Archive for the ‘teaching ideas’ 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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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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Long time, no post, but here’s a quick recap of our March meeting.

We discussed teaching pragmatics, particularly in speaking classes.  Of course, teaching pragmatics is tricky because everyone has a different idea of what is polite and appropriate.  However, it’s still useful to make our students aware of these issues.

To be honest, our conversation got a little side tracked, though, because Ellen’s house was so lovely and the food was so good, and then Ellen brought out “Hop Along Peter,” and I don’t think we thought about much else for the rest of the night.  If you don’t know what “Hop Along Peter” is, ask Ellen. I’m trying to keep our blog G-rated 🙂

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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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Twitter is great because it leads me to sites like this one.  It’s a compilation of stories, pictures, videos, teaching ideas all about digital writing.  Teachers are finding some amazing ways to bring technology into their writing classes, and the result is more dynamic communication.  I think there’s so much inspiration here for our program.– 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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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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