Saturday, February 21, 2015

TESOL Foundations Course Module 3

Task 1: Editing

I am not currently teaching a class because I am on sabbatical, but I have some samples of former students’ writing that I used for this task. Their names have been removed.

Feedback using comments on MS Word:

On this file, a summary paragraph in its final stages of revision, I used highlighting and commenting features of MS Word 2013 (which do not show up in Google Drive but will if downloaded). I didn’t use Track Changes (although it would be interesting to see students’ changes) because I don’t typically correct students’ writing (paragraphs, not essays, at the levels I teach) and instead ask questions and use this limited list of simple editing symbols to guide students to editing their final drafts. Can you guess the first language of this student based on her most common error?

One issue that came to mind as I was marking up this paragraph is to keep in mind that some students may have colorblindness. I was reminded of this because the student who wrote this particular paper would probably have trouble reading my in-text highlighting because did have trouble distinguishing colors and asked me to only use black whiteboard markers in class because she couldn’t properly see red or green and other colors. Also, students from China (and a few other countries) have told me never to use red pen on their papers. This signifies death and can be interpreted as meaning that you are wishing death to that person.
Returning to the first discussion board post of this course, “Overview of E-Learning,” in which I mentioned providing feedback on students’ work with screencasting, I read a couple more articles, listed below, and through one learned a new term: veedback (video feedback). I decided to explore a bit more tools (others than I already know about) for giving veedback, and there are several that are free, including apps (ShowMe, Educreations). I am pretty familiar with TechSmith Relay, which is not free but that I have access to through my college (short screencast videos I created on formatting MS Word and using Word Readability Statistics and synonyms).
I downloaded Jing (which is completely free like Screencast-o-matic) and also includes a screencapture tool (for taking screenshots like MS Snipping Tool) and created this veedback screencast on a first draft, noting global issues / fulfillment of assignment requirements. Note that I did this in just one take without a script and would work on providing the student a better quality video if this were “for real.” I also checked out -- but just experimented with Kaizena, which integrated with Google Drive for giving voice comments. YouTube Video. It looks promising because while not all students have MS Office products, any can use Google products for free (as long as they have internet). This YouTube video tutorial shows you how.

More on Screencasting (both were qualitative studies):

“Using Asynchronous Instructional Audio Feedback in OnlineEnvironments: A Mixed Methods Study,” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2011, online at In this study, two groups of students -- ESL (US) and EFL (Russia) – were surveyed on their preferences for feedback on writing tasks. The overall results of this study revealed that both the EFL and ESL students preferred receiving both types of feedback (written and audio).  There were very few negative comments, other than those about the technology.

“Talking with Students throughScreencasting: Experimentations with Video Feedback to Improve StudentLearning,” the Journal of Interactive Technology & Pedagogy, online at. What I like about this article (not ESL-specific) is that it includes veedback screencast videos of the instructors/authors/researchers. Also, there is a sample that shows written comments – without a doubt a student would be confused, frustrated, and disappointed in my opinion to get such feedback. Personally, I would feel like a failure if a teacher wrote all over my paper like that – and I always try to keep that in mind when commenting on students’ papers – keep comments to a few of the most egregious or most common errors to not overwhelm students – and build in extra time for more revisions. The article points out that the advantages of veedback:

·        allows instructors to model a reader response

·        adds cues that have the potential to help students take in feedback as part of an ongoing conversation about their work instead of a personal criticism

·        able to mitigate the negativity that a student may interpret from written comments and that the instructor models best practices for feedback regardless of medium

·        provides face-to-face experiences (social presence) that can engage students in online classes, promoting higher completion rates

Unfortunately, neither study focused on or mentioned the effect of the audio feedback and/or the audio with text feedback influence on students’ abilities to produce better revised written work. Will keep searching… If I liked doing research, I’d conduct a study of my own.

For synchronous feedback, I had the opportunity to experience Google Hangouts and Zoom during my recent work on a hiring committee for my college’s writing center. Both were really cool because teacher and student can see each other on video while viewing and annotating a student’s paper at the same time. Any Skype users know if this is possible? Zoom was more true to its name (fast connection), although it doesn’t allow as many users to be conferencing at the same time and has a time limit for the free version.

Task 2: Exercise Creation Software Quia

I used a free trial of Quia a while back for vocabulary and grammar activities, so this time around I decided to try a quiz.  I found out that html could be embedded, so I decided to use a listening exercise I already created a few years ago to go along with an assignment in which students write and make a video about a home remedy.  The National Geographic video embedded into the quiz (on YouTube) is from the TV show, "Taboo," and discusses bee sting therapy.  Now I have a class set of the ESL textbook Pathways 2: Reading, Writing, and Critical Thinking (National Geographic, Cengage), and there is a chapter on "Dangerous Cures."  I would use this chapter in conjunction with the Quia quiz and the project. 
My students come from all over the world and have very interesting home remedies (fried onions on the chest to cure a cold, anyone?), so I like this topic. Interestingly, when I used this video and listening exercise a few years ago, there was a student in class who had been severely injured in a work accident (on disability) who had tried everything, including the bee sting therapy, but still had no relief from his pain.
Here's the link: Dangerous Cures

Task 3:  Make a Web Page
For the Web page creation task, I had a lot of different ideas about the content, but in the end I decided to create something that I can use as soon as I am back in the classroom (this summer). 
I have been assigning this “Wonders of the World” project for more than 10 years off and on, and the last time was this past fall. That class was incredibly diverse with students from 13 different countries, and the majority of them were highly educated and had incredible technology skills gained from their career study and work in their native countries (e.g., designer, professional photographer, software company owner, film maker, computer programmer, etc.). Most students chose as their topics a place in their native countries or some place they had visited before.  The final presentations are a great chance for the students to learn from each other and consequently build community.  Most students made PowerPoint presentations, but a few made Web sites, which I have included in the samples.
I started making the site in Wix, which has very beautiful templates, but then after choosing a template, I found out that it would be as time consuming changing the elements of the template as creating a site from scratch. Therefore, I turned to what I am familiar with (Google Sites), and though the design is not wonderful (as I mentioned in a previous post, I have an eye for design, not a talent for it), it was much easier for me.
This is the learning unit I usually post everything in the CMS, Blackboard, but I often share teaching ideas and materials with colleagues, so now they can access and use what they like.

Other tasks:

Audacity / Voice Recording Task

I have used Audacity for a long time, and it’s pretty easy for student to use, too. As I recall, I first started using it (actually having students use it) when I developed and taught the ESL Digital Storytelling class at my college.  Students wrote narratives, took or found photos, mixed in music with their voice recordings of their scripts, added transitions, titles, and so on.  We are no longer offering the course because of a drop in our enrollment, but I still often have students make digital stories and use Audacity. I have attached the simple instructions I would give to lower-level students when I used to have them record using Audacity.

Another use is for pronunciation quizzes.  Depending on the content, I select target pronunciation challenges I know my students struggle with and make in-class practice exercises. I make the recordings on Audacity and upload into a Blackboard Voiceboard (there is a suite of voice tools, formerly called Wimba, acquired by Blackboard), where students can here the sentences and then record their own voices saying the sentences directly into the voiceboard.  At home, I listen to students’ audio recordings and give them a grade.  I have made several quizzes, but three that I use most frequently are –s endings, -ed endings, and vowels.  For the vowels one, I created a video so that students can see the mouth movements. What I like most about Audacity is that you can cut, paste, mix in music, and apply special effects (like fade-in and fade-out).

Other audio recording tools I have used are the following:

Clyp - Web-based audio recording and sharing

Record MP3 - very simple Web-based audio recording that downloads as an MP3 file

SoundCloud and AudioBoom – have apps; kind of like podcasts

Blogs, Wikis, Twitter
I have used blogs and wikis in several classes in the past, and love them but have had one negative experience.  I have not used them as much recently in my classes because of 1) time restraints and 2) the fact that online portions of my classes are now delivered on a CMS (Blackboard).  I didn’t really use these sites as intended (for open forum commenting), but rather for students to publish and share their work online with friends and family in their countries and for me to give my classes an online presence by posting assignments and supplemental practice activities for students.
One of the best experiences was a class exchange with my Vocational ESL class and a career EFL class in Spain in which video tours of schools and class projects were shared between the two classes. Unfortunately, that wiki has been taken down
My worst experience was when a former student, who had his own wiki page with his class work posted, was murdered in Tijuana, California.  His murderer was trolling all this student’s online profiles and content and posting horrible comments.  The student’s family contacted me to ask me that I take down his wiki page but also to give them his work, which they were so happy to have as a memento of this young man.  Luckily I had had students post their own work, but my recommendation is to teach students about privacy issues and either have them sign an agreement and release form if you are posting or have them post themselves.
Here are some of class blogs and wikis from past classes I have taught

·       From this blog, check this digital story, which always puts a tear in people’s eyes:

·       And this one was made by my instructional aide, the true story of her Samurai roots:

·       VESLBlog – this student started “MySpace” China version

·       This student’s video resume is so good!

Level 5 Wiki
Level5 Blog
Level 6 Wiki
Level 3 Class Exchange (between a beginning-level class I was teaching and my colleague’s class in Santa Ana, California, up the freeway)

This is my professional development / presentations wiki, and I also have a blog (linked there), where I am documenting all the work I am doing for my sabbatical.
The sites I have used are the following (with brief commentary on my impressions):

·       Wikispaces – like it a lot / easy to embed online content

·       PB Wiki – don’t like the design and layout all that much, personally

·       Blogger – so easy to use and like that you can upload video directly into rather than having to upload to a videosharing site first

·       WordPress – most complicated to use at first until you get used to it but also the most versatile, giving user the most control

As for Twitter, I have an account and follow a few people but never tweet myself.  I really couldn’t figure out how I would use Twitter in my teaching, but I have read about some great potential uses lately and am excited to try some.  I am still not very savvy on how to use Twitter, however, so if anyone is using it, please inform me!  I saw this,, which helps you locate pre-curated Twitter lists and individual users who share your interests, FYI, for building your PLN (personal learning network).

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