On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through the PC ESE program, to attend an English teaching class at the University of Florence. Initially, I thought we would be sitting off to the side of the class observing the English teacher teach the Italian elementary education students. However, that was not what the Italian professor had in mind.
Dr. Guerin asked us to discuss the different elements of our lesson plan structure to the class. Normally, that would not be a problem. However, this was a class of 300 Italian students whom I did not know if they would be able to understand us at all. Brooke and I stood in front of the class and went section by section through our lesson plan format, describing the main components as well as examples of information you would find in each section of the lessons we both brought along. The class seemed very interested in what we had to say.
The English teacher explained to Brooke and I that the structure of the Italian University has them learning the theories discussed in education for the first two years. It is not until the third year they begin their internship and start observing students in a school setting. That struck me as very interesting because from the start the program PC offers requires some amount of interaction with school-aged kids, whether in the classroom or in an after school program, starting freshman year. Because the group of students we were presenting to was a group of third year students, they had a lot of questions about lesson plans in general. It was really nice to be able to share and compare teacher education programs internationally.
Following our presentation, groups of Italian students came up to present their final project topics to the professor and class. The final project required the students to incorporate theories they had learned in class to a lesson. The lesson utilized a piece of literature and five concepts they were going to cover when teaching English to the first year group of students in an Italian primary school. The project asked for an overview of the curriculum for the year, month to month, week to week, and day to day if the group chose to split up the responsibilities required of the project in that manner. Since the Italian students have not been asked to write lesson plans at this time, it is more informal. They explained daily procedures as well as specific activities that they were planning to implement when teaching the youngest group English.
I’d be interested to read some of the final projects and see if the structure of the Italian teacher education program prepares them to complete this project with realistic assumptions and expectations of their students. Although the theory is necessary to learn, as you are becoming a teacher, the experience you gain from working with students directly is not something you can learn from a textbook. That’s my personal opinion. Overall being involved in this experience is truly a representation of the unique experience I have had studying abroad compared to being in the US.
On Monday, November 16th, Dr. Hauerwas extended an invitation to me and my friend Brooke, also studying in Florence through... MORE
Year Four of the PC elementary/special education study abroad program is off to a great start.
During orientation week, we’ve discovered the old underground city of Perugia and its more modern upper city, along with the wonderful chocolate for which Perugia is world famous. In Assisi we visited the crypt of St. Francis and saw his life portrayed in frescoes from the late 13th century.
In Firenza, we’ve learned how to buy fruit and vegetables at the local market, where you weigh and price things and print out the final price tag before getting into the check out line. We’ve discovered that the best gelatto is found at small gelattorias, a bit off the main pedestrian paths. Future posts will surely highlight our favorites. And, yes, we found our way to most of our first classes on time.
Looking forward to a special semester of teaching, learning and new challenges. Check back weekly as the PC education students share their experiences in the classroom and traveling around Italy and beyond.
By Faculty Member In-Residence: Mrs. Kathleen Hayes
Year Four of the PC elementary/special education study abroad program is off to a great start. During orientation week, we’ve... MORE
This week the PC education students went on a field trip to the Barbiana School in Tuscany.This school was founded by a priest named Don Lorenzo Milani, and many students who had been kicked out or failed out of other Italian school systems found that they were welcome here. Earlier in the semester, we were assigned a reading written by eight young boys who had attended Barbiana called ‘Lettura a una Professoressa’ (‘Letter to a Teacher’). In the reading, the boys criticized flaws in the Italian school systems. The Don Milani school accepted everyone, and the students who attended the school played an active role in their education.
On the day of the field trip, we met by the Arno River and hopped on a bus. We drove a little over an hour to the base of the mountain that the Barbiana School is located on. Then, we had to hike up the mountain for about an hour from there. I think that we all definitely underestimated the legitimacy of the term “hike”. By the time we got to the top, we were all very tired and sweaty. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. We were surrounded by trees and green, grassy hills and mountains. It was amazing, and really nice to get out of the city for a little while. We went into the tiny school and sat down in the classroom. One particularly interesting thing that we learned from our guide while we were at Barbiana was that anything that the students wanted or needed to use, they had to make themselves. They had even made the tables and chairs that we were sitting on! They referred to this as “learning by doing” because the students certainly learned a lot through creating all of the tools and materials that they needed for their education.
Our guide spoke entirely in Italian, but our teacher was able to translate what she was saying into English for us. She told us all about the founding of the school, and how some of the students came from extremely far away (one boy had to walk over an hour and cross a river to get to the school). It was evident from what our guide was saying that Don Milani really cared about his students. He went to great lengths to ensure that his students got the education that they deserved. The students who attended the school also played an active role in their education. They were able to decide some of the things that they studied based on what interested them. Also, another fact that I thought was interesting was that the students were also teachers. Once they had been at the Barbiana school for a little while, they would be expected to teach their peers. After our tour, we were all starving, and still had to hike back down to the bus! The hike down was pretty hilarious, we were all tripping over our own feet and struggling to keep our balance as we went down the steep patches of the hike. However, all of our efforts were worth it, because we got to have lunch at a local trattoria. It was a very traditional Italian restaurant that our teacher had picked out, and he told us that we would be treated to the “best ravioli of our lives”. The food certainly did not disappoint. We had three different courses of ravioli. The first was filled with a ricotta cheese, and the second two were filled with mashed potatoes (which is a common Tuscan dish). They were absolutely delicious and we were all absolutely stuffed by the time our lunch was over! It was a great field trip, and well worth the hike!
This week the PC education students went on a field trip to the Barbiana School in Tuscany.This school was founded... MORE
I cannot believe that I am already halfway done with my time here in Florence! I truly have fallen in love with the city and have already created so many memories that I know will stay will me for the rest of my life.
The main reason why I decided to study abroad in Italy was due to my desire to teach English in a foreign country. So far, teaching here has been a wonderful learning experience. I have already taught three lessons in a fourth grade classroom. I teach every Tuesday at Kassel school, which is a twenty-minute bus ride from the bus stop on my street. Although the most students in the classroom cannot speak much English, they are very eager to learn and are excited about me being there. The teacher in the classroom is very helpful with translating things to the class when necessary, and adjusting my lesson to better meet their needs.
For my first lesson I taught the phrases “there is” and “there are” and I incorporated illustrations and facts about New York City. Overall, I was very pleased with the amount of enthusiasm that the student’s displayed along with their eagerness to participate and answer each one of my questions. The students were especially eager to see the Pictures of New York City and learn more about the American culture. Therefore the majority of my lesson was very successful and beneficial for both the students and myself. However, throughout the lesson I did encounter difficulties when trying to explain directions in a clear and understandable way for both the teacher and the students.
My second lesson was based around the verb “to be” and the American Flag. This lesson was more difficult because the students were not as familiar with the verb “to be” as they were about the phrases that I presented during the previous lesson. This made it more challenging to manage my time during the lesson. I found it difficult to evenly distribute time to both major sections that the teacher in the classroom wanted me to address: the American flag, and the verb to be. However, during this lesson I found myself beginning to get to know my students better, which helped when I planned my next lesson. Also, I introduced an attention getting signal, which helped me instill a system of classroom management. Ultimately, this lesson allowed me to learn more about my class and begin to figure out affective ways to introduce topics and assess their progress.
My third lesson was about possessive pronouns, and also about the American tradition of Halloween. This lesson was very exciting for the students because of the Halloween portion. When I arrived, I brought decorations and pictures of costumes, which the students enjoyed very much. I am pleased that I began the lesson with the section on possessive pronouns, because this encouraged the students to focus and remain attentive, since they knew that the section on Halloween would shortly follow. This lesson seemed to be a great success. Most of the students correctly used possessive pronouns when they participated orally, and on their task-sheets.
So far I am having a very pleasant experience teaching in the Kassel School and I am very excited to continue this journey!
I cannot believe that I am already halfway done with my time here in Florence! I truly have fallen in... MORE
I am studying abroad for the semester in Florence, Italy or as the locals would say “Firenze.” I have been here for 7 weeks now- almost half way through this experience- and the time is really flying by! Now that I have been here for a good amount of time I have settled into my new (or not so new) Italian home and I really love it! Firenze is a GORGEOUS city full of things to do. So far my roommates and I have gone to the Duomo (the beautiful cathedral here), the Boboli Gardens (beautiful gardens and greenery), the Ponte Vecchio (main bridge over the river where a lot of good jewelry is sold) and every Gelateria (ice cream place) Florence has!
The city is relatively small and very easy to navigate. My first two weeks were quite overwhelming, especially because I felt like I didn’t know where anything was, but by the third week I was able to understand many directions and now I know the city without ever taking out my map! The apartments here are SO nice. I live in a 6 -person apartment with 5 other PC girls. We have plenty of space with a living room, kitchen, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and lots of common space. The rest of the EDU girls are in apartments throughout the city as well and we live within a 15-minute walking distance of everyone. School is also about a 10- minute walk away, which I love because it lets me explore the city even when I am just walking to class. My roommates and I love to cook in our apartment and use the kitchen nearly every night for dinner. It’s very helpful to have a full kitchen with a stove, oven, and refrigerator so we can cook for ourselves and save our money for traveling around Europe! So far I have been to Pisa, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Switzerland, and Paris. It is very easy to travel from Florence to the rest of Europe, which has become one of my favorite aspects of this experience! I also love staying in Florence and exploring the city that we are living in! I can already tell that this experience will be over in the blink of an eye and that I will miss my Florentine home for years to come!
I am studying abroad for the semester in Florence, Italy or as the locals would say “Firenze.” I have been... MORE