Claudia Crescente teaches Letters at Liceo Rodolico in Florence. Here’s how she’s working with her students on Pirandello’s Short Stories for a Year.
Promoting reading along with a conscious use of digital tools
I subscribed to the Pearson-Betwyll project enthusiastically. In fact, this year I have a first year class in the scientific high school where I’ve been teaching for years, now. This class is focused on applied sciences. They’re really lively, curious about everything that’s new or “technological”. However, few of them, really few, habitually read. The ideal context, I thought to myself, to try this experiment: getting them into the reading of a literature master through a tool they too well know, their smartphone.
Furthermore, I had noticed that these digital natives, so fast in publishing their Instagram Stories, often find themselves in trouble when asked to use IT devices in a “professional” way. Here’s another opportunity offered by this project: guiding students towards a critical and conscious use of certain tools that mustn’t be stigmatized but used correctly.
I’ve already taken part in other social reading projects using the TwLetteratura method. The project with Pearson further helped me in proposing my students various didactic activities, assessable also in traditional ways.
The work on the app and in class
How do we proceed? First, in the previous weeks, I introduced the method to the students, making them practice on the last chapter of The Betrothed, published on Betwyll. They worked on paper twylls (140 character grids), so that they could get familiar with it without the fear of publishing. This way they also had the chance to see how the app works and what features it offers.
All the students follow me and follow each other (I follow them all). We stick to the suggested reading calendar as much as possible, also to ensure continuity. I have to admit I’m advantaged in this since I see them basically every day. We alternate reading moments in class, when we analyze the most relevant twylls, to individual reading at home. Due to its brevity, the short novel genre is particularly suitable to the text analysis exercises they’re now well familiar with.
I invited the students to post at least three twylls per day. The first step were original twylls only, followed by interaction twylls replying to each other. The next step will be to comment some “stranger”‘s twylls (but they’re still quite shy on this).
The activity on the platform is of course monitored (through the list “My friends” available in the showcase) and assessed. Those who twyll according to the assignments get a positive note, those who don’t (o do it in a barely relevant manner) get a negative one.
The students already know they will be assessed at the end of the project. I will make them work in the traditional way (in-depth analysis exercises) on one of the novels read together during the social reading activity. I’m convinced that the combination of reading-reflection-debate-synthesis (ouch, those 140 characters!)-sharing will have put them in a deeper and more personal relation to the text.
I graduated in Letters with a specialization in New Media. After a first employment in multimedia publishing, I’ve been enchanted by teaching. I love good literature and search for it. I have a quite patient husband and a daughter I’m madly in love with. I teach Letters at Liceo Scientifico Statale Niccolò Rodolico in Florence.