1. Description of Our Community
The town of Vratsa is located in Nort-West Bulgaria at the distance of 110 km. north of Sofia. The city is settled in the foot of Vratsa Mountain, part of The Balkan mountain range. Vratsa is the administrative center of the municipality and the district with the same names. It covers 2 % of the territory of the whole municipality. Vratsa is a commercial and crafts centre also a railway junction. It is a starting point for the routes to the Vratsata Gorge and the Ledenika Cave which are unique tourist attractions attended by Bulgarians and foreigners all year around. We are proud of our white cliffs which attract climbers from Bulgaria and abroad, and our Museums and Treasures which are traveling the world even now. Along with the tourist attractions there are facilities which we offer to our guests – hotels, places for entertainment, Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatres, Folklore Dance Group, many Sports teams and competitions, the Hristo Botev Library and many others. The Nature Park, Vrachanski Balkan, is situated near the town and offers great opportunities for on-foot tourism. The area has very diverse and attractive natural features, which together with the recreation opportunities, gives the special charm of the Eastern part of the Northwest Bulgaria. Our city is picturesque and with spirit. The Leva River divides it into two parts each with their own historic past. The city is a home of a Textile, Clothing, Ceramics and national crafts industries and metal processing. We welcome the flourishing trade and the increased opportunities for labour which are bringing more and more people here. Because of that more apartment blocks are being built and the city has a modern and outstanding view. Last year the Boyko Borissov party – “Citizens for Bulgaria’s European Developmwent” - won the Mayoral and Council elections in the city and they started governing Vratsa differently. More attention is now paid to younger people and more entrepreneurs are invited and contracts made. Vratsa’s citizens, totaling 63,260 people in 2004, monitor every step the new governors make, announcing progress through the local media. Vratsa’s citizens have started living as one unique and understanding whole. http://www.guide-bulgaria.com/NW/Vratsa/Vratsa/Vratsa; http://visit.vratza.com/old/index.php?lang=en
2. Summary of Our Project
I. Planning 1. Classes discussions - 2 2. All group discussions – 3 3. Preparation of the plan – 2 discussions and numerous discussions over the Internet using Skype after school. II. Understanding the Municipal Council structure 1. Making a chart of the Municipal Council structure 2. Discussing and dividing people into groups / pairs for different Departments 3. Preparing Badges (taking pictures, design, making of the badges) III. Real work 1. Visiting the Municipal Council 2. (All participants discussion ) Interviewing the Deputy Mayor on Tourism,Sports and Operational programmes and distribution to Departments. 3. Discussions with the officials from each Department 4. Preparations for ruling the city – rehearsal 5. Results - pictures, reports, conclusions, views, interviews IV. Data and Results 1. Summary evaluation - elements of Civic Education: what did we do to rule in the correct way to keep youths in our city and to create a safe and strong community 2. What is special about our living place 3. What difficulties we experienced, if any, and how to overcome them 4. Positive outcomes 5. What we learned 6. What can we propose if any V. Students presentation of the findings before their peers 1. What was their work 2. How did they cope – interesting, difficult, etc… 3. Results and suggestions
Responsible for the project and initiator: 1. Ms Mariyana Terziyska, English and IT Teacher, devised the programme and initiated discussions with the kids. She actively participated in all preparatory and post activities, planning and organizing the work according to the plan, monitoring the work and gathering the data and interview transcripts. She also pointed out difficulties and suggested solutions to particular problems, and orgsnised the students’ presentation.
The teachers-consultants’ work: 1. Ms Neli Borcheva, The Principal and Russian Teacher, advised on organization and provided some ideas.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:none
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
We have no work stations in class rooms. All colleagues benefit from two computer rooms, one with 14 computers and the other with 8. The Internet access is via a modem and the speed is 100 Mbps. We work with the kids there according to a timetable created each school term. Most of the work with my students was done online after classes using Skype and e-mails, also voice-chats and web cameras
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The only problem was that we had no free time to gather more information during the school time. We had to work after school from our homes.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Smaller governors of the big city ! Vratsa in the hands of trusted youngsters !!!
Following the motto of this year’s programme – “Learn and unite”, the students from the project group learnt a lot about Vratsa’s municipality and the workers there: the structure, the divisions and responsibilities and how that “big machine” works. They carefully studied the mechanism of working with clients, the problems and solving them. They were present at some meetings during the study period and understood what they were for and how the ‘big’ decisions were explored and made (especially those of the Mayor of Vratsa). This was their Preparatory Period when they learnt things. Furthermore, in co-operation with the workers and officials from each Department, they started building relationships and worked together, understanding the purpose of the mutual work - they ‘united ‘. Among these collaborative activities they implemented those elements of learning and, uniting in their performance, were useful for our community within one day. They reported they were tired but happy, and satisfied of the job they had done. They were proud they were ruling ambassadors of the local state machine and the city was successfully ruled during that day.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our educational system addresses lifelong learning, cross-cultural communication, humanity, tolerance and many others which this 1st project of this type answers.Welearnt new rules and answer new responsibilities (lifelong learning );practising cross-cultural communication, humanity and tolerance we learnt to be strict.In Bulgarian and English students have topics making a plan and survey, gathering data, conducting an interview; supporting data with pictures and videos and organizing the materials gathered into a Power Point Presentations or tables for oral presentations. New responsibilities, new ideas arose and an “Open Doors Day” in the Municipality was proposed and a Book for Opinions was created. Mutual work and help,tollerance and understandig and specific ideas put into practice were practised.The team learnt specific ideas through explanations and practice.Along the classes following the Ministry of Education Programme we always make competitions, different projects and quizzes. In this way students practise their English, find and learn new information and put into practice their abilities. It is a requirement towards all teachers and their classes to be creative and to extend their teaching in an innovative way. It gives the students responsibilities and self-confidence, attracts new students and is prestigious for students’ parents, our community and our country.In the course of the practice students put all their efforts and enthusiasm to prove they have the “know how”.The transfer of kids' abilities in the real life experience–governing the city showed our education is on the correct path and we need more of such practical activities.We use ICT in teaching English which we find more attractive and rewarding. Traditional methods are also used, as the ICT attractions follow the …