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Lesson 1

Page history last edited by Stephanie Knox 12 years, 10 months ago

Lesson 1: Getting Started with Bridges

Objective: Introduce the Bridges to Understanding program to your students and incite curiosity about other cultures.


Bridges to Understanding began as a non-profit educational organization based in Seattle, Washington, and

founded by a world renowned, human rights photographer named Phil Borges (www.philborges.com). Phil has

been teaching photography to young people all over the world for many years and listening to the amazing stories

they have to tell. In 2002, Phil began teaching young students around the world to tell their stories using

photography, music and voice in a form called Digital Storytelling.


In 2011, Bridges became part of the Teachers Without Borders Peace Education Program. Through the Bridges to Understanding program, TWB brings together students and their teachers from around the world to share stories about their communities to develop greater understanding and promote youth empowerment. Through their personal stories, these students share their experiences and insights with each other, breaking barriers of language, culture and other

differences while learning about their similarities. We believe that a better, safer and more fair world will evolve as we learn to understand each other and solve problems together.



Copy materials: one Permission Form per student.

On butcher paper or a white board, draw a large KWL Chart (see example) to help students brainstorm

what they Know, Want to know, and what they Learn about other cultures. Keep this chart posted on the

classroom wall.

Consider creating a “Bridges Corner” of your classroom, with world map, KWL chart, photographs and

other visuals from the project.

Review digital stories from the Bridges Gallery at bridgestounderstanding.ning.com, as well as each

storys corresponding Story Guide and prepare to discuss content and context with your students. 



Introduce Bridges by opening the website to the homepage and projecting if possible. Verbally describe

Bridges, as above, and invite students to explore the videos anytime, on their own, to learn more about


Locate Bridges classes on a world map, and use KWL Graphic Organizer to brainstorm what students

already Know about the region/culture of other Bridges classes, as well as what they Want to know about

the other Bridges classes. (What they Want to know should drive the project, what they Learn would

drive the assessment.)


Play a Digital Story from the Gallery and select a note taker to record ideas during class

discussion. Potential discussion questions can include:

1. What is the main issue?

2. What did you like most about the story?

3. Do we have the same issue?

4. What were your favorite images?

5. What questions does this story raise for you?



- Save these notes for further discussions and for your first message on the website.

- See the story's accompanying Story Guide to supplement learning and familiarity with the international

site and the issue in focus.

Revisit the KWL Chart to record new information.

Hand out Permission Forms and give a deadline for their return. AP/GCP

Sample KWL Graphic Organizer: (draw on butcher paper and post)

What we Know What we Want to know What we Learned


Hint -

Try an Ice Breaker: Two Truths and a Lie

Groups students by four or five and instruct them to take turns telling three things about themselves, two that are

true and one that is NOT. Have other students in the group guess which statement is false. Laugh.

Bridges Curriculum is designed to build strong cooperative skills for working together. Activities should build

personal relationships, interdependence and cooperation. Short, fun activities, such as this, help students to get

comfortable and overcome any hesitancy.


Bridges to Understanding Permission to Participate Form

Dear Parent/Guardian of ________________________________,

______________________ (teacher) has introduced the Bridges to Understanding program into your

child's class. This program combines digital storytelling and cultural exchange, where students from

different parts of the world share information about their cultures through photographs, sounds, and

telling of stories. We would like your permission for your student to participate in this program.

You can learn more about the Bridges interactive classroom program at the website


In summary, students participating in the Bridges program will:

• Learn about photography, recording voices and sounds

• Exchange messages and photos, taken at school and at home, on the Bridges passwordprotected

forum monitored by teacher and program supervisors

• Discuss their culture and values, and learn skills (writing, communication, photography,

computer programs, working in a group, and more) as they produce a multimedia story

• Have the multimedia stories they produce shown in educational settings, public exhibits and


If you have any questions or concerns about the project, please feel free to call me at

____________________ or email me at ___________________________.

(phone number) (email address)

You may also list any restrictions in participation that you feel would be appropriate on the permission

slip. Thank you very much for your help.

RETURN TO ________________________________BY _________________

I give permission for to participate in the Bridges to

Understanding program, a digital cultural exchange. I understand that my child will be

communicating with other children in the program using password protected online forums.

I understand that although my child will maintain the copyright on his/her work, his/her pictures,

audio recordings, and work will be put on the Bridges! web site and may be displayed on other

websites, in other venues and in publications as a promotion for the Bridges program.

I also give permission for my student to leave campus for photo-shoots with a Bridges! mentor and

with the school administrator!s permission, during class-time for the purpose of this project.

Parent/Guardian name (please print): ______________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: _______________________________ Date: ____________


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