Active learning practices are rarely carried out in secondary school in a systematic way, even though the Riordino (Dpr 87, 88, 89 of 2010) exhorted teachers to implement active approaches. On the other hand, the reflection on the curriculum (Ajello & Pontecorvo 2002, Frabboni 2004, Baldacci 2006) and the gradual liberation from the idea of a national “programma” (Stenhouse 1977) made it clear that teachers should be the ones to select contents and teaching strategies, on the basis of the particular contexts and the epistemological structures of the disciplines and their connections.
This research study was carried out in collaboration with a secondary school, where some teachers were already promoting active learning strategies in core subjects, each one following their own teaching model. After an initial exploratory phase, the study moved on to a phase of collaborative research and research-training (Asquini 2018). It followed an increasingly process including most subject departments and covering all the teaching process (design, implementation, peer observation, documentation, reflection).
Researchers and teachers together defined a documentation model of the practice, from design to action, which encouraged reflection (during and after) and dissemination within and outside the school. Such a process was both research and professional development.
By comparing different teaching practices (in Maths, Physics, Science, Italian and Latin), the study highlighted some cross elements which were then consolidated in the expanded version of the study, where more classes and teachers were involved. These aspects concern the curriculum (from the selection criteria of the core ideas of the subjects to a discovery/problematic approach to the contents), the teaching design (course and lesson planning) and the methods (frequent use of the various forms of verbal interaction - conversational lesson, discussion, brainstorming -, group work, students' writing tasks). This interdisciplinary approach to practices, ultimately, seems to show a sort of mutual influence between subject areas: Language teaching was inspired by a "scientific" approach to the study of languages where linguistic "data" (words, sentences, texts) were observed, analyzed, classified and re-elaborated (Bertocchi 2015); at the same time, Science teaching developed particular attention to language – both “natural” language and more strictly “scientific” language (Fiorentini, 2018).
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