Welcome to eJournal finnindia05!
This eJournal has been compiled as co-operation between two schools: St Peter’s School from Panchgani, India and Pohjankartano Lower Secondary School from Oulu, Finland. St Peter’s is a renowned boys’ boarding school, which was founded in the year 1904. This century old residential school upholds traditional Indian values and culture along with methodical and graded learning so as to cultivate different yet convergent ways of thinking. At St. Peter’s students begin school from Grade III (age 8 years) and finish high school at Grade X (age 15). They follow the Indian Council for Secondary Education (ICSE) curriculum with English as the medium of instruction. For more information about the school please visit the website: http://www.st.peterspanchgani.org/.
Pohjankartano School follows the general Finnish curriculum for lower secondary schools and it has three special characteristics: half of the classes in grades 7-9 are music classes, we are one of the few schools in the city of Oulu that offer teaching in the optional grade 10 and we are one of the schools in the Smart School project. The idea of the Smart School project (also known as the School of the Future project) is to develop teaching methods for the 21st century. For our school this has meant among others enhancing the sense of community at our school, developing interdisciplinary projects for all the students in the grades 7-9 and also looking for ways to make the best use of the many different appliances and computers programmes we got in 2009 as part of our Innoaula (= innovative hall) project. More about Pohjankartano at http://www.edu.ouka.fi/koulut/index.cfm?d=47.
The co-operation started in autumn 2006 when Helena Law from Porvoo visited St Peter’s. After that a network of Finnindia schools was created and Pohjankartano School joined in. At the beginning both schools were learning how to use the eJournal –platform, which has been the main form of co-operation. It has been very useful in many ways: we have used the ivocalize –environment to have online meetings with both the Indian and Finnish teachers, the students have written articles about different themes and of course they too have been able to meet each other online in ivocalize conferences. They have been very happy about the opportunities to chat and talk with each other and the video connection has made it possible for them to see each other as well. As practice St Peter’s wrote an article about their eco-trip and a group of Finnish students wrote texts about our school, the city of Oulu and some hobbies, two groups presented Finnish culture and one group Finland. These themes suited us very well because we would have done most of them anyway, now we just wrote eJournal articles instead of making posters, Word documents or PowerPoint presentations.
In the school year 2007-2008 the Finnish National Board of Education gave the Finnish network a grant which made it possible for seven teachers to go to India and visit some schools in Panchgani and Mumbai. We were welcomed with Indian hospitality and got to know St Peter’s very well, as we gave lessons together with their teachers. We were all female so we were given the name “Seven Sisters” as opposed to one of the classics in Finnish literature, “The Seven Brothers”. I, Taina Salmivaara from Pohjankartano School was part of the delegation. On the right there is a picture of us with Mr Peter Patrao in the middle.
During the visit many projects were planned, one of them was the project between St Peter’s and Pohjankartano. We agreed that the general themes would be ecology and sustainable development, and of course getting to know one another. In 2007-2008 we focused on the ecological footprint. At first the students from the project groups introduced themselves. We soon noticed that there was a cultural difference: in India the boys presented themselves with full names and pictures in an eJournal article whereas we Finns cannot publish our students’ full names and pictures on the internet. After that the students were divided into groups and they wrote articles presenting their natural surroundings in order to make each other familiar with what kind of place they live in and also to help understand what some of the factors behind the different results in the ecological footprint test are. After that the students took the test, compared the results and the Finnish students wrote an article about what makes the Finnish ecological footprints what they are. At Pohjankartano we carried out the work as an interdisciplinary project involving English, biology and geography and it was part the 9th graders’ Smart School project, Energy and Ecology.
In spring 2008 we got guests from India. At first two teachers, Christopher Gaynor and Prasanna Kelkar, visited our school as part of the Indian delegation of teachers and headmasters who came to visit the schools in the India-network in Finland. Christopher Gaynor and Prasanna Kelkar visited different classes and teachers and strengthened the bond between the two schools. We also used some of the time to plan a project for the school year 2008-2009. In May 2008 three boys from St Peter’s came to visit two schools in Porvoo and they also came to Pohjankartano for a week. They were warmly welcomed and their visit furthered mutual understanding and knowledge of each other, the two cultures and countries.
In 2008-2009 the theme of the project was once again sustainable development, this time the social aspect of it. And again, we at Pohjankartano carried it out as an interdisciplinary one, this time involving English, history and social studies as well as geography. The idea was to have the students study and write articles about what certain aspects of social life were like 100 years ago and what they are like now. The purpose of this was not only to learn from history but also to see how much things have changed in 100 years. The aspects of social life were population and communication, family, housing, health care, getting around, economy and education, religion and manners. The second task was to write another article looking into the future: what did they think life would be like in 50 year’s time, i.e. when they are about 65 and perhaps retiring?
In May 2009 the Finnish schools were once again happy to receive guests from India. There was a meeting in Porvoo, where also two teachers from Pohjankartano attended, Taina Salmivaara and Marika Id. We planned the 2009-2010 project with Mathew Skariah. Again the theme was ecology, which both suits well the 9th grade curriculum in several subjects and can be carried out as part of the 9th graders’ Energy and Ecology project. The idea was this time to have a practical point of view, so we agreed on two articles: in the first one the students described their normal school days and in the second one they discussed the ecological choices they make during the day. And again the project was cross-curricular involving biology, geography and English: the studentslearned the facts in the biology and geography lessons and in the English lessons they wrote the articles in English. The students also got very valuable background information in the physics lessons, where the different forms of energy were discussed in detail.
All in all this co-operation has been successful and the students have liked doing the projects. Most of all they have looked forward to the online conferences, where they can meet each other via modern technology. Of course online conferences, emails and commenting each other’s articles is not the same as meeting in person, but it is the next best thing. And it is also democratic: everybody in the class can participate in this regardless of how wealthy the parents are - in students visiting one another the parents often have to pay at least part of the trip. EJournal is also very flexible: you are writing articles in a journal and both schools don’t necessarily have to write on exactly the same theme or the same number of articles. The students at St Peter’s wrote their articles in their mother tongue or at least in a language they know very well whereas the Finnish students wrote theirs in a foreign language. Again, this was no problem, and both groups of students learned basic writing skills such as taking the reader into consideration. In Finland it is also possible to do part of the project in English and part in Finnish. It is important to integrate international work in the curriculum – in that way it is easier to find the time. And carrying out the project in an interdisciplinary way turned out to be a very good idea: again, it makes finding the time easier and it improves the quality of learning, because you look at the subject from different points of view and get a more comprehensive picture. The eJournal project between St Peter’s and Pohjankartano is one example of what interdisciplinary work can be like in an international framework.
03/16/10 - Mathew Skariah, Taina Salmivaara
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