Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Break and more

It's high time to take a break and indulge in some free time, without worrying about the merciless early morning alarm clock or the everyday busy schedule. While T@PT is away, some important venues will take place around the world, and one is already happening today:
  •  March 22nd is World Water Day
Over twenty years ago the United Nations recognized March 22 as the first World Water Day. This year's theme is water cooperation. As the following photographs show, the need for cooperation on this precious resource is great, as some enjoy plenty while others suffer drought. Collected HERE are images of water and its many uses as we approach the annual World Water Day. (Source: The Big Picture
  • March 23rd is The Earth Hour
The Earth Hour is a movement that aims to unite people so as to protect the Planet. Follow this LINK to enter The Earth Hour website and find out how you can celebrate this venue in your hometown. Watch The Earth Hour official video HERE.
  • March 31st is Easter
Many Christians worldwide celebrate Easter with special church services, music, candlelight, flowers and the ringing of church bells. Easter processions are held in some countries such as the Philippines and Spain. Many Christians view Easter as the greatest feast of the Church year. It is a day of joy and celebration to commemorate that Jesus Christ is risen, according to Christian belief. (Source: TimeAndDate). In New York City, you can watch the Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival on Fifth Avenue. Each year on Easter the best of the bonnets are showcased along Fifth Avenue as New Yorkers celebrate the holiday by roaming the streets in their most festive spring gear from 10am to 4pm. The parade marches north on Fifth Avenue, starting at 49th Street, but the best place to watch is from the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral. (Source: NYC - the official guide)

Having said this, enjoy these so long expected Spring days and have a holy Easter with your beloved ones. Relax, have some fun and don't forget The Earth Hour's motto: 'I will if you will'. See you soon!...

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Think globally, act locally

A text by Sara Barbosa within The Students' Corner Project:

'Human beings are destroying the Planet and it is giving signs of that destruction: the ozone layer depletion, floods and droughts are some of the examples. Pollution is damaging the air, sea, rivers, and the land. That pollution is caused by chemicals, waste and harmful gases. Pollutants include toxic waste, pesticides, and fertelizers. Cars are one of the main causes of today’s pollution. The greenhouse effect is caused by harmful gases known as greenhouse gases. Acid rain causes damage to trees, rivers and buildings. Global warming may melt the ice in the North Pole and so the sea levels will rise in the South Pole, leading to serious flooding in many parts of the world. The ozone layer protects us from ultraviolet light from the sun, which can have a harmful effect on animals, and causes skin cancer if it is damaged. All over the world, wildlife is being threatened because habitats and woodlands are being destroyed. Rainforests are being cut down so that people can use the land to grow crops. Many species of animal have become extinct, and many more are endangered. 
As a human being, I can do several things to reduce the environmental impact: 
  • I can use public transports that are more environmentally friendly, because buses and trains carry a large number of people at the same time. 
  • Recycling is also an alternative instead of throwing something away. Glass, cans, paper, and plastic can all be recycled. 
  • At home people should use renewable energy sources such as wind power; wave power and solar power that don’t pollute the environment. They are much cleather than oil and coal. Moreover we can help the environment by choosing to buy green products. Examples of green products are recycled paper, wood from sustainable sources, and organic fruit and vegetables. 
  • I can encourage my schoolmates to be environmentally friendly. 
Think globally, act locally! Our everyday actions will help preserve the world´s environment. Actions which are simple and quick; yet actions that will make an effective and positive contribution to the environment. We are part of the planet, so we should protect it, not destroy it.' 


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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring's just arrived

The March equinox 2013: March 20, at 11:02 UTC (or 11:02am).
There are two equinoxes every year – in March and September – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. Seasons are opposite on either side of the equator, so the equinox in March is also known as the "spring equinox" in the northern hemisphere. However, in the southern hemisphere, it's known as the "autumnal (fall) equinox"

A Pixabay picture
Celebrating new beginnings
In the northern hemisphere the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around the March equinox, like the Easter and Passover.

In, timeanddate.com (abridged)

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

To all my students...

... that are already indulging in two 'dolce fare niente' (the sweetness of doing nothing) weeks! I wish you take a vigorous rest and have loads of fun during this Easter break, so as to return in April boosted with energy! You'll need it! Some of you are having national final exams in June. As, for us, Teachers, we're still with a busy agenda, but, hopefully, in a few days, we will be able to express the feeling stated in the picture below. I'm sure all of you can relate to these words, can't you?

(I came across this picture via Facebook some time ago, so I can't state its credits)
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Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Patrick's Day in pictures

Saint Patrick's Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on 17th March. It is named after Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as Irish heritage and culture in general. The day generally involves public parades and festivals, céilithe, and wearing of green attire or shamrocks. Christians also attend church services and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day. Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world; especially in Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
Source: Wikipedia (shortened)

The Guardian.co.uk presents St Patrick's Day celebrated around the world in pictures: from Moscow to New York via Vilnius and the pyramids of Egypt, St Patrick's Day is celebrated with parades, green rivers and a lot of green face paint. Watch the pictures HERE.

Mary Glasgow Magazine suggests some lesson tips on its March edition, followed by this introduction: 'On 17th March, it is St Patrick's Day! This Irish tradition is celebrated around the world - from the annual parade in Dublin to parades in New York, Chicago and even Sydney! Why not ask your class to wear green for the day? It's one St Patrick's Day tradition, although blue was the original colour of St Patrick's robes. Did you know that in Chicago the river is dyed green for few hours? Bring fun into the classroom and join the celebration with our Irish resources. 
Elementary and Pre-intermediate (A1-A2)
What do your students know about Ireland? Build their comprehension skills with a fun test! Find out more about St Patrick's Day in Chicago while revising 'there is'/'there are'. Enjoy the big parade in New York and build vocabulary about nationalities. Practise superlatives with this article about Irish rock band The Script
Intermediate and upper-intermediate (B1-B2)
Learn more about Northern Ireland, racism and its consequences with this article and this online activityMore exercises about Irish history, the potato famine and the IRA.'

The greening of Chicago River - Photo credits: Flipped Out, Flickr
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Red Nose Day

Do Something Funny For Money
March 15th 2013
Comic Relief is an operating British charity, founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief. Comic Relief is one of the two high profile telethon events held in the United Kingdom, the other being Children in Need, held annually in November. In en.wikipedia.org

Comic Relief: One Direction
This year, the teenage British band One Direction, together with Prime Minister, David Cameron, will be Red Nose Day stars. Visit the One Direction Red Nose Day page to know how you can help an amazing cause by being a fan of One Direction. One Direction's new music video will provoke even more screams than usual. David Cameron is the special guest in the boyband's forthcoming single, which is a fundraiser for Comic Relief. Go to guardian.co.uk to know more about this 'partnership'.


Charity single … David Cameron and One Direction team up for Comic Relief -  Photograph: PA
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Celebrating Pi Day 3.14


Mmmm. Pi Day! The nerdy holiday celebrated by math geeks worldwide. This is the day we gather around to celebrate that amazing little (long) number, pi.

Pi, approximately 3.14159, is the mysterious mathematical constant (number) that represents the ratio of any circle's circumference to its diameter.

Pi has its day, appropriately, on March 14 (3/14). Often a Pi Day celebration will have an extra special event set for pi minute (at 1:59pm). In the UK, Pi Approximation Day is often celebrated on July 22 (22/7) as 22 divided by 7 is an approximation for pi.

This day brings more fun to math classes around the world then anything else (second only to Math League). I wish you a very Happy Pi Day 2013! Next follows an amazing video from last year.
                                                                                                      
Celebrate Pi in English Class - Pi Day Beyond Math Class

Can't figure out how to celebrate Pi in your English class? How about writing a story where the number of letters in each consecutive word make up pi? You know... first word 3 letters long, second word 1 letter, third word four letters, ...
For example:
3.1415926535...
Him, I love. I exist, amazingly. So absent bliss. All alone. ...

Another great idea is to write your own Pi-ku math poem. Who wouldn't love a Pi Haiku?

Pi-Day also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday. Here follows a photo of Einstein impersonating Gene Simmons from Kiss.

Source (both text and images): squidoo.com 
(shortened)

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

ELT resources for Easter

Mary Glasgow Magazines suggests in its newsletter a bunch of activities and teaching ideas for Easter. This month, you can find a wide range of exciting resources about rabbits, eggs and chocolate. How do you celebrate Easter in your country? Many British children believe that the Easter bunny comes to their garden to hide eggs. In Australia, the tradition is to eat chocolate hot cross buns on Good Friday. The celebration is taken to the extreme in New York; where a spectacular Easter parade takes place on Easter Sunday along Fifth Avenue featuring rabbits, flowers, clowns and more! The good news is that our Easter resources haven't been hidden by any rabbit so far. 

For Elementary Students (A1):
For Pre-intermediate (A2) and Intermediate (B1)
  • Ready, steady... GO for the Easter egg hunt and learn more about Easter traditions in both the UK and the USA.
  • Find out more about Spring traditions and baby animals with this worksheet!

Image credits: TES
TES presents its Easter top 50 most popular resources ever. At Teaching Ideas you will find a wide range of ideas and resources to help you when you are teaching children at Easter. Last, but not least, as both the Christian Easter and the Jewish Passover take place this month, Larry Ferlazzo presents a 'The Best…' list sharing hispicks for the best online resources out there about these holidays that are accessible to English Language Learners. 
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It's a Girl

You might like to take a look at the documentary It's a Girl's Movie to understand how deadly these THREE words  'It's a Girl' ARE if you live in countries, such as India and China! I must warn you: that the  testimonies in this film are SHOCKING!
I'd like to add to this post, the reference to The International Girl's Day, which is celebrated on October 11th. A date on the annual calendar set aside to advocate for girls' rights and raise issues of gender bias. On October 2012, CNN spoke to some of the world's most remarkable and impressive women - from across the fields of politics, science, media, sports and culture - to find out: 'Looking back, what one piece of advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?'

Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Education rights campaigner, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, in retaliation for her work in promoting girls’ education and children’s rights in the northwestern Swat Valley, near the Afghan border. The bullet was later removed from her brain and she survived. According to the Interior Minister Rehman Malik 'Malala is our pride. She became an icon for the country.' She was also a runner-up for Person of the Year 2012 by TIME. In trying to silence this Pakistani schoolgirl, the Taliban amplified her voice. She is now a symbol of the struggle for women’s rights all over the world. 
Sources: 
The New York Times - Asian Pacific, CNN - Leading WomenTIME - Person of the Year

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Mothering Sunday

Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday as it is more traditionally known, is an annual celebration where families up and down the UK pay tribute to the role mums play in their lives, giving thanks for everything they do. Similar celebrations also take place around the world but not necessarily on the same day. In Britain the date of Mother’s Day itself is not fixed but it always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which this year was on March 10. The date varies as it depends on when Easter is, but if you’re keen to plan ahead then get March 30 next year in your diary as that is when Mother’s Day 2014 takes place.
In, Follow UK 
(abridged and adapted)

Jamie Oliver believes that nothing says ‘love you mum’ more than cooking her something delicious. So to really spoil her, he suggests his followers to have a look at the following tasty options in his website. As in Portugal we celebrate Mother's Day on the first sunday of May, we have plenty of  time ahead to practise these scrumptious dishes and pay tribute to our mothers with a lovely home-made meal, full of love, and with a British flavour. 
Butternut squash muffins with a frosty top
Photo credits: David Loftus
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Friday, March 08, 2013

International Women's Day 2013


Cover of the song One Woman
written for UN Women
'The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.' - Gloria Steinem

Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organisations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women's groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day. Many groups around the world choose different themes each year relevant to global and local gender issues.

'The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum' is the 2013 theme of our internationalwomensday.com website. Last year our 2012 theme was Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures which supported the United Nation's (UN) first International Day of the Girl celebrated on 11 October 2012. The United Nations declares an International Women's Day theme and for 2013 it is 'A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women'. In 2012 it was 'Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty.' Many organisations develop International Women's Day themes relevant to their local contexts. For example, the European Parliament's 2012 theme was 'Equal pay for work of equal value'. If you want to take a look at previous United Nation International Women's Day themes, just follow this LINK.
In International Women's Day 2013
(abridged and adapted)

Let us hope that the 2012 Delhi gang rape case becomes part of a shameful chapter of our Contemporary History with no echoe in the future. This is one of the reasons why IWD should and must - yet and still - be celebrated!

An Indian man takes part in a candle-lit vigil to mourn the death of the
gang-rape victim in Delhi - Photograph: Dar Yasin/AP
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Thursday, March 07, 2013

World Book Day (Uk & Ireland)


World Book Day logo
World Book Day was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and is marked in over 100 countries around the globe. The origins of the day we now celebrate in the UK and Ireland come from Catalonia, where roses and books were given as gifts to loved ones on St George's Day – a tradition started over 90 years ago. World Book Day is a partnership of publishers, booksellers and interested parties who work together to promote books and reading for the personal enrichment and enjoyment of all. A main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. To know more about the events planned for this venue, just visit the website www.worldbookday.com
Source: Education Scotland (abridged and adapted)


World Book Night logo
The UK and Ireland also celebrate on April 23rd the World Book Night. The World Book Night is a celebration of reading and books as well, which sees tens of thousands of passionate volunteers gift specially chosen and printed WBN books in their communities to share their love of reading. Each year 20,000 volunteers are recruited to hand out 20 copies of their favourite book from a list to members of their community who don’t regularly read. World Book Night is about giving books and encouraging reading in those who don’t regularly do so. But it is also about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways, through the sharing of stories.  Source: WorldBookNight.Org 

So as to finish this post in greatness, here follows the reference to Edinburgh, the world's first UNESCO City of Literature, pioneer in an international network of UNESCO Creative Cities. This title bestows international recognition on Edinburgh and Scotland as a world centre for literature and literary activity, a city brimming with fantastic libraries, bookshops and authors, and packed with places of literary significance. 
Source: cityofliterature.com (abridged)
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The Power of Words

A beautiful text by Christina Franken entitled 'How Good Are You With Words?' for Urban Times.

"Words are powerful means to bring your point across, to convince people by clearing every last bit of doubt or simply inspire others. The effect of using the right words may indeed change your life one day.

This video is already two years old, and was initially part of a viral marketing campaign for the book ‘Change Your Words, Change Your World‘ by Andrea Gardner. Andrea is a passionate life coach and runs self-development workshops in the UK. What I instantly liked how the topic was introduced – how the viral brings the point across: it triggers an emotional response in combination with an extra catchy example of the power of words. Watch it yourself to understand why 102 000 people liked this Youtube video." (abridged)


Lesson Tip:
Needless to say that I suggest using this inspirational video in class. I would first make the students listen to the video, without watching it, so as to see if they could guess the context, by identifying the sound of the footsteps, dropping the coins... A little bit hard, but not unattainable. Then I would show the video until the lady with the sunglasses appears and stop it when she approaches the blind man to re-write his message. I would stop the video one more time, when he asks her what she wrote and let the students try to guess themselves. I think this video is worth showing. Not only the words in it are powerful. So are the music and the images!

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Vocabulary self-study activities

Here are some tips you can give your students to help them with their vocabulary acquisition and self study:
Make your own word box
  • Use one card per word, with the English on one side and a translation on the other.
  • Test yourself with the cards, sort them into categories, play games with them.
Find a good basic vocabulary word list, say of about 1 - 2000 words which are sorted according to subject areas.
  • Revise 8 words per day regularly. In your mind, try to lock the particular word onto the image of an object (e.g. 'influenza' - think of a person sneezing).
  • To practise, randomly pick a number of words and make up a simple, but probably crazy, story using the words. You can do the same with the words in your vocabulary box.
Have a good general attitude towards words
  • Note down all new words.
  • 'Fish for language' by going through life with an open eye and attentive ear.
  • 'Soliloquize', i.e. translate along in your mind silently: as you are doing things (as if you were speaking to an imaginary friend by your side); as you are listening to the news; as you watch people doing something; as you see any object around
Read aloud to yourself from printed text.
  • Increase your exposure to words
  • Television
  • BBC Radio (shortwave world receiver)
  • Books
  • Magazines Newspapers (from UK/USA)
  • English-language films on video
  • Pop songs (wonderful for vocabulary and grammar!)
  • Correspondence with an English native speaker pen-friend
In, Teaching English Editor, British Council/BBC

photo credit: queercatkitten via photopin cc
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Monday, March 04, 2013

Oscars 2013 - news stories & teaching resources

The Guardian Teacher Network suggests that the Oscars are a great opportunity to explore film, fashion and storytelling with our students. The Oscars provide a flash of inspiration to teach students about media and film literacy – and can provoke cross-curricular work with pupils of all ages. This year's nominees and winners include many child-friendly films from Life of Pi to Beasts of the Southern Wild and Paranorman. Even Argo and Lincoln are rated suitable for children aged 12 and above.
We've pulled together the best news stories, websites and teaching resources for you to explore – and, if you haven't already got one, suggest now could be a great time to start a film club in your school. follows a round up the best news stories, multimedia and teaching resources.
Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters
In The Guardian
Photographs of all the winners from the 85th Academy Awards, straight from Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
See what the stars were wearing and who arrived with who to the Oscars this year with dazzling dresses, sharp suits and smiles so white they could bruise your eyes.
Check out Michelle Obama's choice of frock at this year's Oscars and take a look at how Iran's Fars news agency edited pictures of the first lady in their coverage of the event to cover up her neckline.
Was Adele's win at the Oscars well-deserved? Analyse her Skyfall lyrics in your English class.

On the Guardian Teacher Network
Fabulous films that have been overlooked at the Oscars in the past, including Toy Story 2 and ET (is there any justice in this cruel world?). These losers make a perfect playlist for a school's own film club and the resource includes some great discussion pointers on if/why it's important to be nominated or win.
This resource is about the best movies that discuss and explore the nature of films and filmmaking – great fuel for writing film reviews on this year's Oscars winners, contenders and beyond.
Discover how some celebrated children's books have been adapted into films with this excellent resource, aimed at engaging key stage 2 pupils and reluctant readers.
This is a fascinating report on why film should be integrated into the curriculum and used across every subject. It includes some useful case studies to give inspiration.
The release of the last Harry Potter film sparked this useful teaching resource for key stage 2 and 3 on planning how to write a film review and honing interview skills on or off the red carpet.

The best of the web
For those who have the stomach for it, watch the entire Oscars online – or more palatably the epic moments from the big night – plus fashion round ups, photos, lists, gushing red carpet reviews and everything you would expect from the official virtual home of the Academy Awards.
Dive in and explore the entire Oscar timeline of past winners from the 1920s onwards.
The academy has produced a series of teachers' guides exploring the art and science of motion pictures – from animation and art direction, to costumes and makeup.
Nine year-old Oscar-nominee Quvenzhane Wallis beat 4,000 children to get the starring role in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Here another nine year-old, Betty, (a member of Filmclub UK) gets to interview the child star and the movie's director, unearthing some fascinating insights and lots of great clips.
This American site has some excellent ideas for teaching visual literacy and the power of film as a teaching tool, including Martin Scorsese speaking out on this very subject.
Another great interview to share with your pupils. Here young filmclub reporter Fin talks to Suraj Sharma, star of Life of Pi, kicking off with: "I've seen the film and I think it's totally epic. Had you read the book before the audition?" We also discover the star couldn't swim before he filmed the movie.