Summer 2015 Edition
WATESOL NEWS Connecting Teachers of ESOL in the Washington DC Area
President’s Message Membership News Fall 2015 Conference & 45th Anniversary Events p. 3 Open Board Member Positions
WATESOL’s 45 Year History
Toronto 2015 TESOL Presenters
Articles Lifetime Service Award Brock Brady p. 4 Lifetime Service Award Jodi Crandall p. 5 Get Techie with Becky Saudi Students in the Higher Ed Classroom
p. 6 p. 8
Making the Case for Math in Adult Ed p. 11
It was great seeing everyone in Toronto! Sharla, Heather, and I attended several aﬃliate sessions and made lots of connections with other aﬃliates in the US and abroad. We also have lots of new ideas that we hope to roll out this year. I look forward to seeing more WATESOL members in Baltimore for TESOL's 50th anniversary. As you may know, we are expanding our fall convention to 2 days with the second day focusing on the SIGs. We hope this new format will allow us to increase the number of sessions. We have invited Dr. Joan Shin from UMBC to be our keynote speaker. Dr. Shin has many years of experience working with young learners and we look forward to having her speak. We're also looking forward to our Saturday Gala to celebrate 45 years as an organization. Finally, I would like to thank some outgoing members of the WATESOL board for their service. • • • •
Melanie Baker, Higher Ed SIG Co-chair Steven Humphries, Treasurer Sarah Lane, Professional Development Coordinator Chantal Ross and Alex Galen, Adult Ed SIG Co-Chairs
Thank you all for your service to WATESOL! Best of luck in your new ventures and we look forward to working with you an any capacity in the future. As we celebrate 45 years, please share your stories with us and share your ideas on improving WATESOL in the decades to come. Bryan Woerner, 2014-2016, WATESOL President
Winter/Spring 2015 Edition
From the Newsletter Editors Happy summer 2015! As you embark on your summer plans, we hope that you will take time to reflect on your year in teaching thus far, and use this newsletter to give you fresh insights. In addition to a welcome message from new WATESOL President Bryan Woerner, this issue contains: • Two articles honoring Lifetime Service Awardees: Brock Brady and Jodi Crandall • A useful model for the successful integration of technology in the language classroom • A reflection on the integration of math in an adult ESL program • Tips to motivate Saudi students in the higher ed classroom The newsletter editors would like to extend our gratitude to all of this issue’s contributors. In future issues we will continue to oﬀer more interesting and relevant articles connecting research to practice. Submissions are welcome! Your Newsletter Editors, John Mark King & Heather Tatton-Harris
2014-2015 WATESOL Board PRESIDENT Bryan Woerner email@example.com
SIG LIAISONS Lucy Ruiz and Susie Robinson firstname.lastname@example.org
VICE PRESIDENT Sharla Branscombe and Heather Weger email@example.com
HIGHER EDUCATION SIG Kris Lowrey and Melanie Baker firstname.lastname@example.org
PAST PRESIDENT Jacqueline Gardy email@example.com
ADULT EDUCATION SIG firstname.lastname@example.org K-12 SIG Jennifer Estenos and Melissa Parks email@example.com
RECORDING SECRETARY Rita Harding firstname.lastname@example.org MEMBERSHIP Masha Vassilieva email@example.com TREASURER firstname.lastname@example.org PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT Irene So email@example.com NEWSLETTER EDITORS John Mark King and Heather Tatton-Harris firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Board Member Positions The following positions are open on the Board • Treasurer • Professional Development Co-Chair • Higher Ed SIG Co-Chair • Webmaster/Social Media Manager Contact email@example.com for more information.
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Annual Fall Convention 2015 “Embracing Tradition & Innovation” Saturday & Sunday, October 17-18, 2015 Universities at Shady Grove We are adding an additional half day to the annual WATESOL Convention. Sunday morning, the focus will be on the Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Saturday, October 17
Sunday, October 18
Breakfast Plenary Speaker - Dr. Shin Conference Sessions
Coﬀee Special Interest Section Sessions
Lunch Conference Sessions
45th Year Celebration Conference Banquet. See details below
Plenary Speaker - Dr. Shin Dr. Joan Kang Shin is the Director of TESOL Professional Training Programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). In this position she administers numerous online professional development programs for EFL teachers in over 100 countries, including her own courses Teaching English to Young Learners and Teaching English to Teens. Dr. Shin is Series Editor for a ground breaking 6-level primary English series for National Geographic Learning called Our World. She has also designed a professional development video series for Our World. Her most recent book co-authored with Jodi Crandall is called Teaching Young Learners English.
45th Anniversary Conference Banquet Saturday 10/17 Join us for a celebration dinner in honor of WATESOL’s 45 years. PLACE: TBD TIME: 5:00-6:00pm
Volunteer at the Convention! We need volunteers to run the WATESOL convention. In addition to contributing to the organization, volunteers receive discounted registration to the convention. Contact Lucy Ruiz firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
PRICE: $30 Check the website watesol.org for more details.
Summer - 2015 Edition
2014 Lifetime Service Awards For their outstanding contributions to the field, last October the Washington Area TESOL Association (WATESOL) awarded Brock Brady and Jodi Crandall its most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. this WATESOL Lifetime Service Award, and our organization is grateful to call him one of our own.
Brock Brady By Jennifer Lubkin Chávez Like many, Brock Brady was initially lured to TESOL by a love for intercultural experiences. Following a stint in the Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa, he completed studies in TESOL and went on to work in France, the U.S., South Korea, Burkina Faso, Benin, and several handfuls of other countries. But Brock’s career in TESOL has been most indelibly marked by his commitment to service. Soon after landing in Washington, DC, as Coordinator and then Co-Director of the TESOL Program at American University, Brock served three years as President of WATESOL. He’s taken on many leadership roles over the years, most prominently as President-Elect/President/PastPresident of TESOL International from 2008 to 2011. Though the titles honor the work Brock has done, they only begin to hint at all the years and eﬀort he has put forward, day in and day out, to build community within TESOL and to promote TESOL as a profession. Brock has been particularly involved in supporting and recognizing the contributions of NNESTS. With nearly all of his early career in EFL contexts working alongside non-native English speaking teachers, Brock developed a deep and personal interest in the fledgling NNEST movement. In 2004, Brock founded WATESOL’s NNEST Caucus, one of the first such groups in the nation. In the past eleven years, he has supported research about and by NNESTS, urged NNESTS to take on leadership roles, and oﬀered encouragement to countless students of TESOL as they develop professional identities. Brock’s work promoting the professionalism of TESOL continues. As an Education Specialist at Peace Corps since 2009, he has designed and is currently helping to implement a new, accredited TESOL certificate program for Volunteers. Brock is also serving as Program Chair for TESOL’s 50th anniversary convention in Baltimore next year. With more than 30 years of teaching, advising and leadership in service to the field, Brock well-deserves
John Mark King, Regional English Language Officer, U.S. State Department: I first met Brock Brady in 2002. It was a few months after 9/11, when Peace Corps had evacuated me from my adopted home in Uzbekistan. I was looking for a way to get back overseas and was considering teaching as a vehicle for this. I was a new student at American University’s International Training and Education Program and, after one week of classes, certain that I had landed in the wrong place. Fortunately, I had already planned to earn a TESOL certificate at AU and had been to a few classes. I scheduled a meeting with Brock, then the program’s Co-Director. Upon my first visit to the AU TESOL oﬃce, he made me feel both welcome and understood. Shortly thereafter, I was oﬃcially enrolled in the program and my career in TESOL had begun. Many of the courses I took he had designed, one of which, Cultural Issues in the EFL/ESL Classroom, was my favorite. He assisted me on a pilot study of one Uzbek speaker’s order of English morpheme acquisition. He helped to guide me in creating and evaluating my final teaching portfolio project and the report I prepared on my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer. Even after I left AU, Brock was always available when I sought advice (which was relatively frequently). I drew on his experience running language programs years later when Brock was President of TESOL International Association and I was in Mongolia struggling to get a fledgling English program oﬀ the ground. Wholly unprepared for the task, I spent many months on trialand-error tactics to both empower my staﬀ of local teachers and increase student enrollment. I knew that Brock was already well-known in the NNEST movement and I relied on him a great deal when developing and implementing my first set of training workshops. Most valuable to me was his approach to professionalizing our teachers’ roles in the program so that they were able to earn respect not only from the community but also from themselves. My first teacher development workshops were based directly on materials he provided. Most of those teachers are still in the classroom today.
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Baltimore County. With all of Jodi's contacts, we had high-powered speakers, Earl Stevick and Russell Campbell.
Jodi Crandall By Christine Meloni Jodi Crandall could be called the Wonder Woman of TESOL. Not only has she had a distinguished academic career but she continues to travel the world helping organizations, institutions, and governments to solve language education problems. She has worn many hats: teacher, administrator, academic advisor, consultant, program evaluator, speaker, workshop organizer, researcher, author, reviewer, and on and on. Jodi was elected Member-at-Large in 1979, Vice President in 1980, President in 1981, and President again in 1982. She remained on the Executive Board one more year as Past President. In addition to WATESOL, Jodi also served as President for TESOL and AAAL.
Jodi also had great input in the field during her tenure at the Center for Applied Linguistics. She chaired the Language and Orientation Resource Center, which developed training materials for people working with adult refugees. She set up cultural and English-language training in refugee centers in five countries in Southeast Asia. Susan Bayley, former WATESOL president and former Executive Director of TESOL, remembers Jodi’s amazing energy: Jodi never learned to say no. She would say yes to another invitation to speak at a conference, to serve on a committee, to lead a research team. She always seemed to squeeze in yet another commitment, thus endearing herself to millions of professionals the world over. Jodi also has a very big heart. She deeply cares about global issues, probably because she has travelled to almost all corners of the world. And let us not forget her love of animals, small and large.
Christine Foster Meloni, former WATESOL president and editor of the WATESOL Journal, remembers Jodi’s strong leadership skills while on the WATESOL Executive Board: Jodi and I were on the Board together for five years so we spent a lot of time together in those days. We had frequent Board meetings. From the beginning Jodi was a dynamic member. She suggested many innovations and was very enthusiastic in bringing them to fruition. She would delegate but, more often than not, she would volunteer to do the work herself. She was tireless.
Mix the above and you have a powerful, enthusiastic, sensitive, brilliant, diplomatic woman. Everyone knows when Jodi walks in the room, right? Maryanne Kearney Datesman, former WATESOL President and co-author with Jodi of American Ways, remembers her travels with Jodi:
Jodi was one of the major forces behind the introduction of the WATESOL convention. As Vice President, she took on the responsibility of chairing the first convention and lined up a staﬀ of energetic WATESOLers to assist her.
Jodi Crandall is truly one of a kind—a charismatic professional who is “down to earth,” kind, generous with her time and her advice, a creative dynamo, and a genuinely caring person. We’ve worked together, written together, and traveled together.
After leaving the Board, Jodi continued to be very active in WATESOL for many years. She was invited to be the plenary speaker at WATESOL’s 35th anniversary in 2005. In her presentation she traced WATESOL’s history, and, although it was not her intention, she showed how much the organization owes to her dedication and hard work.
WATESOL and many other professional organizations have been blessed to have Jodi’s dynamic leadership. Those of us who know her are privileged to count her as a friend.
Synthia Woodcock-Dang, former WATESOL treasurer, remembers co-chairing the first WATESOL convention with Jodi: Jodi and I were co-chairs of the first WATESOL conference held at the University of Maryland,
Destination Siberia Jodi has definitely not hung up her running shoes yet. She continues to assist English teachers around the globe. She has received an invitation from Larissa Olesova to be the plenary speaker at the 2016 summer conference of Yakut TESOL in Yakutsk, Siberia. She is very well known among the teachers in Siberia and her visit is anticipated with great excitement.
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Gettin’ Techie with Becky! By Becky Shiring Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School email@example.com
Project Based Learning 2.0 Are your students tired of boring old grammar worksheets? Are you exhausted over grading essay after essay about the same mundane topics? Imagine your students actively working to plan, research, and create. Envision a classroom where your learners are self-directed and authentically engaged with language. This is what Project Based Learning (PBL) is all about! Countless studies show that when implemented well, PBL can be more eﬀective than traditional instruction and can significantly impact student learning and motivation (Vega, 2012). Over the years I have implemented student driven “Passion Projects” in my classroom and noticed improved attendance, stronger classroom community, and improved test scores. I had students work on their projects with group members outside of class time. I had students that previously were too shy to speak answering questions and speaking extemporaneously in front of the whole class. I had a 68 year old student that almost exclusively used Spanish in the classroom stand up and teach us about antique cars in English with gusto! Technology can be extremely helpful in eﬀectively managing and implementing PBL. It allows for improved organization of various project components, increased collaboration between students, and provides the opportunity for students to improve technology skills while increasing content knowledge. Heide Wrigley outlines the basic phases of project based learning which include identifying a topic, planning tasks, researching, implementing the project, and sharing results with others (1998). Let’s take a look at each phase of PBL and how technology can play a role.
1. Identifying a topic In this phase, students are expected to brainstorm in order to generate ideas for a topic. When most of us think of brainstorming, we think of the traditional mindmap or idea web. Popplet is a
great tech tool to use for this purpose. It allows students to capture thoughts and relationships between text, images and video and is simple to use. Pinterest, a visual bookmarking site, is a tool that many of us use in our personal lives (oh the hours I’ve wasted searching for that perfect crockpot recipe). But Pinterest can also be a great place to search for and organize project ideas. See an example of a student’s project board here.
2. Planning Once students have identified a topic, it’s time to start planning. Google Keep is a tool to help students organize ideas, create to do lists, and set reminders with text, audio and image options. Keep syncs with the user’s Google account and has an accompanying smartphone app for ideas on the go. For group projects, Teamweek is a great, simple to use tool that helps organize a project timeline and facilitate communication and collaboration between group members.
3. Research My life would be lost without Google telling me the answer to everything. However, it can be diﬃcult to weed through all of the search results to get to the good stuﬀ. It can be useful to provide students with a few vetted, ELL friendly websites rather than casting them oﬀ into the Googleverse which often leads to frustration. Wonderopolis is a great site to learn more on just about any topic. Newsela and Smithsonian Tween Tribune are two sites with current news articles that have an adjustable lexile level feature. For how-to projects, students can visit Instructables or Wiki-How to get step by step instructions on how to do something. And let’s not forget to teach our students to be responsible researchers! CC search is a tool that helps students find creative commons licensed materials to use in projects and Citation Machine is an easy to use citation tool to help students make sure they’re giving credit where credit is due.
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4. Implementation Finally it’s project time! If you have an idea, there’s a tech tool out there to help bring it to life. In the past, many of my students have created websites or blogs for their projects. Weebly is a pretty simple tool that can be used to create websites, blogs, or online stores. In the past I have had students create a website about malaria prevention, a healthy living cafe for Latina women, and a blog to help classmates learn English (created using WordPress, a blog platform). For students that want something tangible like a family cookbook or a bilingual children’s story, try Shutterfly or Storybird. Students can design their project and then for a small fee have it sent oﬀ to the printer and made into a book. For how-to projects, Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool. Simply click on “start recording” and the tool records your computer screen and your voice. After you are finished, you can upload the video to YouTube to share. Here is an example of a student teaching us how to save a document.
5. Sharing The final phase of PBL is sharing what you’ve done. During this phase, students present their finished project to the class and talk about the process it took in getting there. When people think of presentations, one tech tool always comes to mind--PowerPoint. But there are many other tools out there that can be much more dynamic and user friendly. My go-to is Google Slides, PowerPoint’s cooler, younger sister (just like I am to my brothers). Google Slides is pretty similar to PowerPoint except presentations are cloud based and can be shared with other people making group collaboration a breeze. To jazz up your Google Slides, check out Slides Carnival. Slides Carnival oﬀers lots of great, stylish presentation templates that also provide suggestions for creating an engaging presentation (utilize quotations, don’t use too much text, etc.). Prezi, whose motto is “keep
your audience nodding along, not nodding oﬀ ”, is another solid presentation tool. Prezi creates zooming 3-D presentations that really engage the audience in the content. The tool also allows for cloud storage and collaboration. Integrating technology into PBL can make a huge impact on student learning. Students learn to evaluate information, collaborate in an online environment ( a necessary skill in today’s workplace), navigate new technologies and most importantly, they learn not by being passive recipients, but active participants in their own education.
About the Author Becky Shiring is an Instructional Coach and Technology Integration Specialist. Her column will appear in each edition of the WATESOL News. Submit your tech questions, suggestions, and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
References Vega, V. (2012, December 3). Project-Based Learning Research Review. Retrieved May 21, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/pblresearch-learning-outcomes Wrigley, H.S. (1998). Knowledge in action: The promise of project-based learning.Focus on Basics, 2 (D), 13-18.
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Saudi Students in the Higher Ed Classroom By Kinana Qaddour Virginia Tech University email@example.com As an instructor teaching in a setting with a predominately Arab-Saudi student population, I have witnessed my peers find it challenging to engage students while implementing a topic-based or content-based learning approach. Often, instructors discuss means to overcome student apathy towards most topics. I have consistently reflected on how I can draw from my own cultural experiences as a Syrian-American, who has lived and studied in the Middle East, to create a greater understanding of the student population and implement meaningful, relatable content that integrates the domains of English language learning. In a typical intensive English language curriculum, the aim is for students to grapple with content independently of the teacher, then critically discuss the topic or content at hand. Based on my own experiences, I have generated a few topics that have engaged my students on a more in-depth level and rejuvenated their interest in the lesson. These topics are applicable to the university-level Saudi Arabian ELL students. Of course, they could also be implemented towards other Arabic-speaking students.
required additional travel and time. Students were motivated to explore how they can give back to the surrounding community, while increasing their general awareness of issues in their surrounding community. The students either donated food to a local homeless shelter or participated in a local toy drive, with most students supporting the toy drive. I was able to initiate a discussion on what volunteer charity “sadaqa” (in Arabic) constitutes from a religious perspective, and what community engagement both in their native countries and the United States involves.
1. Community Service Community service holds a strong meaning for this student population, both from a cultural and religious perspective, as Arab culture places an emphasis on charity in a variety of ways, and there is a responsibility on every Muslim to partake in charity, during the month of Ramadan, and throughout the year. Students were given an assignment to design a service trip they could ideally participate in. Students detailed to their peers, in spoken presentation form, the expectations of a volunteer on the service trip they designed, and presented the needs that will be reached while completing this service trip. In addition, students were asked to find a charity opportunity or volunteer activity and participate in locally, as most of the service trips they designed for the presentation could not be done locally and
Arabic is an extremely poetic language. The structure of writing and communicating in Arabic diﬀers greatly from English; Arabic sentence structure and punctuation frequently include fragments and run-on sentences with occasionally limited use of commas and end punctuation. This writing style diﬀers greatly from English. Writing in Arabic does not follow the typical topic, supporting details, and conclusion format. Therefore, Arabic speakers find it particularly challenging to organize their ideas in such a manner. In an intensive English program, students are usually pushed to adopt a formal, academic structure, delivering information directly, with little “fluﬀ ” or wordiness. One way to break from this usual instructional mold, without neglecting time spent on essential essay writing skills, is to integrate poetry into the writing curriculum, as Poetry is an essential component of the curriculum and a valued means of cultural expression in the Middle East. Teachers can give students the opportunity to collaborate and translate well known Arabic poems into English. In addition, teachers can have students write and read their own poems aloud. Students may have the potential to surprise you with their own poetic writing and performance skills. These type of writing activities in the ELL classroom motivate students to communicate ideas and enhance their use of intonation, gestures and movements, as well as a variety of other speaking techniques. I used poems by Khalil Gibran, a beloved Lebanese-American poet, as well as a few from Imam Shafi’I, a well-known Muslim Jurist and scholar. Both were incorporated into my lesson. See my list of poems below.
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3. Studying Abroad Students were divided into groups. Some were given the English version and asked to translate into Arabic while others were given the Arabic version and asked to translate into English . If the instructor does not speak Arabic, they could find multiple sources for translations online to ensure they have the correct, translated version. Students wrote reactions to the works and how influential poetry was in their studies in Saudi Arabia or their country of origin. This gave students the opportunity to recall meaningful experiences with poetry in the classroom, such as writing poems for teachers, reciting poems at graduation ceremonies, and other moments when poetry and education merged. Keep in mind that if length becomes a concern, excerpts of some of the poems can be used instead of the entire poem. Khalil Gibran: • “On Pain” • “On Giving” • “On Joy and Sorrow” • “On Clothes” Various selections from Diwan Imam Al-Shaf ’i: • “On Traveling” • “My Soul Yearns for Egypt” My most memorable poetry experience was a student unexpectedly reciting, in Arabic, a few famous lines from “Stand for your Teacher” by the Egyptian poet Ahmad Shawqi:
Asking students to discuss their motivation to study English in the United States has become all too mundane, so why not change the topic to studying Arabic? You can have students argue in favor of studying Arabic in their native, Arabicspeaking country. Unlike other languages, there are multiple options as to where individuals can study the Arabic language. Students can analyze a variety of factors and resources in generating the advantages and disadvantages of studying Arabic in specific Middle Eastern countries. Most Arab students, specifically Saudi Arabian students, feel passionate about this and, in my experience, were creative in presenting their ideas (written, debate style, spoken presentation) on why and where people should study the Arabic language. Prior to the discussion, students could read the New York Times article, “ For American Students, Life Lessons in the Middle East”, and breakdown the advantages and challenges of studying in the Middle East then transition into Arabic study programs abroad and detailed reasons as to why American students should study Arabic in various Arabic-speaking countries. Students should break up into groups of three or four to generate a list of advantages and disadvantages of studying in their country of choice, which they will present after ample time has been given for groups to work. These advantages and disadvantages should be based on their own ideas, in addition to what ideas students may have generated from reading the article. Teachers should collect ideas from groups and write them on the board to discuss as a class. Article: For American Students, Life Lessons in the Middle East
“Stand for the teacher and honor his rank...
About the Author
...for a teacher is almost as a prophet Do you know of someone nobler than...” This poem is extremely popular in Arabic and often used in the classroom to demonstrate the significance of educators. The instructor could present the poem in English and have students and find out if they can correctly guess the correct poem in Arabic based on the translation, followed by a discussion of the poem’s meaning.
Kinana Qaddour is an instructor at Virginia Tech University’s Language and Culture Institute in Fairfax, VA. She has previously taught in Istanbul, Turkey and completed her Masters in C&T, with an emphasis in TESOL, at the University of Kansas.
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45 Years in the Making: A Short History of WATESOL
Conlin, J. (2010). For American Students, Life in the Middle East. The New York Times 6 Aug. 2010, Style sec.: 2. Retrieved from http:// www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/ fashion/08Abroad.html?_r=0
WATESOL was formed by 34 charter members on June 11, 1970. John Underwood was the first WATESOL President and the dues were $2.50.
Imam al-Shafi’I (2012). My Soul Yearns for Egypt. Retrieved July 13, 2015 from http://alsiraat.co.uk/arabiyyah/imamal-shafii-soul-yearns-egypt Khalil, Gibran (2007). The Complete Works of Khalil Gibran. Crossland Books, India The great poems of Imam al-Shafi'i. (n.d.). Retrieved July 13, 2015 from http:// forums.islamicawakening.com/ threads/the-great-poems-of-imam-alshafii.63285/
Go to http://goo.gl/GKcIwp to see a chronological history of WATESOL including milestones, major themes by decade, and past leaders.
Newsletter Submission Guidelines We welcome submissions to our newsletter. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions. Contributions can include: connecting research to practice, current topics of interest to the membership, and teaching tips. Guidelines include: • 1,500 words or less, including tables • Up to 5 citations, following APA citation style • 2-3 sentence author biography • Author photo (digital head shot) • Include a byline with your name, email, and aﬃliation
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Making the Case for Math in an Adult Ed Program By Laurel Anderson, Sarah Berlin, Kristy Stoesz Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com According to the first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 diﬀerent countries, American adults are lagging behind in reading, math and basic problem solving (OECD, 2013). The results of the numeracy portion of the test, which evaluates basic mathematical and computational skills that are considered fundamental for functioning in everyday work and social life, are garnering increased attention in the field of adult education. Adult immigrants in the United States are particularly falling behind the curve (see figure 1). For programs that serve adult English language learners, filling the gap means finding creative ways to embed more numeracy within curricula that have traditionally favored language over math.
Figure1: OECD 2013: Skills Outlook, p. 89
Making the Case for Math Our mission is “to provide education that prepares the diverse adult immigrant population of Washington D.C. to become invested, productive citizens and members of American society who give back to family and community.” Helping students develop numeracy skills is an essential part of fulfilling our mission. For example, invested, productive citizens must be financially responsible, able to interpret pay stubs,
estimate expenses, pay bills, create budgets, navigate banking systems. In the area of health, understanding basic measurements for height, weight and blood pressure involve numeracy skills. Numeracy is also essential to good nutrition; students must understand how to interpret information on food labels, evaluate serving sizes, and balance proportions. For adults in the workforce, the levels of job responsibility necessary for attaining family-sustaining wages demand more critical thinking and advanced numeracy proficiency. Participating in civic life requires that adults are able to understand quantitative data to make informed decisions as voters and community members. In fact, numeracy is pervasive throughout daily life, whether in managing one’s money, making healthy choices, being an intelligent consumer, succeeding in the workforce or making sense of the world around oneself.
Integrating Numeracy: Our Journey The process of addressing the numeracy needs of our students began several years ago and continues to evolve. The first step was a review of our existing ESL curriculum under a numeracy lens to find the intersections of language and math. Not surprisingly, we found that plenty of language objectives also involve an understanding of numbers. Making sense of work schedules, public transportation timetables, maps, directions on medicine labels, food labels, recipes, pay stubs, sale prices and receipts all assume varying degrees of numeracy proficiency. From here, numeracy related objectives were earmarked and teachers were provided with professional development time to reflect on these objectives through the numeracy lens. After honing in on where numeracy lies within the ESL curriculum, the next step of the process focused on building enthusiasm and buy-in among teachers and students to tackle numeracy more explicitly. Monthly “math challenge” boards provided a good starting point for generating school-wide excitement. Each month, a bulletin
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organized into monthly school-wide numeracy themes (see figure 2) which can be interpreted and applied in ways that are in keeping with the curriculum of each class. To kick-oﬀ this series of thematic units at the start of the semester, students participated in a “My Life in Numbers” activity in which they were able to work within February’s theme of number concepts and place values by sharing numbers that hold significance in their life, e.g. one’s birth date, number of children, street address or number of years in the U.S. (see figure 3).
Figure 2: Monthly Numeracy Themes based on CLB
board near the school cafeteria featured a “math challenge” scenario to which students were invited to submit a solution. The scenarios were general, real-life situations to which all students could relate and were carefully worded to be accessible to all students despite wide ranges of English proficiency and cultural diversity. The first challenge focused simply on estimating how many candies were in a bag. Later challenges became more complex, such as evaluating whether or not to rent or buy a home, calculating calorie intake and expenditure, and measuring the dimensions of a house. Students participated in commercials to help promote the monthly challenges and winners were rewarded with certificates. The first challenges were created by teachers, but as enthusiasm for the challenges grew, groups of students began to take ownership of the activity by creating the monthly boards themselves. Eventually, the challenges came to include followup videos in which the winners explained how they arrived at the correct answer. In short, the monthly math challenge boards helped to raise awareness around numeracy, generate enthusiasm to solve math problems, and glean insight into the diﬀerent approaches that students used to arrive at a solution. While the math challenge boards were designed for general school-wide appeal, the next phase of the process focused on integrating numeracy into individual classrooms in more specific ways. Our latest iteration of monthly challenges was inspired by the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), which lays out the progression of reading, writing and numeracy skills for ESL adult learners with little or no literacy skills in their first language (Johansson, 2000). The current semester has been
In May 2015, the school community focused on the theme of measurements and each class worked with measurements in ways that connect to the varying content of our diﬀerent classes. For students in the ESL for Health class, this has involved activities related to measuring height, weight, temperature and blood pressure. Students in the Culinary Arts Academy, meanwhile, have used this theme to focus on various culinary measurements and conversions between U.S. and metric systems of measurements.
Figure 3: My Life in Numbers
Moving Forward with Numeracy: Addressing the Challenges Our progress towards the integration numeracy into our ESL curriculum has been sure and steady, but not without its obstacles. As we move ahead into the next school year and continue to grow and learn, our next steps will hopefully address a few challenges.
Summer - 2015 Edition
Challenge #1: How can we continue to make math appealing and relevant? For many of our students (and teachers), math has an aura of diﬃculty around it. Many adults have had negative experiences with math previously, resulting in the belief that they are simply not good at it. Reframing “math” as “numeracy” has helped ease anxieties. Whereas math may conjure frustrating or even painful memories of algebra, geometry, statistics or calculus, numeracy focuses on the practical applications of numbers in daily life. This emphasis on context redirects attention away from math for the sake of math to a broader understanding of how to make sense of the world around oneself. Beyond the focus on context, what else can we do to motivate reluctant learners and build their confidence? Challenge #2: How can we diﬀerentiate our instruction to meet the wide range of numeracy abilities among the adult learners in our classrooms? In our program, students are grouped by ESL level, which is not a reflection of their proficiency in numeracy. Moreover, while learning math is a linear process, numeracy skills are acquired randomly, depending on the vast array of contexts that our adult students encounter in life. In short, adults skills are situated along a continuum of diﬀerent purposes for and levels of accomplishment with numbers (Kerka, 1995). Our current scheme of monthly numeracy themes diﬀerentiates activities into three phases of development, ranging from counting, sorting and basic math to complex reasoning and analysis of data, but what more can we do to ensure that we are meeting students at their own levels of numeracy? Challenge #3: How can we make more time for numeracy? Eﬀectively integrating numeracy into the curriculum requires time for teachers to brainstorm activities, plan lessons, create materials, collaborate and reflect. We have made some time for numeracy during professional development sessions and faculty meetings, but more is still needed.
Conclusion Despite the challenges, we are seeing the rewards of our numeracy journey so far. Students are making connections between language and numeracy and understanding of how these skills relate to life outside the classroom. ESL teachers who previously felt unprepared to teach numeracy are showing more willingness to experiment. Moving ahead, our goal is to continue to explore the context, content, and cognitive components of numeracy, to address the individual needs of students, and to build student's success around numeracy.
About the Authors All three work at Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School. Laurel Anderson is the Numeracy Committee Chair and a Health Literacy Instructor. Sarah Berlin is the Assessment Coordinator and Co-Chair of the Curriculum & Assessment Committee. Kristy Stoesz is a Digital Literacy Instructor, a Numeracy Committee member, and will soon be taking a new role at the school as a Numeracy Integration Specialist
References Johansson, L. (2000). Canadian Language Benchmarks 2000: ESL for Literacy Learners. Retrieved from: http:// www.language.ca/documents/eversion_ESL_Literacy_Learners_Apri l_2010.pdf Kerka, S. (1995). Not Just a Number: Critical Numeracy for Adults, ERIC Digest No. 163. Columbus, OH: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult Career and Vocational Education. OECD (2013), OECD Skills Outlook 2013: First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1787/9789264204256-en
Summer - 2015 Edition
TESOL 2015 Presenters from WATESOL There were many WATESOL members who presented at TESOL 2015 in Toronto. Thank you for contributing to the field and representing the Washington Area TESOL aﬃliate. Below is the list of those who submitted their name and presentation title to be recognized in this edition of the newsletter. Names
Sarah Berlin, Kristy, Stoesz, Heather Tatton-Harris
Making the Case for Math in an Adult Education Program
Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas, Deanna Wormuth
CEA Accreditation: One program’s journey through the (re-)accreditation process
Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas, Deanna Wormuth, Renee Feather
From job description to interview: Administrators’ and applicants’ perspectives
Sigrun Biesenbach-Lucas, Donnette Brantner-Artenie
Developing confident and critical ESL writers through primary research projects
Lindsey Crifasi, Kristy Stoesz, Heather Tatton-Harris
Making Digital Literacy Meaningful for Adult ELLs
Using ePortfolios to Showcase Student Writing
The Electronic Village Online 2015* - EV Classics Fair
Student Presentations Using eduCanon – an Engaging Idea
Jennifer Lubkin and Andrew Screen
Teacher and Student Perspectives on Learning in Flipped Grammar Course.
Engaging Learning Through Cross-Cultural Tales in the Elementary Classroom
Use Penzu for Online Journals and Porfolios
Political Ads: A Bridge to Persuasive Organized Writing
Jason Story and Heather Tatton-Harris
The Power of Reflection in an Adult Ed Workforce Program
Crossing Bridges: Passageways to Graduate School for International Students
Memrise.com: Fun, Free, Interactive Vocabulary Learning
WATESOL members (Sharon Pan, Lindsey Crifasi, Rebecca Lee, Sarah Berlin, Heather Tatton-Harris, Kristy Stoesz, and Jason Story) pose in front of the TESOL Toronto 2015 sign.