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Gouda – Day 2

Day 2 was a long and exciting day, and the beginning of the actual conference. We had our first keynote on “ Social Media and Career Development“ in the aula at Antonius College.

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Johann Allers, and old journalist-turned-educator from South Africa told us about his youth in SA and how it shaped his future. It was amazing to see „an old guy“ so much in favor of new media, and he is a strong advocat of using the social media to make choices for oneself and one’s life. He made me laugh, when he presented to us a quote by Douglas Adams.

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty- five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things

The essence of his key note was that we have to teach kids from a very early age on social media, its potential and also dangers.

Another very important thing I’ve been taught was the difference (yes, there is a difference) between Holland and the Netherlands. The video is very entertaining, so I’d like to share it with you:

I attended three workshops, one of them dealt with the esp project „The image of the other„, a letter project for schools about getting to know the others. It’s really convenient, because at the website you can find the lesson plans for several languages (English, French…).

Next workshop was by my cool nerdy colleague from Gouda/Rotterdam. In his prezi he showed us what tools he uses. I like the fact that he teaches his kids whenever they have a problem with someone on twitter/facebook/… make a screenshot. I never thought about that, but that’s what I do as well. It just never occurred to me that this would be a very good for my students to do when they are in trouble. Of course, he showed us some geek tools as well – the list is long, but I definelty have to give 7scenes a go. A program that lets you create really cool city quests.

The next workshop was my own. It was a little bit short notice, but I think I did ok. I talked about ICT projects I did in the past, and some tools I can recommend. So basically I talked about what I can best. Encourage digital immigrants to try out things which digital natives do in the classroom.

Of course the conference is not only about the workshops, we also compare our systems to each others, this will be a new article, I guess.

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Gouda – Day 1

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Last night I have arrived in Gouda, NL for the 27th ESP conference and I’m right in the middle of our first day, the so called contact seminar. In small groups we make first contact with educators from other schools (mainly Denmark…. ) and develop ideas for new international projects, e.g. „Fred Fridge Travelling“. Oh, and stupid me suggested to do a talk on innovative ICT and the ESL classroom on Saturday. Fair enough, it’s a working conference and I love any minute of it.

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I hate the Deutsche Bahn

Boah, I hate it. I’m really annoyed and everything….my train is already 50min late, and I won’t be in Stuttgart before 23.40… Than I have to wait for approx. 40min to get my connection. I have to be in school tomorrow morning, and I need my sleep and I’ve got things to do…. Aaaaaargh. I really should have taken my SMART or taken the plane (Lufthansa is on strike, too)…

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Day 6 -Veijle

By now, I know my way around school. I find the staff room, know where I can get food, where and when to go to my classes and in the staff room I feel no longer observed – normality starts to settle in and that helps. Observing lessons is getting easier as well, a lot of things I observed during the last couple of days are still valid, so I take less notes during the classes.

I joined a year 8 for geography and English. (by the way, the Danish school system cheats… They start with Year 0, so year 8 equals our year 9 and in total they have 13 years of school (!!!!)) The students brought their laptops to class, but some of them simply used it for twitter or watch little YouTube videos about car crashes (that was not the topic). The lesson itself was basically a PowerPoint presentation, and after 25min the students were asked to read the script to the PowerPoint presentation. The teacher felt that it would help students to remember new key words such erosion. Hmmmm… I really doubt that this helps. The English lesson however was really good. The children are in the process of writing their own fantasy story. In groups they deal with theoretical texts about fantasy, had to come up with a map of their fantasy land, thought about how to get in and out of the fantasy world, made their own good hero and tomorrow they will continue with their evil enemy. All the worksheets are provided online on the class‘ website, so there’s no paper 🙂
The whole project will last 6-8weeks and at the end they have to write their own fantasy stories individually. The teacher divided the class in 4 different houses (Slytherin, Gryffindor, Racenclaw and Hufflepuff) and the students get points for presentations, posters… Points can also be deducted for bad behavior or talking Danish in class. The students liked that – yet the teacher told me that this was not a good thing to do.m
Anyway, I liked the whole set up of the lessons and I was wondering if it is such a good idea to have school books or if it wouldn’t be much more fun to do more projects like fantasy stories in year 8 or Olympics in year 6. I haven’t seen any grammar lessons, haven’t seen any vocabulary work… Nevertheless the kids grammar is definitely alright, they produce texts, can talk and understand a lot. In my English lessons I do project work, but more in year 9+ or mini-projects of one lesson – maybe I could skip one or two lessons in my book and do project work/cooperative learning instead, it would still be in line with the curriculum, so…

Oh, and about talk in the staff room… The teachers over here where shocked, that I couldn’t really be fired. Their first question was always, what about bad teachers… =)

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Day 5 – Veijle

Yesterday (I know i’m a day late…) was my second full day of school, and it started of with 2h of PE in year 6. And of course, there were plenty of things to observe: here, boys and girls are together in PE, even the three classes are mixed together so almost 80 students went for a run into the forest with their 3 teachers, once in the forest the kids had to do a star run looking for codes. None of them was forced to run, if they’d prefer not to, they could simply walk, and even during the star run it didn’t mean that they had to find all posts, once again I felt like they could just do whatever they want. No pressure, nothing.
They are however required to shower after sports, and the teacher’s changing room is inside the students changing room. So when she is finished, she waits for the students to all get dressed and getting ready.

Just two weeks ago when I was seeing friends in England, we discussed the role of sports in school. GB had been thinking about introducing competitive sports back to the curriculum. We all felt that this was the right thing to do… If kids are praised for their achievements in maths, they should be praised for their achievements in sports, too. However, I don’t really see that happening here in Mølholm Skole. Individual success doesn’t seem to be praised, Danish people feel afraid that in the end a student feels left behind. And it’s not only in sports, but I’ve seen that in other classes as well. The teachers encourage the students to participate in the classroom, but if they feel more like reading, they read. Students also come and go as they please. No matter if it’s form 5 or 8…

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Marianne uses the PLC (pedagogic learning center) quite a lot, it’s their library with work stations for students. She uses webquests to get them engaged in reading English texts or listening to videos. She doesn’t have a textbook for year 5 and 6, so she can do whatever she likes.

When I observed a lesson in year 7, it was pretty much similar to a standard English lesson. First going though the homework, than use an image as pre-reading activity, read a text, than questions. The students have two different books, one texts only and the other one containing the questions. Oh, and they all brought laptops to class – some used laptops from school. And again some of the students surfed all the time and where not really told off…hmmm, anything goes???

What about the general situation, the classes have about the same size than our classes. However, the divisor is 28 students, they have 6 lessons every day. So school starts at 8.00am and finishes quarter to two. Everyone has lunch at 11.30, the teachers chill in their staff room and there’s nothing like assigned seats. It’s more cosy. Still, the teachers from year 0-4 tend to sit in a different corner.
Some of lessons are double lessons, but most are single. They have a teacher shortage at the moment, they had to cut down the number of teachers last year. The municipality just doesn’t have enough money, that’s why they had so many teacher to let go. So Marianne teaches PE, history, English, Danish and religion. But she has only be trained to be an English and Danish teacher, and has no clue about history… and the teacher training is 20 weeks only – that’s almost what we have to do as internship…they not only cut down the number of teachers, but also the number of lessons. Year 7 only has 2 lessons of English every week, and the lack of lessons doesn’t seem to result in more homework… I’m sure there’s a national curriculum, but there seems to be a more liberal attitude…

Oh, and last night we had dinner at a restaurant with an amazing view… I’m so spoilt. How shall I ever get back to everyday life????

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Day 2 – Veijle

I’m knackered… It’s just past seven and i feel so exhausted. Just not used to being in school anymore, and I actually find it much more tiring to observe a lesson, than being actively involved. Today I mainly observed year 5 and year 6 in English and Danish.

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Anyway, what did I observe in general?

  • kids call their teacher by their first name
  • kids get into school and take their shoes off
  • school starts with assembly (all the kids singing a song)
  • students spend much more time (almost 80%) working on their own
  • there’s a toilet in every classroom
  • cellphones are allowed – teachers don’t consider themselves as police
  • students use material created by their teacher, not so much exercise books
  • two PCs in every classroom
  • students read for their entertainment
  • regular library hours
  • students are together from year 1-9
  • It’s too early to draw any conclusions, but what striked me most was that error correction [in english] didn’t take place. Nevertheless the students did really good in an overall performance. They read books to each other, and worked indepedently, e.g. The class went to the school library and chose books for themselves that they like to read and were given plenty of time to read in class. They played little games as brain break and moved around quite a bit. Their homework was often things like ‚write 8 sentences about an animal‘ – there was plenty of room for one’s own creativity and the results were very different. All work has been praised equally – even though there were major differences. Another assignment was to read for 20min and do the corresponding exercises, there was no „you have to read up to chapter 6“. It seems like whatever they do, is just fine. Maybe this is internal differentiation par excellence, I was surprised that there was no final „official“ solution. But than again, this is just a first impression…
    In general, the lessons seem to be more laid back and less planed to the minute. In addition, I noticed that the layout of the classroom was very different, some kids were actually facing the wall. I guess, it helps them to stay focused.

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    I expected to see more technology-based teaching, but nope, it was all paper and blackboard (well, i had wifi) But what I really liked that the teacher had plenty of time to focus on the individual student. When I talked to the head of middle school Lone about my first impressions, she said to me something, that needs to be taken in…

    we let our students be who they are, and then we teach them.

    Weiterlesen

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    Day 1 – Veijle

    I’ve arrived safely in Børkop and just had a lovely welcome by Marianne and her husband Flemming. We’ve already been talking about our school systems and i came across mayor differences: they don’t do grades. They don’t do exams. How weird is that, and the kids actually still work, how odd. 😀

    My actual job shadowing starts tomorrow, yay. I must admit I start to get nervous/agitated/excited… but looking forward to everything. Here’s a link to the school

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    Live the Media

    That’s what you need to do, there’s no point in having a new social network/app explained to you. Just get an account and see for yourself.

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