Beyond, Crossing or Erasing Boundaries? An Aesthetic, Language-Strengthening and Creative Collaboration in Upper Secondary School

Submitted by: Ria Heilä-Ylikallio
Abstract: This poster presents an overview of a project with focus on developing and studying innovative language-strengthening teaching pedagogies in a Swedish context in Finland. The national curriculum for upper secondary school highlights that an increasing part of the education should be collaborative, creative and aesthetic (Finnish National Agency for Education 2014).

In the project, two Swedish speaking upper secondary schools collaborated on different levels. One of the schools is located in a bilingual environment, whereas the other is located in a Finnish language environment. With a distance of 200 km between the schools, two classes collaborated on writing and producing a musical. Prior to the writing of the musical, the students engaged in reading contemporary literature texts on migration, which contributed with a foundation for the writing processes. The literary reading was planned and completed in collaboration among four teachers in the two schools. The project offered opportunities for the students to develop their literacy practices through language-strengthening, communicative and aesthetic learning processes. Drawing on sociocultural theory (Kostouli 2009) and applying principles of action research (Kemmis et al. 2009), the aim of the project was to develop practices in order to strengthen the Swedish language in the school situated in the Finnish language environment.

Several researchers with their respective research interests are involved in this musical project. The researchers study trust in leading aesthetic learning processes, collaborative writing, meaning-making in musical dance, literary teaching, and language-strengthening writing pedagogies.

In total, 35 students and 4 teachers participated in the project. The data consist of audio, video and screen recordings, focus group interviews, empathy based stories, photos, students texts (manuscript) and researchers’ notes. The project started in December 2017, and the collaborative musical Condemned premiered in November 2018.

In conclusion, this poster will elaborate on the respective research interests within the project by presenting individual studies and preliminary results. We discuss how the project goes beyond, crosses or perhaps erases linguistic, geographical and subject-specific boundaries.


Finnish National Agency of Education (2014): National Core Curriculum for General Upper Secondary School. Helsinki: Finnish National Agency of Education
Kemmis et al. (2009). Action Research as a Practice-Based Practice. Educational Action
Research. 2009, Vol.17(3), p.463-474
Kostouli, T. (2009): A Sociocultural Framework: Writing As Social Practice. Beard, R.,
Myhill, D., Riley, J. & Nystrand, M. The SAGE Handbook of Writing Development.
pp 98- 116.London: Sage