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April 18th, 2014 · No Comments
The #GlobalPOV Project is an initiative by the Blum Center at the University of California, Berkeley that addresses poverty and inequality through innovative digital media. Their videos are extremely visual, and are thus a good way to communicate complex ideas to English language learners.
As an example, “Can Experts Solve Poverty?” would be a great video for students bound for college or graduate school. Among other things, this video challenges the assumption that all of our problems can be solved by technical expertise. A critical approach like this would be particularly relevant to students pursuing degrees in fields like business, science or engineering.
If you have ideas for using one of these videos in your class, please share them in the comments.
March 31st, 2014 · No Comments
Here is a list of resources discussed at the LGBTF Forum roundtable at TESOL 2014.
- Creating Safe Space for GLBTQ Youth: A Toolkit
- Gay Straight Alliance
- Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- National Council of Teachers of English
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- Peace Learner
- Safe Schools Coalition
- Seattle and King County Dept. Health FLASH Lesson Plans
- The National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
- Welcoming Schools
And if you’re a TESOL member, I encourage you to join the LGBTF Forum (through TESOL.org). The e-list (where these resources were shared) is an active one.
March 27th, 2014 · No Comments
This roundtable discussion was the second of two sessions presented this year by the TESOL Environmental Responsibility Forum. In this discussion, participants looked at ways an English language program could improve their overall environmental responsibility.
I started the session by briefly describing my experience in attempting to green two different English language programs. The project was undertaken while I was a graduate student. I’ve written (and spoken) about it at some length here. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.
I also talked about the Green Team that I put together at my current job. I outlined the three prong approach that evolved, which I think is a good general approach to bringing environmental practices into an organization:
- start where you are – Start by gathering people from different areas together and sharing best practices.
- do the next right thing – Look for changes that have low cost, high reward. Take advantage of resources at your school / in your community.
- dream big – Have a few long term, large scale dreams. Find peer institutions who have done them and make contacts. You never know what might happen.
I’ll update this post with links / materials that emerged from our discussion as appropriate. Please check back after the convention. Also, if you’re a TESOL member and you would like to join the Environmental Responsibility Forum, please email me your name and member ID and I’ll add you to our list.
March 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment
This session is the first of two offered this year by the TESOL Environmental Responsibility Forum. If you’re a TESOL member and you would like to join the forum, please email me your name and member ID and I’ll add you to our list. In this session, eight presenters shared activities for bringing the environment into the English language classroom. The session was a great success, thanks to the work of all of our presenters!
Here are some of the materials that presenters used and / or referred to during their sessions:
- Donna Obenda shared an activity that uses glogs to engage students with sustainability. PPT | Handout 1 | Handout 2 | Handout 3
- Beth Russell talked about using Orion Magazine to bring environmental issues into the English language classroom. PPT | Handouts
- Valerie Jakar told us about some activities she had done, including one using the book Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. PPT coming soon
- Susan Crowley shared materials for addressing issues related to food and nutrition. PPT
- Krista Bittenbender Royal discussed an activity for teaching the rhetoric of greenwashing. PPT and handouts
- Earlene Gentry talked about a number of ideas for bringing environmental issues into the classroom in an Egyptian context. PPT
- Anthony Lavigne shared an idea for using TED talks to engage students with global and environmental issues. PPT | Handout
- Julie Vorholt introduced us to her NGO fact sheet and elevator pitch activities. PPT
Finally, please see this handout for contact information for each of the presenters.
March 19th, 2014 · No Comments
At the upcoming TESOL International Convention in Portland, we will have the inaugural sessions of the TESOL Environmental Responsibility Forum. If you’re a TESOL member and you would like to join the forum, please email me your name and member ID and I’ll add you to our e-list.
Thursday, March 27th, from 10:30-11:45 AM, in room E143, we have a 75-minute session entitled Fostering Sustainability: Bringing the Environment into the Language Classroom. This will include 8 presenters, with each presenter sharing an activity for bringing environmental issues into the English language classroom, presented in a pecha kucha format featuring 20 slides for 20 seconds each. This session will be full of great classroom activities!
Later that same day (3/27), from 2-2:45 PM, in the Roundtable Discussion Area of the Expo Hall, I will be facilitating a roundtable discussion entitled Part of the Solution: Making Language Programs More Environmentally Sustainable. In this discussion, participants will be invited to share their experience in bringing environmental responsibility to English language programs. We will focus on ideas for action outside of the classroom – program-level changes, projects and policies. Please join us!
I hope to see you in Portland! For those unable to attend, I’ll post materials from both sessions after the convention.
February 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments
Michael Sam, a University of Missouri student who is expected to be drafted in the NFL, recently came out. Public reaction has been mixed, with some NFL personnel saying that they wouldn’t be comfortable having a gay player in the locker room. This video, featuring Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen, offers a powerful response to these complaints, highlighting the hypocrisy and double standards that such prejudices require. The video is quite short (just about 2 minutes) and would make a great addition to a class discussion on sports, current events or equal rights.
February 6th, 2014 · No Comments
This Valentine’s Day activity from Teaching Tolerance provides insight into Valentine’s Day’s roots as a holiday of resistance. It also highlights the injustices that can occur during this holiday — “moments of exclusion and ostracism, assumptions of a heterosexual norm” — and draws a parallel between the ban on gay marriage and the ban on soldier marriage that may be behind Valentine’s Day’s origin. One interesting way to use the ideas in this activity with a more advanced class would be to take a more traditional Valentine’s Day activity (like this board game) and look at it through a critical lens, having students address questions like this:
- Where, in this activity, might someone feel ostracized or excluded?
- Where can we see assumptions of heterosexuality?
- If a student wanted to keep their sexual orientation private, could they? Or could there be pressure in this activity for them to “out” themselves?
- How could we change the language of the game to make it more inclusive?
Note that the link to resources on the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (part of the grade 9-12 activity) is broken. It should probably go here.
January 23rd, 2014 · No Comments
IATEFL’s Global Issues Special Interest Group just added a great new feature to their website: eLesson Inspirations. These inspirations take of the form of video clips, each accompanied by several ideas for how they could be used in a class. Five videos have been posted, and they will add new ones every Saturday.
One that caught my eye is this lesson, based on the poem “The Lost Generation” by Johnathan Reed. The poem starts by giving a very bleak view of the future, before reversing (literally) to offer hope. The lesson features 10 ideas for pre- and post-viewing activities. One pre-viewing activity that I would like to try is called “True AND False.” In it, students are split into two groups, with one group being asked to say why a given statement is true, the other arguing why it is false. The statements that students are arguing for or against are found in the poem: lines like “happiness comes from within” or “I can change the world.” Helping students see that statements can be argued as both true and false is a neat way to work on critical literacy.
This poem would also be a great addition to an activity I’ve used asking students to write global issues-themed poetry. For this activity, I like using poems that have structures that students can imitate, making this poem a perfect fit.
This is definitely a resource I’ll keep my eye on, and I encourage you to check it out.
November 20th, 2013 · 2 Comments
As we close in on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley offers some ideas for a variety of gratitude activities. These would be great to include around the holiday, or just in general. And be sure to check out the rest of the education section of the Greater Good website. They have lots of neat ideas for teaching about mindfulness, compassion and happiness.
November 1st, 2013 · 2 Comments
YES! Magazine just added a great new activity based on the above picture to their curriculum section. It would work well in an ESL or EFL classroom. It’s simple, it requires critical thinking, and it makes a great speaking or writing prompt.
First, show students the above picture and ask them what they notice. Then, ask them what questions they have. Next let them know some facts about the photo. You can get more facts at the YES! website, but I’ve included the caption and a few of the facts below:
caption: Donations of vinegar, lemons, water and a milky antacid are collected at several points along the edge of Gezi Park on June 2, to treat victims of tear gas.
The Turkish government recently announced its plans to raze nine-acre Gezi Park in Istanbul to build a new shopping mall. In response to the announcement, tens of thousands of protestors, who became known as the Gezi Park Resistance Movement, gathered to protect the park. Riot police evicted demonstrators using tear gas grenades, water cannons, and violence after the government banned demonstrations in Taksim Square. Supporters of the Gezi Park Resistance Movement started a Twitter hashtag campaign, and tear-gas-readiness supply donations quickly came in.
Finally, the lesson concludes with some discussion questions that could easily lead into extension activities or group projects:
- A protest is an expression of objection to events or situations. What do you think of protestors? Have you ever protested for or against something? If so, how did you plan or organize your protest?
- Parks are important to cities and neighborhoods. Do you have a favorite park? How would you feel if you learned that it was being demolished to become a shopping mall or an office building? What might you do to try to save it?
- What is a ‘Twitter hashtag campaign’? What other social media campaigns have been used successfully? How do you use social media? How might you use social media to advocate for a cause?
This could easily be used as a standalone activity, or it could be incorporated into a larger unit. The topic is an engaging one, and as a prompt it would elicit great conversation or writing. And be sure to check out the rest of the curriculum section, the charts and infographics, and the other resources for teachers as well.