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Teach for America Fellowship uses ThingLink + Canva to create an interactive tool to assess youth-adult equity

Kyla Ball

A youth-adult fellowship used online graphic design platform Canva when creating a highly impactful ThingLink to showcase video testimonials. This memorable and thought-provoking piece of work put a sociological theory into practice in a brilliantly simple way. 

Teach for America
Teach for America was founded in 1990 and is an organisation established to improve the educational opportunities for children from low-income communities across the United States. TfA recruits a diverse corps of teachers for an initial two-years in high-need schools. It has since grown to foster Teach for All, a network of partner organizations across the globe. 

Aditi Garg is a graduate in government and politics and a former member of the corps from Cleveland, OH. Having trained as an early years teacher with TfA she now works as program director on the TfA staff working mainly in Ohio. 

The Enduring Ideas Fellowship
Aditi currently works with “The Reinvention Lab”, an exploratory space established by TfA in 2019. Here, young people, parents, caregivers, leaders and educators both inside and outside of TfA consider the future of learning and of the organization. In summer 2020 the Lab established the “Enduring Ideas Fellowship” – a diverse coalition of young people and adults from across America. 

Aditi Garg

Aditi Garg, Teach for America

What might be possible?
The fellows were asked to explore how adults in educational non-profit organisations can co-create and innovate successfully and meaningfully alongside young people, to transform the future of teaching in an equitable way. The big questions they explored were, in a post-pandemic world “Why can’t we just go back to school as usual? What might be possible instead?”.

From the fall they met online weekly to explore changes that needed to happen within the organisation and in the education system. Global best practices that disrupt the traditional models of teaching were explored and the fellows discussed what could be applied at TfA. They also made decisions on how to assign funding to some of these bodies via The Enduring Ideas Fund. In groups of 5-6 the fellows were then charged with creating an artefact to reflect their learnings that could be shared with others to promote the work of the fellowship. 

The Ladder
The group of adults and young people that Aditi was in chose to create a ThingLink in which their audience could be participants rather than passive viewers. It was based on the concept of The “Ladder of Youth Participation”. This concept, originally developed by Roger Hart in the 1990s, identifies 8 levels of children’s participation in projects. At the bottom rung is manipulation and at the top, youth-initiated, shared decisions with adults. The group discussed and demonstrated past individual experiences either in education or in youth activities and considered which rung these occupied. They also recorded external interviews with other young people to illustrate real examples for each rung. Screenshot 2021-03-24 at 16.29.51

ThingLink + Canva
Emma Jhoanna Tilitile, a talented young Hawaiian designer in the fellowship, created and developed graphics for the artefact in Canva and worked on each scenario imagery, infographic and layout, as well as the front page which frames the ladder and the choice grid. Emily and Khalilah (young people and high school students) and Delia (an adult partner who also works with the Reinvention Lab), worked on the content and questions and edited and integrated the videos. They realised that they could use the conditional transitions function to really engage us as the viewer in each scenario, demanding that we make an active personal assessment of where we think each scenario sits on the ladder. In this way, as viewers, we are seeing each scenario from the perspective of someone who felt they had limited agency in a real situation. 

This combination of bold and impactful graphic design containing clear and intuitive links to video testimonials of real experiences is a prime example of how to use the Canva+ThingLink integration to powerful effect. It demonstrates how to bring a concept alive in real world context and ensure the salient points are made both understandable and importantly, memorable. 

Screenshot 2021-03-24 at 16.41.55-1

The ThingLink was originally shared at a fellowship showcase with specially invited guests who participated in the ladder activity. After going through the activity, they were asked:

“After reviewing these examples, consider, where does your leadership naturally fall when using this tool and what variables impact that?”. 

Reactions from the audience after exploring the ThingLink demonstrated how effectively it had illustrated the concept of the ladder. 

“It was really interesting engaging in this ladder to consider the relationship between intention and experience. If more adults were aware of this ladder, might we be more intentional about how we engage with students?”

“I really appreciated this [ThingLink]…it gave me a chance to interact with it, in a way that I could “mess up”- and I could learn from it! I really liked that.”

This incredibly powerful and thought-provoking ThingLink will be presented on the Enduring Ideas website and may also used as a starting point for the next round of 2021 fellowships. You can follow updates from Teach for America via their Instagram account.

“It felt playful…but also aesthetically pleasing…and we could create it really quickly! Overall it was a really great platform for the things we were looking for.”
Aditi Garg, Teach for America 

Further questions?

As well as contacting us if you have any questions, please join our communities and connect with ThingLink Educators. We are incredibly proud of our groups, how they embrace ideas and share, they will only be too pleased to welcome you. 

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Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at education@thinglink.com 

Want to keep a copy? A PDF Version of this Case Study can be found here. 

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