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The French Comenius Team in Germany

Two interactive diaries of the Augsburg trip Le camp de concentration de Dachau

This is a short presentation (in French) made by our Pupils about Dachau. With their own photos there, they try to explain what Dachau was.
Never again.

Report/Protocol on the Comenius Project from the Danish delegation.

Thursday 6th December 2012
Kradhalle, Culture Park West - An evening of different activities.

All teams met up at the Kradhalle. This evening was set to be a mixture of presentations, quiz, fashion show and more to get everyone into the mind-set and atmosphere of the 60s. Throughout all the evening, a screen displayed pictures of scenes from the 60s, getting everyone into the mood. A set of video clips were later shown. In the Kradhalle, there was an exhibition on the Beatles “Get back 50 Jahre Beatles – The Magical history tour”. There was food inspired by the 60s too. Girls and boys from the German team put on a fashion show with suitable music showing fashionable clothing from the 60s up to the present time. In between, a magician caught everyone’s attention doing magical tricks and picking people from the crowd to help him out. We then had a Beatles Quiz. The different teams all participated, having to guess the title of 20 different Beatles songs from just a single note or chord on a guitar. It was not easy, and it even challenged the British team. As part of the programme, a mix of music from the 60s and up to contemporary music was played showing the differences and similarities between the past and the present.

All these activities could, in some way, have been done in a classroom, but by performing it and taking part, everyone get so much more out of it. As an example, with a fashion show in Kradhalle, the pupils learnt a lot more about 60s fashion and by being involved (performer or guest star) it awakens motivation. As John Dewey famously said, “Learning by doing” (as apposed to learning by reading/looking). Another example was the Beatles quiz: Just like the teaching method Cooperative Learning, you get more out of the quiz by participating, instead of learning about the different songs in the classroom. However, the quiz was designed in such a way, that it could be brought into the classroom.

Friday 7th December 2012
Kradhalle, Kulturpark West – Opening Doors to Lifelong Learning

On this morning, German coordinator Udo Legner, introduced the Comenius programme. The participants were asked to contrast and compare the different countries, learn from each other and share ideas for how to teach/learn outside the classroom. “You are to get out of school and get a different perspective on things. There is no need for marks in projects like these”, he said. The different Comenius countries/teams then presented a slide show which the pupils had prepared at home. The individual presentations were intended to introduce the country, city and school as it were in the 60s, with a Beatles slant. The presentation structure was intentionally open beforehand, and therefore all pupils and teachers got a good appetizer of each individual country and an idea of the differences and similarities between the different countries in a variety of different styles of presentation. We then had several guests presenting different areas: Guest Peter Bommas , one of the leaders of KS: AUG & Kulturpark West, presented the location we were in and told the story of it being an old military base. The location and the buildings were supposed to be torn down, but volunteers suggested using it as a site for creative expression. It was opened in 2008 and is still going strong with 1500 active users, including 200 bands, 50 artists and many projects. He showed a video with clips from some of the projects and also shared his experiences on how it “is easier [to learn German] when the kids are active and motivated”, in his case when dealing with pupils from 50 different countries. Guest students Jonas Hart and Anton Ernst shared their experiences about a project they had done about poetry. They first thought this project would be very boring, but throughout working with poetry in so many different ways (in two poetry workshops in cooperation with the “Lust auf Lyrik” Foundation Munich and in another workshop with a composer from “Mehr Musik” Augsburg) they became motivated and were inspired to write their own texts and music. In the end, they performed it along with their classmates, on the occasion of last year’s prestigious Brecht Festival. They said “We were proud of our work and it was great fun to present it to such a large audience.”. Guest teacher Ute Legner from “Mehr Musik” has been working at the Kulturpark West on a project called “More Music”. She told us about several projects including one where around 200 children and young people set up a play. Over the last 4½ years of the music project, more than 39,000 people have been involved. In between we had different musical presentations from the different countries including a Spanish song performed by the English team, a Danish rap performed by the Danish team and more.

Friday evening the teachers met up at the house of Udo Legner, the German coordinator, to have a traditional Bavarian buffet. We met some of the other German teachers who will be participating in the Comenius programme later on AND we met Sankt Nikolaus.

Saturday 8th December 2012

Guided city tour in Augsburg (teachers)

We met at the City Hall for a 2-hour guided tour. We strolled down the old streets of Augsburg behind the City Hall listening to the stories of the old times and ended up at the Fuggerei. The Fuggerei is the oldest social settlement in the world, a place for needy citizens of Augsburg. It is financed exclusively through an endowment and the annual rent is very low (0.88 cents) giving the most needy a chance. After the guided tour, some of the teachers went to the Parkhäusl (discovering the myths of the German Forest). Others continued the tour around Augsburg on their own. Through a guided tour we experienced the area, and learnt about the different historical buildings and streets. Being right there made it more memorable than seeing it in the books/internet where one would quickly forget which picture went with which story. A tour like this made you want to discover more and keep exploring even after leaving Augsburg.

In the evening, the teachers were supposed to have a stroll down the illuminated Old Town and Christmas Market, but decided to stay at the hotel for a long meeting to agree on the agenda for this project.

Sunday 9th December 2012
Excursion to Dachau and Munich

By bus we all went to the former Concentration camp in Dachau and met up with a fantastic guide, Robert from the US. He gave us the story of the concentration camp and his inspiring presentation made everyone feel like being there at the time of the horror. We were taken through the exhibition and the camp area. To be there and feel that chill, a history book cannot give you. You feel the cold from the weather and you feel cold inside gradually getting to know the history. Several of the pupils were very disturbed from the terrible information from the guide and the photographs. This cannot be experienced in a classroom either. After the three-hour tour, we continued our journey by bus to Munich to continue the history of the Second World War. We started at the City Hall, after a local snack at the Christmas market on Marienplatz. From there we then strolled down the old streets to the old brewery, Hofbräuhaus, where Hitler had his first big meeting constituting the Nazi Party. This is where he realized he had it in him to control the world. From there we walked to the Bundeskanzlei (where the minister of the state Bavaria sits). In front of the building, which still had gunshots on the columns, was a monument showing a coffin carried by soldiers. The monument is for soldiers lost in World War I, and later an inscription from the World War II was added. On this tour, the weather got worse and the snow made it difficult to get around, although it gave a good setting. Because of the cold, we stood on the grid from the subway getting warm when we got to Odeonsplatz. This square is where Hitler tried to seize power in Munich. From here we walked to the Pinakothek (Museum of modern art). A quick walk through some parts of the museum, and we were back on the bus. The pupils were picked up by their hosts in Augsburg, and the teachers went out for a late dinner. Here we met a few more of the German teachers in the Comenius project.

Monday 10th December 2012

Visit of the Maria-Theresia Gymnasium

Presentation of the Maria-Theresia Gymnasium by the headmaster Peter Vervier. Jessika Kosmala, teacher at the MTG, told us about “W” seminars and “P” seminars. The latter takes the pupils outside the school working in groups of 15 pupils with a project manager (teacher). The teachers offer different subjects and students choose the project they wish to work on. The teacher chooses what the pupils will be marked on, but they have to work together as a team. Contact with real life and the work market and the fact that the project could potentially be implemented in a workplace (ie. Audioguide for museum), motivates a great number of of pupils. This, once again, convinced us that the right place for learning happens outside the classroom. The reasoning behind this is that the pupils are able to pick a topic they are interested and motivated in and these two elements are essential to learning. It can also give you a taste of what work in real life is.

Reception at Town Hall on Monday

The first time we went to the City Hall, we were told about the golden room – leaving us all curious. This Monday our curiosity led us to a reception with the mayor, and finally to seeing this amazing golden room. We were welcomed by the head of the educational department of the City of Augsburg, Mr Hermann Köhler, who described the importance of working across countries in Europe and he gave detailed examples of all the Comenius countries.

Presentation of Media Garden at Holbein Gymnasium The Media Garden is not just an ordinary library but a garden with a little cottage, giving the pupils the opportunity to read comfortably and use the room for a lot of different activities such as poetry readings, video, music, relaxation etc. This was presented by Thomas Körner-Wilsdorff. Gerti Hornung presented the Augsburger Lesebuch, a project for all the pupils in Augsburg (more than 70 schools). Everyone who is interested in writing can, every year, send in their contribution and if they are lucky and their writing is good, their story, poem or essay is then published in the annual book. So far 7 books have been published.

Farewell Party and Short Films at "Grandhotel" on Monday evening The farewell party was moved from Grandhotel to the bar next to Kradhalle. Here the Comenius countries told about their school and country in present time as another appetizer for what to expect when visiting. The farewell party was also an Oscar party – showing 5 short films from each of the 5 participating Comenius countries. After seeing the five films, we had to vote for the best one. This Film Festival was a “P” seminar done by some of the German pupils. This little film festival was a way to try out the setup before having the “real” one in January 2013. The German pupils had chosen five short films over a period of time (five months) and it was clear, they had ended up with very good competing films. We saw the outcome of a “P” seminar and could see that the German pupils were very engaged and dedicated to this project. Once again, we can see that opening doors outside the classroom is very important and gives the pupils meaning and ownership. A project like this definitely gives the pupils lifelong learning. This has given the Danish teachers more ideas for teaching outside the classroom.

Comenius project Opening Doors
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