After an impressive morning at Tångvalla in Falsterbo (see previous post) we drove about 10 mintues north to Stora Hammar in Höllviken. When we drove up to the 2 year old, 180 million SEK (appr. 28 million dollar) school building I have to say it was an impressive sight. The school has students from pre-school until 9th grade (final elementary grade in Sweden).
Stora Hammar is an iPad school where teachers and students are experimenting with the benefits of integrating iPads into teaching and learning. Björn Thenfors helps them, but ultimately the teachers are responsible to incorporate the iPads into the teaching and learning.
We walked into the school and went to the cafeteria, which looks more like a restaurant than a school cafeteria. Great, award-winning school chefs and the food is 90% organic. I have to say it was delicious and was obviously an important part of the school day for both students and staff.
After lunch we walked around the school building and the students seemed to have much freedom and it was a relaxed atmosphere in there. One teacher pointed out to me along the way that if I got lost in the school I could always follow the colour of the wood. The lighter the wood on the walls, the younger the students in that area and each section also had its own colour. It was interesting to notice that as we moved around the school.
After the long walk full of interesting things going on both inside and outside the classroom we entered a 4th grade classroom where a small group of students were doing math with their teacher. They had the week earlier created a “fish-tank” in math where they put a price on each type of fish and were supposed to fill their tank with fishes collectively worth 100 SEK. Today they were reviewing all the students work by taking a picture of the tank using their iPad, and calculated each tank using StripDesigner. This was a cool project and fun to see the students work. The class had 26 shared iPads for the 52 students and saved their work using a shared folder on Dropbox.
One student sat next to me and showed me their favourite apps which included: King of Math, Fun English, CrossFingers, Pettsons & Amazing Alex. These apps are all fun and interesting to think about why the student chose those apps. I knew some of them and bet my students would have chosen similar ones while the teacher would probably have chosen different ones 😉
From the 4th grade we moved on and met with the woodworking teacher who seemed like a person who loves his job. He showed me his website on projects his students do in class. One of my favourite things he showed was the refurbished furnitures his students made. The local Lions club collected old furniture which the students re-designed and sold at a school auction later. The profit all went to build a water-dam in Africa. Certainly a great project. He then showed me his favourite app, Showbie – a free app to collect work from students and give them tips.
I ended by speaking with the principal about the iPad integration, how things were going and the next steps they saw in technology. During my visit it was obvious to me that the teachers dare to try new things because they know Björn will help them and catch them when they fall. He wasn’t there every step of the way but rather supported them when they needed him. He wasn’t incorporating the iPads, but the teachers themselves were doing it. He was solving various issues but wasn’t looked at as the iPad guy but rather a tech helper.
At Stora Hammar I was especially impressed with the school building and the playground. The school looked like it was cut out of a magazine and really a surreal experience. I would have wanted to spend more time to get deeper into the school culture, how they do things and what their vision is for the future. But this was a great introduction and I’m happy to have had a chance to meet Annelie Médoc, The Municipalities Special Education Technology Specialist and Björn S. Thenfors The ICT teacher, and I know we will arrange a co-operation project soon.