Friday, July 8, 2016

Target Language Instructions

I try to use German as much as possible in all of my classes so that by the time students are in the advanced levels we are using the target language almost all the time (3rd year - still need to explain some of the more difficult grammar in English) and exclusively (4th year).  

One difficulty I notice students having is understanding instructions that are written in German.  It's a challenge because I don't want students to miss a question on a quiz or test because they didn't understand the instructions but knew the material.  On the other hand, I've noticed that if I write the instructions in both German and English, they don't bother to read the German instructions at all.  Then, when I take away the English, they are lost.

What to do?  

Recently when browsing on one of my go-to websites for German materials and ideas, ISL Collective, I came upon these great pictures of directions and their meanings.  

The author, Martha from Austria, has very kindly shared them for free.  (You have to join ISL collective to download materials, but it is free.)  I plan to make posters from them for my room next year.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Syllabus Scavenger Hunt

I've been updating the syllabus for my classes next year.  Every year it gets a little easier because I'm more satisfied with what I used the year before.  The big challenge is to try to put all the important information into a format that students will actually read.  

Here's what my German 1 syllabus looks like:

This year I've decided to do a scavenger hunt activity with highlighters on the first day of school with my German 1 and 2 classes.  

Students will highlight the answers to the top 4 frequently asked questions - things like

"Did I miss anything when I was absent?" 

"If I get a lower score on my test retake, can I keep my first score?"

"What's the website for the online textbook?"

I hope this activity will push students to read the syllabus more closely and reduce the number of times I have to answer these questions.  When they ask, I can just remind them that the answer is highlighted on their syllabus, and hopefully they will learn to be more self-reliant.  

Saturday, July 2, 2016

German Grammar Reference Cards

One of the things I did last year with my students which worked really well was German Grammar Reference Cards.
My students have an online textbook which they can access on their school-issued laptops, but one thing that I've noticed is that they are really lazy about getting them out to look up something they can't remember.  And, the reference charts in the back of the book don't contain all of the information my students frequently need.

So, I developed a chart for students to complete and keep in their binders for quick reference.  If they have the kind of binder with the clear pocket on the cover and back, I encourage them to keep it in there.  

We fill in sections as we cover them, often completing the section of the chart as a review before a test or quiz.  The chart above is one side of the German 1 chart.  I didn't take a picture of the completed second side, but here's the blank version:

It worked really, really well!  The only thing I would change for German 1 is to leave off the adjective endings.  We did touch on them a little but putting them in the same chart as the der and ein words tended to confuse them.

I also gave grammar reference cards to my German 3 students.  Theirs went on to a second page.  The first page is the same as German 1.  Then, they had

Next year I'll be teaching German 2, so I created a reference card for them.  

If you'd like a copy of any of these, click on the links below: