Thursday, March 17, 2016

Collaboration and Professional Learning Between Districts

By Anna Izzo

Earlier this year I attended the annual Midwest AATI (American Association of Teachers of Italian) conference at Ridgewood High School in Norridge.  Italian teachers aren’t too common, so after five years I’ve gotten to know just about everyone in the area.  This year, however, I met Allyson Feierberg who started the Italian program on her own at Glenbard North two years ago.  While she was born in Chicago, her mom grew up in Milan and spoke solely Italian at home.  We immediately clicked at the conference; we had a lot in common and had a blast discussing our favorite Italianisms.  We kept in touch as the year went on through email and text asking each other’s advice on a lesson or sharing new materials.  We met after school at Elios Pizzeria in Addison several times for some authentic pizza Napolitana- sacrifices, right?

Last Friday Glenbard North had an institute day, so we wrote up a brief itinerary of what we’d like to accomplish for a professional day.  Both schools fully supported our collaboration despite different districts.  Finding relatable materials and new resources is half the battle, and I’ve always struggled being a one-person team at EG. 

Next year will be Allyson’s first year teaching Italian 3, so we decided to start our day working on that curriculum.  I encouraged her to incorporate a Pinocchio unit, which we then created reading guides for the first four chapters.  I have found making the time for a reader or two, such as Pinocchio, has helped students piece together the foundation of the language they have been learning the past couple years, and allows them to see everything in context.  Typically after Pinocchio, I can really see how well the students can comprehend and use the language up to this point in their studies.

The rest of the day at Glenbard was spent finding and even writing reading samples with comprehension questions, and searching for new listening practice.  We also shared some cultural activities we had both made.  Both Allyson and I were so relieved to have had an entire day to collaborate with someone and to accomplish so much. 

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