The workshops below are designed to build upon concepts introduced in the Teach@CUNY Institute’s seminars, and to give attendees and members of the broader community of educators the opportunity to learn more about certain topics. With some variation, most of the interactive components of the workshops will be possible to complete asynchronously, and some of these interactions are limited to members of the CUNY community.


Activating Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom

CUNY’s classrooms are famously diverse, a reality reflected in the vast number of languages spoken by undergraduate students. Have you thought about how this language diversity will impact your teaching, and specifically how they how language dynamics impact classroom communication? How do we as instructors (especially international students and non-native English speakers) address the politics of language in the classroom? What strategies are there to make our classrooms more inclusive of non-native English speakers, and what are the benefits of seeking to “activate” the multiple linguistic identities of our students as elements of our learning?

This workshop will expose attendees to activities and assignments that empower multilingual learners and foreground diverse modes of classroom engagement including verbal, written, and non-verbal communication.

Learning Goals

    • Reflect on our linguistic identity and practice (positionality as an international student)
    • Critically consider how language and power work together in college instruction
    • Design a lesson plan, activity, or assignment to address and activate the multiple linguistic identities of CUNY students

Workshop Themes: active listening, communication, international students, languages, Socially conscious pedagogy

Reframing the Final Paper: Alternative & Creative Assignments

Writing is a central aspect of academic life. As instructors, we regularly assign essays, compositions, proposals, annotated bibliographies, and final papers. There are, however, alternatives or accompaniments to these written assignments that may accomplish similar goals, or facilitate additional ones. Podcasts, zines, timelines, and other creative assignments allow students to produce artifacts with audiences beyond their instructor in mind, and to acquire knowledge, experience, and transferable skills that they can use throughout their lives and careers. These approaches also can invigorate the writing that students do in their courses and, by allowing alternative paths to engage with course material, may facilitate deeper connections with our fields.

In this workshop, participants will review and explore several examples of alternatives or accompaniments to traditional assignments created by instructors in different disciplines. They will also have the opportunity to draft and receive feedback upon a creative assignment for their own course.

Learning Goals

    • Explore how creative assignment(s) (multimodal essays, zines, timelines, digital storytelling, among others) might fit your course and the skills students will need to accomplish it.
    • (Re)frame, scaffold, and design an assignment, including its assessment and evaluation process.

Workshop Themes: assignment design, ed tech, final assignment, multimedia, Open Pedagogy, Public-facing projects, transferable skills

Cultivating Participation & Engagement

Students’ participation and engagement are key measures not only of motivation, but they also provide a way to formatively evaluate and summatively assess their learning. Facilitating participation and understanding engagement comes with some particular challenges in online/hybrid courses.

This workshop will provide a space for participants to think through what participation can mean in an online/hybrid setting, and to discuss concrete strategies to keep students engaged and motivated through the semester. Participants will have the opportunity to develop and apply participation and assessment strategies to a range of sample assignment types.

Learning Goals

    • Discuss what participation can look like in online/hybrid classes.
    • Implement concrete participation strategies for online/hybrid teaching for one or more assignments.
    • Design an assessment and evaluation approach/plan to students’ participation in your class.

Workshop Themes: active learning, assignment design, Community, discussion, motivation, Open Pedagogy, participation

Using Photography in the Classroom: Centering Student Participation and Creative Expression

As we prepare to teach in online and hybrid classrooms in the fall semester and beyond, the challenges of maintaining student engagement and lifting up student voices require attention as we design and adapt syllabi and assignments. Assignments that ask students to take photographs engage students in important skills and practices such as documenting, archiving, framing, curating and sharing content and ideas. This workshop will provide opportunities for participants to explore different types of photography assignments, and use a backward design template along with resources to design their own assignment. This pedagogical approach draws on elements from visual and arts-based methods in teaching and research, opening up space to consider how these processes and methods may be applied to other modes of expression.

Learning Goals

    • Design an assignment that asks students to use photography in some way.
    • Align the assignment tasks/requirements with course learning goals.
    • Understand the use of arts-based methods in teaching and research.

Workshop Themes: creative assignments, engagement, student voice, visual methods

A Critical Approach to Non-F2F Language Teaching

Face-to-face language courses tend to use in-class time mostly for lecture and language practice. Such instructional modes are difficult when, as in our current public health crisis, teaching and learning must be done online. What are the specific challenges for teaching language courses at CUNY in an online format?

To be fully effective, language instruction must take into account the social, cultural, and political contexts in which a language is produced. This pedagogical approach goes beyond the acquisition of the core linguistics skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) and the basic approaches that cover grammar, vocabulary, and culture, and must address the metalinguistic issues and the socio-political nature of language.

How can such an approach be pursued effectively in an online environment? This workshop will help participants identify concrete challenges of teaching a language course online, with particular attention to assignments that proceed from a critical perspective. Participants will workshop strategies and/or assignments that will help us overcome these challenges in an online environment being aware of our limitations and constraints. We will consider and adapt the language course and expectations having in mind material that speaks to our students’ experiences directly in order to keep them motivated and engaged.

Learning Goals

    • Identify and discuss the challenges of teaching a language course completely online or in a hybrid mode.
    • Examine models for fully online and hybrid language courses
    • Review and adapt language courses and expectations – what are the course requirements that will be the most challenging to address?
    • Considering a critical approach to language teaching, Identify and workshop approaches and/or assignments to overcome the discussed challenges.

Workshop Themes: active learning, hybrid, languages, Open Pedagogy, Socially conscious pedagogy, student-centered

Using Backwards Design: A Practical Guide to Creating Assignments

This workshop walks participants through the principals of backwards design and how they can be used as a framework for developing any assignment across disciplines. This easy step by step breakdown of using backwards design is accompanied by additional resources for assignment design and the option for scheduling individual and small group synchronous check in to exchange feedback and answer questions.

Learning Goals

    • Learn about Backwards design principles and why they are effective.
    • Use backwards design to create an assignment.

Workshop Themes: assignment design, design framework, scaffolding

Bridging Lecture and Lab

Science courses are typically split between lecture and laboratory instruction. Lecture is used to provide students with foundational, structured knowledge, andlabs allow students to make direct observations and develop specific scientific skills within the discipline. The division between these two experiences is often heightened when the lecture and lab components of the same course have different instructors. In reality, this is an artificial curricular distinction, as in practice most scientific research involves both theoretical and practical components. This workshop will focus on identifying learning objectives that cross the lecture/lab divide, developing assignments that foster students’ understanding, and considering ways to maximize student success across lecture and lab.

Learning Goals

    • Identify the similarities and differences of lectures and labs from the instructor and student perspective.
    • Reconsider lecture and lab assignments/evaluations to strengthen connections.

Workshop Themes: active learning, Lab instruction, lecture, STEM

Teaching as a T.A. at CUNY

CUNY graduate students are often assigned to work as teaching assistants or lab instructors in support of large lecture classes. These assignments come with both opportunities and challenges for both the instructor and students. This workshop is designed to support teaching assistants and lab instructors in navigating their roles, and to aid in the development of approaches that maximize student learning. Our focus will be on instructor/T.A. relations and on linking lab/section syllabi and class activities.

Learning Goals

    • Identify the potential opportunities and challenges that accompany a teaching assistantship.
    • Discuss potential approaches to maximize student learning across.
    • Prepare teaching assistants to work with one another and the lead instructor

Workshop Themes: classroom community, Socially conscious pedagogy, TA, time management

Getting Started with OER

This workshop will provide an introduction to open digital pedagogy by focusing on on a core tenet of open teaching: the use of open educational resources, or OER. New York State has invested significantly in the development and deployment of OER at CUNY and SUNY over the past three years, and there are active and engaged OER programs on each CUNY campus. These initiatives are even more important during the current public health crisis, when access to libraries is severely constrained and the resources to acquire textbooks are ever more scarce. All instructors should be aware of the possibilities to integrate OER into their courses.

In this workshop participants will work at their own pace watching videos, reading documentation and reflections, and searching to identify OER they might use in their course.

Learning Goals

    • Understand rationale behind OER and related open pedagogies
    • Demonstrate ability to locate OER online
    • Understand CC licensing
    • Identify OERs to use in course

Workshop Themes: creative commons, free course materials, multimedia, OER, Open Pedagogy, textbook costs

Using Online Polls to Promote Active Learning and Student Engagement

Have you ever introduced a new concept in your classroom and asked the students what they think about it, but they have remained quiet? Or have you assigned an excellent reading that you’re sure will promote interesting discussions, but your students don’t connect with the content? As educators, many of us enjoy loud, participative classrooms, but nurturing student engagement can be a significant challenge. More often than not, even on the good days, the students speaking are those already most prone to participate. Active learning and participation are two core components of any student-centered pedagogical project. There are many reasons why a student may be reluctant to participate, and also many tools an educator can use to create engaging, inclusive activities.

In this workshop, attendees will be introduced to the notions of active learning and classroom engagement through the possible incorporation of online polls into classroom activities. We will discuss those concepts, view examples, talk about uses and possibilities both for in-person and online classes. There are different online tools, including Survey Monkey, Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, Participoll, Sli-do, and most can be used via integration into PowerPoint slides or through student cell phone access to mobile applications. These platforms provide multiple forms of interaction and, more important, instant feedback, which allows faculty to engage with student perspectives immediately.

This versatile and easy-to-implement pedagogical approach can facilitate the the participation of every single student in our class, including those who feel uncomfortable speaking publicly, or who have other reasons for not speaking up. This approach can be used in small and large classes, in-person and online courses, and across the disciplines.

Learning Goals

    • Explore how to use online polls/web-based instant responses as a pedagogical instrument to enhance classroom engagement promoting a non-threatening space for participation
    • Reflect on the implications of using cellphones during class activities to promote participation and active learning
    • Identify the limits and possibilities of using online polls/instant feedback responses in remote and in-person classes
    • Demonstrate the different forms of application for online polls/instant feedback such as syllabus input, collective quiz, close readings, check students’ understandings, summarize concepts, etc.
    • Understand how to develop poll questions aligned with course learning goals

Workshop Themes: active learning, active listening, classroom community, discussion, ed tech, engagement, lecture, participation, student voice

Equity and Access in the Online Learning Space

This workshop seeks to bridge the concepts of equity (broadly conceived) and accessibility, treating them as related and intersecting phenomena. Its intention is to increase our collective and individual capacity to become more equity and accessibility-minded educators: especially in the online classroom, where existing inequity and a lack of accessibility can sometimes be magnified, but which is also a place that can offer new forms of engagement and connection. 

To this end, we will work together to develop a more comprehensive picture of the contexts where we will teach. We will reflect on how our lived experiences and existing knowledge can prepare us and hinder us. We will build some capacity to fill our own knowledge gaps, recognizing that what this means will differ based on our own identities and life experiences. We will study and analyze examples of equity and accessibility-minded artifacts for the face-to-face and online classrooms, and develop and share materials, or ideas, for our own classes.  

Over the course of three weeks, you can expect to: 

  • Further explore, consider, and apply definition(s) and intersections of equity and access within the teaching and learning context on your campus. 
  • Co-construct collaborative and crowdsourced guides on resources related to equity and access in the context of teaching at CUNY
  • Reflect on your own understanding of equity and access in relation to your positionality as a teacher, and how this prepares you to design equitable and accessible spaces for your future students. 
  • Explore disciplinary-specific ideas and tangible classroom artifacts like course policies, assessment structures, assignments, and lesson plans that embody an equity-minded / accessibility-minded approach
  • Develop at least one classroom artifact (or idea) for the distance learning classroom, and give / receive some feedback.  

Learning Goals:

    • Form a more comprehensive understanding of our teaching context and teacher positionality to identify and critically analyze some of our existing knowledge gaps and proficiencies that will help us in creating equitable and accessible online classroom environments 
    • Examine some discipline-specific practices and classroom artifacts like lesson plans, policies, syllabi, course platforms, etc., that use equity and access-minded practices in both the online and face-to-face classroom. 
    • Develop at least one artifact for the fall which integrates some of the ideas from these models. 
    • Receive and give feedback on each others’ models.  

Workshop Themes: Accessibility, active learning, online instruction, Socially conscious pedagogy, student-centered

Series on Teaching with the CUNY Academic Commons (WordPress)

The CUNY Academic Commons, a WordPress teaching and learning platform based at the Graduate Center, is being used by faculty in a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses across CUNY. This workshop series will introduce the CUNY Academic Commons and Open Digital Pedagogy, and will go over the basics of teaching on the CUNY Commons. Workshop attendees will be introduced to several course models, and will have access to guidance and materials for getting a course up and running. Ideas for asynchronous assignments and final projects will also be shared.

Attendees can dip in and out of workshops to learn more about each topic, or can progress through the series to create their course on the CUNY Academic Commons. Participants in any of these workshops are invited to join this Commons group  for asynchronous discussion and feedback There will be opportunities for 1-on-1 synchronous feedback sessions and office hours through Zoom.

To get started with these workshops you will need to join the CUNY Academic Commons. Directions are also incorporated into each workshop.

Learning Goals

    • Demonstrate familiarity of theories and practices of open digital pedagogy
    • Understand the basics of WordPress and the role of the CUNY Academic Commons
    • Explore and analyze several models for teaching on the Commons
    • Create a course website and/or group on the CUNY Academic Commons
    • Design asynchronous assignment(s) or final project to be scaffolded or completed on the Commons

Individual Workshops in Series:

Introduction to Open Digital Pedagogy

What do we mean by “open” teaching? And how does “open” relate to “digital pedagogy”? This workshop will introduce the foundations of open digital pedagogy and provide examples from The CUNY Academic Commons, a WordPress teaching and learning platform used by faculty in a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses across CUNY.

Getting Started on the Commons

The CUNY Academic Commons, a WordPress teaching and learning platform based at the Graduate Center, is being used by faculty in a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses across CUNY. This workshop will go over the basics of teaching on the CUNY Commons, introduce several course models, and provide guidance for getting a course up and running.

Building A Course Site

This workshop will walk through the steps to building a WordPress site on the CUNY Academic Commons. Explanations and paired activities walk the user through the dashboard, how to create pages, posts, and menus, adding media, and customizing the site with header images, themes and plugins.

Building A Course Group

This workshop will walk through the steps to building a Group on the CUNY Academic Commons. Explanations and paired activities walk the user through group areas and adding content.

Video Production for Online Teaching

Mike Mena (Ph.D. candidate, Graduate Center) is the founder and creative director of the award-winning YouTube channel, The Social Life of Language. Drawing from years of experience as an educator, a public intellectual, and media influencer, in this three-part workshop developed by The PublicsLab at the Graduate Center Mena will walk participants through the general, yet highly specialized process of video production for online teaching. In this four- day digital workshop, attendees will learn how to “design” an online teaching persona—that is, a complete audio/visual representation that students (and the public) are more likely to make a “connection” with.

Mena proposes a method he calls “doing personality work,” or the reflective, intentional selection and curation of signs and messages teachers can employ to make their pedagogical style more effective, and ultimately, fun and entertaining. Additionally, participants will learn lighting/audio techniques, how to read a lecture script to camera without “looking like you’re reading a lecture,” how to make any cellphone into a portable studio, and the importance of aesthetics and camera angles, all while getting a technical walk-through of how to edit a lecture on home computer. For the last day of workshop series, participants that have attended at least two of three workshop days are invited to submit a sample video lecture of not more than three minutes for public critique.

Upon completion of this workshop series, participants will appreciate how “professionalization” in terms of digital teaching is equal parts “creativity” and “personality.”

Learning Goals:

  • Reflect on how an onscreen “personality” is designed and constructed
  • Become more comfortable on camera
  • Acquire a basic video editing competency
  • Critically consider what ideological foundations guide our thinking as we create media for the first time

Workshop Themes: communication, engagement, lecture, multimedia, online instruction

Speech Communications in the Virtual Classroom

In spring 2020, many of us were pushed to communicate and conduct classes through our electronic devices. The move to the virtual classroom, however, was not a simple 1:1 shift. Our interactions are being flattened to different degrees by video, audio, and textual modes that may or may not be happening at the same time. The move had effects that ranged from the subtle dimension of (not) seeing the physical expressions and reactions of others, to drastically rethinking how to accomplish different classroom engagements like lectures, students’ presentations, and discussions. Acknowledging this context, this workshop aims to explore the differences in how information, behavior, and activity are perceived/received in online settings, and to develop strategies to foster clear and effective communications on digital platforms.

We consider talking, listening, responding, and non-verbal communications, and hope to compare and contrast the affordances of different virtual modes and how they may have both common and differing elements when it comes to how we communicate. We will use these considerations to then also plan how to hold a direct discussion about clear communication practices in the classroom as part of the first day/week of teaching and how this can help set up awareness, reflection, and openness for feedback with and among students as part of the classroom community.

Learning Goals

    • Reflect on different modes of speech communications in the virtual classrooms
    • Develop strategies to enhance clarity in a/synchronous video-audio-chat conversations
    • Lesson plan for  to hold a direct discussion with students about speech communications in the virtual classrooms on the first day/week of teaching (i.e., set criteria for good speech communications in the classroom or draft a section for the syllabus)

Workshop Themes: Accessibility, active listening, classroom community, communication, engagement


Building Student Input in Your Syllabus

As Bettina Love has noted, abolitionist teaching moves from, or with, critiques of injustice, towards liberation. This approach requires educators to put in “the work” of organizing around education in ways that center students, specifically from underrepresented backgrounds in newly created educational systems. bell hooks encourages the creation of an active relationship between educators and learners through the framework of an engaged pedagogy that is decolonial, collaborative, and anti-racist. This workshop will explore how we, as instructors, can facilitate learner input on syllabi as a fundamental tool in abolitionist and engaged pedagogy.

This workshop will mix both synchronous and asynchronous elements, and will model how participants can encourage/empower learners to develop the content and structures that guide their own learning experiences. Participants will be asked to respond to this survey and watch an introduction video to create a base syllabi. Participants will then be invited to join a Zoom meeting where they will be encouraged to open up their syllabi for student input. By the end of the workshop, participants will have a complete or near complete syllabus template to incorporate student input.

Learning Goals

  • Adapt course and syllabi to encourage learner input
  • To discuss and develop learner based pedagogy
  • To reorient assessment strategies away from point based grading and towards open learning
  • Encourage learners to determine learning goals democratically in a group setting alongside the instructor

Workshop Themes: 

From a Distance: Place-Based and Experiential Learning

Social distancing has fundamentally shifted our relation to our environments, and our conceptions of place, space, and site. Place-based (PBL) and experiential learning each provide avenues through which students can begin to draw from, observe, question, and analyze these changes. PBL also offers opportunities for students to explore an array of cultural resources as well as their immediate environment.

This workshop will explore strategies within the context of social distancing for creating and integrating place-based and experiential assignments and activities into courses. We’ll start by reviewing briefly the history and theory behind PBL and experiential learning and discuss their particular advantages and possibilities in light of the pandemic. We’ll then look at examples of assignments drawn from CUNY campuses as a way to open up how we might imagine such approaches to learning in museums and library digital collections, performing arts institutions, green spaces, and also students’ immediate environments. Next, we’ll engage examples of place-based assignments drawn from CUNY classes in order to identify the pedagogical and practical factors we should consider when structuring these experiences with our students. Finally, we will plan, scope and share our own place-based and experiential activities and assignments.

Learning Goals

    • Consider opportunities of PBL and experiential learning
    • Explore “socially distant” (and non-socially distant) PBL and experiential learning resources
    • Discover PBL and Experiential Learning Resources
    • Evaluate PBL Learning Activities and Assignments
    • Develop a PBL and/or experiential learning activity or assignment


Decolonizing Pedagogy

As the decolonial paradigm gains traction in the world of education, we pause to consider what that means in CUNY, how it is connected to larger discourses and practices by educators and scholars, and the ways we can conceptualize of a teaching practice that is aligned with goals and principles that are decolonizing. This session will first offer space and resources for discussion on decolonizing research and teaching methodologies in academia, both imagining the possibilities and problematizing our positionalities of a decolonial practice in the classroom. The second part of the workshop will turn to how we select texts (and other materials), structure courses, privilege particular ways of knowing over and others. Together we will consider how to unsettle colonial practices that are taken-for-granted in higher education in order to better engage in decolonial pedagogies.

Learning Goals

    • Reflect on our individual attachments and commitments to the college pedagogical space.
    • Consider what decolonizing pedagogy might mean in teaching courses in an educational institution being attentive to the tensions in this work.
    • Connect decolonial theory and pedagogical commitments to issues of developing, structuring, and teaching courses in the CUNY context.

Workshop Themes: 

Mental Wellness and Education in the Time of Coronavirus

As we approach the fall semester, NYC as a whole and most CUNY students will continue to be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. This workshop explores how the transition to distance learning has impacted mental and psychological wellbeing in the context of a global pandemic. It will ask how trauma can inform learning, and present some key aspects to wellness practices for educators.

This workshop will begin with participants viewing an introductory video on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy from Professor Mays Imad of Pima Community College. Participants will then contribute to a collaborative online document two of their biggest concerns or questions regarding mental wellness and distance learning. This work will be completed asynchronously.

Attendees will then be asked to review the collective submissions before attending a synchronous meeting during which we will discuss and workshop (1) mental wellness, (2) classroom strategies to nurture wellness, (3) how-to for some strategies to build wellness planning into course design.

At the end of the meeting participants will be encouraged to create a wellness plan for themselves, focused on their roles as educators. This workshop ultimately encourages participants to reflect on the long term trauma impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic in NYC.

Learning Goals

    • To gain a basic understanding of mental wellness and trauma and how they inform education, with special consideration to the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic
    • To create individual safety plans for wellness
    • To incorporate the practice of wellness planning into course structure

Balancing Time: Managing Priorities while Teaching and Learning

This workshop considers the complexities of juggling time and priorities across multiple responsibilities as graduate students and instructors. This asynchronous workshop will utilize a pdf workbook to guide attendees through a series of activities that they can do at their own pace. Attendees will learn strategies for balancing their time between teaching, coursework, research, and other aspects of their lives.

Learning Goals

    • Consider a range of time management strategies and tactics
    • Gain a sense of how you are currently spending time

Ethical Approaches to Ed Tech

This workshop will delve into the ethical issues embedded in the technologies we use for teaching including privacy, data ownership, intellectual property, and access. This workshop encourages participants to explore different digital tools and educational technologies in order to encourage educators to adopt an open, student-centered pedagogical practice.

Learning Goals

    • Develop understanding of ethical issues related to teaching with technology
    • Expand our individual repertoires on the available educational technologies
    • To contribute to the digital learning tools repository