Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Introductions and Icebreakers

You can click Wallwisher above to add your sticky, or for bigger image of Wallwisher, click here to add your stickies! Many thanks in advance.

Over the next 2 weeks I will be teaching 23 primary and secondary school EFL teachers in 2 groups at the Lake School of English, instead of writing about teaching! I love writing my blog, but it's time to get back to the chalkface, figuratively speaking. So, I've decided to experiment with my lesson planning here, where else? It will be a diary of events and also my learning journal.

One of my favourite icebreakers involves using stickies. I write down a combination of 5 numbers/names/years on the board, related to me eg
  • 3
  • 1979
  • Daphne
  • 18
  • 30

Students have to guess what these numbers/years/names refer to.

Students then write down 5 things related to them on a coloured stickie. They stick the stickie on themselves, and then walk around viewing as many other bits of information from the other students and trying to guess the significance of the numbers / names they see. It's a fun way of getting to know each other.

Web 2.0 Introductions and Icebreakers
I have experimented with creating introductions using Web 2.0 tools like the following. Please do write a comment about any other tools you have exploited when meeting a class for the first time. How was the new tool received? Any useful tips?

True or False information about your teacher. Students have to guess which facts are true.

Go Animate!
Questions to get your students talking and discussing right from the very beginning. The questions go too fast, but they will be paused to give students time to answer.

GoAnimate.com: Introductions and Icebreakers by Janet Bianchini

Glogster: Interactive poster
Facts about your teacher -students guess meaning of images etc. Students then create their own posters to display.

Look at Powerpointing Me by Kalinago English. It contains an excellent lesson plan for Introductions.

PS If you were wondering about the answers to the Stickies Intro activity, here they are.
3- I have 3 dogs
1979 - I graduated
Daphne - my best friend at uni
18-years since tying the knot
30- years of service

Sunday, 27 June 2010

My Nightmare Come True

Congratulations to the winning team, Germany. Sadly, England is coming home right now. No need for fancy lesson ideas, no heart for a "guess which adjectives to choose for the England v Germany match", which has just unfolded. My Chronicle of a Nightmare Foretold has come to fruition just now and it has well and truly done me in. Did I tempt fate? I will never know. The pain of being 2-0 down after approximately 30 minutes to a Germany side that were not supposed to be at their best, was awful. The drone of the Vuvuzelas did everything to dampen my growing fear. The 38th minute goal that was disallowed, was a shocker in true horror story fashion. Had the referee not had his eyes checked out before the match??

The Goal that NEVER was but SHOULD have been

This was the goal that went in, but it was disallowed for some unearthly reason. Anyway, I wouldn't like to be accused of sour grapes, so that is it. Job done. No going back. The dream is over for England.

May the very best team win this World Cup 2010.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Sofia - A Mention in Early EFL Blog!

Sofia has had a mention in Early EFL Blog by Leahn Stanhope!

Unfortunately, I and Sofia had a bit of a relationship "issue" the other evening, and she openly disobeyed me. I know she respects me, but on this occasion, there was something that she just could not let go of. She had a very simple choice: ignore me and eat something rather yucky (in my view), or listen to me and abandon the lump of desirable extra food (in her view), foraged from the jungle area. Hence the problem that arose.

Please read the following excellent posts which deal with a very interesting analogy. Leahn is teaching in Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands. Her blog is always full of useful lesson ideas and thoughts about teaching. I like it very much.

Commanding Respect
How to get Children and Dogs to Respect You

Friday, 25 June 2010

My First Ever Glogster

At last I have made my first Glog! I spent last night watching Russell Stannard's very informative and thorough Glogster tutorial. My Life in Abruzzo is a very basic Glog to begin with, but it was a lot of fun to create and the possibilities are endless. To view it in full size, click on the Glogster link on the top right hand side of the poster..

I wonder what took me so long to try Glogsters out? Next time, I would like to embed more links such as text, videos and audio to take maximum advantage of their interactivity. These posters have got many applications for educational purposes. You can find links and examples of some fabulous Glogsters below. It'll be quite a while before I get to their very high standards!! They will definitely be my inspiration to be more creative.

Glogster Tutorial from GlogsterGirl.com
Free Technology for Teachers
Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century
Glogsters from Greetings from the World wiki by Arjana Blazic
Ozge karaoglu's Glogster wiki
Sean Banville's Glogster Introduction Lesson

Glogster EDU
I have added this very informative Youtube tutorial on Glogster EDU by Traci Blazosky after reading the comment below by Karen.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Lake School of English in Oxford:YouTube Video

A fabulous YouTube video of the Lake School of English, Oxford has just been published on the Internet. I feel very proud to show you the video below. I have taught some of the students featured in the video and it is lovely to see some of my colleagues as well. In my personal opinion, I would like to say that the Lake School is the BEST school in the UK for learning English! I actually taught there for well over 20 years, hence most of my teaching career, before moving to Abruzzo. Leaving the nest was hard, but I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to continue enriching my teaching experience by occasional guest teaching slots at the Lake School during the year. I can't wait to see everyone again next week. I will be teaching on the very popular Teachers' Refresher courses. Enjoy the video below and then think about coming to the school to improve your English and have lots of fun at the same time. I can certainly promise you that!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

England Delivers!

Phew! Listening to the match on the radio on my own with the menagerie in tow in the garden was a novel way to pass the time.
England lives to see another day. Onwards to the next stage. Maybe, just maybe, my bad dreams will be over, for now.
How do you think England players and fans feel at this moment? How about Slovenia? Pick from the adjectives below.

A Breaking News English Lesson from Sean Banville on the match here, and a fully comprehensive list of Sue Lyons- Jones collection of top links to World Cup Resources here.

Engerland Expects!

Who do you think is going to win the England v Slovenia match today? Which adjectives in the Tagxedo below describes how England will feel after the match? How about Slovenia? How will they feel?

Chronicle of a Match Foretold
I have a recurring nightmare about today's match, which I just can't shake off. This is how it goes.
  • Slovenia will score a goal first, breaking English hearts.
  • Then England will score a goal to go evens.
  • We're in seventh heaven.
  • We're on cloud 9.
  • We're over the moon.
  • Score at half time 1-1.
  • Then Slovenia will score a dramatic goal in the opening minute of the second half.
  • Score 2-1 to Slovenia.
  • We will be put through the wringer for the next 44 minutes.
  • 30 seconds left before the final whistle.
  • I'm feeling devastated.
  • Then out of the blue, in the dying seconds, gooooooooaaaal!!
  • England 2- Slovenia 2
  • We go to extra time.
  • Weary legs, slow bodies, spirits diminishing.
  • Everyone dreading the P-Factor.
  • We all know it is going to happen.
  • It is England's destiny.
  • It is something pre-ordained.
  • We will go to Penalties as that is the way it ALWAYS goes.
  • Why upset the applecart this time round?
  • Agonisingly, the end of extra time draws to a close and that is it.
  • The moment has come.
  • The moment the whole of England has been inexorably heading towards right from the very beginning.
  • The final countdown.
  • Who will take the penalties?
  • How are the players feeling?
  • What emotions are going through their minds?
  • I hide behind the cushion.
  • I close my eyes.
  • I wait for the impending unfolding drama.
The Agony and the Ecstacy
I cannot bear the agony. The adrenalin is pumping away. My heart beating furiously. The vibrant sound of the Vuvuzelas growing ever more deafening. In this defining moment, I have to know from a linguistic point of view. Is Fabio thinking in Italian or in English? How is he motivating his players? The players get ready. I cannot watch. The first England player goes up to take the penalty. The noise of the Vuvuzelas intensify to a deafening crescendo. How can the player concentrate? He can't. OMG the ball has gone wide of the net. OMG. I cannot believe it. Well, I guess I can believe it actually. History is repeating itself. I feel devastated. That's it. We're done for. It's over, surely?

Slovenia go up to take the penalty. I can't bear it. I know they will score. I can feel it in my heart of hearts. I take a sip of the lovely crisp Trebbiano d'Abruzzo that is keeping me only ever so slightly under control. I can't bear to look. I hear boos from the crowd. Impossible. Slovenia have missed???? I feel suddenly elated, uplifted, my spirits perk up. Maybe, maybe there's a glimmer of hope? Again, I can't look. Suddenly I hear it. Goooooaaaal! We're back in the flow. All is good, all is calm. We have a chance now, surely?? Slovenia without hesitating cooly thunder the ball into the net. Deflated, devastated, disheartened, I can now feel the end of the world approaching. Score 2-2. This pattern is repeated until of course the final decisive ball. It is win or lose. No room for error. This final kick of the ball will decide who wins. Who will go through to the next round. I cannot bear it. I go outside and then.......goooooaaaal!!
Then I wake up, sweating.

Who will win today?
Luckily, it was only a bad dream. Thank goodness this game will NOT be going to penalties. As I said, it's a nightmare scenario. I desperately want England to win, but the way they have been playing recently has been woeful and so the players have got to pull their socks up, big time!!!

My prediction is that England WILL make it to the next round. Fingers well and truly crossed! Without all the drama above, preferably!

You can find a comprehensive list of World Cup resources to use in your classes on Teacher Reboot Camp's latest blog post "Why it Makes Sense to Teach the World Cup".

Monday, 21 June 2010

Book Review: Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide

I am delighted to have the opportunity to review the recently published Moodle 1.9 Theme Design:Beginner's Guide. The book is written by Paul James Gadston and it is published by Packt Publishing.

Moodle stands for Modular Object-Orientated Dynamic Learning Environment and it is a free open-source e-learning software platform, also known as a Virtual Learning Platform or Learning Management System (LMS). Moodle is the fastest growing VLE in the world and it is used successfully by educators and universities around the globe. It is a platform to be reckoned with and hence there is a growing need for books such as Moodle 1.9 Theme Design:Beginner's Guide, which is designed specifically to educate teachers, ICT technical personnel and Moodle administrators about the many features involved in creating a theme design effectively and with ease.

As I still consider myself a relatively inexperienced Moodle user, I was intrigued to find out if this book actually delivers what it says ie "This is a Beginner's Guide, with plenty of worked examples, step-by-step visual guides, and explanations". Namely, at the end of reading Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide, would I be confident enough to create, design and then install a Moodle theme to my own particular specifications?

The book is divided into 2 main parts, with the first five chapters giving a very clear outline of the Moodle VLE and its features, including the software that is necessary for effective use. There are 4 Multiple Choice Pop Quizzes in the first 5 chapters of the book. These are effective for reviewing what you have learned. The second part, chapters 6 to 10, deals with showing you how to create a moodle theme from scratch, how to customise it and then implement it successfully.

Does Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide deliver its promise?

I believe it does so in a very thorough and practical, no-nonsense manner. The whole process of theme design is in fact quite detailed and rather technical, with a lot of HTML code involved. I personally tend to struggle with such code. However, the constant reinforcement of the whole process is something I appreciate in this book, and I personally found the numerous examples of screenshots to be particularly helpful and an essential feature to help my understanding. There is a brief outline of the contents at the beginning of each chapter, which serves as a practical checklist. The "What just happened?" heading consists of a quick review after each chunk of information is explained. This is a nice feature and is good for highlighting the material the reader has to take in. The "Have a go hero" heading challenges the reader to try out the lesson tips. The summary at the end of each chapter allows for consolidation of information taught.

The frequent bold "Time for action" headings in each chapter give excellent instructions for tasks to be completed by the reader. This heading is used very frequently and makes it very clear that specific "Hands on" practice is necessary. The tasks are based on getting to grips with manageable chunks of information at a time.

The Glossary of useful terms, and the section on acronyms included at the back of the book are very good to facilitate the understanding of a lot of terminology, which maybe is not commonly known. For example, I had never heard of the term "skinning" before, and I found out it is interchangeable with "theming", which refers to the look and feel of a web application. I also learned about CSS, which stands for Cascading Style Sheets. Most key words are written in bold in the main text to make them stand out more, and I liked this particular style.

Would I recommend you go out and buy this book? If theme design is of paramount importance to you, and I believe this undoubtedly is a vital element of any Moodle course, then I would honestly say yes. Moodle 1.9 Theme Design:Beginner's Guide gives you a whole array of practical and very thorough sound advice and guidance to help you create your special and unique theme. As a general book to read on this particular aspect of Moodle, it is also well worth reading to gain a more in-depth analysis.

If you want to create your own Moodle theme design from scratch in the future, this book would definitely be well worth buying as it covers all you need to know in a very clearly explained, in-depth and easily understood format. Have a look at a free sample of the book, Chapter 3 "Customizing the Header and Footer".

Happy reading!

I have received a free e-copy of the book for me to write a review, which is based purely from my personal and honest perspective. I hope the review will give you some insight into the essence of the book.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Multi-Tasking:The Way to Keep Busy!

Picture above shows Multi Janets Tasking!

The past few days I have literally been making hay while the sun shines, getting up unfathomably early, in order to take the dogs for a walk, then hack away at the ever growing jungle at the back of our home, sorting out 3-4 compost piles, building my huge haystack in the middle of the land ready for a future blog post (I'm not joking!). In addition, I have had to constantly check up on the 5 incorrigible "Amigas" and sort out the never ending trail of devastation that they leave in their wake. Several cucumber plants trampled, tomato plants decimated, pepper plants pecked at and well, a lot of other misdemeanours. Anyway, apart from all these daily tasks, I have been as busy as a bee online!

As this blog serves as a personal diary for me as well as my personal development portfolio, I would like to share links to the following posts and say a big thank you to everybody that is mentioned.

A Journey in TEFL:Guest Post

My dear friend Eva Buyuksimkesyan from A Journey in TEFL, invited me to do a guest post on her blog a few days ago. I didn't hesitate in accepting. I wrote the post "The A - Z Files: The Secret to Organising your TEFL Life! in a very short time, because I felt inspired by the subject and I wanted to share a few of my secrets to keeping organised.

On this post I revealed that I have started a wikispaces A- Z folder where I keep all my bookmarks in alphabetical order of subject. It is a private and personal reference sheet for me but you are welcome to browse through it and check out the links if you wish. I won't be accepting contributors to this venture for the time being as it is purely intended for my own CPD and for ease of finding sources at the drop of a hat.

OUP ELT Global Blog:Guest Post
I have just written a guest post for OUP ELT Global blog called "Renew the Passion and Go with the Flow!". I enjoyed writing this post very much, as it made me think what useful tips I could share with teachers. Please do share your thoughts with other practical tips you have in the comments section on the blog post. That would be great!

Teaching Village:What you Can Learn from Barbara's PLN Quiz 2 (June 18th)
I was delighted to be one of the 4 winners of Barbara Hoskin Sakamoto's first PLN quiz What you can learn from my PLN -1 (June 13th), which I took last week. Barbara now has her 2nd quiz up and running on her Teaching Village blog and you can find it on What you can learn from my PLN Quiz - 2 (June 18th) . I am thrilled that one of the five posts selected for this week's quiz includes a post from me called Do It Your Way. Please do try out the quiz and you could win some lovely chocolate and goodies!! I'm looking forward to receiving mine in Oxford soon. Thank you very much Barbara for creating such an inspiring way for us teachers to learn more about each other and to share resources.

Teacher Reboot Camp:Future Guest Post
All in all, a very busy but rewarding few days. Why has there been such a flurry of guest posting activity? What has motivated me? What has urged me to get out of my Comfort Zone? There is a clue in Shelly Terrell's inspirational The 30 Goals Challenge Continues This Summer post on Teacher Reboot Camp. After I have checked up on my menagerie, done a bit more land work, I will be writing a post for Shelly, one of the most inspirational people you could ever hope to meet. I haven't met her, but I feel as if I know her. Watch Shelly's space!

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Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide
I am putting the final touches to my next book review -Moodle 1.9 Theme Design: Beginner's Guide by Paul James Gadsdon published by Packt Publishing. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The PLN Staff Lounge's Fabulous "They Tried to Teach Me With Edtech" Song

I wish I could have heard Sue-Lyon Jones' (from The PLN Staff Lounge) brilliant and very clever song called "They Tried To Make Me Teach With Edtech" before the start of my Educational Technology adventure, over 18 months ago! I feel that the song sums up my experience of being resistant to modern technology for such a long time. As a previous committed life-long technophobe, I was really petrified of experimenting with technology beyond my simple emails, using the photocopier, Word and the OHP. These tools were for years the only means of technology I felt confident with.

The Phoenix
Of course I kept up to date with what was going on via my younger colleagues and I read about blogs, wikis and VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments), but I simply didn't have the courage to experiment with them on my own! I was too scared, I admit it, of inadvertently pressing the wrong buttons and deleting everything, or of crashing the computer and breaking it. Well, as you may know from previous posts, these things have all happened to me since joining the edtech revolution and I have lived to tell the tale. I now accept that breakdowns are a part of technology and there is always a back-up plan to counter-act this, isn't there?

Ironically, I guess, my life turned around a full 360 degrees, when I actually inherited the computer that died a horrible, painful death one day, and it was going to be thrown into the scrap heap. I innocently asked K if he could possibly fix the computer for me to "play around with". Lo and behold, it indeed rose from the ashes like the Phoenix, and it is this very old computer that I am using now, that encouraged me to be a little bit more adventurous. My feeling was that if I accidentally "broke" it, it wouldn't be the end of the world, since it had already died before. That was my very simple philosophy, anyway. The rest, or so they say, has gone down in Abruzzo folklore...

Updated Animated Video Version

The GoAnimate version above was remixed from Sue's original video by the very talented Alex Francisco from Zarco English Tool of the Day.

Sue's song has such a catchy tune that I know you will be humming it to yourself straightaway! This song would make a great introduction to discussing the use of technology in education.

Images courtesy of Getty Images Stock Photos

Monday, 14 June 2010

What You Can Learn from Barbara's PLN

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto from Teaching Village has created a fabulous quiz called"What you can learn from my PLN". The quiz consists of 5 questions based on 5 different posts published by members of Barbara's Personal Learning Network (PLN). Each question involves very careful reading of the selected posts. I found the quiz very enjoyable and challenging. I learned a lot from the educators who had written the posts. I think the idea of having a certificate is a lovely one and I'm very proud of mine, displayed below. There will be 5 quizzes in all, each based on 5 different blog posts from Barabara's PLN. Have a go at quiz number one on Barbara's blog.

Thank you very much Barabara for thinking of this very innovative way of challenging your readers to expand their horizons and learn from other educators. It's a brilliant idea!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The Highs and Lows of Following Engerland in the World Cup

Well, I knew it wasn't going to be easy following England in the World Cup and of course, I was right. My early rash and utterly optimistic prediction of a 2-0 win for the National team was way off the mark as we had to settle for a mediocre 1-1 draw against USA. The Wordle below gives you the highlights of the match report according to the Telegraph.

Here is a round-up of articles from Yahoo Sport. The Sunday Mirror has rather unkindly labelled Green's blunder as "The Hand of Clod" as opposed to "The Hand of God". A clod refers to an akward or stupid person.

Fan Norris
As you can see below, Norris being an authentic home-grown, free range Italian bird, showed her support for the England team in her own unique way. Photo edited by Picnik Football Fever and idea from Larry Ferlazzo's fabulous Neat World Cup Links.

Fabio:English or Italian Thoughts?

Which language does the England Team coach Fabio Capello shout in when he is not happy with his team? This question fascinates me from a linguistic point of view. Does Fabio revert to Italian or does he get angry in English? I tried my hardest to lip read during the match, but I couldn't work out what he was saying. Any ideas from anyone?

More links to fantastic, topical World Cup resources from:

I am really excited about discussing the World Cup and using some of these wonderful resources in July.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Where the Hell is Matt in South Africa?

Have you been to any of the places in South Africa where Matt has done his lovely Diski dance routine? If so, what are your memories? If you are in South Africa now for the World Cup, which places from the video would you like to visit while you are there? To understand the lingo better, here's a handy list from the Macmillan Dictionary Blog of 40 South Africanisms you should know.

Where the Hell is Matt?
I came across the video above via my twitter stream just now. Thank you AnaMaria from LifeFeast blog! I know I have been living in the wilds of Abruzzo the past couple of years, but I have no idea how I have missed the "Where is Matt?" videos and dance routines. It's the first time I have heard of Matt Harding. I love the dance he does with people all over the world!

Possible lesson idea for speaking practice and Present Perfect review is to get students to predict which places the teacher has been to, hasn't been to, would like to go to and why. Play the video above, do general feedback and then students guess for their partner and give feedback in small groups. Extension activity, students do a search on the Internet for one of the places on the video they haven't been to, but would like to visit. Ask them to do a short presentation to the class/small groups, saying why they would like to visit the place chosen.
How would you exploit any of the Matt videos? I would love to hear your ideas! I really must get out more!! I have only been to 12 of the 42 places on the video, and I would really love to go to ...........which places????

How the Hell did Matt Get People to Dance With Him?

I found this video on Youtube and watched Matt explain how he managed to undertake such a huge project. It looks as if everyone had a lot of fun!!

Friday, 11 June 2010

World Cup Footie:The Beautiful Game is Back!

The Beautiful Game has arrived in South Africa and it is raring to go, reaching out to billions of people around the globe. I sat enthralled watching the opening ceremony last night. Shakira shaking her stuff and singing "Waka waka", the World Cup theme song, really stood out. The sheer infectious enthusiasm displayed by all the artists was amazing and I loved it all.

I urge you to go to the fantastic sites below, where you will find a wealth of activities, resources all dealing with South Africa World Cup 2010.

Italy or England?

You may be wondering which team I will be supporting. Well, it will be both of them! Having lived in England all my life and now living in Italy for the past 2 years, my heart is divided. I decided I didn't want to break it into 2 pieces, so this seems to be the best option and I feel fine about supporting 2 teams equally. Will the Italian manager Fabio Capello lead England to World Cup glory? Will Marcello Lippi lead Italy to a back-to-back World Cup victory? Holders Italy are ready to regain the trophy, according to this article from the Telegraph.

I'm off to watch the opening game between South Africa and Mexico in a short while. May the best team win!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Arabella's Top 10 Links for a Second Life Adventure

Arabella looking a bit lost in Second Life
Arabella was given a twirl last Wednesday in her Second Life. She had some great fun with her new friends. Her mentor wasn't able to work out how to access full speaking controls, but that will come eventually, one hopes. Arabella can now do the following things in Second Life:
  • sit down on a seat
  • do yoga
  • choose new clothes to wear
  • fly (I think she learned to fly before she could walk)
  • walk forwards and backwards
  • send text messages
  • answer messages
  • take snapshots
  • accept new friend requests
  • dance 7 different dances
  • make a lot of different gestures
  • get lost very easily!
Unfortunately, Arabella can't do the following yet:
  • eat or drink anything
  • change her appearance
  • speak (no sound)
  • follow other people very easily
  • follow directions (her creator can't do it in real life either)
  • undestand a lot of things in her new virtual world
  • teleport other avatars
Questions, Questions, Questions

Is one's avatar an extension of oneself or an "alter ego"?
Can one invent a completely new type of person?
If you have always been a goodie two-shoes in Real Life, for example, can you become a baddie in Second Life?
Can you actually sell things for real in Second Life?
Is a vivid imagination an essential quality?
Can you get qualifications via Second Life?

Arabella having the time of her life

A Second Life Beginner
I vowed to breathe life into Arabella as one of my resolutions for 2010. I am thrilled that she is slowly being given a chance to develop. She is a complete and utter beginner in an alien world. I am experiencing what it is like to be a beginner again, when it all seems to be so difficult and the learning curve is a very steep one. I have often taught complete beginners in the past. and this feeling is very good to remind me of the cycles that one goes through as a beginner. It's a bit of a scary feeling, but with expert guidance and lots of peer work with colleagues in the same boat as me, it is something that is not impossible any more. Of course, it will take hours of studying, copying, learning, practising, to become a proficient Second Lifer, if in fact Arabella decides to pursue this new endeavour.

Top 10 Links to Second Life Resources and TutorialsSome great posts and resources that Arabella has bookmarked for her mentor to read, digest and then learn from:

Second Life Welcome Page
Second Life for Beginners from the Second Life wikiSecond Life posts on Nik's Quick Shout
Second Life Educational Resources by Rebeka Simons
Does language learning in Second Life have serious potential? by Jason Renshaw
One week in Second Life by Graham Stanley
Why Every Language Teacher Needs a Second Life by Barbara Sakamoto
Second Life Tutorial 1 from Teacher Training VideosSecond Life Tutorial 2 from Teacher Training Videos

I will keep all the Second Life resources I come across in this post here, so it will be easy to find them all in one place. Please do feel free to share your favourite resources for learning about and learning from Second Life. As Arabella's creator and mentor, and ultimately responsible for her well-being, I would appreciate your comments, and any tips would be wonderful. Many thanks.

Arabella investigating the Open University in Second Life

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Q&A:17th Edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival

Mary Ann Zehr from Learning the Language Blog has just hosted the 17th edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival. Mary has created a great question and answer type post with 20 fabulous blogs from around the world. The topics range from lesson ideas on how to use Voicethread, playing Bingo, using fun and games with Very Young Learners, using visual prompts including flickr resources, the value of poetry, communal writing, education philosophy and much, much more. Even Joey is featured! A veritable feast of blogging delights!

created at TagCrowd.com

Please do take a look through the 17th edition of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival and enjoy browsing through all the great ideas and resources. Thank you Mary for putting them all together in such a unique fashion.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Blog Generator Machine! by David Deubelbeiss

I came across the fabulous "Blog Generator" machine below via David Deubelbeiss' wonderfully informative blog EFL Classroom 2.0 All you have to do is press the link, and hey presto, it will take you to a random blog from the TEFL world. Some are well-known, others may be totally new for you. This is an inspirational idea, which helps to highlight the huge variety of blogs that are written all over the world. I really enjoyed playing with this feature and I decided I wanted to show it here, so that you can have a go as well, if you haven't already seen it on other blogs. I can assure you, you will find many hidden gems within the lucky dip!

Picture from www.gettyimages.com and then made into a poster effect using www.fodey.com extras

I'd like to say a huge thank you to David for allowing everyone to share the download of this great and fun creation. As David says "There are 130 blogs in the bunch, culled only in two ways. 1. They have been regularly updated (at least 1 post in the last 3 weeks) 2. Are not commercial mouthpieces (however soft)."


Random ELT Blog

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Cherry Picking

I knew I had to write this post today as soon as I saw these cherries high up in a very inaccessible and potentially dangerous place. The title "Cherry Picking" came to mind like a bolt of lightning. Not the unflattering idiomatic sense of the word, but the literal meaning. I also envisaged the exact image I wanted. My cherries on the balcony with the stupendous view in the background. Metaphorically speaking, this view is my constant source of inspiration, my catalyst, my continuing support. One needs a clear view or outlook on life. Where is one heading? What is one's "raison d'etre"? Does one make a difference?

The Other SideThis morning I don't know why, but I felt momentarily deflated. I felt like a small fish in a huge pond of ever increasing magnitutude. I asked myself a very honest question. "Janet, do you feel down, because although you were nominated in the Top 100 blogs, you didn't achieve the final 100?" I thought for a few moments, and this is my answer to self. "It would have been a huge thrill, of course, and it would have made my day and my week, but there were far worthy winners." I have mentioned this phrase here. Then it hit me. The word "worthy" by my very own definition. Had I somehow subconsciously implied that I or the other 395 blogs who were nominated were not "worthy" for not being in the final 100? How might they all be feeling? It made me ponder. I fell into reflection. I walked outside into the bright sunshine and spied upon the ruby red cherries, glistening enticingly.

Inaccessible Delights
Seeing the cherries high up in the tree and inaccessible to me, I knew I had to somehow pick them. I had to do it alone. It was a test of my character. Caution well and truly thrown to the non-existent wind, I gingerly clambered up the steep perpendicular embankment at the back of the house, and grabbed one of the branches, and then twisted it so it came back towards me. I had a stark choice. Did I carry on with my quest or give up? Well, the rest is in fact, minor history. Proud of my endeavours, I decided to wrap the cherries in a nice red ribbon and hence the top photo. The photos are on my blog now to remind me that life is complicated at times and seemingly impossible, but that you can achieve the impossible, if you really literally reach out and grab it. I managed to pick these cherries with great difficulty, but I did it! Failure was simply NOT an option. Success smelled sweet as I held the prizes in my hand.

Permission GrantedLife can deflate you at times. You have to pick yourself up and spur yourself onwards and upwards. Remember that feeling sorry for yourself is a pointless waste of your valuable time. Think of a beautiful scene and give yourself permission to relax for a moment amongst the hurly burly that surrounds you. These images will be a lasting reminder for me personally that life is what you make it. I had to take a risk in picking these 5 cherries way high on high, just for this blog post to be written as I am typing. The self-imposed cutting edge. I can choose to continue with my sombre mood or choose to ignore it, and completely engulf myself with what I love doing best. No choice really, is there?

Swimming or Drowning?
Then I read Natasa's excellent and thought-provoking post "Swimming or Drowning?" and it all made sense. Sometimes life can get too hectic with an online world which dominates so much that there is no time to really see what is in front of you in the offline world. I am truly blessed with an idyllic lifestyle and environment. I do not know what is going to happen from day to day. I should appreciate this more, instead of analysing things far too much.

Writing is.......
How do you cope with a momentary loss of confidence? Please do feel free to share your experiences.

For me, writing is therapeutic. Writing is uplifting. Writing is..............? If you wish, please complete the gap with your own thoughts. As always, I would love to hear them.