Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Implementation: round 2

I am happy and proud to report another successful integration of Austrian culture into my classroom.

At the end of the introductory unit during German 1, I do a small lesson about the German flag and how it got its design. We watch a 6 minute video podcast from Die Sendung mit der Maus called "Deutschlandflagge." We discuss what we see, hear, and what we can glean from the episode about the development of Germany's national flag. It's good. The students react positively. They freak out hearing 6 minutes of native level German, but it's lots of fun anyway.

This year, I took it to the next level by increasing the presentation to include an activity about the Austrian flag (very briefly) and Austria's coat of arms (das Wappen). It's a lesson from one of the pages out of "Das Österreich Quiz" book. We talked about how nations represent their identity through imagery. We researched German words: Adler, Hammer, Sichel, Kette, Bürgertum, Bauernschaft, Arbeiterschaft, Kraft, Monarchie, Sozialismus, and Freiheit. We discussed which ones are symbolized on Austria's coat of arms. We examined some tongue-in-cheek drawings that other people have made using the Austrian coat of arms and talked about the perspectives that the artist was presenting while depicting Austria: Skination, Trinknation, and Grünnation. Not too shabby for week 3 of German 1.

Then came the best part.

The students developed and designed their own versions of a Wappen for their birth state or country. Using a blank outline drawing of the Austrian coat of arms, they had to draw three symbols for their birthplace and come up with a name "----staat" for their state that reflects how they see it. It was a solid discussion about cultural identity and modern history.

Here are a few examples of my students' work:

At the end, I squeezed in three minutes about Switzerland's flag. I'm already envisioning my next Fund for Teachers grant proposal: Delving into Swiss life and culture. Bern...Luzern...Basel...Geneva...more mountains!

If you would like a copy of the blank outline drawing of the Austrian Wappen, please just leave me a message with your email and a little bit about who you are and where you teach.

I'm feeling really good about my focus this year on D-A-CH countries. It feels so much more balanced and content-rich. Next up, soccer rivalries!

**6/6/2014: Thanks to Frau Leonard for the shout-out on her blog and recording her experiences with using this lesson!**


  1. Who doesn't love soccer rivalries? And all the calf muscles associated?!? So excited to read your next blog!

  2. I'm always looking for materials about Austria and Switzerland. Would love a copy of the Wappen... I'm Jody Davis and teach about 80+ in German 1-4 at Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas.

  3. Great lesson! I'd love a copy of the Wappen also. I'm Cassie Shelton and I'm one of two teachers teaching a little over 300 German students in levels 1-4 in Meridian, Idaho.

  4. Very cute idea! We talk so much about German culture that I'm always trying to find ways to incorporate Austrian and Swiss culture as well. I'd love a copy of the Wappen - it'd be great as a side lesson on our upcoming geography unit :)

    I'm Ashley Leonard and teach German 1-4 in Glenelg, Maryland. My email is: