Primary School of Sourpi

Primary School of Sourpi

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!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcnJ_dUwpRY

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

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

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!

Primary School of Sourpi

Primary School of Sourpi

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

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:

And here are some links to other English breakfasts at different schools:

Primary School of Sourpi, 2014

Primary School of Pteleos, 2011

Primary School of Amaliapolis, 2011

1st Primary School of Almyros, 2010

http://www.mrportfoliomanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/share.jpg

http://www.mrportfoliomanagement.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/share.jpg

Dear ELT colleagues,

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!

Sincerely and Respectfully Yours,
Vivi Hamilou