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Messages - katwu

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Complete Reading and/or Writing Units / Paragraph Writing
« on: December 13, 2009, 04:30:45 PM »
Here is a complete unit that I've created for paragraph writing (handouts included!)

The unit is divided into the following three lessons: paragraph unity, paragraph development and paragraph cohesion.

Hopefully this unit will be useful for those who are teaching academic writing from the very beginning! 8)

Works Cited/References / Citation Game Home Page
« on: December 08, 2009, 02:20:47 PM »
This is an on-line citation practice game that students could work on either individually or in pairs from the U. of Washington.

By clicking on the arrows at the very beginning of the homepage, students can practice ordering the sequence of entries of the references. What good about this practice game is that it includes a variety of different types of entries, including journals, music recordings, encycolpedia, web citation, television broadcast and so on. Therefore, students can be exposed to a lot of possible types of sources they might encounter!

Summary & Paraphrase / A really nice pre-paraphrase animation!
« on: December 08, 2009, 02:14:11 PM »
Here's a powerpoint slide about "pre-paraphrasing" that I found on-line.

Before actually paraphrasing a text, one has to ask the "right questions" about the text, such as Who, Where, When , Why, and then, after answering and those questions can one be sure that they have really comprehended and digested the text. It is only after asking the right questions and answering them, can one try to use their own words to convey the same meaning.

This is a really nice power point for teachers who are looking for some "pre-paraphrasing" activity, because it is all about helping students ask the right questions. And it could be used as a whole class interactive activity.

 There are several examples given in this slide. Each slide has a sentence, and there are animations of the"questions" popping out one by one. After the questions, the answer of the question would be highlighted in the sentence, also, through theuse of animation.

Besides, this power point also has cool pictures and sound effects that helps make paraphrasing all the more fun!

Hope you find it useful!

Persuasive Paper / Teaching Argumentation structure
« on: December 08, 2009, 02:04:19 PM »
The powerpoint file that I've attached serves as an opening lecture when teaching about argumentation. Here's the outline of the powerpoint.

What makes a good Argumentation topic
In this section, there are two examples on each slide which students can compare and discuss about the strength and weakness of each topic. This section ends with a brief conclusion about what makes a "good topic"

Main Elements in an Argumentative Essay
Here, students are introduced to the five main elements of argumentation: thesis, context, reason, objection and response. Definitions of these elements and corresponding examples are also given. In this section, students are also asked to identify these five elements in a given essay"Health and Healing at Your Finger Tips" (This essay is attached in the pdf file)

Organization of an Argumentative Essay
After students understand the elements, they are divided into groups and they have to come up with their own ways of organizing those five elements in an essay. The two examples that are on the slides only serves as a starting point for them to know how they might organize it.

Persuasive Paper / Using Toulmin's Argumentation Model
« on: December 08, 2009, 01:52:30 PM »
Toulmin's Model of argumentation is a good start to teach about argumentation since it provides students with an esay model to follow when analyzing an issue crtically.

I used this model to teach about argumentation. Before students actually write their argumentative paper, teachers can use this model to help acquaint students with elements of argumentaion: Claim, Support, Warrant, Qualifier, Backing and Rebuttal.

I've attached a power point file which I used to lecture on this topic. In the powerpoint, there are definitions and examples of each elements and also mini-practices scattered throughout the slides. This could be used as a 30 min lecture in class, accompanied be occasional small group discussion.

After the lecture, in groups, students practice using this model by advertising for a product. (An advertisment worksheet is attached here too.) Each group take turns advertising for the product, giving their "Claim" and "Support", while the other groups respond by analyzing their "Warrant" and attacking them with  their "Rebuttal"

 ;) I think my ESL500 students had fun with this practice!

General Writing Resources / Final Review Game in ESL Writing class
« on: November 17, 2009, 08:38:25 PM »
Finals are approaching, and I thought this would be a great time to  help students review some of the writing concepts and conventions that we have been talking about throughout this semester. :)

1. I came up with a list of keywords that represent certain writing concepts that I've been teaching about, (e.g. main idea, unity, audience, purpose, topic sentence, thesis statement, telling and showing, sentence variety, paraphrase, plagiarism, summary, PIE structure, citation...) and write them on cards.

2. Divide students in to groups of four. Students in each group has to take turns to come up. The teacher will assign a card to that student and he/she will have to try to make his/her group member say that key word by describing it. (Note: the student that is describing can say anything but those key words)

3. The group that has got the most key words within a limited amount of time wins!

I find this activity really useful in helping students review those concepts, since it forces them to describe those concepts in their own words. For example, if the key word is ?topic sentence?, the student that is describing would say something like ?Two words. It tells you the main idea of that paragraph. You can only have one in each paragraph. Everything else in that paragraph supports it.?

By playing this game, not only the student who is describing gets to review the concept, but also his/her team members get to review it too! 

Technology and Teaching Reading & Writing / Re: Text Analyzers--Readability
« on: November 17, 2009, 08:12:35 PM »
The text analyzer is really interesting. I pasted some of the reading material that I used for my ESL class and surprisingly found that the readings that I gave them tend to be rather "difficult' according the analysis--something that I've never noticed before.

This helps me to be more aware of the reading material that I'm choosing for my students. Whenever I'm unsure about the level of difficulty of a certain material, it'd be nice to see what the text analyzer has to say about it! ;)


I think it's great that the above two sites provides free reading material. I would probably prefer a real book for my own leisure reading, but for teaching an ESL class, it's great to have something that is free and reachable to everyone!

Here are some other resources that I've found on line--though it's not really that "techy"--

News of the Weird

This is a good website if teachers are looking for ?weird and interesting? news that they may use for students? reading material! This website updates the new once a week and has a collection of news from a wide range of magazines and newspaper from different countries. What's good about it is that it has already picked out the weird and interesting ones for you--so it might make the teachers' job easier.

ESL Monkey

In the section of ?English Reading Room?, it provides lots of stories for ESL students of different level proficiency (short stories, long stories and classic stories) that you could either download or read on line.

What?s really cool about this webpage is that it has an on-line dictionary assisted tool, which means that students can paste the text they are going to read there, and if they encounter a word they don?t know?they could just double click on that word and it will automatically link it to an English dictionary definition!

Summary & Paraphrase / warm up summary activity: "the eyes"
« on: October 22, 2009, 10:44:20 AM »
Here's a nice warm up activity to start with when teaching summary; it helps Ss understand what they think a good summary should be like before the teacher actually introduces the concept.

1.Divide the class with about four Ss in each group

2.Ask each group to decide who is going to be "the eyes" of that group. The teacher shows a video clip in class, but only "the eyes" can watch the clip. Other Ss have to close their eyes and simply listen. (You can find useful video clips here: pingu series has one thing in common: it makes a lot of noise, but you wouldn't know what's going on unless you actually "watch it"

3. All of the students except the eyes get a piece of chocolate. ("The eyes" have to earn their chocolate by doing a good job of summarizing!)

4. After "the eyes" finish watching the clip, they have to summarize it for the rest of the group. (At this point, the teacher should stress that its only a "summary")

5. Show the clip again, this time to all of the students. Ask the other students to evaluate whether or not "the eyes" did a good job summarizing the clip. If they think the eyes did a good job, they should give the chocolate to "the eyes".

6. Discuss with the students whether or not they give their chocolate, and for what reasons? The teacher tries to elicit from the students what they think makes a good summary.

7. The teacher presents actual guidelines on "what makes a good summary". According to these guidelines, ask the students to once again evaluate whether or not the eyes did a good job. If they changed their mind about their evaluation, they can ask for their chocolate back!

Summary & Paraphrase / Paraphrase Relay!
« on: October 20, 2009, 04:05:58 PM »
After spending one lesson on teaching students on paraphrasing, students already know to distinguish betwen a legitimate and plagiarized paraphrase
2. basic steps to paraphrase at the sentence level

I extended the activity of "paraphrase chain",in which students line up and takes turn paraphrasing the same sentence and see if the ideas get distorted by the end of the line. Instead of a paraphrase chain, we did a "paraphrase relay"!

1. I divided the class into four groups, each group has four students (make sure that each group is equally competitive in terms of their writing ability)

2. In front of the classroom, I arranged four chairs. This is the place where the relay takes place.

3. Each group has its own sentence that needs to be paraphrased (the difficulty of paraphrasing that sentence should be the same)

4. Only one person in the group can come up to the front at one time. The first person in each group gets to see the original sentence and has to paraphrase that sentence.

5. After the first person finishes, the second person in the group has to quickly come up to the front and paraphrase what the first person paraphrased.(The rest of the team members could only paraphrase according to what the previous person has paraphrased) The activity carries on until all the students in the group has a chance to paraphrase the sentence.

6. The first group that finishes the paraphrases gets a prize (in my case, I gave them chocolate); this is to ensure the speed of the activity wouldn't go to slow and make it more competitive

7. The group that has the best paraphrase (as voted by the class) also gets a prize (again, it's chocolate); this is to make sure they really know "what is a good paraphrase"

I wrapped up this activity by having each group discuss about whether or not the ideas in the original sentence has successfully reached the last person through their paraphrase. I made them write their paraphrases on transparencies, so that everyone in the class can see how the paraphrase 'evolved'. During this discussion, students

1. identify when and where the distortion or error occur
2. and they had a good time laughing at each other and sharing chocolate!

My class had fun participating in this activity; it's a competition in which all the students are involved and everybody gets really worked up! ;D

Summary & Paraphrase / summary activites for kids
« on: October 15, 2009, 04:33:04 PM »
While I was try to find some summary activites for my ESL500 grad students, I found some really interesting summary lesson plans for kids!(Too bad that I can't use it for grad students though...)

I attached three activites that I find most interesting
1. Paper bag report (this one is my favorite!)
2. Fortune Teller
3. Story Wheel

Other activites can be found from the following link

Motivation / Re: "Hiring" Students for Group Jobs
« on: October 15, 2009, 10:48:35 AM »
I like this idea ;)

Students in my ESL class tend to be shy during group activities. Some would complain that they find group activities inefficient. Hiring them for group jobs would give them a clear focus on what they should do and help them develop autonomoy!

General Writing Resources / Audience and Purpose Lesson Plan
« on: October 15, 2009, 10:43:13 AM »
Here's a lesson plan for teaching audience and purpose--
To begin with, I attached three files for this lesson:

1. The worksheet for audience and purpose (Ss can use this to revise their essay)

2. The powerpoint for how I actually taught the lesson in class
   The powerpoint includes the following information:
   a. the teaching context
   b. lesson plan outline
   c. Ss's journal samples
   d. warm up activity
   e. discussion questions
   f. lesson reflection

3. The essay sample "Cooking, a Rewarding Experience" used to help students practice identifying the purpose

4. Besides these three files, which is what I used to teach my class, the fourth pdf file is a resource that I found on-line that help Ts come up with ideas on teaching audience and purpose.

Hope you find this information useful!

I personally had a hard time understanding this article, so here's a post reading activity that could help students to

-elaborate and evaluate their own understanding of the article
-determine what additional information is needed for comprehension
-consolidate and integrate information through further research

1. Students share about their first reaction after reading this article: what they like/dislike, find it difficult/easy to understand, boring/interesting?
2. Students identify where they had trouble understanding the article
3. Identify the key words (nouns) that they need more information on?(E.g. galaxy clusters, light years, ram pressure, gas stripping process. The class could vote on the top five most popular key words.)
4. Assign each key word to a group to do research on the key word
5. Each group are then required to share their information using ?understandable?, common, easy-to understand, language(basicaly, rephrase the concept of the terms in their own words)
6. After group presentations, through collaborative work, students should have more control over the content of the article
6. Students make annotations (explaining about the key words) for this article

Introductions / An introduction that grabs attention
« on: September 22, 2009, 01:54:49 PM »
One of the functions of Introduction is making readers think that "this stuff is worth reading";  has to contain a "hook" that attracts readers attention. Instead of listing out types of strategies that can get readers attention, here's an activity that can help students discover what type of introduction works most efficiently.

1. Hand out sheets of random newspaper to students
2. Give them a time limit (preferably 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how many sheets each student get)

3. Ask students to skim through all the articles really quick by the reading only the first few lines (don't read the whole thing!)
4. Students should cross out the articles that didn't immediately grab their attention, and circle the ones that did
5. Students could then discuss and share about which articles successfully grabbed their attention, and what they might learn from it (Did it started out with a question? An interesting description? Shocking figures or statistics?)

6. The teacher could then draw a conclusion by listing out several possible ways to create a "hook" in the introduction

I'm going to try this activity in my class next week, and post about how it goes!:)

General Writing Resources / Defining a Term-- the concept of Audience
« on: September 22, 2009, 01:41:07 PM »
Here's a helpful activity that can help students become more aware of the concept of "audience"
Since the class I teach is ESL500 (a writing class for grad. students), I ask them to

1. Find a complex term from their own major
2. Define/explain that term for someone who is in his/her same major
3. Define/explain it again for someone who is a university student but has no idea about their  major
4. For the last time, define/explain it for a ten year old child who has limited knowledge about the world.

I used this activity as a journal assignment, and found that it worked really well! Students become increasingly aware of how they're explaining the term, what examples they are giving, and what type usage(formal/informal) is being used.

Getting to Know You Activities / Re: Get them talking and LYING!
« on: September 22, 2009, 09:12:19 AM »
I did the "two truth and one lie" activity in my ESL500 (Oral and Written Communication at the graduate level) class. It worked really well! The students enjoyed making up "false facts" about themselves. However, the problem is, I think the students didn't really get to interact with each other more in depth. The class in now in its the fourth week, and most of them still don't know each others name :?don'tknow

I love the idea about the "lying game"! I'm going to try this in class next time!

Harry Potter Lessons! / The weather report about owls
« on: September 10, 2009, 10:15:46 AM »
In the 1st chapter of Harry Ptter, there is a scene where the weatherman is reporting about hundreds of owls flying throughout the nation. Teachers could ask students to act out, or role play this scene by practicing doing a weather report in class. Since the scene contains an interaction between the news anchor and the weatherman, it would be a good interactive activity.

The teacher could find real British weather reports and ask students to model after it. By focusing on the weather report in England, students can gain more cultural perspective.

Harry Potter Lessons! / Rewriting it from another perspective
« on: September 10, 2009, 10:06:39 AM »
This first chapter in Harry Potter is mostly talking about Mr. Dursely from the 3rd person perspective. I think it would be a good grammar/writing practice for students to ask them
rewrite it from the 1st person perspective. The student might begin rewriting with something like this "I woke up on morning and noticed a strange cat staring at me right outside my house...."

This practice utilizes the language model since students have to be more aware of their word choice. It also allows them to think about the story from a different perspective, since they are imagining themsleves as Mr. Dursely.

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