Being in another country opens up new possibilities in so many ways. One of the thing is seeing and learning new ways of doing things. I decided to use my year of study to learn more than Entrepreneurship but also to visit some of the best schools in Sweden. My main focus is finding schools that are using technology effectively. When searching online I came across an article (which can be Google Translated) about the iPad class in Knislinge Elementary School here in Sweden. I immediately contacted the 3rd grade teacher Annika Persson and I got the chance to visit her wonderful students yesterday in Knislinge.
When walking in to the classroom there is a noticeable calm atmosphere. Lamps in the windows, a couch, relaxing music, dimmed lights and all of the students are reading quietly for 30 minutes. iPads are optional and students can read magazines or books on their iPads but surprisingly, most had regular books in their hands.
After morning reading all the students gathered with Annika and me and the children were properly introduced. Then they went over todays schedule, took out their morning snacks (consisting of apples, kiwis, bananas, crackers and juice) and started working in their regular math books… What? No iPads?…
I asked Annika why the students weren’t doing math on their iPad and she explained that she prefers to do most of the regular math work in books. She only uses the iPads when she feels like they add something to improve learning. I saw the students actively engaged in their learning and was impressed with their learning style. So I thought, she might have a point there.
After math we moved on to recess and Annika and I got to sit down in the teachers lounge. After recess the children came back to the classroom and started to work in their word puzzle & maze workbook…. No iPads, still.
After about 20 minutes in those workbooks the children put away their workbooks and Annika divided them into 6 groups to work together on projects regarding the stone age they have been studying about in the past few weeks. There were 3 different projects:
Annika set 3 kids in each group and 2 groups worked on each task. The children had not used iMotion in school before but she didn’t even carry out a lesson on iMotion but instead let the children figure it out themselves. Teaching her, me and each other.
The children in Annika’s class get to take their iPad home every day after school. They charge it and have their personal iTunes account on it as well as the school account. Their parents are heavily involved in the process as well, buying apps, deleting photos and learning how the iPad works with their child. When I asked the children why it was important for them to take the iPad home they said that they could practice at home, learn new apps, study and play games. They also told me that since they got to play at home, they weren’t so obsessed with playing at school. They knew that when they were at school the iPad was a learning tool.
Annika also told me that she sometimes installs apps months before she plans to use them in school. What happens is that most of the children have used the time at home to explore the app with their parents which makes classroom time much more effective. Every monday each student comes up and tells the rest of the class about something regarding the iPad. It might be a video they made, a picture they took, game they are playing or anything they want to share. According to Annika this is always a great time and has made the children more secure in speaking in front of the class and also more encouraged to do meaningful work on the iPad at home as well.
After an hour of iPad work we went to lunch, but lunch is included for all students… and good food at that. We went to recess, played football and had fun. When returning to the classroom Annika read a book to them before they returned to another hour of work on the iPads. Doing great projects and showing full collaboration where everyone was involved.
The children showed excellent responsibility and knew what was expected of them. During the last 20 minutes of the day the children wrote (handwriting) in their diaries. That is the only mandatory handwriting activity of the day while others are optional to either iPad or pencil.
Much to my surprise I ended the day by signing a few autographs to the kids and having a few pictures taken… Apparently I’m famous in Knislinge.
I was really impressed with the way they do things at Knislinge and you can read more about them on their classblog.
Thanks to you Annika and all the children, I really hope I can visit you again and I suggest you do so as well.
Ingvi Hrannar Ómarsson
Other interesting points:
- The classroom had high tables which are much better for a teachers back and for students to work, either sitting or standing.
- The school is surrounded by a big forest and one day the children had to be inside for recess because of wild pigs on the schoolyard.
- The parents and students charge and save content from the iPad.
- All of the students have Dropbox accounts.
- The school provides insurance, iPads, Smart Cover, bag and headphones but unfortunately not a back cover which they find is a crucial thing because all the iPads that have broken by falling on the corner and broken the screen.
- Regular in-ear headphones have not turned out to be popular among the kids because they fall out of the children’s ears so the kids often bring their own headphones.
- Children bring their iPad charged to school and usually only forget to charge it once because sitting near a power plug all day isn’t fun, it is not portable and like using a regular classroom computer 😉
- Give students responsibility of the iPad
- After learning the basics, let children figure apps out themselves.They run into problems and teach other students what they learned the next time they use the app. The teacher isn’t the only expert, the students are as well.