I start by having students do a little brainstorming. I use this Power Point to see what they already know. Depending on their level of familiarity, you can give them more or less background info. This year, for example, my students had no clue what a Trabi was - even with the picture on screen they weren't comfortable making the guess that it was a car (senioritis a year early?).
There are also some great videos out there that have Trabis. Deutsche Welle has this one on YouTube that could be used as a follow-up to the brainstorming activity. It's a little long, so you might just want to pick snippets to view as a class.
I also really like this one from the movie Toedliche Traeume:
There's a lot you could do with this video. Aside from just watching it and discussing what happens, you could stop it at various points and have students predict what will happen next.
I recently read a blog post about inferring and how to use it to build critical thinking skills. This seems like a good clip to use - without showing them the title of the video, ask them when and where it takes places, etc. and use what they see and hear in the video to justify their answer.
Deutsche Welle has a great Video-Thema that talks about the new Trabi design. Like with all of their videos, it comes with a copy of the manuscript and some exercises to go along with the video.
After that, students have to make an ad for the Trabi (either the old model or the new version). At this point in the unit, we've already analyzed at German car ads and discussed what we think makes a good advertisement. Their job is to make the best ad they can for the Trabi - one that really sells the product. And the only way to do that is to give them a market... German 2 and 4. Each class gets a chance to look at the finished ads and vote on which they think the best/most effective one is.
This is a great cultural tie-in for the car unit. When students start looking for images of Trabis for their ads, they can't get enough of some of the weirder designs. Usually we do a short DDR and Ostalgie unit after German 4 has taken the AP exam
And if we get a chance to talk about the DDR and Ostalgie in more detail (usually in German 4 after students have taken the AP exam), they already have a starting point. When students watched Good Bye Lenin this year in German 4, they all immediately recognized the Trabi :)
- Frau Leonard