Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 18: May 8th, 2014

Today was our fourth day at the elementary school. We only had three periods today, but all student teachers had a full schedule planned in the afternoon. In school we taught a lesson on families, "head, shoulders, knees, and toes", and the American flag. We saw each class twice and the 4th graders we would see 3 times. Once again it was fun! We planned our Mother's Day craft we were going to have the students do tomorrow for Mother's Day on Sunday.

This afternoon, we meet with the Mayor of Werne and talked to him about our stay in Germany and Werne. Then we went to visit the apple tree that was planted by the first student teaching group a year and half ago. We are the third group to come to Germany! It was cool to be a part of the tradition. Then we went to dinner and had a good time.

Day 17: May 7th, 2014

Today we taught some new lessons to our classes. For our 4th graders we learned about family members and how to introduce your family and talk about them in English. We had the students draw a picture of their family. We broke into small groups and had them talk about their family to the people in their group. For the younger grades, 1st and 2nd, we did a lesson on body parts. We used the song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" to learn different parts of the body. First we broke into groups and taught the children the English words. Then we came together as a group and taught them the song. They caught on quick. They did very well. A lady for the Herbern newspaper came and interviewed Heike and then took pictures of us teaching our body parts lesson.

In the afternoon we went to an elementary school in Werne called Wiehagenschule macht SpaB. There we participated in a program called "English is Fun". With Heike we played fun games to help the students practice using their English. We played several new games that I had never played before and then talked about family. The students enjoyed what we did and were very happy. I had a lot of fun interacting with them they were a great group.

In the evening I went swimming with Franzi at the public pool in Herbern. In Germany they call it rescue swimming. We just did laps in the pool. It was very laid back and easy. I enjoyed swimming, it had been awhile since I had been able to swim.

Day 16: May 6th, 2014

We taught about the American Flag today to all of our classes. We thought it was a good introductory lesson since we were from America. We wanted to tell them a little bit about where we come from. What I enjoyed most is that during the first break we went outside and played soccer with one of the 4th grade classes. They were so excited about us playing with them. I didn't know I was going to be playing, so I had on my boots today. They turned out to work just fine! The students were already asking us to play again tomorrow.

We ate lunch again at my house. Then we went into Werne where we were meeting Jennay's host mom. She was taking us to Bochum were a coal museum was. In the 1960s most of the coal mines were shut down. Only a few of them remain open. To recognize and remember those people who worked in the coal mines a museum was built that showed the developmental history of coal and recreated a coal mine to show what it would have been like to be down in the mines. It was all very interesting, but everything was in German. It was difficult to understand all of it. Jennay's host mom tried her best to translate what the tour guide was saying.

Day 15: May 5th, 2014

This week we get to teach at the local elementary school in Herbern! I have been looking forward to this!I want to experience teaching elementary school students in Germany. We were at a school called Marienschule Herbern. There are many things that are different from the elementary schools in the United States.

1. Shorter days; the students get out at 1:15 or earlier each day
2. They don't have the same class everyday
3. They get long breaks after two classes. The first break is 30 minutes and the next one is 25 minutes.
4. The students start learning English in the 1st grade; only speaking in 1st and 2nd and then writing in 3rd and 4th grade.

We taught two lessons today, both over the American Flag or Americkanische Flagge in German! The students really enjoyed the class. It was difficult trying to explain what we were saying. We quickly picked up on using signals to demonstrate what we were wanting the students to do.

After school Emily, Jennay, and I went back to my house for lunch. There we planned all of our lessons for the week. Later that evening I road around with Franzi on bikes to go watch Lea's soccer practice and go to the supermarket to pick up some items. It was nice riding around Herbern on a bike. I felt like a real German!

Day 14: May 4th, 2014

Our last day in Munich and Bavaria! It has been a great weekend!

Today we had one thing planned before leaving for Werne. We were going to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp memorial. This was new experience for me because I had never been to a concentration camp before. After the tour, it was hard for me to fully grasp and understand what I was felling. It was hard for me to believe I was in an area where so much pain and suffering took place. The most disturbing part of it all was walking through the crematory. To think this is where many innocent people died was very saddening. The day we were at the camp, they were having an annual ceremony to commemorate those lost in the camps. A very old man gave a speech. Later we learned he had been in four concentration camps, one of them being Dachau, and he was the head of the committee.

The rest of the day was spent traveling back to Werne on the train! It was nice to be back in Werne with my host family!

Day 13: May 3rd, 2014

We spent all day in Munich! The weather wasn't the best. It rained most of the day, but we were still out and about walking around. This is what we did:

1. Deutches Museum: This a famous museum for science and engineering. It had many inventions and information about the history of certain topics, such as boats, aeronautics, cars, instruments, glass blowing, paper, printing, wood, toys, etc. There was so much it was impossible to see it all for the couple hours we were there.

2. Allianz Arena: This the soccer stadium in Munich were the Bayern Munchen soccer team plays their home games. It was huge. I wanted to go on a tour, but it was sold out. I settled for walking around the stadium and then going to the fan shop!

3. Downtown Munich: We spent the rest of the day walking around the downtown area of Munich. There were many people out walking around and shopping. We went into some of the souvenir shops and churches.

4. Dinner at the Heirschgarten: Good food!! 

Day 12: May 2nd, 2014

I still can't believe I am in Bavaria or Southern Germany, just a couple days ago I was in Northern German. Now when I look out the window I see the Alps in the background. What a big change in scenery.
We spent the day walking around the Neuschwanstein castle and taking a tour of the inside of the castle. It was very interesting! We were only able to see 4 of the rooms because much of the castle was not completed after King Ludwig II died. His death is mystery; no one knows what happened. He was found in the river, so he either killed himself or someone killed him!

We took the train to Munich around 4 and arrived around 6. We found the hostel we were staying in and got settled. This is the first time I will be staying in a hostel. It is different from a hotel. When we first check in we have to pay and we have to grab our sheets to make our bed. That evening we went to the Hofbrauhaus which is the biggest beer tavern in the world. It was a great atmosphere and the food was good!

Day 11: May 1st, 2014

May 1st! This is an important day in Germany. Today is recognized as a day of rest for many workers. Many of the shops, stores, and restaurants are closed on this day.

Reiner was the name of the friend who let us stay at his house. I forgot to mention that in my last blog post. When we woke, up he had breakfast prepared for us. The usual meat, bread, and jelly. I can finally announce I had my first cup of coffee. I do not drink coffee, but Reiner poured me a glass and I did not want to be rude and not drink it. So, I added a bit of milk and drank it. It was not bad, but I still do not like it!

He offered to take us around Kempten for an our in the morning before we caught the train to Fussen. We spent an hour downtown Kempten looking at the old, historical buildings. There were not many people in the streets because of May day. It was very quiet and peaceful. We learned that Kempten is the oldest German town.

After walking around town, Reiner graciously offered to drive us to Fussen. It was a short 30 minute drive compared to the 1:20 ride on the train. We agreed and hopped on the autobahn! Reiner went 205 kmph which is really fast in mph! It was fun!

In Fussen, Reiner ended up staying with us most of the day and showed us around Fussen. We wanted to go hiking in the Alps and near Neuschwanstein castle. He showed us a trail that took us up the back side of the castle and gave us a great view of the town and landscape! I love going hiking and taking pictures of nature. This was my favorite part of the trip so far. Everything was so beautiful and amazing! We hiked for about 3 hours. We told him we really wanted to go to Austria, so Reiner once again offered to drive us across the boarder. In a matter of minutes we were in Austria!! We drove to this small restaurant by a lake in the Alps. It was a great sight to see. We ate inside with the Alps right outside our window. At the restaurant I finally tried Germany's version of macaroni and cheese. It was delicious!

For the next couple hours we drove around Austria and back into Germany. Reiner new the area fairly well. He took us to some smaller towns and a beautiful Catholic church in the area.

Around 7 we made it back to Fussen where Reiner left to go back to Kempten. We were very grateful for him showing us around the area. Without him we wouldn't have been able to see half of the things we got to see that day. It was a great day in Bavaria!

Day 10: April 30th, 2014

We leave for Bavaria today! First, I had one class in the morning with Heike. All six of the elementary teachers were in the class. The three of us who were with Heike yesterday had the opportunity to observe the other elementary teachers in action! For the rest of the morning Emily and I waited at the school and walked around Werne some. We found an ALDI near the school and looked around. I learned that ALDI was founded in Germany by brothers. We ate lunch at the school and then waited some more for our train.

Our train was leaving from Werne at 4:15. I was glad when the train finally came! We had about a 7 hour train ride to Kempten and we had to change trains a couple of times. Our train was delayed on the way to Ulm, so we got into Kempten later than we wanted  because we had to wait for the next train.

A friend of Emily's host mom graciously offered his home for us to spend the night in Kempten. He was there to pick us up at the train station around 11:30pm! He was very nice man for staying out that late and helping us. One thing that holds true is that German people are nice and willing to help people.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 9: April 29th, 2014

Today we were given the chance to teach for the first time in Germany. Three of us, Jennay, Emily, and I were assigned to Heike's classes. So, we observed and taught in her English classes. The reason we are with her is because next week, we will be at the elementary school in Herbern. We had five periods today. Fifth grade was in the morning for two periods. Then seventh grade for two periods, and eighth grade for one period. We did some spontaneous teaching today. During seventh grade, Heike threw me in and had me review with them some grammar sentences with past present tense. It had been a long time since I had learned this grammar, so it was very confusing at first. Plus, the students learn British English and not American English. There is a difference! I did well with it and was glad.In the eighth grade class the three of us talked about small town life in America and helped the students come up with pros and cons to living in a small town.

One thing I like about German schools is that they allow many breaks. After every two periods, the students are given a break. The times very from 25, 20, to 15. The students are allowed to go outside, eat a snack, or use the bathroom. This allows the students to take what we would call in America a "brain break". We need more of those in American schools.

After school Emily and I went with her host mom to Munster to get the German Rail Passes stamped for tomorrows train ride down to Munich. It was a short drive on the autobahn to Munster. That was my first time driving on the autobahn and it was really fun and we went fast! While we were in Munster we walked around and saw some of the churches and castles. While visiting the castle, which is part of the university,  there was a small soccer game being played on the lawn out front. When leaving the castle the ball was kicked over our way. I trapped it and passed it back! I was so excited that was the first soccer ball I touched in Germany!!

We arrived home. I ate a quick bit for dinner and then headed up stairs to pack for the weekends trip to Fussen and Munich!

Day 8: April 28th, 2014

Today was the first day of student teaching! I woke up and got ready for the day. I went down to breakfast and ate with my host family. For breakfast in Germany they eat granola or cereal with yogurt or room temperature milk, toast or bread with jam or Nutella, and sometimes fruit.

To get to the Anne Frank Gymnasium we have to go to Werne. So, today Jennay's host mom drove us to school on her way to work. We did not have to start teaching today because the Dortmund News came to video tape us at school and in Werne. They wanted to put a segment in the nightly news about Americans coming to student teach in Germany. For most of the day we had people video taping us. For me that was the first time I have been video taped. It was a new experience and I enjoyed it.

We were free to go home after the news team left. A group of us decided to walk into Werne to see the center of town. We walked around for a little bit. We meet up with Jennay's host mom. She took us around to several churches in Werne and then drove us back to Herbern. I ended up coming with Emily to help her work on travel plans for our coming trip to Munich. Afterwards, Emily's host mom took us to see Westerwinkle castle which is a little outside of Herbern. It was a small, but pretty castle. The land around it wad very well kept and beautiful.

When I go home I ate dinner with my family. We talked for awhile about random topics. The dad has many questions for me and likes to practice his English on me. He is good! It was a very interesting first day in Werne, but I already love it!

Day 7: April 27th, 2014

Most of the day was spent traveling to Werne where we will be student teaching. We had to take an ICE train to Dortmund. From there we would take a smaller train to Werne.  The important thing to remember when riding trains anywhere is that they will leave you! It was a scary and exhilarating experience getting on the train. There were 11 of us who needed to get on with all of our luggage. So we had approximately 3 minutes to load all the luggage and get everyone on the train. They started to blow the whistle and we still had two people not on the train. We cut it close, but made it on!

As we approached Werne, I started to become nervous because I was about to meet my host family for the first time. I am very shy when I first meet people. When I got off of the train my host mom, dad, sister, and sister were there to pick me up. They were very welcoming. They leave outside of Werne in a town called Herbern, so we had about a 15 minute drive. On the drive they asked me many questions about my trip and where I come from. When we arrived at the house, they gave me a tour and showed me where I would be sleeping. That evening, we had a family dinner at the table and talked some more. This is a new experience for me (living with a host family), so it will take some getting used to. Tomorrow is our first day of teaching!

Day 6: April 26th, 2014

First day of the trip I got to sleep in. Emily and I decided not to go to the concentration camp outside of Berlin with the rest of the people. We stayed behind so we could see some more around Berlin. While the others were at the concentration camp, Emily and I decided to go back to the Tiergarten. We walked through the park and saw the Liberty Statue and Bellevue (Presidents House). Then we went to a small lake and rented a row boat for 30 minutes. That was my first time in a row boat. The technique to rowing was hard at first, but after 15 minutes I had a good grasp of it!

Later we meet the others back near the train station for Tiergarten. There we grabbed a bite to eat at a nice little restaurant near by. The restaurant was playing Micheal Jackson music; it was great! There was a flea market taking place across the street, so several of us went to look at all the items they had to offer.

In the evening we had a dinner party for our last night in Berlin. As a group we bought Dr. McGee a gift for graciously showing us around Berlin and making it a great experience. I am sad that we are leaving Berlin tomorrow, but ready for the next part of an already amazing trip!

Day 5: April 25th, 2014

Today we had a tour planned in the morning with a lady who lives in Berlin. Her name is Elaine, she is a friend of Dr. McGee. She showed us several different sights on the East side of Berlin.

List of sights:
1. Brandenburg Gate: It has become a great symbol of unification in Germany
2. Tiergarten: This garden is right out side of the Brandenburg Gate. The Gate used to be used as the main entrance into the city. The garden outside was the Kings hunting grounds. During WWII the garden or park was used to supply the people with fire wood and later used as a vegetable garden.
3. The Holocaust Memorial: This was a very interesting memorial. It was just a bunch of big stone rectangular prisms that you could walk in and out of, sort of like a maze. It is hard to describe the feelings I got as I walked through the memorial. At times I felt like I was experiencing what all the people in The Holocaust had experienced. It was dark, scary, and cold in the middle because the prisms were very tall. I felt trapped and alone.
4. Check Point Charlie: The famous spot where U.S. forces patrolled the boarder between the East and West Berlin
5. Famous Opera House
6. A memorial students had build outside of the university for the books that were burned by Nazi students.

After lunch we did a lot more sight seeing. We went to the East Side Gallery which was incredible. The paintings on the wall were outstanding. Each one had a story to tell. We went to an area that showed the land between the walls. It was very interesting to see the design. Lastly, we did some more shopping before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

Day 4: April 24th, 2014

Sorry for not keeping my blog updated. I have been very busy in Germany these past couple weeks. On April 24th, we had another busy schedule planned. After eating breakfast, the group took a train to a town outside of Berlin called Potsdam. In Potsdam we did a six hour bike tour of the town. A lady named Dorris was our guide for the day. We rode around the countryside and through down town Potsdam. This was an excellent way to see the whole town in one day. We calculated it we rode around on our bikes for 12 miles! During the tour she showed us famous palaces and castles, the house where the famous Potsdam conference was held, special landmarks related to when the Berlin Wall was standing. The town was very beautiful. I enjoyed riding through the town and seeing all the amazing things Potsdam had.

We returned our bikes back at the train station. A group of us decided to go back to Berlin. We were going to visit the East Side Gallery where part of the Berlin Wall was still standing, but we thought it was going to rain so decided to wait till another day. Instead, we visited the Berlin Dome and took the tram back to our hotel.