For Teachers & Leadership

The following sessions are offered by the University of Dallas K-12 Curriculum and Professional Development Team. Regardless of the model of your school, we can adapt any session and customize it to the needs of your faculty or homeschool community. For more information, contact us here.

Recommended for K-12 Teachers

The Spirit of Catholic Classical Education
What do you seek? For your students? For your faculty? For your school community? What is the purpose and mission of education? In this session, we explore the foundations and purpose of Catholic classical education and showcase its spirit, focusing on key features: the flourishing of a culture and how that culture is “handed on” to future generations through education, the integral formation of the whole person–body, heart, mind–in moral and intellectual virtue, the importance of content-rich curriculum (characterized by truth, goodness, and beauty rooted in unity), and ordering our affections to love the right things in the right order. This approach forms students in wonder to know and read well, think deeply, and communicate eloquently with joy.  When rooted in this vision, teachers are better formed to guide students towards a love for learning and a learning that liberates the person to live a life of authentic freedom, a freedom to follow God’s call and live in accord with the truths of human nature and the created order.

The Spirit of Classical Education
An overview of the key features and spirit of a classical education, focusing on the foundations and purpose of education: paideia and the flourishing of culture, how that culture is “handed on” to future generations, the formation of the whole person in moral and intellectual virtue, the importance of content-rich curriculum (characterized by truth, goodness, and beauty rooted in unity), and ordering our affections to love the right things in the right order. These foundations help form the student in wonder to know and read well, think deeply, and communicate eloquently with joy.  When rooted in this vision of a classical liberal arts education, teachers are better formed to guide students towards a love for learning and a learning that liberates the person to live a life of authentic freedom and responsible citizenship.

The Five Essential Marks of Catholic Schools
During his years as Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education Archbishop J. Michael Miller provided a way to think about and evaluate what it means to be a Catholic school according to the teachings of the Church. “The Five Essential Marks of Catholic Schools” lays out the key features (“marks”) that characterize an authentically Catholic school: “a Catholic school should be inspired by a supernatural vision, founded on Christian anthropology, animated by communion and community, imbued with a Catholic worldview throughout its curriculum, and sustained by gospel witness.” In this session, teachers will learn about each of the Five Marks, how they can be incorporated as benchmarks, and discuss practical examples of how each of the Five Marks can be present and developed in a school. While designed for teachers, staff, and school leaders, this session can also be formative for school boards and advisory councils in a retreat-like setting as well as for parents.

The Risk of Education
There are many ways to think about education: “the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another” (Chesterton), “the kindling of a flame” (Plutarch), or “an introduction to reality” (Giussani). Why do some teachers find it difficult to educate students, especially teenagers? Why are some of our most dearly held truths and beliefs not accepted by our students? Why are they increasingly not even taken seriously? Msgr. Luigi Giussani suggests an answer and an approach that responds to these questions and struggles of today’s teacher. In this session, we will discuss the purpose of education, what it means to be a human person with intellect and freedom, and how Giussani’s proposal in The Risk of Education can enliven our teaching, our classrooms, and especially our relationships, thus providing the conditions where students are more likely to hear and see the truths of what we teach and respond in a way that is free and fulfilling of the human heart.

The Teacher
What does it mean to teach? How do students truly learn? Do teachers pass on information or guide students to discover the truth? Or some aspect of both? What agents are involved in the art of teaching? In this session, we will explore key approaches in the classical tradition to the art of teaching, discuss how humans naturally acquire knowledge and what motivates us to desire more knowledge, and then close with a practical application to our own areas of teaching.

On the Virtues of the Teacher
What does it take to teach well? What are the character traits, the virtues, that dispose one to teach and lead students towards the goal of education? In this session, we will present Bl. Basil Moreau’s nine virtues of the teacher, the qualities needed for “the art of helping young people to completeness.” During this session, teachers will be guided to identify practical applications for each virtue. This session can be presented in our regular PD format or as a faculty retreat.

Designing Classical Lessons
This is an interactive session that begins with an experience of a classical lesson. Teachers are then led to reflect upon what makes it engaging, effective, and classical. This working session focuses on the importance of awakening wonder at the beginning of lessons usually through a sensory-based experience and then on navigating through the learning modes of knowing, thinking, and communicating throughout a lesson. We will consider ways teachers can help form intellectual virtues in students throughout their lessons and make connections to other content areas or previous lessons. Teachers will then work in teams to design their own lessons and receive coaching and feedback from the UD presenter.

How To Plan Curriculum and Lessons with the End in Mind: Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions
Having a clear idea of where our lessons and overall curriculum are headed helps teachers provide more direction and purpose to each day. In this session, we will review what it means to have overall curriculum goals for a year, a unit, or a lesson, why this is important, and how we can work backwards from these goals to provide more focused lessons. What are we hoping endures in a student’s understanding? What are the essential questions that prompt a student to think about the content and skills that we hope endure beyond any particular lesson or unit? And how does any of this relate to forming intellectual virtues in our students? These questions will guide our session as teachers learn about a framework for lesson planning with more purpose. Teachers will then apply these concepts to their own planning as UD presenters coach them through writing lessons and planning instruction that lead to greater and more enduring understanding in our students.

Introduction to Narration
Teachers will experience the classical art of narration, a practice of learning through retelling.  In The Institute Oratoria, Quintilian asserts that narration is arguably “the most important department of rhetoric in actual practice.” This ancient and proven pedagogy fosters deep concentration and develops habits of attention, memory, and rhetoric appropriate to all subjects and grade levels. Teachers will practice this classical art in multiple forms during the workshop. 

Narration Praxis
This session begins with a review of the elements of narration. Additional ways to include narration in the classroom are presented, as well as troubleshooting tips for the classroom. By growing in the art of narration, students’ habits of attention, memory, and rhetoric will continue to deepen.

Written Narration and Teacher Practice
This session begins with a review of the elements of narration and then presents how to develop students towards written narration. Additional ways to include narration in the classroom are presented as well as troubleshooting tips for the classroom. By growing in the art of narration, students’ habits of attention, memory, and rhetoric will continue to deepen.

The Beauty of Picture Study: Integrating Art across the Curriculum
Picture study awakens wonder, develops observation skills, and prepares students for a lesson in any subject or grade level. Teachers will  learn how to select art, how to discuss and narrate a picture, and how to cultivate students’ habits of attention and memory. In addition, they will learn to compose beautiful questions that engage students and promote fruitful discussion in the classroom.

The Wonder of Nature Study
Teachers will learn how to lead a nature study, the reasons for making this a priority in a school’s life, its cross-curricular connections, and will experience for themselves the wonder and peace of learning how to observe and study nature. Learn how to start a nature journal and motivate students to wonder about the natural world. This is ideal for teachers and students who are afraid of art and do not feel confident in starting nature journals.

The Common Arts & the Classical Liberal Arts Tradition
A child’s formation should align with all that a child is, including a body, and education should aim for what a community and culture need, including sufficiency and material goods. The common arts are a set of skills and trades that a community decides is necessary and helpful for them to meet their needs and eventually flourish. In this session, we will present reasons for including elements of the common arts in K12 education and suggest ways of doing so, from agriculture and gardening, woodwork, cooking, and metalwork to navigation, tailoring, medicine, and trade. This session will conclude with examples from schools and provide ways to get started with implementing a common arts program.

Beauty: Cultivating an Atmosphere for Learning
This session will explore the meaning of beauty and then present practical ways to incorporate beauty in the classroom and throughout a school. Discover current research that supports classical liberal arts philosophies for establishing an atmosphere which supports the habits that improve classroom management and optimal cognitive function for both the teacher and the students.

School Culture: What Is It and How Can We Nourish It?
It has been said that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” No matter how many rules or procedures we put in place, if we don’t address the underlying and often permeating culture of an organization, then our strategic efforts may not bear the right fruit. Whether we intended it or not, our school’s already have a culture. In this session, we will discuss the meaning of culture, what it looks like in a school setting, and how we can be more intentional about nourishing the right culture for our school community. Some areas of focus will be aligning our vision, mission, and purpose with our desired culture, reflecting upon our overall goals for our students (portrait of a graduate) in light of school culture, and how we can nourish an intentional school culture through activities, procedures, traditions, and especially how we form our faculty and staff.

Cultivating Classroom Culture
Establishing a healthy classroom culture promotes unity, increases students’ likelihood for excellence, prevents a multitude of discipline issues, and establishes order – which a student experiences both externally and internally. According to Russell Kirk, “Order is the first need of the soul. It is not possible to love what one ought to love, unless we recognize some principles of order by which to govern ourselves.” This session prompts teachers to think about culture in a school setting and then briefly touches on philosophy – points such as order vs chaos, freedom and responsibility, learning and liberty, and discipline vs discipling – before providing concrete examples of how to foster a culture of virtue in the classroom. Small group work follows, with a final sharing of ideas and guidance from the presenter. This session is a good follow-up to our School Culture session, but each can be presented independently.

Introduction to the Great Conversation and Seminar Discussion
Teachers will develop their art for conversation and learn ways to enhance classroom discussion. The theory and practice of seminars will be introduced as teachers learn about the Great Conversation throughout history and engage this tradition in seminar discussion. A good seminar leader is one who knows how to read well, recognize important passages, and ask questions that provoke deeper thought. This session concludes with a discussion on the place of the poetic mode in a child’s formation and how this applies to class discussions across all grade levels.

Establishing the Foundation for Conversation
The Socratic conversation is regarded as one of the signature pedagogical methods for classical education. But learning how to have good conversation is a process, and most students are not immediately ready to sustain a productive and constructive discussion. In this session, we will discuss ways to establish a good foundation with students so that conversations are more productive and effective. Some of the fundamental questions we will cover include: How is a discussion-based or conversation-based class different from a lecture or Q&A course? Is a Socratic conversation always the right choice? What kinds of skills do students need for a good discussion? How can teachers teach students to have productive conversations while minimizing distraction? What is the role for the teacher in guiding discussion? How do you evaluate student participation and mastery of material?
(2-4 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Teaching Close Reading
One of the fundamental skills necessary for Socratic conversation is reading well. In this session, we will consider the various processes involved in close reading, and discuss practical ways that teachers can help their students develop this skill. Other questions we will consider in this session are: Is annotation necessary for close reading? How can the teacher help students navigate complex texts? How will encouraging close reading also benefit student writing?
(2-4 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Seminar Discussion in Small Groups
Teachers will learn how to develop meaningful lessons through experiencing a seminar discussion on a text different in style from day one. The theory and practice of seminars will be introduced as teachers engage in seminar discussion and reflect upon the art of asking good questions. (This session follows Introduction to the Great Conversation and Seminar Discussion on multi-day PD sessions.)

The Art of Asking Questions: How To Exercise Maieutic Questioning Skills
In this session, teachers will learn the art of asking questions through reflecting upon the purpose and aim of questions, understanding the importance of the poetic mode (prior to any analysis), and learning different styles of questions. Maieutic (open-ended) questions are an engaging way to awaken wonder in students, to segue from one part of a lesson to the next, to make connections with other lessons, and work across the curriculum. Teachers will engage in a role-play lesson and learn to rewrite poorly written questions into maieutic questions. Ideal for all teachers of all grade levels and subjects.

Poetry & Recitation
Experience the joy of reading, reciting, and contemplating poems. Teachers will learn about the classical practice of recitation and participate in poetic conversations to open lessons in different subject areas. Throughout, teachers will experience instructional strategies that cultivate the art of memorizing and reciting poetry.

Teachers will learn the theory behind the classical practice of recitation and experience instructional strategies that cultivate the skill of recitation in students.

Discover the importance and joy of integrating music into classroom instruction. Plato’s “music,” which was foundational to the education of youth in classical times, refers to the Muses (Μοῦσαι) who governed the arts of literature, poetry, song, and dance. Teachers will experience how music complements a lesson’s main content, keeps students engaged, provides a transition from one part of a lesson to another, and provides an experience of beauty in a lesson.

Integrating Music and Art throughout the Curriculum
Discover the importance and joy of integrating music and art into classroom instruction. Plato’s “music” refers to the Muses (Μοῦσαι) who governed the arts of literature, poetry, song, and dance. “Music” to the Greeks included not just singing and instrumental playing, but also theater, dance, poetry, sculpture, drawing and painting, astronomy, and exposure to great literature. Teachers will experience how music and art complements a lesson’s main content, keeps students engaged, provides a transition from one part of a lesson to another, and provides an experience of beauty in a lesson.

Become acquainted with the classical art of notebooking, a practice that can be applied to all subjects and all ages. When children notebook, they develop something tangible to demonstrate their knowledge, retain information longer because they have “created” something of substance, gain valuable research skills, and use creativity to document their learning.

Copywork & Notebooking
Teachers will be introduced to the ancient art of copywork, which is far more important than—and not to be confused with—mere busywork. They will experience careful writing and mental pondering as they do a bit of their own copywork. They will learn the why, the how, and the when of assigning copywork to students. Ties to grammar and spelling are discussed, as well as the connections to memory. Next they will be introduced to the ancient and marvelous art of keeping notebooks, including a brief history of notebooking, as well as a variety of concrete ways to use it in the classroom and in personal life. This workshop is appropriate for every possible subject being taught.

Creating a Book of Centuries
Teaching students to create beautiful timelines that they can keep forever builds historical memory. In this session, you will receive direct instruction, and create a lovely book of centuries. Use your book to model for students a template and standard for creating timeline books that they will treasure forever. This establishes good habits in penmanship and strengthens the memory. (Grades 2-8; 2 hours)

Bellringers, Copywork, Dictation
Teachers will learn the sense of these methods and experience instructional strategies. There is much modern research to support these ancient practices in student achievement. Discover why these practices are the foundation of good writing skills and how they can cultivate positive habits in the classroom.

Why Read Stories, Fairy Tales, and Myths?
Learn why imaginative stories are a crucial necessity for a liberal education. See how fairy tales and myths develop the young person’s imagination, moral sense, and ultimately faith. Read excerpts and stories, share in conversation, and experience a session steeped in fairy tales, myths, and legends.

Cultivating the Moral Imagination through Classic Children’s Literature
In this session we will explore the concept of the “moral imagination” as presented by Vigen Guroian (Tending the Heart of Virtue) and others, focusing on the idea that the moral imagination is best nurtured by allowing students to experience characters’ moral choices in stories rather than by directly drawing out moral lessons for them to learn. Stories to be discussed might include various fairy tales, Pinocchio, The Secret Garden, and others.

Choosing and Teaching Beautiful Children’s Literature
Finding the best literature to feed young minds is the goal of many schools. Learn how to identify developmentally appropriate books, as well as ones that offer beauty and enrich the moral imagination. But that is not all. In this session, teachers will be guided in ways to present literature so that their students wonder and delight in it and develop a love of good books and a desire for learning, all awakened through beautiful children’s literature.

Beautiful Pictures for Beautiful Words: Teaching Literature with Art
Teachers will experience how to use illustrations of classic children’s literature to increase students’ understanding of and involvement with the texts and to nurture their imaginations. Using various illustrators’ versions of the same or similar scenes not only cultivates the habit of attention, but also focuses students’ attention on how exactly the images relate to the words. Teachers will learn to help students see, for example, which aspect of the text the illustrations emphasize. Using illustrations (from Latin: to illuminate, explain, make clear) is also a vital strategy for helping ESL and special education students read literary classics with joy and comprehension and for improving their narrations. 


C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia: Education and the Moral Imagination.
A study of C.S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia with a particular focus on its attention to the importance of the imagination and the purpose, promise, and perils of education. We will read the whole series, but will look in depth at The Magician’s Nephew, The Silver Chair, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Last Battle. (12-15 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Teaching the Short Story
This course would explore the unique challenges and delights of reading and studying short fiction. Short stories are an excellent way for students to investigate the workings of character, plot, and theme. The short story also teaches students the beauty of the concise and economical expression of ideas, figurative language, and world-building. A wide range of short stories covering multiple genres will be read in this course. (12-15 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

“To Teach and Delight”: Teaching Children’s Literature
A blend of higher level story theory mixed with pedagogy/methodology, this session would equip teachers to help younger students understand the structural and formal elements of a story, and we would also discuss how to maintain a delight in the play of story as we seek to understand its deeper meaning. (12-15 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

An Introduction to Aristotle’s Poetics
Aristotle’s Poetics offers the fundamental “rulebook” for dramatic storytelling. By understanding Aristotle’s principles, teachers will be better able to help their students understand how and why stories work the way they do and to equip them with the vocabulary to discuss the structural framework of literature, from novels and short stories to plays and even films. (2-4 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

The Hero’s Journey
This session will help teachers better understand the story structure of the hero’s journey and how it can be used to help students analyze literary works, or to create their own. We will discuss the journey structure, character archetypes, and transformation arcs. This is another toolkit which teachers can use to equip their students with the vocabulary to talk about story on all its levels, from structure to theme. A great companion session to the Poetics. (2-4 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Homer and the Life Worth Living
In this session, teachers will learn how to approach behemoth, tradition-launching poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey. We will discuss genre, the concept of a proem, structure (including key books), and characterization. The purpose of the session will be to help Socratic-seminar teachers find access points to leading discussion on one or the other of the Homeric poems. For grades 6-12. (2-8 hours with Dr. Kathryn Davis)

Dante: Where To Begin?
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to launch a unit on a “world-historic poem” like the Divine Comedy.  In this session, teachers will learn strategies for getting started: how to approach Inferno 1; how to pace reading and discussion of each canticle; and how to do justice to a poem which refers to itself as “the book of the universe” in the very limited time allotted for its perusal. We’ll discuss structure, key cantos, and why it’s never a good idea to stop with Inferno 34.  For grades 9-12. (2-8 hours with Dr. Kathryn Davis)

Guide students through reading and even performing the work of the greatest English playwright with confidence. This session provides direct instruction in both understanding and teaching Shakespeare as well as how to cultivate a love for the Bard in students from 4th grade to high school.

Narrative and Dialogue in Jane Austen’s Novels
Why bother studying a genre as easy to access and understand as the novel?  Do novels really belong in classical curricula? Those of us who rise in indignation at these outrageous questions ought to have ready answers in defense of our position.  In this session, teachers will learn strategies for helping students to understand what – philosophically, ethically, politically – Jane Austen wants us to see or understand, and how she employs her art (structure, narrative, style) to accomplish her novelistic ends.  We will discuss the importance of outlining to discern structure and design; we will identify and grasp the significance of colored narrative and free indirect discourse (referencing Hough’s “Narrative and Dialogue”); and we will consider the effects of Austen’s choices in diction and sentence structure.  Novels on the menu for discussion include, but are not limited to, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. For grades 9-12. (2-8 hours with Dr. Kathryn Davis)

Teaching Classical Literature with State Standards
This is a very hands-on class. Literature lessons will be divided into genre-specific categories and spiral categories. Teachers will be instructed how to create classical lessons with a classical instructional framework in complete alignment to state standards. Better yet, we will show how to meet and exceed state standards. (1 hour)

Cultivating Truth, Goodness, and Beauty
In this session, we discuss foundations of classical education and explore how truth, goodness, and beauty (as well as unity) are integral to the formation that Catholic and classical educators pursue. What do we mean by these terms? Why do they matter for education? Are they found across the curriculum? How do they direct one to become, in Plato’s words, “the friend of God”? In “Cultivating Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” we will address these questions and highlight how schools, students, and families benefit when an education is united and rooted in the True, Good, and Beautiful.

Latin and Modern Languages

Workshop: Teaching Latin and Modern Languages through Stories: K-5
In this workshop, teachers of Latin and Modern Languages will experience age-appropriate story-based language lessons. The lessons presented are informed by an understanding of the Art of Grammar as “imitative practice” through which students learn to be “at home in language” (Clark/Jain, The Liberal Arts Tradition, p. 48) and by current research on second language acquisition, which emphasizes comprehensible input as the sine qua non. Storytelling not only helps students learn to be at home in a second language but is considered one of the most effective approaches to language learning. Focusing on the fable of the Mouse and the Lion, we will experience a picture study, tiered versions of the story, and various activities that help students internalize vocabulary and grammar and lay the foundation for a deep understanding of grammatical structures. (Minimum 1 hour, can be a whole day and can include middle school teachers)

The Trivium as a Framework for Teaching Latin and Modern Languages in K-12
For many centuries after the fall of Rome, the main reason for learning Latin was to read and communicate important ideas. Latin was taught as the art of speaking, reading, and writing so that students would be able to participate in the ongoing Great Conversation in Latin. This was possible because students went through the entire Trivium in Latin. In this lecture, we will explore what the three paths of the Trivium might look like for various ages and levels, how to create Trivium-centered lessons in Latin or a Modern Foreign Language, and in what ways Trivium-based language teaching is confirmed by current research on second language acquisition. This is an interactive lecture for language teachers in K-12 that can be followed by a workshop in which participants experience and apply the principles from the lecture. (1 hour minimum)

Introduction to Teaching with Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata (Middle & High School)
The textbook series Lingua Latina per se illustrata is widely acclaimed as one of the best Latin textbooks for middle and high school, as it trains students to learn Latin without resorting to translation and teaches them to think in the language. This interactive workshop is directed at teachers new to teaching with Lingua Latina or teachers who would like to improve their strategies in using this book. Participants will learn about the teaching philosophy behind the book and experience reading with circling questions, contextualized vocabulary and grammar introduction and practice, and possible rhetorical extensions. (1 hour minimum, can be a full day. Middle and high school Latin teachers.)

Teaching Latin and Modern Foreign Languages Classically K-3rd Grade and 4th-12th Grade
Latin teaching from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance did not focus on the value of Latin for mental gymnastics and improved SAT scores. Instead, the goal of learning foreign languages was to experience language as an art, and language teaching focused on the ability to speak, read, and write with ease. This session explores the role of foreign languages in the Trivium and demonstrates how students can experience the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric modes of instruction in every language class. In K-3rd grade, teachers will experience how to use pictures and gestures to help students memorize songs, nursery rhymes and poetry, how to do Little Socratic dialogs with their students, how to use beautiful works of art as well as classic stories, and the Gouin series. For 4th grade and up, teachers will experience the continued value of memorizing poetry and prose, how to use Socratic questions and narration in reading lessons, how to create meaningful and effective grammar exercises, and how to teach composition to promote accuracy and fluency. (Ideally split up in two different sections for K-5 and 6-12 but can be combined as needed.)

Reading and Narration in Latin and Modern Foreign Language Classes
This session is ideal for teachers who have already had an introduction to teaching Latin and foreign languages classically. Reading is at the heart of a classical education, in foreign languages no less than in English. This session emphasizes the importance of reading not just to decode and translate, but to narrate and internalize the text. We will explore and practice many different strategies for implementing narration effectively in the foreign language classroom, both in Latin and modern foreign languages.

Classically Bilingual
Children are supposedly like sponges, soaking up language effortlessly. And yet, even students in bilingual schools often don’t become fully fluent and proficient in both languages. This session will highlight the need for biliteracy to achieve full bilingualism, and present ways for teachers to use classical methods to help children learn to read, write, and speak fluently and proficiently as well as understand the grammar of both languages.


Body, Mind, Soul: Development of the Growing Child in the Early Grades
We will dive deeply into the development of the child from ages 3-8 in body, mind, and soul.  Enormous growth and development occurs during these years! Teachers will leave with an in-depth understanding of where the children in their classroom are now, where they have been, and where they are headed. Knowledge of the full scope of development gives instructors a keen understanding of learning as well as social and emotional skills.

Providing for Special Needs and Learning Differences in PreK-3rd
Teachers will be given practical skills to reach children with varying degrees of developmental and learning needs. We will explore how words, body language, and listening are the greatest assets when helping children who are struggling. Understanding of learning and developmental milestones will be presented in conjunction with delays or difficulties. Teachers will leave with tools that can alleviate stress for both child and adult!

The Art of Storytelling in Teaching the Early Grades
Utilizing the power of storytelling within our lessons ignites the already fertile imagination of the child. Whether the story is a personal one, a fairy tale, or a tale of history, children are inspired by the age-old use of storytelling. Everyone can be a storyteller!

The Beauty of Picture Study in the Early Grades
Picture study brings a piece of art alive! No longer is it just an image, but through study of the artist and conversation about the subject children are drawn to the art (and beauty) in our world.

Grace and Courtesy – Scaffolding for the Developing Child
The culture of the school aids in the development of children, from PreK through the higher grades. In this session, we dive into the why, how, and what of Grace and Courtesy as well as the science behind the child’s developmental needs. This topic is more than just “Please” and “Thank you,” but a look at the influences on the children’s imagination and their reasoning minds as they grow into the teenage years.

Grace and Courtesy in the Early Grades (Classroom Management)
Find your tactics are yelling or barking orders? Let’s find a new way to interact with the children in our classrooms based on relationship, conversation, and problem solving. This session is specific to grades PK-3rd.

On Teaching Religion
What should a classroom religion lesson look like? How can we bring the faith alive to our students and guide them towards an encounter with Christ? What is the balance between intellect and heart in religious education? What is an incarnational lesson? From the wonder and joy of teaching a child through the body, heart, and mind to the Risk of Education, learn to foster the sacramental imagination in your students by giving them experiences with nature, sharing stories from the Catholic tradition, and creating occasions for them to encounter Christ. This session includes demonstration of a sample religion lesson and a presentation on the “how to’s” of teaching religion.

The Grammar of Play
What is play? Why do we need it? This session shows that play is necessary for child development, and it is deeply connected with learning for all human beings. Paradoxically, play can be a sign of serious work and takes many forms. These will be described and demonstrated so that teachers experience play, and practical examples of play will be introduced, which can be applied immediately in the classroom. Remember, all work and no play makes classical education a dull prospect.

Learning through Movement
Did you know that physical movement supports and boosts learning? Find out how memory and movement are neurologically connected. Lessons which incorporate movement and gesture increase focus, strengthen retention, stimulate creativity, and improve mood in students. Not only are these lessons effective, they are delightful, unforgettable, and can change the culture of a class and a school. Help students learn durably through bodily movement, a practice informed by the gymnastic of the classical tradition and an anthropology of the integrated human person. Bring the classroom alive with movement as a learning aid or as a brain boost and create lessons in every subject that bring students to their feet.

The Use of Movement and Drama in Teaching
Introducing principles of theater to the teaching of complex topics can help students break down the processes and make the invisible visible. Physical movement engages the senses and adds levity to the classroom. In the first part of the session, I will describe the physiological processes behind learning and memory. I will discuss how multimodal sensory experiences can enhance memory recall. Then, I will demonstrate the use of theater in the teaching of the contraction of skeletal muscles. Teachers will participate as I lead them through a series of movements that represent microscopic anatomical parts. In the second part of the session, we will break into small groups to identify topics and workshop ideas for adding movement and drama to the teachers’ areas of interest. We will end the session with a discussion of teachers’ ideas for incorporating drama into their teaching. (With Dr. Sunny Scobell)

P.E. and Athletics: A Classical Approach
Mens sana in corpore sano has long been a principle of excellent education, which aligns with the view of the human person as an integrated body, mind, and spirit. Athletics and P.E. classes are the ideal platform to make concrete and experiential what the students are learning in the classroom and to strengthen them physically, morally, intellectually, and spiritually. Discover new possibilities for athletics and P.E. class in the liberal arts tradition and find ways to connect to other disciplines.

Assessment and Grading
What is the purpose of education? What is the difference between grades and assessments? How might assessment be aligned to the intellectual virtues? How does a teacher “grade” work in a classical liberal arts classroom? Teachers will explore how to assess student learning and mastery of content beyond conventional worksheets, written quizzes, and tests.  Consideration will be given to objective and subjective as well as formative and summative assessments. Several alternative methods of obtaining valuable data for the teacher and for school records will be shared. Teachers will learn how to modify and improve existing assessment tools, design more reliable and engaging assessments, and build their own rubrics.

Classical Teaching: The Trivium & the Modes of Learning
This session introduces teachers to the vision and principles of classical teaching, beginning with the foundation of the poetic mode and then focusing on the Trivium of grammar, dialectic (logic), and rhetoric as modes of learning. Teachers will learn how to engage students through cultivating wonder (poetic), lead students to know content so that the knowledge is remembered (grammar), guide students to a deeper understanding of a lesson through exercises that challenge the intellect (dialectic/logic), and show students how to organize their deeper insights and understandings so that they communicate this knowledge in a logical, persuasive, and eloquent manner (rhetoric).

Integrating Curriculum and Instruction
Discover a classical feature to teaching by integrating subjects and instructional methods. While research supports the benefit of self-contained classrooms teaching with a literature-rich curriculum as the basis for integrated instruction in the primary grades, this approach is beneficial for all grades. This session may include a sample lesson and then present ways to integrate subjects while fostering wonder and developing habits of attention, reading, listening, thinking, and speaking across the curriculum.  Learn how to embody this through integrated lessons. (Applicable to all grades.)

Introduction to Teaching Grammar and Sentence Diagramming
This session can be adapted to any grade range and may include: using Montessori grammar symbols to introduce young children to the parts of speech; an introduction to sentence diagramming for beginners; more advanced sentence diagramming; how to use beautiful works of art to teach and reinforce grammar concepts while fostering an appreciation of beauty and a sense of wonder.

Introducing the Progymnasmata: Classical Writing & Rhetoric for Grades 3-8
Teachers will learn to teach the first 2 stages of the progymnasmata for elementary children (narratio and extending a fable). Discover the research that supports this pedagogical method and how children with language delays benefit from the progymnasmata exercises. After we do a few lessons, teachers will create one to share. For grades 3-8. (3 hours)

Rhetoric and the Common Topics
Teachers will learn about the classical art of rhetoric and its first canon of Invention. In this session, we explore ways of thinking and speaking about a subject through Invention’s common topics: definition, division, comparison, relationships such as cause and effect, circumstances, and testimony. Once students understand these ways, they will have a stronger grasp of the content, its essential components, and its significance. With this foundation, students are then better prepared to formulate a thesis and organize and defend arguments.

Rhetoric and Writing across the Curriculum
This session begins with the same foundation as our Common Topics session above: learning about the classical art of rhetoric and its first canon of Invention. In this session, we explore ways of thinking and speaking about a subject through Invention’s common topics: definition, division, comparison, relationships such as cause and effect, circumstances, and testimony. We will then apply this to writing across the curriculum and lastly suggest ways to enhance student writing with more engaging opening paragraphs as well as deeper and thought-provoking closing paragraphs.

Memorization: The Lost Canon of Rhetoric, the Delight of the Wise
In a tech age, many find themselves both skeptical of the merits and incapable of the challenge of memorization.  Yet the great thinkers of the Tradition knew that memorization could make or break a speech, and could provide hours of enjoyment.  Given the flabbiness of our brains when it comes to memorization, accustomed as we have become to outsourcing our memories to computers that fit in our pockets, it is essential to begin building memory muscle in a pleasant way.  Leaning on the Horatian maxim that the purpose of poetry is to teach and to delight, teachers in this session will learn why memorization was considered so important; how it can benefit their students (and themselves); and how, practically, to go about teaching memorization. For grades K-12 (1-3 hours with Dr. Kathryn Davis).

Mastering the Four Arguments
Teachers will learn how to use the ancient rhetorical method of Stasis Theory to help students discover a topic, find a thesis, and most importantly organize and defend their arguments with well-chosen evidence and reasons. Teachers will learn how to use templates for the four basic arguments (Definitional, Causal, Evaluative, and Problem-Solution) to help students see how different kinds of arguments are related, how they each take a different “shape,” and how they each need different kinds of evidence. For grades 6-12, but especially 9-12. (2-8 hours with Dr. Roper)

Writing as Imitation
Teachers will learn how to use this ancient technique to improve students’ writing, from the micro- to the macro-level, by imitating the great writers of the past. For grades 6-12, but especially 9-12. (2-8 hours with Dr. Roper)

Writing Workshop
Tailored to the needs of a school, this session’s content is organized after discussing writing-related goals and needs with a school’s administrator or teachers. Examples include: essay writing, more engaging opening and closing paragraphs, developing stronger thesis statements, integrating grammar with writing assignments, writing a substantive and tightly-argued paragraph response for prompts from most subject areas, and providing feedback for writing assignments.

Ethos in the Classroom
Do you have trouble being heard? Holding the classroom’s attention? Do you ever lose your voice? In Ethos in the Classroom, teachers will learn techniques for developing their own unique teaching presence or ethos. Initially, we will focus on diction, breathing, and vocal production, and then the session will explore ways to engage and hold an audience.

The Importance of Beauty
Experience how to rightly form the imagination and affections of students towards an aesthetic life. In this day of technology and data reports, we must not forget that the ultimate purpose of education is the formation of the whole person: body and soul; mind, will, and affections. Charlotte Mason asserts that we refresh students by offering opportunities “to train the seeing eye, the hearing ear, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit…” How do we teach the complete perfection of color, form, proportion, and harmony in a world that screams relativism and subjectivism? (2-3 hours; 3 hours if we do a nature study lesson too)

Introduction to the Quadrivium
Teachers will explore the four mathematical arts traditionally known as the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Teachers will discover the essential role that these mathematical arts have in a classical liberal arts education, considering such questions as:  In what natural ways have teachers of the quadrivium related these arts to one another? In what order were they studied, and why? How do these mathematical arts prepare the way for higher studies, how do they help one order and integrate the sciences, and how do they contribute to nourishing the soul.

Number Patterns
This session guides teachers to a deeper understanding of number patterns. Through activities, teachers will explore pattern blocks by solving several different-looking problems and discover their connection to Fibonacci numbers. (With Dr. Hochberg)

Proportional Reasoning and Fractions
It is infamously true that many mathematically-talented students somehow become convinced that they are not “good at math” at about the time that they learn fractions. This seems to be because there are several different ways to think about fractions — ways that are related, but different. If students could keep clear about the ideas of fractions, rational numbers, and proportional quantities, while understanding the distinction clearly, they have a much better chance of successfully leaping the rational divide and continuing to grow mathematically. This workshop presents a very clear way to think about these ideas. (With Dr. Hochberg)

Fun with Number Theory
“Unfortunately it’s not a multiple of 17,” my student said to me as we were staring at the number 102,683. “It’s also not the sum of two squares,” she said. 17 is my favorite number, so she was commiserating with me. One reason that I like 17 is that it is the sum of two squares: 4^2 + 1^2. That student is not a genius of any sort; she just has some basic understanding of how numbers work as you add and multiply them. That’s what this workshop is about. (2-4 hours with Dr. Hochberg)


Engaging a Sense of Wonder
Imagine the delight, surprise, and awe felt by the Dutch lens-grinder and scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek when he first peered through a lens at a sample of pond water and discovered a whole new world of life forms too small to be seen by the naked eye. The sense of wonder is vital to scientific exploration because it inspires us with the desire for deeper understanding. In this session, teachers will learn why a sense of wonder is a fundamental virtue for students of science to develop and how to help students grow in this virtue not only through lab experiments and demonstrations, but also through their daily lessons. (1-3 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

The Art of Seeing Things: Observation
In so many ways, we go through the world without really “seeing” it. But science and scientific discovery are grounded in a keen sense of observation. What does it mean to observe? Why might observation be considered a virtue? This interactive session will explore various ways to encourage students to develop and refine their own sense of observation. (1-3 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Teaching Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
This approach to the Scientific Method considers questions of how we come to know things about the world around us. This basic introduction to epistemology emphasizes the process of reasoning, which is a virtue students will carry far beyond the science classroom. (1-3 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

The Four Causes
This session will offer teachers a way to help students consider objects of scientific analysis, grounded in Aristotelian physics and metaphysics. By including not just questions of “what” and “how” but “why”, the Four Causes help students understand deeper truths about purpose and what it means to flourish – as well as a greater appreciation for the ordered design of the cosmos. (1-3 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Scientific Communication: Reading and Writing Lab Procedures and Reports
In this highly engaging and entertaining workshop session, teachers will discover the importance and complexity of clear scientific communication. How do you best explain a procedure so that it can be replicated by others? How do you present your research and findings in a clear and compelling way? This session addresses some of the key virtues of the science classroom: logical thinking, communication, and collaboration. (2-4 hours with Dr. Shannon Valenzuela)

Answering the Popular Brain Worms of Edu-Speak
We all know about “ear worms,” when a song or phrase gets stuck in our heads. But progressive education creates “brain worms” like “facts and knowledge do not matter; critical thinking does” and “we need to get away from ‘drill and kill'” and “we don’t want a Sage on the Stage but a Guide on the Side” and “Project-Based Learning is superior to all other kinds” and “we want students to make their own meanings.” This workshop shows what is wrong with these brain worms, how to respond to them, and how classical liberal education is superior to all of them. (1-3 hours with Dr. Roper)

Closing PD Session: Wonder and Joy (offered at conclusion of PD day)
Teachers will be led through a reflection on the meaning of the PD sessions and the mission to educate by forming students in a way that cultivates wonder and joy. (15-20 minutes)