Teaching about life values:”The Letter “- Coca Cola Christmas Commercial 2020

It all started during the second covid19 quarantine,in December 2020.

It was then, when I decided to teach my students about what matters in life the most: our presence!

To do so, I decided to share one of my favourite 2020 Christmas commercials: “THE LETTER “.

It can be watched in one of my most favourite teaching apps: THE LITERACY SHED.

Why?

Last December ,with a 2nd countrywide lockdown in place, each and every citizen had been quarantined within the four walls of their home, since mid-November. As teachers, it had become not only our duty but also our responsibility towards to our students to follow it diligently, as it is a much-needed step to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Spending most of their time indoors had increased the time my students spent with our family members. Ever since, this has reinstated the fact that it is only your family which is beside you through thick and thin. You have got once in a lifetime opportunity to spend so many days altogether with your family, and it is better to not waste them.

The most essential of all, being in a lockdown has made us realize the importance of the freedom we all had and the importance of the most precious gift of all, a gift that money can’t buy: family!

After all, there’s no point in suffering through a global crisis if we don’t learn something from it. “No challenge, no change,” 

What I actually taught my students ,during our December webex lessons, was the importance of being present!

Actually, we had already started working on Acts of Kindness to our nearest and dearest, long before December, using this inspiring “Random Acts of Kindness Calendar”!

Being Present

This is the summary of the main ideas we talked about ,during our online lessons.

“Want to know one Christmas gift that everyone will really love this year? Having your full, devoted attention at all your holiday gatherings.

This Christmas season, put in the extra effort and do your best to be fully present when around your family and friends. I promise you it will be much more enjoyable for everyone (including yourself).

Give the gift of your sincere, undivided attention. Listen, really listen, without thinking about how you’ll respond; listen with the intention to understand, because people need to be heard: sometimes that’s all they need.

Your sincere presence, your authenticity, is one of the best gifts you can give; your offering is to be with your nearest and dearest.

Let others know how grateful you are for their presence in your life. Say, “thank you” and “I appreciate you” and “I love you.” It’s one of the greatest gifts.”

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

THE LESSON PLAN STEPS

I decided to use one of my favourite wordcloud web tools in order to have all my students to share their ideas about which gifts ” only you can give” !

Sharing my screen and my most favourite virtual whiteboard app, I presented them with the topic I wanted them to brainstorm about: Christmas gift ideas for kids.

The next step was to have them work in groups, using the webex breakout rooms feature, to discuss their ideas.

They had to share all those ideas with the whole class, afterwards.

Finally, I shared my own idea about which are the three best gifts we can give to others!

Time: People always say time is money, but it doesn’t have to be. Time is one of the biggest and inexpensive gifts you can give yourself and others. Giving yourself the gift of free time can truly help your perspective in life.

Love: The gift of love, shouldn’t really need much explanation. Unfortunately, many celebrated Christmas and New Year’s without their loved ones this year. We should never forget to tell those people we do care about, that we love them, tomorrow is never promised.

Attention:There’s no doubt, Christmas will always be associated with presents; however,we should never underestimate the importance of spending a little extra time with someone, loving others. Giving, is better than receiving. Some of the best gifts we can give, can’t be wrapped as they come from the heart.

IN A NUTSHELL
Watch the film on YouTube hereWatch the film on Vimeo here

The story

One Dad, planning on working away for Christmas, takes his daughter’s letter for Santa with him to post.  Unfortunately, he misses the ‘post boat’ and a series of mishaps means that he ultimately ends up delivering the letter to The North Pole himself. 

He receives a lift home and is surprised by the contents of the letter when he gets there. 

Few more teaching ideas you can also use, especially with older students

  • Discuss and share ideas for some gifts ‘only you can give’ this Christmas. 
  • Write diary entries in role of the girl. 
  • Create an inner monologue for the father. 
  • Describe the epic journey and the sights he sees on his travels. 
  • Recount the journey in the first person. 

Outcomes

  • Narrative retelling
  • Informal letter -if you wish. I asked them to write their letters to Santa, asking for …GIFTS THEY CAN ONLY GIVE!

Teaching GRAMMAR, while virtually traveling the world: a fun teaching and learning experience, during the covid19 quarantine.

Our senses allow us to enjoy our food, the sound of music, the beauty of a sunny day, the softness of a child’s hair – in short, our lives! With the aid of the Internet, I realised that I can teach my students about the special gift of the senses and how they work, even during the lockdown!!

How it all started

It was during the second covid19 quarantine 2020, when I had to teach remotely, both synchronously and asynchronously ,when I just happened to have accidentally stumbled upon two great hidden internet apps ,that teachers and students definitely have to check out- not to mention everybody experiencing a lockdown.

Presentation of the two apps

Window Swap is an application born of people like us, who were trapped in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and had to find a way out (in technology) so as not to lose their sanity.To me, it’s the perfect app so you can travel without moving;)

We go to window-swap.com, and click to see pictures or videos uploaded by other inmates, like us, from around the world! What you see is not live, they are shots uploaded by users, since the page was created, last spring.

Window Swap is the brainchild of Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam, a couple living in Singapore who were quarantined there. They locked themselves in a house, and when they got bored of the view from their own window, they thought of seeing something else. And they started building a site to travel to other worlds, through windows !

Like Drive & Listen, an app that lets you travel to different parts of the world listening to local radio stations, Window Swap fills that gap by giving you a sneak peak in the window of a complete stranger, into a complete unknown country.

It has shots of places you may have dreamed of visiting, such as Australia, Chile, Japan. And invalid sites, from other worlds, like Albany in the USA. A meadow, with its pond, its labrados and everything, from a terrace that, logically, you will never see in your life, but now that you see it, you like it!

At the same time, a Facebook page was created, “View from my window”, for everyone to share the view from their windows, until travel restrictions end, wherever they are. Until today, dozens of posts are uploaded every day and descriptions, reactions, comments, etc. play from everywhere!

Without further ado, I decided to let it be comforting for my students,as well!

I loved the main idea: exactly in the phase that you are, that you do not fit in the place, that you are tired of seeing the same walls and the same view, whatever it is,a complete stranger, in Scotland, India, Canada is sharing the same view with you.

The second app, the Drive and Listen app was created during the quarantine,last Spring.

All you need is a desktop. You open the app and scroll to choose which city you want to drive. Tel Aviv; Mumbai; Havana;

Play! Suddenly you are in the exotic, long-suffering capital of Cuba, driving a ’55 Plymouth and listening to Toto’s “Africa”. You can change station and catch another frequency! Either you let it see where it will take you or if you want, you change city.

You can also choose how fast you want your vehicle to move, even if you want to hear the noise of the street, like a window opening or closing, the wind, the rain, people talking etc

Of course the shots you see from the streets are not live broadcasts, they are videos that have been uploaded to YouTube and have been connected to the app. But radio is real-time! And most of the shots are from car dashcams, so it’s like living in that moment and being at the wheel or in the driver’s seat, as you prefer.

It’s basically like a game. Tired of hearing the same things? You have a list of 50 cities around the world to choose from, where you want to travel. What should our friends in Moscow be hearing now? What are they chatting about, in Los Angeles? What do you get from a radio show in Buenos Aires other than the name Diegito?

And if you want a real break, from all and sundry,the list also includes a small town in Switzerland, the enchanting Lauterbrunnen, with about 2,000 inhabitants, in the canton of Bern -a very nice destination if you want to take the mountains, as soon as the border opens and get rid of COVID-19!

The creator of the app is Erkam Seker, a student from Istanbul who is studying in Munich – Computing, what else? When travel restrictions began in Germany, he began building this app on the Heroku platform, mainly because he felt nostalgic for his own city, that is, for personal use. As we started doing puzzles,renovations (or the rearrangement of furniture in the space, ok) to kill time and forget about the lockdown restrictions, this young man wrote code!

When he saw how relaxing it was for him to fool around with pictures from the driver’s seat and change radio stations around the world, he continued, hoping to give courage and inspiration to travelers who could not travel or to expatriates who could not return home! He started to connect his app with city streets, and at some point the Thessaloniki, GR radio stations went up ,last Spring …

You want music when you read, when you work, when you cook, and of course when you drive. But especially in the car, you have the feeling that you can enjoy music in a different way. So much so, that if your favorite song is playing, you will wait for it to end even if you have parked – yes, you are not alone: ​​7 out of 10 drivers will not get out of the car until one of their favorite songs is finished.

Just like the creators of these apps, when I saw how relaxing it was for me to fool around with pictures from open windows or the driver’s seat and change radio stations around the world, I decided to introduce the apps to my students and use them in my online lessons, hoping to give courage and inspiration to the ones who could not travel or leave their homes!

Here’s the padlet wall I created for my students to help them share their window or street descriptions, after they have used the two apps.

AN EXAMPLE

MIAMI, USA –

AARON AND JESSICA’S WINDOW

The rain sounds loud

The grass smells nice

The sky looks cloudy

The garden looks beautiful.

The food in the barbeque tastes delicious.

Teaching the Verbs of Senses, online

A summary

 Start by writing the five senses across the top of your virtual white board (hearing, touch, smell, sight, taste) and ask your students to explain what each one is. 

Now that they know the vocabulary for the senses themselves, list under each one ADJECTIVES that relate to that sense.

Ask your students to volunteer adjectives that they already know to go with the verbs. For example, under smell you might write nice, yummy, disgusting or other related words. Under sight, your students might volunteer the words beautiful, stunning, interesting, tiny.

Write down whatever words your students offer, and then add some more of your own.

Finally, ask your students to describe what they can see, hear,smell,touch, taste ,in the places they “visit” while you are using those two apps ,by sharing your screen. To me, this is the perfect speaking activity!

The teaching steps, in detail

1.The five senses (5 mins)
• Introduce the five senses
• Put students in groups in webex breakout rooms (WebEx breakout rooms is a video conferencing features that allows the host to separate larger video meetings and webinars into several smaller groups of a set number of participants.) and ask them to match the body parts with the correct sense
• Check the answers as a whole class

2.Adjectives matching (10 mins)
• This task introduces students to adjectives which can be used to talk about the five senses
• Ask them to read the words in the diagram and decide what sense
each adjective can be used with. There may be more than one possible answer.
• When they have finished ask them to write one more adjective for each sense in the chat box, or have them use the webex annotate feature.
• Check answers as a whole class and drill the words if necessary.
Differentiation
Stronger students can write more than one adjective for each sense

3. Listening (5 mins)
• In this task, students watch the video and tick the senses they hear in their notebooks or write them in the chat.
• Tell the students to check their answers in breakout rooms , first, if you wish.
• Check the answers.

4.Discussion (5-10 mins)
• In this activity, students have the chance to use some of the vocabulary they have learnt ,in a
discussion about their own senses.
• Put students in pairs or small groups-in breakout rooms- and ask them to discuss the questions.
• Monitor and provide content-based feedback if students require it.
• Share brief whole class feedback of interesting answers.

5.Writing (5-10 mins)

Now is the time for the students to write their descriptions . I ask my students to do this as homework.

Encourage them to use as much detail as possible . They can use the word “object” whenever they need to refer to what they are describing in their writing. Also, challenge them to use some of the vocabulary that you listed on the virtual board earlier. They should try to use variety in their word choice as well as give thorough descriptions, if possible. For young learners, a paragraph such as the one in the example above, is more than enough.

TEACHING Comparisons USING VIRTUAL TOURS

WE LOVE VIRTUAL TOURS, DON’T WE? GRAMMAR VIA TRAVELING SOUNDS LIKE FUN!

When I first run into this amazing app, I thought “Here’s a new virtual adventure for my students“!

THE TASK

First, I decided to ask them to visit a few amazing museums and special places, VIRTUALLY!

Then, I asked the students to write which museum or special place they liked visiting the most and why, using COMPARISONS.

ie My favourite museum is the LOUVRE Museum. The Louvre is not only one of the world’s largest art museums, but it’s also one of Paris’s most iconic historic monuments.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BRITISH MUSEUM VIRTUAL TOUR.

CLICK HERE FOR THE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

FOR THE DALI THEATRE MUSEUM in Catalonia, Spain, CLICK HERE.

FOR THE ACROPOLIS MUSEUM, IN ATHENS, CLICK HERE.

FOR A TOUR AROUND THE WHITE HOUSE IN WASHINGTON DC, CLICK HERE.

TO VISIT THE EIFFEL TOWER IN PARIS, FRANCE, CLICK HERE.

TO BE ABLE TO VISIT AUSTRALIA AND WALK AROUND THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, CLICK HERE.

FOR THE GLOBE THEATRE, IN LONDON, CLICK HERE. Everyone, no matter where they are in the world, can now walk around Shakespeare’s Globe!

FOR THE LIST OF ALL THE MUSEUMS AND MONUMENTS IN THE WORLD YOU CAN VISIT VIRTUALLY, CLICK HERE!

FORMING ADVERBS and COMPARISON OF ADVERBS

Another amazing web app which helped us virtually travel the World during the lockdown, while practicing our Grammar,is an app to fall in love with!

My favorite Facebook page “Geography is very cool” has shared an incredible site created, in fact, by a Greek, “Fly & listen”.

George Bakiris is a DJ and radio producer and was inspired to make something that will take us on a journey while listening to great music.

"Fly & listen" is exactly that you "fly" over a country of your choice, watching the sights through drone videos while you can select local radio stations.

All you have to do is select the country you want to enjoy on the right and then the radio station you want to listen to.
So you fly over Paris, Rome or Athens and listen to local music!

After my 6th graders had finished working on Comparisons in class, I asked them to visit our asynchronous class , click on the suggested link, travel virtually all over the world and then share their impressions and thoughts, using their Grammar on Comparisons-adjectives and Adverbs, in the classroom.

Here are some examples

The desert in Sudan Africais notasbig asthe desert in Egypt
The drivers in New York, USA drive more quickly than the drivers in London, UK.
Actually, I think they drive the most quickly of all.
I saw a few kids in London, UK dancing on rollerblades happily.
I’ve heard that people in Japan work harder than people in Mexico .
I think that, the lorry driver I saw in France, Europe drive  more carefully than the taxi driver I saw in Afghanistan ,Asia.
The drone flies faster than most birds. Airplanes fly the fastest of all.

I also asked them to complete sentences using adjectives, in exercises like the ones below:

Complete the sentences with the comparative form of the adjectives in brackets.
Begin with the first words given:
a. The Amazon River / the Mississippi River. (long)
The Amazon river _________________________________________________________________ .
b. India / Saudi Arabia (populated)
India ______________________________________________________________________________ .
c. New York / Los Angeles (large)
New York _________________________________________________________________________ .
d. Canada / Antarctica (cold)
Antarctica ________________________________________________________________________ .
e. Mount Everest / Mount Kilimanjaro (high)
Mount Everest ____________________________________________________________________ .
f. The Lake Baikal / Caspian Sea (deep)
Lake Baikal ____________________

Complete with the superlative of the adjectives. Did you know that?
a. Asia is the ___________ continent in the world? (large) (44,579,000 sq km)
b. Africa is the continent with the _________________ counties? (many) (53)
c. The Pacific Ocean is the _____________ ocean on Earth? (deep) (10,924 m)
d. The Vatican is the ____________ country in the world? (small) (0.44 sq km)
e. Luxembourg is the __________ country in the world? (rich) (GNP $45,360)
f. Mozambique is the _____________ country in the world? (poor) (GNP $80)
g. The Nile is the _______________________ river on Earth? (long) (6,825 km)

They were also asked to refer to the cities they had managed to visit virtually ,by sharing with the rest of the class sentences, like these ones:

In …………… city:
There are (wide) streets in the world.
Buses and cars are
(fast) in the world.
Shops in this town are___________ (interesting) in the world.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

STAY TUNED FOR FRESH INSPIRATIO,N COMING FROM MY MOST FAVORITE QUARANTINE WEB TOOL OF ALL:

http://radio.garden/

Explore live radio by rotating the globe.

All in all

OBSERVATION IS KEY TO PRODUCING STRONG WRITING AND SPEAKING.

IF OUR STUDENTS ARE ABLE TO OBSERVE THE WORLD AROUND THEM THEY WILL BE ABLE TO BETTER ELABORATE THEIR WRITING AND SPEAK ,EFFORTESSLY. IF THEY CAN BETTER ELABORATE THEIR WRITING AND SPEAK EFFORTESSLY , THEY WILL KEEP OUR ATTENTION AND MAKE THEIR AUDIENCE WANT TO READ MORE.

HanDS: Democratic Schools-an etwinning project 2019/20

When this pandemic began, teachers all over the World were given little notice to shift very quickly to distance learning or e-learning, sometimes with no training. In many cases, we had 48 hours or a weekend to reinvent lessons for an already planned curriculum, learn new technologies, find non-technology solutions to student learning, and figure out how to keep students engaged. But all us etwinning teachers ,also had to balance home and work and how to do our life’s work from afar while simultaneously caring for students, grieving losses, and so many more challenges and obstacles!

For all those -mainly non-European -teachers who keep asking me about what etwinning is about: eTwinning is the community for schools in Europe.

I personally realised that there was only ONE thing that was still there for both me and my students, during the lockdown: etwinning!

eTwinning offers a platform for staff (teachers, head teachers, librarians, etc.), working in a school in one of the European countries involved, to communicate, collaborate, develop projects, share and, in short, feel and be part of the most exciting learning community in Europe. eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport.

eTwinning promotes school collaboration in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by providing support, tools and services for schools. eTwinning also offers opportunities for free and continuing online Professional Development for educators.

Launched in 2005 as the main action of the European Commission’s eLearning Programme, eTwinning is co-funded by the Erasmus+, the European programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport, since 2014.

Its Central Support Service is operated by European Schoolnet, an international partnership of 34 European Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe. eTwinning is further supported at national level by 38 National Support Services.

TwinSpace

The place where eTwinning magic really happens is the TwinSpace; a safe platform visible only to the teachers participating in a project. Students can also be invited in the TwinSpace to meet and collaborate with peers from their partner schools.

One of the most important elements of eTwinning is collaboration among teachers, students, schools, parents, and local authorities. In eTwinning teachers work together and organise activities for their students. They have an active role, interact, investigate, make decisions, respect each other and learn 21st century skills. eTwinning projects involve the contribution of each member of the team. Take inspiration and explore these awarded projects.

Finally, in eTwinning, our work is important and deserves to be shared and recognised locally, nationally and Europe-wide. eTwinning recognises the work carried out by teachers, students, and schools through National and European Quality Labels, eTwinning Awards, eTwinning Schools and the eTwinning Portfolio.

One of our school  inspiring etwinning projects, this year, was a project about DEMOCRATIC VALUES.

About the project

This #eTw4Democracy project, provides an opportunity for students to make connections with students of other European partner schools, sharing and enhancing democratic values, at the same time.
Our schools are microcosms of the communities in which they exist. They are the perfect environment for students not only to learn about civics and democratic values, but also to experience democracy in all aspects of school life cultivating the way the students become citizens. In a democratic school students and teachers should participate equally in the shaping of school life, thus realising their right to have a say on matters that affect them. The activities in this project aim to support students in promoting democratic values within their school communities ensuring that students understand their rights and responsibilities and have strategies for building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all.

AIMS

The overall aim is to share school democratic values, with others! Children will recognize that their actions affect themselves but also others.
Our “HanDS” project, provides the opportunity to break down classroom walls, too. It gives our students a chance to see a world outside of their walls and teach about Democracy, at the same time. Additionally, our aim is that, the concept of Europe will be understood and our students will become fully aware of the other European partner schools. Therefore, citizenship should become a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.
All in all,our aims are:
To prepare students for their future role as citizens
To provide students with opportunities for learning in a democratic environment
To promote active participation and responsibility in the school environment
To improve students’ communication, collaboration, decision- making and problem- solving skills

WORK PROCESS

The tasks, will be set by all partner schools; the activities and work produced will be shared on twinspace by the schools, on a monthly basis and the work process will be communicated using the journal, on a weekly basis. Depending on the activity, pupils will have the opportunity to work independently or with talk partners and will have membership / access to twinspace to share and see the other school’s work and join in forums. Children will also have the opportunity to work in mixed ability groups in each school or in teams of pupils in different schools, sharing responsibilities. They will also have to work in teams, to think of ideas about collaborative projects and about the hand-print crafts, to fill the parcels that will be sent to the other schools, on different topics. Those parcels will have themes, such as:school life in the past, school life at present ,a day in a democratic school etc
The project, works on two levels: sharing on twinspace and parcel exchanges, by post.

EXPECTED RESULTS

Children will learn about civics and democratic values, but also experience democracy in all aspects of school life,through their dialogue, written work and the parcels that they will send and receive! Children will also practice writing and communicating in English and children in all countries will familiarize themselves with aspects of each other’s school life, promoting democratic values within their school communities.


Our project, helps us to widen our horizons, reconsider our perspectives, improve self-esteem, increase understanding of different cultures and values , enhance democracy in the school environment and prove that “communication is at the basis of understanding others”.The process is always constantly about learning to learn collaboratively, building an inclusive and equitable school environment for all.
The pupils are expected to be inspired and motivated and participate equally in the shaping of school life .

Adapting our Halloween teaching, to follow COVID19 protocols, in our flipped classroom

 Schools ,all over the World, have made many changes to keep students and teachers safe during the school year, and class Halloween celebrations have seen changes too.

All teachers, have to follow social distancing and other COVID protocols, every day.

Halloween was very different , in my classes,this year,as well.

With social distancing in place , many of the games and activities we love doing at Halloween were simply not possible this year.

As such, it has been quite difficult for me as a teacher ,to come up with fun Halloween games to do while safely social distancing.

Keep Your Distance

Ηere’s my list of fun social distancing Halloween games and activities that our students can safely do while keeping their distance from others. They worked in my class. I do hope, they will work in yours, as well.

What is it about Halloween that I love so much ? It’s its  FUN element, I guess!

Therefore, I decided to try and bring some Halloween spirit to my class this weird year.

I attempted to teach my students Halloween themed lessons, and to  elicit some  excitement from them, following the protocols. I feel that we, at least, paid Halloween  a pretty good tribute, against all odds.

A few of my favourite non-contact Halloween active games and activities

The first day I started thinking about how to teach about Halloween safely, for both my students and me, I ran into this highly inspiring English Teacher’s video, on Facebook! I decided to give it a try and see if it worked with my very young learners ! Guess what: it did!! We just loved it!

Highly recommended to all English Teachers! And, please, follow this amazing teacher! She is one of a kind, trust me!

Make A Spooky Puppet Theatre

If you’re looking for a spooky activity to do with your students this 🎃Halloween🎃Here’s an idea…Make your own Mini Puppet Theatre (out of a cereal box) and sing-along with 6 monster stick puppets. Watch the video to know more!

https://www.facebook.com/KidsEnglishTheatre/videos/2756291474687434

Another great game I ran into and decided to use in my classes ,both synchronously and asynchronously, is this one, below. I found even more social distancing teaching ideas for Halloween party games to try with my classes, in this amazing site.

Draw A Monster Game

That was a great game to play at Halloween while social distancing. In that game, the kids drew a monster.

To play, I asked each student to grab a piece of paper and something to draw with and then played the video. In the video, the students read a description of a monster. After reading the description, they tried to draw what they thought the monster looked like based on that description.

Once students finished their drawing, I/they played the video to see what the monster looked like.

My students, really loved this kind of activity, especially when their monster drawings looked very similar to the monster in the video. I asked them to work on this video at home, using our asynchronous e-me hive platform but you can follow the same steps, in a school class.

This activity can be easily done at Halloween while social distancing as the students can stay in their seats while they draw their monster, and do not need to be close to or share resources with others.

Halloween Bingo

Halloween Bingo

This next social distancing Halloween game is a Halloween themed BINGO game.

To play, the students were asked to create a Halloween vocabulary Bingo card, in their notebooks, using any 9 Halloween vocabualry words/pictures they wished.

Next, I called out one of the Halloween words, in our vocabulary list, for example ‘ghost’. Then, the students should check their bingo card. If the ghost word/picture is on their card, then they had to cross that Halloween word/picture out.

Then, I called out another Halloween word and again students should check if that word was in their card and if it was, they should cross it out, again. The first student who crossed out all their Halloween words/pictures, was the winner.

Halloween Costume Fashion Show

This social distancing Halloween activity idea is a great way to let kids strut their stuff and show off their fun and scary Halloween costumes.

I always set up an area to be your ‘Halloween catwalk’ and then invite students one by one to walk down the catwalk and show off their great Halloween costumes.

This year, I did that with my 4th graders ,after I had sent them a Halloween vocabulary quizlet and these two relevant songs/videos, in our asynchronous class, first!

I also asked them to visit this , as well as that Thinglink walls , before they decided about what to dress up ,in our school classroom.

To make it feel even more like a fashion show, I snapped some pictures of them in their costumes and shared them with the students’ parents, in our asynchronous class!

Halloween Word Search

Halloween Word search

I am sure that we all have used word search worksheets ,to get our kids familiar with some Halloween vocabulary. But this online Halloween activity also has the added benefit of being perfectly safe to do while keeping a safe distance from others.

Click to download this Halloween word search or see all our Halloween worksheets.

Another cool web tool , which I personally used to create my own word search activities was Liveworksheets. A free teaching web tool, you will love!

Halloween Charades Game

With a little preparation, this classic party game can be turned into a safe social distancing Halloween game.

If you’re not familiar with charades, in this game one person would choose a card -or to make sure this Halloween game can be played while safely social distancing,the teacher shows him/her a card- and then try to act out what is on the card without using any words or sounds.

To make it into a Halloween game, I simply used cards with Halloween related things on them. For example,I wrote/drew Halloween words (ghost, witch, broomstick, etc), Halloween songs (The Monster Mash, etc) or Halloween Movies (Night of The Living Dead, etc). It’s diffrent ,for each different age/level we teach.

I ensured the student acting out the word and the students guessing the word were all at a safe distance.


HALLOWEEN QUIZZES

Usually, these quizzes would be played in pairs or small teams, but seen as that is not possible while social distancing, these quizzes can be played individually, both at home asynchronously ,or in class, using a projector and working in teams.

You can download this pre-made Top Five Quiz with ten questions.

I personally create my own quizzes, such as this one, on a favourite web tool which is similar to Kahoot, called Quizziz.

Students, love it!

Hot Seat

I thought that, this classic classroom game could be easily adapted so my students could play while social distancing.

This time, I decided to use my Halloween flashcards, to play this game.

I asked one student to come to front of the class and stand / sit at a safe distance from other students. Then standing behind the student I showed the rest of the class a flashcard.

Next, the students tried to describe the word on the flashcard without saying the word, and the student at the front of the class should guess what it was. Super fun!

We played apple bobbing and dangling donuts

  1. Apple bobbing – I gave each student their own apple in their own bowl of water, or asked them to hold their own apple tied onto a string and challenged them to take a bite without touching it.I made it a race and gave the winner a prize. 
  2. Dangling donuts – Each student held their own donut tied onto a string. They took it in turns to dangle a donut for each other. The challenge was to eat it with no hands, as fast as possible.

Detail 1: there was spooky music playing ,in the background!

Detail 2: My students ,had to watch a couple of videos similar to this one, in our asynchronous class, when at home, before they attended our school class.

Let’s decorate our classroom

You can check out these Halloween craft activities and decoration ideas or print and colour these free Halloween posters to add a spooky message for passers-by.

In our asynchronous “e-me hive“, my students had the chance to watch several videos, such as this one, or this one, follow the directions there and make their favourite crafts and decorations to bring back to class, the following day.

I decided to ask my amazing 4th graders to watch a video with instructions about how to make paper ghosts using their footprints, at home, and make them ,either themselves or with their parents’ help. Then, they were asked to write about them and decorate their classroom bulletin board with them, after they had presented them in class, of course! Cute!

Let’s make spooky food

What better time to indulge in some jaw-droppingly tasty sweets, than Halloween time?

First, I posted a few delicious Halloween treats ideas, to our asynchronous class and asked my students to watch and prepare their favourite treats, bring them to school and share them, in our Halloween party ! Yummy!

A pumpkin carving contest

I suggest that you treat everyone in the class to their very own pumpkin and see who can come up with the best design. Ι have come to the conclusion that a safe way to get little kids involved is to post a video with instructions in an asynchronous teaching platform and tell them to ask their parents to do the cutting for them, first. Then let them scoop out the insides with a spoon. This how to carve a pumpkin beginners’ guide is a great place to start. This is where we started, in our school classroom.

Another nice video, which I posted in our asynchronous hive, to help my older students curve their pumpkins at home, was this one. For my younger learners, I used this video.

I hope, you will like them as much as we did!

Have a ‘scary’ movie night, at home-or a scary movie…. day, at school

At first, I told them that, during Halloween nights, the people who celebrate it take some tasty Halloween treats and wear their Halloween costumes or  some cool Halloween PJs like these glow-in-the-dark skeleton ones.

Then, I asked them to watch the short film extracts ,which I had created, using one of my most favourite web teaching tools: edpuzzle, asynchronously, together with their families.

Here’s one example of such film extract ,which my youngest students, liked a lot: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial .

I even offered them a choice of several other Halloween themed movies, to watch at home, using Quizlet.

Family Halloween movies

Make a spooky music playlist

From Michael Jackson’s Thriller to the Ghostbusters theme tune, I decided to have lots of class fun compiling a spooky playlist to listen to, together with my students. I thought it was safe, to post the lyrics to our asynchronous class first and later,with the use of a projector, have a Halloween karaoke competition, in the school classroom ! It was so much fun! Although, it didn’t last long ,since our teaching hours last only about 40 minutes ! My students were given the opportunity to sing the songs again and again, at home, too, thanks, to our asynchronous class platform posts.

For my very young learners, I did the very same thing , using their favourite Halloween songs, such as this one , this one or even this one!

We all danced and sang happily- in safe distances, of course!

Story Reports

You don’t have to read a book on the page to write a story report. This Halloween, instead of having my students listen to an audiobook or story, I decided to have my wicked witch puppet, Amelia present herself to the class!

It was an active listening activity, using puppetry! I asked them to keep notes, while listening.

Then I had them write a story report based on what they heard, or give a summary of the story to our asynchronous class, in a padlet presentation.

Happy Halloween teaching!

Me, behind the mask!

It all started with…. a mask, the day the schools reopened, after the lockdown!

You see, in the beginning of the school year, I always give my class helpers, a simple badge that can be laminated or put in a badge holder so that children can take it in turns to be a classroom helper. A great resource that the children love and show great pride in being picked as a classroom helper.

But, this is a different school year! Therefore, my helpers had to wear helpers’ masks, instead of …badges!

And this is when I ran into this article and this video, got inspired and instantly decided to create a new project for my students, titled :

“ME, Behind My Mask”.

The project ,in a nutshell

When my students came back to school ,in September,they were asked to mask-up. We always seem to start out school year with a selfie and a class photo, so I was bummed when I thought of the idea of my students drawing themselves with their best facial feature hidden…I was really puzzled, till the moment I read the article, mentioned above, where the idea of this surprise drawing came from.

We simply used paper, permanent marker, coloring markers and crayons.

First, I posted the video and simple instructions ,in our asynchronous class platform and I asked the students to create their Me-behind-the-mask selfies, at home and bring them back to class !

That was a typical example of flipped classroom, of course.

FLIPPED CLASSROOM ,IS HERE TO STAY

Thanks to a handful of educators who care more about their students and their success than keeping the school’s general status quo, the flipped classroom model is no longer a theory, and keeps spreading across more and more educational institutions.

What does a flipped classroom look like? Well, physically, the same as a normal classroom.

But instead of paying attention to lectures while in class and applying the new knowledge in their homework after school, students will watch or listen to the lectures at home, before the class starts, and use the time in the classroom to do their homework. Instead of telling students what to learn, how to learn, when to learn and how to prove that they learned, teachers support them in becoming self-directed learners. I personally, love this!

In our case, my students could submit assessments using online tools, I could send assessments to students via our e-me asynchronous platform. Other online assessment tools, we used included Google FormsKahoot, and Quizlet.

Additionally, your students could be encouraged to submit video recordings of themselves using applications like Flipgrid. Sadly, our parents were reluctant to allow me use any video recordings.

Last, but not least, I made sure that I provided timely, specific, and instructionally focused feedback.

All in all, no one is excited about wearing a mask but…it’s for our safety! And the best thing we can do for our students is to put a positive spin on it, right?

The project, step-by-step

The first thing I decided to do was to teach them the adjectives they would use on their selfies, in order to be able to describe themselves.

I used one of my most favourite online tools: Quizlet.

I used Quizlet to introduce them to adjectives to describe CHARACTER AND PERSONALITY , asynchronously.

I also used youtube videos, such as this one, to teach them about the vocabulary they would need, to describe their APPEARANCE.

Additionaly, I used more youtube videos, such as this , to help them learn how to describe their personalities, asynchronously.

On top of that, I used another of my favourite online tools : edpuzzle. A great tool to create amazing video lessons ,in a minute! Edpuzzle is the missing piece for remote learning! We can also track students’ progress with Edpuzzle’s hassle-free analytics as we flip our classroom!

“The ABC’s of YOU” is probably, my most favourite Alphabet kids song, of all! Please, visit to see for yourselves.

The next step, was to ask them to write a paragraph ,presenting themselves to their classmates. After they had done so in their notebooks , I decided to create a PADLET WALL to have them share their paragraphs, in our asynchronous e-me hive, as well.

My amazing students’ self-portraits BEHIND THE MASK, have been displayed, in a book creator tool, for sometime now! My students, were regularly encouraged to visit it , from home, as well.

Finally, I decided to add all the links we had used both synchronously and asynchronously, in one presentation tool ,which I truly love: Microsoft SWAY ! Highly recommended!

Games we played

To be able to practice all the new words and put theory into practice in class, we have tried several games, in the school classroom.

The games listed below may require some modification to meet the social distancing restrictions but should give any big class a great starting point for coming up with fun games to play.

1.​Name Game

Every member of the class chooses an adjective that starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name. They put that adjective in front of their first name, and they have their new name. So for example: Joyful Jill. For an added challenge, you can see if people can remember everyone’s names throughout the conversation. 

2.Guess who

The Guess Who ESL game is a fun way to practise describing people adjectives with young students, in-class or as a warmer. I encouraged my students to use the adjectives which describe personality more than the ones which describe appearance.

Specifically, it’s great for question formation and practising the different auxiliary verbs that may be used (e.g. Is she old? Does she have brown hair? Is she wearing glasses?).

A similar game for large kids classes (that doesn’t require any special resources) is Classroom Guess Who.

3.Two Truths and a Lie

This is a fun, classic game that allows students to share some little known facts about themselves while trying to stump their classmates too. Each student will write down two true statements and one lie about themselves. In my class, they were asked to include personality and appearance adjectives in all their statements.

We let them know that they can put these statements in any order as the goal is for the class to try to figure out which one is the lie. Although this can be done without writing it down, I have found that with elementary-aged students it is very beneficial to give students thinking time first. Otherwise, you end up with students who try to think when it is their turn and it makes the truths and lie very obvious.

After everyone is done writing down their sentences, then I go around the room having students read their 3 statements. The class will then vote on which they think is the lie. After the vote, the student will reveal the lie and can explain the truths if there is time.

 4. Quiz Time

As soon as they mastered the target vocabulary, I made my first pop quiz of the year ,about the class. At the end of the first week, I created a pop quiz asking questions about what they learned. My students loved being the stars of the questions!

You can make it a paper and pencil quiz or use an app like Kahoot, Quizziz or Google Forms to make a digital pop quiz. This is a great way to introduce a new type of digital activity that you will use during the year too!

 5. 20 Questions

Play a game of 20 questions (or use the number that is the same as the number of students you have so that each person can ask 1 question). Choose 1 person to pick a secret word(personality adjectives, in our case ) and have them write it down or tell the teacher. Then challenge the class to work together to figure out what the person is. This will require students to listen to each other’s questions, the answers and think about related follow-up questions that might help to narrow down the secret word.

After everyone has asked a question, then let each student take one guess.

6. Bucket List

Each student, comes up with 5 top adjectives from their selfie, on their bucket list. Then they share and see what they have in common, with other class members. They could even take those similarities and use them to connect in the real world .

7.​Pictionary​

Students , brought their selfie ” Me, behind the mask” in class.

Then, they had to describe that picture while the rest have to draw it.

When time was up, or when the person describing decided to stop, they showed their pictures to the rest of the class and the describer chose the winner.

8. True or False?

A great way to reinforce what has just been taught.

Instead of the traditional pop-quiz to see how much the kids retained from the personality adjectives list, I tried something a bit different…

I asked the students to find paper and instructed them to make a collection of scrunched up paper balls. I put two pictures on two different classroom walls , one with a true sign, one with a false one.

I asked a series of true/false questions, using as many personality and appearance adjectives as possible, about different students. If the kids thought it was true, they ditched a paper ball at the true sign, and false if they thought it was false.

While this can be quite messy ,it can be a light hearted way to review what has been learnt.

My conclusions

a.When we reinforce self-esteem and resilience in our students, we equip them with critical skills they need to succeed socially and academically. 

When we communicate genuine, realistic appreciation and encouragement to our students, it’s a powerful way to nurture self-esteem and resilience. 

b.I have to admit, that for kindergarten and primary teachers, teaching younger children while masked ,also presents challenges — specifically related to students’ social-emotional learning.

Non-verbal cues carry up to 55 per cent of the emotional content of messages. Without those cues, a lot of important information is missed.

c.Furthermore, the mouth and eyes are even more important than other facial features when interpreting expression. In contrast to adults who get most non-verbal social information from speakers’ eyes, young children pay most attention to speakers’ mouths. This elevates the challenge of clearly communicating emotions to children while wearing a mask.

d.What is more, vocal strain is a significant occupational hazard in teaching, and the increased volume necessary to be understood when wearing a mask may contribute to this risk.

I really hope, the project idea presented here can enhance the learning experiences of young students in the new world of COVID-19 aware classrooms.

Creating an English virtual classroom and an English virtual library: a successful example of scaling up teaching and learning in response to COVID-19

Schools and Universities in Greece have been closed since March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic as part of the government’s measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The Ministry of Education promptly responded to this emergency developing and gradually implementing distance learning, offering students the opportunity to keep in touch with the educational process. Without intending to replace face to face learning the Ministry has activating digital platforms and tools offered for free by ICT providers, addressed to the secondary and primary school students, as well as to Greek Universities.

Concerning the asynchronous learning, students and teachers can use the existing digital tools and platforms already offered by the Ministry of Education such as the Interactive School Books, the Digital Educational Material (“Fotodentro”) and the Advanced Electronic Scenarios (“Aesop”) organized by educational level, course etc.

To me, the school community in Greece has embraced this effort showing remarkable engagement to the demanding project of e-learning under these exceptional circumstances.

What is more, the synchronous, real-time teaching suggested by the Ministry is supported:

  • through Webex services; to address inequalities, the Ministry has ensured access through landlines and through mobile phones free of charge following a deal with the three mobile phone providers
  • through the School Network’s sch.gr platform, which uses Big Blue Button open software and can operate on smartphones and tablets.

My main thought,when schools closed due to the pandemic and after having attened innumerable webinars during the lockdown, was to create an English virtual classroom, for all my students! Why?

A virtual classroom enables students to access their teacher and their homework resources ,anywhere and anytime, so long as they both have a reliable internet connection.

I also did my very best to create an English virtual library.

You see, I am not allowed to lend my students any of the 500 English readers and magazines in our school library, under the circumstances! Therefore, I had to think quick and come up with a solution!

Whether or not we are planning for a physical or a virtual school experience in September, it is clear that we need to translate our practice. We need strategies for personalizing and enriching the remote learning experience. And it is clear that the library must be the center of that experience.

Currently, one very popular strategy is the creation of classroom scenes using Google Slides populated with their flexible Bitmojis.

I started playing around with this fairly easy and recently very popular strategy of building a library scene in Slides. With success!

I strongly believe that,at this moment in time, having a rich digital presence is no longer optional, for us teachers . It is essential to translate practice in order to communicate with our students and to support and inspire learning. It is also tangible evidence of our practice, especially in unstable times.

I thought quite a bit about how important this virtual presence was to me over the course of 25 years. 

Generally speaking, in many ways, an online classroom simply mirrors the physical classroom.

To me, a virtual classroom should include the following features, important for teachers.

-Interactive online whiteboard

-Library of learning materials

-Teacher tools and controls

In a physical classroom, you can look around and find textbooks, games, exercises, templates, worksheets, multimedia resources (print, video, audio).

A professional teacher needs these in their virtual classroom too. The teacher needs to be able to upload their digital learning materials to the cloud and save them for future classes.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Steps

STEP 1: OPEN A BLANK GOOGLE SLIDE OR POWERPOINT

STEP 2: COLLECT YOUR IMAGES

STEP 3: CREATE YOUR SCENΕ

The steps, in detail

1.I read all about the procedure, in detail, here.

Think… what makes a room a classroom? The whiteboard.

2.The tutorials, I watched.

3. The final product!

My first virtual classroom

( Disabled link ,for security reasons)

My first virtual library

(Click on the link)

Note: To create the book review worksheet, I used the liveworksheets app.

I really wish I knew who started this trend so I could thank that person profusely since this is one of the most brilliant ideas I have come across in a very long time. 

Highly recommended to you all!

Teaching online ideas and tools: An educational response to Covid-19 pandemic-a guest blog post, by Maria Polychrou

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My blog has always been open to English teachers who wish to share their inspiring work with the educational community! This time, I have decided to ask our colleague Maria Polychrou to share her creative ideas, in a guest blog post and she has kindly agreed to write about her covid19 teaching experience.

During the pandemic, many educators-including Maria Polychrou and me- have looked to their professional learning networks on social media for encouragement through virtual book clubsTwitter chats, Facebook groups, or wellness challenges.

I firmly believe that, in the weeks and months ahead, we must all consider: What can we do for others?  How can we fully embrace the ethics of care?  At the core of this principle is educational altruism, or selfless concern for other educators, students, and their families.

Mainly because digital practices are so portable, teachers can easily share resources with colleagues within the same school and across schools, countries, and even continents. We seem to have entered a new reality in which collaboration is no longer a luxury; instead, it is a lifeline that allows for teachers to learn about new digital tools, to integrate new teaching activities (both high-tech and low-tech), and to share responsibility for creating online or take-home resources.

I’ve always spoken about the importance of collaboration among teachers. To me, there’s no better time like the present, to come together and help each other navigate these challenging times. Now is the time to focus on the human impact technology has on teachers’ and students’ lives, and collectively recognize the critical role technology plays in human connections, creative educational pursuits, and education, in general.

The best part about the benefits of teacher collaboration is that they can be a reality—as they are in so many learning communities around the world.

I am consistently amazed at the tireless and heroic work of fellow teachers at every level of education, especially under the circumstances! Frankly, I see many teachers who deserve a standing ovation every day for their high-quality work.

Maria Polychrou, is definitely, one of them!

Teaching is by far one of the more noble and influential professions on the planet. English teachers, in particular, can and do make a difference every day in the lives of children and families.

We all agree that no teacher gets up in the morning and says, ‘I think I will just be mediocre today.’ Teachers want to do a good job, and given the proper environment and encouragement, they will. The strongest motivators are not monetary rewards or benefits. Teachers want to be appreciated for what they do. And when their colleagues give recognition and appreciation on their behalf, teachers do their best.

Enjoy reading Maria’s article! I bet, you will find it inspiring and useful!

These are just a few tools and ideas that can help ensure continuous learning during this Coronavirus pandemic.
But, as we all already know, no technology will be able to replace our expertise, our enthusiasm, and our human approach to education!

Feel free to comment and share your experiences!

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Hello!! I’m Maria Polychrou and I am an English teacher and an oral examiner in Tesol Examinations in Thessaloniki! My educational background (M.A. in Theatre Studies and Ph.D. in Theatre, Intercultural Education and Teaching English as a Second language) and my involvement in many Erasmus programs, both in Greece and abroad, dealing with diversity and intercultural awareness through the use of theatre and drama,  can reveal my passion for theatre. That’s why I have been trying to use, promote, and explore educational programs based on theatre and drama techniques in English Teaching. Puppetry, Forum Theatre, Image Theatre are some of the resources of my inspiration in class.

 These resources of inspiration are what I have been trying to share with my colleagues in my presentations in different seminars and conferences over the past few years.

It was during such a conference that I met Ms. Aphrodite Gkiouris. It was the 27th Tesol Macedonia Thrace Annual International Conference in Thessaloniki last February when we first talked face to face in the backyard of the American College.

And this is something I will never forget! Her bright smile and her positive attitude made me feel at ease right away and very soon I admired her blooming character and I realized that she is an active and creative teacher who celebrates interaction among her students and her colleagues! “Sharing is caring” is her motto and I can guarantee you she is the first to share and embrace every new tip, method, and idea in English Teaching!

Thank you Ms. Gkiouris for hosting my article! It was such an honor for me really!!!!

Online teaching sessions                                                                                              Part 1

Wow!! It’s been quarantine time and a whole new era has dawned on teaching. Distance learning was the only way to keep in touch with our students and the whole educational community, both teachers and learners, reserve a Medal of Honor for their relentless efforts. Hats off to those educators who didn’t give up but educated themselves on distance learning and new online teaching tools day and night confronting the obstacles!!

In this article, educators, especially colleagues in kindergarten and primary schools, can find a list of resources and ideas for your online lessons. When you click on the hyperlinks you can access the resources I have used and shared with my students online.

Keeping in mind what my students and I loved doing during our face to face lessons was what has really helped me with online lessons. It has been one of my priorities to make them feel or at least remind them of the connection we have in our classes and the feelings we share. The best way to do it was through storytelling and puppetry. Puppetry online???? Oh yes!! 100% success!!

I resorted to reading books like “A very hungry caterpillar” by Eric Carle and tried to bring these stories alive on their computer screen. Using theatre hats, finger puppets, hand puppets, stick puppets, and shadow theatre, I tried my best to make this brand new online teaching adventure familiar with our live -in-class lessons. And that was when I gained my students’ trust back again. This boosted their attention, their willingness for cooperation, and their pure enthusiasm for English lessons!       

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A great educational tool is Eric Carle’s books through which you can teach vocabulary units such as nutrition, numbers, animals, or talk about bullying, greediness, appearance, acceptance, or nature units such as the circle of life. We read the “Mixed up Chameleon”  and we talked about acceptance and equality!! We talked about how we should appreciate our own capabilities and strengths!! Moreover, you can use “ A very hungry caterpillar” to teach basic food-related vocabulary, numbers, or the days of the week. However, you can expand your teaching and talk about the circle of life of a butterfly and have your students observe their own balcony and their own plants. Moreover, you can talk about healthy eating habits and nutrition and have them look for fruits and vegetables in their own fridge. Such hands-on activities can make your lessons invaluable and the learning experience unforgettable.

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In addition, you can read “ A Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle. Through reading this book you can talk about different kinds of animals or teach time but also you can talk about bullying, empathy, and feelings. It is a great book that can help you bond with your students even more. You can help them talk about their feelings and make them realize that whatever they feel is right. Especially during this quarantine time under the COVID -19 threat, kids can easily sense their parent’s fear or they themselves may feel threatened by this “unseen” enemy. It is good for them and you as well- to share all these feelings the same way you did (hopefully) in your classes! I used my ladybug puppets and students felt even more free to talk about themselves!

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What I also try to do during our online sessions is to have my students active and moving around. It’s so hard for a 4/5-year-old kid to stand still in front of a computer and that is why I try to combine my online reading aloud stories or puppetry shows with kinesthetic songs! Therefore when we read “ From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle, I had my students imitate animals voices and movements. We played “ Simon says” and we listened to songs like “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA48wTGbU7A&t=103s

I dressed up as a native American Indian (Oh yes!!) and we talked about seasons and weather. 

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We even made a magic spell to make the rain go away and of course, we revised family members vocabulary and we listened to the song “Rain, rain go away” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFrKYjrIDs8

When we want to practice the alphabet, I have my students’ parents provide their kids with trays filled with salt and we try to shape our letters with our fingers on the salty surface! I have tried as much as possible to have them make regular activities similar to those in class so as to make them feel that they participate in a “regular” teaching routine!! Then I ask them to look around their houses and try to find things whose name starts with specific letters!! We play the “ I spy “ game as well!. You can use these ideas when teaching colors and shapes as well! Kindergarten kids really loooove looking around and showing parts of their houses to the rest!!

What I also try to do is to combine my teaching with art! That’s why, when I wanted to teach my students the shapes, I introduced Kandisnky!!! What a fun and creative way is to identify shapes through famous paintings!!! You can click on the link to download resources!!)  Afterwards, you can have your students listen to “Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky and tell them to create a piece of art in Kandinsky style while being inspired by the music!! You will be surprised !!

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When you click on the links, you can find many pdf files available which include vocabulary activities, board games, printable games. All these files can be a great tool used autonomously or you can combine them with the following online teaching tools!

Enjoy!!! This period was highly beneficial and educational to all of us!! Never give up!! Be the change you want to see!!!!

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Online teaching tools                                                                                             Part 2

I have made a collection of online tools which I found really useful for my online lessons both for young and older students!! Enjoy and set your inspiration free!!

  1. https://padlet.com/

Padlet is great for sharing digital content and improving the engagement of the students. Teachers can create special brainstorm sessions where they invite students to discuss some topics.

Eric Carle’s book review sessions are another great lesson idea. Create a session dedicated to his book and invite the students to share their reviews and comment on the ideas of others.

 

  1. https://socrative.com

Socrative gives an efficient way to monitor and evaluate learning that saves time for educators while delivering  fun and engaging interactions for learners. You can launch a quiz, receive exit tickets (T/F questions, multiple-choice questions) or ask a quick question for instant student feedback.

 

  1. https://www.wolframalpha.com/

Enter a topic or choose from a wide range of knowledge fields! A great tool for teachers and students!!!

 

  1. https://trello.com/

Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way. Think of Trello as a virtual “idea board.” In Trello, you can create as many boards as you want with lists and cards. The boards can then be discussed, collaborated upon, and manipulated to create a visual workflow student can check in with each other using discussions on a particular card. They can attach pictures and files, and then assemble all cards into one final project.

 

  1. http://www.scribblar.com/

It is an online collaboration platform that is perfect for students because it provides many incentives for teamwork as well as great technology to engage in creative work.

 

  1. https://www.edmodo.com/

Edmodo is an educational tool that connects teachers and students and is assimilated into a social network. In this one, teachers can create online collaborative groups, administer and provide educational materials, measure student performance, and communicate with parents, among other functions

  1. https://projeqt.com

Projeqt is a tool that allows you to create multimedia presentations, with dynamic slides in which you can embed interactive maps, links, online quizzes, Twitter timelines, and videos,

 

  1. https://www.thinglink.com/

Thinglink allows educators to create interactive images with music, sounds, texts, and photographs.

 

  1. https://edpuzzle.com/

You can introduce students to self-paced learning with interactive video lessons. It’s easy to add your own voice narration and questions!

 

  1. https://storybird.com/

Storybird aims to promote writing and reading skills in students through storytelling. In this tool, teachers can create interactive and artistic books online.

 

  1. https://animoto.com/

Animoto is a digital tool that allows you to create high-quality videos.

 

  1. https://www.ck12.org/student/

You can have your own students explore many fields like chemistry, maths, English. You can even find content for your own lessons through books and educational material which can be modified and contain videos, audios, and interactive exercises.

 

  1. https://kahoot.it/

Kahoot! is an educational platform that is based on games and questions. Through this tool, teachers can create questionnaires, discussions, or surveys that complement academic lessons.

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  1. https://www.liveworksheets.com/

Liveworksheets transforms your traditional printable worksheets into self-correcting interactive exercises that the students can do online and send to the teacher.

 

  1. https://wordwall.net/

You can make custom activities for your classroom such as quizzes, matchups, word games, crosswords, labeled diagrams, random wheels. It’s great really!

 

  1. https://www.storyjumper.com/

It’s a great way to create, narrate, and publish your students’ books. You can have them create their own characters, plot, or add their own voice!!

 

  1. https://web.creaza.com/en/help/create-a-cartoon 

Your class can create your own cartoon!

 

  1. https://www.mindomo.com/

Mindomo lets you create mind maps and presentations with text, links, images, video, and audio. Combine content from the web with Mindomo’s built-in library and your own uploaded files. It is also possible to collaborate in real-time.

 

  1. AudioEditor allows you to create exciting podcasts and audio mixes. The tool contains hundreds of audio clips, music as well as sound effects. These can be combined with audio recordings and your own uploaded audio files.

 

  1. https://www.mysimpleshow.com/

Use mysimpleshow in the classroom with your students or contribute to open educational resources. Introduce, summarize, and explain topics worth sharing. All you need to do is upload a script and your animated video is created.

 

  1. https://quizizz.com/

A very popular tool among teachers who want to create their own quizzes!

 

  1. https://codekingdoms.com/

Learn how to make your own Minecraft mods with the power of code!

 

  1. https://www.kwizzbit.com/ for quizzes 

 

  1. https://synap.ac/ for quizzes

 

  1. https://testmoz.com/#features for tests creating

 

  1. https://www.vocabtest.com/ for tests creating

 

  1. http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/poetry/poetry_engine.htm

Poetry Idea Engine. Wow!!!!!

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  1. https://freerice.com/categories/english-vocabulary

This unique tool is great for building vocabulary. For every correct answer you choose, 10 grains of rice are raised to help end world hunger through the World Food Programme. While your students play this vocabulary game, they learn while donating food to people in need.

 

  1. https://coggle.it/

A mind-mapping tool designed to understand student thinking.

 

  1. https://dotstorming.com/

A whiteboard app that allows digital sticky notes to be posted and voted on. This tool is best for generating class discussion and brainstorming on different topics and questions.

 

  1. http://www.triventy.com/

A free quiz game platform that allows teachers to create quizzes students take in real-time. These live quizzes provide teachers with real-time data on student understanding of classroom concepts. Students need individual devices to respond to quiz questions.

 

  1. https://www.polleverywhere.com/

Use Poll Everywhere activities to take attendance, give quizzes, and gauge understanding.

 

  1. https://www.pixton.com/

Free comic storyboard!! Excellent!!

 

  1. https://www.naiku.net/

Teachers can easily and quickly create quizzes that students can answer using their mobile devices. Great for checking for understanding before and after a lesson.

 

  1. https://www.gosoapbox.com/ and Confusion barometer https://www.gosoapbox.com/tour/confusion-barometer

The Confusion Barometer allows students to indicate when they’ve become confused with the material, or need the teacher to slow down with the click of a button. The teacher sees a graphical representation of the number of students who are confused at any point during the class. Teachers can monitor the confusion barometer, and if they see a spike in confusion, will know that their students are having trouble with a concept, or that something wasn’t clearly explained.

 

  1. https://lightsailed.com/

An e-reading program that helps teachers support independent reading in students. You can monitor progress and give assessment and feedback in real-time.

 

  1. https://goformative.com/

You can upload any pdf/document/google doc, click to add places for your students to respond, edit any question details and you’re done.

You can also embed content from other websites and try our interactive question types like Show Your Work (drawing), Drag and Drop, Audio Recording, Graphing, or Essay! Create an assignment and get live results from students. Present them with real-time feedback in an instant, too.

 

  1. https://www.focusboosterapp.com/

For those who feel tedious working remotely or alone, it’s a great tool to help themselves beat distractions, procrastinate less, and stay focused. A great Pomodoro timer!

 

  1. https://www.brainpop.com/

animated curricular content (animated lessons, videos, assessments, games, etc.)

 

  1. https://www.twiddla.com/

This is a great tool for those teachers who want to prepare K-12 students for writing college papers because it involves a lot of writing assignments.

 

  1. https://vocaroo.com/

A free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need for software. You can easily embed the recording into slide shows, presentations, or websites. Great for collaborative group work and presentations.

 

  1. Piktochart (https://piktochart.com/)

It uses blocks—dividing up the page into sections that you can build your infographics with by cloning, moving, or deleting what sections you wish.

 

  1. Youtube channels like
  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMRZ0-ci4ifGBF1bJvrcDRQ

A channel with a large number of interactive simulations of experiments in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics, used together with the platform https://phet.colorado.edu/. Depending on the subject, it can be used for all school ages.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/user/1veritasium

A very interesting channel with a lot of unusual experiments, puzzles, songs that are used as reminders for various scientific concepts (for example, Atomic Bonding). It could be best used for upper primary school grades and secondary school.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse/videos

channel with scientific phenomena presented in a very funny way. It covers a variety of topics, from historical facts to astrophysics problems. Intended for secondary school students, but if adapted and more thoroughly analyzed, it can also be used for upper primary school grades.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/user/TEDEducation/videos

 A large collection of animated stories about various phenomena – scientific, social, and artistic. Animated stories can be used with the platform TEDed, which provides the opportunity for interactive collaboration between teachers and students, with quizzes, reflections, and reference materials that can be further used.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwXko8B8Csp8OBtOv0BzCgw

Creativity in Teaching English is a channel with reading aloud stories using puppets!!

  1. Kindergaarden channels!!
  1. https://www.coolkindergarten.com/

has both language arts and math games for kindergarten plus a small selection of read-aloud and math videos.

  1. https://www.starfall.com/h/

is a classic beginning learner website. Use both the alphabet and learn to read page for the maximum benefit and a couple of the kindergarten math activities are good too.

  1. https://www.readbrightly.com/topics/brightly-storytime/
  2. https://www.freckle.com/ is a differentiation platform with built-in activities for ELA, math, social studies, and science.
  3. https://www.education.com/games/kindergarten/ for free online games 
  4. https://www.neok12.com/ is a collection of free online educational videos, lessons, quizzes, puzzles, and games.

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I hope you found this post useful and interesting!!!

Keep creating!!! Teaching is creativity!! Start promoting theatre and puppets in your lessons!!

Polychrou Maria

Mail: mariapoly87@hotmail.com

Youtube channel: Creativity in Teaching English 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwXko8B8Csp8OBtOv0BzCgw

Blog: http://creativityinteaching.blogspot.com/

Teaching outside the BOX

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I’ve always loved all kinds of boxes! I love using and reusing them and teaching my students about how to do the same, using their imagination and creativity! There are great ways to use cardboard boxes in the ESL classroom and here are just a few, to get the idea.

Why Work With Cardboard?

It is SUPREME.

  1. It is (in most cases) free.
  2. It appeals to the environmentally-conscious, pro-recycling parts of our human nature.
  3. It is disposable – toss it back into the recycling bin when you’re done teaching/playing.

Cardboard Box Houses

 

 

Why not make this easy cardboard house, with your class,too? You can watch online videos ,follow the simple step-by-step instructions and help your students decorate their houses. With the help of some small dolls,furniture or action figures, have them act out scenes from a course book story or a tale you’ve read them, for role plays with a twist! You can even teach Grammar , ie the prepositions of place, by having the students move the pieces of toy furniture around the rooms or teach/revise vocabulary, ie colours, parts of the house etc

Dioramas to Die for!

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Dioramas are perfect for capturing a scene from a story – and cardboard boxes are the ideal material for our class diorama. Simply cut out a rectangle from one of the sides of the box, like a window. Then have your class assist you in recreating a scene from a story or book you’ve read.And don’t forget holiday dioramas: from the first Thanksgiving to a spooky graveyard filled with monsters for Halloween, the possibilities are endless!

Landscapes 

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Want to practice asking for and giving directions? How about using a miniature landscape instead of an old, boring, flat map or picture ? Use small cardboard boxes of different sizes, like small cereal or cookie boxes. Have your students create a landscape out of each.The students can make the landscape as detailed as they want .Use action figures to move around and ask for directions. In this last school year’s photo, my creative students created a four Seasons landscape and used it while reciting a poem they had written, about the four Seasons!

Boxed Words

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Set up a Vocabulary Box ,in a corner of the room! Each time a student asks about a word he or she does not understand, go through the following steps:

Write-or have the students write- the word at the top of an index card, the definition (for your older students) or a drawing ( for your younger learners) below that and finally, an example of the word used in a sentence, if you wish.

Put the card in the Vocabulary Box.

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At the end of the week/month (or school year) depending on the number of words accumulated, you can open the box and see how many of the words they still remember, how many they’ve forgotten or not used at all since that day in class, by playing fun vocabulary  games. The day I took this photo, we played a Treasure Hunt Game, using the words in the box.

Mail Box

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Have each of your students write a letter to a classmate or you,the teacher. I always do so, at the beginning and the end of each school year . They get so excited when they receive their reply letters! Then, you can be the postman/woman and deliver them or have another student act as postman/woman. I also use the mailbox for homework assignments or special occasions such as  Christmas, where students get the chance to write to Santa. Watch this tutorial to make an alternative mailbox to mine, in the photos.

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Dolls, Robots and other crafts

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For a fun class role play activity, first have your students create an action figure or any other craft of their choice, out of a cardboard box .When they’re all done, students take turns acting out different role plays, using them! An the end of each school year, you can organise yearly “Art Exhibitions” with all the students’ crafts! Art exhibitions ,offer students a chance to display their work for parents, siblings and classmates.

 

Puppet Theatre

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A cardboard box can easily be turned into a fun puppet theater, for all our class ELT puppet , finger puppet or even shadow theatre plays.

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Here are the instructions about how to make your own shadow puppet theatre.

Class Theatre Hats 

 

I create class theatre props and crowns/hats from cardboard, throughout the school year. The last time I did so, was for the needs of our end-of-the-school-year adaptation of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” .

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Not only are these hats adorable, but very sturdy. After they are constructed you can let the children decorate them with stickers and/or paint.

Playing with a Dice

 

I love using Dice Games to practice vocabulary, in my class! I made  my first class dice , a couple of years ago and have been using all the activities in this post, since then .

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My students love the Dice Games and ask for them, all the time! 

Mystery box

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This is an awesome guessing activity! The “Mystery Box” is a type of prediction game that you can create with simple items that you have in class.

Find a box, such as a shoe box, or any other kind of container which kids can’t see through, such as a cookie tin. Introduce the empty box or tin and discuss how the mystery box game will be played. Outside of the children’s view, place an item inside the box or tin. Ask the children to predict what is inside. If you want, you can let the children hold the box, to see how heavy it is or if it makes any noise bouncing around the box or tin.

Give the children one clue as to what is inside the box. For instance, if you have a teddy bear inside, you can say, “It’s soft.” After the first clue is given, ask the children to guess what might be inside. Repeat the process by giving a second clue, such as, “It’s brown” and then ask the children to guess again.

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They have to guess, by using different modals such as “it must be..”, ” it can’t be..”, “it may be..” etc

All the students who guess right, are given special stickers! If only one student guesses right , she/he is given the item in the mystery box, to take home , as a present.

After showing the kids how to play the game, I ask the children to bring their own  mystery boxes from home, the next day, with an item inside the box for their classmates  to guess what it is.

Our etwinning “CUbeS

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Last school year, we used boxes in our etwinning European project, with huge success!

What the four partners ( Greece, UK, France and Poland)  decided to do was that, students produced a presentation or “Culture and Smiles in a Box” on their partner country in groups, both in class and on twinspace Forums. To be able to do this, students  gathered information about their own country and life and mailed it to their partner schools, in Cubes-boxes .Their partners, were responsible for producing the presentation on their partner country’s cultural assets on twinspace Forums .

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My students felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner schools in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to fill their CUbeS with content.

The Activity Box -for early finishers

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For my early finishers, especially when writing tests, I use a special box!

A box, filled with activities and items of my choice, such as books, magazines, board games, toys, postcards, etc The box also contains small sets of task cards.

100_1818The box can be placed on an easily accessible shelf in the classroom or on the teacher’s desk.When students’ regular classwork/test  is complete, they can take one item at a time, either to their seat so as not to distract other students who are working, and get a quiet moment to relax. They use the materials in the box to practice their English, too. And instead of being just “busy,” students are engaged in creative, complex tasks.Kinesthetic learners, spatial learners, and logical learners ,all love exploring the different possibilities for the box materials as they try to spend their time ,the fun way!

Even better? The prep and management on the teacher’s part is minimal! 

The story telling box

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Using a magic box when we do story telling with our very young learners, is so much fun! I ,personally, love it!

A good example of how to do so, can be found in this Blog post, written by my friend Margarita Kosior. 

Margarita ,is an amazing educator from Thessaloniki! I truly admire her work with storytelling !

I am so grateful that she accepted my invitation, to share one of her stories, in my Blog, a couple of years ago! Actually, she has been my inspiration to try similar activities with my junior classes and I wholeheartedly thank her, for that!

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The routine, is opening the Magic Box which hides different treasures every time, usually flashcards or realia which appear later in the story.

In case of “Henry Hippo”, she created head bands with the four protagonists in advance and she placed them in the Magic Box. With the use of a magic star and on the sound of the magic words, the Magic Box opens.

Every time the group shout: “Magic Box, open!”, one headband/item is taken out.

 IDENTITY BOX

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I have used the ‘Identity Box’ activity since I was introduced to it, at Pilgrims ,by my amazing “Teaching Difficult Learners” course teacher trainers Mike Shreeve and Phil Dexter , two years ago. It is  a way to introduce my students to each other (and to me!). I assign it as homework, on the first day and give students 2-3 days to complete it. Alternatively, students could do the project in school and bring in old newspapers and magazines ,in order to decorate their boxes. 

Supplies needed:

Scissors

Glue

Pictures (personal, magazine, etc)

Shoe Box (or box of any kind)

On the outside of the box, all students decorate with images of how they feel others see them OR how they see themselves.

On the inside of the box, older students, decorate with images of how they feel on the inside, what best describes their  identity.

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 Sharing the boxes on the last day of the first week of school is a fun way to conclude this exciting week. 

I have also included an optional “All about me on a Box” writing activity extension.

*For those of you interested in reading about the original idea ,which actually doesn’t have anything to do with children, please, have a look here.

CONCLUSION

When it comes to fun ESL activities, why not think outside the box, or rather in this case inside it?

Why not capitalize on our innate fascination with boxes and the opportunities they hold?

SMILES

The importance of Reading Rewards

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In order to stimulate learning and to motivate reading books , lots of teachers use rewards for students.

Research confirms that student motivation is a key factor in successful reading. However, in order to effectively support reading motivation in the classroom, it is helpful to consider the research on reading motivation and engagement.

Academic achievements are important to recognize. Recognizing the achievements that they have made in each area with curricular awards is a great way to foster confidence and promote good study habits.

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Even our bookworms need a bit of encouragement

We all know that, some kids are just into it from the beginning and others need a bit of encouragement.  To me, if  we have a reluctant reader on our hands, special reading rewards are a fun and colourful way to make the idea of reading more engaging.

They are a way to track their progress. When they see how much they are achieving-  as the bookworm reaches its full length- our students will ,hopefully, become more motivated to sit down with a good book. Before we know it, they’ll be hooked on reading (well that’s the plan anyway).

It could be that the real value of reading-related rewards is that both the desired behavior (reading) and the reward (small gifts etc ) define a classroom culture that supports and nurtures the intrinsic motivation to read.

A few reading motivation ideas

Honoring books for self-selection, sharing the excitement of read-alouds, building a balanced book collection, making their passions public  and providing rewards that demonstrate the value of reading are just a few simple but transformative suggestions that can nurture the love of reading in our classrooms!

Our English library

Our school library is actually, a book case filled with books which have been categorised according to student level. This means that a student at an intermediate level will be able to select from a -limited, so far- range of books (novels) very clearly for his/her level without having to wade through books and reading the back cover or the first couple of pages to see if the book is going to be written in language that is too easy or too difficult for them.

In addition, it means students are able to read English books without having to pay for them. This may be especially important for students who are on a budget, or those who don’t really like reading and would be less motivated to read if they had to go out and find a book in English and then pay for it.

It also means, with a more restricted number of options available to choose from because they are divided into levels, students may end up choosing something to read they would not normally choose, even in their own language. And who knows, it might be the start of a whole new interest for a student.

In our English class, our bookworms , receive their rewards ,three times a year: at the end of each semester and at the end of the school year! Their names are published on the school site.

The rewards, usually consist of items like: bookmarks, educational toys, office supplies, balloons, lollipops etc

But, we should be careful: our students shouldn’t get addicted to rewards. They have to work because of an intrinsic motivation. As students achieve success in your class, they can learn to be motivated by their own achievements.

I really look forward to seeing a bigger number of my students take advantage of the school English library to improve their English language skills in any way possible, next school year!

Our English class record holders

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The idea

Last year, we got motivated by the Guinness Book of Records, while teaching the Comparisons so ,we decided to look for our own class record holders and award them, accordingly!

This incredible “class record holders idea”, brought English to life in a fun, yet impactful way. 

Through engaging my English language learners in an exploration of class records, helped me support their growth in vocabulary, oral conversation, and written expression. Students had a chance to complete their  world record scavenger hunt, working in groups and creating their own awards.

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The procedure

First, I made a few copies of the Guinness Book of World Records available to my students to peruse.

 I asked them what their impressions were.

Talking about world records is an opportune time, to review comparisons, of course .

I gave my students a chance to practice, using superlative adjectives, by making superlative statements about the students in our class using the list of adjectives I had already generated. Again, I gave them a chance to share with the class.

After my students had had some time to become familiar with the book and Grammar points, I  asked them why they thought those people were able to set those records. Was it because of a special skill? Was it luck? Were any of the records simple trickery? Was it effort and hard work? On the board, I wrote the words talent, skill, trick , effort and luck. Students discussed in small groups which of these five qualities was most important. Then, I had each group present to the class what they had agreed was most important or where their opinions differed.

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As a final activity , I had my students each choose one other student, who held a class record .

 Then, I had my students partner and role-play an interview that they had written in pairs, in front of the class – one student asking the questions as the class reporter and another pretending to be the record holder and answering the questions.

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 Conclusion

 Whether you have a class full of future record holders or not, your students are sure to find the information presented in the Guinness Book of World Records fascinating, especially if they have never actually looked inside its pages.

While our students are imagining their record placements, they will be practicing their language skills and becoming better students of English without even knowing it.

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