Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday (Nina)

I got to the BCEC at 6:30 this morning! These photos were taken from the walkway over the highway leading from the T station to the BCEC. 

Yesterday I attended webhead Tom Leverett's presentation "Making Sure They Know from Wikipedia."  Tom pointed out that students need to understand that Wikipedia, while useful for gaining general knowledge about a topic (as a student might wish to do before starting a paper), is a "reference", not a source and is not appropriate as a source for an academic paper.  Tom uses articles about the reliability of Wikipedia as sources for exercises designed to teach students what Wikipedia is and is not appropriate for.

Following Tom's excellent presentation, he and I took advantage of a very nice free breakfast offered by Pearson-Longman Publishers, in the Westin Hotel.  We ate with Joel Bloch (of Multiliteracies) and Steve Sharp (CALL-IS and MEI). After that, I went back to the EV for another EVO Classics Fair presentation, but I did not stay for the whole time because there were other moderators and only a few people came.  So I went instead to Joel's presentation on plagiarism (I can't find the entry in the program book!), which was interesting. Joel and his colleague reporting the results of a survey they had administered to new international students at the Ohio State University. The results showed that students had very inappropriate ideas about what constituted plagiarism, what practices were not acceptable, etc.  

Jennefer Lebedev, aka JenniferESL, presenting at the EV Classics Fair

with Ibrahimjon at the EV

At 11:00, I went to a session on Using Corpora to Enhance Language Teaching by Michael Barlow.  Ever since I heard a plenary talk by Michael Lewis at WATESOL years ago (and subsequently read a couple of books about his "lexical approach"), I've been interested in corpora and concordancers but have not been able to get up to speed using either.  Barlow sells his own concordancer software and had a lot of ideas on how to use "specialized and general wordlists, collocation lists, online concordancers, text-analysis software, Web-based exercises, and data-driven learning materials," according to the program book (I actually don't remember all of that!).
Webheads Nina, Carla and Berta outside the EV

And then Mary joined us!

At 12:30, I attended an excellent mini-workshop at the EV on using Jing to make video tutorials.  I have actually done this (last year when preparing for Enhancing Lessons with Web 2.0, I created a couple of tutorials on Tapped in and (I think) Bubbleshare [since defunct]), but I had kind of forgotten how to do it and wanted to get some tips.  We saw some examples, listed some best practices, and each got to create a tutorial.  I made one about  (As usual, I lost track of time, talked too much, and was cut off mid-sentence.)  While at the workshop, I met Leslie Sapp, an EVO moderator from Takoma Park whom I had not yet met f2f.  That was fun. Holly Dilatush, Leslie and I are hoping to get together for a webheads Maryland encounter in the future. You can see that we were quite surprised to find each other!

 Amazingly, about 12-15 people came to my discussion at 3 pm (the next-to-last slot, after people had been leaving all day) and it went pretty well.  Webheads Claire and Holly and Joel Bloch from Multiliteracies were kind enough to come; the others were people I did not know. 

I am at Logan Airport, sitting at the gate waiting for my flight to board in about 45 minutes.  I connected my laptop to the airport wifi, but every time I try to access a webpage (iGoogle, Facebook, Blogger, gmail...) all I get is the stupid airport site. Am I doing something wrong, or is the wifi messed up? I don't know. [I figured out later that wifi wasn't free...:-(  ) So I am back to my Plan B, writing my post on Notepad to be copied and pasted to the blog later. :-(  (and only got around to posting it Tuesday morning!)

After that, I went by myself to get something to eat (a bowl of chowder) while thinking about my discussion, which was scheduled for 3:00.  I was not expecting many people to come; people had been leaving the conference all day (Why would you pay all that money to attend a three day conference, only to spend only two days??).  But I was pleasantly surprised to have around 10-12 participants, most of whom were strangers to me. Claire, Joel, and Holly were kind enough to participate.  I shared the results of the Striking a Balance survey, as concisely as I could, and we talked about the difficulties of finding time to spend online and shared strategies for striking that balance.  I felt pretty good about how the session went.  I was not nervous and managed to keep an eye on the time, so I finished on time. Now I need to write an article about it.

There was one more session after that, and I had planned to help break down the EV, as I did in NY, but I ended up just going home.  I was really tired.  I even forgot to go upstairs to where Berta and her friend Maggie had been presenting to tell her goodbye!  I had to retrieve my jacket from the Security Office; then I walked across the footbridge for the last time and took the T home to Brookline. (I met Mary Hillis on the T, and we took the Red Line together for one stop, so she was the last webhead I saw).

Suffice it to say that the final day of the Convention was good; I went to some interesting sessions, including a mini-workshop at the EV; I saw some people I had not seen yet (Juan Soto, Leslie Sapp), said goodbye to many friends.  After it was over, I was too tired to attend a final session or even (as I had intended) help break down the EV; I hopped onto the T and came home to Bijou's.  TESOL Convention--done for this year. All over but the shouting (and the blog repair, to be done later.) Thanks for reading/blogging with me.

Friday (Nina)

Today was a very different day! It started the same (up at 5, breakfast, catch the T at about 6:20), but it was cold and rainy instead of nice and clear.  I got to the BCEC at 7:00 and checked my coat and umbrella. Then I went straight to the EV, where I was signed up to volunteer until 12:30. I sat at the table just inside the door, welcoming people and answering questions (and uploading yesterday's photos to this blog!).  I made sure to tell people about EVO and the webheads when I had the opportunity.  The time passed pleasantly.
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"  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

after dinner

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.

Carla, Erika and Ronaldo´s presentation on Friday

A complete sucess, as usual !!!

More pics from Thursday

Doesn´t it show we had a great time together? Huge smiles in every photo !!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Nina and roses

Spelling City

I'm participating in an EV Mini-Workshop on SpellingCity for spelling and vocabulary instruction and games.  It's cool!

Elizabeth Received the Well Deserved D. Scott Enright Award

Elizabeth and the Cheerers

Volunteering at the EV

I am talking to Tracey about web 2.0 tools and webheads.

Dennis sent beautiful flowers, as he always does.

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Thursday Collage

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Thursday afternoon and evening

I am writing this at 11 p.m. Thursday in my cousin's apartment in Brookline, where I still cannot connect to the Internet (though Brookline supposedly has free wifi)!  I've just uploaded yesterday's and today's photos and will post them tomorrow from the BCEC.

After my blogging lunch, I attended part of a session  called “E-Growth in Listening and Speaking with Google Earth,” by Yildiz Turgut of Mersin University in Turkey.  This was about having students create oral travelogues about touristic spots near their hometowns, in the form of narrated movies linked to Google Earth.  I've wanted to use Google Earth with students but have not figured out how to do it, so this was interesting. I think it could be used in a listening/speaking class at MEI.  

At 2:00 I returned to the Electronic Village for the Classics Fair, where Elizabeth Hanson-Smith had organized a kind of group presentation for EVO moderators and co-mods.  Jennifer Lebedev talked about her session on video, and I talked about Multiliteracies.  I had a very interested audience of three, who really knew nothing about EVO or Multiliteracies and had lots of questions, so I really enjoyed that.  We can do another on Saturday morning.

After the EV Classics Fair with Elizabeth and Ellen

Buth and Laine

After that, I went down to the exhibit hall to find my friend Ellen, and we walked over to the Westin Hotel Starbucks for a drink and a chat. That was very nice. Afterward, I walked through the exhibit hall but did not stop and look at much.  There is a lot to look at, if you are looking for textbooks, plus other merchandise to buy.  

At 5:00 I attended a very interesting session on mirror neurons and embodied xxxxx, “Applying Recent Discoveries in Neuroscience to the Language Learning Environment,” by Van Hillier.  I had already read about mirror neurons in a book I read recently.  It is very interesting. Mirror neurons in our brain fire not only when we make a movement (like stamping a foot or clapping hands) but also when we see someone else do the same thing.  It is believed that autistic people's mirror neurons do not work properly, making it impossible for them to predict what other people will do or even understand what they are doing.

Carla, Berta (finally!) and me, in the taxi en route to the restaurant

Following that, I went (late) to the CALL-IS business meeting, and then a bunch of us piled into taxis and went back to the North End for an Italian dinner at Ristorante Saraceno (again on Hanover Street).  Webheads & Friends numbered about 20; Tom Robb, Mary, Rita, Claire Siskin, Cheryl Oakes (first f2f meeting! And two friends and potential webheads from Maine), Berta, Carla, Veronica, Elizabeth, Erika, Ronaldo, Claudio Fleury (and two more from CTJ whose names I can't remember, sorry) and a few more people I didn't know.  We climbed up two flights of very very steep stairs to a private room and had a great dinner that lasted until 10 pm, after which most of them went next door for cannoli, but I grabbed a taxi and headed for Brookline.  I'm due at the EV tomorrow at 7:30. It's now 11:43.

Carla and Cheryl 

Carla, Claire and me

Claire and the BraziliansCarla, Nina, Rita, Cheryl and Berta
Berta, Mary and Ronaldo