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Peetri Basic School - Peetri School Eurovision

This case study was prepared by Eili Laas from Peetri Basic School, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme 

Introduction

Peetri Basic School was opened on September 2009.  Peetri Basic School is a Municipal primary school which is situated in Harju county, municipality Rae, Peetri borough. Peetri borough is in the neighborhood of the capital Tallinn. The school started with 111 students and 14 teachers and in 2014 there are 645 students and 51 teachers.

School learning process are organized by grade levels: Grade 1-4 (age 6 to 10) with 490 students and grade 5-9 (age 11 to 15) with 155 students. The majority of students study in grades 1-4 where the most subjects are taught by one teacher. From the 5th grade there are different teachers for different subjects and a new class teacher.

At our school we also have a speech therapist, a guidance councilor, ICT specialist, leisure time manager-teacher/youth leader and 2 special education teachers.  There are two small classes for children who are not able to study in an ordinary class. Some students with special needs have special individual curriculum.

Peetri Basic School hall table

At grade 1 and 2 where the priority is adapting in school, respecting other students, relations and social skills. We have drama lessons once a week. It is a mixture of communication skills, self-analysis and development of expressions and listening skills. It is the lesson the sudents can talk about feelings – students learn to express their feelings and accept and realize others feelings.

Our school concept is based on longstanding pedagogical experience and innovative practice.

School’s goal is:

Using teamwork in teaching is one of the goals of the school to develop students´ collaboration skills.  So students can learn cooperation, respect each other, offer ideas and find solutions. There are possibilities for group-work also outside classrooms in halls. There are tables and chairs for group-work, discussions, chess- tables on floors etc. that able students to be active in breaks.

We pay attention to student’s self-analysis and learning motivation. Twice a year they analyze their learning and behaving. There are special forms for that. Once a year there are development conversations with all students. We involve student, class teacher, parents and other teachers or social teacher if needed. During the conversation students development is being analyzed. The important part is self-assessment. In grades 1-3 there are no numbered marks but the feedback is described.

Peetri Basic School reading floor

‌This year we are starting to use and adopt a program  “TLIM” (The Leader in Me).We are a pilot school in Estonian and we will practice and help to develop TLIM learning material which takes into account the Estonian cultural space.

Our slogan is: There´s a sun shining in each one of us, let is shine bright. We hope that each student will find their gifts and their strengths. Therefore we provide a lot of activities after lessons like singing, sports, art, cooking, craft, science and languages. Students can choose between 24 activities.  

Many hobby activities in school are supervised by teachers, partners from sports clubs, Municipality Hobby school, also by parents and others persons with different hobbies. Hobby lessons are supported financially by local government and many activities are free of charge for students.

“Entrepreneurship and citizens’ initiative” is now one of the topic of the National Curriculum. It says that the theme is realized primarily a through joint activity (teamwork, research, projects) which develops students` spirit of cooperation and tolerance.

Peetri Basic School group work

One of the goals of Rae municipality today is to support student’s entrepreneurship in schools. In spring 2104 there was a conference about supporting entrepreneurship for teachers and other educators in Rae municipality. In autumn there is entrepreneurship camp for students, where they learn how to implement their ideas. In Estonia there is an entrepreneurship ideas competition ENTRUM for gymnasium students, which is supported by many big enterprises.

We try to involve our students more in organizing various events instead of giving them so called finished product. The students organize class parties. An Autumn Fair has become a tradition for students where students sell homemade cakes, sweets and handicraft. And each class decides to whom they want to donate the money they earned. Usually they chose animal shelters, child support funds or a food bank. Last year students from grades 5, 7, 8 helped several times to collect food for a food bank in different supermarkets.

We work with youth counselling services for students who are engaged in career counselling. We are looking for opportunities to organize job shadowing.

Our student council has been active for two years. Their objectives are improving the school life of a student, standing up for students´ rights and responsibilities, organizing events, conducting interviews regarding school life, contributing to cooperation between teachers, students and parents.

The participation of students in the organization of events is still too weak. Organizers are mostly teachers and coordinate by leisure time manager- teacher. We want the students to take more responsibility for organizing their school life and be more active.

Our work will continue in this direction we have begun to pay more attention to this.

Rationale

In school year 2013-2014 one group of students organized Eurovision song contest in our school. It was like our school version of Eurovision song contest.

It all started with one boy named Karl from grade 5. He had an idea to organize a Eurovision song contest at our school. We called it the “Peetri School Eurovision”. In the past years he has helped to organize class events for his classmates. Usually there is a team to organize games and activities for class nights and the team of organizes is usually the master of the evening. At school Karl has organized Beyblade competitions.

At our school we have a tradition to organize theme and subject weeks. For example native language weeks, history weeks, which include many activities at lessons and all over the school. Students have prepared performances, plays etc. Some classes sing or dance on music and dance weeks. Also some guests are invited to these weeks, students can take part in different workshops. In our school tall students have compulsory dance classes. First they have ball dancing (year 1-4) and then (5-9) creative dancing. During the music week we have organized Playback where students can copy their favourite singer or band.

In spring Karl told to headmaster about his idea to organize the Eurovision at our school. He even had thought about the posters and that every class has to pull by a lottery the country whose song they are going to perform. Karl has also told about his idea at home and he got the support from his parents. Karl´s mother is an event organizer. His vision was to have at our school Eurovision contest as the real one- with a winner and with a guest singer from Estonia or from 2013´s winning country- Sweden.

Peetri Basic School class

The school board decided to support Karl and his idea. The school saw it as a big event in children life and also something that gives the feeling of success to organizers. We also thought that such kind of event will unite the students from grades 2 to 9, because most of the events are different for different age groups. But while rehearsing the children must work together and support each other they must use creativeness to design their costumes. Another goal was to give the organizing team to organize the event from start to finish 'experience´ and to support their entrepreneurship and self- realization.

From the focus group interviews came out that students do not see themselves as an organizers of school life, as initiators or promoters of ideas. When they were asked what they like about the school they mentioned that teachers are organizing nice events for them. We have created a situation where the student is still the event consumer. Teachers are those who suggest activities to do, or what has become a tradition. The teachers have so far been more responsible and organizers of the events, although students have been active participants but not the ones who give out the new ideas for events. The role of the student representatives has been too little but it is only their third year and this year they want to develop it more. Teachers´ role is just to support the organization process.

Description of the activity/project

Peetri Basic School group meeting

Director appreciated the idea and initiative and was ready to give support. He suggested Karl to find students with whom to carry it out. Karl found partners among his classmates and formed a team of 7 students. That spring, Karl did not belong to the student council yet as students are elected there starting from grade 5, but Karl was in grade 4.

In spring they made a poster and drew lots to get a European country whose song they were going to sing. It turned out that the poster were thrown away in the course of summer cleaning and a new one had to be made.

In August, making plans for the next schoolyear, we marked Eurovision song contest as one of our events in November. The team started to have meetings one and a half months before the event.

Peetri Basic School EV presentation

From the teachers` side recreation officer, director, homeroom teacher and  singing teacher joined the project. We agreed that, the teachers` role was just to support and coach the organizing process and help in the areas that only teachers are responsible for. Teachers and IT specialist gave a helping hand in finding music videos and stories to introduce the different countries represented.

The autumn fair of selfmade handicraft and sweets  was under way. Karl found it to be a good place to sell Eurovision tickets. This was very successful and The prizes and the cup were bought with the money earned during the sales of the tickets

We had no idea how he was going to make and design the tickets. Later we realised he had numbered all the seats one by one and not by rows. So they had to stick a number to each seat all over the room. 250 seats and 250 different numbers had to be stuck to the seats in the morning of the performance day.

A new part of a schoolbuilding got ready in autumn and a blackbox (used as a projection room) was constructed next to the assembly hall. The students had an idea to use it as greenroom. Now it was a challenge how the show in the assembly hall could communicate with those in the greenroom.

They discussed the issue with the shool`s IT manager and the repairman-cinematographer who recommended to buy a cable to transmit the show in thhe greenroom.

The idea of using the blackbox as greenroom appeared in one of the meetings during wich teachers expressed concerns about it. However, it was also then that a discussion about the place for singers arose, as too many tickets had been sold and we lacked seats for the singers. The organisors also experienced working with deadlines and dealing with delays. This also exposed them to situations where other students did not fulfil their objectives or did not meet deadlines.

As the preparation got more specific, it was necessary to give certain tasks to certain people. Roles had to be divided: who would be the master of ceremonies, who would make videoclips of each country. They also had to design a logo for school Eurovision contest that resembled the school logo. The students had to make the list of music videos and soundtracks.

The students organised catering for the event and decided to offer performers snacks, and so they cooked pies and cakes at home and asked school cooks to make lemon water.

Peetri Basic School EV show

During the first edition of the event, it appeared that lighting was insufficient and some additional spotlights were needed on the stage. These would have given more effect to the performance and also could have been filmed and photographed the entire performance with a better quality. Now this problem is solved.

At first, it was planned to give prizes the next day as a way to thank and recognize all the singers and people involved. But parents and some team members wanted to do it right after the contest so the final decision was to go for it and leave it to the audience to vote for their favourite..

The school in the community

At present there are 3700 inhabitants in Peetri borough. Over the past 10 years, the number of residents has increased 5 times. The reason for that is over the past 10 years many block of flats and individual houses are built in this area. In Peetri live mostly young families whose children are studying in our school and kindergarten. Thus, the vast majority of our community consists of school and kindergarten parents.

Peetri Basic School concert

First and foremost we see parents as our partners with whom to cooperate with both the class and school levels. Teachers involve parents in class events. For example parents attend lessons where they speak about their hobbies and bringing them to school when feasable.

Parents belong to the school's board of trustees. Currently we are looking for sponsors among the firms in our borough to sponsor the publishing and printing of "TLIM" Estonian-language teaching materials.

We also invite parents to lectures and workshops carried out by lecturers from various fields of education, psychology, education, and health issues. This "Parents´ lessons“are held twice a year.

In 2013, when our oldest students reached the 9th grade we began to search among the parish’s business partners to whom students could go for a job shadowing day.

During environment and sustainable development projects which this year focuses on water and water consumption our students are going to visit two enterprises specialised on these issues.

We also rent our rooms to different hobby groups out of our school for example singing studio, ceramic group, the group of ballet.

Peetri kindergarten and school are a bit like a Sports and Cultural Centre. School football stadium is also used by the football club and the black box is used for public movies projection. In the evenings there is a chance to use the school gym for playing ball games and nursery gym for aerobics trainings.

Achievements and impact

The most important factors of this event are that the organizers were students and teachers were supporters. Since it is the students' own ideas and interest, they are highly motivated, considered themselves to meet deadlines, and always attended the meetings. The students had a great experience how to organize the whole event from the beginning to the end. How to cooperate and share tasks and responsibility for their work. It is also important that it had a lot of performers and spectators.

The atmosphere was nice and positive, the students loved it. It could become a school tradition.

I believe that these students will continue to organize the events at school and are active in the organization of school life. Last year they were only fifth-grade students. I hope that they are the future leaders of the student board and they are able to make our students´ board seen and heard at school.

Success factors

We think that the most important thing is that the students were motivated. They had an idea of what they want to do, they had their vision of course though the so-called Eurovision contest. Important was the fact that they were able to work as a team and support each other and get along with each other. Because they are students from one class they are probably used to do things together and they know each other.

It was important that students had always the support from the adults. Areas necessary to help teachers helped and sometimes guided fantasy to realistic solutions.

There are certainly parts of the character of the students who have a lot of ideas who are more active, more sociable (perhaps even more ambitious).

After the Eurovision a couple of students who wanted to make a sports contest, a bike rally, presented their ideas to the director and both the ideas got positive feedback from the director but this time, these ideas remained ideas. It turned out that for the bike rally there is a need to close traffic and also needed permission from various agencies. The student did not start organize this event.

Obstacles and ways to overcome them

In described project there are not specific obstacles to bring out. Maybe the Recognition Awards ceremony was not thought through and discussed properly. At the last moment it was decided to do it at the same evening and therefore in a rush. Because one of our school's principles includes that everybody it is noticed and rewarded for all the effort. In learning we do not compare ourselves with others. The development and the achievements of students are based on a particular student. This event was still a competition, which means competitors and the winner is the one. In this issue, we continued discussions in the coming days.

The main barriers are related to students' motivation and involvement in any school ventures. This event organizers and the initiative group was from one class who know each other well, and their leader himself is a very active boy. Our school student´s board is now 3 years old. So far, they have organized a party in a year or style days. A lot of adults organize events because the majority of student are primary school students. Basic school students' interests and communication and behaviour has changed due to their age. Many children have their own hobbies and interest and to organize joint events they do not have the time which really means that there is not enough interest and motivation. Since basic school students are more independent there is not as much support from the parents as it used to be. This is seen from the participation in class events and meetings, which significantly reduces when the students finish the primary school.

Teachers need to find the key how to inspire, motivate and generate interest in students.