Summer Flours

Summer Flours

Flour SignAs the the days get shorter and kids head back to school, we wanted to share what our team at Skylab Learning did over summer vacation.  Of course, when you’re building a new business, “vacations” are a sweet memory and (we hope) a future promise.  But, when you get to play games, help others improve their language skills, and see their confidence grow, the experience can be as invigorating as the surf and as rejuvenating as any day at the beach on Cape Cod.

In mid-July, we introduced our program to staff at Flour Bakery + Café, a rapidly growing Boston business that serves up such sweet and savory treats as Sticky Bun Bread Pudding, Lemon-Ginger Scones, Cheddar Scallion Scones, and Grilled Portobello Sandwiches.  Across four locations, Flour employs several dozen native Spanish speakers who want to develop their English language skills.  They come from all over Central and South America and contribute their energy and skills in the hope of realizing their own “American Dream.”

WordsOver six weeks, our team moved among all four Flour work sites, sometimes meeting with staff on milk crates behind a bakery, sometimes in storage rooms, and sometimes in hallways, all serving as flexible and manageable “classrooms” for our game-based instructional program.  We introduced Flour staff to digital games on their smartphones to help increase general and food service vocabulary, including items on Flour’s menu and ingredient list, as well as card and board games where they could collaborate and compete together to develop language skills, including spelling and pronunciation.

Our SkyPass program is designed for very little time “off the clock” so staff can participate in weekly sessions and then return to work, making immediate connections between what they learn and what they do on the job.  We also make connections to their family, home, and community lives by asking them to take pictures of places and things they’d like to learn how to describe and talk about in English.  Conversations inspired by photographs were animated and enlightening as staff made connections between new vocabulary and idioms and their Spanish language and cultural analogs.

SloganWe were grateful to work with Flour’s team this summer.  Seeing our program in action and expanding strategies for future implementations was an incredible opportunity.  One of our star participants logged 12 hours of game play in the first three weeks of the program and by the end of our sessions beamed, “I’ve well with this.”  Indeed!  We can’t think of many other training programs where someone working 86 hours a week between two jobs would commit that kind of time to an education or training program that wasn’t required.