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European Commission - Comenius

European Commission - Education and Culture

Project Details

MAking MAThEmatics TEAchers MObile

129543-CP-1-2006-1 -IT-COMENIUS-C21


Project span

Project Coordinator

CAFRE Centro di Ateneo di Formazione e Ricerca Educativa
Università di Pisa

Contact person


Project Partners

(AT) Universität Wien

(CZ) Univerzita Karlova v Praze

(DK) University College Lillebælt, Skårup Seminarium

(FR) Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres de l'Académie de Créteil

Training Courses
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Italian preparation course for teachers’ mobility

The training Course was part of the activities in the first year of the SSIS – Secondary School Teacher Training School of Tuscany, at the University of Pisa. Approximately 40 student teachers participated in the training course. The course started on January 14, 2008. The following sessions took place on January 21st and 28th, and on February 4th.
Each of the four sessions lasted five hours. Approximately half of each session was devoted to topics that could be referred to as intercultural education, the second half being devoted to mathematics education.
The language used was English. When it was better (if it took too long or it might be difficult to understand) explanations about English grammar or Mathematics terminology and notions. were given in Italian.
The motivations for the course were:
  • To improve the quality of maths teachers.
  • To encourage the mobility of teachers in Europe, if the language is not a problem.
  • To be able to take part in European projects with pupils.
  Its main aims were:
  • Introduction of the appropriate mathematical terminology.
  • Language empowerment.
  • Planning teacher training activities and teaching units.
  • Promotion of the co-operation between Mathematics and Language teachers.
The topics dealt with in the first part of the sessions were basically related to:
  • Intercultural education (incl. School culture description).
  • Classroom language.
  • Classroom observation.
During the second part the mathematical topics dealt with were related to:
  • Plane and solid geometry (including Pythagoras’ theorem).
  • Number systems (including Fractions).
  • Relations and Functions.
The course was developed using the Active work – Interaction methodology.
In each session, the first part was a discussion among trainees about the topic with the help of the English and Mathematics teacher trainers. The English teacher trainer helped the students express themselves (offering support with terminology, grammar, pronunciation). At the end, there was time to correct and explain the most common mistakes.
In the second part of each session, the Mathematics teacher trainer introduced the topic to be discussed and the activity to be developed by the trainees. He facilitated the discussion and contributed to a smoother development of the activity by providing trainees with explanations about mathematical notions and appropriate terminology (in English). The English teacher trainer tried to be invisible but she registered mistakes and difficulties. Also at the end of the second part, there was always time for her to explain the most relevant mistakes.

Final Report by Renata Montangero, the English teacher trainer

When I joined the project, as a teacher of English, I had to decide what contents and how to use a foreign language with students of maths who were not used to expressing themselves in a language different from Italian and how to cope with the students’ different levels of knowledge of the language.

Considering the aim of the project - to prepare the new teachers to teach maths abroad giving them the necessary intercultural communicative competence in a foreign language – we worked on two aspects:
  1. different European educational systems,
  2. the way of facing maths problems in a class.
As to the first point I’ve invited the students to think about their past as students remembering their own schools, their teachers, the subjects they studied and their difficulties.
Memories helped the students break the ice and start speaking English.
Then, after studying the different educational systems of the countries involved in the project, the students, in groups, were asked to compare them and discuss their positive and negative aspects. At the end, the groups reported on their conclusions in a plenary session.
Working in little groups made the students feel more comfortable when they made mistakes speaking English.
Afterwards, since most of the attendants had already had experiences as teachers, they were asked to look at the school problems from this different point of view, and to refer on strategies they might have used to solve them.
At the end of the experience, they had, always in small groups, to prepare a questionnaire to assess the course, and to express freely their ideas about topics they thought important.
As to the second point, the students worked on problems concerning Geometrical Puzzles and Cell Phones. Besides, they had to discuss in groups how to organize a Unit and to present it to the other groups in English.

The Foreign Language
I think English should be used without moving the students’ attention away from the main topic: Maths.
So, during the discussions I’ve tried to help the students to express their ideas offering support with terminology, grammar, pronunciation only if necessary. Explanations were given just at the end to help them improve their English, without interrupting them while speaking so as to avoid frustrating their efforts to convey their ideas.
When the students worked in groups on maths, I tried to be invisible but I listened to them and took notes of their mistakes or difficulties. Before the end of the lesson, there was time for explanations and answers to their questions.
As a teacher I found the experience challenging and amusing: the students were really interested and eager to try something new. They took part in the discussions often with enthusiasm and not only those who could speak English fluently, but almost everybody tried to have an active part in the lesson.
I say challenging because I’ve had to prepare some lessons without examples before me and with a poor knowledge of maths; amusing for the students’ personal involvement in the discussions.

Student teachers’ main considerations

The Teacher
He should be able to
  1. create a ‘kind’ atmosphere,
  2. show his/her passion,
  3. communicate and involve the students in the lesson,
  4. know well what they teach,
  5. make the lesson interesting and simple.
As a consequence, there should be no problem of discipline.

  1. Teachers are important, but also the students’ personal interests.
  1. It would be interesting to try to understand why maths is considered difficult and boring at school.
  2. The experience of a Maths/English lesson is difficult to reproduce at school.
The Language
  1. Embarrassment at the beginning of the lesson.
  2. Students felt more at ease during the lesson and regretted the lack of fluency trying to express their opinions. They were annoyed because they would have liked to know the language better.
  3. Students felt at ease because they didn’t get stuck because of the mistakes they made.

One student was impressed by the embarrassment in the class when the students couldn’t say why they wanted to become teachers.

Further tasks for the visiting teacher and student teacher

  • Start contacts with the to-be-visited school (BRG VI “Marchettigasse”, Wien).
  • Information about curricula (general and specific).
  • Training to teach abroad the selected teaching units.
  • Start and keep contacts between visiting and hosting teachers.

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This project has been carried out with the support of the European Commission within the framework of the Socrates Programme - Comenius 2.1 Action.
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