My advice to the Minister of Education (application)

Dear Torbjørn Røe Isaksen,

You’re probably thinking that I’m just another disgruntled student, upset about the 10% absence limit. Well, don’t get me wrong- I am disappointed about the policy; however, that’s not what I want to focus on in this blogpost.

School. I suppose this is a term to which you can relate and which has enormous meaning to you. Technology. Technology and school. Sound familiar? These words have a stronger relationship than one might expect.

On Friday the 28th of October, my English class joined our teacher at a conference held by NHO in Oslo, Norway. Ann Michaelsen spoke about teaching and education with a focus on technology, while others also shared their thoughts on the subject of school and learning. I have to admit that I left the building with a totally different perspective on the importance of ICT in schools.

Sandvika Videregående Skole, which is the high school I attend, places an enormous focus on using PCs in classes. Although there are undoubtedly flaws with the system that is currently in place, I believe that the pros certainly outweigh the cons and that the use of PCs and technology in the classroom serves to enhance our learning.

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Starting off with the benefits. Instead of carrying 2kg heavy paperbacks to school every day, we have the opportunity to use digital books in our learning. On the app we can make bookmarks, listen to the text aloud and write annotations to specific paragraphs. Computer in general make everything happen easier, faster and are more convenient. Getting quick feedback from the teacher or checking the work for plagiarism has never been easier!

Another central advantage of having PCs available in classrooms is the direct access they provide to social media, which also has the potential to enhance our learning when used effectively. I love using Twitter in our English classes. It is a wonderful way to communicate with the world without having to leave the room. These social media platforms provide me with the opportunity to have good communication with other students and the teacher, which makes the learning much quicker and more effective.

One of the most principal and influential ways of using the internet to learn is by writing a blog. Knowing that my posts will be out on the internet being read by many different people, only boosts my motivation to put in a lot of work when creating them. Reading other blogs inspires me and helps me to decide what I should include in my own posts.

Thanks to OneNote, taking notes in class has never been easier. We have many options for organizing our documents and those students with interactive screens have the opportunity to take notes by writing directly on the screen. In addition, PressReader is phenomenal for those interested in keeping up to date with the latest news. All the newspapers in one place- literal heaven for teachers! I love the idea myself because I can use the articles in so many convenient ways.

I could go on and on about the benefits of a digital classroom. The power contained in technology is enormous nowadays, why then exclude students from all the opportunities it carries? The world is gradually moving forward and so should the school systems.

However, we should at least be aware of some of the potential limitations or drawbacks that relying on PCs can result in.  One of the disturbing drawbacks could be limiting opportunities for students to learn proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills. While I certainly appreciate the fact that WORD automatically corrects the mistakes in  my texts, it does not necessarily provide me with the opportunity to research and learn these things for myself. The convenience of spell check probably means that I still won’t be able to spell the word correctly in the future, which probably means that I haven’t actually learned a single thing.

Another relevant flaw is the potential for teachers to lack proper ICT competencies. While some teachers are remarkably skilled in using PCs and make learning with them enjoyable, others have very few relevant skills. I am absolutely not blaming these teachers since many of them are still from the “pen and paper generation;” however, perhaps providing them with additional technology training would help students to get the most out of this type of education.

Last but not least, we have the good old (although equally important) issue of distraction. It literally takes 20 seconds to log onto Facebook and everything is gone- both the concentration as well as the ambition to do well in today’s class. And, if it is the last lesson of the day- forget it! How can we solve this problem? I really don’t understand why no one has done anything about this yet as there is nothing easier than blocking the famous Facebook, Netflix, Instagram while leaving the necessary sites open. One of the excuses might be that “Facebook is so easy to use when we have to send something in class,” but there are so many other ways in which we can do this.

And, as for mobile phones? Here it is the teacher’s responsibility to take charge. Every single teacher knows what the risk of having a phone on the desk is, but only a few of them have managed to deal with this problem effectively. Out of the 7 subjects I have, only two teachers have a routine- in one class we leave the phone on a desk by the door and in the other class we have to keep them in our bags under the desk. I must openly admit that those are the subjects in which I leave the class with a decent amount of knowledge.

Therefore, dear Minister of Education, my advice to you would be to focus on the three topics I mentioned above. I believe it would be worthwhile to offer every teacher a tutorial in the basics of ICT and provide some information as to how they can utilize laptops in their classrooms. I also assume that blocking distracting websites wouldn’t take too much effort…

In conclusion, teachers should be aware of the opportunities technology brings into our everyday lives. There are an infinite number of incredible and educational websites which can enhance our learning. Students, on the other hand, should know that laptops are practical for so much more than just watching movies. We should also learn the correct way of finding information, using sources and exploiting technical devices to their limits.

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I imagine the classroom of the future with built-in desks, professional computers and other advantageous devices. The world is developing so fast that my grandchildren could be one of the first to experience this! I envision that already by 2026, schools will be paperless and technology will have provided smart alternatives. Maybe it will be laptops or tablets, or perhaps it will be something totally new! In this way, we not only benefit from saving the planet from a lack of trees but also expand our knowledge by using many beneficial programs.

We go to school to learn. I could equally well sit at home and do nothing, but going to school is my choice and my decision. This is the place that is supposed to prepare me for university and a career, to help me to achieve what I want in order to have a safe and happy future. This is exactly the reason why schools must be well equipped to prepare me for the challenges I will one day face out in the big world- a world where technology will undoubtedly play a major role in all of our lives.

My advice to the Minister of Education

Dear Torbjørn Røe Isaksen,

You’re probably thinking that I’m just another hateful student, angry about the unfortunate 10% absence limit. Well, don’t get me wrong- I am, indeed, extremely disappointed, but that’s not what I want to focus on in this blogpost.

School. Education. I suppose those are terms that you cam relate with and that have a enormous meaning to you. Technology. Technology in schools. Rings a bell? Well it should at least make some sense, as those two words have much more in common that one would expect them to have.

On Friday the 28th of October, my english class joined our teacher at a conference in NHO in Oslo, Norway. Ann spoke about teaching and education with focus on technology, while others also shared their thoughts on the subject of school and learning. I have to admit that I left that building with a totally different perspective on the importance of ICT in schools.

Sandvika Videregående Skole, which is the high school I attend, has an enormous focus on using PCs in classes. There isn’t a day where I wouldn’t be thinking of how tremendous, educational and futuristic the idea is. The pros overweigh the cons, but there are undoubtedly many flaws that someone should consider fixing.

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One of the disturbing drawbacks, would be the the limited opportunity of learning proper grammar, punctuation, spelling and handwriting skills. While most of the time there are many advantages of word automatically correcting my texts, I would imagine that it isn’t very educative. Probably the day after that I still won’t be able to spell a certain word, what means that I actually haven’t learnt a single thing.

Another relevant flaw, would in my opinion, be the teachers lack of proper ICT competences. While some of them are remarkably skilled and working with them using laptops is a pleasure, others have quite little knowledge in that field. I am absolutely not blaming them in any way for that, since most of them are still the “pen and paper generation”. Maybe the solution to this, would simply be to offer technology training, and teaching them a way to get the most out of this type of education?

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Last but not least, we have the good old, but equally important, distraction issue. It takes literally 20 seconds to log onto e.g. Facebook, and everything is gone- both the concentration, as well as the ambition to do well in today’s class. And if this is the last lesson of the day- oh my. How can we solve this problem? I really don’t understand why no one has done anything with this yet. There is nothing easier than blocking the famous Facebook, Netflix, Instagram, and leaving the necessary sites open. One of the excuses might be that “Facebook is so easy to communicate with, e.g., when we have to send something in class”, but there are so many other ways in which we can do this.

And as for the mobile phones? Here it is the teachers responsibility to take care of that. Every single teacher knows what the risk of having a phone on the desk is, but only few of them master this problem. Out of the 7 subjects I have, only two teachers have a routine- in one class we leave the phone on a desk by the door, and in the second class we have to keep them in our bags under the desk. I have to quite openly admit that those are the subject where I leave the class with actually a decent amount of knowledge.

Therefore, dear Minister of Education, my advice to you would be to focus on those 3 topics I mentioned above. A good idea would be to offer every teacher a tutorial on the ICT basics, and how they can make laptops useful in their classes. I assume blocking the distracting sites wouldn’t also be that much work.
Road sign to  education and future

We go to school to learn. I could equally well sit at home and do nothing, but going to school is my choice and my decision. This is the place which is making me ready for the university, work life, helping to achieve what I will in order to have a safe and happy future. This is exactly the reason why it has to be well adapted to what life might have in stock for me, and the requirements I will one day face out in the big world.

Media’s role in the US election

Yesterday, there was an annual charity dinner where the two president candidates, Hillary Clinton (D) and Donald Trump (R)  gave speeches. In this blogpost, I am going to explain how the networks and newspapers view at the debate can influence the articles.

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I am going to start of by comparing two networks to see if they represent the democrats, the republicans or if they are neutral. I will find out if this will influence the election. I am comparing Fox News and CNN.foxnews

After yesterday’s charity dinner Fox News wrote an article about the dinner. Fox is a republican network and they are known for supporting Trump in the election. The headline in the article says “Trump jeered over personal attacks against Clinton at charity dinner”. This can be a way for the newspaper to make people feel sorry for Trump because he got a lot of criticism from the crowd. In the rest of the article, it feels like Fox News tries to make excuses for all the rude comments by saying that he only tried to be funny. “Some of Trump’s attack lines showed a sense of humor”. They also mention that he got one of the biggest cheers of the night when he joked about his wife speech at the Republican National Convention. By mentioning this they try to show that some of his jokes were a success.

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CNN is known for being a neutral newspaper in the US campaign, but in the article, they wrote about yesterday’s charity dinner it is clearly that they mean the Trumps behavior at the dinner was childish and rude. The headline says “Trump delivers harsh remarks on Clinton at charity dinner” which indicates that they did not like his behavior. This is clearly evident throughout the article. CNN is also criticizing Clinton. They say that Clinton’s remarks largely lacked the self-deprecating humor that is typical at the Al Smith dinner” and “Her remarks, too, included sharp shots at Trump.” Due to the fact that the network is criticizing both of the candidates it is easy to see that the network is neutral in the debate

Now lets focus on the articles written by newspapers “The Huffington Post” and “The Hill”. The biggest difference between them is not only who they support, but also the way they portrait events and their reference.huffington-post-logo-jpgThe Huffington Post is strongly supporting the democratic party. Already in the title of the controversial article, we notice their hatred to Donald Trump. They mean that the republican “made an ass of himself at the charity dinner”. Throughout the contentious article the writer mobs and makes fun of the candidate for president. In the text, there are used many quotes, where Trumps jokes about Hillary Clinton are pointed out.

   The last paragraph of the article, which is an editor’s note, shocked me noticeably. It reads:

“Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

I think this is where we get the real impression of what Huffington Posts meaning about the republican party is. The editor uses firm and appalling words, which make the reader clear on what they think about the candidate for president.

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The Hill

On the neutral side of the political debates, we have “The Hill” which is, according to VG, “The largest of the tentatively neutral political newspapers”. The article is very subtle and easy to read. It contains mainly a summary of the Al Smith Charity Dinner and doesn’t say anything controversial about either of the candidates. This is a good source for someone who is interested in the facts in general. This text also quotes many of Trumps mean jokes, but doesn’t comment on any of them, letting the reader form his own opinion.

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In conclusion, there is a visible difference between how the media portraits the two candidates for president. Who and what they write about in their articles, depends mainly on their own opinion.

9/11- A day we will never forget

Exactly 15 years and 12 days ago, a series of terror attacks in Manhattan, New York occurred. The event was a huge concussion not only for America, but for the whole world. According to wikipedia, “The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured over 6,000 others and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage and $3 trillion in total costs.”

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Today in english class, we watched a documentary called “9/11”. It is a 2 hour long film, showing the attacks from the point of view of firemen. The filmmakers were actually shooting a material about Tony Benetatos, a probationary firefighter from FDNY. The 11th of September 2001, was just supposed to be another day full of practice, but what happened later was never expected by anyone. This happening will forever stay in the memories of the survivors.

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The film contains real footage of the airplanes crashing into the towers, something which has only been caught on tape by maybe two other people. It is a great source to learn what really happened and realize what terror and hatred does to our world.

International education business Partnership Network (IPN) in Lillestrøm

Sandvika High School is one of the best schools in the Bærum municipality, as also one of the most open for technology institutions. Block scheduled timetables, digital books and using laptops in class is nothing unusual for students here. Despite such a big role of high tech in our learning, Sandvika manages to be a very sucessful place, where internation collaboration is, one can say, an everyday matter.

Therefore, my international english class is planning to attend the the International education business Partnership Network (IPN) in Lillestrøm, Norway. On Friday the 16th of September, some of my classmates are going to present how the global classroom works and what the idea of technology in school is. The point of this conference is to develop ICT as a tool for international Collaboration. Below, is a short description of the other speakers at the conference.

Ellen Therese Rasmussen:

Ellen Therese Rasmussen is one of the speakers joining us at the IPN conference. She is from a company called Union consult which is an engineering office working with counseling. Rasmussen is going to talk about something called Girls and Technology (GIT) which is a global non-profit focused on girls and women who are passionate about technology. GIT are working with getting more women into the technology industry and they have more than 50 000 members located around the world.

Evita Tasiopoulou

Evita Tasiopoulou has been working on Educational Projects since 2004 and she is a Project Manager at European Schoolnet. Evita has a big interest in schools pilot activities, schools-industry collaboration, space studies, gender issues and impact of remote laboratories. Evita is originally from Greece and she has a bachelor in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Kent in Canterbury in the U.S. She has completed a 2 year course on Child Psychology as well.

Rick Hieb and NASA

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Richard James Hieb is a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of three space shuttle missions. Rick Hieb is one of the most experienced astronauts in the USA. On one of his missions he set the world record in space walk. He was 8 hours and 29 minutes outside the spaceship. At the conference he will speak about: adventures in space, education and qualification program, exciting prospects for space exploration and space and civilian application.

NASA is short for National Aeronautics and Space Administration and is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government which is responsible for the civilian space program. Most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and the Space Shuttle. NASA was established in 1958 by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sue Lederer:

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Sue Lederer is a engineer and scientist at NASA, she has a M.S and Ph.D in Astronomy and a B.S in mathematics and physics. When she took her BS at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire her professor caught her looking at the stars in the Phillips planetarium, and he offered her a student assistantship in the planetarium. The school gave her many experiences that lead her to her career. After the finished her BS she went to take a Ph.D in astronomy and now she is a space scientist for NASA.

 

Global challenges through the eyes of candidates for president

The environment is facing many problems which have a huge impact on our world. One of the main problems is carbon dioxide. Al Gore focuses a lot on this topic and our starting point is to prevent this global challenge from getting any worse. Over the past years, CO2 emission has only been growing. According to Al Gores graphs the US. has the highest number of CO2 emissions.

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Hillary Clinton has always been very preoccupied of the environment and supported many climate- focused debates. Also, according to an article in USA today by  Gregg Zoroya and Doyle Rice, “Clinton cares deeply about protecting public health and the environment”. This is proven when she mentioned during her acceptance speech that she is proud of the US for signing the Paris climate accord.

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However, Trump on the other hand disagrees with Clintons opinion about the Paris climate deal and rejects the mainstream climate science. He has called climate change a “con job” and a “hoax” and suggested it is a Chinese plot “to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”

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The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph…

Today we got to meet our new english class for next year. We were introduced to the new teaching program, competency goals and plans for next year. Then we watched a short film called “The butterfly circus”, where the main character role was played by Nick Vujicic.

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Nick was born as the eldest child of a pastor and a nurse. Parents were shocked when it turned out that he had no hands or legs, only one deformed foot with two fingers.

At first, he could not go to a regular school, because the law of Victoria forbade the children with physical disabilities. But when the law changed, Vujicic was one of the first disabled students attending school together with non-disabled. In school, he was humiliated by his colleagues, which lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. At age 10 he tried to commit suicide by drowning.

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Later he realized that he could inspire others to give them faith and hope. When the mother showed him a newspaper article about a man who can cope in everyday life despite disability, Nick realized that he was not the only one, and he decided to overcome his illness. He learned to independently perform all the necessary daily activities: to write with your toes, use the computer, comb, shave, brush your teeth, answer the phone, drink a glass of water, ride a skateboard, and even kick a tennis ball, golf, surf or play the drums

Thats exactly what the message of “The Butterfly Circus” is, to overcome your insecurities and show everyone what you can achieve, despite sickness and health disorders.

I worked on this story together with Daniel, so be sure to check out his blogpost as well!

 

My advice to next year students

I can’t believe how fast this school year has passed. It feels as if it was yesterday that I was writing my first post on this blog. Now, 10 months later, here I am writing a summary of the whole year and advice for next year students. Just in this short time I have achieved and learned so much, and this is the moment where I notice that my hard work has paid off.

Now it is the time to reflect on what I have managed to accomplish, and where I should still put some more effort in. This year was extremely challenging, and it contained many changes in my life. New school, class, people, subjects, teachers and methods of learning. For some, it might not be such big of a deal, but everyone deals with things like this in different ways. The challenging part is to keep up the good work you have been doing for so many years and prove that you have worked hard enough throughout the months. I’m safe to say that I am satisfied with my schoolwork this semester, however, there are things that could have been improved or done differently.

Today is our second-last English lesson on the first year at Sandvika High School. We have just watched 3 commencement speeches, one at Tulane and two at Harvard University. Ellen DeGeneres, J. K. Rowling, and Steven Spielberg have all given fantastic and educational speeches. Each of them included humor, advice, and examples from what they have experienced themselves.

Ellens message was to follow your passion and find your own path in life, while Rowling talked about how failures in life shape our personalities. Steven Spielberg, however, means that we should think of the world as “we”, not “us and them”. Each of the speakers has had a hard time in life themselves and wanted the graduates to realize, that success requires time, hard work and lastly, a strong character. DeGeneres knew that by confessing about her homosexuality she is in danger of losing her career, but she didn’t let that put her off. Before her successful Talk Show, she didn’t have any money and lived in a small, poor basement apartment. J. K. Rowling was always afraid of failure and had to choose between satisfying herself and her parents. Spielberg dropped out of college, just to fulfill his Hollywood dream.

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By watching these three speeches, I realized that life is not about the planned and safe, but it consists of taking risks, not listening to others advice and doing just what you genuinely enjoy doing. This is exactly what Ellen, Joanne, and Steven have in common. They specialize in different kinds of things, but their stories are very comparable. No one has ever achieved anything by doing exactly what others are doing. You have to stand out, make yourself visible to others.

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I have 3 pieces of advice for the next year students. First of them, is basically to work as hard as you can. Simple as that. And by this, I mean also to put in extra effort in your work, not just the average amount. This is the reason we go to school, this is why we spend there so many hours daily. By showing that you care, others see your ambitions and willingness and you gain a lot by this.

The next thing is to be precise in your work. It is truly worth it to spend that extra 10 minutes to check your assessment paper for mistakes and miss the 10 minutes of your tv-series. You’d rather take the next bus, or make your friends wait for you than rushing your exam task and not being truly satisfied with your work.

Last but not least, don’t ever do anything you struggle with or what doesn’t make you happy. There is nothing worse in this world than being stuck to something that makes us stressed, sad or cheerless. Just by looking at J. K. Rowlings example- she was great only at one thing, and it was writing books. Instead of trying to fit in with the other students, she used her abilities to succeed in what she was best at.

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To conclude, I am very satisfied with this school year, moreover, I am actually quite sad that it is coming to an end. This means that yet another chapter of my life is closing, but there are still many more to come. I really enjoyed English lessons this year, and to be honest it was one of my favorite subjects. I can’t wait to continue International English classes after the summer holidays. 🙂