The City Guide Project as we ended up calling it was about giving students a writing assignment for grading ( grades which were required to show up in their report cards) that involved collaboration, group work, developing skills & abilities, integrating language skills, experimenting with technology, using moodle system for grading, connecting students to the world and making language practice more meaningful. However, it gave me more than just that, it taught me about citizenship or the lack of it as a local culture element.
This post is all about citizenship, but in order to ilustrate it I’ll give two examples. One linked with the City Guide Project and the second one with something that just happened in our neighborhood. In both situations the people involved had no clue what citizenship means. How so? Well, when we fail to recognize our rights and the right of others, we also fail to value one another and ensure equality.
What was the City Guide Project about? Talking to the students about Criciuma, the city where we live or study (some students live in a city nearby) and a call I had from an old friend from London who lives in Australia. After 15 years without speaking to each other, we finally found each other through Facebook. In my students day in England she was the one who watched out for me for the 5 years that I lived there. One of the things she asked me was about the place I was living – What is it like? she asked. I tried to find websites with info, pictures or video, but I didn’t find anything at all, apart from wikipedia.
So, while we were talking about Criciuma, I invited the students to showcase our city to the world. At first most of them seemed excited and engaged with the idea. The week after, I prepared the project and presented to the students. Most of them continued engaged and attentive to what we needed to do in order to present our city to the world. But when came to look into their city, what they knew about it, they realized they didn’t know much and what they knew existed was boring. So, it started to become a boring thing to do as they said there was NOTHING to talk about. Then, I told them this is your city, the place where you will hang out mostly of your life, even if you don’t live here, you still will have your family and friends to visit (I said that as some of them wished they weren’t living here, but in a place else). So, that got me thinking about citizenship and how much you can really put into it if you don’t really care for the place you live. And what kind of adults will they grow up to be if they continue not to care about the place they live and what happens there?
Yesterday something odd happened in our neighborhood. Our phone line was cut off due to someone who was moving out of the neighborhood setting fire to a number of items ( including an old wardrobe). The flames were so high that burned the cables and left many houses without phone and internet connection. But more weird though, was that the place he chose to burn was by the next house wall gate whose owner saw the man putting the fire and did nothing. One, he did not think that could cause any harm to anyone or two, he didn’t mind having to paint his wall gate again.
My husband didn’t understand why the line went dead, then we called the phone company. Few hours later, he went to the barbershop and saw what was left from the fire and lots of smoke. He figured out what happened and talked to the neighbor whose wall gate and sidewalk was filthy with ashes and burnings. My husband came back home dishearted as he couldn’t understand how the neighbor could see someone using part of his property to dump his trash, set on fire and leave without saying a word of worrying or if he was worried called any of the 3 possible options – the firemen, the city hall people who take care of this stuff or the police even, if that was the case. Without mentioning that the big guy who lived his next door and was moving out was a teacher. Strange right?
I figure then that all comes down to citizenship. But I may be wrong?
The following links are the students project work. I hope you like it. And if you guys want to share with your students or comment yourself, go ahead. I’m sure they will appreciate the comments and get encouraged by them.