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.


The tail of the fatal storm felt in UP too

I just have to share these unprecedented weather experiences here at Upper Peninsula. After an extreme long winter the spring and early summer have finally arrived, but abnormalities with weather didn’t end at the same time.

A lake or an ocean?

Last Sunday, day before yesterday, here were even heat temperatures in the morning and noon. Cloudy, sultry noon felt almost tropical and it turned to high wind by degrees. Afternoon we drove to McLain State Park to see, how Lake Superior was behaving on that day. Well, the waves on the lake were as huge as on ocean. T-shirt and shorts were absolutely too tenuous clothing for the wind that felt like in October. And on top of it all, the breath steamed like in freeze weather.

Sunny view from the dorm yard two days ago
And same location today, the clouds are down!

Last night we had quite a strong thunder storm here and I heard that it would have been the tail of huge storm, which caused shocking destructions in Oklahoma (1200 miles from Hancock) yesterday as a tornado. Before the storm I had a chance to visit in some small waterfront villages west from South Range with Joe Kirkish. Mr. Kirkish is a well known local gentleman, a former teacher in Michigan Tech and a culture person, who keeps himself up to date and is a very eager photographer too.

Joe had heard from some climate experts that this kind of unusual weather will become more common in UP in following decades. There will be more and more extreme weather: extreme snow, extreme rain, extreme wind and extreme heats – lines of four seasons are going to dim while by while. “Before I could tell to my visitors, what kind of weather it would be in a specific month when they were planning to visit here. No it’s almost impossible to tell forecast for the forthcoming week. Actually, you even cannot tell at the morning, how the evening will be”

Creepy hinterland road near Lake Superior last night, just before the storm.

Together with scientific explanations related to climate change, there are some other approaches too. Today one older man in Paavo Nurmi Center’s sauna asked me, if I read Bible. Reportedly it is said there that this phenomenon, when weather is getting mad is caused by people, who are getting madder too. So, all these extreme natural phenomena and disasters are some kind of punishment from upstairs.

All the same, climate is changing and we all have some opinions and explanations for that. That’s culture.