Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Just in Time for Black History Month: an Abridged 'Life of Josiah Henson'

It's not as if I think Black history should be relegated to one twelfth of the year. Not at all. Black history is everyone's history and deserves a place in our classrooms at all times. Nevertheless, I know there are many teachers who will make a point in February of shining a spotlight on the topics of famous Black Canadians, the Underground Railroad, and other stories of the African diaspora that typically come to the forefront at this time of year.

In October of 2018, Irene Moore Davis spoke to my local TESL Ontario affiliate about incorporating local Black history in our lessons. She had a lot of great slides, and I was scribbling notes like crazy. But when I got back home and checked out all the links, I found mostly material that is suitable for K-12 classrooms full of native speakers of English and very little I consider to be suitable for the average CLB 3 or 4 LINC student. And that is when I had the insanely ambitious idea to create some myself. Boy, did I have a steep learning curve ahead of me.

When Irene graciously allowed me to pick her brain, I discovered she had written a chapter in the book A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland. I checked a copy out of the library and read all of her chapter and much of the rest of the book. It is fascinating!

Then I found out that Irene was hard at work on her own book Our Own Two Hands, which has recently gone through the advanced readers phase, resulting in much additional content of value being contributed to her research, content that will be included in the published volume.

My dream of having an entire series of profiles ready for February of 2020 was a lofty one; I did not succeed. But I have finished an introductory profile which is meant to give learners an idea of what the freedom seekers were fleeing when they travelled here from bondage in the U.S.

N.B. Canada was not the blameless, angelic state we like to believe her to be: freedom-seeking took place in both directions across the Detroit River. If you don't know what I mean, read A Fluid Frontier and Irene's new book as soon as it's available.

The introductory profile is that of Josiah Henson. I read his (now in the public domain) autobiography and managed to condense it to just 16 pages in a rather large font. I've inserted whatever public domain illustrations I could find in order to help our newcomer English learners visualize some of the concepts. I hope you will use the book and the suggested activities on the web page where it is hosted as well as the suggested extension ideas on the last page. I expect a high CLB 3 class to be able to handle it; certainly a CLB 4 class should have little difficulty if it is taken in chunks over a period of one or two weeks.

Bear with me as I continue to build this new page and add profiles.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Jan 2020 Update from Yuliya

Dear Colleagues,
I hope the New Year has been off to a good start for you.

I have exciting news to share: another article on the research project you contributed to has been published this week. Here is a link to the journal website, and a pre-print copy attached for those (most of us) who do not have access to an academic library.

Unfortunately, the journal is not open access, but it is a reputable one, with a focus on critical theory and pedagogy, as is the article itself. The paper took over a year of blind peer review and revisions, so I hope you find the final product worth taking a look at.

As with the previously published article, I have just started uncovering the very tip of the PBLA iceberg, and more of it will be described in the dissertation, which will take another year or two. I understand that many of you may want to see more tangible results much sooner.

Below is a brief overview with links to a few previous and upcoming presentations continuing to explore PBLA from different angles. The presentations were well-attended, including representatives from IRCC and the CCLB.

I am grateful to each and every one of you for your contributions! I am also thankful to my colleague, Jennifer Burton, who joined me in this large, time-consuming, but exciting project.
Collectively, we make it known and well-documented how PBLA has been experienced by LINC/ESL practitioners in Canada.

Looking forward to sharing more milestones with you in the future.

Best regards, 


P.S. You can always let me know if you would like to be removed from this mailing list. 
Alternatively, if you know anyone who may be interested in receiving these infrequent updates, feel free to share my email with them.
Thank you!

Yuliya Desyatova
PhD Student

Centre for Educational Research on Languages and Literacies
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning  | OISE

Twitter: @YuliyaESL

Publications on PBLA:

Critical Inquiry in Language Studies – When Inquiry is Seen as Resistance to Change: Expert teachers' experiences with the implementation of portfolio-based language assessment

TESL Canada Journal - "Batting the piñata and swallowing camels”: Teachers learn to PBLA in the absence of dialogic interaction

Presentations on PBLA:

Desyatova, Y. & Burton, J. L. (2020, March). Examining learner autonomy in portfolio-based language assessment: Adult student experiences. AAAL Annual Conference. Denver, Colorado.
Desyatova, Y. (2019, December). Leading and administrating PBLA: “Champagne on water wage.” Paper presented at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference, Toronto, ON. Available from the TESL Ontario website – presentation slides & summary hand out
Burton, J. L., & Desyatova, Y. (2019, December). Learning English with PBLA: What LINC students say. Paper presented at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference, Toronto, ON. Available from the TESL Ontario website – presentation slides & summary hand out
Desyatova, Y. (2019, June). Newcomer language teaching and learning in Canada: Perspectives on recent policy changes. International Metropolis Conference. Ottawa, ON.
Desyatova, Y. (2018, November). Teacher learning in PBLA: A critical analysis. (Published later in the TESL Canada Journal) TESL Ontario Annual Conference. Toronto, Ontario. Available from the TESL Ontario website – slides & hand out 

Calling Edith!

If anyone knows how to get in touch with Edith, please let her know that I'm awaiting her mailing address, as she did win the book in the draw.

Also stay tuned for an update from Yuliya. My SPO had their visit from our IRCC overseer yesterday, and my manger asked him if he had heard of my website and blog. He had not and appeared very open to feedback to send up the chain, so she will send him links. Before that happens, Yuliya will post an update on her latest research, which I will post here and on the PBLA activism page of the website.

Stay tuned.

P.S. At my SPO we just learned we are losing yet another seasoned, committed, gifted teacher. Sigh.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wanna Be There for the Draw?

Okay, I have capped the draw at these six people:
Cheryl, Tiff, Gaby, Sarah, Siddiqa and Edith. I am just checking now to make sure that the free Zoom account allows screen sharing. If it does, I'll invite ya'll to hop on Zoom with me when I spin the wheel. You won't have to be present to win.