Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011: The Year of Living Simply Yet Fabulously!

2011 was a simple year, yet full of exciting, fabulous events. My current life in the Abruzzo countryside is a mixture of down-to-earth living and connecting with people from all over the world via the Internet.

Helping K carry logs chopped for firewood in our jungle.

A new olive tree, my Xmas pressie!! This 3-year-old olive tree cost 8 euros from our local garden centre, Rosa D'Oriente in Cepagatti. Dr Luigi very kindly selected this Leccino variety for me. The idea that this olive tree will be here in a hundred year's time, long after I am gone, gives me a good feeling. It should withstand all that nature will throw at it and it will survive to grow into a venerable tree, I hope!!

The happiness I derive from living amongst chickens, cats, dogs, falcons, the occasional wild boar, olive groves and vineyards is one that invariably transcends having the latest material goods. However, I have to confess, I do get the odd pang of desiring something, but I content myself by saying I can't have it NOW, but hopefully at a later date. This usually does the trick....

I know this solitary lifestyle could be transient, so I am making the most of it, and yet at the same time, trying to do my utmost to further my teaching career, whether virtual or face to face, which is now in its incredible 33rd year!!

Many Heartfelt Thanks to....
.......all the wonderful team at The Lake School of English, Oxford for their continued support. I enjoy teaching there so much, and the course participants are always so keen! Many best wishes to all the lovely staff, and teachers and students I have had the pleasure of teaching this year.

In addition, I would like to say a very special thanks to all the fabulous team at The Consultants-E for making this year very interesting and varied with the different online projects I have had the pleasure to have been involved in.

To everyone I know, via this blog or Twitter or other projects I have participated in this year, I would like to say a very, very BIG thank you to my PLN - Passionate Learning Network. I appreciate all the support and guidance that I receive. I hope I can give the same back to you, I really do.

So, 2011 is nearly over and it's time for a few reflections!!!

Blog ChallengesLinkI took part in 6 blog challenges! Thank you to each and every challenge organiser. It was a pleasure to be a part of the EFL community. Below are links to the original blogs, which hosted the challenges.

Dave Dodgson : Truth or Lie?
Vicky Loras: What's Your Story?
David Warr: A Word Cloud Blog Challenge
Adam Simpson: 11 from'11
Ann Hodgson and Brad Patterson: Compare and Contrast
Anna Loseva : ELT Workplaces

Blog Carnivals
I took part in two fabulous blog carnivals this year.
Eva Simkesiyan: Warmers, Fillers and 1st Week Activities.
Berni Wall: The Most Popular Posts on your Blog

The Year of Webinars and E-Conferences
I continued to attend and present at international webinars and Virtual conferences. I feel immensely happy that I participated in them and I still can't believe it's true!! My trusted and faithful laptop has taken me on a rollercoaster virtual ride and I was in 7th heaven!! Thank you to all the organisers of the following events!

Connecting Online 2011
Virtual Round Table
Reform Symposium 2011

The Year of Firsts!

I tried out quite a few new tools for the first time and you can see which ones in the Tagxedo below. You can find out how I got on with them by searching for the labels on the sidebar.
My web curation site on Comics and Cartoons was begun in July 2011 specifically to house the links and resources connected to my Reform Symposium online webinar on Fun with Comics and Cartoons in the Classroom. I would like to say thank you to all my fellow "Scoopers" for suggesting new comics and cartoon sites and posts to add to this growing collection, which I hope is useful in some way! In particular, the BookChook blog has very kindly suggested lots of materials to add, and I appreciate this collaboration very much!

The Comics and Cartoons site is doing very well! It now has 100 followers, and has had 2,000 page views, with 1,200 visitors
! I am delighted by this, and would like to thank everyone involved in making this particular project such a great success. I don't plan to curate other topics for the moment, as I already follow quite a few topics anyway. However, I don't know what 2012 will bring, so it will be interesting to see what happens in this area.

Electronic Village Online 2011

I attended a 5-week course in January 2011 on Digital Storytelling and learned so much from my lovely tutors and fellow participants. What I gained from the course helped me to produce my very own digital story called "An Idiomatic Love Story". This formed the central part of my first ever presentation at IATEFL Brighton 2011. You can find all the materials I created here.
The Year of SEETA Courses!
I attended 4 marvellous free online courses via SEETA and I had 4 of the best tutors in the world as moderators! Interacting with fellow teachers from around the globe was also amazing. If you would like to read my feedback on each of the courses below, please look under the label SEETA in my blog Sidebar!

A special mention to Chiew from IASKU blog for the fantastic interviews that he is recording with teachers from all over the globe. It was a huge honour for me to be interviewed by him during the summer. Click here to view all his guest interviewees.
I would like to say a big thank you to all the fab moderators and team of ELTChat, held every Wednesday at noon and 9pm UK time. They are doing stirling work in givng teachers from all over the world the chance to discuss pedagogical matters of great interest. I hope to be a more active member in 2012!! To find out more, click on the ELTChat wiki link here.
QR Codes

Writing a blog post on QR codes was one of my most researched topics this year and has led me to be curious about how they will impact on the future of learning. Already I can see that they are playing a big role in a lot of areas such as marketing a product, for example. Recently, I have read a piece on Motorcycle News quoted as follows: "BMW is now incorporating QR codes into the camouflaging used on disguised road-going prototypes, so sharp-eyed and curious onlookers can use their smartphones to scan the codes and go to an official website to find out exactly what they have just seen."
I have discussed the use of QR codes with my hubby K, and I think I have imparted a curiosity in him to find out more about their use. I am thrilled that he has taken on board some of the ideas. He is now busily researching ways to deal with such codes in his industry, high level motorbike training. He's already experimenting with a QR code for his blog home page.
To the left, you can see a photo I took of K riding home on his motorbike after testing out the new road surface!! It passed the test, thankfully. You can see the same photo here.

Happy New Year (mp3)

Wallwisher Resolutions for 2012
I'd like to invite you to add your wishes for 2012!! Hope they will all come true!! Just double click on the Wallwisher to post a stickie and add your wish or resolution.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas 2011 Wishes from Janet's Abruzzo Blog

During this festive period, I would like to send a heartfelt message of joy, peace and goodwill to all the readers of my blog, and all the members of my PLN. Thank you very much for your support and kind comments throughout 2011. It's been a fun-filled year.

Here's an Animoto message from The Motley Crew below:

Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.

If you would like more ideas for creative Christmas messages using apps and other fun sites, look no further than Shelly Terrell's amazing post "30+ Holiday Apps for Creativity and Learning". It is packed full of great ideas to keep you busy over the coming days.

Below are some festive mince pies that were made today by K and I. For me they represent a typical Christmas tradition from England. We followed Delia Smith's recipe.

A few of my Christmas tree decorations to get into the festive spirit! One of my lovely angels...

..and a peacock!

Father Christmas on the fir tree outside the house, waiting to come in from the cold!!

A personal message from Fluffy:

Best wishes to you all.

To finish off, here's a fun, easy to create e-card message from Jib Jab!

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Traditional Abruzzo Christmas Delight:Recipe from Life in Abruzzo Blog!

Following recipes has never been my forte, but seeing one for the traditional Abbruzzo Christmas "Calgionetti", in Life in Abruzzo blog, spurred me to have a go, and the results are truly delicious!! These special treats were made by my mother every Christmas time, and she used to make hundreds of them for us to eat, and also to share with friends and family. Sadly I wasn't at all interested in cooking in my youth, so I did not pay attention to how these were made. Imagine my delight when I came across the recipe! Without hesitating, I knew I had to make them and hopefully you will be inspired to make them, too.

Please note that this recipe contains quite a few nuts, so will not be to everyone's taste.

I noted today that homemade calgionetti were on sale in the special Christmas food section of SISA, the local supermarket. They were selling them for 18.50 Euros a kilo, which makes them quite a delicacy!!

Here is a link to the post"Caggionetti, Calggionetti, Cagiunitt" where you too can make your own Abruzzo special Christmas treats, if you follow the instructions carefully!

The ingredients required for "calgionetti" can be found in the Wordle below!

Below you can see images I took of some of the stages.

Boiling the chestnuts, an important part of the process!

Rolling out the dough made from flour, olive oil and wine! A copy of the Life in Abruzzo recipe which I used can be seen next to the rolling pin and dough.

The pastries waiting to be fried!

Angel Delight
The angel you can see in the photos certainly helped me to create these yummy sweets which are a traditional part of the Christmas festivities! She was able to oversee the delicate process while I made two batches.

The finished pastries, sprinkled with icing sugar, waiting to be devoured!

To make these Calgionetti, please read and follow the recipe instructions in Life in Abruzzo.

I have just submitted an article for the series on "A Few of My Favourite Abruzzo Things", so please watch this space for further details coming soon!

Monday, 5 December 2011

My 11 from '11 in the 3rd Year, inspired by @yearinthelifeof

What better way to celebrate my blog's 3rd Anniversary than to join in another exciting blog challenge "11 from '11" inspired by Adam Simpson's A Year in the Life of an English Teacher blog? The aim of the challenge is to reflect on a year of blogging and highlight 11 posts with explanations for their choice.

I have just created a short FlixTime slideshow of some of the 2011 highlights. I first learned about this lively and exciting video slideshow tool from The Consultants-E Tool of the Month page. It's my first attempt, and it looks cool and very easy to use!

Reflections, Reflections
Writing my blog for the third year has given me a new outlook on life, broadened my horizons, connected me to educators world-wide, challenged me to the full, encouraged me to share what I have learned, given me a confidence I didn't know I possessed, and given me much joy and pleasure. A life-changing experience indeed! I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for helping me on this fabulous and amazing journey.

Below in no particular order, 11 of my favourite posts from 2011.

Homage to Nicaragua
This post was written in homage to my visit to Nicaragua. My poem was added to Bookr, one of my favourite web 2.0 tools.

IATEFL Brighton - An Exclusive Interview with Janet
This interview laid bare my techniques for preparing for a global presentation such as IATEFL Brighton. Luckily, I managed to get everything done in time!

The King and I at IATEFL Brighton 2011
The title says it all, really. IATEFL Brighton was the most wonderful experience I could have wished for - my dream come true!!

OBI, RSS and QR Codes!
This post was a factual one and I enjoyed doing the research and adding some comics as a test item at the end. QR codes seem to be everywhere in Italy and I have yet to embrace them fully.

Janet's Top Scoop.its!
A list of top curation sites that I particularly like following.

Learning is Sharing
This post explains how sharing has become the way forward in terms of personal fulfillment.

SEETA: Humanism and Modern Technology
I learned so much from this fabulous course and my feedback reflects my feelings.

Playing with Bubblr!

I really enjoy writing about my experiments with new web 2.0 tools, and this post is all about a fun tool called Bubblr.

Santo Stefano di Sessanio - A Veritable Feast

This post is on one of my favourite places in the Abruzzo region. I hope you will be tempted to visit this relatively unknown area of Italy.

Learning in a Diabolik-al Way!
This has to be my favourite title of the year. The title came first, and then the content just flowed!

Language Garden: A Word Cloud Blog Challenge!

I loved experimenting with this fabulous tool, created by David Warr.

Many thanks once again to Adam for creating this lovely blog challenge!! I have enjoyed reading other bloggers' reflections of their 11 from '11. In addition, it's been fun for me to go down memory lane....

Friday, 2 December 2011

Janet's Nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards

When everyone is outstanding, it is always difficult to choose excellence. The yearly nominations phase for the Edublogs Awards 2011 has come round again, and here are my choices below:

Best Individual blog: The English Blog by Jeffrey Hill
Best teacher blog: English Raven by Jason Renshaw
Best group blog: Teaching Village by Barbara Sakamoto
Best librarian/library blog: The Daring Librarian
Best new blog: A Journee in Language by Brad Patterson
Best Edtech blog : Free Tech for Teachers
Most influential blog post: Blog Challenge: What's Your Story? by Vicky Loras
Best Twitter hashtag: ELTChat
Best free webtool: Fotobabble
Best educational wiki: Greeting From The World by Arjana Blazic
Best educational use of audio/visual/podcast: Teacher Training Video Tutorials by Russell Stannard
Best open PD/unconference/ webinar series: Reform Symposium
Best educational use of a social network: English Companion Ning
Lifetime achievement: Scott Thornbury

I wish I could have nominated everyone I follow and admire, but of course it is not possible. Best of luck to everybody mentioned above!

A huge thanks to all the members of my PLN, who are a constant source of encouragement, enlightenment and engaging interaction:-)

Update on Award Winners!
The Edublog Awards winners can be viewed here. Many congratulations to everyone involved! Vicky Loras has just written a lovely post called Educators Everywhere, Congratulations!

Thank you Vicky for this heartfelt and wonderfully uplifting post! You have expressed the true ethos and benefits of such events in a very eloquent manner indeed.