Category Archives: Creativity

Productivity Tips during Quarantine

Daily routine. Work, family, balance, harmony.
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I’m sure what’s on everyone’s mind is this: When will this whole quarantine situation end?  How will things be afterwards?  And, will things actually return to normal?

It seems as though an endless period of time has passed during quarantine, and I sometimes have to check or be reminded what day it is. Weekends aren’t as exciting as they used to be because you can’t go anywhere, and worst of all, you can’t visit your loved ones and hug them.

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Spring and Online Learning and Poetry anyone?

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In these strange and isolating times, many ESL instructors have navigated a truly steep learning curve of technical knowledge to teach online. Whether your online class looks the way you want it to or not, I applaud your efforts. I bet learners in your class are also very thankful for you!

Some of you might know that April is national poetry month. The theme this year is A World of Poetry. What a great opportunity to create poetry with your online class! Below are some resources and ideas to get you on your way.

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Even more creativity in the classroom

Inspiration

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.

Makerspaces Technologies

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. 

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Collaborative Video Projects: The Power of a Student Newscast

Image source: Brenda Bernal

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.

In 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.

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Reflections of Summer Teaching on a Snowy Day

Concept Dreams Come True,  miracle, a dog with eyes closed sits in a winter forest and dreams of summer, butterflies fly around
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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.

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An Unexpected Canadian Gift

Source: Patrice Palmer
Source: Patrice Palmer

The standard protocol for presenting at TESL conferences in Canada is that the presenter receives an honorarium and a card expressing thanks from the organizing committee.  It’s a nice gesture and I always appreciate it.   

Recently I received a unique gift for presenting at the TEAM conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It was a beautiful bag, handmade by Angela of the One Nation Exchange (O.N.E.).  I was moved to learn more about O.N.E. and how this bag came to be.

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Hello, Class! Today We’re Going to Talk About…

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“Hello, class! Today we’re going to talk about [fill in the blank].”

If you are an ESL teacher, you have probably started at least one class this way. You might have finished the above phrase with one of these themes: food, pets, sports, or music.

Whether teaching grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading, or writing, teaching language within a theme can be very useful.

However, choosing the right theme can be tricky.

Here are some of my tips for choosing the right theme.

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Cereal Box Book Report

Cereal box book reports produced by Mandy’s students
Source: Mandeep Somal

In post-secondary, students are often required to work on culminating projects comprised of various assignments submitted at different deadlines throughout the term. My teaching partner and I wanted to bring the experience of a post-secondary culminating project into our classroom, but in a way that was both manageable and meaningful to our LINC students.

When doing major projects, my teaching partner and I are always looking for ways to optimize Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) for all four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). As we focus on teaching our students English to prepare them for post-secondary education and the workplace, we find ourselves utilizing creative ways to incorporate PBLA with scaffolded learning. Thus, we came up with the idea of a cereal box book report.

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Once Upon a Time: Using Stories to Teach ESL

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When I was a student in elementary school, I used to love “story time.” Some of my earliest and fondest memories as a child were sitting around in a circle and having the teacher read stories to the class. I’ll never forget the time my Kindergarten teacher cried while reading us “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. Stories are powerful. Story time was the best!

I love stories, whether they be novels, movies, or a friend’s adventure. So, naturally, as a teacher I like using stories in my classes.

Here are a few examples of how I have used stories as an ESL Teacher.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

Summer Camp word cloud , education concept
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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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