martes, 22 de mayo de 2012

What is the Finnish Educational System?

 The Finnish Educational System (FES) is one of the best educative structures in the world, according to the results which have been obtained from PISA report. On of the most important points which makes that Finnish Educational System is so extraordinary is the great basic formation which it provides to children. Next, we are going to see what this educational organization is about and how it is being compared to the Spanish Educational System.

-          The first point is languages, Finnish Educational System pay a lot of attention to languages and, therefore, English or Swedish is the second required language in classes.  Here, in Spain, children learn English or French as the second language, but it only focuses on grammar and vocabulary, oral language development is among absent.
-          Finnish bilingual groups are supported from pre-primary education. Here in Spain bilingual education is not compulsory and it does not start until primary or secondary education.
-          Sometimes, Finnish classes are also supported by a second teacher who tries to adapt the teaching and learning process to those children who have necessities in order to prevent the school failure. In Spain a second teacher is only demanded when the situation becomes extremely serious.
-          In Finland, schooling is not compulsory until the age of 7 years since FES conceives that children have not acquired the correct level of development. In Spain, compulsory education starts at 6 years old.
-          The time of break is divided in periods of 15 minutes per 45 minutes of class. In Spain, children usually have two hours of class, then, 30 minutes of break and, finally, two hours and a half of class again.
-          Finnish schools have their own counsellor-psychologist in order to prevent and treat troubles. Spanish schools also have their own counsellor-psychologist.
-          Teaching degree is five years long in Finland, and students can only access to it if they get a high mark (similar mark to Medicine one in Spain) . In addition, government helps students economically; the job of teacher is well-recognized in this country. In Spain, teaching degree is four years long, students do not have to get a great mark to enter, in fact, it is one of the lowest, the government does not give any economical help and, in addition, people conceive teachers as people with a easy life, with a lot of free time and too many holidays.
-          Less than the 1% of students suffers school failure; on the contrary, in Spain the percentage of failure is 30%.
-          Finnish teachers do not need to get an opposition in order to conserve their job; they are hired by public or private schools when they finish the degree. In Spain, oppositions are compulsory if a teacher wants to work in a public school and also conserving his permanency.
-          Finnish methodology does not only conceive theoretical content as the only knowledge which children have to know, they usually use practice as a way of learning. In Spain, all subjects are based on theoretical content, especially on finishing the textbook.
-          Food, transport and schooling material is free in all cases. Here in Spain it is necessary to carry out a study in order to provide free elements.
-          The great majorities (99%) of Finnish schools are public and, therefore, they are paid by public funds and they are also free, avoiding social differences. Private Finnish schools only represent the 1% of total schools from the country. In Spain the percentage of students who attend to Private and Concertado Schools are the 48,6% of the total students.
-          Finnish government supports Education as the base of the country’s development and, therefore, this is the main reason because it carries out all these characteristics in order to foster it. On the opposite, here in Spain we are in the other way around, we carry out cuts in Education and Public Health; we put the cart before the horse.
 However, here is the principal reason because Finnish Educational System is the best in the world (he he):

 (From "Ágora Blog")

That's all, Juan ;-)

miércoles, 16 de mayo de 2012

Snakes and Ladders Game

Hello, this is Juan and here I am writing a new post. First of all, I have to say El Pensamiento Ajeno blog is a little bit old because these weeks I have been member of another group so this is the main reason because of I could not make an analysis about my weekly work group because as you know our group is only constituted by two members and, in fact, the other member was missing so I though making an analysis about myself would be a stupid task since the purpose of the analysis is taking stock of how the group has worked. Anyway, I felt I had the necessity of making reference about Snakes and Ladders on Pensamiento Ajeno blog and, after knowing that this task must be included in the portfolio I will try to explain the whole activity as well as can expected.

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is a “trivial game” whose questions and answers are based on the Organization of the Spanish Educational System from the European Educative document. Questions are divided in seven topics which are always related to the educational area:

1. Laws and Structure.
2. Management (person and groups of management and government)
3. School time and grouping.
4. General indications about teaching methods.
5. Assessment and certification.
6. Differences between public and private centers.
7. Financing issues.
8. Other structures and variations.

Each one of these topics includes eight questions which were made by SOyER groups. At the beginning, every group would make three questions for each topic and then, all questions from all groups would be joined by topic and, taking into account grammar, quality of question and its elaboration, SOyER groups would choose the best eight questions for each topic.
To make the questions, Hakuna Matateros and I decided to adopt the next methodology: each member of the group would make one question per topic and, as a result, we would obtain six questions for each topic (we were six people). After making this task, we would put in common our questions and we would choose the best three questions for each topic.

This was the list of questions about Laws and Institutions which we reviewed.

Being honest, I think that I am not wrong when I say our cards suck aesthetically, they were written with pens and there was no more colour than the blue colour from the pen. In fact, handwriting was not the same in all cards and there were significant differences between them. On the other hand, in relation to the content which was inside the cards I think it was not bad at all, that is, I think was pretty correct and we paid especially attention to grammar and spelling because, in this point, there were quite cards from other groups which we had to discard since you had to make some “juggling” in order to understand what the question wanted to ask. 

The Game

Friday 27 of April was the date when Snakes and Ladders started. The game was really exciting, you could smell competitiveness in the air, all groups wanted to win the “Key to The Paradise”. Due to the winner’s absence the game was extended to three days and, at the beginning, the first day, Hakuna Matateros was in first place. I think we were a strong group, maybe there were some questions which could be answered but, anyway, we had a great control about topics, questions and, especially, chance.
Despite we were in first position, next days the game turned into a maze and, after being in first place the second day we finished in third position and we were tied with the fourth one. Our spirit was rock bottom; we thought we did not have any possibility and Snakes and Ladders would only be an illusion for us. However, the last day of the game it happened what we would never think it was going to happen; after finishing in third place the day before, groups which are in advantaged positions began to go back since “snakes were playing pranks”. We took advantage of the situation and we trusted our destination to chance. When it seemed we were really near to the prize Never Too Late group won the first prize since the number eleven helped them to get to the final square.
Although the first prize was already awarded, the tension increased a lot because only the second prize was left and the rest of groups wanted to get it. Fortunately, the time was very near of 10 o’clock so we carried on playing in a normal way, but watching the watch every time because, after some troubles, Hakuna Matateros was the nearest group to the final square and we were looking forward to win.
It was my round, I had to sit down with the rest of members from the other groups, I watched the watch more and more because I only wanted to kill the time and finishing with this stressful game. It was my turn, I stood up and I was waiting for hearing the question when Jesús, a member of Hakuna Matateros, said: Linda, its 10 o’clock! It’s time! And Linda proved with her Iphone that it was true.
Consequently, Hakuna Matateros and I won the second prize, that is, an eight in one of the two questions which Linda will ask to us in the oral exam.

My own thoughts

I think working with another group as Hakuna Matateros has been a grateful experience because you are aware of how a numeric group develops its normal activities. All people try to do one’s bit and this is a point which I consider very important when you are working in a cooperative way. Furthermore, I have to say Hakuna Matateros members are like my family, I am almost alone in Broken Dreams but in HM group I have been like at home, I had a great welcome and all members have respected my opinion and they have also taken into account my considerations. All I have to say is thank you very much for having this amazing time with you, I am fond of you girls and guys, you rock!
On the other hand, in relation to Snakes and Ladders, I think this game contains a highly pedagogical point, that is, the extrapolation of Spanish Educative System Framework to a Trivial Game and, in fact, I believe we have not been aware of the task but making this activity, the contest and prizes have encouraged us to learn knowledge in a significant way and I am pretty sure that it will be so difficult to forget the content which I have learnt thanks to this game.
Despite I have said I was not going to make the analysis about myself I would like to make this “quick report” taking into account the time which I have spent with my friends from Hakuna Matateros.

What was the best part of the activity?
The best part of the activity was, without any doubt, the cooperative way in which we had to work the get the prize, the feeling of cohesion and unity was more than evident.

What was the worst?
The worst part of the activity was the aesthetical point of our cards; they sucked a lot when they were compared to other ones.

What was the best moment of the week (in the work of the group) ?
 I think the best moment of the week was at 10 o’clock Friday 4 May when Linda said that the game had finished and Hakuna Matateros had won the second prize.

What was the worst?
The second day of the game was the worst part because we saw before our eyes how the prize was running out.

What have you learnt?
On one hand, I have learnt tons of things about the Organization of the Spanish Educational System which I think I will not forget during all my life. On the other hand, I have also learnt how learning can turn into a funny thing when you extrapolate the theoretical content to interactive tasks as a game, I think I will put this combination into practice in the future.

What do you need to conserve -as a group- for the next weeks?
These weeks Hakuna Matateros has been my group, I thinks it is a strong group which have to conserve the motivation which allows it to get good results.

What do you need to improve -as a group- for the next weeks?
Sometimes there was a lack of coordination between members of the group but I am not anyone to judge what it is good or bad in Hakuna Matateros. All I have to say I had a great time with them. 

That's all! 
Juan ;-)

jueves, 5 de abril de 2012

Manel Rives mentions us on Twitter and Tumblr

Please click on images to watch them bigger.

Manel’s mention on Twitter
Manel Rives has mentioned El Pensamiento Ajeno Blog on his social and work networks: Twitter and Tumblr.  We are very proud of this reference because it means a lot for us, especially because we obtain a reward from our effort and, in the current case it seems that Manel loved our post about him. From our point of view, we enjoyed writing and making that blog entry since we like Manel’s labour and we wanted to make a little recognition summarizing Manel’s methodology and also his workshop.
From Broken Dreams we wish best of luck to Manel and we hope he will get the success which he deserves because that methodology is worth its weight in gold ;-)
Manel’s mention on Tumblr

See you soon, Broken Dreams ;-)

The Dark Side of Textbooks

Hi, this is Juan and here I am editing our post about The Dark Side of Textbooks. I have to say I was not satisfied with our commercials’ presentation so this is the reason because of I decided to make an original and well-made blog entry. First of all, as you can see, all our spots begin with the same words; Learn to distrust textbooks, Learn to not memorize word by word, Learn to know all textbooks do not transmit knowledge in the same way, and finally, we have added another advert whose title is Learn to use textbooks as a complementary material.
Consequently, these four spots constitute a commercial package which we have named “Learn to…” and it is about The Dark Side of Textbooks. As you can observe, each video displays the same structure; firs; title, then; plot with video and finally; moral and summary. Adverts are a little bit inspired in DGT and Spain’s government commercials because I think the way which these spots use to transmit information is highly clear and direct.

Hope you will like this commercial package, enjoy it!

domingo, 25 de marzo de 2012

Adverts about not using books in class

Hey, this is Juan again and I have just finished editing our videos about not using books in classes but there is a little bit problem, my internet speed is so low and sign is very poor and therefore it cannot upload videos to YouTube right now. Tomorrow I will upload our adverts when I was at the university because Faculty’s internet works very well. Meanwhile, you can listen to the theme I have composed exclusively to this adverts, it is only played by piano and orchestra, it is quite simple but I have not any free time to make better things. I knew I could choose Creative Commons music but all music I listened to it did not fit with which I wanted so I decided to compose it.

I hope you will like it, enjoy it!

Cheers, Juan ;)

A morning with Manel Rives

The 5th of March SOyER group had an unusual guest in its classroom. He was the great teacher Manel Rives who came to the University of Murcia, concretely the Faculty of Education, in order to make a workshop with us. But, before explaining Manel’s method and all tasks we had the opportunity to carry out we should introduce who Manel Rives is.
Having a look at Manel’s twitter we have a short description about Manel’s job.

He is a teacher who incorporates new technologies to educative area. First of all, we use to think if new technologies improve children’s knowledge; in reference to this point, according to Manel’s words:

“It is only another way to make things, I have found new technologies a better method to lead my pupils’ work but other teachers will think I am a bit crazy making projects with technology and not with books, it only depends on the manner you want to impart your lecture.” 

And it is true, Manel’s children are not guided by a text book, this kind of classes conceive text books as an alternative choice which it is only used to look for information and comparing different sources. Manel’s methodology is based in Learning by projects and it is in these tasks where technology is incorporated. When we think about this type of teaching we use to consider projects as boring assignments which are not completely read by ourselves and they are just made for the sake of submitting one. However, with Manel things seem to be quite different; children are motivated every time and they pay a lot of attention to their work putting all effort which is possible. In regard to this point, why are Manel’s children so encouraged? And, on the contrary, why are children with common learning methodologies less stimulated? We could say one of the main factors is technology. Technology is the most powerful instrument of the world but, at the same time, it is one of the easiest elements to control (basic control, not professional or expert on controlling) and, in fact, give a computer game to a child, wait for some days and then let me know if he or she has just finished the whole game without necessity to read instructions, I am pretty sure he or she will have completed all the game. Consequently, if we extrapolate this revolutionary behavior to the rest of technological device we could have an idea about how children manage technology and they have a sixth sense to run these new tools.
In this way, what are those Manel’s projects which combine knowledge and new technologies? As Manel said, there is not an only program for making all this kind of tasks but these entire programs software share an only device to make them possible: IPad. I think IPad does not need any presentation when tons of people have ever used one or even they used it daily to work with.
Next we are going to introduce three main tools which Manel uses with children and the example of each one we made in class (please think that day we were two in Broken Dreams group so I joined to Hakunamatateros group, thanks also to them for the good company, as a result of this, Toontastic and Comic examples are the same because they were made by them and me).

Toontastic inspires the artist and writer in every child while teaching key storytelling principles that help to promote Creativity at a young age. Toontastic’s drawing tools bring kids’ wildest ideas to life alongside virtual play sets chock full of pirates, princesses, far away galaxies, and many other characters and settings to spark the imagination. Cartoons can be shared online via ToonTube, Toontastic’s Global Storytelling Network, to help children connect to friends and family and learn about other cultures, customs, and lifestyles through stories created by their peers around the world. (from Toontastic webpage)
Here is our example about Toontastic. The plot is just ridiculous but we were tired of racking our brains and we admitted that was not a pedagogical story to tell to children. Please click in the next link to watch the story.

Strip Designer

Be creative on the go. With Strip Designer you can create your own personal comic strip right on your iPhone or iPad. Add photos from you photo album or draw your own sketches. Apply simple image filters to increase the impact of photos, and add speech balloons and text-boxes. (description from Strip Designer’s manufacturer)

But, what advantages can produce a comic compared to reading a text book? We have thought about this important question and we have summarized some reasons which evidence comics’ benefit. Here are some examples:

-          Comic is easy to manipulate.
-          It is not so expensive.
-          Comic gets grabbing children’s attention.
-          It is out of traditional tasks.
-          It develops the creativity.
-          Comic makes learning as significant.
-          It creates reading habits.
-          It makes easier communicative actions and reading comprehension.
-          It fosters children’s logical thinking.
-          Comic can be adapted to every level and subject.
-          It may help to perform better at reading and writing difficulties.
-          Comics can be used as an introduction to books.

In addition, I should point out Strip Designer was very easy to use and I am pretty sure all children can quickly adapt to these new tools due to the exposed advantages and also because of attraction which Technology grabs generally in children. On the other hand, if I had to make reference to some disadvantage I think it would be to use the IPad’s touch screen since sometimes it is difficult to type fast and it may have some difficulties when you try to fit bubbles in little places.
Here is the comic example which I made with Hakuna Matateros group. The story line is quite simple but sometimes it has to be straightforward because making complex plots may take a lot of time and that morning we only had an hour for creating a comic and a Toontastic story.   

Stop Motion

What is Stop Motion?
Stop motion is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames is played as a continuous sequence.
Stop motion’s didactic possibilities are very wide but we could emphasize this technic allows to children to develop their creativity as well as incrementing teamwork and promoting plastic and audiovisuals features.
Broken Dreams’ Stop motion about dinosaurs has already posted in Pensamiento Ajeno Blog so if you have not seen our creation please go below and enjoy it ;-)
Reflection about Manel’s visit and methodology

First of all, sorry but I have to say it: Manel rocks!! Manel is such a great teacher and if I were one of their students I would be very happy because there is not a huge amount of teachers like him.
Once I have said this I will be more serious and I will explain my thoughts about his workshop. I think Manel is out of the typical world where teachers are nobody without books and he wants to go beyond discovering new limits about teaching and learning and, from my point of view, this is something I really like because it proves how teacher job is not a static activity as many people consider it is.
Learning by projects is a good option to educate children and also, if we link this one to new technologies we could obtain a powerful relationship thanks to which Manel may have found the key to enter in a new teaching concept which, moreover, is partly based in TPCK foundations since besides of using Technology it mixes Content and Pedagogy.
This way to impart lectures gets other elements which normal lectures cannot get with the same quality, that is, we are dealing with elements as motivation, initiative, interest, enthusiasm, inspiration, creativity, stimulus…lot of feelings which may produce significant learning since, memorizing a paragraph can be done with or without a good teacher but, making that paragraph as a part of our knowledge is more difficult and in this point good teachers, methodology and good environment take an important role.
On the other hand, in reference to workshop which Manel made I have to admit I did not have any idea about what presentation was going to be about…yes, I knew dinosaurs were going to be one of the morning main characters and, the day before, Linda also told us he used to work with Stop motion and other tools so I have to say I knew something about him, but not too much and due to this reason the whole four hours passed very fast.
Unfortunately there was not a lot of time and therefore, we had to make activities quickly and if it is the first time you use an IPad I beat the task may be so long because we are not used to type on big touch screens and in addition, we are not also familiarized with those software programs so, first of all it was discovering how to start controlling the tool. However, we got interested in using IPad and its programs and we could prove how tasks which are made by pencil and paper may result very boring and, on the contrary, utilizing technological devices make more interesting jobs and, in fact, if we sat open-mouthed the whole class, how could children not be motivated to make activities all the time?
We could be talking about Manel for long hours but if we wanted summarize that morning in one sentence I think it could be something like:

 “Making knowledge as significant through innovation”

As US people often say in other contexts, Manel, you are THE MAN of resourceful teaching concept and new technologies; I like your way to impart lectures but I am not sure of saying: I want to be with you in the future, I am in the first grade of my degree, I want to know other teachers and methodology before consider what it is the best for me but, right now, I beat you are one of my choices for being as you in the far future.

Finally, here is my photo with Manel and Hakuna Matateros group, what a great time we had that day!

That is all; see you in the next post.

Juan ;-)

Video: the classic innovative media

Hi, I’m Cristina and this time I am going to summarize what Friday 9 March was about since as Linda said the star of each group had to make a little report about the topic.

Everyone can choose what they want to see in every moment of your life for fun, because there is much variety to choose from.
With advances in technology, we could get to see what we want in any place where we are.
New technologies can be used worldwide. In the field of education the teacher can support their education in technology, but it can never be used alone to teach.
Many teachers make the mistake of using the videos as a remedy for not having to teach, but the methods they use are outdated, do not know how to use the technologies, the videos are too long and incomprehensible to children, teachers choose when, where and what children have to watch.
Other mistakes made by teachers is that some believe that not all subjects may come to use technology and above all, a video does not replace a teacher, but also helps students better understand the teacher.
Internet for children and teachers can find information and videos to supplement their study and teaching and to further develop their knowledge.

See you soon, Cristina