GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-02 20:56:47
Today was the first day of proper work at the pupils' conference. Understandably the pupils were a bit shy and also became rather tired from sitting still for long hours. It has to be sessions early on at an event like this where you sit down more than do things in action.
There were some sessions in the afternoon that involved actual work with the e-books, but what was most striking about the day were the evaluations on post-it notes. Being asked about what they enjoyed most from the day quite many of the pupils said that hearing about the other schools and actually speaking to the pupils from the other countries was the best thing.
We really want to make a massive shout ut to the pupils who managed to keep a good face and spirit even though they were not able to visit the store to buy candy as they were promised. They were exhausted after the end of the evaluations at 5 and just wanted to go to their rooms, but still managed to participate in Cyprus' spare time activity. After five minutes of volleyball, the mood was up again and not only did the Swedish girls play well, they mixed up with the pupils from England and Cyprus and instructed some of the less experienced volleyballers.
So if meeting new people was what our pupils enjoyed most today, seeing the Sandgärdskolegirls playing volleyball tonight was what I enjoyed most of the day. And it was an honor to hand over a bag full of crisps, sweets and cookies to them after dinner.
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-01 22:42:13
After being in the lost and found section twice after landing (one broken bag and one lost) we had no choice in how to spend the two hours between landing and bus ride to Wilga. Somebody needed new clothes and since she got 100€ to spend on it there was no time for hesitation. A quick cab ride, and a raid through the Spanish clothes chain with a female personal name, later we just needed to grab a bite to eat before we borded the bus.
The bus ride was rather bumpy, and when we finally arrived it became obvious that the pupils were tired from the long day. There were no sad faces, but the excitement and laughter from the morning was gone. When the other students started turning up things became better and after the meal and some social ice breakers the mood was actually on top again. Our pupils are really great!
Oh yes, the luggage was found in Amsterdam. It is on its way to Wilga and will probably arrive during the night. Tomorrow will be a new great day and will hopefully include some more school development blogging as opposed to today's general blogging
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-06-01 17:08:39
You can’t really say that 4 am is early in the morning. It is late in the night. And it is also the time when my alarm clock rang. The first thing I was notified about when I turned my phone on was that I should have left for the airport at 3.45 to arrive at a suitable time at the airport. I think you get the picture; it was an early morning for me and the rest of the Swedish GIGS-team.
Jonas and I have been to two project meetings prior to this one, but the June meeting in Warsaw is special since all the pupils are present this time. I don’t know who is the most excited actually, the girls or we teachers. It will however be a very intense week and a very exciting one. The program looks really interesting with visits to both Warsaw and a Polish school. We feel rather well prepared after having done study visits to engineering consults, solar panel companies, colleges working with energy programs and after having project lessons with two sets of 12-year-old classes. Lack of material will not be an issue, but perhaps putting it all together into an e-book.
It is thrilling to see how the pupils are more and more catching up on the idea of keeping eyes open for impressions. One of the first things that happened at Schiphol airport where we changed flights was that all the girls gathered around a solar driven car which was on display. Let’s hope that these eyes are kept open together with the minds. This will be a great week with tons of exchange of ideas, impressions and cultural meetings.
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-04-20 10:33:33
Do you think they are prepared? I asked Jonas when I met him in the staffroom on Wednesday morning. ”Not too sure about that”, was the vague answer. ”We’ll have to wait and see”.
The day had come when it was time for the year nine pupils in our GIGS-project, the ones we call the challenge creators, to do the STEM-challenges of creating windmills and solar energy gadgets with the year six pupils, the challenge masters. We had spent Tuesday afternoon rehearsing and preparing, but everything was definitely not crystal clear. The morning session went really well however, from the challenge creators’ perspective. They managed to do what they wanted to. The challenge masters really mastered their challenges and were able to document what they did. They seemed to have a good time. They learned a couple of things according to themselves.
What we are facing now though is a slight dilemma. When I say ”we” it is Jonas and myself I am talking about. We agreed afterwards that there were things that had been positive. Things like the enthusiasm that the masters and most of the creators showed in the classroom and the distinct proofs of engineering skills that everybody showed. We also agreed that there were things that could be improved, and most of these things were connected with the treatment of the object of learning; energy. Even though I am not a Science teacher it was obvious to me that the presentation of different energy forms and sources could be done in another way and then the object of learning would appear in a more effective way. The most relevant and obvious way would be to make a couple of changes and then teach the same lesson to a new class. There are more year six classes. Simple learning study methodology. Problem is though that the other year six class is the control group and having them doing the challenges would probably skew the research part of the project.
I went home thinking about this and kept on thinking it about during the night when today’s second major happening for the challenge creators took place. Together with the rest of their class mates and their Swedish teacher (me) it was a night at the theater. We all went to see Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. In the very final scene the old house keeper Firs speaks up for the first time. He has been silent on stage throughout the entire play apart from almost unintelligible grunts. He has been visible and someone the others have stumbled on and shouted at and moved about, but has not said anything clearly. When everybody else is stripped down and left without anything and without their beloved cherry garden and manor he says ”They forgot about me. But I suppose that’s the way it is these days”. Firs becomes the elephant in the room, what everybody tries to convince themselves is not relevant anymore. We must not let that happen with the learning in the classroom, and in this case the learning of energy forms and sources.
Today (Thursday) Jonas and I will meet with the challenge creators and discuss what they are happy about and what they would want to improve. Then we will see how they will go about improving it, but in one way or another they must. We must not forget Firs.
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-03-29 07:27:17
I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality
When the Clash sang about being lost in the supermarket and growing up behind hedges over which they never could see they probably meant that there are kids whose backgrounds hinder them from seeing the bigger picture. I don’t think that any of the kids in the Swedish GIGS-group can claim that their backgrounds make up any obstacles in their lives, rather the opposite. Still, sometimes you need to stretch out and take a look at what’s on offer on the other side.
Last Friday we were at a visit to the company I3tex in Gothenburg. The visit was arranged as a part of the IGEday (Introducing Girls to Engineering). And this was surely an inspiring introduction. It started out rather modest, the girls from Sandared were rather quiet and withdrawn, but after the presentations from the young engineers and a snack in the lobby they really warmed to it in the work shop afterwards. The task was to create (or at least come up with an idea for) an assisting tool or application to a mobile phone. The group I overheard at first claimed that everything they needed already was invented, but after being positively pushed with ”nothing is impossible” and ”no idea is stupid” they soon started thinking about battery time and solutions for transferring battery power from one phone to another. The positive feedback from the engineers made the group even more enthusiastic.
The visit is further documented at http://www.i3tex.com/igeday-fler-tjejer-branschen/ and more details about the IGEday project can be found there.
I'm all tuned in, I see all the programs
I save coupons from packets of tea
I've got my giant hit discotheque album
I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free
For the Clash, the hedges and obstacles seem impossible to overcome. It is probably something you have to face if you are born where you are. For the eight students from Sweden I think that visits like these and a project like GIGS is ladder that enables you to see over the hedge and realize that there is actually something else on offer there. Anything is possible.
The pictures here are used with kind permission from the photographer Karin Fjaervoll Karin.Fjaervoll@i3tex.com
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-03-25 17:33:02
What is that makes working as a teacher the best possible job you can have? It is not the pay, and being paid more does not make me any happier. Having less documentation and more time for lessons is sometimes argued being another factor that would enhance the popularity of my profession. It would not make me very much happier.
This Friday Jonas and I experienced something that we later discussed and agreed was what really makes teaching being the best you can do. We took all eight GIGS-students to a field trip to Gothenburg to visit the engineering consulting company i3tex www.i3tex.com There will be a more detailed description of the content of the visit later on in this blog. When the girls and Jonas arrived in Gothenburg I met them at the bus stop and guided us all to the trams that were supposed to take us to the site of the company. The pupils were a bit reserved at the start, but after a while they acted as if they had never done anything else than taking part in business meetings and conferences. They discussed with the invited engineers (all female and rather young) who were perfect role models.
During the first part of the project (in early autumn last year), Jonas asked the girls if there were any of them that had planned to study STEM-subjects at high school. One of them said that she perhaps would do it. When they were asked by the female engineers yesterday, two of the pupils said that their first choice for high school was STEM, and a third pupil said that she had it as her second choice. It is impossible to not come to the conclusion that GIGS is the reason for their change of plans. And I believe that the main reason is not that they all of a sudden find it funnier or more interesting. They have come to realize that engineering is something that they can do. It is not something restricted to boys only.
It is striking how much the pupils’ confidence and self belief has improved. And it is not a matter of doing it “just as well as” the boys or the men. The engineers yesterday and the pupils from Sandgärdskolan were totally engaged in a discussion on the female aspect of engineering in terms of what they knew and contributed to that men and boys could not see or understand. An amazing and strong experience for both me and Jonas who listened in.
So what makes me appreciate my profession so much is when I see the power that lies in changing young persons’ views on themselves and what they can be. Taking part in a school development project like GIGS makes me see these fundamental changes more clearly than ever. Empowering young people. That’s what makes teaching worthwhile.
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-02-09 18:27:14
So, the second face-to-face meeting in the GIGS project is halfway through. The day started a bit slow with slight problems accessing the venue for the meeting. No real worries since that only meant that we could begin with one of the favourite Swedish activities - fika. Coffee break.
We thought we were off to a flying start in Sweden with our work, but the other countries have also done surveys and started with the work on the STEM challenges. It is nice to hear about possibilities and obstacles in Cyprus and the UK to understand that the world of teaching is to a large part global.
It was good to hear that we have a new Polish partner school. What is strange though is that it seems that our previous partner school was not the only school closing down. It is apparently many schools that are closing due to a new organization on a national level. The populistic and conservative politicians here in Poland are obviously just as hard to keep away from the school as the ones are in Sweden.
We stay in the very center of Warsaw and the first sight we spotted, Jonas and I, when we got up from the train station was the Palace of Culture. I know that many Polish citizens have mixed emotions about Stalin's birthday cake, but it is impressive and together with the giant wide avenues it really sums up the former East Europe for me.
GiGSPosted by Per Selin 2017-01-19 13:21:31
Since we might get international readers on this blog post, it will be in English. I think that the potential Swedish readers will get by too.
So, the challenge creators work with with solar energy continued with a new solar oven today. It turned out to be a major disappointment. Nothing really happened and the water never got any warmer than 40º C.
Something that did work was the solar driven dog that wigged its tail once under the sun lamp and also the solar panel that could provide a capacitor with electricity enough to flash a light. A fan was also constructed that was fueled with solar power.
The second half of the morning was allocated to start planning for the field day with the younger pupils. It was truly interesting as a teacher to discuss lesson planning with pupils and getting their views on how long 12-year-olds would be able to concentrate before they needed to get down to practical action.