Extensive Reading for Beginning ESL students

Extensive Reading for Beginning ESL students

Initially, when teaching in IEPs, I used Extensive Reading with intermediate students.  These students were already accustomed to reading some in English, although they usually only did so for class purposes.  Day (2011) has found several benefits of using Extensive Reading--it can improve reading comprehension, help students employer greater use of reading strategies, increase reading speed, and increase writing proficiency and vocabulary.  Plus, because students often enjoy it, they become more excited about reading in general.

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Using Twitter for Language Teaching


If you haven't considered using Twitter in your classes, I'd encourage you to think it over. Even in grad school, the idea of using Twitter for language teaching appealed to me, and I even did a few projects and lesson plans that incorporated Twitter.

It wasn't until my first year of teaching at the University of Oregon that I actually decided to try it out with students.  Initially, we used Twitter in class to talk about Extensive Reading selections.  I wanted to build classroom community and drum up some more enthusiasm about the books students were reading, and I thought that Twitter could be an excellent avenue for doing so.

This year, I've been using Twitter in the class with my Reading 100 students.  Twitter is especially useful for this population (mostly Saudi) because the majority of my students already used Twitter for personal reasons.  Their reading abilities are rather limited, so navigating a course management system like Moodle or Blackboard would be challenging for them.  Twitter is probably the easiest way that I can get them to access links and resources that I want them to use.  It's also a beneficial way to switch up a somewhat normal classroom activity like dictations or answer reading comprehension questions.  I think the one caveat when using any sort of technology in language teaching is to work hard to ensure technology is being used for its own sake, and that there is a greater pedagogical reason to choose to use a web 2.0 tools.  Often, I find with Twitter, the reason using it makes so much sense is because I am able to provide feedback more frequently and faster than if I didn't ask students to Tweet.

What can you envision using Twitter for in your classes?

P.S. A write-up by Jennifer ESL on some of the take-aways from my presentation with Nate Soelberg on using Twitter in the Classroom 

Can't wait to try this app

This week, at Faculty Summer Institute, I went to sessions related to screen casting, screen capturing, and apps to use, among others.  The biggest take-away from any of these sessions was probably in Vickie Cook's presentation on her 10 favorite app types to use.

In this presentation, I learned of Adobe Voice, which is a free app which allows users to make videos.  The app has a great selection of free graphics, and Cook demonstrated how she made  a high-quality video in around 8 minutes for one of her classes.

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Documenting student results using pre-tests & post-tests

ZhaoHong Han, my Second Language Acquisition professor at Teachers College, was the first teacher I ever had that showed data to support her students' progress over the course semester.  It made a lasting impression on me, and since then, I've tried to do the same with my students.

At the beginning of the term in my Reading 100 class, I give pre-tests for both reading and vocabulary.  During the last week of the semester, students take the same test again.  Then, after the results are scored, I give them the results of the whole class and show the students' individual progress (anonymously, of course).  This is pretty easy to set-up in an excel spreadsheet to make a simple graph to display.  Students are always so pleased to see evidence of their learning.  I make a big deal of it and make sure to acknowledge their hard work.  I also emphasize how the small score increases are actually quite significant. (And they are--the test is quite difficult).

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2 apps for (almost) daily use

Classes and teaching duties ended last week for the semester.  Whew--it's been a whirlwind of a year!  Over the past two days, I've attended Faculty Summer Institute; I'll be posting later on what I've gained from the conference.  This week, as I've reflected on the last semester and classes I taught, I've been thinking of the new tools that I used to help manage class.  Two of these are free apps that you might wish to use too.

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Does chat sometimes inhibit communication?

Some research that I have read on synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) mainly states that it gives the silent students a voice and enables those quieter students to participate more than they normally would.  However, this video demonstrates how sometimes chat might actually cause us to be more timid in our communication–perhaps because we’re not able to take into consideration body language and facial expressions.  At any rate, I thought that this little video is fun and it makes me wonder how much we do hold back when chatting?  What do you all think?