Montana Adult Education

ESOL Conference 2011 Summary

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ESOL Conference Summary May 3 & 4, 2011, Helena, MT

May 3rd Evening Collegial Sharing 5:00-8:00 PM 

The 2010-11 ESOL Study Circle participants met for a delicious "Soup and Sharing" dinner at the Macaroni Grill.  In attendance were approximately 20 ESL teachers, tutors, program directors, Margaret Bowles, Carol Flynn, and Rosmarie Park, the an Associate Professor of Education from the University of Minnesota.  

Several colleagues brought a project, a lesson, or an idea they had tried in their ESOL class after reading the book, Teaching Multilevel Classes in ESL, by Jill Saint Clair Bell. The collegial sharing reflected topics from chapters in the book that study group members discussed in the monthly ESL phone conference calls. 

       Jacqueline Teasdale, Missoula, shared a multilevel lesson that has been very successful that she uses every Monday. It integrated idiom instruction with paired groupings, reading, LEA writing, and oral presentation. She will submit a sample lesson plan to MT LINCS.

       Cathie Rogers shared her professional growth in the use of PowerPoint technology. She contributed a PowerPoint tutorial that will be a posted resource accessible on MT LINCS.  

       Kathie Travis, Bozeman, shared a multilevel lesson that she developed using the Present Continuous. It, too, is posted on MT LINCS.

       Ellen Guettler, Bozeman,  shared some authentic assessment sheets from CAELA and her program goal of using more authentic assessment and instructional materials in the next year.

       Shirley Burns, FVCC, shared a research project unit with the group as well. She integrated typing skills into class instructional time to improve student readiness for post secondary and/or employment readiness. 

       Katya  Marandino-Irish, Great Falls, shared a very powerful video, a culmination of her students' collective works, created through project based learning. She demonstrated the steps involved in successful implementation of  project based learning units with  technology integration.   

After Katya's sharing, Margaret Bowles, our ABLE  State Director, took a vote on the future format for professional development in ESOL for Montana. Participants supported the idea of integrating a PD ESOL discussion area in LINCS as well as a student platform area where ESL students around the state can share their projects, collaborative works, and have discussions.  Meeting adjourned at 8:00PM.

 May 4th Conference  9:00AM-4:00PM  presented by Rosemarie Park

The primary focus of the May 4 conference agenda was "Pronunciation Instruction and Strategies to Prepare ESOL Students for the Workforce." However, since Rosemarie Park had met all participants the day before and learned more about the unique programs and issues that the state of Montana addresses in terms of ESL instruction, she modified the morning agenda to more specifically address the needs of individual sites and spent minimal time on actual pronunciation strategies. Instead, she gave us a very insightful and humor-laden "crash course" on the importance of assessing individual students, identifying their goals and needs, and the importance of cultural awareness when dealing with ESOL students. She shared several anecdotal stories that captured both the complexity and interconnectedness of the diverse realities of ESOL students who come from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds: some are preliterate in their primary language and others are refugees who survived a past of war and violence before coming to the U.S. She talked about the difficult line that ESL teachers often confront when addressing cultures that have customs or belief systems that conflict with our own cultural values. (Ex: cultural treatment of women or the Hmong culture's view on Germ Theory.)

The afternoon session focused on Work Force Skills. Dr. Parks provided a wealth of ESL information that is posted on the MTLINCS ESOL website. Before closing for the day, Margaret shared the format available through MT LINCS for professional development; our thanks to MTLINCS! The conference ended at 4:00PM participants eager to access future online resources and PD opportunities.