I was so excited to see the bright-eyed faces of my students on Monday morning. Don’t get me wrong, traveling was so much fun but I was ready to get back into the routine of teaching again. The temperature had significantly dropped since we left Malmö. We headed to our favorite coffee shop before school for breakfast (I’m sure the baristas had been so relieved when they thought they had gotten rid of us… but SURPRISE we’re back). We ordered our usual, three ham and cheese breakfast sandwiches with large cappuccinos. It may be hard to go back to the normal gruel that I eat for breakfast. I have been so spoiled by the fresh made breads and specialty coffees and I’m not so sure my toaster and Kuerig will produce the same deliciousness.
Hayley really likes to randomly ask me about 2 minutes before a lesson is supposed to start if I want to take it over for the day. This really freaked me out at the beginning of my time at MIS. It is becoming an almost every day occurrence and I think probably one of the best experiences I could have during my time here. I am such a planner, as I have mentioned multiple times before in these blog posts, but as with life not everything during the school day can always go according to plan. I’ve gotten really good at flying by the seat of my pants and just going with the flow. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out so great and other times it’s wonderful. There were two math lessons that I took over this week at the last second. One was great and I was able to make it up as I went along and another…not so much.
When it comes to elementary school math, there isn’t really a lot of material that I don’t know how to do. The problem comes when I try to explain the concepts. It has been so long since I’ve learned it myself that it is hard to go back to that place of confusion and break it down for someone who has never seen it before. Cue Hayley asking me to teach about place value to the right of the decimal….easy right? Tenths, hundredths, and thousandths… what could be so complicated about that? I explained with an example and thought it was great….then someone asked me why. “Why are they called that?” “How did they come up with that?” I explained the best I could and set the students loose to work on creating their own place value charts. As I walked around the room I realized that I had done a less than fantastic job because many of the students were still confused. I paused and asked if we could rewind for a minute and go over the information again. I walked through the process slowly and more clearly, reteaching myself along the way. I also found a Flocabulary video (thanks for introducing me to that resource, Mrs. Dearman!) for the students to watch that explained it in a different way. Even though one of the students, Charlie, said the decimal rap in the video was “C-R-I-N-G-E-worthy,” I think he secretly liked it and the whole class had fun with it. Even though it was a silly video, Hayley and I really hyped it up. We even tried to make it a competition to see who could learn all the lyrics the fastest. Before the end of the math period the students were all at the front trying to sing and dance along. This particular math lesson taught me two things:
Tuesday turned out to be one of the coldest days Malmö has seen all year (lucky us). I was very grateful to not have break duty on Tuesday so I didn’t have to be out in the frigidness. That afternoon, my students started working on their portfolios. These binders have been with them since they began school at MIS five years ago. It shows work samples and growth throughout the years. In the past they have always been physical paper copies but this year they decided to go digital and are doing the portfolios on their iPads. Many schools I have been at in the States do something similar to show student progress and growth but I really like the way it's done in PYP5. For each unit the students have to select 4 work samples—one has to be from math, one from English, and the other two can be of their choosing. Once the students select their work samples they also have to write a short reflection about what they learned from it or how they felt about the process of making it, writing it, etc. I enjoyed that the students actually had to think about their work and why it would be a good example to put in their portfolios and that each one of them selected different pieces of work that they were proud of.
To keep out of the cold that evening Chandler, KayLeigh, and I decided to do one of our favorite things…go to the movies! We had walked past a movie theater countless times and thought it was the perfect activity for a cold winter night. We did our best to navigate the Swedish website and purchased tickets for a movie in English with Swedish subtitles, or at least we hoped that’s what we bought. The theater had self-serve concessions, which was different than most theaters we had been to in the U.S. With our popcorn and sodas in hand, we enjoyed the movie Every Day. Thankfully Google translate pulled through and it was in English! If you ask me, it was a great way to spend the evening.
This morning we woke up and got ready as usual. We walked down the stairs and to our surprise were greeted with at least 3 inches of snow! When we had been planning before coming to Sweden, we thought it would be like this every day. When we got to school we found out that this weather isn’t actually normal for Malmö. They haven’t seen snow like this in about six years so the kids were just as excited as we were! It was truly a winter wonderland. In Fort Worth, if we go this much snow, the whole city would be shut down but here it was business as usual. The kids LOVED playing in the snow during break time. We went out with a plan to make a snowmen village but the snow was so powdery that it didn’t really stick when we tried to pack it into snowballs. I built a little miniature snowman with one of my students but that was about as big as we could get. The rest of the time, students frolicked around making snow angels, put snow “graffiti” on the walls, and built snow forts and the best snow people they possibly could. As we walked in, Hayley reminded the students to stomp their feet to get the snow off and one boy cleverly responded that it was “sNOw problem”. You couldn't help but love all the snow masterpieces and the snow puns that came from all these creative little minds.
I can't believe my time here in Sweden is almost over. Just two more days with my class before I head back to Texas. It's been such an adventure! The next time you hear from me I'll be on the plane heading home!