Archive for the ‘students’ Category

Why do I get so ambitious sometimes?  I got this great idea a few days ago to have my students write a group essay using Google Docs.  Trying to get my students to learn how to write an essay is going to be a monumental task, so I thought practicing as a group first would be a good idea.  They’re having a lot of fun with the topic (they’re writing descriptive essays about weird houses I found on the Internet).  But Google Docs may not work so well.  I took my students to the lab yesterday and they all set up Google accounts and they uploaded their work into Google Docs.  For some groups, everything went really well, and for the others…disaster.

Has anyone used Google docs in the classroom?  Ever tried a group essay?  Any suggestions?  I’m always amazed at the simple technology my students can’t understand when they spend most of their free time online.– Ashley


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We read two great articles and had some great discussion.  Small group, but still lots of fun.  And most people hadn’t finished all the reading, so, you know, it’s okay to show up without doing the reading!  We don’t judge!

We read: “A Critical approach to critical thinking in TESOL” by Atkinson (1997) and “A sequence of critical thinking tasks” by Beaumont (2010).  Two very different ends of the spectrum with Beaumont embracing critical thinking and Atkinson maintaining a healthy skepticism.  Atkinson feels that critical thinking may really be a limited way of thinking, steeped in cultural and gender bias.  Beaumont offers practical critical thinking activities for the classroom.

Our discussion focused quite a bit on Atkinson’s piece, the more intriguing of the two articles.  While we agreed with some of his points, we couldn’t help but feel that we have an obligation to prepare our students for the activities and kind of thinking they will encounter in their university classes.  It’s all very well to say that critical thinking skills have their limitations, but we still have to teach them because our students will still be expected to think critically.

We concluded that critical thinking skills can easily be integrated at all levels and in all skills.  From simple opinion questions to requiring our students to read and discuss essays we know they’ll disagree with, there are many ways to make critical thinking part of our classroom.  It was a great discussion.  If you have anything to add, comment below!  And see you at the next potluck!– Ashley

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Surprise, surprise…

But this article from VOA News is interesting, especially since almost all of our students seem to choose one of these fields.  The article mentions that the schools that attract the most international students also tend to have top-ranked business and engineering programs.  Interestingly (or not), Kansas State doesn’t make any of these lists.– Ashley

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Great, great article shared from our friends at ELP Tech Committee Blog:


This excellent post comes from one of our own K-Staters, and he raises some excellent issues about changes in education, technology, and where our students fit in in all of this.  He writes, “Unfortunately, many teachers only see the disruptive possibilities of these technologies when they find students Facebooking, texting, IMing, or shopping during class. Though many blame the technology, these activities are just new ways for students to tune out, part of the much bigger problem I have called “the crisis of significance,” the fact that many students are now struggling to find meaning and significance in their education.”

Wesch goes on to describe his exciting World Simulation project for his Cultural Anthropology class.  It’s an ambitious project, to say the least, but I love that he’s finding ways to get his students genuinely engaged in learning.  Isn’t that our job – to make our students excited about knowledge and the possibilities that education opens up?– Ashley

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Ironic, or just sad?

Very interesting post from The Language Log – they’ve summarized a study about the ability of Chinese to appreciate irony (basically, they get irony better than Americans, but they don’t like it as much as we do).  With our abundance of Chinese students, this might be worth a read.  I will warn you that the actual study is 65 pages, so it might be worth a quick scan instead.– Ashley

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Okay, time to get the blog rolling again…

Our next research potluck will be Friday, February 4.  The topic will be Critical Thinking Skills.  Sophia and I have been really interested lately in how to teach critical thinking skills to our students.  These skills are valued in the American university system, but they also seem to be very culture specific, meaning, essentially, our students don’t have these skills.  So, what do we do?  Exciting discussion awaits at our February potluck! If you’ve got ideas, hit the comments and let me know.– Ashley

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