Friday, December 27, 2013

Frohe Weihnachten!

Every year on the last day of school before Winter Break, I take a break from the curriculum to do some Christmas-related activities with my German students.

This year we had the Adventkalender up throughout December, so I tied that in to some of our activities.  In German 1, I divide students into groups and sent them into the hallway to take notes on the information there.  We then came back and played a trivia game and watched Mickeys Weihnachtsgeschichte to finish up class.

With German 2-4, we actually go caroling through the school.  Each year we sing O Tannenbaum.  I ask the other teachers if they wouldn't mind our classes coming by to sing a quick Christmas carol during the day.  Each class had a list of ten or more other teachers to visit all around the school.

When we visit a class, a student introduces his/her class and the song they're about to sing.  This year, again because the Adventkalender has been up, I added something new - trivia questions!  After singing, we asked for two volunteers from the class.  Each volunteer got a different multiple choice question about German Christmas traditions.  If they got the question right, they got a candy cane :)

We spend December practicing the lyrics (usually once or twice a class if we have time).  To make things a little faster (since we have so many classes to visit), we usually only sing the first verse.  German 2 students have a bit of trouble the first time through, but by German 4 they all have it memorized and can't wait to sing!

I hope everyone is having a good winter break!

- Frau Leonard

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Deutschklub: Pfefferkuchenhaus

This year we started a German Club.  It's been fun (and definitely interesting) going through the process of forming a club and holding events.

To celebrate the holidays, we put together and decorated ginger bread houses.  I got pre-made sets from Target and Harris Teeter.  They were really nice in that they had all the supplies - walls, frosting, candy decorations, all of it - but we did have a few problems with the ginger bread breaking.  One of the houses had a broken piece when they opened it and some of the other students accidentally broke some of their pieces during construction :(

The kids did have fun though (even with the broken pieces).  We put together the houses today and we're storing them in our office freezer over night - tomorrow I'll have other teachers judge them for stability, appearance and creativity.  If you're interested in the rating sheet we'll be using, just click here.

Loved this event - can't wait to see what else the German Club does this year and can't wait to do this event again next year :)

Check out how it went:

 - Frau leonard

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Giving Thanks

This post actually comes a little late as it relates to Thanksgiving, but it took a snow day to get me some time to actually write about it!

One of our clubs this year decided to do a Thanksgiving Tree in the front office.  They put up a tree and for the leaves, they had their student members fill out "thank you" notes to various staff members.  They then left out blank leaves in the staff workroom for us to write our own "thank you" notes to other staff members.  They were up during conferences and really brightened up the office!

It was a great idea that I want to do next year in my classroom!  I think I'll have students fill out leaves, either specifically thanking other students or ones that are more generic  "I'm thankful for..."

If you're interested in the leaves template, just click here!

Hope everyone is having a good holiday season so far - and if you're got snow like us, hopefully you're staying warm!

- Frau Leonard

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Exit Tickets: Die Ampel

Our last in-service focused on assessment - what's the point of assessment, how do/should we assess students, etc.  What my real take away from it was ongoing assessment.
Students put up their responses as they leave class

I'm still old school enough that I do end of unit quizzes.  I want that final assessment to both give me data on how the kids can handle the topic, as well as to give a little bit of an incentive for them to learn it now as opposed to whenever.

I try to do various types of formative assessments.  I'm fond of exit tickets, and during our PD this is something I looked at.  I had read an post from the Creative Language Class about exit tickets that got me thinking.

What I came up with is actually very similar.  As an exit ticket, I ask students to perform a task, then show them where they currently stand based on how they did on the task.  They write their answers on a post-it, then put their post-its on a traffic light poster I made.  Each color represents a different level of achievement (red = still needs work, yellow = doing alright, but could still improve, green = I've got this!).

Here's a sample for lower levels:

This is one for lower levels of German.  The question is in German (orange), but underneath I give an explanation of what I'm looking for (white).  This sets a goal for the students to achieve that's a little bit more precise.  After students have written down their answers on their post-it note, I show the specific benchmarks for each color.  As they leave class, they put up their post-it notes on the traffic light poster to see how the class is doing overall (see above!).

I plan on having my lower levels keep track of their progress.  I made a version of the traffic light for them.  When they get their exit tickets back, they go on the sheet (left, on top of the post-it picture).  Students then write the topic and date in the circle for reference.  After a while, I hope students will see trends (if they're improving, areas they typically struggle in, etc.).  We'll see how it goes!

Here's a sample for upper levels:

This one is for more advanced students.  The question is in German with no English clarification.  Instead of looking for a specific number of words or examples, I'm asking in general if they understand a concept.  If they don't (red), they need to ask questions about the part they don't understand.  If they sort of get it but still need clarification (yellow), they write their answer AND their questions.  If they think they've got it (green), they just provide an answer.

If you're interested in these exit tickets, they're available on my TPT account!

A look at entrance tickets...

I also looked at entrance tickets.  For some reason it had never occurred to me before, but once I thought about it I kind of liked it.  It seems like a great way to pre-assess what they might already know, especially for review or cultural topics.  Before we even start the lesson, students are thinking about the topic and it's a great jumping point for discussion.

The way I've done it so far is I stand in the doorway before class.  As students arrive, I hand them a ticket and tell them they have to fill it in BEFORE they can come into the classroom.  I've only done it twice so far, but I do like it.  It's definitely different... 20 to 30 students standing outside your room, writing against the lockers as other students go to their classes is something that stands out.  But that's really the point - it gets student attention before they've even walked into your room!

I'm playing around with the idea of having an entrance ticket as a homework assignment.  Maybe give them a topic, ask them to come up with questions about it... I don't know, I'm still trying to figure it out!

If you're interested in the entrance ticket I use, it's available for free on my TPT account - just click here!

- Frau Leonard

Monday, December 2, 2013

Adventkalender: Bulletin Board Display

Christmas is almost here!  To help get my students in the spirit, I decided to create an advent calendar display for my classroom.  I dug around to come up with 25 facts about Christmas traditions in Germany, then numbered them and put them on construction paper.  Each day we turn over another day to learn another fact.

I actually ended up not putting this up in my classroom...  We were lucky enough to get the display case in the World Language hallway (which actually gets a lot of traffic).  It'll be up there all month (end of November to beginning of January) - a great way to advertise German in the school!

Overall I really like how it turned out...

Here's the full display... or as much of it as I could get to fit in the picture

Here's the Adventkalendar before we started flipping over the days

Here's the other half of the board, decorated with generic Christmas-y stuff :)
This was something I had hoped German National Honor Society and German Club could help put up... but the kids weren't available when I needed them (sigh) and didn't get a lot of it done on their own.  I ended up having my student aides put up a lot of the decorations (no big deal, that's what they're there for) and I needed to make a lot of them myself.  I made the "Weihnachten in Deutschland" letters, the Christmas tree and gifts.  At least if I save them and get them laminated, I can use them again next year.

On the half day before Thanksgiving break started, I had most of my German classes help out by making snowflakes.  They were surprisingly into it.  Turns out, the kids were initially pretty bad at making snowflakes (lots of squares, got some jack-o-lantern-like ones, very distorted/lopsided ones...).  I ended up using Paper Snowflakes to show them how to make them look... well, a little bit more like snowflakes.  It worked pretty well and as you can see, we made a lot of them.

If you're interested in this bulletin board set, it's available on TPT - just click here!

- Frau Leonard