Friday, January 31, 2014

January 2014 in review

T@PT has reached 99,000 pageviews this month, which is quite amazing!
We've started a new section at the upper central bar dedicated to film and short film suggestions you might like to use in class. In fact, that topic has deserved three posts: Using short films in class, 'Lovefield' writing activity and Films and short films. The English language was not forgotten this month: Words invented by Shakespeare, The history of English in 10 minutes, Phrasal Verbs by Philochko and Mastering the T sound. The topic of Education was also approached: The holidays season is over, Are you willing to learn? and Helping children with readingUsing a 3-2-1 Speaking Activity was a very interesting ELT suggestion by Edutopia. A song and a cartoon to relax: Ordinary love - U2 and Math & the Alphabet. This month has celebrated three venues: #MLK Day, National Hugging Day and National Reading Day. And because T@PT loves London and the UK, a fantastic video and a visual map, London in 1927 & 2013 and A map of the UK. Last, but not least, the wonderful commercial by Budweiser for the Superbowl, which will take place next Sunday, February 2nd: Budweiser commercial for Super Bowl. If you haven't seen this commercial at least more than five times, you haven't seen it enough! That is why I'm posting it again, in case you've missed this beautiful story about friendship:

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Budweiser commercial for Super Bowl

This video is too cute that is impossible not to get emotional on viewing it! You might like to show it to your students, and talk about friendship and love. I guess that is what this commerical is all about! And as St. Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I would say 'perfect timing!'

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Films & Short films

Picture via Google Images
I've just opened a new section at Teaching @PineTree. At the upper central bar, you can now find some film and short film suggestions for you to use in class. I've already used most of them, either the trailer version, or the entire film in two lessons. Short films are one of my favourite tools, as they do capture students' attention effectively, and are a great resource to produce writing, as I have already written about on a previous post
'The Internship' was the latest film I've shown my students. My professional courses classes are studying the topic The world at work so I thought this film was quite handy. Topics like job interview, résumé, team spirit and competition will be then discussed, bearing in mind the main ideas of the film.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

National Reading Day

Image via SmilePls
In honour of National Reading Day, Edutopia presents 10 ways to cultivate the love of reading in students. Click HERE to read the article written by Elena Aguilar, a Transformational Leadership Coach from Oakland, California.

National Reading Day is an annual event which celebrates and encourages reading by younger children. This venue is celebrated in thousands of schools all around the United States. This literacy event is designed to help Pre-K through Third Grade students develop the literacy foundation they need to become lifelong learners. Schools, libraries, nonprofit groups, and parents participate in a variety of activities with younger readers on National Reading Day.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Lovefield' writing activity

Following-up the post about the short film 'Lovefield', I now present you a text written by one of the groups. Students were asked to image they were journalists that had written an article about this unusual birth. 'A fairly odd birth' was the title chosen.

'Today we bring you a very interesting unusual story. 
Yesterday, at around 3 p.m., a woman, whose name is yet to be revealed, gave birth to a boy in a wheat field, in the state of Mississippi. 
The mother was driving herself to the hospital because the contractions had already begun, but was unable to keep driving due to the pain she was feeling. So she was forced to stop by a wheat field, which was apparently desert, and tried to call for help.
The ambulance didn't arrive in time and everything seemed to be lost when John Peters, owner of the field, found the mother lying on the ground. 'I saw a crow. It looked agitated. Thought it had found a dead animal or something, so I went to check on it.' Peter stated: 'When I saw her (the woman) I couldn't stop to think over. She said: 'The baby' and I just knew what I had to do.' The farmer assisted with the delivery and, thanks to him, both mother and child are safe and sound. It's a strange story. Imagine a crow, a symbol of death, leading to a new life! 'I'm happy I could help.', John Peter added. He is now the godfather of the little boy. 
We're all immensely happy for the mother and the baby, and we definitely won't forget this fairly odd birth.'
Picture via
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Using short films in class

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

National Hugging Day

Everybody needs a hug at some point of the day. For this very reason to promote the necessity of a hug, January 21st is considered to be the National Hugging Day. You can hug anyone you want. The beauty of a hug is it explains you care for them and you love to be with them. It’s an emotion of assurance and it also tells how much you miss that person. A hug is like a genuine outburst of emotion. You cannot hug someone if you don’t feel like. This is much bigger than a shake hand.

You must have experienced the therapeutic feel you get when someone hugs you. That is the very reason why you need to give a hug to someone who you care for and love. There is not much one can do while on National Hugging Day. It has a completely cost free celebration as it won’t cost you money to hug someone. This article will give you little insight on how the day became national hugging day. 

The first National Hugging Day was celebrated in Caro, Michigan in 1986. It was started by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in Caro. Later it was patented and made into a national day where people started celebrating openly in the US. As the custom of hugging become popular it slowly started spreading around different countries. In the present day, the National Hugging day is celebrated in Canada, England, Australia, Poland and Germany. We all thank Rev. Kevin to dedicate a day which is officially for hugging people. The wonderful joy in hugging people is unexplainable.

On this day we just have an opportunity for us to forget who we are and what caste or creed we are from and go and appreciate people just for what they are. By hugging someone you are not trying to make a statement, you are just being a human!
In Altius Directory (adapted)

Photo credits: The Round Peg via Flickr
TimeOut London Blog presents thirthy six adorable photos of hugging in London to celebrate this  year's National Hugging Day. Take a look at them HERE.
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Monday, January 20, 2014

# MLK Day

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.

His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.

In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.
Source: TimeAndDate (abridged)

photo credit: Greg Woodhouse Photography via photopin cc
To mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech 'I have a dream', TIME has released a special edition, which you can access HERE.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Using a '3-2-1' Speaking Activity

I found this amazing text by Larry Ferlazzo at Teaching English, and my immediate thought was: 'I have to try this with my students!' The two things that worry me the most are... I have 30-students classes and no computer lab! Nonetheless, what is this '3-2-1' speaking activity?

Larry Ferlazzo explains:
"English-language teacher trainer and author Paul Nation has developed the '4-3-2' FluencyActivity. In it, students line up (standing or sitting) facing each other. Each one must be prepared to speak on something that they are already quite familiar with. First, they speak to their partner for four minutes about the topic. Then, they move down the line, and say the same thing for three minutes. Next, they move and speak for two minutes. Then, the students on the other side do the same thing.
It’s a great idea, and I think my colleague Katie Hull Sypnieski (my co-author in The ESL/ELL Teacher's Survival Guide) and I were able to build on it and make it even better in our classes. Here’s what we do:
We tell students they are going to pick any topic they wanted, and prepare to speak about it first for three minutes, then two, and finally one (we thought that reduced time is more realistic for a first try, though extend it the next time). We first ask students to think of a topic they knew a lot about, and to write down as much as they could think about the topic.
The next day, we go to the computer lab, and students spoke for one minute on Fotobabble on their topic, with their notes in front of them. You can hear some student recordings on our class blog.
Next, students are allowed two minutes to review their notes, and are told we will begin the 3-2-1 activity - without their notes in front of them. The key new addition we made to the lesson, though, is preparing students to ask questions of their partner if he/she seemed 'stuck' on what to say next. Katie and I model that situation in front of the class, and then the class was divides into two lines. It always turns out great, and the question-asking helps a lot.
Afterwards, we ask students to write a reflection on the experience by answering two questions: Did you like this activity? Explain why or why not. Think about the first time you spoke about the topic and compare that time to doing 3-2-1 this period. How did it change? Easier? Harder? Did you improve?
Here are some of their responses:
'I like it because it’s fun and we get to communicate with our friends and with new person. Also, it’s a good thing for your brain because this activity is a game to test your brain to see if you can still remember.'
'I like this activity because is fun and we can get time to communicate in English to each other.'
'Yes, I liked this activity because it help to do better for my speaking and also know more knowledge.'
'I nervous when I did first time because I didn’t do that before. It easier for me when in class because I more used to it.'
'The first time I spoke about the topic in the computer lab is hard because we don’t do it before. I am more improve when we talk in class.'
'I really improve doing 3-2-1 this period.'
'I improve in class because I talk more good than last time.'
We then return to the computer lab and students re-record their "presentation" and compare it to the first time - they are able to see for themselves how much they have improved, and it becomes a real confidence-booster."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ordinary love - U2

U2 has just won Best Original Song ORDINARY LOVE at the Golden Globes. It's an opportunity to remind us how inspirational the recently late Nelson Mandela was (is). 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Using short films in class

I've just used this short film in class, and I can assure you the effectiveness of this resource. I wish I could have photographed my students' facial expressions: from astonishment to fear, unbelief to surprise, even some suspicion, it was, undoubtely, a fantastic moment of pure concentration! 
'Lovefield', by Mathieu Ratthe, is one of the resources presented in the textbook we've chosen to work with our 10th form students. Xplore, the textbook from Porto Editora, presents both pre-viewing, while viewing and post-viewing activitivies, which I found very effective. Students got totally involved in the suspense atmosphere, trying to predict what the plot was all about by firstly watching four minutes of the film. With the vocabulary given in the pre-viewing activity, students managed to talk about what they saw, what they thought was going to happen, the sound effects and their possible meanings. Then, they watched the two last minutes of the film, and were blown away by its unexpected ending! As a final task, students were asked to write about the plot, their feelings before, while and after watching the film. I shall post some of their texts in the upcoming posts.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

London in 1927 & 2013

The old town of London never changes. Or at least, it changes very, very little. Just watch this side-by-side footage showing life in 1927 London and life in 2013 London to see how much the city has stayed the same. And sure, the streets might have slightly newer cars on them with street lights and freshly painted lanes but many of the same buildings are still up in London after over 85 years and everything else seems pretty much exactly the same.

Simon Smith created this video by using recently restored footage of London in the 1920s taken by cinematographer Claude Friese-Greene and putting it side-by-side with footage he shot himself. Smith said he "attempted to capture every one of his shots, standing in his footsteps, and using modern equivalents of his camera and lenses" for London today. That way we get the clearest picture of how little London has changed. It's remarkable, really.
Source: SPLOID

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Thursday, January 09, 2014

The history of English in 10 minutes

'A compilation of ten videos on the history of the English language. I compiled the videos into a film to make it a little easier to watch them all. While I do not own the originals. They originals are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Licence agreement. The origin webpage can be found here'

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Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Words 'invented' by Shakespeare

You might also like reading an article published by HuffPost World on this matter, entitled '13 Words You Probably Didn't Know Were Invented By Shakespeare'. Read the article HERE.
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Monday, January 06, 2014

The holidays season is over

For many, both teachers and students, it's hard to leave the comfort of home and return to the school everyday routine. Moreover, this unpleasant nasty weather invites you to stay the whole day at home, wearing your cosy pajamas, and watch a fantastic film on TV, or read a fascinating book, by the fireplace... But the holidays season is over, and it's time to go back to reality! My advice? 'Let it be!' And let's make this year a truly awesome year!

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