English Teachers in Training at Da Vinci College

In the past fortnight we had two teacher trainees from Durham University training in our school. They had already arrived a week before but because we had a test week then it was arranged for our English visitors to have a look round in two other TTO-schools in our province.

On their return here they first observed a number of Junior TTO-classes so as to get a feel of the education these students get here. After that they were both allocated a ‘personal tutor’ for the rest of their stay. Tracey Donnelly was here for English, Jake Burdis was here for Science and Biology in particular. Special thanks go to Ms Dagmar Semler and Ms Rineke Voogt for their time and effort spent on their part.

Towards the end of their visit two of their tutors from Durham University came to see Tracey and Jake to find out how they were doing and to judge whether this experience was a worthwhile one for them.

As far as we at Da Vinci College are concerned – these training periods for English students are worth OUR while as these native speakers do not only learn and benefit from our guidance as far as teaching is concerned – they can also contribute to the increase in fluency of our TTO teachers when visiting the latter’s lessons.

Apart from lessons both Tracey and Jake enjoyed some non-curricular activities and attended our Open Nights. And that they had a good time there is proven by the pictures here.

We sincerely hope they have enjoyed their stay here in Purmerend and would like to thank everyone involved in making it a success.

And we wish both Tracey and Jake success in both their teaching careers and personal lives and hope to hear from them how they are doing in the future.

Open Nights at Da Vinci College 2019

And, once again, we welcomed loads of prospective pupils and their parents to our school. But there was a first: it was the first time ever our Bilingual Department, was able to organise its own show because of their ‘own’ part of the building, our H-wing. 

This also required new signs to guide the herds into the right direction as well as new routes for people to follow as well as new questions for the puzzle our future students could complete by finding answers to all sorts of questions everywhere in the building(s).

Once inside the H-wing people were welcomed by some of our ‘ambassadors’ for TTO, dressed up especially for the occasion. Once people had passed that stage of their immersion into the bilingual aspect of our school they went on their way past a very diverse array of stalls, starting with what the English Department considers by far the most important one – the one for English!

Having taken that barrier too, TTO teachers of other subjects were waiting to tell people about their subjects too. Apart from the ones that need special (class)rooms and/or equipment (such as PE, Physics and TechScience) future students were encouraged to look at books, play (educational) games and ask as many questions as they (and their parents) had.

Once our guests had ‘covered’ the subjects on the one side they were confronted with a screen showing a continuous PowerPoint display of about 100 pictures of all kinds of TTO activities, ranging from shots of DiMi activities to pictures of trips abroad. This is also where it became very clear that we are a certified TTO Junior school, recognised as such by Nuffic, the Dutch organisation in charge of internationalisation within the Dutch educational system.

Then people could choose to attend one of Mr Roosingh’s presentations on TTO, in his own classroom, before ambling down along the stalls on the other side of the H-wing square. On that side, our Arts & Design Department had quite a large space available to show all that they are up to in their English language lessons.

And, just in case you were wondering what was going on elsewhere, here is a choice of pictures taken on a walk through the rest of our school. I hope everyone had a good time, that the right pupils will choose for our school and that we shall come up to the expectations that were raised once we have welcomed our new students in our midst next (school)year.

Little Victorians were back again (for 1tto Havo & Ath)

Yes, they were here again. This year we welcomed the actors of the Phileas Fogg Theatre Company three nights in a row to have our own students performs in a play about small children’s lives in the Victorian Age (second half 19th century) in England. After a 45-minute rehearsal with our 1st-year bilingual students, both havo and vwo, a show was staged for the audience consisting of parents, brothers, sisters and other interested family or friends ( and colleagues).

This performance tries to make the students experience the sort of lives their peers in the Victorian Age in England must have led – as chimney-sweeps, as poop-scoopers, as beggars, as factory-workers – in order to survive. Not only did they need to work just for their own sake; often whole families had to make do on what little money these children (of whom there were often many in one family) earned. Often forced by their parents and by their circumstances they often fell  prey to the lowest scum in society – the ones abusing and misusing the youngest of children.

How different from today’s young, with their everything: mobile phones, clubs, clothes, holidays. Glad to be alive today was the life lesson to be learned from this performance, for which we, once again, thank Phileas Fogg – and all of it was IN ENGLISH!

4 havo BEC & 4 ath CAE trip to London 2018

Although already a little while ago it is still worth mentioning that a lot of our 4th-year BEC & CAE students spent a week in London just before the Xmas holiday.

After an initially good start from De Beuk at 7.45 in the morning we hit traffic almost immediately on the motorway and that didn’t really change en route to Calais. We missed the ferry we had been booked on, which meant, in its turn, that our visit to Canterbury had to be shortened a little so as to make our way to our hostel for this week in London: Wombats, just round the corner from the Tower of London. A short walk to Tower Bridge after dinner ascertained the good food being digested better before all of us were off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

Day Two
While the BEC group headed for the All England Lawn and Tennis Club in Wimbledon to be enlightened on the business side of this annual tennis tournament, the CAE group went to St Paul’s Cathedral in order to meet up with their guides for the Shakespeare and Dickens’ London Walk. In spite of the fact that our students’ knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays and poems is less than that of their English peers the guides did manage to both educate and entertain them to some extent on the importance of these two authors.

In Wimbledon our students were told about the very special set-up of the tennis event known all over the world. And without giving too much away we now know that the grass at Centre Court comes from Holland, that the same grass is only used for the two weeks a year that Wimbledon lasts, that they sell about £22m tickets for those two weeks, that there is a very ingenious (‘debentures’) system of raising the necessary money for the whole event, that they sell about 38,000 kilos of strawberries in those two weeks, that there are 83 restaurants then, that the cheapest way to get in is to join the queue on the day in order to purchase a £26 ticket, and so on.

After the lunch break for both groups, our BEC students made their way to the Bank of England, where, as some would say, the most exciting thing is the 13-kilo gold bar that can be lifted but not taken anywhere.

Meanwhile, the CAE group met at the Victoria and Albert Museum to work on an Art assignment. Already struck by the beauty of the exterior of the building itself, enormous cultural treasures were found inside. Once through the doorway a temporary exhibition about fashion throughout the ages could not be avoided even if one had wanted to do so.

Having had dinner in two different restaurants again, with Yasmin proudly showing off her prized mini-pineapple and Niels showing his appreciation for English (pizza!) cuisine, …… everyone made their way to Hyde Park, which, at this time of year, has been transformed into a veritable Winter Wonderland, a cross between the Volendam Fair, the Efteling theme park and Amsterdam on King’s Day!

Day Three

On the Wednesday the whole group had the same programme.  Once again (story of our life this week) traffic was a bit of a spoilsport and we ended up arriving at Wembley Stadium a little late for our guided tour there.  Split into three groups we were all told everything that makes Wembley Stadium such a special place (as they do in every stadium everywhere around the world) , we were shown round the dressing rooms (where they have hair-driers so the players can make themselves smart before the match starts and vaults for all the players to place their valuables in while they’re out on the pitch), we were seated in the Royal Box (where no-one ever has to pay anything for a ticket as you can only be invited there) and we were allowed to sit in the press room with a chosen few to play the (small) part of winning and or losing coaches! Business-wise it was eye-opening to hear that it sometimes took a team of employees a whole night to transform the stadium from a concert venue into a Premier League pitch for next day’s match.

After Wembley, the whole group was off to Windsor Castle. A bit of a wait in line was in store for us as there had been an administrative hiccup but our very competent group leader, Ms Veerman, talked her way out of it and our way into the grounds. After a security check that was more rigorous than the ones you normally have to undergo at any international airport, we were given an audio-tour that would allow every one of us to explore the grounds on their own pace.

And did that Castle hide wonderful things from the outside world! Once inside the State Apartments the route consisted of one after the other ostentatiously filled room full of works of art, antique furniture, lush carpets, sophistically decorated ceilings, and so on.

After that, back to the centre of London by (our own) bus for a little spare time, a communal dinner and … the Jack the Ripper walk. Once again, London Walk guides took us along into the back alleys of London’s East End to tell us the story of Jack the Ripper. If you ever want to see some students turn pale and slightly nauseous – this is the walk to go on. We won’t go into any details here but those that were there will testify to the fact that what happened in those days was gruesome. Needless to say some students had a bit of a restless night after that. Whether that was due to the walk or other things we shall leave undisclosed.

Day Four

After our bus driver had informed us about a hold-up on the route to our hostel and a subsequent wait, all the luggage was once again placed on board (making perfectly clear why hard-shell suitcases are really not a good idea!), our two groups went their own way.

For the BEC group this meant another tube ride to the Design Museum. While one half of the group had a look round the museum while working on an Art assignment, the others had a workshop called ‘Stranger by Design’. Weird-looking objects were displayed, analysed and commented on while the staff member tried to encourage students to air their opinions on what they saw and thought.

Then, after that, it was time for the last educational element of this trip for the BEC group: the Financial (or Square Mile) Walk in the financial district of London, with all its high-rise banking and insurance companies.

After the last dinner together upstairs in the Pizza Hut Piccadilly Circus students were expected to meet again at the Lyric Theatre for the final part of the programme, the musical Thriller, telling the story of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

The CAE group ended this year’s trip with a visit to the Crystal, a sort of building-of-the-future set up by the Siemens company to prove that a building can be (almost) completely self-sustained as far as energy is concerned.

Having ‘consumed’ the basic concepts required to save the world from ourselves, a cable ride across the river Thames was next on the itinerary, with a boat trip at the end of it. Having disembarked, everyone found their way to a lunch spot, had a little bit of spare time left and were then expected to meet at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (or rather: a replica of it) to be shown round the place itself and to follow a drama workshop after that.

Dinner was at Planet Hollywood with the name of our school on screen, with Father Christmas paying us a visit (the lengths we go to to make these trips unforgettable experiences for our students!) and with food for 61 plates served in no time – it’s good to see places well-organised.

And then it was time to join the BEC group again for the final part of the programma, the musical Thriller (carefully hand-picked for our students from the large number of possible high-quality performances in London’s West End).

Once both groups has been reunited and having enjoyed the musical, we all found our way to Haymarket where our driver Danny was already waiting for us. And from there everything went so smoothly that we were able to get onto an earlier ferry than the one we had booked so that we did indeed arrive back at De Beuk two hours earlier than envisaged.

CAE and IB certificates handed out

On Friday 12th October 2018 last year’s 4V CAE students and 6V IB English Language and Literature students were invited to come (back) to school in the late afternoon in order to receive their diplomas. At the CAE level 15 (41%) of our students managed to reach the B-grade (CERF level C1 higher end) and 16 (43%) of them achieved the lower end of that range with a C-grade. Six students (16%) did not achieve the level appropriate for the exam but were awarded a CERF B2 certificate (the one below the CAE proper levels).

Of the 11 IB-students who sat their International Baccalaureate English Language & Literature exam only one did unfortunately not pass the grade.

Ms Lucy van Rooij, Mr Jeffrey Groeneveld and Yours Truly took it upon themselves to hand out the official documents, with receiving students being applauded by (former) classmates, families and friends.

In addition to all those students we also had a small number of our TTO-teachers take part in the CAE exam. Of those (5) two managed to get a Grade A (one even so high that she also qualified for the CPE exam), two a grade B and one a Grade C. This is their first step towards a fully-recognised English proficiency level as required for our TTO-teachers.

Then it was time for the group pictures to be taken and apart from the odd camera battery going flat right there and then nothing untoward happened and the happy few were granted their moment of fame as shown below.

Afterwards there was still time to have a drink and a snack while exchanging the latest bits of news and gossip. All in all a nice way to start the weekend.

Well-done all, congratulations and for those 5-ath students who continue their bilingual training within our school with the IB course –
the best of luck there too.

England trip to Grittleton 2018 -1tto ath

A spooky TTO trip to Grittleton House

In the early morning of September 17th parents and pupils from Da Vinci College said their goodbyes in front of two busses leaving for England. The Atheneum pupils got to ride in a double-decker bus with the amazing Frans-Jozef as their driver. After some mix-ups with bags and kids in the wrong bus we left for the UK. Everyone was very excited for this adventure during only the third week of school!

At the ferry the pupils finally awoke and roamed around the shops and Starbucks. Mr. Roosingh got some presents from his wonderful 1T pupils, because he loves Star Wars so much. We arrived at Grittleton House a bit later than planned because we missed the ferry, but luckily Mr. Steve saved us some delicious pasta.

Grittleton House looked quite spooky in the dark… Even some of the teachers weren’t really sure about their bedrooms… (Did someone mark off days on this wall?! Was this a prison?! There’s a ghost in my room for sure!) We decided to meet at the campfire, where we played a game called ‘Black Stories’. The stories weren’t too scary or else no one would’ve gone to sleep. We had lots of fun, but everyone was tired soon after the long bus ride.

Tuesday we started with a great breakfast of toast and cornflakes. The pupils got dropped off at two different locations. One group took bicycles from Bath towards Bristol over an old railway which was used during the second world war. The bikes took some getting used to, but the route was great. On the way we checked out the Avon canal and narrowboats in Bath and the old railway station in Bristol. The other group went to Bristol Zoo where they took part in a workshop about climate change and they got to hold some animals! Big ol’ cockroaches were my favorite to touch! At night we played games and sang songs in the game room of Grittleton House.

The next morning four British PE teachers came to teach us about typical British sports; rugby, cricket, golf and ultimate frisbee. The weather was good this morning so everyone had a great time. During the afternoon we went to Berkeley Castle by bus where the pupils got a tour and an art assignment. After the barbecue dinner everyone practiced for the ‘Bonte Avond’.

During our last day in England we went on a visit to Bath. In this beautiful town we went on a tour around the city and the Roman Baths, a wonderful place to see and learn about history. Everyone got their own audio-guide and at the end of the tour we also got to drink the water from the hot spring. In Roman times they believed the water was healing!

The highlight of this trip was the ‘Bonte Avond’ for sure. All the pupils performed or were otherwise involved. There were many jokes, some stand-up comedy, a couple of fantastic dances, songs and plays. A truly amazing ending of the first TTO trip!

After a long day of traveling on Friday all the pupils were collected by their families, and they probably slept all Saturday… I know I did!

Last year’s Anglia certificates handed out

On Tuesday 18th September 2018 last year’s 3tto students (both havo and atheneum) were given their Anglia exam certificates. Because of the very tight timetable that day and hardly any short-term possibilities for handing out these documents the certificates were handed out just before the DiMi-sessions of that day.

At the havo level 8 (40%) of the 20 TTO students managed to achieve a ‘distinction’ score on all parts of the written Advanced (two but highest levels within the Anglia organisation) exam. (‘Distinction’ means you scored 80% or more correct.)

At the atheneum level 25 (48%) of the 52 TTO students managed to achieve a ‘distinction’ score on all parts of the written AcCEPT Proficiency (one but highest level within the Anglia organisation) exam.

BUT … all the other students were given a ‘merit’ level – which score means you fall within the 65-79% range of correct answers. AND … that means we had no ‘ pass’ or ‘ refer’ levels at all.

Well-done all and congratulations and for those who continue their bilingual training within our school, either at havo level with Cambridge Business English (BEC) or at atheneum level with Cambridge Advanced English (CAE) – the best of luck there too.