December 27, 2013

Eleven

I've been tagged in a blogging meme Eleven by my dear friend Arjana Blažić.

This is how the challenge works: 
  • acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • list 11 bloggers.
  • 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.
11 random facts about me
  1. My two sons are two most important persons in my life.
  2. I like to read or watch a good mystery
  3. I love growing my own herbs. 
  4. One of my New Year's resolutions every year is to start a new diet.
  5.  I am thinking seriously of changing no. 3 because it never works.
  6. I love teaching in a school in my neighbourhood.
  7. I  have found out why a number of old age pensioners  I sometimes meet in my neighbourhood say hello like they know me when we meet: they sometimes bring their grandchildren to school. Their grandchildren are not in any of my classes and it took me some time to realize who they are. 
  8. I am not very sporty but I love swimming in the Adriatic Sea
  9. If I lived somewhere on the coast I'd try to go swimming all year round like I see some people do. I envy them a little. 
  10. I believe virtual worlds can be used for learning a foreign language. I even have a certificate for teaching in Second Life. 
  11. I like planning  both teaching and other activities even if I know I am not going to stick to the plan. Planning makes improvisations more fun. 
My answers to Arjana's questions: 

1) What is your favourite book?
I don't think it is one book. When I read a book, even if I don't like it at first, I keep reading to see what's in it for me.

2) How much time on an average day do you spend online?
Much more than I would like to confess.

3) iPad or Android tablets?
There is an Android, usually somewhere around the living room, but I almost never use it.

4) What do you consider the most valuable thing you own?
I don't care much about how valuable things are as long as they serve the purpose and I like them.

5) What is your favourite way to waste time?
Lying in the sun with a paper book in hand

6) If a movie was being made about you who would you choose to play you and why?
Too difficult to imagine :)

7) If you could have an endless supply of food what would that be?
Fresh fruit – nicely arranged in big bowls or baskets, none the same as the previous

8) What's the best holiday you've been on?
I guess it was when I was a child and used to spend a week or so with parents, brother and sister on a boat or a campsite next to the most beautiful sand beach. I miss the peace and quiet and the simple life of the time that is hard to find nowadays.

9) What's the worst haircut you've ever had?
It was when I decided to stop dying hair and to keep it short and grey like it is now. My hairdresser showed a lot of inventiveness and a lot of people actually thought I wanted my hair to be in two almost opposite colours. I knew the truth and thought it was awful.

10) What three things do you love most about your best friend?
easy-going, honest and positive

11) What is your favourite smell and what memory does it remind you of?
Lemon tree in blossom  - I find myself opening the window in the morning in my parents' house. It smells great and I remember it combined with the picture of a beautiful tree and the blue sky.  I try to find it in perfumes and other cosmetic products because it makes me calm and happy. 

Thank you, Arjana, for tagging me and for this very interesting set of questions.

My set of participants - I tag: 


And I'm looking forward to your answers to my 11 questions: 
  1. What are you going to do differently in the new year ( at least during the first month)?
  2. If you could get a free ticket to any destination in the world, where would you like to go?
  3. If you could choose to live all year in one season, would you choose winter or summer?
  4. What do you find hardest to teach your students?
  5. What do you like about the space where you teach (your classroom)?
  6. Which  is most important quality  you look for in a community of practice you belong to
  7. If you weren't a teacher, what would you do?
  8. What is the best way to share what you learn about teaching?
  9. What do you never go to work without?
  10. Can you think about and share one thing that people usually don't know about the part of the world where you live?
  11. If Santa was to bring you only one gadget you can use for teaching or in your free time, what would you wish for?

 Happy holidays everybody!
 

Three most important elements of CoPs


I have been asked to write three most important reasons that make me appreciate a community of practice, why I find some communities more useful to my needs as a teacher than others. 

I believe that three main elements that are essential in a CoP are:


  • It is a group of people coming from various backgrouds, with various levels of expertise in teaching, both mentors and mentees. It is important because it makes it possible to see every problem from different angles and get different perspectives. Every discussion is more fruitful.
  • The atmosphere is the one of collaboration and sharing, the willingness to help and ask for help. Even if there are differences in age and expertise, teachers don't feel they will be asking a stupid question if there is anything they need help with. 
  • Most of the teachers are active. They care about the community and believe in the power of the community: projects are started, surveys done, papers read and discussed, members comment on one another's blogs and it is easy to get feedback. 
These are my two cents :)

I am looking forward to reading other teachers' opinions. 




March 27, 2013

Blogathon 2013


British Council organised a blogging competition on their webpage for English teachers,TeachingEnglish. It was a blogging marathon  for English teachers  from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Hungary, Israel, Romania, Russia, Spain and Uzbekistan.

Blogathon  lasted for a month, from 4th February until 4th March. English teachers created blogs on TeachingEnglish and wrote Blogathon posts not longer than 250 words, read and commented on other participants' posts.  

The blog entries made reference to a variety of ELT themes and class activities. A lot of interesting and original content was shared. All bloggers were very positive and respectful. It was interesting to take part in various discussions on the usual ELT topics  but also to learn about  different teaching situations  and problems.

After the end of the Blogathon, British Council  team chose the winners. Three teachers got the first prize – the participation at the IATEFL annual conference in Liverpool  - as roving reporters.

All my Blogathon posts can be read on  bsanja'sblog on TeachingEnglish, but also on Blogathon page of this blog, because I'd like to keep them in my diary, too.

I'm very happy and excited to be one of the teachers travelling to Liverpool on 7 April.




January 25, 2013

speakpipe.com

One of the advantages of being a Webhead is that when you are  in the company of such enthusiasts, you  never stop learning about new tools to use with students or in your communication with colleagues.
While reading the messages in our Yahoo group yesterday, I came across a very interesting tool - http://www.speakpipe.com/.

The ad on the page summarises the use of the tool. It says:
"Don't force your customers to type a text message. Let them talk and show them you are listening."

It's just what I need for my blog, I thought. It is very easy to install: you can add  it as a widget with the HTML code you copy after registering on the page and it can be seen as a sign of a microphone on the right-hand side of the blog.

The use seems very simple, too. All you need is to click on the microphone and send a voice message to the owner of the widget.

Now I'm waiting for the first messages to arrive. And what are you waiting for, dear readers?
Send me a voice message :)





January 20, 2013

Keeping young learners safe online


In my PD plans, January is the month for the first weeks of  TESOL EVO online courses.  “Digital Storytelling with Young Learners“ is one of my favourites.
One of the topics the teachers discuss this week is how we keep our young learners safe online. Participating teachers from different parts of the world contribute their ideas and examples from their experience.

This is how I contributed to the discussion:
How can we keep our students safe online? What do I do as a teacher?

  1.  Students learn to introduce themselves properly (first names only, no portrait photos)
  2.  I constantly remind them about the importance of keeping the information about their passwords to themselves.
  3.  I carefully choose webpages to use with students. I only recommend the pages safe for kids.
  4.  I teach students to evaluate pages they visit when looking for information.
  5.  I respect copyright and give credit to the authors. I teach about copyright and plagiarism.
  6.  I involve parents. Teachers can't be the only responsible for children. There are “Parent permission“ forms and I encourage them to contact me and take interest in their children's work.
the world is just a click away
The resources on the wiki are great and I am sure I'll learn a lot of new ways of keeping my students safe and aware of the possibilites and risks of the internet.
I have added the following sites to my list of the materials to use with students in different age and language level groups:

1 BrainPOPJr video and quizzes, vocabulary exercises, activities, etc 

2 Common Sense Media – a site with great video and text resources which  all make great reading and listening material and a starting point for a discussion in class: 
In my opinion, this is the topic we must teach continuously throughout the school year, in all age groups of learners. That's why I am definitely going to use these materials to create some lessons for my students.


January 12, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Last year was a quiet one for this blog - not too many posts. It wasn't so because nothing interesting was happening in the classroom or various professional development sessions I attended. Simply, teaching and learning took a lot of time, I spent some with my family and friends, wasted some more...

I hope this year is going to be different - my first decision is to blog more regularly. What other New Year's Resoutions should I mention here to mark the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013? It's not easy to say at once.

I'll  embed an Answer Garden here - for me to add more answers when I feel like it, and for the readers to add some they feel would be right for me:)

New Year's Resolutions a Teacher Should Make... at AnswerGarden.ch.