Aiden Yeh came by the EV while I was volunteering!
At 12:30 I met my friends and former colleagues, Karen Taylor (who moved to New Mexico with her husband and twin toddlers last year) and Shirley Thompson (who still lives in Takoma Park MD, but whom I see too infrequently). We got lunch at the Food Court (I used the $10 coupon in my TESOL bag) and took it upstairs to eat. Karen and Shirley are starting a business to market their Color Vowel Chart. They are also hoping to go into the business of training teachers to teach pronunciation more effectively. We enjoyed our time together, which made me miss the awards ceremony at which Elizabeth H-S received an award. I was very sorry to miss that but glad to have that time to spend with Karen and Shirley.
Karen and me (Shirley had gone to a session)
At 3:00 I went back to the EV for another EV Fair, and I attended Tom Leverett's presentation on Grammar and Technology, For Better or for Worse. Tom feels that students do not have the language needed to process the information given them by grammar checkers, which are often wrong anyway. For example, if a student writes, "They liked each others", the grammar checker, relying on corpus data, might suggest "other's" as a correction, rather than "other." The student, not knowing the difference, might leave the sentence as "They liked each other's." This is not an errror the student would have made on his/her own, but one that is caused by the grammar checker. Grammar checkers are imperfect, but students may not have the confidence to override them.
Tom presenting at the EV Fair
At 4:00 I had a ticket to the mini-workshop by Stephen Kraemer, "Improving Spelling with SpellingCity.com." I had never heard of this site, which is really good. The teacher can input a list of words and the application generates materials (including tests and games of different types) using those words. We had the chance to register for the site and play with it, which was fun. I noted that it is imperfect, like all software; for example, it generated the sentence "The scrumptious dessert was expensive" for my word scrumptious. One of the games involved unscrambling the words of the sentence, but when I made the sentence "The expensive dessert was scrumptious," the program said it was not correct. Oh, well, nothing is perfect, and the site has a lot of potential. Stephen assured us that even his advanced students in a university ESL program enjoyed it, although it was clearly conceived with younger students in mind.
At 5:00, several of us (Aiden, Ibrahimjon, Tom and I) went to the Annual Business Meeting at the Westin Hotel to see the passing of the TESOL presidency from Mark Algren to Brock Brady. I wanted to go because Brock is a friend of mine (he was WATESOL President when I served on the baord as SIG liaison). As a matter of fact, I also know Mark (from when Karen and I were in charge of Energy Breaks at TESOL 2003 in Baltimore). In addition to the passing of the gavel to Brock, much was made of the retirement of TESOL Executive Director Chuck Amorosino, who has been in that position for 12 years. I was glad we went.
After that we met up with Veronica, Buthaina, and two others (Veronica's colleague Cara and another woman named Silence) and we went to dinner at a well-known Boston seafood restaurant called No Name. It was informal and very crowded but lots of fun. Their New England chowder is famous, so I had a cup even though I had had it for lunch (but the No Name chowder was much better). We ate very well, and no one had room for dessert.
Tom and Ibrahimjon
Tomorrow is the last day of the Convention, and my discussion on Striking a Balance at 3:00. Unfortunately, most of the webheads will have already left! I hope there will be at least a few people there to talk about how to manage our online time better.