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På skolan i världen

Här beskriver vi de olika skolutvecklingsprojekt som Sandgärdskolan deltar i.

Time may change me – but I can’t trace time

GiGS Posted on 2019-05-17 09:01:12

Last week I heard all Swedish top candidates being interviewed on radio prior to the MEP-election in 10 days. The man who is first on the list for Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden’s version of UKIP for British readers) said that the issue of taking action for the climate is something that is a matter for the market. Politicians should leave it and let the companies solve it. I do not believe in this. The companies will not do anything, unless they can make money from it. Politics is about ambition, a great leader said. This ambition must be related to the ambition of changing, and thinking that you can change.

The first keynote speeches at the international multiplier here in Nicosia addressed gender inequalities. A delegate commented afterwards that gender imbalance in educational choices is because of different interests and that we must let the most suitable do what suits best. If you are most suitable to take care of children you should stay at home and if you are more prone to do science, you should do that. I might have misunderstood due to the translation, but this argument seems to me to be the same as the climate argument above. We cannot leave this to “natural forces”. It must be actively done.

To illustrate with something else. When we went home from yesterday’s field trip to the Mediterranean for a swim and went through the Troodos mountain we stopped at the village of Orá. In this tiny village we managed to find a little tavern where we could have dinner. Other villagers were sitting around us, eating and drinking coffee. All men. It was the same on the way home. We passed through villages with people sitting out at taverns. All men. Was that only because they were more suited to socializing in public? Were the women (their wives, daughters, mothers) at home just because they were more suited to stay at home. Was that something out of a natural choice?

Finally. My first idea was to call this blog post “Let the right one in”. Due to what happened in USA the other night I changed my mind.

It’s the end of the project as we know it

GiGS Posted on 2019-05-15 13:40:33

All good things must come to an end, and this week in Cyprus marks the end of the Gigs-project. The project meeting this time centres around two issues. Thursday and Friday, the International Multiplier event is taking place here at the University of Nicosia and the two days prior to that are spent planning for it and also evaluating and working with the final report of the actual project.

As usual, Jonas and I wanted to see something else than the conference venue and the hotel. We started out nicely on our way from the airport when we visited Ayios Sozomenos which was deserted in the 1960’s. The only remaining building still in use is the church, which was open. We went in and had a look. Ten minutes later a car arrived and we were sure that we had set off an alarm of some kind. It turned out to be a drone flyer who used the vast spaces to take a flight.

Monday was the grand day out. We started in the marvellous monastery church of Panayia tis Asinou. The insight that some of the frescoes in this tiny church was done almost 1 000 years ago was enough to make you dizzy. Afterwards we enjoyed a drink in the nearby restaurant and were treated with mespila, a small sweet fruit similar to apricots.

We continued towards the winery in Kyperounda. Nice wine, impressive views on the way there and we realised after a while that we were on the roads towards one of last year’s points of visits; Fikardou.

The last stop on Monday’s road trip was the old village Pera, 25 kilometres outside of Nicosia. It was as if time stood still. An old lady cleaned out the open area in front of the church. A couple of cats skirted along the cobbled alleys. Fruit trees and roses were in full bloom. We decided to eat lunch here and happily discovered the taverna. Unfortunately it was closed on Mondays, the owner told us so we turned around. At that moment a bearded man opened the door on the first floor, and said something to her. It appeared to be her husband and after an intensive discussion in Greek he said “Give us 30 minutes”. Of course we couldn’t turn that offer down and went for a half-hour’s stroll. “Did you notice that he had no trousers on?” I said to Jonas when we walked away. “Yes” was the dead pan answer.

When we came back we were offered a restricted menu and could not really decide what to have out of salad, haloumi, fried mushroom, pita, Cypriot sausages and bacon so we asked them to surprise us. We got it all (which in a way was a surprise). Since it was 4 o’clock and we were completely full there was no need for further food that day.

It’s the (start of) the end of the project as we know it. An we feel fine!

The teams that meet in Brum

GiGS Posted on 2018-11-19 10:05:18

We consider
our multiplier to be successful. There were some 20+ delegates there, most of
them teachers and they were satisfied with what they took part of. Especially
the afternoon’s session with e-books and how to create them was appreciated.

The second
day in Birmingham, or on the outskirts of Birmingham in the idyllic Lickey, was
spent with the UK multiplier. The program was basically similar to the one we
had had in Sweden (perhaps minus the external speakers), but the delegates were
different. In Sweden the vast majority were teachers, but here they were
representatives of organizations that worked with teacher training. Hopefully
they will use the inspiration and material provided and in that way further
disseminate Girls into Global STEM. Our multiplier went straight to the
classrooms, perhaps with a narrower possibility of spreading further on. Which
one is the best? I don’t know. It is interesting that we have such different ideas
on the audience. It might be a natural consequence of Practical Action using
their contacts and we using ours.

The UK multiplier
was jammed in between two meeting days. There are not very many things left in
GIGS now. I am happy to say that I am going to take an active part in one of
the remaining; the systematic literature review. Jonas and I have written a paper
based on the presentation we did at the conference on practice close research
for science and technology teaching in Norrköping in March 2018. Hopefully this
paper will be accepted now with the changes we made according to the review we
got. If the systematic literature review also results in a paper in a journal
(which is the goal), I will have contributed with two pieces of research from
the project. Not bad for a language teacher.

things worth mentioning from the days in Brum are the spin-off effects of this
project. Jonas and Tobias will most likely go to Warsaw next February/March to
work with CEO on digital skills. They are really keen on learning more on how
to work with e-books and other multimedia tools. We have also spread the Swedish
National Tests to the UK. No, not in the way that some young entrepreneurs in social
media tend to do it every year, but in the way that it will be tested at the
deFerrers Academy. We started talking about the tests at lunch with Greg and
Rosie from deFerrers, and the fact that Swedish pupils did and oral part in
Maths was interesting. Jonas showed the open resource that can be found on
Skolverket’s homepage
, and Rosie became so fascinated that she decided that she
really wanted to test it on her pupils. International sharing of resources.

They don’t know

GiGS Posted on 2018-11-02 09:43:18

Time for
one of the last events in the GIGS project; the national multiplier where the
results from the project are used to inform and inspire local teachers and
stakeholders. It was our friends at University of Borås that hosted. Two
interesting names had been booked to complement the presentation from Jonas,
Anne-Sofie, Tobias and myself.

professor Sylvana Sofkova Hashemi from University of Gothenburg is specialized
in learning and ICT and talked about the newly revised Swedish curricula where digitalization
is a key word. She pointed out that it is important that we consider what we
want the pupils to do. Sometimes the hard ware is more focused than the
learning. She seemed to be genuinely interested
in our project though, and it seems as if we may have a start for future
networking and collaborations.

Mats Larsnäs
was also talking about the digital classroom, but more from the gadget point of
view. Quite many examples of hands on tools for picture editing, 360 and VR
were shown.

afternoon was spent with a workshop where the 20+ participants tried Book Creator
to make e-books similar to the ones we showed. The majority of the participants
were primary school teachers and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

I have left
the best part. We were actually five people from the project since we had
invited one of the challenge creators, the (then) year-nine-students that
planned and carried out teaching for younger pupils. Elvira talked about her
experience and what she had brought from the project and used in her present (Science
program with a focus on leadership at high school) education. We were all
stunned by the talk and afterwards Jonas and I were invited to present at
Hashemi’s department because she considered Elvira’s student perspective so
powerful. Let me finish this post by quoting the end of it.

Now at high school, it’s back
to the usual again, record what the teacher says at the front, but I know
something that everyone else does not know. I know that the subjects are so
much more than just that. I know that there are several different perspectives.
I know that behind each topic, even behind each word there is a whole world of
different ways to look at what the teacher says. And I think that is the
most important thing, to get the understanding that the subject is so much more
than just sitting in school benches writing down what the teacher says. You can
experiment, play, twist and turn, go down the depths, yes, do so much more than
just take a note.

Jersey girl

GiGS Posted on 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.

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.

First things first

GiGS Posted on 2018-05-16 17:38:06

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?”

The Right Profile

GiGS Posted on 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.

Don’t stop believing

GiGS Posted on 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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