Author Archives: Michael Giacobbe

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 !!!

Native Speaker Update September

Michael G:

The school year has started smoothly. In 4euA we have been doing different activities and computer in free time. In 4euB we started our medieval projects and research projects in Topic. I have also been reading with the children and correcting grammar.  We have also started our bike course.Computer is very popular with all the students through out the school so sometimes we are more than packed! All in all a great start.



We are off to a great start in the origami club this year! We have moved downstairs in house one to the picnic tables in front of house one, so we could test the mountains of paper planes we folded. When the weather gets cooler we will move into the lobby. We are there Wednesday and Thursdays from 14.20-15:45 and Fridays at lunchtime, from 11.30-12.30, and then upstairs in house 2 from 14.00- 15.45 There is no sign up and all ages are welcome.

In an unprecidented turn of events, our welcome gift to the first year classes, minion paper roll models,has swept upward to the 3rd year students, as has our collection of pokemon models so we really really need everyone to bring in thier paper ( towels and toilet )rolls!
Crazy Tracey:
The month of September was very sweet to come back to. Class 5euB is an awesome class. Very nice working with them, helping with their English and also working with Mr. Campbell. He’s awesome too. We also got the chance to learn how to fry chicken wings and fries. It turned out very good and they most certainly would love to do it again in the future. Class 2A are a very sweet and busy bunch of students that loves to learn English through games.  I enjoyed them also. Ok, that was my month of September. BANG!! BANG!!!
Mike & Stephan: See October

Native Speaker Update May!

In year 5 science we have been introducing microscopes as a new topic. This has, as always, been popular with the learners! We have just been learning the different parts of the microscope and learning to focus at different magnifications.
Year 6 Science had finished the forces topic with some amazing an innovative project presentations. The groups had design a small demonstration  of their force and present it to the group.
The international picnic was a lot of fun and we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits. I was running the animal face painting and we saw some great critters that day 🙂
Crazy Tracey:
The month of May was short and sweet! The international picnic was very nice. I had the pleasure of taking the chess team to their very first tournament and they came in 3rd place out of 15 teams. BANG! Class 5uA had a class trip and they had the chance to make solar go carts. English classes were fun as usual and the basketball club is still fun to do.
Well we may not have been here much in May, but boy, did we pack in a lot of action! We started with the month’s indoor origami activity, Patterns and Bells. We made our own patterned paper with rubber stamps and colored ink, then we folded the paper into traditional Japanese peace cranes, and THEN we strung the cranes on gold cord, with a bell or gemstone at the end. It was a big hit at the international fair!
Our outdoor activity is my signature giant soap bubble project. You have probably seen , if not been slimed by us at the school entrance.(slimed is correct englsh because ghostbusters is always right)
If anyone is interested in learning my simple soap bubble recipe, or making their own bubble sticks, feel free to talk to me or drop by the kitchen in house 1 Tuesday, or Thursday between 14:30 and 14:45 when I make the formula. You can also write to me at Ich kann Dinglisch.
Yes a short month but filled with lots of activity!  We went to a football tournament …amazing! 50 kids Nigel, Mike and Michael.
Typing is finished but I still have all the 4th graders in at lunch time. It is a hit.
3euA and 3euB are doing incredible work in rt and Topic not to mention the thrill of cooking during free time!

Native Speakers April Update


This month in year 5 science we have continued work on our animal posters. The children have selected an animal to research and this poster task falls under our adaptation topic. There are some really interesting choices and designs starting to show!

In year six science we are still working on our electricity topic and have been studying motors and magnets. Last lesson we took a simple motor apart to see how it works and then carried out an experiment with it. It was a lot of fun learning and the kids really enjoyed our practical lesson!



Well we weren’t in school for quite a bit of April, BUT the dedicated folders of the Origami club still  managed to crank out oodles of giant Easter baskets and Japanese “hina ” bunnies, whilst many of our littlest folders managed the very tricky traditional Japanese lily. Impressive stuff! And not to be left behind,  our pokemon trainers made some very elaborate pokeballs and caught lots of new pokemon! Team Rocket doesn’t stand a chance!



Sad to lose 1 EuA class in the new timetable ! But we shall see each other in the playground and at football !!

1 Eu B : This month in English we have been concentrating on reading practice and getting the slower readers up to pace so that as a class we can go forward together ! In Freetime we have been outside playing games and enjoying spring.

2 EU A/ B  Freetime :  We have been continuing to decorate the classroom with our spring paper flowers and playing games.



This month in art club we have been working on paper projects. At the beginning of the month, we made popup flower Easter cards. They were a bit tricky, but everyone turned out with a great card! Toward the end of the month we worked on mosaics using both paper and colored pencils.
In the fourth class, we continued working on our english skills through english language games. Along with the english word and story games, we also worked on some Mother’s Day cards and spent some time outside playing on the playground in the nice weather.
Library library library

As we approach the end of a very successful school year, the girls football teams have been preparing for their final tournaments. The highlight of the month of April was the big Integration durch Sport summer tournament. Both our year 4 and our year 5 groups sent a team to the tournament this year. In a tournament that is actually intended for years 5 and 6, both of our teams were relatively young compared to their competition. And for our year 4 team, in particular, it was clear from the start that this was primarily going to be a learning experience. Nonetheless, they showed great spirit and finished in 9th place out of 12. Our year 5 team showed that they were able to compete with the best and were perhaps somewhat unlucky to only finish in 6th place. Perhaps next year, they will be in a position to challenge for the top spot. Although both our teams were still lacking in size and strength, it was particularly heartening for us coaches to see that their passing play and their team work were second to none.

Those girls who did not participate in this tournament have been busy training for the Drumbo Cup outdoor tournament, which will be taking place in early May. We have been especially happy to welcome back some 6th graders to the fooball programme for this tournament. We have also started recruiting girls from years 1-3 for a new young team. They will have their first tournament at the end of May. If anyone is interested in joining, please send them along to the training on Tuesdays during lunchtime. Everybody is welcome, regardless of their experience!

Native Speaker update March

Crazy Tracey:

March was a pretty good month! The students that came to basketball had the proper attire and basketball was played without so many accidents! The others classes were great as usual! No stress and happy students!! BANG!! BANG!!!


This month I have started up with art club on Tuesdays beginning at 14:20 in the English room near 3EU! We have started learning about color by making color wheels and identifying different color groups. We also worked on some pointillism paintings. We created a scene using only dots of pure color. The paintings turned out great! We will be using all sorts of media from paint to pencils to ink to create new projects every week. Come by Tuesdays and check out the fun!
In 4EUA, we have been having fun with English word games. There have been lots of silly sentences and stories created, along with lots of games of Scattergories played!
Well as always cooking is the best time of day for 3euA and 3euB!! We have been baking muffins and the smell throughout the school is making everyone envious. We also have hot dog month!
We have also started Magnets and Easter projects. Reading records with 3euB is going very well.
All the the 4euA/B/C classes are flying high with their typing skills and working on Topic research.
In 5euA we are preparing our own poems and working on memorizing the poems to be presented at the Annual poem competition.
In the 1A class we have been working on everything we have learned although the month´s highlight was the food lesson and the cake I made for them!
Happy Easter!
Library library library!
March in the Origami Club was a mad springtime shower  of bunnies bumble bees, beautiful flowers and big big Easter baskets!  I also created, exclusively for the Charles Dickens Native Speaker program, an inflatable origami Pokeball! The children can color the pattern to create their favorite model. After that they cut the pattern out and I show them how to fold the paper and blow!! This has been one of my most successful projects- On it’s first day I ran out of patterns- our little( and not so little) Pokemon trainers had created over 20 Pokeballs in under two hours!! Gotta catch em all!!

Football -Alls going well with both groups . Looking forward to the outside season with rasenplätzen tournaments.

1 Eu A : In the English lessons we have been concentrating on reading and as such for part of the lesson I have been taking groups out for reading practice. Twice this month I have been lucky to be in the class on a Child’s birthday and we have celebrated together… cake !

1Eu B : In Topic we have been in the computer room getting the kids used to working with computers.

With 2 eu A and B

We have been doing spring crafts. Especially making spring flowers to decorate the classroom.
With all the classes we have been taking the kids outside enjoying the change of weather