Teaching Tools

Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade

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.

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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.

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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.

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Going Green in the U.S.? Yes!

By Martina Kohl and Joannis Kaliampos

General perception has it that Americans do not care about the environment. But did you know that according to the Gallup Poll in March 2014, 80% of Americans between the ages of 18 to 34 favor alternative energy production over fossil fuels? And it might surprise you even more to find out that according to the same poll, over 60% of Americans prefer proposals that would regulate or limit fossil fuel emissions, including those setting higher pollution standards for business and industry.

Between September and December 2014, about 1,000 students and teachers from all over Germany took part in the Going Green Project, a blended-learning project for high school students. They explored green activities in the USA, mainly on the state level, and were surprised to find out how much Americans care about the environment.

GoingGreenLogo

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Couch Conversations with William H. New – An Impromptu Interview

By Maryann Henck

CHARACTERS

WILLIAM H. NEW   renowned Canadian lit crit and author (as himself)

INTERVIEWER 1      Sabrina Völz

INTERVIEWER 2      Maria Moss

INTERVIEWER 3      Maryann Henck

 

UNIVERSITY LOBBY—SUMMER—DAY TIME

It’s a hot and humid July afternoon as the midday sun floods the windows of the lobby, but all is freezing cold inside thanks to a fully functioning air-conditioning system at the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English at the University of Vienna. The three interviewers have just left a windowless and chilly lecture hall where William H. New gave a simultaneously academic and creative presentation that ignited the audience’s imagination. (And, no, it is not an oxymoron to be a “creative academic.” More about that in the interview.) Intrigued by William’s talk, the three interviewers persuade him to give them an impromptu interview on the lobby couch. During the coffee break between sessions, conference participants are milling about, desperately in search of a much needed caffeine jolt and some cookies to tide them over until lunch break. Every now and then, cacophonous coffee machines and chattering conference goers can be heard in the background.