Comenius Project - Creativity and Innovation @ School

The aim of this two-year project is to promote creativity and innovation at school. It will involve teachers and pupils from Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany (two schools) Italy, Spain and Austria. We wish to use curriculum-based subjects to allow pupils to develop their own ideas and thoughts with regard to European Youth Identity, which will be our key focus. How can they define themselves? How can they express this in art, music, drama, creative writing, cookery and sport? We will collaborate on joint work, exchanging ideas and techniques and spreading creative practices, taking creativity and innovation to a higher and more diverse level. Interaction between staff and pupils will stimulate pupils to explore their creative impulses. Pupils will evaluate their own work before submitting selected pieces towards joint collaborations contributed to by partner schools.We intend to share and exchange teaching strategies and pedagogical initiatives with European colleagues.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

1st Meeting - Copenhagen, 22nd-26th October

The first official project meeting took place in Copenhagen from 22nd to 26th October 2012. On the agenda for this meeting were the following points, among others:

  • Choosing an official logo for the project

  • Presentation and discussion of ideas on how to cooperate and coordinate

  • Deciding on dates and locations for the remaining three meetings

During the course of this meeting it became clear that our intended methods of working together will require much closer cooperation and more effective communication than was the case in previous Comenius projects. It's going to be an interesting challenge!

Photos part 1

Photos part 2

Photos part 3

2nd Meeting - Palazzolo Sull'oglio, 4th-8th February

The second project meeting took place in Palazzolo Sull'oglio in the Province of Brescia from 4th to 8th February 2013. Accompanying Mrs Schneidhofer and Mr King this time were two boys from 3e, Caleb Poms and Leon Fenninger, who, despite being by far the youngest pupils taking part, managed to integrate themselves extremely well. Their excellent English helped enormously of course, but we couldn't have been happier with their behaviour or manners either. They represented the school extremely well and we are very proud of them. While the pupils stayed with host families, all the teachers were accommodated in two hotels in Iseo, a lovely little village on the shores of Lake Iseo, about half-an-hour's drive from Palazzolo.
As far as working goes, the following points were on the agenda this time:

  • "Comenius Man" - swapping pieces so that every country would be able to display at least one whole person using pieces from every country. With twelve pieces per Comenius Man and several hundred pieces in total this proved to be quite an undertaking.

  • Presentation of the chord sequences for the "Comenius Song" project and further discussion of how this will be workable. Consensus was rather hard to achieve here and it will be interesting to see if this part of the project really works. Many thanks are due to Gabriel Mewald for writing a chord sequence which he then recorded on the guitar with the help of Mr King.

  • Learning the steps for the intended flash mob sequences. By the end of the project all the schools should be able to organise a flash mob using the steps choreographed by Didier and the French team.

  • Presentation of the "Comenius Dance" steps. Independently of the flash mob a Comenius dance is being developed via Facebook, whereby each country choreographs steps for a certain part of the song. This is still going to need quite a bit of work, as most of the pupils seemed to have forgotten their choroegraphies...

  • The first attempts at creative writing in multinational groups.

The real highlight of the meeting was skiing at the Colere ski resort, about 90 minutes drive north of Palazzolo. After an adventurous trip up the kind of skilift that hasn't been seen in Austria for quite a few years we arrived at our destination in the afternoon. Getting everyone kitted out with ski boots and skis proved to be a pretty complicated undertaking and by the time everyone had their stuff there was very little left in the storeroom. Just after dark it began to snow and the following day saw us skiing on completely empty slopes in bright sunshine, without a cloud in the sky. Due to the fact that the Italian holidays had not yet started and the resort is a bit out of the way, we really were the only people there. It was perfect. (Though a little bit of wax on my skis wouldn't have done any harm. I think they'd put glue on them by mistake.) There were lessons with Italian skiing instructors for the various ability levels. The Spanish pupils (and some of their teachers) had never seen snow before...
This proved to be a fantastic way for the pupils to get to know each other and forge friendships, which is, when all is said and done, the main aim of these Comenius projects - to give pupils the chance to get to know new people and cultures and to broaden their horizons.

Click here for Leon's report

Click here for Caleb's report

3rd Meeting - Seville, 21st - 25th October

The third Comenius meeting took place from 21st to 25th October in Seville, Spain, where Xavier and Salvador and their team made a great job of keepng evryone happy. This time the emphasis was very much on drama, with all of the participating schools presenting dances, sketches and recitals. The Austrian team consisted of three teachers this time, Mrs Schneidhofer, Mrs Rasinger and Mr King, and we were accompanied by four fourth-year pupils, Tim Benesch, Christoph Vappetic, Emma Clement and Daria King.
One of the "homework" tasks was to prepare masks that would represent the feelings happiness, love, anger, sadness, lust, hate, envy, pride and fear. Ours were made by the pupils of 3e, under the watchful eye of Mrs Fasching. Our first task at the school in Seville was to show off our masks and exchange them with masks from other countries. Some of the masks will be used by professional actors in plays in Seville.
After "breakfast" (at 11:00 am) the pupils were taken into Seville to the Parque de Maria Luisa to do some orienteering in mixed-nationality teams. Mr King's team won, of course (but we didn't get a prize...). We did all manage to get back on the coach before the real rain started, though.
The "afternoon" (evening for us) was free, but very wet. As the weather was not ideal for sightseeing we took a bus into the city centre and the pupils had a meal at Burger King before returning to the hotel with Mrs Schneidhofer. Mrs Rasinger and Mr King went to a very impressive flamenco show with one of the two German teams and then enjoyed some terrifically tasty tapas for dinner.

Wednesday was performance day and our pupils showed off the dance they had prepared with the help of Mrs Rasinger. They did a fine job, despite having to go first. The other countries also performed some very good pieces and it was interesting to see how differently each country had interpreted the task.

After breakfast there was another creative task to complete, again in mixed-nationality groups. Using all sorts of objects, pictures, etc., the pupils either had to represent things they liked about Spain and the Comenius trip or things they did not like about them. These things were then attached to a "shopping bag" or a "waste paper basket". Each group then presented their piece of work and explained their choices. This exercise was a great opportunity for the pupils to get to know each other better and worked very well.
After lunch we all went to the river to do some kayaking and visit a museum, Pabellon de la Navegacion (Pavillion of Navigation).

Thursday morning was again devoted to drama, with our pupils performing a very entertaining version of The Alder King (Der Erlkönig), which saw Christoph pulling out all the stops to get the audience laughing. After a visit to part of the university accommodation, where we heard about the very difficult living conditions of people in that area, we returned to school to see a play performed by ex-pupils. Unfortunately, as it was all in Spanish, we didn't understand an awful lot of it...

Thursday afternoon and evening were the last chance for everyone to mix, with an orienteering competition through the old town centre (guess which group won!) followed by group meals for the pupils and the teachers.

Click here for Tim's report

Click here for Christoph's report

Click here for Emma's report

Click here for Daria's report

Click here for photos of the pupils kayaking (KayakSevilla Facebook page)

Final Meeting - Aarschot, 24th-28th March

The final meeting took place in Aarschot, Belgium, from 24th to 28th March 2014. This time the pupils stayed with host families for the first two nights, before joining the staff at the hotel in Lueven for the final two nights. The reason for the short stay with the host families was that nothing like this had been organised before with the school's families and no-one knew how well it would work or even whether there would be enough families willing to take pupils. In the end there were more applicant families than available pupils and the whole thing was such a resounding success that nobody really wanted to move into the hotel. Many thanks are hereby due to the hosts, who really did their very best to make the pupils feel wecome.
Tuesday morning began with some "getting to know each other" games, while the teachers met to discuss the progress made so far and what still remained to be done.
One of the highlights in Belgium was the opportunity for the pupils to try out the typical national recipes prepared by the different countries in an environment where they could all cook at the same time - not such an easy thing to coordinate and keep under control! Luckily the hosting school, Koninklijk Atheneum, has two kitchens that we were able to use. The pupils worked in mixed-nationality teams and spent most of the second morning working hard to prepare enough food for the entire group (nearly 100 people) and the results were not only pleasing to the eye, but also delicious! One pupil from each country then presented the dishes to the group before the buffet was opened. The recipes used will be put together into an international cookery book. This part of the project was definitely a great success.
The Comenius Song proved to be the most difficult part of the project to really complete effectively. The idea was that every country produce 16 bars of music in a ceratin key (G or Em) which could then have tracks added to it by other countries. The resultant multi-track pieces could then be joined together to form one piece of music. Early on it became clear that many schools either did not have the equipment, expertise or suitably musically-motivated pupils to make this a viable proposition. Nevertheless, at the final meeting a finished piece of music was presented, unfortunately without the Austrian contribution, which had been overlooked.
Drama has been a central theme of this Comenius project and Aarschot was the stage for some highly diverse performances. Our pupils translated "Der Krieg und sein Bruder" into English and performed it for the other participating countries.

Musically our pupils were also able to shine, with Sümeyra and Daria singing a beautiful traditional Austrian folk song completely a capella (they were the only pupils to do so and the only ones to sing with two voices in harmony!).

Originally a trip to Brussels was planned for Wednesday afternoon, but President Obama's visit put a spanner in the works and the Belgian team had to find an alternative. Antwerp seemed like a excellent solution, but this was almost made impossible by a large protest march. Luckily the march was over by early afternoon and were able to go to after all, though the riot police were still very much in evidence, complete with portable barbed wire barriers.

Click here for Sümeyra's report

Click here for Daria's report

Click here for Tim's report

The first afternoon in Lueven

Cooking on Tuesday morning

In Antwerp on Wednesday afternoon

In the fields of Flanders on Thursday morning

Lueven by night

Creativity and innovation...

Florian Gutmann (4f) has been spending quite a bit of his free time on origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. Practice makes perfect as the results clearly show. The amazing snake you can see in the pictures took a total of four days to make...