The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Small class sizes create unique learning opportunities for German students

German teacher Rachel Ruddick is the only one teaching German in the Upper School. She teaches four levels, II through AP, with one class per level. Compared to the other language programs at SPA, the German program may seem relatively small. It is the only language this year that does not offer a level one class in the Upper School.

But why are the classes so small in the first place? Ruddick explains that students may be drawn to languages other than German, and that could be the reason behind the smaller class sizes. German is also the least-spoken language internationally out of the languages offered at SPA (the others being Spanish, French and Chinese). However, this means many of her students chose German because of strong personal ties, whether it is a family relation or just an appreciation for the language.

Although some may see a smaller language program as a negative thing, Ruddick argues there are benefits to her shortened class lists. “Smaller classes allows for a lot of hands-on activities and for kids to take initiative on things that they want to do,” she said. “My favorite part [about having small classes] is having flexibility to do a lot of different types of projects.” There is a wide variety of projects the students participate in. The most memorable projects according to Ruddick are the Stolpersteine memorials that were on display last year, and the mural wall, which is a memorial about the Berlin Wall.

Due to only having about ten students per class and four classes total, Ruddick has been able to not only provide a personalized learning experience for her students, but also incorporate many engaging activities. German III students have already completed a Google Slides presentation and video project this year. Freshman German III student Sofia Rivera said, “The video was a really fun project, because it included way more creativity than other ones.” These engaging activities not only aide in understanding and speaking German, but also teaching German history and culture.

Smaller classes allows for a lot of hands-on activities and for kids to take initiative on things that they want to do.

— Rachel Ruddick

Another benefit of the small class sizes is that Ruddick can give her students lots of attention and guidance. “It’s been really nice to get to work with each student in the class at some point and everyone gets a lot more individual attention, which is really nice when it comes to learning the language,” Rivera said.

Ruddick finds teaching inspiration in the quote by Nelson Mandela that states: “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” This surely rings true in Ruddick’s classroom. From engaging assignments to individualized attention, German students not only learn the language, but learn to truly understand the culture and heart behind it.

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Nora McKoy
Nora McKoy, A&E Editor
My name is Nora McKoy (she/her). I’m an A&E editor for RubicOnline. At school, I’m involved in CAS, and Sophomore Class Leadership Council. I love to watch mystery TV shows. I can be reached at [email protected].
Olympia Wolff
Olympia Wolff, News Editor
My name is Olympia Wolff (she/her). I worked as a Copy Editor for The Rubicon first semester and as co-News Editor second semester. At school, I’m involved in volleyball. I love to write, go out for coffee, and bring my dog to the dog park. I can be reached at [email protected].

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