Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Help! I was just looking through some of the blogs, and I realised that some people haven't blogged for ages. eeep. Blogging is supposed to help students with their written fluency and the ability to think in English, but if they never do it, it isn't going to help them! I'm also worried because blogging is part of the 10% participation mark. It would be such a shame if a student were to fail just because they didn't do their blogs. eeep again. Also, don't forget that students have to make at least two comments per week on other students' blogs. If they don't do that either, they can't get full marks for this project. Woe is me.

Anyway, what I want is for the good bloggers out there to encourage the other students to get blogging. I check the blogs almost everyday, and I know that each week that a student misses blogging is a week they missed out on the opportunity to improve their English. Blogging only works if students do it all the time, or at least the minimum requirements for this assignment. I'm so depressed. Oh well, I guess it is like the English saying "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink"

Thank you to all the bloggers out there who are going to encourage their classmates to hurry up and do some blogs!!!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I went for a walk the other night, and here is a picture of Calgary from a hill close to my house. I live in Kensington, and right behind me there is a ridge with a park that people can walk along. There is quite an amazing view of Calgary from the park. The view is really impressive, but it kind of gets me down too because I think of all of the wasted electricity. Most of our electricity in Calgary comes from burning coal, so every light that is left on directly contributes to global warming. But then again . . . maybe that's the plan. It can get pretty chilly here in Alberta during the winter. Maybe this is all a conspiracy to increase the average temperature of our city to make it more livable during those long cold winter months!

Friday, October 27, 2006

I'm in the computer lab with my students! Everyone is working really hard on their grammar. I'm so proud of the. We have a grammar quiz next week, and I am determined that everyone is going to pass this time, so I thought we should come into the computer lab and work on our grammar.

I can't believe that half the semester has already passed. Mid-terms are over, and now we have to prepare for the final exams already. At least we still have half a semester left. I hope everyone uses the rest of their time wisely!

As for me, I just got accepted to do a presentation at a huge conference in Seattle. I'm so excited. It is THE big international conference for English teachers. They only accepted 21% of the people who applied, so I am feeling really lucky that they accepted my proposal. Naturally, I will be doing a presentation on blogs :-) I think this is going to be my last presentation about blogs because it is time I start focusing on my PhD. It is so weird being a teacher and a student at the same time. I keep telling my students to get busy and study, but then I keep putting my own studying off until the last minute. For example, I have a big paper due in my PhD seminar on Monday, and I still haven't started working on it. Boo hoo. I guess I'm not going to have a very fun weekend. Anyway, I can totally empathize with my students right now!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Present from Winnipeg!

I'm back in Calgary, and I have to say that it's good to be home again. As all of my students know, I was just in Winnipeg for a Teaching English as a Second Language conference where I was doing a presentation on blogs. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of missed home. Wow, I was only gone for four days, but I got homesick! My presentation was on last Friday morning, and I was really impressed by how many people came to hear me talk. I talked about blogs and how they can help students to learn English from each other. I hope that the people who came to my presentation will start to use blogs with their students!

Anyway, it wasn't all work while I was in Winnipeg. I also went for long walks around the city. I walked all along the river and I also so the Manitoba Legislature building. The weirdest thing of all was the Hudson's Bay Store. It had a huge grocery store in the basement. I never expected that! One good thing though was that I found some specialty chocolates that you can only buy in Winnipeg. When I saw them, I knew that I had to buy them to share with my students. They are called Mordens' Russian Mints, and I guess they are really famous in Winnipeg. I think my students liked them. I shared them with my students today, and I had enough of them to share with both classes! It's too bad we can't buy these chocolate in Calgary. They are pretty good!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I should be putting the finishing touches on my presentation for tomorrow, but I just had to write about my breakfast this morning. I went to a local Winnipeg institution: Sal's. It was so great. I was just walking along Portage Avenue when I saw a sign that advertised a $2.99 breakfast. It was too good to be true, so I went through the doors and I felt like I had entered a time warp. It was like a restaurant out of my childhood: vinyl booths, waitresses in uniforms and cheap prices! For $2.99 I could have two eggs any style, toast, hashbrowns, and sausages. I haven't had a breakfast that cheap since about 1999 at the Lido Cafe in Kensington, Calgary (another of my favourite greasy spoons). Anyway, the breakfast was great. I am a bit of a breakfast connoisseur, and it had the perfect proportion of grease and butter to complement the eggs and toast. Yum. Anyway, if you are in Winnipeg make sure you try out this restaurant. It's a classic!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's mid-term week in the LEAP Program! However, I am feeling totally relaxed about it, so I hope my students are too. The best thing is that there are absolutely no surprises at all on the midterm exams. When we were creating them, we made sure that we didn't put anything on the exams that hadn't either been covered in class or in the first three chapters of the textbooks. Hopefully, these will be the most unsurprising midterms in the history of LEAP :-) The way we developed the exams was first I found some appropriate materials, and all of the teachers had a look at them. We then chose listenings and readings that we thought matched the level of where our students should be in the middle of the semester. This was based on our understanding of the Canadian Language Benchmarks (www.language.ca). After we had our listenings and readings, I then went through the textbooks to see what kinds of activities the students had been doing in class. I tried to mirror the activities in the textbooks with the activities in the midterms. I also tried to match the objectives in the textbooks with what I am testing in the midterms. Once I got the first drafts of the midterms finished, I sent them out to all of the LEAP 4 teachers. They checked all of them, and made various suggestions which we talked about in detail in a meeting. I revised the exams based on the recommendations of the LEAP 4 teachers, and then created a new draft. This draft was then sent to Dr. Sengupta who checked all four of the midterm exams. Dr. Clark was also involved in this stage. After Dr. Sengupta had had a look at the exams, she gave them back to me with her suggestions. I then carried out her suggestions and created a final draft of the exams. Finally, all of the exams were proofread for typos and spelling mistakes, and we are finished! It has been a lot of hard work producing these exams, but I really feel that they are going to give us a good idea of the language level of our students. I hope they are all studying hard. I want all of my students to get the best marks they possibly can!!

On another note, in the middle of all this preparation for the midterm exams, I went to Edmonton for a conference, and I made a presentation on blogs! It was so great. I met so many interesting people, and they love my students blogs. Naturally, that is because my students are so great :-) For my presentation, I first did a powerpoint about blogs, and then we went step by step creating blogs. It was kind of like the first day of blogging with my class, except that I talked a lot more about the theory behind blogging as well as some hints on setting up the teacher blog (doing HTML, etc). If anyone wants to know more about some of the theory behind blogs, they can read a paper that I wrote for the ATESL Newsletter:


It's on page 18.

Anyway, the conference was great, and I really learned a lot. The hotel was good too. I included a picture of my hotel. Next weekend, I am going to Winnipeg for the TESL Canada conference. I love blogging!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Big Weekend Ahead!

I'm going to Edmonton tomorrow for a teachers' conference! I can't wait. The only sad thing is that I had to cancel class tomorrow, but then again . . . maybe my students will enjoy the break :-)

Anyway, I thought I'd write about last weekend. Today was my third day in a row eating turkey sandwiches. I have been eating roast turkey on rye every day for lunch since Thanksgiving. That's okay though seeing as I love turkey sandwiches. This year, my parents came to my house for Thanksgiving, instead of me going to there house. I found a turkey for only $7 at Safeway, so I bought it thinking that I would give it my mum to cook. However, when she heard that I bought a turkey, she totally misunderstood me and thought that I was inviting her and my dad to my house . . . and in the end I did! I made a huge Thanksgiving dinner all by myself. We had chopped turkey liver, matzo ball soup, roast turkey, mashed turnips, roast potatoes, baby brussel sprouts, turkey gravy and stuffing. I was soooo full afterwards. There was way too much turkey, even though I bought the smallest turkey I could find in Safeway. In fact, even after three days of eating turkey sandwiches, I still have some turkey left over. I guess I'll have to bring turkey sandwiches to the conference in Edmonton . . .

Well, wish me luck. I can't wait to share all the results of the survey with everyone. Keep on checking my blog because I'll put the results of the survey on here.

Enjoy the picture of my turkey!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Please Take My Survey!

Hello Everyone in LEAP 4 - both "a" and "b"

I just made a survey to see what the students think about blogs, and I'd really appreciate it if you guys did it so I could have some feedback about this activity. I'm going to two conferences soon (one in Edmonton, and one in Winnipeg), and I'd like to tell people what my students think about this activity, so that is why I created the survey.

Thanks a lot for your help. I really appreciate it!

Please click on the link below, and it will take you directly to the LEAP 4 Blog Survey:


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

I did a really interesting activity in class today. It was only five minutes long, but I somehow I think it may just have been the most important thing that I did for the whole class. The activity I did was called "Two Stars and a Wish". Basically, I gave all of the students a hand out, and they had to write two things that they like about my academic reading class (the stars), and one thing that they wish was different (the wish). I couldn't wait to read them after class, but I had a staff meeting, so I had to wait an entire hour before I could look at them. I thought they were going to burn a hole in my bag! When I finally got to my office, I focused mostly on the wishes, and this is what I learned about my class:

I want to discuss more vocabulary before we read the paragraphs in the grammar and writing books
I wish all the students were more active than this
More writing on the blackboard with examples of grammar and tenses
More vocabulary explanation. There are always more vocabs that we don’t know, and we are shy to ask
I wish the schedule could be changed
Make more explanations
A little bit more homework
more grammar and writing
post our cumulative marks
more interesting topics
more time to review in class before a quiz
bigger desks for writing (EdB 184)
I think all of those are really good wishes, and I am certainly going to do my best to help the student's wishes come true . . . I wonder if we go to the computer lab once a week instead of EdB 184, if that would help the desk issue . . .

Monday, October 02, 2006

I was supposed to have something really interesting to blog about today about my weekend, but my weekend ended up being pretty normal as per usual. One thing however, I did come to appreciate procrastination :-) You see, I am in the middle of writing a paper for my PhD Seminar, and naturally before I started to work on my paper, I had to clean the entire house, do the dishes, go grocery shopping, work in the garden, pick the rest of my tomatoes, pick my pumpkins, and finally clean the garage. Hoo whee, it was a lot of work, but finally, once I finished all of that I was able to start thinking about my paper for my PhD Seminar. I wonder if my students go through the same process of procrastination. It's amazing how little chores start to loom up as massive tasks that absolutely must be completed before I can even begin to contemplate doing any school work. Usually my last step is that I have to make a pot of fresh coffee. Only once everything is perfect am I ready to begin :-)

Cleaning my garage was the biggest task this weekend. There were so many old cardboard boxes in there. You see, there are three apartments in my house, and everytime someone moves in or out, they leave a whole bunch of old boxes in the garage. I kept meaning to recycle all of the boxes, but I just never got around to it. Finally, Sunday was the day I had to do it. There was absolutely no way I could do homework with all those boxes in the garage. It took me and my friend (the poor sucker, I roped him in) HOURS. We had to crush and fold over a hundred empty cardboard boxes. They I stuffed them all into my car (after all, I wouldn't want to take two trips). I couldn't even close my trunk, I had so many boxes in my car. I drove to the recycling depot at about 15 kms an hour. Luckily, it is in my neighbourhood, so I didn't have to go to far. Then I had to unload my car and put all of those boxes into the appropriate green recycle bin. I got a bit carried away though. I was throwing the boxes to myt friend who was helping me like frisbees. Anyway, I threw one just a bit too hard and it slammed him in the face. I felt awful. Expecially since he was volunteering to help me with my boxes. However, there was no harm done (well, a huge bruise, but no need for the hospital), and my boxes were recycled. I bought him a cheese cake to say sorry for the facial disfiguration . . . but then I ate half of it.

The things we do to avoid homework.

I wonder how my students did with THEIR papers this weekend, and I wonder what kinds of procrastination they get up to.