Smile from the Darkness – Story of Braille Alphabet (LS-EU-266)
The project is based on the multicultural environment and experience of pupils (especially in European schools), drawing as much as possible on the linguistic potential of each pupil. This cross-curriculum project supports reading, writing, development of vocabulary, communications skills and makes pupils sensitive to different ways of communication, notably concerning impaired people. The project aims to make pupils understand the disability of blindness or visual impairment and to give them empathy.
Context of the implementation
We hear almost daily about disabilities of people, but only a few primary school pupils understand clearly how to help visually impaired people live normal lives and be valued members of the community. During the project, the pupils discovered the history of Braille Alphabet and true-life story of Louis Braille.
This learning scenario is meant to be used with children aged 8-11. The main aims of the scenario are to support reading, writing, development of vocabulary and communications skills of each child based on the true-life story of Louis Braille. The project represents active and holistic language learning.
Pupils are exposed to the idea that there are many ways to communicate. The purpose of this activity is also to help pupils understand the situation of visually impaired people, to understand that with this disability it is possible to read and write. The aim is also to familiarise pupils with Braille writing.
Pupils also have the possibilities to talk about their feelings, emotions and listen to the stories of others. This project about blindness was created in the multicultural and multilingual school in Italy, which provides education in their mother tongue/dominant language to children living abroad. The project was directed towards Czech language classes of level 3, 4 and 5 in Primary school (European Schools).
Why implement this learning scenario?
This cross-curriculum project is supporting as much as possible by relying on the linguistic potential of each pupil.
During all the activities, it gives priority to methods such as critical thinking, group discussion, listening to others and sharing of experiences. The Europeana Collections offer a lot of exciting material from different periods of time.
One can extend all the activities using tablets or laptops.
The exercises could be easily adapted for other languages and subjects (like “Discovery of the world” or Ethics).
The pupils shared and organised facts, stories and ideas about five senses, specifically vision impairment. They improved their reading and writing skills. They enjoyed the lessons, some of them already had the experience to meet people with disabilities.
Reading and watching the Europeana Collections was a great example for the pupils and big motivation for discovering more and more.
For my pupils, the most exciting part was to walk around the class with closed eyes and work together to lead their ‘visually impaired’ peers and discover a route together.
Also, they enjoyed creating posters about assistance dogs (on their main characteristics). The students were very proud of them. I had planned only 45 minutes for this activity, but it was not enough to finish the posters, therefore another 30 minutes was necessary and 15 minutes for their presentations and sharing with others. They enjoyed this final task very much and the children, aged 8-11, were working very seriously.
During the in-class discussion, they discovered their feelings and emotions about the project. Here are some of the nice comments made by the children to conclude this story of implementation:
“With my eyes closed, I felt really bad.”
“I didn´t know about any dots on the medicine box, it’s cool.”
“The Braille Alphabet font is incredibly difficult.”
Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:
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The featured image used to illustrate this article belongs has been found on the Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.
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