Wednesday, 27 May 2009

O, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

One of the great things about being a teacher and not using an ordinary textbook, is that I am free to present material that I really like myself to my students. This week, for instance, my two groups have worked with "The Road Not Taken", and tomorrow we will watch Romeo and Juliet, the modern version. I guess that I would actually get more credit if I asked my students to read the "original" Shakespeare, but I quite honestly believe that a short extract from the play, the obligatory balcony scene, and the film will be sufficient for the first year students. After all, students and teachers are both tired at the moment; with the summer vacation only 3 1/2 weeks away we all need to tie the loose ends.

I have seen Romeo and Juliet many times, and even if the ending is so well known to me, I cannot help but hoping that this time, Juliet will actually wake up in time. I guess I am not the only one hoping for this happy ending, and Anne has suggested we let the students watch the video and read the lyrics to Taylor Swift's "Love Story", so that Juliet can finally get her Romeo...

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I'm Nobody! Who are you?

My colleague Anne and I are planning next week's teaching, and Anne came up with the great idea of working with poetry. So far we have picked four poems, one of them being my favorite "The Road Not Taken". The way I see it, Frost poem is fairly straight forward so that everybody can say something about it without going too deep into metaphors and rhyme patterns. It has always been my belief that we need to help our students see the beauty of poetry before killing the joy by putting too much focus on terminology. I guess that deep inside I would like to be a teacher like Mr. Keating in "Dead Poets Society", a teacher who dares to be different, controversial and who really manages to make a change.

However, at the moment I am far away from being controversial in my teaching (at least I hope so), and I am not sure I will manage to make any great changes either. I do hope though, that our day with poetry can make the students see that there are different kinds of poems, and that somebody may find pleasure in reading them too.

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary - to be - Somebody!
How public - like a Frog -
To tell one's name - the livelong June -
To an admiring Bog!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Busy as a bumble bee and far away from home

Delft_dag_1 006 OK, so I might as well admit it: I am exhausted! The last days have been busy from beginning to end. I have just returned from Holland where I spent a week with my colleague Anne and a group of 21 students from my school. We were invited in an exchange program at Grotious College in the city of Delft, and I must say, this school really knows how to take care of their guests. We were taken around in Delft and also to Amsterdam and Zeeland, and we also had the time for lectures and workshops at the university. The topic of the week was “Water management”, and it is fascinating to see how the Dutch actually deal with the fact that such a great part of their country is below sea level!

All our students lived with Dutch families this week, and the feed back they have given so far is united: they loved it! Some had, of course, seen that there are cultural differences between Norway and the Netherlands, even if it only takes us a couple of hours getting there. The overall impression, however, is that they had met great people, and some have, I am sure, made friendships for life. Today they told me that they had been busy on the MSN during the weekend, and they have already started planning what to do during the return visit in September.

For me, this was the first time ever going abroad with students, and I am sure it will not be the last. During the week in Delft we also had the time to talk to not only Dutch teachers, but also teachers from Rome and Milan, and hopefully, the result of these talks will be more exchanges for Sandvika Upper Secondary.

Two days of recovering from the week in Delft was not enough for me (maybe Norway’s triumph in the Eurovision Song Contest and the celebration of Norway’s national day also are to be blamed), and coming back to school was harder than I had expected. No time to rest, however; 13 of my students will be doing their English exam on Wednesday and they had a lot of questions to ask their teacher today… There are also more papers to correct, presentations to assess and new projects to plan. – Must be a sign summer is not too far away!

Monday, 4 May 2009

"The Darling Buds of May"

We have now come to my favorite month of the year, May. Spring has come quite early to the Oslo-region this year, and already the grass and the trees outside my window are green. I have just spent three days at our cabin in Østfold and had a real taste of summer; children walking barefoot in the grass (even if their mother told them repeatedly to put some shoes on!), boats on the sea and birds singing in the trees around. It all tells me that my much longed for summer vacation will come this year, too. At the moment, however, "rough winds do shake the darling buds of May", and I barely have my head above water. How come there are always so many loose ends that need to be tied at the end of the school year? Why could I not for once have made plans that did not leave me with piles of papers to correct at the most beautiful time of the year?

Nevertheless, the next few weeks will be quite interesting, too. This Saturday, my colleague Anne and I are going to the Netherlands with 21 of our students. We will spend one week at Grotius College in Delft; all our students will be staying with Dutch students, and we will stay with Dutch teachers. Although it will not be a vacation, I am really looking forward to going there, and I believe this is a great chance to get to know my own students even better and in a different way.

Shortly after we return from the Netherlands, I will go to Kristiansand, Førde and Ålesund to participate at three workshops on evaluation and assessment. The plan is for me to share some of my experiences in that area, and hopefully planning the presentation can also make me see what I need to change. I one day hope to find a magical formula which can really help me when it comes to correcting papers; at the moment I feel that I just spend too much time showing the students what kind of mistakes they make, without really knowing how much they actually learn from my comments. Know the feeling?

Photo: "Through the glass"