I created this activity myself at this awesome site called  It's free and really cool!  There are public activities which you can search and use, or you can create your own.  

What I like about this activity is that the students can check their work, and then they fix the ones that are wrong.  Our school is scheduled to become 1-1 next fall with tablet computers, but for now we have 2 carts of iPads which the world language teachers share, so I had my students scan a QR code which took them to this activity which works on a iPad's internet browser.  

I am equally proud of myself for creating this activity and for figuring out how to embed it here!