Innovation on Earth

Global Citizenship Resources for Innovation Academy and Beyond

Archive for the tag “Classical Lyceum”

Student Video Response #2

Here’s another video of Ukrainian students responding to American student questions.  They also asked some of their own too: 

Ukrainian students: If you are reading this, please comment to the American students.

American students: Feel free to answer their questions in the comments below, and they can view it on the blog.  Also, we got an email from a teacher in France this morning. She showed her class our videos, and they commented on the Child Labor video and Religion video. Check out their comments!  We are communicating all over the world. This week, the blog has been viewed in 9 countries, including Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Australia! How exciting is that?

Special Thanks and Music

After a long overnight train ride, bumping around a lot, we are back in Kyiv.  The end of our visit in Zaporizhya was really special. The school had a big end of the year concert, and we were honored there. It took place in a big concert hall in Zaporizhya, called Glinka Hall. Carol and I gave speeches thanking the school for hosting us, and I made a balloon bouquet in the colors of the Ukrainian flag.  I presented it to Helen, the school principal.  Carol presented the school with an American flag that she had flown over the Capitol Building in D.C.! There were lots of gifts and hugs and “thank yous.”  We feel very lucky that we were assigned to visit the Classical Lyceum. The people are so kind, and the students and teachers are so talented.  We were made to feel very at home there! Our host teacher, Lydia, was so caring, and the principal, Helen, is also a wonderful person.

It was a beautiful evening, and we were certainly not the only people being honored!  Students also received awards for their accomplishments.  It was like an end of year awards ceremony and concert.  There’s a Ukrainian tradition that people come up on stage and present people with flowers after a performance or award, much more often than we see in the States.  The little flower girls and boys were adorable.

Students sat with their classes, and many of them snuck up on stage to perform without being noticed. The professionalism of the students was impressive. Even the little ones were poised, both while performing and also during the moments between songs.  Only the littlest ones were squirmy in their seats.

We saw all different types of music, from traditional Ukrainian instruments to modern symphonic orchestral music. You can see the talent for yourself in the video.

The Bandura is one of the traditional Ukrainian folk instruments

Special thanks to everyone at Zaporizhya Classical Lyceum for welcoming us and helping make this week so memorial.  I will do my best to bring back your warmth to my school community.  I hope this is the beginning of a relationship between our two schools and not an ending.

Student Video Response #1

Hello IACS students!  Students at Classical Lyceum have been busy answering your questions and I’ve been filming their responses to send to you. Here’s the first video installment.  I’ve been busy trying to get them edited to put up on the blog!  This one focuses on the students talking about how they view their home country: Ukraine.  More student videos will be coming soon. The students in Zaporizhya have been following the blog so they will see your comments if you post them.



Land of the Cossacks

Here’s a question of the day: Yesterday, Loki learned about the Cossacks.  Who were they?

  • a) People who lived in Southern Ukraine and Russia during the 15th – 18th centuries
  • b) Warriors who fought against the Turkish people and many other groups
  • c) Members of a Democratic society, where knowing how to write and share your voice was valued
  • d) Rough guys who used bad language and stole things when needed
  • e) All of the Above

Your challenge is to find out about who the Cossacks were and why they are important in Zaporizhya. This relates to MY challenge from last night, which was to understand a play which we went to see on Khortytsia Island. It was a beautiful play performed outdoors right by the Dneiper River, at the Sich Fortress (the place that is like Plimoth Plantation). It was a warm, sunny afternoon with a perfect breeze, and the play featured horses, fabulous costumes, and beautiful music. The only problem? It was in Russian. Lydia was sitting next to me translating bits and pieces.  So, I know that the play featured a Cossack guy named Mamai who was separated from his brother when he was small.  His brother converted to Islam and joined the Turkish side, who were the Cossacks’ enemy.  Can you understand anything else about the plot by watching this video?

Mamai is a famous fictional character from Cossack legends. In fact, there’s even a sculpture of him on the island. Carol and I call him the “Cossack Buddha” because of his round shape in this statue. Actually, we went to a museum today and saw real Cossack artifacts.  Check it out!

One to One Connections

It’s very clear being here that the direct person-to-person connection is most powerful.

Student to Student: Today, I shared your responses with the students in the video from a few days ago.  They loved seeing your responses and even seeing themselves on the blog.  They watched an Innovation Academy 6th grader, Nate, who shared a video response with me and their smiles were huge.  One thing I’ve learned about the culture here is that people don’t smile unless they mean it.  Americans are taught to smile all the time — at storekeepers, at friends, or even at people we pass on the street. Ukrainians aren’t like that. They only smile when they are really happy. And you should have seen their faces when they saw that the American students are responding to them. They are so excited to talk to real students in other countries.

During my presentation, I showed some examples of student work from IACS.

Teacher to Teacher: In the afternoon, Carol and I presented to a group of English teachers in the region. We spoke about project-based learning and technology use in the classroom. It was clear that the teachers are dedicated and excited to try new methods.

Carol showed some useful websites, many of which I'd like to try out myself!

Afterwards, several teachers approached us and asked to continue being in touch through email so that we can continue the relationship. If there are any teachers out there who want to do a collaborative project with a teacher in Ukraine, I’d be happy to help make introductions.

If you want to send a note to students here, it’s not too late.  We are visiting the Classical Lyceum until Thursday.  You can post in the comments here, or email me at  We’ll also be visiting other schools this week, if all goes well — tomorrow we’re hoping to see an English school and a school for people with disabilities. Then, on Wednesday, 100 principals from the best schools of Ukraine are coming here. It’s an exciting time!

Melodies and Delicacies

Last night’s dinner was really wonderful for a few reasons:

That's salo in the back

1) The food: A lot of commenters have asked about the taste of the food. I wish I could post that.  My favorite taste last night was the cherry varenyky dessert. They are like dumplings filled with cherries — not too sweet, but you can dip them in honey.  Yum!  One of the weirdest things I’ve tried is salo — which is basically lard.  It looks like folded meat or bacon, but it’s a white color.  You can see it in the video above. It’s not actually that bad! It tastes smokey, sort of like bacon.

2) The people: We dined with Lydia and several of her co-workers.  Everyone is really sweet.  One of the most fun things about traditional meals here is the toasts.  People usually do many toasts!  It’s traditional that the first toast is to health, and then the second one is to friendship.  Usually after that, the third one is to women, or love, and then sometimes there are many more.  Last night, there were lots of toasts to our new friendship, and the friendship between the U.S. and Ukraine.

3) The music: We got a surprise treat and were serenaded by a wonderful guitar player, Alex Starykowsky. He makes his own musical instruments and has different ones he created from all over the world.  His music was really spectacular and livened up the evening, as you can see in the video. There was a lot of singing along and merriment.


Kids are kids

Students at the Kindergarten are excited to see one of my balloon creations, a buzzing bee.

No matter where you go, kids are kids.  Today, we spent more time at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum, and we also visited a “kindergarten,” which is the word that they use here for a nursery school.

Kindergartens here are public and officially they are free for any child age two to six.  I use the word “officially” because I get the impression that sometimes parents are asked to donate money or need to give bribes to get students in.  The one we visited today is one of the better ones in the area.  Like in the United States, parents need to get on a waiting list when the baby is born to get them into the kindergarten of their choice.

A classroom at the Kindergarten. As you can see, they have lots of resources.

The school we visited is open for many hours — from 6:30 am until the evening. From two years old, they have structured classes to attend. We observed classes of gymnastics, painting, English language, music, writing, and more.  The students have class from 8:30 until lunch, and then there’s a nap room they sleep in.  The school appears to have many resources, from stuffed animals and other toys to a swimming pool and sauna. Class size is approximately one teacher for every ten children.

A young student plays on an obstacle course with her mother.


We also spent more time at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum.  In the English classes that we’ve visited, they use multiple methods of instruction.

Students in 2nd Form say hello

They have workbooks for grammar exercises and CDs to listen to songs and readings.  They also ask students to share opinions and information about themselves.
The teachers here also value games and activities that get students moving.  For example, we observed our host teacher, Lydia, leading a quiz game where teams of first grade students competed against each other to remember English vocabulary. Like in the United States, the game made students excited and they had a hard time controlling their enthusiasm:

Lydia and Lumilla with their 10th form students

Overall, the students are very formal in the classroom. They dress in button down shirts and nice slacks and skirts. They stand when the teacher enters and are very polite.  They are taught to recite answers, poems, and songs. However, when we see the way that the teachers here interact with the students outside of class, it’s clear the relationship is warm and anything but formal. Our host teacher, Lydia, gets phone calls on her cell phone from parents of her students, and she follows their growth from when they are very little until they are adults. It’s clear that the relationship is personal and she knows her students well.

The Classical Lyceum "Couch Area"

Tonight we had a traditional dinner with Lydia, the principal, and two other teachers. We had a grand time!  The kindness and warmth make Zaporizhya feel like home.  Soon, I will post photos of our wonderful evening.

Welcome to Classical Lyceum

Lydia, Carol (my fellow TGC teacher from West Virginia), Me, and the School Principal

Today was our first day at Zaporizhia Classical Lyceum! We’ll be here for the next week, hosted by our partner teacher, Lydia, and the rest of the school community.  Today, we observed several classes and met with the administrative team.  This school has been recently ranked in the top 25 schools in all of Ukraine!  It’s a music focused specialized public school, sort of like a charter or magnet school.  All students play a musical instrument!

As excited as I am to learn about their school, Classical Lyceum staff and students are interested to know about us. So, I have a challenge for any IACS students who are reading this. Today, I videotaped Ukrainian students asking questions about you.  They are eagerly awaiting your answers, and there will even be a souvenir prize from Ukraine for my favorite three responses. I’ll be looking for creativity!

Your challenge: Watch this video, and reply in one of the following ways.  You are most likely to get through if you complete this by Tuesday, April 24th.

  1. Answer one of their questions in the comments section of this post.
  2. Get parent help to film and post a video response.
  3. Email Ms. Krakauer with your answers (in writing or pictures)
  4. Ask your own questions of the students here.

The Classical Lyceum

We are looking forward to hearing your replies!

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