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Topics - Grace

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Pedagogy Issues / Pairing-up Game
« on: February 23, 2007, 08:45:15 PM »
Here's a fun way to pair up your students for pairwork in class (such as peer review).

1. Cut up all the strips of paper and randomly distribute them to the class.
2. Have the students find their partners!

You can substitute the names with any other famous couple/duo of your choice.

My students seemed to enjoy it a lot.


Postreading Activities / Student-Written Comprehension Questions
« on: December 04, 2006, 05:23:04 PM »
In many reading classes, students have to take an achievement test at the end of each unit or at the end of the semester. One way to make revision or reading comprehension fun is to make it into a game with a competitive element. The following game works well for a four-skills course, but especially for a reading class. A class size ranging from 12 to 21 students would be desirable.

The idea is to have students write their own comprehension questions from the target reading passages. After dividing the students into three groups, have each group come up with 10 questions based on an assigned reading passage. The questions can be true/false, multiple-choice, short answer, or open-ended. Each group then takes turns asking 5 of the questions and the other two groups would compete to get more answers correct. Anyone in either of the two competing groups who knows the answer should bang on his/her desk and the first person to do so would get a chance to say the answer. If that answer is wrong, someone from the other group would get a chance. For each answer correct, a student gets a candy. After all the groups have taken turns asking and answering questions (6 rounds altogether), the group with the most candies gets an extra bag of sweets to share. :D

The number of questions that students have to write could vary according to the length and number of reading passages that the class has been working on.

I did this activity twice in a reading-based English course back at my university in Korea, and it was always fun to come up with our own questions and have other students answer them. Age does not matter when it comes to a little bit of competition, especially if sweets are involved. ;D

Vocabulary / Activities to Teach Collocations
« on: December 03, 2006, 08:51:09 PM »
Keeping up with the webboard's heightened interest in collocations, here is a link to an interesting article on how to teach collocations to advanced students.

The following are two example exercises:

1. Spot the odd verb--Can you find the verb which does not collocate with the noun in bold?
1. acknowledge, feel, express, make, hide, overcome, admit shame
2. apply for, catch, create, get, hold, hunt for, lose, take up job
3. acquire, brush up, enrich, learn, pick up, tell, use language
4. assess, cause, mend, repair, suffer, sustain, take damage
5. beg, answer, kneel in, offer, say, utter prayer
6. brush, cap, drill, fill, gnash, grit, wash teeth
7. derive, enhance, find, give, pursue, reach, savour, pleasure
8. disturb, interrupt, maintain, observe, pierce, reduce to, suffer silence

1. make 2. catch 3. tell 4. take 5. beg 6. wash 7. reach 8. suffer (only with suffer in silence)

2. Which word collocates with all the words given?

1. fried, poached, fresh, raw, frozen, grilled, smoked _________________

2. summer, warm, winter, tatty, shabby, trendy, second-hand _____________

3. dangerous, desperate, common, born, hardened, master _______________

4. massive, huge, crowded, packed, outdoor, indoor, sports _______________

Answers. 1 = fish, 2 = coat, 3 = criminal, 4 = stadium

Feedback--Teacher / Mitigation Strategies in Written Feedback
« on: December 03, 2006, 08:09:55 PM »
Since I am not very good at being direct and I worry a lot about the possibility of hurting other people's feelings when I have to say something negative, giving feedback on students' papers is not always an easy job for me.  :) Hyland (2003) also points out that "teacher feedback involves delicate social interactions that can affect the relationship between a teacher and student and influence instruction itself" (p. 190). This is something that I am aware of whenever I am giving feedback on my students' papers.

Hyland (2003) provides some mitigation strategies that can soften the blow.

1. Paired comments: Combining criticism with either praise or a suggestion.
Ex) Good movement from general to specific but you need to make a clearer promise to the reader.

2. Hedged comments: Modal verbs, imprecise quantifiers, usuality devices
Ex) Some of the material seemed a little long-winded and I wonder if it could have been compressed a little.

3. Personal attribution: Teacher responds as ordinary reader rather than as expert.
Ex) I find it hard to know what the main point of each paragraph is.

4. Interrogative form: Express element of doubt or uncertainty in the comment.
Ex) The first two paragraphs--do they need joining?

However, some people criticise that "sugaring the pill" (Hyland & Hyland, 2001) might be misunderstood or ignored by students from cultures where teachers are more directive. To prevent this, I hold student-teacher conferences and actually go through my comments, making the students focus on each comment and asking them how they might improve each point that was commented on. The conferences help the students to understand that I actually meant for my mitigated comments to be taken seriously.  :D

Persuasive Paper / (Persuasive) Essay Proposal
« on: December 02, 2006, 04:10:41 PM »
Before starting to write an argumentative/persuasive paper, it is a good idea to have students write a proposal so that the instructor can provide feedback on the thesis, organization, and outside sources.

Here is a sample essay proposal that I e-mailed to my undergraduate ESL academic writing class. The class was just starting to work on their persuasive papers. Students were choosing a topic, formulating thesis statements, and searching for outside sources to use. I had my students erase the content and fill in the table with their own proposal.

I collected all the proposals afterwards and provided feedback on whether the thesis was debateable, whether the organization was logical, and whether the sources were credible.

The proposal can be used for other types of essays as well, such as research papers.

Research Paper / Souce-Based Writing / Evaluating Sources
« on: November 27, 2006, 09:04:34 PM »
Here is an activity for evaluating sources that I have developed and used successfully  :D in class within the source-based essay unit.

Attached are the lesson plan and the worksheet.

The basic idea is to provide print outs of random sources on one topic and have students evaluate the sources according to criteria such as author, sponsorship/publisher, date/currency, purpose/audience, and citations/references. The whole activity takes about 50 minutes.

I hope you find this activity useful.  :)

Research Paper / Souce-Based Writing / Sample Research Paper
« on: November 13, 2006, 12:29:31 AM »
I just unexpectedly came across a relatively short research article on a UIUC (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) webpage. I know that the Holy Water article has become our favorite :), but this one might also be a fairly good example of a paper from the humanities/social sciences. It has four clear sections--introduction, methods, findings (instead of results), and discussion/conclusion.

I also copied the article into a Word document, just in case the webpage disappears in the future.

Compare & Contrast / Compare & Contrast--PowerPoint Presentation
« on: November 10, 2006, 04:44:13 PM »
Here is a PowerPoint file I made for a reading-based CC unit on traveling. It contains the two CC organization patterns and different types of graphic organizers for brainstorming.

Also attached is a file of two articles introducing travel locations that you can use as source material for in-class reading.

Professor Sadler also suggested using articles from travel magazines or travel guides such as Sunset Magazine (, Frommer's (, or Fodor's (

Another idea Dr. Sadler mentioned was having students post questions about specific tourist locations on travel websites that have discussion boards where people post reviews.

Compare & Contrast / Compare & Contrast--Useful Webpages
« on: November 10, 2006, 12:19:28 AM »
The following link takes you to a very comprehensive handout on comparison and contrast papers. It includes examples of a Venn diagram and a chart that are often used as pre-writing tasks.

A Sample CC essay with analysis questions

Slideshow showing how we can compare and contrast apples and oranges

Webpage showing how we can compare and contrast two advertisements

Examples of authentic comparison charts:

This one is for Hawaiian resorts.

This one is for juicers.

Compare & Contrast / Compare & Contrast--Outlines and Sample Essays
« on: November 10, 2006, 12:05:02 AM »
The following is a link to an excellent webpage first discovered by Professor Sadler. :)

There are two sample outlines and two corresponding sample essays written based on the outlines. You can use these to show students the two types of organization patterns for a compare & contrast essay--the "block" and "point-by-point".

Feedback--Peer Review / Peer Review Sheet for Compare and Contrast Essay
« on: October 20, 2006, 10:59:12 PM »
Here is a peer review worksheet that I have been using in my classes. It has been modified from a peer review checklist in Smalley, Ruetten, and Kozyrev (2000).

It's for comparison and contrast essays, but it can easily be modified for other types of essays as well.

Smalley, R. L., Ruetten, M. K., & Kozyrev, J. R. (2000). Refining composition skills: Rhetoric and
(5th ed.). Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.

Postreading Activities / Post-reading activities for the Halloween text
« on: October 04, 2006, 01:26:58 PM »
Link to the text:

I. True/false comprehension questions

1. Animals that live at night are popular symbols of Halloween.
2. Witches are a modern invention.
3. Only poor people play ?trick or treat.?
4. The Church thought pagan feasts were holy days.
5. Jack O?Lantern was another name for the devil.
6. The Celts celebrated Samhain at the end of autumn.
7. Halloween is liked by many people.

II. Short answer comprehension questions

1. What was the Halloween tradition of the past?
2. What do you call a lantern that is made out of a pumpkin?
3. What are some animals that are associated with Halloween?

III. Anticipation guide (confirmation guide??)
Check if students' predictions were confirmed.

Vivian, Grace, Aziz

Organization / Paragraph Structure--Visual Representation
« on: October 03, 2006, 10:03:32 PM »
Here is a "visual representation" of the paragraph structure--topic sentence, supporting detail, and concluding sentence.  ;)


Authentic v. Modified Materials / Authentic Materials - Job Advertisements
« on: September 29, 2006, 09:18:31 PM »
Since advertisements are everywhere--in newspapers, in magazines, on TV, on the radio, and on the internet--they are authentic materials we can easily obtain to use in the reading classroom. Since we are talking about teaching reading, I guess print materials will be best for our purposes.

For example, in a business English class, job advertisements can be used as prompts for writing cover letters and resumes. Students can search online (websites like or look through newspapers to find a notice for a job that they would be interested in applying for. After analyzing the requirements and qualifications, the students can write a cover letter and a resume targeted for that job.

The following is a link to a webpage on teaching reading with job advertisements:

Pedagogy Issues / Ice Breakers
« on: September 23, 2006, 11:27:36 PM »
I know this is a bit late in the semester (or maybe a lot :D), but I just found a list of ice breaking questions that can be used in the first couple of classes. I think these questions could also be used as journal topics!

Here's the link to the pdf file:


Mini-Books: A writing and reading project / Bailey's Book House
« on: September 22, 2006, 07:45:15 PM »
Bailey's Book House is a software for very young children who are just starting to learn to read and write. I used to have it installed on my family's computer when I was a kid and played on it ALL the time. There is a "mini-book" feature which lets the user choose the main character, location, and action to produce a mini storybook. It was fun!  :D

The last time I saw this CD-Rom was in the education library of my university in Korea, so I'm sure Victor can find a copy in Korea as well.  :)

Bailey's Book House is originally for children aged 2-5, but I was 9-10 when I used it, so I guess in the EFL context, it would be useful for elementary school children too.

Link to product web page:,141934,353_141935&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Link to a review of CD-Rom:

Human Is: A Science Fiction Story / Participants in the Human Is Project
« on: September 11, 2006, 06:53:24 PM »
It's just an idea that I have, but I think it might be a good idea to have a class of international students at the IEI work on the short story as well and let them participate in the teleconference. The project right now involves two groups, a group of Japanese college students and a group of MATESL students in the US, but since most of the students at the IEI are college students or are preparing to enter college (Am I right?), a group of IEI students could benefit just as much from participating in the project.

I came up with this idea because when I first learned about the Human Is project last year, I thought it unusual that MATESL students, who are either native speakers or very advanced non-native speakers and who are actually teachers of English, worked with a group of college students in Japan. I guess this is really close-minded of me, but I thought it was more common to have two similar groups of language learners work together in projects like this.

Still, I really look forward to watching what happens in the teleconference on Wednesday.  ;D

Unity & Coherence / Paragraph Variety and Cohesion Activity
« on: September 25, 2005, 10:46:43 PM »
This is a writing activity that I used in ESL 114.

After introducing ways to increase cohesion and coherence and comparing two example paragraphs, I gave the students a chance to rewrite a given paragraph.

Source: My undergrad course in Korea  :)

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