På skolan i världen

Här beskriver vi de olika skolutvecklingsprojekt som Sandgärdskolan deltar i.

Jersey girl

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2018-05-18 21:52:16

'cause tonight I'm gonna take that ride,
Across the river to the jersey side,
Take my baby to the carnival,
And i'll take you all on the rides.

Tom Waits describes the feeling of having your loved one on the other side of a river and all you think about is seeing her again. Even though it will be a ride away from your friends and your home you would want to go there.

Yesterday Jonas and I made a very quick trip to the northern part of Nicosia, the one behind the wall. When we went here we were aware of the fact that Nicosia and Cyprus is still divided, but we did not know what the people actually thought about the division. Many people we met said things that made you wonder if they have not really heard about things like critical thinking and human behavior. On the other hand there was this taxi driver that told us that he goes to the northern part every night to fill his car.

What about the activities then? A really great thing we did yesterday (Thursday) was that we demonstrated the global stem challenge that was used by the Swedish girls. And we did it by having a lesson with the Cypriotic kids. It is really exciting to be able to teach so far away from your own school and realize that it is basically the same feeling. Think about that the next time you hear strange stories about what somebody is like or what some nationalities are like. We are more alike than we are not.

This text is finalized on board the flight from Larnaca to Vienna. My flight became delayed and I would miss the connection in Frankfurt. The kind people at the airport changed my booking as I was waiting by the desk. You see, problems can be solved. They should not be made into bigger ones.

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First things first

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2018-05-16 17:38:06

Today’s activities in the GiGS project included a visit to the KIOS research center which is a part of the university of Cyprus. The main focus for the presentations was the use of digital technology to improve life in many ways. We got to see systems for monitoring report on water pipes and electrical wires. There were also impressive drones and impressive examples of coding to make them identify problems in fire extinguishing.

The first thing we did was to listen to a presentation on artificial intelligence and the message that came out was that a smart item does not have to be that intelligent. It only has to react to certain stimulus. This reasoning sounded a bit strange to me, but when learning was later on defined very crudely as reacting to a certain impression and then drawing a conclusion from it, I realised that the behaviouristic model was the only one used. OK, it may be practical.

But think about it for a while. What would happen to the idea of AI and “smart” everything if we would take on another idea for learning. Let’s say that knowledge is to interact with tools in an appropriate way and that learning is to do it better and better. Would a cruise control (this was used as an example of a smart item that we didn’t think about) be considered smart? Would an app that sends a message from the fridge to your phone to indicate that you are out of milk be smart?

What if we consider learning to be discerning of critical aspects of an object of learning. Would that perhaps help the people that program autonomous cars to separate a stone from a hedgehog on the road? Perhaps these things are only interesting on a philosophical level, but I cannot help being a bit upset when some things (like theories of learning) are treated so shallow in such an advanced example of research as AI.

There was one thing though that upset me for real. When the presenter talked about fire extinguishing and smart buildings he used the utterly tragic example of the fire in Grenfell Towers. If the building had been smart, the firemen would have known that they could have gone in, even though it may have appeared to be too hot. I do not think that lack of technology was the issue there. Grenfell has still not been rebuilt. People are still not able to return to their homes. Earlier in the presentation a message was that the human brain does not need to be involved in a smart item. Perhaps not, but a human heart does and there are many hearts of politicians that are missing in the case of Grenfell.

Stormzy at the Brit Awards: "Yo, Theresa May, where's the money for Grenfell?"

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The Right Profile

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2018-05-14 17:30:36
Hello GiGS my old friend. I have come to talk with you again.

So. A new partner meeting in the Girls into Global STEM project and this time we all meet in Cyprus. The issue of this week's meeting is to evaluate and rework the teacher training activities that have been carried out in each country.

The hosts have invited us to the Grammar School in Nicosia which is surely an impressive sight. The surroundings are beautiful and the buildings are extremely well equipped and modern in all ways possible. We were treated with a visit to the robotics lab and I am rather sure that few Swedish schools can match those possibilities. It was also very obvious that they wanted to promote their school. Everybody in the staff tried their best to impress us in a positive way.

One of the things on my personal to-do-list was left hand driving and now I can proudly say that I have not only driven on the left hand side in a car with the steering wheel on the right side (but not the correct). I have also driven in a roundabout, overtaken another car and managed the narrow alleys of the old town.
Jonas and I deliberately took a de-tour on our way back from the Grammar School to the hotel and managed to get a view of rural Cyprus. Interesting to see these giant cacti, derelict houses and olive trees.

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Don't stop believing

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-06 22:21:13
What did you learn this week?

This was one of the four questions that was asked by the project coordinators at the very end of the last session. In a way I think that many of the people in the project leader group were surprised when so many of the answers focused around the idea of cultural meetings. "I have learned things about the other countries". "I have met new friends". The answer that was perhaps expected would be something related to STEM, digital skills or global issues.

I would argue that in a world where so much is focussed on winning and losing and where your enemies are labelled "losers" and that is what you think is the worst insult for them, the most important you can learn is to respect each other and see things from others' points of view. In a world where borders are being turned into walls we don't need hammers to tear them down, we need hearts that never build them.

Then of course there are interesting things about actual learning that can be noticed. It is such a relief to see pupils wanting to learn things just for the fun of it and not to get any specific grades. In the beginning of the week here I heard questions about grades and criteria. Listening to the pupils on the bus back home from Warsaw some of them were talking about how much English they had learnt (or realized they knew and learnt how to use). They were also proud of believing in themselves. I almost cried. Finally somebody learns for life and not for school. Then there have been times when you could see kids (Swedish, English and Cypriotic as well as Polish) learning STEM and digital skills just for the thrill of it. There is one specific Polish boy who has been staying up late just continuing to fiddle with the I-pad he borrowed and made widgets with.

Please remind me of this the next time I get cynical about pupils that never hand in essays in time and can't focus during classes.

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A visit to Siennica

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-05 21:29:46
Rebecka and Molly have already described it in the previous blog post, but let me say it again. The enthusiasm shown is amazing, and it was such a joy to be able to tell the girls that we had solved a transport to Warsaw tomorrow afternoon. It is happening.

"Unfortunately" we had to stop the creating at lunch for a visit to the Polish partner school. The energy lab we visited was truly one of the most impressing sights I have ever seen. You would probably need to go to a university of technology to find its equivalent.

Not only was the lab impressive the surroundings were as well. A gigantic school garden surrounded the old school building. The Polish partners had prepared an activity and that managed to make all pupils happy and spirited again, even though they had had a long day and been in the school museum for an hour. But you cannot complain about being hungry when you don't eat lunch and have an energy drink with white bread for breakfast!

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Another music in a different kitchen

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-05 11:08:04

So far everything in this blog has been from the teacher's or the researcher's perspective. Let's see how the real main characters, the pupils experience it. I let two pupils, Rebecka and Molly, borrow the blog for a post.

So… getting up from bed at 3 Am just to go to the airport and fly one hour to Amsterdam, and then switch flight to one that goes to Warsaw. We asked ourselves ”is it really worth it?”

When we first got here we were a little bit negative because of the surrounding, that the house was situated in the woods and so far from the city. There was also a fence around the building and that made the whole thing more scary. To be in a different country without our family and also not a very good internet just made it worse.

But when we got some sleep on the first night, then the first day of working started and we got more and more positive as time went by. We started some workshops and we thought that it was really funny. We learned new things and we also started to communicate and get to know the other pupils that were here a little bit.

When we started to write the actual book then we really started to realize how big this project is and what we are a part of. So now when there are only two days left of work we start to feel a little bit sorry because we want to be here more, and get to know the others even more. So, then we asked ourselves again, ”is it really worth it?” and now our answers are yes. We think that it is worth it because our time here has been so great and funny, with nice pupils and nice teachers and we have had a barbecue and played volleyball and we think that it has been so much fun to get to do this.

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GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-04 21:45:17
A grand day out!

Even though the girls were a bit disappointed that they could not go shopping, they were excited when they entered the bus to Warsaw for a tour.

We started at the rooftop gardens above the library of the University of Technology. The greenery was really massive and it was nice to share ideas on how to continue working with the global goals for sustainability.
Next stop was the Kopernikus Science centre where we saw a film about space and inventions. This theme continued at the next visit to the library. Three women from the University presented their work on satellites that disappeared (burned more easily) as opposed to jumbling around in space orbiting forever.

Then there were three hours left with free time. The shops were not open so we decided to take a walk to the Old Town for some sight seeing and lunch. The square was a really nice sight and lunch with teachers and pupils was a pleasure. We actually could buy some souvenirs and gifts as well.

It still is not sure whether we can go for another trip to Warsaw, but I hope that it will be possible. The work and enthusiasm shown is worth appreciation.

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There is a light that never goes out

GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-04 19:29:17

So after a morning of workshops where various technical skills were trained, we were off with the actual creating of the e-book at Saturday morning. We had a rather well thought out storyboard of the book, so there were only matters of discussing who does what. The enthusiasm shown was impressing and the overall impression is that this is going to happen!

At the end of the day the details for today's visit to Warsaw was explained. In a subclause it was mentioned that since it is Pentecost all shops will be closed. All. The hearts of the Swedish girls sank and it was a truly low atmosphere for a while. We could have a serious discussion about it though, and there might be a possibility later. Jonas and I understand that the issue is important for the girls. They had been looking forward to shopping for a couple of hours.

When we had had dinner a couple of the girls approached me and said that thay had been listening very much to "that Manchester song" and really liked it. After a few second I realised that the song was The Smiths There is a light that never goes out that I played to the class last Monday to commemorate the victims of the terror attack.

I wish it did not have to be a topic again.

Take me out tonight
Because I want to see people and I want to see life
Driving in your car
I never ever want to come home
Because I haven't got one

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