venerdì 8 luglio 2016

Let's recap! - Not me: YOU!

End of school was approaching, and with it the final state exam that all Italian 13th-year students must sit for in order to graduate from high school.

When nearly all has been done and the long list of authors and topics printed on the final programme looks pretty worrying, students always ask for revisions and repetitions of our syllabus.

But not this year...

With my 5DU students we decided at the beginning of the year that no "passive revision" would be done at the very end. That is almost a waste of time...

No, no, no! We would do it in progress: once in a while, two or three of them would make their own presentation on a topic, a character, an issue which they found particularly interesting.

They accepted my proposal with mixed feelings: on the one hand they were aware that this would help them develop speaking and digital competences; on the other, they did not know where to start from! It was something completely new to them.

Here is a poll we had in class:

Below are just some of their presentations. Well done class :)

Francesco got hooked by Sir Ken Robinson's ideas about school education presented at a TED-show we shared on Edmodo. He decided to prepare a Prezi on it:

First class Padlet on Romanticism:

Class Padlet on "I Wandered Lonely as I Cloud"

Alessia and Anna researched the issue of Child Labour in the Victorian Age:

Chiara made a Prezi on David Copperfield:

Arianna developed the topic of the female role in the Victorian Age:

Shanna on The Picture of Dorian Gray:

Neda made a Prezi on Tess of the d'Ubervilles:

Eva ed Elisabetta made a Google Slides on the War Poets:

Now that the exam is gone and my students have received their diplomas, I can tell them that I am really proud of what they have done this year! Although some were initially really weak in English, they have improved a lot and all did pretty well at the exam. 

I hope they will remember what we have learnt together: 

"There are many reasons 
why one should always try to make an effort and evolve! 
If I look at you class, I can see there are at least 16 reasons" 
- yes, sixteen + me = that makes 17!"

I wish them the best of luck for their future!

And hope they will remember Mr Einstein's words: 

Once you stop learning, you start dying. Albert Einstein Quote
By Dondi Razon, CC BY-SA 2.0 Via Flickr
Goodbye Class 5DU

lunedì 30 maggio 2016

There's a hero for everyone! - by Class 3DU & 4EU

Our project on heroes was so popular this year that also the students of other classes decided to have a go on it.

My 11th and 12th formers produced very nice projects on a hero or heroin of their choice.
I encouraged them to avoid working individually and to do something in small groups.

They could choose among various digital tools to produce their multimedia presentations. Some chose Powtoon, Tackk or Prezi. Others tried out Adobe Slate, which now has changed its name into Adobe Spark.

Again, to learn how to use these tools I simply provided my students with a toolbox of video tutorials, like the one below on Adobe Spark:

Unfortunately when their projects were finished, it was already late spring and we did not have enough time to work properly on their presentations.

This was really a shame, because they loved working on their projects and it was like having rehearsed for months and being ill on the day of the show! What a pity!

Anyway, here are some of there projects.

Let's start with the 11th-year students from Class 3DU:

ANTONELLA, LARA and DOUNIA chose Hanan El-Hroub, the Palestinian teacher who was awarded the Global Teacher Prize last year.

Click here to see their presentation.

 Click here to view their presentation

Alexandra, Michela and Valentina prepared a TACKK on J.K.Rowling, the author of the popular Harry Potter Saga. 

Click on the image below to see their full Tackk.

See on Tackk

Davide and Marco made a Prezi on Chris Kyle, an American sniper who saved many lives.

Marianna, Martina C. and Giorgia dedicated their TACKK to Larry Monachelli, one of the New York firemen who were trapped on 9/11 in the World Trade Center.

Click on the image below to see their full presentation.

Beatrice, Chiara and Federica worked out an Adobe Spark to present Rita Levi Montalcini.

Click here to see their full presentation.

And these are the projects made by Class 4EU

Alessia, Letizia and Alice chose Bob Marley as their hero and prepared a Tackk on him:

See on Tackk

Giorgia Martina Lisa and Simona created a video animation about Walt Disney:

Also Alice, Giulia and Eleonora chose Powtoon for their presentation on Libero Grassi, the Italian entrepreneur who was killed by Mafia.

And this is Sara, Simone and Marta's Powtoon on Margherita Hack:

Elisa, Martina, Cecilia, Letizia used Adobe Spark to present Eleonor Roosvelt.

Click here to see their full presentation.

Debora and Francesco chose Rita Levi Montalcini and dedicated a Tackk to this extraordinary woman and scientist:

See on Tackk

lunedì 11 aprile 2016

What is poetry? - by Class 3DU

Have you ever written any line of poetry?
When? How? Why? 
Why do you think people feel the need to write poetry? 
What feelings and emotions would give you inspiration to write poetry?

I asked my 11th-year students to braistorm ideas and give their personal response to the above questions. It was our first lesson on English Literature, which is part of their syllabus starting from senior high school.

I could see a mixture of expectation,  curiosity but also anxiety on their faces: some were afraid of not being able to understand much.

Working in groups definitely helps! 

Each group received a list of questions and one English poem to analyse, in which there were poetic devices and symbols to identify.

Dreams by Langston Hughes
The Eagle by Lord Alfred Tennyson
The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler YeatsA Slumber Did My Spirit Seal by William WordsworthEndings by Derek WalcottJanuary by Ronald Stuart Thomas

To learn new vocabulary, we created a digital mindmap altogether that was shared on our class Google Drive. Not bad, although a bit confusing to have so many students working on the same map!

Next step was an inquiry-based text analysis complete with personal responses that were shared on a Google.doc.

Finally, students worked collaboratively on a Prezi: each group - one slide!
Below you can see their work.

And finally each group presented to the class. Well done!

lunedì 4 aprile 2016

Creeeepy Stooories !!!! - by Class 3DU

Creeeepy Stooories !!!!  - by Class 3DU

"Shall we write our own horror stories, class?"

IMAGE: C0 Public Domain via Pixabay

Big silence in class! - No one dared to answer! 
Many were looking down on their desks... Others were staring at me like an alien had just landed on their planet.... ihihi

"It can be really fun! 
We have just done it in 4EU and they really enjoyed it! Would you like to have yourself a go?"

I saw that some girls were starting to lift heads from their apparently unavoidable obligations....
Some were now listening with a spark of curiosity in their eyes.
Ehm, I thought to myself... It won't be that easy this time!!!

Yes, all classes are different! 
Every teacher is aware of this fact and it is not always easy to bring kids on board. Especially when they do not trust themselves.

Students of this 11th-year class have often felt weaker than they are. They are afraid of competition with others and as a result they tend to do less than what they could potentially achieve!
Somebody before me might have said or done something which has somehow affected their attitude to initiating new things. Or maybe it is just because they do not feel linguistically up to the task. I don't know...

Anyway, I insisted and must admit that I had to struggle a bit in order to have them hand in their projects! 
But I made it!!! Or better: They made it!

Their horror stories are beautiful - some are really exceptional! 
  • Very creative plots!
  • Excellent description of setting, 
  • Very emotional characters and ...
  • Odd finals! 

Exactly what one would expect of a horror story!

Ambra's Buncee

Please take a look at their Padlet on which we have collected all their Creepy Stories. 
To enjoy reading and listening, follow these guidelines:

  • First click on each image, 
  • Then click on "View Profile". You will redirected to the original Buncee created by each student.
  • Hover your mouse first on Soundcloud for special effects 
  • and then on the written text. A sound audio will appear. 
  • By clicking on it you can read and listen to the audio narration in English.

Honestly, what do you think? Not bad at all!
Nonetheless, these kids were still very hesitant...
They did not show much enthusiasm, or at least not as much as in the other class where I introduced the same projects!

Much changed with their peer reviews!

Yes, that was probably the moment in which they started to realize that such an activity was worth doing: all so different from what they normally do at school!!!

Some of them had probably been thinking until then that it was just a waste of time or a lot of effort for no grade! This is the point in Italian schools: we often train our students to work hard provided they are assessed and the grade goes on their school report!!!!

Unexpectedly they discovered that one can learn a lot from other classmates. They enjoyed reading and listening to their peers' horror stories, and I - yes, I was giggling inside of me!

Here are a few pictures of them in the Language Lab.

Listening and watching in the Language Lab.

Very busy and engaged!


Peer reviewing a classmate on Google Forms

sabato 19 marzo 2016

Active learning... - Reloaded!

The Swan Theatre - CC0 Public Domain

Another Inquiry-based project is just over in my 12th-year classes.

This round was about Theatres at the time of Shakespeare.

Someone might object that it is not fair to compare performances between different classes - and to some extent - I do agree.

However, I should say that this experiment has been quite revealing to me: though starting from different levels of competence, students of both classes have worked hard and I am really satisfied with their results!.

I believe it is a good idea to introduce modern teenagers first to the fascinating atmosphere of the Elisabethan theatres before reading Shakespeare's work. They get hooked by the story of the actors, the costumes, the props, the way the audience used to behave in theatres and end up longing to see a play by Shakespeare.
Wow! Exactly what I had wished they would do.

See what they have done in this video! 

The whole working process is shown: from groupwork to look for information and pictures, to the creation of a mutual Prezi to the final oral presentations in class.
This is Class 4EU:

Step One - Flipped Classroom
Students watched a video that my last year-students made last year. They were very curious to see what other students of their age had done before - no matter their mistakes - Peer Learning works better, no doubt! They watched the video for homework and all agreed that it was great to learn from other peers. What a joy for me!

Here is the video from last year 4LCO - Special thanks to Endrit, Rachele, Amanda, Chiara, Jessica, Alessandra, Nina and all the others!

Step Two - Guiding questions
Students had to answer questions while watching the video.

Step Three - Groupwork
Students had to collaborate and negotiate answers to the questions. All texts were written and corrected on shared Google Docs.

Step Four - Prezi Presentations
All together on the same project, students created Prezi slides while others searched for copyright-friendly pictures, with attribution, and pasted text from

This is Class 4EU Prezi - good job!!!

And this is Class 4DU Prezi.

And here some beautiful pictures of Class 4DU students presenting in class.