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Feel Good, Learn Better

Every day, teachers around the world juggle with a thousand things on their mind: following the curriculum, planning ahead while processing the past and keeping track of the present. Add the administrative tasks, cooperation with colleagues, communication with homes. And most importantly: taking care of the students, listening to them and answering each and every one of their needs. No one can focus on everything at the same time. When time is scarce, compromises are only natural. For such professionals as teachers this is often immensely frustrating. It is important to facilitate the communication in schools while deepening the overall understanding of well-being of students.

Feel Good, Learn Better

Let’s break some norms!

Mental health issues are exceedingly common, but too often met with prejudices and false beliefs. School Day promotes mental health awareness by making it a simple part of everyday life: when children examine their feelings on a regular basis and talk about them with their peers, teachers and guardians, they learn that all feelings are okay, and how to deal with them. (Read more about a survey on social and emotional skills.)

We’ve heard so many great stories of classes getting together to discuss their well-being results. As one teacher put it, School Day offers each student a private bubble to mull over in so that when they feel ready, they are welcome to share their thoughts with others. Understanding different moods helps the children understand each other, which contributes to an improved group spirit, learning results and well-being of students.

Creating a global community

There are as many teaching methods as there are teachers, but every one of them ultimately has the same goal: to help children and teenagers find their strengths and place in the world. We bring educational professionals together to share their ideas and knowhow. Practices on one side of the globe often turn out to be pretty awesome elsewhere too.

We listen keenly to what our community tells us. The classroom is where the magic happens, and we want School Day to match up precisely to the issues and concerns that teachers, students and principals have. Many of our features originate from discussions with school professionals. This fall, for instance, we offer the teachers even more flexibility as they get the possibility to compose their own questions alongside our ready-made ones.

Would you like your students to reflect their emotions?

How does School Day work to support the well-being of students?

Every week we ask students simple questions on learning, social-emotional skills, social relationships, and wellness. We then analyze the data and provide weekly highlights on what’s going on in the classroom. This way the teachers, principals and district leaders will get reliable and comprehensible data on the current situation as well as long-term trends. We don’t just point at problems but also offer help and support for pressing issues. Our easily implementable lesson plans have already become a hit!

By answering our questions students learn to reflect and process their mood. When they feel safe and confident, it’s easier for them to be vocal about their feelings. In-class conversations about the results will further diminish the taboos surrounding mental health. All students must feel safe at school.

New times, new challenges

Balancing time and resources at schools was never easy, but the pandemic has even added up to the challenges of modern school life. On the other hand, throughout the past year school we’ve seen amazing innovativeness and strength, cooperation between different professionals and administrative levels, homes and the students. We are proud to help ensure that no one is left behind during these tumultuous times. Everyone has the right to feel good and learn better, everyday. Let´s focus on well-being of students!

Get to know School Day wellbeing model

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What is co-teaching?

Working as a teacher can be a lonely job. Even though you have colleagues: you have common coffee breaks with them, plan your lessons together, have dialogues and even assess together outside the classroom — nevertheless, a teacher is alone in classroom. One class, and only one teacher. If we are lucky, we have a team mate in the classroom: for example, a school assistant, who is in the same class during few lessons. Some teachers have even the full-time assistants. But the pedagogical responsibility lies always on one teacher. Have you ever heard about co-teaching?

Learning can happen anywhere

What if there would be more teachers, sharing the same pupils and same responsibilities? Co-teaching means that two teachers teach same students in the same classroom. Usually there are two different classes, who just have been put in the same room. Schools develop classroom layouts to fit in this kind of flexible teaching: walls are torn down and replaced with soundproof, opening flip walls. The room can be used as one big room or as two separate spaces.

Co-teaching and working in groups

Me and my colleague use a light model of co-teaching. We have our own classes, number of children is 44 in all. On about five lessons every week the children study together, with two teachers.

The easiest way to carry out co-teaching is “the boss and the firefighter” -model. We plan the lesson together, and make a deal which one of us is the boss. The boss collects all the children to a listening area. Here happens the traditional teaching, where the teacher is the boss, tells the story, teaches the topic of the day/lesson etc.

As we all know, some of the pupils have difficulties to listen, to sit still, to concentrate. The boss teaches, and his/her colleague has a role of a firefighter: he/she walks silently in the classroom, “extinguishes the fires”: sits down next to one child if it is needed, whispering the quietness to restless children. The teachers can also have a teaching dialogue and the pupils can take a part in it.

Individual support

According to our experiences this is an excellent format to try co-teaching by an easy way. After the listening part pupils move back to their places and start filling out their notebooks and workbooks. Both teachers walk around and help everyone. The silence and peace in the classroom have been better this way than in a same kind of traditional teaching situation but only one teacher and only one class.

If we want to do something active and functional, we need to split those 44 children in groups, just because otherwise it gets too noisy. We share them in two groups, but both of the groups have children from both classes. Or, if we can have a resource teacher or an assistant teacher to be one adult, then we make three groups. Every adult has one workshop. We have had workshops for years like this. Teachers know both classes, and students know us. They have friends in both classes, there are no “our class” and “your class”. Just us. Sometimes we have had theme weeks when we have worked more together in a same room, sharing a project.

I once had a privilege to join an session held by two pioneer co-teachers. They shared the same class, and they had only one class, even though the number of children in the class was nearly 40. They shared everything: the pedagogical responsibility, the teaching, the co-operation with parents… They worked as a team in one classroom. They described themselves as a double teacher with double classroom. The results were fantastic: double joy but half of stress and half of the work.

When the chemistry and characters with a colleague are working well this is definitely worth trying. After having even small steps of co-teaching in your work, it is going to be difficult to go back to old situation where you always have only one pair of hands.

 Kaisa Tuomarla
Class Teacher,
Pedagogical Specialist

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It all begins in the early childhood…

The interest towards Finnish early childhood education has increased significantly during the last few years. Why is that? For one thing, foreign education experts have realized that the early childhood education is an integral part of the success story of Finnish education. For the other, there is a lot of interesting development going on in the Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) right now. The new National Core Curriculum for ECEC has been released in Finland for the first time in history and the new curriculum has been implemented. You can get to know National Core Curriculum for ECEC in a Nutshell.

Free play on the playground

First it was the excellent PISA results in Finnish basic education that drew the international attention. Foreign education experts wanted to know, what do the Finns do in their basic education in order to achieve such an excellent learning outcomes. It took a while for the experts to realize that the students with such a good learning abilities don’t come to the first grade in Finnish basic education out of nowhere. Foreign experts started to ask, what is it Finnish children do before they go to school at the age of seven. How is it possible, that Finnish children, even though they start school relatively late, still learn so quickly and achieve a high standard of reading, writing and maths skills? The obvious question was: is there something special in the Finnish early childhood education and care that produce such ready-to-learn-pupils for school?

Finnish education path is in a way an integral entity: same principles go throughout the whole journey from early childhood education to basic education and to higher education and even to adult education, too. The focus is on student-centered learning on understanding rather than memorizing, on taking individual abilities and challenges into consideration and learning for real-life, not just for exams. In every step of the education path, the learner is seen as a holistic human being, whose well-being and development as a whole person is essential.

Curiosity, physical activity, different learning environments

Internationally speaking, Finnish early childhood education is “something else”, indeed. Finland has for a long time had a strong emphasis on “stress-free childhood”: the early childhood education has been informal, full of play and child distinctive activities and not school-like at all. Even though Finland has got the first National Core Curriculum for ECEC as well, this is not going to change. What has changed is the reasoning behind the ECEC: a child is seen even more than before as an active agent who has the right to learn things according his or her own potential. The nature of activities has not altered dramatically in ECEC: it is still a lot of free play and no academic lessons at all. But the early childhood educators are listening to children’s aspirations, ideas, wishes and questions even more closely and offering children possibilities to learn according to their own interests and abilities.

In many countries, where children start the school at the age of three or four, this sounds unbelievable. Isn’t Finland wasting valuable time by postponing the beginning of formal schooling and letting children “just play”?

According to scientific studies the situation is quite the opposite: the children learn an enormous amount of things “just through play”. And there is no benefit in trying to push too academic subjects too early, when children – and their brains – are not ready for that yet. Giving children time to develop at their own pace creates a better basis for the learning in the future.

Foreign visitors find so many things in the Finnish early childhood education intriguing: for instance the learning environments designed from the child’s point of view, the relaxed and flexible organization of the day, the fundamentality of physical activities, the creativity and diversity in everyday activities, the subtle yet determined guiding by teachers, children learning by doing, making observations and reflecting, the versatile learning materials and the overall warm and supportive atmosphere in the Finnish early childhood education.  The Finnish ECEC professionals are enthusiastic and proud to develop their work as a part of life-long education path. They know their work is irreplaceable and it’s always for the best of the children.

Want to know more about ECEC related products we recommend? Online courses, pedagogical documentation, playful STEAM lessons, teaching methods and activities for early years teachers, parenting skills, Study Tours to Finnish Daycare Centers.

Johanna Järvinen-Taubert
Pedagogical Director

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Education Sustainability Development: Case Studies by EduGems

Many schools around the world aim to grow great citizens, empowered to live successfully in their personal and global lives. In many places the word sustainability has only just started to be understood and implemented in pedagogical communities and the STEAM approach takes wings. One thing is a fact: the 21st century skills are essential. Studying more about Education Sustainability Development will open the doors of such concepts as STEAM, ESD, Positive pedagogy, Student-centered and teacher-centered learning. In the beginning those concepts might sound hard to digest and implement in everyday school life. But you are not alone! By taking online courses and improving professional skills you can learn and clarify many educational concepts such as Holistic and Inquiry-based Education for Sustainable Development. Actually, it is very rewarding to see that simple actions can bring big impact on both students and teachers!

In one of the cases in Moldova, Science, Chemistry and Biology subjects teachers were  invited to cooperate. They made a real boom in their school showing another aspect of education, education that really matters for the future. Parents were impressed by the motivation of their kids searching and exploring  information about the materials, how they are used and what the reason is for the raw materials.

Being a teacher is a very responsible task. Personal and professional development is lifelong. All the teachers should remember the fact that they may change lives.” Corina Ceban

I consider that all the aspects of environmental problems should be integrated in any subject in the framework of the curriculum. As for teaching, I consider that Project-based learning would be a great strategy to introduce the environmental problems and planetary boundaries. Through projects pupils will explore the problem then they together with the teacher will find a solution. I will focus more on the transversal competences. I will take the role of a push motivator and try to deliver more interactive lessons. Thank you so much. I have discovered crucial facts about education!” Natalia Ursu

It is important to empower and develop teacher´s skills as teachers are the initial change makers in the classroom. Getting this kind of feedback and reflection means a job well done and spot on!

If you wish to get to know this case study from Moldova better, please read more! If you want to gain this kind of sustainable superpowers yourself, join the online courses B6 Educational Approaches in Finland and B8 Sustainable Development in Education.

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Finnish Education in Practice: What, Why and How – an essential resource for all educators

Personally, I have been collaborating with Finnish entities for a number of years and through the ongoing collaboration with Learning Scoop Finland and other Finnish entities we have facilitated the visits to Finnish schools for hundreds of educators from various countries. All educators who had the opportunity to take part in this enriching experience always felt the need to learn more about the Finnish system of education and pedagogy, about the success of Finnish students in international examinations, the new national curriculum of Finland and the innovations in this Nordic country in the field of education. What is Finnish education in practice?

It was for this reason that in the past months our Finnish colleagues strived to publish the first edition of Finnish Education in Practice: What Why and How.

I strongly believe that such a publication should be an essential reference resource for all policy makers, teachers and senior leaders as it gives a detailed insight about this country and its educational progression during the past decade. 

In this publication, there is a strong reference and discussion about certain characteristics which make the Finnish educational system original and unique. There is also a strong mentioning of the two basic principles which are constantly emphasized by Finnish educational policy makers and educators – the promotion of the principle of collaboration instead of competition and the need for students to learn principles which will eventually make use of them in their life and in the outside world, life skills.

Also in recent years, Finland introduced the concept of phenomenon-based learning. The introduction of this style of learning was also made possible because Finland has highly educated, skilled and motivated teachers. The teaching profession is respected and at all school levels, teachers are highly qualified and committed. For the teaching courses, the Finnish universities can select among the most motivated and talented applicants.

I strongly believe that Finnish Education in Practice: What, Why and How compliments other publications on Finnish educational theory and pedagogy which were researched and published also internationally during the past decade. Finally, a big well done goes to Johanna Järvinen-Taubert, Päivi Valtonen and Elena Chukhlantseva editors of this book, who, together with other Finnish educational specialists and teachers are sharing their expertise and good practices through such an inspiring and well researched publication. 

Dr Kenneth Vella 

Head of Mater Boni Consilii St Joseph School Paola, Malta and Ambassador of the Republic of Malta to Estonia and Finland.

What makes Finnish education unique? Join the webinar on June 16th – sign up here!

Get your own copy of this brand new book!

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An ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center

I am an early education teacher, working in Kalkunvuori daycare center. I work in an integrated group where half of the children have special needs, and that is why the group size is smaller (12 children) and the staff resource is bigger than the average (4 adults, of which 2 are teachers), but our daily routines are pretty much the same than in any other group. The children in my group are 3-5-year-olds. There is no similar day but I am happy to share my ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center with you. 

How does my ordinary day at a Finnish daycare center look like?

8.15 am My working time starts

I log myself in using an application on the phone. I check our team’s calendar and read our message notebook. I prepare the circle time that is about to start soon. In the meanwhile the children are having breakfast with two other adults from my group. Our daycare opens at 6 am, but most of my group’s children arrive around 8.

Circle time pictures play an important role

8.45 am Circle time

I am doing some playful stretching and breathing exercises with children while we are waiting for the last ones to finish their breakfast. At the circle time we sing our morning song, check what day it is, look at what is going to happen today using pictures and check who is present today.

9-11 am Activities indoors and outdoors

During this time we work in small groups. Me and the assistant will stay first indoors with the other half of the group. We have a project going on about bears which was decided to be our project theme by the children. Today we are drawing bears. Meanwhile the other half of the group is playing outdoors. We switch around 10 am; my group will get dressed and go play outdoors and the other group comes in to continue their project about the TV-series PAW Patrol.

Are you afraid of bears?

11 am Lunch

All the meals are served in the restaurant, as we call it with the children. I eat with the children, as all the adults do. Today’s menu is spaghetti, vegetable sauce and salad.

Meal time in a daycare center

11.30 am Mini Group activities

After lunch the children will gather up to these mini group activities. (The name of the activity was made by children!) Today is my colleague’s turn to run this activity. We have classifying in program. Me and my teacher colleague plan the activities in advance, according to the goals that are agreed in the children’s individual learning plans. After lunch I follow the children from my table to this activity and help a few who are facing challenges to do it.

Mini group activities

12 – 2 pm Naptime / my PED (Planning, Evaluation and Developing) time

I start by checking my email and Helmi platform (a web interface e.g. to communicate with parents) and continue with a phone call. After that I go to have tea in the teacher’s lounge. I chat with the others, and we have a laugh together – how refreshing! After my break I plan the next week activities together with my teacher colleague. We always plan the big lines together. Planning and working together gives a lot of new ideas to both of us! Then I still have time to prepare the music activity for tomorrow concerning the bear project. I get everything ready on time and go back to the group.

Naptime! Unfolded beds

2.15 pm Snack time

Today kids are having yogurt, bananas and rye bread with cheese for snack. I sit at a table where one of the children uses pictures for communication, I help and model using the pictures.

2.30 pm Playing

Today we have a lottery for the play group combinations. I go with one small group of three children where there is a bit of difficulty in coming to a conclusion what to play, since they are not normally playing that much together. I help them to solve that, and then support the concentration and communication skills in the play.

3.15 pm Going outdoors

I ask the other adults what is the situation in their play groups, and we agree that I will go out first with my small group, since these children are having trouble to concentrate anymore. They really need to go run and play outdoors, to release their energy a bit. I help one with the zipper and the other one with shoes, but otherwise they manage themselves. I go out with them, and after a while the rest of the group follows. The time to go out in the afternoon varies a bit, but usually we go out between 3 and 4 pm. Most of our children are being picked by 4 pm by their parent or other trusted adult.

Let´s play outdoors!

4 pm My working time ends

I log myself out using the app on the phone and leave the phone to our assistant who still stays at work. The parents also log out their children using the same application. The daycare closes at 5 pm. What a nice day we had!

If you wish to learn more about Early Childhood Education in Finland and Educare model, we recommend you this online course. Do you want to get to know solutions which can help your work at the daycare or at home? Or are you interested in playful STEAM education for early years?

Anu Lumiaho

Early Education Teacher

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An ordinary day at a Finnish school

I have been teaching almost 20 years, most of the time at the same school, the Atala school. It is a primary school in a suburb with a lot of forests around. There is no similar day but I am happy to share my ordinary day at a Finnish school with you. I have been teaching all grades (1-6) and all subjects. I love the fact I have a possibility to teach the same kids the whole six years they spend in primary. Today I teach the six graders, and most of them started with me on the grade one. It has been a privilege to see them to grow up, become teenagers. Also I know the families very well. All their siblings and sometimes also their grandparents, pets etc.

How does my ordinary day at a Finnish school look like? 

8.00 am Arriving to school.
Quick checking on emails and Helmi (the web interface), then cup of coffee and chatting with colleagues, or preparing some lessons.

8.15 am First lesson: Math for half of my class.
We have a traditional lesson: I teach the new topic and then children practice with their own notebooks.
But, as usually, there is a reward after every calculation group. I mark it on the blackboard:

  1. Walk to the lunch room and check what is on the menu.
  2. Make 10 jumping jacks.
  3. Go to drink some water.
  4. Take a five minute nap.
  5. Put on your shoes and run to the other side of the yard.

With this kind of rewards and action breaks every child studies always faster and better. When they were younger, I built them little action stunt tracks (I used chairs, fabrics, ropes etc)  in the free space of the classoom: every time they finished one task in the book, they were allowed to enter the stunt truck. One very easy way to accomplish these action breaks is to use activation cubes. After every task a pupil goes and throws the dice and does what the cube tells him/her to do. You can google those kind of dice in the net, use for example words “printable fitness dice”.

9.00 am Second lesson, Science.

We study geography, and students learn about America´s continent. They choose one sight or attraction in Northern America and search for information about it. We drew a huge map in the wall of our classroom, and now we put the attractions in their right spots. Pupils use laptops, they search for images and photos, print them and put them in their places on a big map. This will take still few more lessons. Afterwards we make a touristic tour to those attractions, every student can present their attractions. The method can also be found in LessonApp, it is called “Poster”, and it can be used in various ways.

9:45 am – 10:15 am Recess.
After a double lesson there is a 30 minutes recess. My students play football or different kind of plays and games. They have even made up a new game called “Ruuttis”, which is a tag game with a twist of strategy. This is a consequence of participating, activating and a free play time (recesses!)

During this recess I make preparations for lessons, answer to few e-mails and have a meeting with a special education teacher.

10.15 am Third lesson: Religion

We have a flip wall between my and my colleagues classrooms. We plan and teach together almost every religion lesson. We start with an activating game. We are quite good finding or creating a small game or a play which has some kind of connection on the day´s topic. Today our topic is one of Jesus¨miracles in the Bible. The one, where He walked on water. We told pupils (40 pupils, two classes) that the floor is now water but you are not Jesus, so you have to reach the other wall of that long double length classroom using the desks, tables, chairs, drawers… And so they did. After the play we discussed about the topic and made notes in their notebook. A typical combination lesson.

11.00-11.15 am Recess. I am supervising the recess, so I wear an attention vest and go outside. Fresh air for me too!

11.15 am Fourth lesson, Finnish (mother tongue)

First we visit the book bus (the mobile library). It visits every school every week. Pupils return their old books and borrow new ones, we start a reading project today. They choose an optional book, and read one chapter every day. Every day they have to pick up one word about the chapter. We have three big empty posters in our classroom. One for substantives, one for adjectives, one for verbs (this could be also in digital environment, Padlet, Thinglink or something like that). The first week they pick up substantives in the chapter they read. And they have to choose several, because they can’t write down the same word that is already been used! During the first day we get 21 substantives, next day 21 new… At the end of the week it might be challenging to find new words, but I am confident we will! Next week we search and find adjectives every day and on third verbs. I think we will make a little project then about all the words we collect (198 word). Perhaps a creative wrintig with a word lottery? Or a school hunt? (School Hunt´s instructions can be found in LessonApp). I think I will participate students and let them decide.

12.00 pm School lunch

Free for every student in primaries, lower and upper secondaries. Today¨s menu is potatoes, minced meat sauce and salad.

12.15 pm Recess. I take a cup of coffee and talk with my colleagues. A break is very important to us teachers too! Relaxing our brains as well!

12.30 – 2 pm Fifth and sixth lessonsCrafs

This class is held with or without recess, depending on how the class seems to be needing a break. The class is divided in two, the other half is studying hard materials´ crafts with my colleague (they are manufacturing their own design lamps from wood, metal and/or plastic). I teach the other half, we have the soft materials. yarns, wool, fabrics… We are also having our own designs. We created own print patterns, and searched  ideas by photographing textures in school´s hallways: brick walls, stone floors, wooden stairs… Then every pupil created their print and we painted, stamped and formed the print on fabric. Eventually we manufacture a bucket or a message box made from those printed fabrics.

2 pm Pupils go home, I have a break! A snack or a coffee maybe. After the lessons I sit down with my colleague and we plan our next week´s lessons. Even though we don´t always do simultaneous teaching, planning teaching together helps a lot. The lessons become more analyzed, well planned, more everything. After our meeting I make some paperwork and phone calls (emails, contacts with families, school development projects).

Last, a little peak on my yeasterday´s gym lesson. We went hiking the forests nearby for two hours. What a luxury, I know 🙂 I hope you enjoyed the school day and got to know more about an ordinary day at a Finnish school! Get to know more – would you like to visit a Finnish school virtually?

Kaisa Tuomarla
Basic Education Class Teacher

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5 Steps to a Great Science Lesson

There’s a whole subset of the self-help industry that’s dedicated to finding the right routine. And it makes sense! Routines help us unlock our creativity, as well as reduce stress and anxiety. And we know that a lot of early-childhood education teachers have stress about teaching science! How to master great science lessons?

So, we’re here to help you build a science lesson routine that will get your students engaged and loving science.

Children don’t do science, they become scientists.
Children don’t do science, they become scientists.
  1. Get in the role. Our founder’s research shows that students show the most growth not when they do science, but when they become scientists. This means that they assume the role of a scientist and take on a science identity. In our lessons, this is often done by putting on a lab coat or spinning in a circle, but it can be any regular routine that you use to change the situation to indicate to the children that they’re scientists for the next 30-60 minutes.
  2. Introduce the situation. We’re doing science now, so it’s time to talk about the problem that we’re investigating. Our lessons revolve around the problems that a robot has, and how our other story characters and the students can help him. This introduction helps our students understand what’s at stake in the lesson, and the story-based framing helps them approach the lesson with a “How can I help?” mindset, rather than a “What’s the right answer?” mindset. Even as adults, we often focus too much on the latter, when striving for the former would yield better results. Even a small story about why you’re doing the activity that you’re doing will help engage the students. Children are naturally empathetic, and will be quicker to use independent and critical thinking skills if they’re helping a character or friend, rather than just doing what’s next.
  3. Time for research. Or, more commonly, the experiments. We’ve set out the problem, and now we’re doing research about how to solve our friend’s predicament. The most important part is that to challenge your learners to grow new skills and abilities, not necessarily rush to the right answer. Imagine that: the process of trying to help is more important than getting to the right answer quickly! With young learners, we’re more interested in growing skills and capabilities than arriving to the right answer as quickly as possible.
  4. Scientist’s report! Nearly all science skills (observation, measurement, etc.) are applicable to other areas of life, but none more so than communication. This is where the child communicates their findings, and hopefully they’ve found the solution to the problem that we posed in step #2. With any luck, they’ve helped their story-friend. Perhaps as important, the teacher or parent should communicate to the student how they succeeded. Children are naturally empathetic, so it’s important that they understand how they’ve helped solve the problem posed by the story. This not only helps them understand what they’ve done, but helps grow enthusiasm for future lessons. Who doesn’t want to be helpful?!
  5. Close curtain. The flip side of assuming the dramatic role of science means that the show must come to an end. It’s time to take off the lab coat (or whatever you’re using) and go back to being a normal kid again. Being a scientist can be exhausting.

There you have it! Introducing this short routine to great science lessons can help not only keep the students engaged, but help reduce any anxiety that you might have about teaching science.

Got excited? Get to know Kide Science with access to ready-made lesson plans and training in our play-based pedagogy!

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Online courses promoting teachers’ professional development

It’s been coming. Experts and schools are increasingly looking for online courses for teachers and educators to support their professional development.

Finland Education Shop, products, online courses

Partly, it’s a question of time: many teachers are overwhelmed with their everyday tasks and ever-increasing duties. In that case, studying at home whenever you have suitable time slot feels like a feasible thing to do. Partly, it’s a question of finding a training that meets precisely your needs (and the training you actually need, is not necessarily something that is available in your own town or county).

Developing education has also become more global. Teachers have realized that we can look for new ideas not only from experts in our own country, but from other countries as well. When technology makes it possible, we can benchmark educational ideas and solutions more easily from other countries as well.

Even though this has been a growing trend for a while, Covid-19 put a huge boost to it. Suddenly we were not able to take part in in-service teacher training event in our own school, school district or town. All of a sudden we were also struggling with totally new challenges – distance teaching and how to promote learning remotely – that very few of us were properly prepared for. In lock-down situation, we turned online for various needs and purposes – why not for professional development opportunities as well?

In Learning Scoop, we have been training teachers for years, or to be exact, for decades 😉. We have organized face-to-face training events and programs, hands-on workshops, professional congresses, educational fairs, professional study tours for teachers and education experts etc. We are huge proponents of face-to-face interaction and experience.

Pandemic put us to a totally new position, too. For years we have been asked to produce online courses of the themes we usually train teachers. We always felt that we did not have time for it – and that something would be missing if we turned the trainings online. How can you replace human interaction and face-to-face sharing?

Pandemic made us realize that online courses are about providing people more opportunities.

Online courses are a great choice for you who don’t have the time or the opportunity to travel far to learn about a specific topic. Online courses can also be the only choice for you to avoid expensive trainings far away. Furthermore, online courses give you the opportunity to tailor training packages that better suit your needs.

We realized that it’s not the question of choosing either face-to-face trainings or online courses, but to have the opportunity for both.

Initially we planned to open a web shop for our own online courses. We soon realized that this might not serve our customers the best. We realized that there were plenty of other quality online courses of Finnish education and pedagogical practices that would complement the selection perfectly. By offering the variety of unique courses we could meet different needs.

It’s been a true pleasure to discover what kind of great courses other experts have produced! We have courses that dive deep into some specific theme, like sustainable development in education or how to teach coding. We have courses with very practical tips and examples to try out yourself (check for instance courses for Positive Parenting). In addition, we have courses that lead you to the very foundation of Finnish education and pedagogy, Cornerstones of Finnish Education. We hope you enjoy the self-study online courses for teachers and educators!

Now it’s your time to be the explorer! What would you like to learn more about? Check out the online course selection and build your own professional development path. Welcome onboard!

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10 Distance Teaching Tips to Engage Students

We have globally had the biggest human test in the history of education in the form of distance teaching. Schools and teachers were forced to change to distance teaching without warning and careful prior planning. How can distance learning be effective? Here are 10 Distance Teaching Tips that Finnish teachers apply to distance teaching.

The ultimate goal of teaching is to promote learning

Many principles equally apply to learning in classroom and in distance teaching. The key question is: how can you promote learning and produce better learning results in distance teaching?

When teaching is done remotely and online, it cannot be done exactly the same way than in face-to-face teaching. Teachers must find different types of pedagogical solutions that really utilize the new possibilities of distance teaching, but that don’t simultaneously overwhelm the teacher or the students.

10 teaching tips for successful remote / distance learning:

1. Create a safe atmosphere

A safe atmosphere is essential for learning in all situations, and that is the case in distance teaching, too. Distance teaching itself can be intimidating, at least to some of the students.

Therefore, it is essential to create a positive atmosphere right from the beginning of distance teaching.

2. Plan a pedagogically smart lesson structure to distance teaching situations

Learning follows the same principles, no matter which media we use for studying. Applying different pedagogical phases or functions to distance teaching lessons too is important for promoting learning. Distance teaching requires constant alertness and can be exhausting both cognitively and emotionally. This is why you should focus on quality over quantity in distance teaching!

 3. Use versatile methods and different kinds of activities

Receiving information passively is not a sufficient way to help the students engage with the learning. Different learners benefit from or enjoy different types of activities. Therefore, it is essential to use versatile methods and do something meaningful related to the lesson’s content in distance teaching, too.

4. Pay attention to the holistic development of the students

The holistic development of a student means the growth of their intellectual, mental, physical, emotional and social abilities. This means that there should be a good balance between academics and other activities. Learning should include communicating with others, engaging in authentic learning experiences, reading, creating, and being physically active.

5. Pay attention to pacing

Pacing means that the teacher plans a suitable timetable with enough breaks for every distance teaching session. It is good to change the activity often enough. The activities should not last too long: depending on the activity, 5–20 minutes is usually an appropriate time.

6. Remember brain breaks

According to scientific research brain needs breaks to digest and process new information. In addition, breaks help students to focus more in studying. In general, it is wise to have a break after 45–60 minutes of studying. The break should last at least 10–15 minutes and allow students to relax and rest between the study sessions.

7. Create possibilities to interact and collaborate with others

Distance studying can be quite lonely. In the course of a regular school day, students engage with other students or adults numerous times. In distance teaching, all this has suddenly vanished or decreased.

According to scientific studies, interaction and collaboration with others both have a very positive impact on learning. As a teacher, you should plan how students could work together to ensure that they feel like they are a part of the class and learning community.

8. Give students time to reflect on their own learning

Reflection is a part of learning: it aims at achieving better understanding and leads to new learning. In distance teaching, this natural interaction easily diminishes. Therefore, it is vital to require reflection and create opportunities for interaction and discussions.

9. Utilize the learning environment

Distance teaching means that students usually study at their own homes. Home as a learning environment can be an endless source of creativity! Many assignments can be designed to utilize different domestic items that are found in every home. Linking assignments to chores or other responsibilities at the students’ own houses is also a good option: this also promotes learning the necessary life skills.

10. Be there to guide, support and help students

Distance studying requires several advanced skills like time management, self-directedness, self-regulation, responsibility and many others. For many students, distance studying requires a lot of practice and support, and the teacher is the key person for providing support. We hope that these 10 distance teaching tips are helpful!

All this puts teacher in the center for guiding and facilitating learning. How can we help teachers to survive with this challenging task? How can we equip and empower teachers to be there to help the students the best possible way? From the Finnish perspective, teaching is an interactive relationship between teacher and student. Teacher is there to guide, help and support students to develop as human beings. Teaching is ultimately a human relationship.

With the help of LessonApp we can strengthen teachers´ pedagogical skills and understanding. The aim is to provide them best possible technology and other tools to help them in their work. We can empower them in their invaluable work: raising the next generation, our future. 

Johanna Järvinen-Taubert
Pedagogical Director