21st Century Schools
My name is Susan Gagliano, I am an American who has been living in Florence, Italy for almost 25 years. I have taught English as a foreign language for 13 years in the Italian school system. In 2008 I earned my degree in professional counseling, and immediately starting seeing the endless synergies between my training in communication, listening, non-judgement based methods and my interactive with my colleagues, students and their families. In addition to my work as an English teacher, I also developed a program for parent workshops, groups in which parents had the opportunity to share their thoughts, fears, desires, create greater awareness of their own parenting styles as well as child development, and create a community-wide help system that the parents could continue to rely on and contribute to, even once the workshops were over. I also became interested in teacher training, designing courses that involve improving motivation, creativity and group cohesion, as well as managing conflicts, understanding more about emotional and social competence and making kids feel more central to their learning.
I have now left teaching children to focus more on adults, in teacher training courses (Erasmus Plus) for Europass Teacher Training Academy, Florence, Italy, as well as projects for Italian teachers financed by the Florence City Hall. I find working with teachers extremely rewarding, stimulating and fun. You can learn more about my school here:
I have just completed this fascinating, information packed first lesson in this course. I am very excited to learn more about how to help other teachers organized and incorporate this knowledge, these skills and attitudes in the their work with students. (from Padlet)
Key Points on Teaching
This module talks about the kind of environment and the kinds of tools that facilitate competence based learning. Undoubtedly, a non-traditional school setting facilitates a more interactive environment, which means desks that can move easily into pairs or groups of any size. In such a setting, teachers can encourage learning through open-ended problems, debates, experimentation, exploration and creativity.
The learners are immersed in a social-learning context, no longer an individual relationship to their own learning, with a kind of uni-directional relationship toward the teacher's assessment of the individual work. Collaborative work is a real life skill that will be required of our learners in almost any type of future job they may have, where they will need to know how and where to find the information they need, divide up the responsibilities of work in an organized manner, communicate well and listen well. In addition, learners are more likely to remember concepts that they learn on their own. Finally, simulation of real world situations motivates the students to find different solutions to problems that are meaningful to them. Project-based, Inquiry-based, Problem-based and Experiential-based learning are all methods that offer transversal experiences in fostering competences.
Assessment of this kind of learning also reflects new thinking. Whereas summative assessments, based on averaging tests and quizzes, are still the most common, formative assessment, peer assessment student self-assessment become fundamental tools to truly providing the feedback learners need on a myriad of skills, attitudes and knowledge acquired. However, some countries have national testing systems for university entrance, based on content knowledge, which are not in line with competence based curriculum. In these cases, summative assessment is still needed although some research indicates that this higher-ordered thinking required in competence based education actually prepares the learners even better for such testing.
Here is an amazing example of how to engage students through PBL:
I find all these concepts exciting and even more so when I see it applied. I would love for our schools in Italy to have those kinds of desk like the Finnish school has, it is very hard to move the desks around and it is the first obstacle to more interactive learning. I know lack of funds is a problem in our country, but there are many aspects of interactive social learning and real world simulations that can be done even without the latest in technology. (from Padlet)