Teaching Tools

Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade

German American Day – Celebrate 336 Years of German American History

By Sabrina Völz

Photo credit: “Herr und Frau” by Phil Davis NY

Although the United States has greatly impacted politics and popular culture around the world, it should not be forgotten that German immigrants have also influenced American culture since the founding of Germantown, now part of Philadelphia, 336 years ago. October 6, 1683, marks the first German settlement in North America. Instead of celebrating the popular holidays familiar to most students, such as Halloween or Christmas, perhaps it is now more than ever important to remember the close ties between our two nations. I have put together a few ideas for a lesson on German American Day.

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Introduction to Literature: Robert Coover’s “A Sudden Story”

By Sibylle Machat

Introduction to Literature. Fiction. The session on narrative perspectives – something that teachers often love, but first year literature students just as often dread (close to the horrors of metrical feet in poetry). Nevertheless, the syllabus calls for a discussion of either Franz Stanzel’s narrative situations, Gerard Genette’s narration and focalization, or both.

What can we do to make all of this at least a little exciting?

Sibylle Machat’s personal copy of Robert Coover’s “A Sudden Story.” In: Robert Shepard, Ed. Sudden Fiction. American Short-Short Stories. Gibb M. Smith: Layton, 1986.

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American Studies Blog Contest

“pen_mesh_bw” by Sean Biddulph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As we approach the 5th anniversary of the American Studies Blog (http://blog.asjournal.org/), we decided to celebrate by asking you – our readers – to participate in the joyful occasion of our first blog competition.

Although blogging has changed over the years, it’s still a great platform to voice your ideas and share content with people around the world. Now choose a topic that fits into at least one of three zeitgeisty categories and try your talents:

  • Access America (Popular Culture, History, and Current Events)
  • Best Books & Fabulous Films (Reviews and More)
  • Teaching Tools (Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade)

And remember: The sky’s the limit.

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Every Story Tells a Picture or How to Vignette

By Maryann Henck

Angelia Velosa & Cristopher Gomez, Door 95 in the Rua Santa Maria – The arT of oPEn doORs/Projecto aRTe pORtes abErtas, Funchal, Madeira; Photo credit: Maryann Henck

In the age of social media, it’s the image that rules. Instagram is the perfect example: It not only feeds some people’s insatiable need to document and offer glimpses into their private lives but also caters to a certain audience’s desire to consume and experience these slices of life vicariously. Instagram refers to the images posted as “stories,” a designation that fits in perfectly with the proverb: Every picture tells a story. And stories are almost always subject(ed) to interpretation. In the case of these Instagram picture stories, often the only clue is a brief caption or hashtag.

But what if the focus were to be shifted and that proverb were to be reversed? Read more »

Improving Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

By Maria Moss

f course the title is facetious: I certainly don’t want to – even if I could, which I can’t – improve one of the best and most anthologized poems in the English language written by one of the greatest lyrical voices of all times. What I ‘do’ want to do, however, is write about a teaching tool that initially sends shivers up every student’s back: continuing a poem, using the same rhyme scheme and meter. Once they’ve mastered the task, however, they’re quite proud of themselves – and rightfully so.
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Elsewhere: From Interview to Podcast

By Sabrina Völz

“Elsewhere” by Cassidy Coy

It’s never too early to think about the next semester. Perhaps you and your students would like to try your hand at podcasting. I have to admit that the first time around has its ups and downs, but after that it gets easier. Wiebke Fischer has already blogged on her experiences creating and writing scripted podcasts as a tool for learning English. Building on those suggestions, my students and I have continued to experiment with the potential of podcasting. In a project seminar, Leuphana University students from various majors came up with the idea to transform recorded interviews with American students studying in Lüneburg into 10-12 minute, theme-based podcasts named Elsewhere. The first few are already online.

After many hours of research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the most helpful teaching tools for creating podcasts can be found online. So don’t waste your money on useless how-to books.

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