Teaching Tools

Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade

What German Students Taught an American Author

By Tom Leveen

If it were up to me, American high school and college students would spend a mandatory year living abroad before a degree of any kind is conferred. This trip would be fully funded by the United States government. It’s difficult to quantify how exposure to a different culture can change one’s perspective for the better.

As a sophomore (tenth grade), I had the privilege of spending a week in London with several other students, during which we hit all the usual tourist spots and attended several musicals. It was a good trip, but honestly, I was too young to fully appreciate the new surroundings and the history of a city so much older than any in the States.

The next time I traveled overseas, I was 41 and brought my wife of nine years. I had become a published author with companies like Random House, and my German-translation publisher, Hanser, flew us to Germany for a ten-day book tour in cooperation with the embassy.

There are many things to recount – amazing German hospitality, breathtakingly intelligent students, gorgeous scenery… from the moment we first arrived in Göttingen, we were entranced.

Then came our trip to the Dachau memorial.

Read more »

Linking Teacher Training and New Media: The Teaching America Project Revisited

By Anne Grob and Crister S. Garrett

A year and a half has passed since the Teaching America project at Leipzig University’s American Studies Department has entered the practical phase, and a lot has happened since. Let us fill you in on some of the great new developments.

The Teaching America project introduces and strengthens the use of new media both in the university setting and in high school classrooms, thus increasing the amount of U.S.-related topics and resources in English high school instruction in Saxony and beyond. This project minimizes the gap between theoretical university instruction and school reality by providing student teachers with the opportunity to gain teaching experience long before students enter their practical student teaching phase.

The core of the project is an interactive online portal that was created in close consultation with teachers. The portal contains a wide variety of freely available online resources for teachers on American society, politics, culture, history, and literature. And the best part is: It’s open to all interested teachers and teacher trainees.

Read more »

The Stick Jar: One Tool – Many Uses

By Sina Rautman

Imagine the following situation: You want your students to read out their results, but you are running low on time. Your students are highly motivated, and most of them want to share their work with the class, but it is clear from the start that you can’t involve all of them. What do you do now? Pick your ‘favorite’ child? Pick the child who did the best job as an excellent example to the rest of the class? Or would it be better to involve the shy child and give her a chance to contribute to the class? Will some children feel neglected or preferred?

JarLast summer, I spent three months in the United States where I’d been offered a chance to observe different elementary school classes. There I found a solution to the problem mentioned above. In one class – full of highly motivated fourth graders – I noticed a beautifully decorated jar filled with tongue depressors. At first, I couldn’t think of any purpose for this glass, so I decided to ask the teacher about it after class.

Read more »

Hi, my name is Wolfram and I am a Dropbox user.

By Wolfram Seidl

dropbox 2Dropbox is awesome. It is not only a great tool for students to organize the flood of documents that pile up while doing group work, but it is also great for teachers. If you are not a teacher working at a tech-savvy school with extravagant IT infrastructure, you can use this nifty service for many otherwise annoying chores. Dropbox can help you to distribute homework, work on and save handouts at home, print them at school or let students upload assignments. Yet these are only a few examples, so grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage and click here if you want to find some helpful tips for beginners and for heavy users. Once installed on your laptop or smartphone, Dropbox nicely integrates into your workflow and most applications that have something to do with documents or files that need to be synced somewhere. In fact, it is so easy to use that you just might get addicted to Dropbox. If you are not a Dropbox user by now, you probably feel a twitch in your finger and the urge to fire up a Google search with “install Dropbox.” But wait, you should consider the following.

Read more »

From Spring Fever Ad Nauseam to Columbus Day

By Sabrina Völz

ColumbusI might be preaching to the choir here, but everyone knows that teachers are pressed for time. And I am sure you are, too. Recently, I came across a useful website for those who teach English at the A1 to B1 levels and are looking for some downloadable worksheets on British and American seasons and holidays – some which even go beyond your typical Halloween or Christmas topics. If I could erase one topic from English classes across German elementary schools beyond the first year, it would be the season ‘spring.’ My daughter had the topic in some way every year from kindergarten to the sixth grade and was bored to tears. But I digress. If you are looking for a collection of worksheets on diverse holidays and seasons, then you might want to try Hueber’s page.

On the above website, you’ll find a variety of activities dealing with topics, such as “Dressing Up for Carnival” and “St. Valentine’s Day.” I have to admit that I couldn’t resist taking a peek at the worksheet on “Columbus Day,” all the while holding my breath.

Read more »