In the beginning of sunny October a group of teachers from 7 different European countries were sitting in a terrace of Baida convent, embraced by a spectacular view to the mountains, having all of Palermo under their feet and were telling stories. Stories about their teaching methods, about their students, their personal stories and stories for social change.

Storytelling, together with other non-formal techniques, were introduced to teachers of secondary schools during the CARMA European Workshop for Collaborative Competences for Teachers organised and hosted by CESIE in Palermo. The European Workshop, as a part of the CARMA project, was aimed to support teachers in developing their skills and knowledge in collaborative practices providing theory and practical experience on how to use the range of non-formal learning techniques and the Reciprocal Maieutic Approach (RMA) as an assessment tool with their students in the classroom and within the school environment.

25 teachers from Italy, Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Austria, Belgium and France, supported by 7 non-formal experts for 5 days were fully involved in exploratory sessions of techniques that foster collaborative learning and teaching. The main non-formal techniques that teachers learnt and tested practically were Constructive controversy, Crossover learning, Six Thinking Hats, Petal debate, Box of Emotions, Storytelling and Learning by Coding.

Besides these practical sessions, teachers gained knowledge about European educational policies in the field of non-formal learning in the context of the CARMA project presented by the CARMA School Policy Expert Gianna Cappello. Moreover, Serge Algoet from UNESCO school in Brussels was the workshop guest speaker from Brussels who joined us to support and promote collaborative didactic approaches! Serge presented group dynamics and competencies for collaborative teaching and learning.

To celebrate World Teachers Day 2016 which was held on the 5th October, teachers took part in evening activities which included a collaborative hike to the mountains, a visit to Mondello beach and explored the city centre of Palermo. Active and at the same time silent nights were followed by optional dance therapy activities during sunrise. CESIE’s non-formal expert Ruta Grigaliunaite emphasised: “It was beautiful to see how we, as a group, were growing. With every day we were becoming closer. That’s what collaborative learning leads to.” During last day of the workshop, teachers and non-formal experts had an RMA evaluation session with Amico Dolci, the president of Centre for Creative Development “Danilo Dolci”.

What did they/we say about the European Workshop and collaborative learning?
Teachers they learnt non-formal techniques they didn´t know before. They stressed that it is nice to see how it is possible to combine the non-formal with the structure of formal learning. Teachers felt more motivated, self-aware and ready to bring changes to their school environments. Collaborative teachers unanimously agreed it is very important to have an opinion and stick to it but at the same time be open to other methods and to change the way of thinking. When asked if teachers are ready to apply gained knowledge with their students it was highlighted: “We need to do it, it gives equal chances for big changes.” What is the next stage for the teachers and for the CARMA project? Positively motivated, full of inspiration, knowledge and skilled teachers will test chosen non-formal techniques with their students. RMA as an assessment method will be used by teachers to evaluate the learning process of students and the changes in their students’ motivation and participation.

The CARMA project is co-funded by Erasmus+ KA3: Support for policy reform, Prospective Initiatives Forward-Looking Cooperation Project and addresses the promotion of “innovative, collaborative teaching and learning” within school education. The CARMA project believes that alternative non-formal educational methods can reduce ESL, raise achievement levels of disadvantaged learners and give chances for big changes.

The CARMA partners are: CESIE (Italy) – Project Coordinator, the University of Murcia (Spain), Pistes-Solidaires (France), Asist Ogretim Kurumlari A.S. – DOGA (Turkey), University College Leuven – UC Leuven (Belgium), INOVA+ (Portugal) and Verein Multikulturell (Austria).

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For further information about the project please visit www.carma-project-eu, or alternatively contact Rosina Ndukwe: