|Sumár projektu:||První české gymnázium v Karlových Varech (The First Czech Grammar School in Karlovy Vary) as the applicant for the project has been looking for a new, fresh approach to international student exchanges. As we have recently celebrated a hundred years since the founding of Czechoslovakia, we came up with the idea to build a possible future cooperation on the common cultural heritage of both nations, the Czechs and the Slovaks.
Our school´s coordinator´s personal relations in the Levoča region as well as her deep knowledge of the region´s historic ties with the Karlovy Vary region gave birth to a vision of a strategic partnership with the grammar school in Levoča, namely the Gymnázium J. Francisciho-Rimavského (J. Francisci-Rimavsky´s Grammar School). For both grammar schools, this is going to be the first experience with a strategic partnership project. However, their experience with running other projects, including international ones, is a good prerequisite to successfully completing this one as well.
The main goals of the project include the effort to improve the students´competence in many social and intellectual situations (e.g. the skills of effective team cooperation, data collection, evaluation and drawing of conclusions, critical approach to information, creating one´s own opinions of different facts, the ability to discuss and defend one´s own views and attitudes). The ultimate goal is for the students to be able to integrate knowledge from various educational fields and apply them in real life. The treasure of new experience, both on the teachers´and the students´side, is a step which fits well into the overall concept of both schools.
The project will be implemented by a group of 1 teacher and 15 third-year students (aged 17-18) on each side. Activities of two kinds will be realized. Firstly, there will be two short-term student exchanges. One will be organized in Karlovy Vary for the Slovak students, the second in Levoča for the Czech students. Both exchanges will involve all project participants on both sides. Secondly, there will be a range of activities realized separately at each school before and after the exchanges, however, in close cooperation of both teams. These will be supervised by both teacher coordinators, and will happen through modern communication channels (the internet, Skype, a blog). In particular, the participants will create a project website and a blog. They will get acquainted with the partner town and gain knowlege of the historical and socio-cultural realia thanks to two workshops led by the coordinators before the first physical exchange. All new information will be processed and evaluated at different stages.
A comparison with the foreign school through sub-activities before, during and after the exchanges will help integrate the benefits of the project into the everyday lives of both teachers and students. Project outputs will include student presentations during and after the exchanges. During all stages of the project realization, newly gained information will be shared through a common website, blog, social media and regional press (reports). Final output will consist of the documentation of the activities realized, presentations of new skills and competences, photograph albums, and a bilingual dictionary composed by the students and supplemented with an explanatory section that will draw on the students´own experience.
We expect that thanks to the new student and teacher experience achieved in the course of the ongoing activities and during the exchanges, we will be able to improve in the following fields: project education, international cooperation, teamwork, research approaches and their evaluation, the development of critical thinking, leading a constructive dialogue, the formulation and defending of opinions.
In the long run, we are planning to continue the partnership of both schools through follow-up student exchanges and sharing experience in the course of the school year. The newly established communication channels (website, blog) and their continuous updates will be good tools for other possible activities. They will also enable sustainable communication between young people in a situation which doesn´t allow personal contact.