Pedagogical Creativity as a Means of Inclusion in Primary School: Experiences of Distance Learning During the Pandemic in Italy

Pedagogical Creativity as a Means of Inclusion in Primary School: Experiences of Distance Learning During the Pandemic in Italy

Gaia Lombardi (Istituto Comprensivo Statale Via dei Salici, Legnano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8287-9.ch006
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Abstract

This chapter presents some creative pedagogical strategies used during the distance or remote learning period due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March to May 2020. The chapter explores the use of coding in a transdisciplinary way. Strategies for online tools and their specific use both in remote and in face-to-face learning are presented. The role of hands-on learning as a process of learning-by-doing and how to involve pupils using the methods of a flipped classroom are also presented. The chapter concludes with the importance of games to keep the class group united and cohesive in order to develop a healthy sense of competitiveness and collaboration among the pupils.
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Introduction

That “one size fits all” is, in pedagogy, a thought now outdated for at least two decades, replaced by an ever greater individualization and personalization of teaching proposals with a view to an inclusive school that takes into account the differences of all and of each, in order to act to eliminate inequalities. The truly inclusive school knows how to recognize, include and value diversity. It is this new paradigm of a “tailor-made” school that guarantees the complete educational success of every student. Even during the distance learning experience in the lockdown period due to Covid-19 it was possible to create a creative and inclusive school, through the adoption of new teaching tools, and a new vision of the teaching / learning process, centered on cognitive needs of the individual.

Inclusive pedagogy can be defined as “a student-centered approach to teaching that faculty create an inviting and engaging learning environment to all the students with varied backgrounds, learning styles, and physical and cognitive abilities in the classroom” (Iorian, 2015).

An inclusive pedagogy starts from the differences and includes them by taking deliberate steps to ensure that all and each student can feel welcomed in the classroom and supported in their individual learning path. (Spratt & Florian, 2015).

The teaching experience presented in this chapter was inspired by an inclusive vision of teaching, even at a distance, and by the need to guarantee the educational success of pupils from different countries and from different economic and social situations.

But what can be the role of creativity in an inclusive teaching, particularly in a remote learning experience, as happened during the pandemic? After a brief theoretical introduction on the meaning of creativity applied to the didactic field, the author will present a series of experiences carried out in a second grade of an Italian Primary School in order to offer a creative, constructive and inclusive teaching.

“Creative practices in the classroom are based on the dynamic interplay between the teacher's qualities and the adaptation of pedagogy to, and ethos in. the learning atmosphere.” (Craft & Jeffrey, 2004).

What is the definition of creativity, in the educational and didactic process? More precisely: how is creativity expressed during the teaching learning process?

The concept of creativity starts from that of survival: creativity is recognized as one of the fundamental skills in the development of humankind: “The importance of human creativity is widely recognised as a catalyst for innovation, adaptability and survival in an increasingly unpredictable and rapidly changing world.” (Tudor, 2008)

In March 2020, the whole of humankind found itself having to face the first global pandemic of the new Millennium, due to a flu-like virus called Covid-19, or Coronavirus. Among the measures of prevention and reduction of contagion there was a more or less severe lockdown applied on a world scale, which had, among other consequences, the closure of schools for a prolonged period and the transition from traditional face-to-face teaching to forms of distance or blended learning.

This step, still in progress while the author is writing this chapter, has required all the protagonists an enormous capacity for adaptability, transformation and resilience. It was necessary to get out of the frames and roles established by the “traditional” school, while losing all the points of reference, physical and temporal, to structure a new type of “widespread” school, with extended times and spaces, and in which book, pen, blackboard were substituted by mouse, interactive sheets, microphones and headphones.

The creativity of teachers and pupils found great space in this process of planning an inclusive school. It was in fact necessary to structure and implement a completely different teaching method from the previous ones, both from the more traditional systems and from the innovative and experimental ones, and this was already a first element of creativity: “being class” without being “in” class; maintain the relationship by changing the ways of communication and adapting some variables as times, spaces and working methods.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Flipped Classroom: A type of blended learning where students are introduced to contents at home (usually through videos properly prepared or selected by the teacher) and practice, discuss and deepen working together in class.

Active Learning: An approach to the teaching/learning process that involves actively students through practical activities, and methods as discussions, problem solving and role plays .

Inclusivity: The practice of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for students who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized for mental or physical disabilities or for social and economic reasons.

Coding: Educational tool that, through playful programming activities also in unplugged form, allows to develop computational thinking and problem-solving skills in children and adolescents.

Personalized Learning: A teaching/learning approach aimed to individualize learning for each student's skills, interests and needs.

Remote Learning: The teaching/learning process performed at a distance; opposite to face-to-face learning.

Game-Based Learning: An active learning methodology where games are used to enhance student learning, promoting their learning through involvement and collaboration.

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