Image courtesy of USFWSmidwest
It’s amazing what I can learn on my drive to work. This semester, I am working on two campuses which are about a thirty-minute drive from each other. During my daily commute, I listen to CBC Radio and I am always surprised how interesting some of these topics are. The other day they were interviewing a professor from the University of Saskatchewan regarding the flooding that was occurring in central Canada. He mentioned a study they had undertaken regarding the draining of prairie wetlands for farming and the effect this has had on spring and summer flooding. This study shows that this natural prairie watershed system was instrumental in dramatically reducing the flooding downstream. By allowing farmers to drain these small and seemingly insignificant ponds and marshes to provide more space for growing crops, water had no natural barrier and would eventually accumulate and overflow the natural banks, flooding farmland and municipalities downstream.
This got me thinking about teaching and how we are much like those individual farmers working on our small plots of land. Our actions, no matter how well intentioned, have an affect on our students and can cause problems further ‘downstream’. Continue reading Flooding
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One of my first jobs I ever had was working in a camera store in a shopping mall as a salesperson. Every morning, my boss would come in carrying a tray of coffee from McDonalds for everyone who was working that morning. One of the guys I worked with would smile, take the coffee, thank her, and then promptly put the coffee on the back counter. After a few weeks, I started to notice that he never actually took a drink from the cup, but the cup would eventually disappear. One morning, I watched to see what would happen. He grabbed the coffee as per usual and put the cup on the back counter. About an hour later, he took the cup with him to the photo lab and dumped the coffee down the sink. I asked him what he was doing and he simply said, “I don’t drink coffee.” He proceeded to tell me that he didn’t want to hurt our manager’s feelings, so he never told her. This went on the entire time I worked there and I suspect that it continued on long after I was gone.
For the manager, she thought she was being helpful and for the most part she was. I am sure all of us appreciated the gesture, but if she had taken the time to ask, she would have found out that most of us didn’t even like the coffee that much and would have appreciated something else instead. I am not trying to sound ungrateful, I am simply showing how a simple question could have made a difference in this situation instead of continuing to carry on in the way it had always been.
I have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the things I do in class that I believe to be productive / helpful / important for learning a language. Continue reading Starting
Image Public Domain
Imagine yourself living in the middle of the 17th century suffering from a migraine headache. What would you do? Go see a physician of course! What was the cure? Bloodletting was the standard response since the body was made up various humours and by draining some of the blood from the body, you were putting the various humours in balance (Ali Parapia, 2008). Fast-forward to today and this has been proven to be a rather dangerous practice as any substantial blood loss affects every cell in the body and can cause anaemia, tissue damage, organ failure, and ultimately death if not restored (Garrioch, 2004).
Since I am not a doctor, nor play one on TV, my knowledge of this subject is based entirely on what I have read from experts in the field. Where did they get their knowledge from? Continue reading Researching
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Welcome to week three of my #444ELT project! If you are interested in reading the summary from the first two weeks, here they are:
For week three, I focused on peer-review/assessment/commenting as my subject of study. I have found the use of a topic each week to be really helpful in comparing what is happening and getting a bigger picture on the subject. I think this week was even more so than in previous weeks. I hope it is helpful. Oh, and since we are on the subject of peer-commenting, feel free to leave your own. 🙂 Continue reading Commenting
Image courtesy of Sean Winters
This is week two of my #444ELT personal challenge. Here is a link to week one.
This week I spent time digging through articles on the use of portfolios in the classroom. This is something I already do and have done for a while, but I wanted to see what others were doing and to see if there was anything I could do better. I learned a great deal this week and I may keep on reading about portfolios as I feel there is some real value to it beyond what I am doing at the moment.
I invite all comments, suggestions, and even criticisms. Share below in the comments section or on Twitter.
Continue reading Collecting
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Note: This post is my submission for the 2nd ELT Research Blog Carnival. The subject of this carnival is on learner autonomy and is hosted by Lizzie Pinard. If you are interested in knowing more about writing one yourself, please visit her website for more information.
For those who don’t know me, this isn’t the only blog I have. I also have an education technology site that was not really intended to be a education technology blog. Instead, it was meant to be a place where I could post things about language learning and teaching, but somehow evolved into a how-to type of site for those who are new to using technology in the classroom. As a result, I felt that I needed a place strictly for reflecting on what I was learning and doing as a language instructor. Hence, the need for this blog.
Reflection has always been the cornerstone of this site, but not just on what is happening in my day to day life as a teacher. It is also a place where I can share things I am learning about from what I am reading in areas of language education. In fact, my first post was on the integration of education technology and the work of Earl Stevick. Since my time in the MA TESOL program at Trinity Western University, I have been intrigued by the work of Dr. Stevick and his focus on the learner. This leads me to the research article I have chosen for this particular ELT Research Blog Carnival on learner autonomy. Continue reading Controlling
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When I initially proposed the idea of having an ELT Research Blog Carnival to share what we as English language professionals had been learning through academic journal articles, I never really anticipated the response I would get. Deep down, I thought that this idea wouldn’t really catch on and it would die before it ever got started. I was pleasantly surprised, actually shocked would be more apt here, at the response I received from others. I thought I might be too optimistic to think that 2-3 people would join me in the first run, but instead there are a total of seven posts to share! I believe it shows how much ELT instructors care about learning and growing in their field. They are happy to question and reflect on what is happening in their classroom in order to help their students grow. I am proud to be a part of this community of teaching professionals, even if we don’t always feel like we are treated as such. All I can say is thank you.
To get things rolling here, I am going to summarize each of the posts that people have written for this edition of the blog carnival and provide you with links to each of them. Continue reading Commencing
Image courtesy of Javier Prazak
I think everyone has had one of those moments where something happens that you just need to share it with someone, anyone. I had one of those instances this afternoon. I was looking for something completely different when I stumbled on this fantastic research article from Merrill Swain and Sharon Lapkin (2011) on the role language plays in creating cognitive change. I’m sorry, what’s that? It doesn’t sound that fascinating to you? It didn’t to me either until I started to read it. For some reason, the subject resonated with me and I will attempt to explain why that is. Continue reading Languaging
Image courtesy of Ethan Lofton
In some of my previous posts, I have talked about how I would like to explore some of the things I have discovered through the use of an action research (AR) study in my classroom. For those who are not exactly sure what AR is, I have decided to do something a little different and have compiled some of the AR books and articles I have read on the subject that I have found helpful for me as a language teacher. Think of this as a pseudo annotated bibliography. It isn’t extensive by any means, but I hope it gives you a better picture of the use of AR as a form of professional development (PD). Continue reading Problematising
Image courtesy of Tim Green
One of the tasks I was assigned while working for a shipping company in Lithuania was to read over and edit various documents that had been translated (I use that term loosely here) into English. While some of the documents had been done by a trained specialist and were quite good, there were others that were handed to me that were ‘translated’ by someone named Google. You can imagine the difficulties I faced trying to decipher what was trying to be communicated and I would often have to ask for the Lithuanian version as a comparison. Even though my Lithuanian was weak, I could often piece together what was written and then edit that into something that understandable in English.
I noticed something interesting after doing a few of these documents. While I wouldn’t say that I was make great strides in my acquisition of the Lithuanian language, I was able to piece together some common phrases that I could use in my everyday life. It was this process of deciphering and interpreting the language that I was able to make connections in the language for myself. It also helped me find places where I could help my students in their language learning process.
I came across an interesting journal article the other day on the role of the ‘giver’ in peer-editing. Continue reading Giving