Time goes so fast (too fast)!

It's been a month since I last wrote. I'm sorry. Time has gone so fast and I can't believe today was our last day at South Range Elementary! I've been keeping a blog where I have told about our days at South Range Elementary with photos. You can read the blog here.

Me and Ekku have settled here, to Upper Peninsula, so well, that I can't even think about leaving here soon. Ekku is already leaving on next Monday, I still have one more week after that. Maybe I'll visit South Range once more before leaving, I'm already missing children; I had tears in my eyes when we had to leave the school today.

The month has been full of happiness, we have had such fun days with children, who have been amazing! They have been - and hopefully will always be - full of eagerness and enthusiasim to learn. Me and Ekku truly hope that children know now more about Finland and our culture, our arts, literature, sports etc. We have enjoyed those lessons and seemed that children loved them too.

At least half of the class had a Finnish last name. This has been interesting to see, as in the whole area of Hancock and Houghton. You can see Finnish last names everywhere. A couple of older people have heard us speaking Finnish in a public space and they have come to talk to us. You never know where are the ears that can understand your speech!

Raili, Elisa and Alisa wearing Finnish t-shirts.
We made it to the news here - two times. We have felt like celebrities, many people have invited us for a dinner and wanted to hear about us, Finland and a Finnish school system. You can find the news here: Mining Gazette and Upper Michigans Source.


Finally here!

Whoa, it has been quite a travel to get here! I was supposed to be here last Wednesday, but I got stuck in Chicago for one day. My original flight was cancelled because something broke down at the Hancock Airport's weather station. The weather system was fixed at that same day, and I had a new opportunity to fly in the evening. Well, the plane took off and I immediately fell asleep. I woke up to hear captain's announcement that we have to fly back to Chicago - the weather system had broken again. I can tell there were a lot of grumby people there in the plane.

Luckily, third time's a charm, and on Thursday afternoon, I finally made it to Hancock. I was really tired during a whole weekend but now I'm getting used to this time. People here have been very helpful and nice, and it has been easy to readjust here.

Me and a teacher student Ekku are going to be the next ones to teach Finnish language and culture for 3rd graders in South Elementary School. Ekku was supposed to arrive this Wednesday, but his flights are cancelled because of Lufthansa's walkout... Hopefully he'll make it here before next Monday when teaching will begin!
Finlandia Hall.
Before Ekku arrives, I'm getting used to places and preparing for the teaching. I've already visited Finnish-American Heritage Center and going to explore the library of Finlandia University. It's so exciting to see Finnish heritage here!


Making journalism with 3rd graders

One of our central themes that we carried through during our four weeks in South Range Elementary School was producing our own E-Magazine. Below I’ll tell about that process as summarized.

We started our process to get familiar with journalism by exploring local newspapers. In that lesson we explored what sections there are included in newspaper and what are the regularities of common journal. Pupils found out for example that one of the first noteworthy things is to find out the date that the paper is published (before reading news or weather forecasts). 

Pupils exploring local newspapers

Already at this point we realized that it’s unnecessary to go deeper in details of journalism as generally. Taking into account pupils’ age you should keep matters in basics and cut the corners. Our purpose was by no means to create new journalists of 3rd graders, but more like to let them explore and get familiar with journalism and communication as generally. I told also some own experiences about being journalist and I introduced my tools and ways of exploring information.

Important thing to remember is also variable skill levels of pupils. When producing articles with 30 pupils you have to simplify all operations and set enough aids so everyone of large class can accomplish something. So we decided to give ready topics for kids and give even complete questions to find information for. We separated large class in groups, three persons per each. We gave the topics and assistance questions and gave also specific roles for group members. One’s task was to write answers on paper, one was communicating person (ask more instructions from teacher if needed and report their progress of task) and one was have to be a scribe, when finishing the article to final form by computer.

Rush hour at the news desk!

Pupils’ task was to find answers to questions together and use different ways of explore information. In a weather article they had to go outside and observe current circumstances there, in a school article they had to ask some questions from school staff (like a miniature of interview) and so on. Accordingly, stages were like in real information exploring when making article, but in reduced format.

After finding the answers it was time to type an article in computer class. In that phase we noticed quick that it would have been important to remind pupils at the beginning what is style of writing, when writing an article. Even though the kids used full sentences when writing, most of them forgot to echo the questions. So though their sentences were logical, reader may miss the point and context without seeing the original questions!

Kimmo and Antero are typing their final version of the article.

The first time in computer class took some extra time, because we had to advise them, how to add article to Magazine Factory and how to copy and paste text from word processor software. Pupils adopt new things fast, so next time all the phases went already better and faster.

Some articles (for example the school introduction and some weather article) were separated for few groups and we connected their outputs in one single article before publishing them. Everyone could do some stories and at least we felt that they enjoyed that!

Taking photos with SLR camera was of course on important phase of creating articles, but I will tell about that later.