joi, 3 decembrie 2009

On Freedom

For 3 seminars now I've been talking with my first year students in Political Science about courage, power of sacrifice and Freedom. First, we watched together a brilliant National Geographic documentary on the Berlin Wall. I think this short film is perfect for didactic purposes because:

* it is only 50 minutes long, thus we had time to stop and explain phrases like "The Death Strip", "Concentration Camp Berlin", or "Checkpoint Charlie";
* it has some great graphic representations which allow students to visualize the actual dangers of trying to escalate the deadly Wall;
* it tells three moving stories of brave East Germans who found ingenious but risky ways to get under, through or over the Wall;
* it touches briefly on the historical background, but includes memorable lines like "Ich bin ein Berliner" (JFK) or "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" (Ronald Reagan);
* it presents the teacher with the ideal opportunity to discuss an issue like Freedom.

What is more, this documentary provided me with the chance to tackle the problem of the Romanian Revolution which took place in 1989, one year before my students were born.. It was extremely interesting for me to listen to what Freedom meant to them, since they haven't lived in the socialist system which deprived us of this fundamental right. Almost all of them said that Freedom meant "everything" to them and that they had a hard time imagining how it must have "felt" to be a teenager in Eastern Europe 20 years ago, without jeans or Western music, with restricted electricity and hot water, with freedom of speech direly infringed etc. That is why, my students concluded, it is important to commemorate these events, to talk about them, to try to learn what happened so that history will not repeat itself.

We took the discussion further, and I asked them what walls still have to be "torn down". Here their answers were smart and, I confess, deeper than I'd expected. They said that walls of racism, intolerance, xenophobia, stereotyping, and old-fashioned mentalities are still standing. And the mere fact that they acknowledged the existence of these walls gives me hope that they'll search and find ways to destroy them..

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for his great post on the walls that separate us and to Sean Banville for his lesson plan on Freedom and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

luni, 25 mai 2009

2 more

I can't help myself :) Two more excellent stories!



Digital stories

Today I'm especially proud to be a teacher. I've been doing storytelling with my students in Journalism for a semester, and their final task was to produce a digital story entitled Message in a bottle. I watched 78 such "productions" and below is my Top 5. ENJOY! :) The rest can be found on our class wiki











Thanks Gabi for all your help and support, and thanks STUDENTS for making my day, semester, academic year.. :)

sâmbătă, 28 martie 2009

Turning off the lights

Celebrating Earth Hour here. I guess the phrase "We should do this more often" applies :)

duminică, 1 martie 2009

On spring and poetry

I've come across a wonderful book by Zubeida Jaffer, a South-African journalist and activist. Our generation speaks of the struggle against the apartheid, from the perspective of a young mother (the author herself). The Preface of the book is an astounding poem by another illustrious South-African, Njabulo Ndebele. It's a simple yet, as it often happens, impressive piece of work which reminded me why I should start reading (and perhaps teaching) poetry again. Before I post the poem, I'd like to mention Poetry Archive, a great reservoir of poems destined (obviously not exclusively) to educators and students. Still on the topic, I strongly support and recommend this Creative Writing course. It's the same one I took as a student, and I can safely say it's a rewarding learning experience.

And here's Be gentle, by Njabulo Ndebele, taken from this blog:

Be gentle on my mind
please do be gentle,
soft;
do not crowd my mind
with studied images of my past;
let me feel it first:
do not display my carved rituals
at the British Museum,
for little do they say;
let me feel them first.

It is the fairy tale in me,
the story book
that is the pure tale of my being.
Do go gentle on my mind,
softly please,
soft.

I'm going back to my book now, enjoy spring and the rest of the weekend :)

joi, 12 februarie 2009

Cyprus via Germany

I had a really busy week last week. Took me a few days to get back on track. First, I went to Dortmund for a Colloquium dedicated to PhD students. I had the opportunity of receiving feedback on my work so far from a reputed German scholar, Berndt Ostendorf, specialist in American studies. I haven't often met people so inspiring as him, so I'm grateful for this meeting and I cherish every moment of it. What's more, all the presentations were very interesting, so I had a good deal to learn from all the other PhD candidates and form our supervisors.
Then, I flew to Cyprus for the WCES international conference on educational studies. I had a great life and learning experience there too. You can watch here the presentation I delivered. It's about integrating web tools into the ESP classroom and about connecting students from around and across the world.
I'm back home now, and I'm much richer :)

vineri, 23 ianuarie 2009

Motivation

A very inspiring video which reminds me I love being a teacher every time I watch it.. It also motivates me to do an extracurricular activity, but I'll write about that if it ever comes to life :)