How I Used This Teaching Unit

Here is how I carried out a German-American Day project, dealing with German names and words in the American mainstream, and had my students participate in an essay contest at the same time.

October 6, German-American Day crept up on me this year. So I asked myself, "How can I, in a very short time, make this essay contest 'German Words and Names in the Hoosier Mainstream Culture' meaningful to my first year students?"

As a class we watched the film "300 years of German Immigration" and identified names and places of historical signficance. After that, I made a poster for the classroom, a map of Indiana in the background, and highlighted fifteen cities with German names. From the local phone book, I typed fifteen last names and added them to the poster. Finally from Indiana Tourist Information packets I had at home, I cut out pictures and information relating to some of the German communities around the state. Not on the poster, but just to have in the classroom, were German words, names and companies with German names I had cut out of only one "Indianapolis Star."

Assuring th students that German words and names are all around us, I assigned a very simple project: Find 10 German words or name and display them on a 9" x 12" piece of construction paper. Students received 15 points for the 10 words and 15 points for the display. (This is equivalent to a normal quiz score.) For extra credit, students could take the words and names they found and turn them into an essay.

The small posters were super. So good that about 75 of them went up on the wall outside of the classroom for the entire school to enjoy. The display stayed up during the month of October. Students were proud to see their posters displayed, and many non-German students came by to admire the display.

The German students were indeed surprised at how quickly they came up with the words and names, so much so that most of them took extra time designing posters with color meaning, extra Germany/Indiana drawings, translating names, or writing some history. From the required project, eight students then wrote short essays using the words they had located. The entire Germany-American unit took about 2 1/2 class days. The project created enthusiasm and many lasting positive impressions of German-Americans.

Ruth Buechlein, Indianapolis

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Updated: 17 November 2007, BAS
Comments to: IUPUI Max Kade German-American Center,
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