History, linguistic abilities and sciences:
an example of collaborative learning through e-mail
in a secondary school
Background information on the observation site
The lower secondary
school "Guido Reni" (11 to 13 years old) is located in the
historical centre of Bologna, in a recently renovated historical
building. It has 16 regular classrooms, 3 special rooms for
handicapped pupils, two special rooms for artistic and musical
education, a library, a gymnasium and 4 labs: the linguistic lab (25
seats equipped with microphones and earphones), the scientific lab
(chemistry, physics and natural sciences), the audio-visual lab,
equipped with tools for the production of audiovisuals (both still
and moving images), and the computer lab.
The activities here described refer in particular to those undertaken
by the class 3°D (13 years old, 21 kids).
The technological equipment available and its localisation in
The computer lab, in which the activities related to e-mail and
Internet take place, is equipped with 11 computers. All computers are
linked to the server Kidslink through a UUCP connection system. All
the kids have their own e-mail address. The lab is accessible during
normal class area, according to the calendar established at the
beginning of the school year. Each class has at least one activity
per week taking place in the lab.
Description of the activities involving the use of
The activities started in 1992, in the framework of the Kidslink
project. Launched in 1990 by two researchers in astrophysics in the
National Council for Research (CNR) based in Bologna, on a pure
voluntary basis, Kidslink original aim was to link some of the
schools of the city and province of Bologna, through the server of
the CNR, to allow the kids to exchange messages on themes that
particularly interested them, with kids all over the world. The
following activities are now undergoing in the school "Guido Reni".
- A Comenius
project, involving one class, in collaboration with a Portuguese,
a Dutch and two Greek classes. The project focuses on the
following subject: "Our Country in the 20th century". Conceived as
an interdisciplinary work, it entails research and production of
texts in French, accompanied by illustrations, on themes as
environmental protection, health (AIDS and blood treatment), food
habits and historical events. In particular, concerning this
latter subject, the school is producing an hypertext on the First
World War, which will be accessible through Internet.
- Fahrenheit, the setting up of a data base of books
résumés and critiques, written autonomously by the
pupils and students of the Kidslink network.
- "Lipogrammi", a linguistic exercise consisting in
re-writing a short text without using a determined consonant. The
original text is launched in the Kidslink network by the
temporarily leading school, which will declare the winner among
all participants and publish the results.
- "Esercizi di stile", a linguistic exercise consisting
in re-writing a text sent by the temporarily leading school to all
the schools of the Kidslink network, following one of the proposed
style (such as ironic, dramatic, rap, juridical, poetic,
graphical, "footballistic", journalistic, cinematographic etc.
etc.). As in the former case of Lipogrammi, the temporarily
leading school will declare the winner among all the participating
texts and the classification is then made public on the
- Participation in the Classe
Globale Francophone, entailing a spontaneous participation
to the thematic conferences that are periodically launched on the
The activities involving the use of e-mail are fully integrated in
the school curriculum.
The main pedagogical objectives underpinning those activities are:
- encouraging the production of texts and improvement of
literary style (Fahrenheit, Lipogrammi, Esercizi di stile) and the
production of texts on specific subjects, history,
- motivating to research (Comenius)
- understanding other cultures (Comenius, Classe Globale
- encouraging the pleasure of reading and stimulating the
critique skills (Fahrenheit)
- improving the foreign language writing, reading and
understanding ability (Comenius, Classe Globale Francophone),
- the acquisition of notions of semiotics (Esercizi di
- alphabetisation to information technologies.
All these activities aim at encouraging the autonomous initiative
of kids and the collaborative learning processes between kids and
their peers, kids and their teachers and finally teachers among
themselves, through the setting up of interdisciplinary activities.
For the third grade, they also aim at the preparation of the final
exam, which entails an interdisciplinary assessment.
E-mail address and contacts
Write to Prof. Giuliano
Ortolani.back to the Observations
For additional information, hit the following URL: The
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