Wednesday, February 28, 2007
What Anthony Cody, a teacher at the Bret Harte Middle School, Oakland, has done is not just set his ideas down in words but added video and PowerPoint presentations. In this way the photo-essay project he did with his class is much more accessible. Also you can see what the students produced here.
I was just imagining the kind of lessons that I could do if I had access to some of this equipment.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
So check out this week's thrilling episode of BarbieForever2007.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
On Tuesday university students closed down Egnatia St and held a party. This was one of the bands playing on a stage that overlooks the road opposite the Trade Fair.
Lydia engrossed in one of her favourite sites on the internet. Basically, she's teaching herself to read in English in this way. I did the same thing with comics when I was her age.
This was taken in the local park on Clean Monday. The council had organised free food and entertainment and this lady was sat next to me eating her souvlaki and bread.
Taken in the train station, before I was asked to leave. Apparently, you need special permission from the station manager to take pictures.
Outside the railway station here in Thessaloniki. Permission not needed for these photos.
Hateful Graffiti on wall near the PAOK basketball stadium. I won't translate it, suffice to say these neanderthals have a vocabulary as limited as it is vicious.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Video by Icecorescientist.
1 Ask students what's the weirdest news story they heard recently. Student question each other about what the story is about.
2 Write a strange headline on the board (click here and here for some sites that have such stories every day). For example;
"Please don't invite us to your wedding, couple says"
3 Ask students what the story might be about.
4 Now explain that when a journalist writes a story the first paragraph has to answer five questions;
5 The students then write down their five questions, e.g. Who doesn't want to go to a wedding?"
6 They write down their own opening paragraph which answers their own questions.
7 Students check each others writing and make suggestions about how the story could be improved.
8 Give a photocopy of the original story and ask them to compare and contrast their version with the original.
"BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Fed up with spending too many weekends going to weddings, an Argentine couple took out a paid announcement on the social pages of a major newspaper expressing their desire for some social neglect."
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
I'm willing to try any approach as long as it keeps her interest and enthusiasm for learning alive. Too much of what is taught crushes learners natural curiosity about the world around them.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
To find out more about why they are protesting click here or here.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
I was just making a list in itunes today of stuff that that help me unwind and relax. What do you listen to ?
1 I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab For Cutie.
2 Rue St Vincent by Yves Montand
3 Two by Konstantinos Vita
4 Old Man by Neil Young
5 The Piano Has Been drinking by Tom Waits
6 Help Yourself by Death in Vegas
7 Midnight Cowboy by John Barry
8 Life on Mars Seu Jorges
9 Coming Back to Me by Jefferson Airplane
10 Mad world by Michael Andrews.
Good night and sweet dreams.
Even in a large class you can do this, the trick is to make sure that the other students have something to do otherwise they get bored and restless very quickly. Here are two ideas:
A Get the students to copy down everything you say to those being interviewed.
B They then work together to write down a complete list of questions and instructions which they will use to interview each other.
A Give the students the handout below with CPE do's and don'ts and go through it, giving examples and explanations where necessary.
B Then do the interview with two students.
C The others listen and note down what the interviewees did right or wrong according to the handout.
D Students then discuss their notes with those interviewed in groups.
1 Be friendly, be polite. This is a chance to show the examiners how well you can speak English, not a fight to the death.
2 Learn some words that may come up, e.g. the name of the subject you are studying or the job you want to do in the future.
3 DO NOT learn a little speech by heart. It sounds unnatural and you'll get even more nervous than you need to be trying to remember it.
4 Keep eye contact with the examiner. That means looking him or her in the eye rather than staring at your shoes or some point on the wall behind them.
5 Remember there are no wrong answers here, only well- expressed and badly expressed ones.
6 DO NOT give short, monosyllabic answers, nor tell them the story of your life.
1 If you don't understand the question ask the examiner to repeat it. You'll not lose marks for this. However, you will lose marks for answering the wrong question.
2 Move your chair so that you are facing the other person. Remember what we said about eye-contact.
3 Start with a question, not a monologue.
4 Listen to what the other person says, comment on it, ask them questions.
5 Disagree with the other person whatever they say. It's always easier to have something to say if we disagree.
6 Give the other person chance to speak. You'll lose marks if you monopolise the conversation.
7 DO NOT stop speaking until the examiner tells you that your time is up.
PART THREE (part one)
1 Make sure you understand the question before you start speaking. If necessary, ask the examiner to explain it.
2 Give yourself a few moments to think about what you want to say.
3 Remember there are no wrong answers. Nobody expects you to be an expert on the subject of the question.
4 Feel free to ignore the prompts suggested. You do not have to use them, if you do not wish.
5 DO NOT stop speaking until the examiner tells you that your time is up.
6 Listen to what the other person says as you will be asked to comment on it.
PART THREE (part two)
7 Remember the longer questions asked towards the end of this part are always connected with the topic discussed in the prompt cards.
8 Give full answers, not just short, monosyllabic ones
9 Comment on what the other person says, use their name.
10 There are no wrong answers, only badly-expressed ones.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Photo effect courtesy of Mosaic Maker.
It's strange how sometimes very disparate strands and ideas suddenly form themselves into a coherent thread. I was in a lesson last talking about using Skype with one of my students, a senior doctor in a hospital here in Thessaloniki when he mentioned that the already knew about the idea of teleconferencing as the hospital had just set up a regular link with another clinic in which doctors would be able to take part. Then again, he added he'd first come across this technology in action more than ten years ago in a conference in Spain.
I suddenly remembered that I'd read that the idea of using phones to transmit images was not a new one and that it had first been presented in the 60's. After a little googling I found out that the Picturephone was first presented to the public by AT&T in 1964. However, when it came out commercially in the 70':
"It was a disaster. People queued in droves to avoid buying it. What happened? Part of the reason was the cost. Picturephone was not cheap: $125 per month plus $21 per minute. Also, there was the problem of how you use a picturephone when you're one of the very few people who have one. Without a compelling reason to think that people were going to sign up for picturephones real quick you're faced with the reality that there's a whole lot of nobody to talk to out there.
Whatever the reasons, the picturephone limped along briefly and then was quietly pulled at a loss of $1 billion."
What has changed now is that with the introduction of voip applications such as Skype we can now have the same kind of communication for almost nothing. If you have a computer and a broadband connection then all you need is a headset and a webcam. (my equipment cost me 25
euros in total).
As far as education is concerned check out Vicki Davis's great post on using Skype to bring in outside expertise to our classrooms here. Also check out how an Electronic Peace Corp could transform education (and not only) in developing countries here .
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
I've decided to join the 2000 Bloggers project for no better reason than it seems a cool ideal. I'd like to thank Devious Diva for putting me onto it. However, there are two rules about joining;
1 You must have a photo of yourself on the blog.
2 Your blog must have been created prior to January 1st 2007.
So, here's the Dude in all his faded glory.
A couple of weeks I posted an idea about how we can use Flickr to help students with their basic vocabulary. I also thought that this would work well with more advanced students and indeed it does when describing concrete nouns (i.e. things we can actually see and touch) or action verbs such as "crash", it is not so great with other words e.g.invincible is very hard to explain just using a picture.
However, what we can do is use the internet to help students revise items they've already covered in their course books etc. The slide show above uses items from a difficult text I covered with one of my students while doing unit 6 of the Headway Upper - Intermediate course book.
The basic idea is that we go through the items in the usual manner, but when it comes to revising them we use Slide.com to make a slide show with images that illustrate the new word's meaning. As long as the image is meaningful to the student it doesn't matter if its meaning is obscure to you and me. Also, this is not simply a copy and paste exercise as I found out myself when I Googled the different lexical items in the passage in order to find good, representative images. You need to think and search about what you want to show.
The slide show then acts as a visual mnemonic when students need to revise for their unit/term tests.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
1 Give them a short match description in English and ask them to underline the words and phrases that are used in football e.g. This works best if the article is about their favourite team(s), of course.
2 Then ask them to write their own short description of a game they've seen recently.
1 Go to Garth Crook's dream team page at the BBC football website. Ask them to comment on his choice of players and create their own dream team.
2 Students post their choice on their blog and the other students comment.
1 Ask your students to commentate on a clip from a match from YouTube and record it on the PC or mobile phone. Students then listen to their commentary and if necessary re-record it.
The BBC sports site is an endless source of learning activities as it covers sporting activities from all over the world. As well as written articles there are also radio programmes and podcasts about sport and chat rooms.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
The music is by Death in Vegas.
The music is from The Persuaders by John Barry.
The music is by The Crystal Method.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
For those of you who don't read Greek, it is a declension of masculine, feminine and neutral nouns in Greek along with with an exercise which asks them to give example of various tenses such as present perfect, future simple etc.
For anyone who studied Latin or Ancient Greek, I'm sure the format is familiar, however, trying to teach young learners in this fashion is madness. It shows an almost total lack of understanding of the way in which children learn. Imagine teaching a second grader English by asking them to list the differences between the present perfect continuous and past simple. The ironic thing is that I can't help my daughter with these exercises because I never bothered to learn the ludicrously complex (not to mention outdated terminology) used to teach syntax in Greek. Instead, I actually went out and used the language to read, write, speak etc.
The exercises Lydia has to do are all set out by the ministry of education and have to be followed to the letter by teachers in elementary school. (see here for the curriculum and material). I'm starting to believe the the school curriculum in Greece is the longest suicide note in history. How is this generation going to compete in a global economy where their peers learn skills at, say ten that they won't till they reach university, if at all?
If you believe that this is an exaggeration then tell me where in the country students in the public education system can do what these American fourth graders can?
Recently, I started lessons with Athena and Vicky who who didn't have the chance to learn much English at school. English will be their third language and third alphabet as they already know Russian and Greek. I'm trying to use many of the new ideas that I've picked up from the internet in our lessons and they seem to be working.
One thing I do insist on is that they record themselves speaking. I cannot stress strongly enough the benefits of getting students to do this. In our lessons that means using the listening exercises from the Headway book we're doing. After every short such exercise I ask them to practice saying them on their own (thankfully, the book has transcripts at the back), recording their performance and, if necessary, redoing it. As most newer mobile phones have audio recording capability no special equipment is needed.