According to a student in year 8:
the five boroughs of New York City are Manhattan, Queens, Alabama, Seattle and Baltimore.
According to a student in year 8:
the five boroughs of New York City are Manhattan, Queens, Alabama, Seattle and Baltimore.
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)…
My last day of school at Mølholm Skole is history, and I’m sad to say my good-byes soon. It’s been a really interesting experience and I can only recommend to do a job shadowing. I learned a lot about the Danish school system and it also made me reflect on my teaching and to question my work. If I’ll ever do it again, I try to avoid staying at a hotel, but try to stay at a colleague’s. I got so much out of it, all those talks at night, during breakfast, driving in the car to school…Tak Marianne & Flemming.
Well, my last day. What happened? Once again it started with assembly, and by now I can chime in the refrain, something about winegummibears and licorice 🙂 After that it was reading time with Marianne and 6b in the LPC, once again I’m amazed at quality and quanitiy of teaching materials and ideas provided by the Danish Ministry of Education. Every teacher and student has a UNI-login, they can use that account to log into different teaching websites. Basically every subject has its own domain and plenty of up-to-date material, information, resources,,, Baden-Württemberg should learn from the Danish, this would help soooo much to facilitate our daily life’s, and I could do more projects/cooperative learning.
The school playground is much bigger than hours, there are about 3 big soccer pitches, 5 mini soccer pitches (those thingies with boards around the field), sand boxes, slides,a basketball court and even a half pipe. The school canteen offers sandwiches, lasagna, fruit (slice of melon was my daily favorite) and a salad bar, but there where no sweets or sodapops.
Like twice a year isn’t enough, I attended the parents night of Marianne’s class. Actually I really liked being there, even though my Danish is rubbish and I barely managed to get the gist of things. So, what was different? The evening was lead by Marianne and Jane (her name is pronounced jäh-ne) and they welcomed all parents, again first names everywhere… They talked about the usual things, curriculum, the class social performance, etc. but what I really liked was Marianne making the parents play a grammar memory. It was such a cool ice-breaking activity/brain break. Marianne is so good in having brain breaks. I have to remember to have more brain breaks in my lessons! And at the parent’s night in October I’m going to make my parents play, too 🙂 The night was finished with a little movie and some information about traffic and children’s safety – again provided by the board of education.
Today I followed all day a Year 9 and the first lesson was SAM (social studies). The children worked on the project Parlamentaria. It’s about a new state, the experimental game was provided by the board of education. In today’s lesson they had to come up with new parties and think about their political programmes. The students were really keen to work on the project, even though some had their feet on the tables while talking to their teacher =) I still haven’t got used to students calling their teacher by their first names, it’s really weird. And even weirder, the teachers call the parent by first names as well.
Anyway, back to year 9. Watching those students in the first two periods I was really surprised how dedicated they were toward their work, I didn’t see the huge gap in attitude or motivation that I had anticipated. Once they were finished with the work of the day, they quietly did something else, e.g. facebook, twitter, youtube and most important, they did it on their own without talking to their neighbors.
Next was Danish, the students were asked to put their computers away and approx. 2,5min later everybody was back online… However, when they were assigned a reading weak they were all quite. Really quite, no noise whatsoever, nada. And when a student tapped nervously with his feet, he was immediately told off.
Next was German, I can’t s much about the German lesson because I was askede to sit outside with little groups of students and talk German to them. They are in their third year of German and I’m shocked about their command of German, they can barely tell their names, or where they are from.
After lunch break (the students closed all the curtains and watched an episode of Prisonbreak on the projector, oh and they have their own microwave) they had Math. Again the students were working in groups and dealt with the golden cut. The pages of the textbooks had been scanned, so again, there was no paper in the class room. By the way, not many people used the copy machines AND they could take colored copies as well. I’m jealous… Back to math, if I had been surprised befor that there was no gap in social studies, the gap couldn’t have been any bigger in math. Some boys watched movies online or facebooked, some students did something, and only a group of 4 girls was actually working on the problem (and one of the girls went to school in Germany for some time…) . The teacher walked around during the lesson, but she couldn’t force the kids to work. Forcing would be so not Danish.
The final lesson was English. The students are working on a project about the Amish people. I quite liked that. They’ve to choose a role such as scholar, or historian or cartoonist or… And according to their role produce something, diary entries as historian, comic and film as cartoonist (using Pixton , a cool tool for school I’m definitely using soon). I asked the teacher if she created the materials herself – no, she found them online (and after 1min of googeling I found it, too) and just modified them a little bit AND she is teaching exactly the same things than her colleague next door, so they plan everything together (and don’t write any tests…) After almost a week in Denmark, I haven’t seen any vocabulary work, grammar being introduced, or language patterns… And still they somehow cope. It’s a miracle – or maybe TV (shows are not dubbed)
After school I went to a First Aid course with Marianne, tomorrow is parent’s night – a lot going on during an ordinary week.
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… =)
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…
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????
Danish teachers prepare their lessons on Sunday evenings, too. And they hate it 🙂
I’m looking forward to tomorrows lessons, PE, German! English in Y7 and Y9 and …oh, and the school doesn’t have the money to buy books, that’s why they have to copy or come up with their own material…
No school today – wahey. Marianne had the day off for her studies (in order to be some kind of counselor for English in the future, she needs to take courses and do exams), but her studies do not continue until next week, so we took the boys and went to Legoland! Fun, fun, fun.
Yay, was lots of fun – and I still have learned a lot about Danish schools, e.g. it’s common that parents take their kids out of school when they want to go on holiday – they might get a note from the school that they are responsible for their kid’s performance in school, that’s it.
I think it’s simply amazing that I’m staying with Marianne, a English/Danish teacher and her husband Flemming, whose a headmaster, and their son Peter. Great food and good wine encourage great talks and tonight I introduced two more people to the wonderful world, of Pinterest. I just love that app.
But today’s highlight had nothing to do with school, but with Peter. Just before bedtime he was standing in front of me, with his toothbrush in his mouth. It took me a while to guess that he wanted me to brush his teeth for him 😀
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.
Anyway, what did I observe in general?
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.
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.