Sunday, December 23, 2018

Happy Holidays!

So it is time to take a break - see you in 2019! 
Happy Holidays!/Pernilla 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Skyping with the Flipgrid team and a school in Budapest during Skypeathon

I have recently started my planning for the 24-hour Skypeathon that we will conduct in March at our school. Microsoft's and Skype's own Skypeathon took place on November 13-14 and we decided to join by taking part in two sessions only, due to our own version coming up in a few months.

The first session was on November 14 with the Flipgrid Team in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Great session with four employees at Flipgrid that were curious about our country and students, while my students had prepared a few questions to ask the staff, regarding their company, city and country. Need I say that Donald Trump also came into the discussion?

The Flipgrid crew in Minneapolis:

Tweet from Jim Leslie from the Flipgrid team

The next session was with a class in Budapest, Hungary. Their teacher's name was Gabriella and she guided her students through the session with a great deal of professionalism. The focal point of the session were the differences between our schools and countries.

Gabriella's students in Budapest:

Friday, September 28, 2018

Snapshots from the Gothenburg Book Fair

Yesterday we visited the Gothenburg Book Fair with our students in year 1. It is always one of the highlights of the year and, personally, I love the ambience it hosts. Yesterday I also had the chance to attend seminars and at the end of the day I felt very inspired by all the talks I had listened to during the day. Author Jacqueline Woodson spoke about how to create realistic characters and about how her love of basketball is a recurring element in her books. It was an entertaining session where I got to understand a little bit more about the process of producing a creative work like a young adult book.

ALMA-recipient Jacqueline Woodson talking to Maria Lassén-Seger during the seminars on Thursday.

Lucy Crehan gave an intriguing speech in the morning too when she spoke about how Sweden compared to other countries with regard to the results in the PISA rankings. Towards the end the conclusion was made that Sweden had a few things to be proud of and a few to improve. The things to be proud of, according to Crehan, can be seen below. 

photo from Lucy Crehan's lecture on Thursday.

In the afternoon I listened to Jon Keegan in a visually impressive lecture about "Visual Journalism in the Trump Era". The 45 minutes flew by far too fast.

photo:  Jon Keegan and his lecture "Visual Journalism in the Trump Era"

Friday, September 7, 2018

A snapshot memory from this summer

We went to Florida this summer and one day, while visiting Legoland, we came across The Cypress Garden at the end of that park...and wow, what an amazing experience it was when we stumbled onto the BANYAN tree. Majestic! Stunning!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Quiz quiz trade - getting to know each other

I have been using the structure of "Quiz quiz trade" (from Cooperative Learning) all of last year in my English classes to promote informal speaking and it was a method that I liked very much since the students became more talkative and showed a great interest in each other. It is also a way of working that can be adapted to the current situation and then changed for the next class with another need.

Below an American teacher tells how she has worked with the structure with her ESL students:

Basically, I created a few different decks of trade cards with open-ended questions since I wanted the students to respond with their own thoughts and ideas. For me, the structure became helpful in getting the students to know each other on a deeper level and to increase the fluency when speaking. At the same time, they get to move around in the classroom and that in turn makes them more alert and "on the go".

These are some of my new quiz quiz trade cards for a course that I will be teaching this year.

Some other questions from last year looked like this:

Monday, August 6, 2018

Word of the week - malicious

From August 6 and onwards there will be a word of the week on my Instagram account  - maybe a new word to acquaint yourself with or just a reminder that "hey, this word exists too, I forgot about that!". Anyway, I will also publish the words here on the blog also and the first word is one with a negative connotation: malicious. There is additionally a definition and example included each week. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

End of year reflections 2018

It is that time of year again......the students have left the building.....
I have finished cleaning my desk and I have 60 minutes to kill before I go to my colleagues for lunch. 60 minutes in which to summarize this school year. An impossible task of course, but what are some of the things that I take with me from this year? 

The answer to the question is "many things for sure". Let's start with all of the reading that the students have done. 

In year 1 (English 5) we read A Monster Calls as part of the Global Read Aloud (GRA) project during October-November 2017. The process during reading was rewarding in the sense that the students were very active during the discussions and we used Flipgrid to connect with other readers at our school and in parts of the USA and Canada. At the end of the reading we came to a close with watching the film version of the book, starring Liam Neeson as the monster. Thumb's up for the project that always succeeds - Global Read Aloud for the win! 

In year 2 (English 6) my students read Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Rifka Brunt,  Never Let Me Go by Nobel laureate Ishiguro, Flowers for Algernon by Keynes and The Island of Dr Moreau by Wells. Even though all of the books were appreciated by the students it was a definite landslide win for Tell the Wolves. Most students were immensely engaged in the lives of the characters and we had a great deal of fruitful discussions in the classroom. Some even said that "I will carry this book with me for quite some time" and "I loved it!". Never Let Me Go was still a good choice for discussion, however some expressed that "I can't really connect with the characters or feel for them" while some were captivated by the love story between Ruth and Tommy. With this one too, we finished the project by watching the film version with Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield. 

The latter books were studied and discussed as part of a joint project with Biology called "Medical Ethics". Among other things, the students argued in a formal essay how the rules of medical ethics were broken or violated with regard to the books. In the end-of-year evaluation a majority of the students thought that the Medical Ethics project was among the best of the year. 

Finally, many short stories have been devoured during the English courses as well, the best ones being "The Moment Before the Gun Went Off" by Gordimer, "Chinasa" by Ngozi Adichie, "Indian Camp" by Hemingway and "The Hour" by Chopin this year.

When it comes to writing the ultimate challenge has been to try to get a few of the students to grasp the basics of writing, such as using capitalization and full stop at the end of sentences (I kid you not!). On the other hand, a few others have penned exquisite writings embellished with the utmost care, consideration and creativity. The first project in August-September for year 2 (English 6) was called "No Limits" and there was a choice between writing drabbles or stream of consciousness narratives, somehow connected to the street art festival "No Limit" in Borås, where we live. Many chose drabbles, which are concentrated forms of prose using exactly 100 words. The results were exceptional. The project was among the favorite top ones when all 90 students evaluated. 

In November we had a look at cover letters and more formal writing. Argumentative essays were dealt with during the fall as well as towards spring, as a preparation for the national tests. The writing task at the national tests in May gave an indication as to what the focal points for next year need to be. As I concluded, students find it bothersome to comprehend the principles of agreement of concord, to keep the formal writing strictly formal, spelling and there is a rather substantial lack of synonyms...

Padena speaks to two students in the Basque country in Spain

Generally speaking, students are good at speaking! At least that is what they think most of the time... What I have gathered though, is that a majority are good at speaking BUT they are also fooled by their own impressions of what and how they sound like. They mistake good fluency and pronunciation for good proficiency. And there is a definite difference between the two! A good fluency and pronunciation do not necessarily mean that you have an extensive vocabulary or that you form sentences in more complex manners. Oftentimes the opposite is true. Fluent speakers tend to be quite informal and sometimes very challenged when it comes to more formal circumstances where a wider scope of complexity and depth is needed. Next school year I need to implement a stronger emphasis on distinguishing between formal and informal spoken English in the classroom. 

I still use Skype in the classroom on occasions and in November we had a Skypeathon again, this time for 12 hours. In December and January we had a collaboration with a teacher and school in the Basque country where the students skyped individually/two and two for about 30 minutes. For practicing informal and colloquial exchanges, as well as useful phrases, Skype is fantastic. Additionally, Flipgrid has been essential too, as a tool used in various projects throughout the year. Some students, however, started to grow tired of the tool at the end of the year.  

Listening is an ability that is always practiced during lessons,  but usually more in an informal way than anything else, and next year an additional focus on listening strategies will be on my agenda. 

To make a long story short...this is what  I will do MORE of and LESS of next school year, based on my own and the students' evaluations:

* Read (and only interesting, challenging titles)
* Work on expanding vocabularies more continually
* Work on distinguishing more between formal and informal registers, in speech and writing
* Practicing spelling more continually
* Homework (= actually giving them homework once in a while - I am not a steadfast believer in that it actually improves results, but the students want them!! - yes it is true! )
* Evaluation and exit tickets - the feedback is imminent and should guide me further

* Read uninteresting short stories 

Now, I am going to dive into my book - The Underground Railroad - and not even think about school until August again. Have a lovely summer ! :) 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vary the length of sentences

Next week the national tests are kicking off in English and for one week now we have prepared by practicing writing argumentative essays. We have also had a look at what differs informal language from the formal one and sentence structure is an important part of that too. The following little piece is a bit reminiscent of a poem and indeed a valuable reminder to vary the length of the sentences in a piece of writing. Because we all want to create music! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A new favorite of mine - Semantris

Semantris is a new encounter for me and I easily spent 30 minutes like 30 seconds yesterday trying to stop the blocks from advancing upwards...a great deal of fun and educational too! Put your vocabulary to use! Try it out!

Link to Semantris

Monday, March 19, 2018

Making emoji exit tickets

Somehow I still like exit tickets in a paper version, I like the feel of having my students' thoughts in my hand after a lesson. Sitting down and carefully reading and reflecting about the previous lesson. Here is the latest version of an exit ticket - making use of emojis. :)

Emoji exit ticket by pnillaelander

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Snapshot from today

Today we went to Gothenburg to act as audience during the taping of two rounds of "Who wants to be a millionaire."

Monday, February 5, 2018

Skyping with Spanish students

We had a great time today Skyping with students in the Basque country in the north of Spain. In December my students received letters from the Spanish students and we sent away responses a few days later. Today it was time to connect using Skype and to speak to each other in pairs. Despite some technical difficulties we managed for everyone to connect and questions were hurled back and forth.