Friday, 13 November 2015

Electronic Village Online 2016

I am currently doing the EVO Moderator training for 4 weeks and am enjoying the experience very much!  Even though 2016 will be my third year of moderating on the eTextbooks for Teachers session, all moderators are required to follow the training again, which is a very good thing.  We find out about the sessions that are being proposed for 2016.  The outcome will be published in early December.  We all help each other with feedback comments and get to know our fellow moderators, mentors and Organization Team a bit more.

Part of the training involves reading lots of interesting elearning and emoderating articles and then discussing them in a special and private EVO Moderators' Google+ community.  I get notifcations on a daily basis of everyone that posts, so I can keep updated really easily.  Inbetween picking our olives last week, attending the training has been very nice and relaxing.  Each Sunday there is a Google Hangout on Air /  Blackboard Collaborate live meeting with the Lead Moderators and the weekly tasks are discussed.

You can view my wiki page on The EVOlution of Jan, which also gives information about previous years'  EVO sessions.

The 2016 sessions will run from 10th January - 14th February 2016.  Teachers from around the globe are invited to participate for free.  All the dedicated moderators run the sessions on a voluntary basis, and this is what makes EVO so special and different from most online courses!!

The proposals are all very exciting, and once they are up in the main wiki, I will post the link up in this blog post. 

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Pennadomo, a Unique Village in Abruzzo

Recently we travelled to Pennadomo, a small village about an hour away by car from where we live.  It was a memorable visit.

We had read about Pennadomo in the local paper, Il Centro, and found out about the amazing Project Pennadomo. 

This old formerly abandoned village has set about regenerating itself and is piloting the first eco village of its kind in Italy. The founder and main organizer is Barbara Ciarrapico who has set about transforming this small hill-top village into an ecological and self-sustaining tourist destination in the near future. This project will revitalise the area and bring in a lot more tourism, and hopefully put Abruzzo on the world wide map.

You can read more about this in La Fondazione IKO page.

The IKO coin
We were very happy to buy the beautifully crafted silver and gold Iko Number One coin which cost 50 Euros.

We are the very proud owners of the coin  below..

This money will go towards funding this very ambitious project which will cost hundreds of thousands of Euros to complete.  With this coin we will be able to use it as currency in the village and we will also be able to keep it as a wonderful souvenir!   The Pennadomo Project experience will involve local food, artisinal handicrafts, cultural events and a wealth of exciting activities. A stay there promises to be a truly wonderful Abruzzese gastronomic delight!!

Pennadomo is a beautiful village and we were very priviledged to be given a personal guided tour by Elisa, one of the group responsible for making the charming gift sacks for the IK0 coin Number One.  
 The building where they produce these sacks by hand is called 'Taglio e Cucito'.

We also met the organizing commitee and I had a photo taken with them all.  They gave me and K such a very warm welcome to Pennadomo!!  We explained we had come to the village as a direct result of seeing the newspaper article in Il Centro, and of viewing the Youtube video!  It was amazing to actually meet the people we had seen in the video.

With Elisa we climbed 180 old steep steps right to the top of the village and the views from there were absolutely spectacular!!!

Abruzzo can be justifiably proud of its title 'The Greenest Region in Europe!'.

We saw this charming statue of the Madonna, which was at the foot of the steps.

Lake Bomba is below in the distance.  You can see a Canadair fire-fighting aircraft coming in to land on Lake Bomba to load up with tons of water to fight some local forest fires which have devastated nealy 400 hectares of land, including oak forests, olive groves and vineyards in the local Abruzzo area.  These aircraft scoop up almost 1,300 gallons of water in 12 seconds.  The pilots fly through narrow valleys and thick smoke, and they do this hour in and hour out. They are amazing!

Rugged mountain scenery surrounds the village. 


The youtube video below gives lots of info (in Italian) about Pennadomo. Towards the end you can see Elisa talking passionately about her role in this incredible life-changing project:

Visiting Pennadomo was one of the best experiences I have ever had here in Abruzzo.  I cannot wait to go again next year to see how the project has evolved!!

I wish Barbara, Elisa and all the villagers great success in achieving the goal of regenerating the village and bringing it back to life!!

Thanks so much for giving us such a lovely welcome to Pennadomo!!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

IATEFL Manchester Feedback

I originally wrote this feedback post on another blog, but thought I would like to add it here on my main blog.  Better late than never :-)

 I was very happy to be able to travel to Manchester on Saturday April 11th to attend the IATEFL conference for 2 days. I went there by train direct from Oxford.  The journey was very smooth and in no time at all I arrived in Manchester Picadilly and met my friend and colleague Carol.  I stayed in Manchester for one night at the Abode Hotel.

The conference was a great event all round and it was wonderful to have the chance to meet up with so many members of my PLN, albeit briefly. Below the only conference image I had taken from my mobile and this is a lovely one which includes Dr Nellie Deutsch and Vicky Loras.  It was a pleasure to meet them and so many others. Here's a link to a fabulous slideshow of IATEFL 2015 Manchester created by Dr Nellie Deutsch.

It was also a great pleasure to spend a lot of time with my colleague Carol Rainbow, and some time with Sue Annan from the Project 52 blog, Marisa, who has written an excellent feedback post here , and Sue-Lyons in the break times, and members of the Consultants-e team, on Sunday over cocktails :-) 
Sadly, I missed a few people I wanted to meet such as Sandy Millin, and Sharon Hartle, but being such a huge conference centre with over 2,000 delegates, it was not possible to see everyone amongst the crowds....

I attended a super British Council hosted event on Saturday night at the Manchester Town Hall, and was blown away by the magnificence of its grandeur and the awe-inspiring gothic architecture.  I had a truly super evening there, mingling with so many delegates and people I knew.....
The canapes and refreshments were delicious and the wine flowed!!  I found out that the bees painted on the floor of the town hall denoted the symbol of Manchester as a leading industrial power in the past (as busy as a bee).

Below a collage I created using of 4 images kindly shared by Carol Rainbow:

Prior to that I had also attended a Cambridge University Press party where the new series of Empower course books was presented at the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology, and that was very enjoyable as well.  Images below reproduced with kind permission from Carol Rainbow:

I received a free copy of the new B1 level Empower coursebook, which looks impressive.

I was lucky enough to be able to sample a slice of the delicious Going Mobile cake.  Pictures below reproduced with kind permission of Carol Rainbow :-))

I asked the authors Nicky and Gavin if they could sign my personal copy of Going Mobile, and they did!  I hope to write up a book review of it on this blog, so watch this space!

All the sessions I attended were very interesting and I learned a lot.  It was good to benefit from the knowledge shared and this certainly enhanced my CPD.  In particular I would like to mention the following ones:

'Spice up your lessons with a song' by Sandra Vida from Slovenia was inspirational and offered some practical and fun examples to use straight in the classroom.  Sandra has an excellent blog called Lessons with Music, which contains a huge source of lesson plans and ideas for using contemporary pop songs.

 I discovered some new techniques for using Pink Floyd's 'We don't want no education' as a topic to get teens to brainstorm what they DO want from education.

Also the song 'Add Me' by Chumbawamba to get students to discuss the dangers of friending strangers on Facebook was thought-provoking:

Paul Driver's session on using Augmented Reality was fascinating, and the future use of AR in EFL classrooms is probably just around the corner for most of us.

He gave us some great examples of work he is already doing with his students at the British Study Centre, Oxford, in this innovative and cutting edge area.

I also found  the talk by Jason Anderson on 'Lying is the best policy', based around his new publication called 'Speaking Games', very practical and will implement some of the ideas into my future teaching.

The many uses of 'GET' by Kate Evans appealed to me and I wasn't disappointed!

In addition, I will mention the talk by Candy van Olst, called ' How does chatting become a purposeful conversation'.  I think I already apply quite a few things she pointed out to her audience.  I will make sure I include even more fillers for 'just chatting' with my classes in the future!

Finally, I found the Sunday morning plenary session by Joy Egbert to be very informative and useful.  She mentioned lots of tips on how to promote task engagement and demonstrated a variety of technological tools, including Bighugelabs Magazine app, which I love using.

I am so thankful for having had this opportunity to develop my CPD and to meet so many people I connect with online.

Next year the IATEFL conference is held in Birmingham, and I would love to attend!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

SEETA Guest Blogger for April

I am proud to be this month's guest blogger for the South Eastern Europe Teachers Association.

I am currently having a break at the momen, so I am posting reflections and insights into teaching and discussing some of my favourite topics over the five days.

Please do join in the SEETA community. You will need to register in order to read the Guest Bloggers' posts and have access to many resources.  There is a huge archive of past guest blog posts and they make for fascinating reading!

In the past I have enjoyed many courses with SEETA, including mLearning, creative reading, digital storytelling, digital literacies, and humanism and modern technology.  I learned a lot from these excellent sessions and you can find out more by looking at the posts in my SEETA label

I am enjoying writing daily blog posts on a variety of topics connected to my teaching life, and I hope to see you there.

Monday, 30 March 2015

IATEFL Manchester 2015

I have booked my train ticket to Manchester and I will spend 2 days there, more or less.  I haven't attended a live international conference like this since IATEFL Brighton 2011, when I presented as well. The past few years I have kept extremely busy attending and presenting at online conferences, and I have to admit, the experiences have all been just as exhilirating and exciting!!
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I wrote a few blog posts about my time in Brighton:

IATEFL Brighton 2011 Rocked!
The King & I at IATEFL Brighton 2011:

The question is: does attending a conference in person have the slight edge over an online conference?  Well the obvious advantage is that you can physically meet and greet someone, you can have coffee, lunch or drinks with them, you can go dancing, you can share jokes, you can take group photos, selfies, swop business cards, swop stories and so on.

However, believe it or not, at an online conference, you can do all of the above, virtually, 24/7.  In 2nd Life I have attended a virtual drinks party and lots of food was present, and dancing too!  In online webinars I have shared virtual food and drinks from around the world, and attended farewell parties, the EVO Podcasting webinar, being one of the most amazing and memorable ones.  Also singing and dancing along to rap tunes at an online conference closing ceremony springs to mind....

So, what is the verdict??

I can't wait to meet members of my PLN on Saturday April 11th and Sunday April 12th!!  Please do come up and say 'Hi' if you see me!! I am very excited about the chance to catch up with so many people!!  It will be a dream come true....

I will be meeting members of The Consultants-E team on Sunday!

You can find out more about this great international event by clicking on the image below:

Tune in for live coverage from 10th April 2015