Workshop Model

Engaging students across a range of interests and activities.

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Cartoon illustration of a cat giving a lecture about small stones to a small group of other cats, one of whom is taking notes.
Image by naobim from Pixabay

Students Working Together at Their Own Pace

Many students come to YouthBuild because they didn't find a good fit in the traditional classroom at their prior high schools.  Whether they found the spaces too crowded or simply couldn't follow the same pace as everyone else, our students come to YouthBuild looking for a curriculum that meets their needs where they are.  Complicating this is our schedule of incoming students.  Unlike a typical high school, we have four admission periods per year — two in the fall and two in the spring.  As new students are continually entering the program, it can be difficult to track which students need which credits.  Plus, many students aren't able to attend class every day — whether due to work, illness, or family responsibilities, a number of our students have very irregular attendance, and it's impossible to expect every student to follow the same course at the same pace.

Cartoon illustration of a cat giving a lecture about small stones to a small group of other cats, one of whom is taking notes.
Image by naobim from Pixabay

Our commitment to help each student individually creates a unique challenge.  How do you teach skills to a diverse group of students when each student is starting from a difference place?  Rather than sit down every student in the same classroom to learn the same lesson each day, we follow a Workshop Model that provides modules to provide each student with a rewarding learning experience in the moment.  For English Language Arts courses, this means that I don't follow the same types of scaffolding seen in a traditional course.  Even in the Digital Literacy Courses, each session is designed so that the sessions can be taken out of order.  If needed, a group of students can join in the middle of the course and work together on the individual modules on the later parts of the course, then return to complete the earlier portions.  For the German Language Course, individual modules will be offered as standalone class dates — rather than carry students through the full in-depth examination of German grammar like a typical course, this course will allow students to learn grammar and vocabulary in discrete units.  This certainly isn't ideal for every student, but the goal of this website is to provide the material for students to work ahead if they choose.

The GROWER Model

GROWER Model Components decorated with leaves: Group Teach, Reading, Oral Presentation, Writing, Experiment, Reflection
Image from YouthBuild McLean County

The GROWER Model provides an overview of how YouthBuild workshops engage our students.  The goal is to engage students in multiple ways in order to build their interest in the topics.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Typewriting Keys for UDL with following text: UDL English Composition: Tools for Writing, Research, and Teaching with Universal Design for Learning.
Image by Ryan Edel

I came to YBMC from Heartland Community College.  As a community college, Heartland shares the goal of reaching students where they are rather than simply expecting them to fit any traditional "mold."

One of the best strategies for thinking about student access to education is the Universal Design for Learning model developed by CAST.  The UDL framework focuses on three key areas:

Through Heartland, I was fortunate enough to receive UDL training through CAST, and I subsequently put together a UDL English Composition Website to provide resources for my English 101 students.  Like this website for YBMC, my UDL website is in continual development!  (Alas, it's not always consistent development, but it's hard balancing teaching with the planning of teaching!)