Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age
Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.
In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address Continue reading →
Not too long ago I created an activity with my students where I asked them to write three types of literary genres they enjoy the most. The task involved writing three words on index cards. I then asked them to meet in groups to share their words. Group by group, they would come to the podium and add their words on Wordle.net – adding each word repeatedly at times and only once other times. At the end, I would let WordleTM do its thing. The result was a collective word cloud that would visualize the commonalities among everyone in my class. Continue reading →
This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading →
I used to be very good at remembering names. So good, in fact, that I probably would have been great at selling cars. This ability is a definite asset for a teacher. In my early years of teaching high school, I could remember the names of 30 students after one class. Lately, I have been teaching writing to international university students (EAP), and the classes are smaller but I don’t put the same effort into remembering their names. Why? I am older (my memory is not what it used to be) and lazier. What I do now is I give the students large index cards to write their names on and place in front of them. This way, I know their names right away and I have a quick way of taking attendance—I collect the cards at the end of class and the cards of absent students would have remained unclaimed. This semester, I have such small classes that during one class I didn’t bother with the cards. Suddenly, Continue reading →
We all want our teaching to be interesting and effective. I regularly reflect on my teaching practice, and try to consider each of the following aspects of lesson planning*, particularly for grammar and pronunciation lessons. Let me share some tips that help me improve my lessons, and perhaps you will find an idea you could use.
Presenting the point
First, remind yourself of the scope of the lesson; know the needs and abilities of your students, and the time frame and focus of your class session. Aim not to overwhelm your class with too much information, but also not to under-interest your students with too little challenge. Continue reading →
I am trying to fully understand the translingual approach – specifically how it aligns with English for academic purposes (EAP) or the much needed skill of clear, concise written communication. The idea is great, but how do we go about it?
Horner, Lu, Royster, and Trimbur (2011) propose a translingual approach for dealing with student writing in academia.
Although I agree with most of the underpinnings behind the new approach, I am not so sure how they envision it. I agree with many of their ideas, but…
I agree that students’ right to use their language (English and otherwise) should be respected. I also agree with the authors’ opposition to the monolingual “view that varieties of English other than those recognized as ‘standards’ are defective” (305). Varieties of English, they explain, include what monolinguals Continue reading →
While working on ESP books for a technical program, I found that QR codes were a great solution to add quick links to additional resources. These resources included interactive activities, worksheets, images, videos, animations, graphs and further readings. I am not the first person to think of using QR codes for educational purposes. Links to fantastic resources providing a myriad of uses of QR codes for educators can be found in the additional resources section below. I am offering a few simple practices that you might consider to improve access to resources in your classroom, on your class website, or in your instructional documents.
As I’ve shared with you in previous blogs, one of my ongoing interests is finding ways to empower my students to become better writers of English. What is the formula?
Vocabulary skills are important (Checked √)
Grammar is important (Checked √)
Controlled practice is important (Checked √)
…Wait a minute… Modeling is super important…
According to Cumming (1995), language teachers need to not only provide text models of a good writer’s final product (what an assignment is supposed to look like at the end), but also model the cognitive process of writing. In other words, we as teachers should model writing-as-a-process that mimics the actions performed by effective writers (hint: we need to write a lot to be one too). Continue reading →
I had the privilege of attending and presenting at the ACPI-TESOL National Conference in Costa Rica earlier this month. Although it was a relatively small conference (under 60 participants), the organizers were able to attract presenters from the U.S., Panama, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and UAE (and me from Canada).
I believe as teachers, we can always learn something new no matter how many years we have been teaching. This conference was no exception in that there were many take-aways from the presentations. However, before I provide some of the conference highlights, I wanted to talk about my experience trying to navigate in a Spanish-speaking country as a non-speaker of Spanish. (I did take some lessons a few years ago, but I didn’t even have enough language skills to function.) I forgot how it feels to be unable to communicate – even a simple request! The last time I experienced this kind of powerlessness and vulnerability (not to mention feeling dumb) was when I got lost in Hong Kong; I actually got lost 3 times in 3 different taxis in Costa Rica! There is certainly nothing more meaningful for a language teacher than experiential learning and appreciating the daily challenges for many of our students!