I am an American teacher spending four months in Finland on a Fulbright grant, and I recently had the opportunity to spend a week at the Koulumestari School. I observed several different classes, but I spent the most time with one sixth grade class. I have my own blog to keep track of my observations as I visit schools throughout Finland, and I was asked to write a guest post for the Innokas blog.
My first impression of the school was that the atmosphere was less stressful and more relaxed than a typical American school. This was evident when seeing students remove their shoes upon entering the building. Not only are the floors clean enough for sitting, but wearing socks or slippers while learning must make students feel more comfortable and as if they are at home.
A typical day for the 6th graders at Koulumestari starts at 8:15 with some greetings said by the class in unison, both in Finnish and English, followed by a run-down of the day’s schedule. Then they have two 45-minute classes, followed by a 30-minute break during which they go outside to run around and expend extra energy. Students then return for two more 45-minute lessons. Next is a 20-minute lunch and another 30-minute recess outside. The afternoon schedule varies, with classes usually ending at 2:00 (3:00 on Tuesday).
We are a primary school in Espoo city in Finland in Europe. Our students are in the sixth grade. So they are about 12 -13 years old this year. We have 24 kids in our class. Some of them have learning difficulties. That’s why we have two teachers working all the time with them. One class teacher and one teacher of special education. The teachers are planning and evaluating together. We have also a part-time school assistant working in our class. Sometimes our students are studying all together and sometimes they are studying in smaller groups. We have started a China-project in our school with our sixth grade students. We are studying Asia’s geography and religions and the history of China in February (before our one weeks winter holiday starts:). We are doing a big poster of China all together. In arts the kids are painting dragons and fireworks and they are also drawing Chinese letters http://kiinanluokka.net/kirjoitusmerkit/ We have a very special animal – called the Saimaa ringed seal – in Finland. There are only 310 ones in the world. And they are living in the lake called Saimaa in the eastern part of Finland. http://www.sll.fi/mita-me-teemme/lajit/saimaannorppa/ringed-seal
They have also a very rare animal – called the Giant Panda – in China.
Both of these animals are endangered. We are going to study protection on these two different kind of animals. Our big big plan is to organize a charity Event to save the Saimaa ringed seal during this spring season. We are also starting the cooperation with our partner school in USA. Our target is to encourage our students to use English language. We encourage them to talk and write with a foreign language with American kids. Our students have been studying English at school three and a half years. Follow our blog https://kmsaimaannorppa.wordpress.com/
Greetings from Koulumestari school class 6NK
We are going to make animations about the panda. First we used the ipads to see what a panda looks like. Then we made small pandas from silk clay. They came out very nicely! The animation will tell different facts about the pandas. We looked for these facts from the internet. Our teacher had searched for links and put them on qr-codes which we opened with the qr-code reader. Then we wrote about the pandas to our new panda notebooks. We got to decorate them ourselves.
3K, Jalavapuisto school, Espoo, Finland
Global Educational Community (GEC) teachers from Finland met in January 2015. The goal of the meeting was to get to know each other, plan becoming projects with schools around the world and get familiar with revised Finnish curriculum and especially international and global aims in it.To be active in GEC really fulfills many aims of Finnish new curriculum- in both the home internationality and the global internationality. It is really a pleasure to network with other people and countries around the world to share and take responsibility for the common world together.
Finnish teachers started to plan becoming projects about either Pandas or Flying objects during this meeting.Finnish teachers were also given partnership schools and teachers from USA, Australia and moreover, we are waiting for ones in China. Getting familiar with partner schools and their culture at schools and in countries will begin in contacting each other by emails and Skype-meetings. Some teachers might meet each other in GEC conference in Finland in March. The second possibility to meet face to face and present some best practices in co-projects is in the conference held in Beijing in July this year.
I wish you positive experiences in global networking by a photo of smiling Finnish teachers making a statue by drama about GEC, how many pandas you can find there?
Minna Kukkonen, Innokas-coordinator from Finland