Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

2013 will go down in my personal history as a year of being preoccupied with an event from the past. At times this year, I could think of nothing else, and it threatened to overshadow any of the joys that 2013 actually managed to bring.  I am happy to say that the situation that has dominated since February 2009, is thankfully over for me and my family. I thank the legal team for all their tireless support and faith in us.  I thank the judge, who listened attentively, and then agreed to everything. I thank Karl for being my rock, I thank my sisters for always being there with me throughout the long process we have endured, and I thank everyone who has supported us along the way.

We can now look to the future, and hope that it will be a quiet and peaceful one, without high drama or worries!  Safe to say, this will be unlikely, given the very fabric of human nature.  Whatever happens, however, I am sure I will go forth with great optimism. Let's see what this new year will bring.

Highlights of 2013
In January & February, I attended and also had the opportunity to moderate on the EVO DigitalStorytelling for Kids. I enjoyed this experience very much indeed, and I learned a lot, thanks to the fabulous team of moderators and participants.

Attending Connecting Online 2013 e-conference in February, presenting at the 6th Virtual Round Table e-conference in May, and the Reform Symposium in October, all helped me to develop professionally.  It was wonderful to share so many interesting moments with educators from around the world.

I became a registered blogger for IATEFL Liverpool, but actually only managed to write 2 posts.  I was sorry I couldn't write more...

I worked on a collaborative book writing project with a group of international educators from Connecting Online 2012, and I wrote a chapter on Teaching Idioms Effectively.  I am now the proud owner of my own printed copy of Connecting Online for  Instruction and Learning, International Perspectives.

I celebrated my fifth year of blogging by writing this post, simply entitled Five.

Olive Picking Weekend
I enjoyed picking our olives in November, and I then created a Photopeach slideshow as an example for a weekend activity to show to my 'Blend It' online students at the time.

Janet's Weekend on PhotoPeach


Fave Blog Post of 2013
My favourite post of 2013 has got to be The Machine vs Janet, which I later changed to Janet vs the Machine.  It is a true story, and I was thrilled that my perseverance in this particular case, finally paid off.

The motto is: If something seems insurmountable to overcome, never, ever give up hope!!

Out of a negative situation, a positive one emerged, and to my delight this blog post was turned into a chapter for an ebook,called The Little Book of Blogs, compiled by Anne Fox from The Consultants-e.  The ebook contains a host of great chapters on all manners of topics, and you can download a free copy if you click on this post.   Enjoy!

Fluffy's Hectic Life
Fluffy's Blog - Fluffy is a constant source of joy and a bundle of fun.  He is very mild-mannered, and he tends to have a lot of adventures.  His presence can brighten up anybody's day! His portrait is now hanging in the local museum, as seen below.

An Indomitable Spirit 
 The person I most look up to in the whole world is my dear mum, who has overcome all the odds that were stacked against her one fateful day in February 2009.....

The image below, taken just a few weeks ago in Oxford, is full of optimism for the future.  Nobody can imagine the history of what lies behind her beautiful smile, the stuggles and frustrations of the past 5 years, the incredible will to live, the courage, fortitude and bravery.  To survive her catastrophic brain injury after months in hospital and rehabilitation, and to now lead a quiet, peaceful and simple lifestyle, is more than we had ever hoped for.  The anxious and terrifying vigils by her bedside, in the weeks following the cycle accident, not knowing if she was going to come out of her coma, not knowing if she was ever going to be strong enough to live a normal life ever again, is something hard to forget.

Now, however, it is time to finally move on, and look forward to a happy future, which is full of hope....

A Toast to 2014!
Finally, to sum up this reflective post, a huge cheers to all my blog readers, members of my PLN, friends, family and colleagues all over the world.  I hope 2014 will be a wonderful year for you all :-))

Post Scriptum
2014 has some exciting events in store, and I will be writing about them in the New Year.  Watch this space!

2014 is now!!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Five ......

......years ago I started blogging, and it was an event that changed my life in quite a dramatic way.  Janet's Abruzzo Edublog is now officially over five years old and I would like to say what a joy it has been to blog and to share my ideas, lessons, presentations, experiments on web 2.0 tools, and thoughts on life in general.  Writing has given me a new confidence and has made me very happy. This year, I have not had the time to devote myself to updating this blog as often as I would have liked to.  However, I have still somehow managed to create 2 teaching blogs, lasting the two-week period I taught each of the following classes:

Lake School April Lessons
Creative Teaching at the Lake

Just for fun and for some light relief, I also set up a new blog for our chickens!!  Yes, it is true, just for Freddy the cockerel and 6 chickens. Sadly, it has not been a good year for him and his companions, but things should be better in 2014.

The Abruzzo Chicken Chronicles

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog, thanks to all the members of my PLN both here and on Twitter, and thanks to everyone who inspires me to continue writing. This includes all my wonderful colleagues, students and classes I have taught the past five years since moving to Abruzzo.

I hope to do a fuller analysis of 2013 at the end of this year.  Watch this space :-)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Sunday, 22 December 2013

I've Been Tagged! A Blogging Challenge

I have been tagged (along with other bloggers) in a blogging meme by Kathy Fagan, from Free Range ELT Blog,  and also by Eva Simkesyan of A Journey in TEFL blog.  Thank you both so much!!  I have enjoyed reading the answers to your tagged posts.

Update on 23/12/13: My former student Cristina Silva has just tagged me, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to reply to her set of great questions :-)  Thanks so much, Cristina!!

Update on 28/12/13: Sharon Hartle from  English learning in our world blog has kindly tagged me, and I am delighted to give answers to her set of very interesting questions. Thanks very much, Sharon :-)

This is how the tag challenge works.

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger (s).
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
Here are 11 random facts about me;
  1. I collect figurines of owls, don't ask me why, I just seem to have gathered about 20 of them now!
  2. I have travelled on the back of a motorbike around Europe
  3. I share exactly the same birthday with Princess Caroline of Hanover
  4. In my free time at university I used to be a bouncer for the Leicester University Entertainments Committee and got into lots of the gigs for free.
  5. As a student I topped up my grant by working as a barmaid in the Leicester University Students' Union Bar and was always invited to parties
  6. I have been to Canaima, in the Amazon Jungle in Venezuela
  7. My cat Fluffy has his own blog called The Hectic Life of a Fluffy Cat.
  8. I applied to be a British Airways flight attendant when I was younger, but was turned down because I was too short!
  9. I studied Russian for beginners at night school for a year, and learned the Cyrillic alphabet.
  10. I love the movie The Sound Of Music and have seen it countless times. I will never get tired of seeing it!
  11. I have sat in a Formula 1 Benetton car, and a Tornado Jet fighter plane.I have managed to locate 2 pictures taken of these impressive vehicles.....
Janet in an F1 Benetton racing car, formerly manufactured in Witney, Oxfordshire.  I had a friend who used to work in the design team.

I went to an airshow a while back, and I can't remember exactly how I managed to get a photo of me proudly sitting in one of these Tornado jet fighter planes!

Replies - 1

Here are the answers to Kathy's 11 questions:

1. What is one book, blog post, article, presentation, or research paper that really changed how you think about teaching?  How?
Implementing the Lexical Approach by Michael Lewis really inspired me to change the way I taught vocabulary.  It's a very practical book with lots of ideas, and I have used many of them with my learners in class.
2. Which season of the year do you like the best?  Why?
I love the summer because I can stay out later in the evening and get lots more done in the garden.
3. How many languages (other than English) can you use at high beginning or higher?  If any, what are they?
I speak Italian, Spanish, German, French and a little Greek (I have an 'O'Level in it) and a little Russian, but am very rusty.  I studied Czech for a year in East Germany and the lessons were taught in German. It was a very challenging experience!
4. The bartender says "What'll it be?"  What is it?
I usually have half a pint of medium dry cider in England. In Abruzzo, a glass of Prosecco is always nice.
5. What is the most recent musical performance you have attended?
I don't often go to the theatre, but I do remember going to see Miss Saigon in London a few years ago, and it was an incredible experience.
6. Which age group do you like teaching best: youngsters, teens, adults?
I enjoy teaching all age groups, but in particular I seem to have more of an affinity with adults.
7. Have you ever been the recipient of a surprise party or gift?  How did that go?
 Yes, I have.  Just a few days ago I attended the Lake School of English staff christmas party and I was given a beautiful Swatch watch as a gift.  This came as a lovely surprise, and the watch was very 'me'.
8. What's one time where you really had to think on your feet during a lesson?
 I was asked to discuss nihilism and Nietsche's philosophy during a 1-1 session, and luckily I had studied Nietsche in German classes so was able to just about get away with it!
9. Tell about a pet -- past, present or future.
I will always remember my pet cat Joey.  He was very mild-mannered and very friendly and cuddly.  He became my mascot when I first ventured into the world of technology and was very sad when he passed away naturally a few years ago. He had a very good life, and we had lots of fun together.

10. Have you ever been on TV?
 No, I'm afraid I haven't.
11. Hot sauce: yes or no?
 No, I don't really like spicy food at all.

Thank you Kathy, for your list of interesting questions :-)

Replies - 2
Here are my questions from Eva:

1. Do you remember the first class you entered as a teacher?
Yes, it was in Madrid in 1979, and it was with a group of adults.  I remember being quite scared at the time, as I had never taught before and was fresh from university.  I was armed with a text book, which I still have, and I simply had to do a few pages of it, so it was quite easy.  The class was delightful, and I think I had quite an easy introduction to teaching EFL!!

2. What is your favorite social media platform? Why?
I like Twitter as it is quick and easy to find information relating to EFL and educational technology.  It keeps me up to date with what is happening and I have made a lot of friends via this platform, including you, Eva :-)

3. How do you think blogging helps your teaching?
It helps me to reflect on what I do in class, and I find it is a great way to keep a record of some of my lessons and ideas.

4. Tea or Coffee?
Both! I find tea is very calming, and coffee wakes me up in the monrnings!

5. Who is your favorite singer, band, musician?
I like Enya, and my sister Adua sang Marble Halls at our wedding.

6. Do you attend conferences? Why? / why not?
I attend online conferences nowadays as they are a great way to develop professionally. I can attend from the comfort of my own home and interact with members of my PLN.  I learn so much, and also they are great fun!

7. Who were the most helpful tweeters or bloggers for you when you started blogging or tweeting?
Too many to mention here, but each and every one of them played a very important part in giving me the confidence to continue blogging.  For this, I will always be grateful.

8. What will be the first goal in your New Year’s resolutions list this year?
To update My Janet's Abruzzo Edublog more often!

9. Where would you like to travel in 2014?
I would love to explore more of Abruzzo by motorbike, and hopefully also go to Naples! 

10. How long does it take to write a blog post for you and how often do you update your blog?
In the past as long as I had a title in my mind, it didn't take me too long to write a post, maybe a couple of hours or less.  I used to write a post on a regular basis, at least 2-3 times a month.  Sadly this year, I have not updated my blog very often, due to family commitments, so I feel I have a lot to catch up with.

11. What is your favorite food?
I love homemade lasagne!
Thanks, Eva for your list of interesting questions :-)

Replies - 3
Here are my questions from Cristina:

1. What was the best moment in your life?
Definitely my wedding day in 1992.  An utterly magical day in my whole life.  The wedding dress was handmade by my mother, and  everything was perfect! My 2 sisters were my bridesmaids and their outfits were also handmade by my incredible mum.

2. Do you expect much of people?
I like to think positively about everybody I meet and I always trust that they will be kind and give of their best.
3. How many true friends do you have?
I have a few very close friends whom I have known since university days.  Time and distance is no barrier to our lasting friendship. My sisters happen to be my two best lifelong friends.
4. What do you do when you need to have YOUR moment?
I go outside and have a walk around the olive trees and do some gardening.  This brings me peace.

5. What is the film of your life?
What an intriguing question! I am not sure how to answer this one, as each life is unique. I guess it would focus on my time in East Germany in 1982-3, as that was an incredible moment in history.

6. When was the last time you slept 10h? 
I can't remember exactly, but maybe it was the last time I was in England, and I didn't have to get up early to go to work.

7. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I look out of the bedroom window to see what the weather is like. Recently I was surprised to see so much snow had fallen overnight and this is the view that I saw that morning.

8. Which historical character would you like to meet if you had that chance?
Queen Victoria of England.  I saw The Young Victoria last night on telly and was fascinated by her life.

9. An embarrassing moment in your life was…
..... when I was carried away in a bin by the headmaster of my primary school for being a bit naughty!! 

10. When did you last burst out laughing and couldn’t stop?
Viewing the comedy 'Airplane!'.  It always has me in stitches!
11. City or countryside?
Both!  I used to be a city girl, and still am, but living deep in the Abruzzo countryside, I have got used to country life and I enjoy the peace and quiet. In 2009 I wrote a post called Back to the Chalkface, and used it as an example for the FCE exam Part II Speaking practice. I used 2 of my pictures for the compare and contrast topic.
Thanks, Cristina, for your inspiring questions!

Replies - 4
Here are my questions from Sharon:

1) Have you ever wanted to have another name?I was given 3 names at birth and I quite like my first name Laura, and really love my second, Lidiana. My young niece is named Lidiana and this has made me very happy.

2) What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you when travelling?
I was berated by a group of nuns in a train when travelling on my own on a journey to Genova from Paris.  The whole train was packed full of soldiers but luckily I shared a compartment with this particular group of Italian nuns.  They were absolutely scandalised that my parents had allowed me to travel on my own on such a long journey!!  I was 19 at the time and in those days maybe young girls didn't travel on their own without a chaperone, so my parents were considered to be quite liberal.

3) If you could change one thing about your house, what would it be?
I would love to have a roof over part of the house!  The previous owner took the tiles with him before we got the key, so it was a shock when we discovered they had gone. One day, hopefully we will be able to restore this room / annexe and it won't look so 'open' to all the elements.

4) What is your ideal holiday?
Lying on a beach, doing a bit of sightseeing and eating out all the time!!

5) what is your favourite moment of the day?
Definitley breakfast time!  My hubby K always does the breakfast, and for this I am very grateful.  I am definitely not really a morning person.

6) Where do you listen to music?
I don't actually listen to much music, but when I do I am usually in the kitchen and I like listening to Italian songs on the radio.

7) What is your favourite classroom activity?
I like doing introductions and icebreaker activities and the one I use a lot is still the perennially popular Find someone who.....  I read the pre-course questionnaires and then compile statements to include each member of the class and myself.  It always works very well, and is often a lot of fun.

 8) What would the five things be that you’d take with you to a desert island?
My notebook, a pen to write my thoughts with, a torch, matches and a good book.

9) Are you a lark or an owl?
I am definitely an owl as opposed to a lark, but nowadays I don't really stay up as late as I used to.

10) What is one adventure that you’re planning for 2014?
A weekend trip to San Marino by motorbike with hubby to meet up with the Aprilia Caponord motorbike club for their annual meeting.  If the trip comes off, it would be really exciting to travel there by motorbike from Abruzzo. I have never been to San Marino before, so it would be great to explore a new place.

11) What is the one thing you know you shouldn’t do, but… you do it anyway?
I know I shouldn't really eat chocolate, but I simply can't resist the tempatation if any is offered to me. Sharon, I think we have this in common, lol :-)

Thanks so much, Sharon, for your thought-provoking questions!

Here are my 11 questions for anyone who wishes to take part in this challenge:

  1. What has been one of your priceless 'aha' moments as a teacher?
  2. Which educator has inspired you to be the best teacher you can be?
  3. Are you an early bird or night owl?
  4. Which do you prefer, Facebook or Twitter, and why?
  5. Whch adjectives would you use to describe yourself using the letters of your first name?
  6.  Do you collect anything in particular?  If so, what is it and how long have you been collecting it?
  7. Which place in the world would you most like to visit, and why?
  8. What is the most treasured possession you have received from one of your former students?
  9. Do you like teaching exam classes?  
  10. What do you most enjoy about blogging?
  11. What's your favourite song?
My choice of participants would include...

I look forward to reading your replies, if you choose to do the challenge, which is optional, so no pressure:-)  I do appreciate it's a busy time of the year now, and you may have already been tagged, or you simply may not have the time, so no worries, I completely understand.

Anybody else who would like to participate, please feel free to answer my questions on your blog.  I would love to find out more about you!

The random facts, questions and answers of the bloggers I tagged.

With many thanks to the following fellow bloggers who have replied on their blogs :-))

Anne Hodgson

Arjana Blazic

Friday, 18 October 2013

Janet's Reform Symposium 4 Feedback

I am still on a high after one of the most enlightening weekends of Professional and Personal Development I have ever experienced. The 4th Reform Symposium Econference was a very exciting event!! A full list of all the session descriptions can be found here.  All the sessions were recorded and you can scroll down the list and choose which one you would like to view at your leisure. Here is the recordings link.

To imagine that the Reform Symposium Conference was all for free is an incredible thought.  I appreciate all the tireless support and great dedication by all the superb organizers included in the note below.  Each and every single one of them played a massive role in ensuring that everything went according to plan, each with their own specific duties to accomplish. They all did brilliantly!!

What can I say except that I was blown away by the whole event.  I actually felt as if I was physically present at the conference.  Everything was carried out in real time via the sessions, and the special Future of Education Ning chatbox area for presenters, which was buzzing with messages. For a period of time, I felt totally connected in a truly global way and it was exhilarating. It was just as good if not better than attending a conference in person.  I was in the comfort of my own home and it was very relaxing, attending whilst drinking endless cups of coffee.

A United Show
The presenters, moderators, organizers were all sharing, enjoying, helping, supporting each other as a united group and for me personally, this was a huge motivational boost.  I had been temporarily feeling very down and low immediately prior to the event starting on Friday.   However, attending inspirational sessions, presenting at my own session on Sunday, and moderating on the lovely Jennifer Vershoor's session,  was just the tonic I needed.

Some Highlights
With over 100 presentations over the 3 day event and with so many members of my PLN doing sessions, I knew it was going to be very difficult to choose which ones to attend in person, inbetween other duties.  All the sessions I attended were wonderful and I learned a lot from the presenters' input. I will outline 5 of the sessions below. Apologies for not mentioning everyone's presentation, but rest assured, the level and quality of every session I attended was superb and thanks so much to you all!  I have earmarked so many recorded sessions for viewing as soon as I can.......

The Welcome Address and Nicky Hockly's very informative Keynote, The Future Present set the tone for the whole magical event and I was well and truly hooked!! Musical entertainment was provided by the Bookseller.
Recording HERE.

Dr Sugata Mitra's opening plenary, The Future of Learning, provided great food for thought and left me feeling so impressed with what he has achieved in his life, and how he has helped transform the lives of pupils in areas of great poverty, especially with his hole in the wall initiative, which originally started in India.
Recording HERE

Cecilia Lemos :  'I am NOT just a teacher. A new mantra'  This talk was excellent and thought-provoking. It provided great tips on how to value ourselves as teachers.
Recording HERE.

Carla Arena :'Digital Metamorphosis based on Sir Ken Robinson's Three Flourishing Principles'. I enjoyed listening to how Carla successfully applies these three principles into her own teaching.
Recording HERE

Jennifer Vershoor's Jazz Up your classes with technology, which I moderated for.  I always learn so much from Jennifer, and feel very inspired by the creative work she does with her students.
Recording HERE.

Information to access all the other wonderful RSCON4 sessions and links to all recordings can be found on this page:  http://www.futureofeducation.com/page/2013-reform-symposium

Visually Inspire Your Learners!
Finally, I would like to mention my session.  I had a lovely time and I really enjoyed interacting with the audience via the chat box.  Apologies if I didn't catch all the comments while I was speaking.  A huge thank you to everyone who came to the session.  It was so nice to see so many familiar faces and new ones, too. Also a very big thanks to everyone tweeting about it before, during and after my session had finished. I appreciated all the lovely support, very much indeed.

My fabulous moderator Marijana  very kindly introduced me to my audience and the scene was set for an enjoyable time going through the 35 slides.  I have embedded the presentation below and the recording link is HERE.  It lasts for approximately an hour.  I do hope you will find it of some practical use.

Marijana took a screenshot of her tweet during the presentation and I have reproduced it here with her kind permission: 

You can view some more details about my presentation on my JanetAbruzzo wiki page, called RSCON4.   If you scroll to the bottom of the page I have added some links to resources connected to the subject.  I hope to add some more...

Background to some of the slides chosen
I spent  about 2- 3 weeks on and off, preparing my RSCON4 presentation. I really enjoy the whole process involved in deciding what to include.
I would like to share some of my personal thoughts on five of the slides that I carefully selected for my rscon4 presentation.

Slide 1: Abruzzo Eagle
Abruzzo Eagle
At this particular moment in time, I wish I could be as free as this Abruzzo eagle, without a care in the world, surrounded by peace and tranquility.  For me it represents total freedom.

Slide 2: Solitary Motorbike in Abruzzo's 'Little Tibet'

I desperately want to get on this motorbike with my hubby and 'ride free' and totally immerse myself in the spectacular grandeur of Abruzzo's wild and mountainous scenery. This area of Abruzzo is totally unspoilt and far removed from the hustle and bustle of an everyday life. I feel blessed to be living in such a beautiful region.

Update Sunday October 20th 2013
My wish was granted and I had a fabulous trip to this area today.  Images below!!

Janet & moto in 'Little Tibet' October 2013

Abruzzo National Park October 2013
Autumn colours
Riding on the back of the motorbike through such beautiful scenery today was so relaxing!!

Slide 3: Snowed Under!

This image represents how I have felt at times during 2013.  Snowed under with paperwork and compiling reports that have absolutely nothing to do with teaching.... However, on a positive note, this image represents hope. The bulbs in the pots totally covered in snow actually survived this heavy snowfall and went on to become beautiful tulips in the spring.  The motto is, 'Never give up hope!'.

Slide 4: Big Brother is Watching You!

1984 written by George Orwell, predicted a 'Big Brother' society, one where nobody was free and everybody was surveilled 24/24.  This graffiti image I came across recently represents for me a chilling reminder that we are living in a closely monitored and controlled society.......

 I would love to know who drew this image on the wall, and what it symbolises for the artist.

Slide 5:The Joy of Teaching

This collaborative word cloud was compiled by a recent f2f class consisting of Swiss teenagers.  They chose the adjectives to sum themselves up and they also chose the shape of the word cloud.

I still feel a sense of 'Joy' after teaching for over 34 years. Teaching has always made me feel alive and provides incredible and unforgettable moments in my life. This last weekend was defnitely one of the highs of my professional life. It certainly offered 'more valuable and professional development than money could ever buy'.

Final Thoughts about RSCON4

Created with Witty Comics
Please watch some of the recordings if you can!  The full list can be found via this link: http://www.futureofeducation.com/page/2013-rscon-recordings

This motivational poster I created with bighugelabs says it all. Thanks once again to all the organizers, presenters, moderators and volunteers for making The Reform Symposium E-conference 2013 such a resounding success.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

RSCON4 - An Exciting Weekend of Fantastic CPD!

2013 Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON)
I am delighted to be presenting at the global and internationally renowned RSCON4 virtual e-conference.  This action-packed event is going to be held online from Friday October 11 - Sunday October 13th.

I have had the pleasure of presenting for The Reform Symposium Conference on two occasions, RSCON2010, and RSCON2011 and this year, it promises to be bigger and even better than previous years. Presenters will be sharing transformative approaches to learning and teaching. Influential international keynote speakers are currently being lined up to deliver presentations that will challenge our way of thinking and inform us about the way forward in education in general.

Professor Sugata Mitra will be delivering the Opening Plenary - The Future of Learning.

Below you can view a screenshot of the main page of The Future of Education ning site where more details are available. If you join the Future of Education group, you will be able to keep up to date with all the announcements and news about the forthcoming presentations.

You can find out about all the RSCON4 updates via Twitter by following @RSCON4 and using the hashtag #RSCON4.

I can guarantee that you will enjoy a wonderful weekend of Continuous Professional Development in the comfort of your own home!  I am looking forward to learning about lots of different topical subjects from passionate educators from around the world.

You can read more blog posts about RSCON4 on this Gdocs created by Chiew Pang here: http://goo.gl/KvplSP

Some Visually Inspiring Activities!
My session is called 'Visually Inspire Your Learners!".  It will be held on Sunday October 13th at 4pm Rome Time.

I will be discussing ideas and highlighting some activities to inspire and motivate learners connected to images, comics and cartoons and photo-editing tools.

Examples of Picture activities I have blogged about in the past can be found under the label Picture Activities.

Teach Meet International presentation on Visual Blogging with Muzy:

Slideshare of the Virtual Round Table Presentation on Project 366: A Picture a Day.

Please note, sadly Posterous does not exist any more as a blogging platform and so the links refering to my Project 366 blog on Posterous no longer function, which is a great pity!!  However, some of the ideas contained in this presentation, and the others mentioned in this post, may be included in my RSCON4 presentation.

I hope to present some of my favourite activities and I plan to create a few new ones, especially for RSCON4.  Watch this space!!

I have created a special RSCON4 wiki page to add ideas, links and resources!  It is a work in progress.....

Please click on the Make Beliefs Comix below to enlarge it.

Interview Update
This evening I had the chance to chat briefly about the event with Bruno Andrade, an inspirational EFL teacher and moderator from Brazil, and you can view it below.
Thanks very much to Bruno for giving me this opportunity :-)

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Lake School of English: News Update

The Lake School of English has recently been awarded 14 points of strength out of a total of 15, credited by the British Council.  It continues to be a Centre of Excellence in 2013. You can read all about it, and view the full British Council Inspection 2013 report here.

 Image of bus from Bus slogan generator

It is now one of only two UK schools to have received this outstanding result. I would like to wish all its dedicated group of directors and staff my heartfelt congratulations!

I was lucky enough to be in the staffroom when the result came in several weeks ago and I was able to enjoy the joyous atmosphere and impromptu celebratory drinks with a few members of staff.  After I had spent 2 hugely enjoyable weeks running a Creative Teaching for Secondary Schools course, this fantastic news was the final icing on the cake.

This truly outstanding accreditation is fully deserved and I am proud to be associated with the Lake School.  Having first walked in to the establishment in 1982 and hired on the spot to do a 1-1 session the following week, I have always felt a part of its rich and vibrant history.  I know very well how incredibly hard everyone works in all aspects of the running of the school, always paying great attention to every little detail.

I have four personal photo albums spanning from the 1980s to the present day.  These memories will one day be a vibrant reminder of my time spent at the school and will be something to treasure forever.

There have been many celebrations of fantastic achievements by the school in the past, but this one I believe tops them all, as it is the most current, and it means so much to everyone. Well done!!!

Font above created with Font Image generator

Photo of Fireworks by @eltpics. Link to original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eltpics/6325716290/sizes/m/in/set-72157627956640513/

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Connecting Online for Instruction and Learning: International Perspectives

I am absolutely delighted to announce the recent publication of a printed book called Connecting Online for Instruction and Learning: International Perspectives.  I am one of the 14 co-authors who collaborated on this book over a period of time from 2012 - 2013, under the gentle guidance of our inspirational editor Dr Nellie Deutsch. The book contains 312 pages, full of international perspectives based around aspects of elearning and instruction.

A Dream Team
I would like to say a huge thanks to Dr Nellie Deutsch for making this dream project happen, and also heartfelt thanks to all my fellow fabulous co-authors, for being a dream team to collaborate with.

'The authors of the book are: Janet Bianchini, Karen Blumberg, Dr. Christel Broady, Dr. Michele Drechsler, Jennifer D. Klein, Dr. NIki Lambropoulos, Alain Gourdin, Sophi Michael Danis, Antonio Nazzaro, Lenandlar Singh, Kemul Gaffar, Dr. Ludmila Smirnova, Diethild Starkmeth, Steve Tuffill, J. Aleta R. Villanueva, Dr. Revathi Viswanathan, Jason West.'

 I enjoyed every single aspect of this quite ambitious undertaking, and I am so proud to be a part of it all!!

 Screenshot image of book cover taken from Amazon site here. Copyright @ Nellie Deutsch 2013

 'The chapters were written by 14 presenters of Connecting Online (CO12) for instruction and learning live online conference on the first week of February 2012. The free online conferences for educators and by educators started in 2009. The conference takes place on WizIQ Education Online on the first weekend in February of each year'.

The process of working collaboratively with educators from around the world was an enlightening experience.  We each undertook in small groups of 4-5, to proofread and edit each other's book chapters, give comments and advice on how to improve the chapters.  Dr Nellie Deutsch allowed us to collaborate freely within our groups, and gave us gentle reminders for when deadlines were due. She oversaw the whole process from start to finish, and finally published it for us. I and the whole team of co-authors are indebted to her for her invaluable guidance and mentoring of us all.

Below a screenshot glimpse of the first few chapters:

I have just ordered my own copy from Amazon and I am very excited about reading all the book chapters and learning from each of my fantastic co- authors, who are experts in their field.

Now I can't wait for the postman to deliver my copy.  My only worry is that the Italian postal system can be rather unpredicatable at times, so fingers crossed!!

Currently if you click on the image of the book here, you can read a free sample first chapter....

My chapter is entitled: Teaching Idioms Effectively with Web 2.0 Tools. It is based on the background to my original slideshare presentation below:

I had originally created a Glogster, as at first I thought the book would be an ebook. It is in fact a printed publication.

Once again, many thanks to Dr Nellie Deutsch and all my fabulous fellow co-authors for making this dream project come true!!

Monday, 20 May 2013

6th Virtual Round Table E-Conference. Read All About It!

A link to my Slideshare presentation below.  I do hope you enjoy it.  The process of creating each new slide was very therapeutic.

A link to all the resources I shared, located in a special wiki page I created called VRT 2013 Resources.

I forgot to mention the Padlet I created for attendees to share an app or tool.

Please feel free to add your favourite app or web 2.0 teaching tool to the Padlet below or on the actual site.

With many thanks to Miguel, Elinda and Cristina for posting during the event:-)

Once again, a very special thanks to Heike and her amazing co-organizers for a truly stunning 6th Virtual Round Table econference. 

Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation, who tweeted about it and shared the updates in various social networking sites. It was such a thrill to see so many familiar faces in the audience, including some former students of mine Cristina & Hind, members of my PLN, and also people I didn't know, but was very happy to 'meet' online.  This truly inspired me.

A screenshot of me during the webinar. The direct link to my webinar is here.

Most of all thanks to all my fellow presenters, who demonstrated such a wealth of inspiring information and resources.

A big thanks to my wonderful moderator Aydan :-))  I really enjoyed her inspiring webinar, called 'How to Motivate Online Learners', and you should view the recording.

I am sorry I was not fully able to interact with everything going on in the chatbox, as the time was limited, and I had to get through a lot, and I think I missed some questions.  What I plan to do is to review the chat and I will answer specific questions in my next post. I will be reviewing some of the webinars I attended, so please watch this space!

You can view the recording of my webinar and of all the presenters in the progrmme notes.

Below I have added the special motivation poster which I created to inspire me, and also to keep me on the right track.  The bountiful and non-stop flowering of these lovely snapdragons have adorned many vases in the house, and brightened up my life. This lovely view has also helped me. In addition, the mega daily task of looking after all the furkids has taken my mind off things.