Lunchtime Conversations

The Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) used our NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Grant this year to work with two young teachers who are excelling in our field. The reflection posted here is from Julianna Balmer – a teaching candidate at West Chester University. The reflection from our second grant recipient will be posted later this month.


“So long as you understand one another, English is English.” This statement came from the lips of an international Ugandan student who is fluent in 3+ languages. I, along with several others, leaned in close to hear the beautiful words Gloria would say next.

I had the honor and privilege of partnering with the Writing Center at my university to plan and create a workshop conference called, “Intercultural Communication & Tutoring”. This workshop conference focused on equipping Writing Center tutors and English and English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers with practical ways to support English Language Learner (ELL) students who enter classrooms and writing centers. Three faculty members from my university presented interactive workshops on: Respecting World Englishes, Working with TOEFL-Trained Writers, and Promoting Self-Direction for ELLs. These sessions were filled with meaningful, relevant content and encouraged active engagement between participants.

After a lunch break (because we needed the fuel to keep learning!), participants took part in “hosted conversations” engaging in the roles of host, participant, bee, or butterfly. Hosts chose a topic and led the conversation. Participants stayed with one host to explore a topic. Bees moved between groups and cross-pollinated discussions. Butterflies moved from session to session, primarily as listeners. Each group used a graphic organizer to take notes (provided) and brought back a “harvest” of highlights from their sessions at the end of the workshop conference. This was a way for participants to network and continue conversations begun during the morning sessions.

This was time well-spent in listening to one another share personal experiences and thoughts regarding intercultural communication and writing. It was during this time that Gloria spoke the words, “So long as you understand one another, English is English.” I was a participant taking part in discussion focused on accents, and was so intrigued by experiences and comments shared. Our discussion ranged from talk about accents as identities, how exposure to accents influences our ability to hear them, and language as a tool. It was rich discussion filled with many “mhmm” and “ohhh!” moments as we exchanged thoughts and encouraged each other to see accents from different perspectives.

Many similar conversations were taking place around the building, and as I listened to tidbits here and there I heard and saw a community of educators who are dedicated to furthering their understanding and support of intercultural learning. I have no doubt that each attendee is making a difference in the lives of their students and colleagues, one word at a time.

Simple lunchtime conversations can become moments where passionate thinkers come together, engage in meaningful conversation, and take those conversations back to their communities for further discussion and implementation. These conversations are worthwhile. These conversations are compelling. These conversations are powerful. What are your lunchtime conversations like?

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Lunchtime Conversations

Intercultural Communication Workshop for Teachers and Tutors of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Intercultural Communication Workshop for Teachers and Tutors of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Saturday February 24, 2018

West Chester University

One of our Fund Teachers for the Dream grant recipients this year has developed a project to enhance writing teachers’ and tutors’ expertise in working with students who speak English as a second language.  This grant is made possible by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

She is hosting the free workshop at West Chester University on Saturday February 24th from 9am – 5pm. We’d love to see a large attendance! Anyone who works with secondary or post-secondary level ESL student writers would certainly benefit from the workshop.

Join students, tutors, administrators, and faculty in a free, interactive workshop that equips attendees with strategies and skills to effectively implement intercultural communication in writing center tutoring. Enjoy building your regional network through professional development.

The workshop is being co-sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers Association and us, PCTELA.

Find out more by linking to the event page here.

Or register here!

 

 

 

Intercultural Communication Workshop for Teachers and Tutors of English to Speakers of Other Languages

Happy July 4! Read “America,” a poem by Claude Mckay

America

Claude McKay
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
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Happy July 4! Read “America,” a poem by Claude Mckay

Did you know that it is literacy advocacy month?

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

In honor of NCTE’s celebration of Advocacy Month focusing on Literacy Education Advocacy, throughout March, Teachers, Parents, Profs: Writers Who Care is hosting a Flipgrid to showcase the many ways that writing can be used as a tool for advocacy. How do you use writing as a tool for literacy advocacy? We invite you to share your response by recording a short video to add to our grid at flipgrid.com/a4m3riw.  Just click this link and then the green “plus” button to contribute.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-10-13-58-am flipgrid.com/a4m3riw

At the end of March, we’ll share the responses we’ve received as part of a related Writers Who Care post. We look forward to hearing how you use writing as a tool for literacy advocacy.

Please join us as advocates this month!

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Did you know that it is literacy advocacy month?

Book Review: What Light by Jay Asher

20160210__USBooksJayAsher~1.jpg2016 was a tough year and I am not sad to see it coming to an end. Amidst news of war and death, despair and ridicule, I found myself escaping into literature to find solace. This holiday season, I found comfort in a story of forgiveness and redemption. Jay Asher’s What Light is a sweet, innocent tale of young love that left me feeling all of the good feels.

In this contemporary YA novel, Sierra, a teenager whose family moves from California to Oregon during the holiday season to run their family Christmas tree farm meets Caleb, a boy whose troubled past keeps most people in his small town from getting close to him. Although friends and family caution Sierra to distance herself from Caleb, the two develop an irrepressible attraction to one another. As the pair fumble through their first love, readers are charmed by their awkward, yet relatable interactions as our own middle and high school memories come rushing back.

Once again, Jay Asher draws readers in with his ability to develop meaningful characters and build suspense. While What Light is a much lighter read than the bestseller Thirteen Reasons Why, Asher’s talent for keeping readers invested in his characters is ever-present in his writing.

What Light was just what I needed right now. If you are looking for a break from the sadness that seems to be permeating the world, do yourself a favor: Curl up by the fire with a peppermint mocha and enjoy the feel-good novel, What Light.


Sara is a 7th grade English teacher in the State College Area School District. She enjoys reading and spending time with her two sons, husband, and dog.

Book Review: What Light by Jay Asher

Friday Five: Alternative Gifts for Booklovers on Your List

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we’ve moved into the holiday giving season. Have a booklover on your list, but not sure what books to buy them? Here are 5 ideas:
1. Out of Print Clothing carries T-shirts, mugs, bags, and other gift-y items for the booklover on your list.
2. Donate books to a homeless shelter in your booklover’s name.
3. Buy a giftcard for your booklover to an independent bookstore near them.
4. Choose a booklover candle at Frostbeard on Etsy.
5. Buy a book *you* love and inscribe it to your booklover.

Peace, love, and books.

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Friday Five: Alternative Gifts for Booklovers on Your List

Just. One. Book.

Help out a fellow teacher who is collecting books for the school library. Read more below.

Throwing Chanclas

Just. One. Book.

I live in a town of 1200 people in the Northern Sierra Nevada –where it meets the Cascade Range near Mt. Lassen National Park and about two hours drive northwest of Reno, NV.  Two hundred of that population is students. Over the years as the population dwindled after mines closed, then mills–nothing except tourism and retirement have emerged as ‘industries.’ Many businesses have closed down and with it many things we take for granted—like libraries.

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the “check outs” for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It’s an uninviting place. There hasn’t been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren’t allowed. The…

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Just. One. Book.