The ‘Open Book’ project
What were the main aims of the initiative?
This example analyses some possible barriers to inclusion in schools: for example, the didactic methodologies and the tools connected to them. Among them, the structure of school textbooks, mainly presented by the teacher, represents an obstacle to the students’ involvement and learning. The OPEN BOOK project is presented as a support to the traditional textbook. It does not represent a reduction of subject or linguistic content, but considers the relationship between the cognitive process and content (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001) in order to create different levels of conceptual complexity of school books and to drive the recovery, selection and analysis of information (organisers) (Ausubel, 1978).
The main aims are:
Location, setting, Scope, key events etc.
This action-research took place in the scholastic year 2012/2013 in three Italian Schools in Brescia (Lombardia, Italy):
What issues/challenges does the example address?
Excess attention to the quantity of assimilated knowledge can create isolation within the learning process and a distance between teachers and students.
The OPEN BOOK project is not focused on the simplification of content and linguistic structure as a way of helping students adapt to the teacher’s methodology. Instead, it is based on the link between processes and content knowledge, turning attention to the interactions between teachers and students and between students and their peers in class: from individual learning to the co-creation of abilities, knowledge and competences. The Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1934), the concept of scaffolding (Bruner, 1986), the concept of organisers (Ausubel, 1978), and the link between process and content (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001) are the theoretical references that support teaching practice that promotes the involvement and the education of all the students.
How was the Initiative implemented?
The laboratory activity involved 15 teachers of different disciplines who work in three secondary schools (second level) and in two secondary schools (first level) belonging to the Centre for Inclusion (CTI) in Chiari (Brescia).
The action-research took place in two phases:
Phase 1: training of teachers, creation and analysis of examples and involvement of students
Phase 2: application in class and analysis of results
PHASE 1 (2012/2015)
The different sequences involved collective work and a working group with the presence of a leader with experience in this field.
Sequences of the collective work (attachment 1)
Sequences of working group – different disciplines
Sequences of working group – same disciplines (attachment 2)
Sequences of collective work
What where the key Outcomes? What impact/added value did they prove? What were the biggest challenges?
Has the initiative been evaluated or are there plans for this in the future?
An analytical form was used in the evaluation that has driven the discussion toward fundamental aspects, i.e. the correspondence between the students’ needs and the proposed tool (attachment 5).
Initially, focus groups of teachers of the same disciplines verified the coherence of contents, educational processes and organisers.
They then analysed the barriers, difficulties and the functionality through application of examples.
Teachers and students evaluation
A focus group of teachers and students verified the correspondence between students’ needs and the books.
The analysis of the strategy shows important difficulties experienced by teachers:
The focus groups indicated that teachers have problems going beyond the importance of content learning and difficulties in simplifying language and reducing content and also in applying the concept of scaffolding to support students experiencing difficulties.
The problem stems from a pedagogical and didactical culture that attributes difficulty to the individual student, and has a negative view of ‘help’ rather than seeing problems/inability to learn as due to the context, teaching and inadequate knowledge of learning process.
The project presented here aims to identify the pedagogical implieds (reported above) through the discussion of keywords: autonomy, differences, need, adjustment, capability, personalisation, process, freedom of teaching. Later, the influence of the meanings on didactical practices was analysed as a prerequisite for the self-evaluation or self-assessment of didactics and organisation of a class.
Have any plans been made for future direction of the initiative?
The OPEN BOOK project will have a second phase in which the aim is the application of findings and the evaluation of the results.
PHASE 2: 2016–2017
As reported in the phase 1, the different sequences will involve collective work and working groups with the support of an experienced leader.
Application in the class
Teachers and students analysis
What are the main learning points?
The prerequisites to transfer the initiative are:
This is a cyclical process that aims to give continuity to the actions and further increase the sharing of other classes and schools.
Are there further information about supporting materials?
The project is also supported by the following attachments:
Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R. et al. 2001. A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Complete edition). New York: Longman
Ausubel, D., Novak, J., & Hanesian, H. 1978. Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View (2nd Ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Bruner, J. 1986. Actual Minds, Possible Worlds. London: Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass)
Booth, T., & Ainscow, M. 2011. Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools. Bristol: CSIE
Krathwohl, D.R. 2002. A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Wilson Web, 2002
Medeghini, R. 2009. L’inclusione scolastica. Processi e strumenti di autoanalisi per la qualità inclusiva. Brescia: Vannini Editrice
Medeghini, R. 2011. L’inclusione nella prospettiva ecologica delle relazioni. In Medeghini, R., Fornasa, W. (ed.) L’educazione inclusiva. Culture e pratiche nei contesti educativi e scolastici: una prospettiva psicopedagogica. Milano: Angeli Editore, pp. 95–127
Medeghini, R. 2013. Cosa può fare la scuola. In Bianchi, M.E, Rossi, V. Così insegno. Un ponte fra la teoria e la pratica. Firenze: Liber Liberi, pp.32–51
Medeghini, R. 2015. (ed.) Norma e normalità nei Disability Studies. Riflessioni e analisi critica per ripensare la disabilità. Trento: Erickson
Oliver, M. 1996. Education for all? A perspective on an inclusive society, in Understanding Disability, from Theory to Practice. Houndmills: Palgrave
Vadalà, G. 2009. Oltre la differenza semantica. Available from CQIA – Centro per la qualità dell’insegnamento e dell’apprendimento: http://www00.unibg.it/struttura/struttura.asp?cerca=cqia_intro
Wood, D., Bruner, J. and Ross, G. 1976. The role of tutoring in problem solving. In Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, pp. 89–100
Vygotskij, L.S. 1934. Pensiero e linguaggio. Tr.it. Bari: Laterza 1990