Students say MEPNL was “eye-opening and enlightening”

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On their recent study trip to MEPNL (Model European Parliament in the Netherlands), VRG students learned more than parliamentary procedure … they had new experiences, made important connections, participated in engaging debate and found new inspiration to learn even more.

 

Students followed a busy 9-day schedule:

DAY 1 – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 4

Arrival of delegations in Arnhem, Training Committee-Presidents
Arnhem

DAY 2 – SUNDAY FEBRUARY 5

Teambuilding activity, Committee Meetings
Arnhem

DAY 3 – MONDAY FEBRUARY 6

Official Opening MEPNL 17, Committee Meetings, Gelderland dinner
Arnhem

DAY 4 – TUESDAY FEBRUARY 7

Committee Meetings, travel to Maastricht, Closing of MEP Green Paper Procedure, Voting on a new ‘Youth Treaty’
Arnhem – Maastricht

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 8

Workshops ‘Europe in 25 years’, Delegation Meeting, Lobby Session
Maastricht

DAY 6 – THURSDAY FEBRUARY 9

Visit of the European Parliament, delegations meet their own MEP’s, Presentation of new ‘Youth Treaty’
Brussels

DAY 7 – FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10

General Assembly, Lobby Session
Maastricht

DAY 8 – SATURDAY FEBRUARY 11

General Assembly, Official Closing MEPNL 17
Maastricht

DAY 9 – SUNDAY FEBRUARY 12

Departure of delegations from Maastricht

img_0279-1Perhaps the most impressive event was when our students visited the European Parliament in Brussels and signed the youth treaty. While inside the EU in the plenary session, students saw a real debate regarding agriculture.  And, they saw a bill pass.  Outside the EU, students visited with and ate lunch with a Swedish EU MP.  During lunch, he explained his role and his focus on environmental issues.

Here are some messages from the entire Swedish delegation of MEPNL17 expressing their gratitude for this amazing opportunity:img_0276-1

This past week at MEPNL17 has been absolutely incredible. I’ve met people from countries I had only known the name of before, I got to experience a unique insight into how the EU works, and why we must work hard to protect it and furthermore, I had a ton of fun debating and discussing relevant topics with people equally passionate as me. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity. Thank you so much!

Felicia Hu SPETS18

 

img_0344I want to express my deep gratitude for being given the opportunity to be a part of the Swedish delegation at MEPNL17. The memories created during that week will stay with me for the rest of my life. There are two words that keeps popping in to my head when thinking about MEP; Eye-opening & Enlightening. Being surrounded by people living across the entire continent has really made me think twice about values and privileges that I and people in my Swedish surrounding have. Something that really stood out to me, was a long and deep discussion with a delegate from Hungary. I remember that so many things that seemed so obvious to me, were the exact opposite to what was obvious to him. We spoke about politics and economics, and the conversation was at least an hour-long.

Again, I want to thank VRG for giving me this opportunity.img_0356-1

Samier Musa, NA18A

The week of MEP in the Netherlands was a week to remember. The amount of things we did in such a short period of time made it feel like much longer than a week. We have not only learned about debating, listened to several interesting speakers and read a lot of resolutions. We have had intense discussions, stressful moments and too little sleep. Most importantly, we have met people in the same age as we are, people who are very talented and smart and that will be our friends forever!

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Personally I learned much more about the EU and about how the real decision-making in Europe is made. Especially the day we went to the plenary session in the European Parliament in Brussels. I know that there are a lot of problems in the union. These problems are easy to state and easy to be negative about. What I found brilliant about MEP was that the focus was not only on the problems, but how we as young citizens can solve them. Putting young people from all over Europe together made the discussions beyond interesting and very intellectual, with many different points of view.

I truly enjoyed this unforgettable week in MEPNL17, and I hope that there will be img_0345-1many more MEP sessions for VRG students in the future. It was a fantastic experience, and I want to express my gratitude to the school for making it possible for me to go. Thank you!

Rebecka Mannerford

Being at a MEP conference is an amazing experience and I would like to thank VRG for giving me the opportunity to attend my second one. Besides meeting several new friends, getting deeper knowledge of cultural differences and the process of the EU, being a CP at an international session has developed my leadership skills and made me understand the difficult task that comes with leading a larger group.

Once again I would like to emphasize how thankful I am for being given the opportunity, and I hope that many VRG students will be given the same in the years to come.

Best regards,

Anna Sandros Hansson, EK17

img_0368The week in the Netherlands as well as the visit to the European Parliament in Brussels was an incredible opportunity to learn and experience how the decision-making process in the EU works. During this week I have developed my English and debating skills but also had the chance to work in a committee consisting of 15 different nationalities. It has been a week filled with fun times, hard work and many new friends. I will bring all of this with me in the future. Thank you for giving me the opportunity!

Emma Söderberg, Ek17a

mepnetherlands1I want to thank VRG for giving me the opportunity to go to MEP. It was an extremely inspiring week, meeting people from all over Europe and learning about their cultures and input on subjects ranging from who’s got the best beer to how to tackle EU integration. I especially remember the introduction speeches held by each country where (besides Hitler being mention at least four times) you really got a picture of how different even other Europeans countries can be. The EU is truly an amazing carpentry and a perfect example of how we can work together over cultural barriers. I cannot thank you enough for giving me the experience of a life time.

Best regards,

Viktor

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Blended Learning in Physics gets the whole group engaged …

img_9677During the past four weeks, our staff has been studying and reflecting over what blended learning is and how does it, could it and should it work in our school.  We have broken down the definition, looked at models and studied examples, read important research on the topic and debated what does and does not work for our students.

On a recent walk through, I noticed a lot of activity in our Physics 2 class. One of student teachers was reviewing concepts for an upcoming Physics assessment using a blended learning model – station rotation.img_9683

During two sessions of 45 and 55 minutes, students in small groups rotated between stations.  The pre-arranged stations included:

  1. Calculation station – students could work on problems as assigned in their textbook, they could use video references and work together
  2. lab 1:  transversal and longitudinal sound waves
  3. lab 2:  “telephone” to see how sounds travels over a distance
  4. lab 3:  straw tones – investigate how the length of the straw affects the tone
  5. lab 4:  singing plastic pipes – what happens to the tone when we rotate the pipes at a faster pace

In each station, students were required to read and follow directions.  Record their observations and draw conclusions.  Both the student teacher and their regular teacher were available to clarify and guide as questions came up.

img_9688At the end of the station rotation sessions, each student img_9689answered an individual online quiz using Socrative.  This “exit ticket” reinforced important concepts, assessed how much each student had understood during this review session and gave the teachers important data for the coming lesson.

I asked the two teachers …

What was your most interesting observation during the process?

“Seeing how engaged the students were at each station and seeing how much they already knew and their ability to use their knowledge in order to explain physical phenomena in the different experiments.  … It’s also evident from the answers to the questionnaire in Socrative that the overwhelming majority of students have understood the concepts behind the different experiments which is very fun to see.”

If you repeated the lesson, what might you organize differently?

” … Let all groups end at station 1 in order to ensure that it is quiet when they have to concentrate and make calculations. There was also a bit of a lack of time for the students at the stations which could be prevented by not starting the lesson with half an hour of walking through how to solve a physics problem that the students had requested. “

In addition to answering assessment questions, the students also gave our student teacher some valuable feedback on this process:socrative-answer, from Socrative:

fun and helpful

rushed

good with stations

flexible, easy to understand concepts

 

 

 

img_1347Good to see so many students and teachers engaged in review of important concepts, there was an element of choice for students – path, pace – they, obviously, appreciated this approach to learning.

Thanks, Aree and Malin for sharing!

#LearningbyDoing

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Teachers save time and students learn more with oral exams in math

thinking-emoticonWhat if oral exams could help students learn more and save time for teachers?

Recently in Math 5, our teacher team tested this very idea.  This was a revised approach from a pilot they did with the same group of students in one of their earlier math courses.

It worked like this:

Students were given 15 math questions, 5 at each grading level, img_9404in advance.  They were allowed to use all resources available to them to solve.

Then, during one lesson, students were tested in an oral exam.
When a student entered the testing room, they were asked at what grade level they wanted to be tested.  Then, the teacher chose a problem for the student to solve.  The student had approximately 5 minutes to prepare.  Then, the student presented his/her solution to the img_9405teacher carefully explaining concepts and reasoning as they went along.  The teacher quizzed the student further during the presentation to check for more in-depth knowledge.  When the student felt satisfied with their presentation, the teacher marked the student’s work using a grid illustrating the quality of knowledge shown for the grading criteria areas of concepts, communication and reasoning.

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While the student presented his/her problem, the next student entered and began the preparation phase.  And, then the cycle continued.

When asked, one student replied that she liked this form of assessment for several reasons:

” … it was less stressful knowing exactly what would be on the exam … I was able to be more focused when I studied  … it was good to be able to explain “with words” my thinking …”

To the question of did this method save teachers time? … Yes and no.  Both teachers replied that most of the time was invested upfront finding the good questions, creating the evaluation expectations and grading grid.  But, these were tasks that they shared.  The actual grading happened in the class in “real” time.  As one teacher remarked,

“that was the real time saver … not having any grading left to do after we left the classroom.”

kimAt VRG, we are always looking for creative ways to help the students anna-klaralearn in the most effective and efficient ways.

Thanks Kim & Anna-Klara for testing, revising, improving the process and then sharing the idea with your colleagues.

 

 

 

 

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Rapport: En digital kursstruktur för synlig undervisning och ökad elevkontakt #CanvasLMS

VRG DJursholm is a pilot school for our Blended Learning Initiative. We have now more than 2 years of experience working with blended learning approaches supported by the robust learning management system – Canvas. You can read about our development project, student reactions, next steps and more in this report.
Thanks to Hanna Forsberg, our Instructional Designer, for sharing!

Hannas skolblogg

Under 2015-16 har Viktor Rydberg gymnasium i Djursholm infört en digital pedagogisk plattform för gymnasiala kurser (CanvasLMS). Den här rapporten beskriver syftet med införandet av det digitala stödet och ger läshänvisningar till forskningsbakgrund, samt en sammanfattning av implementeringsprocess och framtida potential. Rapporten behandlar bland annat följande:

  • Digitalt stöd för undervisning och undervisningsrelaterat arbete
  • Skolans digitalisering – hinder, farhågor och möjligheter
  • Elevkontakt för formativ bedömning och ökat lärande
  • Att lära sig att lära
  • Synlig undervisning
  • Digital didaktisk design (instructional design)
  • Implementering av en digital pedagogisk plattform: utförande och resultat
  • Pedagogisk utveckling: så använder vi digitalt stöd för en blandad lärmiljö (blended learning)
  • En yta för kollegialt och kollaborativt lärande
  • Lärandeanalytik
  • Lärarens roll och ledarskap i en digitaliserad skola
  • Spridning och transparens för en mer likvärdig skola
  • Studieförberedande digital kompetens
  • En lärande organisation

Länk till rapporten: Rapport Forsberg 2016

Bild Rapport framsida.png

Rapporten har skrivits med stöd av stipendiet “Lärare skriver”, tack Lärarstiftelsen!

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Parents and staff share the same goal

On Tuesday, January 31, parents and VRG staff members met together to discuss what is planned for the spring term at VRG, tips and tricks on how to support students and how and why we work in the way we do at school.

parentmtgjan2017

Working from this presentation:

We had a look at the spring term calendar.  We discussed the “peaks” of workload.  We also discussed why they happen and, in some cases, cannot be avoided.

erica

Erica Hebbe, VRG school counselor

kara

Kara Barker-Åström, VRG Vice-principal, responsible for Student Health

 

Erica Hebbe, our new school counselor, and Kara Barker-Åström, vice-principal responsible for Student Health, walked us through some important points about time, stress and expectations.

 

 

 

Perhaps the most beneficial activity during the evening was when we watched this film:

and then discussed the topics in small groups.

We watched this film clip about Growth Mindset as well:

These discussions led to reflections and questions about how we promote the “soft skills” at VRG.  We discussed how and why we do group work and projects.  The school leaders also discussed the line of progression from year 1 to year 3 and how the expectations grow as the students develop more and more responsibility.  We didn’t have time to discuss all aspects of learning at VRG, but you can read more about how we view homework>> and assessment and grading here>>.

parentquote1Finally, we discussed stress – what does it look like?  We discussed how it looks different in different students.  Sleep, nutrition, exercise – balance was stated and restated as the key.

At the end of the evening, parents and staff committed to working together to identify, inform and support each other.  We agreed that we have shared goals – we want our students to be healthy and have academic success – in that order.

For more information about our Parents Association, click here:  VRG Föräldraföreningen

 

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What happens in Art class?

Students in our Art Profile classes share some of their work:

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How to build the best thermos – a design task for Year 2 Science students

img_9239-kopiaDuring this year’s project period, Year 2 Science students tried to answer the basic question – What is the most efficient way to heat water and keep it warm? Essentially – how to build the best thermos?

Each year, we suspend our regular schedule for two weeks in January to allow our students to focus on a single task in more depth.  The project is cross-curricular meaning that involves more than one subject.  Students work in groups to complete their task. Read about other VRG projects here>> and here>>.img_9247

In the Natural Science program, the year 2 project was focused on understanding thermodynamics.  Based on this understanding, the student groups were tasked with building the best thermos.

The project period started with two days of lectures and theory.  On the third day, students were allowed to do their own research and work together to design (on paper) a prototype for their thermos. img_9233 Students were allowed to discuss and debate their ideas with their teachers.  Then, on day 4, student groups were allowed to test their ideas in the lab all day.  With teachers present, students could design, build, test, and assess their own ideas.  Then, after further thought, students were allowed to iterate their ideas and test again.  After the first lab day, student groups could either stop the testing phase and begin composing their data, results and write their final lab report.  Or, students could meet with teachers to discuss possible developments and prepare again for a second test.  On day 6, the labs were once again open for those groups who wished to test again.  On day 7 and 8, student groups were given time to review thoroughly their data and results.  They were asked to compose this review in a formal lab report.  Students were also required to reflect on their process during the dsc_0199-kopiaproject – what went well?  how could their lab have been improved, what did they contribute to their group, etc?

 
In the end, there were many different versions of the “best” thermos”.  However, ranked in terms of heat preservation, there were clear “winners”.  One week after the project period, all Natural Science year 2 students gathered and the winners were announced.

All in all, this was a very successful project.

Teachers liked the level of student engagement.

scienceprojectquote1Students liked:

-having a concrete task – build a thermos

-doing an open lab where they themselves could design the prototype and the tests to be performed

-unlimited time in the labscienceprojectquote2

-the possibility to redo the lab without penalty

-working in groups

 

When asked what they would like to develop further in this project, one teacher replied:

scienceprojectquote3

 

 

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A Tale of Two Cities – Year 2 Spets project

Student authors of this blog post are: Anna Winberg, Astrid Körmendi, Clara Bergström, Ellinor Myrman and Liv Havander

20170117_095800Every year after Christmas break VRG Djursholm has two weeks reserved from regular school work. These two weeks are often referred to as “the Project weeks”. During the Project weeks each class is given a specific and relevant subject to work with, a subject that also suits the class’ program. Together with the group from the class that one has been divided into, we students get to plan our two weeks by ourselves. The group has their own responsibility how to research within their subject and the research is commonly done by conducting interviews with the public and talking to experts within the field. This year SPSE18a (Spets class year two) worked within the Natural Science and Leadership & Organisation courses. During the second Project week the class got the opportunity to travel to London in order to compare the research made in Stockholm to research in London city.20170117_115759

The subject our class was given was sustainability and our task was to compare Stockholm and London from a sustainable perspective. This subject is highly relevant in today’s society. Some of the topics that the groups worked with is green commuting, urban planning and public recreational areas. The topics were to be researched through fieldwork and then presented to the class. Within Natural Science course, a report comparing the two cities will be written by each group. Within the Leadership & Organisation course we were writing everyday-reflections regarding our own and others’ leadership during the two weeks.

So, what have we practically been doing during the Project weeks? Before Christmas, the groups started researching their topics and gathering background information, in order to make the coming Project weeks as productive as possible. After one week of fieldwork in Stockholm, the week in London was introduced with a guided tour around the city showing 20170117_103006us and explaining several sustainable buildings and projects. During the rest of the week in London the class did similar activities to the guided tour in all-class group, in all different

kinds of environments in the city. These activities were very interesting as we got to see various sides of London as well as understanding the importance of sustainability to a city. Just like in Stockholm the groups continued fieldwork-research regarding their topic and were able to decide which places to visit, when not participating in all-class activities. Another activity that was conducted was visiting the sustainable urban planning, the “Crystal Museum” where we learned more about the process of building a more sustainable city. The visit to Crystal gave us more insight about the impact of our everyday actions on the earth’s resources. Many of us went with the Emirates Airline’s air lift over The Thames – fantastic.

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Not only has the experience the class received in London created a great memory for us, but it was also very educational. One of VRG’s beliefs is “learning by doing” and this is precisely what we have done during these project weeks. Traveling to London as a class has taught us more about what team 20170120_082134building is like. In our individual groups, we got to reflect about our own leadership-style which was a practical way of understanding the material in the course. While in London, we got to practice own responsibility and independence. We had to navigate through the city on our own behalf – a practice that will benefit us all in the future.

Lastly, Spse18a are very thankful to everyone involved in planning and organizing the project and the trip. Afterwards, it has been noticeable that the week together with the class in London has brought us closer together and it has definitely affected the class spirit positively. We feel like VRG is a school which gives opportunities to its students, with engaging teachers willing to involve in these kinds of activities. We are very glad with the memories and experiences the two educational Project weeks and the trip to London has given the class.

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(Special note:  this class even had time to celebrate three birthdays during their trip!)

 

 

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Students explain Swedish culture to non-Swedes in their year 1 project

Each year, VRG students spend the first two weeks in January working on a cross-curricular project.  We suspend the regular schedule and students work with one big task for the entire period.  Students work in groups.
We believe that this way of learning serves the students well in a variety of ways:skills-from-project
-helps students understand the interdependent relationship between their courses
-helps students train the skill of working in a group
-offers students the opportunity to go in depth to further understand a topic that interests them
-offers variety in their learning environment
-allows students to develop a student-coach relationship with their teacher
Our year 1 students have created documentary films of between 10-15 minutes. Their films are intended to be seen by an English-speaking audience. The purpose of the film is to acknowledge, to describe and to analyse a Swedish cultural or social phenomenon.  You can read more about the specifics of the project here>>
The student groups worked together to identify a question to investigate.  Then, they did research and conducted interviews with members of the public and relevant experts. They synthesized all of the information into a short film with correctly translated subtitles and a clear “red thread”.
img_9241As a support during this project, students attended lectures by experts on source criticism, interview techniques, and research strategies.  In addition, the students had lessons about how to capture footage and edit a video.  Throughout the process, the groups had a series of coaching sessions with their mentor. On the final day of the project period, each group shared their film and answered questions from a peer group.
We have run this project before.  See student examples here>>
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This year, we had special guests at school to view the films.  Two of our founding board members, as well as the Swedish Language Immersion (språk introduktion) class from our sister schools, VRG Jarlaplan and VRG Odenplan.  Having a real audience for our students’ work made this an authentic learning task.
Here are a few of the student-produced films*:
Topic:  Taco Friday
Topic: Fika
Topic: Pippi
Topic: Keep your distance:
Topic: You reform

 

Students were assessed in accordance with the grading criteria from their English and Swedish courses:

  • The ability to express oneself in English
  • The ability to use different language strategies in different contexts.
  • The ability to adapt language to different situations.
  • Searching for information from different sources.
  • Critically reflecting on the trustworthiness and relevance of your sources.
  • Analyzing social phenomena by identifying and discussing causes and consequences and using relevant terminology.

This film project offers students the opportunity to show their knowledge and skills using creative methods. Students were given the chance to work outside of the normal school environment which required them to be responsible and active, show initiative and work as part of a team.

Another example of how “Art and Science” can go hand-in-hand.

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Remembering HT2016

(Head of School speech from the end-of-term ceremony, 2016-12-21)

Good afternoon … welcome! Thanks to our super talented music students for their music ….it is so great to see all of you here… this is it – you made it is the end of the term … after 89 school days, 185 lessons, nearly 650 hours of learning …and that is not including homework…Before I go any further, I want you to hear my most important message – I am so very proud of you – your efforts and your achievement.

What have we accomplished? What has happened in these 650 hours? What have you learned? When I was thinking about what I wanted to talk to you about today … I realized there was so much I wanted to mention. So, in true VRG form, I decided to write a reflection.

I have decided to sort my reflections into three sections. The 3 w’s- wow, wonder, worry.

There have been many real wow moments-

  • The first day when we welcomed 174 new students to year 1
  • One of our year 3 students achieved a perfect score on the högskoleprovet
  • Our debate team won the Swedish national championships
  • We welcomed 9 visitors from TZ for two weeks
  • Participated in MEP in Kaliningrad and Copenhagen and here at VRGD
  • Set two school records in track and field in SIPSI sport competition
  • Elevkår started off with a bang and clang of “New York, New York”
  • The music today during this ceremony
  • When asked students at our school responded to a survey saying 9.5/10 times they are met with respect – best in the whole organization
  • When students in a class were struggling the whole class rallied to work together to make their experience better

As great as these accomplishments are, I also wonder if you have considered:

  • I wonder what works best thank you for your feedback throughout this term … that’s how we improve – everyone takes responsibility to make sure the whole school works better
  • if you know that even though we are not allowed to assess with grades based on effort, we see how hard you try
  • how your teachers work day in and day out to make sure you are challenged and motivated to try a little harder, think about an idea a little more – and they never stop even when you find it difficult or frustrating –
  • how lucky you are to come to a school every day where you are met by teachers who are not only subject specialists, they also care about you as a person and your character development
  • I wonder if we remember to be truly grateful that we all safe and happy and warm
  • I wonder what you would put on your wow list?
  • I think about next term and wonder …
  • I wonder which of our UF companies will be the most successful
  • I wonder which natural science gymnasiearbete will be the most exciting
  • I wonder what our Spets students will think about new university course
  • I wonder what graduation in June 2017 will be like
  • Most of all I wonder how can we organize your spring term so that you can achieve your fullest potential …

When it comes to worries … I suppose we all have worries … have we done enough? How did that last test go? Did I focus on the right things? This is the challenge of being ambitious and caring about results – the challenge of attending and working in a high performing school. Our reality is that day-to-day life is filled with wows, wonders and worries.

An image I’d like to leave you with was one I saw recently … it was a professor holding up a glass of water half full and she looked at us all and asked how much did the glass weigh? We all guessed. She said we were close but then she explained that really it doesn’t matter how much it weighs now that if we were to hold this glass for the rest of the lecture or the rest of the afternoon or even the rest of this week, the weight of the glass becomes unbearable.

So true … So, I say to you now … put down your “glass” let go of your worries … it is Christmas vacation.

We’ll be there to welcome you all back on January 9th, but for now, I wish you a long and “worry-free” holiday full of wows and wonder. . .

Happy Holidays,

Kristy

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