Active internationally since 2007, Pre-Texts is an artist/educator training program that combines high-order literacy, innovation, and citizenship. Through workshops that use art making to facilitate close reading, we encourage teachers to replicate the simple protocol of Pre-Texts: have students ask questions about complex texts, create artistic interpretations, and reflect on the process. As facilitators, teachers use classic literature as a prompt for making art, and the arts as vehicles for learning and civic engagement. Pre-Texts develops avid and creative readers from all grade levels and socioeconomic environments. 

With Pre-Texts:
1. Participants gain cultural capital through their ownership of literature
2. Texts, as great writers know, are recognized as recyclable material that can be used to explore personal experience
3. Language arts invite participants to create a range of responses in other media, revealing that critical and creative thinking are connected
4. The arts become agents of interpretation and learning that honor diversity and innovation
5. Mutual admiration among young artists promotes democratic citizenship

Find out more about the following workshops:

+ Mexico

Under the sponsorship of the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila and the leadership of Voroca, Pre-Texts is thriving in classrooms in the Escuela de Bachilleres Ateneo Fuente, Instituto de Ciencias y Humanidades and in the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila. Teachers of a variety of subjects ranging from high school chemistry to university English are incorporating Pre-Texts in to standard curriculum. Teachers have noted that the use of Pre-Texts has improved the classroom environment, which is evidenced through increased levels of student participation and demonstrated respect among students, making it an environment safe for experimentation and learning.

For a recent report on the success of Pre-Texts in Mexico, see:
http://www.oficinadeprensa.uadec.mx/boletines/627-demuestran-estudiantes-habilidades-adquiridas-con-pre-textos

Pre-Texts Workshop in Saltillo, Mexico, March 17-20, 2015

For more information on this workshop and the expansion of Pre-Texts in Coahuila, please visit the Pre-Texts website: http://www.pre-texts.org/workshops2/Current/international/

Pre-Texts Workshop in Saltillo, Mexico, June 16-20, 2014

Doris Sommer and Lisa Crossman ventured to Saltillo, Mexico to facilitate two sessions of Pre-Texts workshops, which were held June 16-20, 2014. One workshop was held for teachers from the Instituto de Ciencias y Humanidades and the other for English instructors from the Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila. The workshops culminated in a celebration on Saturday, June 21 in which participating educators, accompanied by the UA de C’s rector Blas José Flores Dávila, introduced Pre-Texts to colleagues, friends, and family. These educators will implement the Pre-Texts methodology in high school and university classrooms. For more on these workshops and the UA de C’s support of Pre-Texts, please see the following articles:

http://www.oficinadeprensa.uadec.mx/boletines/205-reafirma-ua-de-c-compromiso-de-internacionalizacion-con-visita-a-harvard-y-al-mit-en-massachusetts

http://www.oficinadeprensa.uadec.mx/boletines/422-implementara-la-universidad-autonoma-de-coahuila-el-modelo-educativo-pre-textos-de-la-universidad-de-harvard

http://www.oficinadeprensa.uadec.mx/boletines/436-la-universidad-autonoma-de-coahuila-formaliza-la-implementacion-en-sus-aulas-de-la-metodologia-pre-textos

http://www.oficinadeprensa.uadec.mx/boletines/451-concluyo-el-taller-pre-textos-que-vincula-harvard-con-la-ua-de-c

+ China

With the support of the Wiseman Group, Trecia Reavis began facilitating Pre-Texts, or Literature Out Loud (LOL), teacher-training and student workshops at the Fun & Friends Center and the Hokmah International School this summer of 2014 in Shenzhen. As part of the LOL initiatives in China, she will also begin to work with teachers and students from public and charter schools in the coming year. In addition to these workshops, quarterly events for families to play with LOL, and other events to showcase the students' work and introduce LOL to the community will be planned. Similar activities are planned to compliment the introduction of Pre-Texts in schools in other areas such as Coahuila, Mexico.

+ Brazil

From February 2-6, 2015, Pedro Reina-Pérez and Elsa Mosquera-Sterenberg facilitated a workshop for 25 middle school teachers of Portuguese language and literatures. The teachers will implement Pre-Texts in affiliated Grupo Positivo schools. Participants worked with Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time.

With the support of the Instituto Positivo, Doris Sommer of Harvard and Jacques Fux of the University of Belo Horizonte, worked with participants from the Grupo Positivo’s Universidade Positivo and the Editora Positvo during a Pre-Texts workshop in Curitiba from July 7-11, 2014. They spent the week working with a portion of the first chapter of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

For photographs from the training, please visit: https://www.evernote.com/shard/s38/sh/6bafa0df-8ab5-419b-b538-9fd2edf17629/a11531d26364bd445aa029ab9b0cef3d

For more on the implementation of Pre-Texts in the Colégio Positivo Júnior and the Colégio Positivo Internacional, please visit: http://blog.educacional.com.br/pre-textos/

+ Chile

Doris Sommer and Juliana Porto journeyed to Chile from January 27-31, 2014 to facilitate a round of Pre-Texts workshops with educators from Un Buen Comienzo, a project run out of Fundación Oportunidad, that seeks to improve early education and language skills for disadvantaged young children. The facilitators and participants are using the Pre-Texts methodology to work with pre-kinder and kindergarten children.
The Pre-Texts work accomplished in Chile has been featured in El Mercurio and El Tipógrafo.

+ Nicaragua

Victoria Mena, from the Universidad Tadeo Lozano in Bogotá, Colombia, facilitated a Pre-Texts workshop from January 27th-31st at the Instituto de Historia de Nicaragua y Centroamérica (IHNCA). Thank you to Margarita Vannini, the Director of the IHNCA, for making this workshop possible, and thank you to Fundación Zamora Terán.
A space on the IHNCA website has been dedicated to tracking the implementation of Pre-Texts in their schools. The workshop was also featured on La Prensa.

+ Colombia

Through the government of Antioquia and their “Parques educativos” (educational parks) project, we were able to carry out our program on “Critical Thinking and Playful Methodologies in Reading and Writing using the Pre-Text Method.” The program was carried out in four nodes of the region: Santa Rosa de Osos, Andes, Guatapé and Chigorodó. During the three days, we selected and trained 108 excellent teachers to become facilitators for the Pre-Text program. The teachers, then, brought the Pre-Text Method to their respective schools and replicated the program with their students and professors between June – December 2015.

Implementation:

The program consisted of workshops that integrated our four areas of focus: literacy, innovation/creativity, civil values (bullying), and the environment. We used a horizontal method of teaching and also utilized local resources that were available.

To meet our objective, we proposed the following timeline:

Phases of the Project

Phase 1: Training of Teacher-Facilitators and “Weavers” (Practitioners of Excellence) in the pre-determined four nodes. The initial workshop is carried out in 5 sessions where the participants gain practical and meaningful experience of the Pre-Text Method.

Phase 2: Monitoring is carried out in three parts:

Weekly coordination meetings via Skype
Site visits at each node with educational support
Permanent virtual advising by demand
Phase 3: Training of teachers who have completed the following requirements:

Augment their experience through 15 activities with their students and document them in their personal blogs
Have at least three in-person meetings with other teachers
Complete the evaluation of the educational monitoring experience
The goal of the proposal was to train 100 teachers in the four regions of Antioquia. However, due to the reception of the announcement, more than 25 teachers were recruited from each region, resulting in a total of 108 trained teachers.

Nodo Municipio Facilitador Total personas a formar Total personas formadas
Urabá Chigorodó Doris SommerVictoria E Mena R 25 23
Norte Santa Rosa de Osos Paolo VignoloArturo Higa 25 28
Oriente Guatapé Pedro ReinaElsa Mosquera 25 31
Sur Oeste Andes José FalconiCarmen Vargas 25 26
TOTAL 100 108

The experience:

Even though the Pre-Text method was simple, the results were profound. We approached this challenging text by formulating questions and hanging them on a clothesline, in reference to a popular Latin American practice called “la literatura de cordel” (“the literature of the cord”). This practice originated from the favelas of Brazil, where the absence of books led people to hang poems on clotheslines. Then, the group was invited to create a work of art and was asked to answer the question, “what have I done?” This simple practice made explicit that art can develop one’s comprehension, independence, and admiration for other citizens and creators.

Learning through creativity is Pre-Text’s motto. In this particular case, the professors had fun playing with the literature as they developed their interpretive skills and attention to details.

The principal activity was to interpret Antigone, a literary text that has fairly difficult vocabulary and subtle uses of grammar and literary figures. The student-teachers, rewrote the text in different ways, from theatrical adaptations to musical translations. The teachers continued to interpret the text using any art medium they wanted until the workshop ended.

After the workshop, it can be said that the program helped guide the student-teachers to intervene in existing literature and find new ways of appropriating language and other forms of expression to understand ideas outside of the Spanish language. The teachers recognized that it is possible to demystify “high” literature and make it accessible to everyone through playful learning.

In thinking about students, we can also see how the spirit of Pre-Text can help redirect student frustrations and rebelliousness into productive ways of learning and reduce bullying. As artists-in-training, the activity of making caps or covers for a book with other students allows rebellious students to learn that they can be noticed through their action of transforming materials and changing conventional paradigms. Moreover, they can produce aesthetic value that can be translated into economic value. The passion that encourages creative work and the dedication that it implies provide important channels of exploration and expression for restless youth. It is impractical and counterproductive to expect to control the restless energy of youth. Pre-Text’s response is to redirect the energy to prevent violence and promote psychological and economic development of the youth.

One of the many significant things to note about Pre-Texts is that it actively puts on the table the issue of bullying and makes it possible to offer children a space where they can express their feelings and situations in a safe environment. Teachers can also take assertive steps to prevent abuse, resolve problems, and improve the school community.

A majority of students reported that participating in the Pre-Text program allowed them to make more friends, which automatically helped them to adopt more positive behaviors and learn how to intervene in a case of abuse. The students who were interviewed said that they now felt more comfortable and confident about participating in various activities. Timid students also felt more integrated and less afraid to look ridiculous or be judged as the methodology offers a safe and friendly environment for learning. Students who have difficulty adapting can overcome their shyness and increasingly feel less isolated.

You can find more testimonials of the implementation of Pre-Texts on our teachers’ blogs hosted on http://pre-textos-antioquia.weebly.com/

Please visit our Pre-Texts website for more information: http://www.pre-texts.org/

Transcultural Exchange Pre-Text Workshop October 2013