Wednesday, November 19, 2014

QR codes - Why?

I have always wanted to know how this thingy works...
Recently I found out that I can download a QR code on my mobile phone, scan the code and .... you get the company's site on your desktop!!
Cool, I thought!! I want to make one too!!
So what info put into your QR code?
It depends what you want to show...  It is common to be used for work, so, it acts like a digital business card. So you either have a link to your site, blog or just write the info you want to share (mobile phone, email)
There are various sites that can generate your code for free!
The only thought that makes me wonder is... do people really use this?
Time will show!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"The princess who had no kingdom" by Athanasia S.

Once upon a time there was a princess who had no kingdom. She had a pony called Pretty and a cart. The princess wasn't rich like the other princesses, but she earned a little money delivering strange parcels and looking for her kingdom.

There was a duchess who didn't want her son, the prince, to see the princess, because, if he fell in love with her, he would want to marry her and what's the point of a wedding without a kingdom?
So, she sent him away boating.

The duchess and her six daughters invited the princess for tea, but they treated her unkindly. They gave her their old dresses and the jester gave her his red tights to keep her warm. The princess sold the dresses but kept the tights.

One day she went to the coronation of the new King and all the princes and the King himself wanted to marry her because she was very beautiful. The princess got tired of all their fighting and left.
On her way, she saw a young man who was trying to pull his cart and horse out of a ditch and she helped him. The man was the duchess' jester.  the jester offered his heart to her and together they wandered.

One day the princess received a parcel with her lost umbrella. On the parcel was written: " To the princess of here, there and everywhere". So the jester told her: " This is your Kingdom".
So they became the Queen and the King of  here, there and nowhere.
And they lived happily ever after!!

Athanasia is in pre-intermediate level and this was her first attempt of writing a summary of a book in English.
This fairytale was written by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb and the images are taken from there. 

Book-Reading in our lessons? Why not?

I have always liked reading... But during the lesson?
Most people consider this a waste of time, mainly because it does not belong to the material needed to work towards an exam!
So this year I was particularly happy that one of my students is taking an exam that actually requires reading a book and talking / writing about it.
I knew that he was not going to read it himself and of course I was not going to write the summary and the characters' description all by myself, so I decided to devote 15- 20 minutes in each lesson to read a chapter, stopping in some points and asking my students what would happen next and talk about the characters.  My student in return had to write a small summary as homework.
What did I gain from that?
First of all, I made my student read the book! Not only did we finish it, but he was also curious about the end of the story. He was eager to make guesses, to change the endings...

Of course I do not work with all my students on exams that need book-reading, but this gave me the idea to include short stories or even fairy tale books.
You don't have to dedicate the whole hour to the book, 10 minutes are enough.
When you finish the book or the story, you can have a discussion with your students about the characters, the story, if the liked it.
They could also make a small research on the author and talk about their other books, and make comparisons.

I also use short stories at special occasions like Halloween or Christmas. Last year we held a horror story competition and this year we read scary stories, trying to make them even scarier, changing what happened and talking about what they would do if they where the main character of the story.
Here are some of their stories:
story 1
story 2
story 3
story 4
This week's project was a fairytale
My student and I read a wonderful story by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb, called "The Princess who had no Kingdom" with wonderful illustrations talked about what was happening and then she wrote a summary.
Here is her work! 
It is not exam material I know. But students can practice vocabulary, pronunciation, reading skills, understanding, and writing skills.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

#30GoalsEDU: Support Character Development

Some people think that teaching is the easiest profession in the world. I mean .... we get "the book", teach our lesson and go home.... Right?
Our profession has to do with communication. Getting to know so many different people, so many different characters.
So, what is our job?
Just teach someone a foreign language?
How do we influence the kids? I mean except for their parents and siblings, we are the people these kids spend time with.
Is our job to help with their character development?
Is it our job to teach them how to behave?
Well... yes and no actually.
When it comes to little kids everybody should help to "shape" their personality. Teach them manners, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad and that people have the power to make people sad or happy.
With teenagers, that's a totally different story. My students usually trust me with things they wouldn't tell their parents. And that is good from one point, because they do come and ask a grownup to help them.
The question is though.... I am a language teacher. Should I get involved in their character "shaping?
Should I be there for them as a parent? As a friend? Help them discover themselves as a personality?
Talk with them about various subjects like "Equality", "Kindness", "Justice", "Morale" ?

I do care about them and I do keep contact with them and I am always there when I am needed.
But should I do that?
I am NOT their parent. I am NOT their friend (Teachers are not usually friends, they are just teaching)
To tell the truth, I am being their friend. I do share things from my personal life with them - family, work, people. I do want them to feel close and not just see me as an "encyclopedia"
I do believe that they should be taught some more things but the language.
The advantage in my case is that I am a language teacher, so I can use the foreign language to actually talk about various situations.
Here are some very useful links on what is character and activities for Kids' development:

I'd love to know what you people think on that and how you act!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

#WeekChallenge : #Journal writing Day 7

Sunday today and the last day of the actual #WeekChallenge... Not that I have been writing interesting things... Just my boring everyday life!!

Work/ teaching/ students:
No lessons today, but lots of preparation for the week to come: printing activities, writing plans, reading, looking for new videos and games.
Also went our with my dear student Katerina to catch up and talk on her options.... well mostly to catch up after summer! It is so nice to see students evolving!!! A nice Sunday morning!!

Sunday today and traditional lunch at "grandma's" - chicken roll and baked potatoes - yummy - accompanied by Retsina and "Baba" as dessert (yes I now double training for me tomorrow)

I was supposed to go running at the seafront this evening, the new gym is organizing runs with trainers once a month, which is a wonderful idea, but.... it actually rained. It has stopped now, but it will be pretty slippery and the humidity is killing me ( short breath and asthma) so I guess I'd better stay home (shoulder is not in its best shape as well)

Much calmer than the past days and struggling to stay that way. Work helps!

I don't really know if this journal-diary writing has helped or not. It will make me remember what to avoid next time I am in similar situations (maybe?)

That was it! Next post with more professional matters!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

#WeekChallenge: Journal writing: Day 6

Rainy Saturday today and one more day on the #WeekJournal!!
Health / Psychology / Gym:
Slight shoulder dislocation from yesterday's fall, in pain, on painkillers.... No weight lifting for me today (or this week more like it) but I will try to spin later in the evening.
My mood is getting better, I mean I have decided not to get so worried about things I cannot change. As long as I have my health (physical and psychological) I will survive.
Time to control my nerves and my anger though.... Working on it...
I also decided to do sth for myself and keep myself happy for a change. It is not time to lose it....
So next weekend will find me in Athens (YES!!!) and also thinking of taking part in RPM Initial training soon (??? we'll see!!)

Teaching/ work:
I had a cancellation today, so I took the chance to have a lesson with Gianni (instead of tomorrow) - In a really great mood, both me and the kid, lots of laughter and hugs and jokes!
Continued with my prof. student - exam prep. - you know vocabulary exercises, exam tips, grammar review, that kind of stuff.
Last one, advanced level student, worked on some grammar (tenses review), talked on competitive sports (pros and cons) and in the end watched one of my favourite videos and talked about loneliness and relationships.

Saturday evening will be full of preparing for next week and housework.... 
To be continued...

Friday, October 3, 2014

#WeekChallenge: Journal Writing: Day 5

Health/ Psychology:
Day started with a total nervous breakdown, lots of arguments and really bad vibes around the house.
I really don't know how I could switch off the mood button and go to work today. Every day is actually getting worse and it is really hard to pretend that everything is alright when I go to work.
I went to the hairdresser's (after 5 whole months) to get a haircut and a dye and the result is fantastic, but still it has not changed the way I feel right now.

Gym/ Nutrition:
No gym today, because I actually wanted to have my hair done. I cannot watch my diet the last few months, it seems impossible. I am not disciplined and I am not careful of what I eat at all. It seems that if I hadn't been training so hard, I would be at least obese by now....

Work/ Teaching:
Lesson Marathon again today with my big backpack that weighs over 10 kg today - I think I am going to use the British Council site for kids for my last lesson. Last time we created a monster and my student had a lot of fun! After creating the actual monster, he made him sing dance and even sneeze!! Really funny!
I'll stick to the book and some extra conversation themes with the rest of them today.
Tomorrow is a new day....