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Showing posts from 2017

This is Britain: Christmas

On day 1 of my Advent Calendar you can find a "This is Britain" video on YouTube about Christmas customs and traditions including that of Advent Calendars. 

Below you can find the worksheets I prepared to accompany the video. Can you think of a more appropriate way to start the festive season? 

Advent Calendar ELT Activities

Who can resist the daily surprises Advent Calendars hide behind their small doors? They not only count the days till Christmas but they are great fun too so why not use them in the classroom?

In the calendar that follows there is a new activity behind each door, from crossword puzzles and trivia quizes to filling in Christmas songs lyrics and making easy Christmas crafts.
Day 1: This is Britain Christmas video  Day 2: Print and solve a crossword Day 3: Make easy candy cane sleighs to give as Christmas presents Day 4: Print and solve a Christmas cloze  Day 5: Write an email to Santa Day 6: What are you going to do this Christmas? Online matching activity Day 7: Solve an online Christmas Crossword Puzzle Day 8: Play a Christmas quiz with your friends Day 9: Make a pop-up Christmas card Day 10: Make a sock snowman Day 11: Fill in the missing lyrics of Last Christmas (online game) Day 12: Play a Christmas quiz with your friends Day 13: Another online Christmas crossword puzzle Day 14: Write some Christm…

Thanksgiving Day Activities and Worksheets

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated mainly in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a special day for families and people travel long distances to be with their loved ones on this day. It also marks the beginning of the Christmas festive season. 

Thanksgiving Day is a holiday so often depicted in American films and TV series that many Greek students are familiar with it, although they don't exactly know what it is about. 

In the following presentation you will find activities on the origins of this popular holiday, suitable for pre-Intermediate young teenagers. The worksheets are downloadable - just make sure you open the presentation in a new window.

Let the Wheel Decide

Wheel Decide is a free online spinner tool that allows you to create your own digital wheels for decision making, prize giveaways, games, and more.The uses of Wheel Decide run as far as your imagination. In the EFL classroom and in education in general the wheels can be used for a variety of activities:

Spin a wheel of questions, topics, or vocabulary terms. This is a great substitute for studying or revising, and since the topics shuffle, everyone stays on their toes.Pick a random student in class to answer a question or participate in a classroom activity.Engage your students by having them decide on the options whether they are questions, vocabulary or grammar items. Use the wheel to randomly assign groups or teams. You can also randomly assign jobs to teams or individuals. Unlike you or your peers, Wheel Decide has no biases.Below you can find two wheels I made off the top of my head: one for playing vocabulary games and one for a pop quiz on irregular verbs. Feel free to use mine …

"Zebra Question" by Shel Silverstein

It seems that I have a soft spot for Shel Silverstein's writings. They are simple yet so rich in meanings and they are always accompanied with straightforward illustrations that make them ideal for children and adults alike. Three years ago I created a short lesson on The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. This year I made a short video for one of Silverstein's short poems, the "Zebra Question". 
Zebra Question is a poem from the book A Light in the Attic, published in 1981. It is about a boy who asks a zebra whether it is black with white stripes or white with black stripes. The zebra replies somewhat sassily with an exhaustive list of questions: "Are you good with bad habits? Or are you bad with good habits? Are you noisy with quiet times? Or quiet with noisy times? and on and on and on in a repetitive way.

The poem reminds us to look at situations but also at ourselves from different perspectives. Nothing can ever be simply black or white. What do we really think t…

This is Britain: Bonfire Night

A video on Bonfire Night, suitable for children and young teens in A2 level. The worksheet includes a True or False task, a link to an easy recipe for toffee apples, plus a cut out Guy Fawkes mask.

Make sure you take a look at my older post about November 5th and the story of Guy Fawkes night.

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

The Origins of Halloween

Browsing through templates for powerpoint and google presentations, I came across a Halloween template in Slides Carnival that was just too beautiful to ignore. So I transferred one of my older lessons about the origins of Halloween into these slides making a few changes.

For example, I added a KWL chartat the beginning of the lesson to activate students' interest and have them ask their own questions about this popular custom. Questions such as: Why do people celebrate Halloween?, Is it really an American tradition?, Who was Jack-O- Lantern? and many more can be answered in the text. I also changed some of the True - False questions to make them easier to remember as students are not going to have a printed version of the text. 
The crossword can be downloaded separately. 

If you've used it, how did the lesson go? Let me know in the comments below!

This is Britain: Halloween

A "This is Britain" video on Halloween for younger learners together with worksheets to use in the classroom. 

All the World's a Stage

"All the world's a stage" is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It. The speech (Act II Scene VII) compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and categorizes the seven stages of a man's life: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, old age and facing imminent death.

The man in the poem goes through these stages all expressed in a sardonic and sometimes bitter tone: Infancy: He is a helpless baby and knows little.Whining schoolboy: He begins to go to school and is unwilling to leave the protected environment of his home. The lover: In this stage he is always sentimental, expressing his love in a silly manner. The soldier: He is uneasy and hot-headed. He is always working towards making a reputation for himself even at the cost of foolish risks.The justice: In this stage he thinks he has acquired wisdom. He has reached a stage where he has gained prosperity and social status and becomes vain.  Old Age: He is a sha…

Akinator, the Web Genie

Twenty Questions is one of those "go to" games that require no preparation and can be used as a timesaver when the lesson finishes earlier than expected or as a student reward or even when you are too tired or ill to continue, (because let's be honest, teachers can have "one of those days"....).

A fun alternative to the game is Akinator, the Web Genie. Akinator is an internet game and mobile app based on 20 questions that can guess which character the player is thinking of by asking them a series of questions. It is an atificial intelligence program that can "learn" the best questions to ask you. What is interesting about the Akinator is that the more you challenge him the bigger his database becomes. 

With Akinator students can have the chance to see questions modelled for them before they actually try to ask their own - asking questions is not as easy as it sounds for language learners especially in lower levels. Akinator can also be used as a compreh…

Learning Apps is a Web 2.0 application that allows you to create interactive teaching modules to support your lessons. It is very simple and straightforward in its use and requires no special digital skills. Every module created is public and can be used by any teacher interested.

Among the formats offered are games like 'Who wants to be a millionaire?", matching pairs, clozed tests, crosswords, activities on audio/video material, group puzzles etc. 

If you feel it is too much work you can search among the already made modules, like for example this simple matching activity I created for my 1st Grade (of Junior High) students. It can be used as a pre-reading activity for Halloween related lessons.  

CEFR and Guided Learning Hours

How many guided learning hours are needed for a language learner to progress from one level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) to the next?

For more information visit the official website for the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

My Learning Diary for the "Online safety" MOOC

Online safety is an integral part of what schools need to be teaching in 2017. It encompasses a wide range of issues and affects staff, pupils, parents and the wider school community. As more and more schools embrace technology as a tool to support learning, it is important that staff and pupils alike understand how to use it safely and responsibly.

Research suggests that 57 per cent of young people think that their friends engage in risky behaviours online which demonstrates the need to address this in schools.

The "Online Safety Course" at the European Schoolnet Academy offered participants a better understanding of the current risks and challenges that young people face when they go online. They discussed strategies for supporting young people and helping them to develop safe and responsible behaviours when they go online. A wide range of resources that can be used in schools was provided, and participants were also asked to share their own experiences, challenges and succe…

Tribes Project

Unit 1 of Think Teen 2nd Grade, Beginners ends with a project on tribes whose ways of life are threatened by modern world. Maravelaki Fryni, an EFL teacher in Serres has an excellent webquest to accompany the book's project in her blog.

As this was our first project work, my main aim was to keep the students' works short so that they wouldn't copy large sections from the internet without processing them. To this end 
they had to answer very specific questions and gather information from a range of sites. 
Before starting working on the actual project we discussed the evaluation criteria so that they were absolutely clear what was expected of them. During the presentation all the teams used the evaluation sheet in order to discuss and decide on the best project. 

Below are some of the students' works:

A Tale of Two Cities: Our Story

Our eTwinning project is coming to an end. In the course of this project we exchanged postcards with our partners and learnt a lot about Wroclaw, a beautiful city in western Poland. Our final mission was to co-write a story. We chose to write a love story between one of Wroclaw's city trademark dwarfs, and our own "Daughter of Veroia", a small statuette of a young maiden, found in our city. We then narrated and recorded the story in a joint video:

Theme Week: Gender Stereotypes

In the course of the newly initiated Theme Week in Greek Junior High Schools, I have designed the following page primarily as a way to organise the material needed for discussing gender stereotypes.

Suitable for B1 or higher level students of 15 years and older.

Safer Internet Day: Power of Image Report

For Safer Internet Day 2017, 1,500 young people aged 8-17 years took part in an online survey conducted by ResearchBods and commissioned by the UK Safer Internet Centre.

The aim was to explore the role of images and videos in young people’s digital lives and the influence this can have on their self-esteem, behaviour and emotions.

The findings reveal how important images and videos are in young people's digital lives, demonstrating the positive role this plays as well as the risks and pressures they may face as a result.

It underlines the importance of ensuring that all children have the skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience to communicate using images and videos safely, responsibly and creatively.

Parents, teachers and most importantly schools in general should be able to understand the implications such surveys convey in order to guide children and teens towards better and safer internet use. 

The Difference Between Doing Projects And Project-Based Learning

Doing Projects and Project- Based Learning are not quite the same thing. The chart below by Amy Mayer, clarifies the main difference between the two. 

“Projects” can represent a range of tasks that can be done at home or in the classroom by groups of students, quickly or over time. While project-based learning (PBL) also features projects, in PBL the focus is more on the process of learning and learner-peer-content interaction than the end-product itself.For more information on this engaging, learner-centred method you can browse my learning diary on the "Introducing Project-Based Learning" MOOC, which comprises a wide range of examples, materials and ideas on how to implement PBL in our classroom.

My Learning Diary for the "Boosting a Sense of Initiative and Entrepreneurship in Your Students" MOOC

One more interesting and inspiring MOOC offered by the European Schoolnet Academy has ended. This MOOC's aim was to train and empower teachers in fostering the sense of initiative and the entrepreneurial mind-set of their students by developing innovative and creative attitudes and skills.

The sense of initiative and entrepreneurship is the ability to turn ideas into action through creativity, innovation, and risk-taking as well as the ability to plan and manage projects. It is a key competence that can be developed through any school subject, from primary to secondary and beyond. It does not necessarily involve a specific school subject. Rather, it requires a way of teaching in which experiential learning and project work have the main role.

Dead Poets Society Worksheets

The 21st March is World Poetry Day and it is an excellent opportunity to show students a film I am particularly fond of (in fact most teachers are): Dead Poets Society.

Dead Poets Societyis a 1989 American drama film directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman, and starring Robin Williams. Set in 1959 at the fictional elite conservative boarding school Welton Academy, it tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry.

There are tons of worksheets out there for both native and EFL students focusing on different aspects of the film. The film itself is very rich in literature material and can provoke discussions on many issues like poetry, conformity, education, the list goes on. 

The following worksheets are inspired by the ones found on the internet so in this sense they are not original. However they are written with my students in mind (ideally 15-18 year olds at B1+ level) and are adapted to what can be easily done in my classroom.


Fixed vs Growth Mindset

After studying the behavior of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. 

When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement. Our brain has enough plasticity meaning that we can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good nutrition and sleep habits.

Studies on different kinds of praise have shown that telling children they are smart encourages a fixed mindset, whereas praising hard work and effort cultivates a growth mindset. When students have a growth mindset, they take on challenges and learn from them, they are not afraid to fail therefore increasing their abilities and achievement. 

In a recent interview, Dr Dweck believes that as educators we should focus …

SVOMPT: Basic Word Order in English

One of the most important rules a learner of English should learn is basic word order in English. It is very common for Greek EFL learners to write incorrect sentences as Greek syntax is very flexible in terms of word order. The English language however follows stricter rules and any sentence that does not follow the rules not only sounds wrong but is in fact wrong. We tend to emphasize the order of certain words within a sentence, like for example adverbs of frequency, but we don't give our students enough practice on basic sentence structure. 

The following lesson has been in my mind for a long time as whenever I correct my students' writings I observe the same word order mistakes over and over again. I found an interesting diagram on SVOMPT in but I decided to design it a bit different. 

So here it is:

Famous People in History: An EFL Project

Our coursebook presents the Past Simple tense via a number of famous historical figures like Mahatma Ghandi and Mother Teresa, and completes the unit with a biography project.

In my attempt to make it a bit more motivating and to offer some guidance to my students, I've prepared a presentation on Adobe Spark, providing, among other things, a list of recommended websites for research and graphic organisers for note-taking. 

Feel free to go through it and use it for inspiration! Leave me a comment below.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a Carnival festival that lasts for several days and ends the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is always on a Tuesday in February or March. It is the day before the start of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter when many Christians fast. 

People celebrate Mardi Gras by having parties, attending parades, wearing costumes and masks, and eating King Cake. Because Lent is a somber time, Mardi Gras is a last chance to live it up and celebrate. Two of the largest Mardi Gras Carnival celebrations are in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro.

You can find all this information and more in the presentation below, together with downloadable worksheets, printable masks and a short video on the basic samba steps. Suitable for B1 teens. 

Ten Ways to Say "I Love You"

Valentine's Day is approaching in a few days. How are you going to express your love to your Valentine? Whether you're writing a card, an email, or face to face, below are some other ways to say "I love you" to someone. 

Safer Internet Day 2017

Safer Internet Day 2017 will be celebrated globally on Tuesday 7th February with the slogan ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet’. 

The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community. 

As young children and teens are more and more involved in social media without actual guidance, it is vital for schools to offer them advice on internet etiquette and safety as well as model responsible behaviour and use. 
The official page of the campaign offers a gallery of resources in many languages together with lesson plans for students of all ages. 
You can find ready made activities especially designed for EFL learners in the British Council. Levels range from A1 to C2 so there is something for everyone there.

The Ultimate Critical Thinking Cheat Sheet

The Critical Thinking Community defines critical thinking as the "intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

A critical thinker (among other things), raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely in order to reach conclusions and solutions.

The Critical Thinking Skills Cheatsheet helps you formulate a range of questions to help your students build critical thinking skills.
The cheatsheet  includes categories for Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Each section has eight questions that begin with their corresponding word. The questions are meant to be versatile and broad, and applicable to a range of topics.

You can download and print your own pdf infographic from the Global Digital Citizen Foundation

Question Words: Asking the Right Questions

Question words are used to ask about specific qualities, times, places, people, etc. They are different from yes / no questions.  The most common question words in English are the following: 

(image from the language learning base)

Plot Generator

Welcome back and Happy New Year

Holidays are (unfortunately) over, and we are all looking forward to new and creative lesson ideas to spice up our classes. 
Below is part of a story created with the help of Plot Generator, a helpful little site, which promises to give you "inspiration for your next novel, film or short story".  
Students can have fun and learn how to build narratives by