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:

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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

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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

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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.
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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

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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.
helena-adler
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.


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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.  
 
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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
 

staffan 

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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Learning about issues we have never considered before through debate …

(guest bloggers: Kristine, Malva and Felicia)

img_0547Over this past weekend, we had the opportunity to attend a Pro-Am BP debating tournament at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, Latvia. We traveled there as representatives of VRGD but also in conjunction with the Stockholm Debating Society, the largest BP debate society in Sweden. This tournament required no previous experience in debate, BP or otherwise, and allowed both novice and experienced debaters to develop and test their abilities in a fun and challenging way. This was our first BP tournament and for some of us our first BP debates.

The tournament consisted of four rounds and a final, lasting from eleven in the morning until nine in the evening. We debated a range of thought-provoking topics. Some were img_0536relatively serious and topical, for example, whether the media should fact-check politician’s claims, whether the negative attitudes towards gold diggers are justified or not, and whether Baltic governments should incentivise a brain-drain from Belarus. But also some more lighthearted motions such as whether or not the wizarding society should remain secret from muggles. During the final, four all-Swedish teams locked horns over whether the liberal parties of Europe should abandon their pro-immigration attitudes.

Tackling these motions with international teams was not only fun but eye-opening. Debate often requires you to divorce yourself from your own opinions and develops genuine humility for them. During the Belarus Brain-Drain debate the difficulty of this became quite clear. The largest proportion of debaters came from the Baltic states, and others were Belarusian – the result was unfortunately several uncomfortable debates with img_0525xenophobic undertones. Although debate can be less-than-perfect at times, it’s really an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. You think and learn about issues that you might never have considered before, you meet loads of new and interesting people, and you improve your argumentation and speaking skills rapidly.

Our former VRG Debating Society President and VRGD alumni Alexander Käll also
participated in the tournament, making it to the finals and winning the prize for Best Novice Speaker at the event. Furthermore, our very own Malva Dahlqvist did exceptionally well at this tournament, despite her novice status. She won 2/4 of her debates and came second in one, thereby earning the position of 5th best novice speaker and 12th best speaker overall. There were 66 speakers at this tournament, many of whom had been debating and winning tournaments for years, making this an incredible achievement and something that we take great pride in. Kristine and Felicia also exceeded expectations and were able to provide even the experienced speakers with engaging and challenging debates.14633172_993710310737467_677464559826806313_o-jpg

Debating against people from all over Europe and of different skill levels has been an incredibly humbling and fulfilling experience. It was an example of how debate is for everyone.  Therefore, we encourage all students to join us at our own debating society at Viktor Rydberg Djursholm and join us at the various tournaments Europe has to offer.

Everyone is welcome to join our debate committee – find us on our Facebook page VRG Debating Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1506232512967584/) or email

kris.wils-2018@gmail.com.

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We’ve been #benchlearning about Innovative Learning Environments in Denmark

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In early October, all of the VRG Djusholm teachers traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to think about and discuss how to create innovative learning environments (ILE).  Through literature studies, school visits and disciplined dialogue in cross-curricular teacher teams, we were able to invest quality time into thinking about how can we develop ILE back at VRG.

To prepare, we reviewed the OECD 2010 report- The Nature of Learning where the seven principles of learning are defined.  We also went on to read and discuss the definition of a learning environment.  We define learning environment as flexible, informal and formal, bricks and mortar and online, individual or group.  We agreed that learning can and often does extend far beyond the traditional classroom.

Then, we went on to study the OECD 2013 report- Innovative Learning Environments.  In this report through a study of more than 40 case studies, specific characteristics of ILE were identified:

core

  1. Rethinking core elements of learning – who is the learner?  who is the teacher?  how does technology impact the content and resources we use?  how do we use time efficiently/effectively?
  2. ILE are often found in formative organizations – organizations that are continually reviewing their processes and their results to inform further development.
  3. Utilize outside resources in higher education, community connections and the “real world” around them to enrich the student’s learning
  4. Maintain a focus on the 7 principles of learning, that all aspects should be present not just some.

Then, in groups of two or four teachers, we visited 10 different schools in the greater

Copenhagen area to look for these characteristics.  Each with their own situation, their own organizational structure, their own facilities, their own teachers, their own philosophy … we saw a wide variety of different approaches.  We observed many interesting examples of how to use instructional space, how to organize groups and how to motivate students. The students, teachers and school leaders we met were obviously proud of their school and eager to share their experiences.

Now, as we return back to VRG, we will sort through our observations, img_8286reflect together on what we have observed, write feedback to the schools we visited and then begin to debate what aspects should we begin to study further.  During the second quarter of school, we will work in study circles to dig deeper and better understand ILE.  Maintaining a focus on our yearlong goals, we will study how we can build ILE in blended learning lessons and as we develop our program teams.  We bring our collective experiences from this professional development trip with us to better inform our work.

img_6977Of course, during this visit, we also had time for walking tours of the city, team building, and typical Danish dinners.  As a part of our three-year professional development cycle, our staff travels as a group to learn together and to build community. Both of which are key in becoming an even better school here at home.

 

 

 

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