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,


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Student exchange leads to real learning – reflections from our Tanzanian guests

During the past two weeks, we have had the honor to host 8 students and 1 teacher from our partner school, Barbro Johansson School in Tanzania.  During their visit, they have visited classes, played in the snow, tried winter sports, attended concerts, enjoyed Lucia and glögg and much, much more.  Read their reflections below:


Hey, I am Rukia an exchange student from Barbro Johansson to Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium and I think that this exchange program is very nice because I’ve learned very many nice things like the gender equality present in Sweden is very positive and the people here are very nice such as the Mannerfords who are tzbmy family here. I have loved the place sincerely and this program should proceed its good work. I suggest that a board of exchange students should be formed so as to assist the program when needed as they have experienced the program and may add something.


My name is Bryony Wilhelm Karia. I am here at Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Sweden for an exchange program for about eleven days.My stay at Sweden has been very wonderful with a lot of new experiences and adventures including the weather which I tzdthink is so nice compared to Tanzania where it’s too hot – a degree of  about 26, also the food here is so sweet for example tacos, also the people here are so charming like the Mannerfords are so  loving I love them so much.I would like to come back here someday and I thank tzeeverybody at large who enabled the trip to be a successful one. I have also attached pictures doing some activities.




My name is Ena Robinson Mwanjela. I am 16 years old and I study at Barbro Johansson tzfmodel girls secondary school located in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.We are in an exchange program in Stockholm Sweden.The program has shown me different differences between Tanzania and Sweden, for example, weather, transport and communication, teaching skills and even food but also Christmas celebration.I have learned a lot from the program and also I am grateful for it.




My name is Maria Charles. I am a student of an exchange program between Barbro Johansson Model Girls Secondary School and Viktor Rydberg Secondary School. My stay at Sweden has been amazing. I have had a wonderful host family. The Byman have been so welcoming and tzg

tzhhave made me feel at home . I have made amazing friends like Chase and Alice. I have also gotten an opportunity of trying out new things that I cannot do back in my home country like snowball fighting, sledding etc. I have also tried new food like the Christmas porridge, Risotto which have an amazing taste. I have also seen animals like wolves which are not available in Tanzania.I have got an opportunity to experience the Swedish learning techniques which I have grown fond of since they base on growing a student’s confidence. This exchange program is very helpful and I hope that in the future it will grow to bigger a bigger thing.

LisaBeth Maxon Temu

tziMy visit to Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium has been a great tour to me. I have learned quite many things with the few days I had here…

I got to attend a few classes and grasped new ideas that I had no idea about, I got to understand the Swedish Educational Curriculum which is quite different from Tanzania’s. The students were friendly and easy going as were sharing ideas and experiences of where we come from which has made me feel more welcome here in Viktor Rydberg.

I do hope that the friendship cooperation that we both have between Barbro School and Viktor Rydberg shall expand towards increasing more exchange program visits in both Tanzania and Sweden.


tzjMy name is Beatrice Musuba Matuntera. I have been in Sweden for about ten days with Viktor Rydberg being my host .  I have liked the weather since back home its too hot .  I thank them for their hospitality ,  I have enjoyed all activities I have enjoyed all activities I have done and all the memories they will bring a positive impact in my life .  I am one hundred percent grateful. I have attached my pictures doing different attractions here in Sweden.



My name is Consolata Amani an exchange student from Barbro Johansson school in Tanzania . I lived with the Duberg family( Melker, Annika, Hannes, Stinna, Nils and Bunsen). The family is so loving and caring I really enjoyed staying with them. I also visited the Lallo family which hosted me 3yrs ago and we were all so happy to see each other . I had a wonderful time full of adventure and new experience and also made new friends.  I am happy with the food here and am glad I had the opportunity to visit Taxinge where I tasted lots of Swedish dishes like the shrimps, salmon fish and many other dishes and they are so delicious. I also liked the big band concert they are really cool . I really like the weather here it’s cold compared to Tanzania where it’s very hot (32°c) and I also like the fact that there is gender equality between the male and female. I like how they conduct their classes there is more love and the do most of the things practically. I am happy to be here since it gave me an exposure to a lot of things that I didn’t know but above all I thank very much the Duberg family and I love them a lot.



My name is Lydia Costa a form six student from Barbro Johansson . I am glad being a visitor of Viktor Rydberg . I am very very happy with Swedish people since the country is in peaceful in tzpmanner, mostly I enjoyed classes in Sweden were I learned different issues like language,  culture  of enjoying Christmas and gender equality. I loved the games of bounce and free jumping. Lastly I had funny with my host Ludving Nilson of making snow house that was amazing. I am real, real happy with my host members which are Eva ,Gerge, Iinnea and Ludving thanks for them.


Thistz-flag exchange program has been going on for four years.  With Tanzanian students traveling to VRG and VRG students traveling to Tanzania.  Students who talk to, listen to, and seek to understand each other through real exchange leads to real learning.

Read more about our Tanzania exchange here>>

See more of the exchange trip photos here>>

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Shakespeare soliloquies in Spets 1

In small groups, Year 1 Spets students were asked to film their own interpretation of a Shakespeare soliloquy of their choice, from the respective plays that they have been studying.

Beforehand, the class watched how different directors had interpreted Macbeth’s famous ‘tomorrow and tomorrow…’ soliloquy, and discussed the similarities and differences in their interpretation. After brainstorming in groups, the students headed out to act, direct, film and edit their short films, which were then shared in class the following day (to rapturous attention).

Hope you like them,

Rupert & Spets 1


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What do year 9 students wonder about when they are looking for a good high school?

On November 30, we welcomed more than  400 prospective students and parents to our school for an Info Night.  At the start of the schoolwide presentation, students and parents were asked what would you like to know more about during your visit?

We received the following questions:


See full results here>>Here are the answers to all of these important questions:

We weren’t able to answer all of the questions during the presentation.  Here are the answers to all questions.

  1. Is it difficult with so much English?  VRG is a bilingual school.  We learn in both English and Swedish.  Teachers have a great deal of experience supporting students who study in a second language. You do not have to be “good” in English when you start, but you will be “great” when you finish your three years at our school.  
  2.  How many art course are included in the Art Profile? 3
  3.  How is it to have such long lessons?  Our lessons are typically 2 hours and 40 minutes long.  Having extended lesson time gives us the opportunity to really focus in each class.  We have time to go off campus on study visits or combine theory and practicals in the lab.  There is always a break during this long lesson and the teachers plan a variety of activities so that you will never be bored.
  4.  How is the atmosphere in the classes?  Students support each other.  The most successful classes at VRG are the ones who work together.  We all like to learn.  We work hard, but we do it together – so it is fun.
  5.  Which languages do you offer? Chinese, French, Spanish, German
  6.  What does the Natural Science program offer? This program offers a focus on Math, Physics, Biology and Chemistry.  In addition, you choose electives such as Programming, Forensics and Advanced Math.  Perhaps the best part about our Science program is that we lab a lot!
  7.  Does your school offer computers?  In that case, which ones?  Yes, students can bring their own laptop or borrow from school.  We offer PCs to all year 1 students.
  8.  Does VRG Djursholm work with the other VRG schools?  Yes, all VR Schools have the same guiding principles.  We share courses, teachersand facilities.  We work together to ensure fair grading by comparing classroom work and assessments.  We help each other.
  9.  How many students are there in each class? 30
  10.  How long are the school days? 8.40 – 16.00
  11. Does each class have their own mentor? yes
  12. Does the school provide lunch? yes, salad bar, vegetarian/vegan alternatives every day
  13. Does every class go on class trips? no
  14. Does your school use English textbooks? yes, in some subjects
  15. What are students most/least satisfied with at VRG Djursholm?  According to our internal surveys, students are most satisfied with the quality of teachers.  In our last School Council, students identified using many different IT platforms as challenging and wished we would review this and consider streamlining to improve the information flow.
  16. Which municipalities do students at your school typically come from?  Approximately 65% of our students come from Northeast Stockholm – Danderyd, Täby, Vaxholm, Vallentuna, etc and 35% come from other parts of the city
  17. How many students will be admitted to the Natural science program in HT2017? 60
  18. Do Spets English and the Economy program qualify students for an engineering program at the University?  For a graduate to go on to study an engineering program, they would need to study the Natural Science program
  19. What does the Economy program offer?  Read about our mentor company program here>>

In the past we have received more FAQs, you can read them here>>

Class of 2020 – Welcome to VRG!

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Seminarium: Digitala prov i Sverige och Finland

Lead Teacher, Hanna Forsberg, summarizes the recent seminar regarding the current status of digital exams in Sweden and Finland. Another VRG Lead Teacher, Markus Andersson, represented VR Schools on the panel of experienced teachers.

Hannas skolblogg


Anders Eriksson, direktör Finlandsinstitutet, öppnar seminariet

Den 21 november anordnade Finlandsinstitutet och Finlands ambassad ett seminarium om digitala prov. Diskussionen utgick ifrån digitaliseringen av Finlands studentskrivningar och Sveriges planer på att digitalisera de nationella proven. Frågor som kommer upp i samband med detta är vad som krävs av organisation och lärare, vilken typ av kunskap som mäts, och vad Finland och Sverige kan lära av varandra. Vilka är utmaningarna och vilka är möjligheterna?

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How to develop investigative writing skills? Using the whole brain with 3d theatre and art

In their 2nd unit of study, A New Country, Year 1 Natural Science students are working on developing their ability to write investigative texts. This is a required skill for the Swedish 1 course. This is a skill that definitely requires the analytical side of the brain. However, this it is not just a writing exercise – it is much, much more.
During this unit of study, students have been thinking about how well they understand people from other cultures.  To do this, they have engaged the creative side of their brain.  They have read pieces of literature,  studied different pieces of art and art critique, read and analyzed poetry in groups and will soon listen to a lecture by the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivorimg_5514
Perhaps the most memorable lesson in this unit was when the students visited a 3D theater performance about what it was like for a young man to come to Sweden for the first time and go through our immigration system.
Together with their teacher, Helena Adler, students visited the Royal Dramatic Theatre to see Det levda baklängas (Life backwards).
det_levda_baklanges_007This was a performance that tells the story of Marwan Arkawis life.  He is a young man who escaped from Syria and made the long journey to Sweden.  The performance showed the viewer the perils of his journey and what it was like to meet the bureaucracy of the Swedish Immigration System.
Parts of the performance were told through virtual reality and 3D sounds.
In other parts, det_levda_baklanges_001Marwan himself told his story through monolog.   It was a very intimate theater performance seen in groups of 12 – 15.  Students sat at a round table with Marwan as he shared his amazing and emotional experiences.
Following the performance, students were able to talk with Marwan about their reflections.
Now at the end of this unit, students will take all that they have learned about and worked with during the last 6 weeks and use that to bring perspective to their investigative writing.
Students will answer this question, “What does it feel like to come to a new country?” … using their whole brain.
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Learning by doing … Swedish presentations about language variation


During their first quarter, year 1 students have studied language variation – subject-specific vocabulary, texting abbreviations/emojis, loan words from other languages, accents, how language changes depending on the situation and more…

Instead of just reading about the different aspects of Swedish, students were encouraged to really “check it out.”  In groups of three or four, students were assigned different aspects of the Swedish language to study.  Students were required to not only search and summarize information about their language variation, but also to conduct a survey to report on in an oral presentation.  Many groups did surveys and conducted interviews.  For these students, this was their first oral presentation in their Swedish course.
By leaving the classroom, investigating themselves and then synthesizing the newly learned information, students were able to learn in a “real and relevant” way.
Thanks for sharing Helena and year 1 students!
This is just one of the many ways we “entertain the brain”. #hjärnanvillharoligt
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How our Business Studies program is going from good to great

How can we make a good Business Studies Program great?  

uf23This was the question we asked ourselves two years ago.  Teachers and students and partners in our community were asked this question.  Answers were debated in different forums.  We studied other programs in schools where students were achieving outstanding results.  What we were to teach was defined in our national curriculum, but how?  How could we build learning opportunities for our students that would result in “great” learning and “great” results?  We quickly realized we needed to define “great”.  

Together we authored this vision as our definition of what “great” would look like at our school:

In a dynamic and creative learning environment, with competent teachers who act as coaches and the school’s extensive network, students in our Economy program, grounded in their own passion, drive their learning through varied working methods focused on process as much as product. Upon graduation, students will, individually as well as in teams, have had authentic and relevant experiences characterized by challenges and risk taking which will result in successful projects.

Then, we began to brainstorm, prioritize and plan. We decided to focus on three relationships:  student to student; student to teacher(s); and student to community.

Groups are a natural forum for students to learn.

Using students as resources for each other means that they can achieve better results faster.  This sounded so easy when we started.  However, the efficiency and effectiveness of a group depend on the structure and relationships in the group.  We quickly realized that we had to invest time in helping students understand themselves as learners and what strengths and weaknesses they can bring to the group.  In addition, we committed to invest time into helping structure group work carefully,  mediating conflicts and identifying viable assessmentimg_0093 methods of how to encourage individual and group learning.  Since our start, we have shifted more and more time away from academic training of concepts to developing meaningful relationships in the group and reflection about that development.

Reorganize our teaching environment

We also recognized that if we were going to redesign the learning situation for students, we needed to reorganize our teaching environment.  We shifted from one teacher to one class to a 7-principles-of-learningteam-teaching approach.  We also reassigned time in our schedule so that 2 teachers worked with 60 students for a full school day every week.  This realignment of resources made it possible to use a multitude of methods: teacher-led presentation, seminar groups, group work, study trips and guest lecturers.  By always being two teachers, formative assessment was easily accomplished through continual observation and conversation.  After each week, the teacher team could discuss their observations about where students were and what they needed to do next.

Each student is assigned a mentor company.ekblog

No matter how hard we tried to redesign our learning environment, we felt constrained by the classroom walls.  We were convinced that we needed to build tight and sustainable connections with our community to ensure a “real and relevant” relationship between our students and the word around them.  Our school had just celebrated our 20th anniversary and we realized we had nearly twenty years of graduates who had accomplished “great” results after attending our school.  Many of our graduates were entrepreneurs and business leaders.  So, we set out to connect every student to a mentor company.  Each student is assigned a mentor companymentorforetag16 where they can test the theories and ideas studied in class.  For example, if students are studying CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in class, the examination assignment is to investigate how does CSR work in my mentor company.  The sustainable part of this mentorship is that students follow the same company for two years; they build a relationship with their mentor company.  Then, in the end of their 3rd year, students devote their diploma project to investigating, researching, analyzing and creating a project for their company.  This is their way of giving back to the relationship and investment from the mentor company.  How did we find all of these mentor companies?  We reached out to our alumni and parent network.

img_8286These were our first steps.  Now in our 2nd year, we are considering what are the next steps?  We have visited other programs to learn from best practices.  We are in the process of expanding our “team” of teachers to include not only business teachers but also core teachers to ensure a comprehensive approach to understanding.  We are also thinking about how and when and where can digital learning benefit the students the most.

Our students are repeatedly earning top recognition in the regional and national UF competitions.  But, have we reached our vision?  Have we created our “great” program?  We are not there yet, but we are certainly on our way …

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New teachers … new perspectives

Each year, we are excited to welcome new colleagues to our team.  
Each with their own unique experience – online learning and technology, music performance, language and literature, sports and sports education – our teachers enrich the learning at VRG.
Here, you can get to “know” the newest members of our teaching team.  
Name: Matilda Mattson, Swedish
Favorite quote: Tat tvam asi
Favorite book: The latest read
Three words that describe you as a teacher: demanding, expectant, hopeful
Tips for success in my class: trust
Name: Peter Carlsson, Math & Physicspeter_carlson_196303192014
Favorite quote: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right. Henry Ford
Favorite book: Tough question there are so many, but reading Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for the first time was a great experience.
Three words that describe you as a teacher: Calm, coaching, sense of humor.
Tips for success in my class: Be on time, be prepared and be open to learning


Name: Staffan Österlind, Music

Favorite quote: Why do today what you can get someone else to do tomorrow?
Favorite book: Bring on the empty horses by David Niven
Three words that describe you as a teacher: Outside the box

Tips for success in my class: Be curious, ask questions and air your own ideas!


Namn: Eva Berglund-Lindbäck

Favorit bok: Per Anders Fogelström “Mina dröevaberglund-lindbackmmars stad

Favorit visdomsord: “Challenges make life interesting and overcoming them is what make life meaningful”

Beskrivning av mig som lärare i tre ord: Nyfiken, uthållig och positiv

Tips for success in my class: Antag utmaningen!


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Groups playing games – Quizlet Live makes math revision engaging!

img_0049For many years, students have used Quizlet to review basic concepts and definitions. And, teachers have used Kahoot for in-class interactive quizzes.  This year, our math teachers have started using Quizlet Live to get the best of both worlds.

Quizlet is a review tool based on concepts and definitions or problems and solutions.  Students can match questions to answers via flashcard review, games, practice tests or worksheet review online from any device.  Quizlet Live offers teachers a way to bring this interactive practice into the classroom.

Here’s a video (from Quizlet Live) explaining the tool’s features:

We use the tool like this:IMG_0041.JPG

  1. Students login via given code
  2. Students are randomly assigned a group to work with
  3. Game starts – the same question appears on every screen in the group, however, the answer is only on one of the group member’s screens; which means they must discuss and compare to know who has the right answer
  4. img_0045A winner’s board is displayed on teacher computer (on projector screen). Each group moves forward one step for every right answer; if the group misses a question they go back to zero
  5. The winning group is the group who answers every question correctly first
  6. Finally, Quizlet Live produces a slideshow of most frequently missed questions and often “wrong” answers allowing the teacher an easy wrap-up and review activity

Our math teachers have used this tool for algebra review, extended challenges with img_0047functions and graphs and complicated equations.  Because students have each other as resources, this tool allows us to challenge our students further than we can in more traditional class discussions.  Our teachers have time to go around from group to group to listen and engage in meaningful discussions.

Best of all, students are engaged 100% the entire time!

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