I.I.S.S. Vivante-Pitagora

Author(s): European Schoolnet
Institution/Organisation: I.I.S.S. Vivante-Pitagora (IT)

1. Profile of school:

1.1 Main characteristics

The business technical Institute "Cesare Vivante" was founded in 1886 as the “Royal Advanced School of Commerce”, under the sponsorship of the Chamber of Commerce of Bari (Italy) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry; it was the first trade and commerce Institute in Apulia region (in the South East of Italy). It was joined with the Institute “Pitagora” in the 2006/2007 school year, (“Pitagora” has always been an Institute with an important tradition of building techniques studies) and became the Institute “Vivante-Pitagora”. It is a mixed school with approximately 753 (439 + 314) pupils and is funded by the state. There are 41 (25+16) classes including afternoon courses for adult pupils, and 108 teaching staff (68+40). There are also 9 administrative assistants, 8 technical assistants, and 11 school support staff.

1.2 Language teaching in the schools

In the first two years the school subjects are: Italian, English, French or German, Maths, Chemistry, Natural Science, Law, Business Studies, Word Processing, Physical Education and Religious Education. Next, pupils can choose which school course to attend among: the I.G.E.A course or the MERCURIO course, or the ITER course (from the first school year). These school course options are described as follows:

I.G.E.A. (Law and Business Studies)

In the last three years of their schooling, pupils develop skills in business matters and in technical language competence. They study English, and French or German, as well as Maths, History, Law, Business Studies, Physical Education and Religious Education.

MERCURIO (Computer Science and Maths)

In the last three years, this school course offers a larger use of computer labs as it aims at specialising in accountancy and business management.
Subjects studied are Italian, English, History, Maths, Law, Business Studies, Informatics, Physical Education and Religious Education.

I.T.E.R. (Tourism business and foreign languages)

The ITER school courses last five years, (pupils aged from 14 to 18); pupils will be able to work as tourist agents or to be employed in other fields connected with tourism development and the trading of tourism services.
It focuses on tourism business and foreign languages (English, French and German); other subjects are Law, Art, History and Geography, Maths, Physical Education and Religious Education.

2. Profile of the language initiative

2.1 Description

The project referred to in this case study is a Comenius Multilateral Partnership project entitled “Partners in patterns” running from 2006 to 2009, with four European partners from Belgium, Sweden and Spain.

The project developed after winning the prize project ‘Crop Circles challenge’ awarded at the European eTwinning Prize competition in 2005/2006 and a European contact seminar in Alden Biesen (Belgium).

Partner schools are:


The project is a multidisciplinary and cross-curricular school project that focuses on the study of geometric shapes in everyday life and, through cooperation of the participating schools, has led to a re-discovery of the historical and cultural heritage of each partner country. In particular, these cultural resources were the means to search for geometrical examples of patterns, similarly to the symmetries that can be found in biology, chemistry or the golden section in the visual arts.

On different dates in all of the participating countries, a “patterns walking tour” has been organised with the pupils being the guides of their partners, looking for “patterns” in local natural and artistic environments (e.g. in Alhambra, Spain - November 2007; in Tongeren, Belgium - April 2007; in Castel del Monte, Italy - November 2008, in Dendermonde, Belgium – May 2009).
Pupils looked around in search of a specific geometrical pattern and when found they took a photo; next they inserted this image in the Dynamic Geometry software Geogebra and through it they highlighted the geometrical properties. Geogebra http://www.geogebra.org is an open source software, free to use and available in many languages; this multilingual feature allowed partners to exchange their work easily.
The language for this complex project is English and that has required the use of the Content and Language Integrated Learning (C.L.I.L) to approach with the setting up of an English-speaking environment for pupils using a foreign language in many school subjects (Maths, Science, History, Arts, Economics).

In the 2006/2007 the project activities started with a “postcard competition” to vote and choose the best photos taken, which could be organised as postcards. The ten “winners” of each partner country were voted from the European partners and the winners of the European selection actually printed as postcards.

The final product (deadline late 2009) will be the preparation and publication of leaflets, postcards, school websites to present these activities to public audiences and sharing all this work with the other European partner schools.

40 pupils are involved in the project in the Italian school, with an age range of 15 – 18. 15 of them took part in the exchange abroad hosted by their partner pupils. The project takes place in curricular time for 25 hours per year. Teachers and pupils also have extracurricular work on this project for approximately 2 hours per week.

3. Evaluation

3.1 Success factors

 

The main success factor of the language initiative in this school is the ongoing language policy and support from the school management body on encouraging international cooperation as well as the personal support given by the Principal. This had the knock on effect of producing two other factors, first an increase in the teachers' interest in international projects and secondly, the involvement and support of the pupils’ families.


In the promotion of these project activities in Bari - Italy, in Europe and in the USA (taking part in IFIP WG3.1 and WG3.5 - Boston 2007 Working Conference "Informatics, Mathematics, and ICT - a golden triangle" http://www.ccs.neu.edu/imict2007/Home.html and in the International OER Exchange  (http://lemill.net/community/groups/pilot-international-oer-exchange , http://www.oercommons.org/) as well as by presenting them on the project website on the Internet, both the pupils and their families have realised the direct benefits coming from a better knowledge of a foreign language for their future job choice.

3.2 Success Indicators

 

The main success factors as reported by the teachers is the increased self-confidence of the pupils in their English language skills, (writing, listening, reading and speaking); ‘they have made friends with other teenagers, comparing different ways of living and thinking; they have figured out that foreign languages offer larger opportunities for work as well as for life.’

Another success factor is the creation of a friendly study environment so that pupils have become more motivated to take part in school activities that have become less formal; an indirect success is that pupils have also become familiar with the techniques of photography and other publishing media.

The students themselves noted some particular success factors in relation to their own learning through a survey carried out with the pupils involved in the project, they listed the following achievements in order of importance for them:

  1. Greater self-esteem and self-confidence acquired in the presentation of the Exchange workshop activities to the other partners, speaking before a live audience and using Power Point .
  2. Improvement of their abilities and competences in real life situations for communicating in English.
  3. Improvement of written skill through exchanging e-mails in English.
  4. Improving their cultural and linguistic skills informally through  spending time with teenagers from other countries.

This element of personal contact, whether it be direct or only virtual through a chat or an email seems to be the fundamental difference in pupils’ attitude when learning a foreign language.