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.

A sec­ond impor­tant com­po­nent of the project – which has been suc­cess­ful­ly imple­ment­ed in the last year – is the uni­ver­si­ty sem­i­nar, “Teach­ing Amer­i­ca.” It was first offered in the sum­mer term of 2014 and empha­sizes self-direct­ed and col­lab­o­ra­tive learn­ing. Stu­dents cre­at­ed brand-new U.S.-related teach­ing mate­ri­als for Eng­lish high school class­rooms, which had already been test­ed in our part­ner schools in Sax­ony. Now these resources, embed­ded with­in detailed les­son plans, are acces­si­ble to all inter­est­ed Eng­lish teachers.

Cur­rent­ly, we are pleased to present nine les­son plans and the accom­pa­ny­ing teach­ing resource mate­ri­als that con­sist of – but are not lim­it­ed to – online cross­word puz­zles, pod­casts, videos, online quizzes, songs, dig­i­tal maps, blogs, and Prezi presentations.

Teaching America
Pic. 1 to 3: blog, time­line, video

Pre­sent­ed in an eas­i­ly acces­si­ble way, all projects include a short sum­ma­ry of the lesson’s top­ic and spec­i­fy the grade lev­el the mate­r­i­al is intend­ed for. They come ful­ly equipped with a les­son plan, links to resources, zip files includ­ing e‑materials, ideas for upcom­ing class ses­sions, and a bibliography.

The top­ics range wide­ly and include lessons on Rock ‘n’ Roll, the U.S. legal sys­tem, nation­al parks, cities such as New York City or Wash­ing­ton D.C., Native Amer­i­can sto­ry­telling, or high school expe­ri­ences in the U.S. Two addi­tion­al stu­dent projects high­light­ing The Roar­ing Twen­ties and Hal­loween will be includ­ed into the sec­tion shortly.

Pic. 4: Two of the nine projects available on the Teaching America online platform “Native Americans: Teaching through Stories – Native American Storytelling” & “New York City”
Pic. 4: Two of the nine projects avail­able on the Teach­ing Amer­i­ca online plat­form “Native Amer­i­cans: Teach­ing through Sto­ries – Native Amer­i­can Sto­ry­telling” & “New York City”

Are you inter­est­ed in work­ing with these mate­ri­als and resources? Then vis­it our web­site or con­tact Anne Grob to find out more about access­ing the Teach­ing Amer­i­ca online portal.

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Anne Grob is Assis­tant Lec­tur­er at Amer­i­can Stud­ies Leipzig (ASL) where she is also a Ph.D. can­di­date. Since 2014, Ms. Grob has instruct­ed future teach­ers in the sem­i­nar, “Teach­ing Amer­i­ca,” as well as par­tic­i­pat­ed in sev­er­al teacher train­ing sem­i­nars pre­sent­ing both on the impor­tance of new media in Eng­lish lan­guage class­rooms and on how to increase U.S.-related top­ics into the Eng­lish high school curriculum.

Crister S. Gar­rett is Pro­fes­sor for Amer­i­can Cul­tur­al His­to­ry at Amer­i­can Stud­ies Leipzig (ASL). He has direct­ed the Teach­ing Amer­i­ca project since its incep­tion in 2012. The project was gen­er­ous­ly fund­ed by the Ger­man Fed­er­al Gov­ern­ment as part of the Study in Leipzig (StiL) initiative.