Headline Post

[27 Apr 2014 | 3 Comments | ]
Teaching Basic Computer Literacy Handout

Download the handout of my webinar on teaching typing and basic word processing skills to students for awesome websites and fun, adaptable activities that students love.

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Teaching »

[16 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

I mentioned last week that the TESOL Convention had ignited my interest in actual materials design i.e. what the materials look like on the page. Many years ago (about three  or four) I stumbled on Jason Renshaw’s blog which features quite a bit about materials design. I have always remembered the 3:1 principle which has informed a lot of what I do.
This is a really nice video on how to make a very professional looking template with a header and a footer. I really like the results as they hit that …Continue

Resources »

[9 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

This is a wonderful video that presents a very clear outline of how to write an article that can get published in a magazine like Voices or TESOL Connections, written by the editor of IATEFL Voices, Alison Schwetlick.
I really like the outline that she lays out and I’ve used it for every article I’ve written since then–and both of those got published. Which doesn’t sound very encouraging until I tell you that I’d never had any articles published before. Her template is as follows in case you haven’t got time to …Continue

Fun »

[7 Jul 2014 | No Comment | ]

I honestly couldn’t watch the whole thing.

I’ve actually been reloading this one and listening to it as catchy background music while I search.

Resources »

[24 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

I was consulting the Michigan Academic Speech Corpus recently and discovered this passage that does wonders for demonstrating the purpose of intonation:
SU-f: where’s Jerry? he was here
SU-f: oh no
S13: okay, um, approval, of the agenda why don’t you guys take a second to look over
SU-m: who needs the agenda?
S13: the agenda?
SU-m: okay

I first read this as Where’s Jerry. He was here. Oh No! (meaning “Something horrible must have happened to Jerry”, as opposed to “Oh, I must have been wrong about him being here because I just saw the guy …Continue

Fun »

[23 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]


Activity/Game, Paid Content »

[12 Jun 2014 | No Comment | ]

This is less a lesson plan and more a worksheet to guide students through writing the problem-solution essay: Guide to a problem solution essay.
I found that when teaching the problem-solution essay, it was difficult to get students to understand how to do more than write a list of solutions. So I deliberately created a slightly complicated problem with lots of potential solutions for students to follow. This can be used as review or even as a test. You can also go through it in class step by step and have students fill it …Continue

Reading »

[22 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

These are two little exercises I whipped up to test or teach inference: Inference Exercise and Inference Conversations. Inference Conversations is just two short skeleton conversations that students can use to infer from. The Inference Exercise includes two short conversations and a news article. Students analyze the tone and selected sources of the news article to infer the author’s point of view.
It’s easy to incorporate inference into regular reading or listening lessons. We often infer so much subconsciously that we forget to point out the seemingly obvious to our students. But authors expect …Continue

Uncategorized »

[9 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

To my collection of resources for teaching students to write a process essay, I am adding a Process Essay Test. I designed this to test both reading skills and writing skills. It asks students to reverse outline a fairly simple process essay about doing well in college. Then students are given practice applying transition words by rewriting a list of instructions as a process paragraph.
Here are a couple of other resources I use to teach the process essay:

Process Essay Graphic Organizer
Details for the Process Essay

Activity/Game, Paid Content »

[8 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

This is a worksheet I designed to help teach students the all-too confusing art of writing argument or opinion essays. It’s particularly difficult for them to write convincing opposing arguments and rebuttals. The format of an argumentative essay is also difficult to write. So in this worksheet, I ask them to think of a change they want to make to the school.Usually students want to do something pretty controversial such as have school start later or cut classes or fire all the teachers or something. So it’s easy for them …Continue

Lesson Plan, Paid Content »

[6 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

Demystify negative inversion for emphatic sentences with this painless lesson plan that places the grammar form in the context of other similar structures in English.

Resources »

[5 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

Hey, just a quick note that I have become the semi-self appointed moderator of the blog of the Materials Writing Interest Section of TESOL. You can check out the blog here: http://www.mwisblog.com/. I will be posting events and news and resources over there. It’s also open to guest articles and resource sharing, so feel free to check it out.
Also, anyone is welcome to jump in with moderating and administering. I am open to any and all suggestions on anything from the color scheme to features. And especially open to offers of …Continue

Teaching »

[1 May 2014 | No Comment | ]

Another 30 goals post on Getting Rid of the Unnecessary Weight.
Hana posts a few questions to answer and reflect on how to get rid of literal or metaphorical clutter in our professional lives or teaching. I was thinking of this in terms of my recent post on the Pareto Principle which states that you can get 80% of your output from 20% of your inputs. In other words, we should be able to dump 80% of our content and still get pretty good results from our students.
Of course, it’s debateable if …Continue

Teaching »

[21 Apr 2014 | No Comment | ]

Come check out my awesome presentation orienting students to basic skills such as typing and text-formatting. Not all our students grew up as wired and even students who are great on computers in their own languages get bogged down by the American keyboard and shortcut keysYou can’t get students excited about blogging and making wikis if it still takes them ten minutes to find the letter A. If you’ve got 25 minutes, I’ll introduce some of the websites and activities I do with students.
These are all things I’ve done in …Continue

Paid Content, TOEFL »

[18 Apr 2014 | No Comment | ]

Many years ago, I found myself with not much going on at work. So I began working on my own TOEFL iBT textbook and practice tests, as one does. There was a plan to have them published in Kazakhstan and to have the tests used by a scholarship program, but it never came to much. So I figure I might as well put them up here. They include the grammar and style questions as well as reading comprehension and listening.
These were written a few years ago, so they might be …Continue