A TRAINING PROJECT FOR TEACHERS THROUGH THE CREATION OF PRACTICES’ COMMUNITY. THE CASE STUDY OF A SCHOOL IN ROME
Istituto Comprensivo Simonetta Salacone, Italia
We would like to bring to your attention an ongoing experimental project for in-service teachers’ training, carried out by the I.C. Simonetta Salacone, in Rome.
The project is based on the strong belief that a permanent teacher’s training is of paramount importance for the schooling system, since it is directly connected to the quality of education. Our Institute has therefore developed a training proposal entitled "Good Practices. A Community of practices for teacher’s training", aimed at enhancing the existing collegial moments in the school calendar, by fostering moments of exchange with the goal to bring out, make explicit and enhance the knowledge of teachers, through the exchange of practices and theoretical reflection.
At normative level, the training of school personnel became mandatory with Law 107/2015, which recognizes the opportunity it offers for the effective development and professional growth, towards a qualitative educational system.
The issue, however, is addressed from a formal training perspective, which does not sufficiently value the enormous experiential wealth of teachers. Teachers' knowledge, in fact, is configured as a continuous active and creative process, which is built on daily experience. If such knowledge does not go through a process of reflection and sharing, it risks to remain unsurfaced at a level of awareness, in one's own way of working or to remain in the personal toolbox of individual experience.
This challenge can be overcome by developing training contexts in the school integrating contributions from official research, cooperative knowledge-building activities, informal storytelling contexts and moments of re-elaboration of experiences.
The project began when some teachers of the Institute, decided to organize several moments of presentation and sharing of the school teachers’ work using a workshop setting. The process had to be interrupted due to the COVID-19 emergency in the period March-June 2020, due to schools’ closure. It was therefore necessary to readjust: we worked on the creation of a digital archive of teaching experiences and significant projects, carried out during the period of online distance learning, which all teachers could contribute to build, to which everyone could draw to find useful ideas and through which it was possible to get in touch with colleagues for possible collaborations.
In the second year the proposal was reshaped according to the organizational and educational challenges of the context such as the digital integrative learning and online distance learning systems, the introduction of Civic Education in the curriculum and the reform of the Evaluation system.
Teachers are pursuing a process of educational planning and training. They have established working groups within the Departments (the collegial bodies foreseen by the Annual Plan of Activities) with the function of supporting the educational planning. The calendar is structured around four main moments:
1. didactic planning
Internal and external resources, were used and identified by the working groups themselves, according to the training needs emerged. Teachers’ strong interest and commitment to the process resulted in an extension of the training cycle and in the creation of autonomous research groups.
DIDACTICS OF THE VOICE. AN EXPERIENCE IN PRIMARY SCHOOL
IC San Polo d'Enza, Italy
In the context of primary school one can learn to read aloud, giving a new meaning to reading, to the word itself. Whether it is linked to fiction or poetry, the word can be considered a new field in which to experiment, explore and learn; a proper place to appropriate the mother tongue in a different way, closer to children, to their actions and understanding.
When children read, what remains of the act of reading? How much of what they have gone through remains as experience and how much as vocabulary? Is it still possible to educate a taste for reading nowadays?
If in primary school one of the main goals is to be able to read (and write) a language the moments in which such knowledge is used to reach a dimension beyond grammar or mere comprehension of a text remain marginal and unnoticed. In pupils schoolbooks there are a considerable amount of texts - excerpts - taken from fiction books or poetry, the length of which varies according to the age group for which they are intended. They generally do not exceed two pages. That kind of length do not allow readers to appreciate, at its maximum, a possible plot or the writing style of an author; nor to make them curious enough to search for the book from which the extract comes. It is up to the teacher to create links between the act of reading and the object of reading. Therefore the space a teacher devotes to this practice is of fundamental importance.
My experience as a teacher led me to provide many personal books to the pupils, for 5 consecutive years, thus creating a class library freely available to them at any time. Creating, in that particular environement, a bridge between children and books, for those who could not afford them, trying to facilitate the transition from required reading to desired reading.
Since the first year, the pupils have had dedicated time to read to their classmates from their favourite books. Picture books, silent books, comics, rhymes and nursery rhymes, fiction books: all kind of books that could be read to others. At the same time, as a teacher, I regularly read them books in unabridged versions. Audio books were also used to make children understand the difference among many possible ways of reading: reading itself is an act of interpreting other people's words and punctuation can be considered as a guide in expressing aspects of characters or descriptions that would have otherwise lost their true colour.
Finally, from reading to recording an audiobook was a natural step: after years of listening pupils wanted to try their hand at giving a voice to written words, both fiction and poetry. Therefore, after creating a platform that could host their voices (at http://vimeo.com/maestraoana), a good part of the fifth year of school was dedicated to reading, editing audio/video tracks for an entire book and many poems: a virtual library available to everyone, free of charge.
DISTANCE COLLABORATIVE WRITING BY FOLDING ORIGAMI
Istituto comprensivo Manziana (RM), Italia
KW: Class library, Collaborative writing, Teacher’s self training, Open Educational Resources
Distance in the educational environment has various forms and meanings, we feel distant in using the textbook, which does not restore that authenticity that is the basis of learning. Conversely, reading a text aloud in its entirety restores the closeness that creates community, encourages the use of language for all, and is the basis for writing workshop programming. The role of the teacher is to give voice to the ideas of the class, stimulate the imagination through reading, listen and mediate between the various instances, teach writing techniques through modelling and experiment with digital tools. The production of textual artefacts is a key to cooperation between students and the strategy is to build a class library from which to draw examples, mentors of original writing. The Rodari centenary celebrations were an opportunity for transdisciplinary planning across language, mathematics and geography, but above all towards the grammar of the imagination of the fabulous Gianni Rodari. We intersected reading, geometry with origami, rhymes and narrative invention, starting from the concept of the fantastic binomial in a first grade secondary school class. Playing with sustainability words, we came up with two distant words, gorilla and snack. What could possibly link a gorilla to a bagged snack? Using animal origami, we imagined together a story that could unite the pair in the distance of digital didactics due to quarantine. The choice fell on a collaborative platform such as Padlet to share the writing process we had started in presence. Everything started thanks to the stimulus of the integral reading made in class of Rodari's Novelle scritte a macchina, especially those stories set in places and landscapes close and familiar to us, the Tolfa mountains, Civitavecchia, the old Monterano, Oriolo Romano. Therefore, following the technique of collective writing, each member of the class group proposes characteristics of our characters that we cross. The preliminary lessons in synchrony, on the Jitsi platform, focus on the choice of themes and the construction of the plot, we put into practice the techniques of the writing workshop to outline the general map of our story, the aims, the main characters. We assigned a task (writing, revision, origami illustration, media), and proceeded with a series of research projects on the animals of the Monterano reserve, where our story is set, and with the help of our science and geography colleagues we deepen our knowledge of the environment. Indire, with Piccole Scuole and its Spaesi project gives us the opportunity for further narrative and methodological stimuli. In the weeks that follow, the timeline of our padlet is enriched with new chapters, fantastic characters and familiar scenarios from our area. The pair takes shape in an ecological tale about environmental sustainability and the incommunicability between the human and natural worlds, about the disconnect between childhood and adult life. We will present the results obtained and the final product, which is the result of transversal work between cooperating teachers.
RESEARCH AS A DIDACTIC METHOD: BIRTH OF THE SCHEDARIO AND ITS ACTUALITY
Independent Scholar, Italy
Since the 1950s, the search for a cooperative teaching model has led many teachers to question themselves about the use of the technologies that the society of their time made available to them. The Movement for Educational Cooperation, for example, was founded in 1951 under the name of the Cooperative of Typography at School, highlighting from its inception the desire to relate to reproduction tools useful for teaching in an active way.
Starting from this kind of premise it was inevitable for teachers who have joined over the years not to pose the question of the relationship with the tools of creation but also collection of information in a critical way. In this sense, the history of the "schedario" becomes paradigmatic, which in this report we want to investigate in order to focus on what history can make available today in terms of reference models but above all in terms of interpretative paradigms.
Born within the Freinet methodology, the schedario d is the conditio sine qua non for an effective renewal of the school: in the schedario there is all the material (from the card to the book chapter to the newspaper article to the herbarium to the stamp) all the material that can serve the child to do his own research. A typical list of cards is the one proposed in the bulletin in October 1952: it is striking the large number of articles taken from "Il corriere dei piccoli": the ant-stitcher published by the wine courier on June 22, 1952, How a pearl is born, on June 29, the chatty jay on July 13, the prescient hermit crab on August 3, a speleologist spider released in September in the file cabinet there are also chapters of books published by the publishing school as the forest and its protection. There are songs such as butterflies and flowers published in the magazine la radio per le scuole of December 1952. There is also Mickey Mouse among the sources, how to build a perpetual calendar of April 1952. Giuseppe Tamagnini wrote in 1952: "if it is true that the introduction and the use of the filing cabinet presupposes a class already oriented to the methods of activism in general and in particular to the individualization of teaching, on the other hand it is not conceivable an active school and an individualized teaching without a filing cabinet: the two things are in close mutual correlation and condition each other. While there is nothing to prevent one from thinking of an active school without a printing press and perhaps without correspondence, without a file cabinet it is impossible".
Reflecting on this theme in a historical key allows us to reflect on what has been lost in terms of the relationship with technology on the one hand, and on the other to verify the possibility of creating original content starting from means of communication that are often available but whose potential for building original knowledge is underestimated.
WHAT THE HELL DO I DO WITH THE MOON?
Liceo Artistico Ripetta, Italy
A diachronic learning path of reading and interpretation, between literature, art and science
In March 2020 I tried to overcome the difficulties related to distance learning and the lack of comunication with colleagues, thinking of developing a cue provided in the fall by the first meetings of a laboratory of the Accademia dei Lincei, which intended to deepen a comparison between the different representations of the fantastic. I therefore chose to develop the theme of the “moon” with a class of mine from the 4th art school, both for the obvious connections with the authors included in the fourth year's program (above all Galilei and Leopardi), and for the universality and breadth of the theme; which allowed us to range in a diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective, with an opening to the life experiences and imagination of students who are young artists, with the aim of developing their skills of interpretation and connection. I think I also tried to alleviate the anxiety that oppressed us, providing the students with a learning opportunity that would take us away from the oppressive contingency for a few hours, even though the references to the reality we were living were always strong.
In the first phase of the work during the meetings on Google Meet, both I and the students presented freely chosen material related to the theme of the moon: as far as I was concerned, I proposed almost exclusively literary texts, while the students had the opportunity to range also in the field of visual arts and music, with a particular openness to their own productions. In fact, they ranged from Lucretius to Patrizia Cavalli, passing through Ariosto, Giordano Bruno and Marinetti, from Bowie to Gianni Togni, from Meliès to Andy Warhol.
The material was made available on Google Classroom and presented through the sharing of the screen, those who made the proposal described it and talked about it trying to dwell on their impressions, the questions raised and the connections; then a space for discussion was opened, the students were invited to highlight the relationships and differences between what was presented, looking for themes that persist, lines of continuity and difference between different eras, cultures and disciplines.
In the second part of the course, I asked the students to create, individually or in groups, a paper that developed an argument about one of the visions highlighted, using the documents analyzed in class. They could choose among different formats: an expositive-argumentative text, a slide presentation, a video of a virtual tour through the different works, an audio recording of an impossible dialogue between some of the artists analyzed.
I moreover believe that this interdisciplinary perspective that prompts reflection on code-switching in relation to meaning and message is particularly important for students in the high school of art
WRITERS IN THE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
Piccoli Maestri, founded in 2011, is an association of writers going into schools to tell stories about books, especially classics but not only, for which they have a passion. The idea is that passion is a good way to produce contagion. We have always held free meetings in schools to read and talk about books, trying to encourage boys and girls to read. From primary to high school. At the time of the lockdown we decided, in the emergency, to find other ways, to do something more. We asked the other writers for some time, even those who had not participated in the project so far. Many joined the proposal.
We made ourselves available to the teachers, we offered what we used to do before – tell them about the books – but in streaming, or on online platforms, from all over Italy. In this case, we preferred to focus on texts that serve the school curriculum. Novels, poetry, essays. We offered to school some of our time and what we know. From the project Sfangarla (slang term for “to make it out”) has born Cento libri - Leggere leggeri.
Cento libri - Leggere leggeri is a project by the Piccoli Maestri association, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The aim of the project is to cultivate the passion for reading in Italian schools through a collection of 20th century classics. The meetings with classes will be held virtually through the platforms already in use for distance learning.
Each of the Piccoli Maestri proposed three books they love, three books they would like not to be forgotten. The proposals have been collected and organised into two separate lists: the first is a symbolic journey through the books proposed in the schools that have welcomed us over the last ten years, the second represents our desire to go further and point to the stories we would like to tell starting today. From time to time, we will ask the schools to give us, or renew, a credit of trust, choosing from both containers, and taking care to always choose at least one text written by a woman.
I would like to try to recount the experience, discoveries, problems and partial outcomes of the Sfangarla and Cento libri - Leggere leggeri projects.