måndag 5 juni 2017

The International Week

This is a week that one could write a lot about, for numerous reasons. Many things happen simultaneously during the week when we greaten our new friends from Spain, France and Germany at the same time. Our whole school changes and the new comers are the subject of a lot of attention. Many of our older students, mostly in Spanish, participate in this week as organizers. Their participation serves as their final oral test in Spanish, and they are, naturally quite nervous. They do all sorts of different activities with our guests, such as cooking class in our fantastic cooking classroom, music and dance classes, guidances in the sights of the town and being the hosts of language cafes. They perform remarkably well, and the Spanish students are very supportive, imaging this happening to themselves in two years in French or German.

Apart from the activities organized by the pupils, this year we had a scientific theme on Tycho Brahe since many of the teachers involved this year are science teachers. Last year we had two art teachers involved, and focused more on creativity. On our excursion day we went to the island of Hven where Tycho Brahe spent most of his life and visited his observatory. In Lund we also had e lecture on astronomy and built small binoculars siting the star chart. 

It is fantastic and inspiring to work with colleagues from another country during a great part of the year, and getting to know them well during a week when we spend all labour time and most of our spare time together. There are drawbacks with the system they have in the Spanish school where they change teachers responsible for the exchange almost every year, but being a teacher that keeps coming back has enabled me to get to know quite a  big part of the staff, and as a pedagogical training it is a true gift to see many different teachers interacting with their pupils under circumstances that really forces every teacher to do one´s very best. 


Creating contact

With the Spanish teachers coming to Sweden with their exchange students, so did different kinds of group presentations from three classes in the school of Zaragoza. The pupils from grades three and five hade made class presentations of themselves, the fifth graders in shapes of jigsaw puzzles. Our pupils here in Lund rewarding them with presentations of themselves and their schools, the later in a small film, made by the third graders, presenting their school in their first semester of studying English. Both in Sweden and in Spain the concept of real audience, of pupils in another country reading what they write and listening to what they say have deepened their sense of motivation and made them work hard. We hope for a growing friendship in many ages!

With the teachers to be

I haven´t had the possibility to write for a while. Unfortunately my fellow exchange colleague got ill and has not been able to work for the last month and the absence has kept me rather busy. Now, however, I wish to tell a little about what has happened during this time.

I the middle of April we where invited to the Center for Languages and Literature to give a lecture to their students about our enduring exchange with Spain, and also about the other exchanges emerging at our school. We were happy and proud to go there, for many reasons, but the most important one, for me at least, is that I can think of no audience as crucial as this one. I vey much want to hear the ideas of the language teachers to be and discuss the future of pedagogics with them.

The lecture, as asked for, was one that very much adressed practical issues of conducting international exchanges with young students. The underlying reasons to engage in international collaboration was implicit, and all though we naturally stated some reasons, we were really there to help the center out with a manual.

We had a great time, with a lot of laughs and recognition, and I am sure we helped the students with at least some inspiration. The international work at our school is very rare and there is really no school nearby that works in a similar way. I very much hope for more collaboration. One of the highlights of the evening was a student from Spain coming up to us after the lecture talking about how she would like to spend som time at our school while studying to become a teacher. This last month she has been present a lot, helping out with classes of my colleague.

tisdag 28 mars 2017

In Primary School, Zaragoza

I work at Fäladsgården in Norra Fäladen in Lund, and we are, in Lund, quite well known for having a lot of contacts with the abroad. My assignment right now is to broaden the contacts to the younger pupils in the area. Therefore I visited Primary School when I was in Zaragoza last week. Aragón, the part of Spain where Zaragoza is located, has for some years worked hard wit the bilingualism of there young pupils. They hire native speakers of English to interact with the young pupils and have decides that a minimum of 20% of all classes have to be held in English. I visited Luisa, responsible of the development of bilingualism in primary, in class and had a brief discussion with her on the possibilities to collaborate. Her pupils where very enthusiastic about creating bonds to Swedish pupils. Some of them knew older pupils that had visited Lund in the past 16 years of the exchange. They had lovely, creative ideas of how to collaborate though machines and handicrafts and I very much hope to create a bond between the younger classes of Norra Fäladen and Zaragoza soon. 

In Zaragoza, Spain

These last week I have been on our annual visit to Zaragoza, Spain with a group of 21 seventh graders. We have had a great time and also a great weather (this is not the rule when we go there) and that has made many of the activities easier to manage. I am responsible for the Swedish part of the exchange with my colleague Cecilia, and we have the privilege of going to Spain every year. In Zaragoza the teacher just have a one year responsibility for the exchange. This has benefits and drawbacks, but the greatest benefit is that is makes it possible to make very different activities when the teachers in charge change. This year Carlos and Gonzalo took care of us. 

As always the visit brought our pupils many insights on the Roman history and the history of Zaragoza with the help of some of the excellent guides of the city. We have decided that our main theme in the exchange is always history, and in Spain the Swedish pupils get to know Roman times and in Sweden the Spanish pupills get to know our medieval history. When they come to Sweden we are going to have workshops on castles and visit Glimmingehus, guided by our ninth graders that study Spanish. 

History, is however not all that is learnt during the week. What Carlos and Gonzalo did best this year was to create a sense of community among the pupils. They started the first day with different tasks to get to know each other and learn the names of all the participants of the exchange. They also, throughout  the week, arrange all sorts of tasks that made the pupils collaborate and laugh together. We danced a lot, mainly "silly" dances. The pupils also built pyramids stacking themselves on top of each other, and other similar tasks. They had a great time och apparently felt more at ease with each other. This year we have not heard any complaints at all about it being hard to get to know the Spanish pupils. Normally some of them always have a bit of trouble getting to know each other, which is very normal when you see each other for the first time and have som language difficulties, but these years tasks creating a very nice group dynamic.  

torsdag 23 mars 2017

Inclusive Internalization - for teachers!

For a couple of years now our school, and perhaps most of all me, has been collaborating with a school in Denmark, Nordagerskolen. We were there with students for the first time in January and you can read at least a bit about that in a former post. Since the first time I came to Ringe, the village where the school is located, I have felt very much at home. The school is a very calm place and in inhabited by very hard working and inspired teachers and pupils. One of the profiles the pupils can choose is the international one, and that profile is the reason that we first came in contact. There are many reasons to collaborate with this school, and I would have liked to wherever it was located. However, there are also great benefits in the fairly nearby location.

Denmark and Sweden are neighbours, sister states, and have a lot in common. It is possible to understand at least some of the content in a conversation with the help of the other language. In the south of Sweden nature is very similar to the Danish nature. However, everything is not the same in the two countries. Our curriculas are quite different and so is the recent history of the countries. The similarities and differences makes a comparing collaboration very interesting.

Ringe is a village outside Odense, a city in Fyn that is possible to reach by train in an hour and a half from Copenhagen. Lund is quite near the bridge to Denmark, and the whole trip takes about three hours, Compared to the other exchanges we have this is a short and cheap travel, and that made it possible to go there in January without the pupils paying for it.

In August this same distance will make it possible for all the staff to go to Odense and have a conference there. The first afternoon we will all visit Nordagerskolen. This makes me very happy and extremely proud. The big drawback with the International projects we start can be that some of the staff and the pupils feel excluded and that the trips are considered exclusive. Therefore it is with great joy I will invite all of my colleagues to collaborate with a colleague abroad, a person that they will actually meet in first person in August. We will be in Ringe for three hours just to talk to someone with the same subjects about similarities and differences in how we work, be inspired and perhaps start to collaborate. Nordagerskolen is a school that work with Google in a similar way that we do. I am very much looking forward to this!

måndag 27 februari 2017

Applying for funds

Not all work as a "travel teacher" is work abroad. Sometimes you also have to do the less fancy parts of the job. They can be inspiring as it is to hear about our seventh graders talk about their new friends they have made contact with in Spain. It can be planning and making different kinds of reservations for activities at home or abroad.
Last week has been a holiday week in Sweden and the week before they had a similar week in Denmark. During these two weeks we have been writing our application to Nordplus  to enable more students visiting each other in both countries. We have occasionally had a lot of contact, but it is not always easy to write things together when schedules are hard to combine. Last year we had the luxury of being in the same place as we wrote our application, but this time we where connected with the help of Internet. It is not the same, but since we know each other well it all worked out. Unfortunately last year our work was in vain and we were not granted any money, but since the only reason was "lack of funds" we decides to try again. Now we hope our work pays of better this time.