Thursday, 14 October 2010

Seminar in L'Aquila for Tesol- Italy Teachers: Effective Images for Powerful Activities

In front of my PowerPoint display

It was my great pleasure yesterday to present at the first TESOL seminar of this new school year for Tesol Italy in L'Aquila, Abruzzo. This meeting was organised by Annamaria, the co-ordinator of the Tesol L'Aquila group, and it was lovely to meet her in person. She welcomed me and K (who was my personal chauffeur for the day) very warmly, and then helped me to set up the computer in the designated room, which was in the newly born Resource Centre for Teachers of Foreign Languages, hosted by Scuola Media "Dante Alighieri" of L'Aquila. This fabulous resource centre has been equipped by Tesol Italy with all kinds of materials available for the teachers of L'Aquila.

The session lasted approximately 2 hours, and there were over 20 teachers who were able to attend. My presentation was entitled "Effective Images for Powerful Activities". I showed a combination of slides I have used before, and a few additional new slides. I have embedded a Slideshare below.

Feedback and Analysis
It was an absolutely amazing and very moving experience for me to be with teachers, who have been through so much. I was very happy to see all the participants joining in the activities with such a lot of enthusiasm. It was a very interactive presentation, and I liked the fact that I was able to move around everyone and see how they were getting on with the tasks I set. I think we all had some fun and the time literally flew past!

The participants did the following activities amongst others:

  • brainstorm adjectives beginning with "C" to describe qualities of an effective teacher
  • discuss the qualities of an efffective teacher
  • 20 questions "guess the famous couple" (Romeo and Juliet)
  • retell the story of Romeo and Juliet in under 50 words in pairs / groups
  • retell the story around the class with each participant using only one word (this was fun!)
  • guess the story of how a couple met
  • create a poem/short paragraph from a picture prompt
  • read a poem out aloud with correct stress patterns
  • complete half a text to recreate a full text
  • guess a famous person (George Clooney) - relevance to Abruzzo being his latest film "The American"
  • briefly touch upon the implications of "teaching unplugged" via a picture prompt
Some Web 2.0 Tools
I introduced and showed examples of the following tools (amongst others), which I had used to create special effects and or edit my own images:

create a newscast picture with
create a film strip picture frame with
create a magazine effect and motivational poster with (see the one above)
a mind map using

The mind map below is one I have just created highlighting the lovely qualities of the teachers I met yesterday. Please press on the image to make it bigger. This has been saved as a .jpeg file.

Below is the same mind map, but it has been saved as a moving file, which is quite fun. This was embedded very easily straight from to my blog. Which one do you prefer?

Teaching Unplugged

I discussed the fact that teaching "unplugged" is a topic which is very topical at the moment. To teach with a coursebook or not / to teach "Dogme" style lessons or not. I introduced this topic briefly by a tuxpi - edited image of myself teaching back in 1981 (!!) in the GDR. Of course, back in those long distant days, I did literally teach "unplugged". Eg I had no internet, no OHP, no modern gadgets. Just the plain old, but incredibly useful, blackboard you can see behind me. The excellent "Streamline Departures" was the coursebook I used with all my Beginner level groups of students for the whole year. That is why after 30 years I still know the book inside out. I have very fond memories of it indeed!

I also showed the following image to generate a short discussion topic on "guess what is Janet saying to her students in 1982?"

As an addendum to our brief discussion yesterday, I would like to add the following excellent blog posts, which are currently featuring the subject of "Teaching Unplugged" principles:

Dogme Blog Challenge by Karenne Sylvester.
Dogme for All? by I'd like to think that I help people to learn English blog.
Unplugged Teaching Journal entry #2: My week with Marilyn by Jason Renshaw.

You might also find the following blog post "Animating your Coursebook", by Marisa Constantinides, very interesting.

On the theme of Romeo and Juliet, have a look at this absolutely amazing "Interactive Romeo and Juliet" resource, mentioned on Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers blog.

I was very touched when at the end of my presentation, Annamaria presented me with a beautiful book on the history of L'Aquila. I will treasure this book forever.

Many, many thanks Teachers of L'Aquila for your wonderful participation in my seminar. It was a huge pleasure to meet you all. Hope to see you at TESOL - Italy Rome National Convention next month!



:-) really cute pikkies of you back in the day!


Janet Bianchini said...

Thanks Karenne!

Yes, those were the days, when I was very young and enthusiastic.

Luckily, I'm still young in spirit, and still very keen to improve my teaching. Having brill teachers like you to inspire me, is a great incentive!

Have a fab weekend.


Natasa said...

How I wish I could have participated in that seminar! I simply love that slideshow with all those creative ideas.
BTW, I used to teach Streamline English (all four books) and I still remember every unit in the books. I loved Streamline, there was a lot of room for the teacher's own creativity.
Those were the days...
I had a really careful look at that board. Were you by any chance doing the unit on Lady Wyatt? I think it was called You the Jury?

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Natasa

I would have loved you to have been in my audience that day! (My goodness! What an action-packed grammatical sentence that is!)

Thank you so much for popping by and saying such kind words. It's always lovely to see you ;-)

I only used Streamline Departures with my beginners during that year in the GDR, and lots of my own supplementary visuals, realia etc

I am sure the board isn't connected to Lady Wyatt. It must have been a brainstorm of something that had cropped up "Dogme" style, from the students themselves.

To tell you the truth, which book in the Streamline series is Lady Wyatt in? I'm curious!

cloud 10 said...

Hi Janet. Just updating myself with your blog here in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. I'll be doing a teachers' course in a few weeks and feel totally out of the loop so looking for inspiration from you. Take care... glad the presentation went well. J x

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Jane

Wow!! Thanks. A message from the Highlands of Tanzania!! It's such a beautiful country, Jane, and you are really making the most of your time there.

I am sure you will be fine with all the wealth of material there is in the Teachers' Resource Room.

I can't wait to get back into the classroom on Monday. FCE in the morning and Elementary in the afternoon for one week. Should be fun!! Then, "Learning Curves:Making the Most of New Technologies" for a whole week after that, with 11 teachers on the course..

Have lots of fun!

J xx

Natasa said...

Hi Janet. Me again.
The Lady Wyatt story is from Streamline English Directions (the last one in the series). Of course, you said in your blog that you had only used Departures, but I was almost sure... The detective in me got busy trying to solve the mystery and I failed.
Anyway, I loved You the Jury. It is a story about an old lady who went into a department store and stole a scarf (or, did she forget to pay?) It is presented as a court case and the students' job is to be the jury. Every time I did the unit the students came up with a different verdict. It usually worked well.
I love your action-packed grammatical sentence at the beginning. Can I use it in my upper-intermediate class?

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi Natasa

Thanks for the great detective work! I have to admit I haven't used "Directions" as much as the other levels in the past, and so the Lady Wyatt unit wasn't so familiar to me, but it sounds like a great one to use!

Of course you can use my action-packed grammatical sentence in your class. You don't need to ask!

Have a great weekend!