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Karin Dom Team Participates in International Meeting under the Asumie Project in Milan

23 May 2022

Magdalena Tsoneva and Jenislava Sapundjieva participated in the second live meeting of the international Erasmus + project ASUMIE – Additional Support and Mediated Learning in Inclusive Education

Team of Karin Dom Foundation participated in the second live meeting of the international project on Erasmus + ASUMIE – Additional support and mediated learning in inclusive education. The meeting took place from 12 to 14 May in Milan and involved partners from all 7 countries participating in the project (Belgium, Portugal, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Norway and Italy). Our hosts in Italy were the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and the Imparole Center for Children and Families.
Our visit included a conference organized at the University, which aimed to disseminate good practices in the field of mediated learning and training. The conference addressed topics such as key factors in educational support, inclusive education in Italy and teachers’ competences for inclusion, as well as the role of teachers, resource professionals and parents in mediation and inclusive education.
The afternoon was organized in the form of parallel working sessions. We had the opportunity to choose two topics relevant to our current reality, namely technologies in support of inclusion and problematic behaviors in the classroom. The first topic presented developments from the Polytechnic University of Milan, which impressed us with the innovative interactive interface for transmitting and receiving information. In the second topic, a team of educators, a psychologist from the Center for Autism and a researcher from the University of Sacred Heart presented us with a different perspective on dealing with problematic behaviors in the classroom. Namely, the importance of the teacher wellbeing, receiving support against professional burnout, in order to be able to cope with the challenges of the classroom in everyday life.

On the second day we had the opportunity to visit one primary and one secondary school in the Milan region. The schools were selected by our Italian partners as an example of how Italian education works, and we were able to get a better idea of how they promote inclusion. In Italy, all schools are inclusive, there are no special schools and students with special educational needs receive individualized support according to their individual support plans. Support is provided for their education within the curriculum, as well as for their socialization and socio-emotional well-being. Particularly impressive for us was the amount of additional support, which according to the identified needs can vary from 6 hours per week to 100% of the learning process.
Our first visit was to Molino Vecchio Primary School in Gorgonzola, where we learned about projects and seminars organized over the years to encourage inclusion and allow each child to study mathematics, science and even astronomy. We watched the creative workshops with which teachers teach mathematics: from playing with pasta to using Lego to explain fractions. The Mayor of Gorgonzola joined our group, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the school and the community for learning purposes.

We looked at the project for an educational vegetable garden related to planting and growing plants, implemented jointly by first and fourth grade students, where older students help younger ones to learn through their own experience. Then we moved on to the multimedia classroom, where the presentation of the complex and all the inclusive activities performed by the teachers took place. The visit ended at the library to showcase the inclusive selection that has occupied the various shelves of the classroom over the years. Here students can use books with high readability, and those accompanied by these complementary and alternative communication. The school also uses the technique of the Japanese Kamishibai Theater, where books become a kind of theater in which the reader shows the images while the narrator tells the story as if reading a book.

Our second visit of the day was at Giovanni Falcone High School. Our teachers presented the rich facilities of the school. Among them stood out the room for creative work with robotic equipment, where students develop their artistic and technological skills; the room for natural sciences, where scientific experiments are conducted; the room for foreign language training in English, French, as well as in Italian for newly arrived students from foreign countries. We also saw the classroom, where supportive teachers and students with special needs study together and have creative activities.

We were able to see how the school includes children with special needs, as well as children from different cultures. In the gym, students presented us a perormance on the theme of inclusion and acceptance of diversity. We attended two open lessons. In the first lesson, students from different countries, who are still adapting to their new foreign language environment, demonstrated their progress in learning Italian. The second open lesson was in history. The teacher’s story there was visualized with a film, and a sign language translation was provided for a student with hearing impairment. Our partners told us that sign language has recently been recognized as an official language in Italy.

In the afternoon we visited our partners from the Imparole Center, where students from the nearby Vocational High School of Cooking surprised us with a delicious lunch prepared by them. We also started our working meeting on the project. Discussions continued on the third day when we outlined the next steps in the development of the project and planned a communication strategy.

We look forward to seeing our partners and friends again in Varna on October 13 and 14, when we will hold a conference on the topic of Inclusive Education in the new building of Karin Dom and share our experience from the project!
Grazie e arivederci!

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