- School/Institution: Education Department of Trento Autonomous Province, Infancy Office & Computer Learning.
- Country: Italy
- Source: Direct observation of experiences, participation in coordination meetings, project internal documentation, Tava A., “i-Theatre for the development of narrative thinking and elements of efficiency in learning with new media”, Faculty of Psychology, M.Sc. Thesis on Psycho-social disciplines, International Online University Uninettuno, 2015.
- Age of children: 4-5 years old.
Main characteristics of the practice
One-year action research, going from September 2014 – June 2015, has been planned on 3 preschools of the Autonomous Province of Trento (experience still onwards). The project was aimed at investigating on higher detail the narrative-drama dimension and methodological approach and conditions for the formation of narrative thinking in the relationship with the imaginary, through DST approach in combination with the i-Theatre tool, in particular:
- using symbolic forms of art and quality illustrated book as opportunities of knowledge, discovery and play; which provide, at the same time, forms and structures (plots, narratives), and opportunities to educate a dimension of aesthetic-sensorial and emotional listening/reading (pre-expressive);
- promoting creative education to the languages and “traditional forms of expression” (primary orality, body expression, image, music, song), as essential pre-requirements for the expression with the media and the use of a “multimedia” language;
- working at the emergence of spontaneous forms of symbolic play by children (always with the presence/mediation of the adult educator but while using autonomously the instrument), finally leading to – respecting individual times and rhythms – a complete narrative form (text);
- promoting the co-creation / emergence of a ritual space of the story (narrative climate – fictional pact) with the habit to receive, re-narrate, share stories and symbolic messages in various forms.
General goal of the practice and specific objectives
- State how and if there is an increment in children of inferential competence, metaphorical narrative.
- Check if the I-Theatre can increase these skills.
- Working on pedagogical-didactic resources that the i-Theatre implements.
- Verify that the I-Theatre is functional to the learning objectives.
Proposals for the I-Theatre
- Promote active words and images crossing.
- Making the i-Theatre as a central item in of childhood experience of media.
General and specific training proposals
- Promote video-reading materials.
- Building observation tasks to detect what happens in the interaction with the i-Theatre.
- Observe if the i-Theatre: 1. can operate without adult mediation; 2. promotes socialization; 3. can become a collective book for children 4. moves multimedia mental operations; 5. is told by children tell as an event.
One year experimentation in 3 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). Teachers underlined the importance of preparing a proper educational setting for DST experience.
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 group elaborations, nurturing the development of essential socio-relational competences.
- Support a rich and personalized design of learning paths aimed to develop inclusion processes and to address the 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
The results of the experience have been the most various, from the spontaneous narration emergent from children’s symbolic play, to the re-elaboration of a story plot from a well-know narration as an illustrated book.
As for the observations, the teachers developed and shared indicators and produced a measurable checklist for observations and collected the views of children who have “gathered an idea of DST with the i-Theatre”, on its possible uses and its significance.
Many indicators are centered on narrative skills (eg. “Identifies the main sequences of the story”), others on cognitive processes (“performs inferences”), others on the ability to develop reflection on multimedia tools (“stimulates reflection on different languages and communication channels”), and others on the “socialization” of the technological tool.
As for the interviews with children who have used DST with the i-Theatre, the questions were common to all three schools and had the main purpose in “make them talk” about their experience, creating materials for self-reflection on one’s relationship with ICT.
Questions: 1) what is the i-theatre?; 2) what are you able to do storytelling with the i-Theatre?; 3) what do you do at home with the computer, tablet, etc.?
The main elements emerged from observations and interviews with children:
- Children recognize continuity in the use of ICT between their school experience and their extracurricular experience.
- The extracurricular experience seems to be the primary one.
- The extracurricular experience of ICT has predominantly a playful connotation, more specifically focused on video gaming.
- In the extra-school experience children tend to imitate adults, for example by using “broken mobiles”. 5. In the school experience, there are only a few moments of adult imitation with regard to the use of ICT. 6. Children while developing activities with the DST approach, easily learned all the basic functions of the i-Theater and some of them could accurately describe them.
Elements for the future development of training practices:
- Organization of an advanced path with new narrative models and further exploration of practical observation and analysis of feedback.
- Focusing on the transformation of the narrative functions of the book and the paper-to-digital transition.
- Creating a community with a self-produced collection of training examples and best practices used.
- Organization of the training in several levels, taking into account the different skills and technological and educational interests of teachers, while still maintaining the same training model that focuses on the metacognitive dimension.
- Increase the use of teachers’ software and device to increase audiovisual narrative skills.
- Connect as much as possible the digital learning experience DST with the non-digital, through examples and teaching models.
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:
- An effective working method consisted of three steps 1. Reading/processing history 2. Dramatization/performance with body 3. Work on the i-Theatre
- It is noted that the work with the Theatre provided an added value to the experience of children than the traditional teaching/use of other media (it was emphasized, in particular, the ease and immediacy of the realization of the movie clip by children and of course the wide dimension of social-relationship experience)
- Work must be carried out only in small groups
- An adequate laboratory space to outline the business is essential
- When working with the instrument, important elements highlighted: – spontaneous division in roles by children – the importance of self-correction of errors by reviewing movies ( “micro-teaching”) – the importance of the work (observation and direction) of educators in expressive intentionality
- In the narrative: a)children easily change from the 1st point of view in 3rd person; b) move freely between different expressive interrelated levels: on-screen action and use of body and voice
- In summary, the research and experimentation has been successful (large pedagogical validity) and there is the will to continue the experience; some problems/drawback to being addressed are concerning the organization in teaching time/space/ commitments in relation to other activities in the schools involved
INCLUDED – Digital Storytelling for Inclusion