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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

Lifeboats Full of Hopes

School: 5th Kindergarten Farsala

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Topic(s) addressed

Given the great inflow of refugees into the European continent, interculturalism is today one of the most important phenomenon for study; furthermore, intercultural education helps people to accept and respect dissimilarity and to recognise each other’s cultures. The project’s objectives were defined so as to cultivate intercultural competencies of participants, promote tolerance, and prevent racism at schools. The project’s main objectives were to help students and teachers develop their critical thinking skills and motivate them to express their opinions and address social challenges; develop knowledge, skills, and behaviours needed to participate in society, while knowing and protecting both their own rights and other people rights; cultivate ethical values such as justice, equality, and tolerance; understand the meaning of dissimilarity and exclusion in combination with basic rights and those of Catholic children; elicit empathy for people who are forced to leave their country, so as to engender respect and prevent xenophobic tendencies; develop skills in effective Internet research, the selection of appropriate information, and the production of materials through technology; and, strengthen friendship and peace among European countries through the exchange of experiences and the formation of a cooperative climate in confronting common issues. Topics addressed by the project include Refugee Issues, Interculturalism, Dissimilarity, Inclusion, Human Rights, and ICT-new technologies.

Target groups

The project’s target groups consisted of students and teachers from 3 educational levels: preschool, primary, and high school. The coordinating school was 5th Kindergarten Farsala (Greece), with partner schools and countries of origin consisting of 2nd Gymnasio Farsalon, Farsala (Greece); Tallinna Mustamae Humanitaargumnaasium, Tallinn (Estonia); Stavros Gymnasium, Nicosia, Strovolos (Cyprus); Agrupamento de Escolas de Maximinos, Braga (Portugal); Charles de Foucauld Mavo, Spijkenisse (Netherlands); and, Publiczna Szkola Podstawowa imienia Kardynala Stefana Wysznskiego Prymasa Tysiaclecia w Muchowce, Muchowka (Poland).

Methodologies

Collaboration is the process of working together to achieve a common goal. Fullan and Langworthy (2014) describe collaboration as a process where students work collectively, acquire and transfer knowledge through interaction with others, develop social skills, and cultivate respect for the diversity of others.

In the project ‘’Lifeboats Full of Hopes,’’ students and teachers from 3 educational levels (preschool, primary, and high school) cooperated towards the achievement of common goals through a spontaneous process of knowledge exchange, experience, and emotions – with basic skills such as communication, the ability to take initiatives, and the sharing of acquired knowledge developed within the settings of a heterogeneous group. By engaging a collaborative approach, participants designed, organised, and implemented activities using techniques such as brainstorming and simulation, as well as experiential learning methods such as frozen image, creative writing, and thought detection. Tools and platforms such as Web 2.0, Toondoo, Moviemaker, Calameo, PowToon, YouTube, Google Forms, Google Drive, and the project’s blog were used in the production and presentation of various activities. Furthermore, students did not only use their creativity and critical thinking skills to implement the project’s activities, they were also the protagonists of said activities. Participants actively participated in each step of the project and produced a number of original works (comics, videos, films, literary pieces, and art) through mutual cooperation and respect.

Environments

All participating schools worked in a context (environment) that was organised in a manner that encouraged and facilitated exploration, collaboration, and discussion. Furthermore, participants were eager to try new teaching and learning methods and techniques, and to use new technologies towards achieving common goals. Participants also did their best to incorporate new challenges into their everyday school practices, which was clearly reflected by the project’s outputs. Students and teachers implemented activities inside and outside schools, and shared them (both digitally and via face-to-face meetings) with their partners and the wider school community within their towns, cities, and countries. Workshops were organised in new and different environments for all Learning, Teaching, and Training activities, which produced great results due to participants’ cooperation and exchange of views. Lastly, participants also had the opportunity of experiencing new ways of learning by visiting places such as museums, libraries, theatres, and refugee reception centres.

Teachers

All teachers involved in the project shared the common vision of opening new horizons for their students by considering different socio-political aspects. Furthermore, teachers led their students, schools, and the entire project to success through their professionalism, responsibility, and dedication, and through the application of collaborative methods and practices that provided participants with the incentive to try, learn, and achieve the project’s objectives. The project’s most important element was to foster cooperation between teachers from each partner school and between teachers of all participating schools, with the exchange of views and attitudes, receptivity towards new information, and the undertaking and sharing of different tasks according to one’s skills and abilities, being essential to the successful realisation of activities.

Impact

The project’s innovative teaching and learning processes produced a positive impact, where students’ participation increased, as well as their creativity and open-mindedness. Furthermore, they were able to increase their self-esteem and self-confidence through the development of their communicative and cooperative skills. Students were also acquainted with new learning methods and techniques, where they learnt to develop their ICT skills, as well as their usage of new tools and applications. Teachers on the other hand cooperated within the framework of an interdisciplinary team, where they learnt and applied new teaching methods and techniques. Teachers became more knowledgeable about the various educational systems of different European countries, and also further developed and improved their language and ICT skills, with a noticeable increase in motivation with regard to school and personal development activities. All participating organisations (schools), acquired the ability to enrich their educational programmes through innovative actions. Furthermore, they had the opportunity to compare and evaluate the training provided by the project, while exchanging opinions and ideas regarding school management, with the project resulting in an improved school environment with a European dimension.

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Stakeholders

Participants

2nd Gymnasio Farsalon, Farsala

Address
Greece

Agrupamento de Escolas de Maximinos, Braga

Address
Portugal

Charles de Foucauld Mavo, Spijkenisse

Address
Netherlands

Publiczna Szkola Podstawowa im. Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego Prymasa Tysiąclecia w Muchówce

Address
Poland

Stavros Gymnasium, Nicosia, Strovolos

Address
Cyprus

Tallinna Mustamäe Humanitaargümnaasium, Tallinn

Address
Estonia