SGLI 2017 – Becoming peacemakers with friends from around the world

IMG_0734Guest bloggers:  Robin Nordström, Alice Corneliusson, Sahand Salary

For the eighth year in a row, the Student Global Leadership Institute (SGLI) brought more than 70 high school students from 23 schools in 9 countries to Hawaii.

The three high school students that represented Sweden in SGLI 2017 were Robin Nordström from VRG Djursholm, Alice Corneliusson from VRG Jarlaplan and Sahand Salary from VRG Odenplan. New for this year was that the program opened up to middle schoolers from 6 different countries, therefore two middle schoolers from VRS Vasastan also joined the two-week program.

This year’s theme was peace. Peace is a very complex term – not only in a global perspective but also in a community or in a relationship.

The institute was held at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Punahou is the largest IMG_0726American independent school and the 2nd oldest in the country.  They have more than 3400 students from kindergarten to grade 12.  We were lucky enough to live in the dorms at the University of Hawaii only 3 km away.

During the two weeks, we got the chance to listen to inspiring speakers that spoke about peace in different contexts. The presentations gave us a lot of information and new thoughts. We also went on many field trips, for example to Pearl Harbor. In school, we discussed issues regarding peace, participated in many group activities and created small projects.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By meeting and getting to know students with completely different backgrounds, this program has given us a broader understanding of peace and the world in general. It has made us realize that we, who participated in the program, are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We have grown as people in the sense that we have been given new perspectives and we have become more open-minded and accepting towards others and their opinions.


These experiences help us when we started to plan for our own project the second week. By having people like Dr. Soetoro-Ng and Mr. Apio shed light on what they believe peace and leadership are made us realize how complex the phenomena really is. Also by visiting Pearl Harbor, we were also exposed to the tragedies of what a state of conflict, arguably the antonym of peace, could lead to. Therefore, we concluded that creating peace in one’s own community is quintessential in preventing larger scale conflict.

FullSizeRender (7).jpg

“Thanks for an amazing opportunity!”

Because Sweden is rather segregated between people of foreign background and Swedes, it can be tense between the two communities. Swedes have yet to perfect a successful way of integration and thus keep for themselves. Immigrants to Sweden struggle to integrate into everyday life.  We believe that this is a big problem in Sweden and that is why we chose to focus our project on students that struggle to get into high school in an area where there is a lot of immigrants. We want to help them reach the grades that are required to enter high school. This could, in essence, also lead to an enhanced understanding between people of foreign backgrounds and Swedes in order to promote a more powerful, peaceful and inclusive society. To learn more about our project we recommend you to watch our presentation video:

(NOTE:  This video feed is for all of the SGLI presentations, we are #16)

To read about VRG’s participation in SGLI 2016, click here>>

To read about VRG’s participation in SGLI 2015, click here>>

To read more about the SGLI project, click here>>

Posted in active learning, international, leadership, students, vrg info | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

VRG Lead Teacher, Mona von Porat, shares her findings regarding formative teaching methods

35 Mona Von PoratVRG Lead Teacher, Mona von Porat, shares her findings from a yearlong study of best practices with formative teaching methods in our municipality’s classrooms.

Click here to read the entire report:

(NOTE:  entire report in Swedish)

Det formativa arbetssättets verkan utifrån undervisningsstrategier

#variationinmethod #effective #efficient #vocabularybank #smallgroups #relationshipsmatter

Posted in active learning, leadership, vrg info | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rapport: Ledarskap i en digitaliserad skola

Our Lead Teacher, Hanna Forsberg, and our Math Coach, Anna Klara Berg Eklundh share their research report on what type of leadership is needed in a #blendedlearning classroom …

Hannas skolblogg

Med hjälp av stipendium från Margareta och Ingemar Ingemarssons stiftelse har vi bedrivit ett projekt för att undersöka hur lärarens roll som ledare kan komma att förändras i och med skolans utökade digitalisering.

Arbetet har sammanfattats i en rapport som problematiserar kring digitaliseringen i relation till lärarens roll i klassrummet, samt hur digitalt stöd och digitala strukturer skulle kunna användas för att stärka lärarens ledarskap. Detta bland annat genom att:

View original post 186 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When student work is recognized outside of school, it becomes more real

rotary2017aStudents excel in many different ways.  Music students show their talents in concerts, athletes show their skills on the playing fields and entrepreneurial students win their competitions for the best company.  And, while it is true that our top academic students receive top grades as rewards for their work when their work is published and recognized outside of school … it is even more appreciated.

Each year, we are lucky enough to have students’ work recognized by our local Rotary club.  In an annual essay contest, year 2 students submit pieces of writing to a jury for selection.  This year, we were lucky enough to have four students recognized


for their outstanding achievement in Swedish.

Students and teachers were invited to an awards breakfast where they read excerpts from their work.

This year’s theme was civil disobedience and civil courage.

Some of their essays are included here:

We are proud of these students and what they have accomplished with their writing. Thanks goes to their teachers who have guided and coached their development.  And, of course, thank you to the Djursholm Rotary Club for recognizing their work and making it more “real.”

Posted in active learning, språket, students, swedish, vrg info | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Grow Trees Grow … Graduation 2017

A day filled with photos, memories, smiles, tears, stories, speeches and song … it was truly a day to remember!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Songs at lunch …

Kristy’s speech:

The day has finally arrived … your graduation day.  All of your hard work and daily efforts for 12 years has led to this day.  There are very few things you do once in your life, graduate from high school is one of them.  This is indeed a special day.

You have already received a great deal of advice, you have the knowledge and skills from your many courses, you are ready.  I know that some of you are nervous, excited, happy, melancholy and anxious … Today, it falls to me talk to you about what is on the other side, the other side of that great big door you will run out of today.

It’s like you are tree.  You started as a small plant way back in 2005. As an eager little plant you started your growing journey of classes, games, fritids, study trips, mentor meetings, exams, avslutning ceremonies, friendships, conflicts, sports, music, art – all of these activities, all of these phases are part of the growing process and are what has brought you here today.  You have had many garderners (teachers and family) who have made sure that you have had sunlight and water and space to grow.  

During these 12 years, as a plant you have now grown to become a tree.  Some of you have grown in crooked ways with funny branches, some of you have needed your branches clipped from time to time to help you grow further.  Yet, all of you have become real trees – some of you are fruit trees, some are flowering trees and some of you are evergreens.  The reality is we are all different, as trees we all grow in our own way.  This is the beauty of diversity in our forest.

Today, at 14.00, you will run out of our school for the last time, you will cross over to the other side.  To our side … As a graduate, as an adult, as a tall tree, there are a few things you should know …

  1. One important point to remember is that as a tall tree you are responsible to shade and aid smaller trees, help them … share with them your knowledge, shade them from too much sun 
  2. Also, good to know, is that when the wind blows and when storms come (and they will!) know that your trunk will hold, you will still stand no matter what … the trick is to dig your roots in.  You see your roots are your values.  Whenever times are hard and we are challenged, it will be your values that see you through.  As time goes on, your roots will grow deeper.  
  3. You should also know that on the other side (adulthood), all trees work together.  Our network of roots intertwines beneath the surface – this makes us all stronger.  You see no matter which type of tree, we all rely on our values to get along and build our forest together.  Above ground we can look very different, but under the surface, we are all alike and need each other
  4. This is important to remember when and if you pull up your roots and move elsewhere to study or work … no matter where you live, dig your roots in … be active and kind and caring and honest … these “roots” are valued no matter where your tree grows
  5. Trees never stop growing … so even if you grow crooked or all your leaves fall off, forget your responsibilities, there is more to come.  There will be many opportunities for you, some you will miss and some you will realize.  Don’t fret over the missed opportunities, trees never stop growing.  With time, new branches and new chances always present themselves.

Now, I know you join me in thanking the “gardeners” who have supported you along your three years here.  They have watered, taken care of and pruned (when needed) to make sure that you had the perfect growing environment, the perfect learning environment.  Gardeners, all of your hard work “digging in the dirt” has really paid off.

And, on behalf of all of us, know that we are so proud of you.  We are so proud of your accomplishments.  We are proud of the trees you have become.  

Today, when you run through those doors, what you will hear are cheers of joy and “go, VRG, go”.  Please know that what we are really saying is “grow, trees, grow”.

Songs (and dances) in the aula …

And, then they were gone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Best of luck – Class of 2017









Posted in staff, students, vrg info | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Remembering “Studentbalen 2017”

A lovely evening had by all … prom2017l

led by toastmasters, Melker and Sara, the class of 2017 celebrated in style at their prom last Monday.

Endearing and heartfelt speeches, fun and entertaining videos, as well as some well-deserved awards, and, of course, a delicious dinner at The Opera Terrace –

A fun-filled evening with students and staff … a great way to celebrate 3 wonderful years!

Posted in vrg info | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sometimes, the most powerful learning takes place outside the classroom and in the connection between people

Sometimes I observe the most powerful learning in the most unexpected place.  A couple of weeks ago, I visited some students doing field work at another school.  What I expected to see was far exceeded by what I came to understand …

grade aid.png

GRADEAID UF is a student-driven, non-profit organization developed to provide gradeaidboyshomework support and tutoring to students struggling.  Three students from VRG Djursholm created GRADEAID as their UF (Ung Företagsamhet/Junior Achievement) company for 2017.   Their mission is …

GRADEAID UF Mission:  is to help raise the knowledge and motivation of students who today are not meeting the criteria to pass school.  By providing free homework help, the company wishes to encourage young people to come to school, raise their knowledge, as well as give the students an insight into what managing school can mean for their future.  The long-term vision of the company is that all young people will be able to contribute to a better Sweden by realizing their fullest potential by seeing themselves as an important member of our society.

gradeaid1Basically, their plan was this … to visit Järvaskolan each Friday morning during the spring term for 2 hours.  They provide tutoring to students who are willing to come to school early and study for these two hours.  The school provides breakfast and the VRG students provide the tutoring. This was a good plan, but what has happened has become so much more . . .
– the students from VRG and Järvaskolan have really bonded and talked about many topics beyond their studies
– the three boys from VRG have been so inspired that they have now inspired many of their other friends to follow along and act as voluntary tutors
– the GRADEAID tutors have also been employed as paid tutors during Saturday school and holiday school provided by JärvaskolanIMG_5253
– and now at the end of the year, as a prize to the students who have attended the most homework sessions, VRG and Järvaskolan students will participate in social activities together outside of school.
When I talked to my students, I realized they did not come up with a sustainable idea for their “company” before mid-December.  And, even then, they were unsure if it would work.  Yet, once they began working with the young people at Järvaskolan their idea quickly shifted from theory to practice.  What they were maybe not expecting was to be so affected by what their efforts one morning a week could mean in results.  Many of the Järvaskolan students are now working towards passing grades and are engaged and excited to come to school on Friday mornings.
IMG_5243.JPGThe real reason I went to visit this field work was to discuss with the principal at Järvaskolan how we could continue this cooperation and the vision of these three students.  While every UF company must “close” by the end of the year, they have asked VRG Djursholm to inherit the mission and continue their work.  So, we met together with Helya Riazat and some of her staff to discuss the details.
What I expected to observe when I visited these students was a UF company in action (one that got started rather late).  I expected to see VRG students tutoring younger students from another school.  I expected to see a positive learning experience.
IMG_5235What I saw was true engagement from all students, sincere, meaningful relationships and joy.  What I came to understand was the impact these three students were making.  What I observed was the profound respect and effort my students were making to realize their UF company’s mission.  They were not doing this for a grade, they were doing this because they believed it was really important.
And, what I was most reminded of was that often the most powerful learning takes place outside our classrooms and in the personal connection between people.  
Posted in active learning, entrepreneurship, leadership, project, students, vrg info | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Culture Café 2017 / Kulturkafé 2017

Thanks to all of our Music and Art profile students who “stole the show” during our Culture Café 2017 …

Watching the concert:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and listening . . .

Then, we were able to walk through the exciting art show:

The whole afternoon was filled with inspirational images and sounds, as well as a real sense of #VRGANDA.

Posted in active learning, aesthetics, art, music, school culture, students, vrg info | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What it is like to be an entrepreneur … one student investigates

(Guest blogger:  Cedric Bratt)
simenextOn Tuesday the 23d of May, I visited an event called SIME next. SIME next is the largest IT-event for youths in northern Europe and it is great! Now the event wasn’t only about IT; it was also about entrepreneurship and how you can find your true interest in life.
The guests holding the presentations on the event were among others Johannes Hanssen, a mental advisor who held one of the most interesting presentations at the whole event about fearjohannes and finding your true self. He talked about how important it is to find your passion in life because if you work with something you do not really love, you will give it up when the going gets tough.
Another interesting guest was Mikael Spreitz, an ex-criminal who now is one of Swedens biggest actors. He has been convicted over 40 times and it would have been even more if he did not come to a critical point where he realized that he had to change. It was at an airlock maxresdefaultat the mental hospital for criminals he realized that he did not want to live the life he was living. So he changed, first he worked for the police but then one day a colleague approached him asking him if he was interested in doing an audition for a role in a big Swedish movie. He told him, yes and surprisingly he acquired the role even though everybody around him told him he could not do it. What I learned from him is that: it is never too late to change and make the right decision. He also talked about how you should never ever give up if you want to do something, do it, it does not matter what anybody else says.
Overall SIME next was a very interesting event and there were many fascinating guests with gripping life stories. I learned a lot about what it means to be an entrepreneur.
To be an entrepreneur means hard work, a lot of hard work, you will work day and night without ever knowing when you will be paid. But it is also a fantastic profession because you will work with your passion and sometimes passion is all you need. As the host of the event said it; “when it comes to being an entrepreneur you are either celebrating with champagne or crying in your basement, there is no middle in between.”
cedric bratt

Cedric Bratt

Natural Science, Class of 2019

Posted in active learning, entrepreneurship, students | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to use time in the best way? #droptheschedule

At our school, May is a crazy, chaotic month.  IMG_0112

Students and teachers have worked for 10 months learning new skills, developing abilities and growing knowledge in each course.  With one month left, we are all trying to focus on finishing strong where every student can show all that they have learned. Many different activities are planned – exams, presentations, projects, study trips, debates, national tests, pitch contests and much, much more.  While our focus is clear, the question of how to organize is the trick.

How can we use time in the best way?

Our answer – #droptheschedule.

For three days, we drop the regular schedule and allow teachers to use the time in chemlabexamwhatever way serves the learning in their course.  Some courses need long periods of time, some courses need only a few minutes, but only a few students at a time, some groups need all day for a study trip . . . we try to find the most efficient and effective way to use one of our most precious resources – time.  We call these three days – Resource Days.

What happens during Resource days?

In Chemistry 1, students have done a 2-hour lab (practical) exam.  Students are given an open lab where they must understand the problem, draft their plan, run their experiment and report results.  Students’ lab practical skills are the focus of this exam.  Mastering good lab skills are essential for Chemistry 2.

IMG_0100In all math courses, students have takenIMG_0098 their national tests.  And, every day, we offered all day math support lessons, “mattestuga“.


In Economy, students have participated in a “Shark Tank” type pitch contest.  Each student team pitched their business ideas to guest judges.  For this competition, we were happy to welcome guest judges.  Having judges from the “real world” makes this contest more authentic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

9C71200A-0BDD-4B02-9E20-3B0024A8CAC2In Biology 1, students spent an entire day at Tyresta National Park.  Studying how an ecosystem develops after a fire, students were able to see first-hand important aspects of sustainability.  Read more about this exciting study trip here>>

Students in Sports went swimming.



Social Science 1 students prepared, presented and debated political party ideals.

Year 3 students gathered to practice their student song and trained their waltz dance moves in preparation for their upcoming ball.

Psychology students took their final exams and completed their final analysis.

In addition, many students met one-on-one with their teachers to get feedback and prepare their final assignments.  Student groups met to work on group projects.time-management

It was definitely three busy days.  Actually, it was a bit chaotic.  Yet, when we want to achieve the most effective use of time, we have to let “need” steer.  Different students need different support, different courses need different circumstances.

Yes, it does take extra administrative resources, but the results are worth it.

How can we use time in the best way? #droptheschedule



Posted in active learning, biology, chemistry, Economy, hållbarhet, lab, math, natural science, psychology, science, students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment