Sunday, September 15, 2019

Room Updates

Here's a quick look at some of the updates I've made in my room this year!

I've already blogged about my new seating arrangement (which I so far really like!): 

Here are some updates to my back board / agenda area to meet (I hope!) new expectations of our administration:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

First Enrichment Activity for Deutsch 2

Last year in German 1 during the second semester, I started assigning students enrichment or corrections after their unit tests.  The idea was to push students who struggled to look closely at their errors, learn from them, and then retake their test if they wanted to.  I also wanted to give my students who had mastered the material a chance to go further.

It worked quite well, so I've decided to expand it into the first semester of both German 1 and German 2 this year (hopefully!).

German 2 takes their first unit test next week, and I've definitely noticed a wide range of mastery among my students so far on formative assessments.  So, I expect to have students with a lot of corrections to do and others who are ready for new challenges.

The enrichment activity I've designed has students watching a 2 minute segment on the Tagesschau from August 23.  I'm trying to teach my students how to work with authentic video clips that contain a lot of unfamiliar vocabulary by focusing on what they can understand and by viewing a clip several times.

Here's what they'll do:
You will be watching a 2 minute segment from the German news several times.  Repetition is important in learning a new language!  Don't worry that you don't understand every word.  Focus on what you can understand.
Write the answers to the following questions on a separate piece of paper:
      1.  Before you watch the video for the first time, write down what you think you might hear based on the pictures below.   
      2. Watch the video from 6:30 to 8:44.  You can turn on German subtitles by clicking on UT. (Links to an external site.) What did you see?  Was it what you expected? 
      3. Watch the video a second time.  What do you think the story is about?  What questions do you have?
      4. Watch the video a third time, making sure that you have the subtitles turned on.  Choose 3 unfamiliar words that you think are important to the story, look them up, and record them with their English meanings on your paper.
      5. Watch the video a fourth time, making sure that you have the subtitles turned on.  Answer these questions in German:  
a)  Wie viele Menschen waren (were) in 1989 in der Menschenkette?
b)  Wie lange war (was) die Menschenkette?

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Listening Feature in Quizizz

I'm a fan of Kahoot, Quizizz, and Quizlet Live.  All three games provide a fun way to practice material, and each has its own strengths and classroom situations when it works best.

I really like the way Quizizz allows students to work at their own pace.  It also shows the answer choices on students' own screens, which can be very helpful if the answers are long or quite similar to each other.  I have also had classes which are not mature enough to handle the whole-class competitive aspects of Kahoot (or choosing an appropriate name), and Quizizz offers a good alternative.

As I was looking at my collection of Quizizz this week, I found a Quizizz made by another teacher for the German alphabet:

It asks students about the German names for the letters of the alphabet: 
My students usually really need practice in hearing and recognizing a letter of the alphabet.

As I was looking at this Quizizz, I found that you can upload 10 second MP3 files or record yourself very easily to give an audio clue.  Perfect!

I found a great website,, which has individual MP3 files for the letter of the alphabet which you can download.  

I'm going to record myself spelling words as well for my students to practice, and there are lots more possibilities for listening practice on Quizizz with this function.  I hope you find it useful as well!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A New Look for the New Year

For the past 6 years I've had desks in my classroom arranged in table groups of 4, like this:

It's worked quite well for me, though there were always a few spots where students had their backs partially to the front board.  This year when I came back after summer break, the desks were in rows after being taken out and put back in for floor waxing.  So, I decided to try out a new arrangement.

The idea is to have everyone arranged in more of a U-shape, facing the center of the room.  I did this during my first two years of teaching in my math classes, but I haven't used it since.

I've made a few modifications since the above picture was taken.  The desks are now in pairs of 2 within the U-shapes, so students have a convenient partner for quick speaking exercises.  There is one group of 3 tables for my classes which have an odd number of students.  Here's what I think I've settled on:

I'm using Name Tents again this year to learn students' names and mix them up with different partners at the beginning of the year, so that has made it easy to tweak things a bit as I go.  

So far, I am quite happy with it.  Students took their first quiz this week, and I didn't move desks for that.  I reminded them to focus on their own work, and the questions are in a different order for each student, so I don't think there was much of a problem with wandering eyes.  So far, so good!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Liechtenstein in the news

Liechtenstein made the news in the U.S. this week as it celebrated its 300th anniversary on Thursday.  

We're discussing holidays in German 2 and introducing German speaking countries in German 1, so we'll definitely be talking about Liechtenstein next week in both of my classes.  

This Reuters article gives a nice overview of the country and has a photo slide show of the celebrations.

I couldn't help noticing the tent behind the prince which says "Ein Land, ein Bier."

Deutsche Welle has this video in English about Liechtenstein and its 300th anniversary:

and this one from a few years ago:

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Typisch Deutsch Video Activity

Was ist Typisch Deutsch?

School started this week on Wednesday.  I'm always glad when we start with a short week because the first week is tiring for everyone.  It went very well!

One of the activities I did with my German 2 classes was to watch the German in Me video from Easy German.  

It was a nice way to engage the students in the target language without overwhelming them since there are German and English subtitles.

As we watched, students were asked to select one key German word for each typically German characteristic and to make some notes in English about what it meant:

We did one example together as a class:

We didn't have enough time to get through the whole video in either of my two German 2 classes, but we did get to several typisch Deutsch characteristics, and I think students were getting the hang of it.  Definitely something to do again.  I may turn this activity into an enrichment assignment for students who score 90% or better on the first test.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Das Grundgesetz ist 70 Jahre alt!

The Bundesrepublik Deutschland was founded in May 1949, which means it and the Grundgesetz (basic law/constitution) are 70 years old this year!

Bodo Wartke, a popular German piano player and singer, performs a rap of the first five articles of the Grundgesetz.  It's fantastic!  

It's fast, but you can download the lyrics as a pdf here: 

I think it would be great to do with an upper level class as part of a unit on the German government and history.