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: www.quattropassinellastoria.it. 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 http://www.itisandria.gov.it/2-non-categorizzato/549-progetto-knork-quattro-passi-nella-storia.html. 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

Basecamp: A project management tool

I would like to share with you another project management tool that I have come across and which students in health informatics used for their projects. This tool is called Basecamp.

Basecamp is a web based tool that runs in the cloud. It can be used for free for 2 months but you can also get a free account if you use it at your own universities. Here are some possibilities that Basecamp offers:

  • Invite partners of the project to collaborate on the same tool
  • Upload documents and share with the rest of the team
  • Create forum like discussions
  • Create to do check lists
  • Add and edit texts online
  • Assign tasks to other members
  • There is a calendar function to have an overview of the project
  • Keep track of what changes and updates have happened in the project

So, if you want to give it a try you can find it in the following link: https://basecamp.com/ 

Here are a few examples to check about basecamp:

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”.

 

 

 

The-menu-168x300the-cooks-300x168Gianni-300x168my-students-observers-300x168me-the-principle-presenting-the-project-300x168The-starter-300x168     The-appetizer-300x168  Pasta-300x168Meat-300x168   Fish-300x168The-dessert-300x168The-cokies-300x168

Final Scenario – The legend of 900 game

Short description of the case

The class which has been selected to experiment with this new project is a first year class of a Secondary Technical and Technological School specializing in Graphic Design and Communication.

It is a new study-orientation which is present for the first time in our school and foresees a more creative learning approach as it is supported by a technological, scientific and computerized dimension which is part of its specific syllabus.

According to the Board of Education guidelines regarding the new reorganization of schools, whoever achieves a specialized diploma in Graphic Design and Communication must be competent in interpersonal and mass communication and have know-how as regards technology. Such competences are supported by a common cultural area which offers further insight on the complexity of society, implementing  technical and critical knowledge as well as a willingness towards change, indispensable for our present times.

Title –  Transmedia: gamebooks

Authors: – Paolo Nappo, Vincenza Cupertino

Date of Publication –  January 2005

The educational problem

The class which is taking part in this project is a second-year one, made up of 27 students of the Technical and Technological Institute for Graphic Design and Communication.

Their starting levels are diverse and some students also have complicated personal backgrounds which all too often disturb the learning process.

The following situations, supported by documentation, can be highlighted:

  • 1 student with diverse abilities who follows a differentiated school programme
  • 2 students who attended a different school the previous year
  • 1 student who is in a correctional penitentiary
  • 1 student with specific learning disabilities (dyscalculia)
  • 1 student with severe reduced mobility difficulties which complicate the socialization process

 

The subjects that will be part of the project are:

  • Italian: analysis of a literary text
  • Computer Science: using the formal language of Algorithm
  • History and Law: transversely, for the promotion of advanced processes of knowledge as regards the migratory phenomenon

The solution

The choice to project and create a videogame is a consequence of the necessity to experiment new learning ways and to experiment the use of ICT in order to make didactics  closer to the learning schemes of our students by means of a plurality of languages which are those used when putting a videogame together: electronic culture, cinema, animation, literature, painting, cartoons, etc.

The aim is to stimulate collaboration among students through team work, making some situations less dramatic and making  students more receptive and participative also during traditional lessons; to stimulate specific logical and creative abilities through discussion (by imagining hypothetical situations and immerging oneself in new problems  trying to find a solution to such problems); to create new ways of self-evaluation and shared evaluation; to balance the knowledge of mathematical languages and algorithmic ones, as foreseen by the Italian Board of education guidelines.

 

Key experiences

We have often asked ourselves “How useful is what we are doing?”.

From a didactic point of view it has been very useful as it has pushed us teachers towards a synchronized way of working, planning, modifying and verifying.

As for the students, it has also been useful as it has allowed them to learn in a different way using both old and new literary books, they have been challenged by Scratch,  a new programming language, used for the creation of interactive stories, games and animations that could be shared on the web.

It has been also useful for web surfers who can come across the game The legend of NOVECENTO and find it fun.

The  aim? Most certainly the integration between a technical subject like Computer Science and a literary one.

In order to create the game, the students who are highly enthusiastic native digital users, had to look into the novel considering its multimedia aspects and, consequentially, the aim has always been that to have them understand that a formal model of language can generate other models, through  which the  native digital user is not a mere, passive user but a creator of products that arise from their own creativity.

Without realizing it, although quite young, the students started applying Latin grammar rules which are completely based on logical conjunctions such as et, vel and negations ( and, or and not in English)

Moving a character (puppet) under false or true conditions is not an easy thing to understand nevertheless they started doing in by intuition.

It is important to understand that native digital users  are as they are because they were born that way so they communicate through their mobile phones, everyone else is an analphabet digital user.

“Don’t just play with your phones, program them!”

Didactical and motivational successes

  1. Listening to the audio book by Alessandro Baricco “Novecento” read by Stefano Benni
  2. Rewriting of “Novecento” by Alessandro Baricco
  3. Algorithms and flowcharts, the Scratch platform
  4. Scene-writing of the play
  5. Graphical representations of the various scenes with the Scratch Promoting the activity by elaborating new audio registrations, new demos for the videos, revision of some of the parts of the scenery, improvement of the graphic aspects, elaboration of logos (both for class and project), selection of musical tracks, graphical elaboration of a brochure, collective storytelling  in order to narrate what has happened.
  6. Italian and Computer Science summative evaluation- throughout the various phases of work, the task carried out by students were evaluated individually and collectively for both of the subjects involved.

While students were at work, an evaluation grid was put together in order to evaluate both individual and group participation

The evaluation grid highlighted two parameters (the group and the individual) according to the various work phases.

Evaluation Grid for Collaborative and individual work
Give a score from 1 to 10 Average
Group Work How good was the group at gathering ideas and individual contributions? Was good was the group at encouraging others? Was the work distributed in a well-balanced way among participants? Were conflicts which aroused within the group resolved appropriately? Did the various groups work well together?
Individual work How much did the student contribute to the construction of the product? How much support did student offer to classmate? How much help did student receive from others through discussion of rough copies and products? How much participation was there to discussions in class and did student offer new ideas? Did student use instruments with other classmates within in the group, in order to reach objectives? Was student able at helping resolve problems within the group and conflicts? Was student able at critically evaluating proposals from the other members of the group?

Links :

http://gofasano.it/rubriche/scuola-e-universita/25356-listituto-salvemini-presenta-the-legend-of-novecento.html

http://www.fasanolive.com/news/Cultura/341371/news.aspx

http://www.osservatoriooggi.it/notizie/attualita/10259-storia-novecento-videogame-studenti-salvemini-fasano

http://www.fasanolive.com/news/Attualita/342801/news.aspx

http://www.finzionimagazine.it/news/attualita-news/novecento-diventa-un-videogioco/

http://knork.info/website/author/salvemini/

http://knork.info/website/2014/10/salvemini-school-gamebook-discipline-computer-science-and-italian-language-2/

http://www.salveminiknork.eu/index.php/contact-us/11-il-progetto-italiano-informatica-scopi-e-progettazione

Implementation in own teaching Design principle
BRAINSTORMINGWhich is the mostly used videogame among students of the class?The story and object are “disassembled”:

the story of the game is narrated (time, space, characters, events etc.)

Proposal: Let’s put together a transmedia project inspired by analysis of  the work Novecento by Baricco, paying particular attention to its imaginative dimension

DP1: Organising activities around shared objects
Preliminary activityCollective or individual reading of the chosen textHighlighting on the storytelling aspect of the work, thus creating an appropriate structure for the asset of the project

Class is divided in workgroups and each group will have a specific task

Ø  Group 1 – By means of a sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map

Ø  Group 2 –  By means of a parallel sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map

Ø  Group 3 – By means of a simultaneous sequential narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map

Ø  Group 4 – By means of a non –linear  narrative structure the text will be read, structured and put in a map

Ø  Group 5 – find space and time coordinates within text

Ø  Group 6  find space and time coordinates within text

Ø  Group 7 – find, within the text the main characters and their characteristics as regards coherence, effectiveness and tri -dimensionality

 

The groups are disassembled and reassembled so that the need for interdependence arises and so the imaginative universe of the videogame can develop in accordance with the story itself and several expressive techniques.

 

DP2: Supporting integration of personal and collective agency and work
Students must find the narrative dimensions as regards the emotional aspect of the story.Choice excitement: working on the decisional power of the audience and they way they focus on the scene.Expanded environment: creating new digital locations or real ones which are technologically enhanced.

Implementing narrative processes which can stimulate participation and create connections between people.

DP3: Emphasizing development and creativity through knowledge transformations and reflection
Graphical representation of characters of the narration;Representation and presentation of the scenes which lead to the development of the story through different points of view (single focus, dual focus, multiple focus), offering different levels of experience. DP4: Fostering long-term processes of knowledge advancement
Teacher presents the Scratch programme to class having them do some exercises on it and working on the several levels of difficulty.Students are free to use their imagination. On an interactive white board (IWT) some prompts are presented that will lead to class discussion.For some students, fantasy leads to creativity. For others (those who are familiar with the difficulties of the Scratch platform) a practical solution for the graphic narration is found.

Several scenes are now found after a long class discussion. The class, divided into groups again, are ready to draft the screenplay of the videogame.

The model is taken from those used in cinematography which changes according to the situations.

The platform allows students to  work by using all disciplines, interacting with narrative solutions and experimenting within a community.

DP5: Promoting cross-fertilization of knowledge practices and artifacts across communities
Padlet, Google Drive, Scratch DP6: Providing flexible tools for developing artifacts and practices

 

Living in a digital era

Technology today has a great impact on our life making it either easy and simple or complex and troublesome. This impact is in every aspect of our everyday activities, where technology helps us in simple ways, such as set up a digital alarm to wake up, find a recipe to cook something new or in more complex ways such as helping us schedule activities or plan for the future.

This impact  is clearly seen in education too where students are expected to know how to use it in order to do their exercises or homework. Advanced digital tools today provide the opportunity to present, write, share and visualise ideas and solutions in a more innovative way. Collaboration and cooperation with others demand a more “digital” way. Meeting and talking in person is not enough. Being “digital” is a must.

The students of today are born within technology. Using social media and digital means is more common to them than the students of the past. The following social networks are an inseparable part of their life. Do you know all of them? If the students use them for their everyday interactions with others why not use them as part of their studies too if they enable a better interaction, collaboration, information communication?

Is there any other social network you would like to share? Please comment it over here. Another post with free and easy to use collaborative project management tools will follow up.

facebook
Facebook is a social utility That connects people with friends and others who work , study and live around them.

Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking service that enables users to send and read short messages called “tweets”.

YouTube
YouTube: Share your videos with friends, family, and the world.

GooglePlus
Google+ is a social network and social layer for google services that is owned and operated by Google Inc.

Instagram
Capture and Share the World’s Moments. Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends and family.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS

Tumblr
Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website. The service allows users to record multimedia and other content to a short-form blog.

reddit
Reddit, is an entertainment, social networking and news website where the registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links

Vine
Vine is the best way to see and share life in motion. Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.

Is teaching teaching everywhere?

When we KNORK people had a meeting and workshops in Sofia in January (2015), I began to think how similar problems and challenges with digital technology teachers have in each KNORK country (Finland, Italy, Bulgaria) although the countries are very different. We might think that because, e.g. the resources of digital tools vary so much, because teachers’ digital competence differs so much, schools are so different, e.g., there is not much to talk about between teachers of each country and the experiences cannot be shared to others. On the contrary! The core of teacher profession is learning, at every level and in every country and school, and that is the common ground for teachers to collaborate. In the KNORK workshops, teachers were interested in how to teach better to support students’ future competencies, how to use technology in a meaningful way, and how to organize digital technology so that it supports teachers and students as well as possible. I enjoyed to ee how teachers asked questions from each other, and how they appreciated to see other teachers´ examples (related to KNORK activities). They also shared same problems: lack of time for collegial discussions and planning, limited technology resources and models for supporting students’ knowledge work skills, which is an aim of KNORK project.

Sometimes we think that all travelling around Europe for participating in some projects is just wasting time or “reward trips” without any deeper aims, but again, in our Sofia meeting, I saw the benefits of this face-to-face collaboration, also for teachers. One of the participating Finnish teachers said afterwards that she again got a lot of motivation to continue with the project. Working too much alone or within only in own school does not give wider perspectives – even to see how well one’s one work is. SO looking forward to have a face-to-face meeting in Italy next January!

Liisa Ilomäki, co-ordinator of KNORK, University of Helsinki

Finnish and Maths in Italy

In a Primary school in Italy, and more precisely in Lucca, Tuscany, two classes are testing a method to teach maths, which is based on Finnish books, with the aim to stimulate the kids’ knowledge and skills. This experience allowed the pupils to get closer to the Finnish language, to learn some words, but also to increase their memory and to improve their skills in English. For Italian speakers – but also for the Finnish colleagues  – there is a video on the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: http://video.repubblica.it/cronaca/viva-la-matikka-scuola-primaria-a-lucca/188850/187768?ref=HRESS-1 

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!

The Menu

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”.

Gianni Semeraro

Using laptops in class: pros & cons

It is OK to bring a laptop to the lecture? Nowadays, the question concerning the usage of laptops in the university should be posed rather differently: what we should do with the laptops that have already flooded our classrooms?

As Dan Rockmore [http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-case-for-banning-laptops-in-the-classroom] writes in his article in “The New Yorker”, today’s university can be considered as “the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures)”. The important question is whether teachers and lecturers are able to do anything to mitigate the consequences of this “ill-conceived union”?

On the one hand, some research show that using computer in the classroom can be harmful for the whole enviroment. The user is not focused on the lecture because he or she at the same time tries to listen, write an e-mail, make notes and comment on a friend’s picture on facebook. It also distracts other students, who rather prefer observe the actions of a laptop-using colleague than to pay attention to the lecturer’s talk. Last but not least, the teacher’s concentration is also harmed due to lack of eye-contact with the students and general distraction among them.

The other side claims that notebooks were not always used only for making important notes: after all, their margins have always been full of doodles and written chats. Another crucial argument is that students use a computer because it allows making notes quicker and do the fact-checking while listening. We can also  encounter the opinion saying that nothing really has changed because of the laptop’s presence in the classroom. Dennis Baron [link:http://illinois.edu/blog/view/25/87314] even wrote that “pretending to pay attention is one of the most valuable skills I learned as a student” and laptop is just an another version of reading adventure novels hidden behind bigger textbook’s cover.

Although the idea to ban laptops in the classroom finds probably a considerable group of supporters (often equipped with forceful arguments), more than a solution it seems like throwing baby out with the bathwater. The complete prohibition should be considered like the teacher’s defeat rather than the prolific solution. The important thing is to realize that laptop won’t disappear from our classrooms so we have no choice but to agree that less restrictive solutions have to be worked out.

At first, teachers should clearly define their attitude toward the in-class laptop usage. It is important to do it at the very begining of the semester, and it should assume the shape of an ethical contract. It is also possible to reorganize the class in order to create a separate area for laptop-users. Another solution is to ask the students not to use their computers for a moment when something that recquire special attention is being explained.

The problem is still open and it certainly demands a wider discussion. For further information please visit: http://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/Journal/Reviews/Pages/Research-In-Class-Devices.aspx#.VFoMvxZZ1dh

Edited by Jacub Misun and Patrycja Bakowska