Albert Lea and German high school students collaborate on election section

Published 8:17 pm Friday, December 11, 2020

While many would say the 2020 presidential election was and is still a divisive topic of conversation, it led to a collaborative effort between a local high school social studies class and a German high school class.

Albert Lea High School social studies teacher Jim Haney and German teacher Christian Knappe collaborated through a program similar to youth in government, according to Albert Lea graduate Mallory King. King, who was a student of Haney’s and ran cross country for him, now lives in Germany and works for Teach About U.S., a program she said helps German students learn English through different subject material. She said the project has a curriculum that focuses on the United States elections, with each high school being assigned a different state. Students then research the states to attempt to determine how it will vote in the election.

“We have hundreds of schools participate in the project and each state is assigned. At the end of the project all of the schools come together to predict the winner of the election based on the electoral votes they predicted,” King said. “Many schools in Germany have a partner school in the United States. The school is usually in the state they are assigned.”

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King said she asked Haney to participate in this year’s program.

“Not only did he participate, he went above and beyond,” she said.

“The program is great. It has a number of things that help my students and the German students understand the election process,” Haney said.

“The collaboration has been fantastic. Christian Knappe, the teacher in Germany, is fabulous and his students are great to work with. They ask engaging questions and they truly want to know more about the U.S. system and how Minnesota fits in that system.”

Haney said the German students did ask a number of questions about the social unrest in Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd, and said the German students wanted to know how that impacted Albert Lea. 

“My students have gained a new perspective of  the world from the interactions with the German students,” Haney said.

In one of the video conference sessions, he had one of his students give a point of view of the Republicans and Democrats in Minnesota and in the United States. The German students predicted Joe Biden would win Minnesota and the presidential election.

“We are continuing the exchange as my students are sending video back and forth on a number of subjects from social to political,” Haney said. “It has been great fun watching the questions being asked.”


About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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