Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2009:The Year of Living Technologically

184 days in England, 181 days in Italy. 2009 was a divided one, but there was one common thread throughout: the quest for learning and sharing knowledge. Life was an open book waiting to be read. And read I certainly did!! Expanding my PLN was definitely the highlight of the whole year and I am grateful to everyone within this circle who helped me to develop on a professional and personal level way beyond my initial modest expectations. My universe changed irrevocably and I was thrust into the dazzling, hi-tech 21st century as a direct result of my unique surroundings.

2009: The Year in Technology
This article from Fox News sums up 2009 in terms of an interesting Technology Review.
Jane Hart has written a fantastic and inspirational personal review of 2009.
Shelly Terrell has written a fabulous post called "Resources for Resolutions and Reflections" which as always is packed full of educational delights.
Burcu Akyol's "Professional New Year's Resolutions" are a real inspiration and motivational force to be considered for 2010.
Ozge Karaoglu reflects on "How to Survive in 2010 - digitally!"
The Telegraph: Social Media 2009 Review

2009: Janet's Abruzzo Edublog Highlights
These are my favourite posts of 2009. I had some fun writing them!
January 2009: The Era of IE?
February 2009: The Twitter Phenomenum This post received the most comments in the whole year.
March 2009: Getting Started on the Road to Technology Integration written as a Guest Post by Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers
April 2009: How to Cook Compost- Book Review
May 2009: Abruzzo Review
June 2009: A Storm in a Teacup
July 2009: Wedding Dance goes Viral ( to date over 36 million views!!)
August 2009: Making Hay While the Sun Shines
September 2009: Acronyms
October 2009: A False Positive
November 2009: TESOL-Italy
December 2009: George Clooney- Who Else?

The Future of 2010
Where do I go from January 1st 2010? I don't really know. I will find out.

Will my life change overnight? I very much doubt it.

Will I continue to do my best in whatever I choose to do? Yes, absolutely!

Will I challenge myself enough? I hope so. Nobody else on this planet will do it for me.

Will I continue writing my blog? Yes, I very much want to. It has become an essential part of my life.

Will I strive to incorporate new e-tools wherever practicable? I hope so.

Will I finally unleash the demons preventing me from creating a Power Point Presentation? Yes, I really really want to!!

EVO 2010
Hard to choose which course to follow. I haven't decided yet. I hope to meet some of you there! You do not need to be a TESOL member to participate in a free, six-week, wholly online session of the EVO, Jan 11 -Feb 21, 2010.

Please visit the Announcement Web page to select a course. I thoroughly enjoyed the EVO "Digfolios and Personal Learning Spaces" course in February this year.

I have created a fun Wallwisher for New Year Resolutions connected to Web 2.0. Please feel free to add your resolution or more by posting a sticky below.

Happy New Year
I wish all my readers a very happy new year. I hope 2010 will bring you peace, happiness, love, good health and good luck. May all your dreams come true!! Once again, thank you for sharing in my adventure as a blogger. I look forward to writing up more posts in 2010.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope you all have a wonderful time wherever you may be.
I'm signing off now with the beautiful seasonal song below. I'll be back just after Christmas.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Some songs can convey much more than words alone can ever express. Such a song is "When you Say Nothing at all". I first came across this Youtube video in April in Italy and it moved me to tears. The haunting Italian sub-text conveys thoughts on the meaning of life. The message is: "Live life to the full". Doors close, doors open. Life is an uphill struggle but then the sunshine comes back to fill the dark moments with rays of energy. Nobody knows how long this will last, so grab life by the scruff of the neck and enjoy the moment!

Encapsulating Thoughts
2009 started off very badly, very badly indeed. It got even worse. Luckily, my blog saved me from going under during a difficult period of time. I like this song very much. It's poignant to hear it again because it's a constant reminder that "through a glass darkly", there is hope. If you listen carefully to the words and if you can read Italian, it all makes a lot of sense. I have copied the posting in full.

I have just viewed this video song on Youtube for the first time and I like it very much. It is very visual and beautifully made. Its theme is the meaning of life. The song is based on a poem by Paul Coelho. Basically, you never know what is coming round the corner and therefore, it is best to live life to the full.

"Don't just dream it. Do it. Take control of your future".

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Trout and All Things Christmas

The Trout in Lower Wolvercote, Oxford, was the scene of many an Inspector Morse episode. It was his local "watering hole" so to speak, albeit a very upmarket one indeed.

I had the great pleasure of partaking of two festive meals there very recently and both times were exceptionally pleasant and memorable, thanks to the very welcoming staff and service we received. The Christmas menu was excellent and portions were exceptionally generous. The setting was wonderful, the atmosphere enticing and the company scintillating. What more could one ask for? The perfect venue for a party event.Everything I had was delicious. In particular, the Goat's Cheese starter was excellent and I really enjoyed The Bailey's pot dessert which was fabulous. Baileys just happens to be my favourite Christmas tipple. So if you are looking for an eaterie with great atmosphere to spend a nice time at Christmas and New Year with friends, I would heartily recommend the Trout.

Just as a seasonal aside, here are Delia's fave tipples. In addition, here's how to make a Christmas Pudding!

Some Excellent Links to Fun Christmas Activities!
Ana Maria Menezes of LifeFeast fame shows you 10 fun, Web 2.0 inspired ways to send Xmas greetings this year. Have a look at them here. Ozge Karaoglu also has some fab examples of alternative Web 2.0 Xmas ideas here Which one will you be sending?
Prince Harry and his on-off girlfriend Chelsy have sent their Elves e-Xmas card already. I predict it's going to be the e-card sensation of 2009!
Karenne Sylvester from kalinagoenglish has some different thought-provoking ideas about Christmas here. has a great series of lessons with Christmas songs for ESL learners and kids. Slades's "Merry Christmas Everybody" is one of my favourite Xmas songs ever. Please click here for this lovely lesson. I bet you won't be able to resist singing along!!
For an original Advent Calendar 2009, please click on the "Bits'n'bobs/show'n'tell" blog.
Click here for two alternative Italian calendars from Italy Magazine.

A veritable "White Christmas" 2009?
My all time favourite song has got to be "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" sung by Bing Crosby. This year it looks as if it's sure going to be a true white Christmas.
I'll leave you all for the moment with the following extract from the original film.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Edublog Awards - Winners 2009!

I'd like to congratulate all the winners of this year's Edublog Awards. There were a lot of worthy candidates and it must have been very difficult for the judges to choose only one in each category. You can find out who the winners were by clicking on the Edublog Awards page.
I'd like to mention Free Technology for Teachers, which won 2 of these prestigious awards. I had the great honour of hosting Richard Byrne on Janet's Abruzzo's Edublog in March this year. His excellent post was called "Getting Started on the Road to Technology Integration".

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

George Clooney: Who else?


Which adjective above does not appear in the Nespresso ad below?

George Clooney Update
Please click on this link here to read an update regarding George Clooney. This link was very kindly provided by Jeffrey Hill from the English Blog.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The "Me Me Me" Factor!

For the past few days, I have been unavoidably absent from my blog and twitter. I did a catch-up earlier today by looking at my twitter stream and I uncovered the dying embers of several strands of a heated and fascinating debate involving the role of social MEdia in our lives. In particular, the role of twitter. Wow! I thought to myself. How could I possibly have missed all this in a nanosecond? In a few minutes of surfing and then delving deeper and deeper into the very heart of the tweets and links to blogs, this is what I uncovered. What struck me included the following observations:

  • the role of twitter as a very powerful influential tool
  • a power struggle emerging between digital natives and digital immigrants
  • a heated debate about "twitiquette"
  • the merits of retweeting thank you
  • the unknown fast-flowing direction that twitter is taking
  • the role of "give and take" within twitter
  • the fast evolving twists and turns of real-time debating
  • the concerns expressed about the public "web"persona versus the "private" persona
  • a public arena which was almost like a lion's den!
  • the knowledge that what is said online should be carefully reflected upon
I tamely chose not to enter something which was too hot to handle at this time of the day.

The Twitter Whale
How do you feel when you see the image above? Do you just say "Oh well, no problem! I'll try again later" or do you get a sinking feeling that you are missing out on the party?
I'd be interested to hear your views.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Book Review:Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching

It is my pleasure to review Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching by Jeff Stanford, which has recently been published by This review is based purely from my personal perspective. I hope it will give you some insight into the essence of the book, which is constructed on sound pedagogical principles.

Who is Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching for?
It is aimed at "teachers, trainers and course planners with little or no experience of Moodle who would like to create their own language learning activities". Someone exactly like me in fact! I will definitely be implementing some of the wealth of resources within this book on my next Moodle for Teachers course, which begins in January 2010.

How is the book written?
The book is written in an informative, insightful and knowledgeable manner and contains comprehensive step by step instructions for how to approach each of the activities within the 10 chapters of the e-book. Chapters 11 and 12 are currently freely available to be downloaded. Jeff Stanford is an expert and enthusiastic follower of ICT, a teacher trainer, web site designer and avid Moodle practitioner. His skill and expertise is inherently obvious throughout the book. You can go to this site to read more book reviews. Click for a demonstration of Moodle on this site @

What will you as a teacher learn from reading the book?
If you are a teacher who would like to implement the Moodle platform into your teaching schedule, Moodle 1.9 for Second LanguageTeaching will give you a comprehensive, in-depth guide into how to use Moodle. It covers all the basic ground work for you, all in one extensive tome! No need to search the net for various bits and pieces of information, no need to do investigative research into how to use the various plug-ins that Moodle supports. No need at all, because you will learn all this and much, much more. It is in fact a one-stop resource available at your fingertips. That is the simple, essential beauty of this book. The following mind map shows you some of the functions of Moodle that are fully explained and exploited.

Does Moodle 1.9 for Language Teachers deliver the goods?
Absolutely. Whether you are a newbie Moodler, or seasoned Moodle user, I am certain that you will be satisfied with the content of the book. The aims of the book are clearly outlined by the author from the outset and I feel that all his objectives are fully realised. You will not need to go elsewhere for your research as a lot of questions are already predicted and fully explained by the author in each chapter of the book. Click here for the comprehensive table of contents.

What did I like most about the book?
  • As a fairly newbie Moodler, I really, really appreciated Jeff Stanford's invaluable step by step guidance. The reliable and comforting "Here's how to do it" formula works wonders for someone who is maybe inexperienced and unsure about how to work things out in a totally new learning environment. This explanation is introduced after each activity is outlined.
  • As a newbie, you need something to hold onto for dear life when you venture into uncharted territory. The fear factor of failure to comprehend a totally new concept is huge. This book definitely demystifies the whole process of using Moodle and makes it more easily accessible to the lay person.
  • I liked the extensive use of screenshots to demonstrate how activities work. This is a fantastic feature and helped me to understand what was being explained.
  • From a learner's point of view, I liked the cyclical recycling of major points. This helps to make the ideas more "sticky" and memorable. In particular, the author constantly refers to Chapter 2, "Getting Started with Moodle", which contains pivotal information and a thorough overview of Moodle. This chapter is at the heart of the book and demonstrates the core functions of Moodle, such as how to manage modules, how to set up activities, how to download videos from YouTube and so on.
  • I liked the clarity of the language used to teach the various functions of Moodle. The author writes in a very engaging and knowledgeable manner. You feel compelled to read further and learn more.
  • I liked the use of a stars * grading system for ease/dificulty of introducing activities. One star (*) = easy, two stars (**) =intermediate level , three stars (***) =difficult. I have to confess, activities with *** I did find difficult to follow and I feel they would be of particular interest to more experienced Moodlers, who would find these more complex activities challenging.
  • I liked the fact that it is a true self-help book and it is flexible. You can go at your own speed. You can dip into it in any order that you want. If for example, your main interest is in learning about exploiting the communicative potential within Moodle, then turning to Chapter 4 "Speaking Activities", you will have a host of exciting and interesting projects to try out using the Forum, Quiz, Wiki and Chat modules. If you are keen to learn more about listening, then Chapter 8 has an array of useful and practical lesson ideas. For a free sample of the Listening section, please press here.
  • The author systematically goes through the different options offered by Moodle and he provides a practical analysis of the pros and cons of the numerous resources highlighted in each chapter. For example, in Chapter 10, the author mentions the components and the limitations to the Webquest module.
  • I am very keen on grammar in my own teaching environment and so for me Chapter 5 "Grammar Activities" was one that I naturally gravitated towards. Chapter 5 certainly did not disappoint. In fact, the myriad examples of how to make lively grammar activities on Moodle was amazing. The wide range included recording Podcast lectures to present grammar in a fun way, using polls, collaborative dictations, quizzes, gap fills, True or false activities and using chat session transcripts to provide error analysis. The list of exciting ways to transform a dull grammar activity into an interactive and entertaining experience was indeed formidable and certainly would attract and appease the most ardent grammarian amongst us!
  • The book provides us with a comprehensive bank of Internet resources, which can be adapted by the reader. For example, I learned about Avatars, Widgets and various video making programmes such as Mashable.
  • The clear and informative images really enhanced my learning journey!
Would I recommend Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teachers?
This is a very pertinent question. Had I not had the opportunity to do a book review, would I have been attracted by the blurb on the book cover and inset details? The honest and truthful answer is a resounding yes! The book has provided me with a greater insight and understanding of Moodle. From a language point of view, it has shown me how to incorporate innovative activities within the 4 key skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Moodle 1.9 for Second Language Teaching has taught me how to integrate Audacity, Hot Potatoes, Images, Videos and a host of other external programmes and resources. In fact, a huge wealth of extras, which would satisfy even the most avid techie.

A bit of a coincidence?
Jeff Stanford and I share the same university! I studied at Leicester University for 4 years in the late 1970s and as I understand, Jeff Stanford is currently an associate tutor on the MA TEFL course at the same university. A coincidence indeed. A further coincidence is the fact that Dresden Technical University is a partner institution of the LOLIPOP project as referred to in Chapter 9 on Assessment. I taught at the TUD for a year in the 1980s! It is indeed a very small world, don't you think?

Click on the comic below to read what my final words are.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Janet's Nominations for the Edublog Awards 2009

Where does one begin? The huge array of talent is stunning. The task of choosing only one for each category is overwhelming. Everyone is a "winner" in my eyes. Anyway, here goes. The folowing is a list of the blogs I will be nominating. One thing clearly unites all of them. They are written with great passion.
Best teacher blog
Kalinago english. Karenne Sylvester is the blogger par excellence to measure oneself with. In one year, Karenne's blog has gone from strength to strength. Each post enlightens us. You take something away with you to think about and ponder over. Her strive to help fellow bloggers, her enthusiasm knows no bounds. A worthy candidate.

Best resource sharing blog
Alex Case's Tefltastic. I love the way it is written. The tone is fun and yet has an underlying seriousness which makes you sit up and listen. That engages me. The amount of resources that Alex produces and shares with us all is fabulous.

Best new blog
Ken Wilson's blog. A master racconteur. A true liver of life. Ken Wilson can spin a good tale, wrap you round his little finger and before you know it, you are inside his world, living his experiences. An awesome new blogger.

Best e-learning blog
Life Feast Blog by Ana Maria Menezes is great. It's clear and easy on the eye. There is always some exciting e-tool to try out.

Best individual tweeter
Shelly Terrell's Teacher Reboot Camp is a treasure trove of advice and information. A lot of knowledge shared in a very engaging manner. I love Shelly's "What did they tweet?" series.

Best educational technology support blog
Free Technology for Teachers is a great site for learning about web 2.0 tools and how to integrate new technologies into the classroom. The posts are presented in a succint manner and whet your appetite for learning more.

Best resource sharing blog
Nik Peachey deserves a very special mention. I have learned a lot of what I know simply by watching Nik's video tutorials. I particularly like Nik's Quick Shout. It's a great place for newbie techies to feel at home and enjoy the lessons. The rationale for using each new e-tool is always at the forefront of Nik's choices and my experimenting with Xtranormal is a direct result from his excellent tutorials.

Best educational use of video
Russell Stannard's Teacher Training video tutorials have also enriched my learning experience. From being an easily scared technophobe and wary internet user a year ago, these tutorials have helped me on my way to becoming more "au fait" with a lot of nice tools. The pedagogical use behind them is always emphasised and that is a very important factor.

Best individual blog
The English blog is great for keeping up to date with the news and is the first place I visit every morning. How Jefferey Hill keeps abreast with everything topical is absolutely awesome and his posts are always pertinent. I like the fact that they are short and very effective.

Best educational use of audio
Breaking News English is an incredible resource for the busy teacher. A lot of dedication and hard work go behind such types of posts as they evolve as events happen.

Best class blog
Room 18's Learning Journey blog is amazing. I have been following their progress via the Student Blogging Challenge. I first saw something about Scrapblog from Room 18's sidebar, which has a host of truly impressive e-tools they are au fait with. These young students are certainly making excellent use of resources.

Most influential blog post
How to become an ELT Teacher Educator by Marisa Constantinides. This particular posting made me realise that there is so much more to being a teacher trainer than I had thought of before. It was a very insightful and fascinating article.

Best corporate education blog

The Edublogger. Sue Waters is doing a brilliant job helping teachers and students in the blogosphere.

Click on this link for Edublog Awards to make your own nominations.