Vatesol newsletter winter 2017

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Winter 2017 Vol. 20, Issue 4


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February 15, 2018

Board of Directors President Katya Koubek 1st Vice President Monica Starkweather

Table of Contents President’s Message SIG Reports

1 3

2nd Vice President

Treasurer’s Report Member Articles Announcement

4 5 9

Adil Bentahar Recording Secretary VACANT Treasurer Christina Wade

President’s Message

Past President/Nominating Chair

Katya Koubek

Laura Ray

Greetings, VATESOLers!

Adult Ed SIG Christina Wade Higher Ed SIG Miriam Moore Secondary Ed SIG VACANT Elementary Ed SIG Pamela Rose Teacher Ed/Program Admin SIG Jo Tyler Eastern Contact Michelle Grau Western Contact Eric Moore Northern Contact Pamela Rose Central Contact VACANT Newsletter Editor Jiuhan Huang Legislative Liaison Jessica Klein Liaison to VESA Jo Tyler Membership Chair Caroline Park Communications Chair Rebecca Raab Webmaster VACANT Social Media Chair Carlene Klein-Bennett Parliamentarian Liz Bowles

As the end of the year is fast approaching, I would like to take a moment to reflect on what the VATESOL organization has accomplished this year. Starting with the TESOL convention in March 2017, I, as the current VATESOL president, represented our organization at the annual affiliate meeting where a new Affiliate Network Policy was discussed. The TESOL Board of Directors approved this policy on October 20, 2017. This policy can be retrieved from: default-source/affiliate-library/affiliate-network-policy.pdf?sfvrsn=2. In addition, Christina Wade (Adult Ed SIG representative), Joanna Luper (Former Secretary), and I were part of the TESOL 2017 Affiliate Booth where we promoted VATESOL and its upcoming conference in the fall. Twelve of our members represented VATESOL at the SETESOL regional conference on October 4-6, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Adil Bentahar (2nd Vice-President) and I took part in the SETESOL affiliate meeting to learn about the setup and logistics of the conference. VATESOL is charged with bringing an annual SETESOL conference to Virginia in 2020. We would love everyone to be part of this experience and help us with the preparation for this big event. Spring and summer were the busiest months for the VATESOL Board, as we were working on logistics and responsibilities of our Board members for our annual conference. On October 21st, all the hard work paid off when we engaged in the biggest professional development of our organization: 2017 VATESOL conference, in New Kent High School, New Kent, Virginia. The VATESOL 2017 conference was a successful event based on the online evaluations and the feedback received throughout the conference. Over 100 individuals registered and attended the conference. Based on the 39 online evaluation responses we have received, over 64 percent of the respondents rated that the conference was worth a great deal for the money. Over 81 percent of the respondents believed that the conference was extremely well or well organized and structured. Eighty-one percent of the respondents felt that all or most of the objectives were met at this event. Sixty-three percent of the respondents believed that they acquired as much information as they needed prior to the conference. Specifically, the respondents commented on the empowering keynote address, interactive discussions and SIG meetings, and a variety of workshops available. The location, the 1

VOL. 20 ISSUE 4—VATESOL NEWSLETTER keynote address, presenters, and collegiality were mentioned numerous times as the strengths of the conference. Eighty-four percent of the respondents commented that the information presented at this event was extremely or moderately useful. VATESOL takes feedback seriously, and while we improved based on some of the 2016 conference suggestions, such as having specific questions to address and guide a discussion during the SIG meetings, pairing up lunch with the keynote address, using tickets of individuals present in the room for the publishers’ drawing, and sharing the list of presentations on the website ahead of the conference, there are still other issues that require our attention in order to improve the experience of our attendees. As with any other events, the respondents also felt that this conference could be improved by offering more food options, more sessions for K-12 school settings, situating it in a more central location and during a weekday instead of a Saturday, and having a program posted ahead of time with presenters’ names and time slots. Thank you everyone who took time to fill out an online evaluation and provided these insightful comments. Our goal for a future VATESOL conference will be to effectively implement these comments. Looking ahead, we would like anyone who is planning to attend the VESA conference on February 1 and 2 to stop by our VATESOL booth to say hello and submit your name for a drawing. We have vacancies on our Board, such as a Secretary, Secondary Ed SIG leader, Central Regional Contact, and Webmaster, and we would love to have you join us. The Board is comprised of different interest groups, such as Adult Education, Higher Education, Teacher Education/Program Administration, Advocacy, and K-12 Education. While our interests might be divergent, we all strive toward the same goal: “advancing the quality of English language teaching through professional development, research, standards, and advocacy.” I encourage each and every one to consider how you might be involved in our organization. We need you to become VATESOL ambassadors! Please contact me or other Board members if you have questions, concerns, suggestions, and ideas on how you might get involved in VATESOL. All the best for the end of the semester and happy holidays!

Katya Koubek, Ph.D. Katya Koubek is President of VATESOL and Associate Professor of Education and TESOL Coordinator at James Madison University. She can be reached at

Some of the VATESOL board members and regular members at SETESOL 2017

Some of the VATESOL board members at VATESOL 2017



Special Interest Group (SIG) Reports Teacher Education/ Program Administration SIG Chair Report Jo Tyler ESOL teacher educators from James Madison University, Regent University, and the University of Mary Washington attended the SIG meeting at the VATESOL Conference in New Kent County this fall. We reviewed the variety of programs offered at our schools and in other universities across the state. With the high demand for ESOL teachers in many areas of Virginia, we discussed issues of student recruitment, competition, commuting, online delivery, and the impact of the new Praxis specialist exam in ESOL.

Jo Tyler is chair of the Teacher Education/Program Administration SIG of VATESOL and professor of linguistics and education at the University of Mary Washington.

Higher Education SIG Chair Report The VATESOL Annual Conference: A Big Professional Development Bang for a Reasonable Buck Miriam Moore Members of VATESOL gathered in New Kent in October for a full day of professional development; for members of the Higher Education SIG, the conference offered an amazing return on a relatively small

investment of time and money. Conference attendees from our SIG could find sessions on community college ESL, college-ready writing standards, culture, speaking assessment, writing assessment, web-based scaffolding tools, debate, instruction in inferencing, maps in the classroom, and listening for meaning. I took practical strategies away from every session I attended, and could I have been two places at once, I would have participated in other sessions as well. At our SIG meeting, we discussed ways of increasing participation in the organization and sharing ideas, resources, materials, and best practices. One idea was to select one or two key areas of interest and host “swap shops” at next year’s annual conference. We also discussed improving communication and building partnerships between secondary English instructors, community college instructors, and four-year instructors. Specifically, we discussed creating a list of available resources for ELLs (from courses to advising, orientation, tutoring, contact information, etc.) at two and four year colleges; such a resource could help secondary instructors and advisors as they are helping students prepare for the transition to college study. Another area of concern for SIG members is support for graduate students in TESOL/TEFL programs across the state. Many of those graduate students are preparing to teach outside of the US; we should encourage sessions and articles on teaching in an EFL context. In addition, the Higher Education SIG might want to coordinate the poster sessions at future events to offer graduate students a friendly audience with whom they can discuss research. In the same vein, we could consider creating a network of readers for abstracts and proposals to provide feedback for graduate students, first-time presenters, and teacher-researchers who want to share work at a regional or national level.


VOL. 20 ISSUE 4—VATESOL NEWSLETTER Of course we also want to make sure we are using the tools and connections we have effectively, including the VATESOL website and newsletter. To that end, I would urge SIG members to consider writing an article for the newsletter and sharing some of the creative and innovative strategies you are using in your classrooms. Having seen some of these strategies in action at the conference in October, I know that there are some fantastic instructional techniques being implemented in classrooms across the state—I do hope some of you will share them! I would also like to encourage presenters from the conference to do a short write-up of your presentation for the newsletter.

If you have comments, suggestions, or questions—or if you would like to get more involved—please contact me. And in the meantime, have a peaceful and joyous holiday season. Miriam Miriam Moore is Professor of English/ESL at Lord Fairfax Community College and co-author of a series of developmental writing and integrated reading/writing textbooks for Bedford-St. Martin’s.

Treasurer’s Report Treasurer’s Report Laura Ray

BB&T Bank Statement Balance as of 10/7/17: $40,157.47 PayPal Account Balance as of 11/6/17: $27,935.68



Member Articles Bridging the Vocabulary Divide Christina Wade Research shows that students need to understand 95-98% of a reading passage in order to “adequately comprehend” the passage (Nation, 2006). For ELs, that level of vocabulary comprehension can seem difficult to achieve, especially in intermediate or higher texts where vocabulary becomes increasingly abstract. In addition, students need multiple contacts with a word in a variety of contexts in order to fully grasp its nuances. Despite the need for robust vocabulary instruction and practice, many ESL programs struggle to provide adequate, explicit vocabulary instruction. For example, in one IEP at the center of a study by Keith Folse, researchers observed only 121 instances of explicit vocabulary instruction across a week, for an average of fewer than 5 instances per class session. At that institution, even when a word was explicitly emphasized, there was often no accompanying visual support, such as writing the word on the board (Folse, 2010). How can ESL (and content teachers) help students move from “understanding” to “ownership” of new words? At the 2017 VATESOL conference, I shared the following strategies that have worked well in my classroom. Get visual! I write words on the board throughout the class, every class. Students are more likely to remember and learn words that are brought to their attention and repeated (Folse, 2010). As often as possible, I also try to use PowerPoint slides with pictures to preview vocabulary before we start reading.

Bring the words “out of the book.” After we have learned the definition of new words and seen them in the context of a sentence, I like to have the students interact with the words through a variety of sorting activities. I find that these types of activities help students build multiple connections to a word, which makes it easier to remember and use in the future. For example, I may give the students small pieces of paper with the target words on them, and ask them to sort the words by parts of speech (noun, adjective, verb, adverb). Next, I might ask them to find pairs of synonyms or antonyms among the words. I may then ask them to pull out the words that have prefixes (“in-“ is a common example) or put the words in alphabetical order. With many of these activities, students have to think critically about the meaning of the words in order to sort them. Teach collocations. I often tell my students that no word is an island—which is to say that words appear with other words, and often in recognizable patterns. It is helpful for students to learn these words in groups, especially if they often appear together. For example, if I am teaching the word “ancient,” I may also want to highlight other words that commonly follow ancient, such as “peoples,” “ruins,” “temples,” “cities,” etc. I like to use concordance lines for this because they allow students to see the word in a variety of contexts very quickly. Many times I build my own worksheets by using Lextutor or the BYU online corpus. However, there are also some example worksheets on the Nottingham site. Have fun! Another activity that I like to use in my class encourages critical thinking and creative expression. I give students a piece of paper with a large outline of an elephant on the paper. I ask them to write their vocabulary words on different parts of the elephant’s 5

VOL. 20 ISSUE 4—VATESOL NEWSLETTER body, and be able to defend why they placed the words in their particular locations. I then have them share their answers with a partner and/or the class. I also like to draw their attention to any differences or commonalities among the choices in the class, which can also reiterate nuances of their vocabulary words. Students have a lot of fun with this activity and enjoy sharing and defending their choices. Students need approximately 10,000 words in order to understand texts in an English-immersion academic context (Folse, 2006). In order to acquire those words, they often need to receive direct vocabulary instruction with visual aids, multiple contacts with new words, and activities that help them explore the semantic field of key vocabulary. I have seen a remarkable difference in the way my students seem to “own” new vocabulary words when I use these strategies in my classroom. Let me know what works for you! References Folse, K. (2006). The effect of type of written exercise on L2 vocabulary retention. TESOL Quarterly, 40 (2), 273–293. Folse, K. (2010). Is explicit vocabulary focus the reading teacher's job? Reading in a Foreign Language, 22 (1), 139-60. Nation, I. S. P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed for reading and listening? Canadian Modern Language Review, 63(1), 59-82. Christina Wade is chair of the Adult Education SIG of VATESOL and ELA Instructor with Adult and Career Education (ACE) of Central Virginia.

Engaging Emergent English Learners through Technology Angela Schweinfurth, Jessica Klein, &Caroline Doughty How can emergent English learners show what they know in school? How can we keep new-to-English learners engaged? In our classrooms, we’ve incorporated the use of technology, specifically tablet apps, to support our newest English learners. We believe it is important to incorporate technology into learning in our school, specifically, where there can be a classroom full of English learners who speak Dari, Arabic, Bengali, French, Spanish, or Amharic in one class! It has become a necessity to introduce apps as a way of providing students with creation-based, collaborative assignments, where those students who speak Spanish can work with those who speak Dari, and communicate their ideas not just verbally, but through technology by writing, drawing, and highlighting what they’ve learned. Using the apps listed below, we can help students find their voice, collaborate and problem solve, and share their successes by multiple means of expression.

Doceri Why We Love It ♥ 

It is an interactive whiteboard that’s easy to use for students.

Students can take photos using the camera or add pictures from the Internet.

Students can draw on each screen while talking about their thinking at the same time.

Students can record or delete one page at a time.

Teachers can easily export videos to the camera roll or other apps such as Seesaw.

Things to Think About 

Student may have difficulty multitasking, such as drawing and talking at the same time. 6


Students can “get stuck” retaking their photos again and again.

Seesaw promotes collaboration among students.

It creates a digital community where classmates can communicate about their creations and families can view and comment on their students’ work.

Seesaw is an online platform that bridges the homeschool gap instantly.

It may be challenging to find headphones or a quiet area to record.

Doceri does not support uploaded videos.

It is web-based and app-based. Shadow Puppets Edu

Things to Think About

Why We Love It ♥

Students can take photos using the camera or add pictures from the Internet.

Students can point, draw, swipe and talk at the same time.

Music and text can be added before or while students record.

Students can record or delete one page at a time.

Teachers can easily export videos to the camera roll or other apps such as Seesaw.

Lesson ideas are included in the app and on the website!

Student users need to be ages 13 or over, or have parent permission slips. These permission forms can be found on the Seesaw’s web site.

Teachers can only add one co-teacher to collaborate at a time.

At our school, collaboration is the rule rather than the exception. Using the FREE apps listed above, students can use creation-based technology to build confidence in English while working side-by-side with their peers. Our English learners benefit from the use of this technology by practicing their social and academic language in all four languages domains. Level 1 students in particular use technology as a creation tool rather than in isolation as consumption devices.

Things to Think About 

Internet searches for pictures are limited.

Music can overpower students’ voices.

Some images from the Internet don’t load properly.

There is no pen tool.

It may be challenging to find headphones or a quiet area to record. Seesaw (App and web-based)

How have we used technology in our classrooms? “I LOVE using Doceri for retelling assessments (speaking), All About reports (writing), as a base from which quizzes can be created (listening), and to share information among classmates (reading and listening).” –Angela

“Creating a digital community for my English learners has given them a safe space to practice their English and engage with grade level content; it’s perfect for making sure our students aren’t getting watered down curriculum.” – Jessica

Why We Love It ♥ 

Seesaw is all about creating an online portfolio for your classroom and individual students!

It is easy to share students’ work with families or co-teachers.

“All too often we see our language learners using technology to consume. We challenge you to have your students creating with technology to promote language in an authentic and innovative way. Using these apps is a 7

VOL. 20 ISSUE 4—VATESOL NEWSLETTER meaningful way to have your students develop language while also stressing critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration.” – Caroline

Angela Schweinfurth is an ELL teacher at William Ramsay Elementary School (WRES) in Alexandria, Virginia. She has been teaching ELL for 7 years.

Jessica Klein is an ELL teacher at William Ramsay Elementary School (WRES) in Alexandra, Virginia. She was a former second grade classroom teacher, and has been teaching ELL for 3 years.

Caroline Doughty is a Technology Integration Specialist (TIS) at WRES. A former second grade classroom teacher, she has been a TIS for 3 years.



Open Board Positions Announcements Dear colleagues, VATESOL currently has four open board positions for the 2017 - 2018 Academic Year: Recording Secretary Secondary Ed Special Interest Group Leader Central Regional Contact Webmaster Here are descriptions of the duties for each position: Recording Secretary shall: distribute board meeting minutes; distribute draft minutes to attending Board members for review and revision at least one week before the next meeting; after the Board approves the minutes, send the approved minutes to all Board members; organize and maintain electronic records of minutes and approved motions for retrieval of information; record approved motions in the register of motions by date of approval for easy referral Regional Contacts (NOVA, Eastern, Western, Central) and The Special Interest Groups Leaders (SIGs) shall: recruit and secure presenters for state VATESOL conference in their interest group, submit an article about the news from the SIG to the VATESOL Newsletter for each newsletter (current educational and legislative trends affecting your group are good topics for the articles); recruit members to write articles for the newsletters, keep list of members in the SIG; coordinate the SIG roundtable sessions at the Fall Conference and outreach to new members The Webmaster shall: maintain and update the website, solicit and act on suggestions from the membership on how to improve the website, and (if possible) attend a professional development workshop for website managers (i.e. the national TESOL conference has a website) If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for one of these positions, please contact Katya Koubek at with the following information: brief statement of interest academic CV and/or resume with relevant experiences (for Webmaster position only) link(s) to previous websites that you have worked on

These positions will remain open until filled.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Best regards, Katya Koubek, VATESOL President 9

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