Happy New Year! From the IEP Level

Dec 20th, 2014 | By | Category: Intensive English Programs, Levels
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Maria Allan

Maria Allan

By MARIA ALLAN

—“Happy New Year!” may seem a strange title for an article being written in the fall, but the fall feels like a new beginning for many of us teachers. This past October’s CATESOL Annual Conference in Santa Clara provided inspiration and new ideas to support the work we do every day. One of the comments I heard the most was that there was such a wide choice of topics for all areas of ESL. I was fortunate enough to attend this conference, and I found several topics and presentations particularly helpful and relevant for IEPs. One presentation was on making visual and manipulative representations of verbs and their timelines to help different types of learners, especially visual and kinesthetic learners. Another presentation was on creating awareness of academic reading and writing complexity by using readability indexes (T.E.R.A. and Flesch-Kincaid indexes, for example), the Newsela website (the same article at different reading levels), and some specific writing activities to enhance academic writing. To add to my “bag of tricks” for pronunciation, I learned about the Color Vowel chart, which I now use to help my students link the stressed syllable of a word to a specific color (really helping to contrast “grAduate-adjective” to “graduAte-verb”). I also went to a presentation on a variety of reading strategies to improve comprehension and engage the reader and another one on teaching multiword vocabulary units that are so difficult for our students and yet so common in English. The handouts for these and many other presentations can be found on the conference website.

However, one of the most enjoyable experiences at the conference in Santa Clara was to connect with other IEP people. As an incoming elect board member, I was invited to have breakfast with other IEP colleagues who have held IEP positions on the CATESOL board. It was fun to get to know IEP colleagues from other schools over pancakes, waffles, and oatmeal! However, after my first cup of coffee, I also learned that after breakfast, we would be collaborating on a panel presentation on building reading and listening skills! It turned out to be a quick and very effective way to “think, connect, create, and share” and a great team-building experience, IEP team that is!

Though there were plenty of opportunities to learn about new ideas for teaching ESL, nothing replaces the opportunity to connect with colleagues from other schools. I hope that you will take any opportunity to do the same, whether it is at the chapter, regional, or state level in the new year! Happy New Year!

Maria Allan is the IEP Level assistant chair.

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