Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Der Lehrling: Marketing Internship for German 3/4

In German 3 or 4, we do a unit on professions.  It starts basically how you'd expect such a unit to start - we learn German words for various professions (der Lehrer, der Arzt, der Richter, etc.) and do various activities describing/grouping these professions.

As we move through the unit, however, we get into what I like to think of as more practical applications of the vocabulary and themes.

This part of the unit, called "Der Lehrling," is based largely on the free unit provided by College Board.  I first did these activities three years ago, had success (and my students had fun doing it), so we did it again this year.

The overall premise is that students are given an "internship" at a local marketing company that wants to produce a new soft drink.  During their internship, they will study marketing (video and print ads), create a new soft drink, and then create a marketing campaign to promote their drink.

The unit provided by College Board has most of what you would need to do this unit, including rubrics and a student packet.  I would highly recommend taking a look at it.  I only want to talk in detail about some aspects of the unit as a means of facilitating teachers who want to try this out for the first time.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • I break students into groups of 3-5 (depends on class size).  These groups will be working together throughout the entire project.
  • Before I even introduce the idea of creating a new soda, the first part of the "internship" consists of studying ads.  It's important that students become aware of the way people respond to different print and video ads - it'll definitely help them plan out their own versions later on.

    As homework the night before, ask students to bring in two ads from magazines.  It doesn't matter what the product is at this point.  With their groups, students complete this worksheet for the ads that they brought in.  Go through some of the ads together (or analyze some German ones you might have).

    I also like to include commercials.  I usually pick a couple for us to watch and analyze as a class.  I recommend finding German commercials (via YouTube) for products like Fanta, Pepsi, Coke and Red Bull.  (I usually do drink specific commercial ads as a transition into the rest of the project.)

    There's also a great activity available on TES for the 10 Worst German TV adverts.  Students can now see what does and doesn't work.
  • When students make the "new sodas," they're basically mixing current sodas together in different amounts to get a new flavor.  I briefly explain what they'll be doing and ask students to sign up to bring different sodas.  I recommend that every member of a group bring in something different, but that they should also consult with other groups to try and get a larger variety.  Tell students at least a few days in advance of when they'll start mixing - students forget to bring in the soda!

    On your end, there are some materials you'll want to have handy when they actually start mixing: paper towels (one roll per group); funnels; lots of plastic cups (for mixing samples and tasting); plastic spoons; food coloring (just for fun).  If you have a smaller class, you might also want to bring in an extra soda or two (try to bring in something weird that no one else would have thought of - I brought in this pineapple flavored soda I found).

    Students will probably need a whole class period to mix and try different combinations.  Warn them to make small samples of each drink - they don't want to waste all their soda on a combination that tastes horrible.  They'll also need an empty container to put their "final" drink in.  Usually it works out that they've used up enough of one of the drinks they brought in that they can dump out the rest and use the freshly emptied container.
  • Students will need at least a couple of days to make the labels for their drinks as well as the ads.  Warn students that the ads should in some way demonstrate what we talked about when analyzing ads earlier.
  • Once students have turned in the ads, I like to show them to the other German classes.  Each class gets to sample the sodas (this is entirely voluntary - some students might shy away from blue soda), and then judge the product on taste, the label on how it looks, and the ads on how persuasive they are.

After this part of our "professions" unit, we move on to analyzing German resumes.  Ultimately the unit ends in them writing their own Lebenslauf and having a job interview with me - and on their Lebenslauf, they need to include what they did during this "internship" and answer any questions about it that come up in the interview :)

- Frau Leonard

I have pictures of students working on this project - they're on my other computer and will be up soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cooking in Class

In Deutsch III we have a pretty large unit on food.  They finally get words for fork, knife, spoon, etc, talk about fruits and vegetables, discuss fitness in relationship to diet and exercise, and then learn about table manners, restaurants and typical German dishes.  All in all, it's probably a month or so unit.  Now, I don't know about you, but I can't stand to talk about food for a month without getting to eat some :)

Our FACS (Food and Culinary Science) teacher is generous enough to let us into her room to use her kitchens.  We have the day to cook and eat some German food.  I usually open this up to my Deutsch II and Deutsch IV classes.  For various reasons - behavior and class size - this is not something I typically do with my Deutsch I students.

Students pay an activity fee (to pay for ingredients) and each class cooks something different.  This way they're not just cooking the same thing each year - they get to cook a variety of things over their tenure in German.

So what do we cook?
Deutsch II: Spätzle mit Erbsen und Speck; Sauerkraut; Eis (Vanilleeis, Schokoeis und Erdbeereis)
Deutsch III: Bratwurst; Kartoffelpuffer; Kompot mit Vanilleeis
Deutsch IV: Bratwurst; Käsespätzle; Milchreis

The day before we cook, I divide each class into groups.  Each group will be responsible for cooking a different part of the meal - the main dish, the side dish or the dessert.  Groups go through the recipe they'll be preparing to make sure they know what equipment they need, what ingredients, how to prep and the steps for cooking.  If you're interested in the recipes we use, click here.  Students also need to decide who will be doing what: who's the dishwasher, who's the dish dryer, who's the chef, who reads the recipe, etc.  This saves us a lot of time when we actually get in to cook.

Since we're usually working within 50 minute periods, there's a little bit of a rush factor for some of these dishes.  After several years of doing this, I'm at this point familiar with the problem areas and can work more closely with those groups to make sure they're staying on top of things.  The Kartoffelpuffer and Milchreis, especially, take a lot of time.

It's a lot of work but definitely a lot of fun!

Deutsch III working on their Kompot
Deutsch III making the Kartoffelpuffer
Deutsch II made a really good Spätzle this year
Deutsch IV's main course: Bratwurst and Käsespätzle
Another huge consideration - student allergies!  I send out a sheet home to students for their parents to fill out.  It explains what we're doing, the cost, and has a portion for parents to detail any allergies their children might have.  I've had gluten and peanut allergies - and a few rarer ones - come up, so this is definitely handy to know before hand!  Here's the sheet I send home (prices are old, but everything else is the same).

- Frau Leonard

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I talked about using Twitter in the Classroom back in September, something I still like to do as an exit ticket.

Lately I've taken to using actual twitter.  I plan on using it to post (or should I say "tweet") about German-related resources I find or what's going on in my classroom (German club activities, etc.).  I thought it'd be something that, in conjunction with this blog, I could use to spread some German-related teaching material.

If you have a chance, you can find me @spacegrl01

- Frau Leonard

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stem-Changing Verb Posters

I bought a poster from Teacher's Discovery last year for the Hunger Games.  I love the books and movies, and I know my students are fans too, so it seemed like a cut poster to have in class.  Aside from having the German movie title, it also has three verbs conjugated in the present tense: gewinnen, leben, essen.  Overall, great poster that I've proudly had on display.

It took a year of this poster staring me in the face, though, for me to get a project idea.  I decided to have students come up with their own posters in the same style - picture, title and three verbs conjugated.

The first thing I had students do, before I even introduced the project, was answer the following questions:
* Was sind deine Lieblingsbücher?
* Was sind deine Lieblingsfernsehprogramme?
* Was sind deine Lieblingsfilme?
Students enjoyed sharing out their answers and comparing with classmates, and it was a great transition into the project.

Basically, for this project students had to create a "poster" for one of their favorite books, TV shows or movies.  Their poster had to have the name of the movie (bonus if they found the German version!), a picture from the movie AND three verbs related to the movie, fully conjugated.  Since we were working on Stem-Changing Verbs (and it is in the original poster, after all!), I required students to pick two regular verbs and one stem-changing verbs.

To give some variety, I had students pick different books, TV shows and movies - NO repeats within the class!  I then gave students time to work in the computer lab.  It was a good opportunity for students to use or beolingus to look up new verbs.

Obviously I had the poster hanging in my room as an example, but to further illustrate what I wanted students to be able to produce I made a few other examples:

Check out some of the projects students came up with!

Quick, in class project that was fun for students - they got some verb practice while getting to talk about their favorite movie.

- Frau Leonard

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Zwerge sind zum Lernen

One of the grammar units covered in Deutsch Aktuell 2 is "Infinitives Used as Nouns."  It's a relatively useful topic, but it's not very difficult nor does it take very long to cover.  I usually use it as a starting point to talk about Infinitives with Zu and with Um... zu.  

A problem I was having, though, was that the text doesn't provide much practice for this topic.  There's maybe four short practice exercises total.  So last year, in attempt to give a more comprehensive look at this topic before moving on to the slightly more difficult one, I scoured the internet to see what other people do.  Luckily, I came across this activity.  

Basically, it's a cloze activity that goes along with the song "Steh auf, wenn du auf Zwerge stehst."  Instead of going through the entire set of lyrics, though, it only focuses on the parts that have infinitives.  The song is ridiculous and the video doesn't disappoint either.  If you're looking for an "answer key," you just have to look up the lyrics as a whole.

I like the song and activity, but I did end up adding to it a bit.  I found that some of the verbs were new to students, so I added a matching activity.  I then make students try to guess which verb goes where before we listen to the song and watch the video.  And at the end, I include a short sentence completion activity to get them using the structure on their own.  If you're interested in my version, click here.

There's another video of this song that's on YouTube - not as interesting, but it does include the lyrics.  Good as a self-check for students.

 - Frau Leonard

Sadly, I couldn't back-track my steps well enough to find out where exactly I got the original activity from.  If you happen to know the original author or the site where it's found, let me know so I can credit them!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

German Slang

I was playing around on YouTube when I came across the channel Get Germanized.  There's a variety of videos related to German and more specifically learning German.  What really caught my eye, though, was the slang video.

For this video, Meister Lehnsherr goes through different slang words / expressions that start with the letter M.  For each word/expression, he explains it and then gives an example of how to use it (and yes, he does have videos for other letters of the alphabet!).  Really informative, totally random, and definitely not the type of German we necessarily get to teach.

You might think that because these are slang related words, there will be expressions in here that aren't necessarily appropriate for your students... and unless you teach college, you'd be right.  I think if you wanted to use these videos with your students, you'd have to skip some of the words, but some of the expressions are definitely relevant to some of the units we do and getting some authentic language is definitely a plus :)

- Frau Leonard

Friday, March 28, 2014

Der Wolf und die sieben Geisslein

A few years ago I stumbled upon an activity that connected the story "Der Wolf und die sieben Geisslein" with the perfect tense and past participles, available from  I've used this reading activity with my German 2 students once we've covered weak verbs, strong verbs, and verbs with sein as their helping verb.

There's about 60 verbs.  I divide students into four groups and have each group 12 of the verbs.  They're responsible for writing the past participle for their verbs.  Once students have had enough time to fill in their verbs, we read the story as a class.  Groups take turns reading out the sentences from their section.

I've found in the past that when we do this activity, students sometimes have trouble understanding what's going on.  There's pictures in the file, but they don't always help.  Previously I would act out or draw parts of the story to make it clearer.  For this year I decided to create images using Power Point and clipart - I have six different scenes from the story to help explain as we go along.

I think students this year had a much easier time understanding through both the text and the pictures.  What's great is that the Power Point slides can be printed out, mixed up and given to students.  Using the images, they can put the story in order and re-tell it in their own words (using brand new vocabulary and the perfect tense, of course!).  If you'd like the Power Point I used, just click here!

The story is a lot of fun, but we do a little bit extra once we've gone through the original version.  I find a Sesame Street version in German.  Burt and Ernie (note that they're Ernie und Burt in the German version...) re-tell the story, but this time it's der Wolf und die zwei Geißlein.  It's a cute version that's not as grim as the original.  Check it out:

I also have some activities we do with the video: vocabulary clues, content questions, and a venn diagramm.  If you're interested in the activities, click here.

I really love doing this activity with students.  It's different from just drilling past participles (borrrring) and it's something that's practical - telling a story!  Students enjoy the story and love watching the video.  Try it out and let me know if you like it as much as I do :)

If you'd like to do this activity but with the Imperfect Tense instead, here's another version of the story.  It isn't already edited for students to fill in verb forms and doesn't have the included vocabulary activities, but it could be fixed.

- Frau Leonard