Feedback in Writing Teacher Education: 3 Suggestions

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

I’d like to continue my conversation about implementing issues related to feedback into teacher training/education programs. In today’s post, I provide three ideas that writing teacher educators can use in their preparatory courses: 1) helping teachers develop their philosophies about feedback, 2) giving teachers tools for continuing professional development, and 3) implementing observations of experienced teachers’ feedback performance. These suggestions are based on an analysis of the literature on teacher feedback.

1. Helping Teachers Develop Their Philosophies About Feedback

In order to help beginning teachers recognize their own views and beliefs about feedback, teacher training programs should encourage them to develop their philosophies about response to student writing. At the beginning of the course, for example, teachers would be asked to reflect on their learning experience and identify factors that could have shaped their views on feedback. Continue reading

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Grammarly: 1 Easy Step to Improved Writing

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

Writing is one area where students tend to lack confidence, so I am always on the lookout for resources that can help them. Previously, I shared Quill and NoRedInk, which both guide students through independent practice of writing and grammar skills. They really appeal to the teacher in me that believes students need to practice their way to mastery. Today’s post, however, is about an entirely different type of resource and one about which I feel some amount of conflict.

Let’s take a look at it first. Grammarly is a browser extension that works with both Chrome and Safari that is designed to proofread your work automatically. According to the site, “It checks for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, enhances vocabulary usage, and suggests citations.” An ad for Grammarly on Facebook caught my eye, so I decided to try it. Who doesn’t want to improve their writing and avoid making embarrassing mistakes like using the wrong their, there, or they’re? Even if people know the rules, it is still easy to make mistakes from time to time. Continue reading

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Three Levels of Complexity in ESOL Placement

Robert Sheppard
Rob Sheppard

Placement testing is tough. Doing it well can be time consuming and resource intensive, and doing it with insufficient rigor can lead to “slippery” leveling, where, say, a level 3 one year is different in ability from a level 3 in future years.

I don’t have any all-encompassing answers to this problem, but in using a popular computer-adaptive test for placement purposes, I’ve begun to recognize a few broad categories that students can be broken into, according to the grammatical complexity of their utterances. Continue reading

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#GoodCallsHome: From Twitter Hashtag to Education Movement

Judie Haynes
Judie Haynes

I’m happy to introduce guest bloggers Rik Rowe, a secondary math teacher from Wilmington, Massachusetts, USA, and Anabel Gonzalez, a Grade 7–12 ESL teacher from Mooresville, North Carolina, USA. Rik and Anabel met on Twitter while chatting on #GoodCallsHome, a movement to encourage teachers to make positive calls to the homes of their students. 

What started out as a simple hashtag, #GoodCallsHome, has evolved into a powerful movement that is changing lives and altering academic destinies. #GoodCallsHome is an undertaking that encourages teachers to commit themselves to making positive phone calls to the homes of at least two of their students each week in the hopes of reaching the families of every single learner by the end of the semester or year. But this goes beyond positive phone calls. #GoodCallsHome is a mindset shift for educators to proactively reach out to families, thereby establishing an invaluable parental rapport.

Are you intrigued, but think you don’t have the time? If you are like most educators, you probably have way too much on your plate already, and time is a precious commodity. Continue reading

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Under the Ice in a Business English Class in Japan

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

One thing that I really like about the classroom is the opportunity to “create” on the spot. I love those “magical moments” when seemingly unconnected things are brought together to make a lesson. The joy is in seeing a connection and in making the connection visible to my students. In this TESOL Blog post, I share one example of how such a magical moment occurred.

A few days before a business English class, I watched a video titled, “Johanna: Under the Ice.” (If you have not seen the short video, I advise you to watch it now before you read the remainder of this blog post; it is fewer than 4 minutes.) The video is introduced with the following:

Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad holds the world record for a 50-meter dive under ice. She discovered her love for the sport through cold-water treatment while recovering from a downhill biking accident that almost took her leg. British director and photographer Ian Derry captures her taking a plunge under the Arctic ice.

Continue reading

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Homework for ELLs: Help or Hindrance?

Kristen Lindahl
Kristen Lindahl

Homework and school have gone hand-in-hand for so long that it’s mostly assumed, if not ingrained, that studying outside of the classroom is an essential part of any schooling experience. Like any other part of education, homework trends have come and gone, and currently some pushback against homework is emerging in the United States, possibly in response to cultures of high-stakes assessment and worksheet packets of test preparation that leave students uninspired at best and marginalized by the system at worst.

Recently, a post about a North Texas teacher went viral, in which she stated her “homework policy” for the school year would actually be a NO Homework policy, and that she would instead encourage learners to eat dinner with their families, exercise outside, and go to bed on time—factors which she argued (and much research agrees) can be greater predictors of student success than completing homework. Continue reading

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3 Ways to Avoid Appropriating Student Writing

Elena Shvidko
Elena Shvidko

When I first started teaching writing, I remember asking myself questions that Joy Reid addressed in her article “Responding to ESL Students’ Texts: The Myths of Appropriation” (1994): “When might I interfere with their objectives or crush their creativity? In what ways might I assume control or ownership over their texts? What might I say that would deter them from becoming independent writers?” (p. 277).

I was confused by the two seemingly contradictory objectives of feedback. On the one hand, I knew I had to provide students with guidance and suggestions, and offer my recommendations on how they can improve their writing. On the other hand, I was supposed “not to interfere with their writing, not to impose control or authority over their […] writing” (Reid, 1994, p. 277). Then I turned to my own writing experience in English and realized that I wouldn’t have learned how to write if I hadn’t received meaningful feedback on my papers. Continue reading

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Languaging in a New World

Dudley Reynolds
Dudley Reynolds

The TESOL President’s Blog

To understand the world of TESOL 2.0, I have previously looked at changes in the system that provides English language education and the tools of the classrooms where students learn the language. The privatization of education and the rise of technology are factors that teachers across disciplines must adapt to. But there is one major change that is more specific to TESOL: evolving understandings of what it is we are teaching when we say we teach “language.”

Teaching “Language”

How do you describe what you teach? If you describe it based on what is in your textbooks or curriculum standards guides, odds are you will talk about knowledge, skills, and competencies. You will talk about vocabulary as well as the rules and patterns that allow us to turn vocabulary into utterances. You may talk about enabling students to read a certain amount of text or take notes from a lecture, in which case you are talking about the ability to do something with language. Finally, you might talk about what is often described as pragmatic or sociolinguistic competency: knowing how to make an email polite, use voice when writing an essay, or sound authoritative when giving a research presentation. Continue reading

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Get Inspired at TESOL 2017! Apply for a TESOL PD Travel Grant

Sherry Blok
Sherry Blok

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ―William Arthur Ward

Great teachers also engage in professional development to enhance their classroom teaching, networks and opportunities for growth, both personal and professional. Two 2016 TESOL Professional Development Travel Grant recipients, Mawa Samb from Centre Régional de Formation des Professionnels de l’Enfance (CRFPE) in Lille, France, and Laura Hamman, PhD candidate in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, share takeaways and experiences from their attendance at the 2016 TESOL convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Continue reading

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90 Tech Resources for Teachers

Tara Arntsen
Tara Arntsen

With a hundred posts under my belt, I thought a recap would be good before moving forward with new material. Below are 90 tech resources that have appeared on the TESOL Blog over the past several years, organized somewhat loosely into nine major categories. Click the name of the resource to be directed to the TESOL blog post in which it is mentioned and click the URL to go to the resource itself. Continue reading

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