On a Ski Trip

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It was a Sunday Afternoon in March. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. 三月的一个周日,阳光明媚,万里无云。
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Snow on the ski trail is sparkling in the sunshine in between the woods. 滑雪道位于林间,白雪在暖阳的映射下,银光闪闪。
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The little hill along the ski trail connects the blue sky. 滑雪道沿途山丘,连接蓝天。
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The water in the lake lies quietly under the bridge,reflecting the sky. 桥下清澈的湖水安静地躺着,似一面镜子。
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A mother is skiing with her four-year old son, who asked his mother to take him to China in the morning. 母子俩滑雪,儿子四岁,早上吵着要去中国。妈妈之前去过中国北京参加大学生马戏团。
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Two friends are resting under the wooden shelter at the finish (start) point outside the coffee house. 朋友俩在滑雪道终点的咖啡屋旁的木亭下休息。
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People are preparing and eating Sausages on the bonfire camp. 滑雪玩耍的人们,在免费的烧烤场烤吃香肠。
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Children and their parents are sliding/skiing down the little hill.孩子们自己或在父母的帮助下,从雪山丘上滑下。
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On a Family ski trip, the father is pulling his little kid and the mother was skiing behind watching the kid. 一家三口,爸爸将绳子系在腰间拉着儿子,妈妈在跟在其后。
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I am having a rest on the frozen lake in the sunshine. ( Photo by one of the skiing couple passing by. ) 我在沿途的冰冻的湖面上休息,晒太阳。(照片由滑雪经过的一对夫妇的丈夫所拍。)
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People are putting their skis and poles by the stand outside of the coffee house to go for a cup of coffee or/and some bread. 人们将滑雪装备放在咖啡屋外,进去喝杯咖啡或者吃些甜点。
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I was bumping into my senior schoolmates,who went for a walk in the woods, on my way back. 回来途中,碰到在林间散步的学长学姐。
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The End 剧终
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A School Night Camping in Aseman School in Ii, Finland

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A Night Camping was organised by two teachers for 3rd Graders to 6th Graders, with the help of the parents in Aseman Primary School in Ii, Finland on a Thursday in late November.

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After the school was over at 14:00, students and teachers went home to bring their own tents, sleeping bags, games and snacks to school. All the students and teachers arrived at school with their stuff at 17:00.

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One teacher went to prepare for the badge hunt activity in the dark while the other teacher gathered the students in the classroom. While the activity is ready. Groups of students ran out to the forest with their headlights to search for the badges the teacher had hided.
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After the badge hunt, the students went back to the sports hall of the school, while the other teacher carried the sausages, beverage and firewood to the bonfire place with the help of a parent living nearby who drived the food with his truck.

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The students walked together to the bonfire site where the fire was ready for them to hit the sausages. The students sang a choir after they arrived. They hit the sausages, ate, drank and chatted. Then they all went back to the school.

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Students started to set up the tent with the help of each other. One of the teachers was there if some of the students needed help. Students chose their own camping site, either the sports hall, the classroom or the crafts room.

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The other teacher went to kitchen to prepare the food for the students. They students lined up in front of the food stand to get their food after their ‘bed’ was ready. They went back to the class where they enjoyed an animated movie, eating snacks they took from home. Some of the students went to sauna by groups.

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They all went to sleep when they are tired or after they finished the movie. They wrap their belongings and went home by cabs or their parent’s car the next morning after they informed the teachers.

Reflections on the event

There are some factors needs to be considered in order for it happen.

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1) The teachers has the autonomy. They can decide a different day for the students.

2) The parents trust their children would be taken care of by the teachers. The teachers trust the students would follow their instructions.

3) The school and the surroundings are safe. The size of class is relatively small (approximately 60 students together with 4 grades).

Education Success: Finnish Way or Shanghai’s Lessons

Background

Finland and Shanghai, China have recently been top the PISA project. PISA was an OECD-led project investigating 15-year-old students in 32 countries, one of the findings being that Finnish students and students in China were among the best in terms of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy. In spite of its criticism that “PISA focus on areas too narrow to capture the whole spectrum of school education, and thus ignore social skills, moral development, creativity, or digital literacy as important outcomes of public education” (Sahlberg,2011). It is essential to note that PISA was not a conventional school achievement testing: ‘In all cycles, the domains of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy are covered not merely in terms of mastery of the school curriculum, but in terms of important knowledge and skills needed in adult life’ (http://www.pisa.oecd.org/).

Introduction

Though there is huge difference in the socio-historical factors between Finland and Shanghai, some commonalities still can be found, which could be the main reasons behind Finnish and Shanghai’s education success: 1) Excellent teachers and high-quality teacher education; 2) School Partnerships 3) Pedagogical approaches. This article is to explore these three factors and bring up some differences that leave to explain.

High Quality Teacher Education and Excellent Teachers

Teacher Education In Finland and Shanghai

In both Finland and Shanghai, it is highly competitive to become a teacher. A university degree in Educational Science plays a vital role in becoming a teacher. In order to become a primary school teacher in Finland, one have to study at least for five years to obtain a master degree in teacher education and all pre-school or early childhood education teachers are degree holders. Approximately 1 out of 20 teacher student applicants are admitted to Teacher Education Program in universities. According to statistics from University of Helsinki, it offered only 120 study places in the primary school teacher education program in the Department of Teacher Education with a total of nearly 2400 new applicants, in the academic year of 2011-2012.

All primary schools teachers in shanghai are equivalent degree holders as those in Finland, after examining the teaching position advertisement published by District Education Bureaus in Shanghai from 2012 onwards, schools in Shanghai at primary level or above, only recruit degree holders (preferably a master degree) from ‘normal university’ (Teacher Education School) , which require at least four year of study in the university. Almost all teacher students are hired to teach in Shanghai, are graduated from the top 5 ‘key normal universities.’

Professional Development in Shanghai and Finland

Though Shanghainese primary teachers don’t have to spend 5 years to obtain a master degree, instead, it requires four years of undergraduate study. However, teacher education in Shanghai are supplemented by a compulsory professional development. Shanghai was the first district in china to require CPD (continuous professional development) for teachers. Every teacher ( in primary and junior secondary schools ) is expected to engage in 360 hours of professional development within five years ( OECD, 2010). In comparison, there are only 3 mandatory professional development days annually offered by local education authorities according to the Finnish teacher employment contract (Sahlberg, 2011). According to Kumpulainen (2008), ‘approximately two thirds of primary and secondary teachers in 2007 participated in profession development. Moreover, in 2009, Finnish Ministry of Education reported that participation in professional development is declining.

Educational Leaders are Teachers

High education performance require high leadership at the school level. In some countries, the education authorities and administrations are led by people without experience in teaching or leading in schools. To the contrast, almost all the officers in the (Chinese ) government education authorities, both at municipal and district levels, started as school teachers. Most of them distinguished themselves as teachers or school principals with strong track records (OECD, 2010). Similarly in Finland, educational leadership in municipal education offices is without exception in the hands of professional educators who have experience in working in the field of education. A school principal needs to be able to teach the school they need and have to complete university studies on educational leadership and administration. Principals in Finland are required by law to have been teachers themselves and most continue to be engaged in classroom teaching for at least 2-3 hours and many up to 20 lessons per week.

Partnerships among Schools

Disparity and inequality is comparably high in Shanghai to Finland. However, in recent education reform, Shanghai have been undertaking to improve its school system by converting under- performing schools into stronger schools. In order to achieve this, several strategies are adopted, among which are: teacher exchange between urban and rural areas, pairing off urban districts and rural districts, and “good” public schools taking over the administration of “weak” ones. Under the ‘Commissioned Administration’ Scheme, the “good” public school appoints its experienced leader (such as the deputy principal) to be the principal of the “weak” school and sends a team of experienced teachers to lead in teaching. it is believed that the ethos, management style and teaching methods of the good schools can in this way be transferred to the poorer school (Xu, 2012).

Similarly, it is common to see teachers are shared among different schools in the same municipalities today. Moreover, due to the decentralisation of public sector management and educational administration in the early 1990s, Finnish municipalities have been developing different approaches to school leadership distribution and cooperation to respond to pressures brought about by declining school enrolments and resources. They have been undertaking to improve schooling for local children by ensuring that principals are responsible not only for their own schools but also for their districts, and that there is shared management and supervision as well as evaluation and development of education planning. These reforms are seen as a way to align schools and municipalities to think systemically with the key objective of promoting a common schooling vision and a united school system (Hargreaves et al, 2007).

Pedagogical Reflection

Customised Curriculum & Teaching Experimentation

Curriculum differs from school to school because teachers and Principals in Finnish schools creates their own curriculum proved by local education authorities, while schools must follow the national curriculum in other western countries such as the U.S, U.K or Canada. Students’ personalities and cognitive development are taken into consideration when teachers design and develop the school curriculum. There is very few standardised test in terms of student assessment.

Comparably, Shanghai is always seeking better approaches to curriculum reforms. Since 1988, Shanhai lunched its first curriculum reform by centralising on improving students’ overall quality by integrating societal needs, student development and a school’s disciplinary system to overcome ‘examination orientation’ practices in schools with the aim to quality education (Ding, 2010). It has stepped into the second wave of curricula reform since 1998, aiming to transform students from passive receivers of knowledge to active learners with an emphasis on ethics, innovation, practical skills, information and technology skills, experiential learning, and the personal development of each student (Cui &Zhu, 2014)

The reform has several significant impacts on school education in Shanghai (Xu, 2012). Overall, the curriculum reform broadens students’ learning experiences, enhances students broader human and social issues learning, and develops students ‘capability’ rather than information and knowledge accumulation. The curriculum reform is reflected by reform in pedagogy and supported by changed in teaching approaches with the implement through slogan such as ‘return class time times to students’ and ‘to every question there should be more than a single answer.’

Conclusion

The Finland and Shanghai’s success in PISA tests shares common characteristics despite their historical, social and cultural difference, that is, excellent teachers and teacher education/ development, cooperation among schools and curriculum reform and pedagogical experimentation. There are also some notable difference need to be researched: Finnish schools are resourceful and have all the facilities they need, while there are only tables and chairs in many Shanghai classrooms though recently some computers are install in some schools. Test for students remains heavy in Shanghai. In contrast, student assessment, especially standardised test is not common in Finland. Shanghainese students spend an average of 9 hours in school and school work. By contrast, Finnish student only have approximately 5 hours school day. The question remains: does hard work substitute the lack of resources?

References

Ding, G., ed. (2010). Investigation and Policy Analysis of Professional Development of Primary and Secondary Teachers in China. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.

Kumpulainen, T. (2009). Opettajat suomessa 2008 = lärarna i finland 2008. Helsinki: Opetushallitus.

OECD,. (2007). School leadership for systemic improvement in Finland (p. 3). OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/39928629.pdf.

OECD,. (2014). Shanghai and Hong Kong: Two Distinct Examples of Education Reform in China (p. 94). OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/countries/hongkongchina/46581016.pdf.

Pisa.oecd.org,. (2014). PISA – OECD. Retrieved 30 November 2014, from http:// http://www.pisa.oecd.org/

Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres,. (2014). Curriculum reforms in China: history and the present day (p. 4). Revue internationale d’éducation de Sèvres.

Sahlberg, P., & Hargreaves, A. (2011). Finnish lessons : What can the world learn from educational change in finland?. New York: Teachers College Press.

Xu,. (2012). The History, Culture and Development of Basic Education System in Shanghai. In Sino-Finnish seminar on education systems (p. 15). Shanghai: Shanghai PISA Center, Shanghai Academy of Education Sciences. Retrieved from http://cice.shnu.edu.cn/LinkClick.aspx? fileticket=X9fAdJJUhjQ%3D&amp

Education for All (Reflections on a visit to Tervaväylä school)

eduhttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ieL3qUh9yBM/TNobif1Nj2I/AAAAAAAAAvY/vw-yzNdH6uY/s1600/edu.jpgBackground

Background

One of the main educational goals of all nations is to provide equal opportunities for all to get access to quality education. In order for this to happen, the state must be willing to invest to create resources and right conditions for all, gifted and not gifted, able and disabled. In theory, children with all kinds of needs find a right place to receive schooling/education. However, in practise, in many countries, those children who are physically handicapped or mentally disables, are often neglected. But in one of social welfare countries like Finland, Tervaväylä school is an example of how it creates great conditions to include those so-called weak groups (children with special needs), providing the education they deserve.

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Tervaväylä School

Tervaväylä is a state‐owned special school and a Learning and Consulting centre, specialised  in the education, treatment and rehabilitation of children and youth in need of special support, with its insightful vision to provide expertise to inclusive schools. The core values of Tervaväylä  school are customer orientation, expertise and collaboration, by which they mean, to help educate and treat the youth in special support and work collaboratively with those who support these children with their expertise in inclusive education.

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All students studying in Tervaväylä are in special needs and most of them are from different parts of Northern Finland. Children are sent here by their parents with the guidance of the school and their community’s funds. In some cases, Tervaväylä send special needs teachers to the student, working with the student’s parents or school to support the student, and decide whether it is necessary for the student to leave their regulate school for Tervaväylä.

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Ponder Points

We were told some children in special needs return to their regular school after spending a short period of time under treatment or study in Tervaväylä school. How could we make sure their classmates in the regular school wouldn’t look at them differently or how the children themselves wouldn’t hold the thoughts that they are different than other students in the regular classroom?

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In Tervaväylä, students have to the facilities and resources they need to live and study. Everything is specially designed to help each individual to function and learn: wheelchairs, tailored tables, music instruments, special toilets, sports equipments, hight-adjust kitchen rank, unique swimming pool and sauna rooms. My concern is how to raise the society’s awareness to include them after they leave the school. For example, how and where can they be employed to use their talent and contribute their knowledge and skills to society?  With this question in mind, I came across an inspiring video talk (‘I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much’ by Stella Young ).

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Notes and Quotes on Self-Regulated Learning (SRL)

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Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) is an active, constructive and goal directed process where learners monitor, regulate, and control their cognition, motivation, emotions, and behaviour, guided and constrained by their goals and the contextual features in the environment” (Pintrich, 2000)

Why is this important? Because, students engagement in the learning process, such as setting meaningful goals, selecting appropriate and task-specific strategies, monitoring motivation levels, and adapting based on feedback, are all positively related to learning outcomes (Moos & Ringdal, 2012).

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To put it in a simple way, in order to get what you wants, you needs to be clear:

  1. What do you really, really want?
  2. What would you do and how would you do it?
  3. How would you feel if you get or not get it? (Pleasure VS Pain)
  4. What works and what doest?

Time to Reflect

  1. What did you do well?
  2. What could you have done differently?
  3. What stories would you tell him (her) if (s)he wants to get what you got?

Models of Self-Regulated Learning (Notes)

http://crippen.education.ufl.edu/projects/PASS/Fall_2006/readings.html

http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/SelfRegulation/section0.html

task perception, goal setting and planning, enacting, and adaptation (Winne and Hadwin)  “four flexibly sequenced phases of recursive cognition.”

Zimmerman et al.

  1. self-observation (monitoring one’s activities); seen as the most important of these processes[3]
  2. self-judgment (self-evaluation of one’s performance) and
  3. self-reactions (reactions to performance outcomes).

self-regulated learning process better with three stages

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  1. Forethought,learners’ preparing work before performance on their studying;
  2. Volitional control, which is also called “performance control”, occurs in the learning process. It involves learners attention and willpower;
  3. Self-reflection,happens in the final stage when learners review their performance toward final goals. At the same time, focusing on their learning strategies during the process is also efficient for their final outcomes.[4]

These processes are:

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(1) self-regulation, which refers to the conventional model of SRL, in which the individual regulates her/himself,

(2) co-regulation, in which the individuals assist one another’s regulation, and

(3) shared-regulation, in which some or all of the group members aim to regulate themselves together in order to reach a shared goal.

The following is a set of strategies that can be used by all teachers to integrate SRL in their classrooms, their division is based on results from research by Paris and Winograd (1999).

  1. Self appraisal leads to a deeper understanding of learning
    1. Teacher encourages sharing learning styles and strategies among peer students to increase their personal awareness of the different ways of learning;
    2. Teacher promotes self evaluation of what students know and what they do not know, this will help in efficient allocation of suitable efforts for tasks at hand;
    3. Teacher promotes progress monitoring, stimulates repair strategies and promotes feelings of self-efficacy through periodic self-assessment of learning processes and outcomes.
  2. Self-management of thinking promotes adaptive, persistent, self-controlled, and strategic and goal oriented approaches to problem solving.
    1. Teacher encourages mastery orientation rather than performance goals, by letting students set attainable yet challenging goals
    2. Teacher encourages time and resources management through effective planning and monitoring, leading to better priority setting, overcoming frustrations and persistence on task completion
    3. Teacher encourages self-commitment to high standards of performance
  3. Self-regulation can be taught in diverse ways
    1. Teacher can teach SRL through explicit instruction, directed reflection, meta-cognitive discussions and participation in practices with experts
    2. Teacher models SRL for students by engaging in reflective analyses of learning
    3. Teacher promotes SRL through assessing, charting, and discussing evidence of personal growth
  4. Self-regulation is woven into the narrative experiences and identity strivings of each individual
    1. Teacher allows differences in appraisal and monitoring of students’ own learning and behaviors
    2. teacher promotes an autobiographical perspective on education and learning
    3. Teacher invites students to participate in reflective communities and environments to enhance students’ self-regulation habits.

Boekaerts in her dual processing self-regulation model distinguishes SR as serving different purposes: she describes how learning goals interact with well-being goals. Boekaerts  proposed a model of SR in which students face two priorities in classroom learning, to: 1) achieve growth goals that increase resources (e.g. students seek to deepen their knowledge or increase their cognitive and social skills)  and to 2) maintain emotional well-being (e.g. to look smart and protect their ego, or they try to avoid harm and secure resources). Students strive to balance these two priorities.

In mastery/growth process student pursuit of self-chosen learning goals which is energised from the top down (Top-Down Self-Regulation) by motivation such as personal interest, values, expected satisfaction, and rewards. The SR is top down also because students’ adopted learning goals steer the process. When SR is triggered by cues from the environment it is bottom up (Bottom-Up Self-Regulation). Boekaerts’ model posits that students become concerned with emotional well-being when environmental cues signal that all is not well and that resources have to be redirected.

SRL is also a social process, as it is inherently influenced by the environment and other contextual variables which might strengthen it or hinder its development in individuals.  It is appropriated through participation, and it is situated in social systems.  Effective SRL requires social support  in the following ways:

  1.    Modeling: observing models allows learners to emulate effective actions and processes, and thus correlate positively to better SRL.
  2.    Scaffolding: providing cognitive support on a necessity basis on the go, yielding as a result an increased understanding of conceptual knowledge, especially when it is adaptive.  Scaffolds can be removed as performance improves.
  3.    Other types of support: strategy use, metacognitive monitoring, and information processing.

Looking Back ‘Learning Theory and Pedagogical use of ICT ‘ Course

Before you read what I write, you are probably interested in this talk:

More pedagogic change in 10 years than last 1000 years: Donald Clark at TEDxGlasgow


As the advancement of Technology, Information Communication Technology provides people a new way of learning. In comparison to the Intro course, it explore deeper in difference learning theories, which covers:1) Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) ; 2) Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning; 3) Learning of Expertise (LE)


In this course, students form groups to co-write a science book containing the three theories-SRL,CSCL,LE from different perspectives: teacher, learner, technology and general. Each group is assigned to different reading materials. Each member of the group studies the reading materials on the learning theories by SRL, listens to experts to share their expertise on the theory research, and together discuss and compile a book through CSCL.


In the end of the course, every group finished writing the book. Students pair up to formulate questions based on their own book. We form two groups to take the test. In the test, we draw a question from the question list and answer it. Members in the same test group could ask help from others. It’s a new form of test to me. It’s more like a process of learning, instead of testing, to me.


After this course, I have a better understanding of difference learning theories as well as the use of ICT in education, formal and informal. It is beneficial to my own learning as well. However, there is something that could have been done differently.

  1. I would spend more time on reading/search/learning the articles/books on the Learning of Expertise.
  2. I would note down the majors points that are important to me.
  3. I would keep learning journals with wordpress.com to reflect my own learning past.

What I think about this course (Learning Theory and Pedagogical use of ICT ), if I am honest ( I am honest now:)

  1. It’s a great course in terms of course structure and guidelines. ( I mean ‘really great’, seriously)
  2. It’s well planned and organised though some lectures by some doctoral students are dull. (Did I say boring?)
  3. The main teacher knows her stuff. She is very supportive (and funny).
  4. The teaching methods are innovative. ( the course itself as well)
  5. Oh, there is a school visit to see Self-Regulated Learning with ICT in practice. ( People are actually doing it.)
  6. It is magic. ( After the intro-course and this one, I actually thinking of writing my thesis on the themes in LET)

If ‘Less is More’, which is more important: Less or More? (It comes to my mind when I look at table below.)


Learning Theories in the past:

Q&A after Koskelan Teacher Training School Visit

Koskelan Teacher Training School Visit


1) How do Children go to school?

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Some children walk, some go to school by bike and others are sent to school by free taxi if they live over 3 km away. All the students are greeted by school teacher.


2) What the first thing kids do after entering the school?

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They take off their jackets/winter pants or shoes, and hang up on their own hanger.


3) What is the class size?

3) What is the classroom size?

There are about 20 students in each grade.


4) What are the basic rules students need to follow?

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Students understand they need to take care of their belongs, turn off the mobile phones, hands up before talking, and share.


5) Are all the classrooms the same?

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Each Grade has its own classroom, equipped with Smart IWB, a computer, all the necessary stationaries for every student, piano and other music instruments, textbooks and sinks,etc. There are also shared woodcrafts, handcrafts, music room, ICT( Computer/Ipads) room and library as well.


6) How long is a school day?

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Teaching hours varies from 3 to 5 hours for different grades. Each teacher has its own schedule because they teach some specific subjects such as arts, crafts, English to different graders.


7) Can the students stay at school if they need, for example when there’s nobody taking care of them at home?

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Yes, they can play in the play ground or read in the library and there is usually a teacher around to ensure the students’ safety.


8) What are the subjects taught in the primary school?

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Finnish language arts, Maths, Arts, P.E, Music, Woodcrafts, Handcrafts,Religious Studies, Science, English and other foreign languages if there are enough (more than 7) students who are interested to learn.


9) Do the students learn all the subjects with same teachers?

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They learn most subjects with the same teacher (Primary Classroom Teacher). Some of the students learn with other subjects such as Arts, Woodcrafts,handcrafts with other teachers who specialise in the subjects. Some students with special needs can also study extra with the special need teacher ( the special teacher can teach students with special needs at all levels in a primary school.


10) Where do children have lunch?

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Free lunch is provided in the school cafeteria for both students and teachers. Other people need to pay if they eat there, but it offers student price for students in other schools. They line up to take as much food as they can eat by themselves and eat with at least one teacher at their table. Students are encouraged to take various food (Fruit/Vegetable Salad,main course with meat, pasta, milk,water,juice). The teachers also teach the kids wash hands before eating and how to use fork and spoon if the kids are unable to do so.


11) How are the schools funded?

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All the schools are funded by the municipalities/ cities. Education is free for children and their parents, which means they don’t have to pay anything. Some teachers/principles are shared among schools in the municipality.


12) What if the teacher needs to buy teaching/learning materials for the students?

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The teachers plan all the materials before the beginning of school year. There materials are supplied/purchased after school principle’s approval. If the need extra teaching stuff during the school year. They can buy it with their own money, report the expense and get the money afterwards.


13) What’s the biggest change after the school became Oulun Yliopisto Teacher Training School?

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The latest technology such as iPads, computers, Smart IWB are integrated into teaching and learning. Some older teachers left because more hours needs to be spent in learning new technology and work extra with teacher students. However, students get more attention and care from the teachers, for the teacher students help in the classroom.


14) What do teacher students do during their practise in the school?

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For the first two weeks, they shadow the classroom teachers to observe classes and learn how to plan lessons. In the second phase, they give three lessons a week, in maths, Finnish language arts or their specialised subject such as Arts, Music or P.E. Teacher Students plan their lessons and discuss it with the teacher mentor before they start the lessons. Teach mentor also give feedback to them after the lessons. During the last stage, they do teacher trial. They act as the real classroom teachers, give at least 30 lessons, to experience what life is like as a classroom teacher.


15) Do you notice any effects on schools caused by the financial crises?

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Some teachers were forced to have a temporary unpaid holiday in order for the municipality to save budgets, due to the financial crises.