By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Amy Zink, senior lecturer in Spanish, has been selected as an Indiana University Mosaic Fellow.
The Mosaic Initiative supports innovative classroom design, research and active learning in all IU classrooms.
The goals of the Mosaic Initiative are to prepare faculty to teach in active learning classrooms, build a community of faculty members who collaborate to advance their own teaching, promote evidence-based teaching and create faculty leaders.
The Mosaic Fellows program provides selected faculty members an opportunity to engage in active learning practices in their own teaching and with other Mosaic Fellows, as well as contribute towards the development of learning spaces across Indiana University.
Zink is a passionate advocate for active learning techniques, which she has used successfully in classes ranging from Spanish 1 and Advanced Grammar to Conversation and Latin American Civilization. And this year’s Mosaic focus on how to use learning spaces more effectively and creatively suits both her experience and nature.
“In every class, I’m working on speaking, listening, reading, writing, and cultural awareness,” Zink said. “We move through a lot of varied activities, between individual, group and collaborative work, in seats or at the white board, and our exercises often require students to roam around the class to collect information from one another, so we need a lot of space.”
That space has many uses. Some of the movement is designed to put new learners, who are often intimidated, more at ease by creating an environment where they are more relaxed, and more encouraged to take risks in speaking and writing.
Many of the exercises she has created over the years involve group work, such as role playing as family members to build vocabulary around everyday tasks and interactions. Learning frequently is more effective if it can become a game, and it’s no surprise that Zink emphasizes not only connection and collaboration, but also fun.
Widely traveled herself, Zink has led her classes on immersive trips to Ecuador, as part of IU Southeast’s relationship with the individuals and communities there, and facilitated students to study in locales such as Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru. She now brings the Spanish-speaking world to campus in the form of native speakers who work with her students in small groups. For this, too, space is needed.
As part of the fellowship, Zink will share her techniques and experiences with colleagues from across IU campuses, helping to build synergies that result in novel approaches to classroom space.
“I’m always looking for new opportunities to do something different,” Zink said.