What is Doves for Peace Project?
“Sending Peace messages to students of different countries. Students compose their own peace messages on a dove shaped paper. The content of the message contain the information about their place of living, Symbols of the country, traditions and culture should be presented in the messages.” Larisa Tarasevich
I joined the project thanks to the project coordinator Larisa Tarasevich who I had the opportunity to connect classes through Skype last July. Thanks again Larisa for including me and my students in this Global project.
We have received the address of 5 schools to send our Doves for Peace messages.
Steps to get my students involved: Part 1
#1 Thinking Globally
What do you know about these countries?
At this point, they had not idea of why I was asking them to think and write about those specific countries. They realized that although they’ve heard a lot about them in geography class, they remembered very little and still didn’t have a clue what their culture was like.
#2 Identifying the theme: Peace
What does this picture make you think of and/or feel?
The varied responses showed how different we are and how we perceive things differently. This leads nicely to the video and the discussion of culture later.
#3 Looking at the pictures of the first edition of the project and discussing ideas to participate in the second edition.
Here is when we talked about the Virtual Exchange project, how it was going to work (through mail this time) and what we were expected to send.
Part 2: Deepening our understanding of culture and peace
Although the words CULTURE and PEACE might not be unknown to the learners, the concept of culture is still alien to them. Being able to translate or say the meaning of a word in learners’ L1 does not mean they actually understand the concept and is able to apply it in their lives. In fact, their understanding of peace is simply the absence of war which hinders other aspects of the peace that we may find or not in our daily lives like bullying and how it affects one peace of mind and heart. The concept of culture was even more difficult to grasp, and resuming it to a dictionary definition explained next to nothing without really having the opportunity to reflect on real life situations.
Revising Intercultural Language Activities which was written by John Corbett, I realized that participating in a global project such as this requires us teachers to revisit first of all our goals of language education and then consider how the aspect of culture will be explored with learners. As Corbett (2010, p.3) points out we need to understand ourselves first as individuals, how we relate to others around us and to society at large in order to understand others’ culture. I find this point extremely important and as I observe my students struggling to write/talk about “our culture”, I find this premise also compelling.
#1 Exploring Our own understanding of Culture
I set a Google Doc for each group of students. I shared the doc with them and I used a table to divide the space. I also added a Questions box for them to add their doubts about language and about the task itself. Once they were getting used the GDoc, I started using the Comment feature to ask further questions and prompt them to explore whatever they were writing without being afraid to express their views, understandings, impressions, beliefs and ideas.
One of the advantages of Google Docs is that can be used in real time by all students and at home they can continue working on it, receiving feedback, asking questions, discussing ideas and language use. The third part of the project is actually about wrapping up the concepts of culture and peace to write a peace message on the back of the Doves picture we’re sending with something which each group is still thinking of to put in the package to represent our city.
Another advantage is that we can use the SEE REVISION HISTORY to assess what has been done. This is useful for teachers and students as Google automatically saves all the work done for later review and if anyone accidently erase something, it can be restored easily by going back to a certain time and clicking in restore version or copy and paste. It helps us see what learners already know and what they need to learn. Learners can also be encouraged to use it for self-assessment.
Reasons to use Google Docs instead of the board or paper notebooks:
My students and I were discussing the advantages of using GDocs and one that stood out was to be able to receive support and explanation from the teacher or another peer about a language point according to each learner’s need while others keep working on developing they’re own ideas. When working on the board, by tradition, everyone should pay attention because it’s just not polite to be doing anything else when the teacher is at the board explaining or showing them how to do something. It’s an attitude we all assume as soon as the teacher approaches the board. Working in real time in a digital environment breaks this paradigm and allows everyone to keep working and be more productive while keeping a record of everything in the document as well as adding to it links that can be accessed after class, like videos, pages, extra exercises, etc.