All posts by Donatella Cesareni


Our way to say Thank You and Good Bye to the wonderful participants in the KNORK Conference held in Rome a few days ago.

It was a gorgeous experience!

A concrete chance to go trialogical and see and touch teachers’ efforts to innovate learning and the results they have when applying the TLA in their courses. Thanks again to all of you for your contribution and enthusiasm.

It was a pleasure for the Italian Unit (Sapienza and Bari) to organize and hold the Conference!


KNORK Italian day: schools and universities present their trialogical courses

Saturday, September 21st, at the “CERDO” (School for osteopaths in Rome,, it was held KNORK_LA SPERIMENTAZIONE ITALIANA to present the projects that schools and universities participating in the KNORK have realized in the years 2014-2015.
The event was attended by 4 high schools and 3 universities. Teachers and students presented their projects, the objects they built, the strategies they followed, highlighting pros and cons, limitations and needs.
The event was also attended by teachers who did not know KNORK and who have shown interest for further experimentation within their courses.
In addition, during the event, the participants were able to discuss about some crucial and recurring questions and recurring: how to integrate a challenging project like a trialogical-based one with the need to respect the national curriculum? how to decline  objects according to various disciplines and levels of study? how to check the maintenance of skills over time? how to ensure the involvement of all students?

Here following  some pictures taken by Beatrice during the event. Enjoy!

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Let’s have four steps in history

Dear Knork community, we are getting close to the end of the school year and Knork projects are ending here in Bari. One of them took place at the Technical and Computer Science Institute of Andria (Bari).

This i a short synthesis from Beatrice who have supported the teachers all through the year

“Let’s have four steps in history” is the title of the first project in Andria that involved two tenth grade classes. The object developed has been a web-site devoted to the first world war. Take a look: Of course it is in Italian, but it will give you a fairly good impression of its structure and the type of work that has been done. The title Students did a great job in searching documents both official and informal. They combined the curricula of Italian, History, Mathematics and Physics. The teachers involved were Annalisa Alicino, Mariangela Calvi and Roberto Diana. They focused on literature and narrative by reading letters and poetries, lyrics of songs and romances from that period. They studied physic and mechanics by analyzing the war machines. Overall, the teachers innovated their learning methods by orchestrating time for reflection, collaboration and meaningful activities.

A link to the project has been implemented also in the web-page of the school A facebook group has been active all along the project where students and teachers posted various documents, included their diaries.

A final event was organized to present the web-site to parents and to the whole school and of course I was there with two of my students that acted as observers (Federica and Sara). Here some photos taken during the final event.

Me and the web-site The principle The students the teacher promoting the project

The Menu

The testing experience of the methodology called “trialogical” is leading to extraordinary results in a number of fields. I was already convinced that my discipline, Food Laboratory Practice, was  quite innovative but, through the practical study and knowledge approach – we realized, my students and I, that in addition to the study of content through the construction of “objects” (and this is no small thing!) putting  all of this  into practice through strategies which were certainly well known but never used is a very interesting task . Why is it that these strategies have never been put into practice?  I do not know. Perhaps for lack of time or because I was not sure of the positive results that would have been accomplished, but thanks to this project and to all the teaching strategies it dealt with, from collaborative learning  to the progressive inquiry strategies, problem solving  and  exciting techniques such as Jigsaw and the role-taking, lessons have become more dynamic,certainly they are more difficult but definitely very exciting!From the very first meeting in Helsinki I started thinking about drafting a menu which could lead to the study of all of the local raw materials and to the sale of our “object” directly to those who deal with local products. I must admit that it is working! Thanks to Internet we have been able to research local products through group work, we have focused on the products that better represent our territory, we have used them in recipes invented on our own! This working strategy will continue by proposing our menus to local catering businesses and hopefully our project will be accomplished with our menus being tasted.As for the construction of the “object”, working strategies will be used to enhances my students’ abilities which I would have never discovered without this project.The use of new technologies is another distinctive feature of this project, not the creation of technologies but the usage of on-line devices, well known to students.

In the past I would greet my students by saying “Good morning kids, put your mobile phones away and let’s get to work”. Now I greet them by saying: “Good morning kids. Grab your mobile phones and let’s get to work”.




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Here came KNORK

I am Gabriele Rizzo, Chair of Physics and Biophysics at CERDO, the oldest Osteopathic Medical School in Rome, where I teach to (usually) two first-year classes, with an average age of 20.

Why KNORK? Because the context of teaching Physics to freshmen studying to get their D.O. appeared to me the best to put in action the “KNOwledge for woRK”, getting them at ease with a discipline traditionally seen with caution (at least) and perceived as “distant” from real life due to its intrinsically “hard” math contribution.

In the beginning I drafted the course program insisting on mechanics and dynamics, trying at the same time not to cancel the rest of the Physics I felt important (from some interviews I ran among the teachers of osteopathic disciplines when I was entrusted the professorship), i.e. statics of fluids, thermodynamics, a bit of electrostatics. However, the many mathematics gaps had their presence felt almost immediately, up to the point of forcing the lesson into just storytelling, also because as soon as the tiniest bit of algebra makes its appearance on the whiteboard, the feedback is the almost complete denial of “risking understanding”. So this completely emptied participation and interaction and, as a consequence, effectiveness too.

Here came KNORK.

My priority was the learning of transversal competencies through a renewal of my teaching methodology: this is why I decided to implement KNORK since the beginning of the academic year. This is also why I had to thin out the course program! A pillar of KNORK methodology guided me, though: we do not have to teach everything to our students, just give them a “structure” and enable them to learn by themselves, autonomously (thanks prof. Cesareni!). Therefore, I focused on just the concepts I find are the real hurdles to learn by yourself – because require a strong and constant anchoring to other pillars of “the structure”.

I apply the Jigsaw both in the classes and in an online forum (and I find it outstanding). We also have a class mailing list and we are currently have some exciting experiments ongoing with Padlet.

The final shared object of our KNORK will be a big, fat, mind map, the “Physicary”, in which the students will merge all the work carried out during the year, namely identifying and exploring the links between the physical concepts of “the structure” and the osteopathic discipline. I aimed at this to strengthen even further the transversality of the competencies developed during the course.

I make no secret that, as a start, the commitment KNORK methodology asks for is important, both for me and for the students. But it is important as well the positive feedback I am getting from them, to such an extent that I would have known KNORK from the beginning of my teaching experience!

Sapienza University and the research on Salvemini pilot courses

What’s done so far

In the past few months, Sapienza University supported Salvemini School in realizing 4 pilot courses, which involved 6 teachers and about 80 students. In the first step, the researchers have dealt with the teachers’ training, which included some meetings devoted to the illustration of the trialogical approach and the drafting of pedagogical scenarios, some others to the guidance on tools and online environments to be used. More details about the courses will be delivered from the teachers themselves in the next week. Here we want to summarize the research side, by describing data collected and some preliminary results.

During the trial, data were collected through: 1. a semi-structured questionnaire for teachers and students aimed at promoting their self-evaluation about the trial and the effect of technology; 2. researchers’ field notes written during the classroom activities 3. video-observations of the classroom activities 4. online diaries filled in by teachers and students.

Some Results

From teachers’ questionnaire, it emerged that technologies are conceived as an essential tool to promote collaboration, create new knowledge and support effective work with a considerable saving of time; nevertheless, they are seen as a distraction for students with already existing motivational issues. Main difficulties are experienced regarding time-management and internet connection, as well as to – what teachers called – an unexpected low students’ technological literacy.  However, technologies are globally seen as a positive innovation, with a particular enthusiasm for tools like Google Drive because it allows to support students in a targeted manner and in real time.

At the end of the trial, a semi-structured questionnaire for students and teachers has been administrated. From the analysis we found:

  • Teachers believe they all implemented the model successfully, promoting the type of collaboration they had in mind and well exploiting technology opportunities. They especially appreciated the full collaboration between all involved actors, exceeding expectations (given the structural and personal technological limits); the importance of continuous feedback; the value of a discreet and not-conditioning observation. They think about the next implementation “with optimism and a desire to learn more about some tools, considering them as a mean to stimulate attention and interest of the less motivated and ‘difficult’ students
  • Students are also satisfied. The majority of them thinks many skills and competencies have been enhanced , particularly group working around a specific goal, ability to collaboratively create products, learning how to use technology during group work in ways that they had not thought of before, knowing how to seek and find information useful to the work group. Generally, the positive aspects identified from students are mainly related to the possibility to know and learn how to use new tools, to study in an innovative and engaging way, to have constant support from researchers and teachers.

Field notes, diaries and videos are now being analyzed through applying a quali-quantitative analysis, based on the creation of specific codebook, which the researchers finalized starting from the data observed and guided by the principles of the trialogical approach. Findings from each data analysis will be triangulated in order to grasp the complexity of the observed phenomena and to provide specific feedback to the teachers willing to apply the approach again.

Next, we aim to find a way to look to all data in an integrated way, thus recomposing the trialogical approach. Indeed, we consider each type of data as coming from a specific point of view, all together representing the trialogicality, in particular:

  1. Questionnaires and diaries > individual subject, personal perception and reflection about the activities;
  2. Field notes > learning community, observed in terms of interaction, collaboration, roles, etc.;
  3. Video-observations > the mediating tools and how they support the developing of shared objects;
  4. Pedagogical scenario and shared objects > representing the authentic use of the object.

What’s next

At the moment, we are negotiating a date to re-start the activity at the Salvemini and to eventually illustrate the overall results we have just shortly reported here.

Furthermore, we have just begun some new trials with:

  • Sapienza University courses on Pedagogy and Educational Psychology,
  • University of Bari,
  • 2 new high schools in Rome,
  • 1 in Bari.