Secondary School director-Classical Studies
During this difficult period of social distancing we had to work at home and we implemented remote learning. So, this essay is a trial first and then a result. Distance learning promotes social inclusion and offers access to all learners by using appropriate teaching material, which empowers their learning process. During the lesson of Greek language and Literature, we presented a “conversation” between a poem, written by Kiki Dimoula, and a famous work of art, a painting by Marc Chagall. The aim of this essay is to make Modern Greek poetry familiar to young learners and after that, to increase their ability of comparison between the old and the modern forms of literature. Apart from this, the learners make a “conversation” with other kinds of Art and they evaluate the results of this “conversation”.
Key words: distance learning, Greek literature, Kiki Dimoula, Marc Shagall
Introduction: Presentation of the educational process
The following lesson is presented in a two-hour block, which lasts for a total of 100’. It covers part of the exam material for the third grade of High School which students take in order to be admitted in university. The lesson was implemented at Moudros High School on the island of Lemnos. The school belongs to a secluded and, therefore, problematic region. Distance learning was implemented within two weeks after the official suspension of classes in Greece. The lesson was implemented through the WEBEX digital platform, which was used by the majority of schools in Greece. The teaching process was carried out through the combination of synchronous remote learning and asynchronous distance learning, using the “e-class” platform, thus making for a blended teaching approach. The aim and the goals of this lesson are based on the Programme of Studies, according to the Greek Ministry of Education. So, the conversation starts from the famous painting “The Walk” (Lovers) by Marc Shagall. The special attention was attracted by the painting called “The Walk”, because, as many professionals believe, he was able to portray himself and his wife in it (en.opisanie-kartin.com) ,the main question that is sometimes asked by those who have come across this type of art for the first time sounds like this: why do the main characters hover in the air and can’t walk like all other people on the ground? The answer immediately did not take long.
Presentation of the teaching material
More specifically, the lesson draws on the teaching unit of the coursebook “Network of Texts-Literature Folder”. The emphasis was on identifying specific literary characteristics and “interacting” with a different form of Art, through research and use of IT. Powerpoint worksheets were used throughout. The text is as follows:
Kiki Dimoula, Excess
How much I have wished
tied to at least one feather
of a large, travelling bird
lying down not on my back
because of things over me
that I have seen almost everything
muzzle tied to one feather
to take photograph
if they are made of the same material
and you humiliate me, you tell me
that no bird
with one of its wings useless
by my weight
it is not in danger of such a trip
you are wrong
I have flown high many times
tied to my weight.
(Kiki Dimoula, 2010:28)
The aim of the project was to familiarise students with the poetry by Kiki Dimoula (1931-2020). Equally, students were asked to identify the characteristics of modern poetry as opposed to more traditional poetic styles. Modernism is a term that in any type of literature that relates to experimentalism is extremely different from standard traditional poetry. Modern poetry intends to divert away from populism and the regular form seen in most traditional poetry.
Dimoula’s work is haunted by the existential dissolution of the post-war era. Her central themes are hopelessness, insecurity, absence and oblivion. Using diverse subjects and twisting grammar in unconventional ways, she accentuated the power of the words through astonishment and surprise, but always managed to retain a sense of hope. Dimoula was a full member of the Academy of Athens, and her honors include the European Prize for Literature, Greece’s Grand National Prize for lifetime achievement, two Greek National Poetry Prizes, and the Academy of Athens’s Ouranis Prize as well as its Aristeion of Letters. She lived in Athens until her death in early 2020.
Also, students were involved in researching into other works and forms of Art and evaluating their different qualities. These aims respond and meet the goals of the National Curriculum (Lionarakis, Papadimitriou, Manousou, Ioakimidou, Chartofilaka, Karagianni, 2020). The “dialogue” is created through the comparison of the poem and the following painting by Marc Shagall.
Picture 1: Marc Shagall, The Walk (Lovers), 1918
The two characters depicted in the picture, a man and a woman, are very pleased to have met and walked along the street together. After all, love for two is the highest happiness in all the earth. Therefore, even a simple walk can turn into an unforgettable flight over houses and buildings. After all, this is a metaphor, as if love gives wings. If you look closely and carefully examine the entire “composition” of the picture, you can see that the artist depicted two forces. On the one hand, this is the land located under the feet of Chagall himself, and on the other hand, the sky in which his wife soars. Thus, lovers with the help of the wings of love are able to soar in the most different corners of their vast region. From this they become above all life and everyday problems, and are able to ignore nothing around. If you look at the faces, it is noticeable that their expression gives out happiness and complete serenity, joy and faith in the beautiful. After all, they were able to overcome terrestrial gravity with the help of wings and terrestrial weightlessness. This painting is found in the coursebook opposite the poem by Kiki Dimoula and it is the stimulus for the comparative process. The students were given the following points of interest:
- Verbal subjects in the text
- Time/Place of the text
- Modern poetry elements
- Lack of punctuation; what does it represent?
- Symbols: bird, feather, you, journey
- Connection of the p0em to the painting.
We focused on providing the students with clear, explanatory instructions. This was deliberate on our part, due to the fact that the lesson was carried out through distance learning. As a result, conversations and questions that would naturally take place in the classroom setting were now hindered. Therefore, all accompanying material was in-depth and detailed.
During the lesson, students participate through raising their hands. Questions are used to check their understanding about the content of the poem, the description of the painting, the highlighted symbols that are employed. This will result in a deeper and more substantial understanding of the content of the poem. This final point forms a much higher level of difficulty for the young learners.
At the same time, the painting is studied in detail. Students are asked to identify the people, the environment, the surroundings, the buildings, the colours, the shades. As they gain more insight, they are able to identify the artistic features of the painter, in this case, Expressionism. Also, they comprehend how modern art movements are inter-connected. The following chart contains a list of the main features of traditional and modern poetry:
Picture 2: Modern vs. Contemporary Literature
As regards the poetry of Kiki Dinoula, the famous Greek poet explored both syntax and memory in her poetry, restlessly searching for forms to contain grief, intimacy and uncertainty. In a New Times feature, Rachel Donadio described Dimoula’s poetry as “spare, profound, unsentimental, effortlessly transforming the quotidian into the metaphysical, drawing on the powerful themes of time, fate and destiny, yet making them entirely her own”.
In conclusion, the students are expected to hand in a final project, based on their own morphological, linguistic and aesthetic observations. This project is of paramount practical importance, as it simulates the exams that they will sit on a national level towards the end of the school year.
The importance of multimodal texts
The “dialogue” between the poem by Kiki Dimoula and the painting by Marc Shagall is included in the context of the introduction of multimodal texts as methodology of exercising and examining in Literature teaching. That means that the image (the painting) is polysemic, it has different meaning and concept and, as the language, provides its own “Grammar” for its analysis. According to Barthes’ Semiotic Theory, the process of reading signs is broken down and his theory focuses on the interpretation of different cultures or societies. The symbolic message is encoded and coded.
A multimodal text conveys meaning through a combination of two or more modes. Each mode has its own specific task and function (Kress, 2010, p. 28) in the meaning making process, and usually carries only a part of the message in a multimodal text. In a picture book, the print and the image both contribute to the overall telling of the story but do so in different ways.
Effective contemporary communication requires young people to be able to comprehend, respond to, and compose meaning through multimodal texts in diverse forms. To do this, students need to know how each mode uses unique semiotic resources to convey meaning (Kress, 2010) and this needs to be taught explicitly. In a visual text, for example, representation of people, objects, and places can be conveyed using choices of visual semiotic resources such as line, shape, size, line and symbols, while written language would convey this meaning through sentences using noun groups and adjectives (Callow, 2013) written or typed on paper or a screen.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, distance education can be a very effective use of instructional materials with visual, auditory, audiovisual and multimedia content. Visual content can be in the form of text, drawings, pictures, graphics and models, and the like. Auditory facilities are oral presentation or a speech, musical accompaniment, different sounds, etc. This content combines visual and auditory content, usually in the form of television shows, films or videos.
The rapid development of computer discipline has substantial effects on education, both at the educational content and methods of education. Thus, for example, networking and the Web become a critical foundation of computer science, and simultaneously one of the basic pedagogical resources, changes in the educational process, not only in computer science but also in other areas. Progress made in multimedia technology at the level of personal computers, as well as in networking technology and especially internet and web, created new opportunities to transform the teaching process and the educational systems of significant scale. Multimedia, combining text, images, sound, animation and video, and playing them before they used very different means, although in recent times for playing multimedia files commonly used multimedia computer. In the two-month period of the lockdown, teachers and trainers were supported both technically by the central technical team based at the education ministry and pedagogically through short-term training sessions in digital skills.
All schools nationwide were swiftly provided with tablets and laptops by the education ministry; the initiative was supported by European funds and private donations. This equipment is used by teachers and learners to ease the implementation of distance learning. In the long term it will also contribute in enhancing learners’ digital skills. Priority was given to supporting low-income families, unemployed parents, single families, families with three children, families with many children or orphaned families, learners with special needs or excellent achievements. The equipment was distributed according to the number of learners and the existing technological equipment at each school; the specific number of tablets and laptops was subject to the total amount of donations.
This unforeseen situation has triggered cooperation between the public and the private to support the education system and equip Greek youth with the necessary digital skills for the 21st century. Based on the most recent data, broadband cover reaches 99.9% of households and 4G mobile network coverage reaches 97%. The vast majority of families with children have, at least, one smart phone and computer; they also have unlimited data connection to the internet. The Greek Government also gave access to digital classrooms via landline telephones, at minimal charge. Discussions were held with internet providers to provide further support to distance learning.
Feedback and evaluation
As regards the feedback, it focused on the comprehension of what is important (Chiappe et al., 2016· Costello & Crane, 2013· Gibbs & Simpson, 2004). The feedback platform “e-portfolio” was created in order to provide the young learners with all evaluation data and the evidence of progress of the educational process. The opportunity of reflection throughout this learning data is crucial for the metacognitive process. For example, notes and thoughts about what is learnt, feelings and knowledge that was gained. By placing grades on every assignment, whether it be summative or formative, students lose focus on the objective of learning and instead shift to a mindset in which they need to perform with mastery from their very first time working on a problem.
In many situations, this actually drives students to find loopholes and shortcuts in search of a good grade. They circumvent the learning process so they are more likely to show success and earn those top marks, even if they have not mastered the material. At the time of providing feedback it is important that after reading that a student should have a positive feeling about that feedback (Piccinin, 2003). This is considered as a process of motivating the students to utilize the feedback they have received. Feedback should not be discouraging the students at any cost. Obviously, it is vital to draw the student’s attention to the less successful parts of a coursework, however the teachers should be cautious in providing “negative feedback” of this kind. Thus teachers can improve students’ learning environment by presenting the feedback in a positive way.
Because of distance learning, email is a simple but effective way of providing students the feedback. There can be different kind of email feedback. Emails can basically provide generic comments to a whole group of students especially when one lecturer is teaching large group. On the other hand, other form of e-mail feedback is sending electronic versions of the feedback forms of individual feedback to a particular student.
Email is a simple but effective way of providing students the feedback. There can be different kind of email feedback. Some emails can basically provide generic comments to a whole group of students especially when one lecturer is teaching large group. On the other hand, other form of e-mail feedback is sending electronic versions of the feedback forms of individual feedback to a particular student.
Also, the evaluation is based on what has been learnt, by filling a questionnaire up. This form evaluates the blended type of learning, the synchronous and asynchronous method, the expectations that were fulfilled. Evaluation helps to build an educational tool, assess its achievements and improve upon its effectiveness. It serves as an in-built monitor within the lesson to review the progress in learning from time to time. It also provides valuable feedback on the design and the implementation of new learning material.
Assessment is an integral part of instruction, as it determines whether or not the goals of education are being met. Assessment affects decisions about grades, placement, advancement, instructional needs, curriculum, and, in some cases, funding. Assessment inspire us to ask these hard questions: «Are we teaching what we think we are teaching?» «Are students learning what they are supposed to be learning?» «Is there a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning?»
Assessment and evaluation are very important parts of the constructive alignment process. Well-designed assessments will allow your students to use the knowledge and skills they have learnt and indicate their level of mastery. The feedback on the assessments will also provide students with clear information on the criteria they need to match to succeed at the tasks, and can give the lecturer a clearer sense of how the task is assessing mastery and what aspects are being assessed. Evaluation of the course or module, by students and lecturers should feed back into the whole process of curriculum alignment, and reflect critically and constructively on the outcomes, the teaching and learning activities, the assessments and the experience of the course or module. Reflexivity and continuous learning and development are key aims of successful evaluation.
Assessment is perhaps one of the more important elements of curriculum design and alignment, because this is where lecturers and students get to see if all the hard work has paid off, in a way. Can students demonstrate mastery in terms of the knowledge and skills they need to have learnt? Where are the gaps and where are the points of strength? Assessment, in a constructively aligned curriculum, must speak to the outcomes listed for the course, and must draw in both the knowledge and the practical and intellectual skills and competencies that students have been taught and that they have practiced in lectures and tutorials. Assessment activities must test what has been learnt and taught, and should not be designed to catch students out or be constructed so as to be ambiguous or inexplicit.
Assessment tasks in course should also, ideally, be an appropriate balance between formative and summative assessments. The former give your students opportunities to make errors and get constructive, guiding feedback that can be used to develop competency and understanding in further assessments and teaching and learning. Formative quizzes, essays that can be drafted and revised, and short written or verbal tasks that receive detailed feedback are examples of formative assessments. The latter are opportunities for your students to demonstrate mastery or competence in a particular area or across several areas that have been studied, and the feedback is usually less detailed and more aimed at providing a summary of what they have and have not yet mastered, rather than providing explicit guidance for further development and growth. Examinations, some kinds of tests and theses or dissertations are examples of summative assessments.
Feedback is a very important part of the assessment process, both formative and summative. Through receiving focused, relevant and guiding feedback, students are able to understand where their strengths and weaknesses are, and where they still need to concentrate their efforts in terms of their own learning. Through giving feedback, lecturers and tutors are better able to make similar assessments of strengths and weaknesses for individual students and also across the cohort they are teaching and tutoring. This can enable more responsive teaching and tutoring to address the gaps and weaknesses where necessary. It can also enable a better understanding of how students are responding to the methods and styles of teaching and tutoring, and how deeply and accurately they grasp and understand the relevant knowledge and employ the related skills and practices to explore and demonstrate their knowledge.
Rubrics and assessment criteria or marking guides can provide students with valuable information about what is being assessed and how, and provide a useful guide for the markers of the task, whether tutors or lecturers. Rubrics can be designed in a number of ways, and can be very detailed or fairly simple depending on the task, and on the criteria being assessed. The following resources provide further examples and information about giving students feedback on their work, in both oral and written form, as well as examples and guidance on writing and developing assessment rubrics and criterion-referenced marking guides.
Today’s students need to know not only the basic reading and arithmetic skills, but also skills that will allow them to face a world that is continually changing. They must be able to think critically, to analyze, and to make inferences. Changes in the skills base and knowledge our students need require new learning goals; these new learning goals change the relationship between assessment and instruction. Teachers need to take an active role in making decisions about the purpose of assessment and the content that is being assessed.
The teaching proposal is based on the pedagogical concept that through multimodal texts more stimuli are provided, critical thinking is promoted, cultural literacy is enhanced. Apart from this, these texts cultivate multiple intelligence, they are more attractive and are retained in long-term memory, promoting the creativity of learners. To sum up, the multimodal texts cultivate multiple skills and literacy, necessary skills for the citizens of the 21th century.
Λιοναράκης Α., Παπαδημητρίου Σ., Μανούσου Ε., Ιωακειμίδου Β., Χαρτοφύλακα Τ. , Καραγιάννη Ε. (2020), Εκπαιδευτικός σχεδιασμός μαθήματος για εξ αποστάσεως εκπαίδευση, Επιμόρφωση εκπαιδευτικών Πρωτοβάθμιας & Δευτεροβάθμιας Εκπαίδευσης σε θέματα εκπαίδευσης από απόσταση. ΙΕΠ και Εργαστήριο εκπαιδευτικού Υλικού και εκπαιδευτικής μεθοδολογίας ΕΑΠ
Barthes, R. (1966). «Introduction à l’analyse structurale des récits», Communications, 8 (1), pp. 1–27, translated as «Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives», in: Roland Barthes, Image–Music–Text, essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, New York 1977, pp. 79–124.
Callow, J. (2013). The Shape of Text to Come: How Image and Text Work. Sydney: Primary English Teaching Association of Australia.
Costello, J. & Crane, D. (2013). Technologies for Learner-Centered Feedback. Open Praxis, Vol 5(3), 17-225. Retrieved on 18 April, 2020 from https://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/63/44
Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004). Conditions under which assessment supports students’ learning. Learning and Teaching in Education, Vol 1, 3-31.
Kress, G. (2010). Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication. London; New York: Routledge
Piccinin, S. J. (2003) Feedback: Key to learning. Halifax, NS: Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education