Monday, 30 November 2009

A small December gift...

Some weeks ago, one of the many nights I was awake in the middle of the night thinking about all the things I had to do, I got the idea of having my own Christmas calender on this blog. I guess I have always been one of those who loves December and everything “Christmassy”, and cannot wait to turn the page of the calendar from November to December, and am sorry that there is so little time to relax and enjoy the days before Christmas. I have therefore decided that I will try to post one blogpost every day from the 1st of December to the 24th, and though I will not promise that everything I post will be strictly useful in the classroom, my aim is nevertheless to get my reader into the Christmas spirit. You are hereby warned…

Picture from Clip Art

Friday, 20 November 2009

Pursuing the American Dream

“America was where all my mother's hopes lay. She had come here in 1949 after losing everything in China: her mother and father, her family home, her first husband, and two daughters, twin baby girls. But she never looked back with regret. There were so many ways for things to get better.” From Amy Tan, “Two Kinds”

onion_imagearticle1128We all know that the people living in the USA come from every corner of the world and that the US is a multicultural nation indeed. Still, what most of my student mention when they are to describe Americans is either extremely obese people, or wealthy white Americans living in mansions and having more money than most of us can ever dream of. This week, this image of the American people was challenged in class. Rather than putting the focus on the stereotypical American, we have had a look at various groups of immigrants in the USA. Concepts like the “melting pot” and “the salad bowl” have been central, and I have also made an attempt at making the students see that the American Dream is still alive today, even if its nature has changed since the term was first introduced.

As my starting point I have used resources from the NDLA, Nasjonal Digital Læringsarena. I found that they have several interesting factual texts on the topic, like this introductory text about immigration inthe USA. It is not too long, not too complicated, and the questions following the text can provide food for thought for all the students (at least all the students in my class). Further, I have used texts about Norwegian immigration to the USA and the “Melting Pot”. What I plan to do next week, is turn to the experience of different groups of immigrants in the US, and we will read Amy Tan’s story “Two Kinds”. This text can also be found on the NDLA pages along with a reading of the story and various tasks. I also plan on using some of the activities on this page as we read the story (thank you, Ann, for the tip on your blog!). I have not sorted everything out yet, so I will come back to more details and some lines about how things worked in the classroom later on. My hope, however, is that all these texts can help my students understand that the American Dream comes in different colours, and that the US society is way more complex than what the Hollywood movies can show us.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Marking with Markin

For weeks I have had the program Markin 4.Markin_test0 on my computer, but I have not come around to using it until today. I had some problems at first finding out how to actually open the students' work in a way that let me use the program, but after some frustrating minutes I finally managed to make it work. My first impression is that this program can actually help me a lot in the future. I do not think it will revolutionise the way I assess the papers, but I believe the students will get much better and more detailed feedback than I have been able to give them earlier. Including statistics that can show them black on white the frequency of certain mistakes will hopefully show them that I have a point when I mention these mistakes in my comments, and including links to resources on the web where they can find more information on the issues can also help some overcome these mistakes and errors. Correcting papers is still a time consuming activity, and I do not belive Markin can help me speed the process up all that much, but if it can help the students get rid of some of the most frequent mistakes, it will, as time goes by, be of great help to me in the future.

Thank God, it’s Friday, by the way. Wish you all a pleasant weekend. I already know how I will spend most of mine – correcting more papers using Markin 4.0!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Dear Mr. President

The last few weeks we have had an interesting project going on at our school. All the students have been asked to come up with suggestions on how Presiden Obama should spend the Nobel Peace Prize money. They have all written their suggestions into one etherpad-document, and our pricipal has also sent an invitation to the President and the US Ambassador in Norway, inviting them to our school. You find the school's invitation here, and all the suggestions from the students are collected in this document. I am still hoping Mr. Obama will come to Sandvika in December...