English, A movie about us!

We are going to work with the English language with the goal of making a movie about ourselves and a bit about the town we live in.

We can work together with someone, or by ourselves. We start with the strategy of making a mind map, or dots, so e have a plan about what we are going to show, say and how the movie is going to be filmed. We are going to look at some other movies where others have presented themselves and their towns, so we get ideas of what can be fun to watch and learn if you are the ones looking at your video.

When the plans are made, and the mind map is done, you start your work with practicing pronunciation and grammar, so you get it correct. You also decide what order your movie is going to have, and who is going to help you film it.

When you are done filming you will edit the movie in Imovie, an app on our ipad. You can put music, sounds and effects in it if you would like. The goal is to show this movie to a 5th grade in Finland. We will also get to view their movies and learn how to understand others, communicate.

Knowledge that you will be developing and learn during the making of the movie:

You will develop your knowledge in talking about subjects that are familiar to you, everyday situations, your interests and school.

You will develop your knowledge about words, grammar and pronunciation of the English language when you are working with your movie.

You will develop your listening skills, whilst listening to others when they make their movies, and when its done.

You will learn about how students have it in finish school.

You will learn how to follow the instructions for the project.

You will learn strategies in how to make yourself understood, important words and how to adjust the film for your viewers.

You will develop your knowledge in how to present yourself, how to tell about things you know, and how to manage when the language skills aren’t enough.

Abilities that you will develop during the project:

You will develop the understanding of content in the videos you are watching.

You will develop your ability to communicate in both writing and speaking.

You will develop your ability to be understood, while you are adjusting your language for another class.

You will develop your understanding of other English speaking countries.

How will this be evaluated?

You will be evaluated when you work with the movies, your process and your strategies in the making.

You will also be evaluated on the finished movie, how it is done, your pronuncuation and content, and the order of the content.

In art you will be evaluated in how you use the ideas of the movies we are watching in your own movie, and how you relate to the pictures in the movie, how well the represent what you are talking about, or how well they enhance your fact.

(Written by Sweden)

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Tillsammansdag – A day spent together

Main goals of the day:

During a day spent together we gather up in groups of about 15-20 students in each, with students from preschool up to 6th grade.

The 6th graders in each group act as a group leader, which practice the students social skills as well as leading skills. They gather the group, make sure everyone understands the different tasks and games, and take care of the young ones so they are a part as well. They also make sure that everyone does what is supposed to be done, and helps the leaders at each station with the tasks. They also practice following a schedule, and how to follow instructions, as well as giving instructions to the group.

The other participants in the group are being led by the 6th graders, and practice following other leaders than adults. They practice listening to instructions, and working together with other students that is not in their own class. Teamwork, social skills and learning about others is key during the day.

Knowledge that you will be developing and learning during these days:

A day spent together focuses on the first two chapters of our curriculum, at the same time as it brings up important goals from the other subjects. The first two chapters are about school values and assignment, and overall goals and guidelines.

Equality is a focus during these days, when students from all classes gather up to do things together. Equality is being learned hen getting to know new friends, and listening to their stories. When you listen you learn that not everyone has the same background as you, and that all people have their problems and issues, as well as strengths and skills. Our goal is to promote understanding about others as well as your self. Its a democracy we live in.

The schools goals is to promote individuals and their knowledge, and encourage different opinions. During these days spent together we can listen and learn about others opinions during the tasks we do. We have done a friend painting, where everyone could write how they thought about friendship, we have done a culture day where we learned about different languages and countries, where students from the other countries could tell about their language and culture. This also shows an international perspective of learning about the world around us, as important as it is with the many cultures we have in our school today.

These different tasks gives the students opportunities to communicate, learn and discuss with others than their own class, which we see as developing their communication. This is a big focus for the 6th graders who are the leaders and have to learn how to communicate so that everyone understands what to do.

To be a part of a bigger project also gives the feeling of belonging, a feeling that you are welcomed and important in school. You see your star on the tree, or your part of the long snake we made together, or your thought about friendship on the painting, and hopefully you learn the values and that you as a student is important. This promotes learning, creativity, curiosity and confidence.

Goals:

Respect others.

Understand other student situations and act accordingly.

Develop their problem solving in different tasks.

Develop social skills to cooperate with others as a team.

Develop communication skills in both Swedish and English.

Develop student abilities to do ethical positions based on knowledge.

Develop student sense for democracy and how it works in school and in society.

How will this be evaluated?

The day spent together is a day that is included in many subjects, and the goal is that you take what you learn from this day to other subjects and show your skills there.

The day is mostly focusing on social skills, learning and understanding others, and for the 6th graders, learning how to take care of others and how to be a good leader. This is something that is useful in everyday life, and one of the main goals of our curricula.

(Written by Sweden)

Visit in Sweden – Bruksskola, Åtorpsskolan and Stora Valla

Visit in Sweden 11. – 15.12.2017

Posted by: Minna Kirsi-Lahti, Rita Keskitalo, Kati Ahlqvist, Heli Meriläinen

This SWOT-analyses is based on our observations and the many discussions we had with both teachers and students in the schools we visited. At some point we might have got the wrong impression and we would appreciate if you gave your comments in the end and corrected the parts in which we were mistaken.

Strengths:

We were impressed with the co-teaching system at Bruksskolan. The classes were relatively small, and having two teachers working there simultaneously was a great asset. The system was also very flexible, i.e. the teachers could divide the class in two, and plan their methods etc. according to the needs of the students in each group. Giving the aims of the lesson explicitly at the beginning provided the classes with a clear structure.

At the secondary school we visited, the classes were organised so that every class was divided into two groups in most subjects. The actual teaching groups could well have only 14-16 students each. This made the teaching effective since the teacher had the time and resources to help every student individually.

We also admired the professional take the school assistants had to their work. They actively sought out students who needed help and stayed at their side during the classes. There was a high number of immigrant students in the classes and the assistants and good learning materials paved their way into the Swedish school system. The number of immigrant students and the way they were helped contributed to the multicultural atmosphere in the classrooms. We got a genuine feeling of equality.  We also witnessed some incidents where a student was not behaving appropriately, but these cases were handled calmly and without extra drama. Overall, the students behaved politely and gave a very positive impression of themselves. The relationship between the students and the teachers seemed to be warm and open.

In addition, we found the first teacher-system we were told about an excellent idea. The system of professional development through reading, discussion, trying out different methods and evaluating the experiences was impressive. The Swedish teachers really seemed to be interested in improving their work!

Finally, we would like to mention the school lunches that were versatile, healthy and delicious.

Weaknesses:
Although our impression was, on the whole, a very positive one, there were some weaknesses as well. Some of them had to do with the physical surroundings in the schools we visited. Especially in Stora Vallaskolan, the classrooms weren’t exactly cosy. In some classrooms at both schools, the students were sitting alone just facing the teacher (although there might have been a sound pedagogical reason for this). Overall, there didn’t seem to be many opportunities to stand up and move during the lessons.

We also paid attention to the lack of technology used in the schools we visited, for example the students weren’t allowed to use their own devices in class. This might render achieving the so called 21st century skills more challenging.

On the human resources side, we found the lack of special needs teachers and a school secretary a drawback. The secondary school was also lacking qualified teachers in some subjects. We were told that this is an even bigger problem in some other parts of Sweden. Especially in the big cities, there are also problems with too big classes.

Opportunities:
We found the Swedish system also had some opportunities for further development. For example, the learning environments could be modified to be better suited for different learning themes, e.g. in music or art.

During the breaks, especially the long ones in the middle of the day, students could be involved in organising different activities (cf. school on the move: www.liikkuvakoulu.fi/English). In addition, the lessons could benefit from a more active approach: students could move more freely in the classroom for example when they need to get handouts, glue or other equipment. We have also noticed satisfactory results in a more active way of learning and teaching; especially students with special needs benefit from all kind of action in the lessons. They sometimes need to get the energy out in order to learn and concentrate better.

There could also be more co-operative learning in small groups since there were enough professionals and room available for this. There were also students who were more advanced than the others, they could act as ‘peer teachers’. Overall, the means of differentiation could be further developed. There were a lot of techniques that we could see being used already, such as the use of assistants, folding screens etc., but perhaps more could be done in terms of the content and methods (or possibly is done already, but we didn’t get the chance to see it).

Threats:
As much as we admired the co-teaching system in Bruksskolan, there might be an inherent problem there as long as the teachers themselves can’t decide who their co-teacher pair is. In most cases cooperation is undoubtedly fruitful, but what about when it is not a match made in heaven? We also feared that the skilful, more advanced students might suffer with the classes where teaching is organised in terms of the weakest students. This might lead to boredom and underachievement.

In other parts of Sweden there are perhaps different threats: are some schools with lots of immigrant students and big classes becoming something parents are starting to avoid? The ranking lists, and perhaps the national exams, published about schools may contribute to this school shopping phenomenon.

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6  things we would like to have in our schools too

  1. Co-teaching system
  2. Professional school assistants
  3. Feeling of equality in multicultural classrooms
  4. Polite students
  5. First teacher-system
  6. Delicious school lunch

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Finally, we would like to thank all the teachers, the principals, and the assistants at Bruksskolan and Stora Vallaskolan  for welcoming us so warmheartedly. Especially Linda, Inger, Erina, Malin, Annelie, Bettina and Lars never grew tired of answering our questions and taking care of us.  We learned so much during the week, tusen tack alla!