Day 4 of 4 at the shool

So i’m a bit behind on blogging about my experiences, but Wedesnday just gone was my last day at the school. This was a real shame as I have loved doing the S.O.L.E.s at the school and had so many ideas on else I could have done.

As I mentioned today Wednesday was my last day for research and it certainty did not disappoint. I woke up enthusiastically and while taking the long trip to the school I had thoughts running through my head of how to make it the the perfect and did I need to make any last minute changes.

I arrived early and got set up in the ICT classroom waiting for the teacher and students to arrive. Once arrived the students looked confused at first but soon became comfortable. After giving them an exciting background story and explaining some rules I let them set off with their work.

It was interesting to see how the students interacted during the research and how the group dynamic changed compared to the previous 3 days. Even more of a surprise was the teacher in fact taught a completely different subject. So this give me a fantastic opportunity the gain valuable feedback and demonstrate how it could be used in a range of subjects.

When the students came to present their findings it was interesting to see what information they had found out and the fact they all had included videos. This may raise some interesting points for further research.

From the feedback provided the students seemed to have enjoyed participating and would like to do it again. The teacher seemed surprised at how effective it could be and provided some interesting comments for me to analyse later once i’m back at university.

Implementing a few small changes including the approach taken while talking to students seemed to have some difference as it made the process run smoother. However, i still need to ensure that my timings are correct for further research.

Overall i’m happy with my final day and it was a fantastic opportunity to conduct research at the school and I believe I have gathered some data that will provide interesting results. I have learnt a lot from my time here and gained more experience in conducting field research.


So Tuesday was a day off so I decided to wonder the beautiful city of Cologne. So I decided to set off at 10 and had to talk into city since the trams were off due to a strike. The walk took around 30 minutes and took me though so strange places. 

To top it off the first thing I walked into a demonstration of some type maybe related the strikes, but who knows! From a good recommendation I decided to look at the Cathedral, which lets be honest hard to miss lets be honest with two huge domes! After wondering around outside I decided to go in and it was absolutely fantastic. The inside had so much history and information I could have spent all day just looking. 

I then decieded that I would a nice stroll up the stairs to the top of dome to see the fantastic view of the cities. Well i say stroll it turned it into a hike it was never ending I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Slowly but surely I saw people stop and take breaks and out of breath. Just when I thought I was at the top, I could have not been more wrong. The stairs went on and on and on..,,and no there as no lift! However, once I got to the top the views of the city were breathtaking I could see the city and the Rhine for miles!

Afterwards on some even better advice I went to the chocolate museum, a place I want to live. So much chocolate everywhere that looked amazing. I even got to taste some chocolate, which was even better. I would defiantly recommend going to it. After the chocolate museum I paid a visit to the tourist information centre, where they advised to have a look at the former Gestapo Head Quarters. Downstairs they still have the cells where the held people and you even see what people wrote on the wall. They even had letters and poems wrote from prisoners, which was rather moving. The upstairs had two floors of a range of things on display from relics to copy of news articles. Thought I couldn’t understand the top two floors as they were in German I could get a sense because of the photos. 

I decided after to look at a Roman gallery from the outside where I saw some amazing artifacts. I then went for a random stroll down by the Rhine which is always a pleasure. Walking back I got slightly lost but a random stranger showed me the way back.

Once back at the room I got to Skype with some friends which was nice and I booked my flights home a week earlier to a range of reasons. I then reflected on what I had to do for my final day of research at the school.. I had hard think of any changes I need to make and ensuring I had all all my paper prepared.

Overall Tuesday was a good day I got a chance to explore a new city and reflect on my final day of research to come. 



Day 3 of 4!

So i thought I would post seperataly for this instead of on the last post as it be more interesting.

Monday was day 3 out 4 in the school, which is amazing as it is going so quickly and i’m gathering so much interesting data. So before the actual Skype I had an interesting meeting with teacher to dicuss my recommendations of ICT in the school, which I felt privilideg that he took an active interest in my thoughts. Since he came from a ICT background made it made it easier to chat about. 

I give him some ideas that he thought was fantastic and would live to try out once I leave over a longer time period. From this he said he is he willing to give me reference if I apply for any ICT advisory jobs which is fantastic. So essentially I have started my career Wohoooo go me!!

Straight after this I met the class for the SOLE which was interesting as they ages between 13 and 14, which is normally a bit older then it is designed for. Initially I was a bit nervous, but at the same time thought it be interesting to see how the lesson progresses. I told them the story of the earthquake in Japan and asked the question “What causes earthquakes and how might we detect them in the future.” This is fairly complex question as it has two parts with a range of possible paths for investigation.

Once I established the two helpers, which I did a bit late they started wor work away in groups. It was interesting to see the groups form and after chatting with the teacher we both agreed this was due social hierarchy that establishes at their age. This will be interesting to investigate further especially in relation to leadership.

Eventually one child was left on their own in a group, which raised a few question internally. Even though I tried to get the helper to something nothing seemed to work, which raised a number of questions. The way the groups works compared to the younger groups was interesting as there were lesson questions and all groups choose to present on PowerPoint rather then on paper.

After the lesson I held a focus group and interviews the teacher, which has brought up some initial interesting results. The students seemed to enjoy it but would like more structure before hand, which correlates to what the teacher mentioned. A number of changes I intend to make for the final lesson on Wednesday, which includes time given to students for presentation and how much briefing I give to the teacher before hand. I want to see if these changes make any difference.

Overall the day was fantastic I learnt a lot and gathered some interesting data, which i’m excited to look at.

Getting to the school was interested as I woke up late,but some how I still managed to get to the school earlier then expected so I took a nice stroll along a river and enjoyed the wild animals….well ducks! Getting back from the school was fun as once I again I ended up going the wrong way on the trams, which has seemed to happen a few times. I blame the complex train system they have!!!

On the evening I enjoyed a couple of pints to celebrate St Patrick’s day, which is a must and no where was better then the Irish bar! It was full of people all whom seemed to enjoy themselves. I came back and Skyped with a friend which was nice and I think i’m going to fly back home early to sort out a few things.

Weekend and 3 of 4 in the school!

Well it was a very mixed weekend. I had a chance to relax and not do much was again was fantastic. But I move to Cologne for a few days which was exciting. So on Saturday I literally didn’t leave the house at all, which was amazing just to hide away for a day and reflect on the past week.

It also give me chance to catch up on emails and university work and plan the next coming week. After reflecting back over my work I concluded that I could make a few changes going forward to my research, which included slight changes in the language I use as some students struggle with English.

Anyhow, moving to Cologne was fun I met 2 pretty cool people. Although it was a shame to say good bye to my friend who has been hosting me, which I am really grateful for. Cologne looks amazing and I was super excited at the chance of going around including the highly recommend chocolate museum. The actual moving was entertaining because once again I mange to choose the people who can speak any English, that combined with my accent makes for an interesting conversation. So I ended up on the wrong tram which was amusing afterwards! 

So Sunday evening I arrived and straight away I hit off with the people in the house where we enjoyed a nice meal and some alcohol. Yeah, i’m lucky as one them works in bar making cocktails, which was fantastic!

It has the been the weekend in which lots but very little has happened at the same time. I spent time reflecting on the previous work from the week and preparing for the next week; ensuring that i have the questions sorted for the next 2 SOLE’s and how i was going to approach the lesson.

I also had a chance to relax and not do much, which was nice after a long week. Overall I’m fairly happy here in Germany but due to a number of different reasons thinking about leaving early, which wont cost me a huge amount. However, I will still make sure that I get to see quite a bit before I go if I do leave early.

I move locations to Cologne, which as much was it is nice seems to be mistake as it is a lot further to travel then originally planned. I’m thinking about trying to get work and then maybe look to travel in April for a few days or a week. Even catch up with a friend from my course depending on money issues.

Day 2 of 4

Last Friday was the half way point through my research at the school and I had what can be only describe as a lovely class. From the moment I stepped into the classroom they were excited and welcoming of me.

So the main object of the day was to answer the question. Why were the Athenians so famous? The main object for me was using the same structure as the previous lesson, but learning from the points of better introduction to the class I set them the task and let them work.

During the lesson I was guiding the teacher through the principle of the SOLE and how could potentially work, which the teacher seemed to embrace with great enthusiasm.. I took a lot of valuable observation notes which will be interesting to analyse especially while comparing the previous SOLE.

The feedback from both teacher and students seem positive with a few improvements going forward including giving more direction to the helper, which I intend to test out going further.

Overall the day was rather enjoyable and I actually managed to work the trains fine for once!

On the evening I saw friends which was nice and tried a few local beers, which is a must for Germany! I found my new favorite bar that sells 222 beers!!


Day Off

So Thursday was my day off this week and the weather was fantastic. Even better was I got to have a catch up with a friend that I had not seen in forever. Before this I had a trip to the supermarket, which was an interesting experience trying to work out what some random foods were and trying free samples. Sadly they had no free beer samples!

So as normal I got the train to meet her and meant to go to the main entrance. However, it seems each train station has like 1000 entrances that all lead different way. After asking a couple and guess what surprise surprise they could not speak English. I bumped into a Policemen who guided me the right way. 

After meeting my friend went had a nice stroll through Duisburg grabbed an ice cream and had a cold beer by the river/ After this a thank you I thought I could cook for my friends a stir fry, which was nice. Following this we headed into Essen so amazing cafe style bars. The first of which was a rock bar which was amazing, with Transformer pinball machine and darkened inside. The last cafe place was out of the way in the middle of no where but was so nice inside.

I also had a chance to reflect on how I was going to approach the SOLE the next day. I decided on making a few minor changes including changing how I presented the questions to the class and how I got them to complete the feedback information. I thought this may make my life a bit easier going forward.

Day 1 of 4 in the school

So yesterday was the BIG day of doing research in the school. I woke up nice and early to prepare any last minute things to ensure a smooth running of the day… We still see how that turned out later in the day!

After eating a nice breakfast with my friends I set off nice and early for the train. Getting the first the train was fine. Then I got a bit lost since there are like 3 different levels for trains all with different lines on them and different speed trains. I asked the first person, but just my luck the guy was Spanish and couldn’t understand a word I was saying… Anyhow I finally spoke to a random person who helped me to the right platform.

Arrive at the school I was a bit nervous on how to approach the day as everything looked so clean and formal. Soon enough thought I met the headteacher who was very nice and we had a conversation, while talking towards the classroom. I soon found that most teachers were friendly and were actually English! Sitting in the staff room was fun at first people looked confused but then they found out I was the S.O.L.E man.. yes now that song is stuck in my head!!! ” I’m a SOLE man…”

Anyhow enough rambling. Before the lessons I spoke to the teacher about the SOLE and how it worked so she had an understanding. She seemed very interested to see it in action. I told the children a story about how I didn’t anything about The Tudors except I had heard the name who Henry VIII was. So the big question I asked was “Why was Henry VIII so famous” and let them get off with it. At first there was confusion and maybe I should explained a couple of things at the start rather then during the SOLE.

While observing it became clear that I had forgot to print out my observation sheets, which means i’m now taking all my observation notes down on paper to transfer over at a later date. So yeah my planning this morning FAILED!!!

At the end of the SOLE the children presented their results, which seemed to work fairly well and the focus group went fine I think. It then soon became apparent the plan given to me by the headteacher just was not going to work so I had to collect more feedback and interview the teacher later on the day. Getting feedback from the teacher was good as got some interesting day. BUT getting children to complete my feedback sheet proved more difficult because on the language barrier. Going forward I think I will explain each question in detail and what they mean for clarity.

After getting feedback I had some time to kill so  I was offered the chance to observe a history lessons by a lovely young teacher, which of course I jumped at the chance. This was useful as give me an insight to how the children interact, which I think will be useful for tomorrow.

3:30 the bell rang and it was time. I slowly walked up the stairs to perform my presentation about the SOLEs to teacher. There must have been about 25-30 teachers; only 2 I recognised. I have never felt so nervous in a long time.I started off with an open question, which seemed to engage some of them. I then spoke about myself a bit, but they didn’t seem interested in that bit so I quickly moved on. The TED talk seemed to peek some interest because of the humor. While with other teachers it seemed hard to gage or seem unimpressed. I got through the rest of the presentation fine… still feeling nervous!!! Then the question came. At first there was silence and I was dreading that… Think what have I done! Then they came. Started off nice and easy about security which I answered with ease but then the more challenging questions came. I managed to respond with strong answer that seemed convincing, but I question if all the teacher thought this was a waste of time.

Overall the day went ok I think. The teacher and pupils were lovely to work with and embraced the ideas of the SOLE with intrigue.

Looking forward I am going to make a few changes to how I approach the SOLE and explain things to the children. I also have some interesting data to be analysed. Additionally, the a teacher did raise a few interesting ideas, which I had not previously thought about which included using books as an option along side the computers.

Coming back was even more fun on the train. I got lost after the first tram and asked for help. The only people at first was an old shop owner and alcoholic. So I got not sense out of them. Then a person just starred at me!

On the evening I went to a park event with some people that had an arts display, which was nice. It also give time to relax and reflect on the day, which was important to ensure I could process my thoughts and feelings.After this we went to an Irish bar for a drink and I almost walked into the girls toilets!!! Luckily a girl saved me and she got a good laugh out of it at my expense. I now know that on the signs that begining with H I think of Hercules (thinking back to the history lesson)  and D is for Dames – see this German stuff is not that difficult. I can now walk into the correct toilets…..good start! And NO there was no sign with male and females on it.

That’s all for now.

Peace out!

First Day

So yeah today has been the start of my adventure to that wild country known as Germany.

Woke up this morning and packed some clothes and thought yes all sorted BUT noooo. As normal I forget a few details:


To print off my boarding pass!!

After dropping my car off in the garage and having the longest walk in the world ever. Imagine it I was walking along in suit with a big and a small rucksack. YES I may have looked dappa, but I had no grace what so ever!

Anyhow, I get to the airport and find there is no free wifi – devastated.  So using my degree in ICT I link my laptop to my mobile for internet access… Ending creating this blogg because of it! I eventually get on the plane all excited, just to find that lots of Germans really can not understand my accent at all ever!! It is either that or I smell badly!

After meeting my friends we eat and got a couple of drinks in Essen and I realised that there are more H&M in Essen then MacDonalds. I kid you not I counted atleast 6 H&M stores! Also how cheap are things in Germany compared to Newcastle for everything!

After impressing Germans with my accent and comedy outlook I headed back and planned a few details for my research tomorrow including; how to get there and what question to ask. Only minor details of course!


Looking forward to the challenges that Germany will offer me tomorrow!