Monday, November 16, 2015

Equity Council Puts Its Seal of Approval on Our ESL Recognition Night

Since December of 2013, the faculty in the San Marcos Evening Program have volunteered to organize an ESL Recognition Night event on the last day of each regular semester. The students who "graduate" from our noncredit program, student peer mentors, and other model students receive their well-earned recognition at each event. Student representatives give speeches and talents perform. A different former ESL student who has become a professional gives a motivational speech as a special invited guest. A level 3 class has always produced a video on a particular theme and shown it during the event. Friends and family are all invited to share in the celebration of the students' learning success. A lack of resources has not dampened the spirit behind this event. The faculty have raised community donations and all the classes have contributed to the potluck-style celebrations.

Two years later, however, a dream has come true for this team of hard-working and caring faculty. Palomar's Student Success and Equity Council (SSEC) on Friday approved of a funding request to support the ESL Recognition Night event not just for this semester, but for spring 2016, and possibly beyond. Led by the newly installed director of student success and equity, Olga Diaz,
Olga Diaz, who is also an Escondido
City Council member
the council saw the request met the criteria for equity funds. Several council members even expressed a desire to attend the event themselves. This support means that the faculty and students do not have to pursue expensive and time-intensive donation campaigns for food and drinks. This support also has tremendous potential for increasing ESL visibility, integrating evening ESL students into campus life, and contributing to their success and retention rates. All in all, it is just so wonderful to know that the faculty will have enough money to make the ESL Recognition a great event next month and an even better event next May!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Adjunct Colleagues: You Are Invited!

When a few full-time colleagues talked about a new way to engage our adjunct colleagues a while ago, a once-a-semester event was a big consideration. A believer in community empowerment, I volunteered to put the first event together. It will be in the staff lounge at noon on Friday of next week, Nov. 20th, following our monthly dept. meeting. After sampling the textbooks and the sandwiches Nichol Clark of Heinle Cengage Learning will bring, you may discover a textbook that may just fit for your next adoption. For colleagues who have taught summer courses such as NESL 361, NESL 362, NESL 363, and NESL 364 or anticipate teaching one of these next summer, a new textbook has to be determined to replace the old Stand Out series as we have used it so far. I am sure your contributions to the textbook discussions will be greatly appreciated. So mark your calendars and come one, come all!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Description from Your Perspective

A general decline in enrollment has colleagues looking for ways to outreach. Now, a fancier way to bring more attention to our ESL programs has been approved. We can now produce and hang a 10-foot-long-and-two-foot-high banner over the softball field fence facing Mission Road.

But first, we need exceptional communicators, i.e. YOU, to come up with a catchy slogan to be printed big on our banner. Ideally, the slogan should not be wordy, too aggressive, or condescending, or just talk about what we do. Rather, it should speak to the heart of who we are as ESL educators, it should resonate with the community, and it should inspire action.

Incidentally, if you are interested, this popular TED talk on inspired thinking offers a compelling reason why we should communicate the why, and not the what.

So, when you are ready to join colleagues as a virtual team to work on the catchy phrase, just double-click anywhere on the Padlet wall below and follow the format of the 3 examples already on the wall. I hope to submit the banner creation order to Creative Services before the upcoming week-long Thanksgiving break.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

How Much Fun Does Active Learning Generate?

Tons! The organizers of and the 160 participants in the ALL Conference on campus yesterday staged yet another public demonstration of all sorts of active learning and student engagement ideas and practices. It is fun to break away from the norm - the traditional teacher-centered lecturing mode included - in order to connect with our students and ensure real learning takes place. Even though the task is enormous - which is why the keynoters' metaphorical call to melt the ice glacier is so proper, I just love the energy, the hopefulness, and the laughter of the like-minded fellow educators. Once again, our dept. had a strong presence at the event with more than a dozen faculty and tutors in attendance. Suzanne Woodward, Katrina Tamura, Angela Webster, and Sheri Cully even led three breakout sessions. There is no doubt that our classrooms tomorrow will be filled with the same enthusiasm and fun generated by our newly-learned, well-designed learner-centered activities. Hopefully, our students will want to keep returning to the class.

Here is a link to the keynote slides: Create a Dynamic Landscape for Learning.

Our team won a marshmallow challenge at a breakout session.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Classroom Practice

Teachers' classroom practice varies. Some lecture to students all the time. Others delight in the innovation of active learning. Most combine the best of both worlds. When an op-ed came out on Saturday in The New York Times, more than 100 readers commented. "Lecture Me. Really." was written by an assistant professor of history who is not a fan of  her so-called "active learning craze." Both her opinion piece and the reader comments are worth reading as they make you think more deeply about your own classroom practice, about the role you want to play in the classroom to ensure that real learning happens.