Re-Thinking Design, Italian Style Bridging the Italian Curriculum Through ‘MADE

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    Ryan Calabretta-Sajder

    Re-Thinking Design, Italian Style

    Bridging the Italian Curriculum Through ‘MADE IN ITALY’ 

    A Workshop for Instructors Aimed at Enriching the Italian CurriculumJuly 7-21, 2019  Lead Facilitator:

    • Ryan Calabretta-Sajder, Assistant Professor of Italian, University of Arkansas


    • Alessandro Adorno, Director, Babilonia: Italian Language and Culture Center
    • Donnamarie Kelly, Study Abroad Advisor, Wentworth Institute of Technology
    • Elisa Pianges, Instructor, Babilonia: Italian Language and Culture Center
    • Joseph Covey, Director of the Center for World Languages, University of Arkansas

    Project Rational: Italian, the third most studied language internationally, holds a dominant place on the world’s stage, most particularly in the realms of economics, engineering, and design. Boasting the third largest national economy in the Eurozone, Italy maintains a pivotal role in the global economy. Even though Italian is taught widely within the Humanities, the language of Dante is not only relevant to traditional studies, but also, and maybe more importantly today in the fields of business, engineering, agriculture, and many others. Introducing Italy beyond a Humanities scope, the workshop designed for Italian language instructors at the university level (high school teachers are also welcome) will present the importance of Italian as a contemporary global commercial language, exposing students to international opportunities via service learning, internships, and jobs. In fact, the concept of Business/Commercial Italian is a course that few US universities offer; when they do, it is often in a vacuum, such as a one or three-credit course within an entire major (36 hours) or minor (15 hours advanced of the fourth semester) program.  One of the global aims I hope will come out of my promotion of adopting ‘MADE IN ITALY’ is the focus on a Commercial Italian specialization within the Italian curriculum based upon one of the following two courses: “MADE IN ITALY” and “Commercial Italian” along with an internship with an Italian company in Italy or the US. This approach to teaching Italian will help increase student enrollment across the US, which according to the last MLA report, declined by 6% over the past few years. By demonstrating the importance of languages across the curriculum, and the importance of language learning as a second/double major, which Dennis Looney of the MLA recently promoted via Facebook, students would understand the material usefulness of learning a second or third language for the job market. This workshop is particularly important because little to no attention is placed on Italian pedagogy as a whole through our national associations (AATI and AAIS) with the exception of AP Italian, which is primarily offered through The College Board. This two-week seminar will target junior and senior faculty who wish to learn or sharpen pedagogical tools, along with high school teachers of AP Italian.  Project Description:The teacher curriculum development workshop offers a unique opportunity for instructors to enrich their current curriculum by gearing their teaching towards a more pragmatic approach that students, parents, and administrators are requesting with the inclusion of tangible issues related to global affairs. The curriculum is modeled after the conceptualization of MADE IN ITALY, defined in part by the four traditional A’s: Abbigliamento(fashion), Agroalimentare(food/wine), Arredamento(design), and Automotive(automobiles), plus a fifth I have added, Artigianale(artisan). Instructors will be exposed to prepared didactic units while being encouraged to produce their own during the seminar. By the end of the workshop, participants will be asked to share one didactic unit with the other participants, which will be workshopped and refined during the two-week seminar, allowing each teacher to return with roughly 20 ready-to-go complete units in hand (each unit will have diverse lesson plans depending on the objectives the instructor sets forth along with the level being targeted).  The workshop will last two weeks and will be hosted at Babilonia Language and Culture Center in Taormina, Sicily. The organization of the workshop is based on the NEH Summer Institutes model. The seminar has a twofold purpose: first, it serves as a course that will introduce new thematic and methodological approaches to Italian, focused not only on modeling pedagogically sound teaching and lesson plans but also collaborating with and across subjects and colleges. Secondly, it will function as a refresher course and a two-week linguistic immersion for instructors. The methodological approach incorporates various assessment models from the AP Italian Language and Culture examination and is aligned with ACTFL’s principles, namely the Performance Descriptors: Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational along with the 5 C’s (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) and particularly its 3 P’s (Products, Practices, and Perspectives). Each unit will follow a similar structure and all assessments will reference ACTFL’s Proficiency Guidelines, and when appropriate, the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR). It will heighten how and where to find appropriate reading and listening materials accessible for students at different levels and model best practices in curriculum development.  The workshop will introduce brands and products that represent Italy’s genius in design both domestically and internationally. It will also challenge the current definition of MADE IN ITALY and consider how products should be evaluated to receive this certification. Basic aspects of marketing, product design, and advertising along with classroom transferable case studies will also be explored. Special attention will be given to Sicilian companies. In addition to collaborating and creating multiple didactic units across linguistic levels, participants will visit Sicilian companies and incorporate information from site visits into the curriculum.  At the end of the seminar, the work by the participants and the information gathered during the on-site visits will be uploaded onto a flash drive for the participants to use the following academic year in their classrooms. There will also be a Digital Humanities website with all the units made available, materials arguing the importance of MADE IN ITALY for the Italian curriculum, and audio and visual materials conveniently accessible and adaptable for the classroom.  Program Activities:

    • 16 lessons: 8 communicative case studies; 8 curricular/methodological lessons
    • 4 full-day excursions; 4 half-day excursions: 18 on-site company/business visits
    • 4 guest lectures representing the four traditional A’s
    • 9 meals
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