Day 3 of TESOL 2010

Where to begin? Let’s start with the rest of my update from yesterday afternoon. After posting I headed back down to the conference floor to do some book shopping, something I’d been looking forward to because, well, I love buying books. I’d happily share the titles with you, but they’re back the hotel and I’m not confident that I can remember the wording. Anyhow, after that I headed to a presentation on using video podcasting for a listening & speaking English for Academic Purposes class at the university level. This was definitely one of the best workshops I’ve attended.

The presenter splits his class into groups of five, and each group member is assigned a specific role (editor, producer, etc). Over the course of the semester, the group is assigned a topic for a video. Across several classes this instructor assigned an array of topics, but one of the most interesting was interviewing a professor (this was at Michigan State University) or another community member about what they do. The group was tasked with locating a person, outreaching to them, arranging a meeting, etc, all of which necessitated authentic language use. One member of each group was a “documenter” who used a cheaper camera to shoot behind the scenes. This way the teacher could go back to make sure that the students were using English not just on screen, but behind the camera as well. He stressed that it was important to use nice equipment, as the higher potential quality further motivated the participants. At the end of the course, the videos were all posted online and the class voted on categories like “best acting”, “best editing”, etc. Cool idea, right? I thought so.

After this workshop I ran into some former cohorts of mine from my the MA TESOL program at SPU. I had no idea that they’d be here, and we got so carried away catching up that I missed the mixer for new TESOL members. Woops! Today I’ve seen lots of people walking around with red “New Member” ribbons on their name tags, and I have to say, I feel a little left out. Life goes on, I suppose.

This morning I attended another favorite workshop. It was about using graphic novels to promote ELL reading. I won’t go into the specifics, but will say that I am now very excited to use graphic novels in a reading classroom. This afternoon I attended a three-hour forum for Globetrotters, a new, self-explanatory group of TESOLers. Being at the beginning of my TESOL career, it was really invigorating to hear about veterans’ experiences traveling the world for their profession. There was also a speaker from the Department of State who ran through a huge list of government run and funded programs for English language teachers, and I’m certainly going to investigate a few of them in more detail.

I’ll close by echoing a sentiment I’ve noted in earlier posts, but this time I’ll do it from a different angle. Several times before or after a workshop or presentation someone has leaned over to me and asked “Are you already using/doing ________ in your classroom?” My response is always the same: “No, because I’m not teaching yet, but maybe I will use/do ________.” The program for this conference in 284 pages long. That’s a lot of events and talks. The majority of them are pretty specialized (as they should be) but my purposes are a little different than most of the people here. I’m not refining an area I already work in, but trying to accrue and synthesize a wide array of experiences within the larger field in order to define my approach to teaching. I’m not the only one here for this purpose of course (I’m seeing a lot of those red ribbons) and people always light up a little when I tell them this is my first conference. Everyone seems delighted to have a new member in the fold, and I couldn’t be happier to find myself a part of this vast and passionate community.

Signing off for now–the A.C.E. camp is meeting up for a beer in half an hour, and I wouldn’t want to be late. (That, and Rick needs to use my computer!) Take care for now.

–Davey

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