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Hi everyone-

TESOL was great; New Orleans was fabulous, and we’re sad to be back home.  But, we learned so much great stuff that we thought it would be really fun to make our next research potluck about the research we actually want to do as teachers!  I was completely convinced during the conference that our teachers have so much to contribute to the field.  We are doing really interesting things in our classes, and we should be out there sharing what we’re doing.  So, for our next potluck, we’re going to share with you what we learned at TESOL and what research we’re passionate about.  And we want to know what you are excited about.  Wouldn’t it be great if we got the whole faculty involved in presenting at conferences?  We’ve got so many great teachers!

Date to be announced, but it will likely be held at Jenell’s house.  I hope you all can make it!– Ashley

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Waiting for a streetcar

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Finally home… I am exhausted but happy at the same time. The last several days in New Orleans have been quite an experience! There were interesting TESOL sessions, yummy food, and gorgeous weather. 🙂

There are a lot of thoughts, observations, and ideas I would like to share with you here, but today I am going to talk about just a few.

1) Remember Ashley mentioned a session on using blogs in writing classes presented by Kristina Scholz, an MA TESL student at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ? (See Ashley’s post on March 17th).  Her presentation was indeed fantastic! She shared six blogging activities that a writing teacher can incorporate in his/her class. Here are some helpful links:

Six Blogging Activities for Practicing L2 English Writing — Here you will find the PowerPoint Presentation and the handout
Kristina Scholz
SAMPLE BLOG & Student Blogs

I won’t say more here–see for yourself!

Oh, and here is a photo of us with the presenter:

2) At another session I went to, the presenter, Cristin A. Boyd from San Jose State University, San Jose, CA, was talking about strategies for teaching paraphrasing and summarizing.

Her ideas you can find here:

Paraphrasing and Summarizing Activities

3) One of the most interesting sessions for me was Challenges of English Writing Stemmed From Cultural Differences by Mimi Doyle from Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. Though the presenter conducted a survey to find out what kind of difficulties Korean students experience, I believe we can use the findings to better understand our ELP students, the majority of whom are Chinese.

The presentation looked at the survey data trying to find out what kind of challenges, stemmed from the culture, students experience when writing, so that ESL instructors can better help these students with their problems.

1) It is critical to plan some in-class time to brainstorm when assigning writing;

2) Since the students tend to focus on local issues, teachers need to help their students understand the importance of global issues (content and organization) rather than certain words / prepositions/ articles as they will not distort comprehension.

3) Individual conferences are important (Anticipate the problems caused by difference of culture in writing!)

I will stop here for now. Pictures are coming. 🙂

–Viktoria

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First full conference day!

Today I went to several sessions, some helpful, some not at all helpful, and some that were so crowded I just gave up.  One thing I’ve learned today is that there are so many people presenting on so many topics that there’s really a niche for everyone- so everyone from our program needs to present next year!  It was like our in-house conference multiplied by 1000, but we have so many great things to share, I know we’d fit right in.

Here are the presentations I really enjoyed (they were the small, offbeat ones, by the way, not the ones with the well-known names): Viktoria and I attended a great session on using blogs in writing classes.  The presenter, Kristina Scholz, is an MA TESOL student, and her ideas for blogging were fantastic!  Really, we were so inspired to start a blog in our writing classes!  She came up with some very creative writing activities (one involved having the students create their own superhero and describe what powers they would have- how perfect is this for 140 and 150 descriptive writing units?)  We even took a picture with her because we thought she was so awesome- Viktoria will post later.

In the afternoon, I attended a very lively session on teaching prosody. Prosody, if you need a quick definition, is “the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech.” (Got it from Wikipedia’s article on prosody) Colleen Meyers and Patrick Scully discussed three activities they use in the classroom to teach prosody, and we actually got to do the activities in the session!  I use an exclamation mark here because we got to play with Play-Doh, which was probably the highlight of my day.

When I get the handouts from these sessions (everything’s online this year, so it’ll take some digging), I’ll post for everyone to see.  Woo TESOL!– Ashley

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We made it to TESOL!

And we’re all overwhelmed. Geez, there’s a lot to do here.  So many interesting sessions, all at 7:30 in the morning. We’ve already eaten some good food, planned our first day, and now we’re off to dinner.  Food pics to follow, and we’ll let you know how day #1 of the conference goes!– Ashley

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And I’m bringing the laptop so I can blog and tweet away.  If you want any handouts/textbooks/free stuff, let me know.  I’m going to take as much free stuff as they’ll give me.– Ashley

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I’ve been taking an online course offered through TESOL about PLNs and PLEs, and it’s been fantastic so far.  Yes, I know, you have no idea what I’m talking about when I say PLN/PLE (and if you do, feel free to skip this post).  Allow me to explain 🙂

PLN: Personal learning network

PLE: Personal learning environment

Honestly, these two terms seem to overlap to me.  I realize they’re not identical, but they do refer to very similar concepts.  Essentially, this is your collection of online resources/contacts/websites that help you stay connected to your field.  This blog, if you ever actually read it, is part of your PLN.  I use Twitter, a wonderful resource that is really the mainstay of my PLN.  It allows me to connect with colleagues from all over the world, and it’s incredibly motivating to know how many great ideas and intelligent people are out there!

I’m really enjoying my course so far, and I plan to share some of what I’ve learned.  I really believe every teacher ought to have a PLN, no matter how small.  Don’t be afraid of technology; technology is your friend :)– Ashley

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