Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 2012 in review

photo credit: alykat via photopin cc
January was a very productive month for T@PT: 24 posts!... Not all the posts were commented on the blog. Some of my followers and/or visitors posted a comment on the FaceBook; others answered back the e-mail notification!... There are also some posts that remain uncommented so far!... Having all my posts commented would be quite an achievement! January registered 1,773 page views and these are the most viewed posts:
Give your Teacher an Apple - 39 page views;
New Year's Resolutions - 29 page views;
'Fogaça' @PineTree - 26 page views;
Freezing cold @PineTree and It's monday - both with 24 page views each.    
In February, I will probably slow down for a few days, as it's time to give my students the 2nd term's first test ... That, together with more paperwork and oral assessments, won't give me as much time as I'd like to write!... But, as Arnie would say, 'I'll be back!'... (I have already some posts drafted on my mind, one of which is due for tomorrow)!...

'See you later, alligator!...'
'In a while, crocodile!...'

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PineTree is one month old

Look at ME

Is Television a Drug?
In case you're lecturing the topic Media, ask your students this question and show them the video below!...

I asked my students to count how many times the TV set said: 'Look at me' and 'I am here for you!' Most of them found the tone of the voice rather annoying, and the quick transition between the images, which were constantly repeated, disturbing!... Yet, there was one student who said that the video was quite interesting because the tone of voice showed how desperate the TV set felt for having lost the pole position of people's preferences, as far as the media are concerned!... That comment saved my lesson!... And my day!...                                                                                                   
Another approach to this topic could be: Show this picture in the first place and make them wonder who could have said this or in what context they could see this written... Start the conversation, create ambiance and then show the video...

Say NO to Racism

Footballers have the same prestige rock or movie stars have amongst students! So, in order to grab their attention, showing them videos like this one might be an effective way to introduce a topic such as 'Racism and Discrimination'.

                        photos via Google Images
The world CAN be changed!
How long has it been since the two photographs were taken?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday therapy

'It is a bit freaky with this wireless technology...'
Copyright: Morten Ingemann

You might also like to take a look at Cartoons!... 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Enjoy your weekend

As I have already written on a previous post ...

                                   Copyright Randy Glasbergen
... a laugh a day keeps the bad mood away!...

Your Voice is Amazing

Holocaust Memorial Day (January, 27 - UK)
The world remembers today one of the most tragic and shameful episodes of the Mankind History!...  May we never forget what happened so that anything similar ever happens again!...
«Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) is a national event in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of the victims of The Holocaust. It was first held in January 2001 and has been on the same date every year since. The chosen date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Union in 1945, the date also chosen for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and some other national Holocaust Memorial Days.In addition to the national event, there are numerous smaller memorial events around the country organised by many different organisations, groups and individuals.»                                                              
                                                                                                                        Source: en.wikipedia.org

Speak Up, Speak Out!... Your Voice is Amazing!...
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Teaching @PineTree is two months old

Happy birthday, T@PT!... You're almost a grown-up!...

photo credit: Mark Parisi

What are T@PT's numbers?
Posts: 39, including this one
Followers; 15, one of whom remains anonymous
Total Page views: 2,585 (at the moment of writing)

The most commented post was: iSteve Jobs on Dec 6th, 2011.
The 2nd most commented posts were: I teach, what's your super power?, on Nov 26th, 2011 and Fogaça @PineTree, on Jan 24th, 2012.
The 3rd most commented posts were: I love English, on Dec 4th, 2011; Teaching @PineTree is one month old on Dec 26th, 2011 and Give your teacher an apple, on Jan 18th, 2012.

Thank you both for the comments and the visits!... 
It has been quite a rewarding experience for me and, hopefully, for you as well... 
I feel I am a stronger professional since I have started this project, which would not make much sense without your contribution!... 

Happy birthday, T@PT!...
Thanks everybody for being (t)here!... 
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

'Fogaça' @PineTree

Na passada sexta-feira, dia 20 de Janeiro, viveu-se mais um momento 'delicioso' na PineTree School, logo pela manhã!...
Embora sendo feriado municipal na minha terra -Santa Maria da Feira, 'where else?'- cumpri com a rotina semanal e, deixando a família em casa, entreguei-me à estrada. As ruas estavam desertas àquela hora da manhã... Pelo caminho, o suave aroma a fogaça inebriava-me os sentidos!... Tinha feito um pequeno desvio para comprar a iguaria que, sabia de antemão, iria deliciar os meus PineTree mates e assim, celebrar, ainda que a vários km de distância, a 'Festa das Fogaceiras'.
No primeiro intervalo da manhã, e após 90 minutos de aula, os colegas foram presenteados com uma aromática e ainda quente fogaça para tornar o seu pequeno-almoço mais revigorante!... Os PineTree mates já se habituaram a este meu gesto e a tantos outros de publicitação do meu Concelho!... Para muitos deles, Santa Maria da Feira tornou-se mais próxima, através das minhas publicações no FaceBook sobre eventos emblemáticos, tais como: Viagem Medieval, Terra dos Sonhos, Imaginarius e, sexta-feira passada, em especial, a Festa das Fogaceiras, comemorativa do Feriado Municipal.
O ambiente que se gera em momentos como este é fantástico!... Os colegas elogiam a iguaria e sentem-se mais confortados com um pequeno-almoço distinto!... Já referi, num 'post' anterior, a importância destes momentos. Como disse, certa vez, Dr. JLT'Please, take full responsibility for the energy you bring into this place!'... 

Photo Credit: mysweetportugal.com

'Life can be better and great', my quote, 'you just have to make it happen!'

Monday, January 23, 2012

Inspirational Thought

To all my PineTree mates, followers and visitors...
... an inspirational thought to start off the week!...

Photo via Google Images

'The best way to finish a not so pleasant task 
  is to get started!'  

Saturday, January 21, 2012


              Enjoy your weekend!... ;)

You might also like to take a look at this blog's section

Friday, January 20, 2012

As lições vêm e vão

Mas as minhas aulas continuam sempre
Explicando palavras
Palavras flutuando na água
Corrigindo erros
Erros pairando no ar.
Nunca procurei a glória
Mas sempre quis que as minhas aulas
Habitem a memória dos meus alunos.
Adoro aulas suaves, leves e cheias de graça
E gosto de ver os alunos
Ensinarem-se uns aos outros
Ou corrigindo-se na gramática e no vocabulário,
Partilhando em grupo,
Tornando-se independentes
E falando fluentemente,
Sob a minha supervisão carinhosa.
Para eles, sim, o poder e a glória!
Professor, a lição é mais
Do que o teu plano de aula.
Professor, não há lição,
Tu constróis a lição enquanto ensinas.
À medida que ensinas,
Tu aprendes lições novas
E quando olhas para trás
Vês lições que
Nunca mais voltarás a ensinar.

Comunicação apresentada por Luke Prodomu
no 16º Congresso da Appi, Porto, Abril de 2002, 
traduzido e adaptado ligeiramente

Não ao AO90

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tongue Twisters - part II

'She sells sea shells by the sea shore.
The shells she sells by the sea shore are sea shells I'm sure.'
How fast can you read this without saying 's' instead of 'sh' or otherwise?

I have already talked about tongue twisters on a previous post. I decided to do it again because in the meantime I found this video on the YouTube and showed it to a special 10th form class that I have this year.
These are students that do love English, have a good proficiency level and want to learn more and more!... When I showed this video in class, they all got motivated to practise tongue twisters!... It was a very funny moment, yet productive. Those who didn't make it at first, at second or at the third time, didn't give up until they made it right!...
Tongue twisters are funny, 'silly' but if you have the ideal class in front of you it's great to practise the pronunciation of specific sounds!...

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Give your Teacher an Apple

'An apple a day, keeps the doctor away'
English Proverb

One of these days, a 10th form student asked me, out of the blue: 'Teacher, why do students give their teachers apples?'

I must confess I got kind of puzzled because I had never thought of that, whenever I saw a cartoon  showing the gentle action of a student giving his/her teacher an apple... I could have said: 'Because the student is nice and likes the teacher...' But, at the same time, I thought, well someone might say that the student is not being nice at all; he/she is just polishing the teacher... What I finally answered was: 'There's an English proverb that says An apple a day keeps the doctor awayso the student probably wants the teacher to be a healthy person and never miss school'... I don't think my student was satisfied with the answer... and neither w as I. Thus, I did some research and I can happily say that my explanation was not totally far from the truth... According to aboutapple.com, 'the juicy fruity is a traditional present for teachers in the United States, Denmark and Sweden. Some think the practise originated as a simple gift of food for poorly paid teachers. Others believe the good health associated with apples made the present particularly meaningful. (...)' It's rather uncomfortable to perceive that teachers have been poorly paid throughout times... But, at least, back then, they were given apples... 
Have you ever been given an apple?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Do you simplify or do you make it simpler?

'Everything should  be made as simple as possible, 
but not simpler!' - Albert Einstein

photo via flickr.com/photos

How often do you simplify?
How often do you make it simpler?
Have you ever thought of that?

Monday, January 16, 2012

‘Finished’ or ‘Complete’?

"No English dictionary has been able to explain the difference between the two words 'complete' and 'finished'. Some people say there is no difference between 'complete' and 'finished'. I beg to differ because there is: when you marry the right woman, you are 'complete'. And when you marry the wrong one, you are 'finished'! And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are... 'completely finished'."

Source: English Language Learners 

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It's monday!...

'With our thoughts, we make our world', Buddha

photo via Google images

So, if you are an I HATE MONDAYS person, just get up, go to work and enjoy this day!... Or you can follow Garfield's advice and 'wake up only when monday is over'...

You might also like to take a look at Cartoons!...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Whose birthday is it today?

Teachers' anniversaries are customarily celebrated @PineTree!
Most of us bring cake to the school that day and all the mates start singing 'Congratulations' at the teachers' room. Even those that don't bring cake are congratulated, as well. I'm a 'birthday' person! I love the kissing, the clapping, the smiles, the wishes of happiness... That's a moment in which positive energy bursts into the room. 'With our thoughts, we make the world', Buddha quotes... It's nice to have a pause, mingle with the mates and not talk about misbehaving students or endless paperwork... This week, it was our principal's birthday!... It's a date celebrated with a huge cake and champagne in one of the breaks between classes!... It's like a ten-minute party that we wish would last longer!... May we always celebrate anniversaries @PineTree, with or without cake!... May we always accept with joy what life gives us!... 
photo via Google images
Being a teacher nowadays is really hard and exhausting, so we should embrace these moments as special and boosters of stamina!... I once read 'Start thanking for what you HAVE, before life starts teaching you feel sorry for what you HAD.'

You might also like to take a look at PineTreePhotoGallery and watch some pictures that illustrate my PineTree's timeline!...

Did you do the homework?

How often do you ask this question?
How often do you ask yourself whether homework is effective in the learning process? Well, here goes the answer:

Half Of My Energy Wasted On Random Knowledge
Source: English Language Learners

photo credit: Noukka Signe via photopin cc

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Freezing cold @PineTree

This early morning, the thermometer has registered below zero on my way to school! Fantastic views like this, make me stop the car, grab the camera and instantly shoot the moment! I’m always driving in a hurry!… But I can’t say no to the urge of capturing beauty. And cold is beautiful… At least in settings like this: a steamy long curvy river… PineTree School is still some miles ahead but I'm pretty sure that there it is even beautifully colder!… Brrr...

Three years ago, on January 9th, it snowed @PineTree!… Needless to say that when the students looked out of the window and saw the snowfall, everybody put an end to the lessons and went out to the schoolyard to take pictures and play with those white frozen pieces of magic!… And when I say everybody, I do mean EVERYBODY, including the Principal and her team! It was a beautiful, even though frosty, unexpected moment!…

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The 'ideal' classroom

Any resemblance to a real classroom is purely coincidental... or not!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Using films in class

Using films in class brings a whole world of opportunities to explore several skills!...
You can use them to practise writing, e.g. ask students to write the film review; you can use them to focus on pronunciation and accents; you can use them to do grammar contextualized exercises, e.g. the Reported Speech, based on a dialogue between two characters; you can use them to explore vocabulary; you can use them to articulate with other subjects or to focus on cultural aspects of a specific country or epoch... And much more, depending on your creativity and imagination. Or needs!...
Today I suggest the film 'The Life of Brian'. It's the perfect comedy to introduce your students to the finest British Humour. 'The Life of Brian' is a Monty Python's production... Needless to say you'll spend the whole film laughing...
'Brian is born on the original Christmas, in the stable next door. He spends his life being mistaken for a Messiah...'
Your students won't probably understand all the punch lines... You can always pause the film and explain why you are bursting into tears... In addition, you'll be practising their speaking skills...
You could use this film at the end of the 1st term to celebrate Christmas... Or at the beginning of the 2nd term, not only to celebrate the Three Wise Men but also to start the New Year smoothly... Or if you have to lecture the topic 'cinema and films'.
Showing the subtiles depends on your students' listening comprehension skills. If you think they are strong enough to understand the basics, don't use them. But if you have weaker students, I would advise you to use them. If they don't understand 'the whole picture', they won't pay attention and you will be wasting your time!...
Take a look at the trailer, in case you haven't watched the film yet!... I dare you to stop laughing...

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Monday, January 09, 2012

American Slang

When you have students that like to learn something else about the language beyond the syllabus, you shouldn't ignore that urge... As I'm about to finish lecturing the unit 'A world of many languages' and my 10th form students love practising the British and American accents, this seems to be the perfect time to present Hugh Laurie @Ellen's show.

Hugh (a British actor) and Ellen (an American entertainer) are trying to guess, in turns, the meaning of some American slang. Do words like 'chin wag', 'ba-donka-donk' or 'chuffed to bits' seem familiar to you? Or even English? But they are... And they are slang.

Dictionary.com gives several definitions for slang, one of which is: "very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid and ephemeral than ordinary language."
This is what I'm going to do: write those words on the board and ask the students to pay close attention to the definitions given by Hugh and Ellen. Students should then try to write down the definitions/meaning explanations and read them out loud to the class. Later, in small groups, they will try to build their own sentences and play a little bit with the words!... Bearing in mind that the videoclip lasts 4.01 minutes, this will be a 40/45 minute activity.

You might also like to read a previous post on 'funny, different stuff' to do in classroom with the idiosyncracies of the English language: the tongue twisters!...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Teaching @PineTree's first blogzine

This is T@PT's first blogzine: an online magazine powered by Themeefy. "Themeefy is a free service that lets you discover and curate knowledge from the Web and archive them in themes to publish as personalised magazines later. (...)" Read more @Themeefy 

This edition compiles T@PT's posts throughout November and December 2011! Themeefy has a great educational potential!... Both you and your students can use it for class projects!... Experts say this is the future!...

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Monday, January 02, 2012