Last week 4 year 9 students travelled to Barcelona as part of the Comenius project.
Last week, Harry Bradford, Alex Davies and Mollie McFarlane attended the fourth Comenius Conference in Germany. They stayed with pupils from the Willigis Gymnasium, Mainz.
During the visit our pupils presented themselves, our school, our country and our multi-cultural mask project. They also worked on several activities linked to the theme of a multi-cultural society: an art project entitled “Doors into Europe”, a caricatures competition and a group discussion based on how societies and languages are changing due to foreign influences including immigration, culture, social media etc. All pupils involved reflected well upon these questions and came up with unique and interesting responses, especially for this question – “The USA has been described as a melting pot where cultures have melted together and formed a new culture, the American one. Others have described the USA as a salad bowl, where you can clearly see the different cultures which together make up the American society. Which of these two terms, melting pot or salad bowl, will be the best to describe the future European society?” Answer – “it depends on the chef!”
During the visit, our pupils were extremely lucky to attend the Mainz Carnival, also known as Mainzer Fastnacht, one of the largest carnival events in Germany. The crowd gathered in Schillerplatz and observed the celebrations, parade and fancy dress! Pupils also had the opportunity to visit Frankfurt and the Museum of Communication.
Our pupils had a fantastic time in Mainz and gained a wonderful life experience.
Four Y Pant pupils attended the third Comenius Conference in Holland, with the focus of the conference on using technology in the 21st century. Our pupils stayed with host families and attended the local school, Rijks Regionale Scholengemeenschap in Bergen op Zoom. They adapted well to life in Holland by cycling to and from school and all were amazed by the Dutch school; the facilities, the lack of school uniform, the cleanliness (lots of bins and hardly any litter!), the technology available (free WIFI!) and how well behaved all Dutch pupils were.
During the visit all pupils presented themselves and their schools, participated in a “Time Machine” activity where they compared the 1950s to the present day and the not so distant 2050s, they learned about the history of social media, they went mountain biking, designed logos for the project and visited Antwerp and Rotterdam. Our Welsh pupils were extremely impressed by Holland and have all made friends for life.
The week before half term Y Pant successfully hosted 21 exchange pupils for its Comenius Project. This was the second conference held for the project and students arrived from various European countries; Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.
The conference lasted three days and during this time all schools presented the work that they had worked on in their own countries, linked to using social media, education and being an entrepreneur. Y Pant pupils researched famous British entrepreneurs, created a video about educational apps and presented the results of an online survey. In groups, students made coins in the art department (inspired from our proximity to the Royal Mint and the online currency Bitcoin) and within mixed nationality groups, students took part in a “Dragons’ Den” styled activity in which they had to create and develop an educational app before pitching it to Mr Powell! (The winning app was called MyMusik and it helped people learn how to sing!) On the last day of the conference the students went on a cultural trip to Cardiff Castle.
Y Pant thoroughly enjoyed hosting our European Guests and we are working hard ready for the third conference in the Netherlands.
The coin commemorates the Comenius visit here at Y Pant.
The statue at the centre of the village of Llantrisant is in the centre of the coin.
Llantrisant is the location of the Royal Mint, the site where all coins here in the UK are made.
Our coin is representing the typical Dutch things like the windmill and the typical old Dutch shoes. And, of course the flag of our country!
We discussed ideas for the coin. We decided that a dragon would be a good representation of Wales. We also wanted to have an object that symbolised our country so we drew a Shamrock as well. We then decided to draw a daffodil to represent Wales.
We made this coin, and it represents our project. We have ‘The Gecko, ‘The Love Maze’, models we have made back in Norway in our Art class, and the Sandnes symbol – The Gauk. We wanted it to stand out and therefore used a lot of colours.
Our coin represents the union between all the countries that have taken part in this project and the collaboration is represented as a tree. We were thinking we wanted to represent the union of our countries.
Our coin represents our good experiences we have made here in Wales. Wales is symbolised by the Red Dragon and the pint of beer stands for Germany. The Dragon wraps around the glass symbolising us coming together. The background looks like the flag of Wales.
Y Pant has a long history of taking part in Comenius projects. (More recent projects are showcased here). In particular we have worked with RSG ‘t Rijks, a school in the Netherlands for many of these projects. Miss Purcell and I are currently in the Netherlands looking at a new idea for an exciting project that will probably start in September 2012.
We are meeting with teachers from schools here in the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Ireland, and Estonia, plus there is also a school in Croatia interested. The purpose of this visit is to finalise details of the project before the application deadline in February. We won’t hear from the British Council if we have the funding until July.
After a full day’s work at Y Pant (such is our dedication), Miss Purcell and I hopped on a plane from Cardiff to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport then took the train to Bergen op Zoom in the south of the country, finally arriving at about 11pm.
We started today with a meeting in school to discuss the project, then went on a cultural excursion. The other schools have been here for a few more days as part of another Comenius project and have students with them. We haven’t brought any Y Pant students this time as we haven’t yet started the project!
This excursion took us to Belgium (no passports needed) and a sobering visit to Fort Breendonk.
I think we’re all familiar with names such as Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi WWII concentration camp in Poland recently visited by Mrs Burnell and her trip. We were surprised to learn that the Nazi’s also had smaller concentration camps, used as holding camps and torture centres, in Belgium. Our guide for the 2 hour tour was the multi-lingual Chris. He explained European history and the day to day life in the camp to us in a way that brought it horribly to life. When he shouted orders to us in German, in a confined, damp, cold tunnel; I felt genuinely scared but it was surely nothing compared to the terror experienced by the hundreds of Jewish men and resistance fighters that were brought there.
He told us things that will stay with me forever and when we get back to school Miss Purcell and I will share some of this with you. It’s too important not to.
This trip reinforced in me, the importance of projects like Comenius in bringing people from different European nations together. The importance of getting to know each other and being interested in the differences between us but more importantly, celebrating our common humanity.
From 18th to 20th May, Jordan Sheehy, Natasha Vincent and myself visited a school in Bergen-op-Zoom in the Netherlands. Whilst there we went to the Deltaworks at Neeltje Jans, and saw the huge storms surge barriers. The following day we had a boat trip around the Port of Rotterdam, serving 350 million consumers in Europe and a trip up the 185m tall Euromast.
Natasha and Jordan stayed with families in the town whilst all the teachers stayed in a hotel and exchanged pedagogy ideas.
Here are some of our photos.
Learn Smart trip to St. Fagans, Tuesday 15th of February
by Mrs. Sara Nowell-Hughes
St Fagans is one of Europe’s leading open–air museums and Wales’s most popular heritage attraction. It seemed a perfect choice of location to carry out the Learn Smart year 8 trip. The aim of the trip was to visit particular buildings around St. Fagans which linked with the theme of ‘A Sense of Place’. In small groups pupils tried to find out information which would help them to learn more about the local Welsh history. Each pupil had a specific role within the group and then needed to present their findings in the next Learn Smart lesson. The roles were: Team Leader, Team participant, Scribe, Photographer, and Artist.
One group per class was also responsible in making a film based on the ‘You Shoot’ project. They followed their planned story board and were able to use the PE Departments Flip cameras to film the footage. Their work will be edited after the ½ term and will be submitted for the Comenius ‘community’ project.
After a frantic start to the trip (making sure that nearly all 200 students were on the 4 coaches) we arrived at St. Fagans in the rain! The Learn Smart groups were then able to go off to their starting points to begin their activities. We managed to visit all the relevant areas such as the stores, Workmens Hall, the School etc.
Apparently the highlight of the trip was the sweet and bread shops! It was not an unusual sight to see a Y Pant student walking around with a loaf of bread under their arm, munching away at it in the rain!
This is what two pupils thought about the visit;
On the 15th of February we went to St.Fagans as part of the “you shoot” project. It was a very valuable educational experience for the whole of year 8. We all had different tasks to do on the trip. Eventually we got to the old shops and got very hungry and decided to buy a loaf of crusty, homemade, hot bread. Some people didn’t do that and bought sweets and fudge. And before we knew it we had to go home. =( by Bryce and Dylan.
During our recent Comenius visit to Sweden, Y Pant students Jackie, Brogan, Bethan and Sophie found their picture in the local paper! A reporter from the Vasterbottens Folkblad visited the school on the Thursday and interviewed several students about their experiences.
Click to view a larger version of the article. The Y Pant girls can be seen in the smaller photos at the bottom, middle photo.
The translation below has been kindly provided by Heléne Ericsson, English teacher and Comenius co-ordinator of our host school Carlshöjdsskolan.
Sweden, an exotic country with picking candy, snow mattresses and loads of snow? Students from Italy, Holland and Wales had a speedy first day at Carlshöjdsskolan.
Late Wednesday evening nine teachers and 16 students arrived from Carlshöjdsskolan’s partner schools in Wales, Holland, Germany and Italy to Umeå. Students and teachers will be in Umeå until Sunday, participating in a EU Comenius project for lifelong learning.
The Thursday started of softly with a round of presentations and the occasional awe of having ended up in the middle of the freezing north with -15 degrees and deep snow.
When VF comes to visit the students are playing soccer in the gym hall.
– It was the Italians who came up with the idea, says Fanni Björklund in 9A.
One of the boys from Holland is staying with her family and many of the activities are spontaneous together with other host families housing foreign students during the visit. And the planned program during the days are actually secret to the visiting young people.
– We have no idea what is going to happen, it is really fun. I love the snow and meeting new people, says Italian Yuri Feretti who, with his 18 years of age, is one of the oldest in the group. He has previously went to both Holland and Wales for exchanges withing the Comenius programme.
Students pass on the elks
The students will among other things experience the school lunch, snow mattresses, buying candy by the weight and being surrounded by lots and lots of snow. The teachers involved spend the mornings in project meetings at school but will for instance go to the Elk house on Saturday to get closely acquainted with the king of the forest. But that outing doesn’t appeal to the students, Linn Claesson from 9 A tells us.
– The students and the teachers have different activities. We want to go skiing, skating and snow mattressing.
Neither Linn nor Fanni has been able to go on an exchange visit in Italy, Holland or Wales, since the students going must be lucky enough to win their participating in a lottery. But having someone visiting cheers up during the rather dull month of February and is a nice break from ordinary school now that the national exams in Swedish are just finished.
– Nothing much goes on here before the winter holiday week 10, Linn Claesson says.
– We just long for the summer and then it is nice to have visitors that are not so used to the snow here, Fanni Björklund agrees.
The girls continue by saying that Sweden is experienced by the visiting students as the most exotic country in the exchange.
– They wanted to know if we knew French or if we just spoke our own language. And if we had any cinemas.
Keeping contact over the Internet
There is no cinema visit planned but the students from Carlshöjdsskolan has chosen Koops by Josef Fares as a relaxing afternoon activity at school. And a fun way to experience yet another cultural aspect of Sweden. A guided city tour for both students and teachers is planned with a visit to the city council, the library and the snow castle by the river. Hopefully the exchange will result in good friendship or contacts for future travel and cultural experiences.
Fanni Björklund and Linn Claesson both have Facebook accounts, something that is not as common among the students from the visiting countries.
When VF steps into the teachers’ room one of the Swedish students are explaining how you can start your own groups on Facebook to keep in contact in the future.
Other new things they came in contact with?
– The Dutch students don’t put butter on their sandwiches, Linn Claesson says.
– I’m going to Vännäs to use a sauna and go snowboarding for the very first time, Rick Matthijssen from Holland says.
Snow mattress. Despite the cold all students from Italy, Holland, Germany and Wales appreciated their very first snow mattress race.
Bottom picture row, left to right:
Study break. Linn Claesson and Fanni Björklund from class 9A on Carlshöjdsskolan appreciate the visit.
Soccer cup. The Italians came up with the idea to play soccer in the gym hall after the ice-breaker games.
No elks. There is a visit to the Elk house on the teachers’ programme but the students rather play in the snow.
Friends. Julia Van Agtmaal and Lieke Buys are two fourteen-year-olds from Holland who love IKEA.
Winter games. Many of the students had never played in the snow previously. Here they get to try Swedish mattress racing.
Picture row, left side, top to bottom:
What do you think about Sweden and Umeå?
Julia van Agtmaal, 14, Holland.
– Great fun. I want to learn more about Swedish culture, eat Swedish foot and try snowboarding for the first time.
Rein v/d Elshout, 15, Holland.
– I went to Sweden for vacation with my parents last summer. It was fantastic to experience winter now. I love the nature.
Giulia Bini, 17, Italy.
– We are from Tuscany so we have never played in the snow like this before. Absolutely wonderful.
Yuri Ferretti, 18, Italy.
– I love the snow and meeting new people and practice my English. I’m looking forward to tasting Swedish food.
Lieke Buys, 14, Holland.
– Everything they have planned they keep a secret to us so it’s a surprise. I knew of IKEA before, “Smöland” and that we use the same words for yes and no. We understand a little when people in the host family speak Swedish, that is fun.