Our school is "Regelschule Schmiedefeld" and it is located in a rural area in Germany in a federal state called Thüringen. About 20 teachers teach 250 students aged between 11 and 16.
You can find our school in Schmiedefeld. In Schmiedefeld there live nearly 2,500 people. The students of our nice little school come from Schmiedefeld, Stützerbach, Vesser and Frauenwald. These are all small villages in a picturesque place near the "Rennsteig" which is a famous walking way. You can find a lot of tourists there. In summer they go walking and in winter they go skiing. Vesser is a village surrounded by mountains with a ski jump.
In Frauenwald there is the famous dog sledding every winter. The participants come from Germany, Austria, Norway, but also from neighbouring countries. In Stützerbach the first thermometer of Germany was built in 1830. They also had the first x- ray tube in the world, the first thermos bottle in the world and the first light bulb in Germany. You can find a museum for Goethe the famous poet here. He also enjoyed the beautiful countryside. You can read more about our region on these websites:
This is our school- "Regelschule Schmiedefeld". School starts at 7.30 am and finishes at 1 pm, sometimes we have lessons in the afternoon. We are a project school of the Ministry of Education called "Kultusministerium" in Thüringen. We are members of a network of the so called "Bertelsmann Foundation". We focus on media, we are based on "Jenaplan" traditions (we have "Morgenkreis" and "Freitagsfeier" and our fifth graders and sixth graders learn together in one so called "learning group"), on mixed ability grades (we don't label students into Hauptschule and Realschule, they are taught in one grade according to their abilities) and many things more. We work in different projects, our teachers use new teaching methods and techniques to give us a good education.
Something about the school system in Germany
In Germany it's compulsory to attend school for 9 years. All students begin with "Grundschule" (Elementary School) at the age of 6 or 7. Elementary School is for grade 1 through 4. Then you can attend "Gymnasium" or "Regelschule". If you decide for "Gymnasium", you will take grade 5 to 12 there. You have to pass an exam after grade12, called "Abitur" which allows you to study. You can also get vocational training after grade 12. If you attend "Regelschule" (it's a bit like American "Middle School"), you are labelled after grade 6. You normally attend a grade according to "Realschule" or "Hauptschule".
Our school is a project school and our students are labelled, but not divided into different grades- they learn together in one grade. Our teachers have to teach us according to our abilities. The students who achieve good marks (1 to 3) can normally attend "Realschule". Then you leave school after grade 10 with a so called "Realschulabschluss" that means you have to pass an exam at the end of grade 10.
Possibly you can start a vocational training after grade 10 or even attend "Gymnasium". That means further three years of school to achieve the allowance to study, but this way is a very hard one. The students who get worse marks in grade 6 have to attend "Hauptschule" from grade 7 to 9. These students do not have to pass any exam before they finish school. If they are willing to leave school with a better chance on the job market they can try to pass an exam called "Qualifizierender Hauptschulabschluss". They can take an additional year to finish "Realschule" as well if they manage to pass with good results. The German school system is very complicated and bit different from federal state to federal state. We hope that we can give you an idea of what it is about in the federal state of Thüringen.
"Morgenkreis" and "Freitagsfeier"
Our school is not an "ordinary" school, because we have things like "Morgenkreis" and "Freitagsfeier". "Morgenkreis" is the first lesson on Monday. It's not a subject like Mathematics or German. During 45 minutes the class talks about general issues or problems. It is our way to introduce the current week. It's nice to start the week this way. "Freitagsfeier" is a kind of "celebration" at the end of the school week. The grades 5, 6 and 7 do that during the last lesson on Friday. The younger students celebrate a party or they play outside if the weather is nice. They compete in sports or they present little programmes from different subjects. But this is not the only reason why our school is "different".
English at school
We have been learning English for six years and we have to pass a written examination in this subject in class 10. Some of us started learning English in the grade 3. Our school has got contacts with many other schools in Europe and in the world: in Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Poland, the USA, Russia and Australia.
The ninth graders from our school go to the UK for one week. Before this week they work on the topic "Britain" in a project week. The students basically enjoy their stay in host families and they take the chance to improve their English. They visit London, Hastings and Canterbury with all their beautiful sights. We have noticed that English is very important for our lives, that's why we are busy learning it at school for our jobs and for communication with other nations.
We, pupils of the tenth class, have been learning English for 6 years now. We started a dialogue with Swedish students to work together on a project called "TV". Contacts to any other schools in the world are also welcome!
Our Comenius Project
Since 2003 we are the coordination school of a Comenius 1 School Project "Photography in Time and Space" together with the following partners:
We divided one century (the 20th century) into 4 time periods and started to collect photographs from these periods. All students and teachers from our school followed our call and this way we got lots of materials for our national albums.
Every country works out a national album and in this project year we want to exchange them. The students of the partner countries should deal with our "family life", "school life" or "traffic" and we will get to know the information about their life in the last century. In the end we want to work out one "European Album" with photographs and impressions of all member countries and we would like to have a big exhibition of the results of three years project work.
But this is not the only thing we are doing within this project. Until now we had three great project meetings in Poland, Germany and in Italy. Students work together there and teachers make agreements on further work. During the last 2 weeks one of our PE teachers went to Finland on a teacher's exchange, to teach at our partner school in Kuusamo.
In May next year the Finnish colleague will do the same at our school. Three grades of our school will spend a week at the Dutch partner school in Almere in April next year, after that the students from Almere will come to our school to see what life is like here. Students from grades 7 to 10 are involved into Email projects with partner schools and they all exchange letters with their partners in Finland.