Monday, February 24, 2014

Rocket Verbs: Tracking Student Progress

I found a product on TPT for verb conjugation that really intrigued me.  Basically, it tracks student ability to conjugate verbs by having them conjugate verbs at differing levels.  Students all start at the same level, which is usually pretty basic.  If they meet a certain level of proficiency, the next time you do the activity they move on to the next level, which will be slightly more difficult.  Students who don't meet this level of proficiency remain at the same level and continue to stay there until they do.

I decided to try it this year with both my German 1 and German 2 students, each for a different topic: Stem-Changing Verbs and the Perfect Tense.

For German 1, we did it with stem-changing verbs.  The first two levels are regular verbs (plus haben/sein) ONLY.  This was especially useful as a review activity before we even got into stem-changing verbs.  The next two levels were ONLY stem-changing verbs, allowing students to focus on this set of verbs.  After that, there was a mix of both regular verbs and stem-changing verbs, making students actually have to think and correctly identify verbs before conjugating them.  

For German 2, we looked at the Perfect Tense.  The first two levels dealt ONLY with weak verbs that use haben as their helping verb.  Students then moved on to strong verbs that use haben.  There was one level that had both weak and strong verbs mixed before levels started to include verbs with sein as the helping verb.  

Some notes for implementation:
  • No notes or reference charts!  Students have to do this to the best of their ability.  We do these activities in quiz-like conditions, but students know they aren't being graded for accuracy at this stage.
  • You might want to time students as they do this activity.  Four minutes seems more than fair - some students will need more, some may need less.  You might need to adjust it as you go.  I ended up not giving students a set time limit, but because we did it at the end of class, I did need to get it back before they left.
  • I mentioned that students needed to meet certain levels of proficiency in order to move on to the next level.  For my students, I required them to get 80% of their verb forms accurate.  This mean that out of 25 verbs, they had to conjugate 20 correctly.  Now... I did sometimes fudge this line a little for students who struggled and after multiple tries at a certain level were very close to this level.  
  • I kept all of the versions students completed.  They didn't get the old copy back, but I had them all as a reference.

What I really like about this is the way it progresses in difficulty and is specific to each student.  Instead of having to move at other students' pace, each student moves at his/her own.  If a student needs to review regular verbs before looking at more complex forms, he/she gets that opportunity, whereas if a student is zooming ahead, he/she gets to do that.
Because it's so individualized, I found myself being able to give individual feedback.  On the new sheets, I would write notes to that student about the forms they need to focus on (ex: your ihr endings are incorrect, review forms of haben, don't forget the "ge" in your past participles, etc.).  If a student needs more specific instruction, I can write a summary of the topic on the back of the sheet.  Not only do I get to see how each student is doing as we progress, but I can sort out any problems much earlier than I would have otherwise even noticed them.

We haven't had quizzes for either of these units yet, so I'm not sure how scores will compare with last year, but I'm optimistic that it's helping.  

If you're interested in either of the sets I'm using, here's the Stem-Changing Verbs Set and the Perfekt Tense Set.  Enjoy!


- Frau Leonard

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sport für alle!

This year when Deutsch II was learning sport-related vocabulary, I decided to work with our Physical Education Department at Glenelg to give the students a day to play a sport of their choosing.  I got them the gym for a whole period on a Friday - they chose a game and we took it from there.

First I started with some Piggeldy und Frederick.  We watched the video on Schlittschuh laufen in which Frederick has to explain skating to Piggeldy.


After viewing and discussing this video, I divided the students into groups and assigned each group one of the following sports: Basketball, Fußball, Hockey, Volleyball, Baseball, Tennis, amerikanischer Fußball.  Each group needed to come up with a German explanation of the game for Piggeldy.  They had to find the vocabulary to describe things like how many players were on a team, different positions (ex: goalie) and equipment (tennis racket), and the different rules/actions involved ("don't touch the soccer ball with your hands" and "kick the ball").  Then each group reported out what they had come up with.

At this point, I revealed that they were going to get a chance to play ONE of these sports during class.  They had to pick which sport, though, based on how easy they thought it would be to get the materials necessary and if they could get a big enough team.  After some voting and finagling, they agreed on Fußball.

The next step was I gave them the option of "inviting" (read that as "challenging") Deutsch III and Deutsch IV to the match.  They whole-heartedly wanted to challenge the upper levels.

Of course, it's one thing to have your own class go to the gym and play a game during the period that they have you.  It's another thing to pull students from other classes for a game.  I told the upper level German classes about the match and gave them a permission slip.  It was really more of a way to let the other teachers know what was going on.

A lot of students wanted to participate but most couldn't get out of class that day (we had had several snow days in a row which undoubtedly had something to do with it).  It was definitely fun to get a few new faces.  I hope to be able to do this game again in the future - I want it to be something that builds up and the kids look forward to playing as a team against another class.

As an alternate activity for students who, for whatever reason, didn't want to play, I gave them the chance to take pictures of the game instead.  This is German, not Gym, after all and I didn't want to force the kids to play - it's supposed to be fun!


The game itself went well.  The Phys Ed teachers were super supportive - they gave us pinnies and equipment and (most importantly!) the space to play in.  I think next year, though, I would invite another teacher to help moderate the game.  The kids were well behaved, the issue was more that I'm not personally very familiar with the rules and game play of soccer.  I'm a hockey and football girl, so when we play a game I don't know as well I feel I should ask one of the school coaches if they'd be willing to ref for us.

Now as fun as it was to take a day off and play a game, there's no way we stopped there!  The kids had, after all, spent all that time looking up soccer-related terms and we had all these pictures.  There was a project to be had out of this!

One of our media specialists had talked to me earlier in the year about Animoto, a website that makes you put together videos from your own photos or video footage.  You can get a free account, which does limit you to 30 seconds of footage and you don't have as wide of a selection in animations, music, etc, but the length was actually perfect for what we needed.  Check out one of the student videos!

Sporttag was a lot of fun and I can't wait to do it again next year!

- Frau Leonard