I’m sitting here today reading through some homework slips I got from last week, and am just thinking what a great bunch of kids I have. Let me share a couple:
“I listened to Carameltanzen [a favorite song]. I also spoke German with David [her brother, to whom she is teaching German]. And at 3.0 day [a regional writing conference she went to last week] I spoke with a German exchange student.”
“Talked to my Brother [who attends another school but also takes German] about random stuff.”
“Indiana Jones pages 1 and 2 [a book version of the films I had bought in Austria] Dict.cc vocabulary [online dictionary]“
“I read Anne Frank’s Tagebuch [the original diary in German] for 30 mins last night. I didn’t use the dictionary because I wanted to see if I could do it. There were a lot of the words I recognized, but some like “abbebt” I didn’t quite understand.”
“I played Bug Match and Hungry Bug [online games based on our class vocabulary lists through studystack.com]. I also talked in German to my friends on Xbox 360.”
Another girl didn’t turn in a sheet because she was absent yesterday, but she has a pen-pal in Germany with whom she is exchanging holiday candies and is bringing a sampling to class next week for everybody else.
The thing that strikes me the most is that not only are all of these slips taken from my German II students who have less than a year and a half of German under their belts, but they did this during a vocab test week when they had all the homework credit they needed for just studying for their test. This group that I started with full-time TPRS last year (my first dedicated group) has really taken on the challenge that German class is all about exploring the big-wide-world that is out there, and that the language is a gateway to things they wouldn’t have access to otherwise.
And the thing is, that this group is not all what you’d call ideal students either. My student who went to the writing conference is very quiet and reserved, and will speak with only with friends and with me one-on-one. I usually struggle to know how she is doing. But she loves the language, and finds way to do things privately with it–I’d never know that without the homework sheets she turns in. My Indiana Jones reader is a major discipline problem in all of his classes (including mine) but allows me to challenge him. Maybe one of the people I mentioned above is an honor-role student. But the whole group has bought into the “bring it on” mentality that TPRS encourages.
The thing I like about this homework setup is that now I have something to talk to each of these kids about come next Monday. We can bring that up in class, or I can just follow up on the side. All of these reports were written on 1/8 sheets of paper that I’ll keep in my shirt pocket next week until I’ve gotten to everybody. These kids can be pills at time but they all enjoy life, and I’m grateful they’re letting me be a part of theirs.