Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CIES Computer and Accounting Programs

CIES provides practical job-ready training programs in both computers and accounting in order to enhance employability and job awareness in Canada for newcomers.  Intermediate to Advanced courses are offered on a part time basis, both evenings and weekends, at both our SE Location in Forest Lawn and our NE location in Whitehorn. Give us a call at 403-235-3666 or come on down to and see us for more information.

Monday, April 27, 2015

CIES Launches Help Nepal Campaign

Here at CIES we are truly an international family. It is for this reason that we hold a heavy heart today with the news out of Nepal. Many of students here at CIES are Nepalese and we offer out deepest condolences and all our hope. Our very own Suman Khanal, the CIES Settlement Services and Facilities Operations Manager, was born and raised in Nepal. His family was luckily spared but like so many now find themselves without a home.

As of this morning, more than 3,200 people were confirmed dead after Saturday’s 7.8 magnitude quake - the tiny mountain nation's worst in roughly 80 years.  The quake tore through a broad swath of Nepal, damaging the historic heart of Kathmandu, flattening remote villages and triggering an avalanche on Mount Everest.

We will be setting out donation boxes for victims of the tragedy in both our SE and NE location, with no donation being too small. CIES has also set of an online campaign simply titled "Help Nepal" where donations of any size or currency can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Please click here to donate now, or donate directly at either of our locations. If you want to know what else you can do to help Nepal, contact Suman sumankhanal@welcomeimmigrants-calgary.ca.

Help us Help Nepal.

Congrats From CIES

C.I.E.S. has been a part of the city of Calgary landscape for some 30 years. That's why we were excited to see our Flames make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years! And now our boys have won their first play-off series in 11 years having beaten the Canucks 4 games to 2. Once again congrats to the entire Flames organization for all the excitement and pride you have provided our great city. Bring on the next victim! 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New Era, New Logo? Part V

Once again, thanks to all those who offered feedback on the logos at this week's staff meeting. Two things stood out as a result. There is a strong contingent who want the full name of the organization. Some have also questioned our current tagline "Building the Future" and we have included our alternative tagline of "Information, Education, Employment" as a result.  That said, and hot of the presses, below is the latest incarnation of our latest logo proposal. As always, it is your feedback is invaluable.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CIES Celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event created to  raise public awareness about pollution and celebrate the beauty of our environment. Every year on April 22 Earth Day is observed the world over with conferences, outdoor activities and projects. The idea for Earth Day was originated with former American Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and was first celebrated in 1970. Now an internationally coordinated event Earth day is celebrated by 192 countries.

Earth Day started out as a small grass roots movement and garnered public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They have contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and several other environmental laws.

In the photo below, you can see CIES students and staff pitching in with street clean up along 17th avenue.You can see a few more pics of CIES in action this Earth Day by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

CIES Lesson Planning - PBLA is Here

Lesson planning can sometimes seem anywhere between tedious and overwhelming. Teachers often lament the task of lesson plans, unsure of how to supply an advanced and detailed design with regards to such an organic, fluid and differentiated environment like that of an ESL classroom. There is one way around this however, that carries with it the potential to make things easier for all concerned.

Following a standardized lesson plan format, with uniformed and clear expectations, along with the support and guidance from school leadership, will keep teachers more organized and make the overall classroom experience a less stressful, more positive one. CIES is now moving to establish Portfolio Based Learning Assessment as our method for classroom preparation.

Following such a lesson plan format will allow us to maintain control of the pedagogical formulation process. Once in the habit of effective PBLA lesson planning, creating interesting lessons and material for your students, both as a class and individually, will actually become easier and easier.

What is Lesson Planning?

Lesson plans are a necessary and vital part to any teacher’s weekly duties. Without some form of a plan, instructional time can become little more than an arbitrary variety of activities with little methodology behind them. Lesson planning involves both mental planning and written documentation. One is entirely ineffective without the other. Consider the questions you will pose to students and what they may ask in return, reflect on topic at hand and visualize the lesson’s progression. The short outline that is your lesson plan is what follows and is based on your mental planning.

Essential Parts of A Lesson Plan

Learning Objectives / Focus
As teachers, we must decide, each and every lesson, what our intended goals will be. These objectives or aims are the heart of your lesson and like a thesis statement in an essay, all activities should relate back to it, again and again.

Finding ways to motivate students can no doubt be challenging at times, but this should very much be central to any planning we do. What is often referred to in academia as an anticipatory set, teachers must try to relate course material to personal experiences, local or global issues, statistical charts or graphs, or even anecdotes - anything that will grab the much-needed attention of your students.

Arriving at your learning objectives is paramount to any lesson being successful, but a close second is the type of questioning you plan to use. Efficient questioning of students should be intended to develop learning styles and habits, fuel higher-level thinking and over time, will allow teachers to evaluate the progress of their students. Student orientated questions, questioning through games, and role-playing are just some ways to use questioning in the classroom.

Bloom’s Taxonomy
Using Bloom’s Taxonomy goes hand in hand with the types of question you plan to develop for your lesson. A quick review of the hierarchy is below:

Knowledge based question: What are the health benefits of jogging?
Comprehension based question: Compare the health benefits of jogging vs. weight training.
Application based question: Which kinds of exercises are best for building muscle and why?
Analysis based question: List four ways to exercise with weights and explain which have the highest health benefits. Provide references to support your statements.

When the lesson is over, don’t simply move on but evaluate what you've just done. Clarify to yourself whether or not your lesson objectives were realistic, had enough variety, and came off as organized and clear. Most of all, ask yourself if students understood the lesson and why it was they learned it. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

CIES Receives Committee of 10,000 U of C Grant

The Committee of 10,000 collects a small levy from the 27,000 undergraduate students of the University of Calgary to give to charitable causes throughout the city of Calgary. The Committee of 10,000, comprised of students, gives away approximately $19,000 annually, with up to $5,000 per group. The intention of the committee is to build relations with the community outside of the university.

CIES submitted an application to the Committee for the purpose of an Information Technology upgrade and was awarded a funding package for their efforts. Below are CIES executive director Dr. Sally Zhao and Drop in ESL and Volunteer Manager Melissa McKinnon (front and centre), along with members of the Committee of 10,000. Great job guys and keep up the great work!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Drop in ESL @ CIES

The Drop-in ESL Program @ CIES was an original and innovative project that started in our earliest days of the organization. A program designed to help newcomers with their overall communication skills, Drop-in ESL has weekly themes and practical subjects directly related to Canadian culture, daily living, and employability skills, which aid our clients to integrate into Canadian society.The greatest part about it is you can come in a for a few hours everyday, either afternoon or evening, making it easily accessible for those who have schedules not suitable to traditional classroom hours. Funded by Alberta Human Services, it is one of our few programs even open to Canadian citizens.

Although there are other Calgary organizations who offer drop-in conversation or activities based classes, we are the only immigrant settlement service in the city who offer structured, thematic drop -in lessons, complete with syllabus, set by level and delivered in a classroom environment with other students from the day a client is assessed by our in-house language ability measurement system. More details can be found below.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

CIES Recognizes National Volunteer Week

It has been said that the action of a volunteer is like a pebble thrown into a pond: its effect has a direct impact. At the same time, like ripples, volunteer efforts reach out far and wide to improve communities. This week marks the 74th annual  National Volunteer Week,  a time to recognize and give thanks to Canada’s thousands of volunteers.

From its very beginnings the very backbone of C.I.E.S. has been its volunteers. From one office, a couple of folding chairs, and 5 volunteers we have grown into one of the very pillars of Calgary's immigrant sector. Our once single office now has grown into a 15,000 square foot building in the SE , a 22,000 square foot building in the NE, and more than 80 staff. That being said, our backbone continues to be our volunteers, as more than 100 people donate their time to help serve the CIES vision - to provide Calgary immigrants and economically disadvantaged individuals with a solid foothold in Canada and afford them the opportunities to grow into productive and confident Canadians.

To all our volunteers... we could not have served the community the last 27 years, nor could we continue to help make our city a better place without you.

From all of here at C.I.E.S. a heartfelt thank you. You continue to represent the very soul of our organization and we will always be eternally grateful. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Go Flames Go!

C.I.E.S. has been a part of the city of Calgary landscape for some 30 years. That's why we are excited to see our Flames make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years! After six long years the Calgary Flames secured their spot in the playoffs last Thursday with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.When Jiri Hudler put in the empty-net goal in the final minutes of their win over the Kings, a season that started in doubt ended in celebration. Congrats to the Calgary Flames from all of us here at C.I.E.S! Down with Vancouver!!

The CIES Chronicle - Second Edition

The month of April marks the second edition of the CIES Chronicle. Serving as a window into what we as an organization are involved with for staff, instructors, clients, potential clients and stakeholders, the monthly publication is once again ready for viewing.  In the end, our newsletter, like our blog, is a representational tool, as we hope to spread word about our existence, and let people know the many great services we provide for the immigrant and newcomer populace of Calgary. This month includes a brief summary of our 27 year history, our LINC Home Study Coordinator Colyn deGraaff, our volunteer of the month Antonio Olmo and much more. Please send us your ideas and suggestions for features and stories, as we would love to hear from you.

CLICK HERE to download. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CIES Fashion Show

At the end of last week, the CIES Fashion Show took place at Vespucci Women's Clothing with co host Monika Horvat, Miss Universe Canada Finalist.  Students and teachers modelled clothing provided by Vespucci, refreshments were provided by the Stir Stick Cafe and a glamorous time was had by all.

Monika is proud to be affiliated with the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, as our vision is very close to Monika's heart. She herself is an immigrant to Canada and having arrived from Serbia at a young age, it is important to Monika that she is able to give others support as they go through the life transition she and her family once experienced.

We thank Monika for her support and wish her the best of luck in her chase for the Miss Universe Canada Crown! Click HERE to see more photos of the event.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

New Era, New Logo? Part IV

Once again, thanks to all those who offered feedback on the logos so far introduced. Our previous and third logo idea was probably the most well received thus far, but again certain changes were still suggested. Taken from our last round of feedback, and looking at our current logo, the full background badge style flag was once again removed and a maple leaf was put in its place. 

Some wanted to the letters to a bit bolder, the maple leaf to be a bit bigger...  what you see below is the result, our fourth possibility. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beyond the Sentence

As teachers, and even more so as teachers of a second language, it’s difficult to take ourselves, and thus our students, beyond the concept of the sentence. A habit throughout the ESL world is the act of teaching sentences, as opposed teaching cohesive, coherent, and well-linked writing.

If one looks inside the average curriculum document, learning objectives assigned to writing are often less about writing and more about discreet grammar points. Phrases like, the student will write a sentence using a superlative, or the student will effectively use adverbial clauses in a sentence are commonplace. This is where teachers must charge themselves with the responsibility of going deeper.

Language, in its purest form, is not a series of isolated sentences: it is text. Second language teachers must prioritize the engagement of texts in their students. It is important for all of us to instill within our students the queries of purpose and context. Students must go beyond grammar points and design sentences to fit their purposes and combine them to communicate contextualized meanings. This work takes the act of discourse apart to show both how it is structured and how it services communication.

Beyond The Sentence: Introducing Discourse Analysis by Scott Thornbury is a book that attempts to guide teachers through all of the above. Starting with an analysis of genus, he goes on to look at how we assemble text. After showing how this affects our work as second language teachers, he provides some practical classroom activities to help students effectively work with texts.
Starting with an examination of genre, Thornbury goes on to examine how people structure written and spoken text. He demonstrates how these insights affect our work as teachers and suggests practical activities that can be used in the classroom to help students work with texts. Below is an extended excerpt from Thornbury's book:

Text, n. A continuous piece of spoken or written language, especially one with a recognizable beginning and ending.
Language is realized, first and foremost, as text. Not as isolated sounds, or words, or sentences, but as whole texts. And users of language have to cope with the texts. They have to make sense of them and they have to produce them.

This is as true for second language users as it is for first language users. As teachers of second language users, therefore, our top priority is to help our learners engage with texts. 
Going ‘beyond the sentence’ in order to explore the structure and purpose of whole texts falls within the orbit of what is called discourse analysis. Put simply, discourse is he way that language – either spoken or written – is used for communicative effect in a real-world situation. One way of looking at the distinction between discourse and text is to think of discourse as the process and the text as the product.

This book aims to address these issues. By the end, you will have a better idea of:

  • What a text is and what its characteristic features are
  • How to categorize and describe texts, e.g. according to genre, function, organization and style
  • How to find, select and adapt texts
  • How to exploit texts for language teaching skills and development purposes
  • How to unpack the hidden messages of texts How to use literary texts in the classroom
  • How to evaluate and use learners’ texts

Beyond the Sentence is well worth reading, easy to move through, and filled with many practical exercises that will surely help our students.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Demos with Donna - Volume III

CIES continues its original video production with Volume III of Demos with Donna. Donna Clarke, a teacher of English as a second language for more than 15 years, including the last 5 with C.I.E.S, this time shares something we call "Out on the Town." 

The Calgary Immigrant Education Society wants all learners who pass through their doors to have an educational experience that is as a well rounded as possible. That is why field trips are an important dimension to the Society's learning process. Our field trips expose newcomers from everything to Canadian history and practical shopping habits to just plain old fun and are a regular part of the C.I.E.S. experience. 

Here the backdrop is a term end trip to Paradise Lanes on 17th ave SE to whom we owe a big thank you for their hospitality

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Era, New Logo? Part III

Once again, thanks to all those who offered feedback on the logos so far introduced. Our previous logo idea was well received, but certain changes were still suggested. Taken from our last round of feedback, and looking at our current logo, the full background badge style flag was removed and a maple leaf was put in its place. 

A call to look more modern / corporate was also taken into account by adding the low opacity background image of the box coming together - a reference to our tagline Building the Future. I also mixed up the colours a bit and used some black. Once again, your feedback here is invaluable.