This essay, presented via Adobe Spark, is about Mario, a young Italian seventh-grade immigrant whose entry into the American schools made a major impact on my teaching, my career, and my image of the world.

When the link opens, you may have to wait a minute for the presentation to load. Also, there is audio, so you’ll want to adjust your sound. Thanks!

Passing it on…

From ProfHacker –

A Day of Rest
Where does a day of rest—a sabbath—fit in a busy academic life? Various members of the team (and friends) reflect on what sabbath means for them.

Sir Ken Robinson-Leading a Learning Revolution

Sir Ken Robinson – Bio

To give you a head start on Robinson’s presentation:

Robinson refers to the Plowden Report early in his talk.  The Plowden Report and Its Impact on School Curriculum  Here is the complete report:  Plowden Report 1967 – Full Text Online

Robinson states that:

Educators need to connect practice with theory with policy.  Time rarely permits that.

Technology is connecting the world with information systems.

Reference: The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil   See:   Technological singularity

Educational change is not linear.  Social change can never be linear because it involves people, feelings, and culture.  Social change is unpredictable and dynamic.

Education is :

  • economic – well-educated people are economically engaged,  invested, buoyant, and sustainable.
  • cultural – global not local
  • personal – the central core of what this educational revolution must address.  Learning is personal.

Is there anything any one of us can do to change today’s educational systems?  Absolutely.  By doing what we think is right as classroom teachers, we are leading change at the grassroots level.  We, as teachers, ARE the educational system for our students.  Therefore, we can change the educational system for our students immediately.


  • Accelerate shift from subjects to discipline.  A discipline is about skills, processes, and procedures.
  • Curriculum must be open and dynamic.
  • The heart of education is teaching.
    –  Change the process of our teaching and learning from a solitary to a collaborative process.  We shouldn’t just teach students in
    groups; we must teach students as groups that learn from each other.
    –  The process of learning must shift from passive to active.
    –  Assessment must move from judgment to description, from empowering to disenfranchizing

We do not have to start the revolution in education.  It has already started.  We must have confidence that we are already part of the movement, and not just waiting for someone else to start it for us.  The process is moving forward, and we must make sure we are part of the solution, not the problem.


From Rita:  I hope that when you finish listening to this presentation, you recommend it to your colleagues.  Then together you and your colleagues can discuss how you view yourselves as part of the educational or learning revolution that Robinson speaks about.  Food for thought and nourishment for our profession.

TESL Touches Souls

We’re off to another great semester!  The students, from more than sixty different nations, have come to us to learn English.  Why?  Some of their reasons for studying English are to go to a university here in the U.S., and finish graduate degrees or start undergraduate degrees; many hope to improve or upgrade current job possibilities by improving their English and taking technical courses; mothers and fathers alike want to be able to better help their children with their homework; some simply hope to improve their opportunities to participate in the American society;  and the list goes on.  The students range in age from 18 to 70 years old and bring with them a gamut of knowledge and life experiences that I can only imagine.  I have so much to learn from them!  In turn, I and my colleagues work to give our students the tools they need to communicate in English in order to develop in them strength and self-confidence  so that they will become American citizens and gain an improved sense of self-worth through participation in the mainstream culture.   We will endeavor to model for them and inspire in them the desire to be lifelong learners.  We strive to build bridges of peace by instilling in our students the ability and the willingness to communicate, work with, and live among peoples from countries around the world including those who have been considered “their enemies” for many, perhaps hundreds of years.  We teach English as a second language, but we strive to do so much more.  In TESL , we have the opportunity to touch souls as our students continue to touch ours.

10 Reasons Why I Blog

Why do I blog?

1)  I blog to reflect on what I’ve done with technology in my ESL classes.

2)  I blog to record what I need to remember the next time I try doing something similar.

3)  I blog to share with my colleagues across the country and the globe what has worked for me as well as what hasn’t.

4)  I blog to let those who are attempting to incorporate technology into their ESL classes know that we don’t have to be  technology whizzes or experts to use it; we just need to have the will and the determination to see it through and make it work.

5)  I blog to make my school colleagues aware that all of this doesn’t come as easily for me as they seem to think it does.  I spend a lot of time trying to learn about what is available and how to use it in ways that are beneficial for my students.  I also make a lot of mistakes as I’m starting.  If I can figure it out, they can, too.  It’s not a special talent; it’s a desire.

6)  I blog to let others know that there are ESL and IT teachers worldwide who are willing to answer our questions if we just send them a tweet!

7)  I blog to share with my friends and colleagues something important that I have learned about using technology in my classes; I’ve learned that asking my students a technology question or allowing them to come to my rescue from time to time is not a sign of weakness. Yes, I go to class prepared, and yes, I work out the glitches I’m aware of before getting in the classroom.  But, if something does go awry, and a student helps me out of my jam, allowing that student to shine is a wonderful thing, not a sign of weakness on my part.  Also, by my students recognizing that I believe in lifelong learning, risk-taking in my learning, and forgiving myself my mistakes, I hope I am teaching them something even more important than English.

8 )  I blog because I want my students to write, and I want them to teach their children to write and their grandchildren to write.  I want my students to know that what I ask them to do is important enough for me to do it as well.

9)  I blog to remind myself and others that we are not islands in this field.  There are always new ideas, new tools, and new challenges, and that by encouraging new and seasoned teachers to work together, sharing ideas, developing new methodologies, and improving our craft collectively, we make our profession stronger and our students, wherever they are, better prepared.

10)  So, why do I blog?  Surprisingly, because I have learned to love blogging!  It is as fun as it is challenging.  I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction when I complete a post.  It provides closure for me in one area of my teaching and learning, and allows me to go on to try something new.

So this is why I blog.  Why do you blog, or… why don’t you?

Goals or Growth

John Maxwell defines the word “ambition” in this one-minute video, and he says something that strikes me profoundly.  Recently, on more than one occasion, people have asked me if I was going to apply for different administrative positions that have opened up at our college.  My answer has been a consistent unequivocal no, that I love the teaching job I have, and that I am no longer interested in being on a career track.  But, each time I have said that, I’ve felt a little empty inside.  I have always loved taking on new tasks, new challenges, and new responsibilities, but recently, due to health issues in my family, I have needed to channel my energies away from my job and more on my family.  I have felt grief on two levels, one personal and the other professional.

But, this afternoon, my one minute with John Maxwell has given me a new focus.  I may not want to change my job or redirect my career, but I do want to continue to develop  myself professionally.  Rather than being goal oriented and thinking about the prize I might win by reaching that higher-level career goal, I will focus on the growth that I still need, not to GET a better job, but rather to DO a better job for my students,  my colleagues, and myself.  It is an obvious concept, but one I hadn’t been able to verbalize.  Thank you, John!

How has the way you work changed over the last ten years?

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker asked today how the way we’ve worked has changed over the last ten years.  My answer is with regards to teaching is… in almost every single way.

1.  Ten years ago, I was making audio cassettes for my students to purchase through the bookstore.  Now I give them links to free sites on the Internet.

2. Ten years ago, I collaborated with very few faculty in my department because our schedules didn’t mesh.  Now we collaborate via the Internet in a variety of ways, email, instant messenger, Facebook, Skype, and a new favorite, Google Docs, as needed or desired.

3.  Ten years ago, if I collaborated at all, it was with teachers in my own school primarily in our shared office.  Now, with all these new technologies, I  collaborate with people all over the world 24/7 .

4.  Ten years ago, two-way video conferences needed to be scheduled well in advance in order to get the equipment.  Now many of us have the equipment at home.  I’m videoconferencing on Skype almost daily.

5.  Ten years ago, people weren’t very willing to share their work.  Now we put our projects, both big and small, on sites such as YouTube, TeacherTube, Facebook, Twitter, SlideShare and on blogs and wikis to share with the world.

6.  Ten years ago, our work used to be saved on our hard drives and always backed up on a floppy.  Now our work is primarily saved in the clouds and backed up on a flash drive.

7.  Ten years ago, teachers got nervous if there were no overhead projectors in their classrooms or transparencies to use (colored ones had to be purchased by us since they were too expensive for the schools to purchase).  Now we have multimedia systems in our classrooms that project right from the computers.

8.  Ten years ago, nearly everything was printed on paper.  Now we are endeavoring not to use paper in order to save our natural resources, not to mention our budgets. Now we are encouraging our students as well as ourselves to design and create using technology rather than paper and pencil.

9.  Ten years ago, I had to carry extra handouts with me for students who had been absent, or the students had to go to my office for them.  Now these handouts are posted online for the students.  Likewise, students submit their work online so there is less chance of conflicts regarding if and when the work has been handed in.  It is also less likely to be lost by either the student or the teacher.

10.  Ten years ago, I worked equally hard, but had access to much less information.  Ten years ago I had to wait to get answers to my questions until I could get to the library or at least to a computer.  Now the answers to most of our questions are at our fingertips wherever we are via our cell phones.

What can you add to this list?  It’s fun to ponder.  It’s even more fun to ponder how our work will change over the next ten years.