Implementation of ‘Family Ties’ (SoI-PL-258)

This is a story of an online implementation of the learning scenario ‘Family Ties’ (LS-HR-620) which was carried out with twenty students in a rural primary school in Poland. During the lessons, students practiced the names of family members, revised the Past Simple tense and learnt new vocabulary related to family mementos.  What is more, they could explain what family meant to them.

Not only did the students do the first entertaining activity suggested in the scenario but also we found it so exciting that we decided to continue with some other creative activities, “Are we a family?” Thanks to the additional tasks, the students learned about interesting family stories. Three students found out that they are family and all of them discovered many pieces of equipment used in the last century.

The implementation context

The learning scenario “Family Ties“ was used during three English language lessons I taught to the 5th grade students of the Primary School in Krośnica, Poland.

Five students from Ukraine have been attending our school since the beginning of March this year. Getting to know their family histories, I decided to conduct lessons on the family ties of our students. The “Family Ties” learning scenario teaches students the significance of family and the way it developed and changed throughout the twentieth century. Therefore, the events of the 20th century perfectly prepare students for the present situation and affect people’s homes and lives. Moreover,  we need to be more tolerant so I wanted to encourage tolerance and empathy for different family variants, especially the single-parent one.

The narrative

The aim of the lesson was to revise vocabulary about family and family mementos in English, get students interested in family stories as well as objects used in the past and teach the young people to respect tradition and history. As an introduction to the lesson, I used the learningapps game,  in which the given words had to be divided into two categories: male and female ones. As a result, we got the portrait of a group of members of the Civil Guard and their families in Vidreres from the year 1928. My students were very surprised and asked me about the photo.

Playing a family game. Photo by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

We described the photo, paying particular attention to the clothes and hair style. The students stated that the people must be of a nationality other than Polish. Then, I showed the resources and possibilities of Europeana and we talked about different families from their social circle – single-parent families and gay families.

The students reflected on the feelings they have about their own families as well as different ones.

Next we went to the regional chamber, which is located in our school. The students looked around at all the subjects. “I have such a thing at home”, “I saw it at my grandma’s,” they started to say. The students were amazed at the amount of the material collected. They had never been to this place before. Thanks to this lesson, they discovered a “new” place in our school.

Visiting the regional chamber. Photo by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

During the next lesson, they answered the question of what family means to them using a Mentimeter

Mentimeter results. Photos by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

Then they  presented old family photos brought from home and items used in the old days. Some of them aroused incredible curiosity, for example, shoes with wooden soles, which are about 100 years old. When the students presented the items they had brought, they explained where the souvenirs came from and how old they were. It turned out that several students are related to each other and have a common ancestor. What a surprise!

Trying on the 100-year old shoes. Photo by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

Life then and now

As the students became very interested in the subject, I offered them additional tasks. Each of them chose 1 photo and 1 old item, which they described in the form of a presentation. Additionally, they could bring old clothes, get dressed up and talk about them. 

In the last lesson, we compared life then and today watching a short video

Next, we summarized the tasks related to the family and conducted a survey in which the students expressed how satisfied they were since thanks to such a lesson they could get to know their ancestors more closely as well as get to know everyday things popular in the past. They also learned respect and tolerance, different models of life and values in families.

Learning outcomes

This lesson showed lots of emotions, lots of positive energy and memories. We learn much more effectively thanks to emotions. There are many mnemonics that use funny associations, funny drawings or rhymes that allow you to remember even the most complicated material. Why? Because emotions are at stake.

The students could play the game, admire old photos and items that caused a lot of emotions. The lessons evoked different feelings, such as laughter, sadness, joy and admiration. This fascinated my students to look for more information about the past. They were very interested in the lessons.

Students, dressed up, admiring my old family photo. Photo by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

The students talked, in English, about families and life in the past, they chose the photos they wanted to describe and, what is more, they wanted to do additional tasks in the form of a presentation. In other words, I encouraged them to look for ancestors, family ties and mementos.

Teaching outcomes

By choosing this lesson scenario I paid attention to simple elements, the image that was used and the vocabulary. I discovered the advantages and possibilities of Europeana, easy access to materials and lots of interesting ideas. Thanks to Europeana, I was able to choose images that can be used for free. Moreover, it is easy to check the licence and respect copyright.

I wanted to surprise my students and encourage them to look back in the past. I also wanted to evoke various emotions, especially the positive ones, which help to remember large amounts of material much more effectively. Thanks to these lessons, 3 students discovered a common ancestor, which was a great surprise! The students were interested, motivated and they suggested what additional tasks, among others dressing up, could be performed. It is the sensational and amazing effect of one photo.

Students wanted to have ‘an old family photo’ as well. Photo by Edyta Bieniek, CC BY.

This LS is a very good choice, especially if you want to surprise and interest your students in family matters and encourage them to look more deeply at the family heirlooms collected. Having family heirlooms is associated with having more knowledge about the family. It can be easier to talk about the past, about the activities and interests of ancestors, their participation in important historical events and their everyday life. Family heirlooms usually have their own histories and are often associated with some important events, sometimes tragic and sometimes funny ones. They play an important role in maintaining collective memory. They are often related to the history of a region or country.

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

Family Ties created by Anita Lasić

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CC0 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Finnish National Gallery.

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