Monday, November 30, 2015

Hamburg Weekend

This weekend Rachel and I traveled to the beautiful city of Hamburg! Hamburg has  become one of my favorite places to visit. This city is in the northern part of Germany and is by the sea. It has a beautiful harbor and so much history!

On our first day, Rachel and I walked around the city. We visited the Rathaus (Town Hall), Jungfernsteig (lake area), the warehouse district, took a harbor tour, and visited Miniatur Wunderland. Miniatur Wunderland is a museum of small-scale models of different cities. It was one of the highlights of our trip. There was a miniature Miami, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Hamburg, a miniature airport, and even some cities in Austria and Switzerland. We even climbed the tower of St. Michaelis' Church to see a wonderful aerial view of the city.

On our second day, we visited the International Martimes Museum, St. Petri's Church, and St. Katharinen's Church. We went back and walked through some of the areas we had visited the day before.

Rachel and I spent most of our time at the Christmas Markets. We especially loved the markets at the Rathaus and Jungfernsteig. At these markets, many vendors sell food, drinks, sweets, Christmas decorations, and other items. Our favorite part of the markets were the Christmas decorations. On Saturday, Rachel and I were able to watch a small Christmas parade at the Jungfernsteig market. I cannot truly described how beautiful these markets were. I am so glad that I am able to spend part of the Christmas season in Germany.

 View from St. Michaelis Church

 Rathaus Christmas Market

 Jungfernsteig Christmas Market

 Jungfernsteig Christmas Market

 Booth at Rathaus Christmas Market

 Warehouse District

 Christmas Parade

 Las Vegas at Miniatur Wunderland

View of Harbor on Boat Tour 

Teaching Week 4

Today, I started my second week at Selm Ludgerischule (primary in German). I enjoyed my time at the Anne-Frank Gymnasium, however I am very happy to be working with the little ones again!

Selm Primary is very different and yet similar to the elementary schools in America. Selm Ludgerischule starts with Year 1 (First grade)  and ends with Year 4 (Fourth grade). There are three classes within each grade. Each class is represented by a letter, such as 2a, 2b, and 2c. The teacher for each class teaches Deutsch (German), Math, Science/Social Studies, Physical Education, and Religion. The students start learning English during Year 1 in February. Not every teacher teaches English, only a select few do and they rotate between the classes.

The students will typically have two 45 minutes English lessons a week. I have been working with the Year 2, 3 and 4's. I am working in nine different classrooms with about five different teachers. This makes my days fell very hectic, however I am learning to become very flexible and to "think fast on my toes." Many times the teachers and I will not be able to discuss what we will teaching that day until we are walking to the classroom. Just today, I taught four lessons back to back with a 15 minute break in between the second and third lessons. For the first two lessons I was in 2b and 2c teaching about parts of the body, the next lesson I taught 4b about rooms and furniture (which the teacher and I planned the lesson as we walked down the hallway), and then I taught 4c about breakfast foods.

The students do not speak English and I do not speak German. The teachers have to translate for us. However, many times the students and I are able to communicate through body language and visuals. I do feel guilty I did not learn more German before I came here. I understand how my ESL students feel when they come into my classroom. At times, it is hard for me to communicate with my students and answer their questions. The teachers and students are very patient with me to make sure we are able to understand each other.

The teachers have allowed me to co-teach with them and to solo teach many lessons.  I have taught lessons on parts of the body, rooms and furniture, breakfast foods, and telling time. Many of these lessons were not as well prepared in advance like I am used to in the states. However, I feel that my lessons have gone very well, and were engaging and interesting for the students. The classrooms do not have the technology like we do in the states. I have learned that teaching without technology can be just as engaging and interesting for the students. I have used many pictures from the resources the teachers have and have incorporated songs (such as "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes") into my lessons. This experience has shown me how flexible I can be when planning and teaching a lesson.

The school day will end around 12:30 or 1:20 for the students. I have enjoyed a shorter school day! Even at Anne-Frank, a typical school day would end around 1:20 for the students. Some students would have to stay until 2:00 or 3:00, however they would only do that once a week. As the school day is shorter, the students do not study every subject everyday. The subjects will rotate from day to day. This was the same at Anne-Frank. Each class is called a lesson, and a lesson lasts 45 minutes. In Selm, the students will have about six lessons a day (these lessons will cover about three or four different subjects).

The teachers do not use many classroom management techniques. To get the students' attention they will use clap a rhythm out that the students have to echo, and they use the "Focus Fox" signal. The students are more talkative and louder in the classroom than they are in America. However, for the most part, the students are very respectful of their teachers. Some teachers do use the green light, yellow light, and red light clip system. They have the students move their clothespin (that has their name on it) to yellow or red depending on their behavior. This has not been used as much during the English lessons, however I have noticed students moving their clips during other classes.

The noisier classroom environment has shown me that even when I may not think students are paying attention, they are. It has taken me time to get used to this environment, however it has further reinforced how a cooperative learning is very beneficial for the students.

Some other differences I have observed is that each child keeps an extra pair of shoes at school. These shoes are kept at school because they only wear these shoes in the classroom. Some students have Crocks, Birkenstocks, house shoes, and some just wear their socks. The students have these shoes so they do not bring in mud or other debris from outside. The purpose of these shoes is to help keep the rooms cleaner and tidier. Instead of a break for snack, the students have a break in the mornings for breakfast. In the German culture, they eat a smaller breakfast when they first wake up in the mornings. My family typically eats one piece of toast or a poached egg. Then around 9:00am, the students will eat a larger breakfast mostly containing of sandwiches, fruits, and sometimes sweets. Then when the students go home in the afternoon they will eat a hot lunch. Typically a German lunch is the biggest meal they will eat in the day. Then for dinner they will eat a smaller meal of sandwiches, soups, or even rarely fast food. 

Though these are many differences in the classrooms here, they are very similar as well. The teachers prefer to play games and incorporate hands-on activities into their lessons. They also have classroom jobs for the students. One job is to sweep the floor between the fifth and sixth lessons and another job is to clean the chalk board. Yes, they still use chalk boards in Germany! I have really liked using a chalk board.

Overall, I have greatly enjoyed my time in Selm. I cannot believe that in one week I will be on plane going back home. The time here has been too short!

 Picture of Selm Ludgerischule

Picture of my 2b class during their break for breakfast

A Kentucky Dinner in Germany

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of cooking my family an "authentic" Kentucky meal. When my host mother first asked me if I would like to cook an American meal, I didn't know which meal would be an "authentic" American dish. Since living here in Germany, I have found many of the German culinary dishes are similar to what we eat in America. In Germany, they eat a lot of potatoes, sausage, ham, and vegetables. Many of the dishes we eat in America are similar. After brainstorming, I finally decided to make my family a Kentucky Hot Brown and Derby Pie.

Before I went to the supermarket with my host mom, I did my homework in researching the metric conversions and the German translations for the ingredients. The recipe for the pie asked for corn syrup/oil. I was having trouble finding a German equivalent online. My host mom was unsure too what it was. So, I found a backup recipe of chocolate chip cookies in case I could not a pie.

When we went to the supermarket I did not have trouble finding most of the ingredients. When we went to the deli for the turkey (for the Hot Brown), I found out that in Germany they do not eat a lot of turkey, I then substituted it for ham. Then when we went looking for the corn syrup/oil we could not find it. However, we did find all the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies (in Germany they sell these cookies at the store and call them "American Cookies"). So, I was all set to make my family an authentic Kentucky/American meal.

I am not the best cook and was a little worried I would make my family a meal that would not be edible. With the help of my family's friend, Hanna, my dinner was a success! My family especially loved the cookies, my host mom wanted the recipe.

I am glad I got to share a bit of my culture with my family. We often don't think about how much one can share of their traditions, values, and beliefs through a simple meal. While we were eating the Hot Browns, I was able to talk about the history of the sandwich. When we were eating the cookies, I was able to share how my family loves to make these cookies for holidays and other events. This dinner was one of the highlights of my stay here in Germany.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Berlin Weekend

This past weekend Rachel and I went to Berlin. We went with two teachers from Anne Frank and their families. We had a lot of fun!

Touring Berlin with these families was the best way to see the city. Not only did they tell us about the history of the city but they told us their own personal stories. It was very interesting to hear about their experiences in Berlin during the Cold War when Berlin was divided. This gave us an insight that we would not have gotten touring the city by ourselves or with a tour guide. 

Unfortunaly, most of my photos are on my camera and I forgot to bring the cord to connect it to the computer. I do have a few photos on my phone to show. 

Berlin Cathedral

Jewish Synagogue

Anne Frank mural

A Berlin Christmas Market

Reichstag (German Parliament building) 

German Parliament meeting room 

Inside Reichstag dome

Berlin skyline

Part of Berlin Wall 

My last day at Anne Frank Gymnasium

Friday was my last day at the Anne Frank Gymnasium. I truly enjoyed my time with my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade classes. I am glad I had the experience of teaching this diverse group of students. I learned a lot about myself as a teacher. I especially learned more about what it is like to teach English as a second language. 

Monday I will go to my new school, Selm Primary. I am very excited to work with the smaller ones again! 

Mural outside of the school

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A walk through Werne

Yesterday, Rachel and I walked through Werne. Werne is the town where my school, the Anne-Frank Gymnasium, is located. The town center was beautiful! Werne is small so we only needed a couple of hours to walk around. I love how easy it is to walk around here. I wish it was easier to walk to places in the states. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

My First Weekend

My first weekend in Germany was very eventful! On Friday, I went with my host mom Ina to the stables. There she has a horse named Aragon. It was so beautiful there! The stables are older than in the USA. 

At the stables

On Saturday, I went with Ina and my host brothers (Jan and Marc) to a soccer or football tournament at their local "football pitch." This was a great cultural experience for me to see how important football is to the German culture. I also ate my first official brautwurst. 

Then we went to Schloss Nordkirchen. The house is nicknamed "Little Versailles." We only walked around the outside of the house. However, the house and gardens were all very beautiful. I went to Versailles in Paris two years ago, I can see the resemblance between the two. Hopefully, Ina and I will go back to tour the inside. 

On Sunday, Ina, Rachel, Gerd (Ina's boyfriend) and I went to the Besucherzentrum Ruhr (Ruhr Museum) in Essen. The museum was about the Ruhr region of Germany. The museum is in an old coal processing factory. The museum was very interesting in how the old machinery from the processing factory were still kept and incorporated into the museum. 

View of Essen from the top of the museum.