We are happy to share the results of the social reading project with Pearson that involved hundreds of teachers and students from all over Italy.
From 18 February to 31 March 2019 we read and commented on the Betwyll app Pirandello’s Short stories for a year in 136 Italian high schools. The project originated from the collaboration with Pearson Italy, with which we designed a multi-step training and tutoring path for teachers and students.
The social reading activity in class was in fact anticipated by the creation of a private space for teachers on the app. Here, starting from October 2018, the teachers interested in the pilot could get familiar with the app and discuss with colleagues the didactical potential of our method, reading and commenting on the short story The Train Has Whistled. In addition, the teachers were also offered a series of preparatory webinars to get ready for the launch of the pilot in their classes. This allowed to accompany them for the entire duration of the project, providing inputs and support.
The Pearson-Betwyll project: some figures
227 classes subscribed to the project counting more than 2.500 students from all over Italy. The reading calendar was structured over 6 weeks, one for each of the selected short stories.
The 893 active users produced 10.381 twylls: of these, 9.001 were comments on the texts and 1.380 replies to the comments of the other readers. The activity went on even after the official set calendar (teachers were free to adjust it to their didactic needs and planning) which brought the total number of comments to the current 11.035!
The activity in class and on the app
Depending on the situation, the activity took place directly on the app or the comments were first drafted on paper and transferred onto it later on. In general, what proved particularly effective was the daily practice (not necessarily in class); the scheduling of regular discussions among students and with the teacher; the monitoring by the teacher and the definition of assessment criteria and tests.
Read the teachers’ contributions
Analysing the students’ comments, Simona Brenna – Pearson author – underlined their ironical interpretation of the texts, fully catching the essence of Pirandello’s works. Contrasts and contradictions emerged strongly, questions and reflections on themselves and society arose, links to other texts and authors popped up, in a continuous connection between literature and life.
As usual in our social reading projects, also in the Pearson-Betwyll pilot the reading and the commenting activities were animated by a series of fictional accounts directly managed by some of the teachers and students involved in the project. Together with Pirandello, other key characters of the short stories appeared, such as Lady Death, the Moon, and the ever-present Masks, just to mention some.