Motivating towards learning through conceptual maps
The interviewee works in the Istituto Comprensivo “Giovanni XXIII”(Acireale, Catania), which is a resource for the area where it is located because of the lack of aggregative and associative centres for young people except the parish community.
The institute believes that the school is a community of continuous and comprehensive learning where the overall wellbeing of the student should be guaranteed. It is really active on counteracting early school leaving at different levels: material, intellectual and motivational. This is the reason why the school promotes the use of alternative teaching techniques including the use of tablet and other ICT devices.
In the class where the interviewee teaches, there are 6 students with learning disabilities and 2 with other kind of disabilities. The use of the tablet as a teaching tool born from the need to actively include these students during lessons and it has proven effective in doing it. It allowed to increase their attention and motivation to the didactic through group researches and development and creation of learning material.
The first step has been the realisation of a virtual class on Google Classroom where the students can share material, upload the learning material developed as part of their tasks, ask to the teacher further clarification and feedback, receive further learning material from the teacher.
Google Classroom logo
Each student has a google account and access to the platform.
Due to the peculiarities of each student and the different cognitive styles, each lesson is made up of different moments:
- Overview of the topic to be addressed
- Projection of images, documentaries or movies
- Group work: elaboration of a particular aspect of the topic suggested by the teacher
- Exchange of information among the different groups to have a complete framework on the topic
Also the learning objectives are set according to the student’s characteristics, attitudes and readiness levels.
The class is divided into 5 groups with 4-5 students each. Each group has a student, called tutor, helping and supporting students with difficulties both in using the iPad and in the comprehension of the lesson. Everything is done under teacher’s surveillance who moves around the class during the whole lesson. In this way, she can monitor students’ work and their participation to the activities. Furthermore, the interaction between teacher and students is facilitated and eased in setting different from the traditional one (frontal lesson).
Lessons are performed through the use of different apps, in particular the ones to create conceptual maps.
According to the interviewee, the most effective app to favour the students’ inclusion is Super Mappe (http://www.supermappe.it/).It allows to create conceptual maps by using different kind of sources (e.g., e-books, PDF files, websites, videos, documents, notes) in the same page where the map is being built.
Super Mappe logo
The app could be used both in the tablets and in the interactive whiteboard.
Another app that the teacher uses is Popplet Lite which can be used on iPads.
The conceptual maps are developed and realised within the groups but also autonoumsly. They have been proven to be a very useful way to memorise concepts and to learn in a more intuitive way by combining written tests with images or short videos.
Along with the conceptual maps, the teacher also uses Quick Video, an app to create videos on an easier way. Usually, each group is assigned with a topic to be addressed during following lessons. Groups can also create a video to be showed in class in order to
Popplet Lite logo
explain the relevant topic to the other students.
Quick video logo
All the works realised in class are then uploaded on the shared Padlet of the school in order to be available for other students and for future lessons.
As per teaching techniques, also the evaluation methods differ. Students can be evaluated through class discussions, written elaborations, multiple choices tests and group work. Except class discussions, all the other evaluation are done also through the iPad and the teacher can correct them directly from the platform.
Since the beginning, students have been improving their abilities in learning different kind of topics, but more than that their motivation and interest has increased. The playful side of these teaching techniques has eased the learning path of involved students as well as teacher’s work.