Tags: Case study | Citizenship and PSHE | Classroom Teacher | Curriculum Manager | Developing Citizenship Project | Equality | PSHE & Citizenship Coordinator | Subject Leader | Teaching & Learning Coordinator
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This was one of those projects that makes you think being a teacher really is worthwhile!

We decided to try to promote the Global Citizenship idea through a joint project with our feeder middle schools. In the event only three schools took part. We had a total of about 80 students at the final event. All of them had contributed in some way. Students were either Year 8 or 9.

Planning

We chose Martin Luther King Day in January 2005 and the theme ‘I have a dream’. We knew that the RE departments at all the participating schools had incorporated Martin Luther King into their syllabi as an example of Christian Commitment and of Christian attitudes towards Social harmony. This meant the project would not stand alone. We also knew that January provided a bit of a breather in the High School as our Year 11 students were taking mock exams and on study leave!

Invitations to take part were sent out through English and RE/PSE pyramid meetings. An informal get together for anyone interested was arranged after school in a local pub (at a time that teachers traditionally meet!). The RE co-ordinators also used time at their more formal meeting to share ideas. 

At the High School the Art, Drama, Music and RE departments were all asked to take part. At the two participating middle schools work was co-ordinated through English and through RE. There were therefore just two planning meetings! The specific content brought together by the schools was left to the discretion of the teachers involved.

The project

Students were invited to contribute a song, poem, poster, painting, drama sketch, dance… Some class time was given to this but much of the work was undertaken in their own time. The brief was to produce something that illustrated what their dream for the world would be. 

At the High School students wrote and prepared two drama sketches on the theme of discrimination. These were enthusiastically performed and lent an element of comedy to the final event. 

There were loads of posters and a few pieces of serious art – some of these were displayed around the school and at the final event.  A group of girls wrote and performed their own song. The whole thing created a great deal of enthusiasm.

Students who volunteered to contribute were then given a lesson off for Martin Luther King Day for them to take part in the final event and share their ideas with students from the other schools.

Students from Foxborough Middle School were members of an English class. They wrote some really excellent poems and read them beautifully. Students from Harris Middle School produced posters, poems, projects and one student had prepared a dance on the theme of pollution. 

The final event

The High School Drama Studio was the venue for a one and a half hour celebration. As students arrived they took part in an icebreaker where they had to mix and discuss the relative merits of a number of positive actions that they could take to make their world a better place – 113 options had been prepared ahead of time. This exercise proved a little too complicated as a starter – we will do something more straightforward next year. 

Music was played to set the seen – students from Benjamin Britten High School had chosen ‘Where is the love’ by the Black Eyed Peas for this purpose. A video of martin Luther King’s ‘I have a Dream’ speech was played. The atmosphere was really positive and students (many of whom had listened to this before) listened attentively. Schools then took turns at presenting their creative efforts. A final interactive poem and challenge to make their dreams come true saw the formal end of the afternoon.

After the middle school students had left, the High school students took part in a review and planning session. There was a very strong desire to take part in similar events. A possible event for Comic Relief Day was one suggestion. 

What next?

A CD of poems and pictures from the vent was sent to participating schools.  The RE coordinators agreed the event should become an annual fixture and that in future we may involve a guest artist. One history teacher inspired by the event has proposed a similar one to remember the Holocaust. All students who took part have been given Citizenship Certificates and some students are considering putting on an assembly themselves to inspire the rest of their year group.

Best bits

  • Students did most of the work
  • The project was creative and built on students enthusiasm for expressive arts
  • Planning was straightforward
  • It didn’t cost us a bean!
  • The year 8 and 9 students who took part want to do more ‘citizenship stuff’
  • It was fun.

Resources

www. seattletimes.com has an excellent photo gallery, MLK’s speeches and lesson ideas.

This work © Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and UNICEF (UK), 2007. Part of the Developing Citizenship project.

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