Friday, November 28, 2014


I listened to the podcast ESLPodcast 12- Dining at a Restaurant on the ESL Podcast site. The specific podcast I listened to was about 12 mins long and described a typical restaurant scenario in the US. I like that the site not only provides the podcast to listen to, but a section of the recording is transcribed for students to read. In the transcription, different words are highlighted to suggest more complicated terms.

Once the speaker was finished describing a typical restaurant experience. This section of the podcast is transcribed. Then, the speaker goes over some of the difficult phrases and terms used in the restaurant story. Most of the phrases are common ones that we hear everyday, both in and out of a restaurant. Some of the phrases that he went over included:

  • Treat yourself
  • Afford
  • Every once in a while
  • Host vs. Hostess
  • How many in your party?
  • I'll show you to your table
  • Big drinker
  • Spotted
  • Dish
  • A must
I think he chose really appropriate terms to go over, because some of these expressions are dependent on the context of being in a restaurant. For example, the word "dish" by definition is essentially a plate, however in a restaurant "dish" can mean a meal. Additionally, the word "party" means a celebration, however in a restaurant the term is used to describe a group of people eating together. So I think it's great that he explained everything for students to better understand complicated phrases.

One thing I wish the podcast would've done is included the entire recording in the transcription. I feel that to have transcribed the portion in which the speaker goes over these complicated terms would have better helped students understand what the words and phrases. Reading may be easier than listening for some students.
Additionally, in speaking everything in English, the students may have trouble understanding everything. Although he spoke very slowly and clearly, I think that maybe to have had the second half of the recording in their home language to better comprehend. 

Overall, I would definitely use this podcast site. The restaurant scenario is one of the many different aspects of culture and communication that students can learn from. This would fulfill ESL4.1: Language for Social Interaction where students will develop the appropriate communication skills to interact in social situations. As a teacher, I would try to transcribe some of the portions that the podcast does not, as well as provide the transcriptions in other languages if needed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Strip Generator

Using Strip Generator is a unique and fun way to let students get creative to portray some sort of broader idea or message. For my strip, Reading Gibberish I tried to promote the idea that reading in another language will better help you acquire that language. Unfortunately I am not the most creative person, especially when developing humorous story lines so this activity was a bit challenging for me. However, I think assigning an activity like this to a younger class would be highly effective because their creativity is more expansive compared to an adults. 

This activity would fulfill NYS ESL2: Language for Literary Response and Expression. Using the comic strip would be a means of self-expression where students could show their humor and insight while developing their understanding of the English language. Students would be assessed based on proper English use to convey a deeper meaning or concept that they have been learning.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Animoto Experiment

Using Animoto was a very easy tool that constructs visual presentations for students to use. For my presentation Where I Come From, I used this as an example of an activity for young students to describe where they are from and what they like to do in their home country.

Such an activity would satisfy NYS ESL Standard 5 Language for Cross-Cultural Knowledge and Understanding where students would be able explore where they came from and also learn about where their classmates are from. The presentation would have to be written in English where students  can practice common phrases such as "I am from" and "I like to ____". Then students would be assessed on correct grammar and use of visuals to properly correspond with their phrases.

In addition, students would have an opportunity to share what they liked about their classmates' presentations and something they learned about a new country.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

TedEd Lesson: The Great Debate

TedEd Lesson: The Great Debate with the Oxford Comma

For this TedEd lesson, I focused on two of the NYS ESL standards, including ESL1.1 Language for Information and Understanding which states:

"Students using English as a second language will use English to acquire, interpret, apply, and transmit information for content area learning and personal use. They will develop and use skills and strategies appropriate for their level of English proficiency to collect data, facts, and ideas; discover relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and use knowledge generated from oral, written, and electronically produced texts"

As students are learning English grammar, the video about the Oxford Comma can emphasize the English uses of the comma as it divides a series. Providing examples about the absence of an oxford grammar can reframe language structure and place emphasis on the importance of commas in describing an idea or command. In other words, students are presented with multiple uses for
grammar structures such as commas to better understand their purpose.
This can be assessed by providing examples of a sentence that is removed of commas and seeing if students can place commas in the appropriate locations.

In addition, the lesson adheres to the NYS ESL standard ESL 3.1 Language for Critical Analysis and Evaluation which states:

"Students learning English as a second language will use English to express their opinions and judgments on experiences, messages, idea, information, and issues from a variety of perspectives. They will develop and use skills and strategies appropriate for their level of English proficiency to reflect on and analyze experiences, messages, ideas, information, and issues presented by others using a variety of established criteria"

Once students have determined the use and purpose of the Oxford Comma, they can gain insight in how English grammar is not always universal or contains a strict set of rules. While it is important to initially establish such rules for the purpose of acquisition, presenting a grammatical debate can allow students to reimagine English language. However, proper English acquisition must first be present in order to allow such higher mental order of thinking. From here, students can establish their own opinions and preferences in using the Oxford comma based on the information and debate presented.

This can be assessed by having students describe the meanings of two sentences. The first sentence would contain the oxford comma and the second sentence would not. Students would have to determine which sentence makes more sense to them and whether the word "and" serves as enough information to divide ideas presented in the list without the use of an oxford comma.


For this lesson I have used a video titled "One Semester of Spanish - Love Song". While my pursuits are in teaching ESL I found a lesson that I think could work for both ESL and a Spanish language class. Some of the NYS Learning Standards this could apply to would be LOTE2.ML1.Modern Languages which states that:

"Effective Communication involves meanings that goes beyond words and requires an understanding of perceptions, gestures, folklore, and family and community dynamics"

After watching the video, students would be asked to write down as many common phrases/expressions they hear in the video and translate. Under the guise of a "Spanish love song", students would have to explain how these phrases do not portray a love song, and how this expresses humor. Assessment would be based on whether students could understand that the video is humorous in that the common phrases being used do not portray romance or love.

For an ESL classroom, this may connect to ESL2.1 Language for Literary Response and Expression which states:

"Students learning English as a second language will use English for self-expression, artistic creation, and participation in popular culture. They will develop and use skills and strategies appropriate to their level of English proficiency to listen to, read, and respond to oral, written, and electronically produced texts and performances, relate texts and performances to their own lives and other works, and develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions the texts and performances represent"

This lesson would work if the class consists of Spanish speakers. After watching the video, students would have to translate the Spanish phrases into English using correct tense and grammar. In addition, they would be expected to describe why the video is humorous as it describes a love song. Assessment would be based on whether students understand common phrases of English as they are expressed in Spanish, and if they see the humor being portrayed. 

While I could have used the video in it's entirety, I chopped the video for the sake of this module. I debated using a humorous video because it may not completely portray a classroom lesson, however I think it can still correspond to NYS standards in LOTE or ESL. I think that the humor being implied is one that requires understanding in both Spanish and English, as well as some cultural awareness. 

Flipping the Classroom

This concept of a "Flipped Classroom" is certainly an idyllic one. Additionally, it appears to be a very necessary one. As discussed in Why It's Time to Rethink and Question Homework, assigning homework assignments from a workbook seems to be an antiquated practice. In the article, Lepi purposes that assigning homework may not be personalized enough for students to gain any true mastery of a certain topic. As personalized learning is being practiced in the classroom, it's important that homework reflects this practice, while still maintaining an effective standard for assessment.

Instead of assigning different students different homework assignments, it would appear that homework should be taken out of this "one size fits all" characteristic that Lesi mentions, and instead rearranging assignments to fit more of a general rule with flexibility. While I agree with this notion, my concern is the issue of assessment which Lesi mentions. Ideally, students would be assigned homework that fits within their ZPD and adheres to his/her needs and interests. However, under the strict guidelines of Common Core, I'm not sure such flexibility is possible.

In addition, 7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms profiles the growing practice of a Flipped Classroom. The article discusses how this notion of a Flipped Classroom advocates active learning, collaboration, and student engagement with a "hybrid course design" of online lectures and in-class practice. From here, there is a "repurposing of class time" where in school, students can ask questions about the online lectures, and teachers can spend more time correcting possible errors and helping with confusing topics. In effect, students have quality time to reflect on the concepts being taught, rather than quickly taking notes and missing out on any valuable understanding.

One important aspect of a Flipped Classroom which the article mentions, and the ultimately reason why I'm skeptical of it's practice, is that it is widely shown in higher education models. The examples shown in the article pertain to colleges and universities. In higher education, I absolutely believe that Flipped Classrooms can be an effective learning model. I have participated in classes using similar models and I personally enjoyed it because of my interest and motivation. Students at this age (should) have the responsibility and know-how to engage in learning outside of the classroom, especially when lectures and learning materials are posted for you. The article brings up a good counterpoint that it may be a waste of tuition and may discourage students from actually going to class once the lecture is taught (something I am guilty of), however these effects are dependent on the individual student. And in the case of higher education, the student is the one responsible for their performance.

With that said, in primary and secondary education, most of the responsibility (I believe) is placed on the teachers and board of educators. Common Core seems to insist this. There is a strict set of lessons and content areas which the teacher is ultimately responsible for. While I like the idea of a Flipped Classroom placing more responsibility on the students and allowing for more collaborative learning, I am skeptical to believe that will actually succeed in, say, a 6th grade classroom. Time, parent involvement, and technological resources would be mandatory for successful implementation, and as we all know, such components are not universal to every student. Who's to say the student will actually want to engage in an online lecture? Who's to say the parent will discipline/help the child do this? In higher education models, these risks can slide since it's up to the student to succeed. However in a primary or secondary school, I don't think as teachers, we can take such risks.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Against All Odds

For this assignment I chose to play Against All Odds particularly because of my interest in the immigrant and refugee population in Buffalo. Most of my ESL experience within the classroom has been working with students who in majority are refugees. I recalled on many experiences in which students asked to watch the news to check up on their native country and see what devastation was occurring.

The game itself was very intense, as it was divided in three components - escaping your native country, entering a new country, and succeeding in this new environment. The first section was definitely the most difficult, both in completing the tasks and in its emotional effects. In my first run through of the very first game, I had to answer questions as if I were a refugee, but in the questions I disagreed with many of the questions, stating I wouldn't give up my rights, don't believe that the government is righteous, etc. To my surprise my character would get abused for wrong answers, and stimulated blood spatters, which I wasn't prepared for. The second time around I realized I had to lie in my answers and fake allegiance to this hypothetical situation in order to survive. From there, the game took me on a course out of the country where I had to leave friends behind, leave those injured behind, and strictly look after myself and my family in order to survive. Had I been in those situations in real life, I'm not sure I would be so willing to protect myself. This is an example of a game simulation which you cannot relate to unless you have experienced it. Though I know the game wants me to face these questions of ethics and morality, I'm not sure I would have been able to so easily faced these moral dilemmas in real life. From here, the components became a bit less emotionally shocking and was more upfront in the realities many refugee and immigrants must face. The game showed you what it would be like to not know the native language, not understand certain cues, and overall instilled a sense of hopelessness. Additionally, the game prompted very accurate situations of prejudice, where many of the phrases of discrimination unfortunately weren't too far of a stretch to believe.

If I were to use this game in a classroom I wouldn't use the first phase. In my hopes of teaching predominantly refugees, I wouldn't want to put them through a sort of virtual hell of something they have possibly already experienced. Rather, I would utilize the last two components of entering a new school and looking for a job, as it would be more relatable to their present condition. This would most closely relate to the NYS Standards in ESL, particularly Language for Cross Cultural Knowledge and Understanding which states:

"Students will demonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and sensitivity in communicating with others of varied social, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. They will develop and use culturally appropriate behaviors, and a knowledge of local and US cultures and practices, in their interactions with others in their new cultural environment"

As they are experiencing the same assimilation as presented in the game, they can perhaps gain a more critical consciousness of their situation where they are able to step outside and examine the struggles they have faced and perhaps what they have learned. In my assessment, I would ask students to compare/contrast their experiences with the ones they faced in the game to examine their interpersonal awareness and overall opinion of their experience. While it is important for them to be able to look ahead and examine the benefits of fleeing to the United States, I think it is also important for them to understand the difficulties they have faced and how they personally were able to overcome such immense obstacles.