Saturday, August 20, 2016

Going Digital

My school went 1-1 with laptop computers last school year.  As with any new resource, it took me some trial and error to figure out how best to use them in my classroom.  There are pluses and minuses to any new tool, and I would be remiss if I didn't point out that there is very little data so far on whether 1-1 technology actually enhances student learning.  Still, it is a tool which my district has made available to me, so I'm trying to use it to help my students experience success in German.

This year, I'm starting off feeling much more knowledgeable about both the laptops and our learning management system, Canvas.  

I have a home page for each of my courses.  The picture below is for German 2.

Each of the unit titles are clickable and take the student to materials for that unit.  

This past week I wanted to give my German 2 students a short practice assignment using the new verbs from our first unit that we had gone over in class.  Instead of giving them a paper worksheet, I was able to give them the assignment online that looked like this.

They wrote their answers in the text box at the bottom of the screen and submitted them to me by the beginning of the next class.  

Almost all of my German 2 students have internet access at home, but for those that don't, I have them copy and paste their work into a Word file and save it to their desktop.  Then, they can work on it at home without internet.  When they are back at school the next day, they can paste their work from the Word file into the text box and submit it.  So far that has worked, though I do usually print out 2-3 paper copies as an additional backup.

I grade most assignment on a completion basis.  Normally I check for assignment completion at the beginning of class while students are doing their bell work.  With this, I don't need to because Canvas notes what time the student submitted the assignment.  So, I can spend more time talking with students in German or assessing how they are doing with the bell work.  

Generally we go over assignments in class and students correct their own work - it's just too time consuming for me to correct every individual assignment.  

To go over the online assignment in class, students opened their submitted assignment and copied and pasted their work into a new text box for resubmitting the assignment.  They could then edit the resubmitted work as we went over it so that at the end they had the correct answers for future quiz and test review.  

The learning management system keeps and lets me see a student's original submission, so I can make sure they attempted the work on their own before class and corrected the work with the class later.  Grading it hardly took any more time than my old system of checking for completion by hand at the beginning of class and entering grades at the end of class.  So, I'm happy with this.

Another use of Canvas has been for absent work.  Each day I post absent work for each course according to the date.  Then, students who are absent check Canvas to find out what they missed.  Some of my very organized students do this before they return to class after their absence so they are already mostly caught up by the time they return.  Then there are most students, who I remind to check their absent work during bell work time when they return to class.  

Here's what an absent work file looks like.  

I can link to files or websites and even embed some videos.  I don't yet have AirServer working in my classroom (read about that saga here) yet this year, so I can't record guided notes videos to include here yet, but I hope that will be up and running before too long.  

I don't think that 1-1 is the solution to all of the challenges we face in education, but it is another tool in my tool box, and I'm looking forward to finding more ways to make it work in my classroom this year.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Auf die Plätze, Fertig, Los!

August 10 was the first day of school, and we are off and running!  

I am so grateful that our school district started school on a Wednesday this year rather than a Monday.  The first days of school are really tiring for both students and teachers, and after 3 days, everyone is ready for a weekend.

All in all, things went surprisingly smoothly.  I am teaching 5/6 time again this year, and have two sections of German 1, two sections of German 2, and one section of German 4.  Here's how I keep myself organized:

We have block scheduling, and my German 2 classes meet on Maroon days, and German 1 and German 4 meet on Gold days.  

New this year, I have posted objectives for each of my classes, which is part of our evaluation:

German 1 started out with a crossword puzzle of cognates to discover how much German they already know.

and looking at some false friends:

And in German 4, we talked about duzen and Siezen with this video from Easy German:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Landeskunde Bayern
One of the great things about being on break is that it gives me a chance to explore new resources and plan new activities in a more thorough way than I have time for during the school year.

Today I was thinking about our first Landeskunde (geography and culture) unit for German 2: Bayern (Bavaria).  Over the course of German 2 and German 3, students study each of the 16 German Bundesländer in detail.  I've taught the German 3 states before, but this year will be my first to teach the German 2 states.  

Bayern is the first one, and surprisingly, since it is the largest state and most well-known in the U.S., I didn't have a lot of material on it yet.  So, I visited one of my go-to sites for culture videos: Deutsche Welle.  

Their travel program Check-In has a 25 minute video focusing on Munich:

I had time to watch the whole video and create a worksheet to go along with it.  This could be completed as a whole-class activity or individually.  

The first part of the worksheet refers students to our textbook, Mosaik, but the information is also readily available online.  
The back page follows the video and uses the adorable children's map of Munich that I found online.  

Here's a link to an editable copy of my Landeskunde Bayern Notizen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

German Sentence Starters Posters

Here's my schedule for the day: driving children to one cross country practice and two soccer practices, all at different times and at two different schools.  It must be the week before school starts!  In between, I'm trying to get a little school work done.  

I little while ago I found these great Sentence Starters Posters online.  There are 72 different words and phrases, 3 to a page. 

I think they'll be great for my German 4 students to help them in their writing.  The site has some other German posters, including numbers, seasons, and weather.