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READTWINNING OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS
The results on reading literacy in European schools are worrying: from 2009 to 2018 the general trend was negative (the goal was to bring the percentage of students with low reading skills under 15%, but instead it has grown from 19,2% in 2009 to 20,1 in 2015 and to 21,7 in 2018), and the first data available show that the pandemic has further worsened the situation.
These data show that European schools need better, more effective strategies in promoting reading. The Erasmus+ ReadTwinning Project, with 7 partners from 5 European countries, was proposed in order to develop an innovative strategy (and open, free online tools) for connecting students through shared interests. Our basic assumption was that small reading groups ('reading tandems', 2 to 4 students) devoted to books connected with specific, rather than generic, interests (such as 'hockey' or 'skiing' rather than 'sport', 'K-pop' or 'progressive rock' rather than 'music'), where topics and books are chosen by the participants in the group rather than by teachers or parents, and where (book) reading activities are complemented by online research and selection of further relevant content, might engage and motivate students (and most specifically reluctant readers and non-readers) better than traditional, curriculum-based reading activities in larger groups (such as a class).
A few months after the start of the project, the Covid-19 pandemic radically changed the daily life of schools, as well as the traditional management and activities of international, collaborative projects such as ReadTwinning. We faced huge challenges, but we could also explore new opportunities. We promoted experiments with family-based reading tandems during the lockdown (with great results!). We devoted a section of our web platform to a selection of tools and content for online, collaborative reading activities. We had to move online many of the activities of the project, but we succeeded in developing a methodology, guidelines, tools (including the online platform for reading tandems) that could be (and, actually, were) used and discussed both during the pandemic and after the end of the lookdowns. During the last months of the project, we were able to resume physical meetings, including the student exchange. This newsletter offers glimpses on our final activities. We hope – and we are confident – that the ReadTwinning project and methodology will live well beyond the end of the project, and that the results of the project will inspire further work and research. Keep reading!