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MidTESOL 2016—What a ride!

A little over a week ago, Zoe and I returned to Lincoln from one of the best conferences either of us have attended: MidTESOL 2016. We were there to present on Building Academic Language Through Innovation, an extension of our working on Teaching with a Maker’s Mind.

As part of our presentation, we passed out plain white envelopes with writing implements inside. We then asked participants to describe their implement using their 5 senses. Next, they switched envelopes with another participant and wrote down pros and cons. Finally, they collaborated in small groups on how they might improve one implement. We then brought everyone back together and asked the question: Did you use academic language as you discussed, brainstormed? This was the perfect introduction into our presentation’s message—that academic language is embedded within tinkering, making, and collaborating, that we as teachers can use these experiences to provide high quality, academic language experiences for our students that are authentic and highly engaging. I think our participants left our presentation with ideas on how to bring this into their own classroom.

Yet, we weren’t just there to present, we also attended the whole conference. And what a conference it was. Keynote by Krashen. Talk by Sonia Nazario. Group Think experimentation sessions. Shuttlecocks and Crayola. We’re very excited for next year’s MidTESOL.




I am a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, studying ESL education with an emphasis on Applied Linguistics, pedagogy, and special populations within TESL. I am a founding collaborator on the 21st Century Science Literacy project with Zoe Falls, in partnership with the Lincoln Children's Museum (

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