Our Third Week at “Am Stadtsee”

Our third week of school and activities were very interesting. We were not able to go to the Grudschule Am Stadtsee on Monday and Tuesday because we all became sick on Sunday night when we returned home from Berlin. I’m assuming from the various forms of transportation we took in Berlin (train, bus, and tram), we came in contact with someone who was sick.

When we arrived at school on Wednesday the students and faculty were excited to see us and we were glad to be back because this week we switched classes and Silke, the headmaster, created schedules for us so that we could rotate to different grades and classes to see the differences between each. Jessica and I were placed in a third grade class on Wednesday. Our class is so sweet. They made ladybug flower cards for us and sang us a couple of English songs to welcome us to their class. During their Deutsch lesson, the teacher showed us a book that was purchased for a student with special needs. This student cannot read and the book helps break up the words for her so she is able to comprehend what she is reading. The student does not receive services from an in-school reading interventionist because they don’t have special services like that. Instead, her teacher takes her into a separate room and works with her one-on-one with the book.

Wednesday evening we were invited to the Hochschule to attend the American Evening that they prepared for us next to the Menza. There were about 30 students who attended and we presented our PowerPoint that we created for the English class the week before so that the students could get to know us and where we came from. We had hot muffins and cola. One of the reporters from the English class came to check it out and take a photo for another article in the paper. All in all it was a great night!

On Thursday, I was able to see the second, third and fourth grade English classes. It’s amazing to see all the different levels of English that the students are learning and how the teachers who teach English teach it so differently. It also amazes me how different the students behave for each teacher. I know in the United States that our students do the same thing whether they are with their homeroom teacher, art teacher or physical education teacher, but the teachers here rotate to different classes for just about every lesson. Our teachers do not do that. Teachers are moving in and out of the classrooms all day and students are left alone in the classroom between lessons for anywhere around 3-5 minutes waiting for their next teacher. I had a hard time with this because in our schools, students are not to be left alone in the classroom and here it is a normal thing. All five of us were able to participate in the 5th lesson of the day which was a 4th grade English lesson. We sat in two rows and had to interview and be interviewed with the student across from us. After about two minutes, Frau Thiemann would have us switch partners to do it all over again. This was a great way to allow the students to work on their English as well as get to know us better. It was also a warm up for them because they had to present their Pet Report that they have been working on for three lessons. Each student had to say who they were, that they had a pet and what type of pet, their pets name/color/age, where their pet sleeps, what their pet can do, and anything else that they wanted to share with the class. This is the rubric in which they are graded on. The students had to come to the front of the class and were recorded as they presented. I can’t begin to imagine how nervous some students were to present in front of their classmates and us.

Thursday evening we went to Sally’s flat where she and Tanja made dinner for us. They made Geschnetzeltes, which is a dish with chicken, vegetables, cream, and herbs. It was delicious! We are so thankful for Sally and Tanja and everything that they have done to set this amazing experience up for us and everything they have done for us since we’ve been here.

Friday we went to the Altmark Oase with grade 3b. This is the swim center in Stendal where the students go for swimming lessons as a group. The bus picked us up at school and brought us to the swim center where the students spent three periods there. Grade 3a had their swimming lessons in the first half of the school year and 3b has them the second half. The center is beautiful. It has a six lane swimming pool with a diving board, an outdoor pool, a wave pool with white water channels, a waterfall, a slide that goes indoor and outdoor, and a splash pad for infants and toddlers. The students were divided into two lanes. One lane hosted the students who knew how to swim and only used a noodle to swim up and down the lane. The second lane hosted the students who needed assistance and used a noodle as well as waist swim belts. All students worked on their kicks and form. It was very interesting to see how the teachers taught the students how to swim because swimming is a state-mandated skill that all children learn to do in school. Each child begins learning how to swim in third grade and it is funded by the government. Another interesting fact is that all students learn how to ride a bike in school also. Each student begins at an early age when in school they take lessons. In fourth grade, the students have to bring their bikes to school and the police come to inspect them and make sure that the students know and understand the rules and laws of riding their bikes. They must have their helmet, a functioning bell, a working front and rear light and their brakes must work. I personally found the swimming lessons and bike information interesting since I have children in elementary school and we do not have anything like this in the United States.