My fav piece of tech

Nov 29, 2011

After having taken the poll about using technology in the classroom on the Facebook page of the International Teacher Development Institute, I'd like to recommend my favorite web 2.0 tool that my students and I used - and liked - the most over the past year.

Wikispaces is definitely Number 1 on my list. I started using wikis three years ago, then moved from there to blogs (I tried all of them: wordpress, edublogs and blogger) and the Google sites as well. But this year I returned to the wiki - I think wikis convey the true essence of Web 2.0 - collaboration! It's amazing how easily we can work with students and teachers from all parts of the world. Even teachers who aren't tech-savvy can easily use it and keep it running smoothly. Here's my Greeting from the world wiki, which has connected more than 500 students and educators from across six continents.

In October 2011, I set up a virtual classrooms for my second-year students where we do the tasks that accompany the course book. It's called  My English Class 2B and we've done quite a lot over the past two months. I have recently introduced the wiki to my first-year students as well:  My English Class 1E  and right now they're learning how to use it.

A tweet that made a lesson

Nov 22, 2011

Yesterday evening this tweet  grabbed my attention

and it brought me to an amazing lesson which I did in my class today. The author is Ian James, a teacher with fantastic ideas and great lesson plans.

What would you do.... if you came across these videos? is a lesson on 2nd conditional in a completely different and very real kind of way. And it came as if on cue, because I've just finished the conditionals with my students. What's more, I'm their classroom  teacher (something of an advisor or home room teacher) and we've been discussing bullying and violent behaviour among teenagers quite a lot lately and the video that we saw this morning triggered an interesting discussion on teen dating violence - during which they used 2nd conditional without noticing that they were actually practising a grammatical concept.

Following Ian's suggestion, my students will watch one of these thought-provoking videos at home and next time they'll role-play different situations. For this I chose six videos that teenagers who live in this part of the world can easily relate to, which will make the role-plays more authentic.

What Would You Do videos are produced by ABC Prime.


#eddies2011 - my nominees

Nov 19, 2011

It's this time of the year again: The 2011 Edublog Awards are on! I'm particularly fond of the eddies, they are so dear to my heart - for two reasons: Firstly, because I'm extremely proud of my wiki which has been recognized with the Best educational wiki award twice in a row, and secondly, because I'm given a chance to let the world know about the distinguished educators who have inspired, enthused and motivated me over the past year - or years, as a matter of fact. Here they are:

TESOL France sessions

Nov 14, 2011

At TESOL France my greatest wish was to be omnipresent and to attend different sessions at the same time! Because  with 68 attractive talks and workshops given by amazing educators from 27 countries we were literally spoilt for choice. But in the end, a choice had to be made, regardless of how difficult it was to decide which session to go to.

Fortunately, the post-conference buzz is still going on all over the blogosphere and twitterverse with blog posts, tweets, videos and photos of the speakers we didn't get a chance to see, so that they've all come alive in Vicky's posts on Day 1,  Day 2 and Day 3, in Ceri's Echoes of Paris,  in Brad's #TESOLfr made me think thrice and Shelly's Sharing Stories. Here are some of the most interesting thoughts, ideas, activities and links that I learned from the speakers whose sessions I attended.

I consider myself to be a true lifelong learner but Stephen  Brewer added two new dimensions to learning: lifewide learning and lifedeep learning. Definitely something worth exploring.

David Hill's talk about culture and cultural backgrounds as well as doing the activities with Julie Raikou and Paul Maglione made me think about the importance of living in different countries, of being more flexible and yes, more courageous.

Vladimira Michalkova was a real gem in the early Saturday morning. My students loathe homework (and so do I, to be honest) and Vladka gave some interesting ideas how to make homework fun, for which Vocaroo and Today's Meet have proven to be useful. Ania Kozicka, Chuck Sandy and I had a lot of fun with our chain story (no, you don't want to hear it!) which was based on an Old Spice commercial - except that we didn't know that!

Anna Musielak's workshop was as energetic and lively as Anna is herself. A workshop packed with verbal and non verbal activities that made us laugh and behave like little kiddies.

Cecilia Lemos shared fanatstic ideas on how to improve students' writing skills, such as forming a reading club at your school or making students do some mini writings in every class. She showed us her own worksheets that she used to check if students have actually read the book -  a far cry from the ordinary, boring ones  that we are so familiar with. Interacting with the writer per e-mail is something that can definitely boost students' motivation to read more. Rakesh Bhanot recommended a jigsaw reading activity which students will find inspiring as well.

Luke Meddings! Dogme and the city! Absolutely brilliant! Especially when he impersonated Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas (Thank God for tech malfunction).

Fiona Mauchline showed us different ideas on how to motivate students to write. I especially liked the activity with two totally different songs which students listen to and write about the images they can see in their mind's eye.

Ceri Jones' session You've got mail  on using e-mail in the classroom is an excellent example of how to achieve big results with little tech. Also, Ceri's students wrote the summaries of every lesson, which was a great way of learning. Important: The summary writer was always chosen at the end of the lesson.  

Weronika Salandyk showed us different ways of learning new vocabulary. We listened to music, wrote on the wall, played tug of war and had a lot of fun.

I didn't get to see Geoff Tranter's That's a Fun(ny) Way to Teach and Learn English, because I was way too overwhelmed after my own presentation. Luckily, Geoff's pleanary is online and I'm looking forward to grabbing an hour of free time and listening to this fantastic talk.

Cecilia Lemos 

Stephen Brewer

With Vladimira Michalkova

Anna Musielak with Vicky Loras and Dale Coulter

My TESOL France presentation

Nov 8, 2011

I just arrived from Paris where I attended the 30th TESOL France conference, which was perfectly organized by the wonderful Bethany Cagnol and her amazing team. Those three days were absolutely fabulous.

I'm delighted not only because I was there, but also because I met many of my Twitter friends in person. Another thing is that my presentation went well, especially as it was my first international presentation ever.
Photo by Chuck
I'm deeply grateful to all the teachers who came to my talk, especially to

my iTDI family - Chuck Sandy, Anna Musielak, Anna Loseva, Vicky Loras and Vladimira Michalkova,
my wonderful Twitter and Facebook friends Valentina Dodge, Elizabeth Anne, Helen Noire and Sue Annan.
Special thanks go to Sue Lyon Jones who inspired me to create my own tests and quizzes
and Shelly Terrell, my good fairy of the internet, without whom I would never be where I am now.

Here's the slideshare of my talk. I hope you find some useful tools for creating online quizzes, tests and puzzles.

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