Project Designer and Coordinator: Katerina Christodoulou (English teacher)

This is an online curricular project to integrate Sustainability in the daily teaching practice of English as a Foreign Language to senior students, implemented entirely online during December 2020 in the framework of the Council of Europe project “Free to Speak - Safe to Learn” (theme: improving well-being at school), as Ralleio is a member of the Democratic Schools Network.

C class (senior) students will be leaving school in a few months to start the journey of life academically or professionally as adult citizens. In this context, and as the pandemic has sped up technological, social and labor market developments, many students (especially the ones who would like to go on to study Science and Economics) often wonder about “the new normal” that they will come across after leaving school. Regardless of the post-pandemic degree of globalization, the climate crisis and the environmental, social and financial problems stemming from it will remain with human societies to handle. So will “green” job opportunities, active citizenship, global citizenship and volunteering. Therefore, working with senior students on these concepts, in line with the Commission’s holistic approach for sustainability and the SDGs (, seems of high practical value.

The challenges addressed by the project are the climate crisis and the environmental, social and financial problems stemming from it as well as active civic participation through online teaching during the pandemic. The main issue addressed is fostering knowledge about EU policies regarding Sustainability and the themes addressed are global citizenship and digital literacy and online behavior.

The integration of Sustainability in the daily teaching practice of English as a Foreign Language was achieved by using authentic UN and EU texts, videos, charts, concept maps and info graphics which were used by the students to develop their personal Sustainability portfolios. One hundred and thirteen senior students (aged 17-18, CEFR: B2+-C2) were involved in 5 classes. The selection of the authentic UN and EU material provided to the students was based on their orientation for the university entry exams in June. Therefore, classes C1 and C2 (Humanities) worked on the subject of Textile Industry, class C3 (Science and Biology) worked on the subject of Plastics and classes C4 and C5 (Economics) focused on Circular Economy.

The project is competence-based and addresses not only the knowledge component mentioned earlier, but also the behavioral and the value(s) components. In particular, the behavioral component included students (and their families) adopting more sustainable daily habits regarding consumption, transport, energy and food patterns and volunteering at the school recycling station and Second Life Project of the school regarding recycling and up cycling clothes in collaboration with Ralleio Solidarity Team. In terms of the value(s) component, the project aimed at students adopting the “think globally, act locally” mindset regarding sustainability as well as at cultivating respect, civic-mindedness and responsibility. Consequently, this project is in line with UNESCO ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) and UNESCO GCED (Global Citizenship Education) as well as with EDC (Education for Democratic Citizenship).

The aims of the project were to serve the National Curriculum for C class English (comprehension of authentic written texts, authentic multimodal texts, scan reading skills, summarizing, correlating information with opinions), to raise awareness about the current state of the planet and the need to face the anthropogenic factors causing and/or contributing to the climate crisis, to provide learners with information about EU legislation/ policies/ measures regarding action (to be) taken to tackle the climate crisis and to promote sustainability, and, finally, to encourage students to act by changing some of their daily habits and by volunteering at school.

The expected outcomes concerning the cognitive aspect of the project were: Enhanced reading skills in English (formal, authentic texts) using SQR3 methodology, Enrichment and/or revision and/or consolidation and/or use of environment-related vocabulary in English, Practice of writing and viewing skills in English, Improved note-taking, organizational, ICT and presentation skills in English, Development of learning strategies in a context which combines elements of Content, Communication, Cognition and Culture and Enhanced meta-cognitive skills. Other expected outcomes included: Reinforced student-centered learning, Raising of self-awareness, environmental and sustainability awareness, Encouraging oneself and others, Empathizing with others thus leading to volunteering, Improved ability to compare, contrast, draw conclusions, Enhanced reflection on decisions made, Collaborative decision-making, and Taking responsibility for present and future generations.

Regarding Education For Democratic citizenship (EDC) in particular , the project promotes a number of Competences for Democratic Culture of The Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC), such as analytical and critical thinking skills, self reflection, autonomous learning, cooperation skills, knowledge and critical understanding of politics, economies, environment and sustainability with the following expected outcomes according to the respective descriptors: Learner

  • expresses the view that information on public policies and their implementation should be made available to the public (19),
  • submits required work on time (41),
  • consistently meets commitments to others (43),
  • can assess the quality of his/her own work (61),
  • shows that he/she thinks about whether the information he/she uses is correct (67),
  • generates enthusiasm among group members for accomplishing shared goals (98),
  • when working with others, supports other people despite differences in points of view (99),
  • can reflect critically on the ethical issues associated with globalization (2056), • can reflect critically on the economic interdependence of the global community (2057),
  • can reflect critically on the connections between economic, social, political and environmental processes (2058), and finally,
  • can explain the impact that personal choices, political actions and patterns of consumption may have in other parts of the world (2059).

The implementation of the project was based on plenary brainstorming sessions, individual work and self reflection on a KWL chart-portfolio and problem solving activities in groups with assigned roles. All the teaching material was uploaded on a Padlet for easy access by students.

The project was evaluated by 106 participating students by anonymous Google form questionnaires including 19 questions in 5 units to assess the knowledge, the behavior and the value(s) component. Students enjoyed the project, with adjectives such as different, interesting, useful and practical coming up most frequently in their answers. The majority of students felt better informed on Sustainability and EU measures while practicing their reading, writing, viewing and speaking skills in English. Of the 106 students who answered the questionnaire, 82 students adopted at least one new sustainable/ pro-environmental habit, 60 students’ families adopted at least one new sustainable/ pro-environmental habit, 92 will volunteer for the school recycling station after the pandemic and 85 will volunteer for the Second Life Project.

As a follow up, three interdisciplinary activities corresponding to the students’ interests and orientation were organized. Classes C4, C5 (Economics), worked on a case study of Social Cooperative Enterprise Staramaki, which works in a Circular Economy framework. Class C3 (Science and Biology) will go on an educational visit or attend an online lecture on Plastics and Microplastics by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research and classes C1, C2 (Humanities) answered a questionnaire on Fast Fashion prepared by their peers of B Class as part of their English course.

This project is in line with Whole-School Approach to Sustainability as it addresses the needs and interests of students, staff and the wider community, not only within the curriculum, but across the whole-school and learning environment and includes collective and collaborative action in and by the school community to improve student learning, behavior and wellbeing.

The project was presented by the Coordinator in the Online Winter School “Learning 4Europe 2Change”, held from the 5th to the 7th of February 2021 in the framework of Erasmus+KA3 2018-2021 «Teachers4Europe: setting an Agora for Democratic Culture» project.

ErasmusKA3  T4E 2020 2