Writing Class Round-Up

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Some posts most relevant to teaching writing:

The Writing Course

Highlighting the Value of a Writing Course

Shaping a Writing Course

Reading in a Writing Class

 

Process Writing

The Point of Writing

Outlining?

A Small Victory

 

Editing and Peer Review

Seven Editing Challenges

Scaffolding Editing

Scaffolding Peer Review

 

Citations and Plagiarism

Plagiarism vs. Real Life

Communicating About Plagiarism

On Teaching Citations

 

Photo Credit: Chris Gladis on Flickr

You’re reading Writing Class Round-Up, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.

 

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Assisting the Teacher: Chiming In

I’ve decided to write a series of posts in a new category: ESL Assistant Teaching Tips. I’m writing from the point of view of an assistant ESOL instructor in academic English classes at a community college. For background, here’s why I love assistant teaching, and here is what the basics of the set-up look like. I hope that other assistants will find this useful, and that maybe this wonderful classroom model will spread!

As a fairly experienced ESOL teacher, complete with TEFL certification and an MA TESOL, it’s been a bit of a learning curve to know when I should chime in during class and when I shouldn’t.

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Here in my third semester of assistant teaching in my particular setting, I err on the side of keeping my mouth shut.

I’ve found that I’m in a completely different mode when I’m assisting that doesn’t translate well into addressing the whole room. But even if I were in my leadership head-space, in my opinion there would still be costs to the overall class experience to any broken flow, minute discrepancies in what I say vs. what the lead teacher says, etc.

If I do have something to add or say, I seize opportunities to be inconspicuous. I usually speak to the teacher quietly while the students are working. Once or twice I’ve written a word on a board in the back of the room to communicate something simple during the teacher’s lesson presentation, like a word she’s trying to spell on the spot.

This is not to say I never chime in. I’m not a second lead-teacher, but I don’t think I should pretend I’m not there. I’ll  interrupt with quick but well-considered offers to scribe, hand out papers, and complete other such tasks. This is usual during procedural transitions and is minimally disruptive. But just last week I made the call to interrupt a lesson.

Here’s what happened: my lead teacher began a new topic, asking the class, “Who here is familiar with MLA?” Turns out that not many of them were… and that “MLA” sounds a whole lot like “Emily” – they kept turning around to look at me. I could see that many students were at clear risk of missing the fundamentals while they tried to figure out why the teacher kept talking about Miss Emily. From the back of the room, I raised my hand and suggested she write MLA on the board because “M-L-A” sounds a lot like “Em-i-ly.” She and the students laughed, we all got on the same page, and a great lesson continued.

This is pretty typical of my method of chiming in. In general, this is what I do:

  • consider carefully whether this is an immediate need that should be addressed in the moment.
  • raise my hand from the back of the classroom. This allows the lead teacher to maintain clear authority, and to manage the timing of my two cents. (I see this as especially important when I don’t appear clearly younger than the lead teacher.)
  • speak very briefly and with a smile, including a simple suggestion if applicable.

As always with this series on assistant teaching, what I’m describing is what I do now in my night classes with my particular students and teachers at a community college in Maryland. I hope it’s useful to you, at least as food for thought. I’d love to hear what works (or doesn’t work) for you in your assistant teaching situations!

 

Photo Credit: brando on Flickr

You’re reading Assisting the Teacher: Chiming In, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.

On Teaching Citations

7326788980_12146b3759I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how citations seem to stump just about everyone who’s new to them. They stump US-born teenagers and adult ESL students. They’re fussy, and they take up a lot of mind-space on top of the content the students are working flat-out to produce.

And at the levels I teach, students are really not able to read the academic journals where these formatting conventions are a “natural” part of the landscape.

The next time I’m lead teacher, I want to try comparing citations to hyperlinks.

On the internet, links are generally blue and underlined so they’re easy to see. We know at a glance that they take us to a related source, and we know that that’s why they’re there.

Citations are the same, but were invented way before the internet. Instead of being blue and underlined, they usually have some kind of parentheses or footnote. Since they came from an age of paper, we put them in two places: in the text and then again all lined up on the Works Cited page.

What do you think – would that help them see the purpose? Is that connection to the more modern way of reading and linking valid? Would the purpose help them with the formatting?

How do you handle teaching citations?

 

Photo Credit: Danny Molyneux on Flickr

You’re reading On Teaching Citations, originally posted at LearningToTeachEnglish.com.