Vesanto - Rimini - Torun

Vesanto - Rimini - Toruń

Friday, 29 April 2016

The exchange in Poland (2016)

A short summary of the visit
From 24th till 30th of April we had the pleasure of hosting international students and their teachers (from Finland and Italy) at our school. This was the part of Erasmus+ project that our school participates in. Students who came to Poland took part in an intensive five-day workshop devoted to the 2nd year of project themes. They discussed matters concerning changes in body image in art, pop culture, media, and subcultures. What is more, they created recipes of traditional Polish dishes and prepared them at home (as the main objective of the project is to create an international cookery book).

Not only did they work on the project, but they also were encouraged to spend time together and socialise with each other. English teachers prepared for them a social programme that included sightseeing in Toruń with a guide, a visit in The Planetarium and in The Living Museum of Gingerbread, an orienteering march, and some sports activities in the school gym. Students had also an opportunity to watch a basketball match between Czarny Słupsk and Twarde Pierniki which was for many quite a new experience.

To sum up, the whole week was a wonderful experience for all students and teachers participating in the exchange. From Polish point of view this meeting was highly motivational for the students, they could practise their language skills, creativity and techniques of self-presentation. Furthermore, they could  cooperate and network with people from different cultures. That certainly have broadened their horizons for what we are extremely pleased.

Below you can see the photos from the event. Enjoy! ;)

Let’s prepare for the visit!

It was a hectic time in our school but we have managed! ;) A lot of preparation was done by the language team who was strongly supported by teachers of art, music, PE and other subjects. Administrative staff and technicians were also involved. Furthermore, teacher-parent-student meeting was held by the coordinator during which matters of safety, accommodation, special food requirements, transport were discussed in detail. 

It’s time to pick up our quests!
On Sunday we were impatiently waiting for all students to arrive. The Finish team was to be here at 2.30 pm and the Italian team was expected to be in Toruń at 10.00 pm. They all came on time! ;)

Unfortunately, there are not many photos from that day, as the photographer herself was sooo excited that she had forgotten to take them. ;) Sorry for that!! ;)

Day 1 - Monday (The Cookery Book)
The first day of the project work started with official greeting prepared by the language team in cooperation with our PE teacher and dance teacher. The headmaster of Zespół Szkół no 7, Anna Mincer, gave a welcoming speech to our guests. Students could also watch films that presented Poland, Kujawsko-Pomorskie voivodeship and Toruń.

Links to the movies:

The Power Point presentation that summarized all the achievements and extracurricular activities undertaken by the students was shown to our quests.  

Later on, the dance group MIX started their performance. And that was thrilling as usually! ;) Three groups of dancers were performing during that show so our quests could admire the variety of dancing styles practised at our school.

After that we decided to challenge the students a bit, and they took part in various sports competitions prepared by our PE teacher. To be honest those activities were extremely well-prepared and were very funny for the students. They had to compare their shoe numbers, birth dates and move respectively from the smallest number to the highest one. For some more activities have a look at the photos below.

The workshops in computer rooms no 106/04p – after sheer amount of physical exercise students got ready for some ‘mental gymnastics’. During the first day of the project they were asked to prepare recipes for traditional Polish dishes. They prepared the list of ingredients with photos of the dishes and then they described the way of preparing those meals in bullet points.

The Polish Cookery Book included:
1.                  Tomato soup
2.                  Pork chops (with potatoes)
3.                  Gołąbki
4.                  Cocoa cake
5.                  Carrot cake
6.                  Polish dumplings (pierogi) with spinach and feta cheese
7.                  Apple pie
8.                  Broth
9.                  Salad with ham and egg
10.              Carp in mushrooms

When it was done we called it a day! ;) However, as Polish teachers are a bit ‘nasty’, students got their homework – to buy ingredients for those dishes and get ready for cooking on Tuesday. ;)

Day 2 – Tuesday (The Cookery Book)
During the second day of the exchange students prepared meals assigned to them on Monday. As the school does not have a kitchen big enough to allow the cooking process to be done by 56 people at the same time, we decided to ask host families for help. In agreement with the parents the whole cooking procedure was undertaken at students’ houses. The parents supervised the process, helped when necessary and took photos to document it.
Below you may see some chosen photos of the whole activity. 

1. Tomato soup

2. Pork chops

3. Gołąbki 

4. Cocoa cake 

5. Carrot cake

6. Polish dumplings

7.   Apple pie 

8. Broth 

9. Salad with ham and egg

10. Carp in mushrooms 

At that day social programmes activities were also offered to the students. They spent some time in The Living Museum of Gingerbread where they could take part in an interactive show led by experienced story-tellers. Furthermore, they learnt about the tradition of baking gingerbreads in Toruń, the history of our city and its medieval culture. What is more, students had a chance to decorate their own gingerbread with icing and took part in gingerbread decorating workshop . All of the story tellers were dressed in medieval outfits which corresponded nicely with themes devoted to body image in Polish medieval times. 

Another attraction offered to the students was a sightseeing tour of Toruń. This was led by a special guide who was also dressed in an outfit typical of medieval times.  

When the tour ended the whole group had a rest in the Czarna Oberża restaurant. This is the best medieval-style restaurant in Toruń with traditional Polish food. 

The final part of the social programme was the Planetarium were students learnt about the history of our city while watching the special sky-show. The whole day was extremely enjoyable for the students and prepared them for challenges connected with discussing the body image in art (which was planned on Wednesday). 

Day 3 – Wednesday (Body image in art)
During the months prior to the exchange all students worked hard to prepare themselves for that day ;) They talked about body image in art and created Power Point presentations devoted to changes of body image in their countries’ art. What is more, they painted pictures that depicted image of men and women in particular periods of art. Then they met in Poland to show the results of that work.

The Polish school was decorated with the pictures created by the students. In one of our classrooms students discussed matters related to project tasks, in the other one they had time to socialise, and watch a movie entitled „Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (Panny z Avignon).

One of our students celebrated her birthday that day so we had a spontaneous birthday party prepared by her friends. It seemed more than appropriate to chant out loud a “Happy Birthday!” song ;)

However, the most difficult part was still ahead of us! After listening to all speakers students went to computer rooms to work on summarizing Power Point presentation entitled “Image of body in our countries’ art – a summary”. They had to describe changes in body image concerning particular periods and answer the following questions: What does beauty mean? Does modern art (movies, Photoshop photos, video clips) influence our conception of beauty? In what way? They were also asked to elaborate on the English idiom “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and provide their own definition of beauty.
The presentation itself was put on the blog on 21st June, as Polish students needed some time to put all information together into one file. 

Day 4 – Thursday (Body image in media, pop culture, subcultures)

The fourth day of the exchange was entirely devoted to changes of body image in pop culture, media and subcultures. Again we started that day with Power Point presentations that were prepared by the students in advance.

The whole workshop took place in the small gym where all students were assigned new challenging tasks. First, they had to create a summarizing display that depicted changes in fashion through generations (in order to show different takes on body image of their grandparents, parents, and their own generation). The wonderful and inspiring collages were created! 

                                               Collages - our grandparents, parents and us!

Second, they were asked to draw caricatures of ordinary people. We gave them photos downloaded from the Internet and their task was to transform the images of those people into representatives of media, pop culture, subcultures (models, punks, sportsmen). In this way we were again able to show different takes on a beautiful body visible in the aforesaid areas. 

Photos given to students 

                                                                 Results of their work 

That day was considered by the students to be the most enjoyable. Activities prepared for them appeared to be inspiring and stimulated their creativity. Teachers could observe students’ commitment to tasks prepared. Students were cooperating, exchanging ideas, negotiating and using English all the time which we, English teachers, found truly thrilling. ;)

Thursday was also an important day because of the dissemination procedures which are obligatory for the project. The coordinator of the project scheduled a meeting with the vice-president of Toruń. All international students went to the City Hall to meet the most important representatives of local authorities where they talked about their feelings and experiences connected with the exchange. 

What is more, the local TV came to our school and below you can see a short documentary prepared by them. It shows to a great extent the engagement of students in project tasks during that day. 

Link to the documentary:

Day 5 – Friday (Evaluation time)

Friday was for us the evaluation day. It started with a survey that students had to fill in online. Again it was done in our computer rooms.

The results of the evaluation:

The second project evaluation was conducted among the Polish/Finish/Italian students. Two years of the project have finished and we wanted to know what results have been achieved. 

The evaluation questionnaires were made on the website and students answered them online. Altogether 56 students answered the questionnaires (they were asked general questions about the impact of the project and they were also asked questions about the exchange itself ). The students answering the questions were between 13 and 19 years old. There was also a separate survey for  coordinating teachers and main leaders who were asked about project management matters.

Below you can see the data that was collected by us. Fifty-six students were evaluated but for some questions the number of answers may be lower as students worked in groups and in some cases they decided to mark the same answers (as a group). 

The impact of the project on students - general questions
The first set of questions were general questions that aimed to determine the attitudes of the students towards the project (after two years of working on it). Over 96% admitted that they liked working on the project. 

Apparently, the second year project themes devoted to body image were for the students more interesting than the first year themes. It may be due to the fact that for most of them those themes were quite challenging. That may also explain that more than 65% of the students evaluated this year as the most educational. 

When it comes to project activities number 1 were breakfast breaks – more than 53% of the students enjoyed them. They also enjoyed working on the cookery book (45%) and having conversations in Twin Space (38%).

Around 95% of the students decided that their language skills have improved due to the project, and they pinpointed learning English as the most important factor for them in this project. All students were willing to take part in another European projects what we consider to be a compliment to the project coordinators. ;)

The impact of the exchange on students - April 2016

The impact of the project on teachers - coordianators and main leaders

After the evaluation we moved to the small gym where the official farewell started. Our headmaster, Anna Mincer, gave a short farewell speech, and then the coordinators from all countries also said a few words. ;)

When the official part ended, students were asked to create a book entitled “Special moments” the aim of which was to sum up the exchange and give the teachers insight into students’ feelings concerning the whole event. However, this time it was done in a more artistic way.

                         "Special moments" by students of Vesanto, Rimini and Toruń

The orienteering march was the last activity for that day. Together we went to the Old Town where students got maps with particular places marked, their task was to find those places and write an appropriate number on a sheet provided by their teachers. We had a nice day which was well worth remembering!


All good things come to an end… ;/