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Affiliate News: February 2010

Affiliate News (February 2009) Conference Reports & Articles: Reflections on the 2008 ACTA Conference

by User Not Found | 11/11/2011

Reflections on the 2008 ACTA Conference

Pedagogies of Connection: Developing Individual and Community Identities

Kay Astles,Assistant Principal, Thebarton Senior College, Ashley Street, Torrensville Adelaide South Australia Australia5031, astles@tsc.sa.edu.au

“So, was it worth going to?” were the words from colleagues after the school holidays; was it worth sacrificing 4 days of precious holidays? A week after the ACTA (Australian Council of TESOL Associations) conference, the euphoria of being in Alice Springsand in the audience at presentations had dissipated and I’d started to wonder, What will really be useful in our teaching context? Given a full program of concurrent sessions and keynote addresses, I’d chosen to attend a variety of presentations, largely focussing on the adult sector, and not once wasI disappointed. Through these notes I hope to encourage you to contact the presenters to find out more about their wonderful projects, documents, professional development courses, and resources.

Karen Stacey, in “Bilingual Tutor Professional Development: Pedagogies of Support,” reviewed the program offered through 3-day workshops and in-school support in New Zealand. The interactive workshops are entitled “Pedagogies of Support”and engage participants in activities that heighten enquiry into ways of working with ESL students in the New Zealand school context. Participants gain understandings of their roles, appropriateness and purposes of instruction programs, and working effectively as part of the teaching team as well as learn strategies to support learning of macro-skills, an orientation to learning philosophy, and more. Karen has been developing a tutor’s handbook, which is available from the New Zealand Ministry of Education (minedu@govt.org.nz).

As we strive for quality teaching and learning programs and continuous improvement, the Tracks to Two-Way Learning document, presented by Patricia Konigsberg, provides a framework to plan and implement bidialectal education to develop capacity within schools particularly to improve the learning outcomes for Aboriginal students.

The framework contains tools for the assessment of staff needs, professional learning modules, teacher resources, and developmental stage maps. The framework assists in addressing issues in staff turnover related directly to the incoming staff member’s lack of knowledge of the community and students’ backgrounds. A wealth of additional resources have been generated from the work on this project and are documented in the “ABC of Two-Way Literacy and Learning Program” background paper available from Patricia at patricia.konigsberg@det.wa.edu.au.

Jane Beatty and Kath Moore’s presentation entitled “Addressing the Psychosocial Needs of Refugee Youth in the Context of a Postcompulsory Intensive English Centre” was heart-warming. At the North Lake Senior Campus in Western Australia theater sports, drum beat, a guitar group, singing, and a radio program have been mediums for addressing student well-being needs. The guitar group especially offered a way for students to address sadness through performing poignant and joyous songs they’d written themselves. On the basis of their study, they recommended daily singing of national anthems and particularly of songs expressing positive emotions.

What teacher wouldn’t be delighted to be able to improve student literacy through a 10-minute program each day? Judy Yaron outlined the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project, a methodology developed in Israel to work with students at risk.

The package includes professional development to implement The Ten-Minute System (10MS) 1:1 tutoring model, whole-class teaching, team building between the teacher and tutor, and information communication technology use. The 1:1 tutoring system in literacy and numeracy takes 6 weeks on average for substantial benefits to accrue to students. Each session has five components:
1. Warm welcome
2. Mini-diagnostic: to connect with the content of the last lesson and determine whether to move on or revisit
3. Focussed learning
4. Mini-diagnostic: was the learning effective?
5. Reflection

Judy has worked with a number of schools in Australia to implement The Ten-Minute System, including Kauna Plains School in South Australia. Judy invites interested educators to contact her atjudyyaron@yahoo.com.

Thanks to a chance conversation with a colleague of Dr. Lynda Achren I was encouraged to attend her presentation, “Project-Based Learning, Digital Stories and Community Connections. ”She and the team from Australian Migrant Education Services and Goulburn Ovens Institute ofTechnical and Further Education have created a terrific teaching resource that fired up enthusiasm and creativity in the audience. This kit (available on CD and on the Internet athttp://www.ames.net.au/shop/createconnections) covers the full range of foci that a teacher would be working on when planning for students to complete a project involving contacting a person in the community, interviewing him or her, and reporting back: literacy, numeracy, planning, teamwork, and (ict) information and communication technologies.. None of these elements are left to occur by chance. The teacher’s ict skills as well as the students’ can easily be upgraded by following the preparatory steps in the first session on the CD “Getting Ready,” and by working through the series of 10 sessions to produce digital stories complete with images, text, voice-overs, and background music. The kit contains thorough lesson plans to enable the systematic teaching and development of social, technological, and language skills. The models are pitched at basic language competence and alert students to the possibilities all around them of material for digital stories. When teachers at my site], they could instantly see the application to their respective classes.

Jane Graham and John Mason presented “From Curriculum to Coal Face: Certificate in Spoken and Written English Online in Remote Communities.” John, a teacher based in Booroloola, is the ESL teacher in an area the size of Tasmania. The support materials for Certificate in Spoken and Written English Online produced by New South Wales Australian Migrant Education Services have proven to be engaging, with students who have basic computing skills able to use the program after 30minutes of training. The program has provided a way of catering to multilevel classes, has engaged students in self-directed learning, and provides continual and immediate assessment. The remote students have loved the content dealing with city life (bus timetables, shopping malls, booking airline tickets) and the new ideas to which the program has introduced them.

I can’t wait for the podcast of Professor Beverley Derewianka’s keynote address “Moving Between Discourse Communities: Self-Representation in the Writing of Response Genres” to be available on the ACTA Web site. It was brilliant—too brilliant, in fact, for me to take notes lest I miss the next insight. Using YouTube and MySpace, blogs, and professional reviews, and applying appraisal theory (P. White), Professor Derewianka moved students along the linguistic continuum to create a review of the visual text Summer Heights High . The presentation was thoroughly entertaining and inspiring and should be a professional development “must.”

One month later, in the cold of Adelaide August, I asked myself, Was it worth it? I answered, Most definitely!