Author Archives: Michael Giacobbe

Native Speaker September Update



The month of September was a great way to begin the new school year. This year I’m helping Mr.Cambell in his English classes (5euA and B). Pretty good kids.

Wave boarding was attended by the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class the whole month. A very good month!! BANG!! !!!!
This summer my son and I took our dream vacation in Japan where, for me,  there was only one thing missing – all my little folders!! So in September, I took the origami club on a trip to Japan! We made beautiful hina (Japanese for a doll) with fancy hair and beautifully patterned kimonos- the boys were so impressed we started making samurai lords! We also made fighting Sumo wrestlers and posed Sumo figures- I brought my big program from the grand tournament I attended in Nagoya!  I brought a video and pictures of the matches, as well as pictures from the Hiroshima Children’s Peace Memorial, the Pokemon Center and Tokyo Cat Cafe! And everything was covered in the puffy stickers I hauled back from Daiso, the Japanese euro store!!  Coming back to school was so much 楽しい!
In 3euA and 3euB we have been working on our Butterfly project. We studied the Butterfly life cycle and took our caterpillars through the cycle to Butterflies.
Cooking has been going well Pizza Baguettes and Garden Salad were on the menu this month.



Really happy to be apart of the Native English Speaker Program. For the month of September, each Friday I have been helping with Mrs Hagmanns 6euC class where the students completed a power point presentation about the different systems of the body. Following this lesson, I am with Mrs. Rollys 4euA English class and assisted with the reading program and helped with the sports day. Lunch club in the garden is a lot of fun despite the cool weather coming through, it’s still lovely being outside with the kids. Topic Class with 5euB is fun learning all about our eyes and ears plus a class trip to a science workshop. Looking forward to returning to school after the Berlitz Camps.


Good to be back with my class from last year, the  2 Eu A . With the weather being so good we have been getting outside whenever possible. I was happy to go with the class trip to Kühlungsborn where we spent 5 days working hard on the beach…
Great start to lunchtime football with lots of boys coming. Looking forward to our first tournament of the year the Drumbo Cup.
I just started working as a Native Speaker in September. I’m working with 4EUB and they’re a great group! I’m excited to continue working with everyone as we move into October!
The Tuesday Travel Club will be kicking off in October! We’ll be making travel brochures and postcards and the kids can bring in photos and things they want to share from their own travels. Everyone is welcome!
I’ve had lots of new children join the younger choir this year and we are having a lot of fun playing English musical games and learning some music from the Jungle Book! Looking forward to the rest of the year.

Continue reading

Native Speaker June Update


Free-time by the 3eub and Science with the 6th class was business as usual this month. Additionally, I was lucky enough to be apart of the 6eub’s overnight camping class trip with Ms. Maclean.

FOOTBALL! The boys participated in the European Schools Tournament and finished well with all our teams doing well and the 5th & 6th class getting 3rd place!



June was quite warm and busy. The weather caused some classes to let out early but, people still came to the activities. Basketball and wave boarding went really well. Kids came, enjoyed the time and me! 😜 I helped Mr. Campbell with his class (5a) performance for next week. It’s coming along nicely. 1a continues to have fun learning English with games.


The end of the school year is also the end of my four wonderful years working as a native speaker at the Charles Dickens School. So I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude: To the Förderkreis and the parents, for giving me this opportunity and for their support; to all the teachers and erzieher, from whom I have learned so much more about working with kids than I have from my university classes; to all the kids, who may well have contributed to my first grey hair appearing, but who have ultimately reaffirmed my conviction that teaching and working with children is what I want to do with my life; and to all my dear colleagues and fellow native speakers, for all the shared sweat, the shared laughter and the shared tears. In all, it has been a valuable and fun experience and I wish the program all the best for the future.



We’ve been very busy in choir this year learning lots of different music. Highlights have been singing in the school play “The Selfish Giant” and taking part in the Grand Prix – a performance day from all the different European schools in Berlin. We’ll be finishing off the year with a small presentation of all the English songs we’ve been working on.
Michael G:
As always cooking was the highlight of the month. We did different plates of pasta with different sauces.4euA and 4euB loved their lunch! Art was great and English went well also.
Topic with Ms. Matheson was very successful.
In 5euC we finished all of our Science projects for the year.
See you next term!

Native Speaker May Update


1 EuA

With the weather changing from warm to hot!! we have been doing a lot of less active stuff. In the classroom we have been doing Art and crafts. Also  have been taking the chance to get some 1 on 1 reading time. In the afternoon we have been getting outside for some needed fresh Air.


We have been carrying on with the gardening… Weeding ! not the most popular of tasks was balanced with the planting of mixed seeds  to see what will appear.

Football .

We are in the process of picking teams for the big end of year Euro tournament so lunchtime participation is huge !



In the origami club, whatever the weather we have fun! So this eild and crazy May when it rained we made chinese finger puzzles, butterflies and teddy bears, and when the sun came out we started our giant soap bubble summer fun! For those of you who asked me about my bubble recipe here is the link for a great website where I got my basic formula. Look at the guar recipe section at the top left. It is also where I learned to make the big bubble sticks.

A couple of important points:
A) Guar gum is Guarkern Mehl in German. It is a sauce thickener you can get at the the Reform Haus for about 4.75. It is the secret ingredient for giant bubbles. Really.
B) You disslove the guar in isopropyl alchohol. That is it’s German name as well. I hadn’t heard of it either. You can get a biggish bottle at the apotheke for 5.95.
C) Sometimes the wikia says detergent instead of dish soap. No clue why. And just any dish soap will not work. It has to be a Proctor and Gamble product, and in Europe, that is Fairy. Original formula Fairy!! Nothing else will make the giant bubbles.
D) The Guar formulas are mind-bendingly kid friendly. You can use the bubble mixture right after making it, the kids can mix it around and get tons of dirt in it and it keeps making huge bubbles right to the slimey end. It also stores for about a week, dirt and all.
Please feel free to ask me questions. Have fun!
It is great to be back!!! Of course, Cooking is still the hit. We have been making Plates of pasta with three different Pesto sauces. 4euA and 4euB were in great form cooking!  We decided to continue in June but there may be an ice cream coming soon. Art and Topic are going extremely well with Ms. Bryne and Ms Matheson.

During the month of May, I’ve enjoyed helping teach 6euA and 6euB the scientific method. The kids have learned the process of designing and conducting experiments, and have even been challenged to conduct their own.  The 3euB class are enjoying board games, and (of course) FOOTBALL during Friday’s Freetime.

brought to you by shane

With our tournaments all done, we have finally been able to use the girls football training to focus on the basics again: dribbling, passing, ball control and shooting. We have also been having fun playing friendly games.

Aside from that I have also become involved with Ms. Rolly’s gardening project in the 3euA, where the kids have, among other things, been busy digging irrigation channels through the butterfly garden (and then racing little paper boats down the channels).

Native Speakers April 2018


The month of April saw the culmination of a year’s hard work and training, as our girls competed in no fewer than 6 football tournaments. From the year 2s to the year 6s, all our girls got a chance to play and show what they have learned. Most importantly for us, this shows the ever growing interest in our football programme and tells us that the girls are enjoying it, but also that they feel that they can learn greater life lessons and build their confidence by playing football. Having concluded our competitive season, we now look forward to having a fun kick-about for the rest of the school year.



“In April the weather did everything possible and so did we! When the sun was shining we made paper airplanes , when it rained we came inside and made mindbendingly adorable teddy bears and woodland animals. And then of course my son James and I made buckets of soap bubbles for the international fair!”
I hope you are doing okay, and progressing at a rate you are satisfied with. I talked to Sheriden Thursday morning and he asked me when you were coming back. I told him possibly mid may but it was up in the air. He seemed very distracted and when I asked him about Jamie he was vague and said he was swamped atm and someone else was handling it. I suggested that Jamie get six hours a week to do afternoon soap bubbles and I do paper planes and flying things. He said he would bring is up. I get the impression he is not the go to person atm.
For the month of April I work Wednesday and Friday, between 4a and 3a with Frau Köne. I also have Chess Club every Wednesday for one hour between 11:30-12:30, and on Friday between 11:30-12:30 I have computer club.

1 Eu A

As everyone knows spring flowers are a dominant theme at this time of year and no less for the first class as we have taken up the challenge of learning how to paint them in Art. In Topic we have moved onto Continents and Oceans.

Apart from story time reading, in Free time between the April showers, we are making use of the weather and getting outside.
3Eu B
With Mrs. Rolly together I have been working with the class Gardening! As winter ended the class planted the bulbs along the walkway into school, resulting recently in the fabulous display which we have all enjoyed! We have since been sowing seed so hopefully, we will get a summer display later!
For the butterfly and nature gardening, we turned to woodwork to make raised flower beds. This meant that the children had to saw wood and hammer nails. For many, this was the first experience of using tools and luckily there were no casualties as they went at the task with enthusiasm.
Boys football has been continuing with a steady turnout in both age groups. We will start to prepare teams for the Summer Euro Tournament.
Michael G:
As everyone knows I have been out due to hip and femur surgery. Looking forward to getting back!

Native Speaker Update March 2018

Crazy Tracey: March was an awesome month.  Waveboarding has been picking up week by week. Basketball was pretty full this month. Class 2a enjoyed learning English with different games and exercises.

Class 5eua/b were preparing for the reading competition. They were pretty good.  BANG!!! BANG!!!!!
The Origami Club Star Wars saga spilled over into March, but as the springtime sun came out Easter replaced light sabers-Easter bunnies, carrots,lilies baskets, tulips, and a cool new blow up egg I found that mostly works! Have a great Easter break everyone!
Science class with the 6euA and 6euB has been filled with magnets and electricity! The kids have learned how to make compasses, while learning some differences between metals. We will continue to explore electricity in the following month. The 3euB class are enjoying cooking, games, and FOOTBALL during Friday’s Freetime.
The long drought in football tournaments is slowly coming to a close, as our year 5 girls attended the opening ceremony for this year’s Integration durch Sport World Cup. After drawing two African countries last year, the luck of the draw gave us two European nations this year: Our girls will be representing Ireland and Poland. In between the lottery and the speeches, the opening ceremony also featured a number of performances, including a stunning dance performance by the Charles-Dickens-School’s very own Afrika AG, which was received with thundering applause. We are now looking forward to a busy April, where we have no fewer than 4(!) football tournaments scheduled.
Michael G:
Cooking 2A had finished out with their Pizza Baguettes and salads this month.  The Thursday club also had Baguettes.
4euA and 4euB did popcorn two types sweet and salty as always a hit. Typing has been going very well for both classes. 4euB Art classes were very creative. English and homework lessons were also good this month.
Wishing everyone a wonderful Easter Holiday!

Native Speakers December


December is always an Origami Club favorite! This year we got to participate in the school Christmas Basar, with a crazy new Japanese Santa pattern, and our old friend, the squash fold Christmas tree!  Over the holiday month, we added beautiful ornaments to our festive potpourri, decorated with glittering jewels and tons and tons of holiday stickers! See you all next year!

Crazy Tracey:

This has been a pretty cool month. Class 2a are really cool kids that enjoy learning English with games and having fun. Class 5eua love playing basketball and my handmade Bangnopoly game. Basketball is getting better and better. Wave boarding will have more kids after the holidays! BANG!! BANG!!!!! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

Michael G:

Great fun and times have been had by all especially cooking! 4euA and 4euB loved the pancakes and Holiday cookies, as did many Teachers! 5euC did a lot of work in Science class and we worked on Earth issues including Volcanos. Electricity topic lesson in 4euB was astounding as was the computer class.


Our brand new year 2 girls football team had their first tournament in December. A first tournament is always a bit of a disorienting experience, and given that we have only been training these girls for a few months, it was clear that we could not expect too much. This was especially evident in our first game, which we lost 2:1 due to giving away a late and avoidable hand-ball penalty. However, the girls showed excellent team spirit, they never showed any signs of giving up, and they steadily improved from game to game. In the end, we got a good 4th place, tied with third on points and only just behind them on goal difference. Furthermore, one of our girls, Johanna, got the special honour of being awarded the best player of the tournament. Congratulations!

This was the first time ever that the Dickens School has sent a year 2 girls team to a tournament, and we are confident that by getting the girls involved with football earlier, we will be able to better boost their confidence and that they will be more competitive in the years to come. This is also a continuation of our trend of setting new firsts, following our first ever win of a tournament last year and our first home tournament at our school earlier this year, and a testament to the growing strength of the girls football program.


Native Speaker Update February

Crazy Tracey:

February was pretty cool! The kids from 2a really love learning English with Flashcards and games. They also like the intro game, that everyone has to play before we start the lesson.Class 5a plays cards, basketball or board games with me every week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the kids come for wakeboarding and basketball. It is picking up!! BANG!! BANG!!! 

Michael G:
Of course, cooking is the hit with 2A, 4euA, and 4euB. Thursday cooking is for whoever signs up but every other week it will be only for the 5euC class. The typing courses are going very well and I am quite pleased with the student’s progression.  The Newspaper is going nicely as we have had many articles from our students on the English side. In Art class, we have been doing some amazing work that we hope to hang on the boards outside the classroom.
Due to popular demand, our Star Wars themed project went on through February, and will probably go into March! we now have SIX ships, a death star, aBB8, and next week we will have standing models of Kylo Ren and Rey!!
And of course February has Valentine’s day, so the entire month we created beautiful heart cards, magic wands, and lovely lilies!
And our folders (especially in 1eua and 3eub) put in a massive effort for the Selfish Giant play we will be having at our school  March 16 at 18.00, and turned out a table full of beautiful glittering handmade tickets for the show! Mrs. Buckley is selling them in the afternoons for 3 euros each.
Girls football has entered a bit of a lull after the year 3 tournament in January got canceled. However, this has given us the chance to get back to training the basics — dribbling, shooting, passing — rather than working on the bigger strategic aspects of the game that are required to compete at the tournaments. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to an exciting Spring, with tournaments being confirmed in mid-April for both our year 2 and our year 3 teams. And meanwhile, our year 5/6 team has both a European Championship (vs the other Europaschulen) and a World Cup (where each school represents a different nation in the world) coming up this Spring. Here’s putting those lazy professionals, who only ever have one such big tournament every couple of years, in their place.

Native Speaker Update January 2018

Crazy Tracey:

January was a pretty good month. Class 2a loves learning English with games and music. Mr. Campbell’s class are a nice group of students that like learning and writing stories. They had some time in a studio to read stories. Basketball and wave boarding is becoming more and more popular. The kids love it.


The Origami Club started 2018 in style with Star Wars! The school padawans enthusiastically folded squadrons of X Wings, U Wings, Tie Fighters and Millenium Falcons- then of course some Imperial Star Destroyers and Death Stars so they had somebody’s butt to kick. For our non Jedi friends there were lovely big lotuses and valentines! Due to popular demand Star Wars and Valentines will continue after the winter break.



Our year 3 girls, unfortunately, had their football tournament canceled this January, due to a water leakage in the sports hall where it was supposed to take place. The girls were understandably devastated, considering all the hard work they had been putting into their training in preparation for it. But we will be trying to organize a replacement tournament for them.

In other news, we have once again been invited to take part in the Integration durch Sport girls’ football world cup this year. The opening ceremony will be in March, and after their stellar performance there last year, our Afrika AG has once again been invited to perform a dance routine for it.
Typing is going very well in the 4euA/B classes the kids are picking up quickly!Not unexpected is how much they love to cook. I have also started a program for 2A.
The newspaper is going very well, my volunteers are working hard on English articles and events we did.

Native Speaker November Update

Michael G:

The work with the 6th grade is going very well on the Newspaper articles. 4euB is also partaking and working at home and on their free time to create articles of our work. We worked on our Bike school class trip and our Medieval Feast. Our plans next month are the cooking adventures and our Holiday celebration.

4euA and 4euB have been making very good progress in the typing class and working with Razz kids  (a reading and quiz program).  But of course, as always cooking is the king! Pancakes went over so well we decided to continue and made many variations that the teachers also enjoyed!

4euB said goodbye to our Medieval topic lesson and finished off with their own personal Crests.

In Art we had a beautiful water friendly collage which was hung outside of our classroom.

In 5euC we have been doing a lot of Science. Including the Solar System, Volcanoes and the creation of Earth. Hats off to Mr. Cole!


Crazy Tracey:

The month of November was pretty sweet. It started with class 5eub helping with their English classwork. I went with Frau. McClean and 6eua to a studio to record poems written by them. Class 2a continues to learn vocabulary with pictures and games. Basketball is finally picking up.



Boys Football
The 6th and some 5th class took part in the  Felderunde Tournament and managed to qualify for the semi final round. Unfortunately this took place when the 6th class had a workshop trip already planned and we could not take part.
We were invited to take part in a rerun of the schools european tournament which was washed out last summer with a thunderstorm. This time we played inside. The second and third classes played together and only lost in penalty shoot out for a place in the final.
The fourth and fifth classes also did very well coming 2nd in there group of 7  making the finals and finishing 4th in the end out of 14 teams. The  boys enjoyed the day and all played well.  Well done !
We now look forward to our next tournament the Drumbo Cup- The largest Grundschule tournament in Germany!
The children have now got to know me and all are now speaking and trying to speak english with me without being embarrassed . It is very encouraging that even those less proficient are trying . We have been doing Art together and this is an easy way to get all the children to explain their paintings to me and to get them talking !
Knowing the  weather will soon change we have been spending as much time outside as possible playing games. This also coincided with the finishing of the butterfly project and the releasing of the butterflies so they could use the weather on their migration to Africa.
Tons of November fun was had by the Charles Dickens folding brigade! We churned out  crazy emogi headgear, throwable ninja  stars, pokeballs and a model of Star Wars own BB8! Now we can’t wait for the Christmas ornament tsunami we will unleash in December, starting at the Christmas fair!
While the younger girls have been preparing for their next tournaments in December and January, the year 5 girls traveled all the way across Berlin to compete in a fierce tournament. Aside from one team, which was clearly superior, all the other teams were broadly at the same level, which made for some very tense and exciting games. Our girls rose to the challenge and played some of the best football that I have seen from them yet. In the end, we were only denied third place because the previously mentioned best team threw their last game and thus handed the third place to another team (against whom we had previously won). Alas, so it goes sometimes in sports. In any case, the girls were justifiably happy with their performance, and so we were all in high spirits on the long way back to our corner of Berlin.
The traveling donkeys continue to pass through the school during the weekly art club. the last weeks we worked and played with the “Japanese Donkey” children were invited to take the white donkey around the school to find contexts , places and create situations for the donkey. We made photos and portraits under supervision with my camera, the children were allowed to choose subjects and make portraits of themselves.

The previous donkey (black no name ) now has a name after the children’s grand name draw… it called LEMON

Lemon has been in Arizona after traveling in a suit case to Chicago and later to the desert  (being stuffed with pillows from the hotel ) most of our conversations have revolved around art practice in general names , and ideas bout travel , home and backgrounds.

Native Speaker Update October

Michael G:

The school high lite of cooking is on again! Pancakes were the theme and may be carried over into November as they are the bomb! Of course everyone on free time pops past the kitchen for what ever is left-usually nothing. 4euA is going crazy with the computer time they really enjoy it. 4euB is doing well in Medieval topic lessons and have improved in their reading out loud skills. We also went the bike course for an almost 5 hour program training. They are also enjoying the computer work during the lunch club.



“October is the Origami Club was and explosion of spooky fun. From our new home in the lobby of house one, huge numbers of giggling folders were able to create bats and pumpkins and ghosts and skulls and scary eyeballs-not to mention giving Handi, our popular dismembered arm mascot, lots of Halloween High Fives! Kudos to the first year students, who overcame thier nervousness and made such good friends with Handi. He looks forward to high fiving everyone next year!”


Mike: September/October report.

The beginning of the school year has also marked a new beginning for our girls football program. Our year 3 team played their first ever tournament, and our year 5 team had their first real go at playing in a tournament at the highest age level of primary school football.

Let’s start with the year 3s: As this was their first tournament ever, and has we had only been training with them for a few weeks prior to the tournament, it was clear that the purpose of this tournament was for them to get to learn the ropes, to see what it is like to play in a tournament, and to have some fun. Furthermore, we were playing in the year 3/4 bracket, and since we did not have any year 4s, this meant that our teams were the youngest there. Nonetheless, driven on by the fans who came to support us in what was also our first ever home tournament at the Charles Dickens School, our girls beat all expectations, with one of the teams even reaching 3rd place.

Our year 5 girls were facing a similar challenge. As most of the year 6s would be going to a football camp over the autumn holiday, we decided to use this tournament to give our year 5 girls a shot at their first real tournament in the year 5/6 bracket. Of course this again meant that we were fielding two of the youngest teams at the tournament. Nonetheless, our girls fought hard and did well. In the end, given a couple of draws where we should have won, we were unlucky to only reach 5th place out of 12. Nonetheless, their performance is giving us a lot to look forward to in future tournaments.

On a final note, let me remind anyone who reads this, that all girls are welcome to join the native speakers football club. If you know any girls who are interested in playing football, just tell them to come along during the lunch break on Tuesdays and to bring some sports shoes. In particular, we are looking for girls from year 4.


Stephan:  September/October

Getting To Know You.. The first few weeks at Charles Dickens have been principally a mixture of spontaneous encounters with children and staff , introductions on both sides coupled with finding my way in and around the school.

Many of the children were  intrigued and bemused by the arrival of a “Travelling Donkey ” in their midst. The travelling donkey is a textile sculpture (one of 14) that travels the world principally from homes and schools. Children have been roaming the playground

talking about the project with myself ( The donkey has acted as a go-between allowing allowing us to bridge themes such as migration , home and art practices outside the galleries and museums.

Afternoons have been engaged  working alongside my gregarious and ebulliant collegue Christine. Sessions have involved origami halloween preparations and general conversation with  the children in an atmosphere of revelry and handicraft.
During the course of the month , I have begun a project to find a name for the donkey . Children have been invited to write down and discuss their suggestions on slips of paper , which have been gradually accumulating in the donkeys cloth bag belly. A pupil will select a name  during a “Grand Draw ” to be heldduring the Lunch club at the beginning of term. For pupils and Parents who wish to become hosts to the donkey , I will make it available to take home for children to their homes for a night or so ( On condition It comes back to school at the designated time) I will make available a roster / timetable for anyone wishing to get involved.


Nigel: September/October

1EuA Good start to the year with a great new class. We have been getting to know one another in lessons and in free time and making that important step of the kids being comfortable in talking to me in English with out any problems. I have been reading with the children and in story time setting a level that they understand.

3euA. In lessons I have been helping with the butterfly project including bringing in hundreds of catterpillers to the butterfly garden that invaded my vegetable patch at home ! In the little free time that we have had together so far I have been drawing and teaching a few magic tricks which some kids are fascinated to work out.


We have now settled into a routine on Mondays and Wednesdays playing short games in the lunchtimes. We have a few tournaments starting in the near future and we are currently picking school teams … from 2nd to 6th classes… So if you are interested in playing for the school team Come along !!!