The Long Journey of Democracy (LS-IT-321)

“The long journey of democracy” is a learning scenario developed by Raffaela Serrani with the collaboration of Francesca Monti as part of the Europeana DSI – 4 project Italian User Group. It is a Citizenship and History scenario intended for 5th grade of Italian Primary School but it can be adapted for any other grade of school and nationality.

The aim of this scenario is to investigate the history of democracy from its birth in Athens, in Ancient Greece, to nowadays, with particular stress on the Italian Constitution. The activities allow students to investigate and reflect on the importance of living in a democratic republic, which grants people equal rights, such as freedom of speech.

What does democracy mean to you?

“What does democracy mean to?” is the driven question. Leaving their words on Mentimeter, students share their ideas and opinions as in a democratic agora during Perikles times, discussing the results of the wordcloud generated by their brainstorming.

Students express their idea in brainstorming using Mentimer
A word cloud as result of the brainstorming using Mentimer

The investigation goes further by watching some videos about the timeline of democratic thought and democracies around the world, culminating with the video of the final speech by Charlie Chaplin in the movie “The Great Dictator”.

Projecting and creating a timeline

The task of projecting and creating a paper timeline is then presented to the students. Using tablets to find information about relevant people, facts and events they browse Europeana resources and other online resources. Materials are shared on a Padlet and paper flashcards are filled in with the most relevant steps of democracy. Some of them can be equipped with QR code and images. At the end of the activity, students are encouraged to speak their voice about the importance of democracy in their daily life using Flipgrid.

Dissemination

Finally, all school students are invited to discover the long journey of democracy. The timeline is unrolled along the school hall or garden and flashcards are placed on the correspondent keystone dates. The impact is huge and students are engaged in finding as much information as they can along the timeline. In the end, everyone can Flipgrid their opinions about democracy and realize that each voice counts.

Note on the implementation

Our school had to close just when we had started the first part of the scenario. Therefore I asked students to continue working online. Following my instructions, they browsed the Europeana platform and other sites for investigating people, events and documents. Then they created a post with the gathered information on a virtual timeline on a Padlet.

Timeline on Padlet for collaborative work of students

This is an easy, useful and efficient tool to visualize the development of the collaborative work of students. Their response was enthusiastic and I was surprised about the results.

We had a very engaging and lively zoom conference to present the timeline and share the posts. Many of them asked to add other significant dates to the timeline and proposed for creating new posts. At the end of the conference, I introduced Flipgrid as a tool to express their voice about democracy in daily life. A few hours later my Flipgrid dashboard started to fill up with their amazing responses. For example, Michelangelo, 10, said that to him democracy is when he can choose freely how to be, play, go to school, eat and have fun, while according to Sara, 10, democracy means respecting others’ opinions and being free to express her own thoughts.

I believe this was a truly enriching experience for my students especially because they had to manage different skills.

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 has been found on Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.

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