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Erasmus 3T – Collaborating in Helsinki

Teachers and school developers from Denmark and Great Britain gathered in Helsinki for a September week full of immersion in the Finnish educational system and observation of the three T’s (time, talent and technology). We welcomed new participants and had a warm reunion with those who have been a part of the project for longer. The week started off with a welcome session that, true to Finnish tradition, included sauna and swimming. The following two days were spent in two schools where participants got to know the school, observe lessons and even teach Finnish students. The afternoon time was spent reflecting and finding those transferable ideas that one could take home. One day was dedicated to familiarizing with the educational system and the work of the Innokas Network which supports schools in developing 21st century skills through the innovative use of technology. Participants also immersed in gaming when they were introduced to and competed in the pedagogically relevant Seppo-game and discussed how to use gamefulness in education. The last day of the week provided an opportunity for each delegation to present their thoughts and reflections to each other and discuss together while enjoying a traditional cinnamon roll.

Reflections on technology included discussion on the pedagogical use of technological tools. Technology was seen to motivate students and participants observed that the tools for these activities are in place and available in Finnish schools.  Talent was discussed for one with reference to supporting talented students which is an area that needs development in the Finnish system. Currently most emphasis is placed on the support of students with special needs. Time was approached from both the students and the teachers perspective. Short school days and lesser control were discussed and an observation was made that Finnish students still seem to have clear boundaries and guidelines within which to work autonomously. Differences in teachers’ working hours got the participants thinking about the pro’s and con’s of varying work day models. On one hand the freedom to leave work after teaching was valued and on the other hand set working hours would secure more joint planning time and possibilities for collaboration.

Laura Salo, Kati Sormunen and Asta Ansolahti / The Innokas Network

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Innokas-Network’s robotics tournament

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Since the beginning of April YLE has broadcasted a tv-show called Robomestarit. It airs every Sunday morning. It is a production based on the idea of a robotics tournament designed by Innokas-network. It aims to present robotics and coding while also showing what they make possible. At the same time the show is both entertaining and pedagogical.

Last weekend we got to see the finals of X-Sumo and Rescue and who won the competitions. The last episode of the show will be aired next Sunday. For both Freestyle and Dancing with robot it is time for the finals!

Yle/ Rami Pohjalahti.

The different competition tracks of Robomestarit are based on Innokas-Network’s robotics tournament which is held every year in different cities. This year it takes place in Tampere, 14th to 16th of May. The tracks are Pelastus (Rescue), X-Sumo, Tanssii robotin kanssa (Dancing with a robot) and Freestyle. The last mentioned has three teams competing in different challenges every week. . The winner is announced in the last episode.  Dancing with the robot is a different kind of track. If you want to win you need to do it on social media and get the most votes. X-Sumo works as a cup where two teams put their robots to the test of strength in robo sumo-wrestling and winner continues in the race. Rescue track puts the robots in different kind of situations where their mission is to transport a fuel tank to the space ship.

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The teams taking part come from all over Finland. Most of the participants are 5th or 6th graders but there are some exceptions. Many of the teams have won their regional preliminary competitions and this is their final step.

Every episode lasts about half an hour. Naturally most of it is about the competitions but there is also much more to see and learn. One of the show’s presenter, Innokas-Network’s educator Juho Kemell has visited different kind of working environments that have robots. Those visits are an educational peek to the importance that robotics have in problem solving. While of course it is interesting to just watch the show the viewers also get to take part through social media and open challenges. Best viewer challenge participants get their videos shown in the program. Every episode has also an educational part, the ABC of coding. It teaches the very basics of coding and getting more into detail every episode. Don’t forget to check out their YouTube channel with interesting extra content.

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More info: http://yle.fi/robomestarit

In YLE areena: https://areena.yle.fi/1-4356057

Robomestarit in Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChM3KcavvF7O48aEn9a_diQ/featured

(All the pictures are property of YLE)

Visiting the filming of Robomestarit!

At the YLE (Finnish National Broadcasting company) studio in Tampere adults and kids are moving smoothly between the lobby, dressing room and studio. The filming of the Robomestarit tv-show has started. The day starts when the presenters and the teams arrive. Last minute corrections are made to the outfits and people are getting familiar with the studio. The children seem really excited in their cool custom-made outfits and the atmosphere is electric. The schedule shows minute by minute what is going to happen during long day which ends in the filming of the actual episode. In addition to the filming in the studio, the day also consists of group and individual interviews.

The teams have a strict daily schedule. Participants go to make-up like any other TV stars. There is a lot of waiting and many children have travelled a long way to be here. Still everybody thinks it’s surely worth it. When following the filming of the interviews it is great to hear the young participants speak about their teams and how the skills they are practicing will help them in the future. In the middle of a relaxed chat with the children one of the director comes and takes them back to the studio. The face shots need to be retaken. Here we go again…

One of the presenters of Robomestarit, Juho Kemell, works as an educator in The Innokas Network. He has arrived early in the morning to get ready for the day’s filming. -“It has been quite a hassle which means it will be a great day!” Some material has been filmed before today. Juho and the crew have been visiting different kinds of companies during the last couple of months and observed different robots used in various industries. The judges are also preparing for the day and going through the most important rules regarding the upcoming contests. -“It is an awesome show!” says Erkki Hautala, an X-sumo judge and Innokas Network’s educator while guiding the teams to test and prepare their robots.

Yle/ Rami Pohjalahti.


Melissa Kaivo, known to children from the TV-show Galaxi, is also a part of the production. She is one of the presenters and a travelling journalist who visits the teams’ schools. She thinks that the live-aspect of the show is very exciting. Not everything is filmed beforehand thus letting all of the viewers, teams and presenters really live through the show throughout the spring while the show airs. She also thinks it is cool that the viewers get to influence and take part in the program through social media.

The fog machines are blowing in the studio and the atmosphere is almost too impatient. The audience, teams and the presenters are ready. Lights, cameras, applause! What happens after this can be seen on YLE channels or YLE-areena.

The Innokas Network and YLE are putting together and filming an 8episode long TV-show Robomestarit in the spring 2018. The Robotics Society in Finland is supporting the production with the reallife examples. The show is based on InnokasNetwork‘s robotics tournament which is held every year. In the competition school age children take part in different competitions and do  problem solving using robotics. For example, “Dancing with the robot” and X-Sumo (Sumo wrestling for robots).

You can find more about the show and the broadcast schedule from The Innokas Network’s webpage. Or visit https://yle.fi/robomestarit/ or YLE streaming service https://areena.yle.fi/1-4356057 at this moment all material is unfortunately available only in Finnish.

Collaborating in Copenhagen

A team of Finnish teachers, principals and project workers spent a week in Copenhagen continuing working on the Erasmus 3T -project where educational professionals from Finland, Britain and Denmark come together to reflect on each others’ educational systems and make observations on Time, Talent and Technology in schools.

We had the privilege of visiting three local schools and having deep conversations about pedagogy. We found that Copenhagen in Denmark is not only geographically but also educationally situated half way between Britain and Finland. There are some elements that the Finnish and Danish educational systems have in common like the culture of trust and student involvement. Then again with regards to assessment, national testing is something that brings the Danish system closer to the British system.

How these elements are realized within the educational system are however dependent on many things such as legislation, culture and socioeconomic aspects. For instance the Danish culture of trust and the freedom of choice that follows from it can mean that schools and principals can allocate lesson hours freely. In Finland we have a high degree of freedom as well, but more strict legislation concerning lesson hours which guides the decisions made on the school level. Efforts to develop school have similar goals in Denmark as in Finland. 21st century skills and cross-curricular learning are in the focus in both systems. Reforms however seem to come more often in the Danish system.

The challenge of these intercultural exchanges and experiences is the way we observe and interpret our observations. Are we interpreting activities on the level of single schools? Can these observations be interpreted to represent the whole educational system? The way to get the best result is to hold continuous discussions alongside visits and allow each partner to give feedback on interpretations. Only in true dialog can we reach an understanding of each other and find those transferable and adjustable ‘take-home-messages’ that help us develop our own system and professionalism.

Laura Salo/ The Innokas Network

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The Hong Kong-visit to Espoo

On Tuesday morning 13.2. At 9.00 they arrived to Jalavapuisto School, just like we’ve agreed: Connie, Maggie, Chun Yin, Jonas, Rene, Chau Ming, Josephine, Kit and Flora. Some of them were from our friend school Holm Glad 2. And some were Ediversity personnel.

That morning the whole Jalavapuisto School was gathered in the gym because of the assembly. Our 9 guests were welcomed to our school by the ’Japu-song’ (Japu=Jalavapuisto).

Then they were divided into 3 groups and 6K girls and boys took them to the guided tour around the school. Both the guests and the guides seemed to be pleased and their conversation went on after the tour ended.

From 10 til 14.15 it was time for the visitors to either keep or observe the lessons. They were now operating in two groups and visiting the classes 2K, 3K, 4K and 6K.

My on class 2K got a chance to learn to write Chinese letters in Calligraphy lesson. There were 5 teachers telling and leading the children to the ’secrets’ of Chinese way of writing. 2K end up writing the word ’Blessing’ on the beautiful red rice paper. The paper should be turned upside down and attach on the door at the time of Chinese New Year celebration, that’s what we were told. The second lesson we spent with the questions 2K had made for our guests. We all learned so much!

During that day I had to pinch myself few times: Can this really be happening?! Are they really here after almost 1,5 year co-operation? The email about their coming in early October…and now they are here!

Many, many emails, pictures, videos have been sent during this time. My class has been studying and learning about Hong Kong at the Science- and Arts lessons. And now all the studying really showed to be worth of something!

”Welcome to Hong Kong. Let’s not end this collaporation now”, were the last words from them for our principal and me before they left.

Mäkynen Hanna

Guests from Hong Kong

On Monday February 12th our dear guests (14) from Hong Kong arrived. It was so nice to finally meet them after chatting with them through Skype, email and seeing some videos and pictures! I really appreciate the fact that they came to see us and had also prepared lessons!

Theme of the week was friendship because of Valentine’s Day. The student’s union had planned a colour week. Each day we had a colour in which we were encouraged to dress. The colour of Monday was red. We started the day by going to see our schools talent show “Mestarit lavalla”. Children had prepared many performances (dancing, singing, gymnastics, hobby introduction video etc.) and a small group of teachers (including me) performed too. Together we also sang a song about friendship, in English. Our guests really enjoyed the show and they appreciated the fact that the kids had really prepared the performances all by themselves without teachers’ involvement.

Then we all went outside during break time. They were amazed on how freely we let the kids play outside. They were wondering why we don’t have fences and more teachers monitoring the break time so that the kids won’t get hurt.

After the break we gathered together to have some tea and discuss about our school. Besides me, there were also our principal Pirjo and one of our teachers Heidi. Our time ran out so we didn’t have that much time to introduce our school properly. But I sent the introduction slides and our weekly schedules to Cam later.
After lunch we went to say hi to a number of classes and then it was already time for them to go.

On Tuesday and Wednesday they organized lessons for 4th, 3rd and 5th graders. First they told us some things about their culture and especially about the Chinese New Year. Then they asked the students to prepare a drum using toilet paper cones and some extra material. It was great to see how excited the kids were and how they used their creativity in making different drums. Then we’d sing a Chinese song and play those drums. What a lot of fun that was! 😊

On Tuesday and Wednesday the guests went to observe some lessons to different classrooms. On Wednesday there was also a magic show by a real magician. Our student’s union had requested it. On Wednesday the guests also interviewed our principal before leaving.

I hope they had a lovely trip here in Finland! It sure was amazing to have them here!

Greetings,
Linda

Trust in Denmark

From the point of view of a Finnish teacher the trust that the Danish teachers had towards their young pupils was occasionally even a little disconcerting. We saw young pupils to play without any kind of supervision near a frozen pond in a forest, pupils were acting as traffic directors on heavily trafficked roads etc. But everything worked well. We started to wonder if we, teachers, are a bit too overprotecting in Finland.

While comparing the Finnish and Danish schools we didn´t notice any difference between the way teachers and principals work together in both countries. However, there are differences in the rewarding behaviors. In Denmark it was the principal who was rewarded for his school´s success, not the teachers directly. It was left for the principal to decide whether to reward the teachers for their good results or not.

The biggest single factor that stood out and seemed rather strange to us, who are used to the Finnish culture, were the annual and public quality reports in the Danish schools. These reports were quite explicit telling, for instance, how well their school performs in respect to the neighboring schools. To a Finn this kind of measuring carried out by the state doesn´t seem to inspire and build the trust in the teachers.

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By the end of the week we noticed how important it is to get to know the educational culture of other countries, especially on the ground level. The things that we found disconcerting at the beginning of the week started to make sense and seem like functioning solutions. This familiarizing oneself with a different educational culture is a very significant and important aspect in this kind of projects.

After our trip all we can say is that Denmark is a very good place for children to live and grow up!

Aki & Petteri, Veikkola School, Kirkkonummi