Caitlin in Florence

Caitlin in Florence

Posted by: on December 9, 2016   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

Caitlin Whitaker

ESE Study Abroad Blog

Week of December 4


I can’t believe we are in the single digit countdown to coming home! This has been such an incredible experience it’s hard to believe that we have less than 10 days left. One of the best parts of this experiences has been practicum. Teaching in an italian classroom has been incredible and nothing like what I expected. For starters, I NEVER expected to teach with my hands this much!! And I never expected to teach in a room with no technology. 2 chalboards. That was all I had.  

I don’t know what I was expecting going into this experience. It never really hit me until I got into the classroom that I was teaching English to Italian students. When I walked into the room for the first day the students were so excited and all yelled “good morning” at me. That is why it did not hit me until after I sat down to observe and they all started yelling in Italian. I was attempting to make out the few Italian words I knew, like how to say pizza, pasta and thank you….but none of the students were using those. It was very overwhelming…but I was also excited.

My favorite lesson of this semester was by far the last lesson I taught, my Christmas lesson. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Christmas, so it is obvious that this is by far my favorite subject to teach. Throughout the semester I always made it a point to integrate US cultures and traditions into my lessons whenever possible. I liked to show the students how things are different at home and give them as accurate of a picture of America as possible. When I taught the Christmas lesson we compared Christmas in Italy to Christmas in America and found many similarities and a few differences. For example, in Italy there are no stockings hung by the fireplace. When I was explaining it to the students they thought it was the coolest thing ever but did not understand how Santa could fit anything in a pair of tights!! During the lesson the students were decorating paper ornaments and hanging them up on the paper tree I placed at the front of the room. It was an indescribable feeling to be looking around the room at my little Italian 6th graders as they colored ornaments, writing English phrases on them and randomly bursting into song, with those songs being various American Christmas Carols. I saw the students writing things on their ornaments that I taught them weeks ago. It was such an incredible feeling to see that the students were actually learning and understanding what I was teaching them.

So now as practicum has come to a close, all the weekend trips have ended, and we are in the final single digit countdown, I am realizing more and more how grateful I am for this experience. It has changed me in ways I cannot describe, but I am so thankful for. Florence is a beautiful place to be able to call home for 4 months, but I think I am ready to be back in Friartown!!


Caitlin Whitaker ESE Study Abroad Blog Week of December 4   I can’t believe we are in the single digit... MORE

Alyssa Quagliata: A Student’s Perspective Midway through the Florence Experience

Posted by: on October 22, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

It is October 20th and I am currently writing this blog post as I am studying for midterms because yes they do exist in Florence, and it is crazy to believe that the semester is already halfway done. As I started to reflect on my experience thus far, I could only think of why Elementary/Special Education majors SHOULD go abroad, and struggled to think of any reasons why a student would not benefit from this program.

Adjusting is easier than it seems. Florence is a beautiful city with millions of things to see, allowing for tons of distractions from any of those homesick feelings. And… who would turn down 3 ½ months of pizza, pasta, and bread?

On a serious note, this program has so much to offer. The education program has allowed for students to immerse themselves into a completely new culture in a way that I am sure many education students from other programs do not have the chance to experience. Teaching in an Italian elementary school provides insight into a new culture, far different from our own, allowing for the importance of cultural awareness and acceptance to be experienced first hand. It also allows working with English Language Learners to become a reality, rather than simply learning about this in a textbook and hoping we would get the chance to practice someday. If you asked me a year ago where I would be right now, I would never think that I would have taught a lesson today on the Interrogative, Affirmative, and Negative forms of the verb “to be”. But trust me, it is not as hard as it seems. The program provides for ample opportunities to have class discussions and for students to help each other along the way. In doing so, all of the education majors studying abroad this semester have grown closer and assisted each other in becoming better teachers.

Here are a few pictures from my experience!

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It is October 20th and I am currently writing this blog post as I am studying for midterms because yes... MORE

Orientation at a new practicum school -Florence style: Jenn Mega

Posted by: on October 6, 2015   |Comments (0)|Florence

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Ciao! My name is Jenn Mega and I am spending the semester in Florence, Italy through the Providence College Elementary/Special Education department. I have been here in Italy since August 31st and it already has been such an amazing experience. For anyone (PC EDU or not) questioning whether they should go abroad or not… GO! It is an unforgettable experience that you will never ever regret doing. Florence is a great city that has so much history to explore, but also modern areas as well. It is home to many American students each semester and therefore is a great place to immerse yourself in Italian culture, but also make friends with other American students from different schools! It is easy to get wrapped up in the city center because there is always something new to see or do, but I also have really enjoyed wandering to the other side of the river (the Arno river is the main river that runs right through the heart of Florence) where many locals are. In addition, my practicum school is about a twenty-minute bus ride on the other side of the river. In this post, I will mostly share my practicum experiences because last week was our first week out at the schools!

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For this semester, I was assigned to a 5th grade classroom. In Italy, they refer to grades as classes, so I was actually assigned to “fifth class”. On my first day, we rode to the school and were walked around the entire school by a supervisor. Then, I met my cooperating teacher who doesn’t speak fluent English, but spoke well enough to communicate with me. The day was supposed to be strictly observation, but she handed me a piece of chalk (yes, chalkboards and no fancy smartboards!) and had me jump into the English numbers lesson with her. It was frightening, but ended up going really well and being really fun. The students are so eager to learn because they view you as a celebrity because they are in awe that you’re from America. It makes them really want to try to practice their English which is really awesome and will be helpful once I start teaching my own lessons! The classrooms are very similar to American classrooms with posters on the wall and student work around the room. The biggest difference I have noticed is classroom management techniques – the Italian schools don’t have many. There are no classroom rules or procedures listed in my 5th grade room and the teachers do not seem to care that students chat while they are teaching a lesson. This will be something I have to work through as I teach the students because I am a big fan of classroom management (thanks Dr. Ryan!) and find it overwhelming when there is a lack of structure in the classroom. Overall, the student’s eagerness to practice their English so they can communicate with me will outweigh the relaxed classroom environment and I think this semester is going to be very memorable with these students.

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I will reiterate once more that for anyone on the fence about going abroad… DO IT. Especially for you education majors reading this, teaching these students will be like nothing experienced in America and it will hopefully positively affect the way you feel about being a teacher (like it already has for me). Florence is an amazing city with so much to offer and coming here for one semester and getting to teach children will truly be something you never regret or forget about. I am so grateful to have such an awesome department to return to at PC that was able to provide me this experience – so take advantage of it!

Ciao! My name is Jenn Mega and I am spending the semester in Florence, Italy through the Providence College Elementary/Special... MORE

PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education Program Overview

Posted by: on October 2, 2015   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized


The PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education program begins its fourth year this fall.   All professors and staff involved in the program are excited to have another cohort of students coming to learn about different education practices and build their skills as culturally and linguistically responsive educators.

Additionally, this week information sessions for the Fall of ’16 cohort were held.  If you were unable to attend on Wednesday, see Dr. Skawinski, Elementary Special Education chair or Allie Agahti, Assistant Dean of International Studies as soon as possible.  Sophomores must submit intent to study abroad forms to the education office before fall registration.

The objective of this post is to outline the details of the education component of the study abroad experience.  Each of the components of the program continues to evolve as we build on the experience of previous cohorts.

Diversity in Education Course (2 credits)

The Diversity in Education seminar provides a framework for guided intercultural reflection. Through readings, course discussions, video logs and written journals, students investigate issues of culture, language and education with an Italian educator.

Language and Literacy Course (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide knowledge and skills needed to teach literacy (reading and writing) and social studies in grades 3-6.  Since the practicum experience will be taking place in English as a foreign language classes in Italian elementary schools this course has an emphasis on second language acquisition and its role in literacy development. This course builds on the knowledge gained in teaching literacy in K-2 classrooms (EDU 231) and knowledge of language development (EDU 125).  This course replaces EDU 331 in the ESE course sequence at PC.

EFL and Literacy Teaching Practicum (1 credit)

Field Experience aligned with both the Language and Literacy and the Diversity in Education courses.

  • 40 hour practicum (4 hours for 10 weeks)
    • 1 hour teaching EFL class
    • 1 hour assisting partner teach EFL class
    • 2 hours observing & assisting cooperating teacher

You will be formally observed two times.  The Providence College faculty member will hold regular office hours to support your lesson development and provide feedback on your lessons. Fairfield Florence staff will provide guidance on travel and reimburse bus/train transportation to the school.

Education Field Trips

In partnership with University of Florence Education department, students and faculty involved with the PC Fairfield education program will have several opportunities to collaborate on lesson studies and visit unique Tuscan schools.

Final Thoughts

It is important to note that the experiences in Florence, while aligned with the PC Elementary Special Education program in Providence, are not the same.  Building global competence and culturally and linguistically responsive teaching takes time, multiple intercultural opportunities and guided reflection.  The schools and educational practices in Tuscany reflect Italian culture and perspective; some is the same, but others are unique.  The course work and hours in the field provide students with the time to experience these differences and reflect on what best practices means globally.   Through each of these different learning opportunities we strive to build global competence.   Global competence includes not only building knowledge of other cultures, but also the skills involved in understanding multiple perspectives, intercultural communication and taking action to support both the local and global communities.

An outside of the classroom glimpse of Professor Hayes’ weekend in Florence. 

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  The PC-Fairfield Diversity in Education program begins its fourth year this fall.   All professors and staff involved in the... MORE

A Student’s First Italian Experiences: Lauren Wyse

Posted by: on September 23, 2015   |Comment (1)|Travel


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Hey everyone! My name is Lauren Wyse and I am studying abroad in Florence, and loving every second of it! I have been in Italy since August 11th, so a little over a month, and I’m finally feeling pretty adjusted. I came 3 weeks before the program started, and spent two of those weeks vacationing in different spots of Italy with my family, and the last week I spent exploring Florence with a friend from home who is also studying here. I really feel that this helped my transition a lot.  I also liked the fact that I had a week here to get my bearings before my program began and all the students came, because I knew that once that happened things would be really hectic… but lucky for the PC education students, they had me as their own personal tour guide!

I’ve had so much fun since I came here! I have taken lots of weekend trips already to places such as Perugia, Assisi, Cinque Terre (all in Italy), the French Riviera, and Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest! There are a lot of tour companies here that are geared towards college students studying abroad and most of their trips are all inclusive which is really nice because it takes the pressure off of you having to plan activities, hostels, and transportation.  That way you get to explore Europe… because why wouldn’t you when everything is so close?!

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As for school, I love all of my classes! I am especially excited to start practicum next week and meet my Italian students! I can’t wait to experience it all and be able to see how the school system here differs from what we are used to in America. Luckily I have awesome teachers here that I know are here to help me with the transition.

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Some advice that I have to all PC students is that if you have the chance to study abroad through this program, TAKE IT! I can already tell how much I appreciate this opportunity.  I know the experience I gain here will help me in many ways after I graduate and begin to search for teaching jobs. Additionally I will have firsthand experience in teaching an entire class of English Language Learners, which we all know is rapidly increasing in our American schools. It may sound corny, but studying abroad is such a unique experience that really allows you to find yourself in ways that you cannot while being in the comfort zone of American culture. I am so happy with my decision to study in Florence through the PC Education Program!


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  Hey everyone! My name is Lauren Wyse and I am studying abroad in Florence, and loving every second of... MORE