This year, SLWIS enters its 12th year as an interest section. Like it has for many of you, the SLWIS has become my home within TESOL, and it is truly an honor to serve as your chair for the 2016–2017 year. I look forward to a great year of idea sharing and intellectual discussion with the SLWIS community!
First, I would like to give an update following the convention in Baltimore last April. Our SLWIS meetings and special sessions were well attended this year. Our academic session focused on the role of genre in teaching writing, and we were fortunate to have noted scholars in this area, including Christine Feak, Ann Johns, Ahmar Mahboob, and Luciana de Oliveira. We also had three InterSections: one with the Higher Education IS and Intensive English Programs (IEP) IS on aligning writing objectives in higher education across IEPs, first-year writing, and content classes; one with the Refugee Concerns IS and Adult Education IS on teaching writing to adult low-literacy students; and one with Secondary Schools IS on preparing high school students for various postsecondary writing demands. A number of long-standing SLWIS members contributed to these sessions, including Gena Bennett, Colleen Brice, Nigel Caplan, Betsy Gilliland, Ditlev Larsen, and Nancy Overman.
In addition, planning for the 2017 convention in Seattle is well underway. Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal. SLWIS received 278 proposals, which is an increase of 41 proposals from last year. Each proposal was reviewed by three or more reviewers, many of whom were SLWIS members. The number of slots we are allotted in the program is based on the number of proposals submitted to our IS, so it is important for SLWIS members to continue to submit proposals for various types of presentations. For the 2017 convention, we were allotted 53 program slots in addition to 18 poster sessions.
Research- and practice-oriented sessions remained the most popular this year (together representing 75% of SLWIS submissions), making these the most competitive categories as well. We also received a number of strong workshop, panel, teaching tip, and dialogue (a new type for this coming year) proposals. The overall acceptance rate was approximately 26%, although acceptance rates for dialogues and posters were higher. Thank you to everyone who submitted and/or reviewed proposals!
For those who are planning on attending the 2017 convention in Seattle, I would like to encourage you to apply for travel funding from TESOL. Each year, TESOL awards more than US$50,000 in scholarships and grants to enable members to attend the convention. Of course, the annual convention is not the only way to be involved in SLWIS, and this year we will continue our efforts to make SLWIS a year-round interest section. Some of the ways to be involved in the IS outside the convention include:
- Participating in our e-list: Our e-list is a great place to share ideas and resources and to ask questions. The collective knowledge of our interest section members is a great resource!
- Participating in online discussions: This year, we will be continuing the online discussion series that we have been hosting the last couple years. In these sessions, an expert in an area of second language (L2) writing leads an interactive discussion with attendees, who join either online or via telephone. Some of the past discussions include topics on writing assessment (led by Deborah Crusan), feedback (led by Dana Ferris), qualities of an effective writing teacher (led by Todd Ruecker), and TESOL’s research agenda (led by Dudley Reynolds), and are archived online. Recently, Ann Johns led a discussion on teaching effective and various summaries. We are currently planning more online discussions for the coming year, so check the e-list for announcements soon!
- Interacting with our Facebook page: The SLWIS leadership, especially our diligent community manager Elena Shvidko, posts articles and topics related to SLW via our Facebook page (which currently has more than 5,200 likes!). If you are a Facebook user, make sure you “like” our page to get these posts. The comments are a great place to participate in discussions about SLW.
- Writing for SLW News: Our newsletter team, led by Ilka Kostka, publishes two issues of SLW News each year, containing reports of SLW research and teaching, interviews, and reviews of SLW books and materials. The newsletter always welcomes submissions of various types from SLWIS members.
- Reviewing proposals for the convention: While this is related to the convention, it is not required that you attend to review. Nonetheless, reviewing proposals is a great way to participate in the IS and to see what kinds of work people in SLW are doing. Each year, TESOL puts out a call for reviewer applications, so check your email for the call for the 2018 convention.
There are also opportunities to join the IS leadership. Our outgoing chair, Silvia Pessoa, will be facilitating the election process this year, and I would encourage anyone who would like to become more involved in the IS to nominate yourself for open positions.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of the contributors to this issue of the SLW News and congratulate the editorial team on another great issue. The newsletter plays an important role in the IS, and I thank you for all of the work you put into making it such a useful resource.
Ryan MillerSLWIS Chair, 2016–2017