Sunday, July 19, 2020


Dearest students of the seniors' class,

With a heavy heart I bid you all farewell. I will not return to the classroom this fall. I have thought a long time about how to be closer to my mother and brother during the last years of my mother's life. She will be 90 this winter. My dilemma sometimes became the topic of our morning sharing sessions along with roll call, news and weather.

Because we are a close-knit group that shares personal information with one another, you already know a lot about my family.  You know that my mother has been on her own for years, and you know that my brother has had disabilities since childhood. He is also experiencing a health crisis that began when I was visiting my mom during spring break. That health problem is ongoing still today.

Do you know what an important part you have played in my life? For ten years I spent more time with you than I spent with anyone else in my life: more than with my family or any partner. You became my aunties and uncles, my surrogate parents, sisters and brothers. We have been through so much together, haven't we?

Together we have been through the cancer scares and survival of three students. We have celebrated the citizenship ceremonies of Hana and Wardia, Awatif, Abu and Um Ziad (Tareq and Widad), Marhamat, Nabil and Raja, Malgorzata, and more. We have supported each other at every turn, and I've learned so much from you about interdependence--you who come from communal societies and cultures that value community more than my native culture does.

We cooked, baked and shared our countries' dishes at Chinese New Year and end of semester parties. Thank you for all the dumplings, dolmas, biryani, baklava, and moon cakes!

Bushra's poster about the Nakba still hangs in the computer lab. Your presentations about Dr. Bethune, Nellie McClung, and Hammurabi's Code remain on my YouTube channel. Together we became experts on everything from MRI machines to knitting and pingpong. Every time someone asks me, "Kelly, how do you know about so many subjects?" I will say, "I learned that with my seniors' class."

We go forward in our lives with memories of our trips to museums and parks. Together we learned urban foraging, making sure we knew the difference between spurge and purslane! Any one of us would be able to take visitors to the river and tell them the stories behind the sculptures there. We know whose names are cut in granite at Jackson Park and why, on a winter day, you might see two men spilling a bit of Scotch whiskey on the ground in front of a statue before draining their own small glasses. More than once we made the local news!

Mostly, I take with me great pride in remembering your amazing work to improve and maintain your language and cultural skills. I beam with pride to think back on all the situations you can now navigate using English--everything from reading a requisition from your family doctor for lab work or a diagnostic test to bartering for a better deal at a yard sale.

I hope you will one day--perhaps after a vaccine for COVID-19 is made available--feel safe enough to return to our little learning space in room 109. Some students will be missing, some returned after stints at other schools or trips back home, and some will be new to the seniors class. I know you will be gracious to one another. You'll help the new students find the washrooms. Heck, maybe the new teacher will even be willing to bring back the water boiler from atop the refrigerator off room 105 so everyone can have a hot cup of tea or coffee on cold winter mornings. Who knows what our futures hold?

Keep me in your hearts as firmly as you are in mine.

I love you all.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Summer Activities Survey

Hello, students of the YMCA!

Please help us out by answering this survey regarding your needs for info sessions and English practice over the summer.

Thank you!

Monday, June 8, 2020

St. Lawrence Seaway

Hello, Amir and other students of the seniors' class!

Amir is a civil engineer. He loves to study English for talking about bridges, dams, tunnels, ports, etc. This week we are talking about the importance of ports and shipping. We can integrate this information with a lesson on Canada by studying the St. Lawrence Seaway, don't you think?

Here are some resources we will be using this week, which is our last week of school until September.

What is the Saint Lawrence Seaway?

Windsor is a port city. Detroit has been a port since 1933.

What is the history of this water transportation system? Warning: this very old video uses ethnic stereotype cartoons. :(

This Seaway Map is fascinating. I love looking up information about the freighters I see on the Detroit River. There is even a Facebook group for people who love to watch the ships and look up information about them.

lock (n.)
dam (n.)
tanker (n.)
freighter (n.)
canal (n.)
cargo (n.)
steel (n.)

Can you use this learner's dictionary to look up definitions?


  • What was the most interesting thing you learned by watching these videos and reading?
  • Talk about the relationship between the big cargo ships and the car manufacturing industry that was so central to the economies of Detroit and Windsor for so many decades.
  • Do you ever watch big freighters pass by when you are down by the river?

Friday, June 5, 2020

Summer 2020

Hello, dear students.

It's been almost three months since we have seen each other. Soon it will be summer break. I'm sorry we cannot have a picnic in Jackson Park nor go together to the Sculpture Park as in years past. We also missed out on a trip to the François Baby House and the long bus ride to the outdoor ping-pong table in Kiwanis Park. Wasn't it fun? If you search for the words "field trip" on this blog, you can reminisce.

Right now I am under isolation orders because I crossed the border last Saturday. I cannot go out for 14 days. My groceries are delivered.

It is my hope that you all take advantage of the many services offered this summer online. Take advantage of Ziad's computer lessons and Conversation Café every other Friday. Stay connected.

If you cannot read this jpg image, contact your orientation worker for the PDF.

Leave me a comment below with your first name if you want me to continue posting here over the summer. I love you all so much! Take good care.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Amir is a Civil Engineer

Hello, students of the seniors' class!

We have a new student whom you all have not yet met. His name is Amir and he is a recently retired civil engineer.

He enjoys participating in the Facebook groups for Y students. He is not on WeChat. The other day he told me about civil engineering. I took notes and created a text from his story.

Here is his story AFTER I marked it up with areas for focus of revision.

I read the story to Amir, he listened to the recording and practiced it, then we met again for him to read it to me. After he read it to me and we talked about phrasing and some difficult words, I made the following video lesson for him. I hope it's helpful to everyone. Please notice the focus on remembering to pronounce final -S and -ES on the ends of plural nouns and also perhaps on third person singular verbs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Grocery Shopping on the Internet

Hi, students of the seniors' class!

Teacher Joleen at the Sarnia YMCA has made this excellent tutorial about shopping for groceries on the Internet for pickup. In the city where I am now, I can pay $9.99 USD for delivery, which is not bad if I am buying two weeks' worth of groceries at a time. I also tip the Instacart picker / driver.

Take a look!

Tell me how you are doing. Leave me a comment below. Don't forget to add your name after your comment!


Friday, April 3, 2020

Other Home Study Alternatives

Hello, students!

Manlin reports that she is having issues with Flipgrid. It could be a problem with compatibility between Flipgrid and her web browser or just poor Internet reception. Certainly the Internet is very busy right now.

If you cannot use Flipgrid following the directions I posted in the earlier blog post here, then I have other ideas for you.

Do you remember our old page on this blog called Mr. Zhang's Page? I have published it again and added some new links to the top.

Check it out! Look right under the title Teacher Kelly. Do you see the menu items Home, About Me, Show and Tell Gallery, and Mr. Zhang's Page?

Click on Mr. Zhang's Page.

You can leave me comments on this blog post or email me at I put it on this blog wrong before. Sorry! You can also join the YMCA teachers on Facebook now.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Flipgrid Step by Step

Hello, seniors!

Here is a step-by-step guide on using Flipgrid. Be patient with the Internet these days. Everyone is using it at the same time all over the world.
  1.  Open your Internet browser and go to
  2.  Enter a Flip Code: ymcaseniors and hit your ENTER key
  3.  Enter your user ID given you by the teacher (five or six letters beginning with capital), ENTER key
  4.  Read the top topic. Watch your teacher's video. Do the assignment.
  5.  Click the green response bubble under an existing video (teacher's or another student's) OR just click the big green PLUS icon to start your video on this topic.
  6. When you are ready, click the camera icon under your image. Watch the 3-2-1 countdown.
  7.  Look at your camera and speak.
  8.  If you finish before time expires, click the STOP recording icon.
  9.  Your video will play. Do you like it? Choose the garbage can to repeat or NEXT.
  10.   Take a selfie. Smile and look at the camera. Click the camera icon and NEXT.
  11.  Wait for your video to process. Don't touch anything until it says 100%.
  12.  Give your video a title.
  13.  Click SUBMIT.
  14.  Click COMPLETE.
Below are screen shots to help you. Click an image to see it bigger.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Let's Use Flipgrid - You Can Do It !

Our grid is at This week's topic is virtual museum tours.

If you install the app on your phone, you first put in the name of the grid: ymcaseniors

Next you put in your user ID, which I told you or Roaa told you or Qi told you.

My email is .

Is this Plan Working?

Hi, students!

Three cheers for Manlin and Riming. They were able to log into Flipgrid and make videos to answer my video.

Next I made a video RESPONSE to each of their videos.

Did you watch your response video, Riming? Manlin?

Students can also respond to each other. We can all talk on Flipgrid.

I think it's easy, but maybe you think it's difficult.

Do you have other ideas?

You can comment here (below) by clicking the number of comments link. You can comment on Flipgrid by making a video.

Please stay safe. I hope the curve of COVID-19 in Canada and the U.S. flattens and takes a downturn soon so that we can all be together again.

Here is my new topic video for this week. I'm sorry about my bad wifi connection. I am working from my mother's house.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Plan for March 23 and Onward

Hello, students of the seniors' class!

Let's use Flipgrid to stay engaged! You have used it before.
If joining from your laptop or desktop computer, just use this link to our YMCA Seniors grid. Your username consists of the first three letters of your first name and the first three letters of your last name, no space, one capital letter at the beginning of the entire username. For example, my name is Kelly Morrissey, so my login ID would be Kelmor. Notice that only the K is capitalized, not the m of my last name.

If your last name has only two letters, then your login ID has only five letters, not six.

If you get into the SENIORS' grid using the link above, then just put in your user ID.

Here is a little tutorial on how to use Flipgrid. It's quite easy.

Here is our first topic: Social distancing. After you watch my video, click the green PLUS icon to make your own in response.

If you wish to use your phone, you'll need to install the free Flipgrid App. Let me know in a comment below if you are able to do so.

If you like Facebook and prefer to practice English with me using Facebook messenger, you can do that on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 11:30. You can also email me for reading and writing practice.

Kelly P.S. Please be aware of these COVID-19 related scams. Don't be a victim.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Tooth Talk

Hello, students of the seniors' class.

I forgot to mention that Conversation Cafe is this afternoon, March 13th, from 4:00 to 6:00 at Pause Cafe.

Manlin really wants to learn all about teeth, so let's help her out!

This is a vocabulary lesson with audio and a quiz at the end.

Here is a dialogue we can practice.

Here is another dialogue.

This is the Canadian tooth numbering system. It's different from the system used by the American Dental Association. There you can also learn adjectives used to describe the various surfaces of teeth, such as distal, buccal, lingual, etc. I heard those terms being used when I let St. Clair College dental hygiene students work on me under the supervision of their teacher.

Also on Friday we finish the story of Josiah Henson, so you may wish to watch this documentary.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Library

Hello, students!

Even before our needs assessment, we began a module on the public library. On March 5th, we will walk over to the new library building (The Paul Martin Building) for a tour.

Tuesday we practiced filling out the registration form. The form we used is a bit outdated because it only offers two gender choices. These days it is respectful to give more options for those who identify as non-binary, gender fluid, etc.

Some of you want to watch a documentary to help you understand concepts like non-binary while others do not want to use class time for that. So I am linking to some videos here. You can watch them on Friday in the lab.

Also scroll down for some library dialogue practice.

Here is an interview with a young person who was born missing an X chromosome. They identify as non-binary and ask us to use the pronouns THEY / THEM. However, please note that many, many people who identify as non-binary are not physically intersex. A person can be physically intersex (in a variety of ways) and not identify as non-binary, and a person can identify as non-binary without being physically intersex.

If you find the terms confusing, you can go HERE for a list of words and their definitions.

For library dialogues, go HERE.

Tour a library then answer questions (listening lesson).

Monday, February 24, 2020

Our Spring 2020 Needs Assessment

Hello, students!
Please scroll down to last week's blog post for an interesting newscast that might answer a question of yours.

We have completed a new needs assessment to help us plan what to learn this semester. The three themes will be: 1) health, 2) travel and transportation, and 3) Canada.

Under those themes we talked about possible topics, such as:

  • preventing dementia
  • teeth
  • VRBO / Air B&B
  • comparing modes of transportation for travel
  • buying a ticket (travel)
  • geography of Canada
Okay, buckle up! It looks like we are going to become travel experts. It will be fun to tie together travel with Canadian geography. I can't teach it all, so you will have to do your fair share in the way of reports and presentations. I think Peiji's report on Banff has got everyone excited to travel this gorgeous land.
Banff, Alberta


Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Black Experience - Past and Present

Hello, students of the seniors' class!

This week we are studying the library while reserving the last school day of each week for reading the life of Josiah Henson.

You asked me to give examples of modern-day racism and discrimination in Canada. This news report on The Black Experience Project should help us understand better.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

History of Black Lives in Windsor-Essex Area

I am SO happy that you voted YES to read my abridged story of Josiah Henson, drawn from his autobiography. This week we examined outdated and preferred language for talking about slavery and those who held other people as property.

We thought about the invasion of Iraq. What language is used when the U.S. government describes this event? Liberated. Spread democracy. What language do many Iraqis use? Invaded. Destroyed a civilization.

We must consider whose perspective we are reading. How are attitudes embedded in language?

Here are some links you can use in the lab on Friday or from home.

Redeeming Uncle Tom is a movie we will watch together, but Nahlah asked to have it early.

Go to my website for other ESL teachers and check out the links there under African Canadian History.

For those wanting to practice common daily English phrases, check these links out! Don't forget that you can adjust the speed and turn on closed captioning (CC).

Friday, January 31, 2020

In the New Semester

This week we bid farewell and good luck to exiting students and new Canadian citizens Nabil and Raja. We hope they will meet us in public when we go on field trips! Meanwhile, as soon as she finishes her virus quarantine, another student recently returned from China will be re-joining our class after a very long absence. We are also getting a new student Monday.

Monday was Y Olympics, and my room became the quiet room for table games while the rest of the student body and teachers got boisterous in the gym with hilarious competitions like stacking beanbags on one's forehead.
SET! (rules went out the window)

Quarto won Mensa game of the year when it came out!

Saadallah said he has the same exact magnetic travel game as mine at his home.

Thursday you had your conferences with me, and everyone gave me useful feedback. Here are some suggestions and comments from you:

Another school promoted me too quickly from level one to three to five, skipping levels. I have never learned the common level two words. My goal is to learn level 2 vocabulary solidly.

I want common everyday spoken English so I can understand a group of native speakers chatting around the water cooler at break time where I volunteer.

Please give us short, interesting stories.

My reading and writing abilities are strong. I need more speaking and listening. I know my listening skills are poor. I want a conversation partner who talks a lot, not a quiet one.

If you drop the level of this class in February, please give me extra material to read. (Two students said this.) Teach the same topic to both groups, the advanced and lower groups, but use a more difficult, richer version for the advanced group.

We benefit from giving presentations and doing role plays and skits because it forces us to practice a lot until we remember the phrases in English. Making our brains work hard staves off dementia, you said.

It is hard for me to focus when so much is going on back home (violence, war).

All of you expressed appreciation for the CONTENT of our modules and said you really benefited from learning about Uber, air travel, hearing and hearing loss, falling and falls prevention, the LIHN, and the new dental health program for seniors in Ontario.

Okay! That was a lot of great feedback! Here are some answers I have to your feedback:

Yes, we are going to drop the level of the class to a high 2, low 3 in February. I will need a lot of help and support doing this in a multilevel class. I will do my best to give higher level students their own version of materials, but this is only possible with some resource packages that I have access to. Many times, I will simply ask those of you who want a challenge to do something extra with the same material. We'll see how that pans out!

I wish I could give you short, interesting stories, but I have spent hours and hours and hours searching for them. The only good sources I've found are five or six very old, tattered books in the teachers' library here at school. Those stories are so tired; we've read them again and again. The pig that called 911! The baby born on the subway platform! I'll see if I can find a newer edition of one that my manager can order us.

This past week we used the book Pronunciation Pairs, which has silly (not true) stories designed to make us practice a certain pair of consonant or vowel sounds in English. Let's start using that book more often. Saiying said it was useful.

As for the request for the basic vocabulary taught at the lower levels, I am going to give everyone a copy of the new General Service List of the first 2000 words needed to speak and understand everyday spoken English. We will highlight any that you don't already know well and use them in common phrases and in our chats.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Happy Year of the Rat

Happy Chinese New Year! Perhaps Saiying will enjoy this little film about a two-stringed instrument. Is it the same one she and her husband know how to play?

This week we looked at evocative photos that elicited interesting language. One category of word or phrase that came up was interjections and exclamations. Here is a little lesson on some of them.

Here is a short tour of Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, the one Huarong visited with his family. It is fascinating!

Tour of Monument Valley is below. Turn on Closed Captioning / subtitles.

Click HERE to visit the Plan Your Trip page of ViaRail's website to see where they go and how much fares are. Explore destinations in Ontario and Quebec.

Enjoy your new year's celebrations, Chinese students.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Falls Prevention and Injury Minimization

Hello, students of the seniors' class!

Click HERE to practice sentences and spelling.

Just as we were getting into our unit on falls prevention and how to fall to minimize injury, one of you took a tumble and ended up with a broken nose. We are all so happy that our classmate is okay.

Here are some videos to help you practice the concepts and vocabulary around this topic. On the 15th, Amanda from the U of Windsor's kinesiology department will come talk to us about preventing falls and what to do if you have already tripped and know you are going down.

Here is another short but helpful video.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Considering Hearing Aids

Hello, class!

You didn't get to these links last week because of the school survey. They are still here!

Bonnie from Canadian Hearing Society came and gave us a one-hour presentation.

This week you told me you want more information about hearing aid brands, where each is manufactured, which are the best, and how long rechargeable batteries can last. Below please find some short, simple videos to help you understand more about these topics.

In January, Bonnie will return on two days for your screenings. We have prepared for her visit by learning to read the screening form and practicing following the verbal directions she will give you when she administers your screening.

We also now know how to read a hearing aid bill of sale or invoice and receipt.


ReSound is the manufacturer of my hearing aids. Here is their YouTube channel.

Miracle Ear is a hearing aid manufacturer. They have a lot of video ads that are cute.

What are "real ear measures?"

Pick the best hearing aid

Don't forget that you can make the video SLOWER. You can turn on Closed Captioning.

If you are not at school on Friday after break, have a good weekend.