Watch this!

Help me win! Watch this video:

I am participating in a competition in Instructional Design at BYU. The first part of the competition was pitching our product to a panel of judges. My team won! For the second part, whichever design team gets the most people to watch their pitch video wins an ipad. Please watch our video. I get 10 points for every unique state or country that views it and 1 point per person. Please tell your friends to watch it too. The deadline for the competition is April 7, 2011 at 11:59pm.

CALL Reading

I am in the thick of reading in preparation for the big “D” . . . and I don’t mean Dallas (which would be fun). . . or divorce (which would be horrible).  No, this “D” is somewhere in the middle and it stands for Dissertation. I plan on defending my prospectus soon. I’ve already started working on one of my articles. As I was hauling my books around the house this evening I thought I should take a picture so I could remember how much fun I am having—and I’m not being sarcastic. Some days are not fun, but for the most part I enjoy what I am doing.

Dana Ferris at BYU

The Linguistics and English Language Department at BYU is sponsoring a lecture series on second language literacy. Today, Dana Ferris was the speaker. It was great to here her speak. She is a very intelligent person with a clear perception of the field. She provided some very helpful insights about teaching. She listed 10 things she feels are the most important in developing literacy.

  1. Extensive reading
  2. Vocabulary Development
  3. Text Selection
  4. Reading Strategies
  5. Reading/Writing Assessment
  6. Peer Response
  7. Teacher Feedback
  8. Grammar Instruction
  9. Written Corrective Feedback
  10. Collaboration Among Faculty

One of the things that I enjoyed about her was her attitude toward working with others. She said we don’t need be prideful and that we don’t need to have a chip on a shoulder. We should be willing to work with English departments and all departments to help ESL student write better. This really stuck out to me. We, as ESL professionals, don’t know everything.

She also brought up some things that teachers do that are “mean.” She said that the high-stakes timed writing is mean. She said that when teachers wait to give feedback until the final draft is “mean.” I agree.

Great Lifehacker Post

I have not been a great blogger lately. I can’t believe that my last post was on May 31st.

This week I saw a great post on Lifehacker is an awesome blog with loads of posts about interesting tips about life. This week they had a post on some language tools. Click here to check them out.

I had seen or used most of the tools, but the one I didn’t know about was After the Deadline. So far, it seems to be quite good. It’s a nifty tool that could probably best be described as the Super Hero version of Spelling/Grammar Checkers. Language teachers, especially writing teachers, might find it incredibly helpful. I hope to teach a class at the ELC next semester. If I do, and if it’s writing, I might explore some of these things.

TESOL 2010

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I attended the TESOL 2010 convention. I have been swamped with work, but wanted to include some notes about the sessions I attended.

I went to a panel on qualitative research. I was expecting more from it. I liked David Freeman’s presentation. I’m not sure what he said about research, but it was good. The next speaker was really good and animated. I really liked what she talked about with active research and qualitative research. I really need to write more and so some self-study. Really this hasn’t talked a lot about qualitative research. Monrage brought up some good points about how it is difficult for English teachers to teach if they themselves have low english proficiency. It really isn’t discussing qualitative research, but using materials that could be used in qualitative work. I like that they published a book. That is really cool.

Another presentation that I went to was on the use of video with pre-service teachers.They used an interesting program. It did a lot of the things that i am looking for in a program, but it wasn’t perfect. I was excited to talk to the presenters afterwards, but they didn’t seem too excited to talk to me. During the time I was there, I did get some great ideas for a good video annotation tool.

Karen Price was a lively presenter. She talked about using Transana for qualitative data analysis. This sparked a lot more questions for me. We’ve been talking about CAQDAS in the qualitative inquiry class and I am appaled at the lack of great tools available, especially for the mac platform. During these two presentations I made a little mindmap that is difficult explain. It should be a database map, and I know how it is mapped.

Overall, I learned that their are really 3 purposes to go to TESOL.


  1. Networking
  2. Publisher’s Exibit
  3. Sessions

And yes, these are in order of importance. I did more networking than anything else, I think. I would also have to say that strengthening existing relationships is also important. I get so many good ideas from talking with friends both new and old. I also got loads of ideas from the books I looked at. The sessions are always hit and miss. About 30% of the ones I went to were actually good.

Well, I thought that I would write more, but that’s all I feel like saying.

iLife, ESL, and the Past Tense

I recently did a Poster Session at an Apple Education Conference: AcademiX. It was a lot of fun. I thought that I would share what what I did. For more information you can look at the Poster Session PDF.


For starters, this is something that I did with my intermediate ESL students.  In order to help them with them learn the past tense, I gave them an assignment.

The student videos were comprised of two parts. First, the students drew their story as if it were a comic. Second, the students narrated the story.


1. The students were divided into groups of four or five.
2. Each group was assigned one of the four topics:
•    Frightening Experience – Fire
•    Frightening Experience – Car accident
•    Frightening Experience – Getting Lost
•    Most Embarrassing Moment
3. Each group brainstormed to find a good story to tell for their assigned topic.
4. The students then began to take turns drawing pictures to go with their stories.
5. While not drawing, the other students would review and practice their portion of the speaking part.

During this portion the students had great authentic language use.

Brainstorming – The students told personal stories about their past while thinking of good topics. The students negotiated ideas as they decided on a story whether fictional or real.
Practicing – The students were able to use more language as they practiced their presentation. They helped one another and corrected each other.

I should note that this was done over the course of a week. For each class period, they were given 30 minutes to work on the project.

Day 1 – Brainstorming
Day 2 – Creating a Story
Day 3 – Drawing the Pictures
Day 4 – Recording their stories

Putting it all together

1. The students pictures were scanned and imported into iPhoto where they were edited.
2. Students recorded their dialogs using GarageBand, Sound Studio or WireTap Studio Pro. The students used iMacs with their built in microphones.
3. The audio and pictures were imported into iMovie where it was all put together.


It was a fun activity for everyone. It did put a lot of the burden on me to put it all together, but it was worth it.

TESOL Part 3: Everything Else

This is the last in my TESOL series reporting on the 2009 conference.

One thing that I did differently this year is that I spent more time networking and more time in the Electronic Village.

As far as networking, I met some big names in CALL, like Phil Hubbard. That was good. I spent a lot of time talking with publishers. Part of this was me hoping to get a job offer somehow. I actually think that I wouldn’t mind working for a publishing company.

In the Electronic Village, I spent time talking to other tech gurus. It was fun. One of the highlights for me was the Hardware Fair. I finally got to get my hands on an OLPC. Great Idea, but I wasn’t two impressed. It looks like a good idea for children in countries with poor economies. Really, wouldn’t we be doing them a favor by providing something that has a more prolific OS. Even Ubuntu might be better. With the dropping prices in computers and the growing popularity of the netbook, the OLPC and Classmate may soon be a thing of the past.

I also learned about Alpha Smart Keyboards. Basically, they are keyboards that are not attached to a computer, at least not full time. They store the characters in a buffer and are displayed on a screen on the keyboard. When you connect it to a computer, the buffer can be sent to whatever program you have open at the time.

I also played with a Nokia tablet. IPOD touches and iPhones have got this beat. I have nothing else to say about that.

I look forward to playing a more active role in the Electronic Village next year. I hope that I can get funding to attend.

I hope that you enjoyed my brief reports on the conference! Feel free to comment.

TESOL Part 2: The sessions

I didn’t go to that many sessions this year, but I would like to talk about a few.

VoiceThread – I went to a great presentation on VoiceThread. VoiceThread is a web app that allows for group conversations around images, documents and videos. It seems like it might be a great tool for use with language learning.

Audacity – This is a recording tool I have used before. I really didn’t like it. I thought I would go to the presentation and see if my mind would change. It did. Audacity seems to be a program with hidden tools! I may use it again . . . or stick with garage band.

Past, Present and Future of CALL – This was an interesting ‘presentation.’ It was done by a panel of past chairs of the CALL-IS. They each talked about CALL. Some talked about the past and others about the present. Many of them said that it is hard to envision the future. Most dreamed of practical technologies are here. I, however, thing that I can. What will we see is the unification of technology. What does that mean? Well, we will see a unification in data. Think of Star Trek. No worries about compatibility. Need to talk to someone; just say their name and the computer does the rest. We will see an end to contact lists . . . I think and hope. We’ll see, I could talk about this for ever.

Online Resources for Literacy – I actually just happened into this session. It was directed toward k-12 teachers. I found the resources to be interesting, especially for use in lower proficiency students. I’ll be passing some of those links along to our committee that is working on materials for lower levels. I may also review some of them here as well.

TESOL Technology Standards – This was a good presentation. I was there with Neil Anderson and Troy Cox. It is interesting to see how they have organized the standards and have some for both teachers and learners. Once again, this might be something I will review on another post.

TESOL Part 1: My Experience

I really enjoyed TESOL this year. I won’t talk about the things I didn’t particulary like about the conference organization. I think that there were some problems that could have been devastating to my experience. I complained a lot about then, but I made sure I would have an awesome time at TESOL.

How did I do it? Well, that’s a good question. I took a different approach to TESOL this year.

Previous Approach: I wanted to get the biggest bang for my Institution’s Buck. I made sure that I went to all the sessions I possibly could. For example, even if I couldn’t find something I like during the 10am sessions, I would pick the one that seemed the least painful to go to and go to it. This made for a long day filled with unproductive sessions.

New Approach: This year, I only went to sessions I really wanted to go to. I probably went to half as many sessions, but I found it to be much more beneficial. I didn’t go to as many sessions, but I felt like I learned just as much.

How was this more productive?

  1. I was more alert and enthusiastic about the sessions I actually went to.
  2. I found some interesting thing to do when I wasn’t in a session.

What did I do?

I really enjoyed the electronic village. They have presentations, but they are smaller and more hands on. At first I thought that I wouldn’t learn anything, but actually I learned a lot. These activities combined with interviews with possible employers, networking, and quality discussions with publishers, I really filled the gap. This was a great conference!

Check back later for more details!