Visiting Bloomington High School

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As a part of  my FDAT- Grantee semester, I am visiting several High Schools in the U.S. My host High School is placed in Bloomington and  covers comprehensive Grades 9-12 and has 1650 students. Classes are 80 minutes in length and in between the lessons the students have a five minute passing period. Students of the school do have lots of Student involvement opportunities like over 45 Student-led Clubs and Groups, over 20 Sports activities, Academic Teams, Student-Led-Support and Advocacy Groups  together with Performing Art Groups.So the school is not just for learning  different subjects, it is also  for learning various  life opportunities. The School facilities for extra-curriculum and sports activities are impressive: the school has its own swimming pool and other sport places, auditorium and music rooms. This list could just continue and continue..

Hopefully in the future my new home school building in Jyväskylä can impress me with the new image of learning environments and with positive approach to building up ” our school”-feeling once again. That positive and encouraging atmosphere is something you really notice in here at schools.

 

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” Losers Let It Happen, Winners Make It Happen”.

“By Failing to Prepare, You Are Preparing to Fail”

” Be a Loud Speaker Instead of Being a Bystander”

 

Those kind of slogans you can find from all over the school. Students are in different ways encouraged to take part in discussions and giving their arguments on the issues. The academic approach is not always such a deep one ( at least in comparison to my IB students), but the encouraging atmosphere is something which makes you to wonder: Could we learn something from this positive approach and make our school even better?

Every morning the Pledge takes place; you are not forced to do that, but most of the students stand up and make their oath. America is consisted of 50 different kind of states, but their patriotism is untouchable.

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My inquiry project aims to find out how the American teachers in these particular schools are using primary sources in their history lessons. As a part of this project my goal is to investigate the approach to historical thinking, multi-literacy and historical understanding. So the methods which American history teachers are involved with when they really aim to focus on these questions, will be my priority objects. All in all this project comes will be highly related with my own work as an IB history teacher in Jyväskylän Lyseon lukio; the use of Primary sources are really taken into account in IB history teaching and the students should be able to evaluate the sources by their origin, purpose, value and limitations.

In coming weeks and months l´ll be working at schools, at the Indiana University and then writing my project at “home”, Campus View Apartment 908, Bloomington. This is just so exciting and I am ready for all of this.

FDAT- teachers from all over the world

Hi there from the U.S!

It is an honor to be one of these amazing teachers from all over the world taking part in the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching  (FDAT).- Programme. Teachers representing Botswana, Morocco, Mexico, India, Israel, Palestine, Taiwan, Singapore, New Zealand and Finland are placed  in Bloomington, Indiana University for this semester.

When we arrived in Washington D.C on Saturday, 6 August temperature was about 98 F, which is close to +37 . Furthermore  the humidity aspect should be considered as well, so the actual feeling was close to 40 degrees.. Anyway the  A.C is a standard in the U.S, so we managed and survived. For us as Finns the weather issue is always so important, but just look at the people from Taiwan, Singapore etc, this is just so normal for them. it is not an issue at all!

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Susanna and Maija Heikkilä from Finland

 

Orientation days passed by very quickly. The Orientation workshop Agenda was to bring together all the international and U.S Fulbrighters in  order to help the  adjustment process. Themes like  The Art of Crossing Cultures, Making the most of your FDAT- experience, Inquiry Project, Living in another country were covered and discussed.

The Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program recognizes and encourages excellence in teaching in the U.S. and abroad. U.S. and international teachers receive grants to study at a university, observe classes and complete a project pertaining to their field of educational inquiry during their time abroad. The program is open to teachers from the United States and selected countries in multiple world regions.

It was so great to be acknowledged and appreciated by the U.S Department of State and The U.S Institute of International Education ( IIE) administrates, when they were giving their speeches and praising us as Fulbright-teachers. This is the way they do it in America: you are one of these outstanding teachers and you and your school should be proud of that! That is one of the things I have learned during these first weeks in the U.S; what is the point of being too humble all the time: you should be proud of yourself and praise the others aswell.

I would say the orientation workshop did the job; I also met those U.S teachers coming to Finland next spring and four of them will be placed in  my home town Jyvaskylä, which is going to be just great! Welcome to all of you: Andrea, Stephen, Mayra, Sundra, Nat, Rachel, Tiffany and Mark, just wonderful to see you there!

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Tiffany, Mark, Rachel, Mayra, Maija ( my Finnish Colleague), Susanna,Sundra (back) Stephen, Andrea and Nat

 

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The heat is on.. After the orientation we took a flight to Indiana and settled in Bloomington. Our  Campus view Apartment is quite a nice one with all the facilities needed for a family ( a tiny one this time..) life.  Now when the University courses have already began and Lilja has been enrolled in the school, back to the routine, this time in the U.S. More about the studies and visits to schools coming up.See you !

Taking University Courses at the School of Education, IU

Indiana University, Bloomington shares a bit same kind of history as my homeschool Jyväskylän Lyseon lukio. Lyseo was established in 1858, Indiana University in 1820 and soon after their Foundation the ones became the cradle of education throughout the surrounding area.

Founded in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of IU’s eight campuses statewide. Innovation, creativity, and academic freedom are hallmarks of its  world-class contributions in research and the arts.

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While in Bloomington all Fulbright – teachers  will audit two IU courses focused on educational content and pedagogy; observe, conduct and team-teach workshops in local schools for U.S. teachers and students; meet regularly with IU School of Education faculty members for research guidance; and design and complete inquiry projects such as curriculum units, research papers or multimedia presentations.

We will have a great opportunity to meet University faculty members, who are especially specialized in our research themes. For me  the priority will be to investigate ” How the U.S history teachers are using primary sources in history teaching and learning and with what results”. In my own work as an IB history teacher the use of  primary sources is one of the priorities and it will be interesting to compare and contrast the aims, methods and the results throughout the semester.

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My University courses are focused on teaching and learning: especially on understanding the learning processes and the methods used be history teachers. For every session we have several sources to be studied and based on the sources we shall discuss, argue and share. The  American method is to share and discuss:  that is what we are doing in the IB aswell,  nothing new for me!  Looking forward to this semester; it is so refreshing to be a part of the academic world as a student  for a change.

Unlike in many other American towns, public transportation is well organised in Bloomington. You can very easily reach all the University departments together with the downtown area or either the shopping mall by taking a bus. Online Doublemap tells you where your bus is right now, so you just follow the map and go to the bus stop ( which are not always marked clearly) in time.

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Online Doublemap

 

Or you could take an Uber-taxi, which is also one of the options in here. It is not illegal  and works well. Even so the public transportation is well organised, everything might be a bit easier by having a car here. You don´t see people walking around outside the Campus, everybody has a car and there is not even sidewalks.

Just great that the School of Education is hosting my University courses and it is easy to reach  by 15 minutes walk. This breath of an academic world together with the international atmosphere is so inspirational. This really is what you need after 19 years of teaching, thanks Fulbright!

 

 

 

Lilja’s first experiences at school

I did not come here alone. Instead of having the whole family, I have my husband Heikki and our youngest child Lilja, 9 with me.  So it is not only my journey, it will be a great experience for them as well.  straight after the day we had arrived in Bloomington, we enrolled Lilja into local school: University Elementary School, where she is in  the 3rd grade together with other 27 students in her class.

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Everyone can assume that the first school  Morning was full of excitement; she did not speak any English and the whole system so new for her. Now when she has been going to school for two weeks; She already has a friend, she speaks a bit English ( and even understands more) and it is not an issue any more.

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Heading to school and it was raining a lot!

 

You can just wonder, how easily children adjust. The system, Curriculum and all what is happening at school is quite different, but still the same. There is some learning going on,  there is the teacher and the students involved within the process.  You can either buy your lunch from the Cafeteria or bring your own lunch box. The school day starts at 9.00 and ends every day at 15.45; so it is a long day for a third grade student.  I would assume that after this experience Lilja won´t be saying after a normal school day in Finland that it was a long one.

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Morning Procedures

School busses run regularly, but Lilja has not yet taken it. Heikki takes her to school every Morning by using public transportation. During the lunch hour, Heikki is allowed to come to school and have lunch with her, so now in the beginning that has been a relief for Lilja.

So this experience is not only as being  a Fulbright-teacher, it is also an opportunity to peek into U.S school life as a parent. That makes this even more interesting. Thank you for sharing these experiences with us!

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