Thursday, October 24, 2013

HIghlights from the 2013 WAESOL Conference

First I'll say that my presentation went as planned. However, because I didn't sleep well the night before I think I could have executed it better. Yet, there were a few folks who came up to me afterwards with questions and also comments about how this was really helpful for them. All in all, I am glad I presented and know what I would like to do better next time. Such as doing something that involves the audience more. I think I just became too anxious the day before.

I'm the 1:30 to 1:50 spot.

As for the conference itself I had a really good time and found the other presentations to be really useful and spot on. I tried my best to avoid the commercial presenters, however was duped during the first one I attended. After that I enjoyed some great topics and useful information:

  • Writing as a process: Practical strategies for ESL students (By Young Kyung Min)
    • This was an incredibly well presented and thoughtful presentation. 
    • Concept of writing as a process where students keep writing process logs and reflect as the go along. Collecting feedback from peers and writing professionals.
    • Her portfolio concept was also very thoughtful.
  • Teaching Arabic Speakers: Daphne Mackey and Barbara Hansen
    • This was useful as I find myself teaching arabic students these days and want to know more about their culture and also the differences with English.
    • They did a lot of group work but it was useful to talk about the grammatical and speech differences between the languages. People also suggested a lot of helpful tips.

In comparison to the KOTESOL International Conference I attended last year in Korea, I can say this was a much smaller put together. However, it made for a less intimidating number of presentations to attend and also felt like a cohesive crowd of participants.

Lunch was generous and well balanced in healthy choices. Also they had snacks available after the presentations. The commercial tables weren't in your face and instead separated into a large room. 

Generally, it felt rewarding to be at a conference with local people in the profession and to hear thoughtful ideas on how to do the job.

The huge TESOL conference is coming up in March and will be in Portland, Oregon. I hope to go to that and also enjoy the local area, if I could. This conference was at a community college a little south of Seattle, and reminded me of my days as a fledgling undergrad.

Well these days I am swamped with school work, but I think I have a good hold on things. I recall that at this time last year I was dreaming of my life in America and started to mentally process the fact I was leaving Korea. Wow! Time sure does fly. As you know I'm enjoying my life here and have a lot of dreams for my future. One step at a time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Summer Flowers from back at my Dad's

I was going through my hard drive and cleaning things up when I remembered I took these macro photos of flowers and things amongst my dad's garden. This was when Ian and I went there this summer for our vacation.

It's definitely fall here now and the streets are alive with color as the leaves change, but the sky is practically grey the whole time. I wonder when this fog will burn off?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze in Kent

For the past five years, my Halloween was marked as nothing really special. In Korea, Halloween is one of those "foreigner" holidays and sometimes English schools or departments would host a shindig for the students. They would ask teachers to dress up, decorate their classrooms and sometimes have the kids go on a class-to-class trick or treating party. But to be honest it never really felt the same as back here in America.

Although I would say Halloween probably doesn't feel the same generally when you're an adult and don't have kids.

Yet, one of the main differences was pumpkins. In Korea you just couldn't find a decent carving pumpkin to save your life. Now, they had pumpkins but not the large plump variety seen above. Also I found that the pumpkins they did have were large and flat and used for medicine, so cost a fortune (around $30). To say the least I never really tried my best to find a carving pumpkin in Korea after realizing it was useless.

That is why I found it a blessing to be out on a pumpkin patch enjoying large fields of pumpkins. We went to Kent (which is a little bit south of Seattle) and to the Carpinito Brother's Pumpkin Patch. What also made this visit fun was the corn maze.

It was our first time taking on a corn maze and I think we had a good time. They gave us maps which had points on it that you wanted to get to. When you found the special areas there was a hole puncher that you used to get the point. Each hole puncher had a different shape, which I thought was a clever way of organizing it.

I let Ian take the lead and pretty much followed him around as I took pictures. But I realized that the corn maze would probably be really difficult without the map, considering that every turn pretty much looked the same.

After the corn maze we got some fresh caramelized Kettle corn. Then we grabbed a trolly and set about finding a pumpkin. However, I think we had more fun pulling each other on the trolly than finding a pumpkin.

I realized, as we walked through the pumpkin patch, that I didn't really want to take on the task of carving a pumpkin. For one I didn't know where I would put it considering I live with housemates and also they were pretty heavy. I'll probably carve a pumpkin when I have a place of my own and a good windowsill to put it on. So instead we enjoyed the good times on the farm.

I did, however, take home a small mini pumpkin to decorate my room with and remind me of the splendors of fall.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On the way back from Vancouver

There are still some pics left from my trip to Vancouver for my birthday weekend. Although these are from the trip back to Seattle. Above is the Peace Gate one sees when they are leaving Canada, and overall the park area looked fun to explore one day.  The city of Blaine (below) is right there when you leave Canada and we needed to make a pit stop before our journey home.

Looking back I enjoyed my little trip to Canada and the weather wasn't such a bummer. One of the gems on the trip was a quick unplanned stop to look at South Lake Samish, which was peaceful and beautiful.

In fact, along the drive there were areas I thought would be fun to explore someday. It seems Washington state holds a lot of gems.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Preparing for my WAESOL Presentation

In about 6 days I'll be at the Highline Community College giving a presentation on using math with ELL students. I've told coworkers and peers and so I often get the question, "Are you nervous yet?" I response with a ho hum "No, I'm ready." But when I get home and think about, I am starting to get nervous.

As far as things being ready, they are pretty much spot on. I have the PowerPoint made, my handout made (just needs to get printed) and a script to look at and practice from. But I haven't really practiced a whole lot and when I do I feel like I'm talking too much. But it's a 20 to 25 minute presentation and peppered throughout are questions for my audience. I thought I would share what I prepared here so you can see what's going on.

First I welcome everyone to my lecture and thank them for coming. Then I give a brief overview about myself which leads into why I'm giving this teaching tip.

As you can see my slides are colorful, dynamic and not plain. I showed Ian my presentation yesterday and he immediately disliked my use of moving text. So I took out the animations. Otherwise what you see is what I've prepared. I go into who this tip is for, because I know a lot of the presentations are for adult teaching situations. I do mention that the topic can be adapted to teach adults, just with adjustments for the age group.

The next two slides I start talking about why math would be a good idea for ESL or EFL use. I mostly base this off of the experiences I had along with some linguistic knowledge. I also ask the audience whether they teach math to ELL students or why they think it would be a good idea. I next go into talking about certain topics in math that would be useful with English, narrowing in on what really works. I also ask the audience if they know of other topics in math that work well with these students.

Moving on I next talk about specific English goals that can be used with math. What you see above is a shortened list of what I actually describe. It is also setting up the projects I am going to talk about and shows how well rounded math can be when using it in the ESL or EFL classroom.

I then go on to talk about actual projects, activities and games I did with my students. These are meant to represent the goals in English with math and show how diverse it can be. Animal Cubes are a project I did for the topic of 3D shapes and I talk about how it goes from basic learning of the shapes, to a craft that extends into a role play.

The Omok games is to show how students can work with each other and speak while doing math operations all at the same time. I think I've talked about this game in my other blog.

I use Fraction Stories to show how mostly all the topics in math can be made into writing activities that later turn into role-plays or speaking exercises.

I use this activity to show my goal of getting students to not only speak but also use the key vocabulary and phrases within math. In this example, students are given a card (seen above) and on it is their phone number and a math problem. They are given a handout which has a list of phone numbers. Then they pretend to call someone and have a dialog with that student using their card as the prompt. I explain how this activity is really great for listening skills because students had to really pay attention when the other student is reading the word problem. I think this activity could be adapted to adult learners, as well.

The final activity I talk about is Math Bowling which is used for vocab games or quizzes at the end or during the lesson. It's a fun way to motivate students and keeps their knowledge sharp.

I finish off with a simple take away list and thank everyone for coming. As you can see I have a lot I'm talking about but I think once I get to the projects section things will be more visual than just hearing a list of things.

So far when I practice on my own I get to 18 minutes. I would prefer to be over the time limit as I know I tend to talk less in front of a room. However, I'll just remind myself to take it easy and add in more information. Since this is all based upon experience I think I can add in stories or personal quips about the topics.

I hope my audience has questions for me and answers the ones I prompt towards them. Otherwise I kind of can't wait to get it over with and also enjoy other presenters at the conference.