Successful national training in Cyprus: sharing experiences and methods for teaching about European history

Catalina Gaete Project Updates

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the Cypriot national training event was held on the 28th and 29th of August, 2018 in Platres.

The workshops of this national training were facilitated by the Educational Programs Officer of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR), Mr. Loizos Loukaidis, Educator and AHDR Associate Researcher Ms. Evie Grouta, and Joaquim Carvalho from the Association of History Educators of Portugal. Participants of the workshop came from diverse backgrounds, including from Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking primary and secondary education, teachers from public and private schools across the divide in Cyprus as well as youth and NGO workers, graduates of different universities and retired historians and teachers.

The first day of the event started with an introduction to the work of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) by Loizos Loukaidis. Some participants were already familiar with the work of the AHDR, and thus they were invited to participate in the presentation and contribute to the discussion. This offered a sense of belonging and continuity that impressed new participants. The presentation also offered participants an insight into the vision, mission and different projects and activities of the AHDR. This acquaintance of participants with the organization is expected to act as a multiplier for future events and collaborations.

Following this presentation, Ms. Grouta and Mr. Loukaidis engaged the participants in an introductory workshop on Historiana. In this context, the participants were reminded of basic historical concepts that would be useful for their work during the workshop. Then the tools themselves, Historiana and Europeana, were introduced through a presentation and demonstration. Participants were divided into mixed groups and discussed the execution of different tasks such as the creation of their own learning resources, which they subsequently presented in the plenary. Most participants expressed interest in exploring this new tool and were happy to know that there are also lesson plans provided in their mother tongue. They found the website useful and stated that they will make use of the lesson plans as much as possible. They were also informed that they have the opportunity to modify the level of resources as well as the duration and complexity according to age groups.

On the second day of the event, Ms. Grouta and Mr. Loukaidis elaborated on the research results of ‘Teaching Europe to enhance EU cohesion’ and briefly provided the participants with background information on the overall project and the partners. They stressed the role of EuroClio as the umbrella organization bringing together different educational stakeholders around issues concerning the teaching and learning of History. The workshop facilitators presented the research results, making the necessary connections with the Cypriot context across the divide and invited the participants to share their professional experience. The participants were extremely interested in finding out how such a diverse group of educators working in such different and complex conditions managed to collaborate to bring together the results from such a wide spectrum of educational backgrounds and produce educational material that would cater everybody’s educational needs. The facilitators made sure that participants realized the importance of addressing cross-cutting issues to teach about European History and the necessity to engage in educational activities that highlight the importance of identities and the complexity of interactions in contemporary Europe. During the discussion, participants identified both challenges and opportunities while engaging in the study of the European History, which is – up to a certain extent – neglected because of the focus on local histories and the histories of the so-called motherlands of Cyprus. This engagement with the History of Europe and the EU, according to their feedback, will help them to also understand the regional conditions and draw the connections with other contexts thus connecting the micro to the macro as a prerequisite of the educational process while studying history.

Following the aforementioned presentations, Mr. Carvalho presented the work of his Association in Portugal and, then, himself and Ms. Grouta facilitated the activity “Trade in a Global Context – How does European Trade affect African Chicken farmers?” employing the relevant Historiana unit. The aim of the unit was for participants to understand how complex the question of the impact of the EU trade policy on Africa is and that answers are equally complex. The participants were grouped and worked on the activity sheets provided in order to identify consequences and effects. They discussed ‘Who benefits most from the current practice of exporting cheap chicken meat to Africa?’ and subsequently worked on comparing and contrasting ideas. In addition, participants discussed issues of social justice, post-colonialism, and compassion as well as fair trade practices and the role of citizens and states in this process. Most educators suggested that this lesson plan could also be used in the Geography and Citizenship class. Most importantly, participants engaged in a discussion on the methodological tools employed in this educational process and gave feedback on how they would approach this issue in their classrooms.

Next, participants engaged in educational activities under the theme of ‘Opening Europe’s Borders for People and border controls in a (post)Schengen world – How did the migrant crisis shake the foundations and principles of the European Union?’. The aims of this activity, facilitated by Mr. Loukaidis, were for participants to identify and analyze the positions of various actors in the EU in relation to the migrant crisis, including people who are pro- and anti- ending Schengen freedom of movement, and the perspective of people living outside Schengen. Furthermore, participants had to assess in what ways and to what extent the migrant crisis has influenced relations within the EU and give their own reasoned argument as to how the EU should cope with the migrant crisis.

At a first stage, Mr. Loukaidis presented the history of Schengen and assisted participants in learning to deal with questions that move students from the facts on to starting to form their own opinions. Then, before moving on to group work, he introduced the migrants’ crises with the animated maps so that participants would get acquainted with the main developments and routes of migration to Europe since 2004. Following this background information, the participants were divided into mixed groups (according to community background and gender) and provided with files of source material representing different opinions on the migration crisis and the future of Schengen. Students studied the source material carefully and completed the worksheet which was used in the following discussions.

Representatives of all groups then presented arguments to address different questions using information from the perspectives they had studied. That is, they were taking the position of the viewpoint they had just studied. The facilitator stressed that this technique can help students feel more comfortable discussing emotional and controversial topics. To complete the activity, the participants had to think about what they would write in a paragraph answering the question ‘How did the migrant crisis shake the foundations and principles of the European Union?’. The activity ended with a discussion on how they would transfer the knowledge and skills acquainted through this activity in their educational contexts. It is worth mentioning that the suspension of the Schengen Agreement for Cyprus – due to its political issue – as well as the sensitivities and the restrictions to the freedom of movement from one side of Cyprus to the other were part of the discussions during the reflection phase of this activity.

Overall, the participants were highly engaged and participated actively in all stages of the workshop. The participants welcomed the AHDR team as well as the international expert and all of them were engaging in discussions in mixed groups. They expressed their content about the knowledge and skills provided during the workshop and assured us that, with certain adaptations to their context, they can utilize the knowledge they have gained in their classrooms. They seemed very engaged in discussions about contemporary issues such as migration, fair trade, social responsibility, intercultural understanding etc., and stressed the role of history in suggesting alternatives and as functioning as a vehicle for educational and social change.

This article is based on the report written by Mr. Loizos Loukaidis, Educational Programs Officer of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR).

Third training in Finland: making the EU an interesting topic for students

Catalina Gaete Project Updates

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the third national training event was held on 5-6 June 2018, in Kallio upper secondary school in Helsinki. The training is based on the translated materials from the Historiana Changing Europe unit. In this event, 32 Finnish history teachers took part, and an international trainer from the Czech Republic, Jiří Beneš, was present as well.

The meeting kicked off with a lecture called “Populism, nationalism and the future of Europe” by Dr. Emilia Palonen from the University of Helsinki. This lecture was followed by a presentation of national trainer Kati Hynönen which treated the topic of Historiana webpages and the project itself, Decisions and Dilemmas III. The overall goal of the project is to make learning about the EU interesting for students while simultaneously conveying more information about the motives and reasons behind political, economic and social initiatives that led to the founding of the EU. This is done by giving students insight in dealing with current issues. Kati Hynönen also presented the results of the Teaching Europe research, which focused on the way the EU is taught in the participating countries by analyzing school textbooks.

 The workshop sessions that followed, consisted of two parallel workshops, namely “Subvertising as a pedagogical tool” held by Eeva Kemppainen, and “Rising from the Ruins” by Kati Hynönen.

“Rising from the Ruins” showcased the situation in post-war Europe and the events that initiated the start of European integration. In order to better understand the unit, the participants took part in several activities, such as studying character cards and taking part in the drama. The play allowed the participants to role-play as various historical figures, like George Marshall and Joseph Stalin. Subsequently, an analysis of the workshop allowed for the participants to share their thoughts about the material and its applicability in their own classrooms. The Finnish history and social studies teachers were extremely excited about the material.

The first day concluded with a field trip to windy Vallisaari island on the Helsinki archipelago, followed by a dinner in the center of Helsinki. Vallisaari island has been in military use and has been open to public only for two years. Fortifications, buildings and a record-breaking range of different species tell a tale of coexistence between humans and wild nature. The second day of the event started with a lecture on meaningful reading, held by Dr. Sara Routarinne from the University of Turku.

This day’s first workshops were held by international trainer Jiří Beneš and Dr. Najat Ouakrim-Soivio from the University of Helsinki. Dr. Najat Ouakrim-Soivio gave a workshop on evaluating the skills in history. Beneš presented the material “Opening Europe’s borders: border controls in a (post-)Schengen world. How did the migrant crisis shake the foundations and principles of the European Union?” With this material, students will consider to what extent the Schengen agreement functions and how much freedom of movement there is within the EU. They will discuss how the EU is dealing with the migrant crisis and how this crisis has influenced the ‘shaking’ of the EU’s foundations. They will also reflect on questions such as whether the migrant crisis is a problem for the entire EU, or only for those countries on route. Moreover, students will look at what is required for someone from outside the Schengen circle in order to get the Schengen Visa.

In the final two workshops, Mr. Tomi Rytkönen talked about the program called “Junior Achievement Finland,” and national trainer Kati Hynönen presented the material “The challenge of European stability”. By using this material, students will learn about the ups and downs of European stability from 1945 until today, and learn how Europeans have responded to the challenge of maintaining stability. Overall, the participants of this two-day event were positive about the program and considered the workshops very meaningful.

The national training event was organized in cooperation with The Association for Teachers of History and Social Studies in Finland. The text and pictures are from the report written by Kirsi Ruhanen.

Successful training in Spain: sharing methods to teach about Europe and the European Union

As part of the Decisions and Dilemmas 3: making learning about the EU motivating and meaningful project, the fourth national training event was held on the 8th and 9th of June 2018 in Madrid (Spain) and bore the title “Using new methodologies to teach Europe: This is not about treaties!”.

The event was organized by the Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid (Dirección General de Becas y Ayudas al Estudio, Subdirección General de Formación del Profesorado) and the Spanish Association of History and Geography Teachers. It revolved around debates and workshops that involved an active and participatory methodology in which the participating teachers and trainers exchanged their reflections and points of views about how to teach about Europe in a meaningful and motivating way.

The program opened on Friday with an official greeting from the Head of the Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Mr. Vicente Alcañiz, who highlighted the importance of history teachers in creating a multiperspective and inclusive historical narrative that allows students to understand the past and the present. Moreover, it helps students develop certain competencies and skills to exercise their European citizenship in a responsible and active way. Ms. María Jesús Campos, the national project coordinator, presented the project to the participants and introduced Ms. Concha Brea, deputy of the European Documentation Center in Madrid. Ms. Brea presented the activities developed in the Center, the materials they create, and finally their webpage, which is a very useful resource for teachers and European citizens, and which also presents updated news on the European Union. Furthermore, she introduced Team Madrid-Europe, a group of experts that give talks about the European Union to students from a non-teaching perspective. One of its members, Mr. Ignacio Velo, gave an example of the methodology they use.


Closing the first day of activities were Mr. Alfredo Lopez, chair of the Spanish Federation of History Teachers, Ms. Isabel García-Velasco, chair of the Association of History Teachers of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, and Cristina Luz García, treasurer of the Association. They presented the respective organizations to the participants and discussed the importance for teachers to have a common space to share good practices and to reflect on their own teaching practice.

The following day, Saturday 9th of June, the location of the event was the Centre for Innovation and Training Madrid-Capital. The day kicked off with Ms. María Jesús Campos, a history teacher and national project coordinator, who presented the results of the research report on “Teaching Europe to enhance EU cohesion”. By means of an active workshop, the participants reflected on the ways teachers currently teach Europe and on the materials used in the classroom, while establishing comparisons with the results from the “Teaching Europe” research. This activity gave the framework for the rest of the event, in which the materials developed in the “Decisions and Dilemmas” project were going to be experienced.

The first workshop based on materials from Historiana was held by Mr. Guillermo Balmori, a history teacher in Ntra. Sra. de las Escuelas Pías (Madrid) on “The challenge of European stability”. Participating teachers experienced the materials and reflected on how to implement them in the classroom using a new approach that brings the past to the present and allows students to think critically about their world and how it is created.

The second workshop was given by Mr. Marino Maqueda, a history teacher in IES Cervantes (Madrid) and also EuroClio’s international trainer. This workshop focussed on “Life and Leisure: the history of ordinary people – I was a soldier in the German army – How did WW2 affect the life of an ordinary teenage boy?”. This unit deals with the repercussions of violent conflicts in ordinary people’s lives and focusses on the case-study of Igor Slavec. To make it more meaningful for Spanish teachers, the workshop addressed the life story of Tomás Fidalgo Marzagón in the context of the Spanish Civil War. This material can also be found on Historiana’s “Changing Europe” unit. Comparing Igor Slavec’s and Tomás Fidalgo’s stories, participants were able to find out similarities in how different conflicts have negative repercussions on the people affected by them.


Mr. Edgar Berzins, EuroClio’s international trainer and history teacher at Upitis Skrivery Secondary School in Latvia, conducted the third workshop on “The European Union and trade in the global context – How does European trade policy affect African chicken farmers?”. This unit deals with the consequences of EU trade policies and the moral and ethical issues connected to it. Having a Latvian teacher enriched the event, as Mr. Berzins gave an additional short talk to explain participants the path followed by Latvia to become a member of the EU, and which challenges the country is currently facing.

During lunch, participant teachers and trainers had the opportunity to engage in informal talks to get to know each other, share their impressions about their teaching practices and the materials they were using, and create networks to establish future collaborations.

In the afternoon, a plenary session was organized on “European Programs: Opening your classroom to Europe”. Ms. María Ángeles Heras from the Teacher Training and Innovation Department explained how to participate in programmes such as Erasmus+ and eTwinning, and highlighted the advantages for schools when participating in such international exchanges and environments.

Then, Luis Horrillo, Vice-Chairman of the Spanish Association of History Teachers, introduced Historiana. Participating teachers discovered the resources and materials on display and how these materials can be downloaded and modified in order to adapt to the student’s needs. They were also familiarized with the possibilities the page offers to create and share e-Learning activities.

The final plenary session consisted of a debate among trainers and participants with the aim of evaluating the two-day event and the information and materials presented. The feedback was very positive, as the participants praised the organization of the event, as well as the methodology and materials developed through EuroClio’s “Decisions and Dilemmas” project. All of the participants highlighted the presented new approach to the study of the European Union as very useful to transform this community of countries and peoples in something real and meaningful for students, and to develop competencies, skills, and self-perceptions that allow students to feel as European citizens and further develop their European citizenship actively and responsibly.

 Moreover, the event was praised because it created a meeting place for teachers from all over Spain who usually do not have the opportunity to share impressions and create networks with teachers outside of their regions.

The Teacher Training and Innovation Department of the Autonomous Community of Madrid in collaboration with the Spanish Association of History and Geography Teachers and the Association of Madrid, considers the event a success as it has delivered Spanish teachers a new approach and methodology to teach and learn about the European Union, has provided a meeting point for teachers to reflect on their teaching practices and to think clearly about the history curriculum and the materials used to deliver it, and has fostered the creation of networks among Spanish history teachers.

This article is based on the report written by history teacher and national project coordinator María Jesús Campos, and the pictures were taken by Paz Jorge.

Using Europeana Collections to Teach Dialogue, Debate and Discussion

At the Learning to Disagree training seminar in Berlin, Jaco Stoop and Judith Geerling presented the Historiana eLearning environment to the core team. The resources that will be developed within the Learning to Disagree project will feature on Historiana. However, EuroClio decided this training seminar also presented a unique opportunity to familiarize a group of European educators with the rich content offered by the Europeana Collections. This is mainly important be cause throughout the project, the core team will have to include source material that is multi-perspective, transnational and free to use for education in their learning activities.

In order to demonstrate how educators can use the Europeana Collections to create learning activities with Historiana, Jaco selected sources of the horse-drawn carriage Golden Coach, which is at the center of political debate in The Netherlands. The attendants learned how to add these sources from the Europeana Collections to their own Historiana environment. Subsequently, several elements of the eActivity Builder were shown, such as the tool to analyze and annotate visual sources. In addition to adding sources directly from the Europeana Collections, Jaco also highlighted the exemplar source collections and learning activities that have been developed within the EuroClio partnership with Europeana.

EuroClio Joins Europeana at EdTechXEurope Conference in London

During the EdTechXEurope 2018 Summit, Steven Stegers (EuroClio) joined Milena Popova (Europeana), Alain Thillay (French Ministry of Education), Federica Pascotto (Art Stories) during the panel discussion “Ecosystem unite! Collaboration across the field as the key to unlocking progress”. During this panel, Steven was asked to tell more about the cooperation between EuroClio and Europeana, the impact that this cooperation had on the teachers that EuroClio serves, and about the future plans for cooperation. In response, Steven shared that most of the cooperation between EuroClio and Europeana has focussed on the development of Historiana, with the main aim of supporting history educators to make best use of digital heritage for quality education. He explained that EuroClio can help educators search the digital collections of museums and archives from all across Europe and has worked to develop sources collections that are curated and contextualised. In the coming period EuroClio and Europeana will work with Webtic and partners on improving the discoverability of (re)-sources, will support teacher trainers to use Historiana in their education programme, and develop interactive ways in which Europeana sources can be used.

Core Team Learning to Disagree, Content Themes Selected

The consortium of Learning to Disagree have selected fifteen educators from twelve different countries to form a project core team. The core team will be developing exemplar content on controversial issues, as well as contributing to the creation of teacher’s guides on dialogue, debate and discussion, and assessment. In general, Learning to Disagree aims to develop exemplar content, teaching strategies and assessment tools that enable educators to teach and assess dialogue, debate, and discussion on controversial subjects. The exemplar content that will be developed, will address debates about the following five topics: borders, behaving in danger or under occupation, protection, use and abuse of cultural heritage, annexation and separatism, and freedom of expression. Following the first staff training event organised in Topola, Serbia, in March of this year, EuroClio and Education for the 21st Century have further shaped these themes. During the upcoming meeting in August, the core team will receive training on the development of educational resources, and continue the work on the exemplar materials.

Historiana eActivity Builder
One of the main outcomes of the Learning to Disagree project, is a building block that will be added to the Historiana eActivity Builder. This building block will visualise different points of view on a particular (controversial) issue, such as for instance freedom of expression. The building block, called Variety of Viewpoints, will be included in eLearning activities that combine the visualisation with context in the form of a timeline, discussion questions, and additional guidance on teaching strategies and assessment tools.

Training events in countries of core team members
Towards the end of the project, in the first half of 2020, training events will be organised on teaching dialogue, debate, and discussion on controversial subjects. The training events will be organised by the core team members in their own countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece Hungary Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey. The final project training will take place in Serbia, in March or April 2020.

New Source Collections: Napoleon and European Royalty

Historiana now has two new Europeana source collections available. The first is about the life and influence of Napoleon, and the second source collection shows the impressive power of some European monarchs.

Different views on Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, has been subject to many contrasting historical interpretations ever since his spectacular rise from modest stature as a Corsican artillery officer to the Emperor of France, temporarily controlling large parts of Continental Europe. This source collection aims to improve students’ ability to evaluate historical interpretations, by offering contrasting artistic evidence to some of the main interpretations of Napoleon.

Expressions of power and status by European royalty

European monarchs rely on a variety of symbols to assert their legitimacy, both on national and international levels. This source collection aims to improve students’ ability to express themselves historically, by offering contrasting artistic evidence to some of the portrayals of power and status by European royals.

Historiana e-learning environment and the Europeana Collections

The source collections make use of the Europeana Collections, consisting of over 50 million digitised primary sources. The sources are carefully curated to create collections of sources that are useful to achieve specific learning outcomes. For instance, one collection presents sources that are very helpful to give students a sense of time. Another source collection focuses on cause and consequence, by offering visual material on many aspects of the human impact of World War One.

Exemplar learning activities

Together with the sets of sources selected from the Europeana Collections, EuroClio will publish e-learning activities that show how educators can make use of the sources, with a specific focus on students’ acquisition of historical thinking skills. All the learning activities are freely available, easily copied, and adjusted to your specific needs. Stay tuned for more interactive content in the coming weeks!

New Europeana source collections available on the First World War!

Historiana is now updated with two new source collections. The first displays the role of women in the First World War. The second explores the impact that the Great War had on individuals, and how people coped with physical injuries.

Women in World War One

This collection of 19 sources provides teachers with some excellent teaching material which is ready to use for the creation of online learning activities. The First World War played a significant role in the history of female emancipation and is an important highlight in the teaching of this historical theme. These resources offer visual materials to help students understand the importance and variety of tasks women took upon themselves in the absence of large numbers of men in their societies during the war. These roles taken on by women greatly contributed to their emancipation in later generations.

Impact on Humans of World War One

Another significant feature of World War One is its impact on humans lives during and in the aftermath of the war. Striking visual sources depicting the lives and struggles of individuals physically and psychologically affected by the war are now available on Historiana. This will make it easier for students to conceptualise the influence that the Great War has had on our society over multiple generations, and the visible and invisible scars it left behind.

New Sets of Primary Sources Selected from Europeana Now Available on Historiana

In the coming weeks, EuroClio will publish a new series of source collections that have been developed specially to address challenges related to the teaching of historical thinking skills. Together with the source collections, exemplar learning activities have been made available that show how the collections can be used in practice. Another online eTwinning webinar has been organised on 25 June 2018 at 6:30pm CET 5.30pm GMT.

About Historiana

As mobile phones, laptops and tablets are becoming a more prominent feature in schools everywhere, teachers are trying to find ways to deal with the challenges that come with these developments. They are aware of the fact that education must be adjusted to the needs of students in a digital era. Educators sometimes experience technology as challenging, however, they also appreciate the benefits of teaching in a digital era, by using online interactive teaching tools that offer added value to their lessons for example

In our view, history education in particular is well-placed to benefit from these technological developments. Online technology can provide students with many more historical sources than traditional textbooks, or present them with a variety of viewpoints that promote multi-perspectivity. EuroClio’s online history education portal Historiana offers precisely that: a plethora of digitised collections of primary sources, exemplar learning activities and teaching strategies, and an e-learning environment for teachers to create their own learning materials. The development of Historiana is supported by the Europeana Foundation.

EuroClio Online Training – How to use Historiana with Europeana classroom

The  sources available in the Europeana Collections are vast and very useful, but it is important to know how to navigate this platform in order to make the most out of its potential. This is why EuroClio, in collaboration with Europeana, is hosting trainings to bring these skills to teachers throughout Europe. On May 14, EuroClio’s trainers hosted one such seminar using eTwinning, to cater to the needs of those unable to attend in-person events.

The participants were introduced to the Historiana e-Activity Builder, which allows users to develop enquiry questions, to set up a sequence of learning using digital tools designed by other history teachers, and to get students to respond to questions in an assessable way. These eLearning Activities can be created in any language, and the Historiana eLearning Environment is and will remain free to use for teachers and students. 72% of respondents rated this online seminar as “excellent,” and another 28% as “very good.”

Six Historiana collections are complete and available online for your browsing pleasure, and ready to be used in your own learning activities! They include: Expressions of power and status by European royalty, European emigration to the United States in the late 19th century, Changes over Time: Water, Bridges, and Transport, Women in the First World War, Different views on Napoleon Bonaparte, and The human impact of World War One.

One of our favourites is Changes over Time: Water, Bridges, and Transport, and pictured above is an image of that collection dating from late 18th century China. This image, like the others part of this fascinating collection, gives us an idea of what it was like to be engaged in travel and trade hundreds of years ago, and is an invaluable resource for teachers looking to make history come to life for their students. We hope you will check it out for yourself!