Exposure and Context Make All the Difference in ELL’s Use of Academic Language   5 comments


Just finished viewing my listening, speaking, reading students’ debate on whether plastic surgery benefits outweigh the risks. I recorded the debate on a flip camera and saved the files on my ePortfolio using Evernote. Recording oral presentations helps me in ways similar to my ELLs listening to recordings; in that I play and replay as often as I need to until I’m confident I have found the items I was looking for.

I evaluated my students on a 3-point scale on the following items: clarity of argument, opening and closing statements, delivery, organization and research (planning), following debate rules, and time.

Apart from the fact that my students were totally invested, and did a great job in debating each other in front of an audience, the best part was an aspect that is often the “icing on the cake” for this type of pre-academic exercise. While watching my students’ debates, I began to notice how often they were using signpost language to signal agreement, disagreement, and sequence of points, in addition to topic-specific academic vocabulary.

The content vocabulary was great, but not unusual for this high proficiency level. The class had spent a lot of time preparing for the debate. They had researched the issue on the Internet, listened to interviews about plastic surgery, and conducted in-person surveys of other community college students’ opinions about plastic surgery and the perceived benefits of being physically attractive. I had also given them explicit instruction on signpost language, but their exposure to this was not as extensive as it was to the content of the debate. My reasons for focusing more on content than on form was to improve my students’ background knowledge in the subject, and therefore improve their fluency.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how often they were using the signpost language so necessary for debates to work both for the opposing team, but also for the audience who are evaluating them. My students were saying things like, “for these reasons,” “in addition,” “to the extent that,” and “this is why I believe…”

Wonderful job! I’ll post the video soon.

Finally got a handle on de.li.ci.ous. Lo   Leave a comment


Finally got a handle on de.li.ci.ous. Looking forward to adding new people to my network. #esl #edtech #digitalliteracy

Posted April 10, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Uncategorized

The Great Debate – Gotta Get Better at Filming   Leave a comment


My 1975 class gathers for a post-debate photo.

Just watched the video from my students’ debate on the pros and cons of plastic surgery. My videography skills need a lot of work 😦 I’ll probably need to edit it a bunch to make the wobblies go away. The Flip camera is easy to use, but it has such a short depth of field, leading me to zoom in and out. Once I figured out how to stop doing that and just film it, the quality got better.

Posted April 3, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Ed Tech, ESL Teaching

Reflecting Upon Making My First Digital Story   Leave a comment


Creating a digital story has reminded me about how to craft a written story, in that the story should have a central theme and move in an arc from beginning, middle, and end. In addition, the processes involved of brainstorming, writing the script, editing it down to fit within the allotted time, and then the rounds of editing to line up with voiceover and music was reminiscent of the process approach to writing we currently teach in our ESL program.

I’m currently in a position to “sell” new media tech to my department and am coming up against push back that social media and new media can’t be used for academic purposes. However, my experience in creating a digital story has definite parallels, and I hope to use my experience to make a case for using CALL in our program.

I think I’m a good story teller, and a good editor, so whittling the story down wasn’t difficult for me. However, the tediousness of aligning voiceovers with photos almost drove me crazy. I estimate I’d spent more than 10 hours creating a 3 minute digital story. With practice, and I aim to make another movie, I know this creation time will reduce; however the time it takes to create a digital story does make me hesitate using a digital story with my speaking and listening class, in that I consider myself a near digital native, but it still took me a long time to make the movie. Given our 15 week semesters, I feel that creating a digital story as well as covering content might be unachievable.

In terms of skills, apart from the obvious tech skills learned through this process, I’ve learned that content is truly media independent, and that making our instruction equally media independent is the challenge we face as educators. The same crafting and refining processes occur whether you’re writing on paper or telling an oral story through digital media.

What makes a good digital story?

– Story arc and common thread
– Takes advantages of medium
– Timing of elements: transitions, voice, audio, photos
– Knowledge of audience

Posted March 31, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Ed Tech, ESL Teaching

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Digital Story   2 comments


Reflections on my changing accent.

Posted March 27, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Ed Tech

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Creating their own content   Leave a comment


What a great class today!

To prepare for their debate on plastic surgery, students discussed and wrote interview questions aimed to gauge respondents’ opinions on the benefits of physical attractiveness and plastic surgery.

The students recorded their in-person interviews on their iPhones and Blackberries. My hope is by incorporating recreational activities such as using mobile devices as video/audio recorders, i will engage students in the process of data collection and research as prep for a debate. My hope is that both they and I will achieve the following:

1. higher buy-in rates by students
2. more in-depth level of research
3. higher rates of fluency in spoken English
4. more vigorous debates

Today they listened to and collated small-group then whole-group data, looked for trends, which spurred their Internet search. Students busily sent each other news links related to their position as we finished up the class.

Awesome job, guys!

Posted March 26, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Ed Tech, ESL Teaching

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Can Gaming Cure the World?   1 comment


We all participated in a lively discussion about the benefits and pragmatics of using gaming-type rewards and feedback to enable people to invest the time to solve our real world problems in our ed-tech class today. Here’s the link:

Basically we were split into two camps:

McGonigal’s aspirations might be pure, but applying a real-world problem to the gaming environment is a big leap. Using games to solve real world problems disregards a key part of gaming’s appeal: fantasy.

McGonigal’s TED presentation documented her experimentations in using gaming to get people thinking about solving real-world problems with the hope that it transformed their behavior, e.g. saving gas, when they had finished playing the game.

Check out the link. You decide.

Here’s an additional link: http://tinyurl.com/45o5q8k

Thomsen raises an interesting issue for me: does gamification somehow reduce real-world problems into fun short-term activities?

Posted March 24, 2011 by Cyn Hatch in Ed Tech

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