Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Teacher becomes the Student

One of the things I'm doing this summer is taking a beginning college Spanish class online.  I just decided it would be a fun thing to do with some of my free time.  My older son has taken 2 years of Spanish in middle school and plans to continue in high school, and there are lots of opportunities to practice it, so I thought why not?

My class started on Monday.  It's through Ivy Tech, our community college, and is all online.  I've never taken an online class, so that in itself is a new experience.  It's definitely more convenient than having to go to class - I can do my work in my pajamas!

The other really neat thing about it is that the textbook is from the same publisher as the German textbook we use at my school.  So, I get a chance to try out the Spanish version of our online German textbook from a student perspective.

I guess once you're a teacher, you can't really stop yourself from looking at things from a teacher perspective.  As I'm working on my assignments, I find myself analyzing them: are they helpful or frustrating, are there things I could use in my German classroom, what would my students think of this? 

I'm also a bit jealous because there are a lot more resources and practice activities in the Spanish book than in the German book.  I guess that's just how it is when you teach a language that is more commonly taught.

One cool resource I found today is ToonDoo.  I was actually looking for Toonlet, which is a web site suggested in my class for creating cartoon dialogs, but the web site hasn't been responding the past two days.  As I was trying to connect to it, I found a list of other cartoon creation websites and went to ToonDoo.  Here's what I've created so far

It's fun and pretty intuitive to use.  The one negative is that you can't type foreign characters or accents within the program, even if you have those symbols installed on your computer.  However, you can copy and paste from a Word document and the special symbols will appear.  

I think my students would have a lot of fun with this, though they would probably spend quite a bit of time playing with all of its features before they got down to using it to practice German.  I think if I created a Word document for them to copy and past from, that would make the special symbols easier to access.  

Always fun to find another resource to try!  Hasta luego!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Deutsch 4 - Target Language Participation Rubric

School has been out a week now, which means I'm enjoying the relaxed pace of summer and the chance to think ahead to next year.  Often this means working on new ideas and plans in the morning while enjoying a mug of tea and still wearing my pajamas.

I will be teaching 5/6 time again next school year.  I will have two sections of German 1, two sections of German 2, and one section of German 4.  I didn't teach any German 2 last year, and I missed it, so I'm very happy to get to teach it again. 

The exciting news for our German program is that we have fifteen students enrolled in German 4, which is enough to have a separate section and not need to combine it with German 3.  

Last year was the first year since I have been at BHSN that we offered German 4 at all, but there were only 5 students, so I had to be combined with German 3.  Since we had new textbooks for all levels and the topics in the third year book were new to the German 4 students, it worked fine to combine the groups and differentiate as needed to challenge the German 4 students.  

But now that we have enough students, we can offer a true German 4 class.  The textbook we'll be using is Denk Mal! from Vista.

One of the things I really want to emphasize in German 4 is target language usage.  In the 3/4 class this past year, I spoke German to students most of the time but still used English to explain new grammar concepts.  I probably didn't push students to use German as much as I should have.  

In German 4, there won't be any new grammar topics - just review, so I want to use German exclusively.  If I want students to use German all the time, too, I need my grading system to reflect that.  In German 1 and 2, grades are weighted at 75% for assessment (quizzes, tests, and projects) and 25% for assignments and participation.  I've decided that in German 4, grades will be 50% for assessment, 25% for assignments, and 25% for target language participation.

A little while ago, I found a Weekly Rubric for Target Language Use from which she created using materials from Joshua Cabral at World Language Classroom

I started with that and modified the format and rubric until I had what I think will work well for my classroom.

We have three 6 week grading periods per semester, so I made a place to record weekly scores for the semester.