Hudson Prairie students welcome Swedish teachersWhat used to only be done by “airmail,” is now something quite different for students like Julie Zamzow’s Hudson Prairie second-graders. The class recently got an up close and personal visit from two of their Swedish penpal friends’ teachers.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
What used to only be done by “airmail,” is now something quite different for students like Julie Zamzow’s Hudson Prairie second-graders.
While they are pen pals with their counterparts in a Swedish school, they also participate in a sort of book club, reading the same books, sharing their thoughts on them and getting to know about one another’s culture and day to day life. And it all happens electronically.
Well, most of it. The class recently got an up close and personal visit from two of their Swedish friends’ teachers. Maria and Michael Haglof spent time with Zamzow’s class getting to know the students, working with them in their classroom and even handing out Halloween cards the Swedish student had sent.
This is the second year of a “literary partnership” between Zamzow’s class and the Haglof’s school. It is a model that was developed in Scotland and that has been used in Sweden for awhile. Zamzow said it was a good fit with Hudson’s elementary reading comprehension curriculum.
It involves both classes reading the same book and sharing a variety of activities related to it including video and art projects, traditional letter-writing, a blog where they can communicate with each, and even some “Skyping,” although the seven-hour time difference can be a challenge. They try to connect about once a month. English is taught to all Swedish students so language is not a barrier and it provides good practice for them.
Maria Haglof describes her work partnership with Zamzow as close and very successful.
“It really is amazing how much of what we do together fits with other things I was teaching in math and science as well as reading and comprehension. It really is a pretty efficient thing to do,” said Zamzow. “It is a chance for our students to make a global connection, something that is and will continue to be a part of their everyday lives.”
Michael Haglof said there are similarities between their school and Hudson Prairie but he envies the time teachers get to plan their lessons and evaluate their progress.
All three teachers says there are more similarities in their students than differences. They ask the same kind of questions about what they read and what they want to know about each other. The visit came just a few weeks before Halloween and the Haglofs brought Halloween cards from their students to their Prairie friends. That led to a discussion of how the holiday is celebrated and the differences from place to place.
The teachers hope the program can be expanded based on the success they have experienced. They have been called upon to share their success at the international Storyline conference to be held in Iceland in August 2012.
In addition to their time at Hudson Prairie, the Haglofs visited the district’s other elementary schools and were impressed with how big the buildings were and the technology that was available to students and staff.