Implementation of ‘The great war through children’s eyes’ (SOI-IT-04)

Choosing the LS

My name is Emanuela Leto and I am involved in the Italian User Group of Europeana DSI-4. I chose to implement ‘The great war through the eyes of children‘ in my English as a second language classes (age of students 11-13 years old -A1/A1+ CEFR -English). According to Italian National curricula of History, this topic is suitable for students from “terza media” classes (9th grade), but I extended this activity also to the other classes (7th and 8th ), because the students are taking part in our Erasmus KA229 project on the memories of WWI (Twinspace, Facebook page).

This original scenario was proposed for level B1/B2 students. I adapted it to my students focusing on events, timeline, images and memories (letters, postcards). The methodology used was project-based Learning (PBL). All activities were carried out in small groups lead by the English as a Foreign Language, History, and Geography teachers in a multimedia lab. Students used the internet to carry out their research and to use digital tools to create their own content. Some of the activities were carried out by students as homework and the results were posted on the class virtual platform.

Getting ready

Starting from research on the inscriptions of the monuments dedicated to soldiers dead during the war, students had to rebuild soldier lives. We focused on Italian soldiers dead and buried in commemorative cemeteries in France and Russia, or Russian and French soldiers dead in Italy and buried here in Italy. We had a brainstorming on war events using the materials presented in the learning scenario.

Timelines and mindmaps

First step was to locate the events in time and space WW1 timeline.  We had an events overview together, then the students reorganized the main events in a mind map using Coggle. Second step was to introduce the context of the era through real documents; we used resources from Historiana.

I helped students to focus on different kinds of weapons used for the first time during WWI, as result of the Industrial revolution, spreading all around the world in the 20th Century. Students were guided to recollect all the information about WWI creating a collaborative word cloud with key words related to the topic.

Some students made a short oral presentation in English of the main events concerning WWI supported by word cloud and mindmap. The third step was to search in a database about monuments such as cemeteries or memorials, located in Italy, France and Latvia, the countries involved in the Erasmus Project.

Final thoughts

The scenario was a good starting point as a resource and to put in context the suggestions in terms of digital tools to be used with students. It also provided me further tips to carry on along the path of the Erasmus project as well.

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BY-SA – The featured image used to illustrate this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike. It is attributed to Husárová Petronela and you can find the image by clicking here.

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