A few months ago, I decided to take part in an amazing European project called ” Teachers4Europe”. That project, was the best follow-up of the British Council project ” Life Skills” , which I had finished just a week before.
One of the activities , was actually about tolerance , acceptance and respect which proved valuable when we decided to start working on this new european project.
Τhe project idea, presupposes the acceptance of certain values without which Europe cannot exist. These core values are Respect for Human Dignity, Equality and Respect for Human Rights, which, along with Democracy, Freedom and the Rule of Law, are the founding values of the European Union. The main goal of our project was to help students enrich their knowledge about Europe in general and especially about the basic principles that permeate the family of countries which constitute the European Union. Another aim was to sensitize them to the notions of collaboration and supporting one another through group work, as these notions are also part of the essential European ideals that lie in the core of the Union itself. The project methodology was based on cross-curricular, experiential, cooperative, communicative and learning-through-playing approaches. By the end of the project the students had acquired a significant amount of knowledge as to how the European Union works. They developed an understanding of the basic values that bound the European countries together and the significant role they play in our lives. They understood the importance of notions such as “acceptance”, “collaboration”, “respect” and “equal opportunities for everyone”.
For more information about Teachers4Europe:
The project lasted about two months .
I decided to name it ” Our European House” . Actually, that was the name of one of the project activities, as well.
I wanted to emphasize the fact that, all Europeans live under the same ” roof” ! We are European citizens , a characteristic which unites us all !
The class project activities ,were the following:
We spent about a week, playing team games , in order to get to know Europe better! We used the books ” Let’s discover Europe” and ” The European passport” as well as a map of Europe , to find information since, we don’t have a computer lab at school!
We played a guessing game about European monuments and did a quiz on European flags and capital cities.
“ The story of a 50 Euros banknote”
Creative writing: a 50 E banknote travels from hand to hand and from country to country , around Europe
- Work on the myth: “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus”
Description of the tool
We work in 4 teams, 4-6 students each.
Two teams work on the first topic while the other two work on the second one.
The first two teams, write their own story using creative writing tools. The other two teams , receive a worksheet with the myth of “ Europe’s kidnapping by Zeus” and are asked to write their own short play about it!
Alternatively, a representative of each team, picks up a card
with a word having to do with one form of Art on it ( theatre, music, dancing, literature-poetry) and the team is asked to compose a unique work of art either on the story of a 50 E note or on the myth of Europe and Zeus .
Later, they have to present their work , in class. There are four teams working on four different works of Art.
We give plenty of time both for the writing and for the rehearsals.
A discussion follows about the whole experience, in class.
What is Europe for me? Our European house.
Getting to know one another and coming close to the topic of Europe
Description of the tool.
A topic is presented to the group through a question and/or a heading e.g.: “My house of Europe – what is Europe for me?”.
(Further variations: “My picture of Europe”, “I find this exciting about Europe?”, “I would like a Europe like this….” … )
Small groups of 4-7 participants are divided between several rooms so as not to disturb each other. Each group gets a large sheet of paper and draws on it their outline of ‘A European House’ with foundations, a roof and as many rooms as there are participants in the small group. They can decide on the architecture of the house. In this way their drawing of the house (crooked or futuristic, strong etc) can also represent their ideas on Europe. Additional ‘extensions to the house’, as well as the environment the house stands in or the ‘surrounding weather conditions’ (sunny, stormy etc) can with other associations be integrated into the picture.
In one of the rooms the participants write down their personal associations and answers to the question ‘What is Europe for me?’ and then exchange opinions on these statements. The second stage is the group filtering out things they have in common. These things form the foundations. The roof is filled with the group’s shared visions for the future of Europe. The game leaders should make it clear that the small group must reach a consensus concerning the foundations and the visions for the future (30 – 45 mins).
The small groups present their ‘European House’ to the larger group and hang up their poster in the group room (30 mins). To conclude common factors and differences between the group posters should be discussed (15 mins).
The participants should recognise that the European Union grew out of a long line of ‘events’ and that this process has not finished; important events in this process should be found out and their chronological order.
Story on a long line.
Description of the tool.
Preparation and procedure: select event and picture cards (possibly, look for picture cards at http://europa.eu.int/comm/mediatheque/photo). Form small groups of max. 6 people. The small groups each receive a set of event and picture cards as well as the corresponding dates, additional washing line and pegs and possibly glue.
The small groups should match the dates with the event and picture cards and then put them in the correct order attaching them to their washing line or prepared pinboards.
The washing lines or pinboards stay in the classroom.
Evaluation: The ‘story on a long line’ (time line) is designed as an introductory unit. The correct chronology is discussed and the results of the small groups’ work then correspondingly altered. The results will then subsequently be discussed and the participants’ questions addressed
Variations: The method can serve as a targeted introduction to a specific topic. The selection of event and picture cards should correspond accordingly
Event and date cards examples :
The beginning of the strike at the Lenin docks in Danzig
Greece joins the EC
Spain and Portugal join the EC
Turkey applies to join the EC
The fall of the Berlin Wall
The treaty of Maastricht comes into force
Austria, Sweden, and Finland join the EU
The treaty of Amsterdam comes into force
The EU and Morocco sign an association agreement
The beginning of economic and monetary union
Turkey gains the status of a pre-accession candidate
The Charta of basic rights is accepted
The treaty of Nice is agreed
The € is introduced as cash in 12 countries
The European Convention begins with its conferences
The draft constitution is presented
Name that european tradition.
Exercise that allows participants to reflect on European traditions in a fun way.
Aims of the tool
Reflect on which traditions/people we identify as “European”
Description of the tool.
Participants take 3 slips of paper. On each paper they write a name of a person (historical or present) or something that they perceive as typical European. All things written down should be known by most European people.
- All papers are put in a hat.
- Participants are divided in pairs and sit in a circle whereby the members of the pair sit opposite of each other.
- The game has 3 rounds
- FIRST ROUND: The hat starts with one person. This person has one minute to take a paper and explain to his partner what is on the paper without saying the word. If his partner finds the correct answer the first person of the pair can take a new paper. S/he can continue until the minute is over. Then the person on the left has the chance. We continue until there are no more papers. In the end of the round the points are counted (1 point per guessed answer)
- SECOND ROUND: same as round 1 but you cannot speak only mimic the issues. The points of this round are added to the first round
- THIRD ROUND: same as round 1 but you can use only 1 word to describe it. The points of this round are counted to the other rounds
After the exercise the facilitators make a small debriefing:
– Why did you pick the following issues related to Europe
– What determines why something is European
– Where do you make the border of Europe
Description of the tool.
Creative writing: The students are given a several pictures that come from the book “ The Stars of Europe” – “Τ’ Αστέρια της Ευρώπης” .
They first read the book story and later decide about how they can adapt it or completely change it using any of the pictures given in any order they wish, to write their own stories about Europe.
Students work in groups of 4-5 .
Their story pages are put together and form their own creative writing storybook. They decide about the cover and about how to colour or decorate it inside.
Finally, all the storybooks are read by all different teams of students, in turns. The teams decide about which story liked best and why. A discussion about both stories and Europe follows.
A few days later, the Eurobooks were almost ready! My students amazed me, by asking me to let them work on their stories ,during all the breaks!! They were so excited and enganged!
I am really thankful for the chance I have been given , to be a “Teacher4Europe” !
Looking forward to more such creative and engaging projects, in the near future!