Saturday, April 28, 2012

Here's a video of Nina, Evelyn, Veronica, Jack, and others at TESOL 2012 EVO CALL-IS:

Carla Arena on Culture in the EFL Classroom

Veronica and I miraculously got seated next to each other without knowing it. Veronica can you share the story?

April 1, 2012 with Barbara Yalof a dear friend:

Nellie Deutsch
After over 15 hours of flying, I finally stopped so I could say a few words at the panel discussion on Culture in the EFL Classroom on March 30, 2012.

Friday, April 6, 2012


I learned, and it soon became obvious, that Philadelphia is known for its public art; everywhere you look, there's public art. If I have misidentified some of these items, please feel free to correct;-) What can you expect from a Canadian!
Ben Frankin--a bust made with old keys.
TheSigner--outside Independence Hall
I believe this represents the importance of the printing press in the struggle for independence.
Rodin I think--but I can't recall the title.
Very definitely Rodin--outside the Rodin Museum (closed for interior renovations)--and larger than the original in Paris! Nice spring daffodils, too. I'm a sucker for flowers at this time of the year--there's still snow on the ground back home.
Some famousgentleman on a horse--George Washington--surrounded by a variety of wild animals quite familiar in Canada. The statue is in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


The best thing about TESOL is meeting up with old friends, new ones, and meeting others only previously known online. Dinners are the time to be sociable.
Vance, Liz (?). Buth and Nina outside the Vietnamese restaurant we enjoyed two nights in a row--the price was definitely right.
Three amigas at the EV--Evelyn, moi, and Nellie.
Nina, definitely, out of character,  at El Azteca!
And then there were four: Ludmila, Cynthia, Veronica, and Nellie in Macy's on Saturday.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday (Nina)

Today was chilly and damp. I heard thunder last night and guess it must have rained overnight. I had my little umbrella, but never needed to open it as the rain held off while I was shlepping around outside.

This Convention's schedule was done in a kind of peculiar way; There could be 30-40 concurrent sessions at certain hours, but they scheduled nothing alongside of at least some of the plenaries and almost nothing at lunch time, guaranteeing that the nearby restaurants and the Reading Terminal Market would be inundated with all the Convention-goers at the same time. And this morning, other than the 8:30 plenary, the only game in town was the EV Fair, so I went to that.

The EV Fair in full swing:

I was signed up to volunteer 10-12, but I switched it to 9-11 (thanks, Sandy, for being so flexible!) so I could attend Vance's presentation at 11. And I managed to sit in on a very interesting EV Fair presentation too: Rick Rosenberg, Jacquie Gardy and others talked about "Trace Effects (Access English Online): Communication through 3D Online Gaming." The State Dept. in cooperation with others is creating a really great-looking online game for teens learning English, but it will be available free on the web when it is done!

At 11 I went to Vance's presentation, Learning2gether to Teach One Another About Learning Online. I haven't been going to the webheads' chats at Tapped In or the newer Learning2gether sessions on Sunday, and I wanted to reinspire myself to go. (I hope it was successful!)

There were quite a few of us webheads there: Laine, Buth, Sophie, and me... and a big surprise as well, David Weksler (aka Wex) from TappedIn! Wex is a helpdesk volunteer at TI and I used to chat with him almost every Sunday. He lives in Tenafly NJ, which happens to be very near where I grew up in Hackensack, and he drove down to Phila. to see us. It was great to meet him! Here's a picture commemorating this f2f encounter:

After Vance's presentation, I met Shirley, Karen, and Robin. I've known Shirley since we worked together at the American Language Academy in 1976! Karen and I worked together at MEI, served together on the WATESOL Board for a couple of years, and volunteered together on the Convention Team at TESOL 2003 in Baltimore. Robin teaches linguistics at AU and has worked with both of them. We had a lovely lunch at a Malaysian restaurant a couple of blocks from the Convention Center, recommended my Shirley's niece. It was suspiciously empty when we got there, but the food was great. I had spinach in tofu sauce with ginger; it was fabulous.

Shirley, Karen, and me at the Banana Leaf:

After lunch, Shirley, Robin and Karen went to get massages across the street and I headed back to the CC to catch the end of a presentation by Jennifer Lebedev (aka JenniferESL on YouTube). On my way over there, I found Wex waiting by his car in front of the CC. I said hi, we began to chat, and he offered to drive me to the 30th St. Station to catch the bus to DC! I had been planning on taking the subway, but this was much nicer: door-to-door service, so to speak. We arranged to meet in front of the Holiday Inn at 2:40, and I went on to "Maximizing Dictionary Use for Vocabulary Acquisition," which was an Exhibitor Session by Pearson authors Jennifer Lebedev and Pamela Vittorio. I arrived in time for only half of Jennifer's part but was still given two vocabulary texts to examine and a Longman Dictionary of American English! Together these books must have weighed 20 pounds and I was not sure they would fit in my suitcase, but I didn't want to turn them down, so I took them. I guess if you attend a lot of publishers' sessions, you could end up with a whole library of free stuff!

I stopped by the EV to say goodbye to Veronica and also found Christine, Sandy, and a few others. It's always hard to say goodbye when it's time to leave. There is something very special about meeting f2f when you've met first online.

Then I shlepped my bag full of those books back to the Holiday Inn where I somehow managed to stuff everything into my suitcase and get downstair again. Wex was there, as promised. He dropped me right at the bus stop and soon I was on my way home.

It was a great Convention!

The Megabus to Washington, DC:

Friday Dinner

Vance, Buth, Veronica, and I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant, El Azteca (on Chestnut Street), after waiting a long time in the registration area to see if any other webheads would show up. Only Nellie emailed plaintively that she was denied entry to the Convention Center; we replied that we would come down, but when I went down to see, no one was there! We wonder where she disappeared to, as we were all hoping that she could join us. (We found out later that she did not get our reply. Evelyn was also looking for us in vain. It's so frustrating when you know you want to meet someone but can't find them! For webheads especially, I think it's frustrating because we are uncharacteristically unconnected at TESOL. Many of our phones don't work in the U.S.; mine does, obviously, but I don't use the text feature, which limits its use in this situation.)

Anyway, we enjoyed a pitcher of margaritas and some very yummy Mexican food (many vegetarian options: I had a combo platter with a chalupa, a chile relleno, and a cheese enchilada. It was delicious! After dinner Vance and Buth went one way and Veronica and I the other, back to the Holiday Inn for an early bedtime. It's amazing how tired one gets at conventions, mostly just sitting around with intermittent walks from one end of the Center to the other!

Veronica and me at dinner:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday (Nina)

I was having a calm morning because I had no reason to rush over to the Convention Center when Veronica asked, "Aren't you presenting today?"

"No," I replied, innocently.

"I'm sure I saw your name in the program." Veronica leafed through the EV program booklet. "Here it is: at 10:00." (It was about 8:30 at the time.)

OMG. I deduced what had happened: I submitted two proposals to the EV Fairs, and received an email which began:
Dear EV Fair Presenter, Congratulations!  Your proposal has been accepted for the Computer-Aided Language Learning Interest Section (CALL-IS) Electronic Village Fairs at TESOL in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 28-31, 2011.... We have attached a copy of the EV Fairs schedule to this message. Please check the date and time of your presentation in the schedule....

So I checked the schedule, and when I found that "Ideas Worth Spreading: Enhancing Language Skills with TED" was scheduled for Thursday morning, I stopped looking, since the email mentioned only one proposal.

Even after I got here, I did not look that far ahead in the EV program booklet. Luckily, Veronica did!  And luckily, since I had already prepared this presentation (Using Online Lectures for Authentic Note-taking Practice) for the WATESOL Fall Convention, and since I (luckily) had the outline on my flash drive, which I (luckily) had brought to Philadelphia, I was able to throw the outline up onto a wiki created for the purpose (no printer = no handout).  It took a bit of time to polish it because whole lines did not paste into the wiki and I had to recreate all the hot links; but I managed to do it in time. I arrived at the EV at 10 to 10 (luckily again, the presentation was scheduled for 10 and not 8:30!) and gave the presentation to several (maybe five or six) seemingly interested listeners.  Whew! Thanks, Veronica!

After that, I attended two very interesting and useful EV Fair presentations in the 11:00 hour: "Website for a Blended Course in Advanced Listening" by Phil Hubbard of Stanford (who was at dinner with us at Pho Cali last night), which contained some potentially very useful resources; and "Using Technology to Achieve Excellence in Vocabulary Learning" by Aubrey Bronson, Amanda Wallace, and Ellen Bunker, all of BYU Hawaii), which introduced me to some awesome tools. For example, I had heard of Lextutor but had never really used it. In this presentation, we were shown how to use some fantastic tools on Lextutor such as the Vocabulary Profiler and the Range Tool. And they had some great suggestions for how to use these tools in teaching.

I ran into Vance and Phil Hubbard outside the EV and went to lunch with them. We first tried the Reading Terminal Market, but it was as crowded as yesterday, so we hit the streets and walked in the vague direction of Vance's hotel, where he had to get a book. Eventually we found a nice little lunch place that offered a whole page of ersatz meat vegetarian dishes. I got a tofu salad which was really good, but had to pack up half of it because we all wanted to see Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Webhead and CALL-IS leader and founder of EVO, receive the Scott Enright Service Award for all she has done. 

Then I rushed off to the EV to attend the InterSection presentations (CALL, ITA, and SPL) on technologies for working with international TAs. One of those (the first, unfortunately, because I was late) was really relevant to teaching our pronunciation class for ITAs, so I was glad I didn't miss it entirely.

After that, I took a break from sessions to take a bus tour of the city. (This is the first time I have ever done that! But I did not feel guilty, because I had already seen some really useful and enlightening presentations.  The tour was interesting although the bus was noisy (making it hard to hear the guide) and the ride bumpy, but I got a good view of some of Philadelphia's many museums, interesting buildings, parks, statues, and murals, as well as both rivers, the Schuylkill to the west and the Delaware to the east.

Philadelphia City Hall

Downtown buildings
Philadelphia Museum of Art
I think this is the Hyatt. I loved the facade.

The ticket is good for 24 hours, but I don't think I will have time to take advantage of that tomorrow because I am signed up as an EV volunteer from 10-12, and have to be at the train station to make my bus back to DC at 3:20. But it was fun; I am glad I took the time to do it. I'd like to come back and visit some of the museums and other sights. It's not even three hours' drive from where I live in Maryland!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday (Nina)

It's cold today! And although it's only my first full day at the convention but it feels like the third. After my stint as a greeter at the Electronic Village, I hiked back to the hotel (it's only 7 blocks and takes about 10 minutes but it feels far) to rest (but so far I have only sat at my computer!) and have a snack (Veronica got some apples yesterday) before going back to the CALL-IS business meeting at 6:45. After the meeting, some of us webheads will go out to eat.

I briefly considered a 20-minute "hot topic" presentation at 7:30, but ended up getting to the Convention Center at 8:30 for William Labov's plenary address. Labov is a real hot shot in linguistics (sociolignuistics in particular; I remember learning about his work when I was at Georgetown!) but I have to confess his talk on "The Sociolinguistic Intersection of Spanish and English" was pretty dry.  After that I gave my own EV Fair presentation, which went well! I had a nice little audience for both consecutive 25-minute presentations, and I gave away all 21 of the little strips of paper with the link to the presentation blog, and had to write the URL down for a couple of people who missed out.  The people who came seemed interested and I felt pleased with how it went.

After that, I went part of a presentation on "Preparing for CEA Review of Academics"; As the Self-Study Coordinator at MEI when we were applying for CEA accreditation, I wanted to hear about the experiences of others going through that process. Then there was a lunch break. I just ate some nuts and dried fruits I had brought, and later I walked across the street to the bustling Reading Market and bought a cup of yogurt. (I bravely resisted all the sweets and cookies that were there!) While there, I ran into Buth:

After that, I went to the Marriott for two sessions: "Schmoozing 101" (couldn't resist that title)by Liz Tummons of the Univ. of Missouri and Rebecca Oreto of Carnegie Mellon Univ., and "Speak Like an Expert: Transformative Panel Presentations" by Lisa Leopold of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The former was about teaching ITAs and graduate students the art of f2f networking, which will be so important to them professionally, yet they often don't have a clue about how it is done. The second was about group projects where students play roles as a panel moderator and experts on a topic of the group's choice; they prepare and present a panel discussion before there classmates after suitable instruction and practice. Both of these presentations gave me food for thought and were quite impressive.

At 3:00 it was time for my first two-hour stint volunteering at the EV. My second one will be on Saturday. It was Mini-Workshops, so there was little to do except when the presenters of one of the workshops couldn't get Wordle to work because Java was malfunctioning on the Mac computers! There was a bit of a flurry as it was decided how to fix this problem (it involved shutting down the computers and powering them back up to run Windows). Then we did that for the whole row of computers. That was exciting (haha)! But I like volunteering at the EV because I always run into webheads and others that I know there. It's like my home at the Convention Center.

Here's a picture of Vance, Christine, and me at the EV:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Evening (Nina)

Arrived in plenty of time to unload my stuff at the Holiday Inn/Historic District on Arch Street, about 7 blocks from the Convention Center, and then to go with Veronica to the CC and register. Then we hung out in the reg. area until Vance, Buthaina, and Laine appeared. Went to dinner (without Laine but with Liz England) at a little Vietnamese restaurant on Arch St.  We all had giant bowls of soup. Mine was off-menu: vegetarian soup, tofu instead of meat.  A nice light meal, but satisfying.

Going through my Program Book to plan my day tomorrow. My own EV Fair presentation is at 10:00 (Ideas Worth Spreading: Enhancing Language Skills with TED), and I am volunteering as a greeter at the EV from 3:00 to 5:00.  The rest of the day is up for grabs.

Veronica in front of the Convention Center:


My first day in Philly has consisted of a city tour on a "hop-on, hop-off" bus, discovering Reading Market (a great oyster bar for lunch), registering for the conference, and finding the e-v. I had some help on the last one--wandering around in what I hoped was the right general direction, Andy greeted me. It's a feeling of coming home when someone recognizes you and greets you.

I took a walk through the historic district this afternoon and the Delaware River water front--both are close to the Holiday Inn (Ben Franklin is buried in the same block as the Hotel,  or, more accurately, the hotel was built in the same block as the cemetery where BF is buried;-) I lined up to see the Liberty Bell--even this Canuck knows something about US history!

For some reason, I'm having a problem commenting on posts on this blog--the computer doesn't want to take me there for some reason; it just spins its proverbial wheels;-)

Looking forward to seeing everyone later today.

Nina: Day 0

Teaching my morning class, then hopping a university shuttle to Metro to Union Station in DC, then a MegaBus to Philly and I should get there around 6 pm. (Thinking of others coming from much farther away!) Hoping to see a few webheads at dinner somewhere near the Convention Center--meet in the registration area at 7. 


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Join us via Web Cast!

Dear Webheads,

Please join us in Philadelphia via Web cast! The major CALL-IS Academic Session, several InterSection Sessions, and several EV Fair Classics presentations will be Web cast. The schedule and links to the "rooms" are at this link: Webcast Schedule of Events, EV 2012.

Hope to "see" some of you online!

Meeting up with you

I'll be in the Electronic Village most of the time and hope to see/meet some of you again.

I would also like to invite you to a special occasion on Friday, at 1:00, at the Convention Center Room 115-A, where I will be receiving the D. Scott Enright Interest Section Service Award. This award acknowledges "outstanding and extended service to and leadership in TESOL interest sections" (from TESOL's website). I'm tickled pink as I'm in great company of former recipients of this award--Elizabeth Hanson-Smith, Tom Robb, Claire B. Siskin, and Deborah Healey.

Arriving Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.
See you in Philadelphia!

Is this the 6th or 7th blog?

I am not sure, but almost every year since 2006, I have made a group blog for webheads (and their friends) attending the TESOL Convention. Here is this year's contribution.

I am arriving in Philly tomorrow evening and hope to find some of you for dinner! Veronica and I will be at the registration area at 7 pm.