Feb 28

SPREAD YOUR ENTHUSIASM – “Students Without Borders” by Sebnem Oral

I would like to share one of my teaching experiences that I had with my grade 5 students. We started to use the book ‘Cornerstone’ from Longman this year. Our first unit was ‘Helping others’. The big question for our class was ‘How could they make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others at the age of 10?’

First we gathered information about the foundations which were founded by children. You would be amazed by the number! ‘Suitcases for Kids’, ‘Kids Helping Kids’, ‘Care Bags Foundation’ and many others. Each student picked an organization that I had written on a Hawaiian skirt. They did a research project on it then presented it to the class. This study enabled them to realize that they didn’t need to be grownups to make a difference.

Next, we continued by reading the information provided in the book about ‘Doctors without Borders’.

The students again studied the countries and tried to find the answers to questions like ‘why do they need DWB?’, ‘in what way can DWB help?’.

As we were discussing these topics, Dan’s tweet (@chickensaltash) about a school in the Ashaninka community attracted my attention. They were one of the major tribes in the rainforest in Peru and they needed help.

Would my students be interested?

Yes! They were as excited as I was and Bora Z. (one of my students) cried out ‘Let’s be: Students without Borders’.

The class was thrilled. So I got in contact with Dan. We watched his video about Ashaninka and decided to do a fundraising. We did the action plan together as follows:

1-Gather Information:

First of all, the students needed to gather information about the problem. We did brainstorming in class and they decided that they need the following information:

1- Why are the rainforests in danger?

2- What is the link between global warming and rainforests?

3- Rainforest and Medicine

4- Rainforests, humans and animals

5- Who is www.coolearth.org?

The students worked in groups and presented their work in class.


The students wanted to display posters and play music during the fundraising. ‘Why don’t we play our own song?’ they said. Ipek came with the lyrics the next day.

I helped them with the tune and we went to a studio to record our song.

While we were busy with our work, we received an exciting invitation from Dan. Javier Drill Bustamente, a real life Amazon tribesman from the Ashaninka community was going to visit his school in Saltash- England and we could watch and be a part of his visit by connecting to Twitcam. Everything would be live! It was the great opportunity to show my students that their window was opening to the world. I still get excited when I think of their happy faces – the moment when they could say ‘Hello’ to Dan and Javier and when they said ‘Hello Istanbul- Kemer Schools!

3-Contact the organization for the donation:

We prepared the following presentation to be a part of ‘Coolearth’. We wanted to show them that we care about Ashaninka and our world. After all the research they accomplished, they realized the value of the rainforest and its importance for the future of all humans and animals.

We signed onto www.coolearth.org together in class and decided how we would spend the money together.


The students wrote their reflection by answering questions like:

– How did it feel to help?

– How did it feel when you sold nothing?

– What do you think we should do with the money?

– What other things can Students without Borders do in the future?

– What could we do better next time?

At the end of the unit, the students not only enjoyed the feeling of ‘making a difference’ in the world but also practiced their reading, listening, writing and speaking skills and increased their vocabulary.

I hope you’ll enjoy the presentation as much as we did.

Click here to see the presentation.

picture for Burcu's blog

Sebnem Oral was born in England, grew up in Germany. She graduated from TED Ankara College. She has her BA in Translation and Interpretation from Hacettepe University. She has her MBA from Istanbul University and received her Teaching Certificate from Bogaziçi University.

She teaches English in a primary school Istanbul.

Her two books were published as Musical Tales of the World I & II in 2009.

Follow her on Twitter.

Check out her web site: http://missebnem.com/


Skip to comment form

  1. Candan

    Dear Burcu,

    I really appreciate your hardwork on your blog. I really gained a lot of insights through your blog. The unique side of your blog is you work like a glue, a moderator, and bring people together on this site. ?ebnem's inspring experience with her 5th graders was highly creative, and it's great to know you all:) Hope to meet in ISTEK ELT Conference (I've already registered)!!

  2. Adam

    I greatly look forward to ?ebnem's presentation at IATEFL, although I don't know how much mentoring she will need from me!

    A lovely read, thank you.

    1. Sebnem

      Thanks Adam; I was thinking to forward this entry to you; you read it already:) And believe me, I need a lot of mentoring!! But your blog is amazing! I'll make the most of it!!

  3. Dave

    This a neat project, Sebnem. I've done similar stuff with my students, but they aren't quite as young. Thanks a lot for sharing this!


  4. Beverly

    I have recently discovered your blog, through a colleague of mine, and am amazed at all the interesting all the ideas and reflections that you share in your posts. This one in particular is fantastic, and inspiring, and I really wish I could get to IATEFL to hear Sebnem speak.

  5. Bora Z.

    Thank you all for your interest. I am so happy to be a student of Miss Sebnem.

  6. Paulina

    Hi!! I’m actually doing a fundraising for the Red Cross with my 5th grade kids and using the same book. I’m so glad they got sooooo into it, we’re starting tomorrow… let’s hope it goes OK!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>