Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Evaluating websites - Learning Technologies Course

    Many criteria should be taken into consideration while browsing the net. First of all, there are differences between the sites ( .com : commercial/ .gov: government/ .org: organisation/ etc..). As teachers, educationalists, the sites (.org) are of paramount importance. Nonetheless, we may log into .com sites and find they are so useful too. Hence, a good evaluation of the sites shall take into consideration these criteria: 
1-Accuracy and Acceptance
✓  Does the information appear to be accurate?
  Is it based on opinion or fact?
✓  Are additional references given?
  Can the information be verified from other sources, whether online or hard copy?
  Is the spelling and grammar correct?
   Is the content dated?
  When was the content last updated?
  Are all links up-to-date and valid?
  Are any areas of the site "under construction"? 
2-Authority and coverage
   Does the content have authority?
   Where does the content originate from?
   Is it clear who is the author and publisher of the site?
    Are they qualified to provide information on this topic?
   Is the material biased?
    Can the author be contacted?
    Where is the content published? What is the domain name of the website? Is it published by a large organisation, or on a personal website?
    Does the website cover the topic fully? 
    Does it provide links and references to other materials?
   If links to other materials are provided, are these evaluated or annotated to provide further information?
  Does the site contain any advertising? Does this influence the content? 
3-Audience and Relevance 
   Who is the intended audience for this content? 
   Is the content easy to read and understand?
   Is the site specifically aimed at children? If so, is the level and tone of the content appropriate?
   Is the site specifically aimed at adults? If so beware of inappropriate material. 
   Is the content relevant?
   Does the material provide everything that is needed?
   Could more relevant material be found elsewhere, for example in a book or magazine? 
4-Educational Focus 
     Is there an explicit educational focus to the content?
     Will it support learners with different learning styles? How does it use media to cater for people with auditory , visual, kinaesthetic or other preferences?
      Does it have links, or refer to, the appropriate stages of the National Curriculum or examination body? 
5-Ease of use:
      Is the site easy to sue?
      Is the site well structured?
      Is it easy to find relevant information?
      Is the content in an easy to use format?
     What facilities does the site provide to help locate information?
      Does it have a search facility? Is the menu navigation logical? Does it provide a site map or index?
      Does the site load quickly?
      Is the site attractive in design?
      Is the content copyright, or can it be used providing the source is acknowledged?
      Is the site technically stable?

Friday, December 21, 2012

My first prize! "Learning Technologies for the classroom" Training

    Not only has the internet  helped me  in my professional development as a teacher but shaped the way I connect with my colleagues . I have been very happy to win a prize (which consisted in a training about the Learning Technologies for the classroom ,in the British Council Tunis for three days from the 16th of December till the 18th of December ) after taking part in a webquest. 
Those three days were amongst the best moments in my life. I met many of my virtual friends and our friendship has become stronger. We worked together, exchanged ideas, and discussed many issues related to using technologies in the classroom.
I owe much to the staff of the British Council in Tunis, especially to our Great & highly professional trainer Philip Bashford , who helped us in many ways and proved to be a great trainer. We benefited much from  his tutoring. In fact, he continually developed new methods in order to help us (the participants) enhance our teaching. 
Personally, I do think these training courses do help teachers a lot on all levels! They are very profitable insomuch as teachers develop new skills, learn from each other, do estimate one's performances and look forward to interconnecting and collaborating. 
Below are some photos of the course we attended. Special thanks are to be credited to the British Council staff, mainly Philip Bashford for being a great trainer and facilitator of learning! I learned a lot from this course and I hope to share some of the amazing tips in the coming posts. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

My First Infographic on Creativity

     I have been very  charmed by the infographics published everywhere on the web. I have just tried to create one on Creativity. It is thanks to the web that I am sharing this collection of charts and photos on Creativity. I hope you find it useful. It is my first attempt. I hope my attempts become more professional. I will try my best.

Mr. Feis Buk

I want to share with you this parable I wrote about Mr.Feis Buk
  ( Facebook) . It is one of the writings ; I wrote at some moments of mixed feelings. I do have very ambivalent feelings towards Facebook, though I owe much to this social networking device. 

        What I really want to whisper in your ears is that my first encounter with Mr.Feis Buk was not that easy. I've met that very charming, irresistible guy and got addicted to him at the first glance. My heart went to him as swift as a bird. It's true that I blushed a little at the suddenness of the meeting. I couldn't sleep, if I didn't see him or meet him more than 10 times a day. 
    I was unable not to get charmed by the bewitching smile of Mr.Feis Buk. But once, he sent me an e-mail that left me numb with despair. Here is his e-mail:" I can see clearly that you are becoming a very addicted user, but I am afraid I am ruining all your hopes. I am a friend of zillion users. I can't be your online inspirer anymore." 
   My face was heavy with sorrow and I sighed bitterly. I rocked myself to and fro and I burst into tears: how come? 
    I was seized with such a violent fit of creaking. How doubly sad! I saw all my hopes break in a moment like a piece of glass. I gazed at his e-mail and I solmenly rubbed my eyes and shut down my PC. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Questions, questions, questions....

    Lately, I've been trying hard to understand where does my teaching fail? Why do some pupils master very well asking questions and why do others fail all the time? My answer was simply, they do need more consolidation, more worksheets to practice more. In fact, we have been practicing questions from the beginning of the year , yet, some learners do tend to fail at the simplest questions! 
It is true that I felt very disheartened! As I said to myself, with all this stuff we're doing, they are failing! What should I do in extra to help them recognise their weaknesses and overcome them bit by bit! 
Therefore, I decided  to appraoch things from a different angle. What if learners relied on themselves to write questions on slips of papers I provided them, and they exchange them with all the peers in their class ( a group of 14 pupils). Then, they come to answer at least 13 questions! 
First, I introduced the activity to my learners and  provided them slips of papers to write a question on each of them! Those who mastered very well asking questions were very swift and the  activity seemed trivial to them! As for those who struggled to write one question, even the simplest one: what's your name? did not write it correctly! And that was one of the things that made me feel more disheartened! What we really thought was obvious, was one of the stumbling blocks. At that very moment, I asked them to get inspired by their textbooks and copy some questions. Still, some learners mixed some affirmative statements to questions! At that moment, I have to take my courage in both hands and explain further to my pupils and stress the importance of punctuation. 
The activity was a bit time-consuming, but I made sure all my learners knew what rules to follow in order to write a correct question. They were motivated and keen on checking that  they did answer all the questions their friends asked. Some learners were taking the lead to help other pupils, explain to them the questions and suggest correct answers. It is true that this activity raised the awareness of young learners to the importance of asking, answering questions correctly, which is the basis of any language. One of the observations I made is that this type of activity helped both learners of extreme types, those who are easy-going and those who are reserved. All learners have to move around and check with all their peers their questions and if they answered them or not. Learners argued, collaborated, asked each other and mingled. I was there, to help, observe, listen and guide. 
When they finally answered all the questions, it was the time for all of us to work together, read the questions again and write the correct answers on the board! Some questions were so funny and learn ers were creative and uncommon in their answers. What I liked about the activity is that though, they were struggling to get all of this serious stuff into their minds, they were enjoying the activity and profiting much from each other. 
I think this "slip" activity of questions could be applied to other grammatical structures. 
The journey of learning never ends neither for the teachers nor the learners. We still have to be more patient. Learning  does not come easy for many learners.As a corollary, teaching is hard ,yet very rewarding.
With all of these and much more efforts, I can not claim that all my learners mastered asking/answering questions. I have to check again. 
Below are some samples of their questions! These are beginners and studying English for the second year. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


    In my ongoing pursuit of using motivating and  stimulating activities ,       I came across this interesting activity: Dictogloss
I mainly implemented it with beginners; ie, twelve-year-aged learners. The activity is mainly a classroom dictation. The learners listen to the text, take notes and then work in groups of four to reconstruct the text. 
       What is amazing about this activity is that, no matter how easy or difficult  the text is , the pupils learn how to take notes and start thinking creatively of ways how to write in an abbreviating way; which is not so uncommon to our learners' style of writing messages to each other. 
In the beginning, they were so embarrassed they could not note down all the details, then, they were bit by bit at comfort with themselves and the activity as a whole. Most importantly, they were very very engaged to the extent that they yelled out of excitement, claiming politely that I reread some sentences.
 This activity not only integrated all skills but also made them aware of the techniques to take notes. They also felt familiar with the structure of  sentences. They tried to reconstruct the text working collaboratively on the notes they have.        
     Every group of members tried to reconstruct the text, it's true that the text were different from one group to the other. Two groups had all details, but with some grammatical errors. Other groups had fewer details , more mistakes, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc... What we liked about the many paragraphs reconstructed,every group came up with a new version! 
      This activity is very important  to engage learners cognitively, emotionally, socially,..As for the follow up, we started with the series of errors and the faulty sentences to correct. Learners were ready to learn, to suggest corrections to the sentences written on the board. 
Dictogloss is a multi-skill activity that engages all learners. I found it particularly very useful with young learners. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Strip Story Activity



    What mostly frustrates me as a teacher of ELT is how to engage unmotivated students. As research has shown that "motivation is related to whether or not students have opportunities to be autonomous and to make important acedmic choices". Thus, being autonomous allows children to feel that they have control over their own learning. 
       One of our favorite classroom activities (me and my pupils), that is very motivating to a great degree is as the title suggests: Strip Story activity. First and foremost, what are strip stories? A strip story is a story which has been cut into smaller segments. The whole story is handed to the learners in a scrambled order by cutting it into strips of paper. This activity engages the students to the fullest. They manage in the end, to collaborate to arrange the story in a good order. Learners work in groups of three to four, to read all the strips and stick them on a seperate piece of paper. This activity, not only activates the students' schemata, but also creates a positive atmosphere for learning. 
       I do strongly recommend this type of activity to practice in our clasrooms insomuch that it becomes a weekly habit. However, this activity does not exclude the "basic bottom-up processing, the importance of lexicogrammatical focus, particularly in the early stages of learning". In fact, "second language readers require training in the skill of rapid recognition of large numbers of words and structures in order to accomplish the objective of reading extensively enough to build and improve the schemata they need for fuller enjoyment of the texts they read."(Niget Scott : http://iteslj.org/Articles/Stott-Schema.html
    After ordering the story, learners engage in a post-reading activity, which is usually understanding the story, commenting upon the events, discussing and reacting to the story. 
All in all, this activity offers to both the learners and their teachers  great moments of joy, engagement and learning. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Most Useful ESL /EFL links !

    I hope this list of links would be of some help for ELT teachers. It's true that the web is full of resources. Let us wish ,as teachers belonging to the developing world, that these links do not turn out to be paying in a blink. 

Reading :


grammar vocabulary esl plans
online grammar exercises
handouts for classroom use
For all kinds of videos
grammar worksheets and printables
musical lessons categorised according to grammar
Purdue Online Writing Lab
Learn new phrases via daily conversations
Daily English conversations with an audio file
T.E.I.T Join Teachers of English In Tunisia 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My pupil saved my LESSON

             ''In teaching others we teach ourselves.'' (Proverb)

I would like to share with you this anecdote about an embarrassing situation I had , last year, in class. While preparing the lesson, the whole anecdote flashed through my head and as the title suggests one of my pupils saved my lesson by using her cell phone, which was directly connected to the internet.

As a matter of fact, I am indebted to Mariem for saving my lesson because she has got much savvy. The lesson was a listening lesson revolving around Celine Dion's song "Immortality" and as usual I saved the song on a USB flash drive and on my laptop! I thought I was well-prepared for the lesson! I thought: I am "armed" with two files of the song, so there's no risk! One is an mp3 file and the other is a mp4 file, a video downloaded from YouTube with the lyrics of the song! I have the portable mini speaker with its USB charger. Everything seemed in order!

Nonetheless, I was not ready for a power outage!!! What added insult to injury was that my laptop was out of charge! OMG!!!

You cannot imagine to what extent this situation drew my ire especially when I detected the disappointment in my learners' eyes! I tried to save the situation by postponing the listening to a later session and asked them to use the already taught vocabulary to write a free essay. To my amazement, a diligent , techie girl: Mariem suggested she would download the song via her cell phone, which was connected to Internet.

Therefore, I expressed my great thankfulness because she'd save our lesson.Within few minutes, we listened to the song and carried on the lesson. I was not the only person who expressed her gratitude to Mariem, many of her classmates did!

From that day on, I knew how important is new technology to teaching! My techie pupil saved me. She taught me a good lesson that day and I am still grateful to her. This anecdote made me so eager to embrace more and more new inventions in the field and adapt them to my classroom. Cell phones, usually are banned inside the class! However, cell phones could be of great utility in our classes especially with the limitless number of free applications available on the web!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


      Sharing my experiences with the web "surfers" are meant to enhance collaboration with my colleagues by interchanging  ideas and tips. The digital world offers numerous opportunities for educators to go digital . Amongst these tools, I mention Tagul the gorgeous Tag cloud.(http://tagul.com/)
   It is true that at first, I had a fleeting glipmse, and was fascinated by the shapes, the colours of this tool. But soon a myriad of questions started to insist on the "teacher" in me. How can we benefit from Tagul in our classrooms and make our pupils enjoy this tool as much or even more than I enjoyed it myself? How can Tagul be useful to our pupils?
    What is crystal clear is that this tool can be used to help learners document their vocabulary lists, by classifying them into synonyms, opposites and arrange them accordingly in their portfolios. In my humblest opinion, creating these lists artistically would help learners memorise them easily.Furthermore, it would boost the learners' creativity especially when they start sharing them with their classmates. Such a wonderful tool might urge the learners to think of more possible ways to sum up lessons in this artistic way! What if learners summed up their lessons using Tagul ?
    What if the teachers used these wonderful word clouds to brainstorm a topic or predict what could possibly be the topic of today's class? 
      By and large,Tagul  is a creative and an empowering tool , for it is not that complicated. In the end, when looking at their word clouds, learners would feel a real feather in their cap to be as creative as such! 
Below are some of my attempts as a teacher, but I will soon be posting some of my pupils' own creative word clouds.

Get Adobe Flash player

Get Adobe Flash player

   Below,  is the first wonderful cloud creatively shared by one of my pupils: Cyrine. She amazingly made a cloud about the activities of Holidaying , which is part and parcel of the syllabus. 
Here is the second one presented by Cyrine, which sums up the brainstorming activity of this creative pupil. She wonderfully added nearly most of the important words related to Travel. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Wish List for the new School Year

     I wish all my ELT colleagues around the world a very successful school year and may all your wishes come true! After reading the article of Robyn Schulman http://www.chicagonow.com/educators-diary/2012/08/my-top-20-wish-list-for-the-new-school-year/ , I have been wondering what possibly could be my own wishes for this new school year! 
   To teach is to reflect. This is how I do define teaching. Reflecting involves evaluating and hence, taking corresponding  measures. We are always questioning and trying to adapt new techniques and ways to teach effectively. Accordingly, I like to share my wish list for this new school year with my colleagues and teachers of English as a foreign language. Though I am afforded only three wishes by the Aladdin lamp genie, but what to do? I have more than three : ) 
          What are my aspirations? What are my dreams? What are my concerns? 
  1- My dearest wish is to see a collaborative entity working in harmony in all the schools regardless of all the differences. Collaboration entails discussing, evaluating, conducting research together and coming up with a plan to follow.
  2-I do hope that teachers/learners , get some appreciation for the work they are doing by rewarding them with training courses somewhere in the world. A trip somewhere boosts a teacher's energy to work more and afford the best s/he can. Such training trips not only break the routine, but open endless possibilities for teachers/learners to work harder and feel they are worthy of such recognition.
  3- Engage teacher/learners more and more in reflective circles about the future of education in their own countries. 
  4-Judge teachers/learners on what they succeed at and not what they fail at. 
  5-Make teachers/ learners enjoy their teaching/ learning to have better and better outcomes. 
  6-Any professional development should be planned according to  a needs analysis. Are we repeating ourselves each year? or are we acting according to questionnaires and needs analysis? Are we reflecting more on classifying our needs from urgent to less urgent? 
     I have just shared my wishes with you and I hope you could add to this list. Still, a worry that need to be handled with careful thought and effective planning. 
    I am more and more concerned about the effectiveness of technology in our classes? Do we have to be more and more technologically-oriented?
    As a matter of fact, we are lacking many resources and we are aware of this digital divide, which is getting each day larger and larger... What does the future hold for us? Brighter days with technology? 
    I hope so! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to blogging!

    Such a long absence! As if I were in a freezer! I am glad I am back to blogging . Blogging is not only an awakener, but a useful means to share one's thoughts with the world!
I am not sure that there are many readers to my blog ! But I am delighted I am back to my keyboard and my weekly struggle, hopefully, to publish what I deem interesting to my colleagues and teachers from all corners of the world! 
     I am deeply touched by the feelings of my dear friends who supported  and are still supporting me! I hope you will find in the coming posts a sound reason to share your thoughts with me! I am still hopeful that my posts would not fall on deaf ears... 
    As for the topics of my coming posts, I am convinced they should be reflections that spring from my classroom and not from mere visions of the classroom practices. I would like to share some of my lesson plans, ideas I implemented in the classroom and the byproduct of all of this. I hope I would be objective enough to report the pros and the cons. 
    As a matter of fact, reflecting on my teaching practices would give me a full insight into my own strengths and weaknesses and help me excel in my teaching. I do not claim to be a super teacher but I know very well I can be better and better each year thanks to blogging and interacting with professionals from the world. 
This is my word ! I am so enthusiastic that I want to shout this from the rooftops! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Genre Analysis Handout- by Cimasko

Cimasko • Genre Analysis, Genre Samples, and Developing Genre Awareness • March 31, 2012


Describe the content of research proposals in a general way.

What are the differences between statement of the problem and significance of the problem?

What is the difference between abstract and the statement of the problem?

Is it necessary for a research proposal to include a literature review? If so, where would it go?

What kinds of specific content should be included in the plan of research?

What kinds of information should the abstract cover?

How often are non-written media (graphs, tables, images) used, and how?

Each funding source / organization, such as NSF, NIH, etc., has its own requirements/
guidelines. Which one should be followed for this project?


Should the plan be described as “research” or “proposed research”?

Should abbreviations and acronyms be written in full?

When should first person be used, and when should third person be used?

How can language in the abstract be simplified?

What language can be used to identify a gap?

What other language issues are specifically important to research proposals in your field?

How can a writer connect with experts AND non-experts reading a proposal?

Are short sentences more helpful than long sentences?

How long are most research proposals?

How many references are needed for a research proposal?

What are the major sections of research proposals, and what is the function of each section?

What are the longest/shortest sections, how long, and why?

How many paragraphs are there in each section?

Who reads research proposals?
How do readers use research proposals?  What do they need from research proposals to do this?

What do research proposal writers want to accomplish, and how should this affect writing choices?

Angelova, M., & Riazantseva, A. (1999). “If you don’t tell me, how can I know?”: A case study of four international
students learning to write the U.S. way. Written Communication, 16(4), 491-525.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays by M.M. Bakhtin. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist,
Trans.). M. Holquist (Ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bakhtin, M.M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays (V.W. McGee, Trans.; C. Emerson & M. Holquist,
Eds.). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Bazerman, C. (1988). Shaping written knowledge: The genre and activity of the experimental article in science.
Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Bazerman, C. (2004). Intertextuality: How texts rely on other texts. In P.A. Prior and C. Bazerman (Eds). What
writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and textual practices (pp. 83-96). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Belcher, D. (1994). The apprenticeship model to advanced academic literacy: Graduate students and their mentors.
English for Specific Purposes, 13(1), 23-34.

Berkenkotter, C., Huckin, T.N., and Ackerman, J. (1991). Social context and socially constructed texts: The
initiation of a graduate student into a writing research community. In C. Bazerman and J. Paradis (Eds.), Textual
dynamics of the professions (pp. 191-215). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Berkenkotter, C., & Huckin, T.N. (1995). Genre knowledge in disciplinary communication: Cognition/culture/
power. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1995.

Bhatia, V. (1993). Analysing genre: Language use in professional settings. London, England: Longman.

Bizzell, P. (1999). Hybrid forms of academic discourse: What, why, how. Composition Studies 27, 7-21.

Buell, M.Z. (2004). Code-switching and second language writing: How multiple codes are combined in a text. In
P.A. Prior and C. Bazerman (Eds). What writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and
textual practices (pp. 97-122). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Canagarajah, A. S. (1999). Interrogating the "native speaker fallacy": Non-linguistic roots, non-pedagogical results.
In G. Braine (Ed.), Non-native educators in English language teaching (pp. 77-92). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.

Canagarajah, A.S. (2002). Critical academic writing and multilingual students. Pittsburgh, PA: University of
Pittsburgh Press.

Cheng, A. (2006). Analyzing and enacting academic criticism: The case of an L2 graduate learner of academic
writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 15, 279-306.

Cheng, A. (2007). Transferring generic features and recontextualizing genre awareness: Understanding writing
performance in the ESP genre-based literacy framework. English for Specific Purposes, 26(3), 287-307.

Cheng, A. (2008). Analyzing genre exemplars in preparation for writing: The case of an L2 graduate student in the
ESP genre-based instructional framework of academic literacy. Applied Linguistics, 29(1), 50-71.

Devitt, A. (1991). Intertextuality in tax accounting: Generic, referential, and functional. In C. Bazerman and J.
Paradis (Eds.), Textual dynamics of the professions (pp. 336-357). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Fahnestock, J., & Secor, M. (2002). Rhetorical analysis. In E. Barton & G. Stygall (Eds.), Discourse studies in

Cimasko • Genre Analysis, Genre Samples, and Developing Genre Awareness • March 31, 2012

composition (pp. 177-200). Creeskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.

Flowerdew, J. (1999). Problems in writing for scholarly publication in English: The case of Hong Kong. Journal of
Second Language Writing, 8(3), 243-264.

Flowerdew, J. (2001). Attitudes of journal editors to nonnative speaker contributions. TESOL Quarterly, 35(1), 121-

Freedman, A., & Medway, P. (1994). Locating genre studies: Antecedents and prospects. In A. Freedman & P.
Medway (Eds.), Genre and the new rhetoric (pp. 1-22). London: Taylor and Francis.

Holquist, M. (2002). Dialogism: Bakhtin and his world (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Li, Y. (2007). Apprentice scholarly writing in a community of practice: An intraview of an NNES graduate student
writing a research article. TESOL Quarterly, 41(1), 55-79.

Miller, C. R. (1984). Genre as social action. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 70, 151-167.

Miller, C. R. (1994). Rhetorical community: The cultural basis of genre. In A. Freedman & P. Medway (Eds.),
Genre and the new rhetoric (pp. 67-78). London: Taylor and Francis.

Polio, C. (2001). Research technique in second language writing research: The case of text-based studies. In T. Silva
& P.K. Matsuda (Eds.), On second language writing (pp. 91-115). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Prior, P. (2004). Tracing process: How texts come into being. In In P.A. Prior and C. Bazerman (Eds). What writing
does and how it does it: An introduction to analyzing texts and textual practices (pp. 167-200). Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Schryer, C. F. (1993). Records as genre. Written Communication, 10(2), 200-234.

Scollon, R., Bhatia, V., Li, D., & Yung, V. (1999). Blurred genres and fuzzy identities in Hong Kong public
discourse: Foundational ethnographic issues in the study of reading. Applied Linguistics, 20, 22-43.

Swales, J. M. (1990). Genre analysis: English in academic and research settings. New York: Press Syndicate of the
University of Cambridge.

Swales, J. M. (1998). Other floors, other voices: A textography of a small university building. Mahwah, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Swales, J. M. (2004). Research genres: Explorations and applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tardy, C.M. (2005). Expressions of disciplinarity and individuality in a multimodal genre. Computers and
Composition, 22(3), 319-336.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Genre Analysis, Genre samples and developing genre awareness- by Tony Cimasko

     One of the approaches that ; personally; I think, is worth the fight ,is stimulating the learners' brains via genre analysis. The fact that they engage in analyzing texts according to their genres enables them in whatsoever writing activity to use those tools to better reflect, write and create.Engaging learners in these meta-cognitive practices has , undoubtedly, overarching implications.
While being at the TESOL convention this year, the title of this session echoed many stimulating ideas. That's why, I decided to attend the session. Though it was mainly for graduate students, but some of the ideas could be implemented at an intermediate level with some adaptation. What I have to mention is that I owe the presenter his prompt reply and his readiness to send me the handouts of the sessions I attended, even those I did not attend. Below are the handouts sent by the presenter: Mr.Tony Cimasko. Many thanks to him for his help and generosity.

Genre Analysis, Genre Samples, and Developing
                  Genre Awareness

Tony Cimasko
Miami University

                                INTRODUCTION• Genre studies in ESP has devoted much attention to analyzing the rhetorical moves and linguistic features of genres.
• Analyses develop better understanding of genres, and enable writers to generate more innovative and rhetorically contextualized writing.
• Little scholarship addresses the difficulties that L2 student writers encounter as they analyze samples of new genres and attempt to move away from reliance on samples, toward more active and rhetorically informed engagement with genre norms.

                        RESEARCH QUESTIONS
How do students in a graduate-level ESL writing course use samples of written genres?
How do they engage in genre analyses of the available samples?
How do they use their analyses and/or the samples to inform their own writing in these genres?

FRAMEWORK: Divergent Views

• Explicitness of genre instruction is beneficial to L2 writers (Bhatia, 1993; Swales,1990, 1998, 2004)

• Experience with genres only in contextualized use, without a predetermined framework, will bring about effective genre learning (Bazerman, 1988; Devitt, 1991; Fahnestock & Secor, 2002; Freedman & Medway, 1994; Miller, 1984, 1994; Schryer, 1993)

• Bakhtinian dialogism (Bakhtin, 1981, 1986)

CONTEXT—Research Site

• Large, research-oriented university in the Midwestern United States
• Recent upsurge in recruitment of international students has resulted in a diverse but primarily Chinese (PRC) population

WRIT 619 

Professional homepage
Cover letter and CV
Annotated bibliography
Research report
Research proposal

• Placement is based on an in-house writing assessment that evaluates student abilities in writing appropriate academic texts

CONTEXT—Research Site

• Samples protected from printing, copying, and downloading
• Students collaborated on analyses: content, organization, language, and context

• Students drew on current and future grad coursework content and research agendas, and wrote three drafts of most projects


• 75 percent of students were master’s level; half had been in the US for at least one semester at the start of WRIT 619 (China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, France)
• In the semester studied, 12 WRIT 619 students represented educational psychology (6), religion (1), chemical sciences (2), physics (1), French literature (1), and educational leadership (1)


1) Genre samples

2) Early and final drafts
3) Genre analysis: Questions and answers from instructor, then students answered questions, then students developed their own questions for last project
4) Text-based interviews: Writing process, response to genre analysis approach, time and difficulty of analyses; perceived English ability;
several interviews throughout the semester.


• Data collected

• Duration of study:
1 semester

• Analytical framework

– Student uses of genre analysis tools and sample texts
– Similarities to and differences from samples texts
– References to genre analysis tools

• Domain analysis

Genre samples
Genre analysis findings
Early and final drafts of student projects
Recorded and transcribed interviews

FINDINGS—Students using genre samples

• At the start of the semester, most delayed reading samples
• Many who read early attempted to “focus [on the] best in my field and ignore the rest”

• Some attempted to copy from samples, despite digital protections: “patchwork”

• By the end of the semester, 3 still preferred to have samples


FINDINGS—Conducting genre analyses

• Early answers were very short, abstract, and focused on
general writing concepts

– “Always use formal language.”
– “Three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion.”
– “Letters describe some of the best experience in the CV.”

• “What the professor wants”

• Answers grew in detail and in connections with audience
considerations; organization was mostly “context-free”

• A small number of genre-specific questions

• New student-generated questions focused on describing
rather than justifying research plans

FINDINGS—Using analyses and samples in writing

• Use of genre analyses only: 1 student 7 students

– Framed writing processes primarily in terms of rhetorical
context, and creating space for their ideas (“Where do my
ideas connected with everybody else’s ideas?”)
– Metalanguage became much more common when
discussing writing by semester’s end

– Word choices tended to be simpler and sentences shorter
than language in the samples

FINDINGS—Using analyses and samples in writing

• Use of genre analyses with samples: 3 students 2 students

– “I don’t always trust other students’ analyses answers, yes, I need
to confirm.” “I always find more, every time I read.”
– Discussions of genres and students’ own genre texts often focused
on writers’ own ideas and on “following rules (“In the proposal, do
I have to list costs? [The Department of Chemistry] has enough

– Some writing metalanguage was used in speaking about writing,
but only occasionally

– Writing diverged from samples in ways that resembled the non-
sample writers

FINDINGS—Using analyses and samples in writing

• Use of genre samples only: 8 students 3 students

– Students continued to rely on what the professor desired and
precedent (“If I do it different from the samples, I will lose
– Students struggled to discuss/write about writing with metalanguage (“Why do I always forget ‘genre’ meaning?”)

– “Patchwork” writing from samples (and elsewhere) became more difficult to identify, but was still present

– Grades, unaddressed comments, few attempts to contact instructor with questions


• Relatively simple genres taught early in the semester, were still seen by many of the participants as too highly standardized.
• The organization section of genre analyses was seen by many as the most useful aspect of analyses. However, organization was not an affordance but an absolute for some.

• English as a temporary arrangement or burden to be endured.



• Model or collectively work through all steps and terminology for
the first genre of a class, better scaffolding their work from first
analysis to use of analyses in checking writing
• Make rhetorical connections between text features and audience
more explicit

• Using genre analysis as basis for peer review

• Explicitly discuss locating and evaluating quality of samples


• Longitudinal studies of writing practices beyond writing course
• Discipline-specific studies, in order to better understand fields that
have different relationships with writing and rhetoric

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Upgrading Groupwork: Technologically Enhanced Collaborative Exchanges - By : Marjorie Allen /Kate Baldridge-Hale/ Kathleen Reynolds

     No one denies that technology has added much flavor, interest, motivation, engagement to the 21st century classroom. It is true that as a developing country, much has to be done on all levels; in terms of training sessions, in order to equip teachers with the appropriate tools to enhance the use of technology in our classrooms; in terms of equipping the schools with the computers and internet connection. What made me feel bitter is that many of the sessions I attended could not be implemented for the time being in my country, due to the lack of equipments. What we interestingly witnessed during this session is how to upgrade the group work via technology. The three presenters Marjorie Allen , Kate Bladridge and Kathleen Reynolds orchestrated successfully the activities and boosted our motivation to try the best of these activities with our pupils. 
The suggested activities are as follows: 
1- Audio Pen Pals 
2-Discussion Boards by joining Google Groups
4-Audio Drop box
    I hope , one day, we would be able to carry out some of these activities in our classes. I would be happy to see some of the efforts of my students being posted online collaboratively, discussed and evaluated. I do agree that technology is only a means to an end, and that end could be achieved even without the use of technology. But , personally, it saddens me to see that our teenagers are not being offered these chances to learn more collaboratively, actively and online. Anyway, sooner or later it would be possible one day. But the sooner the better. Well, whatever the hinders are! I am committed to try some of these activities with some learners who would like to, as volunteers to use audio drop boxes ;record themselves and comment upon their peers recordings. I am sure it is an exciting way to "learn, unlearn and re learn".
       1- Audio Pen Pals :
The presenters suggested some sample assignments using audio pen pals to practice listening, speaking, grammar, reading, etc..
Listening/ speaking: * explain preferences /* react to a video/ * discuss problems by giving, receiving advice /* making  recommendation for future activities
Grammar: * Practice tenses by telling a brief story./* Practice question formation
Reading: * React to a short reading/* Review a book from extensive reading collection/* Discuss a novel : plot, characters, theme, etc.. 
 Amongst the benefits of audio pen pals as stated by the presenters are: keeping the learners motivated. The learners focus on expressing ideas clearly. These activities pave the way for more learner autonomy, a student-centered classroom, peer response and ongoing assessment. 
Nevertheless, it's very difficult for the teacher to give feedback to all the files/ recordings. But the learners are giving feedback to each others' recordings.
      2-Google groups: Online Discussion Boards:
Sample Assignments to practice writing: * share personal stories/ experiences. /* share drafts and peer feedback./ * Practice with rhetorical pattern. 
Grammar: *Practice of specific grammatical point/ Reading: Analyze specific aspect of reading. 
 Towards the end of a semester, learners are assigned a writing. Here is the topic: Write your best or worst experience as a writer. How did this experience affect you and your attitude toward writing? 
   Assignment: Peer  feedback on essay drafts 
Instructions to students: 
* Find your group forum
* Create a thread and attach your essay
*Read all of the essays in your group
*Complete a feedback form for each essay
*Attach the form in reply to each essay
*Use the feedback to revise your essay
*Do a short model
* Create a form to each group
*Post the rubric in the group
          What are , then, the benefits of discussion boards to students?
Some of the benefits stated by the presenters are : increased comfort, fluency in reading and writing, greater exposure to other students' writings, less exposure than formal writing assignments,..
      3- Blogs: Group Blogs 
Group blogs require minimal effort from the teacher. They could use them in reading, writing, grammar, etc.. 
Sample assignments: Editing sentences, making each sentence in one blog post... engaging in discussions, encouraging them to engage in peer feedback.. 
Reading assignment: The teacher can check whether the learners can use the words, vocabulary learned. The teacher posts a word and the students post a sentence. 
The overall benefits of group blogs are: * Increase in exposure to varied usage/* promote meta-cognitive awareness/* Improve negotiation skills/* Increase student responsibility/* more input/* more feedback/*Interaction/* Motivation
The principles that make technology-based activities great are the same as those that make a language learning activity great.
      4-Audio dropboxes: Here is the link to explain the principle of audio dropboxes
 "Overview: A dropbox for paper assignments is a box where students place their homework, papers , or other assignments. Teachers can then retrieve the papers at their convenience.An audio dropbox is an audio collection tool that can be put on any web page.

Students record themselves using the tool, and their recordings are placed in the instructorʼs dropbox automatically.Audio Dropboxes can be used to add speaking to language courses. You can have students describe pictures on a web page, read a text passage, or respond to open-ended questions." Dennie Hoopingarner
   By and large, the presenters were very generous and referred us to a site where they posted the handouts. Here it is:  https://sites.google.com/site/upgradegroupwork/home/links

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me and Technology

Networking with teachers, educationalists and experts in the field has proved to be at the essence of my motivation. I do owe much to technology. Such a big world that enthralls its surfers to the magic places it takes them to. Connecting with the world has triggered both my imagination and my brain power. While searching for proper tips, reading thought-provoking articles, tweeting;  I've sensed that I am more and more voracious for all that food for thought. The real challenge is the amount of food to eat. Hopefully, summer is  suitable for us, as teachers, to pursue the journey of learning with firm steps.What has added to my motivation is the availability of information whatsoever! We are luckier in the sense that teacher development is within reach to everyone. How poor are we , on all terms, unless we take advantage of this wealth.
Technology, then, if I dare say, is somewhat a wonderful trigger for thoughts. It prevents brain death. Exchanging tips, hearing from teachers , learning from their trial and error via  social networks. 
Nonetheless, this huge database  has somewhat created some confusion. Facing this plethora of links, articles, methods with a lot of serenity is the remedy. With the course of time, one comes to have some predilections and develops some "values" concerning one's teaching. The confusion, is a must-phase I  think, every eager surfer shall pass through. This has made me ponder my principles in teaching? Are they congruous with the spirit of this digital age? Am I benefiting from my surfing? Am I enhancing my teaching skills? Am I doing my best with my pupils? Am I engaging my learners enough?
What matters is the stick-to-it-iveness. The more we are confused, worried about our teaching, the closer we are to a clear vision. 
All in all, technology literacy is a must nowadays and it really saddens me to see some teachers reluctant to embrace this treasure for the sake of their career and noble pursuits. This does not mean that all teachers are reluctant. What is wondrous is the readiness of many teachers to learn and pass the information on to everyone. The more interesting is yet to come!