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Messages - Tyler Hansen

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Vocabulary / Exploratorium Lesson
« on: April 22, 2017, 10:34:44 PM »
Here is a lesson I created that helps students to delve deeper into vocabulary meanings by looking at their etymologies. It also takes a look at the history of the English language which I think would be very interesting for ESL learners. This lesson aligns with common core learning standards and links to the Exploratorium website which is not reading or writing based but does have fun and interactive learning experiments for students. Let me know if you have any ideas for adapting this lesson.

Prereading Activities / Internet Scavenger Hunt
« on: April 22, 2017, 10:06:51 PM »
Internet scavenger hunts are fun activities that allow students to use technology and be creative. I think that they are good assignments to use because they are easy to create and can be very informative. Even of there are not many computers available in the classroom, internet scavenger hunts can be given out as take-home assignments. These assignments can be adapted to fit may categories, including reading and writing. I think that an internet scavenger hunt could be used as a prereading activity in order to have students look up and define new vocabulary before encountering it in the text. It could ask students to compare definitions from different online dictionaries or to practice using it in a sentence. If the text is online, this could also be used as a postreading activity with questions that require students to go back through the text for answers or to search for unfamiliar items mentioned in the text and then draw or describe them.

Organization / Reverse Outlining
« on: April 07, 2017, 07:59:30 AM »

Instructors give their students several tools for planning and organizing their writing as they begin composing their first drafts. In any good writing class, students will outline their work and then go about finding relevant sources to support their argument. However, after the first drafts are completed, instructors often rely only on editing strategies such as peer review and teacher feedback to guide their students toward a completed draft. Unfortunately, this is often not enough for the students to get their paper to a level that is deserving of an A. Furthermore, some students are not even required to create an outline, but rather to simply bring in a rough draft that is expected to evolve into a fine piece of writing by the end of the unit. Though it is challenging to come up with good strategies to help students reorganize their in-progress writing aside from leaving comments that suggest a reordering of paragraphs, this is something that many students could benefit from.

One strategy that I came up with for myself when I first began writing large papers was to go through my completed drafts and to create a small summary of what I had written by outlining it again. I later found out that this was called reverse outlining, and it became a very useful tool in my writing development. By comparing my new summary of what I had written (which included the number of paragraphs I had and how many paragraphs I used to support each main point) with my old outline, I was able to see areas that may have strayed from the topic. Oftentimes, there would be an area that was lacking in support and/or an area that had too much information. This would cause me to reassess my thesis and consider broadening or focusing the thesis accordingly.

Therefore, when teaching about writing and organization, I will definitely introduce this method to my students as a way to keep themselves on track and to improve their writing through self-evaluation instead of relying solely on peer and teacher feedback. Also as a writing tutor, I would be interested to hear what tools or strategies everyone else uses when dealing with editing or reorganizing papers.


Writing and Rhetoric Professor Rebecca Howard Moore coined the term "patchwriting" in one of her earlier articles titles “A Plagiarism Pentimento” which was published in the Journal of Teaching Writing in 1993. A pdf of the article may be found here: <>
In short, patchwriting majorily keeps the author's original syntax, switching out original terms for synonyms and rearranging the author's clauses. This was very interesting to me because I used to think that as long as used different words to communicate the author's message, I would be in the clear. However, patchwriting is a form of plagiarism, and students should be aware of strategies for avoiding it.

For ELLs especially, I believe that it is important to be taught a lesson about plagiarism before beginning a unit based around writing a research paper. I think a good idea for a lesson is one that focuses on writing strategies that students can use to avoid plagiarism. Purdue Owl gives some good information on this here: <>
For example, you may encourage students to take hand-written notes of sources materials so that they are more likely to use their own words. Activities for this lesson should have students practice quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing to avoid plagiarism. The instructor may want to give each student the same piece of writing rather than having them pick their own text to draw from. This way, the instructor will already be familiar with the text and will be able to easily see if the student was able to quote, paraphrase, and/or summarize without plagiarizing.

Motivation / Extra Credit Motivation - Khan Academy
« on: April 06, 2017, 01:50:54 PM »
One useful resource that I have come across in other education courses that I could see myself using in my future classroom is Khan Academy. Khan academy includes videos that walk students through lessons that they may be having difficulty with. Though it is a great tool, I also want to ass that it should only be used as a supplement for learning, not for a main lesson. Khan Academy mainly offers lessons on math and science, but it also includes grammar lessons that I think would be relevant to the ESL classroom. If students have trouble understanding something taught in class, this is a resource that they should feel free to consult in order to hear, see, and read more about various grammar points.

My idea for using this resource to increase motivation in my classroom is to use it as a way for students to gain extra credit. Foreign language teachers at my high school did something similar with duolingo, but it was not effective because students would have their phones out in class, and there was no administrative function within the app that allowed the teacher to see which lessons we completed without us bringing the teacher our phones. With Khan Academy, teachers can set up their online classroom and add students to it as well! I would like to post an assignment each week for extra credit that the class would have access to and that would relate to the current unit. This way, the students should be motivated to gain extra credit, and I would also be able to see and monitor their progress online. This type of informal assessment data would give me helpful feedback that I could use to see how well the students are actually understanding the concepts taught in class.

Have you ever come across a word or phrase in your L2 that you wanted to apply to your own vocabulary but were unsure of how to use it in the proper context? Or have you ever wondered the most natural way to express something in your L2 but had problems using an online translator or dictionary? I have fallen into these situations several times while working with Spanish and Korean. Translators and dictionaries often provide too limited of a context (or no context at all), which can lead learners to use words or phrases awkwardly in their speech as well as in their writing. Linguee is a resource that I would like to use in my classroom in order to help my students when they encounter thus issue. Students can search a word or phrase on Linguee and see it represented in context through a side by side translation of the same passage in the learner's L1 and L2. This resource is also useful for if a student wants to see the best way to communicate a word or phrase in their L2 so that it sounds natural and native-like. Linguee pulls its data from websites with multiple translations of the same information, providing ample context for any item searched along with a link to read the whole passage in either language if desired.
Students can access this resource at, and there is also an app available on the App Store and the Google Play store. In addition to using this resource outside of class as a teacher, I feel like this website has the potential to be used for a variety of in-class activities as well.


Tyler, Alex, Jasmine, Emily

After the prereading activity, try to complete the following activities while reading the piece.

1. Create a reverse outline of the piece, keeping in mind what type of structure a scientific article may attempt to use.
·       Start by trying to circle the main idea (thesis) of the article
·       Continue by underlining what you think are the topic sentences of each paragraph
·       Conclude by circling the main takeaway (summarizing sentence) of the article

2. Transfer the information you circled and underlined to a separate sheet of paper and make sure they are ordered in the order that they appear in the article, making sure to leave ample space between each one.

3. Reread the article and try to identify supporting points in each paragraph to add under each topic sentence on your reverse outline. What kind of structure did the article use to communicate its information? Was it organized in a way that was logical and clear?


Working with character descriptions is a great way to help ESL students to gain some adjectival vocabulary that will help them to communicate more clearly when talking about people who they haven't met yet such as new students or teachers. To work on building adjectival vocabulary in this lesson, students should first read Chapter 1 of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone before coming to class. Tell students to pay attention to the descriptions that arise when new characters are introduced. (pre-class)

Open up with a discussion of what happened in the chapter and ask students if they noticed anything about the descriptions of the characters in the first chapter. Was there any character that stood out as their favorite? (5 minutes)

After discussion, pass out a sheet with some lines from the chapter that have key descriptive vocabulary words. The key words should be underlined in each sentence so that students can see them in context. Students should be familiar with these terms after reading the chapter, but this should make things a little easier. Next ask students to get into small groups (2-4 people) and define the terms in their own words. They may consult a dictionary if they are having trouble. (10 minutes)

After this activity, the teacher should go over the words with the students to check their understanding of the words. Address any vocabulary words that have been incorrectly defined on the students' sheets. (5 minutes)

The students should now have enough understanding an practice with the vocabulary to take command of the language and use it to describe real or fictional people. Hand out a sheet of paper to each student and ask them to create their own character which should fit into the world of Harry Potter. When finished drawing, students should write a paragraph describing the character's appearance as well as their abilities or backgrounds. Where did this character come from, and what is their purpose in the world of Harry Potter? Students should be creative, moreso in the descriptions of the character than in the actual drawings. Encourage students to use bilingual dictionaries to include relevant descriptive vocabulary not covered previously in class. Be available to help clarify and give examples relating to the vocabulary words. (25 minutes)

If time allows, ask for volunteers to share their new characters with the rest of the class. These new characters may be a fun tool to incorporate into another lesson. (5 minutes)

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