The three hundred and eightyseventh åsic- A light in the dark

#asaole, asa-och-zombie-i-smithsville

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!

Today I have had a wonderful day with my friends in Smithville. I had lots of time to marvel over the celebration of Halloween, that in a way already started with a planned ”Zombie Parade” that would take place this evening. People were dressed out as zombies and it was very interesting to note that there was no difference in age. Old or young didn’t seem to matter…

I am brought up with the thought of All Saints Day as a serious day when one go to the graveyard and put candles there to show respect for the dead. I have also many years sang in church in different choirs. The music was always very religious and filled with sorrow. Last year my daughters and I took a late walk to the graveyard when it was pitch dark outside. The darkness and the many nice lanterns made our walk exciting and solemn at the same time as it was creating a bonding that served as a platform for deep thoughts about life. We shared our viewpoints of what will happen after death and also what people we missed most of all when they had passed away. The moment in the graveyard was very far from my experience today.

I can’t wait to see what Friday will bring. Then I’m told that many kids in the neighbourhood will come to ask ”Trick or Treat”. I’m excited about it, but at the same time surprised at the fact that the Americans seem to go ”all in” for their celebration of Halloween. I met some of the ”walking dead” today and this couple made an impact on me, since they were no ten-year-olds. Scary!



Twohundred and Seventy-Third Asic- A World of Language Learning Starts in Your Computer

Londonbild 1_OLÅ

I’d like to share with you how learning can become interesting to young students if focus on learning derives from questions raised by the students rather than the teacher. I was teaching a mixed group of students in grade four and five in the Swedish compulsory school system. The students all had very few contacts with native speakers of English or with students from other countries. I wanted them to improve both their written an oral English and thought of different ways. It was in the middle of the annual summer vacation and as usual I spent time thinking of the coming school year. Isn’t that typical for a teacher? I know I’m not the only teacher who spends time planning for future teaching while their off of school.

Anyway, I thought of the idea of getting some kind of pen-pal for each and every one of my students. At this time I had just got my first personal computer through work and I wasn’t very familiar with how to use internet as a resource. I was therefore searching for different websites in order to find addresses to PEN-pals. It wasn’t until I came across the website with the very new word #epals, that I realized that PEN-pals were completely outdated! I was thinking like a dinosaur! Briefly, ePals is a website where teachers or students or for that matter teachers AND students can get in touch with each other in order to collaborate in different projects. It doesn’t have to be international projects, but in my case it was.

From the start I didn’t plan to collaborate at all with any American teachers. I was focused on the UK, since I was going to the UK in September in 2000. I spent a couple of hours reading different profiles in the ePals website and then I wrote my own profile. Already while I was browsing the site, I got a few mails in my inbox. There were two of them from American teachers and one of them was from a British teacher. They all seemed very nice, but since I was in a hurry to get my project going, I wrote to the British teacher, telling him about my plans to go to the UK and I also fired off my question about the two of us meeting each other to plan our future collaboration with our students. I wrote “Since I come to the UK in September, I hope we can meet and plan for our mutual project!” Then, since I was in a hurry and also because I know that teachers don’t like to spend time doing the wrong things, I wrote back to the two other teachers politely telling them that unfortunately I had already found a teacher in Britain whom I wanted to collaborate with and thus I didn’t need to write to them…

The “British” teacher replied to my email saying something like “It’s not that I don’t WANT to meet you, but how exactly did you think we could meet if you go to the UK and I live in New Jersey?”
Anyone who gets an email with that comment could have given up, but I’m not that kind of person. I wrote back. The “British” teacher wasn’t at all British and the REAL British teacher, whom I mistaken for being American, was of course already lost and gone, so what options did I have??? I started off brushing up my own English, by writing back and forth to this particular American teacher, who seemed to be a nice person already from the start. He was a teacher in a class in the same age span as my students, so after a few weeks of planning we started off writing emails between the two different schools.

At first, we instructed our own classes to write more general letters about themselves and share photos and details about the school system or what the school looked like. But gradually as the students got to know each other a little better, they started to ask their own questions and compared the learning situations in Sweden and New Jersey. My students, who were used to several breaks during school days, were shocked to notice that the students in the American school had fewer breaks and also lacked a nice lawn and a playing-ground at school. Outside the American school was instead a parking lot.

There were a lot of similar topics that gave students in both ends of our mutual collaboration a chance to challenge their language skills. In the American end students had a more cultural based viewpoint to our project, whereas in Sweden the focus was mainly on language and how to express oneself. One thing lead to another and the American teacher and I also visited each other’s schools and got the opportunity to see through teaching what it was like to teach in a completely different school setting than the one we were used to, respectively. I remember from MY teaching during one single day in the American school, that it was weird to be addressed Mrs Olenius. I also found it interesting to interact with the student in MY way, rather outspoken and joking, and notice how a few of the American TEACHERS frowned. It seemed to me as if they were taking their ROLE as teachers much more seriously than I do, which was interesting to note.

Later, my American friend visited me and my class in Sweden. He had brought with him a few interesting lessons to teach and one of them was in Physics, where he wanted to show the students how an American Hurricane builds up, by using two large bottles that he quickly moved in order to make it seem like a hurricane inside the bottles. An interesting thing with his experiment is the obvious difference between the ways we would do such an experiment and the way he did. He ended up getting eager students around him who wanted to do the experiment themselves, not just look at him doing it. In Sweden I’d say most teachers would give their students the opportunity to try out such an experiment by themselves. Another thing the American teacher probably noticed is that his usual reference to the famous Wizard of Oz didn’t work in Sweden. Why not?

A Swedish student in grade five generally wouldn’t know what kind of movie that is.
I’m happy to say that this American teacher and I have been friends for a long time now and thanks to him, I have learnt a lot about America that is more positive than I could ever imagine. Maybe it was meant to be that I mixed the American teacher with the British?


One hundred and thirtyeighth åsic- Teacher of the Year 2015

I had the great opportunity to share the everyday teaching life with a marvellous teacher, Cathy Jacobo. During my stay in NJ in October/November 2014, I experienced teaching and instructing from an American point of view. I am sure my visit had been less interesting without Cathy and I am so happy to share that she was awarded the title ”Teacher of the Year”!


Congratulations, Cathy!! 

⇒For those of you who’d like to read about our adventures, please follow the links below! Please also note that there are no ”ninety-third” and ”ninety-fourth”, since those texts are written in Swedish… 🙂

The eightieth åsic- Sharing teaching experience with friends abroad or from abroad

The eighty-first åsic- Learning Among Friends

The eighty-second åsic- Second Day in an American Teacher’s Hectic World

The eighty-third åsic- Uppe med tuppen!- Being an early bird!

The eighty-fourth åsic- Fika as an ice-breaker is never wrong!

The eighty-fifth åsic- ”HALF & HALF” or Completely Wrong!

The eighty-sixth åsic- Höstlöv, höstlov, hostlov, Fall Break!

The eighty-ninth åsic- From Påskkärring to Tomten in Twenty

The ninetieth åsic- My New Favourite Tree

The ninety-first åsic- To help students understand and find connections is what teaching’s all about!

The ninety-second åsic- Being happy for having friends

The ninety-fifth åsic- The Yellow Wall and The Blue Wallpaper