How to develop students’ civic literacy
Teachers from Sofia presented their best practices at a conference, part ot the Europe 2018 program.
Bulgarian and European government simulations, EU institutions research assignments, case studies on the topic of civil rights, and EU-themed interactive quizzes. These were some of the best practices presented during the closing conference of the “Developing Students’ Civic Literacy with Interactive Teaching Methods” project on June 20. The project was implemented by Teach For Bulgaria with the financial support of Sofia Municipality and Europe 2018 Program. Teachers from 13 schools in Sofia presented their best practices at the conference. All of them had completed a training at Steps Academy (Akademia NIKE) to build specific skills which would allow them to teach key elements of the so-called “civic literacy” in an engaging, interactive, and innovative way. The goal of the project is to motivate young people to be socially active citizens and to help them get acquainted with all national and European institutions, the way they collaborate, what the decision-making process is and how they could participate in it.
Research assignments and case studies
The teachers presented several types of research assignments, case studies, and quizzes which they had tested out with their students.
Donka Paneva-Ivanova, a teacher at 81. Secondary School “Victor Hugo” and Teach For Bulgaria alumna, focused on EU citizens’ rights in her tenth-grade ethics and law class. She had her students research the main documents and institutions in order to find out whom they could turn to in specific situations. Her students focused on situations which were relevant to them such as online shopping or flight cancellation.
Stefana Branekova from 139. Primary School “Zahariy Krusha” collaborated with the geography teacher at the school. They had their students create full profiles of all EU member states and a quiz on the same topic. Stefana shared that even though the sixth-graders were sceptical in the beginning, they later wanted to continue their EU exploration during their weekly “topics of interest” class.
The twelfth-graders from 105. Secondary School “Atanas Dalchev” worked on case studies based on labor contracts and discussed what they could expect if they decided to study and work in other EU member states. Their teacher and Teach For Bulgaria alumna, Yana Doseva, also shared that they had a special guest speaker – one of the parents who had some experience related to EU institutions. He discussed cases from his work with the students.
“Students found working in groups and the freedom to choose, express their individuality and creativity very interesting,” shared Hristina Atanasova from Drita Private School. She gave her tenth-grade students a research assignment related to the work of EU institutions.
Kristina Koleva, who is a teacher at 202. Primary School “Hristo Botev” and who is going to be part of the new class of Teach For Bulgaria participants this September, talked about how the topics of national and EU institutions could be presented to younger students. Even though she started working on the project with her middle schoolers. Her third and fourth-graders soon wanted to participate as well. They made posters on civic literacy topics, compared Bulgarian and European institutions, and organized quizzes.
Dzhani Chernev from 170 Secondary School “Vasil Levski” and Sava Tashev from 97. Secondary School “Miladinov Brothers”, who are both Teach For Bulgaria participants, organized a joint parliament simulation. Before the simulation itself, they had involved their students in a discussion on the topics of democracy, the workings of the National Assembly of Bulgaria, the law-making process, etc. The students had also researched the topics online based on guidelines from their teachers and then presented the information in teams. Twenty-five high school students participated in the joint simulation. They had initially been nervous to debate with students they didn’t know. However, the simulation went well and all children got acquainted with the workings of Bulgarian parliament.
The students from 61. Primary School “St. Cyril and St. Methodius” and 104. Primary School “Zahari Stoyanov” also participated in a simulation in which they were members of parliament from different parliament groups and committees. Linda Rasheva, who teaches at 61. Primary School, decided to organize a simulation of the European Parliament and invited representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in her class. Diana Nikolova from 104. Primary School motivated her students to discuss the new Law on Education as well as their rights and obligations. “The students gave some very interesting suggestions, some of them are going to be presented before the principal and discussed on a school level,” Diana shared. Many of the teachers involved in this project organized visits to the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria, so that their students could meet members of parliament in person.
The students from 51. Secondary School “Elisaveta Bagryana” chose to do a simulation of a trial. Tsvetelina Draganova’s students discussed the case of a foreigner who was hit by a car while crossing the street on a bike. The students played the roles of the judge, jury, the injured foreigner, his lawyer, and so on. “The most interesting aspect for the children was to decide who was to blame,” Tsvetelina shared.
At the end of the conference teachers shared how they planned to continue their civic education classes during the following school year. Some of their ideas were to organize debates clubs, have days of student self-government, write books about children’s rights, visit more national institutions, volunteer in their municipality, and discuss how to protect the environment.
The project entitled “Developing Students’ Civic Literacy with Interactive Teaching Methods” was implemented by Teach For Bulgaria with the financial support of Sofia Municipality and Europe 2018 Program. The schools which participated in the project are Professional High School of Audio, Video, and Telecommunication “A. S. Popov”, Drita Private School, 18. Secondary School “William Gladstone”, 40. Secondary School “Louis Pasteur”, 51. Secondary School “Elisaveta Bagryana”, 61. Primary School “St. Cyril and St. Methodius”, 81. Secondary School “Victor Hugo”, 97. Secondary School “Miladinov Brothers”, 104. Primary School “Zahari Stoyanov”, 105. Secondary School “Atanas Dalchev”, 139. Primary School “Zahariy Krusha”, 170. Secondary School “Vasil Levski” in Novi Iskar, and 202. Primary School “Hristo Botev” in the village of Dolni Pasarel.