A Collaborative Story About Inclusion

Northampton High School joined in with NSSM by telling us about a fascinating e-twinning project they were part of involving pupils from six European countries who joined together to write a collaborative story about inclusion.  Languages teacher Alicia Diez, describes the project –

At Northampton High School, we have taken Inclusion into the next level this academic year.

We started off in September, by creating a very interesting project together with some European partners. Thanks to the support of the educational platform of eTwinning, provided for school by the British Council, we were able to link with students in schools in Greece, Spain, Ukraine, Slovakia, Slovenia and France, to investigate and learn on the subject of what inclusion means for us all.

We designed a project called ‘Don’t judge a person by their face’ and as the academic year progressed, we developed many fun activities to share and learn from each other.

We started off by talking about our common fears when starting in a new setting, for example, our fear of the very first day we start school. It was very comforting to realize, that no matter which country we came from, we all face the same fears! These thoughts made us think of possible outcomes to support each other overcoming those feelings.

As October approached, the film based on the bestselling book of Wonder by R.J. Palacio was released in the cinemas, and what better than to go to the cinema with our friends and family to firstly, put a face to the characters of the book that we had read, and secondly to explore how our own families felt with the topic of inclusion, after watching August (the main character of the novel who suffers from Treacher’s Collin Syndrome) go through his very first experience of secondary school.

Since we are all keen readers in all the countries, we decided to continue our project by challenging each other to discover how some famous characters from our favourite books, films and comics dealt with the issue of exclusion in their lives. It was great fun to look at books such as Paddington the bear, Lilo and Steech or Soko.

We gathered much information, realizing more and more how no matter which language, culture or ideas you might have, Inclusion and Kindness are completely universal, and we all should practise them on a daily basis, as a double sided coin!

Our next adventure continued by visiting a local care home. We wanted to talk to our community about the similarities and differences in kindness in society, and also we wanted to hear our elders’ voices to better understand their feelings, and of course learn from their very own advice. This was overall a very moving experience, and we learnt so much more than we expected. Both students and elders had a lot to discuss and talk about, and we can only say that we highly recommend this sort of visit to anyone in the community!

As our final stages of the project approached, we thought we should create something long-lasting, where we could all collaborate and put together all the thoughts of what we have learnt. And what better than to… write our very own children’s book on the topic of Inclusion!

Since we had used the eTwinning platform to create our project and collaborate with our partners, we chose to use those initials to create some locations for our character ‘Little Being’. Each country received one letter (ETWINNING), and each school wrote the chapter belonging to that letter. When a country was done with their task, the next country had to take over and make sure that the story continued in a coherent and engaging way.

People often ask… ‘how easy was it to coordinate it all?’, I like to answer that, even if we had to do some small adjustments to make it all fit, the overall experience was absolutely wonderful, fulfilling and magical. Following Little Being go through different adventures, gaining a name and discovering a treasure was all too exciting!!

Furthermore, we were extremely lucky to get the most beautiful illustrations from a collaborator in Spain, also an arts teacher, Garbiñe Larralde. We learnt how images can really support the creative process, and we are so thankful for the inspiration.

We have now published and printed off a copy of our very own book, ‘The story of how eTwinning came to life’, which also has an audio version (again, focusing on inclusion for all).

The experience will surely stay with us forever, as it has been very powerful and rich, especially as it has had so much collaboration, understanding and has covered many aspects of society and our lives. Yes, we know the book has not been written by a professional author but it does contain over 200 voices from six very different countries and that gives it a soul that is totally unique and special to it.

You can follow our project on the eTwinning platform to know a bit more about it all…

Thank you and we hope you enjoy our story!

This is a guest post by Alicia Diez, Languages teacher at Northampton High School for Girls, and the views expressed do not necessarily represent those of FCBG.


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