Involvement in the Classroom

This week we were on holiday on Tuesday for Liberation Day and then went on the field trip on Wednesday. So we only went to school on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. This week has been much smoother than last week though.

Last week, I spent most of the week getting used to Piacenza and finding my way to the schools. It took some getting used to having to walk to school and walking in between schools. But I finally figured out the school system.

Also by the end of the week last week, I had a good idea of where the students stood. Coming over here, I had no idea where the students would be in their knowledge of English and American culture. After last week, I figured out the students’ prior knowledge and could better prepare lessons that would be meaningful to the students.

This week, I focused a lot on American cities, sports, and food with the third year students. They have been learning about these topics in their English class. I got the opportunity to bring these topics to life and talk about personal experiences. The students found it very interesting and helpful to make connections in learning about American history. For example, the students had learned that New Orleans had French influences. So I would ask the students why that was the case? They would have to remember back to their first year of middle school when they learned about America becoming an independent country. Then they would remember that we bought Louisiana and other land from France in the Louisiana Purchase. From this, they could draw conclusions on why American food is a mix of food from other countries. The students enjoyed getting to use their knowledge to draw conclusions about American cities, sports, and food.

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My last class on Friday surprised me with a pizza party! They wanted me to taste the best pizza in Piacenza, so they ordered delivery pizza from a pizzeria in town.  In Italy, they typically only eat margherita pizza, what we would simply call cheese pizza.  It is tomato sauce (red), mozzarella (white), and basil (green); red, white, and green are the colors of the national flag.  Margherita pizza was named in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita. Students are so surprised when I tell them about the different pizzas we have in America.

Similar to American education, students study the traditional subjects: math, science, history, Italian, reading and writing. But Italian students start learning English when they are six years old. By the time they get to high school, they are very fluent in English and sometimes even other languages. This is something I wish we did in America. We don’t start learning another language until we enter high school. Students don’t have enough time or practice to learn to be fluent in the language. I would love to have started learning another language in Kindergarten!

We are off to Rome for the weekend – ciao!

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