“Smart Osvita” NGO is a non-profit educational public organization that has been around for seven years. We are engaged in developing and improving the school education system in Ukraine, particularly the New Ukrainian School reform.
Since the beginning of the full-scale war, we have been helping Ukrainian students, parents, and teachers remain active participants in the educational process. We are implementing projects with our partners to educate and provide psychological support to Ukrainian children and teachers.
So, we’d like to tell you what 2023 was like for each of our projects.
Learn with Your Ears
Audio lessons are a new project that we created from scratch. “Smart Osvita” engaged a team of three methodologists to develop a unique and original podcast methodology.
“We developed a new methodology, created a website, became present on 5 podcast platforms (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, NV Podcast, and MEGOGO), attracted 28 authors, and created about 7 thousand minutes of high-quality educational content. I think these are our main achievements for this year,” says Oleh Tverd, project manager.
2023 we released 335 audio lessons for grades 7-11 on world and Ukrainian history, civic education, Ukrainian language, and literature. They have already been listened to more than 150 thousand times. Almost 1.5 thousand users of the podcast mentioned above platforms consider the audio lessons on the history of Ukraine to be the best among the available podcasts. They are also among the top 10 educational podcasts on Spotify and the top 100 podcasts on Apple Podcasts.
Project editor Iryna Sharova adds:
“Every 2-3 weeks, the lessons on our website set new records for the number of listens. It’s great to see how the project is growing and becoming useful for more and more students and teachers. It’s cool that sometimes lessons that will be taught next semester “fly in”. And it’s nice when links to lessons are shared on social media, in parent and student chats, and when teachers-authors share them with colleagues. I am proud that we have built good relationships with the latter.
This year, at the Book Arsenal, at the presentation of books about Crimea, I heard a student say: “I know that Crimea is Ukraine. But I don’t know what Crimea is.” It gave me the creeps. I want to record a separate course on the history of the peninsula.”
Oleh Tverd does not reveal what other novelties of the project await us next year: “Follow the updates on our Instagram.”
We are grateful to the Educo Foundation for supporting the project.
Now I Know
In the summer of 2023, children in grades 4-10 took free courses in primary school subjects to help them start the next school year with confidence. In 2023, we enrolled 747 children, although we planned to enroll 400.
The project faced many challenges, from finding classroom teachers to write the program to engaging a psychologist and working with children with special educational needs. The project’s uniqueness lies in the program – a practical approach to learning that is fully competency-based. You can read more about engaging interactive lessons and their examples here.
Iryna Petriv, project manager, admits:
“My biggest impression is that the project took place at all. We have been looking hard and long for methodologists and teachers fearless in taking on this challenge and sharing the project’s strategic vision.
Individual communication with parents whose children need special attention is essential for me. Or with children whose educational losses were measured in more than one school year. We tried to hear every one of them and offer solutions.
I am also greatly inspired by the team and the positive feedback from parents and children. We have worked on the challenges: we are planning special training for teachers in psychological, digital, and methodological areas. And most importantly, we are currently analyzing the developed methodological materials and evaluating the curriculum and course results from experts from the Ukrainian Center for Educational Quality Assurance.”
We are grateful to the Educo Foundation for supporting the project.
Stay with Ukraine
The project was created for children who need to study the Ukrainian component temporarily abroad. This is the second set of students. The first groups studied with us for the 2022-2023 academic year. Back then, the project reached 1320 children.
In the first semester of 2023, the project:
- formed 80 groups and reached about 1700 children;
- involved students from more than 25 countries;
- involved 53 teachers in the project;
- invited a psychologist who responds to requests from teachers and students to resolve difficult situations;
- conducted two tests for students, most of whom passed at a high and sufficient level.
“It is inspiring that children from different parts of the world find motivation and desire to study Ukrainian language, literature, and history of Ukraine after a full day/week at schools abroad. While studying Mykola Voronoi’s “Yevshan-zillia,” the children say they also dream of returning home to build Ukraine. The teachers also talk about how children used to say “I don’t know” or not answer at all at the beginning of their studies, but now they do: “I want to answer. Listen to me!”
The words of one child touched us: “This project is a part of me. I look forward to the lessons like snow in winter.” They warm me up and give me an understanding of the usefulness of our work,” says project manager Yana Shevchuk.
We continue to conduct various trainings for educators on psychological resilience. As of today, 1173 teachers and psychologists have received certificates of training.
Also, this year, we developed a training program, “Psychosocial Support for Educators,” based on the Universal Mental Health Training (UMHT), pilot and train trainers from among school psychologists. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom became a partner in the project.
Based on the materials of this training, we are currently working on creating an online course and conducting several scientific studies in the mental health field together with our partners from the nonprofit organization Americares and experts from the University of Illinois. The “Psychosocial Support for Educators” training has also become a component of the Master’s program for psychologists at Zhytomyr University.
In 2023, we developed a new online platform, Resilience.help, where educators, psychologists, and anyone else can get information on psychological topics through blogs, articles, and best practices of psychological resilience and endurance. All materials on the platform are based on evidence-based methods and techniques.
“Our partners from the Association of EMDR in Ukraine, as well as scientific consultants, including Doctor of Psychology Victoriia Gorbunova, Ph.D. in Psychology Olha Savychenko and Tetiana Shyriaieva, and well-known child family psychologist Svitlana Roiz, helped us with the expertise and searched for the best international practices that work and have proven their effectiveness in scientific research. The work on translating and adapting new materials and training programs is ongoing,” says Oksana Makarenko, head of the psychological department and project manager.
Teachers and school psychologists can find relevant training on the platform and register for them. The platform was created with the support of the International Foundation “Vidrodzhennia”.
Kateryna Kostenko, coordinator of training programs:
“Thanks to the development of this area, I realized that the psychological well-being and resilience of teachers is a critical element of a successful educational system. Today, more than ever, teachers need mental health support. We realized this very clearly and decided to help teachers even more. We provided precise tools to stabilize and improve their emotional state through our training programs.
In addition, this training helps to understand how to work with children who are also experiencing stress. This is all to ensure that teachers can teach and grow and thrive in harmony with their well-being.”
Ukraine Speaks English
Who among you is a fan of our free meetings in English? In 2023, the Ukraine Speaks English project crossed the 50 thousand mark (since its launch in February 2022).
These are not all of the project’s achievements. In 2023:
- 930 lessons were held;
- there were more than 31 thousand joins;
- attracted 150 volunteers (since the start of the project);
- the project’s Telegram channel has more than 10K subscribers.
This year, we focused our development on courses for schools. These are spoken English, science, and math in English with foreign volunteer teachers in Ukrainian schools for a specific grade. The project has organized 20 such online courses since February 2023.
Olena Zhupanova, project manager:
“Once, a boy enthusiastically said: “I’ve never talked to people from other countries before. This is the first time in my life!” It’s inspiring that our Ukrainian teachers are willing to register for classes and are ready to join them after school and even on Friday nights.
I also remember when a volunteer from Turkey, Erkam, noticed a flag hanging on the wall in one of the girls’ rooms. “What a beautiful flag you have!” he said, “It’s the flag of the brigade where my dad serves.” Volunteers conduct classes early in the morning or late at night, according to their local time, to make it convenient for Ukrainian children.
In 2024, we plan to increase the number of courses in schools, as there are more than 350 on the waiting list. Soon, we will announce meetings with specialists who work with NASA.
I was touched when I asked volunteer Adam from Japan if he could join next year. He replied: “I’ll do as much as it takes. Even until the end of the war.”
We are grateful to the Educo Foundation, David Falconer, and Margit Mueller, co-founders of Classrooms Without Walls, Ocean Wise Conservation Association, EPLdotCA, Strive2Thrive, and all the volunteers.
Dopamine for Education
This year, the third season of the Dopamine for Education podcast was released – the project is now three years old!
In 2023, we recorded 8 episodes. In total, they have almost 20 thousand listens on various platforms. The most popular audios are School Math with Taras Pavlov and Educational Losses and Gaps with Tetiiana Vakulenko. The text version of the podcast “Real Results of the New Ukrainian School and What is Needed for Reform Right Now” with Liliia Hrynevych has been read by almost 15 thousand users – the leader among the text versions of Dopamine for Education.
Other issues are also interesting. The New Year holidays are an excellent opportunity to listen to them. We talked about brain functioning during the war, the impact of sleep (or lack thereof) on our psychological state, how to work with memory, and much more. So, it is useful not only for educators but also for parents and all readers.
Listen to the podcast here. And for those more comfortable with visual information, we have added a text version!
According to The Village Ukraine, our podcast was named one of the 15 most exciting podcasts launched in Ukraine in 2022, according to Suspilne. Culture, the podcast was included in the list of the best podcasts in Ukrainian about education, training, and self-development.
For the implementation of the Dopamine for Education project, we thank the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.
National Project: Writing Essay
We launched the project in 2021, and since then, methodologists, teachers of pedagogical universities, teachers of IPE, well-known Ukrainian and American coaches, and writers have joined it.
“To me, an essay is about ‘sharing yourself”,” says project participant and future trainer Tetiiana Baidachenko.
What did we manage to do in 2023 in the project?
- in January 2023, the team of trainers completed training from American experts from the National Writing Project;
- translated, processed, adapted, and digitized all lectures from Ukrainian and American experts;
- developed a Methodological Guide for Teachers, which contains a theoretical block and 8 training modules;
- worked with contemporary children’s writers: we have 54 fiction texts and a separate tool for working with them.
Kateryna Kostenko, project manager:
“In the new year, we are launching a website created specifically for the project. We have collected various tools for teaching and developing writing. We are working to make the generated methodological recommendations a valuable and understandable teacher guide. Next, we plan to distribute the developed materials and train teachers in a separate program.
Special thanks to all those involved in developing and adapting the materials. Everyone did a great job because they gave it their all. It was an arduous journey.”
Alive Writers. How to Talk to Children about War and Peace
In 2023, the third manual of the project, “Alive Writers. How to Talk to Children about War and Peace,” was published. The project reached over 800 thousand users on social media!
The materials were created by a team of specialists from the BaraBooka Children’s Reading Laboratory of the Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and expert educators and psychologists from the Smart Osvita NGO. We had to select 30 books from the entire list of contemporary Ukrainian children’s and teenage literature on war. But this list has been constantly updated – every day since 2014, new publications worthy of attention have been published. Therefore, the team could not stop at 30 books.
In the end, the guide includes 40 publications that are relevant to the present: combat operations, losses, forced displacement, etc. In November, we also held a series of free webinars on how to work with the guide. They are available on our Facebook page in the “videos” section. Find the list of books and more about the manual here.
Project manager Tetiiana Stus:
“The whole project was inspiring. When we started compiling, we heard from almost every team member: we will make the guide regardless of whether we get funding. For me, this is an important testimony that people are implementing the Rule – something that is impossible not to do. It was a challenging project, but at the end of it, we came out of it with clean hearts and gratitude. With joy, not with a pen, to calculate the results achieved and the reach.”
Also, the BaraBooka team has prepared a great selection of books for the Christmas tree! The selection includes “Kit Levchyk i Sviatyi Mykolai” by Natalka Maletych, “Rizdviana shapka yanholynky” by Hrasia Oliiko, “Podarunok” by Oleksandr Shatokhin, and others. Here’s more about books if you’re looking for gifts.
For the implementation of the Alive Writers project, we are grateful to:
- Project manager: Tetiana Stus;
- Head of the Expert Council: Halyna Tytysh;
- Experts: Mariia Artemenko, Olha Kupriian, Anastasiia Muzychenko, Svitlana Roiz, Tetiana Stus, Halyna Tkachuk, Anna Tretiak;
- Psychologists: Svitlana Roiz and Victoriia Samokhval;
- Historian: Yevhenii Shelest;
- Editor: Zhanna Kapshuk;
- Illustrator: Maryna Shuturma;
- Ukrainian Book Institute.
Projects with Svitlana Roiz
We created three games in 2023 with the famous child and family psychologist Svitlana Roiz. Svitlana is involved in more than one of our projects. And let’s be honest, this is the person we often go to for advice. Even communicators 🙂 It is essential that the content is resourceful and supportive for Ukrainians.
Together with Svitlana Roiz, we created the “Chest for Shelter” and worked on the Alive Writers project and workshops.
Svitlana Roiz comments:
“You know, I started remembering what we did during the year. And I was surprised at the number of projects. And because, despite the stress and emotional burden, all our projects are creative. And multi-level.
This year, we focused on workshops, and I am grateful to Halyna Tytysh, Smart Osvita, and our creative team for their trust and the opportunity to create them. I love projects that have many dimensions and a vast audience. Our workshops are all about power – The Power of Smile, The Power of Questions, Invisible Gifts – Find Your Power. Even in every name, there is Power”.
Thanks to our incredible team:
- author Svitlana Roiz;
- editor Tetiana Stus;
- designers Roman and Olena Marchyshyny;
- illustrator Inna Cherniak.
Here’s a small list of games with Svitlana Roiz that you can play with your kids this winter vacation (and beyond!).
“The Power of Smile”
This game promotes relaxation, closer contact with the body, and emotional healing. You can download and play the game or print it out here.
Here, you will find 12 different smiles with captions (happy, sad, kissing, confident, caring, etc.) that you can cut out, stick on a stick (tube, spoon), or hold up to your face. Also, a poster with a circle of emotions can be hung on the wall at home or in the classroom, and postcards with smiles.
We will send 510 printed “The Power of Smile” games to Ukrainian schools in early January. The game was created with the support of the Educo Foundation.
The “Tell Me: The Power of Questions” game contains 17 cards in seven sections covering different areas of life. There are 119 questions in total.
The main themes are imagination, relationships, physicality, and behavior, and the questions involve different channels of perception and brain hemispheres. The game’s rules are simple: everyone takes a card in turn, reads the question, and answers. If one of the players also wants to give an answer and no one minds, they share their thoughts. The company can have participants of different ages, which makes it even more enjoyable. If they feel the same way as the player who answers, they show a symbolic gesture they have previously agreed on.
The game can be downloaded, printed, and tested here.
“Invisible Gifts – Find Your Power” can be played in a group or with just one player. Children from 3 to 10 years old can play. And for a children’s team, the number of participants is not limited. This game is about the body, behavior, and the power of words, providing powerful resources every day.
Thanks to Invisible Gifts, you can:
- regain contact with your body;
- adapt to the new;
- learn to say “No”;
- regain a sense of control;
- perceive the boundaries of your body;
- learn self-support and calm down.
The game is available for free download and printing here.
The game was created as part of the Safe School program implemented by the East Europe Foundation. The Eurasia Foundation provides financial support.
We also asked Svitlana about her plans for the next year:
“Oh, we have a big project to support educators. I have a lot of ideas for workshops for children and adults. My personal plan is to stay healthy, save my loved ones, and for my husband to return victorious from the Armed Forces. The plan is our Victory!”
In 2023, the website of one of the most prominent Ukrainian media outlets was viewed more than 12 million times. The editorial team created almost 2,000 news items and three hundred articles and, with the help of lawyers, answered readers’ questions in 34 legal explanations.
The editor-in-chief, Viktoriia Koval, knows the details of the exciting things:
“In 2023, we opened a new section on the website – Materials for Lessons. We create ready-made notes that make it easier for teachers to prepare for classes. Methodologist Kateryna Molodyk manages the department, another NUS find in 2023. Both journalists and teachers help. The latter generously share their tricks and life hacks with us, for which we are very grateful.
The editorial team’s favorite movie-based notes: on civic education based on the movie “Barbie”; on history and physics based on “Oppenheimer”; on history, Ukrainian language, and science based on “Dovbush,” etc. You can find everything here.
In 2023, we also developed expertise within the team: In 2023, Iryna Pasko, who joined the newsroom, began working with analytics. Her material, “NUS Calendar: What to Catch Up on and How to Catch Up,” became part of an extensive study of the implementation of the NUS reform in grades 5-6. In 2024, we will present the results: what about professional development, textbooks, content, equipment, self-infatuation… In short, you will soon hear and see everything.”
The NUS website describes the year for education in general here.
“We are glad that in 2023, we received the first two grants (as media) from the Lviv Media Forum and the Institute of Mass Information.
In 2023, we established several sustainable partnerships with organizations whose values coincide. Among the latter are the Swedish-Ukrainian project “Support to Decentralization in Ukraine,” the NGO “Teach for Ukraine,” and the National Bank of Ukraine.
And instead of conclusions for this year, our team is our most outstanding achievement. We are each other’s best support, inspiration, and memes.”
The NUS website was created in 2017 by the “Smart Osvita” NGO in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine to communicate the New Ukrainian School reform.