Thursday, March 23, 2017

A few breaths away...

There is one thing all students in the world have in common: stress.
Stress about the exams, stress about the results, stress about their parents, stress because they haven’t studied enough, stress because maybe they will be reprimanded by the teacher if they don’t answer correctly, stress because maybe their fellow students will laugh at them and so on.
As I have mentioned before, I believe that an educator’s job is not only teaching. I mean, we spend most of the day with these children; they share their dreams and their fears with us… The least we can do is to help them overcome any difficulties they have. Be there for them, talk to them, help them face the world.
What they should learn from an early age is to be calm.
In the following worksheet, I am sharing three breathing exercises that will help you and your students be calm and face everyday challenges.

Breathing Exercise 1:
Are your students having a bad day? Is it their last hour at school and they are pretty noisy? Try this breathing exercise before starting your lesson.

Have them sit comfortably, resting their back.
They can close their eyes, but it is not necessary.
Inhale through the nose for a count of four and then exhale through the nose again for a count of four.
Do the same for about a minute.
This exercise is said to help take your mind off of bad thoughts and make you feel more relaxed.
You can try this yourself before sleeping.

Breathing exercise 2

This exercise can be performed in the exam period, when all students are more stressed than usual.

With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: 6 to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions in heart rate and blood pressure.

Breathing exercise 3

This is a little treat to your students after an exam or a very stressful activity at the end of the lesson.
You can do this with slow music or with absolute silence.

Head straight towards that “happy place” no questions asked.
Have your students close their eyes and breathe deeply while focusing on pleasant, positive images to replace any negative thoughts. You can guide them controlling their breaths and telling them where to focus each time.

Suggested music:

Stanton Lanier: Wild flowers

Kiss the rain
Rhian Sheehan - Sileo

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My friend the teddy bear

Little kids… My nightmare… Don’t get me wrong! I love them. They are really cute. Usually they listen! Especially if you pretend to be strict! They usually follow orders when you make the lesson seem interesting. Motivation is the key.
Why is it my nightmare? Well, to tell you the truth, I believe that keeping young and exuberant kids motivated, seems to be the most difficult and demanding task for a teacher.  They get bored easily. Their attention span decreases so rapidly that you can’t predict the outcome of your planned activities. This age group needs the most preparation. You need to spend a lot of time creating new activities. You need to be very energetic and enthusiastic about what you do. Make it sound like you really mean it. You have to be a good actor. Sorry, I meant a great and persuasive actor!
Sometimes I don’t think that I have the energy for that.  Improvisation gets kicked out when it comes to little kids.  It is imperative to have your lessons carefully planned. You need to drag and carry around a heavy-loaded bag full of realia and have some extra games in case an emergency arise.
I am not complaining. Spending time with those happy faces compensates for what I have mentioned above. Kids show you their feelings so easily, their love, their anger, their disappointment.
Teaching young children gives you the chance to shape characters, to show them so much more of the world than just teach English. My helper this time is my dear Teddy…

Activity 1

Your teddy bear is your friend that always comes with you. He only understands English. Have the children ask him questions and he will whisper the answer to you. Remember: Teddy doesn’t understand other languages!

Activity 2
You can teach prepositions using Teddy. Just move around the classroom placing him wherever you want.
‘Teddy is ON the table’
‘Teddy is IN the cupboard’
After teaching them the words, you can have the pupils practise with the teddy themselves moving around the room, placing him anywhere they want and asking their fellow classmates about where Teddy is. (it can be noisy, but fun)

Activity 3
Where is Teddy?
Play ‘Hot and Cold’ with your young students. Hide the teddy bear and have them ask where it is. If they are close pretend that it is hot, if they are far pretend it is cold! Again students move around and look for the toy. It can be pretty noisy, but, definitely can keep your little monsters alert and on their feet.

Activity 4
Get Teddy the Storyteller to tell a story. It can be from a book or the teacher can make up one of his / her own according to the vocabulary that is being taught.  Ask questions during the story and have the children mime some of the verbs and actions that are being presented in the story. Teddy cheers them up!

Activity 5
Dress up Teddy and teach / practise clothes vocabulary.
Get a bag full with Teddy clothes and have children to form a line. Each student gets to pick one item from the bag with their eyes closed. If they say the word correctly, they get to dress the teddy.

Ideas: Theodora Papapanagiotou
Editing- corrections – suggestions: Theodore Lalos

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Then, now and after...

When I said that I would write in the last day of the year, I didn’t really know what I was going to write about. I felt really adventurous. But then again, isn’t it how we are supposed to be when we think about our future?
A lot of things have happened in the year that passed.
Opportunities, lots of hard work and effort, lots of joys, lots of struggle, no personal time at all…
Last year I had the opportunity to fulfill a lot of my dreams or 2016 resolutions.
Working as a teacher trainer has given me the chance to do a lot of research, to learn new things while teaching, to meet new wonderful teachers around the country and abroad and share ideas, lesson plans and good mood.
I had the chance to create my own material (which actually would be sold to clients and not only used by my students), learn new skills, work online and offline, give presentations, take part in conventions and wonderful teacher initiatives.
I went abroad both as a teacher trainer and as a yoga instructor - this last thing I never expected in my life...maybe this will give me the chance to find another professional path for the future?
And no, I am not just talking about my adventures to brag. I am sure that each one of us has their own professional and personal adventures, achievements and stories.
It’s December, it’s the end of the year.
So for me it’s time to make a list  - I love lists by the way.
What have I done this year?
What was good? What was bad?
Have I achieved everything I wanted? What fell behind?
How do I feel about it?
Yes, there were and still are a lot of negative things that happened during this past year.
Sometimes I wasn’t careful, sometimes it was not up to me.That’s life.
I am still trying to fix things. And I will. Or at least I’ll try.
So I am setting a task for myself for the next year. Like I do every year.
Some people call this New Year’s resolutions, I call them life goals.
Another list.
What’s important?  
What is your wildest, most far-fetched dream?
This is what you have to go after.
Dream, plan and just go for it!
From the bottom of my heart I wish you people a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Xmas 2016: The Big Finale! Micaela and her students in Palermo

Last Day of our Christmas project!
Micaela was the first person who participated in the project. All here students were so excited to make the video.
Thank you so much for participating!
Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Xmas 2016: Crafty Christmas with Christina and her students!

Day 22: Everybody enjoys a good craft - Christina from Athens and her students are showing us how to have fun and learn at the same time!

It’s finally December, the greatest, most loving time of the year...right before we greet a bright and wonderful set of twelve new months.
For the last month of 2016, my friend Dora came up with the challenge to post an activity every day until Christmas - and oh how we love being challenged!
My absolute favourite is learning by making all kinds of somethings, using all senses and practising many different skills at once; so two of my little elves decided to find, make and share easy seasonal crafts with materials we have around our class and home.
I hope you’ll enjoy the activities with Despina and Irini in their video and get inspired to make and learn too.

Happy crafty Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Xmas 2016: Lesson ideas with Maria!

Day 21 and we are going to Amyndaion, Greece to see what Maria and her students have been doing

Decorate the Christmas Tree. A quiz with a twist!
                                by Maria Vlachopoulou
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Thus, I find it very challenging every year to introduce English Christmas customs and traditions to my students. They may already be familiar with some of these from films, songs or books.
This year I have decided to spend a few minutes in every lesson in December introducing a piece of information for Christmas, which students had to write down in your notebooks and learn. On the last lesson before Christmas we are going to have a Christmas Quiz in teams and see what we have learned! This is my plan step by step!

STEP 1: In  every lesson we do a little bit of something about Christmas. I have chosen to talk about Christmas food, Christmas traditions, Christmas decorations, the names of the Reindeer, information about Santa Claus and the Elves, to read a simplified version of “A Christmas Carol” and do a worksheet* on it and to listen to Christmas songs and Carols-you can find some nice videos here.**

STEP 2: I have prepared some cards with questions from what we have done all these days.

STEP 3: I have divided my students in teams, giving each team a colour, for example a red team, a green team etc. Each team will get a handout with ornaments***, which they will have to cut and colour  according to the colour of their team.

STEP 4: On the day of the quiz, I will put up a big Christmas tree on the board-or draw it if it’s not easy to make. The teams will play in turns. For each correct answer the team puts an ornament on the tree. The team with the most ornaments wins!
Ø  Variations: You can adapt the quiz depending on your students’ age or level. For younger students you can just teach some Christmas vocabulary and do the quiz with flashcards. For older students you can prepare harder questions.


Online resources

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Xmas 2016: Memories with Anastasia from Cyprus

Day 20: Anastasia from Cyprus is sharing her favourite Christmas memories with us!

Christmas Memories. - Christmas has always been my favourite time of year after the summer. As a little girl, I would help mum decorate the Christmas tree and make the traditional Christmas sweets. On Christmas day all the family would gather together at mum's whose cooking can still equal that of a great chef. I can still picture me sitting on grandma's lap , asking for yet another Christmas story....Mum would then serve champagne and canapés in the shape of Christmas stars or Christmas bells which prepared the palate for the festive lunch. After lunch, the Christmas cake was served in the living-room with coffee and liqueurs while we'd open up our presents which had been placed under the Christmas tree a couple of weeks before Christmas - all bearing the label "Don't open before Christmas". I remember how anxious I was to open them before Christmas but mum said that if I did, Santa would never again bring me any presents at all. Terrified at the tought of Santa's wrath, I would sit on the floor by the Christmas tree contemplating the nicely wrapped boxes..trying to guess or imagine what was in them. Nothing much has changed through time as I still anticipate Christmas with the wonderment of a little girl.