Secondary Teachers & Students – Karen Tompkins

Karen Tompkins, Secondary School Teacher

So showing what you know… students communicate on different levels, and if English is not their first language, or if language is a problem, then assessing them just by pen and paper, or even orally is not in their best interest. They’re not going to be able to tell you what they know. They are not going to be able to write it down for you. They need to be able to actually hands-on show you. So, something three dimensional. Something that is representing and cues them to tell you other things.” – Karen Tompkins, Secondary School Teacher

Short Interview

Karen is a secondary school teacher who uses multimodalities regularly in her teaching practice, whether she is teaching English, history, or politics to mainstream, ELL, or special needs students.

Karen speaks about using the artifact box as a tool for exploring student knowledge and understanding as an introductory activity or a culminating activity that assesses student learning and development. She comments on the significance and benefits of students building an artifact box for Romeo or Juliet, from William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet as an alternative option to writing essays. Teachers can use the artifact box as a learning tool across the curriculum. Listen below to Karen discussing how a teacher might effectively utilize the artifact box. 

Artifact Box

The artifact box allows students to display their understanding of plot development, important pivotal moments in the story, and character development by gathering symbolic artifacts. Students must ask themselves questions and reflect on the importance and meaning behind every artifact they collect. According to Scarino and Liddicoat (2009), “Learning involves a process of making connections – reorganizing unrelated bits of knowledge and experience into new patterns, integrated wholes” (p. 26). See below an exemplar created by Karen to share with her students of an artifact box.

Student Romeo and Juliet Graphic Novel

By creating the Romeo and Juliet Graphic Novel, students are able to visually conceptualize and present William Shakespeare’s popular play. Cope and Kalantzis (2002) state, “literacy pedagogy must account for the burgeoning variety of text forms associated with information” (p.9).


Email: [email protected]