Google Meets lead a trip to Germany


Submitted Photo

Herr Dough Moyer in NPHS with Germany’s Frau Andrea Ariman.

4,000 miles. That is roughly the distance from one end of the Amazon river to the other. That is also the distance that sits between North Penn High School and Jorg-Ratgeb Gymnasium High School in Stuttgart, Germany. 

On Thursday, March 25th, 2021, North Penn High School teacher Doug Moyer’s German 2 students made history by having the first-ever German-American Cultural Exchange with Andrea Ariman’s native speaking German students at the Jorg-Ratgeb Gymnasium High School via Google Meet.

The lesson started with a Stuttgart, Germany cultural video with a personal greeting from the Jorg-Ratgeb Gymnasium principal Brigitte Liebelt, as well as a greeting to the students from Germany by North Penn High School principal Pete Nicholson.

Next, Moyer shared cultural videos with a PowerPoint presentation in German describing, with North Penn Pride, the good things happening at North Penn School District and within our North Penn Community.

Finally, North Penn High School German 2 students had the wonderful opportunity to develop their German listening comprehension and speaking skills with the native German-speaking students from Jorg-Ratgeb Gymnasium High School in Stuttgart, Germany by exchanging their German Pen Pal Letters verbally, having authentic German Partner dialogues and discussing current events.

The lesson was such a success that the students in Germany requested they do it again the very next week. They knew during the year that the USA was going to be their main focus and they wanted to find a way to connect. And through this pen pal lesson, they did.

“My students so absolutely loved the experience today. I truly believe this was an educational highlight for all of my students,” Ariman said. 

“It was really nice,” her student Lara Kamensek confirmed. 

The first question Ariman’s Jorg-Ratgeb High School students asked her after their first Virtual German-American Cultural Exchange was “Can we visit them again next week?“ 

“Ever since I had told them on the very first day of class back in September that this year the USA was going to be our main focus, my students asked me to take them to America. Thanks to the invite by Mr. Moyer, I was able to take them there, albeit virtually,” Ariman said. “We found a way of getting together that transgresses the pandemic boundaries of the present moment, is environmentally friendly, and economically affordable.”

North Penn German 2 student Rick Corry used this experience to develop a better understanding of the language as a whole. From pace to meaning, he now understands the language better.

As a result of the German-American Virtual Cultural Exchange with students from Jorg-Ratgeb High School in Stuttgart, Germany, I have developed a better understanding of the pace of speaking German. I have also developed a quicker understanding of what those German sentences mean and I have learned what daily life is like today in Germany,” Corry explained.

Moyer believes that the virtual strategies teachers have used should be implemented when the school returns to normal. He believes that virtual learning has extended abilities teachers have in the classroom rather than replicate the ones they already had.

“We have learned a lot by going remote, but we could enhance our teaching even more if we leaned into virtual learning. The virtual approach is one we can—and should—take back to the physical classroom when we all return. Virtual learning is designed to extend educational experiences. It does not try to replicate them. In virtual learning environments, students access resources and interact in ways they would not or could not in the physical classroom,” Moyer stated.

Moyer says that we need to embrace being virtual. He believes that people have to stop wishing they are in person and focus on the positives about the strategies teachers can use while in the virtual classroom.

“We need to embrace new ways of teaching. Our historic German-American Virtual Cultural Exchange is an educational first in the North Penn School District. We need to stop wishing we were back in a traditional classroom and focus our energy on more powerful learning possibilities and teaching strategies that are now in front of us,” Moyer said.

Overall, this lesson was a huge success and the students and teachers from both Germany and North Penn hope to do it again sometime. Also, Moyer hopes that students and teachers use this experience as a way to realize that virtual learning can be used in many different ways if you embrace it.