Developed for and by teachers, the Schools for Democracy toolbox has become a success: “I am especially pleased to see the practical experience of colleagues who skilfully find ways to develop civic competences of students both in the classroom and in extracurricular activities”, says Svitlana Bratoshevska, deputy head and physics teacher in the Mykolaiv Secondary School №29.
The interface of the platform is quite simple. The teacher can choose exercises using a number of filters like grade, subject, form of work with students and component of civic competence.
“The main difference between the toolbox and other resources is that the teachers worked on the content on their own. There is a wide choice of exercises for the development of civic competences for secondary school. I often use them to teach math and computer science”, says Vitalii Kostiuk, principal of the Pyadyky Lyceum (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast).
“All these exercises not only allow development of civic competences. Their greatest value is that they help encourage students to be more active and make their learning more interesting and diverse. If we talk about mathematics, the use of exercises helps to ease down a little the serious atmosphere in the classroom, to switch attention, to take a break and rest, and to trigger motivation. Then, the children perceive the main subject component of the lesson much easier. In addition, I believe that the teachers themselves benefit the most from working with these exercises. They begin to step away from the “chalk-board” scheme and reach out their students”.
Vitalii Kostiuk explains the process of contributing to the toolbox:
“When creating exercises, I try to make it practical, include the discussion and research questions that should encourage a child to learn more about certain problems”.
Natalia Velhun, school head, the Kushchiv gymnasium of the Kropyvnytskyi City Council points to an added value when using the toolbox.
“The Toolbox materials allows to not only use ready-made developments for the development and assessment of civic competences, but also encourages the development of own approaches when adapting or creating exercises in any subject. The manual is a convincing proof that the whole school can work on the problem of civic competences development, covering all subjects, also during extracurricular activities. As a supervisor, it helped me to involve teachers in making the exercises for the subjects where such an opportunity seemed unlikely. As a teacher of Ukrainian language and literature, I use ready-made exercises from the Toolbox, sometimes adapting them a bit to my class and teaching material. The impetus for writing my own exercise was the desire to implement my learning idea within the project. It is not easy, but the value is that you can create an exercise according to your vision, which will work best for the assimilation of educational material and the development of civic competences.”
Lesya Havryliuk, chemistry teacher at Chernivtsi Secondary School №38 has a clear call to Ukrainian teachers:
A teacher can be compared to a “torch”: he/she can ignite students’ hearts and be an inspiration to colleagues. But we often hear from teachers: “There is not enough exchange of experience”, “No inspiration”, “We want something new”. These are all excuses. And the light goes out. The solution is very simple and does not require additional effort and resources. Just use the Toolbox. It is created by teachers from all over Ukraine. Everyone has the opportunity to use an exercise or adapt it to their lesson or subject.
This article is based on a story first published at https://nus.org.ua/articles/yak-navchaty-uchniv-gromadyanskoyi-kompetentnosti-na-bud-yakomu-urotsi/. The article was written by Anna Stepanova-Kamysh.