This school year 6th graders at the Primary School of Efxeinoupoli have been working on an eTwinning project that focuses on sharing their national and local superstitions with their European peers and learning all about theirs. The teachers involved in this project have the opportunity to raise their learners’ awareness of their own and others’ customs and traditions by means of superstitions, to develop their global understanding as citizens of the world, to help them realize the emergence of English as an international language, and to assist them to learn how to work cooperatively while improving their ICT skills. The secondary objectives of the project aim at developring the learners’ reading and writing skills in English, promoting collaborative learning in the classroom as well as through WEB tools, introducing the use of technology in learning (video, email, search engine, word processor, PowerPoint presentation, etc) and providing room for the learners’ artistic expression.
So many teachers and so many pupils working on the eTwinning project that is related to “Superstitions Around Europe”! We have met each other through our Twinspace, but what do our schools look like? Learners have worked collaboratively on an online PowerPoint presentation with an eye to showing everyone their second home, their school! Here is the presentation they have created in the form of a video!
Η Αγγελική Λαδά είναι εκπαιδευτικός Αγγλικής στην πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση και μεταπτυχιακή φοιτήτρια στο ΠΜΣ Γλωσσολογίας του ΤΑΓΦ, ΕΚΠΑ. Η διατριβή της εστιάζει στην χρήση του Ψηφιακού Εκπαιδευτικού Περιεχομένου για τα Αγγλικά της Πρωτοβάθμιας και Δευτεροβάθμιας Εκπαίδευσης, διαθέσιμο στη διεύθυνση http://dschool.edu.gr και συγκεκριμένα στις υπηρεσίες Ανοικτών Εκπαιδευτικών Πόρων (Open Educational Resources-OERs) στο «Φωτόδεντρο» http://photodentro.edu.gr.
Το παρόν ερωτηματολόγιο απευθύνεται σε εκπαιδευτικούς Αγγλικής με σκοπό η ανταπόκρισή σας στην έρευνα να βοηθήσει σημαντικά τον ευρύτερο σχεδιασμό του παιδαγωγικού πλαισίου αξιοποίησης του Ψηφιακού Εκπαιδευτικού Περιεχομένου και των υπηρεσιών OERs για την ξενόγλωσση εκπαίδευση. Η συμμετοχή σας είναι ανώνυμη και εθελοντική και τα δεδομένα που θα συλλεγούν θα χρησιμοποιηθούν μόνο για τους σκοπούς της συγκεκριμένης έρευνας.
Γι’ αυτό το λόγο, παρακαλείστε θερμά να αφιερώσετε 10 λεπτά από τον πολύτιμο χρόνο σας για να απαντήσετε τις ερωτήσεις που ακολουθούν στον ακόλουθο σύνδεσμο:
This is a blog for English teachers around the world, yet there is something I have been meaning to talk to the world about for so long … Something non-related to teaching, learning, classroom decorating or managing, although I am sure this is what you (and I) have all been busy with as we approach the beginning of the school year! Please, allow me this time to share with you my enthusiasm and excitement about a place so few people know about, have realized its significance and have ever visited and appreciated it so far! Ladies and gentlemen, you are kindly requested to sit comfortably, with eyes wide open, and travel with me to Mavromati Dam, an amazing place situated on Othrys Mountain, in Thessaly, Greece.
Mavromati Dam, Magnesia, Greece
I know … If you do not live or are not from Magnesia, Greece, you cannot find it on any map (I sure cannot!), but you can get an idea of its location by clicking here! It seems to be in the middle of nowhere and, if you have tried the previous link, there is unfortunately not much to see from the satellite pictures on Google Maps! Visiting this place though, will give you a whole new perspective of this mountainous area in the centre, the heart of Greece!
Mavromati Dam is a 48m high earth-fill dam that has been created to meet the water supply needs of the municipal units of Pteleos and Sourpi of the Municipality of Almyros, Magnesia, Greece. It is an EU funded project that cost a bit more than15 million euros and it is meant to ensure and provide quality water to about 9 settlements in the area! This means that, for at least the next 40 years, 8.000 residents and more than 10.000 tourists that visit the area all around the year will benefit from quality water supply.
Aside from the impressive technical characteristics and the background of its construction, this blog post here is mainly meant to communicate to the world the unparalleled natural beauty that wonderfully surprises the visitors, the calmness and peacefulness that governs their mind and soul and the realization that inevitably strikes them that some human interventions are meant to bring good to the world and have been made in perfect harmony with their surroundings! Visiting this place many times with family and friends, it is hard to resist silent viewing of the attractive landscape, inhaling the flora of the area and paying attention to the bizarre-for-the-urban-eye fauna! The aforementioned reactions are unavoidable for any visitor, however, on a more personal viewpoint, this destination is ideal for picnic and hiking fans of any age! My family and I love walking around the dam, spotting weird plants and bugs that fly around us and enjoying our meals among the trees, right next to a fount of cold drinking water!
In parallel with these religions which support that the road to heaven is difficult, the actual road to this natural heaven is unfortunately dusty, rocky and a bit scary after heavy rains! This, of course, is not uncommon in many magnificent Greek destinations and it is not necessarily a disadvantage, as children (if they are anything like mine) may find some unreasonable-for-the-adult-mind pleasure just by watching the clouds of dust behind their car, by trying to spot their friends’ vehicles in the ‘fog’ and by feeling the inevitable shaking of their bodies and heads throughout the ascent! Children, of course, have no idea that their mother who is also the car driver and not a local, may have no idea where she is going (as there are no road signs to help and lead her to Mavromati Dam) and may be unable to use her mobile phone as it is out of range! However, being adventurous by nature, this has never worked as a deterrent in deciding to visit this place and, being optimists on principle, this is probably something that will soon be taken care of by the local authorities and associations. Thus, once easy and safe access is ensured, that is maybe when Mavromati Dam will take the place it deserves on all kinds of digital and paper maps, and that is maybe when we, teachers, will organize educational school trips there and help our learners realize our connection with nature and develop their respect towards the surrounding environment, their actual home.
All in all, words, pictures and videos are unable to capture the beauty, the smells and the sense of the breeze on your face while standing on the dam, but they can definitely work as an attractive display of an EU funded project that not only meets the water supply needs of a small central Greek area, but also serves as a perfect occasion to come closer to nature and enjoy it in many ways. Mavromati Dam has undoubtedly not enjoyed the national or even local promotion it deserves as a hiking, climbing, or even family trip destination mainly for practical reasons that are hopefully soon to be taken care of. Till then, it is up to us, plain local citizens, to love it, respect it, suggest and promote it, not only because it is a worth-visiting attraction of our area, but also because it seems selfish to keep this hidden paradise on earth a secret from the world!
Interactive Notebook / LapBook for irregular verbs
English Irregular Verbs … Every English Language learner I know and anyone that has ever been a learner of it can tell you numerous stories on how boring and torturing it has or it had been to memorize the past tense of the irregular verbs in English! And just when they thought they had been over with this long list, there came the third column with the past participle, only to make matters worse, more complicated and more boring! Well, being an English Language learner myself back in the … (let’s just say) years of no internet or any other realia in the classroom, I can still remember these long afternoons with my mum dictating the verbs, me writing the two columns and then studying the whole list again to memorize what had not been successfully memorized … ugh …
Being a huge fan of interactive notebooks and having already used them in tutoring my daughter (plural nouns, demonstratives, subject/object pronouns and possessive adjectives), I have decided to exploit their educational and recreational value in order to create a lapbook this time! Using an A4 size folder with a rubber band, we created together a lapbook that was actually fun to make, engaging to fill in and easy to use as a resource or revision! First, we started cutting and gluing the templates that I had made for this reason (after categorizing the verbs in terms of their irregular forms, I created a template that would best serve our needs)! You can download the templates here and print them in colour A4 size paper, if you like:
Then, using our course book, my daughter filled in the past tense and past participle forms of the irregular forms while flipping each piece of paper!
Interactive Notebook / LapBook for irregular verbs
The categorization of the verbs helped her a lot to first guess the form and then verify it with the help of her course book! Therefore, she said that she studied them while doing the task! When she finished, she decorated the cover of the folder and kept it in her bookcase, saying that she prefers to study them from this lapbook rather than the coursebook! A few months later, she decided that it would be more helpful to stick it on the wall, so that she can refer to it more easily when needed! And, in case you wonder, no, she did not memorize everything perfectly in one teaching session, but she liked studying them this way and she does not sigh in despair when we refer to irregular verbs and that is awesome!
Lapbooks in general have proved to be the kind of materials that
help learners achieve a higher level of retention,
can be adjusted to any curriculum,
are able to drift learners along paths of excitement and creativity,
motivate learners to write,
involve all learners, of all ages and levels and
portray the learner’s personal taste, making them thus more attractive to use and objects to take pride in!
These are only some of the benefits of lapbooking, as they have been presented in numerous articles and, anyone who regularly uses them, has probably a few more to add! Yes, it took some time to categorize, set up the templates and print everything to be ready for the lesson, but the actual cutting, gluing, filling in of the correct forms and decorating took no longer than a teaching hour that would have probably been even more entertaining and involving if we had the chance to work on it in pairs, or in a group! Therefore, this is something that we can probably try with the 5th and 6th grades of the Greek public Primary School, provided that we can obtain the necessary materials and maybe do some cutting on our own, before introducing the activity to our learners, so as to keep it restrained in one teaching session!
English Breakfast at school has been a tradition at whichever Primary School I have ever been appointed to for years! When my 5th graders reach Unit 3 at the listening task that shows pictures of some children making pancakes as a surprise breakfast for their parents, that is when my learners are introduced to the fact that it is their turn this year to enjoy English Breakfast at school!
5th Greade Course Book
This school year, my 5th graders at the Primary School of Efxeinoupoli, Greece, had been completely unaware of this tradition I have been following, as I am their new English teacher! When we reached this page some time after the Christmas holidays and my learners were presented with the idea of having English breakfast at school, they were so excited and could not wait for the time to enjoy it to come! However, it was necessary to allow some time to inform their parents and get their consent for the learners’ participation, therefore we proceeded with the necessary official paperwork (please, feel free to request a copy of the consent form, should you need it! This is its online version and it has been slightly altered in the printed version for the parents to sign!)!
Before I start describing what a great and educational experience it has been, let me note that it is not very difficult (or expensive) to organize such an event at school, as most of the schools already have a room for learners to have lunch in. You only have to be prepared to do all the cooking! Our English breakfast normally includes tea, milk with cereals, chocolate chip muffins and pancakes – these last two delicacies will keep you busy in the kitchen, depending on the number of the learners you have to cook for! If you are lucky enough to have a cooker available in school, perhaps you can add eggs and bacon in the menu – unfortunately we could not! Learners are usually asked to bring a cup, a bowl and a tablespoon for the cereals, some fresh milk, honey and/or praline, whereas you, the teacher, (or the school) can provide for the cereals (regular corn flakes), the tea, plates, forks, paper tablecloths, muffins, pancakes and, of course, the pancakes recipe printed in Greek for two reasons: their mums are going to ask for it and/or you can use it as homework (ask them to write the recipe in English for the school blog, for an English-speaking friend, a padlet wall, etc)! Here is the recipe card we used this time:
English breakfast, this year, occured twice in our school, on two different dates, due to the fact that there are two 5th grade classes at the Primary School of Efxeinoupoli. I am not sure that words can describe the excitement and the satisfaction of everybody involved and the discussion we all had on the nutritional value of breakfast as a meal was interactive, educational and eye-opening to many of my learners – as they themselves have stated! All learners have participated and it is really worth emphasizing how organized, helpful and disciplined they have been throughout the process! Here are some shots of this unique experience for all of us:
You can also check out our school blog post and our padlet wall where now my 5th grade learners are invited to post their thoughts on their experience of the English breakfast at school, as well as the English version of the Pancakes Recipe I gave them in Greek!
The course book we use at the 6th Grade in Greek Public Primary Schools invites learners to write a report on their country at the end of the first unit. My 6th graders and I proudly present our electronic (padlet) wall with our reports that have been written with a real-life purpose: to be published on our school blog!
Please, feel free to leave comments under our reports, click on the hearts if you like them and/or invite your learners to read and comment on them, too (if you are a teacher, of course!), so that we know that other people out there can actually access them and read them! Thank you in advance for your time and … enjoy!
Flashcards in the Greek public school third grade can be used in numerous ways and they can prove to be life-saviors with early-finishers! During the lesson, we normally use them to revise the letters of the alphabet that we have already learnt and introduce the new ones, along with the new vocabulary that accompanies them! Yesterday, however, we used them to revise letters and vocabulary in a fun way!
To be more precise, we divided the whiteboard in two parts. Each part had the same number of flashcards. The learners were supposed to match the picture with the word! The learner who was the first to finish correctly the matching task, won some stickers!
These flashcards were edited, printed and laminated about three years ago and were based on the alphabet vocabulary presented in the Greek public school third grade material Magic Book 1! We use them every year and, when we finish with the alphabet, we put them up on the wall for both educational and decorative reasons!
It is worth noting that the learners themselves have used padlet as a tool to publish their work, either in the school computer lab or from home! They seemed really enthusiastic about the fact that they were doing the project addressing a real-life audience for a change and not just submitting it to get a mark by the teacher! Finally, they claimed that they love the fact that they can read each other’s project and get ideas!
Vocabulary learning is a significant part of language learning. The more words a student learns, the better s/he becomes at receptive (reading and listening) as well as productive (writing and speaking) skills in the target language!
Every learner has his/her own way of studying/learning/consolidating new vocabulary. If you travel back to the times when you were a learner, you will definitely find you or your fellow classmates writing words in notebooks, making your own dictionaries with new words and their definitions, repeating words in an attempt to memorize them, or grouping them based on their meaning. And, no matter which strategy you followed back then, almost all of them leave you with a sense of dullness, exhaustion and/or vainness.
Nowadays, learners have the opportunity to work with new vocabulary in many more interesting ways, provided that they are willing to devote some time, have access to a computer with internet connection and are introduced to the right sites to refer to in order to pursue vocabulary enrichment. This year, at the Primary School of Efxeinoupoli, Magnesia, Greece, we are trying to make vocabulary learning and revision a bit more fun, by exploiting the Digital School and Photodendro! Learners will be introduced to specific links suggested by the enriched version of the digital school book and found at the digital educational repository called Photodendro.
All of my 5th and 6th grade learners promised to work on these tasks as they were intrigued when they were presented with their content today and they said they would have plenty of time to devote over the weekend! And, although it is too soon to tell how this whole effort goes, their wide open, sparkling eyes tell me that vocabulary learning and revision may become indeed more fascinating and effective!
Everybody knows it, 1st graders in Primary Schools are heart stealers! It is unavoidable, teachers, no one can resist bright eyes, smiley faces, lively creatures,cheerful attitude, positive aura and readiness to be part of a team!
This year, at the Primary School of Efxeinoupoli, Magnesia, Greece, after discussing with the 1st graders about what is the English language and why it is important to speak it well in the future, they realized that they already speak English without ever knowing or noticing it! Having recognized all of the words included in the following presentation, we started pronouncing them like English people do! And they did so well!
“Happy New Year” wishes normally come for everyone around the beginning of January every year. Only if you are a teacher or a student do you appreciate this wish twice a year – early January and early September, when schools start, at least in Greece! And, if you are a teacher, new years always begin in September and last until the end of August, every time! That is when you make sure you have re-arranged your home desk, bookcase and household to best serve your needs (hoping it will last the whole year through), that is when you try to have finished with any possible bureaucratic or other procedures that can only be performed and completed on weekday mornings and, to make a long story short, if you are a teacher, that is the perfect (and only) time of the year for reflections and resolutions for the (school) year to come!
New school year resolutions appear to be almost identical for all teachers who work in similar teaching contexts and have the tendency to repeat themselves every September. Based on experience and long discussions with colleagues, the following list seems to include some of the most common new school year resolutions, mainly for English teachers who work in the public sector in Greece. They are not presented in an order of significance, but they are divided into two categories, the serious and important ones and the less serious, but still important ones:
The serious and important new school year resolutions:
* Spend more time on lesson planning.
* Improve my classroom management techniques.
* Dedicate more time to each one of my learners (and their parents).
* Try new projects, like Teachers4Europe, or Erasmus +.
* Encourage and promote collaboration with colleagues of the same school.
* Be more organized and prepared in terms of materials.
* Improve my computer-assisted language-learning approach.
* Pursue professional development.
* Try to find/beg for a classroom in school that will be used as an English classroom!
* Be more fun, creative and effective during the lesson, when needed.
* Spend some more time socializing with colleagues (of the same and other schools).
* Tidy my drawer/shelf at school and my handbag more frequently than the previous school years!
* Encourage and promote learner autonomy, do not forget!
* Create a library with English books and dictionaries for the learners.
* Keep my computer files organised, so that I do not have to spend any time during next summer doing that!
* Keep blogging, sharing, exchanging ideas and opinions.
* Support my beliefs, while being more open-minded.
* Be more positive, communicative, cooperative and helpful with everyone at school.
The less serious, but still importantnew school year resolutions:
* Wear more jewellery, for goodness sake! It does not take up much time to put it on and you have so much of it!
* Change my make-up style from time to time, use different eye-shaddows and eyeliner-pencils and eyebrow pencils and lipliners – that is, if they’re still in … Whatever you do, please, look fresh and renewed!
* Try different clothes combinations and wear more of the other clothes in the wardrobe, especially if I lose some weight!
* Lose weight! Bring fruit at school!
* Dedicate some more time on hair! It really needs it! You also know it makes you feel good!
And the list goes on with more personal and/or family or friends related resolutions, but the most appreciated thing around this time of the year is the way you feel about beginnings, the excitement while shopping stationary and other school or lesson related materials and the way that optimism and enthusiasm crawl inside you and take you over! And, although there is always some stress and a feeling that you definitely needed some more rest during summer, you are still full of energy and ready to pursue your resolutions!
Happy New (School) Year everyone, teachers and learners! Feel free to add and share with us more resolutions in the list and … let’s meet at the end of this school year and see how we did! So, I am off to the hairdresser’s, now, as things on the list definitely deserve respect and some of our time! 😉
We have started with the intention to shake up things a bit in the English classroom and we did, with the first flipped lesson in an attempt to teach the degrees of adjectives! After the second (and final, as we had initially planned) flipped lesson, all I can tell you is that this experience has to be repeated, primarily for my learners and, definitely, for their English teacher!
The second lesson was delivered at the learners’ home, by means of a video that the learners enjoyed while completing a worksheet. You can see the related school blog post they had to visit here! The video had nothing to do with grammar, this time, so, when the 6th grade learners heard it was a comic based on Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, they could not wait to go home and watch it!
When they were given the worksheet with instructions to complete it while watching the video, they were not particularly excited, but when they took the time to see what they were invited to do, they encouraged each other to watch the video and fill in the worksheet, given that they would all want to contribute to their group of work during the next session and they would all go after the award for the best team work in class!
Designed by Andriani Rigoutsou
Coming back in the classroom after watching the video at home, five of my fourteen learners had been absent, owing to this terrible flu that has been torturing many children and adults lately! We tried to postpone the lesson, but three days later, five other learners had been absent, so, unfortunately, we had the lesson without them! They all claimed to have watched the video and, what followed, really proved them honest! Learners were separated into two groups, that very quickly ended up being three, given that some learners thought they would work better if they were in a smaller group! First, they checked their worksheets and negotiated the correct answers with the members of their group! I wish I had that on a video … They were speaking English without realizing it, they were helping each other understand why something was incorrect or misunderstood, they were encouraging and supportive and they were not judging or criticizing others for making mistakes! The teacher was only restricted to monitoring (while actually feeling unbelievably proud of her learners!) and taking pictures of the process.
Designed by Andriani Rigoutsou
When we all checked the video worksheet, learners were given another one that has been designed for in-classroom use. The first task invited them to answer questions related to the play/comic they had watched. Although there was concern that they would not find it very challenging, in reality they seemed very engaged to do it, involving all the group members. It took them a bit more than expected, but the result was really rewarding for everyone! During the second task they were invited to complete sentences related to the play/comic they had watched. Once again, they were really dedicated to finishing the task and passionately negotiating the correct sentences! Unfortunately, we did not manage to finish the task in that teaching session, so we had to finish it on our next lesson.
And we actually did! At the beginning of the following session, the learners came in with excitement, joined their groups without being told to and started working almost immediately! It is worth noting that no one had forgotten their photocopy and some of them had already worked a bit at home, without writing anything on their worksheet, waiting for the approval of the whole group. When they finished this task, we played the “Hot seating” role cards game, but, because of the lack of time, we had to adapt the procedure in order to finish it in time: one learner in each group was sitting on the ‘hot seat’, assuming one of the roles of the play and not telling his classmates which one! They were asked to find out who the person on the ‘hot seat’ was by asking questions! The one who would find the correct answer had to sit on the ‘hot seat’ and continue the game! It was quick, it was engaging and it was fun! Finally, the last writing task was assigned for homework-everybody who attended the lesson actually brought it completed the next day!
I can almost hear you thinking … “Is this for real?” Well, I swear that this one was and I feel so lucky to have tried it! However, it should be noted that no one can guarantee that flipping the classroom will work equally successfully at lower levels, or same level but less competent learners, or more crowded classes! Whatever the challenge, though, a well-designed flipped lesson is more likely to shake things up a bit in class and have your learners begging you for more! We actually finished the second flipped lesson on Monday and today, only two days later, they asked me when we are going to flip it again! I did not give them a straight answer, but I know that we are flipping it again some time after Easter, because I loved the look on my learners’ faces and the frequency of the in-class oral and written production of the target language and appreciated the role of the coordinator, who monitors the whole process in a purely student-centered approach! Once again, thank you Ms Andriani Rigoutsou for this eye-opening experience, congratulations on your exceptional work on the materials and good luck with your dissertation! Looking forward to cooperating with you again!
English Breakfast at school has been a tradition at the Primary School of Sourpi for three years! When our 5th graders reach Unit 3 at the listening task that shows pictures of some children making pancakes as a surprise breakfast for their parents, that is when they realize that it is their turn this year to enjoy English Breakfast at school!
5th Greade Course Book
We reached this page some time before the Christmas holidays, however we decided to organize the breakfast in January, as we were very busy at the time! Unfortunately, an accident kept me away from school for three weeks after the holidays and, when I got back, I had to walk on crutches! To make a long story short, today was finally the great day for the English breakfast at school!
And before I describe how great it was, let me note that it is not very difficult (or expensive) to organize such an event at school, as most of the schools already have a room for learners to have lunch. You only have to be prepared to do all the cooking! Our English breakfast includes tea, milk with cereals, chocolate chip muffins and pancakes – these last two delicacies will keep you busy in the kitchen, depending on the number of the learners you have to cook for! Learners are asked to bring a bowl and a tablespoon for the cereals, honey and/or praline, whereas you (or the schools) can provide for the fresh milk, the cereals, the tea, plastic plates, forks and cups, paper tablecloths, muffins, pancakes and, of course, the pancakes recipe printed in Greek for two reasons: their mums are going to ask for it and/or you can use it as homework (ask them to write the recipe in English for the school blog, for an English-speaking friend, etc)! Here is the recipe card we used today:
This year, our English breakfast at school was warmly welcomed by the 5th grade learners who had been patiently looking forward to it for so long! They helped with the setting of the table during the first break and, when the time came, they allowed me to serve tea and milk with cereals. While they were trying their tea, we discussed the undeniable nutritional value of breakfast as a meal and we compared what English and Greek people normally have for breakfast. While we were discussing, chocolate chip muffins appeared on the table and the excitement cannot be put into words! And as they were trying their muffin, pancakes were served! And, although they could try them with honey, since we stressed (and they already know) that it is lighter and healthier, all pancakes were covered in praline in no time! I wish I could show you their faces in a video … pure joy and excitement! Pancakes really impressed them! They found them delicious and stated that they fell full with only one pancake!
Here are some pictures of our English breakfast today:
I am talking to you, who love your job and do it the best way you can! I am talking to you, who do not blog about it, or share your ideas through social media because you do not happen to know how to, or do not have the time to! I am also talking to you, who may not particularly enjoy what you do for a living and blogging or posting about it would be the last thing on your mind!
Let us all take a moment and think … When other EFL teachers share what they do in class with the world, are they just bragging, showing off “what an awesome teacher” they are, or are they just sharing ideas, in an attempt to connect? Well, the truth is that it is only fair and reasonable that I talk about myself and my view of things, but following numerous ELT blogs all these years and connecting with colleagues all around the world via social media, I believe my thoughts coincide with the majority of the people who post their professional practices in public.
Blogging and/or sharing in social media ideas and approaches related to your job initially contributes to the dissemination of good practices. As teachers, we always try to find ways to develop, introduce innovative activities in our classrooms and become more effective at what we do. Internet seems to be an abundant source of inspiration, just because some colleagues have taken the time to share their experience! Secondly, it allows everyone to share original materials that have been created for specific purposes. These materials, most of the times, can be used freely, can be adapted to serve other learners’ needs or can simply inspire some colleagues to create their own worksheets or ELT games!
Additionally, sharing your professional practices and approaches does not only address to colleagues, but also to learners and parents. Learners, on the one hand, can use a teacher’s or a school blog for extra practice, retrieval of useful materials or even access to differentiated activities and exploitation of interactive tasks that can be posted to serve their needs. Parents, on the other, have the opportunity to get a small idea of all the incredible things teachers have been working on with their children, things that they sometimes accuse us of not applying or introducing in class, mainly because they have never asked their children about them or their children have never shared what they have done or learnt with them! Aside from assisting the learners and informing the parents, blog posts seem to be like school journals, that will always be there to remind everyone of those days, those activities, those events and those lessons. Many learners who have now finished school and their parents, go nostalgically back to these posts that remind them of the past and its quality.
Last, but definitely not least, sharing teaching practices and/or materials allows EFL teachers to connect with other colleagues that are in the same situation with them, other colleagues that live in countries near or far away from theirs, with other beliefs and other ideas on their professional field, with younger teachers full of spirit, or more experienced ones full of wisdom, with learners and parents in their school or other schools … Blog posts or posts on social media are normally followed by phone calls, emails and personal messages among colleagues that focus on sharing feedback on practices, exchanging of ideas, clarifications on steps to be followed or bureaucratical procedures that are required, theoretical support of the suggested/recommended approaches and the list goes on and on … And it is this part that is even more time-consuming than posting, occurs unseen and unnoticed by others, is more demanding professionally and socially and brings the writer’s responsibility and accountability forward for everything s/he posts.
So, thousands of EFL teachers around the world who post articles or videos related to their job, may appear to some people and some colleagues as show-offs, bragging about programs, tasks and innovations, but, in reality, they are far from claiming to be “the best”, or “coolest” teachers! They actually happen to have the time to employ their technological know-how in order to pursue all or some of the afore mentioned benefits! On a more personal note, blogging and connecting through social media is my (and many, many other teachers’) way of actually working. I love my job, like you do. It did not just happen to me, I chose to be an English Language teacher many years ago. I am at work in the morning and I feel I am still at work even when I am at home, with my family and friends – and I am not the only one, you know! There are thousands of EFL and non-EFL teachers out there who are better teachers than me, more creative and innovative than me, do what I have been doing and suggesting in ways more attractive and effective than mine and are definitely more experienced and passionate than I am … and they do not share it with the world … being modest, feeling shy, being afraid to be accused as show-offs! Isn’t that a shame?
So, for this once, allow me to brag! Allow me to brag about sharing, as I am definitely not sharing to brag! And, you know what? This is the case with thousands of other ELT teachers here in Greece and around the world! We have all entered the wonderful world of sharing and caring, exchanging and connecting, providing and receiving assistance, developing and achieving! It is more demanding than you would have ever thought, it does not bring you more money in the Greek public sector, although it is more time-consuming than it looks, and it requires organization, responsibility and lots of planning that goes unnoticed. However, it is more rewarding in so many aspects, not only the ones mentioned earlier!
Therefore, try posting, or not … It is absolutely fine whether you do it or not! No ELT colleague should judge or point fingers if you choose not to, as you should not judge or point fingers to those who do. Comment, evaluate, assess with an eye to cooperating, but do not accuse others of bragging, as others do not accuse you of following more traditional approaches, working less than you could have and selfishly keeping all the expertise to yourself! These last accusations sound crazy, right? That is exactly how crazy being accused of showing off sounds to those who post and exchange professional suggestions and ideas!
If you are an English Language teacher, you surely are familiar with the “Simon says …” game! However, our 3rd grade course book invites us to play “Pinocchio says …”, as Pinocchio is our Unit 4 hero, in an attempt to engage us in a fun, enjoyable activity for vocabulary revision!
Please, enjoy this video of the recorded “Pinocchio says…” activity and try to focus on the learners’ faces (trying not to judge the sound of my recorded voice – I actually sound so different if you meet me in person!)!
Οι μαθητές και οι μαθήτριες της Ε΄ Τάξης του Δημοτικού Σχολείου Σούρπης σας προσκαλούν σε μια περιβαλλοντική δράση που έχει κυρίως σαν σκοπό την ευαισθητοποίηση των κατοίκων της περιοχής του Καλλικρατικού Δήμου Αλμυρού σε θέματα προστασίας του περιβάλλοντος, αλλά κυρίως αναφορικά με την ανακύκλωση.
Πιο αναλυτικά, η πρωτοβουλία αυτή ξεκίνησε από το πέμπτο κεφάλαιο του βιβλίου Αγγλικών της Ε΄ Τάξης, όπου οι μαθητές καλούνται να προτείνουν τι θα μπορούσε να κάνει ένα σχολείο για την προώθηση της προστασίας του περιβάλλοντος. Οι φετινοί μαθητές της Ε΄ Τάξης, έφτιαξαν αρχικά κατασκευές από ανακυκλώσιμα υλικά, αλλά εξέφρασαν την επιθυμία να περάσουν ένα μήνυμα και εκτός σχολείου για την ανακύκλωση και την προστασία του περιβάλλοντος γενικά.
Μετά από ιδεοκαταιγισμό μέσα στην τάξη, καταλήξαμε να διοργανώνουμε και με πολλή χαρά να σας προσκαλούμε να συμμετέχετε στο διαγωνισμό ζωγραφικής με θέμα “Making our planet a better place to live in”, απευθυνόμενο σε όλους τους μαθητές και τις μαθήτριες των Ε΄ Τάξεων του Καλλικρατικού Δήμου Αλμυρού.
Οι όροι του διαγωνισμού κοινοποιούνται ταυτόχρονα στα δημοτικά σχολεία της περιοχής μας και επισυνάπτονται στο παρόν μήνυμα. Σε εκδήλωση που θα γίνει σε ημερομηνία που θα ανακοινωθεί μετά τις διακοπές του Πάσχα, θα βραβευτούν με μετάλλια – προσφορά του Συλλόγου Γονέων και Κηδεμόνων – τα τρία πρώτα έργα ζωγραφικής. Στην εκδήλωση αυτή θα εκτεθούν όλα τα έργα ζωγραφικής που θα συμμετέχουν, αλλά και οι κατασκευές μας από ανακυκλώσιμα υλικά, ενώ παράλληλα θα μοιραστεί ενημερωτικό υλικό που θα ετοιμάσουμε σχετικά με την ανακύκλωση. Οι φετινοί μαθητές της Ε΄ Τάξης στοχεύουν να περάσουν κυρίως το μήνυμα της ανακύκλωσης σε όλους μας, δεδομένου του ότι η χρήση των μπλε κάδων ανακύκλωσης τόσο στο χωριό τους, όσο και στην ευρύτερη περιοχή του Δήμου Αλμυρού φαίνεται να είναι λανθασμένη (ρίψη μη ανακυκλώσιμων υλικών, δεμένες σακούλες μέσα στον κάδο, κτλ), κυρίως λόγω ελλιπούς ενημέρωσης.
Τέλος, οφείλουμε να τονίσουμε ότι με τη δράση αυτή φιλοδοξούμε να ευαισθητοποιήσουμε, όσο το δυνατόν περισσότερους κάθε φορά, πολίτες ώστε να αποκτήσουν φιλική προς το περιβάλλον στάση και συμπεριφορά! Οι μαθητές της Ε΄ Τάξης σας ευχαριστούν προκαταβολικά για το χρόνο σας και για τη στήριξή σας σε αυτή την πρωτότυπη πρωτοβουλία.
Οι μαθητές και οι μαθήτριες της Ε΄ Τάξης (2016-2017) και
Παρασκευή Χαμηλού (Καθηγήτρια Αγγλικής Γλώσσας Δημοτικού Σχολείου Σούρπης, Μαγνησίας) τηλ. 24220-31420
Στο πλαίσιο του μαθήματος της Ευέλικτης Ζώνης, οι μικροί μαθητές και οι μαθήτριες της Β΄Τάξης ακούν και διαβάζουν ιστορίες και παραμύθια που σχετίζονται με την υγιεινή διατροφή! Αναφερόμενοι στα φρούτα, τη διατροφική τους αξία και τη συχνότητα με την οποία θα πρέπει να καταναλώνονται καθημερινά τόσο από παιδιά, όσο και από ενήλικες, αναφερθήκαμε σε διαφορετικούς τρόπους με τους οποίους θα μπορούσαμε να τα εντάξουμε στο καθημερινό μας διαιτολόγιο!
Πολλές οι ιδέες και εύκολες οι συνταγές! Μπορούμε να φτιάξουμε με αυτά μια λαχταριστή φρουτοσαλάτα, ή να τα καταναλώσουμε φρεσκοστυμμένα, σε χυμό! Μια ωραία ιδέα είναι να κάνουμε μιλκσέικ με φρούτα, ή να φτιάξουμε το δικό μας φρουτογιαούρτι, με κομματάκια φρούτων που προτιμούμε περισσότερο! Μπορούμε να τα προσθέσουμε στα δημητριακά του προγεύματος, αλλά και να τα φάμε σαν σουβλάκι, καρφώνοντας στο ξυλάκι μας κομμάτια διαφορετικών φρούτων! Ωραία όλα αυτά, αλλά …
-“Κυρία, εμένα δε μου αρέσει το μήλο!”
-“Εγώ δεν τρώω το αχλάδι, δε μου αρέσει καθόλου!”
-“Εγώ τα τρώω όλα, κυρία, αλλά δε μου αρέσει το μέσα του πορτοκαλιού, μόνο ο χυμός μου αρέσει!”
-‘Κυρία, εγώ τρώω μόνο μπανάνα, τίποτα άλλο!”
-“Κι αν … χρησιμοποιούσαμε διαφορετικά φρούτα για να φτιάξουμε φρουτοπαγωτά; Πώς θα σας φαινόταν;” Κι έτσι ξεκίνησε η δική μας ιστορία, που θα την αφηγούμαστε για πολύ καιρό! Μετά το ηχηρό “Ναιαιαιαιαι!!!!”, ξεκίνησε η προετοιμασία και δεν άργησε η μέρα της παρασκευής των φρουτοπαγωτών και της απόλαυσης! Δείτε παρακάτω τη … συνταγή της επιτυχίας!
The 5th Unit of the 5th grade English book invites learners to take action and work on an environmental project. It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that our 5th grade learners worked on a way to reduce their rubbish! They decided to use it, in order to make new, useful objects! Here is what they have proudly presented in class:
I wish there were words to describe the look on everybody’s faces today (including mine!) during the in-class activities of our first flipped classroom lesson (you can see here how it all started!)! If the word satisfaction had a picture right next to it in the dictionary, then, that would definitely be one of my learners’ and my expression after our English lesson today! And, although I know that statements of this kind are not academically acceptable or customary, please, dear colleagues, allow me to share my enthusiasm with you as I have been feeling it since a quarter past one today!
Yes, it was the last teaching session of the day and, yes, it had to be with the 6th graders! Yes, they had all watched the videos and, yes, they had all tried the recommended interactive tasks included at their school blog post(or at least they said they had!). Yes, we started working in three teams and, yes, none of us knew at the time how the pre-designed in-class activities would work either individually, or in terms of groups!
Tasks designed by Andriani Rigoutsou
After separating the learners in three groups and promising to award the one that will demonstrate the most exceptional team work, we started with the first task that involved learners in grouping the adjectives based on the way they form their comparative and superlative degree. This task seemed to be an appropriate warm-up and an initial opportunity for the teacher to monitor and evaluate the level of comprehension of the new grammatical structure the learners had learnt about through the videos they watched at home! The specific task appeared to be easy for everyone, we checked the answers and moved straight to sentence-making in the second task! In approximately five to six minutes, learners managed to complete this task, involving everyone in the group and negotiating the correct sentences in an admirably cooperative manner! After that, task three and underlining the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives seemed like a treat, especially for those who normally show unwillingness or hesitation to participate while checking the correct answers! Everybody seems to be clear on how to form the degrees of adjectives and everyone appears to be capable of making sentences using them meaningfully. And, when I say everyone, I really mean everyone!
Later on, it was games time! Task four and “Plip” and “Plop” sentences really took everybody off to the level of learning while having fun! Groups agreed on the sentences they would say and the fun began right after that, trying to find out what “Plip” and “Plop” were! Finally, “The Broken Sentences” game will be the task we will all remember for a long, long time! As we were moving towards the end of the lesson and there had to be some time left for homework assignment (and explanation!), I gave them a challenge, saying that the fastest team to get the sentences right would earn extra points for the best team work award! The level of engagement, the constant reminding among group members of the grammatical rules to be followed, the unprecedented level of cooperation, support and encouragement are, unfortunately, for us to know and appreciate and you to imagine!
So, was the inverted lesson a big success? No, it was huge, I’d say, and learners commented so possitively on that as soon as the bell rang and they started packing their things for home! They all participated, they all got involved, they all raised their hands to contribute, they all appreciated the work of their team members and, what is more, they all stated that they did not realize that time went by so quickly and that they want a flipped lesson again some time soon! As for the teacher, she was only restrained to monitoring and coordinating groups, while evaluating the level of perception of the new grammar by the learners (given that the materials had already been designed, photocopied and cut for the tasks and games!)! Although it seemed very easy and discrete to intervene and help a learner in need, that was at no point necessary, as team members would step up and support their peers.
It is worth noting, however, that the particular class had also been taught the degrees of adjectives in the 5th grade and most of them have had a lot of practice in them in their afternoon English lessons in private language schools, so they were quite comfortable with the form and use. This allowed us to move from task to task relatively quickly and the time/award challenge seems to have ‘spiced’ a lot the procedure! Had the video lessons been confusing or incomprehensible for some learners, the pre-designed in-class activities would more likely last for at least two teaching sessions.
Award for the best team work!
All in all, my learners and I cannot wait for the next flipped lesson, as it was a unique learning and teaching experience! A million thanks to Ms Andriani Rigoutsou for doing all this hard, time-consuming and demanding work that had always been dragging me away from trying the flipped classroom (meaning collecting the videos and online interactive games, as well as designing and preparing the in-class activities/worksheets), but, most of all, thank you for inspiring us and making us part of a a very supportive and cooperative group of colleagues and classes that share with us the same concerns and interests in new teaching approaches!