Thursday, 27 January 2011

Qwiki: Olive Oil and Abruzzo!!

Image above was taken yesterday near where I live. Click on the picture to see it in full.

Having spent most of today finishing off helping with the digging, planting and back filling of 20 olive trees, I came back to the computer to find out about Qwiki. It is a new multi media, interactive search experience, which is a cross between wikipedia, Google, Fotopedia and YouTube. Qwiki is also apparently developing an API, along with iPhone and iPad apps.

I decided to type in "olive trees", "olive oil" to see what would happen and below is the Qwiki search result. It is great that I was able to embed it onto my blog so easily. There are literally millions of topics you could choose from. The possibilities for classroom exploitation are enormous in terms of research projects you could set your students to do.

Abruzzo on Qwiki
I then typed in "Abruzzo" and the following Qwiki came up. It is a fantastic tool! The only slight thing I can say is that the accent and pronunciation of the Italian words is not perfect, but hey, I am sure that will be improved over time.

Further Information about Qwiki
"Wow! Qwiki is Engaging!" on Free Technology for Teachers.
"Newsy Video: Can Qwiki Compete with Google?" by the English Blog.

How do you think you will use Qwiki in your teaching situation?

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Quizlet Becomes Embeddable!

I have just received notification via Quizlet that this fantastic free online vocabulary flashcard quiz-making tool can now be embedded onto a blog. An extra feature is that the words also contain audio links so students can check the pronunciation.

Quizlet was created in 2005 by Andrew Sutherland, a 15-year-old boy. He got bored with memorising a list of animals in French one day, and so he decided to do something a bit more dynamic and memorable to help him remember the words. You can read the full fascinating story here.

Below is a set of cards that I made last year to practise a series of new words. Why don't you have a go with Quizlet for yourself? It is easy to register on the site and then you can keep all your sets of word games in one place and use them with your students. It's fun for students to create their own vocabulary sets for revision purposes. The site contains a huge resource bank of flash card games on all sorts of different topics which can be used in class. You can even learn and teach yourself Swahili if you like!!

Quizlet Challenge
If Quizlet is a new tool for you, why don't you have a go at my very simple quiz embedded below, and then go to the Quizlet site and create your first set to use in class with your students? Please do let me know how you get on.

PS Note to self: Oops! Do not write on blog without my glasses!

Monday, 24 January 2011

CO11: Free Online Conference 5th, 6th, 7th February 2011

Would you like to join me in attending Connecting Online 2011 a fantastic 3-Day Online Conference organised by Nellie Deutsch, from Integrating Technology for Active Lifelong Learning (IT4ALL)?

The Conecting Online 2011 Conference takes place on Friday February 5th, Saturday February 6th and Sunday February 7th via the WiZiQ online teaching platform. The series of free webinars are at the weekend, and so it will give more people the chance to attend this great event. There are many experienced presenters from all over the world, who will be sharing their knowledge of using the Internet and Technology for instruction and learning. There are 41 scheduled webinars, so there is a huge array of choice. Click on the link to see the list of talks and fantastic presenters.

Language in Motion: Teaching with the Flow
On Saturday February 5th, I will be presenting a talk that I first gave at Tesol Italy in November 2010. I have adapted and updated my presentation with a few more resources. The title of my presentation is: Language in Motion: Teaching with the Flow. I am passionate about teaching new words via the technology that is freely available on the Internet. I will outline some practical activities that work well for me in the classroom. I have created a lot of the activities myself, but I will also demonstrate how some of my students have used some Web 2.0 tools in an effective and engaging manner.

I do hope you will be able to attend the one-hour presentation at 9pm Western Europe Time on Saturday 5th February 2011. However, if you cannot attend, the webinar will be publicly available online. Here is a link with information below. Nearer the time, I will also embed a direct link to the talk again.

I hope you will join me for a series of exciting webinars. I look forward to seeing you at Connecting Online 2011.

Below you can view a tutorial by Nellie Deutsch which gives you more information about the conference and how to access the webinars.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Red Letter Day in Abruzzo

A huge thank you to all the members of my PLN, friends, family and dear colleagues who have sent me kind wishes for today. A new chapter is beginning, and I am ready to embrace it with the help of you all at my side!

I have embedded the lovely Wallwisher, which was sent to me earlier on via Twitter. It has really made my day!! Thank you for organising it Natasa! I have placed it here on my blog, so that I can look back on it in the future to come....
The Twitter Parade embedded in Shelly's message is awesome! I wonder how it's created? It's very clever!!

You can see lots of wonderful ideas for using Wallwisher below:
Spicing Up Your Posts: Part 2 Wallwisher by Sue Waters.
105 Classroom Ideas for Wallwisher by Sean Banville

Thank you to all my colleagues at the Lake School of English who sent me a series of fabulous Jib Jab messages. I have embedded one of them below, a spoof movie of Star Wars. It's really cool and I love all the ones that were sent to me!!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I'd like to add a series of fab resources by Jerry Blumengarten, Cybrary Man which are very useful for such occasions like "Happy Birthday". These are great to use in class with your students and for historical research purposes.

Once again, thank you to everybody for making January 23rd such a memorable day!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Free online course:mLearning, an Introduction

Image source here

I will be joining a short one-week mini course on mLearning run by The Consultants-E and hosted on the South Eastern Europe Teachers' Associations on-line community. The tutor will be Nicky Hockly, the Director of pedagogy at the Consultants-E. This course will be held from January 23rd to January 29th. 

Being one who still has her trusty Nokia 3310 which is almost but not quite on its last legs, I feel I need to know a bit more about a subject which is going to be HUGE in the future, which is coming NOW!

There are already 69 participants enrolled and it's lovely to recognise a few names.  Hope to see you there?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Playing Around with Images!

Welcome to my photo gallery of images edited with various tools that I have been playing around with recently. The "photo gallery" effect above was edited very easily with Photofunia, a new site that I read about thanks to Vicky Saumell's lovely blog post"Photofunia".

Vicky has a great array of posts on images that you can view via the Images label on the sidebar of her excellent Educational Technology in ELT blog. This is another post called "Working with Images" which contains some fab and practical information. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

Kelly in a Big Huge Labs Jigsaw Puzzle.

Big Huge Labs postage stamp effect:

Below an image of me and Joey edited with BeFunky and using gallery "pop art" feature:

Another oil painting effect with BeFunky

Below is a "book" effect using Photofunia. You can see little Samantha in the pages of the book. I think it's possible to place 2 different photos rather than the same one.

All these tools can be used to great effect in various projects by your students. There is a huge bank of different categories that can be selected. You can incorporate edited images into a special Powerpoint presentation and it will add an extra element of fun!

Why don't you try some of these tools out and see for yourself how easy they are to use?
I would love to hear how you get on :)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

#Reform Symposium for New Teachers 2011 - Feedback

The 2nd Reform Symposium was an absolutely fantastic success in my opinion and I would like to say a very big thank you to the tireless organisers and presenters and volunteers for all their hard work. Extraordinary conferences such as Reform Symposium don't just happen - they take hours of dedicated work behind the scenes to ensure there are no glitches and that everything goes smoothly.

Every presentation I attended was more than excellent - it was truly outstanding. I am sorry I couldn't stay up to view all of the sessions, but I will try to view the archived talks from the Reform Symposium site as soon as they become available. Each link to the presenter below has a forthcoming link to the recorded session as well. The links should be available by January 15th, so you will be able to view the presentations for yourself.

Elluminating Sessions
All the sessions were via the Elluminate platform and everything went very well. You can view a tutorial on how Elluminate works here. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to keep up with what is happening in education at the moment and it was very exciting to be a part of the audience. All the presenters had great visuals and there was a lot of audience participation via the chat box. People were also tweeting during the conference and I even managed to post a few tweets myself inbetween sessions. I have to confess that I can't seem to focus on a talk and tweet at the same time!

It was lovely to see names of people I recognised in my PLN and it felt really welcoming and there was a very friendly atmosphere and it was also a lot of fun!

I attended the very interesting talk on Glogster EDU by Jim Dachos and I learned a lot about its huge potential as a learning tool. Glogster Edu is used by a wealth of educators and students around the world. The EDU basic is free, and the Premium Glogster EDU comes with a lot of extra interactive features to experiment with. I haven't actually used this before and it is something I would like to try out in the future.

I attended Marisa Constantinides' excellent talk on Professional Development through Facebook and Nings. She told us how social networks help teachers with their CPD and showed a wide range of examples to demonstrate their effectiveness. Marisa plays a very active role on Facebook and her blog is number one on the Facebook network blogs. We were shown Marisa's very popular Facebook group page called English Language Study Group for Teachers and Learners of English.
I really enjoyed Marisa's talk very much and I learned a lot!!

The next talk I attended was the brilliant Opening Keynote presented by Dr Alec Couros. The Keynote was called Why Networked Learning Matters. Dr Alec Couros publishes all his materials and work online and he shares all his resources. He firmly believes in "open" education.

"If there is no sharing, there's no education"
I liked this quote in particular, "If there's no sharing, there's no education". This is so true. I agree it is great to share resources, whenever possible!! He also mentioned that when we blog as teachers, we are enlightening a lot of other people. I won't go into more details here as I highly recommend you view for yourselves Dr Couros' illuminating and very exciting talk. In fact I would like to see it again, as he referred to so many wonderful resources which are freely available. He quoted Downes 2010: "An education is something that we create ourselves" and this is possible in the progressive and evolving networking era that we are living in. I certainly feel that I am developing as a teacher more than ever before as I myself construct and develop my very own and unique "further education programme" with the help of the many resources available online.

"Love your students before you meet them"
For the last session I attended I had to set my alarm for 1.45 am in the morning! Was it worth it? Of course it was!!! I enjoyed every single moment of Greta Sandler's awesome presentation called "Creating Safe Learning Environments".

"Love your students before you meet them" is a memorable quote from the enthusiastic and amazing Greta Sandler from Argentina. In its simplicity, it is such a powerful and positive statement. Greta creates a very positive learning atmosphere in all her classes, where the key word is "respect". She does lots of collaborative blogging projects with her students and has achieved amazing results as you can see in her lovely blog About a Teacher. A great example of the type of work Greta is doing with her students with classes from around the world can be seen in this blog post called Diving into a Skyping Adventure . You can't fail to be inspired by her vitality and great passion for her job. Greta is also the co-creator of the "Blogs 4 Edu" initiative. This is an excellent project, and you can read more about it on the Blogs 4 Edu wiki.
You can read Greta's feedback of the conference in her lovely post "My #RSCON11 Take-aways."

Thank you very much once again to all the Reform Symposium committee for a highly educational and informative e-conference. It was a resounding success!!

Here is a list of all the presenters again for you to view the recordings of the talks when they become available soon. Have fun!!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Reform Symposium 2011 - an Unmissable e-Conference!

The 2nd Reform Symposium Conference will be hosted live this weekend on Saturday 8th January. I can guarantee you will get a lot from it in terms of Personal & Professional Development, and learning about new things connected to educational reform and teaching in general.
I had the huge honour of presenting at the Reform Symposium last year in July and I wrote about it in my post Reform Symposium 2010.

There are many guest speakers for this year's event and you can see the full list of fantastic presenters here. It will be an action-packed conference!! You can watch and join in from the comfort of your own home in your PJs even. I will try to attend as many sessions as I can, so I do hope to see you there. It will be lots of fun!! Below I have embedded the full programme, created by Kelly Tenkely, one of the Reform Symposium organisers.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Newsy Video: The Man with the Golden Voice

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by

A heartwarming story about Ted Williams, a homeless and penniless man with a special gift - a mellifluous, million-dollar, golden voice. A Youtube video of him has gone viral via Twitter and Facebook and he is now inundated with job offers for voiceovers. This story is a fantastic example of someone never losing hope, despite falling on great adversity. Read the full story on

More on this fascinating story from the sources below:
The Globe and Mail
The Daily Mail Online

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Abruzzo News - Partial Eclipse of the Sun

This morning I woke up to a cacophany of different sounds. Dogs barking, hunters shouting, chickens clucking merrily away, cats miaoing enthusiastically for their brekkers, and something absolutely breathtaking and truly spectacular was happening in the horizon. A partial eclipse of the sun!! I witnessed it through a lens darkly and it was the "ultimate astronomical show" imaginable.

My very talented hubby took the spectacular image above from the balcony and the one below was taken with the aid of a tripod at 15 minute intervals between 8.15 - 9.15 am. Don't ask me how he did the one below, because I haven't got a clue, but you could contact him on his blog. Thank you dearest K for kindly giving me permission to use your photos here.

If you would like to learn more about the partial eclipse of the sun across the world today and other interesting facts you can read the following information:
BBC News
BBC - Solar System - Sun
BBC News -Stargazing and Dark Sky Tourism

Monday, 3 January 2011

Make Belief Comics - News Update

This morning in my inbox I had a message from the Teaching with Technology section of English Companion Ning. Bill Zimmerman the author of has just published a set of over 100 free printables for use in lessons. This is a wonderful resource for teachers.

I love using this comic site as it is so easy to use. It is a pity a comic can't be embedded onto a blog immediately, but you can email it or save it to your computer. This is what you have to do to save your comic. I have created quite a few comics, and as you can see above, I have just created one in seconds to incorporate into An Idiomatic Story - Part 3. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

An Idiomatic Story - Part 2: The Return of the Lost Soul

Part 1 of this evolving digital story began here.

As he approached the bar in the tiny Abruzzo village, he paused for a moment and savoured the smells of cooking wafting across the terracotta rooftops. He was so hungry he could eat a horse, or a chicken or two.

Coming towards him was the most stunningly beautiful cat he had ever set eyes upon. The cat's eyes bored into him and made him feel uncomfortable. He looked away, full of remorse.

Bar del Principe was within a cat's whisker. He was absolutely penniless, without a bean to his name, but he was hoping the barman's daughter would take pity on him and forgive him if he gave her one of his devastatingly charming smiles.

He opened the door and walked in, slowly. The few customers drinking their Grappa Julia stopped and stared, mouths wide open in utter amazement. It was as if they had seen a ghost. "Non e possibile!! Frederick!! Ma... che fai qui???? We thought you had been kidnapped and.... .....", their voices trailed off in disbelief.

Frederick sought the eyes of the ravishingly beautiful Isabella behind the bar. She had just made a fresh Tiramisu and a jar of Kaki jam and was busily arranging the food on the counter.

"Mia cara Isabella.....," he began tentatively, hoping against all hope that she would find it in her heart to forgive him for abandoning her in such an ungallant and ungentlemanly fashion the year before.

Isabella's heart skipped 2 beats and her face turned as white as a sheet. She had been obliged to put her shoulder to the wheel in order to keep the wolf from the door, ever since that fateful, terrible day in December.

Mia cara, Isabella???

To be continued.....whenever I get inspired again

Being a relaxing Sunday afternoon, I decided to challenge myself to continue the story I had begun a short while ago.

Firstly, I made a Tiramisu and then a small jar of kaki jam (Persimmon). I wanted to somehow include these two things into the story.

Secondly, I wanted to involve some idioms I had found on blogs and I came across 2 in Ken Wilson's blog in the comments section to Guest post 16 by Emma Herrod. If you scroll down the comments, it is number 23! A fabulous example of 3 idioms in one sentence. When I saw them for the first time I knew I had to use them in a story. So thank you Ken for the inspiration! Also, thanks to Scott Thornbury for the push for me to make the persimmon jam (kaki in Italian) today as a result of his message and lovely image of persimmons on Twitter.

Thirdly, I thought to myself, why not kill 2 birds with one stone by adding to the story for me to use in my presentation for Iatefl Brighton in April.

Fourthly, Barbara Sakamoto's inspiring post on 2011:Challenge: Become a Beginner (again) motivated me a lot.

Finally, I am getting myself to do what I usually ask my students to do, and this is a fresh perspective for me and a real challenge for 2011.