Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Incorporate Summer PL Back into the Classroom

This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Some people believe that teachers sit around all summer long, preferably lying on a beach drinking cocktails. And this would be an incredible summer, but people keep forgetting that because we are teachers, we have to plan for the next year, get informed and even try to learn more things and develop professionally.
Summer is still young in Greece, we are in the middle of July and my lessons will start in the middle of September. And many of us take the time to read a bit more, attend a few seminars and courses, experiment a bit on new methods and projects.
So far I have attended a few seminars, webinars and conferences, but as I mentioned, summer is still young and there is still lots to do.
Here's a list of what I have attended so far:
1. OUP Webinars on:

  • Inclusive practices
  • Project based learning
  • Learning difficulties
  • How communicative Testing helps Learning
  • Mental Health
4. Hueber / Karabatos seminar on:
5. Klett conference:
6. National Geographic/ Cengage seminar on:
  • Teaching global citizens 
7. Burlington Books seminar on:
  • Humor in the classroom
  • Lively German lessons with children 
9.  Online courses with Future Learn:
  • Social Media 
  • Teaching English online
  • Italian for beginners
  • Spanish for beginners
I still have a few webinars to attend and the big book exhibitions here in Greece are held in the end of August / beginning of September, so there is still much to learn.

Knowledge is good, but only if you use it. So I intend to use most of the techniques I have learned in my classes, use more technology and games.
I want to organise more projects about "the world", with subjects like "understanding", "tolerance", "accepting" and "communication" with my students. Teaching languages is not only about the language itself but how this opens a new window to the world. 
Taking part in seminars about behaviours, learning difficulties and inclusion has made it easier for me to understand more things, to be more tolerant, have patience with "difficult" students and be more insistent  when I face difficulties. 
Finally, the social media and teaching online courses will possibly help me this year to build a new audience (and clientele) 

To be continued with a new challenge....

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Summer experiences - back to teaching?

This post is week 5 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Summer is a wonderful time for both teachers and learners to rest, to unwind and to live new experiences in order to cope with the pressure of the school year.
What they do depends on a lot of things. Maybe they visit family in the country, maybe they travel, maybe they learn new things. Time is free and choices are unlimited for both.
Well, I have to say that maybe teachers do not rest that much since they have to plan for next year, maybe attend seminars and read to learn new things so that they can somehow "enhance" their teaching.
Summer will be over soon and we will get back to school.
Students will be full of energy and it will be weeks before they get used to their new schedule with school, extra curricular activities, studying and responsibilities.
So what better time for a new project?
Students can describe their holidays, not with the "traditional essay": how I spent my summer, but in a more advanced way.
What did they do during the summer?
Did they visit another place? Even another country? Did they take pictures or videos on their mobile phones? How about a project with information about this place and a power-point or a video presentation? (This could also be in collaboration with a geography, history or music teacher if you work at a school)
How about a new hobby or activity? This could actually be a group project "summer activities". (in collaboration with the gym teacher, again if you work at a school)
This way students can be engaged into something new, start the new school year with motivation and do something out of the ordinary.
( I don't really know if I am in the subject today, but it seemed like a good idea...)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Co-existing with teens

We've all been one. I remember I wanted to change the world. I was a real rebel. I was always defying the rules. Everything my parents said was wrong (or at least not accepted). I have always talked back. With real arguments. I had blue hair. I wore torn jeans (I know now it's the fashion, but 20 years ago... well, people looked at you with distrust). I was always out. I did not want to spend time with family. Family dinners? What's that? No way! What the teachers said? What do they know? My parents? Well, let's say, we didn't get along. I could only talk with this one teacher.
So, when I became a teacher myself, I thought I knew everything about teenagers, right? I was one, right?
To tell you the truth, when I first went into the class, I was not a lot older from teens. I started teaching at 21. Even later, as a young mother, I still got along with "my teens". Being a "crazy" and open-minded person myself, made my teens somehow "relaxed". They talked to me. About their thoughts, about their problems. They trusted me.
However, when I talked with their parents, they ALL told me how difficult it is to understand each other and that their children didn't listen to them and that there were always fights. And I wondered. Why would that be? They are nice kids. With me they behave. They are interested. They trust me. Why would parents have such a difficult time with their teens?
Until I became the mother of one.

They tell me he is a good kid. They tell me that he has critical thinking. They tell me that he is a good friend.

I wouldn't know... you know I am the "mum". Yes, they one who tries to talk to him and is never heard. The one who "doesn't know anything". The "teacher" one. The one who feels really frustrated and worried about him, not knowing what to do.
I've been to a seminar about teenage behaviour recently.  The descriptions were... like somebody had been to my home.
According to the psychologist, during adolescence, the brain goes under major changes. Some neutrons are destroyed, while some other become stronger. Hormones are all over the place. Teens want not to be dependent on their parents, so they experiment themselves. With good and bad things. They want to test their limits. There is no safe way doing that. Parents are no longer their role-model. They want to find out who they really are and where they belong. So being rebellious is normal.
Yes, it is a dangerous time. Because it's easier for them to get addicted to things they shouldn't. Or be with people they shouldn't.
So, I am worried. This doesn't mean that I don't trust him. I do. I pray that he comes home safe every night. I try to be close. Even now that he doesn't want me to be. I hope that years will go by and we all come to our senses.
(Life) to be continued....

Follower or Leader?

This post is week 4 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators. 

Today's subject is: How are you a leader among your peers? How are you a follower among your peers?
The question is: What is actually a leader?

So a leader might be someone with innovative ideas, someone with power, someone who can convey his/her message to the world, someone who is not settling, someone who wants to do more and better. 

A follower on the other had is someone who is interested in things other say and usually adheres to a group of people of the same mind. 
Being a follower is not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn't mean that you don't work towards a goal or that you don't have ideas of your own. It means that you follow something or someone you believe in.

Being a teacher, I believe that you are a little bit of both. 
You are a leader, because you have students with you and you try to make them work towards a goal, you try to inspire them and why not create and use your own ideas and methods?
You are also a follower, because you follow your schools curriculum and rules, a teaching method, a certain book maybe.

Personally, I think that you are a leader when you share your ideas with your peers, when you help others, when you publish and present your work and you don't keep everything to yourself.
But we can't avoid being followers as well, since as teachers we constantly learn new things, adopt new theories and listen to other teachers talking about their own teaching methods and activities. 

We both inspire and get inspired... so keep on teaching

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Working with films and videos

I have always been interested in using more materials with my students other than the traditional books and worksheets. I started with songs and music and somewhere out there I started working with videoclips form the songs as well. I saw that students are really interested in this kind of lessons, since they believe that it's not an actual lesson, but just having fun. And that's the catch. Who said that learning should be "painful" and boring?
In the beginning, I tried to show videoclips from songs that tell a story.

1.  Guessing game
Play part of the song / or the music first and have students imagine what's happening. You can also do this with commercials, trailers from films or parts of films with no conversations. Have them write a few notes about it and share it and compare their stories in class. Then play the actual video. Have them note down what their stories had in common. As homework have them write a new story based on their notes and the actual story.

2. Descriptions
Show the students a video and have them describe the people. What do they wear? What do they look like? Can they guess their personalities? Who is the good and who is the bad one?

3. Watching and talking
Play the film and stop it at certain points. Have the students describe what has happened, what they liked, what they didn't like. Have them guess how it continues.

4. No sound
Play the beginning of the film without sound or subtitles. What is happening? (Ask Wh-questions)

5. Title
Give them titles of songs or films and have them guess what the story is about.

You can find more ideas over here - a blog I discovered with a collection for films and lesson plans for ELT.
And  there is also a great course running at Future Learn about Short Film in Language Teaching

Friday, June 22, 2018

Playing with words

I had the luck these past few months to visit various language schools in my hometown and "play" with the students, teaching and revising new and old vocabulary.
Books and dictionaries are absolutely fine, but kids want to have fun as well. And believe me, if the student and the teacher have fun, then a lot of things can happen.
So here are some ideas you can try out with your students...

1. Flashcards and realia
I know it sounds ordinary and traditional to use pictures and toys, showing them to your students and have them repeat them, but it actually works. After naming the objects / pictures, hide them somewhere in the school / classroom and ask them where they are. "where is the teddy bear?" - "the teddy bear is under the desk". This way you can also practise prepositions.

2. Puzzle dictation.
After they have learned how things are called, it's time for a little dictation. Not the ordinary one, though. Print the words on paper, cut them, letter by letter and mix the letters. If you want to help them, print the words in different colours. Shout out the word and let them put the letters together.
If you want to make it more difficult and more competitive, put the letter into balloons, divide students in teams have them run, blow the balloon, get the letters from the floor and put the word together.

3. Categories.
Write group words in bigger pieces of paper (like for example "feelings", "furniture", "weather" etc. and smaller pieces with vocabulary that is associated to the "group words". Divide students in teams again and have them stick the words under group word.

Don't forget to praise the children for trying and why not give them a little treat!
Whatever you do, have fun!

The Biggest change

This post is week 3 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators
This weeks's question is very simple, but now that I come to thing of it, it's not that simple.
Not being a class teacher makes my life habit different than normal teachers who actually teach in the classroom.
I mean, if you teach at a school, you have a curriculum, there are things that you HAVE to to and you don't have so much freedom. That's why projects like a Mystery Skype chat or a working with video or with music are something really distant, especially in my country, Greece.
For me, it is still early to plan what I am going to do with students for the year to come.
I don't even know what kind of students I will have.
The biggest change I am going to make is probably that I am going to use more of my own materials and less of "the book", plan more video projects (although this is not exactly new for me), maybe organise my own learning/teaching platform and have more online students.
Teaching online and actually using a teaching platform is two separate things, since there are a lot of tools that have to be used (and learned) and a lot of material that has to be designed and uploaded.
I have no idea if I will make things change this year, but I'll sure try!

#keepmoving people