Category Archives: critical thinking

Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Class through Critical Texts, Talks, and Tasks

I asked TESL Ontario educators to record their thoughts on the question “What are one or two ways that you incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in your teaching practice?” This post shares their recordings (see link below) and synthesizes their responses, which highlight the importance of infusing criticality in classroom texts, talks, and tasks. 

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Social Media and Critical Literacies

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Due to the immense changes in society and the way people communicate in the past 50 years, communication methods are now multimodal, and people need literacy skills that go beyond books. As Tarc (2013) writes, “In our current multicultural societies, it is hard to identify one’s identity and their understanding and background, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings,” (p. viii) and such considerations need to take place now that global migration is at its highest and daily interactions occur with people from different countries than ourselves. Whether or not people have experienced migration and/or immigration personally, many of the people they interact with on a daily basis are likely to have been born somewhere else; even without this interaction, the accessibility to the internet means that no one is isolated in their own “corner” of the world. Digital and print media tools can be used by educators to help students develop critical literacies skills, so that they can be more participatory and contemplative global citizens. 

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Critical Thinking Skills as Easy as 1-2-3

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The numbers 1-2-3 stand for the formula I devised to teach students to develop and demonstrate Critical Thinking Skills. By following the 1-2-3 formula, I teach students to think about their choice of answers.  I came up with this strategy as part of my efforts to teach first year college students to answer reading comprehension questions. Historically, I have found that short-answer questions tend to ask students to answer in one or two sentences, which, I think, limit students’ ability to demonstrate critical thinking skills. One or two sentence responses do not really encourage students to explain how they arrive at the answer. The result is usually an answer that can either be easily found in the text or must mirror what the instructor expects the answer to be.  Continue reading

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Learning the Art of Critical Pivoting

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Guest Contributor: Christine Smart-Wiseman

Like many others in the field, I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching. My research as a PhD student at York University led me to examine teaching from a critical pedagogical approach. The guiding principle of this approach is to construct equitable and democratic classrooms with a goal to positively transform students’ lives (Canagarajah, 2005).

While I was doing my research in an ELL classroom, I uncovered many ways in which ELL environments contradict the goals of critical pedagogical approaches. In many cases, planning and preparing ahead to foster a classroom environment that supports critical learning can overcome these challenges, but at times, there may be a dynamic need to shift classroom spaces towards empowering teaching and learning. I have developed a strategy I call critical pivoting to address this problem and would like to share it with you.

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#CdnELTchat Summary for June 1, 2021 Self Directed Professional Development with Anna Bartosik

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Post by Jennifer Chow

#CdnELTchat was happy to have Anna Bartosik (@ambartosik) share her expertise on Self-Directed Professional Development (SDPD) on June 1. Anna is an English language teacher at George Brown College, instructional designer, and PhD Candidate at OISE. Her research is in self-directed professional development in digital networks. Learn more by reading her blog: https://annabartosik.wordpress.com/.

Before we started our discussion, we had a moment of silence to mourn and remember the #215children in Kamloops. #CdnELTchat is also taking time to reflect and plan a future chat with #teslONchat later this month to talk about what we need to do in order to move forward with the 94 Calls To Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and work for #Reconciliation.

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#CdnELTchat and #teslONchat Summary with Guest moderator JPB Gerald: Decentring Whiteness in #ELT

Decentring Whiteness in #ELT
Guest Moderator, JPB Gerald
Image Source: #CdnELTChat Team

Post by Tanya Cowie, Jennifer Chow and Bonnie Nicholas

On May 11, the #CdnELTchat team, along with #teslONchat, welcomed JPB Gerald (@JPBGerald) as our special guest moderator for a live chat on the topic of Decentring Whiteness in #ELT. JPB Gerald is a doctoral candidate in Instructional Leadership. His scholarship focuses on language teaching, racism, and whiteness. Learn more at jpbgerald.com or by listening to the podcast, UnstandardizedE. We can also recommend his article in the BC Teal Journal, Worth the Risk: Decentring Whiteness in English Language Teaching, as well as his most recent co-authored piece (with @ScottStillar and @Vijay_Ramjattan) in Language Magazine, After Whiteness.

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Symbolic New Materialism: From Theory to Practice

A Brief Introduction to New Materialism

The interconnectedness of two people's stories symbolized through this unique artwork
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Consider how much time instructors and students spend in front of electronic screens and how essential technology has become within the last eight months. Meetings and lessons delivered via Zoom and other online platforms are the new normal. Given the challenging times that we are facing including new approaches to learning, living, and overcoming adversity, the idea of new materialism is gaining momentum.

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How to Approach Creative Writing!

Writing is an art, and art is supposed to be creative. But how come there’s a course called “Creative Writing?” How is this different from any conventional “Writing Course?” To be even more specific, should we have a course called – Creative Writing – in ESL, or can a conventional “Writing Course” do the job?

As an ESL teacher, I think that in the world of language pedagogy every piece of writing should be creative and therefore whether the course is called “Writing” or “Creative Writing,” creativity is an inherent part.

In this article, I’d like to share with you what happens when I teach a Writing course, which to me is no different than a Creative Writing course.

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Noticing – An Essential Tool for L2 Acquisition – Part 2 of 2

Dictionary definition of word. macro photography. close up. object.
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Noticing theory in the context of cognitive linguistics seems to offer an interesting insight into the processes accompanying second language acquisition focusing on the problems of attention, awareness and memory. “Noticing” – despite disagreements in defining the term – seems to function as a gateway into these processes in Richard Schmidt’s (1995) deliberations. An ESL instructor “in the field,” might have burning questions such as these: How is noticing initiated? Is it totally subjective and personalized, or does it have some regularities that could be exploited in the classroom? If the latter is true, then what are the stimulants? How can one effectively manage the process of transforming “comprehensible input” into “noticed intake”? 

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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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