Thursday, 30 October 2014

All about me "digital" bag

This year I decided to start my journey on projects with my younger students from the very beginning. Inspired by Despina Karamitsou, I used her idea to introduce myself and let them know more about me.
The concept of the presentation is to bring a bag in the class with just four objects that can tell something about you, i.e. your interests, your hobbies, your preferences. My bag included my tablet, an English book, a German DVD and a movie. I told them that I love my tablet because I can surf the Net, listen to music and it is light to carry around all the time. I showed them the book and they could easily figure out that I like reading literature. The German DVD was evidence that I speak and teach another foreign language, German, and finally watching movies is my favourite leisure time activity.
They really loved the idea of bringing something of  theirs and share information about themselves in the next lesson.
However, I wanted to implement some technology and so motivate them to engage themselves. Thus, I took photos of their bags and asked them to think how they would present their belongings to someone who would look at their photo and listen to their voice. They prepared their paragraph and ,after editing them, we used Vocaroo to record their presentations. They were thrilled and very professional, I must admit. This application is very convenient, easy to use and its most important advantage is that one can share their recording in social media, blogs or even download it as an MP3.

Here you can see and hear the kids

A1.1. level, aged 10

Katherine
Aristotelis
Marialena
Evi

 A2 level, aged 11.

John
Sami
George
Jim
Maria

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

A new project has been launched!


It is this time of the school year that I have been thinking what kind of a project I could run with my students, B1+ level. And then Patty Salguero came along and suggested that our classes collaborate on an Art project. All our students have something in common. They love drawing! So, we thought of letting our students express themselves on a topic through Art. You can imagine how excited I got! Over the moon, I must admit…
We have chosen Picasso’s painting Guernica to introduce them to the topic of ‘War’. We will expand on the topic and ,as an outcome , we will have our students draw their thoughts, feelings and impressions on a large cardboard. It will be more like a collage.
Apart from the famous painting , I am thinking of using work from Music and Literature as sources of thought- provoking elaboration so that more Arts can contribute. 
But first things first… In our last lesson I asked my students if they would like to participate in a project like this. I didn’t have to convince them. The thought that they can collaborate with Peruvian students of their age was enough to get them thrilled ! It was the triggering event to introduce the topic. For the next 10 minutes they came up with words and phrases associated with war. The question was “What do you think when you hear the word “war”?
All the words were gathered in a mind map which can be edited throughout the project.
I have already shared the image with Patty in Dropbox so that she could share it with her students, talk about it,  they can edit it, add more thoughts and expand  on the topic. 





It is one way of asynchronous communication because we have to think of our time zones and the time of our lessons. We will try, of course, to have a live talk so that our students have the chance to speak to each other and exchange information about their countries and hometowns, talk about themselves, their interests and hobbies.
This is for now… Not much but the step has already been made and I am
sure this will lead us to an extraordinary journey!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

When the teacher gets inspired by a student

In this post I would like to give the stand to my 16-year-old daughter, Alexandra, who inspired me with a big list of project ideas. What a kick off to starting the new school year! You may have heard of or even run some of them, some may not appeal to you or you may think that they are difficult to do. But the main idea is that educators should seek new ideas, be open-minded and listen to their students. You never know what invaluable treasure they hide in their minds. The only thing they need is to be heard.
So, take a pick and I look forward to your feedback, comments and improvements. Alexandra would love that, too!
Finally, I would like to thank GeorgeRaptopoulos for editing and proofreading!
Here we go…

1 Personal  mail box.

You make a box and decorate it the way you like. In there you put letters you write to yourself and read them out at the start of the new year. In the first letter you write to yourself what you dislike about you and you must be polite while you do that (remember you will read that to others and you mustn’t be harsh or rude to anyone, even you). During the rest of the year you write letters that congratulate yourself for an achievement or just for the effort you put in an assignment even if you failed, so you will understand that even the fact that you tried must be rewarded. You might even write something personal. Remember it is for your eyes only.

2 Inspirational board 
We all have things we want to achieve. Places we wish to go to, a goal we would like to reach. And we all have a role model or two. How about we put all that on a board that will have the purpose of inspiring us? That project will be about 6 to 10 lessons. That is because you have to share with the class the reasons you are inspired by those things. An essay must be written about the people you look up to (who says it can’t be a fictional character?), the place you wish to visit, the dreams you have. When you share with someone your goal it gives you more motivation. After your presentation you put the picture of what inspires you on a big piece of cardboard and little by little create your inspirational board.

3 Learning the language with Disney
All Disney songs  have a fair amount  of vocabulary so why instead of a script  we do something different and teach the students vocabulary and  even grammar from  their favourite childhood songs (they don’t necessarily have to be Disney. Animaniacs can teach them something as well).

4 I’m happy today because...

That’s a nice one … On a piece of cardboard write this title and write the reasons you are happy. Time to appreciate what we have and learn to be grateful about them.

5 All around the world
Take a globe and blindfold the student, then spin the globe and make the student touch it. Wherever the finger was laid, the student must find out about the culture of this place and tell the class (the ocean doesn’t count!)

6 The penguins of Mister Popper 
Have you seen this movie? There was a character there who was speaking only with words which started with ‘’P ‘’. In a scene, especially, she was reading out loud the newspaper and the paragraph happened to have all the words starting with “p”. How about we challenge the students to write a paragraph in which all words start with one letter. They can use a dictionary in order to create a paragraph on whatever subject.

7 A poster
Remember when we use songs to teach grammar and vocabulary? We can do that with funny pictures and motivational quotes and also have a spelling lesson. Then, after choosing the funny picture and the motivational quote, you make two posters that will be put in your room.

8 Negative and positive
How about learning the meaning of the worlds by themselves?  In this project the students must fold the paper in half and write the positives and the negatives of their character. NOBODY, NOT EVEN THE TEACHER MUST HELP THEM OUT. This paper is for their eyes only. Therefore, they must use the dictionary for every word. They need to fill the paper so they won’t make spelling mistakes and they’ll learn how to use a dictionary properly. Every person who might start this project will notice it is more difficult to appreciate the positives of their character rather that the negatives. The assignment isn’t over until both of the lists are filled with a fair amount of words.

9 Why not with comics
Why can’t we teach English with the stories of their favourite heroes? My love for books started after reading a comic based in a book and most of my vocabulary has been developed while reading Disney comics. That will make the lesson more interesting. 

10 Perhaps a challenge
The weirdest diseases, 10 fun facts, the weirdest addictions , the most weirdly constructed houses , tips for whatever subject ,every random idea that comes to your mind can  be for a kid  a challenge to surf  the net and find out. Every week one of the students must take the challenge to pick a random subject to inform his/her fellow students about. And to make matters more interesting, let’s make them choose from a jar the random task they’ll present to the class.

11 Story time
Team up or go solo and remake a classical fairytale. You can take the project even farther as a class and try to publish the stories. That is motivation enough for the students to put their everything into their essays. Also you can go to Storybird and make a story of your own. Those stories can’t be published but it is fun and you can challenge the students to have a creative presentation of their stories. In my class a student wrote a story about pirates and used coins of chocolate at his presentation, maybe you can help the students make costumes, or make- of cardboard – the main idea for their presentation.

12 All the world is a stage  


In the movie ’’Dead Poets’ Society ‘’ the students stand up on their desks and the teacher gives them the task to write a poem of their own. From my point of view that will boost the student self-confidence and the classmates will learn to cheer and clap for each other even if the performance isn’t suitable for an Oscar nomination. Also, the students can take ideas from other poems and the project can move their interest in poetry.


13 ‘’Not about me’’ week
How about the students give some of their spare time to make a video about a sensitive matter like food disorders or bullying?

14 OurTubes
The possibilities YouTube gives us are endless. Students can make a parody based on a story they learn in class or an adaptation.  That way reading a classic story like “The Three Musketeers” is even more interesting.

 15 Not so cool for a teacher
Maybe the students don’t realise what it truly means to be a teacher. How about they deliver a lesson from the book? They can prepare it with the assistance of a classmate or even a teacher. At the end of the lesson the classmates can write- anonymously - a short review about the lesson and how it’s been delivered. That way the students can learn to accept criticism and to be gentle with their fellow classmates and recognise the effort they put even if it backfired.

16 Payback Time
Time for the students to teach something. Give them for homework to write an essay (long or short) in which anonymously they’ll evaluate the way you teach . Then collect the papers in a box. It can be positive or it can be negative. Either way, you must take them seriously. Maybe the way the lesson is delivered doesn’t help. Plus the students might write their own ideas for a new project.

17 Carrier day
Let’s   rehearse a job interview. The day before, the students must gather some information about the career they want to follow (or maybe they don’t and just search from curiosity) The game starts when the student stands up and says what job he/she has . Then the class asks the cliche questions: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years”, “how many degrees do you have?” Or maybe ask from curiosity: “What do you do in this job?” “How much do you get paid?”.  The fun is that you can make things up, also the teacher can help a little bit with some vocabulary.
Maybe a student with humour picks the career of a … (the choice is theirs), they are allowed to do that and while we are on the subject the teacher can educate them by telling them about some jobs that they didn’t know  existed in  the past  or still exist .

18 An educational masked party
Put in a jar historical names. The kids will randomly pick  one .Then ,after knowing the name of the historical figure they will have to impersonate , they must look them up on the internet or in the library  and, after seeing some pictures ,they  must create a simple costume that will look like the character . Then in class they will say ‘’ who they are’’ and about ‘’their’’ history, always talking in first person.

19 The restaurant

The students in a group of three can pick recipes from around   the world but instead of cooking them they inform us about their story. Also it will be fun if they make a sample of what the food looks like with plasticine.
For example 

BONUS
What if the dictionary they use is the “You speak Greek you just don’t know it’’ that will make them appreciate our national heritage.


Friday, 1 August 2014

Engage with Poetry





“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist

Welcome! Καλώς ήρθατε! This year the 30Goals Challenge for Educators is on a world tour and I am happy to be your next Inspire Leader for this part of the journey. So where in the world have we stopped now? We are visiting Thessaloniki, Greece. I invite you to accomplish the following goal “Engage with Poetry”
What happens when teachers wish to use their national literature in their English classroom? Can they combine enjoyment, learners’ motivation and English teaching?

Finding and using literature to teach in the EFL classroom is a controversial issue and many teachers may not feel comfortable with integrating it in their methods. 
Intrigued by our passion in literature, we challenged ourselves to use translated national literature in EFL classes. The main aim is to show that literature can be adopted as an alternative and a supplement in the syllabus and using national work aids students general education.

Accomplish the Goal

Have your students create a mltimedia presentation, digital story, comic or a video in which they express their interpretation, emotions or thoughts of a poem.
Here, I am going to show you the steps I followed in the classroom to help my students. I created a video of my students expressing their interpretations, emotions and thoughts of a poem.

Level: A1+

Age of learners: 10-year-old elementary pupils

Poem: The seagull by Odysseas Elytis (free interpretation by George Raptopoulos, a colleague with whom I accepted the challenge and who ran the project with the C2 English learners)

Lesson Plan

Step 1 Hand out the poem to the learners and let them read it for themselves.

Step 2 Explain unknown words, phrases, expressions

Step 3 Let them draw what they understood from the poem. They either use just a piece of paper and crayons or you can find many drawing apps and web tools in   http://teacherrebootcamp.com/2014/02/07/draw/

Step 4 Intrigue their thoughts by putting questions:
“Do you like the poem?”
“Describe the seagull’s life and people’s life”
“ What is the seagull a symbol for?”
“What is the man afraid of?”
“How would you like to live? Why?

Step 5 Let them express themselves using apps like linoit.com or padlet.com on the PC or tablet.

Step 6 Time for recording. They can use their smartphones , tablets, cameras. It would be wise to remind them to bring them along in the lesson before. Even if they don’t own those gadgets, you can use your own and record them.

Step 7 Let them check their recording and upload them in one of the video channels, YouTube or vimeo

Reflections

Students were motivated and engaged right away. They felt confident and I was surprised by their ability and readiness to transfer their ideas to English.  Team and pair work were promoted.
It was the first time for me that I perceived, organized and ran a lesson based on national literature. I felt I got closer to my students by arguing, talking about general matters, sharing ideas , thoughts and emotions.

Resources
About my country
I am proud to introduce you to my country, Greece
I was born, raised in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece, Central Macedonia, Northern Greece.
You are all invited to have a treat of our local delicious, yummy dishes like bougatsa, moussaka, dolmadakia, gemista, gyros!!!











One of the most famous songs dedicated to my hometown is  Thessaloniki
Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed your stay!
Find out more about The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators at http://30goals.com/ and join our 30 Goals Facebook Community 


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Dare them to practise Positive Thinking-Showtime!


And the time has come to show what my students have thought of as their good qualities. In my previous post about positive thinking I mentioned that they should make a list.
Well, I went a little bit beyond that point and I asked them to make a 'selfie' video of their thoughts. I was certain that they would get more motivated and go into that task right away- you know how thrilled they get about selfie photos and videos. Furthermore, I did not want to spend more time from the lesson to shoot videos. Last but not least, I wanted to make sure that they would complete the homework I had assigned them.
Another step that I took was to expand this task to all levels. It crossed my mind that all learners, despite their age and language level, have to remind themselves of thei good points of their character; it's more like a reflection of their strengths. Therefore, we adjusted the activity to their language knowledge and they processed it practising speaking, writing and descriptive vocabulary.
There have been learners, however, who are not confident enough to expose themselves on a video. I did not put any pressure on them. They made their lists, which have been added on our padlet wall. The main target of the task is to make them think and approach their goals with a positive attitude. Some others have procrastinated their task but I am sure they will finish it as soon as they see our padlet wall.
And now... I present you my students who would like to share their qualities with you and what makes them special!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Make them be excited to speak!

Early in the afternoon. First lesson with nine-year-old pupils, Level A.1. Not very excited about a speaking activity, would they? But this time it worked as an ice breaker! And it came from them! I never stop getting surprised at what can come up unexpectedly, whether good or bad.

The kids were eager to show me the photos they took on their daily excursion to the renovated seafront of our city.

And that was it! I took their memory card from their camera, stuck it into the laptop and over the projector we could see the photos. 

I had never seen them more involved in the task. They revised vocabulary about animals, plants, colours, actions and leisure activities. It was a good chance to practise Wh-questions and grammar, using Present Continuous, modals and plurals.

Below, I have added the photos I asked them to describe, and the questions I used.

What can you see?
Where is it?
Is it sunny?
What time is it?
What is this?
What flowers are these?
What colour are they?
How many umbrellas are there?
What can you do in a cafe?

What can you see here?
Is it big or small?
What is it doing?


What colour are the fish?
Where are they?

Monday, 5 May 2014

The seven powers of a Teacher


Sunday evening and I was thinking what teachers should have to make their presence significant and notable in the classroom. The stimulation was a video that I shared from Teacher Channel some days ago. There were some colleagues who found it a bit exaggerated, describing the teachers as the core of education and the answer to everything. Personally, I found it humorous and I couldn’t help agreeing that there were some truths included.  We are definitely not the Holy Grail but we can make a difference and be awesome.

Therefore, I created a post with the seven powers that distinctive teachers should acquire:

T for tutoring – How many times do we give our extra attention and support to students who need it? Do we turn our backs to them? Absolutely not! We lean over their shoulder and guide them through their twisting path of learning.

E for embracing – Teachers should embrace all their students, their ‘kids’ as we tend to call them. Do parents distinguish their children? I don’t think so and I hope not. The same should apply in teaching. Our classrooms, no matter what their size, are full of little/older human beings, with their personalities, their qualities and flaws, their strengths and weaknesses. Open your arms and embrace them, both literally and metaphorically. They will appreciate it, no doubt about that. Show your attention to all of them, some need it more than the others, but try to keep a balance. No student should feel neglected.

A for affection – Teachers should not keep a distance from their students. They should show their care, support in tough times, be open to talk to when their students need someone to turn to. There are minor and huge problems, some can be solved and others need the advice of an expert, but the point is that students receive your attention.

C for creation or creativity – The most essential power for many educators including me.  Let’s think out of the box and develop critical thinking in learners. Let’s give it a go and try to be creative with our lessons. Give the chance to students to be creative with their learning. Let them use their own powers and boost their confidence. Let’s create a positive atmosphere in the classroom where goals can be accomplished and dreams can be pursued.

H for humour – Teachers who do not face their rat race with some humour cannot endure for long. The outcome? They become aloof, grumpy, feeling run down most of the time. They cannot enjoy their work, their time with their families and friends.  Concerning the classroom, humour can be used as an ice breaker or a lively start of the lesson. It can be the means to get new learning material across, bring students back to order, deal with sticky wickets.

E for effect – No matter how controversial that issue could be, no matter how many debates there are on this subject, I strongly believe that teachers have an effect on their students, positive or negative. The focus of our vocation should be to have a constructive impact on learners’ studies. It makes their learning procedure easier, it is the trait that we will be remembered for.

R for resources – Teachers may not be the answer or have the answer for all questions. However, we are the ones that students think of when they are at an impasse.  Especially for the younger ones, we are their living, breathing, walking encyclopedia, dictionary, Wikipedia. We should think of this characteristic as our privilege. We are there to enlighten them, share our knowledge, open their eyes to the unlimited world of knowledge. Even if we can’t know everything, we should, at least, spark their interest to questioning and searching.


The seven powers of a teacher- these are what I could think of. There are definitely more or there are ramifications hiding in my terms. Any additions from your part are most welcome.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Reflections on Spreading Literature into the world!

The school year is coming to its end. A bit more than a month left but despite the hustle and bustle of exam preparations, completing the syllabus and meeting the administration requirements, I can't help thinking of what we have accomplished since last October.

In one of my previous posts, I promised myself that I would strive to make the best of the school year and I would definitely have fun with my students. It all started with an idea I came up with last autumn. I thought of using our national literature in teaching English. The main goal is cultural exchange among students around the globe. Learners would evaluate, interpret translated work of their national poets and authors and express their opinions, thoughts and feelings about them. I had the fortune to share my idea with 
George Raptopoulos, a colleague with huge teaching experience, vast knowledge and great passion for literature. And I had the privilege of his collaboration. Our dream is to have our students, consequently, watch other English learners abroad presenting their national heritage in the target language through a video or any other web tools. We set off on our journey around Greek literature with our minds on encouraging and motivating our students to share their experience.

Three groups were formed of different English levels and age groups; from elementary to proficiency level and with primary school kids to young adults- university students. Three months lasted the project, with us keeping the role of the facilitators, stepping into the melee when the students came to an impasse.

And then posts of inviting speakers to submit abstracts at various conventions started popping up on social media network sites. Should we give it a go?

The first stop of our exhilarating, unique experience was in Athens, at TESOL Greece Convention in March. The whole event fascinated me and emotions overwhelmed me during the long weekend. I met fellow teachers for the first time, we attended inspiring, motivating talks and presentations and we felt most welcome by the board members and the supporting staff. I must admit it; my knees were weak before our presentation. We both felt that it was our obligation and duty to let our students shine through the project. The comments we received afterwards were the motivating force to continue.


Next stop TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Conference. We felt at home...literally. It took place in our hometown, Thessaloniki. Another surprise was waiting for me there. I was asked to cover the conference as a roving reporter together with my colleague Theodora Papapanagiotou. Video interviews with presenters, reports on their presentations along with our session as speakers. The board members created a very warm, friendly and welcoming atmosphere for everybody. Among the plenary speakers there were a good friend, Vicky Loras and Kieran Donaghy, a teacher with ingenious lesson plans based on short films.

Latest stop, BETA-IATEFL Conference in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. First time abroad at a Conference, not only as attendees but as speakers as well. It was the opportunity we were waiting for, to share our experience with colleagues abroad and- if possible- to motivate them to try the same with their students. There were intriguing, motivational speakers and we have kept in mind several ideas that we want to put in practice or run a future project on.

It was not before long that Shelly SanchezTerell suggested we present at VRTWebCon. It was an honour and very uplifting at the same time! Webpresenters at one of the most well-known webconferences! It was time to go on line, reaching even more colleagues around the world!

One of the hardest moments was when we had to withdraw from ELTFORUM.sk Conference in Bratislava. Due to the economic crisis we could not pursue this dream. Hopefully, things will improve in the future and we will be able to join our fellow-teachers there next year.

All in all, the reflections of our participation in all these events cannot be summarised in a few lines. Personally, I made one of my goals real; to present our project and our students' effort in front of colleagues, I believe I improve myself as a speaker and confronted one of my biggest fears, to speak in public. I felt motivated with all the encouraging comments of our colleagues who keep me going. Of one thing I am sure from now on. If you set a goal and you believe in it, nothing is impossible. Pursue your dreams and never be afraid of dreaming big!

Here are the links of our presentation at TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, follow-up comments of the students, the poems and the text they have worked on as well as you can watch the videos with the students presenting their outcome at the side bar. I would suggest you that you should not miss listening to one of our students who got inspired and turned both poems into songs!

Presentation and follow-up comments padlet.com
Prezi Slides on Prezi
Song Soundcloud- As much as you can
Song 2 Soundcloud- The seagull,
Slideshare Poems and Texts of our project

Dare them to practise positive thinking

In our last lesson with my B2 students we began a new unit about being positive. It is from the coursebook for  B2 Take Off by Hillside Press. In the beginning there were questions,calling for critical thinking, i.e. What might motivational speakers encourage people to do? They came up with several suggestions like becoming more confident about themselves, overcoming their fears and worries, trying something risky and adventurous. I should mention that it is one of the last units of the coursebook and, as exams are coming up soon, it was a chance for me to make them feel  more positive towards their own challenge to pass their English Certificate exams.
First, I asked them what makes a good speaker. What are their skills and qualities? Why are some better than others? What is the main characteristic of a motivational presenter? What could school students gain from an encouraging speech? The core targets are boosting self-confidence and positive thinking so that they perform their best.
On the next page there was a list of tips of what somebody should do to practise positive thinking. Some of them were to make a list of their positive qualities that they should read when they are in bad mood, make a list of their short-term and long-term goals that they should check every day. Another tip was to read an article or an autobiography of a successful person. Finally, they should make a list of things they are scared of or worried about and they should try to overcome at least one of them. We discussed a lot whether these tips would work for them, which ones they might try and which ones they find useless.
And here comes their challenge. At the beginning they objected to writing down lists. They  think that people just know their qualities, they don’t need to read their lists. My argument was that people need something or someone to remind them of their positive qualities when they are feeling down and the list can be at hand. So, I challenged them to make a list that they should check every time they feel  pessimistic. After all, they are teenagers, in a life period that all emotions are overwhelming and their mood could change within nanoseconds. As for their goals, they all mentioned passing their exams as a short-term goal- quite obvious. Reading that list will remind them of the goal they have set. Finally, they should read an article of a person they admire and they should prepare a presentation of the impact it had on them. I didn’t ask for a summary. I asked them to describe their emotions and how it made them feel while reading it. Could they use some of the methods? Are they achievable?
All these tasks should be practised till the end of the month before they sit for the exams. My goal is to make them feel confident and determined, they should believe in themselves so that they reach the best of their performance. Needless to say that along with the positive thinking exercise they will practise all language skills like speaking, writing, reading and listening. They have to use descriptive vocabulary and support their opinions with arguments.
Soon I will upload photos of their list and videos of their presentations on successful people.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Spread Literature into the world! Links and Slides of our Presentation

Here you will find all the links of the videos and  music which are uploaded related to our project Spread Literature into the world! - full version
Liteature project
GRGPS- Spread Literature into the world DEMO
GRGPS- Literature project - Part 1
As much as you can - Kavafis (song)
The seagull - Elytis (song)
There is also SlideShare upload of the  Poems - Text of our presentation at TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Convention as well as trhe Power Point at TESOL Macedonia - Thrace Convention

As a follow up activity, I asked our students to write their thoughts on padlet. Not all of them have done it yet. Furthermore, the primary school pupils have  blog where they are abut to share their opinion.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Listen to your Eyes- Julia Alivert & Jeffrey Doonan, TESOL Greece Convention, March 2014


A journey into Art. How can Art be introduced in EFL classrooms? Why should it be used? What can learners gain from this? Julia and Jeffrey introduced us to different kinds of Art.
There is Museum Art with all the famous masterpieces displayed and there is Street Art. Which one is better? Should there be any comparison between the? Aren't they the two sides of the same coin?
By exposing learners to Art in ELT students can express their feelings, their knowledge is expanded, they have a deeper insight into culture, society, political situations and their generation. They broaden their horizons.
We had the chance to see how the Greek myth of the fall of Icarus was illustrated by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1558. Three associated poems followed- by W.H. Anden, William Carlos Williams and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The core meaning of the painting? Life goes on. 

Then we were amazed by how the historic bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War was illustrated by Pablo Picasso, Israeli and Palestinian children and an anonymous street artist on a wall ( a photo taken by Jeffrey). All so different but still so impressive.



The leaflet that Julia and Jeffrey distributed is very informative a definitely keepsake. There are so many invaluable photos of Art masterpieces, poems, activities; how a theme like a kiss or a social, political event is perceived by artists and poets.
All tasks focus on observation and deeper critical thinking. On its last page it is noted that these activities are more applicable to teenage learners of B1 to C1 level. However, Art in ELT can be used in younger age groups and lower level target language levels. We should just change the perspective.
In my view, it depends on teachers' willingness to introduce Art in their classroom, let their students bring Art in it (as Julia and Jeffrey encouraged us), let them express themselves!
Julia and Jeffrey, thank you for opening new paths of teaching for me!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Using Authentic Materials in ELT - Igor Gavilan, TESOL Greece- March 2014


I had the great opportunity to attend Igor's presentation on Saturday after having met him at Friday's dinner for out-of-town speakers. He is warm, friendly and I could clearly recognise his Brasque origins. I was sure that his presentation would lead me to new, innovative paths of ELT.
First, he showed us an example of a Brain study- to break the ice, as he said. We were all proved to be strong minds. Then, he surprised us with a Flamengo move. It was so simple but then so impressive at the same time; hot to grab an apple from a tree, bring it to the moth, bite it, throw it to the ground and step on it! We are all Flamengo dancers now! 
Then he proceeded with samples and activities of using authentic materials. He had an information card from his hotel through which we could practise Passive Voice. Then we had to design our own movie ticket including the main points of Price, Row, Seat, Date to introduce new vocabulary. A very interesting speaking activity was how to make a flat story entertaining by using some prompt  sentences. I loved the activity of listening practice. He used lyricstraining.com and Robbie Williams' song 'Angel' to show us the levels of difficulty according to learners' needs.
He pointed out that it needs preparation and extra work on our part but it is worthwhile because we expose our students to authentic situations, which is not always achieved with coursebooks. He shared various links like ellloBreaking News EnglishStorybird that can be used and he ended with the phrase-I'll try to pass it as precisely as I can- the good teacher is the one with PASSION!
It was a real privilege to attend your talk, Igor!
Thank you for sharing all this information!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Now that curtains have fallen down...

TESOL GREECE
CONVENTION MARCH 15-16

Now that the end has come and we all go back to our towns and work, I really wish to share my feelings and thoughts of my participation at the Convention. The experience has been exhilarating and emotions overwhelmed me during the long weekend. I met fellow teachers whom I used to meet online for the first time, I attended inspiring, motivating talks and presentations, I had long talks with warm, friendly colleagues during lunch breaks and coffee. The events in the evenings were great fun!!! We had such a good laugh! 
What can I say about the board members and the supporting staff... I couldn't have felt most welcome!!! Always with a big, warm smile, ready to answer all our questions and help with our presentation preparation!

TESOL Greece, thank you for giving me the chance to participate and present my students' efforts and hard work in our project!