The 1st meeting of the INTELed Teacher Professional Development (TPD) program was organized and delivered successfully by the INTELed CESIE staff (Dr Rita Quisillo, Dr Laura La Scala). The meeting was attended by 16 teachers working with SEN pupils in mixed classrooms.
The INTELed project (www.inteled.org) aims to support teachers in acquiring knowledge and skills about the use of multi-sensory technology for Special Education Need – SEN children (in inclusive education contexts) as well as to develop a methodological framework for training teachers based on embodied cognition and multi-sensory technologies.
The first part of the meeting in Palermo started with the illustration by Dr Laura La Scala of the different research phases that preceded the implementation of the TPD method. We gave a brief illustration of the national education policies concerning SEN teachers and we showed our expectations and objectives on the TPD.
We administered teachers (at the beginning and during the training) a questionnaire on their preliminary knowledge. All teachers agreed with the need to know more about the multi-sensory technologies for embodied learning so to have a more stimulating environment for inclusive teaching. The applicability of such games in science and mathematics could then be of great help to them.
During the second part of the meeting, we tested with the teachers the existing games, such as the angle makers and the math mage, using Kinect motion sensors. By January, the participant teachers will have then the opportunity to test the motion sensors in their classes, adapting games and learning to the need of SEN pupils.
To better understand if Kinect technologies can be useful in the daily work, we asked teachers to divide into groups of 5 for a brainstorming activity. During the brainstorming teachers reflected on how INTELed methodology and motion sensors can be introduced in their classes, what are the methods teachers already use and those that they would like to introduce.
At the end of the reflective activity, they all agreed on the importance of movement for learning. The movement is the basis of many teaching methods already in use in Italy, so that it helps children to be more confident to the environment/spaces and the people with whom they interact. This type of learning has a different impact from student to student and it is very important the presence of the teacher (who acts as a director in giving directions), as well as the presence of general education students/not SEN ones to have a cooperative learning based on a “peer to peer approach”. Team building is very important in Italian inclusive educational system, so that non-verbal communication and games-based activities are very common in classes. Teachers agreed with the importance of a more interactive learning, introducing and focusing on the “flipped classroom” not-traditional learning. In conclusion, traditional and multimedia learning, with the use of different languages and tools, would foster the learning of all students, general education and SEN ones. Kinect sensor games could make all students to be more collaborative and interested in school contents.
This first training was a good opportunity for teachers to meet and sharing good practices. That’s why we focused well on the importance to foster relationship between teachers, inviting our participants to join the INTELed Community of Practices, COP: https://www.facebook.com/groups/178585362871649/
The INTELed TPD will run until May 2019 and teachers will have the possibility to integrate embodied learning methods, using kinects in their classes and evaluating the didactic, emotional and relational impact of them on pupils. The 2nd meeting will take place in Palermo on January 14th, 2019. We kindly thank teachers, from all the school involved in the INTELed project, for such an active participation!