MAking MAThEmatics TEAchers MObile
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
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
The motivations for the course were:
Its main aims 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.
The topics dealt with in the first part of the sessions were
basically related to:
Introduction of the appropriate mathematical terminology.
Planning teacher training activities and teaching units.
Promotion of the co-operation between Mathematics and Language
During the second part the mathematical topics dealt with were
Intercultural education (incl. School culture description).
The course was developed using the Active work – Interaction
Plane and solid geometry (including Pythagoras’ theorem).
Number systems (including Fractions).
Relations and Functions.
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
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.
different European educational systems,
the way of facing maths problems in a class.
Memories helped the students break the ice and start speaking
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
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
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
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
He should be able to
As a consequence, there should be no problem of discipline.
create a ‘kind’ atmosphere,
show his/her passion,
communicate and involve the students in the lesson,
know well what they teach,
make the lesson interesting and simple.
Teachers are important, but also the students’ personal interests.
It would be interesting to try to understand why maths is considered
difficult and boring at school.
The experience of a Maths/English lesson is difficult to reproduce
Embarrassment at the beginning of the lesson.
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.
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
Information about curricula (general and specific).
Training to teach abroad the selected teaching units.
Start and keep contacts between visiting and hosting teachers.