Implementation of ‘Ecology: a tool to re-invent the future’ (SOI-GR-242)

When and Where

The LS “Ecology: a tool to reinvent the future” was implemented in a Greek Language Course with 12-year-old students. Two sessions were held online in January 2022, the first lasting 80 min and the second one 40 min. Two more sessions, each lasting 45 min, took place physically at school. Students completed their tasks working in groups, using their own devices, but also in the classroom. We did not visit a museum or gallery (due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions) but the students were guided through an “online gallery” that the teacher had curated.

Session #1: Humans facing an environmental crisis

Students created a wordcloud on Mentimeter answering my question “What is the biggest environmental challenge that we face today?” Their answers were projected on the WebEx whiteboard and discussed. They also answered whether they feel optimistic or not about our planet’s future. I then explained the topic that we would be working on and asked them to give a definition of the term ‘Ecology’.

Climate change is the gravest environmental problem Earth is facing today according to the students
Students are not decided whether they see the glass as half full or half empty…

Afterwards, students read in groups the Wikipedia entry for the term ‘Ecology’. The article was assigned to them in sections and each group had to present and explain to the whole class what was assigned to them.

Students worked in the break-out rooms and prepared a presentation for their fellow students
Students took up the role of the presenter in order to address the whole class

Next, they read the Europeana article “Green through times” and discussed the men and women who did groundbreaking work and raised awareness about the environment and how urgent it is for humans to take responsibility for its protection. They also posted short portrait articles about people who fight for the environment’s protection today, on a Padlet wall.

Entrepreneurs, actors and youtubers but also teenager activists and religious leaders are among the people students find inspiring for their serving as an advocate for the environment

As homework, students were assigned to write about the environmental problem that they think is most grave today. They posted their texts on a Padlet and commented on their fellow students’ posts.

Session #2: Art becomes advocacy for the environment

In our second session, the class was guided through a small online collection of environmental art from the National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens and other museums and collections. I asked the students to describe the works of art and their feelings on the questions these works posed. They also answered which was their favourite work of art and whether art can be an advocate for the environment.

A discussion as to which work of art better illustrated today’s problems
Paintings, installations, video art, and sculptures become a cry for awakening

Sessions #3: Writing an environmental fable

At the beginning of our third session, I told the students that they will write their own environment-themed fable, illustrate it using Europeana photos and bookbind it. We had already used the Europeana site on another project, therefore the students were quite accustomed to its structure. Nevertheless, we stressed the importance of respecting copyright and using CC material.

We read some Aesop’s fables, gathered the genre’s characteristics, and then the students embarked on writing their own environmental fables.

Session #4: Bookbinding our own leporello

At the beginning of our fourth session, I presented the different parts of the book (front and back cover, spine etc.) and using a very basic bookbinding technique we started bookbinding the students’ own books. During Christmas recess, they had already gathered different kinds of used paper (gift wrap, wrapping paper, old newspapers and magazines, paper bags, etc) in order to reuse them for our project. A student came up with the idea to upcycle the COVID-19 self-testing personal statements for their books, an idea that was met with great enthusiasm by the other students. They went through the Europeana collections to find photos and illustrate their environmental fables and exchange materials and ideas while making their books.

Students wrote environmental fables, bookbinded them into DIY leporellos and illustrated them with Europeana photos, all the more having fun and helping each other out

Outcomes and evaluation

Students said that this LS helped them better understand the threats humans pose to nature and the importance of taking up action in order to protect it. They particularly enjoyed the bookbinding task, since it combined creativity, collaboration, and ICT skills. Overall, students showed a genuine interest in studying the material provided and great engagement in the tasks assigned to them. They enhanced their communication and collaboration skills by working in teams throughout the implementation.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario?

Ecology: a tool to re-invent the future by Maria Caterina Denora

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CC BY-SA 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Narodna galerija, Ljubljana / National Gallery of Slovenia.

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