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Topics - hmehrte2

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Quotations / Twilight and quotation rules!
« on: November 28, 2011, 11:16:55 PM »
I stumbled across a video for quotation rules a few weeks ago that might be useful for teenagers, especially a class of mostly girls. Here's the link:

I'm not sure if all of the rules are 100% accurate but it could be useful if your students like Twilight and you're trying to get through to them.

Reading/Writing Humor / Logical Fallacy Penguin
« on: November 28, 2011, 11:13:46 PM »
I was just thinking about a comic I've used when discussing illogical arguments in my advanced writing class. I show this comic:

If the link breaks you can just google 'logical fallacy penguin' and should get a lot of results for it. Anyway I've found it to be a really useful comic when trying to get a discussion going about illogical arguments. Hope it's useful!

My students always get what paraphrasing is but have often end up plagiarzing (unintentional) when they try to do it because they use words and/or sentence structure too similar to the original source. Thus I raise this point explicitly by showing them the paraphrase example from the following video:

I start at 9:55 and read/explain this passage to my class. Then I the next slide and ask them to discuss with a partner why each paraphrase is either good or bad. During this activity you must circulate and make sure that they don't find the original (if you're in a computer lab) and find the answer! After they make their final decision, we discuss as a class. They usually say that the second is better (which is true). I agree and we talk about why, e.g. there's a citation, words are different from the original. Then though I ask them if the second is a good paraphrase. They usually say yes and are shocked when I tell them it's plagiarism. I then show them the next slide and have Mr. Nigel explain why. They're usually still confused, so we go sentence by sentence and compare it with the original. The last sentence is particularly useful for this because it's basically the exact same as the original.

After going through this they do a practice worksheet in small groups, which is attached below. I then have them do their own paraphrase for homework, also attached below. Both of these worksheets are taken from or adapted from materials created for ESL 115 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

General Writing Resources / Writing Academic E-mails Lesson & Materials
« on: October 10, 2011, 01:37:59 PM »
A major issue that my students struggle with is writing e-mails. I can't count the number of times I've opened an e-mail from an ESL student and felt offended. After working with students one-on-one though you start to realize that students don't mean to sound this way (usually); they just don't know how to communicate their message. To combat this problem, I created a lesson on writing academic e-mails. This lesson was designed for an advanced ESL writing course but could also work at the intermediate level. A similar lesson could be done for high beginners but would need to be adapted for language.

The lesson starts with a PPT and then moves on to a handout. After that students are given two practice activities. The explicit instructions are outlined in a lesson plan attached below. I intentionally haven't created an answer key for the last practice activity because I think that some e-mails are not entirely right are wrong. Thus it's up to you to decide whether each is good or bad. I'd advise letting your students ask a lot of questions while going over each.

One issue that this lesson doesn't explicitly cover is politness. If your students are struggling in this area, you might want to supplement my lesson with a lesson on polite language. For instance you could cover polite indirect questions,  e.g. NOT 'I will come to your office at 1 PM' BUT 'Could I come to your office at 1 PM?'.

Learning L2 Reading & Writing / Writing Hooks HO
« on: September 25, 2011, 08:16:52 PM »
Students often don't know what hooks (attention getters) are or how to use them effectively, so I created a handout for them. I suggest using this handout for mid to high intermediate ESL writers. It gives them a general idea of what a hook is and why it's necessary. It's a bit too low for advanced students, especially if you're trying to get them to stop using first person. You could however adapt it for advanced students. Also note that if you have advanced students you'd probably want to give them more more types of hooks. My list isn't conclusive. In any case it's attatched. I also suggest supplementing this handout with a discussion on introduction structure and actual introductions to analyze. I usually give them different introductions each semester, depending on what their paper's topic is.

Learning L2 Reading & Writing / Writing & Culture Mini-Lesson
« on: September 25, 2011, 08:01:22 PM »
I noticed the post about Writing & Culture and have found in my experience teaching ESL that some students really struggle with this. They think they're writing a stellar essay only for it to be torn apart because they haven't figured out the (western) English academic writing style. In order to help students with this issue, I created a mini-lesson on the topic. I usually give it on the third or fourth day of class. I have a discussion with my students about different writing styles and am clear that no way is better than the other; they just need to learn the right style in the right culture. I use the PPT below to guide the discussion. My LP is also attatched. Hope this helps someone! :D

Learning L2 Reading & Writing / P.I.E. Structure
« on: September 07, 2011, 08:50:47 PM »
Something I think writing teachers often overlook is giving students a clear explanation that each claim needs to be supported by an explanation. That is, if support is given for a topic sentence it needs an explanation behind it. My ESL students really struggle with this. I find myself writing, 'What?', 'Why is this important?', etc. over and over again. To take care of this I emphasize the P.I.E. structure in my class. I found a pretty good handout at this link:    It's not perfect so I adapted it for my class. If it wasn't a PDF I'd attach it what I do but I gave out hard copies.

I also show students this video:
It's pretty cheesy and simplistic if you teach advanced writing (which I do) but it gives students a good visual representation of what an essay looks like. It also gives a visual of how everything relates to each other, e.g. how the paragraphs relate to the thesis statement.

Overall I'd highly suggest talking about the P.I.E. structure when you cover paragraph structure. I've seen vast improvements in students' papers after teaching it. I hope this helps! :D

Human Is: A Science Fiction Story / Making Predictions
« on: September 07, 2011, 11:32:47 AM »
I think this story would be great for mid- or high intermediate ESL students. It might be challenging for mid- intermediates but the sentence structure is simple enough.

I would make students be creative. They would read the story in parts and after each section predict what will happen next. They could write up their ideas for homework or discuss in small groups. For the section after Frank says that Jill can testify against the alien Lester I would do a class activity in which students would write the next part of the story in small groups. For this activity, each group would one a paragraph, then pass it to the next group to write another paragraph, and so on. At the end of the class there would be several different versions of the rest of the story.

In addition to all of this I think it would be interesting to teach debate skills after students read the story. There could be a debate on whether it was a good or bad decision for Jill to stay with Lester. Possible questions could be: What does being human me? Is it morally acceptable for Jill to accept Lester even if she got everything she wanted? Could Jill's decision ultimatley lead to the downfall of the human race. Could something like animorphs happen? Would the human race eventually be taken over by the Rexorians?

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