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.

måndag 13 februari 2017

In London, Great Britain

London is normally not a place I would take pupils, and specially not a whole class of ninth graders. I might be a coward, but I feel that it is a city with many temptations and also a place where you constantly need to watch out for different reasons. However it so happens that my class this semester won a science competition of inventions and the first prize was a three day trip to London. We went there last week, from the 6th to the 8th of February.

When I travel with school exchange the pupils how decide that they are bold enough to come can be a bit allike. Far from all pupils the ages I teach dare to go to another country and visit a unknown family. The ones travelling are often the ones that have travelled before and feel at ease in new situations and new people. This time, travelling with a class other challenges and possibilities appear. We had pupils in the group that were more nervous than we normally have. The arrangements surrounding a trip were somewhat new to them and as responsible teacher it was acquired to step in a bit before we normally do. With that said I am very happy having done this trip.

All the pupils behaved excellent and it was a thrill to see how they, even after three and a half years, got to know each other better because they spent so many more hours than usual together. Most of all it was a great joy to see the way many of the pupils savoured the trip, and mostly the ones that normally do not travel outside the country. It is special not only to talk about the sightings in London in English, but to tell your classmates something about them standing in front of them. It is developing to order your food in English if you normally don´t and come back with memories and a gift for your family from another country. Well back home they want to keep spending time together, and we are already planning for another, shorter, trip before the leave our school.

lördag 11 februari 2017

In Ringe, Denmark

After a week in school I went on my first trip with pupils this semester, a semester that is unusually filled with trips. I went to visit our friend school in Ringe in Denmark with two colegues and 21 pupils from eighth and ninth grade. I have been in contact with Nordagerskolen for some years, and the one time I have actually visited the school before it felt like coming home. I have had a lot of contact with two teachers working there. Most of all Katja, who has also visited my school with another colegue of hers. We applied for a Nordplus fund that we regretfully did not get. I have also had quite a lot of contact with Mikkel, and with him and Elisa from our friend school in Zaragoza, I held a speech at SETT last year.

Me and Katja have worked some time to enable an exchange between the two schools The pupils at Nordagerskolen, ages 7-9, choose amongst three different profiles; International, Sports and Natural Science. Katja works with the International Profile, and her pupils have been in contact with pupils of Fäladsgården for a couple of years. Last May I applied for funds from the Hedda Hylander Fond and there got money that made it possible to invite a little more than twenty pupils to a free three day trip to Denmark. The pupils stayed at Danish families and together we made a lot of activities to get to know each other and the other language and country. If you know or understand Swedish it´s possible to read much more about it in this blog.

We learnt a lot during the days in Denmark, both pupils and teachers, partly because of the differences in the groups of pupils. I don´t think any of us anticipated that the cultural differences would matter, and the differences were more about gender and city versus countryside than of nationality, but we go second thoughts about how we mix pupils that differ in age. We had a lot of fun also and many of them made really good friends during the days in Ringe, and hopefully they will come and visit us during our International Week in May!

In La Serena, Chile

I haven´t started this blog when I should, in the beginning of the year, so these first few posts will recapture the first trips I made that have an impact on my work life.

I spent four years of my childhood, the ones between six and ten, in Chile as my father is an astronomer. I attended a school that was the fairly new, a school founded by two American astronomer families and one Chilean family in 1976. If you are interested in the history of the school, you can read more about it here. We came to la Serena in 1979, and then the school was still quite small. This New Years´I travelled to Chile with my husband, my mother and my children to show them where I grew up. We spent time in the capital, Santiago, but we also visited my old hometown La Serena. I had booked an appointment there with my former two teachers. One is now the head master and the other one is in charge of the younger pupils, the ones from 3 - 5.

Since my times at school it has grown a lot and has changed locations twice, and I´m proud to say that I have seen all three schools. When I got there they had there long combined summer/Christmas vacations and the school had no pupils running around. It would have been nice to talk to the pupils, of course, but it was also nice to visit a school at a calm moment. We talked for hours about similarities and differences between school then and now, and also compared life as a teacher and a pupil in Chile and Sweden. It was fantastic and inspiring to be there as a teacher who now works a lot with globalization issues to be back in the school where my interest for the world and different languages started. I felt very welcome and it was very nice for all of us to remember the way the school had started, the ideas that were, and still are important, and to feel proud about the way the school has developed. 

The International school now has pupils from 3-18 and the spoken language at school is, and always has been, English. Only Castellano, or Spanish, and Chilean History are given in Spanish. The teachers are very engaged in there pupils and the school has a list of pupils that want to go there, but that they don´t have room for. This despite the fact that it in no way is cheap to attend to the school. 

Even if we spoke a lot of memories, mostly we talked about possibilities for cooperation. Our school has quite some experience in working with schools in other countries, and we came up with a lot of ideas together. It is a huge benefit that all classrooms have Smartboards, and it will be easy to start simple with some Mystery Skypes in the classrooms. 

I went from school filled with new ideas and have great hope that we will collaborate in many ways in the nearby future!

måndag 30 januari 2017

This is me

Very welcome to this blog!

I am a Swedish teacher working in Lund in southern Sweden. My subjects are Swedish (mother tongue in Sweden) and Spanish. For a few years I have worked a lot with international and global issues within my school. I write a lot about my work, and love to express myself in writing - in Swedish. I am not equally fond of writing in English. I was brought up partly in an American school and speak English without a doubt, but I am reluctant to the written language since i find English spelling hard. This is the reason that I have not started a blogg in English yet, but as all the people I work with don´t understand Swedish I have decided to challenge myself here. 

 Within the school we organize different types of collaboration with other countries. We have had a exchange with Spain for the past 17 years, and with Germany for the last eight. Beginning this year we also have an exchange with Denmark and France. The school has participated in different types of Erasmus and Comenius activities, organized and financed by the European Union, and the students also have had contact with other countries, such as Kenya. I am one out of two responsible teachers of the Zaragoza-exchange, and I have also organized this year's trip to Ringe in Denmark. In January I was in Chile to visit the school I attended four years of my childhood to explore possible collaboration also with them.

I have a passion for getting pupils and teachers from different countries to meet. I find it very inspiring when education becomes more "real" and see great motivational reasons to work with tasks that involve other countries and other pupils of the same age. I find that a contact with a peer in another country often increases the curiosity and the motivation to know more and to develope a language that is necessary to get to know more and keep in contact with a new foreign friend.

In later posts i intend to describe more in detail what kinds of tasks I do with my different colleagues in different countries.