Erasmus blogs

5 giorni a Firenze – Erasmus plus project

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, the centre of Tuscany, a sea of pasta and tomato sauce, tripe and divine wine... All of this now reminds us of our training in Florence.

As part of the Creativity for Innovation project, our party of 5 set off from Zagreb in a mini-van.

The carpooling option is supported by the Erasmus+ projects as a more ecologically-friendly way of travel, so we started on our journey, happy and 'green', early in the morning.

Five employees from Initiative attended the course in Florence, and we were met by two more participants from the Storytelling Centre in Amsterdam, as well as our colleagues from Florence who prepared the course for us.

We arrived in Florence late Sunday night, so after dinner we practically collapsed in bed. In the morning, we headed off for the Europass Teacher Academy training centre, which is located in a historical building in the centre of Florence. We were placed in a classroom with a fresco ceiling, but we soon realised that all buildings in the centre of the city had fresco ceilings, and history was living alongside us in this city.

The program started with an introductory topic for all of our English teachers. Called CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), it is used for all types of lessons in which something is taught in a foreign language. CLIL is an approach in which a foreign language is used as a tool in learning a non-lingual subject in which both the language and subject have a common role. This way, by learning about history, art, culture and food, you can simultaneously learn the language as well.

A successful CLIL lesson should include 4 elements:

CONTENT – advancement in knowledge, skills and comprehension about certain elements of the curriculum

COMMUNICATION – using the language while learning about using the language

COGNITION – developing thinking skills which combine forming ideas (abstract and concrete), comprehension and language

CULTURE – exposure to alternative perspectives and common understandings which deepen our awareness of others and ourselves.

For the lesson to be successful, every teacher must carefully explore the subject they wish to prepare for a CLIL lesson, and expect to have to learn more about the new topics themselves.

They also have to structure the lesson carefully, and know the knowledge level of each participant well so the content can be adapted accordingly. At the end, it is necessary to determine a good way of evaluating the learnt knowledge.

The second topic of our meeting, and also the main one, was creative writing. Creative writing can have pretentious connotations, but with us it luckily awoke our emotions and creativity, which was the reason we came to Florence in the first place. The first day of creative writing was about language, while later we explored writing about the city and art.

Exploring language as a topic for writing, we researched various texts which were inspired by language. Some of them played around with language as a form, some used dialects, others slang. In all these stories, the language influenced someone's character, childhood, or had a significant influence on their life. As an exercise, we dove into some creative writing and memories which tie us to language learning, and the results were that everyone's pieces of writing connected us and made us come together more after sharing personal stories.

This type of exercise can be easily used in activities in which a teacher wants to encourage students to write creatively and freely, while memories emphasise how language has an effect on our emotions.

These exercises are a useful example of how to intertwine writing exercises with the Callan Method, and to stimulate students to think about ideas, their surroundings, and how to encourage them to use place descriptions, experiences, feelings and their senses in writing.

Through cultural activities, we had the opportunity to enjoy fabulous food, strolls through the centre of Florence, botanical garden, museums and sculptures.

Thank you to all our partners for this wonderful experience.

✔This program is co-financed by the Erasmus + program.

Erasmus + enriches lives, broadens horizons 🇪🇺

@Agency for Mobility and EU Programmes





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Erasmus blogs, Uncategorized

Alternative Ways of Teaching and Storytelling in Education

Storytelling in Education

As part of the “Creativity for Innovation“ project, we visited the Storytelling Centre in Amsterdam together with our colleagues from the Europass Teacher Academy, who were also also partners in the project.

The aim of the project was to strengthen the organisations involved in adult education and alternative methods of teaching, storytelling and creative writing. The workshops were held by trainers from the Storytelling Centre in the Netherlands.

What is storytelling and how can this skill help us in teaching?

How to apply the ancient skill of storytelling as a means of teaching and progress was one of the questions our educators were posed during this workshop.

Telling stories is one of the oldest human characteristics. The Storytelling Centre says that applying this skill in education is the foundation of quality education. Sharing stories and creating stories together leads to stronger human connections, personal and professional growth, as well as successful learning and integration. We ourselves, as a team, witnessed growth and learning through applying storytelling techniques.

Our educator, Maria Grgić Skendrović, says:

“Thanks to the training I am able to delve deeper into our core materials and encourage our learners to give more complex ideas. One tool that I am going to incorporate is ‘the hero’s journey.’ With this tool, all educators can ask appropriate questions to encourage longer, more complex ideas in English.“

By applying various techniques, including the “Tree of Life“, we learnt how to do exercises in 5 phases, prompting storytelling on many levels:

1.Teambuilding

2. Creativity

3. Awareness

4. Telling stories

5. Evaluation

Our educator, Domagoj Biondić, says:

„The one thing I consider to be of most value to me is a simple fact that everything that was taught and given to us throughout the workshop was put into action and experienced immediately which added extra value to it and became a part of us. My personal favourite being, and mentioned earlier, Tree of Life"

Alternative Ways of Teaching

New teaching trends are interesting to experience. The educators at the Storytelling Centre focus on just that – experience which then leads to connections, openness, creativity, and most importantly, learning and growth. Lifelong education is definitely trending, but the main question is – how can we encourage adults to learn again? Can we learn in a fun and relaxed way, or is learning essentially a strict form of transferring and absorbing knowledge. We all know that it isn't so, because the process of learning itself is stressful, especially for e.g. marginalised groups, refugees, asylum seekers. People who are exposed to existential crises have it harder when it comes to concentrating and learning. That is exactly why the Alternative Ways site was developed, as it helps educators find a “different“ way. Alternative methods of teaching aren't complicated. They actually seem quite simple, and we essentially just have to remind ourselves of them. It brings back learning in a fun, relaxed and creative way. It provides us with experiential learning and relaxes us by teaching us through games. And when something is as easy as a game, then it really isn't that hard. This situational learning offers great opportunities for connecting and broadening minds, and most importantly, integration into society.

Our educator, Ivana Pezo, says:

„l have definitely learned how to be a better teamplayer, as a lot of playful games were introduced to us at the very beginning to make us feel comfortable with one another and not afraid of making mistakes, which I consider to be integral for every learning proccess. I instantly saw that as something I can apply in my teaching, relaxing students by connecting them. „

The whole process of learning through storytelling and using alternative methods of teaching is something that looks so simple, natural and easily applicable. The most interesting challenge was definitely the “Lego Game“, where you can actually see how challenging communication is. The whole process of sending and receiving a message is ambiguous. This is why these kinds of courses are perfect for developing awareness and the skill of telling stories, i.e.: communication and sending messages, which in our case is knowledge. All these newly-learnt skills definitely help with connecting and integrating students through language, and we have more success with the learning process, a.k.a. learning with pleasure!

Željka Novaković

✔ This project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

Erasmus+ enriching lives, broadening minds.

🇪🇺@Agencija za mobilnost


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