Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Skills Portal

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Academic Writing Skills

This module covers some of the basic skills which will improve your academic, scientific, and professional writing. ‘Academic Writing Skills’ is ideal for those who are looking to start an undergraduate or postgraduate course, to resume/advance their academic career, or simply to improve the objectivity, accuracy, and clarity of their writing style. Eight individual lessons cover the following topics: how to structure your academic essay; how to argue in an academic essay: evidence, logic, analogy, and other reasoning skills; how to conduct a literature review; how to use citations and references accurately and effectively; things to avoid in academic writing (Part I and II); how to reduce subjective style; how to write successful funding proposals. Hamish Williams (PhD in literary studies) has written 4 books (academic and fiction) and published over 25 academic articles and chapters.

Creative Writing: Long Project Preparation

Well-prepared writers enjoy more completion success! We will build worlds, plan character arcs, and try to define the bones of our stories during a month of glorious sub-creation! When you declare your intentions to the group, that act of bravery alone adds momentum to your writing efforts after the month is over. (This Module is great preparation before National Novel Writing Month)


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Creative Writing: One Month Story

We will walk through a complete project from pre-writing through writing, revising, editing, (revising, revising, revising), proofreading, and talking about publication options. Are you interested in finally getting down that memoir of your childhood? making a storybook for your grands? turning that daydream into a novelette? This adventure is for you! Whether your story is a draft, an outline, or a daydream, your project is welcome here in a place where we are aiming to finish it!

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Creative Writing: Stories in the Darkness

Join the amazing Jennie Starstuff: NASA Solar System Ambassador with Sparrow F. Alden to talk about the coolest, trippiest space physics to inspire our fiction! We’ll learn stuff on one day to use as writing prompts for peer-review on the second day. The plan is to explore star lore and archaeoastronomy; gravity and relativity (things get really weird); stars and cosmic life cycles; and life in the cosmos (alien contact? Heck, yes!). What about the amazing spaces between? We will have wonderful sonifications (sound pictures) of some of the most wonder-filled, hard to believe astro science out there—just imagine the stories we’ll create!


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Weekend Intensive

A Feast of Writing!

In one weekend, we're going to celebrate creativity by attempting a complete short story, novelette, or novella! Our format will include SPACE class sessions, WriterSpace focused writing time in excellent company, Bandersnatch Breakout room for talking about our craft and peer feedback, and an enthusiastic celebration of Story. So sharpen your quills, line up the inkpots, make a BIG casserole to last the weekend.

Here's the plan:
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Friday from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Eastern
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Saturday from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
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Saturday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern:
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Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
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Our goal is to create a completed first draft in one weekend! Prompts, planning, focus methods, peer encouragement, machete editing, character crucibles — we’ll do it all. Writers will write between sessions as well as during.

You are going to end this amazing experience with a complete first draft of your story!


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Creative Writing: Weekend Retreat

Write Our Hearts

Come for gentle writing. Introspection. Self expression in a circle of caring and community. Come gather virtually in the Cottage in the Woods with Sparrow: she literally wants us to prep food ahead and get away from the family and the dishes for forty eight hours to write our stories. It's so hard to find time for ourselves, so let's intentionally make that time. From Friday evening through Sunday afternoon there will be writing to prompts, conversation, ideas, blocks of free writing time. Does your heart ache to express a private grief on the page? Is your subconscious telling you to rewrite a story? Do you need to rewrite your story?

Here's the plan:
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Friday from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM Eastern
8p - Community, Evening pages, and Escape
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Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM Eastern
9a - Morning session: affirmations and choices
10a - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch (that's "quiet space and talking space")
11a - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
12noon - Noon session: Shedding Light & Writing Metaphors
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Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Eastern:
Nap time.
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Saturday from 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern:
3p - Group session: Recovery
4p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
5p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
6p - Group session: Encouragement and Deeper Dives
7p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch
8p - Group session: Leaning In to the Circle of Our Community
9p - Sweet dreams until tomorrow
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Sunday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern
1p - Group session: Our Story, Our Song
2p - WriterSpace & Bandersnatch (envisioning our stories' growth)
3p - Consolation & wrap up at 4p.
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Our goal is to write our hearts. Is that memoir? Is that a new story just for yourself? Is that a long, long prayer in the form of a poem? Writers might write between sessions as well as during.

You are going to end this amazing experience with something that is uniquely yours. Whether this turns out to be a narrative, creative nonfiction, or a huge list of Be-Happy-Attitudes, this deserves to be on your page, just for you.


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Creative Writing: Workshop

We will meet to blend learning, discussion, and playing games with reading, appreciating, and commenting on one another’s work as it is submitted for peer review. Writers are encouraged—but never required—to submit new pieces in any state of draftiness or readiness up to 2,000 words each week for peer reading and feedback. Our Collaborative Feedback method, developed here at Signum University, asks us to comment at the author's comfort level through a structured reader (not editor) response. We gather to encourage the story that the author wants to tell. Our philosophy of kindness first might just turn around your previous experience of writing groups.





A seat has been reserved in this module for any writer (especially a beginner) of marginalized identity to support them finding their voice. Please simply write to [email protected] to identify yourself if you wish to join the class.





Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Creative Writing: World-Building in Action



How do you world-build without losing your reader? In this module, we will consider techniques on the scene level to embed world-building seamlessly into your narrative without bogging the reader down in exposition. Considering examples from J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin and Frank Herbert, we will learn from the masters to bring your world to vivid life. Focusing on viewpoint, characterization, word choice, and narrative conflict, we will workshop how to draw your reader in and make your universe feel like a real place. No matter your genre, this module will enrich your commercial fiction and help make your vision a reality.


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Dr. Julian Barr

Creative Writing: Writing for Children

What makes a good children’s story? We’re going to address chapter books, cultural stories, and learning tales all through a lens of moral, cultural, and spiritual human development. Trying our hands at these forms should lead us to a nice folder full of works-in-progress at the end of the month. The December iteration of this module is designed to complete one treasured story gift for the holidays.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Creative Writing: Writing the Hero

We need good tales of good people making heroic choices. Whether we write memoir, pure fiction, or a what-if-it-had-ended-well personal speculations, this module is about creating the characters whom we can admire, trust, emulate, and become. Writing these short scenes during difficult times balances our minds and hearts, and can be part of a personal path to hope. This module specifically allows us to write our inner heroes within a place of safety. When believing in heroes is hard, we need to write them anyway. Explore your own traumas, toils, and fears even if your bad situation is right now, and write your own next chapter, your terrified heroic first step.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Fairy Tales: An Adventure from the Writer's Perspective

Come explore Fairy Tales from the inside! In the first meeting each week Pilar Barrera will lift up a Fairy Tale technique, character archetype, or trope. We'll discuss the story at hand and how that story technique makes meaning. Then, students try their own hands at that technique! What do we learn when we push these ideas to their logical extremes? In the second meeting, Sparrow Alden will facilitate a workshop-style discussion of our original tale-telling work; we'll encourage one another as writers and appreciate one another as readers! Our goal is to complete the month with a deeper appreciation for the tales we all love and a folder with one to four good drafts of original tales.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

FanFiction: Middle-earth

Do you imagine other tales set in Tolkien's beautiful Middle-earth? First person? FRP campaign design? Screen plays? Other minds and hands will come together to create and discuss "what if" for our own fanfiction. We will use a little peer-reading and a lot of focused discussion to move each writer deeper into the story they love. Expect to end the month with a folder full of story seeds or big progress on one big project.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden

Introduction to Binding Books by Hand

Do you love the physical object of a book just as much as the information it contains? Do you smell your books when you get home from the library or the bookstore? Do you like working with your hands to make things? Then this module is for you!

This class is an introduction to the materials, tools, and methods of making books by hand. Whether you're looking to make "junk journals" on a tight budget or want to rebind your favorite tome in leather, you'll find the information you need in this module!

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Course Outline:

• Class 1: Brief History of Book Binding and Tools Overview
• Class 2: Materials and Terms - The Anatomy of a Book
• Class 3: Text Block Assembly 1 - Glued Binding Options - Perfect Binding and Double Fan Binding
• Class 4: Text Block Assembly 2 - Sewn Binding Options - Kettle Stitch, Coptic Binding, and Japanese Stab Binding
• Class 5: Cover Assembly 1 - How To Make a Softcover - Paperback and Wrap Covers
• Class 6: Cover Assembly 2 - How To Make a Hardback - Classic/English Binding and Hollow Back Case Binding
• Class 7: Cover Decoration and Finishing - Traditional and Modern Methods
• Class 8: Overflow, Resources for Further Research, and Final Q & A
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Precepted by Praise Moyer

Introduction to Watercolor Painting

Do you love to look at paintings, but aren’t sure how to make them yourself? Do you want to paint, but you don’t have room to store flammable, smelly chemicals like turpentine? Do oil/acrylic canvases and easels take up too much room for you to work in a small space? If you’ve painted watercolor before, have you wondered why they looked washed out or why you get certain unexpected textures in your color mixes? Then this module is for you!

This class is an introduction to the materials, tools, and methods of watercolor painting. Whether you're brand new to making art, a seasoned painter who wants to connect with other makers, or you just want to find out how Tolkien created many of his Middle-earth illustrations, you’ll find a place in this module!

Course Outline:
• Class 1: Defining Watercolor – What makes Watercolor different from other art media?
• Class 2: Materials and Terms – What you need and where to get it
• Class 3: Prep – What to do before you start painting
• Class 4: Composition – Tips for visually interesting paintings and how to save your whites
• Class 5: Values – How to get good tone, range, and contrast
• Class 6: Color Mixing – Sediments vs. stains and how to make harmonious paintings
• Class 7: Texture – Tips for interesting textures and brushwork
• Class 8: Overflow, Resources for Further Research, and Final Q & A
Precepted by Praise Moyer

Level Up Your Term Paper(s): Preparing for Conferences

Do you have a general idea or old class paper that you’d like to refresh for an academic conference? This module is for individuals who are interested in turning a past or current research project into an abstract (proposal) and script or outline for a 20-minute conference paper. Bring some past writing (or a bunch of notes) to our first meeting, and we will brainstorm possible venues; wrangle past writing into conference-accessible outlines; draft and peer review abstracts; and write or outline some paragraphs or sections for oral delivery. Everyone is welcome, but this class is specifically designed for novice conference presenters who have a specific topic (or past paper) in mind and would like directed guidance and weekly accountability during the revision and preparation process.
Precepted by Dr. Faith Acker

The Science of Reading: Teaching Your Kids How to Read

Is your child struggling to learn how to read? Do they have trouble sounding out words, or understanding the meaning of new words? Do you struggle to explain why "one" begins with an o, and not a w? Then come learn more about the Science of Reading!

This introductory module will show you all about the Science of Reading, and why everyone should understand these fundamental linguistic principles throughout their reading journeys (not just kids!). We will discuss the history of the American Reading Wars and how they have impacted reading instruction, what happens in your brain as you learn to read, and how to use systematic, "building-block" approaches in your own home when reading with your little ones. If you're interested in the "why" and "how" of reading, then this module is for you!

Writers' Workshop: Storycrafting with the “Mutinous Crew” of Ursula K. Le Guin

What are the tools of the writer’s craft, and how can we sharpen them? In this module, we will learn about the writer’s toolkit through guided writing exercises and group discussion. We will use exercises from Ursula K Le Guin’s book Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story to explore tools like pacing, narration, point of view, syntax, and diction. Practice your writing technique, hone your craft, and embark on a journey with us through the “Sea of Story.”


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Writing Your Memoir

Your story is unique. Do you want to set it down on paper for yourself? For your family? No other person has accumulated your experiences; no other person has had your potential, learning, drive, disappointments, challenges, triumphs, and quiet joys. We'll explore a variety of media and forms for memoir writing, from picture books to blogs. We'll interview one another with kindness and encouragement and draw amazing stories out of each other—and ourselves.


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
Precepted by Sparrow F. Alden
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].