'Tesserae of Knowledge' research project, www.ucy.ac.cy/psifides-gnosis

'Tesserae of Knowledge' (in Greek, Psifides Gnosis) is a research project aimed at collecting, digitizing and disseminating material related to disabled people and people with chronic illnesses, primarily in order to promote inclusive education. In the context of the project, a digital archive was developed. The archive comprises of 'digital portfolios' for each person, entailing his/her biography, representative work (e.g. poems, literary texts, artwork, songs, videos, documentaries), and interviews. The digital portfolios can be used by anyone who is interested in disability issues, and particularly by teachers, as part of the curriculum. To this end, a search tool was developed, to facilitate teachers locate material that is suitable for different subjects, thematic areas, and class levels. The project runs a number of activities, such as professional development programmes for teachers, school based seminars, school based interventions addressed to teachers and students, presentations at conferences, and publications. The project 'Tesserae of Knowledge' was initiated in 2011, thanks to the funding provided by the University of Cyprus, and it continues its educational and social contribution to date. The project co-ordinator is Simoni Symeonidou.


DISARTS Professional Development Programme  (https://ucy.ac.cy/psifides-gnosis/el/disarts)
DISARTS is located in the Disability Studies theoretical framework and aims to provide teacher professional learning opportunities on disability issues. The purpose of the programme is to empower teachers to design and implement lesson plans, that include the work of people with disabilities, either directly or indirectly. The programme uses poems, literary texts, works of art, songs, videos, interviews and other material developed by people with disabilities. Participating teachers are involved in school–based professional learning activities. Through the knowledge, attitudes and skills developed through DISARTS, teachers may develop anti-oppressive curricula in order to (re)construct the concept of disability among learners in all levels of education. DISARTS is funded by the University of Cyprus (2019-2021). It makes use of the work of people with disabilities collected in the programme "Tesserae of Knowledge" (www.ucy.ac.cy/psifides-gnosis). The scientific co-ordinator of the programme is Simoni Symeonidou.
 
Title: Storying the teaching profession ‘from below’ and amidst change: a study of four cohorts of elementary teachers’ life histories in the Republic of Cyprus (late 1970s-2010s)
Funding: The A.G. Leventis Foundation
Duration: 2017-2019
Principal Investigators: Stavroula Philippou & Stavroula Kontovourki
Description: The research project seeks to construct the life histories of approximately 32 teachers, who fall into four different cohorts that correspond to different periods in the recent history of the Republic of Cyprus (late 1970s-2010s), as those are marked by significant changes at the societal as well as at the narrower institutional level. Taking these into consideration and grounded in the life histories of individual elementary teachers, the project aims to construct a “history from below” of teacher professionalism and of the teaching profession in Cyprus during the time period under study (late 1970s-to date). It is orientated towards life history research and the sociology of professionalism and curriculum to closely investigate the complexities of wide-scale institutional or other changes in relation to the negotiation of teachers’ sense of professionalism, including and at interplay with, both their personal lives and the changing socio-political context. Specifically, it has a threefold purpose: (a) to compile a set of teachers’ life histories from four different cohorts of elementary school teachers who entered and exercise(d) the profession under different institutional and broader societal circumstances; (b) to shed light on the complex interplay of the personal and the professional as manifested in teachers’ life histories and through the anticipated differences between these four cohorts as well as through the similarities and differences that might emerge on other grounds (e.g. gender, geographic location/residence); (c) to construct the local history of the teaching profession and of teachers’ sense of professionalism by examining it as socially constructed, and to situate that local history in broader sociohistorical contexts and understandings of the profession in the international literature.

Title: Enactments of Language Arts and Social Studies curricula: Past and current constructions of teacher professional identity amidst curriculum reform
Funding: University of Cyprus
Duration: 2014 – 2016
Principal Investigators: Stavroula Kontovourki & Stavroula Philippou (joint start-up funding)
Description: The purpose was to develop an infrastructure and framework to study the everyday enactments of curricula by a small number of teachers in particular subject areas (language arts/literacy, social studies), as those were connected to teachers’ conceptualization of and to official policy discourse on professional identity. The study constituted an expansion of an existing, longitudinal project on elementary teachers’ professionalism and curriculum change in Cyprus since 2004. Through start-up funding, the project extended to (a) focusing on everyday enactment of curricula in the teaching of literacy and social studies (Geography, History, Health Education), (b) connecting these enactments to established conceptualizations of teacher professionalism, and (c) identifying and exploring multiple professionalities.
 
Enhancing Differentiated Instruction and Cognitive Activation in Mathematics Lessons by Supporting Teacher Learning (EDUCATE).
Τhe transnational project EDUCATE (http://www.ucy.ac.cy/educate/en/) aims at integrating cognitive activation  and differentiation, aspiring to promote both aspects in teaching Mathematics. Educational materials have been developed to train teachers to involve all their students in challenging work on the one hand, and scaffolding teacher educators in productively supporting teachers in doing so, on the other hand. Four EU countries participated in the project (Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Portugal). The project unfolded in four phases, during which the needs and challenges faced by teachers when teaching with challenging tasks were first identified; then, targeted materials for teachers and teacher educators were developed and used in the context of video-clubs held with groups of preservice and in-service teachers. Finally, the effectiveness of the materials developed was examined by studying the changes introduced in teachers’ practice (as tapped through videotaped lessons), as well as through analyzing reflective interviews in which they participated. At the culmination of the project, an e-learning platform including all the materials developed was created (http://educate-platform.com/).   
 

Integrating Generic and Content-Specific Teaching Practices’
This project (https://ucy.ac.cy/integratingpractices/en/) explored how teaching contributes to student learning by concurrently attending to domain-generic and domain-specific teaching practices, with the former cutting across different subject matters and the latter pertaining to specific subject matters. Focusing on teaching mathematics and Physical Education (PE), the project sampled teachers teaching both subject matters in elementary school grades. Using a rich corpus of data including students’ beginning and end-of-year performance in mathematics and PE; students’ beginning and end-of-year affective scores in each subject matter; student ratings on the teaching quality they experienced in mathematics and PE; teachers’ self-reports on the quality of their instruction in both subject matters; and observers’ ratings of the quality of three lessons per each teacher in each subject matter under consideration, the project provided evidence attesting to the role of both types of practices for student learning. Insights about the contribution of particular teaching practices for each subject matter were also generated.