At the recent TESL Toronto’s T4T mini conference at York University, I was inspired to take 4C integration into my instruction to a new level. Specifically, I was spurred on by James Papple and Tabitha Lewis’s session called Connections to Learning through Makerspaces. They provided a myriad of potential activities that extend and enhance learning beyond what is expected in a language learning class. Tabitha and Jim highlighted resources that are available through the Brock University’s Makerspace room.
In Brock’s Makerspace, learning
opportunities include tools to create high quality audio, shoot and edit digital
video, create and edit images, print 3D models, create moving LEGO structures,
scan objects into digital 3D models, cut materials with lasers, interact with virtual
reality, record video against a green screen, control a Sphere ball with a
smartphone app, build robots, paint 3D objects, and more.
These are unprecedented, uncertain times, and many students and educators are trying to find innovative ways to keep learning and stay engaged. Virtual learning has become an essential tool for many learners and educators, but there’s so much more to it than your traditional discussion boards. Fortunately, our Guest Blogger, John Allan, has created a thorough and informative webinar to share with the ELT community about virtual learning. Coping with COVID-19 Using Online Instruction is now available to TESL Ontario members and the public.
Most of us are teaching our students in online mode. As the weeks pass, learners and instructors will experience emotions associated with their isolation. This will manifest as fatigue, boredom, depression, and apathy. In order to combat these, we, as instructional professionals must rise to the challenge to ensure that learning endures. Our efforts will provide our students with a sense of normalcy and purpose, and routine to make these troubled times less arduous.
I often think of my classroom, in which I teach advanced English learners, as a laboratory. The analogy seems appropriate since both parties – students and I – are involved in some intense and sometimes experimental brain manipulations. Often by design, but also incidentally. Sometimes stemming from theoretical reflection, often just from common sense and intuition.
does being a skillful teacher mean to you? Is it the same as or similar to
being a powerful teacher? Are there any expectations inherent in unravelling
any difference between these two perceptions?
Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in adult
education, is someone I look up to because his focus is on helping adults learn
how to critically think about internalized ideologies. He believes that we teach to change the world
and that being a sincere and reflective educator can be complex but that we
need to be aware of those complexities in order to learn and empower our
students (Brookfield, 2015). I have always enjoyed learning about his perspective
and determining how I can use it in my teaching techniques.
Have you renewed your TESL Ontario membership? Did you get in your hours of PD last year? We’re just two months into 2020, but it’s never too early to start planning your calendar, registering for new PD opportunities, and checking off those boxes! Whether it’s trying your hand at writing a blog post as an Occasional Blogger on our blog, virtually attending one our webinars, or having face-to-face connections at an affiliate workshop, there are so many ways to keep learning about the field, share your passion, and add up those hours.
If you work with PBLA, what does your program site do with
the leftover Language Companion Binders? What you are looking at in the picture are
leftover PBLA binders at our location. Most are full of the quintessential “artifacts.” We have tried to encourage students to take
the binders with them when they leave the program, but the fact is that they
are not wanted. Management and staff have discussed different strategies to
facilitate binder departures, but so far most of our students just smile
politely and say “no thank you” before exiting as fast as possible, lest we try
to put it into their hands. Can you blame them? Who wants this huge awkward
emblem of the past century filling shelf space at home, not to mention the
weight when it is fully loaded?
What should we do with this precious plastic? We thought it
would be best to take out the old artifacts and recycle the binders back into
the classroom to be reused. This seems like a good idea but who is going to do
this time-consuming job? Who will do the cleanup? Should the administrators or
settlement workers be responsible? Perhaps those supposed volunteers that were frequently
referred to but who never materialized will do the work. As it is, teachers are still not being fully
compensated for the time we spend on PBLA, so not us.
What about the ton of paper inside the binders? Those have
to go into the recycling bin. The levity with which IRCC considers the
environment is astonishing. In a time when many countries are banning plastic
and using technology to reduce paper consumption, we are finding ways to
increase its use.
The implementation of PBLA has been poorly thought out from
the start. There is no fiscal plan for fair compensation, no environmental conscience,
and no evidence that it is enhancing learners’ experience. Why are we still
One way to promote student engagement is by providing students with real-world hands-on learning experiences. An excellent way to do this is through student-produced video projects.
2008, Mary Anne Peters, Julianne Burgess, Elizabeth Sadler, and Zachary Arlow
created the LINC for Youth Photography Project and LINC for Youth Video Project
at Mohawk College to help newcomer youth learn English in a
collaborative environment. The foundation of these unique classes is grounded
in multiliteracies theory, youth culture, and technology. At the College, I teach in LINC Youth Video Project (LYVP) with
my teaching partner, Emily Imbrogno, and media technician, Zachary Arlow. LYVP
is targeted to newcomers ages 18-25, with Canadian Language Benchmarks 4-5. LYVP
has students create video projects on topics connected to newcomer youth
experiences and interests.
If you’re on Twitter, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, February 25 – on the topic of Practical Gamification in the Classroom with Cindy Liebel. You can access the #CdnELTChat Padlet at this link: Questions and Topics for #CdnELTchat. Below is a recap of the February 11 chat.
I’m looking forward to the summer
months. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I recall my adventures teaching
ESL at a children’s summer camp. I learned a lot, as I do every year. I enjoyed
adapting existing material and creating my own instead of working strictly from
a textbook. It was challenging and time consuming, but I would argue better, more
student-centered, and fun.