Saturday, 25 September 2010

3rd Virtual Round Table Conference 8th - 9th October 2010

Visit Virtual Round Table

Will you be joining me and other educators at the 3rd Virtual Table Conference organised by Heike Philp on 8th to 9th October? This is a free event and it will take place completely online. The conference is dedicated to language learning with technology.

You can watch a live presentation on "Teaching Online: The Key Ingredients" published by Delta Publishing on Friday October 8th. The authors of this book, which is hot off the press, are Nicky Hockly, Director of Pedagogy of the Consultants-E ( and Lindsay Clandfield of "Six Things" blog fame. You can read more about the presentation at the Virtual Round Table Conference here.

You can follow The Consultants-E via Twitter and Facebook. You might catch sight of someone you know if you scroll down the FB page a bit:) More on this very exciting news in another post....

I am very proud to be presenting at the Virtual Round Table Conference on Saturday 9th October at GMT 09.30 am. My presentation is called "Fun with Phrasal Verbs!". Watch this space for futher details.

All you need to do now is sign up and register for the conference and then you can look forward to an entertaining and very rewarding time! Hope to see you there.

Click on the Makebeliefs image to make it bigger.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Vision of Italian Students Today (Our Thoughts)

The video above shows the fantastic response in 2009 by Seth Dickens' students to the video by Professor Michael Wesch, which I showcased in my blog post here. What impressed me most in this Italian version is that the students hope that their future "will be positive".

A high percentage (75%) of the students in the video wanted to see more ICT in the classroom. This is interesting to note. As teachers we have a duty to bear this in mind when teaching the tech-savvy youngsters of today. Could the traditional chalkboard soon become a thing of the past? Have computers (and hand-held devices) increasingly taken on a more pivotal role in education? As teachers, is it our absolute duty to prepare our students for their digital future? How do we really, really feel about this, though?

Watching this video made me reflect that teachers can no longer afford to "rest on their laurels", as maybe happened in some contexts in the past. Technology has changed the traditional form of static learning forever. Methods of teaching are evolving at a fast pace and students are definitely more aware nowadays of how they want to learn.

Thank you Seth and all your students for making and sharing such a fantastic video. I really enjoyed watching it.

Friday, 17 September 2010

1955: The Look of Love

It was instant, eternal love through a mirror.

Special effects of photo above generated by

The young man immediately knew when he saw the beautiful young girl in the reflection of the mirror, that she would be his wife.

Joined up photos of Lucia and Emidio in 1955, with special effects from

Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the handsome face in the mirror in front of her.

In one timeless second, their love was sealed.

It was 1955, in Abruzzo Italy.

Within 5 days my father had proposed and then, he left her.

For England.

A few months later, my father married my mother.

He was in England, working on the farm on his special day.

My mother was in Italy.

She wore a beautiful wedding outfit.

A wedding ceremony was held in her village with family and friends.

My uncle stood in as a proxy for my father.
As a child I always wondered why my mother had a picture with everyone but my father on her wedding day on September 1st.

She joined my father in England on September 17th 1955.

They have lived in England ever since.

They always celebrate 17th September as their true anniversary.

Unchained Melody, this version sung by the Righteous Brothers, was their song in 1955.

"Come Prima" is a classic Italian love song. This English version here is sung by the famous American/Italian singer Mario Lanza. I would like to dedicate "Come Prima" to my parents, who I hope will read my blog post today and "feel like the first time" they met, 55 years ago.

Events in 1955
You Tube Time Machine (YTTM) is a cool site which shows you a selection of videos of what was happening in any given year that you choose. Click on the link to find out what was happening in 1955.

I have created a Wordle which contains a romantic quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Can you unjumble the words? You can find the answer to this quote at the bottom of the post.

A final message to my amazing parents. Have a wonderful celebration! I will be thinking of you from here in Abruzzo.

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking in the same direction."

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A Vision of Students Today

The other day, I came across "A Vision of Students Today" made in 2007 by Assistant Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University. I was fascinated by the facts it contained about students and their study habits. I wonder how much things have changed in 2010?

Monday, 13 September 2010

An Open Letter to Valentina from Samantha

Dear Valentina

I owe you my life. When you rescued me from certain death, I was scared and disorientated. Now I am as happy as can be, together with J and K, and the rest of the menagerie. I am having the time of my life. Literally.

At first, I was very shy and I stayed indoors all the time. Now, as soon as I have had my breakfast, I run out into the garden and play with the chickens and Kelly. I have recently learned how to climb up trees! It's great fun.

There are 2 English cats who live here as well, but they tend to keep themselves to themselves. I have tried to make friends with Victoria, but she hisses at me so I run a mile, or should I say, a kilometre! Joey has allowed me to be in the same flower tub as him, but he's still a little bit unfriendly. He keeps me at arm's length. Well, as soon as they find out that I wouldn't say "boo!" to a goose, I am sure they will like me more.

Today I met a new addition to the family. His name is Al Capone and he is a tiny capon. In Italian a capon is called "il capone", so J chose his name 2 months before he was bought. He only weighs a kilo and he's lived in a special pen for the past few days. Apparently, the 5 lady chickens might peck him if they see him, so for his personal safety, he was kept apart from them. He certainly doesn't want to be a henpecked capon!

Today when he came out for the first time, all the other chickens eyed him up with great interest and there was a pecking fight over a grub. That looked like fun! I just sat and watched it happen!

Apparently the other day, a big wild hawk managed to grab one of the lady chicks called "Ken Clucky" and was just about to fly off with her in its clutches, when it (the hawk) was distracted by J and K's shouts and it immediately dropped Ken, who was clucking away furiously. I guess I have to be a bit careful round here, as there are wild boar and all sorts of wild animals that walk past the house!!

Kelly is my best friend and mentor. He always checks that I'm ok and he's like my little shadow. He even lets me play with his tail, and he doesn't seem to give two hoots about it. I nibble some of his food as well!

He's such a lovely, mild-mannered dog. He only has 3 paws now, but he is always ready to chase after apples.

Today he followed Al Capone around, just to make sure he was ok, I guess. I think Al Capone really gets on like a house on fire with Kelly.

Life is what you make it and I am so lucky to be here, thanks to you, dear Valentina.

I hope you are keeping well. I wonder how many other cats and dogs you have taken under your wing since you rescued me? I hope they will find nice homes as well.

J and K think the world of me, and I'm very happy to live with them, surrounded by olive groves and beautiful, peaceful nature.

Lots of love and hope you have a purrfect week.


Samantha xx

PS You might like to read this interesting article about another tabby cat in England. "A tabby with top marks for spelling" found on the Daily Mail.

PPS There's a fascinating article on Macmillan Dictionary blog called "Baby Face". It has a nice vocabulary quiz on the various names for the young of a particular species.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

TESOL-Italy: 35th National Convention in Rome, November 2010

I will be presenting a talk in Rome at TESOL-Italy in November this year. I am thrilled that my dream will be coming true! Last year whilst attending the 34th National Convention on "Multiplying Voices", I vowed that I wanted to present this year. You can read my feedback from last year's conference here.

If you are in Rome in November, why don't you come along and join in the fun from 19th-20th November? See the poster below for more information and to register for the event. I can assure you it will be an unforgettable experience! Please press on "Full" for a bigger image.

Below is a flyer of all the guest speakers who will be presenting in Rome. The theme is "Language Flows". Can you spot what my talk is going to be about? I am currently doing research on my chosen subject and I haven't started my Powerpoint presentation yet. I have read about Guy Kawasaki's 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, but I am not sure if only 10 slides will be enough to get my message across! Digitalang blog has an excellent post on this topic here.

David Chrystal will be giviing one of the plenary sessions, an event certainly not to be missed! Here is his latest blog post "on Gonna".

The 2 Slideshare flyers above found via Tesol Italy blog

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Project PLN - 1st Edtion Issue

Press the "Full" icon for a much bigger view.

I would like to spread the word about this fantastic new initiative in the shape of a monthly e-magazine based entirely around the important theme of building and developing a PLN. I found out about it earlier today via kelly Tenkely's popular elementary education technology integration blog called iLearn Technology. Project PLN consists of fantastic articles written by various educators from around the world. The very first September edition paves the way for an incredibly rich reading experience. I urge you to have a look through the magazine and then spread the word yourselves!

I also came across this very interesting article via Twitter by Tom Whitby, entitled "Short Term Learner", also on the theme of PLNs.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Zen and the Act of Teaching by David Deubelbeiss

Every once in a while a book comes along that you wish had been published much earlier. Zen and the Act of Teaching is such a book. Written by David Deubelbeiss from EFL Classroom 2.0. and published by Lulu, this Publish On Demand (POD) book is very philosophical and reflective in nature. I believe it is a must-have source of inspiration for teachers beginning their careers, teachers in mid-career, or a very rich and motivational resource for veteran teachers. That indeed says a lot. It contains something for every teacher at whatever stage or level they may be at. David has written a very informative post on how to go about self-publishing such a book here.

What I like most is the clear, simple, classic feel of Zen and the Act of Teaching. The cool grey/white background on each page has an image of 5 tranquill-looking pebbles, which for me immediately symbolise inner peace, calm and contentment. The scene is therefore set for an enriching and truly thought-provoking personal voyage of discovery and contemplation. This well-written book is also a self-help guide written for all teachers to reflect upon their teaching practice and outlook. It contains useful nuggets of information, and prompts, which can be easily digested and then acted upon. It could also be successfully incorporated into a teacher training course. I know I will definitely be using it and showing it to teachers to discuss in November when I do a Teachers' Refresher course at the Lake School of English, Oxford.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" by Mahatma Ghandhi is one of my favourite quotes from the book. I like it because it is a powerful and motivational set of words. Only you yourself can change what you want to be and do. Nobody else can do it for you. It's good to read such words often in order to remind oneself of what can be achieved, only if you put your mind to it. I will definitely try to enact this principle!

The Socratic notion of the "good" resonates with me personally, because it is important to always question why we do things in the classroom. Each of our actions have far-reaching consequences.

"The best teacher teaches from the heart, not from the book" is worth remembering if you ever need to abandon the coursebook in the middle of a lesson, because something else has evolved spontaneously from the students themselves. Don't be too rigid. Be flexible. Follow your instinct.

The book contains a rich source of questions for discussion and reflection, and there is space on alternate pages to write a journal and consider the pieces of wisdom imparted. There are also some lovely examples of short poems which act as a catalyst for reflection.

As it's the beginning of the new term in most areas around the world, this book will definitely inspire you and get you off to a flying start! Also, in terms of your own CPD, it is an excellent way to re-assess and check that you are going in the right direction. As a veteran of many years teaching myself, I loved reading Zen and the Act of Teaching because everything in it is practical and most of all, achievable. I know it will help to make me the best teacher I can be.