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Showing posts from 2016

Skype Meeting with our Polish Partners

In the course of this year's eTwinning project "A Tale of Two Cities", we had a Skype meeting with our Polish partners on 16th December. We faced some connection problems but we had real fun!

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

An animated storybook of Dr Seuss' popular bedtime story: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". Great for children of all ages!

Advent Calendar

This Advent Calendar is based on a lesson plan by Arjana Blazic, made for the Collaborative Teaching and Learning MOOC in the European Schoolnet Academy.

The specific calendar is made purely for fun. There is something new behind each door, so make sure you come back everyday!

You can make your own in, free and without registration. It can be easily embedded in eTwinning projects as well.

European eTwinning Label

Last year's eTwinning project: "Most Wanted: A detective tour over Europe" was awarded with the European Quality Label, which is a second mark of success (after the National Label) meaning that it was proposed by at least one National Support Service after screening.

A very big thank you to Kristell Lansonneur, Anna Eisler, Vanda Ramalho, Zuzana Korineková and Loredana Popa for our excellent collaboration.

Special credits must go to Kristell in particular for coming up with this original idea of having mascots travelling from country to country looking for stolen artifacts, and for designing the whole project. My students and I had a wonderful time and learned a lot about our partner countries.

My Learning Diary for the "Collaborative Teaching and Learning" MOOC

Another interesting MOOC was organised by the European Schoolnet Academy. The course focused on Collaborative teaching and learning. Being able to collaborate effectively is a valuable 21st-century skill, yet teaching about or through collaboration remains rare in schools because of a lack of understanding of what real collaboration in an educational setting means, and because existing policy conditions do not always enable it to flourish.

This introductory course provided insights into:
What is collaborative learning?How can I carry it out effectively in my classroom?What tools can I use to assess collaborative learning?How can I collaborate with fellow teachers to facilitate collaborative learning?The diary includes some inspiring diaries from fellow teachers attending the course as well as a collection of ideas for collaborative activities, digital tools that can be used in collaborative teaching and lesson plans. Collaborative teaching and learning Course Collaborative Learning is a …

Schools in Britain

In Unit 1 of our coursebook Think Teen 1st Grade, we read and discussed about our schools, our ideal schools as well as unique schools from around the world, such as "Schools of the air" in Australia. 

The following video seems like a good way to wrap up our unit by looking at schools in Britain. It is suitable for older children or young teens at an A2+ level.

Rita Pierson: "Kids don't learn from people they don't like"

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, "They don't pay me to like the kids." Her response: "Kids don't learn from people they don't like.'" She calls to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.
I am posting this incredible talk in TED  as a reminder of what is our most important role.

Summarising Graphic Organiser

Summarising involves taking the main ideas from a piece of text and rewriting them in your own words.The ability to summarise a text is an important reading and studying skill as it can show that you have really understood the text and that you have identified its main points and ideas. It is also an essential writing skill as it requires the presentation of these ideas in your own words.

The following Graphic Organiser can help your students when working with short stories or narratives.

Summarising Graphic Organiser

eTwinning Quality Labels

Halloween Resources for Pen and Paper Classrooms

If, like me, you are working with minimal equipment or you just prefer the advantages a pen and paper classroom has to offer, then search no more. British Coucil's Learn English has everything an EFL teacher can dream of. Concerning Halloween, you can find a magazine article together with a downloadable audio file, a pre-reading vocabulary activity and a comprehension task. They work both on screen and on paper.

Oxford University Press offers an equally interesting array of Halloween resources for Pre-Intermediate to Higher Intermediate learners with Scary Collocations, Ghoulish Word Forms, Frightful Idioms, a Shadowy Web Quest and guidelines for writing a Ghost Story! There is also a list of Bookworm ghost stories and activities you can do with your class. 

For vocabulary consolidation you can use the crossword from my Halloween lesson. For even more Halloween fun there is the Ultimate Halloween Crossword found in Lanternfish.

School Subjects with Sam Cooke

Unit 2 of our coursebook talks about school life. A fun and easy way to revise school subjects is Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World"!

16 Boring Words and What to Use Instead

Present Simple with the Beatles

An easy and catchy song to practice the third person singular of Present Simple.

Why Learn English?

Every school year there will be students who question the necessity of learning English or in fact any foreign language. The problem here in Greece lies, among other things, in the fact that children start learning English at a young age (as soon as they start primary school) both at school and in foreign language centres, with the aim of passing their B2 and C2 exams before they are 15 years old. Many become overwhelmed and resent English classes.
Taking into account my students, (middle schoolers, 12-15 years old) I created a video in PowToon explaining why learning Foreign Languages and in particular English is important. Feel free to use it with your classes if it is applicable.

I wish you all a creative school year.

P.S. There is a spelling mistake somewhere in the video but I cannot edit it now without losing basic features from the video. So either play "a spot the mistake game" or just please ignore it....

My Learning Diary for the "Introducing Project-Based Learning in your Classroom" course

In June 2016, the School Education Gateway offered a MOOC on Introducing Project-Based Learning in the Classroom. It was an introduction to the concept of project-based learning (PBL) in order to help us to implement this pedagogical approach in our classroom by providing concrete examples, ideas and tools.

We explored three key challenges related to the implementation of PBL: how to get students to collaborate effectively, how to facilitate student-driven activities, and finally how to assess PBL in our classroom.

The diary includes links to all the participants' diaries and lesson plans, a real treasure of new and exciting ideas on transforming our way of teaching.

Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset

A Thinglink by Kornelia Lohynova

Project-Based-Learning Essential 7's Infographic

10 Most Unusual Collective Nouns

[Infographic provided by]

Easter Days Worksheets

Growing up in Greece I always wondered how certain Christian holy days were called in English and if they were celebrated the same way or even if they were celebrated at all in England or other European countries.

With Easter approaching I searched the internet for ideas on Easter customs and I prepared some worksheets for my students concerning Easter days in the English speaking world, starting from Lent to Easter Sunday. 
The worksheets can be used as a springboard for comparing customs and discussing other spring religious (or not) customs, if your class consists of multicultural students. In any case, as with any religious topic, handle with care and use accordingly!

Letter Writing

Writing letters is not usually considered a fun activity. If you have a computer lab available you can use the Letter Generator which provides an interactive approach to the task. Ideal for young learners, it walks them through the letter writing process step-by-step and teaches them about each step along the way. It can be used for writing both friendly and business letters.  

The History of St. Patrick's Day

Watch the video...

...and play the games

A Timeline of Women's Right to Vote

An interactive map showing when women got the right to vote in countries around the world. By The Guardian.

Elements of a Story

An interactive that illustrates the basic elements of a good story, using the tale of Cinderella. A lively way to help students make sense of literary terms like plot, setting, characters, climax, resolution and so on.

Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated in February. One aim of Black History Month is to expose the harmful effects of racial prejudice; another is to recognize significant contributions made by people with African heritage, including artists, musicians, scientists, political figures, educators, and athletes.

Below is a collection of words related to Black History Month with their definitions. Learn more about Black History Month on the AmericanEnglish website here:

"Life Doesn’t Frighten Me" by Maya Angelou

This poem, written in a voice of a girl, addresses the fears children face in their everyday life. The narrator presents a fearless attitude when she speaks of common childhood fears - undefined noises and sounds, ghosts, strangers - but this bravado is only a mask she uses to try and hide her true fears.
Step 1:

Before reading / listening to the poem, students can list some of their own fears and compare them with their partners. 
Step 2:

After reading the poem students can be asked to identify and discuss phrases or words that were important or meaningful to them, or ones that moved them in particular. A challenging approach you could follow for this step is the one described in Chrysa Papalazarou's blog for capturing the essence of a text.

Step 3:

As a follow up activity they can write their own poems using their own fears (from step 1) and following the format of the poem. You can also hand them out blank papers and let them use their imagination to illustrate their poems.

More ideas…

Valentine's Day Facts and Statistics

"Dumb Ways to Die": Song Worksheets

Dumb Ways to Die is one of those songs that you cannot get rid of easily. Apart from its catchy tune, it comes with an equally enjoyable video, making it one of the most popular videos in YouTube.

It was originally designed as a public service announcement campaign by Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia, to promote rail safety. The video went viral through sharing and social media starting in November 2012. Since then it has spawned more songs, a considerable number of parodies, video games and, believe it or not, a couple of ESL lesson plans!

The following lesson plan is a combination of what circulates on the Internet (a version that works best with my classes). Ideal for older children and young teens. Level B1, mainly due to its vocabulary (although it becomes self explanatory through the video)

If you decide to use it in your class, leave me a comment and tell me how it went!

Whiteboard Organisation

Having an organised and reader-friendly whiteboard is vital when you are working with good, old-fashioned whiteboards. Whiteboard organisation can be quite challenging though for teachers who, like me, struggle to keep things under control in classroom environments that are increasingly getting more restless and more difficult to handle (for reasons we, in Greek State Schools, are all aware of ).

When I attended the RSA Certificate in TEFL (now CELTA) 25 years ago in International House Hastings, we were given some basic guidelines for keeping our whiteboard, or should I say blackboard, neat. I had forgotten all about them, when I came across the same basic advice, together with some new tips in As a way to keep them in mind I made a simple outline, which I hope you will find helpful.

Set the goals of the lesson at the beginning and keep them up untill the end.
Make sure everything you write is big enough and clear enough even for the ones at the back. Take a s…

Internet & email Vocabulary

Have you ever wondered what these symbols are called in English? Have you ever tried to read a website address and had no idea how to do it? Well now you know ...