Monday, August 31, 2015

Is this the Normandy Invasion or just a Retakes Tutorial?

I had my first quiz and test make-up and retake tutorial on Friday.  

Oh. my. goodness. 

32 students.

2 different levels of German.

7 different assessments, 2 of which with listening components.

Beforehand I wasn't sure if I was getting ready for a tutorial or the Normandy Invasion.  I think it required at least as much planning and coordination.

Due to some technical difficulties above my pay grade, tutorials started later this school year than usual.  Combine that with how many of my students struggled on the first quiz, and I had so many students needing to make-up or retake assessments that my tutorial reached capacity and I had to bump some students to next week.  

But thanks to my retake form and all of my meticulous planning, everyone got the right assessment.  Now I just need to grade them...

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I introduced my first year German students to Duolingo this week.  They loved it!  Few of them had seen it before, and they were almost immediately hooked by the friendly green owl.  It was great to see some of my reluctant students getting excited about it.  One of my students with special needs who is struggling to keep up commented to me that this was really helpful to him.  Jawohl!

I've know about Duolingo and enjoyed it for some time (I'm learning Spanish to keep up with my son) but haven't used it much in the classroom because of the inconvenience of reserving the computer lab and bringing the whole class down there, getting everyone set up, etc.

But now that we are 1-1, it's definitely worth it to have all of my students create an account and try it out.  It's on my list of activities that students may do when they finish their work early.  

Hopefully I've got them hooked so that they'll even do it outside of German class!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Week 3 in Review

I started participating in #teach180 on Monday, and it's been a lot of fun so far.  (Though I do have to admit I'm a little nervous about forgetting to take a picture one of these days.  It's possible that I am a little bit of a perfectionist.)  One of the benefits of taking a picture of my school life and tweeting it every day is that I have a record of some of the highlights of my school week.  

So here's a review of my third week of the school year:

Tuesday was Gold Star Day: Although a lot of my students struggled on their first quiz, I did have quite a few students who scored 90% of better.  Those students got a gold star with their name and class period on it which I put up on my back chalkboard.  The title "Wir können" means We can, and then I have the topic of the quiz posted (German 1 Greetings and Alphabet on the left, German 3/4 Conversational Past, Narrative Past, and Past Perfect on the right).  The stars have magnets on the back so I can move and change them as we go on to new topics.

On Wednesday my German 1 students made their first foldable when I taught them the subject pronouns.  We used a Shutterflap 6, which is perfect for a lot of grammar topics because it has a spot for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person in singular and plural.  

These are the student supply boxes which I have at every table.  The cards on the left are conversation practice cards - one set for 1st year and one set for 3/4.  They are available to students whenever they finish early and need something to do.  I though I had blogged about these already, but I guess not.  A topic for another post...

We also played Ich habe, wer hat? for the first time Wednesday in German 1.  Some of the students had played I have, who has? in elementary school, but it still took the classes some time to get the hang of it.  So, times were slow, but everyone had fun.  (For the record per. 4 had the fastest time, but they messed up and had to do a re-start to get that time, and per. 5 had the fastest time on a first try.)

Here's a look at my new alphabet in my new room for this year.  The colorful letters are Alphabet Circle Stamp Clip Art from Mr. Math Coach's Teachers Pay Teachers store and cost only $1 - a great deal!

On Friday, German 1 students took their first vocabulary quiz of the year.  Scores were MUCH better than on the first quiz: in one of my sections, the average on the first quiz was 64%, while on this one it went up to 87%.  I think Tough Love Monday may have had the desired effect... I hope!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tough Love Monday

I did my first #teach180 tweet today.  I won't always be able to blog about my picture, but today I do have time to write about Tough Love Monday:

I gave my first quizzes of the year in both German 1 and German 3/4 on Thursday and Friday.  The results were mixed, which is kind of what I expected.  Some of my students have a solid understanding of what we've done so far in class and know how to prepare for an assessment.  Other students aren't always focused in class, haven't completed assignments on time, and aren't sure how they need to study for a quiz or test in German. These students did not do well.  

Before I returned quizzes today, I told students about how their quiz score gives them some important information: if they scored well, they are on the right track and should keep doing what they are doing.  If not, they need to make some changes: either in their participation in class or in how much or how they are studying.  

Then, I showed them how to fill out a retake form, using my sample quiz (Schülerin Swank = Student Swank) as an example.  This year I am requiring students to correct their first quiz or test before signing up to retake.  I hope this will push students to work harder at figuring out what they didn't understand before retaking, rather than just trying again without any serious practice and hoping they will magically score better.  We'll see how it goes...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

#teach180 - I'm in!

My blogging inspiration (and friend who I have yet to meet) Sarah Hagan at Math = Love is going to do 180 tweeting this school year, and has invited members of the #MTBoS to join her.  Even though I'm not currently teaching math, I get a lot of inspiration from the #MTBoS, and I'll be joining in.

First tweet should be tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Pre-Tests, Day 1

There are lots of changes at school this year.  One of the changes is that all of our students now have HP laptops.

Another change is that we're required to give all of our students a pre- and post-test every semester.

The pre- and post-tests are part of a new law in Indiana which requires that part of teachers' evaluations be based on a measurement of students' learning.  Since elective subjects like German are not a part of state standardized tests, our students are now given a test at the beginning and end of the semester to measure their growth over the course of the semester.

Students take the pre-tests on their laptops, and today was my first day administering them. Students have only had their laptops for about a week, and the testing platform is new to all of us, so I was a bit nervous about how it would go.  

But amazingly, it went very smoothly!  No one was absent, everyone remembered their computers, and everyone was able to take the pre-test.  Wow!  

After that, students logged on to their digital textbooks for the first time, and that went well too.  More wow!  Tomorrow I will give pre-tests to my other 3 classes, and hopefully it will go just as well.

Monday, August 10, 2015

First Foldable of the Year

I started out the second week of German 3/4 with a foldable.  Last week we reviewed the past tenses that we learned last year.  This week we're reviewing the nominative, accusative, and dative cases as well as learning the genitive case.  Since there are 4 cases, I thought a diamond flap foldable would work nicely.  Here's the outside:

And the inside has when each case is used and a quick chart of the definite and indefinite articles for each gender and plural.  We haven't filled in genitive yet because I will introduce it next class.

Here's a close-up of the inside.

Want a copy?  Here's the notes and the foldable.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

First Week

The first week of school is in the books!  Whew!

By the end of the week, it was hard to say who was more exhausted - teachers or students.  Overall, though, it went smoothly.

I have 3 sections of German 1 this year, all of which are full with 31 or 32 students.  I didn't teach German 1 last year, and it's fun to have students who are just starting out in the language.  It's also tiring because everything is unfamiliar to them, so I spend a lot of the first week explaining things and teaching procedures.  There's also a really wide range of students - some are 9th graders who have never taken a language before, and others are 11th graders who have had several years of another language.  It's challenging, but good.

In contrast, all but 3 of the German 3/4 students were my students last year since I taught all of the sections of German 2 and German 3.  So, they are very familiar to me, and we really hit the ground running.  I've only seen them twice so far since those classes meet on the B day of our A/B block schedule, but we have already interviewed and introduced a classmate, reviewed the Perfekt, Präteritum, and Plusquamperfekt, and read half of a story about a girl's summer break trip.  

And, all of the students at my school have now received their laptops.  On Friday I had my first year classes all using them to access Quizlet, and everyone (except the 1 student who left his at home) was able to log on and use Quizlet without any internet problems.  I was amazed!

Up next week: pretests, using the new digital textbooks, and each level's first quiz.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ready or Not

The first day of school is here!  We had teacher days on Thursday and Friday, but today is the first day back with students.  I think I'm pretty much ready to go.

Since we have block scheduling and I am part-time, I only have two sections of German 1 on the first day.  

Distribution of students' HP Windows tablet computers starts right away today with the seniors.

If all goes well, all of the students will have their devices by the end of the week!

And they will use those devices to take a pre-test next week.