Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday Post Conference: The CN Tower (Nina)

Saturday afternoon, Laine, Elizabeth, Robert, and I went up to the top of the CN Tower.
Laine and Elizabeth enjoying the view 
Looking east towards downtown

Looking west toward the residential areas and Lake Ontario

I stayed in the little round building to the right of the railroad behind the oval towers.

Looking south toward Lake Ontario, some of which is still frozen

Laine thought standing on a glass floor was interesting!

I couldn't step onto the glass floor, but I held my camera over it to take this picture looking down at the top of the aquarium.

Nina and a friend at the Tower gift shop

Back outside and looking up 553.33 meters

The Tower reflected, as seen from the 24th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel

Saturday Conference (Nina)

Actually, I am writing this on Sunday, sitting on a mattress on the floor in the room of my friend Valentin, a PhD student studying criminology at the University of Toronto. Valentin's girlfriend Anne-Gaelle is my second cousin twice removed. She is living in France.

The final day of the convention, I, like everyone, was tired and did not do very much other than what I had to do: the EV Classics Fair presentation on EVO, which I did with Elizabeth at 10, and the webcasting of the Hot Topics panel on Gaming and Gamification at noon. The Classics Fair presentation was sparsely attended, but I enjoyed talking about the EVO to those who did come because they didn't know anything about it--the target audience for the presentation. With Robert Wachman's able assistance, the webcasting of this presentation went off without a hitch. It was a bit uncomfortable being tethered to their computer with a headset but it was OK. We did not have any synchronous attendees online, but hopefully people will watch later.

For the gaming panel, Vance and I were challenged by several factors, including late submission of PowerPoints , changes to PowerPoints after submission (so what we were webcasting did not match what the f2f audience was seeing), and worst of all, ppts uploading in a weird order so that we had to jump around and search for the correct one and sometimes the correct slide. It was dicey but Vance is so cool under pressure I don't think anyone watching the webcast recording will notice much. If you are reading this and would like to watch, I will post the link here later.

The Gaming & Gamification panelists (Rick, Rodrigo, Katie, Jeff, and Elizabeth) with moderator Roger Drury

Same, plus webcast team members Nina and Vance

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Presenting in the EV for the first time (Carolina)

I had the great opportunity of presenting at the EV this year and I have to thanks Christine Bauer-Ramazani for that.
In our last Rsidential Sessions for the Online program at the Universidad de La Sabana, Christine talked to us about flipped learning. I told her what I was working on and she saw potential in it. She suggested me to submit a proposal to the EV and even though I didn't think it would get accepted, I submitted it. Thanks to Christine's trust and encouragement I got this amazing chance and now I'm here...
The presentation went very well. To my surprise, people were interested in hearing about what I am doing and asked me questions about how to do it themselves. It was fabulous!
Now, I am really motivated to submit a proposal (or more) for next year's TESOL convention in Baltimore.
Thanks weheads and thanks EV for opening up this door of opportunity... thanks Christine for once more showing the right path!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 4 Friday (Nina)

Today, I did not have any obligations, so I slept a little later and took things a little easier. I still arrived at the EV at 9:00 in time to catch a very interesting Tech Fair presentation by John Whalen and Alhassane Ali Drouhamane of Colorado State University on "Using CALL Websites to Enhance and Streamline L2 Vocabulary Learning." They introduced me to three tools I had never heard of: VocabSushi, StoryBird, and ESLVideo  VocabSushi takes a vocabulary list and searches corpora to find examples of the words in use; it also reports student activity on the site to the teacher. It is costly, however: $159 per teacher per year, if I remember correctly. StoryBird provides artwork that students can use to create digital stories. ESLVideo enables teachers to take any video and make a quiz about it. All three tools seemed really easy to use and useful.

At 10:00 a.m., I attended Carolina Rodriguez B.'s presentation on "Flipping a Blended Graduate Classroom in Colombia." Carolina participated in the EVO session on Flipped Learning this year, which made this presentation especially exciting for me. She talked about how Colombian students do not generally like online learning because the social aspect of learning together is so important to them, and how she was able to incorporate enough social interaction in her course to keep her students engaged.

After that, I left the EV for a while! I helped my colleague Daniela Wagner-Loera hang her poster for the 12:30 poster session and then attended her excellent presentation on "Don't Only Flip--Make the IEP Brain-Friendly." After that, I walked home to have a bite to eat. It was very cold today, and there were a few snow flurries. I was very glad I had brought my heavy coat!

I went back to the Convention Center and attended part of the Interest Section Assembly. Since I am not an IS leader, I would normally not attend this, but the CALL-IS planning meeting overlapped the IS Assembly, so Aaron and Jack wanted someone to be there in their stead. As it turned out, the meeting ended early and I was not needed, so I hung out with Laine and Carolina at the "Cafe700" (horrible decaf) for a while and then wandered back to the EV and tried to get a group together to go up the CN Tower tomorrow. We'll see if this actually happens!

At 6:00, I met Berta and Vance outside the EV, and we went to a beautiful reception sponsored by the British Council, at the beautiful Fairmont Royal York Hotel on Front Street. There was plenty of fabulous food and a crush of people! We met some nice people, and I had a long chat with Deborah Healey. Berta connected with some VenTESOL friends. At 8, B and I walked back to our respective hotels. It was nice to be in early. Now 10:21 and I am ready to fold my tent!

A few pictures from today:
Carolina presenting in the EV

Daniela and her poster

Laine and Carolina

Front Street

Berta & Vance

At the Fairmont Royal York: Nina & Vance

Berta & Vance

The Fairmont lobby

Day 2 CALL-IS / Webheads dinner

We walked from the convention center to the waterfront and ate at the Amsterdam Brewhouse. It's always fun to get together f2f after all that online collaboration!

Skip Gole, JA, Roger Drury, Nellie, Rita, Berta

minus Skip and Berta, plus Nina
JA, Nellie, Skip, Nina, Rita, Roger, Berta

Nina & JA

Berta & JA

Roger, Nellie, & Rita

Rita with Kale & Friends Salad
P.S. Berta and I are planning to have dinner together Friday night. If you can join us, let us know.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Views of Toronto (Nina)

It's been wet and dreary, but there is some interesting architecture in the area around the Convention Center:

The CN Tower / La Tour CN

The Metro Toronto Convention Center

A couple of really large woodpeckers (cf. Vance's FB post)

The CN Tower reflected

Day 2 Thursday (Nina)

Up early and spent the morning in the EV (so what else is new?). I went to JA's excellent presentation on ICT4ELT and then went next door to the Technology Showcase for the Hot Topics panel on flipped learning with Laine Marshall, Christine Sabieh, Christine Bauer-Ramazani, and John Graney. All four presentations were great, and there were plenty of questions afterwards.

I had my own presentation "Using ePortfolios to Showcase Student Writing" (a comparison of Blogger and Canvas for ePortfolios) at 11, and it went fine. I had quite a few people for the first round, just a few for the second, but everyone seemed engaged, and there were lots of questions.

Of course, there were plenty of webhead encounters! (See below)
Nina and Vance

Nina and Rita

Nina and Carolina Rodriguez Buitrago

Fabiano and Jose Antonio

Rita and Berta

Nina, Rita, and Berta

Laine presenting on flipped learning

The flipped learning panel: Christine S, Laine, John, and Christine B-R

Rita and Nellie (1st time f2f)

Rita's Mini-Workshop about Thinglink

CALL-IS open meeting

In the Technology Showcase, 5 pm Thursday

Jose Antonio's EV presentation

JA talked about ICT4ELT.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day 1 Wednesday (Nina)

Up at 5:00, teach 9-11:30 (ending class a little early), on our way by 12, shuttle bus to the metro station, metro to the airport, very quick flight in a very small plane (50 people in 13 rows) to Pearson Airport in Toronto. Four of us traveling together from the Maryland English Institute (MEI): Annelies, Julie, Melanie, and me.Long wait for a taxi, but when we finally got one and had all squeezed inside he turned out to be a Greek Canadian named Kostas! We found our hotel (it's really just a furnished apartment) and left our bags with the security person so that we could go to the Convention Center to register by 7. It looks closer than it is and from the entrance on the north side where we are to registration on the south side necessitated some serious walking and escalator riding. We all registered and picked up our certificates of attendance, program books, and TESOL bags (black this year). Then the opening plenary crowd erupted up the escalators. I stood midstream, scanning the faces for Berta. The first person I recognized was Jose Antonio! he was with his friend Fabiano. And then soon after came Berta, looking beautiful and sweet as always. Then we ran into Laine. JA and Laine went off to various places, and Berta, Julie, and I found a restaurant near the Convention Center (Jack Astor's) and had dinner. A lovely end to a tiring day.
Julie and Annelies on the metro
Nina and Berta at Jack Astor's

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dinner Wednesday night anyone? Or Thursday?

Nina and I would like to know if any of you would like to have dinner on Wednesday evening ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜„.

We could go some place near the Convention Center since it will be cold, a bit windy and with a 30% chance of rain in the evening ... Is 7:30 pm ok?

These are some of the possibilities: Baton Rouge, Azure, Joe Badali's Italian Rest and Moxie's. The first two are the closest. I have only been to Baton Rouge and it is ok. The most expensive is Azure ($$$), the rest are supposed to be similar in price ($$).

I wanted to include a picture, but couldn't ๐Ÿ˜ณ Will try another time.

We could have dinner on Thursday too, if you want to or for those who can't make it on Wednesday. There is a Tesol Reception at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Canadian Room, on Friday from 6:30-8 pm.

I am really excited to see dear Webhead friends again after a five year recess from Tesol ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ’. My name is Berta Leiva, BTW, a retired Venezuelan EFL teacher from Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, now living between Oakville, Ontario and Bogotรก, Colombia.

Can't wait !!!

Monday, March 23, 2015


I took this photo with my phone after work today and emailed it directly to the blog. I am adding the text later. This could work well for webhead f2f encounters in Toronto!