Log in

Goodbye Tanya Tercero and Thank You
from Richard Bailey

I am sorry to have to announce that our President, Tanya Tercero, has resigned. Tanya felt that the demands of her doctoral program at the University of Arizona were too great for her to continue to fully commit to AZTESOL.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tanya for her service and recognize the strides AZTESOL has made under her leadership. As last year’s conference chair, Tanya worked to strengthen relations with the Teachers of Language Learners Learning Community (TL3C) which is a grant program run through Mesa Community college that supports K12 teachers in dual language programs.  That relationship has grown into a strong partnership which we all appreciate.

As President, Tanya worked with the help of Nancy Hamadou to make needed revisions to our Consititution. Those revisions will be available for members to vote on at our fall conference. Tanya also worked to lend additional organization and structure to AZTESOL’s budgeting process as well as formalizing the organizational process for interest sections. This work, with the help of Laura Bohland, Megan Garvey, and Lutfi Hussein, has greatly improved our efficiency and made it easier for us to accomplish our mission of bein the regional source for all things ESL. Thank you again Tanya for your service, and we wish you all the best as you finish your doctoral program.

During this time of transition, I know that AZTESOL is in good hands because our new President Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick is a skilled and proven leader who works collaboratively to build consensus and move organizations forward.  Marjaneh is our current First Vice President and Conference Chair, and, according to our Constitution, automatically succeeds the President in the event of a resignation. Marjaneh is the Assistant Dean of the College of Education at Grand Canyon University, and this is her second time as AZTESOL President. She brings with her a reputation for collaborative, effective leadership and a special gift for empowering members to learn and grow in the areas they choose to serve.I would like to welcome Marjaneh to her new position as President and thank her for agreeing to take on this leadership task a bit early. This means pulling double-duty as she will continue to chair our fall conference while also taking on the responsibilities of President.

Welcome Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

President’s Message

AZTESOL President’s Message

Dr. Marjaneh GilpatrickAs the end of the traditional school year approaches, some of you are preparing for commencement, and it is a good time for reflection. Recently I came across this Chinese proverb, “Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself,” and it made me ponder on how as educators, we lead and motivate our students so that they are able to pursue their hopes and dreams on their own while living a purposeful and meaningful life. Indeed, not a simple task! One way that effective educators accomplish this is by being a continuous learner. We research best practices by reading reliable and scholarly sources, collaborate with our colleagues in professional learning communities, and we attend professional development seminars and conferences. Most recently, many of us had the opportunity to attend the 2016 TESOL International Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. The highlights for me were to witness many of our board members, including our most recent president, give outstanding presentations; attend leadership seminars and breakouts on a multitude of topics; and reflect on the outstanding keynotes delivered by Aziz Abu Sarah, a TED Fellow and National Geographic Explorer and Dr. Andy Curtis, TESOL’s president

Another way that effective educators help their students is by incorporating our new knowledge and skills in our teaching practice. We do this while being mindful of each of our student’s learning styles. We are passionate for and we are committed to making a difference in our diverse and broad educational community.

Our AZTESOL educational community will be gathering together for our state conference on October 23-24, in Yuma, Arizona. Our theme this year is “Literacy Across Ages and Cultures.” Please consider submitting a proposal and share your knowledge and skills on how you open the door for your students so that they can walk through the door and find new opportunities so that their hopes and dreams can be realized.

Wishing you all the best!

Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

Letter from the Editors

Feature articles

Being discussed at the regional, state and international conferences, and within this newsletter is the need for delivering effective feedback in an ever changing electronic world. To satisfy this need, Brandon Juarez provides both a video example and an annotated "How To" article. Using these new tools takes time, precious extra time that often alludes us. However, after reading Karen Hurley describe how she incorporates football philosophy into her pedagogy, you might be motivated to find time. Of course, sparking student interest takes more than time. It takes qualities that aren't often mentioned such as curiosity and gratitude. Although Jocelyn Rarey, Svetlana Vikhnevich,  Elizabeth Mosaidis never mention these characteristics in their articles, they are apparent in how they describe the application of their craft.

Upcoming issues

The quality of the articles in this issue makes us grateful to serve the AZTESOL community and curious to see how these articles and others will lead to new ideas and practices. Listed below are important deadlines for AZTESOL News. However, if you have an idea for an article or want to write an article but don't know how to begin, email Wanda Huber at or send a text 937-344-3338. Include "Article Submission" in the subject line.

 Winter Edition January 1st Deadline
 Spring/Summer Edition  May 1st Deadline
 Fall Edition  September 1st Deadline

You may notice that these issue times coincide with the beginning of the year, International TESOL, and the beginning of the school year. We thought this timing would help invigorate our collective practices and give us a boost (or outlet) when we need it most. There may be a thematic call for articles for each edition but look below you'll find a list of article types that you should feel free to submit at any time. 

Unsolicited Article Categories

  • Theory to Practice
  • Classroom Experiences with Web 2.0
  • Teacher/Teacher, Student/Teacher Collaboration
  • Reviews (Book, Web, Article)

Thanks for all your valuable contributions to the profession and keep in touch.

Announcements and Updates

Attend ~ Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession

AZTESOL has an opportunity to nominate up to 5 professionals to participate in the Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession as Summit Delegates in Istanbul 9-10 February 2017. 

Summit Delegates will attend the Summit on the Future of the TESOL Profession in person, 9-10 February 2017 at the Renaissance Bosphorus Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey. Delegates will be leaders who influence English language education policy in their countries or regions, and decision-makers from Teacher Education Institutions, Binational Centers, English Teacher Associations, Non-governmental organizations, and Companies serving the profession. Summit Delegates are a key piece of the Summit convening as they play a critical role in formulating and implementing recommendations that come out of the Summit. Delegates will be selected to attend the Summit in August 2016 and expected to pay their own expenses.

If interested in participating as a Summit Delegate, submit an interest form via the following link by June 17

Summit Participants will attend the Summit for the Future of the TESOL Profession online starting 1 December 2016. We encourage all Summit Delegates, Researchers, Practicing Teachers, Pre-service Teachers, and English language Students to participate. Registration is free and will open in November 2016. In addition to participating in pre- and post- Summit conversations, all Summit Participants are invited to participate in the live streaming of the Summit in Istanbul, including opportunities to interact with Summit speakers through round-table discussions and Question and Answer periods.

AZTESOL State Conference "Literacy Across Ages & Languages"

The will be held at Northern Arizona University--Yuma Branch Campus on October 21-22, 2016. Dr. Ohkee Lee, of New York University will be the keynote speaker.

CALT Conference

In November, the first annual Classroom Assessment for Language Teaching (CALT) Conference will be held at the University of Arizona.

Hosted by the Center for English as a Second Language (CESL), information about the conference is provided at this website:

We look forward to seeing you at CALT 2016 in November!

Lessons from the Field

Using Asynchronous Video Feedback for Assignment Support

Article: Using Asynchronous Video Feedback for Assignment Support

Example: Recording #4 Screencast-O-Matic

by Brandon Juarez, M.Ed.

Brandon Juarez is a former middle school teacher and administrator. He is currently a faculty member, researcher, and site supervisor at Grand Canyon University.

 His work focuses on curriculum and instruction, assessment, and instructional technology. Brandon is an Ed.D. candidate in the college of doctoral studies at GCU. His research interest include online andragogy, teacher preparation programs, and formative assessments through the use of instructional technologies. He has written and presented at the state, national, and international level on the topic of instructional technologies in the online modality.

Speaking Victory: Developing Students’ Oral Language Skills

by Mrs. Karen M. Hurley

Speaking victory is both a philosophy used by a successful collegiate football head coach and the way things are done in my ELL classroom.

I am a fifth grade ELL at Bret R. Tarver School in the Cartwright Elementary School District located in Phoenix, AZ. The first declaration of my desire to be a teacher was in my first grade memory book.  Now, after being in this honorable profession for 20 years, I appreciate the opportunity to work with ELL students.  My love for working with English learners has been deeply influenced by my own family and background.  I understand the struggles of learning English as a second language because my father is an EL. 

In my classroom, we speak victory.  Speaking victory means looking for victories in the little things – creating a better lesson plan today than was planned yesterday; having a new concept become clearer more today than yesterday; feeling more confident this morning in your oral skills today; smiling more today; looking forward to tomorrow; approaching an upcoming text with confidence.  We don’t dwell on setbacks – we move forward and look to improve tomorrow.  Speaking victory means setting the bar high and then having a clear path to reach those heights.  If you’re not aiming to win, then why are you playing the game? If your goal is not to be the best, you’ll never be the best.

Coach Todd Graham, head football coach of the Arizona State University Sun Devils seems an unlikely source of inspiration for a language teacher in West Phoenix.  However, in the four years Coach Graham has been at ASU, he has become my educational paragon.  When Todd Graham took over the Arizona State football program, they were at a low point.  He could have said, well, our goal next year is to get to .500.  He could have talked about how many holes they needed to fill and that it would take time to turn things around and become a good team.  He didn’t.  Instead, Coach Graham immediately started talking about winning the conference championship and the national championship.  He did it by holding the coaching staff and players accountable for making improvements (victories) in everything they did – each rep should be better than the last, each day of practice better than yesterday, each day in the gym better than before, each day in the classroom better than previous. If you make a mistake or have a bad rep, learn from it and get better.

The speaking victory philosophy spread like wildfire through the whole program – from the quarterbacks to the equipment managers to the fans. It increased confidence. It sparked a buzz. It ignited boosters and donors. The team made a major improvement in year one and played in the conference championship game in year two.  Did this happen because they got a bunch of new blue-chip players?  No.  Graham took the same players who had been underperforming and held them to a higher standard – they strove to reach that standard.  Coach Graham esteems the memory of Pat Tillman and uses the fallen player’s passion and drive to motivate the team.

“We talk about our identity and we talk about PT 42.  We talk about character, we talk about discipline, we talk about physical and mental toughness, and we talk about passion…. That’s speaking victory.”

As teachers, we face the same challenge.  Sometimes we get a classroom of students who have come in with low-test scores and haven’t shown improvement in their language skills.  Do we sigh in frustration and lower our standards?  Do we just assume that we’re going to have a “bad year” and hope that the class next year is better?  NO.  We speak victory.  We keep the bar raised high.  We look at all students as winners. 

We execute a plan to help them improve and we give them the confidence to get there.  We encourage them through their little victories each day.  If I have a “low” class, I just have to remember that they’ve probably been told that before.  If students are told that they’re slow and that they’re not progressing, they will probably stay slow and stagnant.  Imagine the joy of being told by your teacher that you’re a winner and that big things are expected of you.  Why wouldn’t you be confident if your teacher shows confidence in you?

The goal in my classroom is for all of my students to achieve English language proficiency.  To support oral language development, we speak victory!

What does developing oral language do for students?  Why is it so important?  Oral language is the foundation for student learning.  It leads to listening comprehension, phonological awareness, vocabulary development, expressive language, grammatical knowledge, social language skills, and the ability to use language to learn and to communicate effectively.

As an ELL teacher, I must teach students how to speak.  I do this by

  • ·      establishing a positive classroom culture and climate,
  • ·      giving my students instruction on their level,
  • ·      including interesting and motivating lessons,
  • ·      providing them clear instructions with examples
  • ·      designating time for oral conversation in every class everyday.

I use images to facilitate oral conversation.  In the beginning and at various times during the school year, I choose images because I just want kids speaking and listening to practice being victorious.  I want them to get to know each other and to feel comfortable, so I choose pictures that are humorous, cute, or just a bit silly.

We probably all know the power of being able to use images to activate prior knowledge, build background knowledge, and to build vocabulary.  For these reasons, I use images before or during content, literacy, or language lesson.  Many lessons are often closed with an image to allow students the opportunity to summarize their new learning and final thoughts.   

Sometimes I use images to push Depth of Knowledge questions. This is speaking victory that makes my principal very happy.  Depth of Knowledge question stems can push my students to discussions that are deeper and go beyond recall and skill or concept development. 

My students practice oral language development everyday, and because I want to set up my students for success right from the beginning, I model, model, model how to achieve speaking victory.  They are given time to speak victory in pairs, small groups, and with the whole group.   I provide speaking victory question cards for pairs with the directions and procedures clearly articulated. 

Directions for Speaking Victory Practice in Pairs

  • 1.    Partner A reads the first prompt.
  • 2.    Partner B answers using at least two complete sentences.
  • 3.    Partner A reads the second prompt.
  • 4.    Partner B answers using at least two complete sentences.
  • 5.    Partner A praises and coaches Partner B. 

Be sure your partner

  • ·      Answered in at least two complete sentences
  • ·      Asked questions using question words (how, when, what, where, etc.)
  • ·      Used correct grammar with subject-verb agreement
  • ·      Identified the picture correctly
  • ·      Predicted a possible event (not something that would not really happen)

I then provide images allowing the students to produce statements, interrogatives, or predictions about the projected pictures.  While students are practicing, I monitor several pairs to listen for common mistakes that they make and then plan my upcoming lessons.

I use sentence frames that allow students to work in small groups or to speak before the whole class.   My students need to know how to have conversations with and respond to peers, teachers, or parents.  Some examples of frames that I use for agreement, disagreement, clarification, and confirmation

Agreement                                            Disagreement

I agree with ___ because...                   I disagree with ___because…

I like what ___ said because…             I am not sure I agree with what ___said because…

Clarification                                          Confirmation

Repeat that please.                                I believe ________.

Explain that more.                                 I think __________.

What is your evidence?                         I found further evidence for what you said.

Confusion                                              Extension

I don’t understand _____.                      About what ___ said, I was wondering if ___

I’m confused about _______.                                   

I am not clear on _______.                              

Coach Todd Graham talks about how in trying times we show who we are as people.

“It’s not what you do when things are good, it’s when you face adversity that truly defines who you are as a person.”

In sports, they measure growth with wins and losses.  In education, we measure success with test scores.  When teaching oral language skills, how do we measure success in speaking and listening?  How do we know when we’ve achieved victory?  I know I am not going to transform a student in one day.  It’s a process.  It’s the small victories they experience with me EVERY DAY that leads to their success.  I do assess speaking and listening in my classroom weekly or at the very least bi-weekly.  My assessments may be technology based or I may administer picture prompt assessments to monitor all of my students’ progress. 

A common mistake that students were repeating often was “I saw Larry Fitzgerald win the game.  Did you saw the game, Mrs. Hurley?” So, I systematically and intentionally set up picture prompts to work on that skill. 

  • ·      I ran ______.  Did you run _______?
  • ·      I ate ______.  Did you eat ________?
  • ·      I wrote _______.  Did you write ________?

Another common mistake that students say is when they use the word “for” when they should be using “so.”  For example, a student may ask, “May I have a piece of paper for I can do my homework?”  Subsequently, partners may prompt each other with a question stem that provides practicing this skill.  I like to project pictures of several people engaged in an activity.  For example, a father baking with his children is a great way to practice this speaking victory skill.  The dad might say, “We grease the pan SO that the dough doesn’t stick.” 

Kyle Caldwell, a former defensive lineman for the Arizona State Sun Devils heavily influenced by Coach Todd Graham tweeted “Be smart with your words.  Don’t tear down years of hard work.  Be mature and believe!  Finish strong!  #SPEAKVICTORY.”  We often talk about the culture of a school being poisoned by negative attitudes.  What if a classroom is “infected” with victory?    Could that infection spread to other classrooms within the school?  

Well, Mr. Caldwell and Coach Graham, in my West Phoenix classroom, we look for the victories in little things, we look forward to tomorrow, we talk about character, discipline, and we speak victory.

Karen Hurley, a 2015 ELL Teacher of the Year, teaches at Bret R. Tarver Elementary School. She recently inspired attendees at the AZTESOL Central Area Regional Mini-Conference with her keynote presentation on "speaking victories."

SOLD!: Auctions in the Classroom
by Svetlana Vikhnevich and Jocelyn Rarey

Going once… going twice…. three times… Sound familiar? Auctions can be a thrilling and motivating experience, especially for second language (L2) students. The typical auction process is pretty simple, exciting, and fast – decide which item interests you most, bid a price while outbidding your competitors, and finally, hopefully, get what you wanted! Isn’t it fun? Why not give your students a chance to be active participants in a (modified) auction in your own classroom? It may seem like an unusual pairing; yet applying the auction concept to the L2 classroom has the potential to increase students’ motivation, improve their attitudes towards learning English, develop their independence and responsibility for their own learning, enhance their communicative and social skills, foster a sense of community in your classroom, and add some novelty to the educational experience!

Our first classroom application of an “auction,” with the use of false paper money distributed to students throughout the semester, was with the English Enhancement class that we taught at Northern Arizona University (NAU) for visiting Chinese scholars. NAU’s visiting Chinese scholars usually study and conduct research on campus for one semester before returning to China. Their Enhancement class, held once a week for 1.5 hours for 13 weeks, is meant to foster community among the scholars themselves and help them integrate into American culture. With regard to language-skills development, the class aims to provide practice in reading, writing, listening, and speaking, with an emphasis on the latter two skills. The majority of scholars share Chinese as their first language (L1). All scholars are professors in Chinese/Asian universities and their ages range from 25 to 50 years old. Additionally, because of their versatile academic backgrounds, their second language (L2) levels range from beginner to upper-intermediate, resulting in a multi-level class with considerable variation in L2 proficiency. While these were the specific variables we had to consider when applying the auction idea to our own classroom, many aspects of this activity can be tweaked to fit other instructional contexts.

How to Translate the Auction Concept into Practice

While our auction occurs during the last class period of the semester, the students work hard all semester to prepare for it. As instructors, we created false paper currency (similar to Monopoly money) that was classroom specific with our signatures on the back to avoid any counterfeits! It is important that your students understand that it is not legitimate currency to be used outside of the classroom. We distributed a total of $100 per class period to students who earned it as a result of classroom participation, a noticeable improvement by an individual student, volunteer participation in activities, new vocabulary use, and the like. Students are responsible for keeping track of their classroom money throughout the semester and physically using it during their participation in the auction at the end of the semester. It is helpful, as the instructor, to keep a general tally of which students may or may not be earning money in class to keep track of overall class participation by your students and ensure a more equitable distribution of the money.

Before the day of the auction, students are reminded to bring all of the classroom money they have earned and saved over the semester. The auctioned items might include cultural, educational, or school/location specific items such as school T-shirts, pens, magnets, annual calendars, language books, language-based games, etc. The items that you decide to give away in your auction are at the instructor’s expense (fully or partially). We were able to get some items donated by the University as well as local organizations; we covered the rest of the cost among the instructors. When planning the auction, ensure that the number of auctioned goods corresponds to the maximum number of students in the class. In our setting, to make sure that every student received a memorable “gift” to take back to China, we also made prints of a photo of the instructors that co-taught the Enhancement class throughout the semester and gave a copy to each student. The students really appreciated all of the work that went into the auction and were grateful for the prizes and gifts that they received on their last day of class. The auction made for a fun conclusion to the semester and our last day of class really did feel like saying goodbye to family.

Considerations When Applying the “Auction” Concept to YOUR Classroom

  • Consider the variables that define your classroom context: time and frequency of classes, age of learners, L1 and native culture of learners, reading/writing/speaking/listening tasks, proficiency levels of students, different types of participation, etc.
  • Create the design and value of the “money” you will use and use your student's’ earnings to track who is participating in class and which students may need more attention or may be participating in ways that are new to you as an instructor. Use your currency system as a way to learn more about your students and the unique culture of your classroom.
  • Set a budget for yourself for the purchase of items to be auctioned. You can also solicit donations from local businesses or your school bookstore for items to auction.
  • Mindfully select the items to be auctioned (e.g., cultural gifts for international students, toys for children, fun reading books in the target language, free classes/courses for a forthcoming semester, movie tickets for English movies). The only limit is your budget!
  • Modify the amount of time your students have to earn/save their money before the auction, taking into consideration the amount of time you have in class with your students, their attendance, the amount of material you have to cover, etc.
  • Vary the reasons for distributing money to students, possibly focusing on a different skill you would like your students to improve. You may want to try changing the chosen skill for improvement daily or weekly through tasks such as homework done well, class participation, specific skill usage, and vocabulary implementation.

The “auction in the classroom” concept can easily be adapted to your own classroom setting and provide your learners with an unforgettable experience. In the process, you can increase students’ motivation, healthy competition, and independence in theSvetlana Vikhnevichir L2 learning process... SOLD!

Svetlana Vikhnevich is a first-year MA TESL student at Northern Arizona University. She taught English in Russia for two years and in China for three. She enjoys working with learners of all ages and hopes to apply the knowledge and practice that she gains in her graduate program to the Russian workplace after graduation.

Jocelyn Rarey is a first-year MA TESL student at Northern Arizona University as well. She enjoys working with younger language learners and hopes to take what she learns from her Master’s program back to Europe upon graduation.

Journaling Prompts Poetry and Cultural Understanding

By Elizabeth Mosaidis

Whenever I teach a new class, I am eager to get to know my students, where they are from and how this shapes them as individuals in order to connect with them on a personal basis and tailor the class to fit their interests. Even with large classes, I’m usually able to accomplish this by having the students write regularly in journals throughout the week and then hand them in to me at the end of the week. In the beginning, my excited explanations to the class about how everyone is going to write in a journal to improve their fluency and to help me to get to know them better is met with sighs and some eye-rolling. However, once we get into the rhythm of journal writing and my students become accustomed to receiving feedback from me, they seem to enjoy it more and by the end of the session, students often mention how much they enjoyed writing in their journals. Even quiet students that hesitate to speak up in class will write about their secret hopes and fears, safe in the knowledge that this is a private written dialogue between us.

Consequently, when I recently had the opportunity to teach an ESL Methods class in a Teacher Training program to 60 public school English teachers from Peru, I was looking forward to having them write in their journals to reflect on their teaching practice and learn about themselves in the process. Since the content of my class focused on techniques and methods of teaching English to fit different teaching contexts, I wanted to know more about the Peruvians as teachers, as people, more about the communities they live in, about their schools and students. To achieve this goal, my plan was to have the Peruvian teachers journal inside as well as outside of class, while also exchanging with peers to write in their journals throughout the week. At the end of the week, I provided feedback. In order to set the tone for our writers’ community and help the participants feel comfortable when journal writing, I did not correct their grammar or spelling mistakes. Rather, I wrote down questions that I had as I was reading and made personal comments about the content of their journals.

Prompting the poetic side

According to Denne-Bolton (2013), “Journals are a way of bringing students’ outside lives into the classroom, providing meaningful and rich material with which to work and consequently acting as a natural motivator” (p. 5). Bringing students’ outside lives into the classroom was important to me because I wanted to choose journal prompts that would motivate them to write and that would allow me to understand more about Peruvian culture and varying educational contexts depending on the regions that the participants were from. Those from rural areas in mountainous regions might not have electricity, while those from metropolitan areas could have computer labs in their schools. Keeping this idea in mind, for one journal prompt, I had the participants write a poem based on the model text, “Where I’m From”. We listened to George Ella Lyon, the author, read her poem on her website and then the Peruvian teachers wrote their own poems about their regions in Peru. Through these poems, you can get a sense of how much the authors love their hometowns in Peru and what makes each region unique. Even though I gave the students less than five minutes to write their poems, they were able to get their ideas down on paper quickly, keen to write about their cities or regions. With only a few minutes left in the class, I asked for volunteers to share their poems, and hand after hand shot up, continuing after class had ended, with each person proudly wanting to share their poem with the class. Naturally, I was delighted to see how motivated everyone was to write and then share their poems.

Building community

While having the Peruvian teachers write in their journals allowed me to have a better connection to them, I also wanted to know how they felt about their journaling experience. After our four weeks ended, I surveyed the teachers to gather some of their opinions about journaling. Overwhelmingly, the results were positive; even though some mentioned that writing was hard in the beginning, it became easier over time, and was valuable to them both in their personal and professional lives.

Some teachers felt that journaling helped them to reflect on their teaching experiences and think about how they might use that to guide their career in the future. One teacher wrote, “I think writing journals will help me to reflect and have new visions about my teaching practice and my own goals as an English language teacher. So, my first journal will be about my new school and new students; how I find this new environment and what my commitment will be with them.” Another teacher commented, “Writing about my personal and professional life helped me to reflect on how I am teaching and how my students are learning. Also, it encouraged me to continue studying English and continue reading more about methods to be a good teacher.” In addition to reflection, polishing writing skills in English was another advantage to journaling that was mentioned frequently in the survey. As one teacher remarked, “A journal is a tool that encouraged me to write and improve my writing skills, as well as my critical and reflective thinking about the way I teach my students.” Being able to share ideas was the last benefit that was named by the Peruvian teachers. “Journals are a good way to reflect on our teaching practice and sharing them is very beneficial because feedback from teachers and classmates is valuable,” determined one teacher. As another teacher explained further about why they appreciated journal writing, “It helped me to organize my ideas by writing and to value the importance of the feedback from my classmates and teacher to improve my teaching practice.” Finally, writing in a journal also made teachers feel more comfortable with sharing some of their ideas; as one teacher concluded, “There are many things that everyone has inside and some of them are hidden. So writing in my journal made me realize that I have important things to share with other people.”

Through this positive experience with journaling, I got a rare glimpse into my students’ lives in Peru and discovered how genuinely dedicated to teaching these educators are. I encourage you to try journaling prompts with your students, so you can discover more about each student’s life and build a strong, supportive community of writers in your classroom. How can you incorporate journal prompts that will bring the experiences of your students into the classroom?

Journaling Prompts to Try

Something I care deeply about is…

Something about work (or school) I care about deeply is…

The thing I struggle most with is…

The thing I most want my _________________ to understand is…

My biggest success is…

An important issue in my community is…

Something people don’t know about me is…


Denne-Bolton, S. (2013). The Dialogue Journal: A Tool for Building Better Writers. English Teaching Forum, 2, 2-11.

WHERE I’M FROM (LIMA) by Jorge Barraza Miranda

I am from the city of the royalty

and also the slums.

I am from the land where there

are no sunsets or sunrises.

I am from the city where

the blue sky is normally gray,

But this city is my favorite one

Because it’s where I love and play

live and die

laugh and cry,

this city of mine.

Where I’m From by Etson Alava

I am from Pucallpa,

From the Peruvian Amazon

Where the Ucayali River flows.

I am from the city where the sun

is the emperor and the rain is

the King where hot and wet live together,

I am from the city where green is the best color

we wear all the time.

Where I’m From by Dalia Cruz

I am from Paita,

from the sea breeze,

from the smell of fish,

from the sunset in the afternoons.

I’m from Paita,

From the warmth of fishermen homes,

From the free seagulls

Flying in the blue sky.

Where I’m From by Karin Saldana

I’m from Iquitos

where the sun shines

every morning,

when the rain

falls when you’re

not expecting it

I’m from Iquitos

Where one of the natural wonders flows

“The Amazon River.”

Where I’m From by Kelly García

I am from a hot city

Where people are raised kind and generous

I am from an island

Surrounded by an abundant and long river

I am from a city

From flowing rainbows

When the rain stops.

I am from the land

Where people are persistent

And live simply.

I am from Loreto

Where people still breathe clean air.

Elizabeth Mosaidis is a Senior International Educator with Global Launch at ASU and a Teacher-Consultant for the Central Arizona Writing Project.

Jobs and AZTESOL Board Positions 

ESL Faculty

Mesa Community College

The English Department at Mesa Community College is searching for an ESL faculty member to fill a one-year-only position this upcoming academic year. If you are interested, please go to and click on "Proceed to Current Openings." Note that the application deadline is June 12, 2016.

Full and Part-time Intensive English Instructors
Northern Arizona University

The Program in Intensive English at Northern Arizona University has openings for full and part-time instructors for a 1-semester program on the NAU Yuma campus starting in August 2016. These are short-term, non-benefit eligible positions with a salary of $18,269 for a full-time fall position; part-time positions will have a pro-rated salary. There is a possibility of a second semester depending on funding and programmatic need.

This new program on the NAU/Yuma campus will provide intensive English instruction to a cohort of Business majors from China. Courses include Reading/Vocabulary; Listening, Notetaking, and Speaking; English for Business, Advanced Writing; and Grammar/Writing Workshop. Upon successful completion of the program, these students will matriculate into NAU/Yuma as Business majors.

CV and Letter of Interest required in order to be considered for the position.

Grants and Awards

TESOL Membership Winners!

Each year AZTESOL receives complementary memberships to give away. Congratulations to the winners: Chelsea Moreno, Michelle Beach, Rebecca Haag, Mehtap Acar, and Nicole Schmidt.

AZTESOL Grants and Awards

The following awards are officially available for AZTESOL members. Applicants must be AZTESOL members in good standing in the organization to qualify. If receiving a cash award, the applicant must provide a Social Security number to receive that cash award. Note deadlines for awards!

Cheryl Walsh Professional Growth Award

The purpose of this award is to assist up to three AZTESOL professionals in attending the TESOL Convention. There are now three $750 awards available. Application involves writing and submitting an essay of not more than 350 words on why the applicant would like to attend the TESOL convention. If presenting at the conference, please provide the topic or title of your presentation. An awardee is required to write an article for the AZTESOL News describing how TESOL participation has contributed to their professional growth. (Due January 1)

AZTESOL Distance Assistance Grants (Dennis Oliver Award)

The purpose of these grants is to offset the cost of attending the AZTESOL state conference. There are eight $100 awards available to any AZTESOL member who must travel more than 100 miles to attend the conference. Applicants submit a 100-word statement explaining why they would like to attend, the city of origin, and estimated mileage. After the conference, they are asked to write a summary of a conference session (500 words maximum) for the AZTESOL News. (Due September 10)

AZTESOL Special Project Academic Mini-Grants (Jean Zukowski/Faust Award)

Available for small special projects (academic research or instructional), AZTESOL Special Project grants can provide seed money or matching funds for AZTESOL members. Applicants should submit an overview or abstract of their project along with a budget proposal for funds being requested. Proposals are considered by the Grants and Scholarships Chair and granted by the Board with the Chair’s recommendation. Report of such grants is to be made to the Board directly or shared at the state conference or through the newsletter. (Open application period)

AZTESOL Mexican Educator Grant

The purpose of this grant is to assist a teacher from Sonora or Sinaloa to attend an AZTESOL conference. The amount of the award varies, according to travel costs, registration, and appropriate per diem. Up to $1000 may be awarded. Criteria for application include an explanation of the reasons why the person wishes to attend the conference, willingness to participate in the program as a presenter, financial need, and involvement in and commitment to teaching the English language. Applicants must write letters explaining reasons for wanting to attend the conference, including how the person and colleagues will benefit, interests for conference participation, a statement of financial need, and a current curriculum vita. In addition, supporting documentation is required: a letter of endorsement from a colleague or supervisor which explains the applicant’s EFL work and how the award will benefit the applicant and colleagues. (Due September 10)

AZTESOL Educator of the Year

The purpose of this award is to honor an AZTESOL member for notable contributions to AZTESOL and to the profession. The award is recognition at the State Conference and a 5-year AZTESOL membership. The criteria for the award are excellence within one or more areas within the field of English language teaching, distinguished leadership, and service to the profession. Nominations for this award must include the full name of the nominating person; the name, address, telephone number, and title of the nominee and nominator; a statement of why this person qualifies; and a statement of service to AZTESOL and contributions. (Due September 1)

AZTESOL Distinguished Service Award

Nominations are accepted for the Distinguished Service award following the same process as for the AZTESOL Educator of the Year Award. Recognition is given at the State Conference. (Due September 1)

Send all applications and grant proposals to: or
Vicki Ardisana, P.O. Box 881, Yuma, AZ 85366

TESOL Highlights and Policy Updates

Jenny Slinkard

TESOL Highlights

It was great to be able to attend this year's 50th TESOL conference! The schedule was packed with networking opportunities and I learned a lot about how to advocate for English language teachers and their students.

During the Affiliate meeting we made connections with other TESOL affiliate members. I left with the realization that it's really important to recognize that we're not alone in our advocacy efforts. We can identify and reach out to other organizations and individuals who also feel passionate about working with immigrants and refugees around the state and who are possibly already working toward the same goals as us!

I attended a fantastic "Tea with Distinguished TESOLers" about advocacy. In an intimate setting with tea and cookies, I talked with Cristel, an immigrant from Germany, who told us about some of her terrible experiences as an immigrant to France after World War II and then as a student in the United States, and now in her efforts to advocate for refugees here.

After talking with Cristel, I realized how stuck in the bureaucracy I can feel when trying to help my students or teachers. One teacher had expressed frustration at his students prioritizing work over school, when of course he wanted them to succeed in their education. Cristel recognized that we can't judge our students or try to make them change their priorities, but we can try to engage with them in areas that they find important. It might be even mean playing soccer with them after school and building a personal relationship. Advocacy doesn't always have to be within the walls of our school or institutional setting.

Policy Updates

The biggest highlights at the federal level right now are immigration reform, DACA, and DAPA (probably to be heard in late June) and funding requests for ESSA and WIOA (Every Student Succeeds Act and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act). Both ESSA and WIOA have increased their FY2017 Budget requests. WIOA plans and accountability provisions will take effect in July.

In Arizona in particular, the U.S. Department of Justice has found that the state has failed to identify English learners and has prematurely labeled others as fluent in English, cutting off access to ESL programs. This settlement means that the state must now provide language-support services to thousands of students who were prematurely moved out of their programs.

This June, I'm excited to attend the TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit with our new TESOL board member, Colette! We're looking for success stories from around the state to share with our legislators about what ESL teachers are doing around the state. If you have any especially dynamic stories to share, please send me a quick note to me at

TESOL 2016 Convention Report Out

Adriana Picoral

Going to conferences is always an exciting experience, since you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in professional discussions for several hours or even a few days. Conferences can also be a little overwhelming for that same reason. TESOL can be especially daunting due to its size, with over 5 thousand attendees and with up to 50 sessions to choose from every 45 minutes or so. If I were allowed to dispense only one piece of advice to conference goers it would be this: wear comfortable shoes, because you will put to good use not only your brain, going from session to session, but also your feet. This was my third TESOL convention, and this time around I decided to attend fewer sessions and try to find opportunities to talk to presenters and network more. And it was a wise decision (more brain exercise, less leg exercise).

My favorite session was a colloquium with authors of the book “Color, Race and ELT: Shades of Meaning” edited by Curtis and Romney (2006). I am very much interested in studies of diversity, especially regarding classroom materials. I feel there is so much more I need to learn on the topic, and this colloquium gave me more ideas and raised questions that I intend to pursue in the near future. In fact, I would say the best sessions I have ever attended not only provided me with answers to the questions I brought with me to the room, but also opened up even more questions and future inquiry paths.

The first issue raised by the presenters was that more white people need to get involved with diversity issues. Thus, we also need more teacher training regarding diversity. Talking about race is not easy; it is extremely hard and it makes everyone uncomfortable. Add to race other issues such as sexuality, gender and other diversity aspects, and teachers can be justifiably lost. That is exactly why we need to make sure we as teachers are equipped to address these issues in the classroom. We are many times told to terminate the conversation when race, gender and sexuality issues emerge in the classroom, since we should avoid controversial topics. However, I prefer to follow the advice given by Andy Curtis, the current TESOL president, in his plenary: we should do the opposite of what we are told; we should be political and we should address controversial issues in class. These are the topics that matter to our students, especially when these emerge naturally in the classroom over and over again.

The takeaway message is this: Diversity is the norm (look around your school, your country), and our classrooms should reflect that in the materials and the topics we bring to our lessons. Diversity of perspectives is extremely necessary, so we have to make sure we help our students to develop the linguistic abilities to express their own perspectives in a respectful manner so they can engage in important conversations that go beyond our classroom walls.

Alissa Nostas

Practical Ideas for the Academic Writing Classroom

One of my goals for the 2016 TESOL conference was to attend sessions on teaching academic writing. I attended two sessions that offered practical ideas for the L2 classroom. The first session presented by Carol Numrich was Preparing ESL Students for Academic Writing Assignments: Teaching Discourse Synthesis. She began the session by focusing on synthesis in Bloom’s Taxonomy. In the original taxonomy, synthesis was its own category. However, with the new Taxonomy, the word synthesis was removed, became create and was moved to the top of the pyramid. Verbs now associated with it include design, assemble, construct. This is what good writers do when they engage in discourse synthesis. They take texts, reorder and reconfigure them in new ways to support their ideas. Numrich highlighted how important discourse synthesis is in standardized exams and the Common Core. However, discourse synthesis is incredibly challenging for L2 learners because of their difficulty with reading comprehension, critical thinking skills and plagiarism. She offered examples from the literature which indicate that direct instruction is effective in teaching discourse synthesis even at lower levels. She then offered a step-by-step approach that she uses in her classroom to teach it. The steps are:

  • Introduce synthesis and its importance
  • Examine effective/ineffective models
  • Distinguish between important/not-so-important ideas
  • Provide graphic organizers (problem/solution, cause/effect, comparison/contrast, etc.)
  • Give the typical language of discourse synthesis (reporting verbs, signal words (e.g. comparison/contrast))
  • Review paraphrasing, quoting and citation rules

The other presentation that I found useful was Beyond the Borders of Traditional Feedback on ESL Writing by Hoda Zaki and Ildiko Porter-Szucs. They began the presentation by looking at the research on feedback in the L2 classroom. Most of the literature indicates that indirect feedback is the most beneficial for students’ noticing and self-correcting. Given that, the presenters outlined how they use checklists to help their students. On the first day of class, they give a writing diagnostic. From this diagnostic, they build a checklist that is modified on an ongoing basis and is customized to what the students are learning in class at that time. When the presenters receive sentences, paragraphs or essays from students, they put checks in the margins to indicate where a mistake is. They will use checks only for those mistakes that can be found on the checklist and will add comments if necessary. Students will then use the checklist to locate and correct their mistakes. The presenters also have a point system. They award a half point to students for finding the mistake and another half point for correcting it. At the end of the presentation, they spoke about some of the benefits to this system. They believe that it strongly motivates students to notice and self-correct, thereby fostering learner autonomy. They also said that having a checklist that is constantly modified better reflects the content of the course and may also save writing instructors time when grading.

I’m always searching for ways to better prepare students for the rigors of writing at the university level. These two sessions have given me new perspectives on the use of a checklist and the importance of teaching synthesis. I will try to incorporate these sessions’ ideas into my writing classroom to promote more learner autonomy and the further development of students’ higher-order thinking skills.

For more details and/or questions about these presentations, please e-mail me at

Dieter Bruhn, COTESOL

President, One World Training, LLC

Rocky Mountain Reception

Over 100 members of the Rocky Mountain TESOL affiliates gathered for a fun-filled reception at Pratt Street Ale House during the International TESOL Convention in Baltimore.  This was a great opportunity to network and socialize with friends and colleagues from Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, and to build stronger connections with the other affiliates in the region.  These receptions have always been one of the major highlights of TESOL, and the feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.  I’m looking forward to continuing this long-standing tradition in the future

Closing time! Closing Time!

Justin Shewell (left) Shane Dixon (right) enjoying the regional camaraderie.

Dr. Justin Shewell (left) and Dr. Shane Dixon (right) enjoying regional camaraderie.

Mini Conferences Deliver Maximum Benefit

Central Area Regional Mini-Conference: A Chance to Exchange Ideas

AZ TESOL held its central area regional mini-conference in Tempe, AZ on Saturday, April 16th, 2016. Forty-eight educators from a total of three universities, four community colleges, and five different schools districts attended the event at ASU’s Tempe Campus. A total of nineteen presenters spoke about a wide range of topics, including technology-related issues like teaching apps and online instruction, cultural topics like challenges for Arabic speakers, and teaching techniques, such as using writing strategies and mini-whiteboards in class. The key-note speaker and Arizona’s 2015 ELL teacher of the year, Karen Hurley, showed her passion for both teaching and football through her opening talk on using “speaking victories” to help students develop confidence in speaking English.

How did our attendees feel about the conference? Here are a few of their comments:

- “I enjoyed attending the conference. What was great about this conference was the fact that the sessions I attended provided ideas that could be immediately implemented in the classroom. It was also enjoyable to meet PhD students and teachers from the community college and public school systems.”

– Alisa Nostas, ASU Global Launch

- “The highlight of the conference was listening to the inspirational keynote speaker, Karen Hurley, share stories of her ELL students' speaking victories. As she shared anecdotes and pictures of her experiences with her students, I admired her persistent dedication to her students. Clearly, with any challenges that her students might face in the classroom, Karen faced those challenges with them, encouraging and uplifting them every step of the way.”

– Elizabeth Mosaidis, ASU Global Launch

- “I really enjoyed presenting at the conference because, with the smaller sessions, I felt like I could interact with the participants on a more personal level. In fact, as a whole, I found that the smaller conference setting lent itself to greater interaction between the participants.”

– Elizabeth Mosaidis, ASU Global Launch

Thanks again to all the participants and presenters for a great regional conference!

Southeast Regional Update

By: Tory Hunziker (

The Southeast Regional Conference was held in Tucson on Saturday, February 6th. The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. Jose Luis Ramirez-Romero, a professor from the University of Sonora. He spoke about his work teaching English to marginalized children in Hermosillo and Guymas, Mexico. His keynote address was very well-received and started a conversation about possible partnerships between his group in Sonora and AZTESOL.

During the concurrent workshop sessions, presenters demonstrated practical pedagogical ideas as well as research and theory about second language acquisition. All of the feedback about the conference was positive; it was a great day for professional development and networking.



Interviews by Sumayya Granger

Felicia Chew

What class(es) do you teach? I teach ELL I Reading and Writing, and ELL III and IV Reading and Writing

Tell us about your school and your district.  Utterback Magnet Middle School is a Fine Arts/Performing Arts 6th-8th grade school in TUSD with an excellent program in music, art, and theatre.

Describe the English language learners that you teach and one of your best teaching moments.  The majority of my students are primary language Spanish speakers.  However, I have two students whose primary language is not Spanish.  They are refugee students who speak Swahili, and one also speaks French.One of our best teaching moments has been with my ELL I students.  We have been engaging in Origami, aA picture of the 3000 cranes that were delivered to the Children’s Peace Memorial in Hiroshima.nd recently sent 130 cranes to the Hiroshima Children’s Monument as part of a peace-promoting project that the Tucson Repertory Orchestra was participating in.  The goal was to deliver 1000 cranes to Hiroshima.  3000 cranes were delivered (of which 130 were from my ELL 1 students).  This was an important moment to me because the ELL I students are enrolled in the 4-hour model of ELL instruction, which means they have 2/3 of the day within the ELL program.  This participation in a community-wide (and international) event gives my students the opportunity to be involved in something meaningful and valuable.  This was important to me because I believe that learning about self and community are vital and necessary parts of being a middle school aged student.

Can people attend concerts given by Utterback students? The school does have performances scheduled throughout the year, and a calendar is available at:

The school welcomes community partnerships especially those with an interest in the fine or performing arts, and the ELL classes could benefit from having reading and writing mentors in the classroom.  They can contact me, the ELL Coordinator, at for more information.

Julie Kasper

 What do you do? I currently work as School Coordinator for Refugee Resettlement in Tucson and CENTER Director. CENTER is a refugee/immigrant education hub tJulie Kasperhat offers after-school tutoring, mentoring, and activities for refugee and immigrant youth, as well as school orientation sessions for their parents and workshops for their teachers and other school staff and community partners. I facilitate learning for over 90 refugee/immigrant students at CENTER, including through an ESL-HSE hybrid course I teach for Pima Community College. Prior to serving in this role and to founding CENTER, I was a high school ELD teacher.

CENTER, a program of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, is a non-profit that serves the entire city of Tucson from its location in downtown Tucson.I work with students, families, and educators from the Tucson Unified School District, the Amphitheater School District, Sunnyside Unified School District, and the Flowing Wells School District. I also work closely with Tucson’s three resettlement agencies: Refugee Focus, the IRC (International Rescue Committee), and Catholic Community Services.  Our goal is to support and improve services in our schools and communities for K12 refugee youth, as well as to facilitate dialog between schools, districts, agencies, and other community partners. CENTER stands for Collaborative Engagement to Nurture Talent and Educate Responsively.  This speaks to our mission and vision.

What are your students like?  The ELLs I work with are primarily of refugee backgrounds although I also work with other immigrants including international and exchange students. The refugee students come from all over the world and in the past 10 years of teaching here in Tucson, I’ve had the pleasure of working with students from Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire, Somalia, Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, India, Vietnam, Croatia, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Turkey, Russia, Jordan, Japan, China, and many more nations.

The ELLs I have taught (and continue to work with at CENTER) have varying backgrounds including students who are multilingual, highly literate, and well-educated prior to arrival in the U.S. as well as students with very limited formal education and no literacy in any language. Each student is unique and brings their own interests and talents to the classroom, as well as specific needs and desires for learning

What's your most memorable teaching moment?Some of my best memories come out of the work I’ve done with students in the Finding Voice Project ( I think one of the biggest moments related to that work was when 6 of my students presented in a Congressional Hearing in Washington, D.C.  To hear them speak about their refugee and immigrant experiences, about education, and about the arts in front of congressional leaders was just an amazing culmination of their learning and a beautiful indicator of the strength, resilience, hope, and skills that our refugee and immigrant ELL students bring to our communities.

Recently one of my students made connections between the Civil Rights Movement in U.S. History and current struggles for social justice.  It was one of those light bulb moments – everything clicked and he was able to use vocabulary we had been studying to articulate his thoughts quite well. I love when my ELL students are able to use the language structures and vocabulary we are working with to talk about things that are important, personally and socially meaningful, and that demonstrate their linguistic growth alongside their already developed cognitive abilities and their ever-increasing content/disciplinary knowledge.

How can people connect with your program? There are multiple ways people can connect with CENTER.  Our monthly calendar is on our  

There are teacher workshops - free and open to all. Volunteering is a possibility. There are school orientation sessions for immigrant/refugee parents, and more. Check out our blog and our website at /www.lss-sw/center/www.lss-sw/center

Sumayya Granger earned her PhD in Linguistics and currently works in administration in student academic support at the Center for English as a Second Language at the University of Arizona.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software