Sunday, April 7, 2013

Here's the link to my presentation at TESOL 2013, Dallas.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nina: Thursday Night and Friday

After the CALL-IS business meeting yesterday, a group of about 30-35 of us headed to the Iron Cactus, but when we arrived, we discovered that we had no reservation, and they could not accommodate a group of that size! We were quite disappointed. In the end, part of the group ended up going elsewhere, and some of us, 15 or 20 finally, did find space on the 3rd floor of the restaurant, on a kind of partly covered roof, where we had a Mexican dinner and a very pleasant evening. 

Vance and Laine leaving the Iron Cactus after dinner Thursday night

Up very early today, before 6, and I walked to the Convention Center in the dark, arriving with plenty of time to get a half-caf soy latte and a muffin at Starbucks before heading to the EV for the EVO presentation in the Electronic Village. We were four: Elizabeth, Vance, Aiden, and me, and we had two computers set fairly far apart. We mostly chatted individually with people as they stopped by. I would explain that the Electronic Village exists in a physical place and time; but about 12 years ago, some CALL-IS members realized that the Internet offered the possibility of extending the EV beyond that space and time of the actual TESOL Convention, and thus the Electronic Village Online was born.  I tried to make people understand that the EVO is simply the best professional development deal around, and "the only pressure on you is the pressure you put on yourself," since there are no tests and no grades or credit. It's the perfect opportunity for the lifelong learner. 
Before the EV presentation on the 2013 EVO

After that session concluded, I spent most of the day attending EV Fair sessions. I love these because they tend to be super-practical. Today, for example, I learned how to use Flipsnack or Bookr to create a professional-looking online magazine; how to use 2 features of Word I have never used before--the Track Changes feature and the Indexing feature--for peer editing and vocabulary usage monitoring; and how to download and edit YouTube videos and clips. 

At 12:00 I went down to the Exhibit Hall to help my colleague Daniela put up her poster on Turkish students' perceptions of NNSTs:

My colleague Daniela Wagner-Loera with her poster
At 2:00, Daniela and Eve/Miguel were presenting at the EV about their EVO sessions, and the presentations were webcast. I sat in on both presentations and was even asked to give my perspective as a participant in the Podcasting session.

Evelyn begins the webcast

Evelyn & Miguel

Part of the live audience
Then I actually attended a regular session on incorporating cell phones into a class (rather than trying to ban them). I found Marilena there; and I totally ran out of energy. I could have fallen asleep in the chair! It wasn't because the session was boring; it wasn't. The presenters had lots of ideas for how to have students use their cell phones to practice the 4 skills. But I was like a deflated balloon. I trudged back to the EV (it's a very long walk, as I was at one end of the CC and the EV was at the other) where CALL-IS had been having a planning meeting, and a bunch of us went to the Omni Sports Bar for a drink; but we ended up sitting outside, and it was really very cold! So Nellie, Evelyn, Miguel and I had hot chocolate, while Vance, Phil, Claudio, and Roger had beer. 


Then some of them went to the Steering Committee's "bonding dinner" or the TESOL business meeting, I don't know who went where, and I went with Vance, Phil, Eve and Miguel to dinner. We ate at a nice Italian place whose name I forget, and then Vance and Phil went for another beer, and Eve, Miguel, and I came back to the Fairmont. We were happy to get out of the cold. It couldn't have been over 50 degrees, maybe less (although I spoke to my nephew Micah, who told me it was 92 in Austin today!!). We were shivering.

I was able to check in for my flight and print out my boarding pass at the business center downstairs, and now I am ready for bed. Mary isn't back yet; she may be out with her parents, who drove down from Ohio and arrived in Dallas today.

Wow! It's 11:35; I think I should go to bed. I have to check out in the morning before I go to the CC; we are leaving for the airport at noon. The next time I post I will be at home in Maryland. As usual, it's been fun and exhausting.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nina: Thursday

Mary and I woke up at 8:00 this morning. Then we had to scramble to get to the Convention Center by 8:30! I managed to walk it in 20 minutes, including a side trip to the CVS to get some batteries for my camera (I remembered to bring all the cables for my camera, phone, and laptop but neglected to pack a few extra batteries!). I went straight to the Electronic Village, as I had promised to spend most of today helping out there. There I saw a number of CALL-IS friends from prior years, including some webheads, but did not take any photos. (Sorry.)

I was given the easy task of scanning the badges of people entering the Technology Showcase room for the CALL Academic Session on Gaming and Language Learning. This was a nice assignment, as I got to listen to all six presentations, many of which focused on the State Department's new game, "Trace Effects," which was developed by Rick Rosenberg, Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Jacqueline Gardy (who happens to be the president of WATESOL), Deborah Healey, and others (although we also heard about Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and other earlier games, as well as mentions of Second Life, although that is not really a game). Here's a shot (dark sorry) of Rick presenting at the session:

Afterwards, I went to luch with Evelyn Izquierdo and Miguel Mendoza, co-moderators of the Podcasting in the ESL/EFL Classroom session of EVO. We walked a few blocks from the Convention Center to a nice little Italian restaurant called Ravenna, which wasn't crowded at all. We enjoyed lovely pasta dishes (I got eggplant rollatini) and even sampled the desserts: cheesecake, cannoli, and tiramisu. I had to laugh when the two Venezuelans tried to ask the Spanish-speaking waitress (in English) for a knife. They finally had to resort to Spanish.

After lunch we returned to the Convention Center and I stopped in at the Exhibit Hall to visit my friends Shirley Thompson and Karen Taylor, who are here exhibiting The Color Vowel Chart (second from the left is Goedele Gulikers):

After another stint scanning badges (which I consider fairly creepy even though I guess in this instance it's pretty benign; TESOL wants to know the size of our audience) during the Developers' Showcase, I stopped in to hear the end of a presentation on "Saudi Females and Mixed Gender U.S. Classrooms: Furthering Cultural Understanding" given by Jeanne Malcolm of UNC Charlotte. It was packed, which goes to show how widespread this issue is in American IEPs now. Unfortunately I got there so late I missed the actual presentation; I arrived in time for the "forum." But Jeanne promises to upload her prezi to the TRC.

It's time to go back now for the CALL-IS open meeting. Afterwards, the plan is to go to the iron Cactus for drinks and maybe dinner. We'll see if we can get in! It's a popular place near the CC so it may be packed.

Nina: Wednesday Evening (Photos of Downtown Dallas)

 a kind of grackle, maybe?

 Moon and building

The old Texas School Book Depository (now  the Dallas County Administration Building), whence Lee Harvey Oswalk shot JFK

X marks the spot where Oswald's first shot hit the President.

Another shot of the book depository

with Alex Nikiforov, my former student, who lives in Fort Worth

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nina: Wednesday, from Dallas

5:40 pm Central Time (they are one hour behind us here) and it has been a long day of travel even for me, coming from Maryland (how about those traveling from really faraway places, like Japan or the UAE?).  I was up at 6:30, on the airport bus at 8, on the plane at 10:30 (all EDT), arrived here around 1:00. There were five of us from the DC area on the same flight. After an attempt to get the TRE light rail into the city we ended up sharing a taxi, which left us at Ray and Sung's hotel. Goedele, Daniela, and I walked to the Convention Center and registered. we picked up our bags, badges, and certificates and had something to eat.  (I think Dallas is going to be challenging for this vegetarian. I ended up having a muffin for lunch!) Then Daniela and I set out to walk to our respective hotels. This was a longer shlep than I supposed, at least lugging suitcases and laptops. And the last bit was uphill.... (I thought Texas was flat.) So after I got to the Fairmont and checked in, I just took a shower and changed my clothes, and have been goofing off, checking email and so on.  I have not attempted to look at my program book, which has over 200 pages of stuff to do over the next 3 days.

Seen on Griffin Street on our way to the hotel

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This poem summarizes my presentation at TESOL Convention 2013

World Cultures Within Kids’ Reach

Dear language teacher,
Young learners are known for malleability 
And zeal to quench their curiosity
So as to grasp life aspects and any novelty
Why not seize such a golden opportunity
And make their future free from hostility?

Dear language teacher,
It is mainly your responsibility
To offer young learners the immunity
To stereotypes, prejudice and bigotry 
By exposing them to a selected variety
Of other people’s culture and society

Dear language teacher,
Enrich every class with an extra activity
About cultural aspects of a different community
Be careful! Select your items with sincerity
And mind those concealing duplicity
To avoid any backfire or tendency to animosity

Dear language teacher,
When it comes to techniques and methodology
Do some readings to broaden your creativity
Then adjust them to match learner specificity
Make use of twenty-first century technology
To manage motivating hands-on activity

© Chaouki M’kaddem

Counting Down to Dallas

The Convention is really getting close! I don't leave until Wednesday, but people coming from farther away are already packing their bags.  If you are looking for Webheads at the Convention, the best place to look is always the Electronic Village (EV)--the precursor of the EVO. You will find me there most of Thursday and Friday!

On Thursday, many of us will be at the Iron Cactus at around 8:30, just following the CALL-IS business meeting which will be in the room where the Technology Showcase is. If you'd like to join us there, please RSVP here. (There is a "maybe" option if you are unsure.)

We'll probably be getting together Wednesday and Friday nights as well. :-)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Here We Go, Again!

Heading off to the TESOL 2013 International Convention and English Language Expo (what a mouthful!) in just 15 days, so it's time to create a Webheads & Friends blog. The idea is for TESOL-goers among the Webheads to contribute by blogging about their convention experience. You can also post your photos (or links thereto).

If I haven't invited you to join the blog but you will be at TESOL and would like to contribute, please email me at nina dot liakos at gmail dot com and request an invitation.