Implementation of ‘Tree for the Mind’ (SoI-RO-529)

Author: Beldiman Diana-Maria, English Teacher

School/Organization: Petre Ispirescu Secondary School of Bucharest, Romania

In Romania, there is a school week called “The Green Week” in which students attend activities related to ecological attitudes where their teachers or specialists from various fields try to raise awareness regarding the importance of environmental protection, eco-friendly attitudes, limit-situations in which natural habitats of various species were destroyed by human activities and solutions that each of us may find in order to reduce pollution or the effects of the human activities that have already affected the environment. 

In this respect, I searched for an interdisciplinary learning scenario in which knowledge from various fields could help my students to construct the “green” meaning of their lives. Another objective that I had for this “Green school” workshop was to connect the learning scenario with English language (the subject that I teach) and to engage my students in our activity. Thus, I looked for a learning scenario which could have produced some reflection among my students, which could have given them the opportunity to think about our connection with nature and which could have helped them to discover the similarities that exist between us, humans, and the nature around us (trees, especially). 

The learning scenario designed by our colleague, Sanja Ždralović, ‘Tree for the Mind’ was the perfect choice for my school activity.

I have implemented it at three different classes (one class of 7th graders and two classes of 8th graders – so, students of 13 – 14 years old). At these three workshops, which were implemented during ‘The Green Week’, participated about 60 students. All three activities were implemented in our school’s classrooms. 

The final outcomes were different, as it follows: for the 7th graders, it was related to a project (portfolio) designed in a shape of a tree that students will have to present on the 4th of June 2024; the 8th graders had to present a project in which to document the choice for a tree to be planted in our school yard. 

1.The narrative


The chosen learning scenario is a complex one which is addressed to students of 14 to 18 years old; it comprises many activities (6 hours at school and 4 at home or outdoors). Provided that my students are 13 – 14 years old and I had only one hour available at school, I had to adapt the learning scenario in a way in which it could correspond to the learning context from my school. 


In order to have a workshop which is implemented to my classes and to achieve the objectives of “Green school” as well as to integrate the accomplishments from my English lessons, I designed the workshops as it follows:

  1. Icebreaking activity 

Let’s see which are the common trees from Europe! Using the website suggested by Sanja Ždralović in her learning scenario, I invited the students to explore the tree species that exist in Europe and their main characteristics. – 5 minutes;

  1. If I were a tree… 

Starting from the website investigation, students reflected for several minutes at this activity in order to complete the following sentence: ‘If I were a tree… I would be… because…’. They were supposed to use the second conditional and to identify reasons for which they would have chosen to be a specific tree. Some of them decided to share their selection in front of the class  – 10 minutes;

  1. The Travelling Tree 

For this activity, a big sheet of paper (flipchart sheet of paper) was used at all three workshops. A tree was drawn on it and it was posted on the whiteboard. During the activities, students were invited to write on its canopy (crown) ideas related to the importance of trees for each of us. Students were free to stand up and come to the whiteboard anytime when they felt that they had something to write down) – 3 minutes. 

  1. Biodiversity and the domino effect

The activity began with the definition of terms: biodiversity, ecosystem, keystone species and domino effect. Previous knowledge from Biology, Geography and English lessons was used in this respect. A debate regarding the ecosystems and the importance of each part of them in the sustainability of life was held. The subject of trees’ importance was deepening while identifying situations in which trees have a key role in ecosystems. The interactive website of UN Environment Programme was used as it was suggested in the learning scenario in order to find out about situations in which various species became endangered and which are the solutions that various persons and institutions may take. Students became aware of the situation of common walnuts from Cappadocia, sea stars and grey wolves; they made assumptions regarding the causes that had led to those situations and the measurements that should be taken in order to prevent them from disappearing. – 15 minutes

  1. We have hands to do good things 

The conclusions of the biodiversity subject were synthetized while pupils were watching the video related to planting around the world. This was a motivational one that enabled us to go further with our workshop. – 2 minutes

  1. Trees in art and literature 

The Europeana gallery regarding the trees in art was introduced by showing it on the smart board . Students, divided in small groups, were invited to choose a painting as their group emblem and to provide arguments for their choice. A list of quotes related to trees was displayed on the smart board  and each group had to select a quote to debate about it in their groups. They presented their results in a frontal activity. – 20 minutes

  1. Our workshop in one word

Students were invited to conclude their impressions about the workshop in one word. They mentioned: interesting, informative, useful, green, ecology, biodiversity, oxygen etc.

  1. The extension of the activity 

This part took two forms: 

Students from the 7th grade were invited to work in small groups in order to create a project called “Our virtual arboretum” comprising: the emblem (the painting selected from Europeana gallery; a quote about trees; a short documentation about a tree that becomes the main character of the project; a story about that tree and “a surprise element” chosen by the members of the team. The project should be presented in class as a physical project with all the pieces printed or written on cardboard or as a digital project, using an online application. 

The 8th graders were invited to carry out research about a tree that could contribute to environment protection in our school area. This could be related to a species that can help the pollinators or could have another important impact in our school area environment. In May or June, this tree should be planted in our school yard.

2. Outcomes

My students:
  • Were very enthusiastic about the activity and got engaged in our workshop;
  • Revised some knowledge regarding vocabulary and grammar in English within a communicative context related to a subject that should be interested for all of us: the environment protection – focus on trees;
  • Became aware of the way in which trees were depicted in arts and literature by exploring the Europeana gallery (in class, under my supervision; at home, in their small groups);
  • Developed their visual literacy when they described the paintings from Europeana gallery in order to select an emblem for their small groups;
  • Practised the argumentative discourse in front of the class or in small groups in order to demonstrate various selections;
  • Reflected upon the importance of trees in our everyday lives;
  • Reflected and analysed the way in which various species can be affected by human interventions or other invasive species, pathogens etc;
  • Shared tasks while working in small groups and they will develop their research skills while preparing their outcomes.
The teacher:
  • Using this learning scenario was of a great help for me to organize my ‘Green school’ activities;
  • I have discovered a very useful gallery that brings together representations of trees available on Europeana platform;
  • I had the opportunity to adapt a very detailed and well-written learning scenario to my school context and my students’ needs;
  • I discovered some websites that are very useful for future activities;
  • Now I am eager to see my students’ projects and to discover which would be tree that we will plant in May or June.

As final remarks, I consider that the learning scenario designed by our colleague, Sanja Ždralović, is a very useful one which could be applied as it was proposed with the condition that the teachers had enough time OR activities could be adapted to the pupils’ needs and to the school context. 

The only problem that I really faced was the time because I did not have enough hours to implement all the activities as they were designed initially by our colleague. 

Link to the learning scenario implemented: Tree for the mind (LS-HR-736) – Teaching With Europeana (

Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC BY-SA 3.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste.

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