The world is constantly changing, and we live in a rather explosive world that constantly presents new challenges, not only in terms of the developing knowledge and controversial issues we need to address in our teaching, but also in terms of navigating the dynamics of our classrooms, institutions, and larger communities. We can all use a little help in this regard and benefit from putting our heads together with others.

Northeastern Illinois University is once again offering a series of exciting interdisciplinary seminars to feed the intellectual hunger of community college and high school teachers of all disciplines who seek professional development and a nourishing space to explore the challenges our evolving and volatile world present for us as teachers.

Taught by NEIU faculty, these seminars are designed for teachers who want to explore new avenues in literary and cultural studies as well as social and historical studies and who want to imagine new approaches to traditional literatures, social, historical, and cultural issues, and the language issues students and teachers face in the writing classroom. The seminars are designed to spur intellectual growth by offering ways to re-invigorate classrooms in ways relevant to our contemporary world by creating content that engages students in the meaningfulness of literary, historical, and cultural studies.

And, these three-hour, non-credit seminars earn teachers three CPDU credits. Our seminars are conveniently held on Friday mornings at the University’s Main Campus on Chicago's Northwest Side in the seminar space in the Center for Teaching and Learning.

We hope to help teachers find new ways to teach students in specific disciplines, to navigate the demands of the new Common Core, and to help teach the basics of writing and communication, which is always a struggle. Additionally, we offer seminars to help teachers think about effective assessment and other nitty-gritty dimensions of our jobs.


Online Registration         
For more information, please contact Acting Chair Tim Scherman at

Tim Scherman
English Department Chair

Individual Tuition

$110 per seminar

Group Tuition

For departments, schools, or districts: If you would like to register for a total of five or more seats for various seminars, you will still receive the discounted price.
$500 for five seats; $900 for 10 seats; $1,500 for 20 seats.

Register Now

2018-2019 Seminar Offerings

Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, 9 a.m.-noon
Teaching Star Wars: Culture, Politics, and Economics 
"Star Wars" is a multi-billion-dollar franchise that spans multiple generations, nation-states, media forms, and social platforms. The ever-expanding, multi-media empire includes movies, novels, toys, comic books, video games, television shows, theme parks, fan fiction, podcasts, and cosplay. Taking a multidisciplinary approach, this seminar studies how multiple media, modes, and genres contribute to the narrative world-building of "Star Wars," and how this fictional galaxy is informed by wider historical, political, and economic processes from the late 1970s to the present. Ryan Poll, English Department

Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, 9 a.m.-noon 
White Teachers’ Toolbox: Developing a “Positive” Racial Identity

In "Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education" (2015), Ali Michael identifies a “positive White identity” not just as a pedagogical tool but as the toolbox itself. Without it, she argues, we have nothing with which to build a classroom environment that acknowledges every student in the fullness of their being. This seminar foregrounds this idea that racial identity is the foundation of professional practice. We will focus on first steps to defining and developing a positive white identity while exploring the place of whiteness in contemporary U.S. racial dynamics and in our institutions of education. 
Kristen Lee Over, English Department
Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, 9 a.m.-noon 
CSS Animations 
The CSS Animations workshop is a fun and simple introduction to computer programming with a variety of applications across STEAM. Participants will be guided through setting up an HTML and CSS file, techniques for drawing with CSS and working with complex color, approaches for creating movement within the created drawings/designs, and ending with an introduction to interactive techniques like house hovers and clicks. This workshop is intended for creatives with zero coding experience, more advanced practitioners and educators of all subjects/grade levels looking to include coding concepts into their coursework.
Katie Duffy, Art Department 
Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, 9 a.m.-noon  ​
Mexico: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Mexico is a country that is constantly in the U.S. headlines. Much of this news is distorted and incomplete, rarely providing an accurate assessment of Mexico’s problems. This seminar will explore Mexico’s complex reality, focusing on the historical roots of some of the current conflicts in the country, such as the so-called “Drug War.”  How has Mexico come to be at the center of this conflict? We will discuss the social, economic, and political forces—both domestic and international—that have led to Mexico’s current crisis. The seminar will help teachers contextualize these issues in their classrooms. It will also move away from the negative headlines to examine positive developments in Mexico, including fascinating archaeological sites recently discovered in the country. 
Cristina Bueno, History Department
Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. 9 a.m.-noon
Teaching Black Lives Matters Through YA Fiction   
This seminar will focus on strategies of how to teach Black Lives Matter through the lens of young adult (YA) fiction. In particular, the seminar will explore how Angie Thomas’s "The Hate U Gives," recognized as the first YA novel to directly address the Black Lives Matters movement, narrates the social-political conditions that gave rise to Black Lives Matter; how the places the movement within the long history of radical Black politics; and how Black Lives Matter develops a new aesthetics to frame current acts of state and economic violence. 
Ryan Poll, English Department

Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon 
Promoting engaged reading in Spanish: making the text more accessible

Teaching literature to second language learners can be an unpleasant experience for both the instructor and the student when one or both is not a willing participant. Many find literature to be a difficult, if not scary, assignment, and give up before they begin. Literary text does present its challenges for the language learner due to its linguistic complexity, a lack of background knowledge, and, a lack of enthusiasm for the text itself. In this workshop we will transform five different literary works written in Spanish into accessible texts that are interesting, engaging and productive activities for the varying proficiency levels of the student. The techniques demonstrated with these sample texts are applicable to any (non)literary text. 
Denise Cloonan Cortez de Andersen, Department of World Languages 

Friday, Jan. 18, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
Teaching LGBTQ Literature 

If the job of English teachers is to help students understand the "human condition" and to write about their own worlds in light of the stories of others, then we have never lived in as exciting a time as the present—but that excitement comes with complications. Some families and churches are perfectly comfortable having LGBTQ members, while others are devastated by or hostile to the idea—or simply ignore the possibility. LGBTQ people continue to face violence from the state and on the streets in even the safest of queer spaces. Laws are changing, gender is being rethought, and stories will never be the same as the queer revolution promised by the Stonewall riots almost 50 years ago seems both to be reaching fruition and to be creating new challenges. This workshop will explore the possibilities and challenges of teaching LGBTQ literature in the secondary classroom and will consider the history of this work as well as some of the cultural, artistic, and political debates that accompany it. No topic is out of bounds—the problem of teaching "sexuality," thoughts on  dealing with administrators, parents, and other concerned parties, and more.
Tim Barnett, English Department

Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
Interdisciplinary Conceptions of “Place” in the Classroom    
In what sense do our students read the “setting” of the works they read? In what sense do they even know where they live? Using concepts from the work of Lawrence Buell and Doreen Massey, our discussion in this seminar will help faculty in a wide variety of fields produce anything from a single assignment to an entire course revising our students’ sense of “place” to include more complex global and historical dimensions. With a revised sense of place, students quickly come to realize that while not everyone has a dusty attic where they can find a centuries-old scarlet letter, we all live—often unaware—in the dust of others who lived and worked in the places we do.  Discovering their “vertical” or historical relation with those who were in our place along with their “horizontal” relation with global others has a way of seriously transforming our students’ sense of self and the world. Beyond this frankly mind-blowing benefit, the complex study of “place” will enlist students to practice and improve skills of oral and written communication, technology, research (traditional, archival, field), and presentation.
Tim Scherman, English Department

Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
Using Contemporary Experimental Poetry in the Writing Classroom, Creative and Otherwise
All writing is creative, right? This seminar is geared toward helping teachers develop creative approaches to the instruction of writing of all kinds through the study of poetry in ways that promise to inspire students to bring their creative energies and investments to all the writing you are asking them to do. Examine works of contemporary poets to understand their techniques and employ those isolated techniques as constraints for generating texts (poetry, prose, or hybrid). This process suggests the links between reading and writing, and between finished pieces of literature and works-in-progress. Participants will get fuel for their own lesson planning and actively work with the catalog of constraints we generate on-the-spot (just as students can do). 
Olivia Cronk, English Department
Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
America as Asylum: Beginnings to Present

 This professional development seminar examines the concept of America as an asylum from its earliest roots in the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries to the present moment. We will consider how this rhetoric has shaped the idea of America as a “melting pot” for all, has driven practices and institutions that contradict it, and has been rearticulated to critique and oppose systemic oppressions. Readings will include "Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer," which initiated the idea of America as melting pot; Handsome Lake’s "How America Was Discovered," an incisive Haudenosaunee critique of European New World discourse; and Cristina Henríquez’s stark portrait of current-day migration, “Everything is Far From Here.”
Emily Garcia, English Department
Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
Teaching Huck Finn as a theory of History and Social Change
The focus of this seminar will be to reflect on fresh ways of teaching Mark Twain’s classic "Huck Finn" with emphasis on how the novel provides insights into the psychological, sociological, and ideological dynamics that forestall social change. While critics have read and praised the novel as a great American anti-slavery novel, as a narrative of moral development and social progress, and as an anti-racist novel, this seminar challenges these readings by looking at how the novel demonstrates why the U.S. does not progress socially in terms of overturning social and racial hierarchies and their attendant cruelty and repression. We will also discuss how the critical reception of the novel has been complicit in this forestalling of social change, in the very processes the novel critiques. The seminar should interest any faculty member interested in U.S. history, culture, and politics as well as those interested in trauma studies. We will draw connections to other literary and cultural works and developments from the mid-19th century to the present, including Trumpism and films like "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."
Tim Libretti, English Department

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon 
“Oh No You Didn’t:” Teaching Conflict Resolution and Cooperative Learning Strategies in Compassionate School and Workplace Environments
On a daily basis as teachers, we are faced with situations of potential conflict with students and/or colleagues. Increasingly, students also need to be exposed to positive role models of conflict management within the school system. How to effectively resolve situations for “win-win” outcomes is critical to understand. In addition to working with students to address areas of disagreement with student peers, your role can also be to create “teachable moments” for students to develop their own skills in effective conflict management. The purpose of this workshop will be to review different conflict management principles, have group discussions on topical concerns in the classroom/workplace, and actively engage in effective conflict management strategies through the use of group exercises. Resources will be shared regarding ways to teach students about positive conflict management techniques in the classroom and beyond.
Lisa Hollis-Sawyer and Amanda Dykema-Engblade, Psychology Department

Friday, March 1, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
The Personal and the Political: Family History and Histories of Family in the High School Classroom
In the classroom, the history of the family allows in-depth study of the range of evidence necessary for reconstructing past events. Documents on paper are all historians used to contend. But what does one do to reconstruct knowledge when documents are lost, destroyed, or nonexistent? Genealogists knew long before most historians that they had to research a wide range of sources, including non-textual ones: oral evidence, outward resemblances (morphology), and, in recent times, the DNA test. Groups cut off from documentation, like enslaved people and their descendants, have had to research extra deeply, from a range of source materials. Students may already know from “Game of Thrones” that they will gain both knowledge and understanding when they approach the past as a tourist, an explorer, a stranger, from another time.
Francesca Morgan, Department of History