The 3rd short term joint staff training event of the project I.D.E.A.! Together We Can! - Individuals with Disabilities Education Aim - took place in Montorio Romano, Italy, from 27th to 31st May and was successfully accomplished.
There were 24 participants - teachers, coordinators and education staff – in the meeting at Istituto Compreensivo “Giuliano Giorgi” to attend several training sessions and workshops concerning Italian inclusive school (the evolution of the school inclusion in Italy and the importance of the values enclosed in the concept of inclusion, the school documents about SEN students, the emotional / psychological variables of the teaching / learning process and best practices for inclusive education, hypothesis of workshops and research); the Italian Excellence in Deafness (education of children with deafness and sign language in context and as means to express emotions); expressivity through painting, art, oral and writing; showing feelings and emotions through inclusive media, tools and strategies, dramatization; a case study - working on an official platform for the elaboration of PEI; cooperation with a catering and hotel management (high secondary) school (from school to job: training for an independent life). There was also opportunity to learn about heritage of local, regional and national culture, therefore enhancing knowledge and European citizenship.
All planned activities focused developmental skills and social inclusion of students.
The Italian team was tireless throughout the mobility, planned and organized all activities carefully, following the project’s plan, gave support to partners at all time, ensuring their safety and well being; they were always present, escorting the group and providing translation for each activity and, consequently, communication in English with and within the international group.
Arrival day for all partners. In the evening all partners gathered at restaurant/pub Mamma Mea for welcoming dinner and presentation of new team members in mobility.
At 8.30 a.m. the group was transported to Monteflavio’s library, a small but very cozy restored building.
At 9.00 a.m. started the official welcoming of the partners, in Monteflavio, in the presence of the Vice Principal Milani Maria Antonella, the mayor of Monteflavio - Ferrante Lanfranco, the mayor of Montorio - Di Bartolomeo Domenico and the mayor of Nerola- Granieri Sabina. This was also the moment to introduce part of the Italian Erasmus team. Afterwards, took place both the official presentation of partner coordinators and teams of the the i.d.e.a.! Together We Can Erasmus+ project and the Italian coordinator presentation of the Italian legislative system for inclusiveness with time for debate.
At 9:45 a.m. the "Inclusion Protocol" - that each Italian school must fill in and share with the Regional School Office, the school staff and the public – and PEI - an Individualized Educational Plan for disabled students – were presented through PPT presentation and open discussion supported on Italian legislation; there was also time to clarify some specific information related to identification, selection and development of measures, decision and application procedures, parent’s role and implication in the process.
At 10:15 a.m. it was time for coffee break in the presence of some parents and students, a small snack with typical sweets and cakes.
At 10:40 a.m., partners and host staff, in mixed groups, exchanged observations and ideas on a given case study, as well as on the official platform SOFIA for the elaboration of PEI according to ICT guidelines. Groups simulated the filling of a PEI, with the given information, considering measures to overcome needs; groups were formed by elements of the various countries, sharing different opinions according to each one’s reality in comparison to the Italian one.
After lunch, the group visited Villa Adriana – an interesting and enriching visit to an emblematic UNESCO World Heritage Site and a large Roman archaeological complex which granted some understanding of local history and culture.
Dinner was served at 19.30 p.m. at Torres Enoteca in Montelibretti. In this restaurant some students of the catering and hotel management (high secondary) school in Palombara Sabina stage every year. Moreover, young people are often given the opportunity to work with a temporary contract aimed at vocational training and inclusion. An informal moment to strength bonds among participants and share some musical traditions of each partner’s cultures with singing performances.
Morning started at 9:00 a.m. with a warm welcoming reception in IC “Giuliano Giorgi” Montorio Romano in the presence of the Headmistress Mrs. Mariangela Francucci.
The students from infant, primary and lower secondary levels interpreted the Italian and European anthems and other songs. Then, a public presentation of the different partners took place, with the exchange of some souvenirs, in the presence of the school staff, students, some parents and local residents curious with the friendly excitement that was sensed in the courtyard of the school in Montorio Romano. After that, there was a tour around the premises.
Then, at 10:00 a.m. started a plenary session at school with university Professor Maria Teodolinda Saturno on the topic “Meeting the emotions - the inclusive education in Italy and the psychological variables in the good practices”.
Maria Saturno is a Special Needs teacher at the Art School “G.C. Argan” in Rome. Expert in inclusive education for deafness and learning difficulties; she held Italian L2 courses for foreign and deaf students. Her studies and long experience in videos and theatre production (Orazio Costa’s apprentice and assistant) addressed her towards educational research and inclusive use of different didactic tools and media: drama, video, writing, visual arts and web. Lecturer to Special Needs Teachers trainings in some Universities in Rome, she is now working as an author and a blogger as well as a lecturer. The goal of this training and research session was to promote a community of practice based on the comparison and reflection on the methodologies and best inclusive practices, with reference to the emotional variables of the teaching/ learning process.
The first part of the day was dedicated to the evolution of the school inclusion in Italy and to the importance of the values enclosed in the concept of inclusion.
The emotional variables were the subject of the narration and viewing of video-documentaries of some inclusive projects realized at school.
In the afternoon participants attended an expressivity workshop (both in painting and oral) with the pupils of the 5th year of the primary school of Istituto Comprensivo “G. Giorgi”. The activity focused on the autobiographical narration: a story told by a boy with the purpose of bringing out emotional empathy, a sense of identity with regard to diversity. All in all, after a brief period of quiet, with background music and along with the images of an under the sea video, the students were invited to draw some aquatic element. As soon as they finished drawing, they went to read a 30 meters length roll of a SEN student’s diary. Afterwards, they answered some questions on paper and interview format related to that diary. The aim was to know what emotions it aroused in them and what deductions they made about the author of the diary.
It was followed by a moment for exchanging views, sharing opinions, reflecting and debating, also on emotions and the narrative-autobiographical method. Self-assessment activities were held at the end of the work session and workshop.
The lecturer also displayed examples of the work of some young people integrated in regular classes, for example in reading, painting, video and theater projects (emotions brainstorming).
The group had dinner at Agriturismo and frantoio Palmieri in Acquaviva di Nerola - an agrotourism and olive oil mill. The area where the grouping of schools is situated is very rich in agriculture, especially olive groves. So, at dinner this day, we had the opportunity to taste various delicacies made with local products.
In the morning the group was driven to the city of Rieti.
At 9:30 a.m. began a visit to a catering and hotel management (high secondary) school, named Istituto professionale per i servizi alberghieri e ristorazione - Ranieri Antonelli Costaggini, that has the strongest level of inclusion in Rieti. The group attended a presentation of its best practices and projects for the inclusion of SEN students as well as their experience and participation in Erasmus+/European projects. Then, it was time to pay a visit to the kitchen and the laboratories where students train according to the institution’s "open classes" project. We tried some sweets made by the students and had the opportunity to interact with them acknowledging their catering skills and communication abilities in a foreign language.
After, it was time for a brief tour to the beautiful historic center of the city of Rieti, the capital of the Sabina region.
In the afternoon, back in Nerola, the Italian team carried out two workshops: infant school kitchen workshop and primary school traditional, popular music and dance workshop that enabled participants to observe class strategies from kindergarten to primary school (cooperative learning, tutoring, peer to peer education).
So, in one workshop we made butter cookies with 5 year old students that comfortably performed tasks in small group dynamics. In the other workshop traditional dances and songs were taught by a local cultural group in an attempt to keep alive the culture of their ancestors. Unfortunately, it was not possible to attend the InsideOut jigsaw workshop about emotions which will be held in an already scheduled Webinar.
Meanwhile, the 3rd coordinator’s meeting occurred to discuss, assess and deliberate on the following topics: monitoring of activities and short-term joint staff training events; project’s indicators, mobility tool access, dissemination procedures and celebration of Erasmus Day 2019 planning. There was also place for some useful information given by the croatian coordinator for the next mobility to this country. The meeting was interrupted at 16h30 and restarted at around 18h00 to complete its agenda.
Despite the persistent rain over the last few days, we were not deterred from making another cultural visit in order to understand a bit of Nerola’s history, this time to Castello Orsini (Orsini Castle), right next to the school: a medieval 10th century Romanesque style castle situated on top of a hill above the town; documentation places the castle in the hands of an aristocratic Roman family - the Orsini - by 1235. Ultimately, the castle would be sold in 1728 and, in the 1867 attack on Rome, it was used as shelter by the Garibaldini. The castle is now transformed into a hotel.
On this day, awakening was quite early in order to be in Rome at 9:00 a.m. to visit the Public Institute for Deaf Students. After a welcoming speech, there was a plenary session with a trainer specialized in linguistics and hearing impairment - Maria De Monte - the issue being children with Deafness: identity, family, linguistic exposure and communication difficulties and use of sign language in context.
After that, speakers Mele E. and Gianfreda G . talked about emotional language and expression: the sign language as a means to express emotions; how the "oralist" and the "signing" of a child expresses his/her own emotions, teaching emotions in a formal educational setting and the role of schools in the education of a deaf person.
Speaker Accardo A. referred to special didactics in the compulsory school and to education for deaf children in Italy.
From the speeches, simultaneously translated into the English language, it could be perceived the process of inclusion of deaf people in Italy: its legal, social, didactic context, experiences and good practices that were disclosed by primary and lower secondary school teachers with a long didactic experience with people with deafness and multideficiency.
Then, lecturers guided the group along a visit to the school in the ISSR (Istituto Statale per Sordi di Roma- State Institute for the Deaf in Rome)
Formerly an exclusive institute for deaf children, it now presents itself as a school where true inclusion is practiced. Classes do not exceed 12 students and the only condition for the creation of a new class is that at least one deaf student participates in it. All students at this school learn sign language to communicate with each other. Within the visit there was a presentation of the educational framework of the deaf student and their families, as well as a reflection based on the emotions of non-listeners concerning their relationship with deaf peers, how they understand them and interact. We listened to the testimony of two school teachers, clearly very involved in this school’s system that revealed a bit of their experience. At the same time, participants had the opportunity to listen to the university of Roma 3 dean, who gave an important account of practices occurring in higher education to foster the full inclusion of deaf students in university.
After lunch, there was time for an amazing walk into Renaissance and Baroque Rome: Piazza del Popolo, via del Corso, Piazza di Spagna / Trinità dei Monti, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Colosseum, … Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of art, architecture and culture on display. In every corner, ancient ruins evoke the power of the former Roman Empire.
Returning to Montelibretti, we dined at the already familiar Mamma Mea, with its magnificent appetizers, pastas, pizzas and friendly service.
The last day began in the parish center of Nerola, where students and teachers of lower secondary school in Acquaviva di Nerola presented their projects for inclusion and emotions. We heard some famous interpretations of Beethoven, Anthem of Joy, and John Lenon’s Imagine. We watched the PPT presentations of the projects undergone by the students, of course, in English.
In this party atmosphere the exchange of mascots took place. Each coordinator made a small speech summarizing the adventures and experiences of the mascot to be delivered in his/her country and welcomed the new mascot, which will travel to a new country after this mobility in Italy.
Then, caregivers offered a coffee break full of local sweets, salads and pizzas. It was also possible to dialogue with some very friendly students who showed great enthusiasm and curiosity about each partner’s country.
At 10:45 participants were divided into 3 groups to enroll in different workshops; Feelings in Action in Montorio lower secondary school; I love leggere (I love reading) at the lower secondary school in Monteflavio and Food and Art workshop in Acquaviva.
In the Food and Art workshop in Acquaviva participants attended cooking, modeling and painting activities. Teachers guided students to work out chickens made of egg white, olives and carrots. In another room the pupils made chocolate filled cookies soaked in coconut – hum! Delicious! Other group of students created varied images of plaster and clay and painted them.
Curiously, there was a student who showed up playing the concertina which cheered others and got them to sing and dance for a moment.
Back in Montorio, where we started this journey, we were welcomed by a group of students in an English class that got us involved in the activity Feelings and Emotions. The well-known emoji were the starting point for small groups to work out how to recognize and express feelings and emotions; it was followed up by letter soups, short dramatizations, implicating students and teachers, to foster vocabulary and behavior. The class had three students with specific support but whose difficulties were completely diluted in this inclusive activity.
I love Reading in lower secondary school in Monteflavio, gave way to the observation of cooperative learning, tutoring, peer to peer activity upon a previously reading assignment. Again, in a set environment (low calm music, teacher’s warm voice, at ease attitude in class) students were asked to draw /write their perception of certain elements suggested by teacher’s given mottos. At the end, they were supposed to have expressed their inner emotions and perception of reality. This way, they should learn how to deal with emotions and feelings of their own and of peers, fight exclusiveness, solitude, reinforce self-esteem and relationships. There was also time for a different follow up activity: watch digitally retold stories that the students disseminate through QR (Quick Response) codes, and association of reading, writing, oral and digital skills.
Last but not least, the time came for the final outcome of this marvelous week – a magnificent open to the public musical celebration in Nerola’s main square: a performance of the infant and primary school, all about inclusion and emotions, supported in famous Disney Stories and characters.
It was noticed the great commitment of all community: students, teachers, auxiliaries, families. Each school class, properly adorned, presented an excerpt from a Disney film, both in Italian and English.
Congratulations to all of you! You filled our hearts with joy and happiness!!
To end up, a final roundtable was held to share some ideas about inclusive school vs. special school: the Italian team prepared a brainstorm to foment reflection upon weaknesses and strengths of the subject; made available major literature and scientific studies that support pedagogical and didactic options. Participants were given the opportunity to share impressions and information, make comparisons to one’s realities and gather knowledge and data to foster inclusive practices in the nearby future.
As it should be, the farewell dinner at Ristorante Allo Scapicollo in Monteflavio was very lively and once again the partners contributed with their vocal talents, interpreting songs from their countries. A chance to taste some more delicious Italian food, laugh together, strengthen friendship bonds and farewell wishes.
Adio Roma! Grazie a tutti!
Non chieduti di cosa ha bisogno il mondo…
Chiediti cosa ti rende felice… e poi fallo!!!
Il mondo há bisogno solo…
… di persone FELICI!!