Course 2/ Unit 5 / #Becoming Contributors with… Hope and Kindness

This unit was very inspiring. I read so many interesting projects of awesome innovative educators around the world, from Joel Beavens and his Travelling Tales project. Even I thought it felt so simple one week ago when I first read the material related to this unit/topic-becoming contributors, it seems more and more complicated when I have to write about it.

The time is flying and even I was thinking so much and felt empowered to take action in my practice as teacher and COETEL-er, planning with enthusiasm the final project, the reality of our life is different. It feels hard to transit back to the “real school”, to finish the end of the school year with the reports, and to fulfill my dreams and vision with COETAL Final Project 2. The pressure feels higher and higher to get all the things done.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find so easily, the document, related to “Responsible/Acceptable Use Agreement/Policy or Social Media Agreement/Policy.” in our school. On our internal website we usually share all those policies and documents for the whole school. I contacted in the meantime the administration to get more information and maybe I could relate later again about this.

However I could gladly respond from the perspective of the action that I have seen in our school taken, about how our school empowered stakeholders to contribute to the global communities.

  • How do your school’s policies/agreements empower stakeholders to make positive contributions to local and global communities?
  • Our school joined last year, the “Friday for Future” Movement, and made a strike in front of the City Hall in Busan, South Korea. (5th Grade students supported by their teachers). This movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg. She is an environmental activist young girl who inspired, empowered, and changed the whole world.
  • This year, two of our students made their PYP Project related to protecting the Earth. They were responsible and took action going to the beach for 10 th times every weekend to collect garbage and clean the beaches around Busan. Other students had chosen endangered animals as a topic and they created drawings, paintings inspired by those animals. Later those were printed as postcards and sold at our school shoop. The money was donated to an animal foundation.
  • My son and other 3 students were working for a project, “Health and Diet” and they were empowered to teach the children about healthy food. They were encouraging the children to post their healthy meals in our school community.
  • How do you/your school share these documents with the school communities? How do you/your school’s actions show that you fully believe in and live these documents?
  • To be honest, I don’t know yet. I am still searching for the document but I think throughout the action that the students and the teachers at our school are doing those documents are alive.
  • What actions will you take to continually improve your own media literacy? Your students and colleagues’?
  • I am researching carefully. I try to get informed as much as possible about this theme. Common Sense website about digital citizenship is one of our good advisers. The teachers in our school had a one-week workshop and PD related to that. The parents were invited also in a workshop one month later and we could be informed about this. I am checking out podcasts and on the internet, on twitter information about that as well. I am sharing with my students and my colleague’s free resources. I am making them aware about the copyrights and the way how they should use the resources/information.
  • Students need to be though to think critically about media use and their role in participatory culture. A very good discussion was brought into my attention in this article (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation). People should think about these essential questions:

“Consider, for example, the framework for media literacy proposed by Thoman and Jolls (2005):
• Who created the message?
• What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
• How may different people understand this message differently than me?
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• What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in – or omitted from – this
message?
• Why is this message being sent?
There is much to praise in these questions: they understand media as operating within a social and cultural context; they recognize that what we take from a message is different from what the author intended; they focus on interpretation and context as well as motivation; they are not tied up with a language of victimization.”

If they understand this questions then they can contribute in a positive way to the participatory culture.

How do you thrive in our participatory culture?

I think being active lately on Twitter is a way of sharing and exchanging “know-how”. Another big achievement is that recently I become a Seesaw Pioneer and I joined on Facebook in their group community and I tried to be active and supportive with comments there. On the other side at my school, I am so happy to contribute and I shared some files with shortcuts for seesaw for the symbols of some tools, and other information about all the webinars that are on the Seesaw Pioneer learning platform.

  • Writing in my COETAIL blog is a way to feel empowered, responsible, and show my action in participatory culture as well.
  • Some other ways to show my action in participatory culture were to spread kindness and hope in the community from our school.

We created a group of teachers who made activities with children inspired by the movement “# Chase a Rainbow” project and we prepare for virtual learning lessons that encourage the children to be positive and express their hope with a rainbow. I created myself a flag with a rainbow which I hang on the window near my Art Class Studio.

I also designed for few weeks art lessons and activities to create a rainbow and inspired the children with hope. The response was fantastic. The children amazed us with creative ideas about rainbows. The little ones they created even one of the biggest rainbows. Please see the pictures below.

Flag with rainbow made by myself.
Artworks by my students/ Preschool(up)
3rd Grade Student
Artwork from a 5th Grade student
Artwork from a Kindergarten student
  • How did you learn to be empathetic?

During my life I had many ups and downs. I survived the communism system in Romania in my childhood. I emigrated later(when I was 22) from Romania to Germany for my study. I had to have mini-jobs to support myself in Berlin because life was expensive for a student. Then later I moved from Germany to South Korea, different realities and struggles for people around the world. I think the life experience made me understand better the people around me and to appreciate more what I have. Then I could support the others around me when they need my help and be empathetic.

  • How have you supported your students and peers in becoming more empathetic?

I think one of the few good examples is from this week when, I tried to spread Kindness in Lower Elementary School. I designed a few art lessons which had a kindness message.

I invited the children to draw flowers ( a rose, a tulip) and to write a message for their parents, like “Thank you for your help”(during VLE), or “You are so kind” and afterward to offer to their parents, as a sign of gratitude.

When someone had a birthday, I invited the peers to write on a card some birthday wishes and to celebrate them.

Usually if a teacher has a birthday or a trainee is leaving, we organized with their class a huge card in which the students glue their own card to express their feelings.

We had also a Kindness calendar in our staff room and share good thoughts. Last year we had “a secret buddy” and we made us surprises for a week. Everybody was in good spirits and we cheered up.

How about yourself? Is it easy for you to share empathy?

I will end in the tone how I ended my lessons for my students this week: “Remember always to be kind:)”

This is an impressive artwork from one of my student in 2nd Grade, from this week.

4 Replies to “Course 2/ Unit 5 / #Becoming Contributors with… Hope and Kindness”

    1. Thank you very much for your comment, Joel. It means a lot to me. Your words give me lots of encouragement, confidence and courage in what I am doing. Thank you!!

  1. Hi Simona!

    Good for you and your students for having such an action-based PYP project through the beach cleanup! I was a PYP supervisor for the first time this year. I had to resist the urge to over-direct the group I was assigned, but I wish I had urged them more toward producing something with more of an action element, rather than just a more passive website – lessons learned for next time I guess!

    I was glad to see the Kindness element in your blog too. More and more I’m seeing the opposite from particular world leaders whom I will not mention. The stark difference needs to be addressed, and modeled for our students, and our own kids. Thanks for contributing that idea to our group’s final project too!

    1. Hi Mooney!

      Thank you so much for your comments. I appreciate your thoughts very much. How wonderful that you were a PYP supervisor at your school. I agree that the young people need to be encouraged to take action and be kind.
      Thank you for your collaboration in the final project as well. It was great to work together and to know you better.
      Best wishes. Simona

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