Implementation of ‘Where am I from? Human Migration’ (SOI-GR-166)

This Story of Implementation is based on the learning scenario “Where am I from? Human Migration” by Michaela Lišková. It addresses students between 9 and 11 years old.

The learning scenario implemented

The idea behind this scenario is to help students identify the word “migration” and to discover each family´s backstory and the reasons why each family migrated. Through the stories of their parents,  or maybe their grandparents – they get acquainted with their place of origin and get connected with it. Yet this activity is about strengthening family ties and creating a basic common emotional background where parents and children can live within and share experiences.

The implementation context

The scenario was implemented with my 5th-grade students (age 10-11 years old). A special effort was made to keep the initial spirit and intention of the creator and try to make kids and early teens empathize about human migration while thinking about their own roots and ancestors’ stories. It also matches well with their geography subject where they learn about Greece and its areas.

It was implemented twice, with two different groups of students in two different schools of the same area. First, it was implemented in the classroom with the traditional way of teaching (February 2020) and secondly during the coronavirus lockdown (March-April 2020) with distance learning and on-line methods and with another group of students. It was assigned to the students just before the Easter holidays when they usually used to visit their homelands to celebrate Easter. But this year this is not allowed due to the restrictions in circulation. The implementation of the scenario is a good opportunity for them while staying at home, to sit together with their parents and think about their beloved villages which they will surely miss due to the unusual circumstances.  Below you will find the reference to the online course created in the electronic classroom of the distance learning system (in Greek) that contains the written instructions (in Greek) for the students about how to technically implement the scenario:

The narrative

1st step

Initially, as the original scenario proposes, we visit the Europeana web site and the Migration Collection. We see some of the material found in this collection focusing on some of the artefacts that relate to Greek immigrants  such us:

Students look at the 5th page of this old book and they try to describe or guess what they see. The page conatains a photo coming from the city of Smyrna before its catastrophe in 1922, that shows some Greek people, that lived there, vising some immigrants, obviously before becoming immigarnts themselves. It’s a photo that clearly shows how interchangeable is the immigrant status and how easily one can come to a position to leave his/her own country due to unperdictable events that happen beyond his/her control. This is our initial point to start the discussion in classroom.

From the migration collection we choose to explore the “Share your migration story” section where we can see the Europeana video about human migration in Europe. Then we press the “READ THE STORIES” link to read some personal migration stories from the Europeana Collection. The class is divided into small groups and each group reads one story using the translate tool and presents the story to their peers in classroom.

After the presentation of the stories we talk all together about some migration issues such as: what are the reasons, the motives of the immigrant people, which are the routes that they follow, which the conditions of their migration travel and in the new country, etc. 

We read the Me and my bicycle story on the European web site, through Google translate. It’s a simple and short story, about an object very popular to kids, as well. We focus on objects that usually migrants chose to carry with them from their homeland, why do they choose a specific object, what does this object represent in terms of memories, feelings or new prospects.

We talk about migration in conjunction with nostalgia, sorrow and regret on one hand and hope, salvation and new future on the other side. We talk about the conditions of migration for an immigrant nowadays and in the past. What do these conditions depend on? How are they better or worse?

2nd step

Here in Greece and in the Chalandri area where I live and teach, most of the people come from various areas of Greece. In fact, the whole city of Athens including its suburbs has been mostly formed by internal migration that took place mostly during the second half of the 20th century. A lot of our students have parents or grandparents that lived in other areas of Greece who they still have clear and vivid memories from their homelands which they often visit during their holidays and for which they still maintain a strong longing and passion, that usually transmit also to theirs. This activity tries to dig into their children’s family’s stories and act as a vehicle so that they can understand current migration from other countries and help them relate with the homeland of their parents and grandparents.

3rd step

Children ask their parents or grandparents at home about their area of origin and use the Internet to find information about it. First, they locate this area on Google Maps and the root leading to it from their home in Athens. Then, they must collect some information about this area such as: important sites of the area around, historical facts about this place, traditional music, dances and costumes, images, recipes, athletic teams, important events, special characteristics, the Wikipedia reference, etc. They put all these together in a Wakelet collection and then they share the link of the collection with their school mates and teacher as an act of presentation of this area.  The idea is to present their homeland in a spherical and detailed way by collecting internet references that represent their memories and their ancestors’ memories. At the description area, they write a personal statement about their relationship with that place.

Learning and Teaching Outcomes

In our class, we happen to have also, few students coming from other countries: Italy, Syria, Bulgaria and Albania. Their stories and subsequent Wakelet collections, added an international flavor to this activity and acted as a proof of concept about international migration that has been mostly happening for the last 30 years.

Here are some of the results of this activity:

The scenario resulted in a bunch of in-classroom and out-of-classroom learning activities, that were very rewarding, both for the students and their teacher. Kids were able to develop empathy skills and understand migration issues in an experiential way. The classroom became flipped and in fact, much of the learning took place at home. Written explicit instructions were given by the teacher so that the students and their families could easily overcome the technical difficulties of the task.

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

Where am I from? Human Migration” by Michaela Lišková

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

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and provided by the Wellcome Collection.

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