Friday, October 25, 2013

Teen Read Week

Last week (October 13th-19th) was Teen Read Week.  Each year to celebrate, our school's media center has all kinds of promotions and activities to get kids reading.  One of my favorites is the "Read!" posters they make.

Students get to come in with a book they like, get their picture taken, and the media center will turn it into a read poster.  They not only get a copy of their poster, but they're displayed around the media center and on the school announcements.

The past few years, I've participated as well.  I bring in a different German book, but instead of having "Read" at the top, mine say "Lesen."
Last year's picture... Not a huge fan of it since my students always say it looks like I have cat ears
This year I opened it up to my students to have a German version.  I brought in some of the German books I have that they might be familiar with (aside from Piggeldy and Frederick, there's Heidi, Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games).  I told students they could use my books for their pictures and that they should ask the media specialist to change the text to "Lesen."  With my AP students, since it's a small enough group, we ended up going down together and taking a group picture.

Super-blurry picture of the books I brought in for students
I think students liked having a chance not only go get their picture taken and support German, but also to see some actual, physical German books!

- Frau Leonard

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Numbers Game

Here's a quick game you can do with your level one students when they're learning numbers.  You'll need to break students into groups of 3-4.  Each group will need a cup, three dice, and a piece of paper to keep score.

Students take turns rolling by putting the dice in the cup.  Technically, they don't need a cup, but I tell students use them so that the dice don't go everywhere and nothing gets lost/no one gets hit.

After students roll, they lift up the cup to see what numbers they have.  They have to say the numbers they got, then add them up.  This is how many points they earned for this roll.
Points for this roll: 4 + 6 + 3 = 13
Now that I've rolled, I have to make a choice - do I stop, or keep going?  If I stop, I write down how many points I got that round and pass off to the next player.  Those points, however many it is, can't be lost later.

If I keep going, I get to roll again and keep adding those points to my total for this round.  I can roll as many times as I want to keep getting more points.  BUT... If even one of the di has the number 1, I lose all the points I would've gained that round.

There's a 1 - no points for me this round :(
The goal of the game is to be the first person to get to 200 points.  Basically, you can go slow and steady and just do one roll at a time or you can be a real risk taker and go for a lot of points in one turn!

My students love this game.  Even with full immersion, the rules are simple enough that the kids will know get it (just make sure to demonstrate each part!).  And not only are they practicing their numbers, but they get to learn other phrases like: to roll, cup, dice, stop, again.

I'd love to take credit for the idea, but I found it in some random German textbook one of my co-workers used in college.  Or maybe from a random Deutsch als eine Fremdsprache book I bought.  No idea, but it's a fun game and I thought I'd share!

- Frau Leonard

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Piggeldys Geburtstag

In Deutsch II, our first new vocabulary unit relates to gifts and holidays.  Students discuss common gifts to give different people, as well as holiday traditions in Germany (with a focus on Christmas and birthdays).  In order to get a better look at birthdays, the class throws a birthday party for Piggeldy.  This is one of my favorite activities for the year because the kids really get into it.  It's a chance for them to have fun but still do something related to German and our current unit.

Maybe I should back track a little.  Who's Piggeldy?  Well, he's a character in a children's book and cartoon show called Piggeldy and Frederick that I frequently use with my students (great for listening practice and circumlocution, but more on that some other time).  Because of how often we use this cartoon show, even in Deutsch I, I do happen to have a stuffed pig in my classroom that we call Piggeldy.  So when we do activities related to the show, or when we have this party, we can bring Piggeldy front and center :)

Every year students start by watching the Piggeldy und Frederick episode titled "Geburtstag."  In this particular episode, Piggeldy wants to know what a birthday is and then wants to find out when his is.  We find out that  he's 5 years old and that today is actually his birthday.

After this introduction, I tell students we need to have a birthday party to celebrate Piggeldy turning 6.  We go through all the steps of planning a party.  After we've discussed the date and location, students write invitations.

This year is actually the first year I've handed out these invitations - I sent the invitations along with this explanation to our school administrators, inviting them to see what we're doing in the classroom.

To further prepare for the party, students had to write a birthday card for Piggeldy and find him a gift.  Students obviously didn't have to buy a gift - I told them to find something they thought Piggeldy would like, print out a picture of it (or draw it themselves), and explain why they thought it was a good gift for him.  They're usually pretty creative (though there's usually at least one student who gives him bacon each year...).  Here are some of the birthday cards and gifts:

Yesterday was our actual celebration.  In class we played three birthday games.  We played Gummitwist, Schlangenschwanz, and then Steck dem Schwein den Schwanz an (see below!).  Since I'm not German and don't have a German family background, I didn't know too many authentic games.  When we first started doing a party for Piggeldy, I had to look into the types of games German kids play at birthday parties.  These were the ones I found (though I did change it from pin the tail on the donkey to pin the tail on the pig, just to go with our birthday theme).  If you know of any other games, let me know and I'd be glad to try and incorporate them!

After playing games, students gave Piggeldy their cards and gifts, we sung Happy Birthday in German, then got to eat :)

The kids had signed up to bring the food ahead of time - I promised to bring the cake, but they had to do the rest!  We usually get a pretty decent spread, though (what can I say, teenagers love to eat).

I'm really glad that this year I invited our administrators.  Three of the four of them came, and they got to see the kids in action!  They experienced a whole class in German, with both me explaining the games completely in German and the students speaking to me and each other in German (without needing to be prompted, which is always a plus!).  They were really impressed with how much they were using the language in a level 2 class and loved the activity.  I loved that the kids got a chance to show off what they can do while having fun!

- Frau Leonard

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Emergency Sub Plans

Every year our school system asks us to provide two days worth of sub plans for all of our classes in the event of an emergency just in case.  Admittedly, this has always been a pain in the butt for me.  Every year of teaching I have had at least five classes (German 1-4 and some combination of French and/or Latin).  This means not only finding activities for five classes, but also copying and storing said activities.  For someone who takes about two days off a year and (knock on wood) hasn't needed emergency days, it's been really aggravating.

I have tried to save them from year to year, but sometimes you have classes that are longer one year than the next or the curriculum changes and the activities are no longer suited to that level or you decided to actually incorporate that activity as part of your planned instruction.  Blah.

What I decided to do this year to alleviate the problem for good is to create a choice board.  I've actually wanted to do this for the past few years and have even suggested it to my department (my hope was that we could come up with a department one that fit every language - if we worked together we could get one done in no time!).  Things never really manifested until I finally just sat down and did it this August!

Here's a look at the finished product:
If you're interested in a copy, it's available for free on my TPT account.  Just click here!  It's completely editable in case you don't teach German or want to edit the activities.

Students have to complete two activities from the choice board, which offers 12 different vocabulary and/or grammar related activities that can be applied to any unit and - better yet! - to any level.  With a few changes, I can even use it for other languages OR require students in longer class periods to do more activities.

While most of the activities can be done by students without any other materials, there are some that DO require additional resources.
- Grammar Exercises: I refer to a specific textbook in this exercise.  If you don't have this book or teach another language, you may need to change this!
- Scrabble: This is a game board that I sometimes use with my students if we have some extra time at the end of class.  If you're interested in a free copy, it's available on my TPT account.  Just click here!
- Game Board:  This can be used with any blank game board.  There’s one available for free on my TPT account. Just click here!
- Game Board: Honey Comb: This is a vocabulary review game.  I have the template available on my TPT account.  It is NOT a free resource that I offer.  If you're interested in the product, click here.

This is great because all I have to do is make a bunch of copies of the choice board, which will be good for ALL classes this year or next year, and copies of some of the related worksheets.  Admittedly, it's a work in progress.  I may use it at some point this year if I need to take off just to see how it goes.  I might need to change, remove or add activities.

Does your school require emergency sub plans?  What types of activities do you typically have students do while you're out?

- Frau Leonard