- School/Institution: Trentino Federation of Kindergartens & Computer Learning.
- Country: Italy
- Source: Direct observation of experiences, participation to public events, publication Mancini I., Capraro A., Tanel G., “La tecnologia va nella Scuola dell’Infanzia? – Spunti dal progetto Tecnologie e processi di integrazione sociale”, Università La Sapienza, Trento Uniedizioni, 2014.
- Age of children: 3-5 years
Main characteristics of the practice
The one-year action research, started in January 2014 on five preschools associated with Trentino Federation of Infancy Schools (and still onwards), was aimed at experimenting educational activities involving the use of new technologies – especially of the DST approach in combination with i-Theatre-tool – to promote among children communication, exchange of knowledge and experience in relation to the collaborative creation of narrative artifacts.
The first part of the research, under the supervision of Ilaria Mancini and Cristina Zucchermaglio from La Sapienza University in Rome, has emphasized – within in a pedagogical framework that considers learning as a result of doing together – that the DST approach, particularly in combination with the i-Theatre tool, can be a valuable resource for teaching/learning in childhood as an element inscribed in social interaction contexts and that can be included in wide-breath educational projects in which not all activities are characterized by the use of the technological medium.
Starting from the observation of the experimental activities, in particular, the following main aspects have been highlighted:
- Variety/richness of the experience.
- Characterization of the educational paths according to the different contexts and groups.
- Seamless integration in continuity with the curricular activities.
- Respect of times/rules by children in the use of the medium.
- Supports and nurture symbolic and collaborative playing
- Between the beginning and the end of the experience, some initial distrust/fear of parents and teachers’ respect to technology was overcome (in words reported by a teacher: “I stated that I was against, I never liked technological things… but I found out I liked it a lot, I loved the experience so much; DST coupled with the activity in small groups is definitely functional. I never thought I was going to say this thing … “)
- Stimulated the planning/project design of teachers
General goal of the practice and specific objectives
- Diffusion of ICT in school communities as instruments to support teaching and learning
- Design and experimentation of innovative educational practices with the ICT in small groups
- Advancement of the professional community on the computer-supported collaborative learning
1-year experimentation in 5 kindergarten schools of the Trentino area. Each school has designed different projects/activities at different times
The organization has foreseen the creation of laboratory space for DST with the i-Theatre instrument, typically in continuity with other laboratory spaces (e.g., for drawing, painting, recreational space).
Description of procedures and methodology
The methodology was of DST applied in different ways/groups/projects.
The teacher has been always a director/supervisor of the experience (guiding children but leaving expression to their own creativity).
i-Theatre is a creative polysensorial digitally-mediated narrative-based laboratory for education to multimedia language. Throughout the co-construction of stories, narratives, symbolic representations in audiovisual (multimedia) format – by a structured process underpinning several phases of work with and without the mediation of the digital instrument – children share thoughts and emotions, imagine worlds, develop projects.
It is an innovative technologic instrument, i.e. modular furniture, a playful laboratory context, and an ICT instrument at the same time, providing unique features not comparable with other devices in terms of concept and supported user experience. It provides teachers with a very useful resource, very effective and intuitive, to involve children in small group activities aiming at educational targets in socio-relational, cognitive and language-expressive areas.
The use of i-Theatre in educational practices and projects allows to:
- Promote the development of narrative thinking in a story co-construction perspective
- Foster the development of emotional, symbolic, cognitive, meta-cognitive skills by means of creative and inventive processes allowing children to approach multimedia languages in a personal and original way;
- Integrate traditional expressive activities, like painting, drawing, collage, etc. with the use of digital media in an intuitive and interactive way;
- Promote the intertwine of different languages within narrations that get gradually more complete and complex by the active participation of children who animate characters, add backgrounds, introduce sound and music effects by following a shared learning process of experience and reflection;
- Activate collaborative and cooperative learning processes (e.g., peer learning) that are involved in small groups elaborations, nurturing the development of essential socio-relational competences;
- Support a rich and personalized design of learning paths aimed at develop inclusion processes and to address competences of children with special education needs.
The system has been used in combination with a video-projector to create the essential setting for a “movie-theatre” sharing of the narrative artifacts.
- Illustrated books
- Drawing materials
- USB flash drives
Description of the final product
Only a brief resume of some significant experiences is here reported.
- Path title: Six puppets path for a treasure
- Topic: Mixed groups by age. Invention, drama and narrative through-Theatre in a story with six finger puppets
- Participants, times, materials: 8 children 2 meetings of 2 hours in 2 weeks 1 background (the beach), finger puppets photograph.
- Description: The story was invented together starting upon the proposal of one of the children, and was dictated to the teacher who transcribed it. It was then passed to the dramatization with the instrument. The characters are searching for a treasure on a desert island and do not find it. However, they return home with a greater treasure: their friendship.
- Path title: The city of worms
- Theme: Mixed groups by age. Creation of the story “The worms cities
- Participants, times, materials:
- 8 children 8 matches in 3 weeks “Terrarium” built by children worms modeled and colored by children photographs of the locations (natural elements)
- Description: Some experiences of children (construction of a “terrarium” with various bark, moss, stones, flour …) have been transformed into a narrative creation, invented collaboratively and transcribed by the teacher. The story was then graphically represented and the relative drawings (scenarios and characters) scanned with the i-Theatre. The story was divided in three sub-sequences: the children, in three groups of two, recorded one part each, by participating together in the initial and final part of the story (singing an introduction song and collaborating in the conclusion of the narrative) and in the production of the background sounds of history.
- Path title: The game of monkeys
- Topic: Mixed groups by age. Reinterpretation through-Theatre of the traditional “Goose game”
- Participants, times, materials: 5 children of different ages 5 meetings in about a month The “Goose game” (table version), drawing materials
- Description: Children played a traditional turn of the “Goose game” in order to recall and share the rules and modalities, then they were asked to create a variation of the game, choosing different characters, working on a new path and new rules. The new game has been realized concretely with a card stock, markers, colors, scissors, glue, and the kids played it to verify the correct functioning of all the rules, some of which had been modified. In the last step of the route, the new “Game of monkeys” was transferred on the i-Theatre in multimedia version – with the exception of the two dice that remained as “external mediation” – and the children recorded a real game turn with the machine.
- Path title: the song of “monkeys”
- Topic: Mixed groups by age. Animation through i-Theatre of a song in English on an adjusted basis
- Participants, times, materials: 12 children aged 4 and 5 years, 2 meetings, Song of “monkeys”
- Description: After discussing the contents of the song, the children graphically drew settings and characters, then digitalized them with i-Theatre and the song was recorded. The four children directly involved in the path were invited to move the different characters on the stage, while eight other children sang the song, supported by the teacher of the English language.
- Path title: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
- Topic: Mixed groups by age (postponement). How to cook biscuits to give mum, accompanied by the registration of the recipe with i-Theatre.
- Participants, time, materials: 18 children of mixed ages, 5 meetings in 10 days, cooking tools, biscuits cooked by children, drawing materials
- Description: During “Mother’s Day” children were proposed to cook biscuits to give to their mum and, at the same time, to prepare documentation of the recipe with i- Theatre. At first, children made cookies of different shapes, experiencing concretely what ingredients were needed and the various stages of preparation. Afterward, divided into three small groups mixed by age, they recalled the experience: a group named the ingredients used and rebuilt sequences of the recipe; the other two groups drew graphically the workplace, the ingredients and tools used. At a later stage, the children, this time together once again, re-narrated the process, helped in this case by the drawings. The registration of the recipe was then carried out in three phases, each in charge of a group of children and, in a second time, combined with the other to give life to the final version. The work ended with a time of celebration during which the children offered biscuits to their mums and showed them the video clips created together.
- Path title: One day at kindergarten
- Topic: by age groups (5 years). Video reconstruction of a day at kindergarten, to leave a “baton” to the children of three years that would arrive in next September.
- Participants, time, materials: 16 children of 5 years, 4 meetings in 2 weeks, drawing materials
- Description The first meeting was about the discussion among children, divided into three small groups, to reconstruct the key moments of a school day; the teacher noted. Later, this time in a large group, children rebuilt and shared the moments that emerged in the three small groups, and agreed upon a shared plot. Afterward, the children, working in pairs, made the drawings necessary for storytelling (the school environments, characters, objects …). In the last step, again divided into three small groups, children recorded the narration of their school day, then edited it in a unique sequence, autonomously by using the i-Theatre. During the “welcome day” children of five years then had the opportunity to present to new members and their parents the video clip made.
The experimental results of this experience, still ongoing in the schools involved, with respect to educational work around the new languages and DST approach with the i- Theatre tool, pointed out:
- The value of the choice of working in small groups (with a methodological foundation based on collaborative and peer learning)
- The role of teacher’s in professional development as director of the experience
- The creative dimension that arises out of a strong combination of flexible (playful) but strong (precisely defined) planning of activities
- Children were highly engaged and started to make some autonomous plays after the experience
- Importance of preparing a good laboratory setting for the activities
- Need for teacher training on DTS / storytelling
- Critical point: need activity of rotation in small groups
INCLUDED – Digital Storytelling for Inclusion