STEAM camp 2020

The typical daily schedule is:

  • From 8:00: breakfast
  • 10:00 – 12:00: First workshop
  • 11:00 – 13:00: Lunch & fun
  • 13:00 – 15:00: Second workshop
  • 15:00 : Excursion
  • 18:00: Dinner

The activity program for the week currently looks like this:

DayTrack 1: CourtyardTrack 2: StableTrack 3: HawilaTrack 4: GardenTrack 5: ShoreTrack 6: Excursions
Day 1 AMWelcome & Planning
Day 1 PMWeldingPrint a T-shirtHawila ChallengesTree climbingDinghyRå mælk og grøntsager fra gården
Day 2 AMWeldingN-body problemsHolbæk ArtDinghy
Day 2 PMSolderingBuild a robotHolbækDinghyHansen ismejeri
Day 3 AMSolderingHack a logo / GimpHawila ChallengesDinghy
Day 3 PMRygning af fx baconHack a logo / GimpHawila ChallengesRover in the fieldDinghyHornbeer bryggeri
Day 4 AMThe Field Field KitMarine ElectronicsDinghy
Day 4 PMAnalog photographyMusic workshopTree climbingDinghySelsø slot
Day 5 AMRover in the fieldRover in the fieldHawila ChallengesDinghy
Day 5 PMPrint a T-shirtHawila ChallengesDinghyÅdalen

The typical Hawila workshops can be found here.

All teaching material is freely available (as in freedom) at the school’s repositories.

Instructors:

  • Adam – Tree climbing
  • Alexandre – Welding
  • Alix – STEM
  • Ditlev – Sailing
  • Emanuel – Cooking
  • Emmanuelle – Cooking & logistics
  • Gabriele – Cooking
  • George – Photography
  • Joséphine – STEM & cooking
  • Mette – Graphical art
  • Nel – STEM and textile printing
  • Pauline – Sailing
  • Sacha – STEM
  • Samuel – Hawila activities and STEM
  • Stefan – STEM

What to bring:

  • A tent, unless you stay on the Hawila
  • A t-shirt or two print a logo on (preferably pure cotton)
  • Your laptop
  • Your robot(s), drones, Arduinos etc.
  • Bicycles for the excursions
  • Possibly life jackets

The land-side address is Brusagervej 1, 4070 Kirke Hyllinge.

Update 2020-07-21: Evaluation / improvements after the camp + photos.

Nyhedsbrev, maj 2020

Der sker en del for tiden, hvorfor dette nyhedsbrev lidt før tid.

Corona-krisen begynder så småt at ebbe ud og åbningstiderne vil således fremover være de sædvanlige for både børnehave og skole. Det har været en spændende tid, hvor vi blandt andet har fået luft under vingerne ift. vores fjernundervisningskoncept.

STUK kører stadig hårdt på. Nu har de fundet på at skolen ikke længere er omfattet af friskolelovens regler om frie skoler, hvorfor undervisningen nu officielt er “hjemme”-undervisning. Fremgangsmåden er komplet ulovlig – sågar grundlovsstridig – hvorfor vi igen har klaget til Ombudsmanden. Det er såvidt vides første gang, at de har brugt den såkaldte §9 h (egentlig skolelukning) siden den legendariske Tvind-sag!

Skolen igangsætter i løbet af det kommende skoleår en udviklingsproces hen imod at leve op til den nyeste internationale ISO21001 certificering for ledelse af uddannelsesinstitutioner fra 2018. Når nu ikke ministeriet formåede at forholde sig til vores moderne kvalitetssikringsmetoder – Kaizen i særdeleshed – må vi jo bare sigte højere, og internationalt.

Børnenes ESA-projekters fase 2 er gået i gang og nu skal de analysere de data, de har indsamlet på rumstationen.

vls_image271.jpg
Data fra rumstationen. Måske man kunne måle “overskyetheden”?

Livet på skolen går i øvrigt sin vante gang med blandt andet tilberedning af ukrudt på bål i madkundskab…

alsidig personlig udvikling…

og førstehjælpskursus til personalet

L’équipe de bras cassés

På onsdag 03/06 kl. 15-16:30 arrangerer vi et remake af de Flyvende Hacker Lab-sessioner, vi afholdt i Rom sidste efterår. Arrangementet er reserveret for skolens elever, men vil også tjene som generalprøve for vores længe ventede Arduino-dag, som er planlagt til d. 13/06.

Reklamér gerne for Arduino-dagen – den er åben for alle og vi satser på, at Corona-forsamlingsforbuddet slækkes fra d. 08/06.

Grundet Covid-19 bliver afslutningen i år således også lidt anderledes. Den finder sted den 17/06 og involverer Gruffalo-stykket og en billedkunstudstilling. Detaljer følger senere på ugen.

Som noget nyt i år lancerer vi i den første uge af sommerferien (29/06 – 03/07) en STEAM-lejr (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) i den sydlige del af Isefjord.

Og afslutningsvis en stor tak til forældregruppen for den massive opbakning og støtte, der hver dag bliver lagt og som er så afgørende for, at skolen kan komme sikkert gennem denne stormfulde tid.

Instructor’s cheat sheet / Remote STEM

Objectives: to get the participants/kids acquainted with programming in a fun and engaging way, possibly rooting the knowledge in the families by having the parents participate. Most of the basics of programming (loops, branching, variables, functions, data structures) can readily be learned from on-line resources. However, some very important notions are hard to come by and are best learned through osmosis in a group. These include:

  • versioning
  • testing
  • refactoring
  • proper variable naming and meaningful comments
  • caching and other optimizations
  • the art of maximizing the amount of code not written
  • knowing when to ask for help
  • issue tracking

When starting the session, ask everyone to introduce him/herself:

  1. say your name
  2. where you come from
  3. where you live
  4. how old you are
  5. what you are working on or would like to work on (ticket number) and will you present something today?

Be sure to have some project propositions available if someone doesn’t have an own idea, for instance

  • code a drawing in Khan Academy. Bonus: make it move (that’s the Euler method!) .
  • make a 3D model in OpenSCAD. Bonus: test out a spline library.
  • using an Arduino, measure the value on an analog pin and print it to the console. Bonus: put in a small piece of conducting wire (=an antenna) and try and have the Arduino identify different configurations based on the readings (e.g. is someone touching the antenna, being close to a radio transmitter, etc.)

Note that we only use free/libre tools, one of the benefits being that they are available for the kids and families to use outside of the sessions.

After a presentation:

  • try and ask some relevant questions and/or give some feedback.
  • encourage to register the project in a ticket on trac and share the code
  • applause after a presentation (in sign language = vibrate hands, so everyone doesn’t have to turn on the mic)

At the end of the session, evaluate 5+5: On a scale of 0-5 how much did you learn? how fun was it?

What do we need to improve? Is there anything we in particular should keep doing?

When sending the invitation email for the session, remember:

  • a link for signing up for the session
  • a link to the conference call

A sketch of our remote teaching program

[draft]

Based on our recent experience with on-line teaching, we are currently testing a remote education program. The purpose is to:

  • extend the reach of our award-winning STEM teaching program beyond the walls of the school by making it virtual.
  • allow families who wish to partly home school their children to do so.
  • assist home schooling families with quality assurance and STEM expertise.
  • find out if it is possible to maintain a teaching form based on strong inter-personal relations in an on-line context, possibly by encouraging small groups and recurring in-person visits and camps.
  • diversify the revenue streams for the school while the Danish state is trying to suffocate us financially.

The offering consists of the following elements:

  • daily Scrums (9:15 CET)
  • daily reading hours (13:00 CET)
  • individual follow-up and coaching on tasks around our issue tracking system
  • on-line STEM sessions, depending on demand and time zones (currently Thursdays 17:00 CET)
  • in-person meet-ups and camps, depending on demand

Pricing still remains to be determined.

Support Our School :)

Hello world,

We need your help. The Danish Ministry of Education is trying to shut down our school – an ugly story of politics and abuse of power. Long story.

The short version is that they cannot accept that our pupils have a right to decide, that we have focused on building a good school for the children rather than on process compliance and that we have defended our way of doing.

Literally.

No mention of our childrens’ extraordinary academic level, particularly in STEM, the ambient joy and the absence of conflicts.

The way we see it is that we live in the most exciting times ever on Earth: of the planet’s billions of years of existence, we are so incredibly lucky that we will witness the moment when the biosphere expands beyond its tiny cradle. On one hand, mankind is going multiplanetary and beyond. On the other hand however, we are not ready: at the core of our culture, the school systems here on Earth are measurably demotivating; as a species, we are systematically obstructing the next generation. Schools are supposed to exist for the children, but today that is not the case as the kids hardly have anything to say. A feedback loop is missing and the system is drifting. That needs to be fixed as we go interstellar!

The future needs people full of energy, striving to make a difference, equipped with the tools and strategies to succeed. That is what we are achieving in our school, and that is why it is so important that we continue.

The Danish rule of law will take some months to execute after which we will get our subsidies back. In the meantime we need support: Please tell our story, collaborate with us, join our school, participate in our remote teaching program or grant us a loan.

Contact contact@ecolefrancodanoise.dk for further information.

Back to the roots

“Nicolas, we need a plan B”. Eduardo, the president of the school’s board called me the day before Christmas 2019. “I have been talking to some people who are involved with the Ministry. We need to be prepared for a totally crazy decision.”

Since October 2018, we had been undergoing an extended audit by the Danish Ministry of Education. The audit was originally triggered by a “mistake”: On October 4th 2018, the municipality of Copenhagen had reported an issue related to one of our vulnerable families to the Ministry, a case that had been officially resolved and closed four months earlier.

When they first came to observe the school, we were confident. Our children perform significantly above average on all relevant parameters: the test scores at the national 9th grade exam have until now been in the top 1% in the country (grade 9.55/12). Since the school is young, we have only had two pupils graduating, so it wouldn’t be significant in itself, if it wasn’t for all the intermediate national tests pointing in the same direction as well as our own continuous testing system. The annual inspections, carried out by an inspector certified by the Ministry, have been consistently excellent throughout the life span of the school. Interestingly, the Ministry never addressed the results of the school, even though those are parameters they by law are supposed to prioritize.

Scoring high on the national tests is however, perhaps surprisingly, not a priority for us. The reason is that it as a performance indicator would work directly against a fundamental principle of the school: that we want to include a wide variety of pupils, from different social backgrounds, with or without special needs, vulnerable families etc.

It would be fair to say that we succeed above average. Whether they suffer from hyperactivity, autism, OCD, learning disabilities and more, we manage to get them included in such a way, that the unwarned observer doesn’t even perceive their traits, even though 10-20% of our kids wouldn’t fit in a normal school. Some parents call it “miracles”. Our secret sauce: authentic relations and engaged, attentive and skilled personnel.

And our STEM program is world class.

Eduardo happens to be a Supreme Court lawyer specialized in the defense against ministries. As a stroke of fate, he joined the board in June 2019. I told him that first of all, running without subsidies wasn’t something new for The Franco-Danish School, we had done so during the first four years of its existence. The school was indeed smaller, but so was the supporting group of parents and we back then had no fact-based narratives, only promising but untested ideas. We agreed that the threat was significant: experts had advised us to “just lie down, give them what they want – you just want to continue running your school”. Still we chose not to follow that advice, since we considered it to be against our core values of justice and freedom. We were also aware that over the last years, the Ministry had closed a number of Muslim schools. They could plausibly be motivated by an urgent need to balance the picture in order to not appear as unconstitutionally discriminating against a minority. Also, the party in power, the Social Democrats, are overtly acting for the public schools and against the free schools, which they consistently call “private” schools. Even though they are politically completely isolated in that venture, the Ministry is expected to act according to those political winds. We reasoned that a small, bi-cultural school like ours, with a slightly alternative pedagogy would represent the ideal easy kill.

When we got the letter from the Ministry on January 13th 2020, it was, unsurprisingly, as bad as it could get. As a Danish free school we are entitled to a grant that covers ~70% of our funding. The Ministry cut this grant with immediate effect and no prior warning and asked us to reimburse kr. ~1.8M (€ 200k). The disposition is illegal and would for most schools be a lethal blow. For us, much less so. We knew what we were doing and saw it coming, but someone had to take this fight in spite of the odds. We are currently securing alternative funding and anyone interested in helping is welcome to participate.

In brief, the Ministry is criticizing that our teaching processes are not sufficiently structured and are incomplete w.r.t. the curriculum they are supposed to cover. We consider our processes to be well-structured around modern management principles such as Kaizen, Kanban, testing and the definition of Done. Those concepts may indeed sound uncommon in a school context, but if you think of it, schools exist to essentially provide a quality service and need to continuously improve over time.

They are criticizing that we speak French. The law states that the teaching language must be Danish, which we already complied with long ago (in 2011).

They are criticizing that our children with special needs are not getting enough support. They obviously don’t consider the results as being more important than following the manual, that managing special needs, conflicts and crises is not optimally done on a fixed schedule.

They are suspecting me of indirectly controlling the school and are insinuating that I might have benefited financially from the arrangement. That is indecent. The efforts and funds my co-founder and I have donated to the project are quite a bit above average: €250k in cash and 10 man years of unpaid work. And counting.

They overtly state that they distrust the board and the school, because we “have prioritized building a good school for the children and considered compliance with formalities a step-wise process” and that “the school has defended its approach to teaching and management”. That is just insane.

The document they have provided has been a smorgasbord of contradictions and facts that they provably know are wrong and it has been a child’s play for an experienced lawyer as Eduardo to completely shred it apart. They have obviously never tried that before. All the documents can be found here.

We are sure to win the case, expectedly within 10 months via the Ombudsman. That could reshape the landscape of the Danish free schools for the next many decades.

We ran the school in the period 2010-2014 without subsidies. It was a fantastic period of passion, freedom, engagement and innovation. Adrenalin and idealism. Making a difference.

That’s where we are again. And this time, we come in numbers.

Vi fortsætter selvfølgelig!

STUK har som forventet fastholdt deres fratagelse af Skolens tilskud.

STUK har reelt ikke ændret holdning i forhold til forslaget til afgørelse. Deres hovedargumenter er, at de har mistillid til skolen, da bestyrelsen
     “har haft som prioritet at skabe en god skole for børnene”
og at
     “skolen under hele tilsynet har forsvaret sin tilgang til  undervisning og skoledrift”.
(se partshøringen s. 36)

Magtmisbruget er fuldkomment.


Når vi skriver, at afgørelsen er som forventet skyldes det, at STUKs forslag klart bar præg af et ønske fra STUKs side om at fratage skolens tilskud uanset de faktiske omstændigheder, og dette ønske fremgår også af afgørelsen.

Det er vores klare vurdering, at STUK har behov for at statuere et eksempel for en ikke-muslimsk skole, således at STUKs overgreb mod de muslimske friskoler ikke bærer præg af ulovlig diskrimination.

Nogen er nødt til at tage denne vigtige kamp – den vil være afgørende for den danske friskolekultur de næste mange årtier. Vi ved også, at vi vil vinde kampen, og det er meget sandsynligt, at det vil tage ca. 10 måneder gennem klage til Ombudsmanden.

På den baggrund – og fordi vi selvfølgelig vil forsvare vores helt unikke skole – har vi valgt at fortsætte skolen, foreløbigt t.o.m. skoleåret 20/21. 

Forudsætningen for at tage denne beslutning er den fortsatte solide opbakning, vi har oplevet fra forældre, lærere, børn og andre
interesserede. Vi vil under hele konflikten have brug for hjælp:

  • praktisk hjælp i form af rengøring, vedligeholdelse, istandsættelse af lokaler og andre initiativer (ansvarlig: Alice)
  • pengedonationer eller lån (ansvarlig: Pierre)
  • rekruttering og PR: det allervigtigste for os er at holde elevtallet stabilt og gerne øge det. Vi har en fantastisk skole. Tag del i kampen og fortæl historien!

Alle detaljer kan findes i partshøringen, vores svar, bilagene (ej personfølsomme) og den endelige afgørelse.

Opdatering 2020-05-23: Den 13. maj anvendte STUK friskolelovens §9h til fratage at skolen dens status som friskole. Beslutningen er indiskutabelt ulovlig, da STUK ikke har givet det lovpligtige påbud forud for denne og er dermed et klokkkeklart brud på grundlovens §76. Vi har derfor klaget til ombudsmanden. Skolen fortsætter under friskolelovens §34 (“hjemmeundervisning”).

Opdatering 2020-06-10: Ombudsmanden hastebehandler sagen.

Korte film om skolen: Se min skole, Leg og lær med robotter

Opdatering 2020-06-11: Anerkendelse af skolens undervisning: H.C. Ørsted medaljen 2020 går til vores sciencelærer.

Opdatering 2020-07-27: Ombudsmanden er nu for alvor gået ind i sagen og sat fingeren på det punkt, der fra et juridisk synspunkt er mest ømt: manglende partshøring [link] . Han har således sendt klagen videre til STUK, der får en sidste chance for at rette op på ulovlighederne, før han for alvor vil gå ind og undersøge STUKs afgørelse. Det bliver spændende at se, om STUK fastholder den bastante fremfærd eller kommer lidt til fornuft. Vi kan uanset hvad love, at fortsættelse følger.

Nyhedsbrev, marts 2020

Spændende tider!

COVID-19, ulovlig tilbageholdelse af skolens tilskud, filmmageri og Astro-Pi på rumstationen – 1. kvartal 2020 havde nogle usædvanligt interessante momenter at byde på.

Lige som på alle andre skoler i landet er vores elever for tiden henvist til hjemmeundervisning. Situationen er belastende for alle og dertil kommer, at en del af vores forældre nu er ramt af arbejdsløshed og konkurser. Skolens fripladsordning træder her i kraft, dvs. at skolen er gratis hvis husstandsinkomsten falder under kr. 200 000,- år eller 17 000,- per måned. Det var ikke lige det vi havde brug for, set i lyset af at vi nu kører på tredje måned uden statstilskud.

Omvendt har det også vist sig at være alletiders mulighed for at få modnet vores eksisterende projekt- og produktorienterede undervisningsform – vi havde i skolens første år stor succes med at holde styr på elevernes projekter og øvrige læringsaktiviteter vha. sagshåndteringssystemet Trac. Tilgangen lægger sig op ad den meget succesfulde agile projektstyringsmetode.

Hver morgen mødes lærere og børn on-line i grupper af ca. fem til en såkaldt Scrum, hvor hver deltager besvarer de tre spørgsmål:

  • Hvad har du lavet siden i går?
  • Hvad skal du lave i dag?
  • Har du brug for hjælp?

Alle projekter og læringsorienterede aktiviteter skal helst registreres af børnene selv i systemet, gerne hjulpet af forældrene. Husk: Det vigtigste er, at børnene i det hele taget får lavet en ticket. Bare det at formulere overskriften og evt. indhold er en god øvelse, dels ift. at det skrevne sprog, dels ift. at reflektere over, hvad man er i gang med. Om de får formuleret alle punkterne iht. den fulde FIMME-model er mindre vigtigt og ville være for meget at forlange især af de små . Læg ambitionsniveauet, så det forbliver motiverende.

Lærerne følger op, vejleder, inspirerer og deltager i evalueringen. Meget gennemsigtigt for alle; efter noget tid kan man så lave et udtræk af den liste af opgaver den enkelte har løst – det giver et meget tilfredsstillende overblik. Når vi engang kommer ud på den anden side, forventer vi at have nogle superskarpe elever, lærere og forældre, der har helt styr på det agile arbejdsflow og deraf følgende eminente kvalitetssikring. Vi regner også med, at vi helt dropper papirversionerne, hvorfor det er særligt vigtigt, at vi udnytter denne periode til at få øvet børnene i at bruge ticketsystemet.

Historien om det skærpede tilsyn nåede i januar et nyt højdepunkt, da STUK uden varsel og med omgående virkning annoncerede, at de ville tilbageholde skolens tilskud. Det kom som lidt af et choc og har da også vist sig at være både ulovligt og baseret på faktum, som STUK beviseligt ved, er forkert. Fremgangsmåden bærer præg af en vis systematik og vi er derfor ved at undersøge, om andre skoler tidligere er blevet udsat for lignende ulovlige overgreb. STUK forventer at træffe den endelige beslutning i vores sag inden udgangen af april. På den positive side har situationen betydet, at forældre, lærere, men også børnene er trådt i karakter. Det betyder også, at uanset hvad STUK måtte beslutte, er skolen ikke lukningstruet.

Første kvartal var også anledningen til, at nogle forældre organiserede en videoworkshop, hvor børnene fik lært at planlægge, optage og klippe film. Det leder for tiden til, at børnene får lagt nogle ganske underholdende indslag op på skolens elev-kanal :)

Marts var også den måned, hvor skolens team EA og team VLS‘s bidrag til ESAs Astro Pi: Mission Space Lab er blevet udvalgt til at køre på den internationale rumstation! Vi ser frem til de næste faser.

Image may contain: text

Under påskeferien er en del af lærerne ved lov tvunget til at holde fri, men nogle af Scrum’erne fortsætter efter individuel aftale. Der vil også stadig kunne hentes undervisningsmateriale på skolen.

Vi regner med, at der snart kommer nye retningslinjer ift. genåbning af skolen og har lige p.t. ingen fornemmelse af, om den planlagte genåbning tirsdag 14/04 er realistisk eller ej.

Agile classroom management during the Corona pandemic

Since the beginning of the crisis we have at the school made use of our usual agile approach to structure the teaching.

The purpose with the initiative has been to

  1. help keeping up a daily rythm
  2. support that the teachers’ and parents’ efforts get structured, using issue tracking
  3. facilitate that that the teachers can follow up, inspire and coordinate with others – teachers, parents and pupils

After almost two weeks of functioning, this is the status:

In the morning each teacher meets with ~5 pupils on-line and follows up on the previous day’s tasks. The follow-up is done according to the three Scrum questions:

  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What will you do today?
  • Do you need any help?

The pupils can even act as Scrum masters!

The Scrum is kept short and concise and other questions are treated afterwards. This somewhat rigid base structure is well suited for on-line meetings.

The tasks are managed using an issue tracker. We use Trac because it can be configured to meet our needs.

The tasks come in two flavors:

  1. drills: core subjects (Danish, math, French, English) are covered using traditional exercise books. The pupils formulate their weekly objectives in terms of number of pages to complete. Correction and feedback is done by the parents.
  2. projects: project issues are formulated according to the FIMME model (Danish for: purpose, content, methods, materials and evaluation) and with a deadline. We encourage that the end product be a short movie, but it can also be a report, drawing, slideshow, a photo…

Examples of movie productions can be seen on the school’s youtube channel and all the pupils are encouraged to publish on the channel. For a start, baking activities have been particularly popular and so have stop motion movies.

The teachers also meet on-line on a daily basis to follow up on the various initiatives.

They have started daily on-line teaching sessions (“capsules”) in groups or one-on-one

And the parents organize on-line playdates.