Four hundred and ninety fourth åsic- The Yellow Wall and The Blue Wallpaper

I used to teach in another classroom a couple of years ago. When I started off teaching there, I had an opportunity to decide for myself what the classroom would look like. I think that is one of the reasons that I liked it there. When moving out , I removed all the details because I wanted to give the new teachers the same opportunity to do whatever they wanted to make the classroom feel like ”theirs”.

This is something I wrote when I was still teaching in my old room: 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is an American short story read  by many, but how many of the readers have spent a fortnight of pure creative language learning in a yellow classroom ? The teacher had painted her classroom herself and turned the dark dull room in the basement into a positive oasis for learning. All walls were painted in a bright yellow colour. Her combination of gifts from previous students, her own creations or things she had got here and there, together with wisdom on little plaques or instruction posters with different themes like weekdays, phrases or words for certain occasions, gave the impression of a nice and welcoming place where the soul of learning was more important than anything else. Soul in English almost sounds like sun in Swedish, sol.

My classroom is not painted by me and it is not yellow either, but I have hanged The Blue Wallpaper myself and I have added a lot of blue accents, such as glass, fabric or decorations. Blue is my fave color and it also lead my thoughts to water or to a realxing feeling that makes me calm. In one of the corners of my room I have a waterdoor… In another corner are verbs connected to language use. The many hearts on the window to our pentry is decorated with thoughs or words on the theme LOVE. I think my students are important in many ways. I also find their background, culture and languages important. I think it is necessary for a classroom where languages are taught, that you actually can see that we speak different languages. All those languages are important. Knowing several languages is a true wisdom!

BLÅTT och GULT

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The teacher I visited in NJ, USA was teaching about weather expressions in Spanish when I was there and both the students and herself were happy… and yellow is the happy color that perfectly suits a classroom for Spanish lessons. A saying by an ”unknown” author that suits the yellow classroom very well:

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow

The three hundred and ninetyfifth åsic- The Yellow Wall and The Blue Wallpaper

I used to teach in another classroom a couple of years ago. When I started off teaching there, I had an opportunity to decide for myself what the classroom would look like. I think that is one of the reasons that I liked it there. When moving out a few months ago, I removed all the details because I wanted to give the new teachers the same opportunity to do whatever they wanted to make the classroom feel like ”theirs”.

This is what I wrote when I was still teaching in my old room: 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is an American short story read  by many, but how many of the readers have spent a fortnight of pure creative language learning in a yellow classroom ? The teacher had painted her classroom herself and turned the dark dull room in the basement into a positive oasis for learning. All walls were painted in a bright yellow colour. Her combination of gifts from previous students, her own creations or things she had got here and there, together with wisdom on little plaques or instruction posters with different themes like weekdays, phrases or words for certain occasions, gave the impression of a nice and welcoming place where the soul of learning was more important than anything else. Soul in English almost sounds like sun in Swedish, sol.

My classroom is not painted by me and it is not yellow either, but I have hanged The Blue Wallpaper myself and I have added a lot of blue accents, such as glass, fabric or decorations. Blue is my fave color and it also lead my thoughts to water or to a realxing feeling that makes me calm. In one of the corners of my room I have a waterdoor… In another corner are verbs connected to language use. The many hearts on the window to our pentry is decorated with thoughs or words on the theme LOVE. I think my students are important in many ways. I also find their background, culture and languages important. I think it is necessary for a classroom where languages are taught, that you actually can see that we speak different languages. All those languages are important. Knowing several languages is a true wisdom!

BLÅTT och GULT

 DSC_0016DSC_0017DSC_0015

 

The teacher I visited in NJ, USA was teaching about weather expressions in Spanish when I was there and both the students and herself were happy… and yellow is the happy color that perfectly suits a classroom for Spanish lessons. A saying by an ”unknown” author that suits the yellow classroom very well:

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow

The three hundred and ninetythird åsic- I don’t mind the rain and wind, I’m indoors!

 

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In June 2014 I wrote a blogpost with the title ”A mini åsic- Rain, rain go away, come again another day…” Today is another of those rainy days when that song would be perfect. But being indoors when it’s raining is not that bad actually. I enjoy my good company at my friends’ and I don’t need to be soaking wet on my way somewhere, since we are all indoors. Generally I enjoy any kind of weather as long as I wear clothes that go well along with the weather… I also tend to think that whenever the weather doesn’t suit me well enough, there isn’t anything I can do about it anyway, so why be miserable?

”Bad” weather encourges me to do things around the house, maybe bake a cake, clean the clutter in the attic, get rid of some old clothes I don’t wear anymore… What if we had ”good” weather all the time? When would we then do all those ”boring” but ”necessary things?

 

The three hundred and ninetyfirst åsic- To help students understand and find connections is what teaching’s all about!

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

For two weeks I have had the wonderful opportunity to be among students and teachers at #Pitman Middle School in #New Jersey, #USA. I have been monitoring instruction in many different classes and seen many very good examples of teaching. My main focus has been ESL-teaching and I have seen examples of that both in primary schools and in adult classes of different kinds. Some of the adult students were part of a program for parents and were taught in classes with students from many different countries. They were preparing for a test and if they’d pass the test that would help them qualify for being American citizens. Other adults I met learned language for their own good, so to speak. They had different private reasons for taking the course and were taught in a smaller group within a local college. In every one of these differents setting and with every single teacher I have noticed high quality and a good knowledge both in what an ESL student needs and also teaching and instruction in general. When in class, I can see that many of the teachers have the same idea as I have, i.e to teach through themes or concepts rather than details. Today, since it is Halloween here, I have noticed that younger kids in primary schools here learn about the local legend #The New Jersey Devil. According to the legend he was the thirteenth child of a worn out woman who didn’t want her child. She cursed him and said ”to the devil with him!” and since then he is haunting #the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. The story is told this day since this is his birthday.

All teachers and students seem very into the idea of Halloween, even if not all schools celebrate with costumes and dresses. One of the classrooms I visited today, a classroom where Spanish is the main subject, focused on the differences between Halloween and the Mexican tradition for Dia de las Muertas  (the Day of  the Dead). The American kids get a chance to comment on what is similar or different when they compare these two holidays. The teacher help them along the way and try to get them to precise what they mean. She asks questions like ”How do you mean?”  ”What would you have thought if a loved one came back to life?” The point for the teacher is to explain that the Mexican Holiday is not at all scary or horrific, but rather a nice way of remembering your loved ones who passed away. The teacher then connects to the American people’s connections to the date 9/11 and the kids all get a chance to share the stories their parents have told them about 9/11. The idea is to show the kids that by remembering and talking about sad or scary memories, those memories get a little easier to talk about each time. Then she wraps it all up by saying THAT is what the Mexicans do when they celebrate THEIR holiday. They stick to the nice memories of a person and cherish those memories in a more happy manner, although they are dressed or disguised into skeletons etc. I was very happy to get the chance to see this lovely explanation of what the different festivities are all about. To help students understand and find connections is what teaching’s all about! I have written in Swedish about the importance of this in my tenth åsic and in my seventyeighth åsic. Thank You and Farewell #Pitman Middle School

Those of you who read Swedish are of course welcome to read other posts as well. You will find those by clicking ”På svenska” to the left on http://www.asaole.com.

For my English readers more blogposts are found by clicking ”In English” to the left on http://www.asaole.com

The three hundred and ninetieth åsic- My New Favourite Tree

A recycled blogpost from my visit in Pitman New Jersey 2014!Quercus_rubra_1.jpg (582×671)

For a couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to experience a very mild and nice autumn here in Pitman, NJ. One of the days we had +28C which is not at all like the temperature for October in Sweden. In my 71st åsic(#Sjuttioförsta åseriet), I wrote about the maples in Sweden and how I used to collect the colourful leaves in the autumn. I have always loved trees and since I live in a part of Sweden where forests are a part of the nice scenery, I always find a walk in the forest very soothing if I need to relax or find new energy. I have walked along nice streets here in Pitman, where mainly tall maples and oaks give gardens their share of fallen leaves. One kind of the tree was unfamiliar to me, but I could tell from what it looked like that it had to be a maple or an oak, so I picked up a leaf and brought it with me to #Pitman Middle School, where I asked everyone I met: ”Is this a maple or an oak?”. Most people said: ”I don’t know but I think it is…” and then two people very quickly said: ”It’s an oak, no doubt!” Now I KNOW it is an oak, since I have done what most people do nowadays… I googled it… It turned out to be a red oak.

The fallen red oak leaves has the same SOUND as the fallen Swedish maple leaves when you walk through them… The other day I took a shortcut home and ended up very far away from home in an empty yard…learning that just as ”genvägar är senvägar” , shortcuts tend to be longcuts…

One good thing by taking the ”shortcut” was that I had to walk on a narrow path in a little forest, passing a railroad to get back home. The fallen leaves in a thick layer sounded like the maple leaves from my childhood and around me both squirrels and chipmunks ran about. I knew I was very close to houses, but the trees and animals made me fly away in thoughts for a while. The beauty of coloured leaves is still the same, no matter where I am. It gives me a feeling of gratefulness to see all the colours, hear the dry sound of the leaves as I walk through them. The sunrays hardly pass through to the ground and there are merely dark soil and old leaves for the squirrels to run about in. In its lack of colours, the ground already seems ready to meet the winter. In my lack of inner compass, I also seemed ready to meet the winter… Luckily I made a correct guess and soon found my way back to Broadway again…

The three hundred and eighty-ninth åsic- From Påskkärring to Tomten in Twenty Minutes!

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

I have had another interesting day in Pitman Middle School busy with interaction with students and teachers. Today’s topic was a bit different from the other days, since one of the students wanted to know how we celebrated Halloween. I quickly commented on that, but then I shared photos of the tradition from Easter Thursday which is more like the American ”trick or treat” than anything else in our tradition. Kids dress out as witches, but not EVIL witches. They are supposed to be more CUTE than evil or ugly. A påskkärring is supposed to be a witch soon going off to ”Blåkulla” on her broomstick. The idea for the kids is to draw or write nice cards saying ”Happy Easter” and then walk from door to door with these greetings. If they are lucky people give them a little treat in return, but there is NO tricking…just the treat… They will keep the collected treats either in an old coffeepot or in a basket.

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I then got the question whether there were any other Holidays I would like to mention. I picked Midsummer, since that may be interesting if you haven’t experienced it. First of all, Midsummer is a fantastic time of the year anywhere in Sweden, thanks to the Nordic light, but in the Northern part of Sweden the sun doesn’t set at all for a couple of days, which gives your summer’s night a magic touch. Midsummer can be celebrated in many ways, but traditionally we would gather to raise a maypole covered with leaves and flowers and then dance round the maypole, both old and young. One of the most popular song has very easy lyrics and we all sang it as kids. It is called ”Små grodorna” which means ”The little frogs”.

It is said about Midsummer that you dream of your spouse to be if you gather seven flowers and jump over seven fences. But you have to be quiet if you don’t want to break the spell! You pick the flowers, put them under your pillow and in your dream you will meet the very person who will be your husband or wife. 

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Suddenly someone wanted to know whether it was true that our Santa Claus doesn’t look quite like the American… so then we talked for a while about Tomten and the tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve rather than  on Christmas Day.

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I was happy to have a computer to use to show pictures and talk about different details and finally I shared what TV-show most families watch on Christmas Eve. Kalle Ankas julafton… Donald Duck!

Glad påsk! (= Happy Easter)

Glad midsommar! (= Happy Midsummer’s Eve!)

God Jul! (=Merry Christmas)

The three hundred and eighty-eighth åsic- Kids vs Adults, a comparison shows that FAQ are very different

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

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Today I visited a few new classrooms where I haven’t been before. It was very interesting to again note that kids and adults do not ask the same kind of questions. Generally speaking I would say that kids like to know, for real, what it might be like to live in Sweden. They ask personal questions formed from their own point of view and seem happy to get an answer.

Some adults may have a real interest, too, BUT the interesting thing is that they tend to repeat each others questions. Check what adults have asked me the last week:

  1. Are you Irish?
  2. Is this your first time in the US?
  3. For how long will you be here?
  4. Have you visited other states in the USA?
  5. When does school start in Sweden?
  6. How many school days are there?
  7. What subjects do you teach?
  8. How many students are there in each class?
  9. What kind of grades do you use in Sweden?
  10. What American singer would be THE most famous, Elvis or Michael Jackson?

There have been a FEW more questions, but the above questions have tended to come back. Now look at the questions kids have asked:

  1. Do you celebrate Halloween?
  2. What cellphones brands do you have in Sweden?
  3. What clothes do you wear in Sweden?
  4. How far from China is Sweden?
  5. What does the Swedish national anthem sound like?
  6. What do the houses look like in Sweden?
  7. How old are your daughters?
  8. What music do you listen to in Sweden?
  9. What famous Americans are popular in Sweden?
  10. Are there IKEA:s all over Sweden?
  11. What sports do you do in Sweden?
  12. Do you eat the same food as we do?
  13. What kind of farms are there in Sweden?
  14. What do you grow in Sweden?
  15. What does the trees look like in Sweden?
  16. Does The Swedish House Mafia really come from Sweden?

Kids tend to want to know about things out of school more than the teachers do.Teachers tend to ask about school related topics. I find that most interesting. Another thing I find interesting is the way no lesson where I have been involved has been at all like the other. I have asked the kids what they wanted to know and that has lead to lessons that differed very much from each other. Being in a situation where I can choose what to share or not from what the students like to know, has thus been just like I prefer to work, i.e in a group oriented manner. I will miss this school and all the kids next week when I go home. They are all very open and welcoming and I have a great time learning more about this NJ school.