Monday, December 17, 2007

Proposal for IBTE conference

Integrating Online Writing Evaluation Software into ESL Curriculum


The trend of using technology in the classroom is rapidly increasing; however, ESL educators must consider the implications of independent language learning in using technology. This presentation discusses the experiences of an intensive ESL program's online writing evaluation class using the program Criterion and its implications on student/teacher dynamics.


The role of technology as a learning tool in the classroom has been increasing rapidly for ESL educators; however, with this trend it is important to question what role a teacher plays within the technology. In writing evaluation, it is especially important for educators to learn how to best integrate online writing evaluation within their face to face curriculum to save time and generate a student ownership of their writing homework. In fact, the issue is more about developing a balance between the technology driven independent writing software feedback, and more traditional teacher feedback of writing.

Therefore, the purpose of this presentation is to assist colleagues in overcoming barriers in using online writing evaluation learning technology in the classroom by demonstrating one teacher's work with the online writing evaluation software Criterion.

The lecture summarizes the debate within current research on learning with technology to develop a discussion framework on the uses of online writing evaluation software as it relates to ESL training goals. In turn, the debate translates into developing a new balance between independent coursework and teacher driven curriculum, especially as it relates to a multi-level ESL class. The challenges students and the instructor have faced within an online writing evaluation class are presented as experiential data for the analysis. In conclusion, a short demonstration of student progress is made to substantiate how a particular approach to utilizing the software indeed helps students improve their writing.


Kevin Forgard has taught Adult ESL in China and ELS Language Center in Chicago. He holds a MA from Linkoping University, Sweden.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A man with a guitar

Sometimes I feel that I have gotten a little too angry over the last year or so. Well, the truth is that even though I have expressed many bitter thoughts to those I love, life isn't so bad. Anger is a reaction people have as they face frustrating situations, while bitterness is more of a reaction to the realization that nothing can be done to prevent the anger causing event. Bitterness is more of a desperation then of powerlessness.

With this in mind, consider how people may get angry about having to pay 'fees' to see a concert - sometimes up to 75% of the cost of the ticket - but yet still buy the tickets and mask the bitterness by spending more money to make a fun night after all.

Yes, I am angry and bitter about these fees and yet too, at times still pay for them.

Then when all is said and done, the performance takes me away from all of these issues. And if its good performance, well then who really cares? After all, the whole reason for the fees are the performance. Without it, the shareholders at Ticketmaster would be out trying to scam another piece of the world.

Needless to say, the performance and venue where I saw a recent performance was...well worth it.

Greg Brown last night played a great set of simple, down to earth music with great stories between songs. His skill as a storyteller, singer, and guitar player surpasses many of his contemporaries. Hearing how his voice resonates at high volumes, or barely growls at low tones makes me think how certain individuals have the real skills to be able to just perform with the minimum of equipment and still have the emotional impact of a large band.

All it takes is a man with a guitar.

I was honored to see Greg Brown perform in Iowa City at The Mill, which I believe is something of a treat for non-native residents. I didn't know much of him then, but I loved how he was able to please the crowd in such a casual, yet powerful way.

His Chicago performance wasn't as good in my opinion, but then again, he didn't have the homefield advantage of The Mill.

This brings me to the second part of this story - the venue. Unlike the Mill, which is basically a bar/restaurant, the Old Town School of Folk Music is designed for one thing in mind - creating an intimate setting to really appreciate acoustic music. Even though I still had to give the Ticketmaster the 'goon' fee, the Old Town made it so much easier for me to feel good about music in Chicago.

Unlike, so many other venues in the city, OTSFM actually cares about all its patrons, not just the VIPS. Furthermore, they create a setting to actually enjoy performances, not just crowd people in a room and count the money in the back.

I only wish more artists would refuse shitholes like (I wont mention now) some others in Chicago and help us - the audience - access their art in a way that's comfortable, enjoyable, and valuable.

In my view, screw ticket master. I would rather give 75% extra to the artist.

Why don't more people feel the same? Many shows still sell out!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Here is my first attempt at 'blogging', which I guess we can now use as a verb.

Anyway, I am sitting in my research class watching my diligent student quietly do their work. Much is happening in my life at the moment, but I will try to keep such personal stuff brief. Here is what is basically happening:
1. I decided to go back to school and eventually get a PhD.
2. So, I need to prepare for the GRE, which has been the number 1 thing on my mind.
3. I also need to begin contacting schools and getting the appropriate paperwork in order.

During this time, in my usual way so much goes through my mind potentially leading me in several directions.

As I come across these ideas I will post them here more so for my own organization. However, everyone is welcome to read.