Bianca Iaccarino teaches Letters at Liceo G.B. Vico in Naples. Here’s how she’s working with her students on Pirandello’s Short stories for a year.
Social reading as a daily habit
I subscribed to the Pearson-Betwyll project with profound conviction since digital reading and writing are a common and established practice in the Liceo Classico 2.0 where I teach. Social reading, the Betwyll community and the TwLetteratura method have caught my attention since the very first post I saw (strangely enough on Facebook, a social network). It was an invitation to participate with students in a social reading project on The Late Mattia Pascal (#MattiaTw, Pirandello, again). We would read the book based on a shared reading calendar to then comment on it on Twitter, at the time.
Since then, I’ve been practicing and piloting social reading and its effects. I introduced Betwyll (a really useful app for the purpose) and its twylls in my daily teaching practice. I observed my students reading, tweeting and twylling, getting more and more familiar with this new method. I saw them struggling in the choice of an adequate lexicon to express themselves more accurately, also learning to use technology in a more conscious and correct way.
In two years they’ve learned to juggle the app features and to use Betwyll with great expertise. For example, it was them who first noticed that The Betrothed had been uploaded on the app and suggested me to read and comment on it directly on Betwyll. And thus, in the next months, they will be reading both Pirandello and Manzoni, creating their own learning pathway. This will inevitably lead them to compare the two authors: didactics and social reading for a “classical” literary canon.
The work in class and on the app
Having to read a short story per week, we decided to work like this: we read and comment individually on the app at home and on Fridays we take stock in class. Those who, for whatever reason, fail to read one day can catch up the following one. I follow my students in their in-app reading on a daily basis and they follow me back. I tag them in my comments just as they tag me, and the app send us notifications. Moreover, if I want to have an overall picture of who has twylled what or of how many twylls someone has published, I just have to tap their name to get this information from their personal profile.
This way I always keep my finger on the pulse of the situation. In class, the Friday debate allows an in-depth analysis of elements and themes of Pirandello’s thought, which students can discuss. They also talk about the interactions with the other community members and in particular with @pirandello, @chiarchiaro, @dandrea… Interacting with the characters is absolutely what my students appreciate most (and so do I, actually).
For this project I’ve already scheduled a written test with my students, once the activity is over. It will consist in a literary text analysis based on a Pirandello’s short story. It could be a short story they’ve already read or maybe a new one: I still have to decide. This test will be assessed as usual, with a grade in the register log, just as I did for previous social reading activities.
I teach Italian, Greek and Latin at Liceo Classico G.B. Vico in Naples. And I love doing it, just as I love spending time with my students. I’m a “genuine” Neapolitan, a creative and imaginative author of Italian school books. I like to innovate and experiment in my job as well as… in the kitchen. By my side… a special husband, two grown-up children and a boxer puppy.