Diplomas are in!

Hello Members of the Writing Community of 2013-2014!

Your diplomas from the preparation course are signed and are waiting for you in the office with CUiteli in the morning or with Hugo in the afternoon.

Some of you will need to bring in your photograph (tamaño infantil) in order to receive your diploma. If you brought in a photograph and it is not that size, please bring in one small photo so we can get your diploma to you. Pass port size pictures are not acceptable.

Again, it has been a pleasure to work with you an I hope we meet again.

Academic Writing

Hello Writing Community,

This semester new options will be offered on Saturday mornings and they might be of interest to you. This semester of 2014-2014 the course Academic Writing will be given by Miriam Penn. I looks to be a great opportunity to continue writing above and beyond what you learned in the nine semester diploma courses.

If you have previously taken Advanced Writing, then this time, it should be very different. The people taking the course will be using a book and the focus, will be very different.

If you are interested in continuing to sharpen your writing skills, then this course might be for you.

Another option that is being offered is Business English. If you are in the business world, then writing protocols is something you are familiar with. Writing in English as you know is completely different.

Whatever you decide to do this semester, may it be productive and beneficial to you. I will still maintain this blog open and available for you, and of course you may continue to participate in the IWE.

Warm wishes

logo mextesol
MEXTESOL Chapter Michoacan is proud to present an Academic Day for the benefit of English language teachers and student/teachers in Michoacan and the region:

“Breaking Traditions:

Active Learning Strategies”

Academic Saturday, February 15, 2014 from 16:00-20:00

An ACADEMIC SATURDAY is an event to which different speakers from either the city or other parts of the country come, in order to share their knowledge with the local teachers.

Join us in our first Academic Saturday of 2014 for the election of a new committee,

February 15, 2014 at IMCED,
Calzada Juárez 1000, Morelia, Mich. (Frente al zoológico)

Schedule of Conferences and Workshops
3:30-4:00 Registration

4:00-5:00 Welcome, Announcements. Elections, Toma de Protesta,

5:00-6:20 Simultaneous Workshops

6:20-7:00 Coffee Break and Book Exhibition

7:00-7:50 Closing Reflection Plenary

7:50- 8:00 Diplomas and Raffle


Members: $ 20.00 Must be a member before February 15)
SEP Teachers and Students: 30.00
Non Members: $50.00


What are the benefits of MEXTESOL?

Assist teachers in updating their teaching methodology and in expanding their repertoire of teaching techniques in all areas of ELT.

Disseminate, through its professional publications, journals, newsletters and publications, available to members only, the results of research and a discussion of classroom practices.

Create an ongoing forum, through Academic Saturdays, and Regional National, and INTERNATIONAL Conventions, for professional development in the area of ELT.

MEXTESOL (Mexican Association of Teachers of English, A.C.) is the answer to your English language teaching and professional needs


Enjoy discounts to academic events and conventions.

Receive the latest news from TESOL

Teachers $300
Students and SEP teachers $200
Group rates5 minimum,
same school $250


Audio Guide: great places to Eat in Morelia


Visitors and locals are always looking for a great place to eat that serves delicious food, has great service and is affordable. We are going to compile an audio restaurant guide that can help both visitors and locals find the best deals for the best meals.

You are going to record an audio podcast using any software you would like. Instructions continue below for using Fotobabble, which has a limit of one minute about a photograph that you upload and talk about. Fotobabble is only one audio tool you may use. You may use any one of your preference.

Submit your talking photo in this post as a comment (found on the bottom of the post) and include the URL of your preferred eatery. Fotobabbles and other audio applications sent via email will not be opened. Here on the blog, they can be accessed by the rest of the class…and the rest of the world!

Take a picture of
-your favorite restaurant
-your favorite food,
-the contents of your refrigerator
-or download a picture of what you are going to talk about.

You are going to talk for 45 seconds to one minute about that picture.

Here are some sample audio restaurant reviews found on the Internet. They last a long time, but they are just examples of what is out there:
Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse in Calgary, Canada
Ruby Watch Co in Toronto
European audio restaurant guide

Language Requirements:
A. Use the present perfect tenses, and use narrative tenses to refer to some point in the past.
B. Include useful phrases to express what annoys you, if anything
C. Use some food collocations

D. Talk about the food selection, the taste, the service, the price, and the decor.

You might get some good ideas by listening to the
ESL Daily Restaurant Guide

1. Choose the photo you want to talk about.
2. Register with Fotobabble.
3. Upload the photo to Fotobabble.
3. Record information about your picture. Up to one minute talking time.
4. Save your fotobabble.
5. Click on the Internet address and send a comment to this post so we can see your photo and listen to the information.

Click here for Fotobabble Instructions in Spanish
Click here for a tutorial about Fotobabble.

If you would like to use a different audiorecorder, please do so. A list of 3 alternatives can be found at Mediabistro.

“We don’t like group work”

Did you know that you are not alone in not liking group work. I’d like to share an article with you about students all over the world who feel this same way and give their reasons for not liking to work in groups.
Here is the article reproduced for your reading pleasure or you may go to the source to Faculty Forum, a free e-magazine where this article appeared.

groupwork 6 sem

February 22, 2012
My Students Don’t Like Group Work

By: Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Teaching Professor Blog
Add Comment

Students don’t always like working in groups. Ann Taylor, an associate professor of chemistry at Wabash College, had a class that was particularly vocal in their opposition. She asked for their top 10 reasons why students don’t want to work in groups and they offered this list (which I’ve edited slightly).

  • It’s hard to focus during small group exercises.
  • We are always rushed.
  • Group exercises mean we do the work and the teacher doesn’t.
  • We’re trying to work on material we didn’t understand in the reading.
  • If we want to work in groups, we can form them on our own; in class we would rather hear someone who understands the material explain it.
  • We’re all confused; getting in a group merely compounds the confusion.
  • I don’t like the people in my group.
  • Group members don’t show up or don’t contribute.
  • We’d get through more material if you lectured.
  • I can’t sleep during small group exercises.

A few of these reasons have convinced some faculty that not much learning occurs in groups. Others may be a bit more ambivalent but figure if students are opposed why bother with a questionable strategy and have their resistance to deal with as well.

Taylor responds as do many of us who use group work regularly. “Some of these reasons are exactly why I use small group work in class.” (p. 219) Group work engages students and forces them to work with the material. Of course, it’s easier, and from the student perspective preferable, if the teacher provides all the examples, raises all the questions, proposes and evaluates various solutions, i.e., does all the work. All students have to do is copy or download the teacher’s material.

It’s also true that working in groups is harder than doing it on your own. Groups have to cooperate, communicate, delegate and depend on each other. But for most tasks, groups can do more and do it better than individuals. In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends.

To students and some teachers, lecture looks like a “neater” way to learn. It certainly is more efficient, but the question is what kind of learning results from lecture? Too often lecture material is memorized—it hasn’t really been figured out, often it can’t be applied and regularly it’s quickly forgotten. Learning most things is a messy process. Confusion, frustration, even despair regularly occur. If students never experience those feelings, they also never experience the thrill of finally figuring something out, of really understanding and of being changed by what they’ve learned.

Does this mean group work should replace lectures? That teacher explanations are always ruled out? Of course not. It simply means that teachers need a repertoire of instructional strategies and that the decision of which to use when should be guided by a collection of variables that does not include whether students want to work in groups.

Taylor says she uses groups over student objections because they work. “By the end of the semester, there are improvements in their performance, teamwork and ability to solve problems. And this is what education is about: students’ growth and learning. Our role as educators is not as a performer or entertainer, but as a facilitator who guides students through the challenges of the learning process, whether they like it or not.” (p. 219)

What may be most useful here is her head-on strategy for dealing with student objections. If you ask students why they don’t want to work in groups and assemble their list, you can respond to their objections. Students may not like all your answers but at least the conversation introduces them to the educational rationale behind having them work collectively and it isn’t because you’re making them do the work you don’t want to do.

Reference: Taylor, A. (2011). Top 10 reasons students dislike working in groups … and why I do it anyway. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 39 (2), 219-220.
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Tags: collaborative learning, evidence for collaboration, group work activities, group work strategies

Follow the discussion
Comments (17)

kingscollegecelt 15p · 42 weeks ago
The last point is essential. Giving students the rationale for why they are doing any activity or assignment can help cultivate good dispositions toward learning. It can demonstrate that the activities are not simply hoops to jump through, but real exercises designed to build their knowledge and skills–just as much as the exercises they do in the gym are designed to build strength and agility.

drjeffreyp 13p · 42 weeks ago
My students abhor group work as well. I find it interesting though that once again we hear ” In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends.” This is so often stated in support of group work and yet I don’t find that to be the case in the professional world.

This is not to say that we don’t work with other people but that work is usually individually based (i.e., I do my work, you do yours; we work in a really big office [think cubicles]). This does not suggest that we’re doing group or team work.

I don’t have to like you, go to lunch with you or invite you to the BBQ in order to work with you.

Groups also promote groupthink, which I would argue is not good for anyone, but certainly seems to be in keeping with many an educator’s philosophy.

My $.02. As a friend of mine says, “yours may vary.”

shawnpatrickdoyle 28p · 42 weeks ago
Groups represent groupthink, but I don’t think the design of group work is to come up with an answer that is not crosschecked or verified in larger discussion. Practicing working in groups in class and then coming together to talk about what you learn might even be beneficial because it can be used as an occasion to point out biases that the group forms in the process and generating strategies to get around them.

I also get frustrated by the excuse that group work is preparation for the real world where they’ll have to do that. I think it’s based on a faulty premise that college translates to the real world directly, which it does not. Few jobs require workers to learn four different subjects and then write papers or take exams about them. There is a lot of value in college, but it’s value is never as easy as it seems to be presented in the argument being that it trains you for a job.

debh · 40 weeks ago
Odd as this may sound my students often enjoy group work. I assign projects or problems and they enjoy the change up from sage on the stage. They develop teams or better supportive relationships that carry some of them through their college experience.

alstoots · 42 weeks ago
From this article, and my experience with higher education, it sounds like students just don’t like the interaction socially with their classmates. I’d be willing to bet that many students, if asked of lecture time, would have a laundry list of dislikes starting with “boring” and going to any other length. Most employees will interact in some way in group projects and we should be training students even before the college level to become comfortable with working with people who may not be friends, who may not agree, and who may not pull their own weight. Reality is, at some point in your career, you’ll face one or all of those situations. The point of furthering your education is to gain the skills necessary to move forward in your career. That being the case, why shouldn’t group work be a part of that training? It’s a skill that needs to be mastered.

alstoots · 42 weeks ago
Quite honestly, I’m growing tired of whining at the college level from students who feel things aren’t being given to them that they deserve or are entitled to. They will be in for a rude awakening when they get a job in the future and the world isn’t handed to them. It’s time to grow up and learn how to work well, not just play well, with others.

drjeffreyp 13p · 41 weeks ago
Not a fan of whining me self. That said, what is the purpose of a college education? Why is it that the for profits seem to be doing so well?

I think we need to decide the purpose of higher ed (and I’m OK if it’s to prepare individuals for a career), then focus head long into that purpose.

How many years now has the real world told us that our students were not prepared? If true, why and how can we, how should we then prepare them?

42 weeks ago
Hello Dr. Weimer:

Thank you for providing a very thoughtful post about group work.

Your list of reasons why students do not like group work includes some of the top reasons I’ve heard as well. The primary objection from my students involves equal contributions by team members. Do you utilize a team contract at the start of the project? When I utilize group work I implement it as an in-class activity – to supplement the class lecture. I’ve found that it helps to engage students in the topics being discussed and many students will participate in a small group setting, rather than raise their hand during the class lecture. Plus I’ve noticed that it tends to break the ice among students, which allows them to develop a perception of being part of a larger dynamic group.

I am surprised by the following in your post:
“It certainly is more efficient, but the question is what kind of learning results from lecture? Too often lecture material is memorized—it hasn’t really been figured out, often it can’t be applied and regularly it’s quickly forgotten.”

From my perspective, this is why I take time to learn the material prior to delivering a lecture – I want to learn and comprehend the meaning of the assigned materials so that I can apply and explain it well. This approach allows me to find relevant examples, current videos, case studies, etc. – which allow students to interact with the information in a way that they are likely to remember it. What is your approach?
Dr. J

prof. El-Bahai · 42 weeks ago
thanks for all the interactions
simply a patinet would not be happy with the bitter medicine till he is cured !!!!!!
as doctors we have to prescripe the medicine and students like patients have to drink

shawnpatrickdoyle 28p · 42 weeks ago
I think the point that the groups have to be a part of the instructor’s repertoire is important. I have many colleagues who go into group work with an idea that students don’t like it, they try it once after lecturing the whole course, and then students don’t respond so they say group work doesn’t work. For group work to work, students need practice at it just as they do any other skill.

One point to consider responding to students’ sense that group work just compounds confusion: there are some studies that show that group work can help students reach a correct answer even when both of the students get it wrong. I don’t have the original source for that, but I know that Sian Bielock mentions it in her book Choke.

Barbara · 41 weeks ago
Great article review. Because I am a fairly new educator, I am interested in anyone’s opinions regarding, the following question. If I want to include group work is it better to give the students some rationale for the purpose of the group work, or is it better to just assign it?

Suzanne · 41 weeks ago
I had to read this post. I have experienced both sides of the coin on this one but have not entirely thrown out the group work. I teach at the university level in a very multinational classroom. The dynamics are interesting – typical American students despise group work while the Asian, Middle Eastern, and Africans students enjoy it. Yes, there are the common complaints stated above but I have to say, it is absolutely a joy to see a group of Asian students huddled together trying to solve a problem. They do not give up until they all understand how to solve it. Group think is not part of their genre. Maybe as Americans we let our independent nature take over our sensibilities, when the group work should be seen as a learning opportunity where people share ideas, work toward a common goal, and support each other until there is deeper understanding. Needless to say, group work remains a 50/50 proposition in my classes.

Matt Birkenhauer · 41 weeks ago
Of course, there are two kinds of group work: That work done in the classroom (which the teacher can monitor closely), and group projects which are assigned outside of the classroom and are ongoing. As a teacher of mostly first-year students of composition, I frequently use the first kind of group work. But I sometimes wonder if, for first-year students at least, there ought to be a moratorium on the second kind of group work, as students are still learning to be students. For those students who are not responsible, everyone in the group—including the hardworking, responsible students—get “punished” because of the slackers in the group.

Matt Birkenhauer · 41 weeks ago
As for Maryellen’s point—and I hear this often in defense of group work outside of the classroom, that “In the professional world, there’s hardly a career where some (if not most) of the work is done in groups and not necessarily groups populated with your friends,”– this is only partially true. As my wife (who works in the corporate world) points out, these are “vetted” groups of seasoned professionals who were vetted by the hiring process itself ; also they are often groups of seasoned professionals who, by the time they work with each other, have already had to work with others under such situations. To compare this to many of the first-year students at a typical large state university is, I think, a stretch . . . .

@yogiconomist · 41 weeks ago
The key to me is the last paragraph of the post – a conversation addressing student objections to group work. In many situations (classroom or not) the action of “acknowledging the hard” can make room for moving forward. In this case, a brief class discussion could include why groups often *suck* to work in, why it still might be important, and some strategies for making group work more tolerable.

KarenH · 29 weeks ago
Not sure why you are comparing group work with lecture. Group work is inquiry based; and there are many wonderful individual inquiry based activities as well. Lecture is a completely different issue. Lecture is the opposite of inquiry based learning, not the opposite of group work.

JSmith · 5 weeks ago
I have worked in the professional world in team-based environments, and I’m now doing a masters program. I can tell you with all honesty that the “group work” that happens in college is in no way comparable or relevant to what I’ve seen professionally. Here are some reasons why: 1. people in a real job have more “skin in the game” and much more motivated to work hard and contribute. 2. there is usually a common work space/work hours that people work together in a real job-which makes the process much more effective. 3. in a real job, there is some oversight and someone who has the authority and desire to call out slackers and has vested interested in the work being done–this is directly the opposite of what I’ve seen with many professors who want nothing to do with “group drama” and tell us to work it out among ourselves, which means that those of us that are competent usually end up carrying those who aren’t.
Group work as it is usually designed in college encourages social loafing. Slackers aren’t pushed to strain themselves to produce work of high quality. High performers cannot explore their own potential.
The best thing that professors can do for their students is to instill a sense of self motivation, self reliance, and individual competence, because those are the people that succeed in the professional world and contribute the most to the teams that they work in.
Also, from a pedagogical standpoint, if your students tell you that they don’t value the group work that you are assigning and that it doesn’t work for them, you should listen and make some adjustments. Usually, the only people who “like group work” are the people who are lazy and incompetent and look forward to a free ride on someone else’s work.
I’m a big believer in the work of Paolo Friere who talks about students knowing what works best for them and how they learn best.
One way that I could see group work being useful is if each person writes their own paper and then presents their work in a group format-something similar to a paper roundtable at a conference. That way there would be collaborative learning, but each person has to bring their own work to the table.

picture of group work from personal classroom files

Collaborative Writing Example

Writing collaboratively is no piece of cake. It takes a LOT of patience, energy, and dedication to start a collaborative project, go through the writing process with other people and produce a written piece that stands on its own with unified criteria, writing styles and a point of view that expresses everyone’s opinion.

We practiced collaborative writing during a period of three weeks. Our subject matter was very emotional for many of us, dealing with the changing times in Michoacan. Most of us have been touched by our changing situation, either personally or through our relatives and friends who are affected. So combined with the collaborative spirit of our project, setting aside our emotional interference was also a great feat.

As a result, there are two wonderful essays that we can share with the world. However, only one essay reached a conclusive stage, therefore, the finished product is represented here for you, the reader, to enjoy as you wish. Happy reading!

Changing Michoacan

   With its pyramids and cultural heritage, biodiversity, and its potential for educational leadership, Michoacan opens its doors to visitors and investors alike. Because of this range of incredible resources, educational opportunities, and its friendly, out-going residents, Michoacan has everything to be a leader in many areas of Mexican life. But due to the growing insecurity and the stranglehold that organized crime holds on the population, many people have experienced a change in their everyday lives.

     The current situation in the state of Michoacan has provoked  many psychological, social and economic effects. One of the psychological consequences is the underlying sense of fear. Because of kidnappings and extortions, many people are afraid to answer the door or pick up the phone. Neighbors change gates for automated doors, line the walls of their yards with barbed wire or electrify their fences. Another effect is a generalized discontent with elected officials. People whisper about so-and-so´s relation with organized crime and swear they won´t vote  for any party because of supposed collusion with delinquents. A third effect can be seen in the deep distrust of the police. People used to joke about bribes; now they  refuse to report crimes  and in some areas have formed vigilante groups to protect themselves from criminal groups and the police. Lastly, and most disturbing of all, people have often become hardened and cynical about the violence around them. Many just shrug their shoulders and say, “ That´s life.” One almost expects to see the cleanup crews of a popular science fiction writer being sent to pick up the bits and pieces at the latest crime scene while everybody hurries around them without a backward glance.

Nowadays the social situation in Mexico is hard, so Michoacan is not the exception. In many countries it is said that it  is dangerous to come. Probably the main problem is that in the last years there were many confrontations between armed groups. The fight for the power is now being reflected in Mexican society (what do you think about this part? Here? or not?). The  social patterns of their lives have also been altered.    These days, people don´t change their cars or use as much jewelery as before, stay out late at night or simply feel safe doing daily things like work or study, because they are afraid. All those things  were common before the situation that we are going through. Now, Michoacan is changing every day and the violence is the most important theme in the news, for example, in the newspapers, almost everyday there appears at least one death, that´s why we are changing our lifestyle, we are prisoners in jails without bars . The people of Michoacan  feel afraid of the violence but nobody can stop living because of  the criminal organizations.

Another consequence of the recent events and existing conflicts is that  the economy has suffered drastic variations.   During the last few years, there has been major job loss because many small and medium-size businesses have closed, international companies have  decided not to settle in the state and some of those who have already been here for years, have moved to other cities, safer cities with better economic and social development.   As a result, a lot of people are struggling not  to drown in this economic uncertainty and looking  for a job every day which would help them improve the quality of life of their families or at least, survive.   This entails other effects which include the constant increase of informal commerce and the fact that students and professionals can’t find opportunities in the labor market. Even if they do, jobs aren’t well-paid.   Instead of staying in Michoacan, people are moving in order to start a better life in a place where their talent has a bigger chance to be potentialized.  Michoacan is losing this valuable talent which may be the key to lead the state to stability and success.

The residents of Michoacan are undergoing radical changes in their everyday lives because of the activities of organized crime. From small changes like not greeting people on the bus or not wearing favorite pieces of jewelry to major changes like job loss, higher prices and scarcity of some goods, lives have been disrupted on all fronts. Although one reads about this only when heads roll in a disco or when a clandestine graveyard is uncovered, this is a situation that promises to get worse before it gets better. In a few more years, it is predicted that Michoacan will experience a degree a violence and despair beyond that of Columbia. The people and government must seriously question themselves, is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren?


Is all the news fit to print? Reporting an event

The NY Times prints this motto on its front page: “all the news that is fit to print.”
CNN includes its motto on its Webpage: “make everybody’s business your business…with breaking news”

Do we really see all that is fit to print? Do we really have access to breaking news?
Who decides which articles are written, published, or read by the public?
In the past four years, social media and Internet access has changed the way we get the news. We can now chose and have access to more of the real world than we have ever had before in history. One example is what happened in the Arab nations during the spring of 2011, commonly known as Arab Spring. Without the presence of eyewitnesses cell phone cameras, the news that would or might have been reported from Cairo Egypt and other countries could have been quite different.

However, mass media still has a big say in what people around the world listen to or read about as news. Watch this video from TED.com of Alisha Miller, Director of National Public Radio, and Public Radio International.

What do you think about the news? Do you read newspapers, watch TV, listen to the radio, or follow social media reports? Is news access controlled? What do you think? Perhaps this video, a news report about…the news will alter your opinion. Please add a comment with your opinion about the news.

What does it take to write the news? Learn about the elements and characteristics of journalistic writing in the anthology. Read and practice the information and exercises on pages 99-99A. Learn more media vocabulary on page 99B.

The next step is to learn about writing headlines. Page 100 and 101 give some practice in headline writing. Join Teacher Peggy in her video series on Electronic village about writing headlines 1 and 2, and about the inverted pyramid. Look at Peggy’s other videos for more tips on writing about the news.

Remember to use the three paragraph structure explained on pages 100A and 101 in your anthology.

Write the news story for the murder which happened at the Maloney house in the story “Lamb to the Slaughter”. It is a hypothetical article for the blue note police register, in the Justice section of your local newspaper. Remember to include what you can of the What, Who, When, Where and How in the first sentence. Use prepositional phrases and adjective clauses to be able to write concisely and consolidate the information in the first sentence. Use the appropriate grammar structures with the passive voice, the narrative verb tenses, and reported speech. You might add some eyewitness citing at the end of the article for authenticity.

This news report is due on Friday. Please bring a printed version of it to class. Those of you who live out of town please write it in a comment on this blog so everyone can share.


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