Thursday, March 22, 2018

Desmos in Action

Exploring math in a visual, exciting way is much more intuitive and user friendly with the online graphing calculator Desmos

I encourage all teachers to explore the classroom activities.  My favorite is the marble slides. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Growth Mindset for Math

After being introduced to open-ended questions in math about two years ago, I was sold on how powerful they can be in the classroom, but it can be difficult to create high quality questions.  Jo Boaler at Stanford has created an excellent site called "YouCubed" that has a wealth of activities for all ages that are engaging, open-ended, and for all levels.  

You can search activities and tasks on the site in many ways (grade level, topic, etc.), but I especially love going to Grade -> "Low floor, high ceiling" tasks.  These are perfect for engaging students of all levels in the same room.  Go ahead, explore, and try some new things in the classroom!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thank You New York Adult Ed!!!

I want to send a big shout out to CUNY out in New York for all of their work on their 
CUNY HSE Curriculum Framework!  My only real complaint is that they don't have all of these same resources for Adult Basic Education.  I have been borrowing and stealing from this curriculum all semester and I plan to continue.  They also have excellent professional development videos and resources.  I can't thank these folks enough for the resources they have created.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Google Forms Quizzes Now Much Easier

Over the last year I have been using a third-party add-on called Flubaroo to do autograding for quizzes.  In the last couple weeks Google made a wonderful update to Forms.  Now they have seamless tools to make quizzes that allow for quick grading, analytics and feedback options that just make sense.  I'm excited to use this for assessments and training tools going forward.  Below is a video tutorial on this new tool.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Zoom Classes at Southeastern Iowa Community College

I recently spent the afternoon learning from John Romeo at Southeastern about the ways he uses technology to teach math classes using Zoom and other tech tools.

John using via Zoom and tablets

John is using a Promethean interactive whiteboard to project a math problem onto the board.  An alternative is to use a Mimio, which is less expensive, to make any whiteboard interactive.

A Mimio close-up

He has students come up to work the problem he is projecting while he is sending different math problems to students (who are located at multiple locations) via  The teacher needs a tablet, but students are able to respond with multiple types of devices.

Zoom view on John's interactive white board (Promethean)

The laptop that is capturing video and running Zoom

Friday, June 3, 2016

Relevance Matters

By Chris Widmer, ELL Instructor

               One of the most important things that I took away from the ICLC was how to use students’ experiences and things relevant to them to teach all aspects of ESL. The main benefit is that students are more engaged in lessons that are relevant to them, but there are additional benefits that I had not considered as well. For instance, lessons that use relevant experiences show the students how to apply the lessons that they are being taught and take abstract ideas and make them more real for the student. Additionally, on a self-serving level, students that are more engaged and that see the applications of their lessons are more likely to have better attendance, to return for other classes, and to bring in new students by word of mouth.

                The prime example for this was in a lesson outlined about immigration statuses. Many adult ESL students are going through the rigors of immigration either for themselves or for family members and a lesson on that is likely to be relevant and interesting for them. The instructor started the lesson by generating discussion on what the students knew about immigration and then moved directly into a vocabulary lesson that included the words the students would need to know for the rest of the lesson. From there the instructor can move to any other category since the basic knowledge is established.  In this instance she decided to work on grammar and talk about using the modal verbs "can" and "should." The rest of the lesson detailed ways that the instructor could use the topic for listening, speaking, and reading--all which related back to the discussion generated at the beginning of the class and which included and reviewed the vocabulary and grammar the instructor started with.

                This type of lesson was designed specifically to make sure that the topic was relevant to the students and that it was consistent throughout the lesson so that the students could see clear, real world applications for the concepts they learned. Such a lesson is more likely to engage the students and also drive their interest to learn more and practice more as they can see that it is useful to them immediately. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Natural Language


By Agung Kristianto, ELL Instructor at MCC

I attended a workshop facilitated by Dr. Randi Reppen at the MIDTESOL Conference. In this workshop, she focused on the use of corpus research (research on large collection of natural language) to inform language teaching decisions and resource in the language classroom. She also proposed the use of corpora as a resource for material development and student activities. She started the workshop with providing the rationale of using corpora for vocabulary and grammar instruction. She claims that using corpora can provide insights into language use where intuition fails. In addition, she believes that corpora can serve as teaching materials by providing examples of authentic language.  Then, she continued to share some online corpus and corpus softwares. Some example of free online corpora are COCA ( , Word and Phrase (focused on academic language,, MICASE (;c=micase;cc=micase), and Wikipedia corpus ( Whereas, some example of corpus software are Monoconc, Ant Conc, and Word Smith.

Having shown some basic functions and features from some of the above corpora, she proposed that the use of corpora may also help English language learners’ vocabulary acquisition in the following areas: lexical verbs such as irregular verbs, affixes, multi word and single word verbs, and collocation. In addition, using corpora can provide a language teacher with example of patterns such as the use of preposition ‘in’ and ‘of’.

Additionally, in this workshop the facilitator showed how corpora can inform language teacher the most frequent verbs used in English that both are irregular verbs and have multiple meanings. Therefore, acquisition of these lexical verbs can be challenging for English learners. Thus, using corpora may inform teacher with some ideas and authentic language examples to deal with this particular challenge. Another example the facilitator mentioned was the use of corpora to provide advanced language learner in academic writing skills improvement. She gave an example of how corpora can serve English language learners to find better collocation. Finally, she encourages language teachers to explore and use corpora as one tool that can be useful in helping English language teachers and learners in the area of vocabulary and grammar acquisition.