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Sharing Ways to Learn 21st Century Knowledge and Skills
Syötteen kokonainen osoite. 12 tuntia 23 min sitten

Global collaboration seminar in Yyteri, Pori, Finland 3.-4.9.2015

Ti, 09/08/2015 - 21:49

National Board of Education organized global collaboration seminar 3.-4.9. in Pori, Finland. Global Innokas team started bright and early on Thursday morning with Global Innokas network gathering. We shared experiences since last meeting in March and planned the events for the upcoming year.

In the seminar we heard many presentations on the different views of global education. The Finnish Board of Education emphasized the importance of networking globally both nationally and internationally. Sharing and working together offers better opportunities for new innovations. There is power in a network! The new learning environments together with ICT create easier opportunities for crossing boundaries in global collaboration.

We had during the seminar great possibility to share greetings from Global Educational Community (GEC) schools:

We also heard a lot about the new Finnish curriculum starting in August 2016 and how the local and global citizenship are presented in it. In small groups we shared ideas on how to implement it in practice. Everyone chose at least one of these to try in their own work and shared it on the Wall of promises. For example Anu promised to use students as guides for international visitors this school year. Juhana promised to skype abroad with his students. Jaana and Minna also promised to use Mystery Skype, Seppo (SmartFeet) and Ted talks with their students. Can’t wait to try these out!

Tiina, Minna, Kati, Anna-Kristiina, Juhana, Hannu, Minna, Jaana ja Anu

Sightseeing in Beijing area

Pe, 07/17/2015 - 09:44

On Saturday we had a sightseeing tour. Some of us went to the Great Wall. It was a very impressive experience considering both the amazing view and especially if you think the history of the Great wall. Half of the group went to the Tian’anmen’s square with two teachers from Janesville. It was a breath taking place to visit because of its’ history, huge size, monumental buildings and unreal security system. Even though the temperature (+37°C) and the humidity were high we all had a marvellous time!

Raini at Tian’anmen’s Square

Our local guide, young English teacher Steven, Anu, Minna and Tiina

In the evening we all GEC educators gathered together to have dinner at famous Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. We all ate Beijing’s roasted duck with great appetite. The duck was absolutely delicious! It amazed us how carefully every part of the duck was prepared so well. This was a perfect way to end our conference week – eating with GEC family and sharing different sorts of dishes symbolizes our global cooperation.

Famous Beijing’s roasted duck

Teachers are learners too – getting to know Chinese culture

To, 07/16/2015 - 09:00

Part of our conference program was to get to know more of China and it’s rich culture. Finnish team got lessons on Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting and traditional music. It is wonderful how proud the pupils and the teachers are of their cultural heritage. Chinese calligraphy is part of the curriculum in China but paper cutting and playing an instrument are optional.

Tiina and Chinese calligraphy

Kati and Chinese paper cutting

Minna and Chinese traditional instrument

Eating with chopsticks was a bit challenging but we learned by practicing daily at the hotel and school’s cafeteria. For us the Chinese food was excellent: full of tasty vegetables, spicy chicken, fish, meat and pork, soups, dumplings and fresh tastes. As dessert there was always fresh seasonal fruits.

School lunch

Drinking tea is part of Chinese culture and very popular in China. We were honoured to participate in Chinese tea ceremony in a very beautiful Tea House. We tasted many different kinds of teas and learned some health effects of them. We bought tens of tea packets from there.

Beth from Janesville and Anu at tea tasting

Learning the Education systems of participant countries

Ke, 07/15/2015 - 15:14

One key issue in collaborating globally is to understand other countries’ Education systems. We had a Panel discussion session where every country introduced their Education system. Moreover, to understand some practical issues One day at school examples were presented.

Australian team – Gavin Hayes and Tim Coakley

Canadian team – Michelle Cordy and Jonathan So

US team from Butler – Marielle Slagel

US team from Janesville – Karen Schultz, Eric Wahl and Chris Kohn

Finnish team – Minna Kukkonen, Raini Sipilä and Paavo Oksanen

Panda presentation

Ma, 07/13/2015 - 16:15

Finnish team Anu Kahri and Kati Sormunen told about projects made in Finland. Teachers from China were very interested in projects and they asked many questions about them. Questions concerned planning, evaluation, content, skills needed and Finnish educational context. Chinese teachers are very willing to change their teaching style but they also seemed to be a little bit afraid of new roles of teacher as learners’ guide. The key message from Finnish teachers’ is: there is no progress without mistakes!

Giant panda playing in Beijing Zoo.

Teaching demos

Ma, 07/13/2015 - 06:45

On this year’s conference participating teachers were supposed to give demos of their project based learning units. Every group worked with pupils in their unique way. Finnish team began with drama exercises to “break ice” and getting to know pupils. First pupils were quite shy but later on they began to work eagerly in Finnish way. Everyone enjoyed! Pupils from the fifth grade (11 years) were from Beijing Cuiwei Primary School.

Pupils and teachers are the same everywhere! We have the same goal: understanding between cultures and learning 21st Century skills.

The theme bridge was learned in many ways. Building different types of shapes and constructions with peas and sticks was an enthusiastic experience to both pupils and teachers.

GEC Conference 2015 in Beijing, China

Su, 07/12/2015 - 16:17

The third international GEC Conference was held in Beijing, China from the 6th July to 10th of July 2015. GEC members from all over the world came to feel the atmosphere of global educational community.

The second from the right Head of Innokas Network Tiina Korhonen from University of Helsinki and her team: Innokas Coordinators Minna Kukkonen from City of Espoo and Kati Sormunen from University of Helsinki, teachers Anu Kahri from Jalavapuisto School (Espoo), Paavo Oksanen, Koulumestari School (Espoo) and Raini Sipilä, SYK (Helsinki).

Educators from Australia, Canada, China, Finland and the United States.

Scifest Field Trip

Su, 06/14/2015 - 16:37

I had the opportunity to tag along with a busload of primary school students for a three-day trip to attend SciFest in Joensuu. The students, from Koulumestari and Vanttila schools, were attending the festival to compete in the RoboCup Junior Finnish Nationals.

SciFest is a yearly festival that features activities and workshops for students and teachers. This year the festival celebrated the UNESCO International Year of Light. While this made for some interesting activities and displays, it also meant that the building was too dimly lit for easy photo taking! The festival included many booths with activities on topics such as computer programming, 3D printing, color mixing, light bulbs, lenses, colorblindness, and environmental issues. Many of the booths were run by students, ranging from university graduate students to those in middle school.

The RoboCup event included five different types of competitions. Some were more traditional events such as Soccer and Sumo Wrestling. Two others highlighted students’ creativity. One was the Freestyle competition in which students had to design a robot to achieve some type of useful task. My three favorites Freestyle entries are shown below.

The robot creates artwork that’s for sale.

To play this game, you deposit a coin in the machine and then stop a moving lever at the right instant to win a bag of liqorice.

This machine automatically feeds your pet lizard if you’re out of town.

While attending the festival was the purpose of the trip, it was only part of the fun for the students. We traveled six hours by bus and camped out in a local school with more than 200 students from all over Finland. The boys all slept in the gym, and the girls stayed in classrooms. In the evening, the students had the run of the building. They played in the gym or in the hallways of the school that featured a giant chess set, pool and ping-pong tables, and video games. Breakfast and dinner were eaten in the school cafeteria. This way of traveling makes so much sense, yet I’ve never heard of students doing this in the US. Fun times!

Space and Innovation

Su, 06/14/2015 - 15:47

I’m an American teacher who spent four months in Finland visiting schools, including many in the Innokas Network. The Metsokangas School in Oulu, which educates 800 students in grades 1 through 9, is similar to my own school in that it is facing an increase in enrollment.  Metosokangas started with one building, expanded to two, and is now building a third. I spent two days touring the facilities, observing classes, and talking with the vice headmaster about the creative expansion plans.

I spoke to a few classes about school and life in the US, and then the students practiced their English by asking me questions they had prepared in advance. My favorite was whether I had visited Springfield, home of the Simpsons. Students start studying English in 3rd grade, and I was impressed by how well the 4th graders could speak. They put me to shame when comparing my Finnish to their English!

The photos above show two classes that share one large room, something that is done by quite a number of classes in the school. Teachers are given the freedom to choose how to organize their classes, and some choose to combine groups from the same grade level, while others have separate classes. Partly this choice is decided by logistics; not all rooms can be combined into a larger space. And some teachers prefer to work alone with a smaller group. The fact that teachers are given the freedom to teach the way that works for them and their students is evidence of the trust given to Finnish teachers.

Students in the combined groups sometimes have lessons as one large class with two teachers (and possibly also an assistant), and at other times the classes split into two. This is an efficient way of working, especially when students are being given direct instruction or a project is being explained. Students can then do individual or group work while both teachers circulate. I suppose it wouldn’t work so well in a lesson that required students to be answering questions, as each student would have fewer chances to participate.

I also saw a combined  group of second graders that included a mainstream class and a special education class of students with significant needs. This is the second year that the same students and teachers are together. While I visited, students were studying money and the class was divided into two groups. On one side of the room, the large group was working with decimals. On the other side, a small group was taught by a special education teacher and an assistant; they were learning about different coins, and students were practicing going up the the cash register and buying stuffed animals in a store. Some of the special education students have math lessons with the larger group, while others are always in the small group.

Practicing identifying and counting coins

Independent work with decimals in the context of prices

Using the answer key to check completed work

I love how the teachers were able to find ways to have students work on learning similar material but in differentiated ways. Early in the year, students cut out their profiles and decorated them with descriptors of their personalities and hobbies (see below). For most of the students, the goal was to practice using English words. But the assignment was different for the student in the top row, second from the right. He is still working on learning vocabulary in Finnish, so his profile was decorated with Finnish words and accompanying pictures.

When I asked how the arrangement of joining classes came about, the teachers said they though it would be a good idea that would benefit all of the students, so they decided to try it. I love how teachers here are given so much freedom to implement new methods.

The combined-class model is being incorporated into the design of a new building that is being constructed adjacent to the two buildings on the campus. The building will house 400 third and fourth grade students. Rather than constructing smaller individual classrooms, the school will contain very large rooms that accommodate 70-80 students and four teachers. The space will contain one quadrant with a hard floor, useful for art class and science experiments that may be messy. The rest will have sound-absorbing carpet and will have an area for gathering all of the students on soft furniture and collapsible stadium-type seating. The center will have a reading area with privacy provided by movable half-height walls.

I’ve noticed many creative uses of space in Finnish schools. The hallways are not simply spaces through which students move from class to class that sit vacant when classes are in session. They are usually filled with tables and chairs, beanbag chairs, and computer workstations. This makes it easy for students working together on a group project to find a space of their own or for a student to read or work independently without distractions.

You can see more of the Metsokangas school and a product of the students’ hard work in this music video they created. The tune is catchy and will stick in your head for ages!

Penpals from US and Finland

Pe, 05/29/2015 - 12:05

The students from Oulu, Finland, and the students from Janesville, US, have written letters to each other during this Spring. Because of the long distance and delivery time, students signed into Edmodo and continued chatting there.

For Finnish students being penpals with students from US it have been very exciting experience. They think that they will learn a lot of about America, different culture and people while chatting with their penpals on Edmodo and by using other Social Media Apps. Also Finnish students will learn English skills and they will understand why they study English – not only for school, but also for communicating. For us as teachers, it was nice to hear one student saying that maybe when she is old enough, she will fly to Janesville to meet her penpal. We teachers hope that she will make her dreams come true someday.

As a communicating tool Edmodo has been a great choice. It’s easy to use for students and also we teachers see all what students are writing to each other. After summer holiday students will continue collaborating with their penpals on Edmodo and also they will send each other paper letters and some small gifts. A few of them decided to send to their penpals euro coins, because they got dollars from them this Spring.

– Jaana, Petri and their 53 students –

Pandas and Bridges on the Game Boards

Pe, 05/29/2015 - 12:03

Greetings from 53 eager students from Metsokangas Comprehensive School!

Jaana’s and Petri’s students on 4th Grade have built bridges by using marshmallows and tooth sticks. While building they studied by themselves information about triangle structures and how to build a strong bridge that won’t collapse. Many of them used their own mobile phones to find information on the Internet about building bridges.

After building a bridge or bridges students created the idea and the rules of the game. Then they planned and made the game boards including a river, the starting point, the finishing point and they made also some obstacles which would slow down the players’ race.

While a few students of all groups were working with the game board, other students planned and created panda-look-a-like pawns for every group member. As a material they used bigger marshmallows and marker pens. For pandas’ ears students used smaller marshmallows, but they had to invite, how to combine the head and the ears together. A few groups used the clue and other the tooth sticks. After getting ready with pawns some groups made also a dice by using one big marshmallow.

When every group had finalized their game boards students got a possibility to play their games in groups of four and five. For the last lesson of the school year, it was cool to see how motivated and eager all students were even on the last school day!

– Jaana, Petri and 53 students –

Trip to Korkeasaari Zoo

Ma, 05/25/2015 - 10:01

We went to the zoo on a spring trip. The weather was great and we had a wonderful day! There was no panda but at least one of his relatives. Can you find it in the pictures?

We have 6 more days of school left before summer holidays so have a great summer everyone!

Jalavapuisto school, class  3K, Finland

The game night with parents

Pe, 05/15/2015 - 11:22

One aim of the Global Educational Community is that children, their parents and their teachers can learn from, and teach each other as they are welcomed into a community where all can become more competent as global citizens. I decided to welcome parents to join our panda project by creating a game night for the whole family.

I used a game platform by Smartfeet ( It’s an online platform for educational games. I used the map from our school’s surroundings. The map I got from Google earth. Gamification is an easy and motivating way to get children to learn things when they don’t even realize that learning is happening. 

The game night started by the students, sisters, brothers and parent coming to school. I gave brief instructions on how the game works and then the teams were off.

The story behind the game was:

Panda rescue 

Great news! Ähtäri zoo has finally been given the ok from China and are getting a panda. And not just one panda but an exceptional panda twins! All the hard work has payed off. But there now lies a huge problem! Ähtäri has been collecting money for only one panda and is now lacking the missing 1 000 000 $ for the second panda. You have to help! Otherwise the twins might be separated. Or even worse -there might be no pandas coming to Finland!

By completing exercises on the blue checkpoints in the map you will be able to collect money for the panda. One checkpoint exercise can give you up to 200 000 $. The team that collects the most money for the panda wins! Go -quickly!

Each blue marker on the map marked an exercise. I stayed at school controlling the game and scoring the exercises. 

In the exercises the teams had to work for example with math, gaining data, problem solving, teamwork, orienteering and drawing. The answers were sent straight to the teacher from the iPad or the mobile phone they were working with. Some selfie exercises were included.


All in all a fun night! The parents said they especially enjoyed working outside in the fresh air with the kids. And what’s best? We did save the panda twins!

Class 3K, Jalavapuisto school, Espoo, Finland

The Panda News

Pe, 05/15/2015 - 11:06

One day our teacher walked into class with a green blind and we were like WHAT? She said that we were going to be reporters and were going to produce our own panda news. The first thing was to do research and write the news. Nawal even wrote a song! Then we watched a film on how to use the Green Screen by Do Ink app and started working. It took a long time especially because there was so much other stuff going on but it’s finally ready. Enjoy!

Class 3K, Jalavapuisto school, Espoo, Finland

Finnish Penpals

Ti, 04/28/2015 - 06:33

One of the best products of my trip to Helsinki, Finland, for a meeting with Innokas and the Global Education Foundations, was meeting and collaborating with two educators from a Finnish school north of Helsinki.  We planned and put a plan in place to set up penpals between our classrooms and use a.   We wanted our initial letters to be handwritten so that the students felt they were more personal and got the feeling of receiving something in the mail from another country.   From there, they could then continue corresponding via email or post (whichever they preferred).  We also planned to share projects that we were doing in class to help give our students a real global audience to which they could share their learning.  To do this, we set up a blog called Bridging Communities (this ties in with the Building Bridges theme from the Global Education Foundation).  There was such a benefit to meeting and working with these two in person.  A bond was created that made it feel more comfortable when we communicated by email afterwards.

Last week our first letters arrived and the students were ecstatic to receive them.  For the most part we were able to pair them one to one, boy to boy and girl to girl, with a couple sharing a pen pal or receiving two.  The students read their letters and immediately were sharing with each other and asking some questions of me, such as what team is Oulun Kärpät (a Finnish ice hockey team), what is floorball, and what is a pedal car.  The letters lead to lots of discussions about similarities and differences from Finland to the USA.

When most of the discussion had died down, the kids asked if they could begin writing their penpals back.  My response was of course.  They began writing and you could have heard a pin drop until they began sharing what they had written, asking for ideas of what to share with their penpal, and wondering if it was okay to say Americanized things in the letters like football or tv show names.

I’m so excited to continue this collaboration into future school years and grow by connecting with more schools in other countries.  The engagement level for our students has increased for wanting to create projects to share, have time for writing, and we are building relationships that could span a lifetime.

Nicole, Jefferson & Roosevelt Elementary schools, Janesville, USA

Walk, bike, ski, or sled

Pe, 04/10/2015 - 15:22

I am an American science teacher spending four months in Finland on a Fulbright grant. I’ve been visiting many Innokas schools and was asked to share some posts from my own blog.

This winter I ventured north from Helsinki to visit Innokas schools in Rovaniemi and Oulu. Upon arriving at the Metsokangas School in Oulu, the first thing I noticed were the skis. It looked like I might be at a cross country ski center in Vermont. But then I saw the bikes. I’m 100 miles (160 km) south of the Arctic Circle, and kids are biking to school in February. Wow. It was quite a warm day, hovering right around freezing, but most bikes in the US at this time of year are stored in garages or basements, covered with a layer of dust, and in need of a tire pump. Most American elementary school students don’t even bike to school when it’s warm out. And the streets and sidewalks in Oulu were were sheets of ice flanked by huge snow piles.

Skis for gym class

There was no line of cars dropping kids off at school.

When I asked about the skis, I was told that they were for physical education class. I also learned that it was swimming week for the school, and all students in grades 1-9 had a swimming class each day. Teachers accompanied students to the community pool, to which they were transported on buses, and the swimming lessons were taught by separate instructors while the teachers supervised. Every school in Oulu has a designated swimming week once per year, ensuring that all children learn how to swim. With over 187,000 lakes in Finland, knowing how to swim is probably one of the most the most practical skills that kids could learn in school.

Other opportunities for physical activity were available inside the school. Ping-pong, pool, and foosball tables could be used by students in their free time. Classrooms had exercise balls to replace a few of the chairs. One teacher told me she regularly rotated the seating chart, and students checked it in anticipation of their turn at the table with the balls. During a transition time in a lesson, a teacher turned on a video of animated characters dancing, and the kids got up and danced along. She does this on a regular basis to get the kids up and moving. This is in addition to the 15-minute outside breaks that occur every hour. To encourage activity when outside, one class operated a library in which all kids in the school could sign out sleds, shovels, and other toys for playing in the snow. Funding for some of these items came from Finnish Schools on the Move, a government program that encourages physical activity during the school day, when commuting to school, and in after-school sports.

The library’s play items change when the weather gets warm.

Next I traveled to the Ylikylä School in Rovaniemi, a city in Lapland. The streets and sidewalks were covered in hard-packed snow, and the temperature was in the mid 20’s (around -4ºC), quite unusual for the time of year. I knew I was approaching the school when I saw a steady stream of kids skiing, biking, walking, and sledding in the same direction. I want a kick sled! Just put your backpack on the seat, hop on the back, and glide to school.

I stayed with a family a bit out of the city to maximize Northern Lights viewing, but it was cloudy the whole time I was there. When I first arrived arrived, the driveway was full of bikes and sleds. Because of course this is perfect biking weather!

I could have made a fortune selling kick sleds in Boston this winter. I also saw a number of kids skiing to school.

Kids must all bring their own skis to school.

I had been told to wear warm clothes, as the first graders would be going outside for physical education class, which today would be cross country skiing. At other times, students go ice skating or play typical sports. Finnish schools don’t have separate physical education teachers for the lower grades, and part of the teacher training for classroom teachers includes how to teach PE.

Students got dressed, put on their skis, and lined up on the ski trail along the ice skating rink. After a few laps around the rink, they headed off to a trail with a larger hill that crossed through a forested area. The class has an assistant to help with some of the special education students, and the assistant led students along the trail while the teacher worked individually with one girl. The kids had a great time, and it was a perfect break from work in the classroom. I only wish I had had some skis with me!

It was unseasonably warm during my trip, so I was curious about what happened when the weather was colder. I asked a class of 4th graders in Oulu how they get to school when it’s -20ºC (-4ºF), and nearly all of them said that they still ride their bikes. And why were the kids in Oulu biking rather than skiing or sledding? Because the sidewalks in Oulu were sprinkled with gravel for traction on the ice (salt isn’t used), while the sidewalks in Rovaniemi were covered in packed snow.

I also asked about whether kids always go out for breaks, no matter how cold it is. If it’s below -25ºC (-13ºF), kids have the option of staying inside, but most still go out. And skiing and skating are only done when it’s warmer than -15ºC.

You may be wondering how far kids bike/ski/walk/sled to school and how old the kids are. When kids are in 1st grade (age 7), they typically get to school on their own. This is also true in Helsinki, where I’ve noticed very small kids alone on the city buses. One parent in Oulu told me his 1st grader walks 2 – 2.5 km (1.2 – 1.6 miles). While in Rovaniemi, I stayed with a family that included a 2nd grader who attends the school I visited. In the winter, he rides his sled the 2.5 km to school (even when it’s  dark, snowy and cold!).  This makes practical sense on so many levels. Parents don’t have to waste time and oil while acting as chauffeurs. Kids get much-needed exercise. And most importantly, kids learn to be independent, something too many kids in the US are deprived of nowadays.

Not wanting to miss out on my own exercise, I recently invested in a pair of running shoes with spikes in the soles. They came in handy when running in Oulu, as the sidewalks were so icy that I walked like an elderly penguin. In the US, people tend to exercise inside during the winter, but it’s not the case here. As long as you have the right clothes, there’s no reason to stay indoors.

Circuits and the Arctic Circle

Pe, 04/10/2015 - 15:10

I am an American science teacher spending four months in Finland on a Fulbright grant. I’ve been visiting many Innokas schools and was asked to share some posts from my own blog.

Despite studying Finnish for over a year, I had never learned the word piiri, which translates to “circuit” or “circle.” During my trip to Lapland to visit the Ylikylä School in Rovaniemi, I became familiar with both translations.

Arriving during the weekend, and armed with a rental car wearing studded tires, I had the opportunity to be a tourist. On my way from the airport to town, I made the mandatory stop at Santa’s Village. I finally figured out that all the signs for napapiiri were not directing me to a town of that name, but rather to the Arctic Circle.

My original plans didn’t include dogsledding, thinking it to be the touristy Lapland equivalent of a Central Park carriage ride. But another Fulbrighter highly recommended it, so I decided to give it a try. I’m mighty glad that I went, especially as I had the sled to myself and got to drive for the whole 2 hours through snowy forest.


Following the recommendation of a teacher in Oulu, I drove to the town of Kemi to check out the snow hotel. I don’t quite see the point of sleeping there, as I’ve spent enough cold nights in tents and lean-tos to know what it feels like to crawl out a warm sleeping bag in the morning. But it was worth the visit to walk around and see all of the carvings in the rooms and the restaurant. And there were very few visitors, so I usually was the only one in the room.








On Sunday afternoon, I got back to the reason I had come northward, as I worked on a lesson I’d be teaching the next day. The plan was for me to teach first graders (age 7) about electric circuits. IN FINNISH. I had spoken to a number of classes of older students who were studying English, but this would be my first time trying to communicate (and teach physics, no less) in Finnish.

I basically used the same lesson I do with my 9th graders when I’m introducing circuits, giving kids a bunch of different challenges that get progressively harder. It gives them a chance to figure things out on their own, and it forms a basis for future lessons on the “why” of their discoveries about how to connect the bulbs in series and parallel. AND this particular lesson would be easy to do using pictures and just a few words. While the first graders took a little longer and sometimes needed hints, they got through all of the challenges. I think they enjoyed the activity, as the next day they asked if they’d be doing physics again.

Instructions for the final challenge

When spending time with this class, I also got to observe how creative scheduling can be used to give support to students. There are six special education students who benefit from having their Finnish lessons in a small group. To allow the teacher to have time with them, students in the class do not all have the same schedule. Some students come in during the red “A” block, while others come for the blue “B” block. The class also has an assistant who helps when the entire group is together (and who also provides skiing lessons!). A special education teacher also sometimes takes students who need help with a particular subject.

During my second day, the students used what they had learned about building circuits to design some sort of device that uses a light and and a switch. Their teacher, Anna-Kristiina, had to explain this part of the project to them, while I just demonstrated how to make a switch using aluminum foil. Every classroom I’ve visited has a document camera, something that’s very helpful when demonstrating things like how to clip wires in a circuit. I wrote a grant two years ago to get one in my own classroom, and I’m not sure how I ever taught without it.

Wiring the robot’s eyes
Painting the robot
Building a lantern
Finished product
Explaining how to turn on the lantern
Seeing how the switch works
Writing instructions for the book light
This is an “answering light.” Instead of raising a hand, you simply place the bear in the car to make the light go on, signaling the teacher. They definitely win for creativity! 

During my days with the class, I also observed their other lessons and got to talk to some of the other teachers.  I’ve been in enough schools to start noticing commonalities among them. Finnish schools all give students a good deal of freedom, and they all are places where learning is designed to meet the needs of the students. There are no standardized tests, and there is no pressure for kids to learn things at a faster pace than is natural for them.

Because art lessons are usually taught by the regular class teacher, Finnish classrooms often are decorated with student work.
Kids are given books free of charge. High-quality workbooks are used much more than photocopies of worksheets.
I’ve seen kids checking their own work in many classrooms.
Everyone wanted a turn at the spelling game.

Most of my upcoming school visits will focus on the higher grades, but I’ve loved all the time I’ve spent with the younger students. It’s been useful to see the whole range of grade levels, and it helps me understand why the gap between the weaker and stronger students is much smaller than in the US.

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Movie Gala

Ti, 04/07/2015 - 13:43

We went to a movie gala last Thursday. It was for everyone who took part in the Espoo movie competition. We sat in the front row. First we saw the first movie ever made. It was a black and white movie about a train coming to a station. It was very short. Then we saw all the animations. Then we got a price. We got tickets to go see a real movie and a diploma for taking part in the competition. They asked us questions about making the animation. It was fun. 

Jalavapuisto school, class 3K, Espoo, Finland

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