- C.V. SUM
- ELT CALENDAR
I apologise for forcing you to read the last post with little guidance, but could you figure out the aims, measurable objectives and possible instructions on an assignment handout? Did you consider how you might take elements of it for your own student projects?
Getting students interested in writing is one thing. Having them employ research, summary and paraphrasing strategies into their academic writing is an even harder task. Further beyond this, ensuring those who aim to do the least amount of effort to complete the tasks possible gives me headaches.If we simply ask them to demonstrate these in a standard academic writing assignment, we’re surely to be disappointed by superficiality of arguments and students are frustrated by having a lack of schema to have anything “new” to say. Personalising the topics, at least early on in the year, while incorporating mobile tech might help to accomplish all three of these in one shebang. In the assignment below, I’ve attempted to operationalise these strategies without them really knowing it.
The previous post is an exemplar of such a writing assignment. Below are what it aims to accomplish.
- Provide students with opportunity to demonstrate introductory application of concepts needed to compose research papers.
- Engage students in the writing process for research papers.
- Give students motivation to explore their local surroundings.
- Ensure student exercises adequate, individual effort in the writing process.
- Students can effectively narrow down a topic to argue for one main point i.e. thesis.
- Students can differentiate several distinct arguments to support this main point.
- Students can incorporate relevant material from outside sources through summary and paraphrasing.
- Students can demonstrate meaningful connections between arguments and materials included from outside sources.
- Students can reference appropriately to avoid plagiarism.
In this assignment, you will compose a short paper on your blog about experiences in Toronto over the course of the next month. You need to define an overall argument that you will aim to prove through a series of no fewer than 4 different experiences. Each experience should:
- be at least one, logically organised paragraph in length
- clearly support your overall argument
- include a reference to and commentary about (e.g. summary and relationship to your point) a related article or statistics available online
- be documented by an original photo (with yourself included in at least 3) of the experience over the course of the month
Did I succeed? Did you in selecting the possible aims, measurable objectives and student instructions? Where do you think it might not be adequate?
This exercise is framed for teacher trainees to analyse a product to determine how successfully the assignment was planned and executed according to that plan. Does is accomplish all those things? Would a student produce a similar product to the previous post (with at a reasonably expected language level) given the instructions?
I argue that though this is framed as a teacher training exercise, it is also highly effective to give students as a model of assignment before they know anything about it. We can ask students to uncover the elements of the product to see what may be expected of them in terms of skills–task-based teaching, one could call it. Having students see the final product and dissect it has raised awareness in my students (as writers) of the elements required for an Arts-related paper at the university level and in this application, done so in a meaningful topic first, before being challenged on a more academic nature.
Torontonians can almost always count on May to be where spring reliably emerges, bringing with it emotional renewal and visible transformations.
May is when vegetation in Toronto makes its swiftest change in appearance and visibility. On a chilly, rainy late April afternoon, tree buds just begin to appear. Within a week into May, full green leaves emerge as though summer has arrived (see Figure 1). For those with floral blooms, the appearance and replacement with leaves happens so suddenly and at different times during the month, depending on the type of tree. High Park hosts one of the more stunning displays–Sakura Hanami or “cherry blossom viewing”–which if not attended during the best week can be a year-long wait. In fact, High Park Nature Centre suggests the peak time to see them at their 100% bloom may be during the week of May 6.1
Another refreshing transition is evidenced in the types of drinks available and ordered at coffee shops throughout the city in May. It is during these early warmer weeks that Torontonians begin ordering cold drinks, like Tim Horton’s iced cappucino. The greater volume of warm days occurring in spring may directly contribute to the greater volume of cold coffee-related drinks sold. While in May 2011 Toronto experienced 7 days above 23°C (average: 25.6°C)2, in 2012, these warmer days doubled in number (14) and average temperature (26.7°C).3 In fact, Tim Horton’s revenues in the second quarter of 2012 reported an increase of over $80 million compared to the previous year4, which in part is reflected in the strong sales of cold-drinks during this time.
A related outdoor beverage activity that May first affords in terms of frequency is consuming alcohol on patios. Patios in downtown Toronto are widespread in number5 and provide local restaurants and pubs with increased sales. Torontonians notoriously relish the opportunity to move out from their indoor confines when weather permits, even in months when normally this would seem impossible. On January 12, 2013, record temperatures of 15°C prompted “several bars and restaurants [to take] the patio furniture out of storage so customers could enjoy a drink or two in the outdoors.“6 Despite this passionate patio culture, a city-wide bylaw requires patios to close at 11PM to curb residential noise complaints. Fortunately for some, this bylaw can be circumvented by neighbourhood councillors, resulting in closing time variances between the bylaw requirement and 2AM.7
Apart from transformations in scenery and consumption, May in Toronto gives the ample number of dog-owners and their canine companions a first opportunity to spend longer periods of time outdoors. Throughout the winter months, cold temperatures, snow and salted sidewalks make it challenging for both pet owners and their dogs to enjoy for any duration. Toronto has over 30 official off-leash dog parks in the downtown core alone8, and discussion continues on whether or not to allow free run in all Toronto parks between 9PM and 9AM.9 Regardless of the final decision, it is in May, however, that warmer air and dryer outdoor spaces result in a plethora of dog communities to emerge for the summer.
Though this list of reasons is not exhaustive, one can easily argue that transformations can be seen and they have a renewing effect on Torontonian attitudes after a long winter.
1 High Park Nature Centre. (2013) ”High Park Cherry Blossom Watch,” High Park Nature Centre.
2 Environment Canada. (2011) “Daily Data Report for May 2011,” Environment Canada.
3 Environment Canada. (2012) “Daily Data Report for May 2012,” Environment Canada.
4 Johnson, J. (2011) “Tim Hortons profit rises on franchise revenues and stronger sales,” Financial Post: August 9, 2012.
5 blogTO. (2012) “Toronto Patio Guide,” blogTO.
6 CityNews. (2013) “Spring-like weather hits the GTA,” CityNews: January 12, 2013.
7 Winsa, P. (2011) “No patio culture in your ‘hood? Thank your local councillor,” Toronto Star: May 20, 2011.
8 Toronto.ca. “People, Dogs and Parks Off-Leash Parks Listing,” Toronto.ca: Parks, Forestry & Recreation.
9 CBC. (2012) “City to study dogs running leash-free in parks,” CBC News: November 1, 2012.
As you read through this post, can “teacher-you” see the assignments aims*, measurable objectives* and instructions* from which this emerged? Could these questions be asked of our writing students instead?
In Post 2, I’ll take you through what they are and you can tell me if I succeeded.
*aims = global aims that you want the exercise to achieve for students
*objectives = assessable skills practiced by students doing the exercise
*instructions = what you would write on an assignment sheet given to students
TESL Toronto Spring 2013 Conference (TOSCON13) is right around the corner–May 24 & 25, 2013–and as conference chair, I’m extremely excited that registration has finally opened and all the planning over the last 8 months is beginning to materialise into a real event, with real people and real activity. Here’s 7 reasons why I’m particularly excited for this year’s conference!
There are 2 days of events!
Every year previously, our conference has been held on a Saturday in May, usually right around Mother’s Day. Much of the time, there have been two sessions, ending the day after lunch. Though we expanded to three sessions last year, we are trying out two days this year, Friday & Saturday! We just have SO many contributors with excellent sessions this year (we could have made it three days). Besides, I always questioned applying the term ‘conference’ to a one-day event. Now, it feels somehow more justified.
Lindsay, Thomas, Luke & Julia!
Though Friday’s event is still limited to fewer attendees, one could suggest it’s a bit more exclusive, special, and based on our speakers, an amazing opportunity.
Lindsay Clandfield – What can I say about Lindsay’s enormous contributions to our industry beyond what’s said here or here or here or by himself here or here or here? From Toronto, now living in Spain, Lindsay is truly global–a fitting title for his most recent (and Duke of Edinburg ESU English Language Book Award winning) course series from Macmillan. On top of everything, he formed the round with Luke Meddings after “a series of conversations about bridging the gap between blogs and books – and about the difficulty of placing innovative, niche or critical materials with the big ELT publishers.” Great, for people like me, who always feel course book content is a watered down white wash for mass appeal. His talk on “Rediscovering Writing” will be a hard one to miss!
Thomas Farrell – It was during Thomas’ plenary talk at TESOL France that I was first really drawn to reflecting on reflective practice in teaching. I’ve blogged for three years now about teaching, and it’s through this exercise that I really learn about my own judgements, beliefs and how to use them to develop as a language teacher. Thomas is the expert in explaining, informing and guiding teachers in reflection. An engaging speaker and author, Thomas’ session “Reflective practice for language teachers” will be one of the most insightful and enlightening sessions of the conference.
Luke Meddings - Not many people can claim they started a movement with Scott Thornbury that has swept over the language teaching community with a great deal of passionate disciples and equally passionate opponents, but Luke can. In 2000, he and Scott opened a Yahoo group to discuss the virtues of a stripped down approach to language teaching, and 13 years later, it’s known worldwide as Dogme ELT. Luke & Scott wrote about it in the British Council ELTon Award for Innovation winning Teaching Unplugged (Delta Publishing), have given talks about it worldwide and been written about countless times since. I met Luke in person in Paris at TESOL France last November, and can’t wait to hang out with him again. His talk, “Unplugged: The Ripple Effect” will be an awesome place to learn more about and experience teaching unplugged with others who share this philosophy!
Julia Williams – Out of all four, Julia is the person I’ve spent the most time at conferences with over the last 5 years and the teacher most directly related to my teaching context, EAP. Having authored one of the first EAP course books based on her program at Renison College, Learning English for Academic Purposes (Pearson), Julia’s insight into “Trends and Textbooks in EAP” will certainly give us a valuable look at how our EAP programs are (or aren’t) hitting the targets our international undergraduate students are looking for in pursuing their studies at Canadian universities.
Historic Hart House!
Never before has TESL Toronto held an event in a more elegant, historic and absolutely gorgeous venue as Hart House. For a couple years, the program I teach in at University of Toronto has held receptions for students in their Harry Potter-esque gala rooms, and there is no substitute for the castle-like architecture, hard-wood features and impressive atmosphere Hart House provides. Friday’s sessions are here, followed by a catered dinner altogether in a room that can’t be missed.
More diverse workshops than ever!
The response during our Call for Presenters for Saturday was bigger than ever. We had nearly 50 submissions, ranging from successful local presenters to first-time leaders with fresh ideas and a continuation of international contingents. Though it was a hard call, this range gave us such diversity of topics to create a well-rounded conference for everyone from all sectors and teaching contexts, from settlement to general English to EAP to ESP to exam preparation. Plus, if you like fast sessions or longer chances to participate, there are lots of both 60-minute and 90-minute workshops. I’m so proud of the offered workshops this year. Our only problem this year: choosing which ones to attend!
Whenever I have to choose the workshops I want to attend when I’m registering for a conference, I always feel an uncomfortable pressure to make the right choice too quickly. If I take time to figure out what’s best for me to see, the session might fill up before I register. If I register as soon as registration opens, I might overlook a really good session I read more about later. This is NOT the case at this year’s conference. All rooms hold over 60 people, so we’ve decided not to force your hand. Instead, spend the next month reading through the conference program (PDF / Online) at leisure. Plus, now presenters can promote their workshops. Pressure be gone!
$50 coupons towards any exhibitor!
You heard me. We’re flipping the traditional book draw on its head. This year, instead of the books being donated by the exhibitors, we’re drawing $50 coupons that can be spent at any of the exhibitors on Saturday by lottery. It’ll be YOUR choice as to what book you take home if you win. What’s better than putting the power into the hands of those who should have it?
“Our version of subversion”!
Did I mention everybody gets the opportunity to see Luke & Lindsay in action on Saturday too? One of the (many) highlights I’m so stoked about is our first-ever joint plenary by these two globally respected English language teaching experts! At 3:00PM, after following our individual paths all day, we can all come together to end the conference at this titillating plenary based on their coauthored e-book, “52 (one subversive topic per week)”, published through Luke & Lindsay’s progressive, creative collective, the round (yep, no capitals are needed for this creative company). I love the concept here: a collection of activities for increasing engagement with our learners on authentic topics that don’t always make the cut in traditional coursebooks. We’ll be giving away up to 150 coupons for this e-book to anyone who wants one, so if you think about heading home early, you absolutely may not! ;)
I can’t wait! Can you? No, I didn’t think so. See you in May
(I hope). :D
TOSCON13 registration: http://bit.ly/register_toscon13
TOSCON13 website page: http://tesltoronto.org/conference
TOSCON13 Facebook page: http://bit.ly/toscon13
TOSCON13 online program: http://bit.ly/toscon13program
TOSCON13 downloadable PDF program: http://bit.ly/17dHDuf
TOSCON13 poster: http://bit.ly/toscon13poster
TOSCON13 invitation letter template: http://bit.ly/toscon13_invite
PS – A big shout out to our main sponsors, the International Foundation Program at New College!
- May 7th, 2013May 7th, 2013April 28th, 2013
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