AZTESOL News is our official quarterly e-newsletter full of teaching tips, conference news, legislative updates, reviews of books/journals/websites/apps, and articles on all manner of topics relevant to ESL teachers in every setting.
quarterly newsletter

Summer 2015
Table of Contents


Latest News

President's Message
Richard Bailey

If you are anything like me, you are usually glad to see summer arrive.  The end of the school year is always such a hectic rush, and the beginning of summer always brings a welcome change. The pace slows, and opportunities abound for the beginning of new projects and the finishing of old ones.  I hope this is the case with you as well.  I hope that you are having a relaxing and enjoyable summer vacation, and I hope that you are embarking on many exciting opportunities.  I know that our AZTESOL Board has started work this summer to do just that--work on many projects, both new and old, that will support and continue our mission to be the premier organization in the Southwest for English Language Teaching.

A few years ago, our Board of Directors adopted a strategic goal which is to be the “premiere, reliable community where English language professionals at all levels can network and develop professionally in the Southwest region.”  Since that time, we have worked to align our activities, finances, and volunteers in efforts that will support this goal and make it a reality.  I am particularly excited about the work we have started this year that will further serve the purposes of our strategic goal.  At the beginning of each summer, the Board holds a leadership retreat where we work to reassess our strategic goals and plan new projects to further our efforts in key areas.  This year, we developed plans for several important initiatives including the further integration of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) into our organizational structure and conference program, cross training of Board members for key Board positions, continued and improved investments in software for more convenient registration and improved data management, and new strategies for integrating social media into our communications, mini-conferences, and annual state conference.  Some of these improvements may never be seen by our general membership, but they will allow our organization to grow more efficiently while also controlling costs and making your membership dollars count most effectively.  Other changes should be quite noticeable, and they are intended to make AZTESOL more relevant and useful to our members.

In the coming year, you can expect to see many exciting initiatives.  One of our biggest this year has been the formation of SIGs.  We have three SIGs currently in the formation stage.  These include K-12, Community College, and Advocacy.  These new SIGs represent areas of our profession that are currently underserved by AZTESOL.  Our hope is to recruit new members and broaden the scope of our organization while also working to better serve our current members.  We hope to continue the SIG formation process by including all aspects of our profession.  To that end, the Board has adopted new procedures for the formation of SIGs which will be emphasized at the annual conference. In fact, you can expect to see some important changes to the conference itself.  Most importantly, we are partnering this year with the Teachers of Language Learners Learning Community (TL3C) which is a program out of Mesa Community College.  They seek to train and support teachers in dual language programs in the K-12 environment.  We are excited about this opportunity to further the quality and quantity of dual language programs in Arizona while also welcoming more K-12 teachers to our state conference.  Finally, we are in the process of forming a comprehensive plan for the integration of social media into various aspects of AZTESOL business.  Our goal is to be a resource for the dissemination of research and best practices for ELT professionals in the Southwest, and the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are key in the accomplishment of that goal.  If you are interested in starting or joining a SIG, or if you would like to help us with any of this work, please feel free to contact us.  We welcome your involvement.  You can use the “contact us” feature on our website at, or you an contact me directly at  

One last thing you should be aware of.  This summer, our Past President, Nancy Hamadou, will chair our nominations committee.  This committee is made up of the Past President and all of our area representatives.  Its goal is to recruit qualified nominees for open Board positions.  Currently, we have three open positions: Second Vice President, Rules and Resolutions Chair, and SIG Coordinator.  If you are interested in any of these positions, or if you know of someone who might be a good fit, please contact us by using the above link or my email address.  If you need further information about any of the positions, please feel free to ask those questions too.  I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I wish you the best of luck as you begin the next academic year this fall.


Message from the Newsletter Editors
Changes and Real Opportunities to Contribute
by Wanda Huber and Adam Clark

When the Arizona heat has us cozying up with some sweet air con, it’s a time to both reflect on our teaching practices and anticipate the upcoming school year, hopefully with some fresh perspectives. In this issue of AZTESOL News, there’s some fodder for reflection and new ideas. In the series, "The Changing Face of ELT," we’ll hear how one teacher negotiates age, gender, and culture in the language classroom. We’ll look back to the TESOL Convention in Toronto from a grad student’s perspective. In the new series, "SPOTLIGHT Where we Work," we learn about two organizations teaching “underserved” populations—refugees and blind ELLs and how their teacher assists with the students’ specific challenges. An Arizona teacher discusses how she has used the reciprocal teaching method to teach effective reading skills and another shares a lesson plan for teaching inferences.

As Richard noted in the President’s Message, there’s a lot of changes afoot. 
The first change is that AZTESOL News has changed hands. We are Wanda Huber and Adam Clark, collectively known as your new newsletter editors. Paul Meloccaro is still hard at work, but focusing on his webmaster duties. Although we have some big shoes to fill, we'll do our best.

This newsletter is in a temporary format while we consider (and learn to use) different ones, so let us know what features you like and don't like.

One big change being implemented is incorporating an active discussion on Twitter. This gives all of us a voice and a place to share lessons, ask questions, comment on articles and important issues, share links to resources and new technology, post photos for the website, and make suggestions for future articles. Help us build our AZTESOL community on Twitter @aztesol. 

AZTESOL News also will be building a repository of lesson plans, so please share your best plans with your fellow teachers. You can send your lesson plans to Include "Lesson Plan" in thesubject line. 

You may also notice that there’s an article demonstrating how to use Google Docs from a writer outside of Arizona. This represents a collaboration that came about from the International TESOL Convention’s Newsletter Affiliate meeting. TESOL Newsletter Editors from around the world will not be posting their newsletter articles in a repository. This opens the 
door for republication of articles as well as reading articles of interest from around the world. Since we'll be trolling the affiliate newsletters for articles of interest, tweet your areas of interest or simply give us some encouragement. We aim to please!

Last, but not least, there have been some significant changes to our membership management software. Soon, all AZTESOL members will be able to sign-up, pay and manage their membership 100% online. Please look for an announcement e-mail in the coming weeks.

Thanks and have a great summer,
Wanda and Adam




Aviation English Instructor
CTC Aviation Training (US) Inc., based at Goodyear Airport, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Arizona Education Employment Board

International Educator Lead
Global Launch, Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona, USA

Associate International Educator
Global Launch, Arizona State University
Tempe, Arizona, USA




AZTESOL Conference
October 23rd - 24th, 2015
Mesa Community College in Mesa, AZ

September 2015

16-18 (Europe and Eurasia) TBLT 2015, "Tasks for Real," Belgium. Email

18-19 (North America) 13th Annual Conference on Technology for Second Language Learning (TSLL 2015), "Data-Driven Approaches to Learning Phraseology and Formulaic Language: Computation, Co-Selection, Contextualization, Cognition," Iowa, USA. Email 

18-20 (Asia and Oceania) Third World Congress on Extensive Reading, "Extensive Approaches to Language Learning," United Arab Emirates. Email 

24-26 (Central and South America) FAAPI2015 Annual Conference, "EFL Classrooms in the New Millennium: Local Developments and Global Concerns," Argentina. Email 

October 2015

2-3 (North America) Tri-TESOL 2015 hosted by BCTEAL, WAESOL, and ORTESOL, "Transcending Boundaries and Interweaving Perspectives," Washington, USA. Email 

9-10 (North America) MITESOL 2015 Conference, "Assessing Students, Teachers, Programs: How do we measure up?" Michigan, USA. Email 

10-11 (Asia and Oceania) Korea TESOL 23rd Annual International Conference, "Transitions in Education: Transitions in ELT," South Korea. Email 

17 (North America) 35th Maryland TESOL Annual Fall Conference, "Beyond Borders: Connecting Diverse Perspectives," Maryland, USA. Email 

23-24 (North America) MIDTESOL 2015, "The Future Is Now: Building New Traditions in TESOL," Iowa, USA. Email 

29-30 (Asia and Oceania) Culi International Conference 2015, "ESP: Needs, Pedagogy, and Assessment," Thailand. Email

29-31 (North America) Second Language Research Forum (SLRF) 2015, "Application, Context, Language Use," Georgia, USA. Email 

For more information, check out the TESOL Calendar of Events.


The Changing Face of ELT Series: 

The Paradox of Negotiating Age, Gender, 
and Cultural Identities in the Classroom

by Wanda Huber with Emilia Gracia

Crossing borders and building bridges was this year’s International TESOL Convention theme. This theme no longer can be set aside as of interest only to the theoretical minded as we English language teachers are faced with changing expectations from students, administrators, and ourselves. These changing expectations are evident in TESOL President, Yilin Sun’s 2014 blog post outlining 8 major trends for ELT, all boiling down to our rapidly changing roles and identity as ELT professionals. Of interest is trend 6, the changing views of effective English teaching: “. . .the effectiveness of English teachers should be determined by their linguistic, instructional, and intercultural competence rather than simply by their linguistic identity. This trend is evident at English language conferences around the world in topic and in diverse representation.

To gain insight into these trends, AZ-TESOL News will be eliciting your stories for a series of articles on the changing face of ELT. In the first interview, Emilia Gracia reflects on the paradoxical negotiations of age, gender, and cultural identity in the language classroom.

Who is Emilia in terms of age, gender, and cultural identity?

I am a 26 year old Dominican American woman. I’ve lived half my life in the Dominican Republic and the other half in the USA, grew up, studied, and worked in both countries, where I continue to have family and citizenship.

What’s your teaching background?

I have a Master’s in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language, 2 years of teaching Spanish to American university students, and 4 years of teaching ESL at the university level.

Do you think having bi-cultural identities gives you an advantage in the classroom?

Absolutely. The students are in the process of gaining a second cultural identity (whether they realize it or not), and since I’ve had this experience, of moving back and forth between cultures, I recognize the importance of shaping an identity to express this new language. I think this gives me an advantage when designing classroom activities. For example, I like to have students notice, practice, and analyze body language, gestures, tone of voice, and other language cues. I encourage them to adopt phrases, sayings, words, gestures and any type of body language they like in order to express themselves. A new identity is best gained when one has had the opportunity to experiment with it.

Also, having bi-cultural awareness makes me more sensitive to possible differences in cultural perceptions, so as not to offend students from cultures different from my own.

How do you negotiate age and gender in the ESL classroom setting?

There are times when I feel I need to justify my role as an educator, primarily to my students. Mostly, this has to do with my age and gender. I began teaching at the university level when I was 20 years old; I was the same age as most of my students and younger than many of them. Often times, when university students are faced with a teacher of their same age group, they tend to see this teacher as a peer, not as an expert in a certain field of study (and definitely not an authority figure). This was a challenge for me. There were times when students would try to negotiate assignment due dates and expect me to be flexible with grades. They would often say things to me like: “Oh, come on miss!” “You know we have mid-terms this week!” “Make the composition due next week!” or “Hey I’m gonna leave class early to get to my next class on time, Thanks!” My age was the key factor in this problem, but being a woman didn’t help the situation as women are traditionally seen as the “nicer” and “weaker” gender.

Ultimately, how have you been able to overcome these challenging perceptions?

It sounds counter intuitive, but it was my age and gender that helped me. Here’s what I mean. When I was teaching Spanish to American university students, I earned credibility by creating lessons that included topics and activities interesting to students in my age group. For example, I knew that most of my American students were into rock and pop music, so I used rock and pop songs from Latin American artists to teach Spanish such as grammar and other topics. Providing cultural and language input in a fun and engaging way earned me respect as well as opening the doors for their autonomous learning.

When I taught EFL in the Dominican Republic, my students were impressed with my fluency and knowledge of the English language as well as the fact that I had gotten my degree in the US. This wasn’t the norm among my peers. Students often times commented this on my end of semester evaluations, saying how pleased they were to have a teacher who speaks English fluently with an American accent, so I these factors influenced my credibility as a teacher.

Unlike in the Dominican Republic, as an ESL teacher in the US, I am not one of a few teachers who are highly fluent in English but one of many. ESL students in the US are used to having native English speakers for ESL teachers, so high fluency in the language is not enough to impress them. However, I frequently remind them that I was once an English Language Learner and I can relate to the difficulties they are having. Being able to relate to their situation on a personal level helps because often they’ll ask  for advice on how to improve their speaking skills, seeing me as a role model.

Can you offer advice for other young teachers who may face similar issues?

Overall, age, gender, and cultural identity can and should be negotiated in foreign language classrooms by taking advantage of the very same issues that makes you different in the first place. My advice is to earn credibility and gain respect through your ability to create interesting and useful lessons and to build rapport by identifying with their needs.

Tweet in on the conversation @aztesol #tesoltrends


Grad Corner:

Reflections on 2015 TESOL International Conference - 
Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
Aysenur Sagdic

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From practicing teachers to applied linguists, the 2015 TESOL International Conference was one of the most important events this year with more than 800 concurrent sessions and many keynote and invited speakers.

The Master’s Forum was a great platform for me to see what other Master’s students in different places were researching and how the world is so small! I saw 10 presenters from my home country, Turkey, and even met old friends from college! The experience was unique because I not only presented my research on the importance of teaching colloquial English, I also received invaluable feedback from professionals practicing all over the world. Initially, I was not going to submit my study, thinking it wasn’t good enough, but I decided to do it anyway, and I am happy I did! For example, I learned how my university research is relevant and useful to professionals all over the world. One memorable conversation was with a New Zealand EFL who tried to teach slang through smart phone applications.

Starting from Thursday, there were many sessions focusing on different aspects of TESOL, and I attended many inspiring presentations –presentations that remind us why we are doing what we are doing and why we should keep doing it! In one presentation, I learned how to turn a regular class into a flipped class. I was also privileged to listen to eminent researchers such as David Nunan and Diane Larsen-Freeman. Like others, I was star-struck. As expected, the rooms were packed!

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In one session, Bardovi-Harlig and Mossman spoke about the development of corpus-based materials to teach pragmatic routines. The presentation focused on how to develop such teaching materials by using a spoken corpus (MICASE). After arguing that textbooks are insufficient for providing authentic language samples for academic discussions, the presenters showed how to use MICASE to identify the most frequent pragmatic routines and adapt them for classroom use.

Another presentation I attended was by Dörnyei who is the leading researcher on motivational theories. He introduced his new motivational theory, Directed Motivational Current (DMC). He shared how L2 teachers could facilitate DMC through group projects that are selected by students, and I can definitely see its positive implications. Another remarkable presentation was by Wayne Dickerson and Judy Gilbert. Dickerson talked about the rhythm of spoken English while Gilbert discussed prosody as a combination of rhythm and melody. Gilbert also demonstrated how to teach prosody through using rubber bands, kazoos, or simple Total Physical Response (TPR) exercises such as raising hands, and I walked away with practical ideas to teach pronunciation in my future L2 classes.

The 2015 TESOL conference was an enriching experience offering fascinating insights into the TESOL field and helping people cross borders and build bridges. I highly recommend my fellow graduate students submit their proposals. I am sure the experience will be remarkable.

Ayşenur was born and raised in Denizli, Turkey and moved to Ankara to study English Language Teaching and International Relations at Middle East Technical University. She’s taught English for academic purposes for two years at Bilkent University’s IEP, having received her ICELT certificate accredited by Cambridge University. Currently, she is a first year MA TESL student and a graduate teaching assistant at Northern Arizona University. Her research interests are teaching pragmatics, sociopragmatics, and interlanguage pragmatics.


David Nunan: His column in Tokyo Journal

Bardovi-Harlig and Mossman: Article in AL Forum



Superhero Reciprocity: Using Superheroes to Teach Reading Skills

 by Kim Chamberlain

Teaching students how to read in a second language has always been a challenge for me. Research suggests doing a, b, and c in order to develop vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills. Many widely used ESL textbooks follow this pattern, yet I always wondered what skills students actually transfer from text to text, class to class. I wondered if the personal aspect of reading and exercises in current ESL textbooks could be connected and internalized.


In Kelley Stricklin’s article Hands On Reciprocal Teaching: A Comprehension Technique, the connection between activities and students reading skills is explored for the purpose of developing comprehension (2011). In the article, Stricklin sparks excitement in the reading task by getting students to connect with the characters related to each skill. For example, to personify questioning skills, Stricklin dressed up as a fortune teller. It is Stricklin’s claim that after students understand the fortune teller’s persona, they can embody that persona’s actions in reading tasks.

With the intention of pushing myself out of my own comfort zone, I decided to experiment with Stricklin’s techniques by adapting the technique in my intensive English classroom.

Every superhero has a super strategy

I developed superheroes to represent the four key reading strategies: Predictorman, Doctor Question, Crystal Clarity, and Professor Summary—each superhero personifying the actions of the corresponding skill.

To help students internalize the characteristics related to each superhero, I presented a PowerPoint and modeled each of the “super power” skills, guiding students through the actions of predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. Using a model reading, students role-played--they were the superheroes, and their super powers, their assigned reading strategies. Modeling the skills the first time is key and should be done very intentionally. To help students learn how to ask questions of a text, it was beneficial to write sample questions on the board, and then as students found the answers, to put them there as well. To model summarizing, students were given major and minor points to decide which point represents a larger understanding. After the modeling phase was completed, the students were able to take on their super roles.

What’s your super power?

In a group of four, each student was responsible for the actions personified by their character. It’s helpful to elicit the job of each superhero before students use their “powers” in their groups. Once the roles were assigned and the students start working, predicting first, questioning second, clarifying third, and summarizing last, students got to work. At that point, my job was to answer questions and ensure enough time remain for the whole group to collaborate in the summarizing of the article.

It a super process!

Soon students were responsible for writing questions independently and asking their classmates to find the answers. They were able to write summaries of a reading more easily because they had asked and answered questions about it. The superheroes in my experience were vital for the students to have a connection to a skill. They needed to learn a framework of how to read while still functioning at their own individual level.

This process worked well for basic students and advanced students alike. At any level, students can understand the goal each persona has with a reading and can implement it in varying degrees until they are able to embody all the personas and use all the skills with a reading.

After the fourth exposure to this superhero approach to reading, basic students who had little experience reading in English responded with an automatic strategy to understand every reading they were given from that point forward. In this way, students learned a life-long skill. In that respect, students developed an approach, a method to successfully read. This was the most valuable result that came out of this experience.

Stricklin, K. (2011). Hands-on reciprocal teaching:a comprehension technique. The Reading Teacher,64(8), 620-625. International Reading Association. Retrieved from

Youtube Instructions and Examples:

Reciprocal Teaching - An Introduction for Students

Reciprocal Teaching - Example


Using Google Docs to Facilitate Collaborative Writing in an English Language Classroom Practice
Chi Cheung Ruby Yang
Title Google Docs
Developer Google, Inc.
Type of product A Google product for creating and sharing online documents
Minimum hardware requirements A personal computer (PC or Mac) with Internet connection and one of these browsers: Internet Explorer 7 or above; Mozilla Firefox 2 or above; Google Chrome 1 or above; Safari 3 or above
Supplementary requirement A Gmail account
Online help Google Docs HelpAvailable at:
Price Free


With the development and advancement of computer networks, online collaborative learning becomes possible even if students cannot meet in a classroom (Macdonald, 2006). In a writing classroom, collaborative writing can also be encouraged with the use of the World Wide Web. Haring-Smith (1994, p. 360) defines collaborative writing as involving more than one person who contributes to the creation of a text so that “sharing responsibility” becomes essential.

Computer networks make collaborative writing easier (Haring-Smith, 1994). They allow students to co-author an article by exchanging drafts electronically. A number of emerging Web 2.0 technologies can facilitate collaborative writing and editing among students. These well-known web technologies include blogs and wikis. While the former allow writing to be shared more easily (Bloch, 2008), the latter allow anyone to edit, modify, or delete content (Lamy & Hampel, 2007). The purpose of this review is to introduce another Web 2.0 application, Google Docs, which includes the functions of blogs and wikis. Sharp (2009) writes that collaborative editing tools allow a group of individuals to edit a document simultaneously while they can view the changes made by others in real time. It is the collaborative editing tool that makes Google Docs a powerful program that can facilitate collaborative writing in the language classroom. An overview of Google Docs and its use is presented in the following sections.

An Overview of Google Docs

Google Docs is “a free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, form, and data storage service offered by Google” (Wikipedia, 2010a). It allows users to create, edit and store their documents online (Thompson, 2008). Google Docs includes four major options: Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, Google Presentations, and Google Drawing, which all share similar functions. This review focuses on Google Documents and how this application can facilitate students’ collaborative writing in the English language classroom.

The Use of Google Docs

Creating and editing a Google document

To start using Google Documents, users need to sign in to their Gmail account at (they simply create an account if they do not have one). Upon login, their mailbox will open. They should click the “Documents” link in the top left corner to get from Google Mail to Google Documents. To create a new document, they can click the “Create new” in the drop-down menu in the Docs List on the left-hand side and select “Document,” or use one of the templates available by clicking “From template” (see Figure 1). The templates which are more suitable for use in a language classroom are available in the category “Students & Teachers.”

Google D Figure 1

Figure 1. Create a new document

Inside Google docs, the default name of a document (“Untitled document”) can be changed by entering a new document name. Users can upload their documents from applications such as Microsoft Word to Google Docs at any time by choosing “Upload” under the File drop-down menu. Then, they should select file(s) and the destination, and then click “Start upload” (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Upload a file

Similar to other word processing programs such as MS Word, Google Documents is a full-featured text editor. The format of the text, including the font, font size, font style (bold, italic, and underline) or text color, can be changed by using the menus in the toolbar. Also, images or URLs can be added by selecting “Image” or “Link” from the Insert menu.

Inserting comments, sharing, and collaborating

The feature that makes Google Docs different from other word processing programs is its function that allows sharing, collaborating, and publishing. To share a created document with others, users should click the “Share” drop-down menu on the right-hand side and select “Sharing settings.” In the Sharing settings dialog box there is an “Add people” box where users can type the email addresses of the people with whom they want to share documents, or, if the person is in the user’s email contact list, they can choose their names using the  “Choose from contacts” option (see Figure 3). On the right-hand side of the list of names, users specify whether those people “Can edit” or “Can view” only.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Sharing settings

It is recommended that the “Send email notifications” option be checked; this way the program will send an email to the person letting them know that someone has shared a document with them and provide them with a link to the document. After that, users click “Share.”  Alternatively, the created document can be shared as an email attachment by selecting “Email as attachment” under the “Share” drop-down menu (see Figure 4).

Figure 4

Figure 4. Email as attachment

In producing a piece of written work collaboratively, students may need to exchange ideas and give comment to others. This can be achieved by choosing “Insert” and then clicking “Comment.” The username of the user will be shown in the box on the right-hand side of the document and the user can type the comment inside the box (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5. Inserting comment

When the user and his/her collaborators are editing the document, they can keep track of the changes made (see Figure 6) by clicking “See revision history” under the File drop-down menu.

Figure 6

Figure 6. Document revision history

One interesting feature of Google Docs is that if the collaborators are online at the same time, they can edit the document simultaneously and can view the changes made by others to that document in real time (see Figure 7).

Figure 7

Figure 7. Real time collaborative writing


Once the document has been created, it can be published by selecting the “Publish to the Web” option under the “Share” drop-down menu. Inside the “Publish to the Web” dialog box, users should click “Start publishing” and then confirm by clicking OK in the “Message from webpage” dialog box to make the document available as a webpage. The link to the published document will then be shown in the “Document link” box (see Figure 8) and the document can be accessed and seen by anyone anywhere in the world.

Figure 8

Figure 8. Publish to the web

The Use of Google Docs in an English Language Classroom

As suggested at the beginning of this review, Google Docs can facilitate collaborative writing. To achieve this, students can first form small groups and receive a writing assignment. They can then co-author a piece of text using Google Docs, giving comments to other collaborators and editing other collaborators’ drafts in real time. It is this kind of synchronous communication among collaborators that makes Google Docs a more powerful tool for collaborative writing than wikis or emails which involve only asynchronous communication. With the features of Google Docs, collaborative writing is no longer bound by time and space. If the students cannot finish the writing task within class time, they can save their work, store it online, and then continue writing anytime and anywhere.


This paper reviews the use of Google Docs and how it can be used to facilitate collaborative writing in a second language classroom. Google Docs is user-friendly, and students can work collaboratively on writing tasks without being restricted by time and space. It also has a benefit over email by allowing synchronous communication. One major shortcoming of Google Docs is that one cannot edit others’ work if he/she is not a Gmail user. However, with the popularity of Gmail with 193.3 million monthly users (Wikipedia, 2010b), using Google Docs is not a big problem for most students. Godwin-Jones (2008) suggests that Google Docs is probably the most widely used online text editing tool. With the use of Google Docs, it is expected that students not only can have stronger motivation to write collaboratively, but also that their higher-order thinking skills, such as evaluating and commenting on peers’ written work, can be enhanced.


Bloch, J. (2008). Technologies in the second language composition classroom. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2008). Emerging technologies web-writing 2.0: Enabling, documenting, and assessing writing online. Language Learning & Technology, 12(2), 7-13.

Google (2010). Google Documents – Google Docs Help. Retrieved September 6, 2010, from

Haring-Smith, T. (1994). Writing together: Collaborative learning in the writing classroom. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers.

Lamy, M. & Hampel, R. (2007). Online communication in language learning and teaching. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

MacDonald, J. (2006). Blended learning and online tutoring: A good practice guide. Aldershot, UK: Gower.

Sharp, V. (2009). Computer education for teachers: Integrating technology into classroom teaching (6th ed). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.

Thompson, J. (2008). Don’t be afraid to explore Web 2.0. Education Digest, 74(4), 19-22.

Wikipedia (2010a). Google Docs. Retrieved November 4, 2010, from

Wikipedia (2010b). Gmail. Retrieved November 27, 2010, from

About the Author

Chi Cheung Ruby Yang is a Teaching Fellow at the Department of English, the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Her major teaching and research area is integrating information technology in English language teaching and learning. She can be contacted at:



Lesson Plans:

Implied Main Idea Reading & Writing Lesson
Norma Gorham

Reading & Writing -  Intermediate to Advanced Levels


The main idea of a conversation, a text, or lecture is not always clearly stated but is suggested or implied by the speaker or author.  It can only be found by identifying and synthesizing the meaning of the supporting details.  From this analysis the implied main idea is derived.  

This lesson is designed for intermediate to advanced students.  Students that understand the mechanics of reading in English and are ready to move to the next level of reading comprehension.  This can easily be two lessons if you assign the reading of Heidegger’s Experiment for homework.

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will be able to derive the implied main idea of the text.
  • Students will be able to apply the implications of the implied main idea to the broader context of the overarching theme of the course.

Lesson Plan

Activation – 15 minutes – using cards created by instructor students will try to identify young and old pictures of celebrities.  The class does this together at a table where the cards are spread out.  It is usually fun and a little loud as students discuss the possibilities.

When students feel they have paired as many as they can, ask what made it difficult?

Did the celebrities change as they got older?

Direct Instruction

Teacher bridges to implied main idea.  

Distribute hand out and do the first cartoon together.  What is implied in the cartoon?

Provide this definition - Implied main idea is NOT clearly stated in any one sentence in a passage. It is only suggested or inferred by the supporting details. The author doesn’t state it directly.

Guided Practice

Work through the packet one activity at a time.  Provide discussion and explanation as each activity gets progressively more complex in determining the implied main idea.

Upon completion of packet – introduce Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Briefly talk about Hawthorne and his contribution to literature.

Read the first paragraph together.  Discuss the characters and why they might have been brought together for this dinner party.

Have students read the story (abridged if Intermediate, unabridged for upper level students)

If you assign the story for homework, you will want to resume here the next day.

When all of the students have completed the reading, check for comprehension and general feedback on the content of the story.

The celebrities all changed as they got older just as the characters in the story did.  According to Hawthorne do we change in our behavior as well as in our  looks?

Have prepared to put on tables around the room 4 big sheets of paper each with the questions below –

  • Dr. H’s friends were eager to be young.  Why do you think they wanted to young again?

  • Mr. Medbourne, Mr. Gascon, Colonel Killigrew & the Widow Wycherly are all very unhappy people – Why?

  • At the end of the story Dr. H said, “If the fountain were here right now, I would not drink from it!”  Why do you think  he felt that way?

  • Suppose Dr. H’s friends find the Fountain of Youth.  Do you think they would be happy?  Why?

Make sure to discuss these questions as a group soliciting information from students.


Have students break up and write a response to each question (for fun I give each student a different colored felt marker that way I know quickly if all students have written a response).  I also encourage them to respond to other students’ comments.

When everyone has written, go over comments and as a group summarize and draw conclusions and determine what the implied main idea to Dr Heidegger’s Experiment is.

Independent Practice

Based on what students read, discussed, and analyzed have them individually write a paragraph or essay that addresses one or all of the questions below –

  • Does Dr. Heidegger believe we learn from what we have done in the past?

  • Do you think people are able to process what we learn and use it under new circumstances and in new applications?

"Dr. Heidegger did not wait for an answer.  He walked slowly across the room to to one of the bookcases.  He opened a book and removed a rose from its pages.  Yes, it was a rose --- or what once was a rose.  The red flower had turned brown and seemed ready to crumble to dust in the doctor’s hands."


Norma Gorham is an International Educator at Global Launch at Arizona State University.


Sociopolitical Concerns:

2015 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit
by Jennifer Slinkard

On June 21-23, 2015 I joined approximately 90 other TESOL educators and members of TESOL International Association in Washington, DC for the 2015 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit. The program featured a full a day of issue briefings and activities around education legislation and advocacy, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices on Capitol Hill. With representatives from approximately 30 U.S. affiliates in attendance, the goals of the Summit were not only to learn more about federal policy issues impacting TESOL educators and English learners, but also to provide an interactive learning experience for participants on elements of advocacy. By the end of the event, TESOL members had visited the offices of over 100 Representatives and Senators.

To fully prepare for the Summit, we had to set up our own individual meetings with Arizona Congressional representatives. For many, including myself, this was a first. To assist with this, TESOL International Association provided directions, guidance, and a list of specific representatives and senators to contact. Additionally, TESOL International Association connected attendees with other participants from the same state to encourage collective advocacy.  A week before the Summit, I sent requests to Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain and Representative Raúl Grijalva, and ultimately I secured appointments with legislative aides of McCain and Grijalva. Setting up the appointments was a little bit difficult and I recommend trying to schedule meetings more than a week in advance. Don’t be surprised if the meeting time changes at the last minute!

We received background information on key policy issues so that we could begin to familiarize ourselves in advance. To help make our Congressional meetings more effective, we were also encouraged to find examples from our own programs to illustrate the talking points we would use in our meetings. To prepare, before heading to Washington I spent some time talking with new citizens at Tucson’s World Refugee Day, as well as people who work with these students and their parents.

The Summit featured a keynote from Dr. Libby Gil, Assistant Deputy Secretary and Director of the Office of English Language Acquisition at the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, representatives from the Office for Civil Rights and the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) at the U.S. Department of Education, as well as the Student & Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, each presented updates from their offices. The Summit also included presentations from the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education, Association, and author Dr. Diane Staehr Fenner presented information from her book Advocating for English Learners: A Guide for Educators.

Following these briefings, the Summit shifted its focus to advocacy with preparations for meetings with members of Congress. The meetings with the aides went quickly – no more than 15 minutes each. For this reason, it was crucial to be fully prepared with talking points. It’s important to remember that you’re the expert in these meetings and it’s likely that the person you’re meeting with will have no idea what TESOL is or the work you do everyday.

To maximize the impact of the Summit, key members of Congress serving on the education and appropriations committees in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were identified for meetings. In addition, participants attending from the same state were teamed up so they could meet with the legislators in small groups. This year, I met with staff from the offices of Senator McCain and House Representative Grijalva. Next year, I recommend going with others from Arizona to make the conversation more dynamic and engaging, and to offer multiple perspectives on teaching English in Arizona.

Photo caption: House Representative Grijalva's Arizona Shelf.

On June 23, participants went to Capitol Hill to have meetings with members of Congress and staff. Since I teach first-year writing to international students at the University of Arizona, I highlighted the growing number of international students in higher education and how important it is for all bilingual students in Arizona to have the opportunity to build upon their bi-literacy skills and participate as global citizens. I talked about some of the challenges and successes of refugee students living in Tucson, and finally I discussed how important it is to have federal oversight of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act regulations as they are implemented in Arizona, especially as nearly 40% of adult education is instruction in English as a Second Language. Grijalva’s aide seemed especially interested and indicated that the points we discussed would likely be supported by the Congressman.

At the end of the day, we shared our experiences and what we learned over dinner. It was interesting to hear what other people experienced on their visit. Overall, all of the participants agreed this event was a very positive experience for us and for TESOL International Association.

Additional information about the 2015 TESOL Advocacy & Policy Summit is online at

If you are interested in learning more about being an advocate for your students. Tweet us for a chance to win a copy of Advocating for English Learners A Guide for Educators


SPOTLIGHT - Where We Work:

Teaching ESL to Underserved Populations

Pepper Moore serves on the AZ-TESOL Board as Board Historian. Currently, she teaches ESL in Tucson at The Refugee Education Program at Pima Community College and Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired. When asked which organization she’d like to focus on for this SPOTLIGHT article, she evaded the question with an answer that demonstrates her convictions: I want to focus on underserved populations, so that’s what we did.

SPOTLIGHT ~ The Refugee Education Program – Pima Community College serves refugees who’ve recently arrived to Arizona: Congolese, Southern and Southeastern Burmese, Iraqis, and Somalis receive English education as part of resettlement, supporting Tucson Refugee Resettlement agencies like the IRC and Refugee Focus. A typical student will have been in the country from 2 days to 2 years with some exposure to English. Most students are fluent in 1-3 languages. However, many are illiterate in their native language. 

What do you admire about the program? The students! The learners are a brave group of people. Whatever may be happening in their home countries, they made choices to accept the opportunity to come to the US; truthfully it could’ve been worse here, but they took a chance. Learning English can be a real chore. However, what is admirable about the program is how each person’s efforts support the whole group. Our learning groups incorporate many different languages with students of varying levels of English exposure working together. Everyone involved (teachers, students, resettlement agents, government programs) has responsibilities that affect the outcomes for everyone. It makes a good foundation for community, which is strongly felt here. 

What general challenges do students face? Not being familiar with our education system or classroom practices. Attendance is definitely a challenge due to work, family, and other program obligations.

How do you help students overcome these challenges? I definitely let them acclimate to me and their new classroom setting. When students come into the classroom, I always say hello even when I am in the middle of something. I think this helps them feel more comfortable with me and in the classroom. Also I usually plan my lessons and classroom routines to allow for some wiggle room for students who do not attend every day, making sure that even students who’ve missed a class can still have enough knowledge to be engaged. For instance, the vocabulary for one subject continues into the next. 

SPOTLIGHT ~ Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI) provides vocational instruction in technology and reading, including ESL in Braille, for the blind and visually impaired. Students receive three hours of one-on-one ESL instruction, one hour of writing instruction for beginning or intermediate levels, and two hours of conversation practice. 

What do you admire about the program?  First, I admire the student population because they must work extra hard to achieve in a world that’s shaped for the sighted. Although there are accommodations made for the blind, it’s not an exact fit, so it’s not the same. This program has made me recognize how many teaching practices are visually focused, almost to the point of distraction. I also admire that the curriculum was created to be accessible to blind and visually impaired teachers as well as students. 

Describe a typical student. Between 20 and under 60 years old for all programs.  Since I work with the English learners, my typical student has obtained their English communication skills mostly through social interactions and limited educational experiences. I say limited educational experiences because students with higher education have been taught with sighted peers and instruction that has included visual supports not accessible to them.  Additionally, students who have had instruction as young adults were usually put into situations where it was sink or swim and used the words “lonely” or “hard” to describe their overall experience.

Describe a typical day for a student/teacher. Students usually come with a written or audio-recorded journal entry that receives alternating types of teacher responses, starting with encouragement then followed the next day with critique, They complete a grammar concept and vocabulary activity. The vocabulary is student generated. If all goes well, the student is then given a homework assignment and asked to confirm what is expected from him or her for our next meeting before being dismissed. 

In general, what challenges do students face? They need opportunity to talk to people. Unless students are at SAAVI, they are speaking to other speakers of their first language.  

How do you assist with this problem?  I started a Scrabble MeetUp game where once a month the ESL Program hosts a game day. The location rotates all over southern Arizona. We play Scrabble for the first part of the day and then other word games like TABOO or Categories in the second half of the day. I think it’s important for people to talk in English about fun things, laugh about the process, and enjoy being together. Students get to use English socially, when not every moment is about surviving Having fun and figuring out where you belong in the new culture is an important part of language learning as well.


Pepper Moore is the proud mother of one son and passionate about children, education, animal welfare, and the environment. She devotes her spare time to serving volunteer organizations in the community and writing poetry. Her recent book, Faith, Hope, Joy and Mercy: Prayers and Poems on Healing is available for rent or purchase on Amazon: .

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