How to Pronounce Knife: A reading choice for your adult English language learners and upgrading students

Rikki Tikki Tavi? Really? The instructors can’t find literature that’s more relevant to our students’ lives than that?”

The psychologist who worked with me at a college that specialized in adult language and literacy education shook her head. She was right. The Rudyard Kipling children’s story about a talking mongoose who fights a cobra to save an English boy in an Indian household was far removed from our students’ experiences. So why were the instructors using it?

Easy answers: It was available. It was readable. And it was safe.

At the time, the college had a lot of literature anthologies kicking around that were intended for upper elementary and junior high school kids. Why? Because the literature they contained was at the “correct” readability level for the students we taught, whose English language and literacy skills were still developing. Some instructors overlooked the obvious unsuitability of the content in favor of presenting their students with stories that contained words and sentences they could decode successfully.

Not only that, but stories like Rikki Tikki Tavi did not raise any issues from the students’ lives that might have made for “uncomfortable” conversations in the classroom: poverty, racism, relationship conflicts, addictions, isolation, and a whole host of other topics found in literature intended for adults. I recall one instructor who told me, “I’m not going anywhere near those kinds of topics. I don’t need that kind of trouble in my classroom.”

As a teacher of literature myself at the time, there was part of me that understood why my colleagues were using Kipling’s story and others like it. Materials that are both accessible to adults with reading challenges and respectful of their adult status and experience are hard to find. It can be difficult to facilitate conversations about the topics raised in literature intended for adults. But if you believe, as I do, that the point of reading literature is to help us reflect on our lives; understand the experiences of others; witness how they deal with conflict; and come to appreciate the universality of the human condition, you’ve likely gone the extra couple of miles to find reading that your adult students can read successfully and relate to.

Which brings me to How To Pronounce Knife, the 2020 Giller Prize winner by Souvankham Thammavongsa. When she was a year old, the author’s Laotian parents brought her to Canada from the Thai refugee camp where she was born. The family settled in Toronto where she learned English and eventually earned a B.A. at the University of Toronto.

The stories in How To Pronounce Knife reflect the experiences of Lao families trying to make a go of it in their new lives in Canada. A boxer ends up working in his sister’s aesthetics salon. A woman learns English by watching soap operas. A mother teaches her daughter how to harvest worms on a worm farm. A girl goes to her father for advice on how to pronounce knife.

The stories raise issues that go far beyond the Lao immigrant experience to address those with universal relevance, especially for adults whose circumstances may have marginalized them: exploitation in low paying jobs; family conflict brought on by poverty and generational differences; food insecurity; identity questions.

But the stories also show the spunk and humor and resilience of people under stress, and how they can pull together to overcome personal and community adversity.

Another piece of good news for teachers who might want to teach this book is its readability. I inputted excerpts into a site that uses seven scales to estimate grade level, based on number of syllables in the words, and sentence length and construction. As with all readability formulas, there was some variation in the results. But most indicated if your students can decode at approximately a grade six level, they should be able to handle How to Pronounce Knife.

I’d be interested to know what your students think of these short stories if you decide to use them. Also, I’d love to hear the titles of other novels, short stories, nonfiction, or poetry you’ve used successfully with adult English language learners or upgrading students, ones that respect their reading levels and their life experiences.

How to Pronounce Knife is available at an independent bookshop near you. In Edmonton, you can find it at The Glass Bookshop and Audreys.

DIM Your Doubts About Using Activities in Your Classroom – Part 3: Monitor

A professor from China who was participating in my English-medium instruction program at the U of A was telling me about his observations of a business administration class. The U of A business faculty uses team-based learning, in which students are given responsibility for their learning, working together independently from the professor to achieve a common goal.

One day, the Chinese professor approached me and said he could see some advantages to this learning approach. “But,” he said, “I have one concern. How would I know if the class is learning anything?”

It was a fair question. The simple answer is, “You don’t know if the students are learning – not unless you’re monitoring the impact of the activity, during and after its implementation.” The best activity design and implementation will fall flat unless the activity actually does facilitate learning.

Here’s how to find that out:

During the Activity

  1. After the students have started the activity, give them time to get themselves organized and launched into what you’ve asked them to do. After five or so minutes, you can begin wandering around the classroom to listen in on their conversations, gauge their progress. make sure that everyone is participating, and, if necessary, redirect them if they’re getting off track. Also, students are much more likely to ask you questions as you wander by than if you’re sitting at your desk, disengaged from what they’re doing. You can choose to answer or get them to think further about what the answer could be. You may want to write down particularly interesting questions or comments you hear so that you can bring them to the attention of the entire class at the end of the activity.
  2. Dropping in on the students will also indicate if you need to spontaneously modify what they’re doing. Sometimes, in spite of your careful design, you may have forgotten an instruction or made an assumption that students know something they don’t. You can stop the activity to make a general announcement if the activity is not going as smoothly as you’d hoped.
  3. Monitor the amount of time remaining for the activity, or parts of the activity, and announce this to the students. I hate having to place limits on engaged student activity, but class time is finite, and I need to be the one to ensure the activity fits those time parameters.

After the Activity

  1. Be sure to leave enough time at the end of the class – I’d suggest at least 10 minutes – to debrief student learning. It does your activity a disservice when students just pack up their stuff and leave the classroom without having a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned.
  2. There isn’t one set way to debrief. You can lead with the questions and comments you heard while you wandered around the classroom, and ask for student input. You can pull up the outcome you announced at the beginning of the activity and ask students to assess whether they accomplished the outcome, perhaps on a scale of 1-5, and why they are giving this ranking. You can ask what challenges they faced during the activity and how they overcame them. You can ask about the activity’s applicability to real-world situations. Depending on the group, students may be reluctant to respond to these questions in front of their peers, so consider giving them a written option, in the form of an “exit slip” or a “one minute paper.” Students can hand these to you as they leave the class or respond virtually before the next class.
  3. The feedback you collect about whether and to what degree the activity positively impacted student learning will help you decide how to proceed in the next lesson. You can take up any remaining questions verbally or consider designing a new activity that addresses learning that did not occur.
  4. Remember that student learning may not directly align with the outcome or goal you set out. Students may have achieved take-aways from the activity that you didn’t expect, so don’t assume an activity was unsuccessful if this occurs. “In our own eagerness to impose specific learning outcomes, it can be easy to regress to a 19th century view of learning. Just because a student doesn’t mimic your set of knowledge, doesn’t mean they’re not learning. Facilitate a culture of thinking in which students feel empowered to develop original ideas and come to their own conclusions.” (Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art )

DIM Your Doubts About Using Activities in Your Classroom: Part 2 – Implementation

Quick question: What are the two most useless questions that teachers ask their students?

Answer: Read to the end of the post to find out. The answer has a lot to do with why the classroom implementation of activities can go awry.

In my last post, I gave some tips on designing classroom activities. The design stage involves aligning an activity with a learning outcome; choosing an activity type; planning an activity’s steps and timing; and considering how to deal with stumbling blocks that may occur.

Now, it’s time to implement your plan with your students. Here’s a step-by-step procedure that will help the activity to run more smoothly:

  1. Remind students of how the content of previous lessons has given them the background knowledge and experience to tackle the activity. “So far, we’ve been talking about ________and we’ve seen that _______. Today, we’re going to take our discussion further/explore some new dimensions/apply what we’ve discussed so far.” This type of introduction helps them to see that the activity isn’t just a “one off” time filler.
  2. Share the outcome(s) with which the activity is aligned. Let the students know that the activity will help them to accomplish the outcome.
  3. Show and tell the activity instructions with the students in as much detail as possible. Don’t just give the instructions orally: have them in written form as well, on a handout or a PowerPoint slide. This gives students a written record of what they need to do if they forget, didn’t understand, or weren’t listening to the instructions the first time you explained.
  4. The instructions should also include your expectations for the activity’s implementation, such as how long each part of the activity should take, how the students will work individually or together, what to do if they finish before others, and what to do if they run into difficulties.
  5. If the activity involves students working in groups, you may want to use a random group generation method to ensure that no one gets left out, e.g. students choose a colored card and all the people with the same color work together.
  6. You may want to model how to do parts of the activity that could be sticking points for the students.
  7. Now you’re just about ready to turn the activity over to the students. Please restrain yourself from checking student comprehension of the activity with one or both of the two most useless questions teachers ask: Do you understand? Do you have any questions? Students will almost always answer yes to the first and no to the second – if they given any indication at all of their understanding. Instead, go quickly around the room and ask individuals to repeat parts of the instructions, for example “What are you supposed to do if….?” “What should you do after….?” “How much time do you have to….?”
  8. Step aside and let the students get active. Expect noise – that’s the sound of students learning.

Of course, you’ll have several more jobs to do while the students are engaging in the activity – the monitoring phase of active learning. That’s the topic of the next post.

DIM your doubts about using activities in your classroom: Part 1 – Design

Theoretically, most instructors have at least a sense of how to use activities in their classroom. However, they may not be aware of the amount of out-of-class planning that goes into activity-based learning, or how carefully orchestrated the activity needs to be in the classroom if it is to be successfully implemented.

If you’ve been reluctant to try an activity with your students because you don’t know how to get started, or if you’ve had an activity go off the rails and not known why, please keep reading. You’re about to discover how to DIM your doubts about your ability to implement a successful activity in your classroom.

DIM stands for design, implement, and monitor, the steps you need to take before, during, and after getting your students involved in an activity. Paying attention to all three steps significantly increases the odds that an activity will be succesful. Missing out on even one just about guarantees that the activity won’t pan out the way you hoped it might.

I’ll present each phase of DIM in a different post. Today, let’s deal with the four main facets of designing an activity: aligning an activity with a learning outcome; choosing an activity type; planning an activity’s steps and timing; and considering how to deal with stumbling blocks that may occur.

How will your activity align with your lesson outcomes?

I’m using the term “outcome” rather than “objective” because it reminds us that the purpose of using an activity is to assist students to acquire or enhance a certain piece of knowledge, a skill, or an attitude. Students quickly sniff out and will disengage from activities that are only busy work and have no relationship to what they’re learning.

So, look closely at the verbs you’re using in your outcomes, and design activities that clearly relate to those verbs (if you’re unfamiliar with the Bloom’s Taxonomy verbs used to develop outcomes, here’s a handy reference chart.) For example, an activity that helps students to compare and contrast the characters’ motivations in several short stories they’ve read will look very different from an activity designed to help them create an original character for their own story.

What type of activity will best advance students towards achieving the outcome?

This step takes a bit of practice. It involves not only sensing what type of activity could work with your class as a whole, but also which could get them thinking in new ways. For example, activities that rely on talking or writing should be interspersed with non-verbal approaches such as visual or hands-on activities. Switch up having students work individually, in pairs, or in groups .

There are literally hundreds of activities you can consider and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by possibilities. Here’s a list of 15 to get you started (no, I’m not a representative of Nureva. I just really like this list, which includes how to implement the activities online.)

It’s tempting to overrely on a certain activity or grouping arrangement once you’ve discovered it works. But students quickly get bored of being asked to learn actively in the same way, day after day (a discovery made by a medical faculty I’m aware of whose students began to groan whenever they were asked to get out their iclickers to take an in-class poll.)

What are the specific steps of the activity, and how much time will they each take?

I have had activities go awry because I didn’t think enough about the specific steps I wanted students to engage in, and/or how much time these steps would take. So now, in my design phase, I write out the steps and attach a time estimate to each. Remember to build in student “think time,” as well as “action time.”

I still get surprised when things take more or less time than I thought they would, particularly when I’m trying out an activity for the first time. But at least I’ve done as much planning as I could in advance, which makes it easier to make adjustments on the fly in the classroom.

What parts of the activity might students misinterpret, struggle with, or be unwilling to engage in?

Again, student stumbling blocks or lack of participation can sometimes be difficult to predict, especially if you don’t know your students that well, or you’re trying out a new activity. Think about what type of background knowledge or skill is needed to engage in the activity, and if your students have those. Walk through the activity steps yourself to see if you’ve forgotten anything. And have a plan for those students who are reluctant to participate in activities, especially during group work. How will you encourage them to engage?

By carefully designing an activity, you’ve taken an important step in increasing its potential effectiveness with your students. In my next post, we’ll talk about how to implement your planning with your students.

If I’m not lecturing, what am I supposed to do in my classroom?

Several years ago, I spent a month in Changsha, China, helping professors from seven universities to accomplish two tectonic shifts in their teaching: use English rather than Chinese to teach their courses (called English-medium instruction in academic literature), and transition from a lecture-only model of teaching to engaging students with activities.

Some of the professors were already adept at translating their lectures from Chinese to English. But when it came time to add activities to the mix, they were perplexed. Lecturing is still an acceptable and sometimes even an expected way to teach in China. All of them had learned from lectures throughout their schooling. So, it didn’t surprise me when one of the profs said, “If I’m not lecturing, then what am I supposed to be doing during the class?”

This question is at the centre of the shift from a “stand and deliver” teaching style to an activity facilitator role. Over the years, I have assisted many instructors to figure out this transition. The shift has its challenges, because what instructors do in the class is underpinned by 1) how they perceive their own role; 2) how they think students learn and, therefore, what students should be doing during class time; 3) how they prepare for the lesson and use instructional time. All three of these are transformed when active learning is added to the mix.

If I’m not a lecturer, then who am I?

It’s not unusual for instructors to view themselves as experts in their content, whose classroom role is to deliver that content – exactly as it stands – to their students. They don’t expect students to add any of their own insights, or to question what they hear. This is the direct transmission approach to teaching – opening up the top of the student’s head and pouring knowledge inside.

The activity facilitator approach involves instructors viewing their role as involving students in experiences that will help them to process the content they’re learning. Instructors release their view of themselves as solely content deliverers and the only expert in the classroom, realizing that as students learn, they will often question what they’re learning and develop new ways of viewing the content.

Aren’t my students supposed to sit and listen to me?

Proponents of the direct transmission approach believe that students learn information best by listening to a subject matter expert and taking notes from what they hear. Processing the information goes on within the individual student’s brain. If students are able to regurgitate what they’ve memorized, they are considered to have learned the content.

Instructors who ask students to learn from activities believe that the processing of content happens most effectively when students talk, draw, role play, write, or play games, in addition to listening. They encourage students to use their own knowledge and experience as a foundation for understanding new content. They provide opportunities for students to think critically and creatively, ask questions, challenge each other (and the instructor), and back up their opinions with evidence. In effect, students are constructing new knowledge from the instructor’s content.

If I’m not lecturing, what am I supposed to be doing?

Preparing for a class in which lectures are the main teaching mode involves reviewing information for its currency, adding updates, organizing the information sections into a coherent whole, and possibly preparing a PowerPoint style presentation. Class time is devoted to the delivery of the content.

Preparation time for an activity-based lesson involves matching the activity to a planned learning outcome; deciding on the type of activity; thinking through or possibly taking a dry run of the activity’s steps to see where students might have challenges; and figuring out how long the activity will take.

During class, instructors introduce the activity to students, ensure that students are clear about what they’re supposed to do, and monitor the activity’s implementation from start to finish.

It’s not hard to see why some instructors struggle to, or even outright resist, the switch from giving lectures to facilitating activities. But taken at a manageable pace, this transition can help instructors to add another dimension to their teaching identities, freshen up their teaching practice, and interact more meaningfully with their students.

Next Up: DIM Your Doubts About Designing and Implementing Classroom Activities

Photo Credits

Lecturer by fauxels on Pexels.com

Students around a computer by Fox on Pexels.com

Students in a lecture by ICSA on Pexels.com

Students laughing by Jopwell on Pexels.com

Professor in office by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Thinking at a whiteboard by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

What if I don’t want to be an active learner?

A pharmacy professor I got to know when I worked at a university Centre for Teaching and Learning had left his job as a hospital pharmacist to share his professional passion with young pharmacists in training.

He planned to completely upend the lecture-only teaching practices of his own pharmacy student days. “All my professors were so boring,” he said. “I got tired of just sitting there, class after class. I wanted my own students to learn actively.” During the summer, he read as many articles on active learning as he could find, delighted that his ideas were grounded in theory and research.

On his first day as a professor, he told the class that he wanted them to get involved with the issues they’d be facing as 21st century pharmacists. Once a week, he expected them to find relevant articles in professional journals and critique them in writing. Also, at the start of each lecture, he would supply a question of the day. The students could respond in front of their peers at one of the two floor mics he’d set up on the steps of the lecture hall.

Two weeks later, not a single student had submitted a written article critique. No one had been willing to approach the microphones to speak. More and more students were knocking on his office door, complaining that he wasn’t doing his job because he wasn’t lecturing. “And what have all these activities got to do with us passing the national pharmacy board exams?” they said.

I could relate. Several years previously, I had enlisted the help of a drama professor to help me convince a group of student teachers that using drama was a great way to engage middle school kids with reading a novel. The prof and I had planned a series of “can’t miss” activities that we thought the student teachers would find fun and engaging. Twenty minutes into the lesson, with only one person willing to participate while the others sat slumped in their chairs, arms crossed, unwilling to make eye contact with us, the drama prof lowered her voice and said to me, “Do something. I’m dying up here.”

In articles designed to help instructors use active learning, student resistance is rarely addressed. We’re led to believe that our students will jump headfirst into discussions, and drawing, and drama. But those of us who have experienced the “I’m dying up here” phenomenon know that student resistance to active learning is common, especially in secondary post-secondary, and adult learning classrooms.

So what do we do? Give up? Go back to lecture only, in spite of our conviction that students could learn more effectively if they were willing to get involved?

Here are a few strategies that could help to address the issue:

Set the stage for active learning. Don’t plunge students into active learning without letting them know why and how you’re planning to use activities in your classroom. Share the research on how long most people can sit and listen before they tune out (it varies from 5-6 minutes to 10 or 15, but it’s not the 50-90 minutes that most classroom sessions last.) Reassure them that active learning will help to build their critical, creative, and collaborative skills, and help them to understand difficult concepts more readily, so they might even get better grades.

These explanations are especially important for students who come from countries where instructors assume the role of all-knowing expert, their authority not to be questioned. Let students know that you value and want to hear their voices, and then be patient as they adjust to the expectations of this unfamiliar learning culture.

Meet students halfway between lecture and active learning. After seriously considering going back to his hospital job, the pharmacy professor realized that his students’ fears of not passing the national exams were real. He decided to resume lecturing for part of every lesson and take active learning “breaks” to ensure his students were understanding and processing what he’d taught. His students were much more accepting of active learning as a result.

Give students’ choices of activity types. Because the pharmacy professor was confident in expressing his opinions, he assumed his students would have no problem speaking spontaneously in front of their peers at microphones. The drama prof and I both loved to perform in front of others. We’d all forgotten in planning our activities that our students weren’t us.

Although the drama prof and I didn’t get another chance to “right” our mistake, the pharmacy prof did. He deleted the public speaking activity from his repertoire in favor of getting students to do a “think, pair, share” from their seats. Students had the chance to think about and write down an answer individually, then chat with a neighbor about their opinions.

If a lesson goes wrong, ask the students why. After my disastrous drama lesson, I saw some of the students in the cafeteria. I went over to their table and said, “Wow. That lesson didn’t go well. I thought more people would participate. What happened?” One of the students said, “We’re just so exhausted. It’s coming up to midterm and we’re swamped with assignments. We just didn’t have the energy to get out of our chairs.” Sometimes, our timing as instructors is off, or there may be other reasons why students won’t get involved. Finding out why students are disinterested can help to depersonalize what we may see as a failed lesson, and make us more responsive to student needs.

Yes (sigh), assigning grades will likely help with involvement. The pharmacy professor was expecting that his students would complete their written article critiques without receiving a mark for them. “I thought they’d want to do them,” he said. Unfortunately, many students need the extrinsic motivation of a grade before they’ll get involved in active learning, especially if instructors ask them to do work on their own outside the classroom.

These strategies might help to reassure your students about active learning and help them be more willing to get involved. But teaching, like any human activity, is an inexact science. Sometimes, a strategy that works with one student or a group of students, won’t work with others. Ultimately, active learning is a concept that you’ll need to keep experimenting with, applauding yourself when it works, and being gentle with yourself when it doesn’t.

Why Active Learning Works – and Why Instructors Might Not Use It

Two years ago, Wakayama University asked me to come to Japan to provide a four-day professional development workshop for their professors, who taught both in English and in Japanese. The topic request? Active learning.

I wasn’t surprised: in many Asian countries, teachers at all levels often still expect students to sit quietly in their desks, listening to lectures. That’s beginning to shift as they turn towards Western teaching practices to update their own. But how to capture the essence of active learning and convince Japanese professors of its value in just four days?

I wish that I’d had access to the first four videos in MOMA’s Art and Activity online course when I was preparing that workshop. They would have saved me a lot of time. The museum educators in the videos do a fantastic job of succinctly and convincingly explaining why they use active learning in their art programs and why it can work for any subject area, at any level:

  1. When teachers ask students to do something more with the content than just listen to a lecture- draw, write, role play, talk to each other – they multiply the ways in which students can learn. Yes, our brains have a major role in processing information but so do our bodies, all five senses, and our emotions. And when we learn with others, gaining their perspectives and having our own ideas added to or challenged, we can learn even more.
  2. Active learning gives students an opportunity to relate new information to what they already know or have experienced. This allows them to see the new information as personally meaningful and more memorable than lecture-delivered facts. A powerful quote from the videos: “Meaning imposed externally will never be as meaningful, powerful, or effective as the meaning learners construct on their own.”
  3. Active learning has all kinds of important and long-lasting outcomes for students that extend beyond the classroom: “looking; wondering; being curious; asking questions; making interpretations and hypotheses based on evidence; making connections to things they already know or have experienced; considering multiple perspectives or viewpoints; delving below the surface; and forming their own conclusions.”

Pretty impressive arguments for using active learning, right? But how could I relay these powerful messages to the Japanese professors, without resorting to lectures?

I decided to make the first day of the inservice a lesson in opposites. In the morning, I facilitated active learning experiences about active learning. The professors wrote, drew, talked, and played a game. They built on what they already knew and had experienced about active learning, as students and professors. The energy in the room was charged with ideas, questions, discussion, and laughter.

In the afternoon, I took over the front of the room, lecturing from PowerPoint slides about how their existing teaching philosophies could either help or hinder their use of active learning. As my voice consumed all the available time and space, the professors began checking their phones, yawning, gazing out the window, looking at their watches. After I’d been talking for about an hour, I “allowed” them to take an online inventory about their teaching philosophies, but they had to do it individually where they were sitting, and not discuss it with their colleagues.

In our debrief of the day, I asked them how they had felt during the afternoon compared to the morning. Tired, bored, restless, inattentive, they said. Yes, the morning had passed far more quickly than the afternoon because they’d felt engaged. So, I said, considering your own students might feel the same way, could you use active learning more often in your own classrooms?

Maybe, they said. Some had already used active learning successfully. But they also mentioned stumbling blocks:

  1. Some struggled with shifting their perspectives on how students learn, from getting the facts through direct transmission to making meaning of content through activities. As students, the professors had learned by sitting and listening, and they’d rarely, if ever, experienced an instructor using active learning.
  2. They worried that active learning would mean they couldn’t get through all of their course content. Lecturing saved time, both in preparing and delivering a lesson.
  3. Some said that their students didn’t want to participate in the activities, preferring to sit and listen.
  4. FInally, and possibly at the root of the other issues, some just didn’t know how to design learning activities that would work with their content and their students.

Thankfully, I had three more days with them to address these issues. We went off to dinner that night not only with new ideas and questions, but also a more cohesive group, one of the other major benefits of an active learning approach.

Art, activity, and literacy

In the 1990s, the definition of literacy began to shift and grow. Instead of simply referring to reading and writing with words, theorists realized that people make meaning of their experiences and communicate them to others in non-verbal ways as well. The term “multiple literacies” was coined, pointing out that the visual, performing, and digital arts could also be considered literate practices, together with words, or on their own.

The only problem with this theory was that, for many classroom teachers, it remained a theory. They had difficulty shifting their mindsets from the traditional literacy definition, saw few examples of how to implement a multiple literacies approach, and did not have enough opportunities to attend professional development sessions to give them ideas. As a result, except among the most innovative and energetic teachers, you won’t see too many examples of multiple literacies theory being enacted in classrooms.

So, I was delighted to find out that the museum educators at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City have begun to offer free, online courses that combine art, traditional literacy, and active learning. As massive, open, online courses (MOOCs), they’re available anytime you are, with no official start and end date.

There were several that called my name: Art and Ideas: Teaching with Themes ; Art and Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies for Your Classroom; and Art and Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art . I registered for the last one because its summary intrigued me:

Art can be a powerful catalyst for building skills and understanding across a wide range of subjects….You will learn about the theory behind our museum teaching strategies and gain tools and techniques for integrating activity-based teaching and works of art into your classroom. You will develop activities based on drawing, sound, movement, writing, and games that help students build skills in creativity and reflection. The course also offers strategies for assessing student work and self-assessment for you as the educator.

If you’re a classroom or online teacher of any subject; a home schooling parent; or a learning pod educator, you might want to check out these courses. They’re not a big time commitment – about 10 hours each – and you’ll get some really great ideas for using art with your students, and working on their word-based literacy and thinking skills, no matter what your subject area.

If you don’t have time to take the courses yourself, you can stop by my site over the coming weeks. I’m going to blog about each one, summarizing what I learn, how I would implement what I’m learning, and giving you other insights that occur to me as I progress through the courses.