Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Literacy Training in Zimbabwe

One of my job responsibilities includes traveling to various locations to train teachers in literacy strategies. My objective is to empower teachers with additional tools for their teaching strategies toolbox. I’ve traveled to urban middle schools and high schools, community colleges and universities, literacy centers and libraries, and a myriad of other sites to train teachers, paraprofessionals, and tutors. I’ve met hundreds of teachers and students, and in the process, I’ve witnessed a variety of different backgrounds and needs. Once in a while, I have experiences while training that teach me life lessons, whether it be a lesson learned about how literacy strategies unlock a struggling student’s world of learning, or feeling inspired by a teacher’s passion.

This year I had a unique training opportunity. I traveled to Zimbabwe to provide literacy training for people in various remote villages where such services had never been provided. During this experience, I learned life lessons about individual dignity and the hierarchy of needs—physical, social, and educational. We drove on long, bumpy, dusty roads without air conditioning and proper suspension, and we traveled with little water and food. We traveled through and camped in wild game parks, witnessing rare sightings of wild animals and waking up to the sounds of the competing roars of lion prides. Although the conditions were not ideal, I felt privileged to have had the opportunity to interact with teachers and students that few people will ever get to meet.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Should Handwriting Be Taught?


Is handwriting an important component to literacy instruction? Is it really necessary to teach handwriting, especially when keyboarding skills are so requisite with the rise of technology in education and the use of technology in everyday life?

The Common Core State Standards prescribe that legible writing should be taught in kindergarten and first grade only. Then in subsequent grades, the emphasis shifts to keyboarding proficiency. 

According to recent research, handwriting versus keyboarding may affect the brain and benefit specifically those who struggle with reading. Children who learn to write by hand at a young age learn to read more quickly, as well as retain information and generate ideas. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Literacy Training in India at Pathway

Last month, my colleagues and I had the opportunity to visit Pathway India, a non-profit organization located in southern India that serves underprivileged and handicapped children. Pathway educates, empowers, and enlightens the students they serve by providing vocational and academic training, rewarding students for their contributions, and sustaining an environment in which the students feel safe, loved, and confident in their abilities to contribute using their knowledge and talents.



We had an opportunity to train the teachers at one of Pathway's schools located in rural Chennai. We also had the opportunity to conduct a training for English teachers in the surrounding area and were privileged to have Dr. Swaminathan in attendance.







Pathway India recently published their latest newsletter article which documents our recent visit. It can be accessed here. To learn more about this organization, visit their website at http://pathway.org.in/, or visit their Facebook page: Pathway India.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ESL, EFL, ESOL, or ELL?

I've written a blog post before about the difference between the acronyms ESL, ELL, ESOL, etc. (It can be accessed here.) This particular post has proven to be one of my most popular posts, standing as one of my most-accessed posts found organically via internet searches. Having a background in linguistics, however, I'm not naive to the fact that with time, terminology trends change. So, I'm curious: Which acronym/s do you use most often to refer to your non-native English speaking students? Take my poll at the right to share your opinion! I'll post the results after I close the poll at the end of the month.

Friday, March 28, 2014

TESOL 2014 in Portland, Oregon: Phonics in English Language Learning Contexts

I'm currently attending the TESOL 2014 conference in Portland. It is common each year I attend to recognize "themes" or areas of growing interest based on the presentation topics and the number of attendees drawn to each presentation. One of the popular areas of interest I've noticed at this conference has been phonics as it relates to language competency and enhancing learning in various language skills.

I attended a session yesterday by three TESOL graduate students from Florida State University. They presented on the use of an explicit phonics program over the last year in their Intensive English Program at FSU. I was happy to see that the results of their implementation have been positive.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Free, Engaging 2014 Winter Olympics Activities for ELL Classrooms

With the 2014 Winter Olympics rapidly approaching, teachers are gearing up for ways to integrate the excitement of the games into their English Language Learner classrooms. A colleague recently informed me of a free Winter Olympics Activity Toolkit created by VIF Learning Center that can be downloaded on their blog here. The toolkit provides engaging activities to bring global learning into the classroom. You can also upload photos and videos of students engaging in the activities onto the VIF Learning Center website to be entered into prize drawings. You can learn more information by reading their blog post here. The toolkit was developed for students in grades K-12, but activities are also relevant to older learners.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reading Fluency Webinar by Neil Anderson for ESL Teachers

My colleague Neil Anderson recently presented a webinar hosted by Reading Horizons entitled, "Holding in the Bottom While Sustaining the Top: A Balanced Approach for L2 Reading." This informative webinar is one of the most practical webinars I've ever heard with regards to maintaining a well-balanced, interactive reading curriculum for English Language Learners. He discusses the use of both top-down and bottom-up (phonics) instruction in the L2 reading classroom.