Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
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Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary

I was born and raised in Tuscany where I studied and graduated. Since 1982 I llive in Carpi in Emilia Read More
  • Joined Dec 2015
  • Published Books 8

first Instructions and suggestions

The diary should include:

  1. Your answers and reflections to the questions and tasks posed during the module sections.
  2. Comments, ideas, resources from the course materials and shared by other course participants that you have found interesting or relevant for your own situation.


It took me some  time to rethink about every thing we have gone through during this course above all because I tried to apply directly with my classes what I had the opportunity to learn in this  course.  I really enjoyed every step we did together even if sometimes I had the impression to get lost with so many inputs and materials! I found the library very useful and the materials and activities proposed were very challenging and motivating.



 who I am 

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

My name’s  Emma Giurlani I was born and raised in Italy . I teach German at an upper secondary school  located in Carpi in the region Emilia-Romagna .

This year I’m starting in a new school in the town where I live . The school I work at is called Liceo Scientifico Statale “M.Fanti” and  it’s a big Institute with  about 1,600 students aged 14-19, who attend different courses. These all finish with the Italian State exam.

My students study foreign languages as main subjects but they study also history philosophy Italian literature and culture, maths , physics and sport. Class sizes range from 20 to 30 and normally there are lessons until 13:00. There are  sometimes courses also  in the afternoon which students attend only on  a voluntary basis depending on their interests or needs;  we have lessons also on Saturday morning.



There are two language labs and one  computer lab with 27 PCs where we can take students upon reservation. In some  classroom we have got a whiteboard, so we do not need to go very often into the lab . We can use laptops in the classroom and students work also with their smartphones and their own devices according the BYOD idea. Sometimes we have problems with WiFi connectivity but nevertheless we try to get the best of our ours together!

I usually bring my laptop, and smartphone to school and we share all devices available in class as we normally work both in small groups and  individually but we try to share all the devices we have. So we move also desks and we create our own lab!


How we started



‘Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember,

involve me and I understand’.


how we starded; very motivating video


Introducing KeyCoNet – the European Key Competence Network on School Education


the top recommendations KeyCoNet is putting forward to policy makers and school leaders to improve the integration of competence-based education in schools across Europe.



Module 1: Introducing Competences for 21st Century Schools

definition of competences as well as national and international frameworks vary but share common points

1.1 Pre-Self-Assessment Activity


62%  oops! I have to improve something!…..don’t panic emmagi!


I totally agree:

“Life is increasingly non routine, problem-based and technology rich. That’s why education systems are moving away from solely content-led approaches, and focusing more on helping learners develop a range of competences to cope in our complex world.”


Education is intended to promote learners’ personal growth, citizenship and preparation for the world of work.


the skills needed will  be continually changing in the future as the current ones  are different from those needed before in previous times .

Collaborative problem-solving are increasingly valuable for citizens to be able to effectively take part in life today, whether personally, socially or professionally.


There is the  need to improve the quality and relevance of the competences learners acquire before leaving formal education

 it is necessary  to meet the complex requirements of today’s social demands in an increasingly competitive global economy


  Hoskins and Crick:

useful definition

 ‘competence’ = ‘a complex combination of knowledge, skills, understanding, values, attitudes and desire which lead to effective, embodied human action in the world in a particular domain’.


–>  being competent means being able to effectively apply a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully react to a situation or solve a problem in the real world.


Starting points


the European Union’s Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, the UNESCO framework, the OECD DESECO framework, Partnerships 21 framework, and the ATC21S framework.

All these frameworks share common points and have been developed in consultation with experts and stakeholders globally.


things to be kept in mind

the ATC 21st century skills framework  includes four dimensions:

  1. ways of thinking (including creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making and learning to learn=

  2. ; ways of living in the world : it includes local and global citizenship, life and career skills, personal and social responsibility and cultural awareness.

  3. ; ways of working : it include collaboration and communication;

  4. ; and tools for working :it comprises information literacy and ICT literacy



the European Framework also refers to all these competences, but is more firmly rooted in the context of the school curriculum.

The European Union Framework, developed by the European Commission in consultation with all member states, includes the following 8 Key Competences: –

  1. Communication in the mother tongue –

  2. Communication in foreign languages –

  3. Mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology –

  4. Digital competence –

  5. Learning to learn –

  6. Social and civic competences –

  7. Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship

  8. Cultural awareness and expression

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -



…each of these competences  contributes to the personal fulfilment and development of all individuals. Many of the competences overlap and interlock, and they are all interdependent, with the following transversal skills playing an important role in each of them: critical thinking, creativity, initiative, problem solving, risk assessment, decision taking and the constructive management of feelings



very crucial:

‘learning to learn’ competence, as it is the foundation of all learning

ability to pursue and persist in learning, to organise one’s own learning, including through effective management of time and information, both individually and in groups. This competence includes awareness of one’s learning process and needs, and the ability to overcome obstacles in order to learn successfully




It requires effective management of one’s learning, career and work patterns, and, in particular, the ability to persevere, concentrate for extended periods and to reflect critically on the purposes and aims of learning. Learning to learn skills include being able to learn autonomously and with self-discipline, as well as being able to work collaboratively and share what one has learnt.


Learners should be able to organise their own learning, evaluate their own work, and seek advice, information and support when appropriate.

The essential attitudes related to this competence include the motivation and confidence to pursue and succeed at learning throughout one’s life. A problem-solving attitude supports both the learning process itself and an individual’s ability to handle obstacles and change. The desire to apply prior learning and life experiences and the curiosity to look for opportunities to learn and apply learning in a variety of life contexts are also essential.


collaborative problem solving

personalized, mentoring approach

interesting blog site

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

collaborative problem solving and learning

but not only for students

there are so many opportunities  also to personal and professional development which can be experienced through eTwinning .

I think , I found  in eTwinning many of the aspects underlined in this course.

collaborative problem solving. personalized, mentoring approach.




Implementing key competences in schools involves not only specifying them in curricula, but also developing appropriate implementation conditions, teaching methods and assessment.



fostering students’ competence development.



recommended approach to teaching key competences is through the provision of interactive learning environments in which learners can engage in

practical, inquiry-based tasks.–> eTwinning  open-ended problems  which  challenge to be solved through debate, experimentation, exploration and creativity.

learners are engaged in active learning in real life situations



provide a meaningful context for problem-based learning.


Project-based learning is a particularly well suited method for the development of pupils’ competences, as several key competences can be addressed simultaneously in a cross-curricular manner. …teaching key competences involves a greater emphasis on interactive learning environments, allowing students to work in teams on multidisciplinary topics, benefit from technology enhanced learning, and have the mental, physical, social and emotional space to collaborate on solving problems.


Investment in modernizing learning spaces so that they enable diversified and interactive learning is therefore important.




  1. teaching should be task-based
  2. teaching should be interdisciplinary
  3. learning should be both collaborative and individualized
  4. teaching needs to be both learner- and teacher-led
  5. teaching and learning where possible should be technologically innovative
  6. teaching and learning of key competences should take place both inside and outside of school.
  7. teachers should collaborate with the wider community including the social, cultural and business sectors to create more opportunities for real world learning
  8. the teaching of key competences requires teachers to pay closer attention to the social and emotional aspects of learning, including the quality of relationships between and among teachers and learners.
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

fully agree:

supporting learners’ social and emotional needs stimulates well-rounded growth in learners, which forms a basis for the development of the full range of key competences.


A personalized approach to learning

students’ holistic development







teaching, learning and assessment of key competences involves new approaches – often through the provision of interactive learning environments, and through collaborative and multi-disciplinary learning. There is also an emphasis on transversal skills

teachers will need to develop

new approaches to assessment.


These include:

  • Summative assessment – that is the tests and examinations they design in order to assign course grades, or at the end of the school year.

  • Formative assessment – the kind of interactive assessment that takes place in the course of learning, where the information gathered can be used to adjust teaching and learning and better meet student needs.

  • And student self-assessment of progress toward the transversal competences. These are competences that do not have a learning “standard” – such as creativity, initiative and constructive management of feelings – but where it may be important for each student to track his or her development.


think about it !!!!!



Assessments need to provide ways for students to demonstrate that they can use knowledge, skills and attitudes to reason, solve problems and so on. New tools such as portfolios and e-assessments will be very useful for teachers.



Curricola and assessment need to be necessarily

well aligned with new key competence approaches

♦  formative assessment as an integrated part of the learning process, as teachers are able to adjust and scaffold learning, based on the information gathered during classroom discussions, through observing students as they work on projects, and so on. Students may also assess their own work, or those of peers, and re-adjust their strategies as they work on projects or attempt to solve problems.


The key competences also emphasise the importance of transversal skills

These are the kinds of skills that are important for personal development, and for learning to-learn. They are also a new challenge for assessment, as they fall beyond the subject-related learning objectives with very clear learning standards.

The focus for transversal skills is more on personal improvement. Tracking tools and portfolios can help teachers and students to focus on these important skills, and support learners as they grow and mature.

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

1.5 Competence-based Education in Europe



this video helped me to reflect upon the situation in Italy

In Italy There is the need of  strongly -emphasizing  the centrality of key competences in the new curricula to be introduced in the  future:  key competences must be  the focus of educational reforms which must also launch   overarching strategies fostering the development of all or most of the key competences. There is a need to shift to competence-based education.

Too often in Italy there is a very weak attitude  to foster a competence-based approach in the classroom. Nevertheless there are innovative approaches as eTwinning’s partnerships, pilot projects, and the interest in monitoring and evaluation of new initiatives.



Some education systems have also provided centrally-developed tools to help teachers implement this new approach to teaching and learning.  Like in Italy with our Piano Nazionale scuola digitale:

there is almost universal agreement among teachers, students, parents and head teachers that key competences are indeed important for helping people succeed in learning and life, and progress has been made in defining and integrating key competences in national curricula.

A participative approach involving communication with all key stakeholders, is essential to building broad support for new competence-based reforms. School leaders play an important role in communicating the objectives of the new approach to teachers, parents, learners and the wider community.


very interesting and stimulating!

1.6 Irish Case Study: Key Skills in the Irish Curriculum & Project Maths


The approach is an integrated approach with the competences embedded into the learning outcomes of the formal curriculum and assessment. Emphasis is placed on their role in the teaching and learning approaches employed in classrooms. While curriculum and assessment reforms are led from the centre, schools are encouraged to develop competences in ways that work best for them

The key skills are based on the competences set out in the European Framework for Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, but are adapted to suit the Irish context



One of the main aims of the initiative was to improve skills such as reasoning, sense-making and problem-solving.

help students to be able to think creatively and use maths to think critically, to develop a set of transferrable skills which meant they could apply their knowledge beyond the classroom and to unfamiliar situations. Help  them to learn collaboratively, to analyse each other’s strategies, problem-solve in groups and use technology to support their learning. In this way they would be more equipped with skills for living in the world and for further study in the area of maths. Internationally, the move has been towards an emphasis on problem-solving, modelling and maths in real life contexts, and this approach was largely absent in the previous mathematics curriculum in Ireland.


1.7 Learning Activity

Module 1 Learning Activity: Self-assess your Key Competence approach!

here my activity


Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -


1.8 Module 1 Library

MODULE 1: Introducing Competences for 21st Century Schools


The importance and definition of competences:

Schleicher, A. (2009). The case for 21st Century Learning, OECD, Paris:

Video of Andreas Schleicher (OECD) on quality and equity in education at the Australian Council for Educational Research 2014 Conference:

Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Hermna, J., Raizen, S., Ripley, M., Miller-Ricci, M., & Rumble, M. (2012). Defining Twenty-First Century Skills. In Griffin, P., Care, E., & McGaw, B. Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills, Dordrecht, Springer.


Hoskins, B & Deakin Crick R., (2010) Competences for Learning to Learn and Active Citizenship: different currencies or two sides of the same coin? European Journal of Education, Vol. 45, Number 1, March.

Legendre, Marie-Françoise (2008). « La notion de compétence au coeur des réformes curriculaires : Effet de mode ou moteur de changements en profondeur ? ». In Audigier François & Tutiaux-Guillon Nicole (dir.). Compétences et contenus : les curriculums en questions. Brussels: De Boeck, p. 27-50.

Voogt and Pareja Roblin (2010). 21st century skills. Discussienota. Enschede: Universiteit Twente


Very very very useful!

Competence Reference Frameworks:

European Union’s Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning:

UNESCO framework:

OECD DESECO framework:

Partnerships 21 framework:

ATC21S framework:


Microsoft 21st Century Learning Design:

UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers


Teaching key competences:

Old school or new school? Teach future skills and traditional subjects together:

ATC21S professional development module: Teaching and learning 21st century skills :

ATC21S professional development module: ATC21S: Examples of teaching 21st century sub-skills in existing lessons:


Competence-based education in Europe today:

Eurydice (2012). Developing Key Competences at School in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities for Policy:

Kearney, C. (2013). European Mapping of Initiatives on the Development of Key Competences, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet’s 2014 Review of the Literature: A Summary, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet 2013 Literature Review: Key competence development in school education in Europe, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet 2013 Literature Review: Assessment for key competences, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet’s Catalogue of initiatives, European Schoolnet, Brussels


KeyCoNet’s Case Studies from Austria, Belgium (Flanders), England, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Europe, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet’s Peer Learning Visits to Seville, Dublin and Malta, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

KeyCoNet’s Country Overviews of Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden, European Schoolnet, Brussels.

Wiśniewski J. (2009) Key competences in Europe: opening doors for life-long learners across the school curriculum and teacher education. CASE-Center for Social and Economic Research




European KeyCoNet website:



KeyCoNet case study videos from across Europe:


Wilson & Scalise (2012). Measuring collaborative digital literacy:


“… educational success is no longer about reproducing content knowledge, but about extrapolating from what we know and applying that knowledge to novel situations.

Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involve creative and critical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. It is also about ways of working, including communication and collaboration, as well as the tools they require, such as the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies, or indeed, to avert their risks. And last but not least, education is about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as an active and engaged citizen. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this that shapes the role of educators”


…. today, literacy is about managing non-linear information structures. Consider the Internet. The more content knowledge we can search and access on the web, the more important the capacity to make sense out of this content becomes. This involves interpreting the frequently conflicting pieces of information that pop up on the web and assessing their value, a skill rendered essential by the appearance of the Internet.


Rather than just learning to read, 21st century literacy is about reading to learn and developing the capacity and motivation to identify, understand, interpret, create and communicate knowledge.

Innovation in particular is the outcome of how we mobilise, share and link knowledge.


The 5 principles of highly effective teachers: Pierre Pirard at TEDxGhent


MODULO 2 Anne Gilleran filmato


Project-based learning is an approach which uses methods such as inquiry-based learning and problem-based learning to develop students’ competences.

.. Having decided to explore a topic or concentrate on an aspect of your curriculum you can decide to use either an Inquiry based approach or a Problem based approach, or indeed a mixture of the two


worth to be watched and watched again!!



Inquiry-based learning method


Inquiry is “a seeking or request for truth, information or knowledge”. Inquiry-based learning starts with questioning, continues with exploration and investigation and ends with finding a solution, drawing a reasonable conclusion, making a substantive decision or applying new knowledge or skills


The driving Question

the type of questions that one should concentrate on.

John Mergendoller of the Buck Institute for Education,.

He says that in a PBL environment, the project should investigate what he describes as “non-Googleable Driving Questions”. In other words questions that cannot be easily answered by just looking up Google, Bing, Wikipedia etc.

My driving question: “How can we help our projectpartners to feel comfortable and familiar with our environment and  to interact in the most effective way with not German/Italian  speaking people during our next  school exchange ?


The whole purpose of PBL is to encourage pupils to research and to find answers and solutions, to help them develop higher-order thinking skills: analyse the information they find, interpret it and compare their findings, synthesis the ideas, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, peer and self-assess it, find solutions and create a new product.


PBL method is more practical. Students are given a real life problem to investigate, which can be described as an authentic problem and have to come up with possible solutions.


The solutions can then be discussed and tested to see which will work best in a given situation, for example.


Both of these approaches focus on developing problemsolving, critical thinking and information-processing skills.

They also work best when students have to work in small teams or groups. The two methods are closely related to each other and often overlap. It is also interesting to note that in this approach, there are not necessarily right or wrong answers. Each solution may have merits and demerits and the students have to analyse and judge.


Pointers for PBL

  • What is your project idea?

  • What is the time frame proposed?

  • Is the project idea manageable?

  • Is it a project just between you and your class or will you collaborate with other teachers in your school or in other countries

  • If it involves partners from other countries, what is the language proposed? (German Italian English)

  • What subjects could be integrated into this project?

  • What technical tools, if any, will you use? (stopmotion, storymaps….

  • How does your project fit with the school planning and calendar?

  1. Step 1. Involve your students from the very beginning. Start with a guided exploration of some topics you have in mind as a whole class; but also be prepared to change if better ideas are emerging from the class. It is important to establish certain ground rules regarding behavior with them in advance.
  2. Step 2. Having defined the topic, in discussion with the class break it down into different tasks. Discuss which technologies to use and how they will be integrated
  3. Step 3. Plan well, set goals, define outcomes. Above all be concrete, students need goals to work towards and responsibility of tasks in order to achieve them
  4. Step 4. Proceed to put pupils into small groups with responsibilities for a particular task. Encourage pupils to ask personally relevant and socially significant questions regarding the topics chosen. Work to the strengths of each pupil.
  5. Step 5. Create a tangible artifact that addresses the issue, answers questions, and makes learning visible and accountable.
  6. Step 6. Arrive at a conclusion…take a stand…take action.
  7. Step 7. Document, justify, and share conclusion with larger audience. (parents, school etc)

Build in presentation of the outcomes or artifact to different audiences as a key part of the project. Presentation of ideas to others consolidates the learning for the students.

When you actively engage the student in their learning activities and find these activities to be meaningful with a tangible outcome, their attitude to learning will undoubtedly change for the better. Learning becomes fun.

PBL can be approached in two ways, either you work in your own classroom with your class and the work is kept in there, or you decide to work collaboratively with other teachers in your own school, own country or in other countries. When you take this broader approach, the rewards of collaboration can be of enormous benefit both to you and your students. The benefits of exchange and peer learning really does help you to consolidate your approach to changing teacher practice through discussion with other teachers.


Transversal key competences for lifelong learning: training teachers in competence based education – TRANSIt Training Framework

Transversal key competences for lifelong learning: training teachers in competence based education – TRANSIt Training Framework. Available for downloading here

TRANSIt Training Framework Design

TRANSIt Adapatation of Technical Tools

TRANSIt Initial Trainees Guide

TRANSIt Adapatation of Technical Tools

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

2.3 How to Develop Learners’ Collaborative Problem Solving Skills

Video Talk 2: How to Develop Learners’ Collaborative Problem Solving Skills

Professor Patrick Griffin from the University of Melbourne

Focus on the nature of collaborative problem solving tasks, and the cognitive and social skills learners need to apply and teachers need to observe


21st century framework and skills

there are new skills emerging as increasingly important


Competence encompasses the quality and transferability of that action over time and context. No one performs a skill at the same level every time. No one operates at their maximum all the time. We adjust our performance according to the demands at the time. Competence therefore can be regarded as the ability of the person to adjust the skill performance to the demands of the context.


The skills were identified as those which would enable people to demonstrate new ways of thinking, ways of working, tools for working and living in the world that had emerged as a result of technology.


KSAVE: knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and ethics

Ways of thinking were conceptualised to include creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem-solving, and learning to learn and the development of metacognition. Ways of working were conceptualised to include communication, collaboration and teamwork; Tools for working involved information and ICT literacy; Living in the world involved changing emphases on local and global citizenship, aspects of life and career development, and personal and social responsibility. These were all grouped under the acronym KSAVE: knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and ethics. It also meant that the Ways of learning and ways of teaching need to be taken into account in the development of the assessment strategies that focus on these skills.


learning to know, learning to do, learning to be,

and learning to live together : four pillars of learning

Collaborative problem solving is a complex skill requiring both social and cognitive competencies.

collaborative problem solving as consisting of five broad strands – participation, perspective taking, social and task regulation, and knowledge building

Collaborative problem solving is a set of skills that we need to rely on when the capacities or resources of just one person are not sufficient to solve the problem. We need to learn how to combine different resources and skills when faced with complex problems.


The challenge for teachers in scaffolding student learning in collaborative problem solving, is to identify students’ emerging skills and provide the right support at the right time at the right level.

Teachers’ assessment practices have to adjust and move from generating summative information about past performance, or as comparison of one student with others, toward assessment that helps them find the starting point for instruction and ways in which they can tailor their teaching to students learning social and cognitive skills associated with collaborative problem-solving. This is the heart of formative assessment. It links assessment and teaching and in this course it links assessment and teaching to 21st-century skills.


The Nature of collaborative problem solving

The primary distinction between problem-solving by an individual and collaborative problem-solving is its social nature – the need for communication, exchange of ideas, shared identification of the problem and its elements, and negotiated agreement on connections between problem elements and relationships between actions and their effects. Collaborative problem-solving makes each of these steps observable, as they must be shared with a partner or other members of a group if a solution is to be successfully identified.


These steps can be described as follows:

  1. . A problem state must be jointly recognised, and collaborators must identify and agree on which elements of the problem each can control or monitor.

  2. A representation of the problem must be shared.

  3. Collaborators need to agree on a plan of action, including management of resources.

  4. Plans must be executed, which may require a coordinated effort by collaborators acting together or in sequence.

  5. Progress towards a solution must be monitored, different options evaluated, plans reformulated if necessary, and collaborators must decide on how to proceed in the face of positive or negative feedback.



Collaborative problem solving can incorporate social and historical problems as well as mathematics and science


Collaborative problem solving requires that the people combine their resources and their strategies in order to reach a common goal. The assumption here is that collaboration is essential because the task is too complex for a person to work through it alone.


combining resources is important

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

I found the considerations about the Irish experience fit also to our situation in Italy

a whole school support is needed : students, teachers and parents must  feel supported in the process

Maybe a lot of time is to be  spent by teachers devising new resources of their own.   A lot of time is also to be spent discovering and exploring new resources online.

Time allocation can be also a huge concern for teachers.

Many teacher feel  unease around the sense of newness.

They fear the fact that our routine could be mostly  disrupted,  They fear the challenge of new topics, new pedagogies, new assessment and new technology because they fear the fact that

they might have to completely review how they understand their role in the classroom.




⇒ verissimo! “We were worried about where the time for developing skills and focusing on projects, discovery learning, real life concepts, and group work etc. was going to come from?”


we can have a real chance  to embrace the challenges a real innovation can involve  and take this opportunity and use it as a means of engaging our students. The hope being that our students would engage collaboratively, and learn from each other’s problem solving strategies. This would enable them to think creatively and critically in relation to maths and hopefully the real world.


five effective strategies:

1 collaboration among the department

2 intensive school support

3 a supportive leadership

4 Team teaching: Team teaching could bring huge benefits to    the department as a whole. 

5 the use of IT to support learning


  1. Use project-based learning.

Introducing project-based learning, including group work and investigational tasks, is very challenging, as you have to make sure students stay on task and ensure their work load is shared evenly in relation to their abilities. Seeing statistics as a cycle through the project-based learning process – posing a question, gathering, collecting, analysing and interpreting results, allowed my students to see the importance and relevance of what they were doing. This process can be used across a range of topics, including Trigonometry, Algebra, and Calculus, or geometry……


Changing the way we question allows great scope for developing key skills in the classroom.

NUOVE IDEE PER NUOVO PROGETTO-PRINCIPIANTI/new ideas for a new project with real beginners 

1 Cosa vuol dire stare bene in una nuova città? Con nuove persone che non parlano la tua lingua? what does it mean to feel comfortable at ease in a new town?with  new people who don’t speak your language ?


  1. What data might we need to collect to find new useful  words and expressions  Quali elementi/ dati possono essere utili per fare sentire qualcuno a suo agio in un nuovo posto? which elements could be useful to let someone feel comfortable in a new place?

  2. Let’s collect the data and analyze it  raccogliamo dati / parole espressioni utili useful words/ expressions

  3. Let’s now look for patterns and interpret results. Can we come up with our own formulas ourselves? Come potremmo presentare tutti questi elementi in modo utile e piacevole/ coinvolgente ? pensiamo a chi stiamo per rivolgerci How could we present all these materials in a usefull but at the same time enjoyable ad involving way?




start engaging in investigative, project-based learning to develop your students’ competences

2. Create an environment where students can make connections across the subject 

3. Create rich tasks and encourage students to use different strategies.

4. Encourage students to discuss  and justify their solutions.

the success of the implementation of a  project can be attributed to the enthusiasm of all involved as well as the effective collaboration between teachers, the department head, the principal, the regional development officer, and last but not least the students themselves. Through a platform (eTwinning) students could voice their concerns, look for advice and help and most of all share resources. They become facilitators of their own learning.

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

Examples across Europe


Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -


Effective assessments of key competences need to be valid, reliable and fair, and capture students’ reasoning processes and problem-solving skills.


very important




Janet Looney,director of the European Institute of Education and Social Policy,  Paris


principles behind competence-based assessment, that is, the principles that are important to keep in mind when assessing how learners apply their knowledge and skills to solve real world problems, as well as their transversal skills such as creativity and initiative


outlining the three major approaches to student assessment, and the purpose of each


1 “summative assessment”,

2 “formative assessment” typically criterion-referenced. In other words, there are specific criteria by which to gauge learning performance.

3 student self-assessment  ipsative assessment



Any assessment needs to be valid, reliable and fair


  • Validity means that the assessment effectively measures what it is intended to measure.

  • Reliability refers to the extent to which the assessment is consistent and accurate over time, or across a large number of students.

  • Fairness refers to the need to consider factors that could influence the assessment – such as a noisy environment that interrupts the student concentration, or assessments that systematically favour one group over another, such as girls vs. boys.


Assessments of key competences need to capture the student’s:

-Reasoning processes

– Understanding of interconnections

– Ability to perform complex tasks

– Attitudes, such as curiosity, perseverance and motivation to learn.

More traditional assessments that measure discrete bits of knowledge are not effective for measuring how students are able to make connections between ideas, to solve problems, or their attitudes toward learning.

Newer approaches to summative assessment, such as portfolios, ICT-based assessments that can measure the quality open-ended performances, or simulations showing how students carry out a complex process, are more appropriate.



Classroom-based formative assessments are well suited to teaching key competences.


  • Questions should be designed to reveal possible misconceptions.

  • Teachers should avoid “yes”or “no” questions or questions that stress recall.

  • They may also provide feedback with specific suggestions on what learners need to do to improve their work and meet learning goals.

  • Feedback may be scaffolded. That is – teachers provide as much or as little information as the student needs to progress to next steps.


These techniques all support the development of higher-order thinking skills




To sum up, there are three major approaches to assessment. These include summative assessments – or assessments of learning; formative assessments – or assessment for learning, and self-assessments tracking progress against prior performances. These assessments need to be valid, reliable and fair. They also need to be able to capture students’ reasoning processes and problem-solving skills.

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

Module 3: Assessing Key Competences

3.3 Good Practice in Assessing Key Competences
Video Talk 2: Good Practice in Assessing Key Competenceswhat should be measured and which tools are most effective, depending on the purpose of the assessment and the competences being assessed. The use of innovative tools such as portfolios and e-assessments are discussed, and the importance of classroom-based formative assessment is highlighted.
  1. tools and approaches that are more effective at measuring key competences.
  2. Effective ways to assess knowledge, skills and attitudes in summative examinations.
  3. tools and practices to support assessments of transversal competences, such as creativity, initiative and the constructive management of feelings.

teachers may decide which curriculum requirements are the most important and priortise these for learning.

Non avere la smania di fare tutto il programmaaaa!


The teacher’s pedagogical skills, and skills for classroom management are the most important determinant of success when integrating new technologies


students’ self-assessment  is particularly relevant for transversal competences

 The major focus is on tracking individual student development, and on focusing attention on the importance of these skills for learning.

assessments of key competences need, for example, to measure students’ reasoning processes, understanding of interconnections, and ability to perform complex tasks. A number of new assessments, including portfolios and e-assessments provide more effective measures of students’ key competence development. However, more work is needed to support reliability of these kinds of assessments.




Classroom-based formative assessments are also important for supporting key competence learning. Classroom dialogues and effective questions allow teachers and students to explore more complex ideas and processes. Finally, there is increasing interest in developing tools to assess students’ transversal skills, focused on the student’s personal development. But much more research will be needed in this area. Teachers have an important role to play through action research

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

3.4 Assessing Collaborative Problem Solving

Video Talk3:AssessingCollaborativeProblemSolving

ProfessorPatrick Griffin, of the University of Melbourne

     1. To examine a generic performance assessment framework
  1. To use the specifications of collaborative problem solving for assessment
  2. To discuss the forms of evidence needed in assessing collaborative problem solving
  3. To explore the use of development progressions as an assessment strategy

the stem involved in designing a collaborative problem based task or project:

  1. Define the problem or collaborative project.

  2. Identify project elements and components in detail;

  3. For each component identify the resources that are essential.

These can be;

  1. materials

  2. equipment

  3. strategies

  4. knowledge

  5. experience


it is not possible to allocate knowledge, experience, or strategies. à when teaching collaborative problem solving these varying amounts of knowledge, experience and known strategies may affect the way in which the group as a whole functions. They might also affect how individuals interact. In assessment of the collaborative problem-solving skills of both individuals and the team it is essential to attempt to control the influence of these three inputs.


materials and equipment can be allocated differentially to each member of the group.


  1. Allocate to each participant non-overlapping, unique sets of resources necessary to be contributed to the project completion or problem resolution. Divide the resources amongst the participants with no shared or common resources.
  2. Clearly state the goals of the task or problem solution and observed to students procedure in the task.
  3. Explain to the participants that they must identify the problem, sort out a strategy to resolve the problem or complete the task
  4. The students also need to develop a means of keeping records of their decisions and discussions. For face-to-face attempts at collaborative problem-solving or collaborative project work keeping records is an essential aspect of the assessment process

Collaborative problem solving and reasoning

 Inductive reasoning focuses on exploring the available information and finding patterns.

 The role of collaboration in collaborative problem solving

collaborative problem-solving is curriculum independent–> it must be based on the development of skills other than the cognitive skills embedded within the school content curriculum

it would need a definite strategy for direct instruction

Collaborative problem solving requires partnerships to be formed and agreements to be reached on the nature of ideas or hypotheses to be tested and the way the team will proceed.

the collaborating students need to make observations and to seek information.


Griffin and Care (2015): “What do you have? What do you see? What kind of pictures do you have on the screen? What kind of instructions do you have and how can we communicate these? What kinds of information do you think you or I need?”


Collaborative problem-solving – dimensions and elements

Social components of collaborative problem-solving


successful collaborative problem-solving relies on the social skills of participants


Collaborative problem solving requires partnerships to be formed and agreements to be reached on the nature of ideas or hypotheses to be tested and the way the team will proceed. Then the collaborating students need to make observations and to seek information.

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

Participation skills

distinguish between three sub-skills of participation

  1. -action,

  2. -interaction,

     3.- task completion

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
  • Action –general level of participation of an individual, irrespective of whether this action is coordinated with the efforts of others. Problem solvers differ in the level of competence with which they act in a group. While some may be passive, others become active when provided with sufficient prompts and supports, and yet others will demonstrate an ability to act independently and from their own initiative.

  • Interaction – the capacity to respond to or coordinate with others, ranging from answering an inquiry, to actively initiating and coordinating efforts, or prompting others to respond.

  • Task completion skills – motivational aspects of participation, including a sense of responsibility for the outcomes of collaborative effort. This can also be described as persistence or perseverance or, in some cases, grit. (determination)


Perspective-taking skills

encompasses the ability to see a state of affairs from the viewpoint of another person; to apply contextual knowledge to interpret information provided by others, and to adapt one’s statements or actions with sensitivity to the needs and presumed understanding of listeners/observers.

Responsiveness – refers to a capacity to integrate contributions of collaborators into one’s own thoughts and actions.

Audience awareness skills – refer to the ability to tailor one’s contributions to the presumed or expressed needs of others, or to make actions visible and comprehensible to collaborators.

Social regulation skills
Metamemory: the capacity to evaluate one’s own knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses. It is a reflective capacity
Transactive memory: a person’s understanding of the knowledge, strengths and weaknesses of collaborative partners  in terms of how successful or valuable their partner’s activity contributed to the solution
Negotiation skills successful collaborators:find ways to reconcile different perspectives and opinions and/or accommodate differences.
Responsibility initiative takes into account that problem solvers may differ in the way they take initiative within a collaborative context.
Cognitive domain of collaborative problem-solving –> task regulation and knowledge building
Per es. presentazione di gruppo



Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

caso irlandese Irish example

A skilful teacher becomes proficient in

  • Explaining representing and modelling core content
  • Setting up and managing small group work
  • Recognizing common patterns of thinking in a content domain
  • Posing questions
  • Eliciting and interpreting student thinking
  • Establishing norms and routines for a respectful learning environment
  • Selecting and using methods to assess students learning on an ongoing basis
  • Conducting meetings with parents


Adopting the changed approach to teaching maths brought with it a number of challenges. These can be summarised as:

  • Teaching to develop skills as well as procedural fluency
  • A change in the role of the teacher and the student
  • Continued impact of the exam
  • Heavy reliance on tests in the classroom.

reconceptualization of what teaching and learning involves

often teachers view their role as helping students to get through the exam and maximise their grades.

students need to become more active learners, getting involved in group-work, discovery learning and questioning and discussing.  new skill set and a new set of classroom practices


further support is needed to help teachers develop new and trusted ways of assessing focused on improving learning.

Teacher need to be given support in the new methodologies

investment in CPD is  to be seen as one of the key enablers to the innovation also for  Italy where there is a strong need of intensive school-based support

alignment of the syllabus with the assessment 

—> Real and effective innovation can be achieved  if all parts of the system work very closely together


Improved teacher competence (was )another big lever


change to assessment



allignment between syllabus and assessment and final exams is the real challenge now (in my opinion)

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

very useful link


To improve teaching and learning, it is clearly more useful to look at the things a learner is just beginning to be able to do and understand, and work to nurture those emerging skills and abilities, rather than concentrate our attention retrospectively on the skills and abilities that have already been achieved


Module 2 Learning Activity:

Design your own project to develop your students’ competences



here my learning activity

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

some further  observations about the Irish experience

Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

Final considerations


Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

Module 3 Learning Activity: Self-Assessment & Practical Exercise in Assessing Collaborative Problem Solving!



Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -

I wish to thank all the course partners for the wonderful collaboration  and all the organizers for the huge opportunity

we have been given!


thanks a lot for the great experience and see you soon in an other course!



Competences for 21st Century Schools: my learning diary by emma giurlani -
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