by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
by Mr J Cutajar
Activities carried out at School
A group of refugees at our school
Our school embarked on a project to promote diversity and help children to expose themselves to various cultures and traditions. The idea to invite some refugees from JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service)was in order to promote understanding and solidarity towards refugees. We linked JRS activities with HMD as the theme for 2014 was Journeys.
Students had a talk by a refugee from Eritrea who shared his experience of the difficult journey. Afterwards, the students engaged themselves into another activity where they played the drums.
It was an enriching experience for the students who learned why people leave their home, what it means to be a refugee, what it means to live in a safe and democratic country, and what cultural diversity and inclusion are all about.
We did a follow-up lesson with students and they wrote what they learned.
Story-telling at school
During our weekly reading sessions, the Year 3 and 4 pupils actively involved themselves in activities concerning book reading and story sacks. A story sack is considered as a storytelling prop in which the teacher carries and hides useful props including soft-toys until it is the right time in the story to introduce them.
The books chosen for the Comenius project were, a book in Maltese entitled ‘Ħbieb ta’ Veru’ (True friends), a popular fiction book entitled ‘The Ugly Duckling’, and three non-ficition books entitled ‘Eskimos’, ‘Chinese’ and ‘Zulu’ (An African tribe) These colourful children’s books depict the adventures of a children around the world and how they get on their everyday life. The books convey an important message to young readers encouraging good behaviour, kindness and respect towards others. In the first book entitled ‘Ħbieb ta Veru’, a refugee girl called Ażiża who is a fictitious character but a common situation occuring on our islands, is very upset because she attends a new school and she wants to make new friends. Her new friends have a difficult task to persuade other classmates to help her adapt to her new life.
A very popular fiction book is `The Ugly Duckling`. The story is about a swan born into a family of ducks, which is cast out of the pond because the other ducks believe it doesn’t belong with them because it was different. Wherever it goes, the duckling encounters animals that reject it for the same reason. Upon encountering a group of swans, the ugly duckling aspires to one day be as beautiful as them. One day, the ugly duckling sees its reflection in the water and realizes that it wasn’t a duck after all – it has grown to be the most beautiful swan in the pond. The children perceive a positive message from the story. Part of the duckling’s struggle comes from the treatment it receives from others, but also from the fact that it simply accepts their perception of it and doesn’t realise until it gets a good look at itself. Only when it finds a group of swans which accept the ugly duckling and help it overcome its fears. The moral of the story teaches us to accept one another no matter how different we might appear.
In the other books (Chinese, Zulu and Eskimos) the children were exposed to other cultures and traditions different from ours. Students were able to perceive how these people with different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs interact with each other. They learned how other children in other continents live. Moreover, the students could remember that everyone is ultimately a person first and by judging each person on their own merit is the best way to develop understanding and empathy.
The students were encouraged to embrace and learn ways of understanding cultural difference. However, trying to understand cultural differences can open you up to a whole lot of new and exciting experiences.
A lot of misconceptions exist about different cultures because people do not always take the time to get the whole picture. The more we learn about other cultures the less misconceptions and stereotypes there will be. Educating students about different cultures will not only make them a more knowledgeable and tolerant citizens, but they will gain respect for cultures and the people who are a part of them.
The stories kept our listeners attentive, watching and waiting for the teacher to extract just the right item at the right moment from the story sack. It was a pleasant experience to watch how eight year-olds eagerly gathered around the teacher on a cozy cushion anxious to see what’s in the story sack. The teacher focused on the children’s response, and involved herself and the children in higher-order questions, emphasising the fact of thinking and reasoning among pupils.
As the teacher read aloud, he invited children to comment on similarities and differences of opinions. The children were encouraged to share their opinion and also describe the physical appearance and character of the characters. During the storytelling sessions the participants investigated sorts of writings like pictures books, photographs and drawings. Pupils had to write and illustrate their own books about other family members, bringing out a range of identities and associating themselves with particular members of the family.
The enthusiastic pupils were encouraged to write down their own stories. As an introductory activity, the teacher displayed pictures on large prints and involved students in discussions. After listening attentively to the stories read by the teacher, volunteers came up dramatising and acting as the class read the stories. Pupils came to the front and performed the roles of the characters and dramatising certain aspects of their daily life. Pupils understood that stories and pictures are a form of communication and can tell us about people, places and things. All the children’s work was exhibited on noticeboards and class walls. Needless to say, all the pupils showed a lot of enthusiasm and great eagerness.
Pupils had the opportunity to discuss related topic and join in throughout the session. Unfortunately, not all the students participated.
Needless to say that promoting reading in our school with a difference is the teachers’ main objective and priority.
Science and Technology lesson
One 16th October 2014, the Science and the Health & Safety teachers delivered a Science and Technology lesson with the Year 6 class to show the visiting teachers how the class teacher can use the lesson (any subject will do) in order to indirectly promote the objectives of the project. Xenophobia can manifest itself in students forming small gangs who bully other individuals who they perceive as being different. By adopting a group work approach during classroom activities, the students are placed in a situation where they have to work together. The students are intentionally placed into groups with mixed gender, ability, race and religion. Hence, students are trained not to be afraid from what is foreign or different, and to look beyond these superficial differences, by working together towards a common objective.
The students were hence divided into groups. Each group was given an equal amount of spaghetti and marshmallows. They were presented with the following problem and design brief:
Problem: Architects often have to face the problem of having to build high structures/buildings, while ensuring that they are still very stable.
Brief: Design and make the highest possible spaghetti tower, using only the resources available. The tower must be able to stay erect, and withstand a Ping-Pong ball at the top.
Every group was also given an A3 sheet of paper, onto which they had to sketch their various ideas as well as write any relevant annotations. This task helped the students to communicate their ideas to each other, as well as constructively challenge each other’s ideas. This is a crucial part of the whole idea of the activity, as regards to the outcome of the project, where students look beyond their differences in race, religion, gender and ability, in order to work together for a common goal.
The students then evaluated all the available ideas through discussion, and chose the final idea which they thought will solve the problem best. They were then given an amount of time (15 – 20 minutes), during which they were involved in the actual construction of the structure. Eventually, the students had to test and evaluate their final design, and as a group, suggest possible modifications.
Traditional costumes for Carnival
Last year’s carnival theme was ‘Traditional Costumes’. The students were actively involved in participating in the school and village activities. Children dress up in traditional costumes from various countries. After a rigorously research on the internet about the costumes from other countries, the students, with the help hand of the teachers and parents, were able to show off their costumes. Their colourful costumes attracted everybody’s attention.
The year 4 students dressed up in Dutch traditional costumes to greet the members of the participating countries when they visited our school.
Celebration Day at School
The Music Teacher chose two musicals to be performed with two different schools. One of them is the Peace Child’, which is about two different tribes with a river which is keeping them apart. They are enemies and each tribe believed that they are the superior. Journalists visited the desert and came up with a good plan – to build a bridge. This bridge was a symbol of hope and unity. A child was born and both tribes united together and became one big family. Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 from Sannat primary school were the participants. To enhance diversity the teacher chose a student with special needs from Year 6 to be the ‘peace child’. All of the students on stage referred to him as the one who brought peace and joy between the different tribes. 10 energetic songs were sung live by the students.
Another musical was ‘Pirates Vs Mermaids’. This is a musical where the opposites meet. Pirates always say that mermaids are useless and Mermaids think that Pirates aren’t useful. They changed their mind when Pirates need the Mermaids to teach them how to swim while Mermaids needed the Pirates to catch a crocodile. They learnt that even though they can never be the same, they need each other in life so respect, unity and peace are essential in life. This musical was held in Qala primary school. All students of the school participated, some of which had main parts, and some classes had to sing several songs. 7 songs were sung and the last song ‘Together’ was the curtain call where all students went on stage and delivered the message that together we are one big family.
The music lessons at our school
As part of the comenius project, Ms Sylvana Cini, the Music Teacher, prepared all classes to sing a song with an anti-xenophobia message in front of Comenius guests from Ireland and Holland.
Year 1 and Year 2 students sang ‘The Rainbow Song’ in front of our visitors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvNprVe2-hQ . It is a peace and love song. The song was about seven bright colours which are all important to form one beautiful rainbow. This is similar to our life that all different cultures form one beautiful world.
Kid’s Peace Song was sang by Year 3 students https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYzwruuXtJE. It’s good to know that even if people come in different sizes, colours, shapes and names inside we are the same. Our brains are built the same so we have to accept and respect everyone.
Peace, Hope and Unity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys-wrHtrfgc is another song which promotes the different colours and about moving forward to embrace humanity. It’s about stopping hatred, violence, forget the past and celebrate diversity. This song was performed by Year 4 students.
This short performance from all Qala students ended up with a catchy song ‘Teaching Peace’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYtFDQLazX8 . During the instrumental part Year 5 and Year 6 students played on their percussion instruments. Its up to show we care, reaching out to everybody everywhere. One by one in our work and during free time we are teaching peace by what we do and what we say.
Through these songs our students became more aware of anti-xenophobia. They understood the importance to help each other, unite with different cultures and respect humanity.
Sending and Receiving Easter & Christmas cards
The tradition of sending or receiving cards has developed in the 19th century and was extended and modified along the years. It is courteous and a sign of respect towards other to send Christmas and Easter postcards. Sending a card to a special person has always been a big part of life. It is always nice to send someone a quick note to let them know that you have them in your heart, mind, and soul. Just dropping a line isn’t always ideal, sometimes you want to get fancy and crafty to send something a little unique to them. Year 4 and 5 students were in the perfect mood to make some of their own Christmas and Easter cards. The students created decorative Christmas and Easter cards. Undoubtedly, the activity overwhelmed our students at the busiest times of the year. The students realised that making their own cards was still a satisfying thing to create and even nicer for someone to receive. The cards were given to the children of the participating countries by hand.
Cooking Activities at I.T.S
Learning can take place in many different situations and many different forms. A hands-on cooking activity was held amongst Year 4 students at I.T.S. where the students baked apple pie and panzerotti filled with fruits. An apple pie is a fruit pie in which the principal filling ingredient is apple. Many countries adopt their own version of this popular recipe which goes back to 1381 in England where the first written apple pie recipe was documented. Countries like Sweden, America and Holland adopted the recipe using various ingredients. A traditional Dutch apple pie comes in two varieties, a crumb (appelkruimeltaart) and a lattice (appeltaart) style pie, both recipes are distinct in that they typically call for flavourings such as cinnamon and lemon juice to be added and differ in texture, not taste. Dutch apple pies may include ingredients such as raisins and icing, in addition to ingredients such as apples and sugar, which they have in common with other recipes.
First of all the introductory part of the activity was held in class. The pupils discussed about food. Then, the teacher and the pupils discussed the importance of hygiene during the preparation and cooking process. The children, with the help of the teacher, discussed the ingredients for the filling and the pastry. They were able to participate in a lengthy and lively discussion. The second part was done at the Institute of Tourism Studies. All the pupils were involved in the process and were willing to work in groups and embrace teamwork.
Art Work during Arts Lessons
The years 3,4, 5 and 6 were involved in lessons about Xenophobia. They had the opportunity to work in groups and understand what xenophobia actually means. Arts can trigger the children’s active imagination and creativity which can take different forms through expressive arts. During the lessons, the Arts teacher constantly involved children in dicussions on the intense subject. The most debatable concern during the lessons was about the present-day issue of illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is one big problem that is widespread these days and children are entirely aware of this.
Children realised how people from various African countries, without any form of identification, move to other country for the purpose of job and/or permanent settlement. The children thoroughly discussed these issues together with their Arts Teacher and was clearly expressed and manifested in their drawings and paintings. The children had to prepare sketches of their drawing at home after discussing the topic at school.
Furthermore, creative art lessons can help children in all areas of their development. Through creative arts lessons, they learn to share, to interact with others, to be responsible for clean-up, and respect others. These are positive and important changes for social learning. Children were able to represent experiences or situations that they cannot verbalise. They drew pictures out of proportion, exaggerated things that are important to them or that influenced them. When we value children’s creativity, we help them feel valued as people, raising their self-esteem and ego.
Besides, the teacher supported children’s muscle development as well as their eye-hand coordination. Using crayons, markers, and paintbrushes helped children practice the fine motor control they will need for writing later on in life.
Extra-curricular activities at our school
Although a small village, Qala’s population has a high percentage of English speaking persons who are integrated in our community and are willing to share their experiences and knowledge. A retired English teacher, Mrs Brown, comes to school twice a week to help children with the reading lessons and children are involved in discussion on current issues and various topics with the upper classes. Throughout the year, she exposed the children to various cultures and traditions from all over the world and regularly displayed information on the noticeboard.
Commonwealth Day Activity
Commonwealth Day is celebrated by schools every year in March. The day is marked across the Commonwealth by a range of activities and meetings. All the nations in the Commonwealth are united by language, history, culture, values and human rights. At our school, children painted and displayed all the flags of the countries. They also exhibited drawing, objects, souvenirs and write-ups on various countries. The children conducted a presentation about different countries during the assembly. This activity was an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the common wealth. The children were made aware of the work of Commonwealth organisations.
Caring Day 2015
In March, an activity was organised by the Qala Primary Students’ Council with the support and collaboration of the PSCD teachers, Ms Marcelle Vella and Mr Jeremy Vella. During a craft lesson, the children were asked to do a cardboard bag with the help of the class teacher and had to carry around a boiled egg for a whole day. They had to show special care and not to crack the egg. After the activity the children were invited to show special care towards a person they know or met recently. The children were encouraged to look for foreign persons who live in our village. They were also asked to trace this person’s hand on a piece of cardboard and to write down the feelings of the persons involved in this encounter. The ‘hands‘ were displayed as a mural on the noticeboard at school. The aims of the activity were to learn that ‘care’ is a positive value, instil a caring attitude in the children and show the same caring enthusiasm with persons as much as they showed with the ‘egg’ in the activity. Needless to say, the activity was a huge success because all the children showed enthusiasm and willingness to participate throughout the event.