My Pilgrims experience!

The reason I decided to apply for a Comenius grant to be able to go to Pilgrims and attend a professional development course, back in 2011, was the same reason most  teachers go to Pilgrims for: new ideas, to be refreshed and to experience the unique Pilgrims difference, which focuses on our continuous personal and professional development.

Its international environment, ensures you practice and refresh your own English at all times, and also make new friendships, that last a lifetime!  

Six years later, in 2017, I came back to Pilgrims, on a scholarship! The “Bonnie Tsai scholarship” which I am very proud of !  Bonnie, was the Pilgrims Teacher Trainer who changed my teaching, for ever!

Actually, words cannot express how grateful  I am to have been chosen as the scholarship recipient. My professional development has always been of upmost importance to me, and to be rewarded in this way is very humbling. That scholarship was an absolute answer to my prayers, as life does not always go as we plan. I will forever be thankful for this gift, and I cannot thank Pilgrims enough for that.

To learn more about the Bonnie Tsai scholarship, please, visit here.

Back to 2011….What colleagues who had been there before, had assured me of before I arrived there for the first time was that, the Pilgrims Humanistic approach was the key element, which made all the difference.

The Pilgrims Humanistic Approach, in brief:

  • Effective teaching & learning engages the whole person – mind, body and heart
  • The learner is the central person in the act of learning
  • Creativity, involvement and enjoyment are the essential elements for lifelong learning

“Pilgrims, does not teach a method, but teaches people”.

“Wow”! I thought, back then….

After a really long journey from my hometown in central Greece, to Canterbury, which lasted about 15 hours (!!) and suffering from sciatica and terrible pain, I arrived on Kent University campus ,where a lovely young student had been waiting for me, to help me carry my suitcase to my bedroom and help me “with anything else I might need”!

“Thank you Lizzie” I thought….I had no idea that she would have remembered my request to have an assistant waiting for me upon my arrival, to help me with my heavy suitcase ,upstairs!

Lizzie Wojtkowska-Wright is the Business Manager for Pilgrims Teacher Training who ensures all the details of our course with them are managed effortlessly. Lizzie and her team are there to answer all our questions before and during our course, so we can focus on enjoying every minute of it!

I stayed in a basic student bedroom in the college with a private shower and toilet. Including  bed and breakfast.Awesome! My bedroom window had a beautiful view over the little forest surrounding the campus and a couple of little squirrels and bunnies, were the first creatures I could see, every single morning , when I woke up and drew the curtains…

I had some rest and later, I went for a walk around the campus….

Such a beautiful place! Ideal for studying! A paradise!

Residential, teaching and administrative buildings are surrounded by green open spaces, fields and woods. I was within walking distance of all the excellent facilities the university had on offer including a Theatre and Cinema, a Library, a Campus Shop and bookshop, a pharmacy, an off-licence, banks and cashpoints, bistros, bars, cafés, bus stops and launderette.

I later found out, that the University of Kent is less than 20 minutes walk from Canterbury city centre.

One of the best ways to explore was on foot, allowing me to truly admire the historical architecture and exciting atmosphere of Canterbury. I often explored Canterbury and discovered for myself  the beauty of its best known attractions and best kept secrets, history and culture .

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, shopping, country walks, the seaside, or eating out – Canterbury and its surroundings has it all! For example, a short bus drive away lies the quintessential seaside town of Whitstable, featuring beautiful beaches, cafes, art galleries…I will never forget the day I first visited it, with my friends Marta and Jose from Spain and Emma from Holland! We had a blast! I was lucky to visit it again this year, together with my good friend Tulay from Turkey ! Jim and Lizzie, were our hosts and both made us feel very welcome, in their picturesque hometown!

To me, Pilgrims Teacher Training courses empower you to be a highly effective, motivated and inspired teacher. Pilgrims, is its people…

Jim Wright, is the heart and soul of Pilgrims!

Jim is an amazing person, who has been my facebook friend all these years and whom I truly admire and respect.He is a positive thinker, with a great sense of humour!

He is the Principal of Pilgrims Teacher Training in Canterbury and is responsible for the overall management, vision and continued growth of Pilgrims. He is really passionate about creating an environment where inspiration, transformation and feeling good about ourselves are possibilities for all staff and participants.

I saw Jim again, this year and realised that he is such an inspiration himself!

He is a man who understands that greater happiness lies in helping others, not helping himself. Jim is a gentleman: polite, respectful, considerate and attentive to all the trainees’ needs, at Pilgrims! Having integrity, is another very important characteristic of him!

His most important characteristic though, is his positive attitude, which may be difficult to find today,since we live in such a negative society. With his positive attitude, people want to be around him and  share the fun. He seems happy with his life and the world around him and he wants to look out for others and to help them. 

He is one of the Pilgrims smiling faces and always brightening up people’s days.

But, the best part about the Pilgrims experience for me, was the training courses I attended !

By having read their brochure, before I applied, I knew that I would get

  • 22.5 hours per week Training Course
  • Up to 10 additional hours of Afternoon and Evening Activities
  • Work in multinational groups
  • Free Seminars, Workshops and Activities to choose from at 16:00 or 20:00 on 3 or 4 days per week.

These workshops usually include : Idioms Update• Fun with Poetry• Songs and Music• Yoga• Storytelling• Teaching Through Art• NLP• Relaxation Techniques• Using Metaphor •Multiple Intelligences• Shakespeare• Joke Telling• Lexical Approach• British Life & Culture• Folk Dancing• Drama Workshop• Grammar Around You• Tai’ Chi• Alphabet Games• Teaching Pronunciation• The Creative Use of Texts• Salsa Dancing• Celtic Evening

I had my best time in those afternoon classes, where I shared unforgettable fun moments with my international colleagues! Concerning this year,I will never forget the afternoon dancing classes fun!

My most favourite afternoon trainers, back in 2011,were Adrian Underhill who taught me pronunciation through his beautiful music and  Peter Dyer , who utilised his drama experience with his teaching methodology.

Adrian, helped me fix the wrong way I used to pronounce ‘“G” sounds…..Adrian also, taught me how to incorporate his Pron Chart layout into my teaching, first just to help myself, and gradually reveal it to my learners as they became ready for it.

It was the best introduction to the phonemic chart I could ever have had.

He gave me a huge boost of confidence as I realised it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and using the chart as Adrian does was incredibly engaging.

One thing that stood out for me was that he advised us not to wait to use the chart in class until we were ready, but to dive in and go on a journey with the learners.

His  chart is now an integral part of my lessons.

Peter’s classes were aimed at any teacher with a relatively good level of English and they were all about making us feel more relaxed about the way we communicate, to be more responsible about how we fit in with the world both professionally and privately. He used to tell us that, “As teachers, we are actors. Even the  first entrance to a classroom is terribly, terribly important. We need to be aware of our appearance, gestures but voice as well.”

I admire Peter’s work and I have been his fan, all these years! So happy, I managed to attend his afternoon classes again, this year!

In 2011,I decided to attend  Bonnie Tsai’s NLP course which has practically changed the way I have been teaching since then and has deeply influenced me as a person!

For me, Neuro Linguistic Programming was something very new and certainly challenging. I chose it because somewhere deep inside I wanted a change. There was something in my teaching or my approach to teaching that seemed to be missing or out of tune. I was looking for answers that were deep inside of me waiting to be uncovered.

NLP enabled me to explore deeply learning styles and teaching styles.

What I remember the most about that course though, is  the joyful period of giving and receiving little sincere messages of thanks and gratitude, called metaphorically, “FISH.”

I am thankful to Bonnie! I will always be…

In her lifetime, Bonnie inspired many people, like myself, with her natural desire to learn and understand the magic of it. When I heard of her premature death, I prayed to thank her for inspiring me and opening me to change…

Bonnie transformed people’s lives. She became  my mentor and  inspiration !

With her help, I learned to see the teaching process through the student’s perspective and also saw that students have different ways of learning and we have to adapt our methods to the students, not the other way round. She showed me that teaching was not only a profession but an art, and the teacher is an artist that interacts with his/her students in a creative way.

The most vivid memory though was the day, she had us walk outside the classroom , in pairs, one behind the other, freely moving around, dancing or hopping, jumping or running, following our partner’s movement and trying to “walk in his/her shoes” in order to achieve rapport! Rapport is important. We need rapport to influence others, to teach and learn, to achieve difficult tasks in groups and even to mate….

That special day, Bonnie asked ME to be her walking partner! I still remember the feeling…She was walking in front of me, and I had to walk in the same way, avoiding obstacles on the way and forgetting about my own sciatica pain for a while!….Bonnie taught me rapport and humanity.

I still remember the day, Stefania Ballotto, an amazing Teacher Trainer, and Bonnie’s close friend, visited our class to teach us about Brain Gym!

Stefania’s lesson was so inspiring ! The very next day, Bonnie asked me to demonstrate few of those Brain Gym activities! Somehow,that turned out to be the most hilarious lesson, ever..!  Bonnie, thanked me in the end, for…” all that fun”!

As for Stefania Ballotto … I ‘m looking for adjectives to describe this outstanding teacher trainer!

She is so inspiring, caring, dedicated and committed! She is a devoted teacher passionate about her work !

She’s just….Supercalifragilisticexpialidoci ous!! She inspired me, the very first time I saw her teach!

All in all, what I got from the Pilgrims Course was more confidence and now I really believe in myself.

And I also made and kept great friends : inspiring and inspired educators with most of whom we have already  created strong partnerships! They have become members of my precious PLN and we are always there for each other  to help and support.

Pilgrims is a family…..I was so very happy to see Hanna Kryszewska again after so many years, in Thessaloniki, where she was one of last year’s Tesol M.T.N.Greece Convention presenters!

Hanna is a Pilgrims trainer and editor of HLT Magazine, which has been my ELT Bible, all these years! She is such a friendly person and an inspiring educator!

She is also a teacher who believes in a humanistic approach to education ,like me…. Her Tesol MTNGreece Convention workshop, was actually about that approach!

Next time I manage to visit Pilgrims, I do hope to attend one of her classes !

When I told her that it was almost impossible for me to be able to visit Pilgrim’s again because of  the financial crisis in my country and the difficulties in funding opportunities, she rushed to suggest several alternative ways to help me achieve my goal ….

Amazing educators have promoted the Pilgrims Humanistic approach idea ,all these years, among whom:

Hanna Kryszewska, Paul Davis, Adrian Tennant, Magda Zamorska, Mike Shreeve, Daniel Martin, Linda Yael, Peter Dyer, Tim Bowen, Stephania Balloto, Aleksandra Zaparucha, Judit Feher, Isil Boy, Beyza Yilmaz, Julie Wallis and lots more outstanding professionals.

This year, I had the chance to meet a few of these outstanding people ,again: the always smiling Magda Zamorska,Mike Shreeve ( who was one of my two amazing teacher trainers in the “Teaching Difficult Learners” course-the other one was Phil Dexter ),Linda Yael (whose mother comes from Greece..Isn’t that cool? ), Judit Feher(who was Bonnie’s close friend), Julie Wallis ( so very helpful and always there for us all),Marina Marinova (who visited our course class and shared her personal story ,which inspired all of us so much),Mojca Belak ( I noticed that she’s a great dancer, among other things),and Amadeu Marin ( so energetic and fun to be with- like most Spanish people that I know)…..

And of course, for me ,as well as for most teachers that I know,“Pilgrims” calls the incredible Mario Rinvolucri to mind! I first met him in Athens, in one of Tesol Greece Conventions, a few years ago ! Actually , the first time I decided to go to Pilgrims , was because I wanted to see him again!

Mario started teaching English in my country ,Greece in the mid-1960s when there was nothing around called ‘methodology’.

I had been a regular reader of many of his articles in different publications as well as his  “Creative Writing” , before I meet him in person!

The book that deeply influenced my own teaching was “ Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Drama Activities for EFL Students,CUP” .

Actually, I have used most of his books in my career, among which : Humanising Your Coursebook , Dictation: New Methods, New Possibilities , The Confidence Book: Building Trust in the Language Classroom , Using the mother Tongue, Once upon a time and so many more!

Mario, worked for Pilgrims since 1974, a period of 34 years or nearly half a career.

In 1999 , he became the founding editor of Humanising Language Teaching (HLT), my ELT Bible!

Pilgrims, is everything a traditional teacher training center isn’t.

In every moment Pilgrims Teacher Trainers are people that live values that attract positive attention throughout the world.

“Pilgrims is a company we love to work with and for” as they say…

They are so vibrant that new ideas and innovations arise one after another  through co-operation and creative energy.

They stand for the possibility of personal and professional transformation through their own continually transforming leadership, inspiration and coaching.

Conclusion:

People in Pilgrims, believe in a humanistic approach to language acquisition and to personal growth.

They have an overwhelming passion to develop the confidence of all our learners and guide them with support and enthusiasm to achieve their goals.

Pilgrims is a worldwide community of passionate people. Join them! I have!

P.S To know more about Pilgrims and how to apply for a course, you can visit its site. Dare to live the Pilgrims experience!

 

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Team work ,matters!

The ability to work together with others as part of a team is not simply a skill needed at school, it is a vital skill used in all areas of life. For me, school is, an excellent time to cultivate the teamwork skills, children will then draw from, throughout their life.

 

For a team to work together effectively, it takes all members of the team to respect each other’s abilities and opinions. Teamwork is a highly social activity and involves much interaction and exchanging of ideas and actions. We all understand that, being part of a team enables a child to move from more intrapersonal (individual) ways of thinking to interpersonal (communicating with others). It will help students in all areas of their learning, and help them to feel part of a community, too.

The biggest problem in my country’s educational system is that, teamwork is not encouraged at schools- at least, not as much as it should be….

Working as part of a team will strengthen students’ social and emotional skills, help develop their communication skills, and can improve confidence.

Team games, are also important…From experience, the best way to teach children English is to not only get them physically involved within the lesson, but also to create the illusion that they are simply playing games. And rather than focus on individual development, it is also a very good idea to promote class interaction as far as possible.

Even very young learners can become independent in their learning and guided early on they will be more likely to grow into autonomous and successful language learners.

Creative use of language makes communication possible even when students may not know the perfect grammar for what they are trying to say.Nothing is more true to life than that.

When students work in groups, they have to work together to accomplish a goal. Even when the use of grammar is weak in these collaborations, communication happens, and that will give your students an advantage, when they have to face communication in the English speaking world.

Encouragement in class,is crucial ! One way encouragement comes, is when lower level students see the accomplishments of higher level students.Less accomplished students will become better speakers just by talking to others more advanced than them, without help and without pressure….When they work in groups, I see that students help each other learn.

One of the most important things for me, as far as group work is concerned, is speaking!

Putting our students in groups, gets them speaking up and practicing the language that they are trying to learn. And, speaking, is not top priority in the Greek language class…. not even in the private Greek Language schools-“Frodisteria”…

Students who are kinesthetic learners, will benefit greatly from learning through games and group work,too. Students of varying English levels can work together to support each other, make decisions together and learning from one another. Games and group work can involve all of the aspects of language—listening, speaking, reading and writing.

 

In our class, children experience teamwork in many different forms. They may be asked to work in pairs, small groups, or larger groups on a variety of different things. They may be asked to work in teams for physical activities such as ball games or running games or more formal activities such as projects. Children also often form their own team activities during their play time.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” – Plato

I am sharing an interesting post about the benefits of Team Building, here

 

Benefits of Team Building

1.  Getting to know each other better
2.  Bonding
3.  Building team spirit
4.  Encouraging tolerance and understanding
5.  Creating a sense of belonging and connectivity
6.  Creating a climate of cooperation and collaborative problem-solving
7.  Improving motivation
8.  Improving communication within the group
9.  Team development – Building a community with a common purpose
10. Developing trust, care, compassion, kindness and creating empathy (Trusting each other AND yourselves)
11. Building self-esteem

12. Creating an understanding and awareness of individual differences, personality strengths and  weaknesses
13. Breaking down barriers
14. Creativity – Doing things differently! Out of the box!!
15. Higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment.And all the time … Having a huge amount of FUN

“PuppETs-European Travelers”: an amazing ETwinning project!

This old time classic pen pals project, gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language and helped the students experience education in a different country through European citizenship ,using Arts and crafts and a new tool: twinspace!

The project lasted  a school year and we had to complete many individual items . We had to create common projects about: ourselves, our school, our country , our town ,our favourite sports and hobbies, our customs and special traditions, our most favourite place in our countries , our daily routine and habits and also ,create our pen pals as PUPPETS , reading their appearance descriptions and looking at their self-portraits ! We lived in another country, as our school and country ambassadors, and experienced life in another class, far away from home, for one school year! Puppet-students, wrote on their twinspace diaries about their adventures and collaboratively wrote and put on stage, a puppet play about their experience! Our projects and letters were both sent to our friends by snail mail and uploaded on twinspace, to share and compare, in a different class.

Pedagogical Innovation and Creativity 

This was a new and innovative partnership for my school; It was the first time the students participated in such an innovative ETwinning project.

Both, group work and independent research was used  by pupils.

The innovation and creativity of the project is based on the following factors:

1.The willingness of the teachers involved to communicate easily – via phone, email, sms

2.All partner  schools being inclusive of each other, working as one unit on each common project

3.That the children felt able to be creative with their audience in the partner school in mind and dare to share and compare.They also used their imagination and creativity as well as their artistic skills, in order to create their puppet pals and write/stage their puppet plays.

4.That the learning from the project was so significant that it will not be lost from children’s minds

5.The student-Puppet-Ambassadors, created by and for the students ,served as a  meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our friends.

6.Our student-Puppets project, provided the opportunity to break down classroom walls. It gave our students a chance, to see a world outside of their walls.Students,  became fully aware of the other European partner countries and their ways of life. Citizenship became a practical ,rather than theoretical, part of the curriculum.

7.Our ETwinning project, encouraged cooperation between teachers and unified learning. It also offered us the chance to collaborate with the local Puppet Theatre and museum,which was highly beneficial for all of us.

The scope of learning widened from English skills to several other subjects. The idea of being   partners in a European project, encouraged the pupils to find out more about different European countries, their nature, art, food and ways  of living. In the context of European partnerships,our work  provided in the shared learning environment were not only learning material, but were a meaningful pathway towards understanding and learning more about our partners.

  1. In this sense, the true revelation has been that apart from climate and language, people in Europe are essentially very similar with shared values and interests. Surely, this  helped us to overcome our prejudices and made us more open to intercultural cooperation.

Curricular integration 

The theme was chosen deliberately to ensure that the project and its work was as cross-curricular as possible. The areas of ,EFL,  social studies, expressive arts, citizenship,and basic IT , have all been integrated into the sharing of  our common  project activities .

The main focus was to improve the learning of English.

This fitted well into the Curriculum and all my  pupils  benefited.  Our  project involved MFL, language, social studies, expressive arts and basic technology.

We held a European Day of Languages to get the rest of the school know our European friends better. We also had “Puppet Theatre” days, when our student-puppet-guests, presented their projects about their country and way of life, to us! It was exciting to lend them our voices and have them “talk” to us-we could also ask them questions! We later,uploaded all the photos  on our Twinspace “Puppet Diaries”, where everyone could make comments or just read, share and compare ideas, thoughts and feelings.Finally, we were invited to take part in a local Puppet Theatre Festival, where we had the chance to present our play to the local community!

A second focus was citizenship. By exchanging information about each other’s towns, lives  and heritage, the pupils  learned a great deal about each other’s environment, way of life and culture. As far as my school is concerned, I made sure that almost all our project activities were connected  to each of our English coursebook units. Luckily, our coursebooks , are based on both cross curricular and cross cultural topics quite relevant to our Etwinning project theme! Also, they are based on both creative  project work and group  collaboration which  was  highly helpful in our Etwinning project!

I  made sure that, ALL my 85  students, in different age and  language level, took part in our  Etwinning project, a fact  that  proved to be a real challenge!

Finally, our student-puppet-guests, are going to spend their Summer holidays  in our partner countries, write a Summer Diary entry about their Summer adventures and come back home in Autumn, to share it with us.

Communication and exchange between partner schools 

From the beginning, there was a strong plan which gave the teachers guidelines, responsibilities and timescale for each element of the project.

What we practically did  ,was  that, we sent our pen friends all our group projects, on a topic we had already worked on in class and we asked them to reply ,by sending us the same topic based project! The projects we sent, were  in the form of posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, PP presentations, albums , videos, etc….In class, we talked about the similarities and differences of cultures and ways of life !

The students’ very first project was their self-portraits and appearance descriptions, which were used to help their  pals create their puppet-selves!

Arts and craft played an important role in n our project work !

If the kids felt  the need to personalize their work  even more, they were  free to include little gifts having to do with themselves or the project topic, … I always printed  lots of pictures and displayed  them on our school  notice boards.Students were also encouraged to interact on  twinspace ,both at the school ICT lab and from home. This all gave a real purpose and meaning to learning a foreign language.

In these difficult times of financial crisis , our students were able to live abroad, as puppets and experience life in a different country and class for a whole school year ,sharing and comparing our ways of life and making new friends.

The most important tool of the project , was our Twinspace Forums Puppet Diaries: by visiting the Puppet Diaries on a regular basis,  the children via their puppets, became ambassadors of our school and country! The pupils shared information and experiences, and thus learned from each other and strengthened their communication skills. They were also encouraged to interact on twinspace Discussion Forums, where they had to answer simple questions about themselves and our projects, as well as to read and make comments on their partners’ replies.

Collaboration between partner schools. 

In collaboration the teachers in all countries, decided on the range of topics that we would cover and the optimum time for sending/receiving the correspondence items.

We tried together  to do some pre-matching of pupils and classes , based on their known interests.

By all means we  ‘recycled’ language that pupils have previously learnt in their English class .

We created a teachers’  e-mail exchange, too and a frequent collaboration on the Teachers’ bulletin.

We all had to make our partner’s Puppet-Self! In other words, create a puppet-pal ,with similar characteristics with our pen pal, to host in our class and country,for the whole school year!

Our puppets, would travel, play and learn, with their pen pals, in another country and class,experiencing a different way of life.

We created  our Puppet-Ambassadors Diaries on Forums , which we often updated, with the help of our puppets.

We uploaded   videos about our area ,as well as videos about our schools and puppet plays.

We also agreed on the letters and projects which would be implemented by our pupils and agreed on  wall display of correspondence received from partner schools .

We made  questionnaires, and quizzes about our common projects to see how much we had learned, about each other.

We finally, decided to have our students host our guest Puppets during the summer and write on the Puppets’ Summer Diaries which would later be sent , along with the puppets, back home!

We all agreed that, all  students’  final products -our projects,  would be achieved through group work ! No group  project was sent abroad, before it was presented in class ,with the help of our student-puppet-friends and was later displayed on the classroom walls and ,finally, uploaded on Twinspace Pages.

Use of technology 

Some of the partner schools ,had not  used most of the  web tools we had to use for this project,  before .

I had small  groups of my students, use Photoshop to enhance and crop photos and then put them into Movie Maker to produce a school video  to be posted on Twinspace for other schools to view and had them to create  a Quiz about our town. We also used Kizoa to make short videos, padlet to work on our Puppet play script, collaboratively, and a Word Cloud Generator,for feedback.

I have consulted and collaborated with partner teachers using Skype and a webcam. Outcomes and project work were saved on Twinspace ,allowing uploaded materials and presentations to be compared and contrasted easily across all partner  countries.My students, were asked to interact with their pen friends on twinspace ,using their home computers, too !   Video-conferencing, using new webcams, were all new experiences for us .Our project brought a new and exciting dimension to our work.

Actually, the ability to use ICT is becoming more and more vital in today’s modern information society. However, ICT skills are still acquired mainly outside public educational institutes, in my country.

Actually, communicating with real people from other countries appeared to motivate the learners in a very special way, also in the use of basic ICT tools, mainly with our ICT teacher’s guidance.

Through ETwinning pupils learn to use ICT tools in a pedagogically meaningful way.

They wrote letters in the forums, chatted, did interactive exercises, took and uploaded digital photos and videos, searched for information, etc. And all this took place in the pedagogical context of studying English communication

Results, impact and documentation

The pupils were inspired and motivated. They had a great deal of fun working collaboratively .

Students had an opportunity to develop a sense of pride and respect toward other traditions. Our Puppet-Ambassadors, made Europe a more real concept, especially for those students who have never traveled abroad.

The organisation and commitment of the students has been very impressive.

The children showed a great interest in exploring another country and its way of life, as well as demonstrating increased motivation in learning a foreign language. They were always eager to participate, found information themselves, drew pictures, made posters, presented the project to other classes and last, but not least, create their own puppets and write their own Puppet play!

The group  work of my students was collected, and ultimately, shared with our partners. Writing and illustrating personal responses gave students the opportunity to boost their art and creative writing skills. Reading the personal responses of their European  partners, gave students greater insight into their partners’ context and worldview.

The project also brought the class together, as the pupils were working as a team. Through these activities the children also became ambassadors for the school and country .

The pupils  learnt from each other and strengthened  their communication skills.

All in all, we achieved   :

  • to promote group activities  for tolerance and cultural understanding;
  • to strengthen my students’ intercultural competences in order to be ready for responsible understanding of Europe’s identity and common values;
  • to develop the European dimension through arts education (puppets) and creativity with the aim to promote multiculturalism and tolerance between students;
  • To develop “Out-of-the-box” activities that would encourage mutual support, team building and group cohesion ;
  • Encourage personalized learning approaches by acquiring new artistic and pedagogical skills with the aim of developing new ideas and creativity of the students involved in the project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teachers4Europe 2017: “The young tourist” (in Greek )

                                                                                 

                                                                                       

 

“Ο ΜΙΚΡΟΣ ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΑΣ”

Α TEACHERS4EUROPE 2017 PROJECT

21o ΔΗΜΟΤΙΚΟ ΣΧΟΛΕΙΟ ΛΑΡΙΣΑΣ

Υπεύθυνη εκπαιδευτικός: Γκιούρη Αφροδίτη (ΠΕ 06)

Η δράση  Teachers4Europe ,στην οποία συμμετείχε φέτος το τμήμα Γ 2 του 21ου Δ.Σ. Λάρισας, στα πλαίσια του μαθήματος της Ευέλικτης Ζώνης, με υπεύθυνη εκπαιδευτικό την κ Γκιούρη Αφροδίτη, αποτελεί εκπαιδευτική δράση του Υπουργείου Παιδείας & Θρησκευμάτων , με την υποστήριξη του Γραφείου του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου στην Ελλάδα, και αφορά εκπαιδευτικούς και μαθητές  της Πρωτοβάθμιας και Δευτεροβάθμιας  Εκπαίδευσης.

Το πρόγραμμα που η τάξη μας υλοποίησε, ονομάζεται “ Ο μικρός τουρίστας”.

Οι στόχοι της δράσης, αφορούν τη γνωριμία των μικρών μαθητών με τη χώρα τους αλλά και  το Ευρωπαικό τους σπίτι και τη γνωριμία διαφορετικών πολιτισμών μέσα από το παιχνίδι .

 

Έμπνευση για το συγκεκριμένο έργο αποτέλεσαν οι οι εκπαιδεύτριες Ευαγγελία Γκρίμπα (υπότροφος του Ιδρύματος Ωνάση ) και Ελευθερία Γκρίμπα (υπότροφος του ΙΚΥ) από  τη Στέγη Γραμμάτων και Τεχνών, οι οποίες και αρχικά υλοποίησαν το  καινοτόμο βιωματικό πρόγραμμα «Μια βαλίτσα ταξιδεύει », μέρος της ευρύτερης εθελοντικής δράσης “ΕΛΑ ΜΑΖΙ ΜΑΣ” του Συνδέσμου Υποτρόφων Ιδρύματος Ωνάση.

ACTIVITIES

  1. ANTI-STRESS BALL:

 

Λίγα λόγια για μένα, τα μέρη που έχω έως τώρα ταξιδέψει και τα μέρη που θα ήθελα να ταξιδέψω στο μέλλον.

2.ΥΔΡΟΓΕΙΟΣ

Τι είναι η Υδρόγειος? Τι δείχνει?

Κλείνουμε τα μάτια και με το δάχτυλό μας ακουμπάμε ένα σημείο της Υδρογείου.

Βλέπουμε ποιο είναι και συζητάμε γι αυτό. Ψάχνουμε στο σπίτι πληροφορίες για τον πρώτο μας φανταστικό ταξιδιωτικό προορισμό στον πλανήτη μας και τις μοιραζόμαστε στο επόμενο μάθημα με τους συμμαθητές μας στην τάξη.

3.ΧΑΡΤΗΣ ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ

α)Γνωριμία με το Ευρωπαικό μας σπίτι!

Αναζητούμε χώρες και προορισμούς.

β)Παίζουμε σκυταλοδρομία σε ομάδες: ένα μέλος από κάθε ομάδα, ακούγοντας το όνομα μιας Ευρωπαικής χώρας, τρέχει στο χάρτη να το ακουμπήσει πρώτος-η, και να κερδίσει βαθμό για την ομάδα του-της.

γ) Γνωριζόμαστε με το βιβλίο μας TRAVEL BOOK! Επιλέγουμε μια χώρα-προορισμό και συμπληρώνουμε την καρτέλα της στο σπίτι, αφού ερευνήσουμε γι αυτή.

Μοιραζόμαστε όσα μάθαμε κι από αυτό μας το ταξίδι,με τους συμμαθητές μας, στην τάξη!

 

 

4.ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΙΚΑ ΑΛΜΠΟΥΜ-ΦΥΛΛΑΔΙΑ-ΓΑΣΤΡΟΝΟΜΙΚΟΙ ΟΔΗΓΟΙ

Oι μαθητές καλούνται να φέρουν από το σπίτι τους, οτιδήποτε βρούνε σε σχέση με ταξίδια και άλλες χώρες : ταξιδιωτικά φυλλάδια, postcards, γαστρονομικούς οδηγούς, souvenirs….

Ενθαρρύνονται να συζητήσουν σχετικά με αυτά με την οικογένειά τους, πριν τα συζητήσουμε στην τάξη.

Στο μάθημα, μοιραζόμαστε όλο το υλικό και εργαζόμενοι σε ομάδες, κάνουμε σχόλια και συζητάμε τις εντυπώσεις μας ή θέτουμε ερωτήσεις και νοερά ταξιδεύουμε στον κόσμο!

Συγκρίνουμε τον τόπο μας,τη ζωή μας,  την κουζίνα μας, με αυτά άλλων λαών και κάνουμε όνειρα για μελλοντικά ταξίδια κι εμπειρίες!

5.POSTCARDS

Δίνεται σε κάθε μαθητή μία σελίδα με πληροφορίες και εικόνες από μία τουλάχιστο Ευρωπαική χώρα.

Αυτή είναι ο επόμενος ταξιδιωτικός του προορισμός!

‘Οπως όλοι οι τουρίστες, καλείται να έχει στις “αποσκευές “ του, μία postcard από το ταξίδι του εκεί. Την οποία όμως, θα φτιάξει ο ίδιος, με απλά υλικά και εικόνες και πληροφορίες της επιλογής του από το φυλλάδιο πληροφοριών που του έχει δοθεί.

Παρουσίαση των καρτών στην τάξη.

Οι μαθητές μοιράζονται όσα έμαθαν από το ταξίδι τους σ αυτή τη χώρα, με τους συμμαθητές τους!

Η κάρτα κατόπι, τοποθετείται στο ταξιδιωτικό μας lapbook.

 

  1. LAPBOOKS-PASSPORTS

Δημιουργούμε τα ταξιδιωτικά μας lapbooks!

Κάθε ταξιδιώτης, παίρνει μαζί του στα ταξίδια του, μία βαλίτσα, ένα ΔΙΑΒΑΤΗΡΙΟ , ένα χάρτη, και φυσικά, το…laptop του!!

Mέσα στο δικό μας Lapbook, τοποθετούμε επίσης την postcard από τα ταξίδια μας, και πληροφορίες για αγαπημένους Ευρωπαικούς προορισμούς, χώρες και πρωτεύουσες!

7.ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΙΚΗ ΑΦΙΣΑ

 

Κατασκευάζουμε μία αφίσα για μία Ευρωπαική χώρα στην οποία, νοερά “ταξιδεύουμε”,  γράφουμε και μιλάμε γι αυτή. Τοποθετούμε την αφίσα μας, μέσα στο Ευρωπαικό μας Lapbook!

 

8.ICT LAB

 

Σε συνεργασία με τον καθηγητή πληροφορικής, ,παρακολουθούμε videos στο youtube , σχετικά με την Ελλάδα και την Ευρώπη.

Συζητάμε:

Ποιο θέμα δείχνει?

Για ποιο σκοπό έγινε?

Τι σας έκανε εντύπωση?

Τι μαθαίνουμε από αυτό?

Επίσης, χρησιμοποιούμε τα Google Maps, Street view για να ταξιδέψουμε στις χώρες που γνωρίσαμε στη διάρκεια του προγράμματος! Περπατάμε στους δρόμους των μεγαλύτερων πόλεων της Ευρώπης! Ουσιαστικά, βγαίνουμε από τους τοίχους της τάξης μας και του εργαστηρίου και με τη βοήθεια της τεχνολογίας, γινόμαστε πραγματικοί τουρίστες της Ευρώπης!

Σημαντικό:  Εναλλακτικά, θα μπορούσαμε να δημιουργήσουμε το δικό μας μικρό βίντεο για τη χώρα μας, με τα κατάλληλα web εργαλεία.

  1. PUPPETS

 

Κατασκευάζουμε τον εαυτό μας σε…κούκλα! Σε συνεργασία με τον Δημοτικό κουκλοθίασο “Τιριτόμπα”.

Εμείς ως…puppets, γράφουμε το μικρό μας κουκλοθεατρικό σκετσάκι και παρουσιάζουμε με κουκλοθέατρο την εμπειρία μας από το πρόγραμμα!

 

 

PUPPET SCRIPT: Ο ΜΙΚΡΟΣ ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΑΣ ΤΑΞΙΔΕΥΕΙ

ΟΛΟΙ:

ΓΕΙΑ ΣΑΣ ! ΕΙΜΑΣΤΕ ΟΙ ΜΙΚΡΟΙ ΤΟΥΡΙΣΤΕΣ ΤΟΥ 21ΟΥ Δ ΣΧΟΛΕΙΟΥ ΛΑΡΙΣΑΣ!

ΒΡΙΣΚΟΜΑΣΤΕ ΕΔΩ, ΓΙΑ ΝΑ ΜΟΙΡΑΣΤΟΥΜΕ ΜΑΖΙ ΣΑΣ ΤΗΝ ΕΜΠΕΙΡΙΑ ΜΑΣ ΣΤΗΝ ΤΑΞΗ ΑΛΛΑ ΚΑΙ ΣΕ ΟΟΟΟΛΟ ΤΟΝ ΚΟΣΜΟ!

 

1-2 : ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΠΑΑΡΑ ΠΟΛΥ ΤΑ ΤΑΞΙΔΙΑ!

 

3-4: Η ΑΙΘΟΥΣΑ ΜΑΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΠΑΡΑ ΠΟΛΥ ΜΙΚΡΗ ΑΛΛΑ ΕΜΕΙΣ ΚΑΤΑΦΕΡΑΜΕ ΝΑ ΤΗΝ ΚΑΝΟΥΜΕ ΠΑΑΑΡΑ ΠΟΛΥ ΜΕΓΑΛΗ! ΟΣΟ ΟΛΟΚΛΗΡΗ Η ΓΗ ΜΑΣ!!

 

5-6 : Η ΑΙΘΟΥΣΑ ΜΑΣ ΕΙΝΑΙ ΓΕΜΑΤΗ ΧΑΡΤΕΣ: ΠΑΓΚΟΣΜΙΟ, ΕΥΡΩΠΗΣ, ΚΑΙ ΕΛΛΑΔΑΣ

 

ΟΛΟΙ:

ΘΕΛΕΤΕ ΝΑ ΜΑΘΕΤΕ ΤΙ ΚΑΝΑΜΕ? ΕΚΤΟΟΟΟΣ…ΑΠΟ ΤΑ ΠΑΙΞΟΥΜΕ ΠΟΛΛΑ ΠΑΙΧΝΙΔΙΑ ??

 

7-8 : ΠΡΩΤΑ ΞΕΚΙΝΗΣΑΜΕ ΤΟ ΤΑΞΙΔΙ ΜΑΣ ΑΠΟ ΜΙΑ ΥΔΡΟΓΕΙΟ ΣΦΑΙΡΑ. ΤΑΞΙΔΕΨΑΜΕ ΣΕ ΜΙΑ ΠΕΡΙΟΧΗ ΤΟΥ ΠΛΑΝΗΤΗ ΚΑΙ ΜΑΘΑΜΕ ΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ ΓΙ ΑΥΤΗ!

 

9-10 : ΚΑΤΟΠΙ, ΤΑΞΙΔΕΨΑΜΕ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΥΡΩΠΗ. ΠΗΡΑΜΕ ΜΑΖΙ ΜΑΣ, ΒΑΛΙΤΣΑ, ΔΙΑΒΑΤΗΡΙΟ, ΧΑΡΤΗ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΜΟΝΑΔΙΚΟ ΜΑΣ LAPBOOK!

 

11-12 ΕΠΕΙΤΑ, Η ΤΑΞΗ ΜΑΣ ΓΕΜΙΣΕ, ΑΝΤΙΚΕΙΜΕΝΑ ΑΠΟ ΤΑ ΤΑΞΙΔΙΑ ΜΑΣ : ΣΟΥΒΕΝΙΡ, ΒΙΒΛΙΑ, ΟΔΗΓΟΥΣ ΜΑΓΕΙΡΙΚΗΣ, ΚΑΡΤΕΣ !

 

13-14 : ΑΥΤΟ ΠΟΥ ΜΑΣ ΑΡΕΣΕ ΠΙΟ ΠΟΛΥ ΟΜΩΣ, ΗΤΑΝ ΠΟΥ ΠΗΡΑΜΕ ΜΑΖΙ ΜΑΣ ΤΟ ΚΑΤΑΠΛΗΚΤΙΚΟ ΜΑΣ LAPBOOK

 

-ΕΝΑ ΔΙΑΦΟΡΕΤΙΚΟ LAPTOP ΔΗΛΑΔΗ, ΜΕ ΟΛΕΣ ΤΙΣ ΠΛΗΡΟΦΟΡΙΕΣ ΠΟΥ ΧΡΕΙΑΖΕΤΑΙ ΝΑ ΕΧΕΙ ΜΑΖΙ ΤΟΥ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ, ΕΝΑΣ ΣΥΓΧΡΟΝΟΣ ΤΑΞΙΔΙΩΤΗΣ!

 

ΟΛA TA ΚΟΡΙΤΣΙΑ:

ΤΟ ΦΕΡΑΜΕ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ ΜΑΖΙ ΜΑΣ, ΝΑ ΣΑΣ ΤΟ ΔΕΙΞΟΥΜΕ!

 

15-16 : ΜΑΣ ΑΡΕΣΕ ΟΜΩΣ ΚΑΙ ΟΤΑΝ, Η κ. ΦΩΤΕΙΝΗ ΚΑΛΟΥΔΗ, ΜΑΣ ΒΟΗΘΗΣΕ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΤΑΣΚΕΥΑΣΑΜΕ ΕΜΑΣ ΤΟΥΣ ΙΔΙΟΥΣ ΣΑΝ… ..ΚΟΥΚΛΕΣ, ΓΙΑ ΝΑ ΣΑΣ ΜΙΛΗΣΟΥΜΕ ΣΗΜΕΡΑ ΕΔΩ!

 

ΟΛΑ ΤΑ ΑΓΟΡΙΑ:

ΤΗΝ ΕΥΧΑΡΙΣΤΟΥΜΕ ΠΟΛΥ! ΗΤΑΝ ΤΕΛΕΙΑ ΕΜΠΕΙΡΙΑ !

 

ΟΛΟΙ:

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΤΑ ΤΑΞΙΔΙΑ!

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΤΗ ΓΗ ΜΑΣ!

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΤΟ ΕΥΡΩΠΑΙΚΟ ΜΑΣ ΣΠΙΤΙ!

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΤΗ ΧΩΡΑ ΜΑΣ!

 

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΝΑ ΜΑΘΑΙΝΟΥΜΕ ΚΑΙ ΝΑ ΔΙΑΣΚΕΔΑΖΟΥΜΕ !

 

ΑΓΑΠΑΜΕ ΤΟΥΣ TEACHERS4EUROPE!

 

(MUSIC/Choir : ωδη στη χαρα-μπετοβεν)

Interactive Grammar Notebooks-part c

As I had already written in my first  and second posts on Interactive Grammar Notebooks, last year was my first year to use interactive notebooks.  Before school began, I found myself  with the desire PLUS precious  direction, from my  amazing Greek colleague, Papadeli Sophia !

I have to thank her again so much, for all the inspiration and support!

Overall, they were a success- Experimenting on them during this first school year with few students, among whom was my daughter, was great fun!…I’m sure, we’ll do much better this  year ,with all my afternoon classes, at school!

This  notebook is built, by adding each grammar skill or concept as an insert gradually throughout the year as they are introduced to new material. By the end of year, they  have a complete notebook they can use as a reference and I can use as an assessment tool or portfolio piece.This is simple and can be done with any grammar curriculum we are using.

First, I used a common notebook,  school glue, scissors and markers/colored pencils. Since we are fully stocked on school supplies, I did not need to make any new purchases.

Then, ideally, we should reserve the first 1-2 pages for the table of contents. I admit that, I didn’t do that, this first year…Going forward, we add a new page for each skill.

The next step is to find some ideas or even printables and foldables for the Grammar notebooks …I asked Sophia Papadeli to help me get started and I also visited Pinterest and used my imagination and creativity, of course!

Here are just  few new pages for you to have a look at, get inspired and hopefully, start your own Grammar Notebooks, this school year!

PREPOSITIONS OF PLACE/MOVEMENT/TIME

PREPOSITIONS OF TIME

PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

BE GOING TO

 

 

BE GOING TO for making predictions based on evedence

BE GOING TO -plans

WILL

PAST PROGRESSIVE

 

ARTICLES

RELATIVES

COUNTABLE-UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

REPORTED SPEECH

EXPRESS FUTURE PLANS, USING THE PRESENT PROGRESSIVE

SOME/ANY- EXPRESSING QUANTITY

MODALS ( A guessing game, using pictures)

 

EASTER Hopscotch

I can assure you that,   students remember and correctly spell about the same number of EASTER  words after learning with HOPSCOTCH, as they do after a teacher-centered lesson.

Importantly however, they enjoy playing this  game very much and they report better attitudes towards studying English after learning vocabulary with HOPSCOTCH and games in general, compared to traditional teaching.

All that is required for this fun game is a few Easter sight words  and sidewalk chalk or masking tape.

On rainy days, consider using masking tape on a floor and write each Easter word on a piece of tape or index card – just make sure kids do not slip on the index card while playing the game.

You can also use the “portable” Hopscotch, like the one in the photo below…You can carry it with you to a different classroom each time, in case you don’t have your own classroom!

 

  1. You can play with Easter pictures to help aid recognition or practice new words.
  1. Add numbers to aid in number recognition and  practice plurals. eg ” Seven eggs”
  2. Add colors to help with color recognition, too.” Seven red eggs”
  3. Play with spelling words.  Have child read word, then look away and practice orally spelling the word.

  1. With older students, play with vocabulary words –child tells you definition of word they land on.
  1. Play with English words and mother tongue .For example, write an Easter word like “Church” and child has to tell me word in mother tongue..
  1. Spell hopscotch:Give each student an Easter word to spell as she jumps through the boxes. If she spells the word wrong, she must repeat that word on her next turn. The first person to get through the entire board wins a point for her team.

      8.Word hopscotch:Method: – Draw a simple hopscotch outline on the floor with chalk , use tape or use the “Portable” version of it.

– Children take turns to hop (walk or jump) from square to square – On each square they say an Easter word that they know. These may be words in general, or words    associated with a particular Easter topic or theme, eg Spring, Food, Traditions etc. – When they run out of words they must ‘give up’ .

Variation: – Teacher puts pictures /flashcards of familiar Easter objects on each square -Children must name the objects as they hop onto the square…… More difficult:  -Children must say something about the object in the picture.

Hippo and 1st graders! The importance of a mascot in class

Class mascots can be “friends” that help the students on their learning journey.

Our own ,1st graders class mascot, is our cute Hippo!!

Hippo, plays various roles in our classroom. He sits and watches over our class to make sure they are doing the right thing or plays and sings with us  ! He is the reason, my little ones want to learn English- to be able to communicate with him, without my…help!

Having a class mascot adds a little fun and humour to the classroom, too. We often laugh about what Hippo has been up to on the weekend, and his ability to fall asleep at any moment, is an ongoing lesson!

The students have helped to develop Hippo’s personality and interests.

If you have never  used a class mascot before, here’s  how to get started:

Choose a particular stuffed animal or toy as your class mascot and have children decide upon a name for their new friend. Then brainstorm with children some background information about the mascot. Some ideas might be:

  • Where and when it was born
  • All about its family
  • What its personality is like
  • How it got its distinctive features
  • Its best friends
  • What it likes to do
  • Where it has already traveled

The children can not only learn from the mascot, but can also  teach the mascot what they have learned .

The mascot can award stickers or small rewards to students who have  positive behavior for the week! Maybe the mascot could bring in his/her favorite book  for a read aloud. I have done this with the book “Hippo and friends” and have shared my experience in this blog post!

Use your imagination and think of how to integrate the puppet into your daily routines and teaching. There are so many possibilities!

I find the mascot to be an endearing member of the class. The students love Hippo like a friend.  They respond to Hippo as a teacher and seem to really listen to what he has to say.

The way  students really respond to our mascot, is just fantastic – I wonder at what age that enthusiasm and imagination starts to fade….

I often have other mascots coming to visit us for a couple of weeks… Princess Elizabeth, Hippo’s cousin from London has become the kids’ favourite!

They have even  learned how to bow to Her Royal Highness ! When they heard that she is not married..yet and she’s still looking for her Prince, they started suggesting  their.. brothers, uncles or cousins, for her future husband!! That was hilarious!

There are also some of Hippo’s friends : Mr Owl, Mr Elephant , Miss Duck etc

Kids are looking forward to Hippo’s visit in our class ! They miss him so much!

They talk about him at home! They bring him their own animal friends, to help him  make new friends and feel less lonely  ! They ask him questions about his hometown and country! They want to know more about his family, back home! By the way, his family is a… pink Elephant family-Hippo is…. adopted !- but, they don’t seem to find that weird ,at all ! !

Young learners get attached to mascots very quickly, especially if you bring it to every class and let the students touch, hug and talk to it. My students love offering our puppet water and got very concerned when Hippo got ill and had to go to hospital! Or had to wear glasses ! They also feel the need to give him a hug , each time he misses his mother, who lives in London!

It’s true that, class mascots can quickly give your room a sense of character and responsibility. They’re also a lot of fun! Whether it’s a live rat, a guinea pig, or a plastic potato with a silly grin, your mascot can become an incredibly rich part of the students’ year.

I can’t wait to see what fun we’ll have with Hippo and his friends  ,next!

Christmas fun in class- and few post-holiday class activities

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I have been the class Christmas lessons  planner for many-many years. We have games, crafts, fun language activities, and an absolute blast with my students. I also always have printable games on hand, just in case I need to fill some time. Usually, though, we end up with way more fun than there is time for.

This year, I used most of the activities I have already written about, in older posts, and added few new ones…

In this post,I just wish to share some pictures, which prove how much fun we had, while learning new things about Christmas and practicing our English , at the same time!

For more details about most of them, please, feel free to read my earlier relevant blog posts, here , here or here.

This year, we made beautiful 3D crafts with my little ones, learning the Christmas vocabulary a, at the same time.

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We played lots of fun games, with all classes!

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We sang Christmas songs!

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We even sang old-time-classic songs  such as “The rainbow song”, using Christmas ornaments!!

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We made Advent calendars!

 

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We decorated our special Christmas trees!

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We wrote Santa letters and met one of his best friends!

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Here  are some cool post-holiday classroom activities I have come across online and I have decided to use in my class next week!

I hope, they’ll work!

POST-HOLIDAY CLASS ACTIVITIES

We  should try to avoid diving right into the schoolwork after break. Instead, I think we should make the adjustment a little bit easier by welcoming students back with fun activities that incorporate what they did over their holiday vacations.

Let’s get our students back on track and motivated to learn once again.

Create a Holiday Memory Book

Have students capture their best holiday moments in a memory book. Students will have more than enough to share, and a memory book is a great way to do that. Ask students to draw or bring in a picture of their favorite holiday outing or gift. Then ask students to write a few sentences about it. Once students have completed their memory book page, have them share it with the class or bind them all together to make a class book.

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 Make New Year Resolutions

Returning from holiday break is the perfect time to teach students how to reflect upon the past year and to make positive changes for the new year. Tell students that the new year means a fresh start and they can make promises to themselves that are positive and realistic. As a class, brainstorm a few resolutions together. Give them the following prompts to get started.

  • In 2015 I want to learn …
  • In 2015 I want to get better at …
  • My goal(s) for 2017 are …

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Have a Show and Tell

As soon as students enter the classroom after winter break, they inundate you (and each other) with stories about what every student received from Santa, or all of the fun places that they went while on break. What’s a better way to share all of their experiences and new toys then to bring something in for a little old show and tell? For a different spin on the traditional activity, try having students guess who brought what item in.

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Creative Writing Prompts

A creative and calm activity to get your energetic students back into the grind is to have them write about what they did and received over break. Students can get the opportunity to discuss their adventures in a fun writing piece. For instance, ask students to write about the best gift they gave and what made it so special, or describe their family’s holiday traditions in detail. Here are a few more creative writing prompts.

  • What are you most grateful for this holiday season?
  • What was your favorite holiday food that you had over break?
  • Who was the person you spent the most time with and why? What did you do with them?
  • Write about a place that you went over the Christmas break.
  • Write about something you did with your family over Christmas break.

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Play a Fun Game

Welcome your students back to school with a few fun games! Try to avoid piling on the schoolwork right away and instead try playing a few fun games to ease students back into the routine. Review games are a great choice for easing students back in. Try games like the “Hot Seat” where one student faces away from the board and chooses three people to give them clues about what is written on the board behind them. Another fun game is “Ping Pong,” where students are divided into teams of two and the team that gets the answer correct gets to throw a ping pong ball into a one of three cups to get a prize for their team. Prizes are things like a homework free pass or lunch in the classroom.

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Host a Party?

Before you must get back to all the school chaos and your crazy school day routine, kick off the first day or two back to school with a party! Invite the classroom next to yours over for some cookies and hot chocolate. Allow students to share their holiday break stories over a warm cup of cocoa! Students will love the ease and flow of a relaxing day back to school.

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Christmas break was a time for rest and relaxation, so it’s important to remember to ease students back into the school routine slowly and carefully. This will ensure that everyone will be motivated and ready to learn in no time.

ABC fun games

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Learning the English alphabet is  the very first step to learning the language and achieving fluency. And for our beginning students just learning how to use the English alphabet, here are some fun games I have tried, so far,to help teach and review the ABC in  class.

Most of them I have found online and adapted for my classes.

I have been inspired to use several of them in ELT seminars and teacher development courses I have attended….

I have also included, few games  I have come up with, while improvising in class…

I am also uploading some photos, taken in class this school year, of games that have worked and have been  much fun!

Well, here it goes!

 

CUP HUNT

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  1. Write the letter of the Alphabet on the white sticker or directly onto the cups.
  2. Model how to play in whole group or small group setting.
  3. Have the children close their eyes.
  4. Place a treat under one of the cups.
  5. Chant, “Eye Spy, I Spy.”
  6. Children open their eyes.
  7. Call on students one at a time to guess which cup is hiding the eyeball.
  8. Students read letter of the cup where they think the eyeball/treat  is.
  9. Students lift the cup to see if they are right
  10. Game continues until the treat is found.
  11. Repeat game again.
  12. They can keep  the treat, only if they manage to say a word which starts with it as soon as they find it!

These cups take up less room and work great for letters, words, and numbers too. The students  can:

  • Say the letter.
  • Say the sound.
  • Name something that begins with the letter.
  • Put the cups in ABC order first.

LETTER MONSTER SWATTER

I was inspired to create this the other day and I thought I’d share it if anyone would like to use it. I just printed 2 copies (one for each team ), then cut out the different pieces and glued them together. Then I laminated it and taped it onto a fly swatter with the middle part cut out. It can work as a letter monster, a word monster, or even a number monster

 

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LETTER PLATES and CLOTHES PIN LETTER MATCH

I have to thank my friend Andrianni Tsarkou for reminding me of this idea , during her EEPEK workshop , last November in Larissa.

I used a large paper plate and a medium size for this one.  The first I simply took a marker and wrote the letters around it and the second I used my cool “Jumpo ” stickers (needed the bigger plate for the size). Then I took my clothes pins and wrote the letters on those too. I put them in a bowl next to the plate and there you go!

Kids match clothes pins with lowercase letters to uppercase letters on this  paper plate.

You can also combine these two ideas ,like I did in the photos, below..

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WRITING WITH BOTTLE CAPS

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Make a  set of “alphabet” caps to help students learn the letters. Write a letter of the alphabet on each cap . Make two or three caps for common letters such as A, E, I, O, U, C, D, H, L, N, R, S, T.

You can give the students words in capital letters  to write them in small letters, and vice versa. They work in teams. The team which writes the word faster, wins!

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More ideas:

  • Using the alphabet caps, help students to spell out their names. Are there other words they might be able to spell out with the caps, such as “mom”, “dad”, “dog”, or “ball”?
  • Place all your alphabet caps in a bag and shake them up. Ask  a student to draw one cap out of the bag and read the letter out loud. Then she/he  has to think of something that starts with that letter. Allow for phonetic spellings, for example if she/he says “phone” for the letter “f”.

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Even more ideas, I have come across are:

Write letters or chunks on them and make words.

Colored circle stickers are perfect size for bottle caps.

Write words/numbers before you try to stick them on. Its hard to write once they’ve been stuck to the cap –

Write words (person, place, things, actions) on each color and pull out to use as a writing prompt –

Write letters and make a scrabble game –

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Write high frequency words and have kids create sentences (color code by parts of speech –

Elkonin Technique for hearing sounds of a given word. Pull down caps as each sound is heard –

Compound Word Matching Game –

Write words on caps and put them in ABC order –

Write sight words on lids and try to stack them in towers up as you read more and more words –

Game pieces for sight word tic tac toe

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ABC MINI BOOKS

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For this you need: white paper & old magazines or simply ask your students to draw their own pictures.  Each week we choose a new letter to work on. Write the upper and lower case letter on a piece of white paper, then go through old magazines with your Ss to find pictures that begin with that letter (or just draw their own pictures). Let them cut them out and glue them on the paper, which helps them improve their cutting skills too!  The Ss love to look at it over and over.

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For instructions about how to make a mini book, read here

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THE HAMMMER GAME

I found these hammers at JUMBO, after we had finished with our ABC and basic vocabulary.

I could have made some cards with words on them but, I finally decided to write those words on the board and play there, instead.But, it worked out fine, that way, too!

I called out a word and who ever hit it first with the hammer got  to keep it for their team.

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THE SNOWBALL THROW ABC GAME

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I use the same game for word recognition, before we finish the Alphabet. If you wish to do the same after you have finished teaching  the Alphabet and some basic vocabulary, you can ask the players to spell the word they hit, or you can spell a word for the players to spot and hit! The teacher could also, call a word in the student’s mother tongue . The players find and throw the snowball at the corresponding English word on the board, to win a point for their team.

If younger  students don’t know the letter sounds yet, you can just call out a letter and they can throw a snowball at it once they find it on the wall. For a faster paced game, you can call out a letter sound and the players throw a snowball at the corresponding letter.

TOUCH AND KNOW

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Blindfolds and oversized cardboard letters or magnetic letters ( I have bought them from JUMBO) help our juniors get a feel for the alphabet in this tactile game. Prepare several letter cutouts ( or use the magnetic ones, like I did) and place them in a  box. In turn, have each child wear a blindfold as he draws a letter from the box, feels its shape, and identifies the letter by touch.We play this game in teams and it’s great fun!

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ABC RELAY RACE

Have two students, one from each team, stand next to their team alphabet line, on the board . Explain to them that they have to run and write the corresponding small/capital letter , next to each one of the letters in their line .You can even work with letter sounds or ask them to write a word that starts with each letter they see. There are numerous variations of this game… The first team to finish, wins.

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This is such a fun game! My students loved it!

Practice letter recognition and letter sounds with a fun game that gets kids moving.

A fun variation, can be watched here

And for more ideas, you can read this …

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THE SNAIL BOARD GAME

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Well, if I am not mistaken, the original idea belongs to Papadeli Sophia but, I have seen several variations of it, online, so far!

I ask them to say/spell a word that starts with each letter.

An fun ABC board game, played in pairs.

 

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DRAW IT, MIME IT OR SPELL IT

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We play this game, with new words or vocabulary I wish them to revise.

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Get students into groups of three or four and ask them to sit around a table. Put a set of picture cards face down on each table. Distribute the cards evenly among the group. Tell them their cards are secret! They must not show them or talk about them. Students now think of  how they can draw it, spell or mime it. Give them time, but not too much. Students take turns in , miming, spelling or drawing, while the others in the group guess. The student with the fastest correct answer gets the card with the word. The winner is the person with the most correct answers.

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THE ABC SONG PASS-THE-BALL GAME

To help my students remember the ABC song, I have them sing it several times, of course. This is a fun way to do so!

Children develop listening skills, and practice their ABC as they pass the ball around the circle in this cooperative musical ABC game. I tell the children that when they hear a “new” letter , then the ball is passed to the next student.

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The last student holding the ball when the song finishes, is the winner and gets special stickers!

They just can’t get enough of this game! We get to sing the ABC song again and again….

If there is doubt as to who is holding the ball, for example half way through a changeover, then tell them to play “paper, scissors, rock”.

Insist that they only pass the ball, not throw it!!

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“Hippo and friends”-a guest blog post by Margarita Kosior

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Margarita Kosior is an amazing educator from Thessaloniki! I truly admire her work on storytelling !

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

Enjoy!

MARGARITA’S POST:

Every storyteller has their own style. Some use music to convey the mood and the emotions, some use puppets, others rely mainly on their own voice, gestures and mimicry. I want my storytelling sessions to stimulate all the senses and engage all types of learners; a song for musical learners, a game for the kinesthetic type, flashcards for visual learners and so it goes. My storytelling session can start with sounds, involve arts and crafts, and end with baking bread. Variety is one of the main ingredients and each session needs plenty of it.

With a touch of imagination, any story, a classic or a reader, can turn into a fascinating journey.

Each one of my storytelling sessions has a variety of goals including improving linguistic competence, artistic and creative expression, involving participants in group tasks, but also allowing time for personal reflection. All these contribute to increased levels of self-confidence of young learners as English language users.

One of the stories I often use in my storytelling sessions is Henry Hippo by Jenny Dooley and Virginia Evans (Express Publishing).

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

Together with Henry Hippo and his friends I have visited libraries and schools, I have travelled to other cities and even countries and wherever we went, Henry was a great success.

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Storytelling with Margarita at Sztuklandia, Lublin, Poland

Photo credits: Kinga Łaszcz

As a guest of the English Teachers’ Association of Larissa, Greece, I had the pleasure to entertain groups of children between the ages of 4 and 9 at a local library and a bookstore.

Storytelling with Margarita at the Central Library of Larissa, Greece

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Photo credits: Vassiliki Mandalou

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Storytelling with Margarita at Bookstore “Παιδεία”, Larissa, Greece

Photo credits: Aphro Gkiouris

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Storytelling with Margarita at Bookstore “Παιδεία”, Larissa, Greece

Photo credits: Aphro Gkiouris

The storyline is engaging and fun. Henry Hippo gets stuck in mud. Peter Panda, Millie Monkey and Zara Zebra take turns and try to pull him out; in vain. Finally, Zara Zebra has a brilliant idea. The three animals pull together and manage to get Henry out of the mud. A joint effort brings results and the four friends understand that they are more successful if they work hand in hand.

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

Before the students arrive, I set the scene for the story. I use a long piece of blue fabric for the river, a piece of brown fabric for the mud and a piece of yellow fabric for the sun.

Every storytelling session starts with a “Hello” song (it can be any “hello” song, the choice of the instructor). It is good to develop routines. They make the learners feel more comfortable and more self-confident right from the start.

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

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Photo credits: Magdalena Baca

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

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Photo by Margarita Kosior

Every time the group shout: “Magic Box, open!”, one head band is taken out.m-henryHenry Hippo

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Peter Panda

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Millie Monkey

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Zara Zebra

After ample repetition, the participants know the names of the protagonists and are ready for the story. But the truth is that, especially in case of Henry Hippo, the students participate throughout the story. They take turns to wear the headbands, repeat the lines and play out the content of the story as I am reading the lines out. Depending on the age and level of the student, I ask them to repeat either complete sentences, phrases or single words. At turning points in the story (right after Henry Hippo asks for help), I ask the students to anticipate in what way each animal is going to try to help Henry Hippo. This practice creates suspense and builds the atmosphere of anticipation. Curiosity plays an important role in preschoolers’ lives. Young children ask many “why” questions and all the “why’s” have a purpose of getting to the bottom of things.

If the time is enough, I encourage my students to make their own sequel to the story by adding more jungle animals willing to help Henry Hippo get out of mud.

No good storytelling session goes without a song or a chant. I like simple songs; simple enough for the little ones to learn it in five minutes and sing it so loud that people up on the next floor and out in the street can hear them A good song or chant is a good way of revising target vocabulary. The repetitive rhyme and rhythm make it possible for even the youngest learners to join in.

My follow-up activities usually include arts and crafts projects. For Henry Hippo, I would recommend making a hippo magnet.

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Photos by Margarita Kosior

I finish my storytelling sessions with a simple goodbye song, easy for even the youngest participants to join in and sing along.

Storytelling provides plenty of benefits to (very) young learners and there is plenty of research to prove it.

The benefits can be divided into three groups: mental, social, and educational. In terms of mental benefits, storytelling boosts thinking capacity; it is an activity for the brain. It provides opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas as a group. Also, through enjoyable experiences while listening to a story, children will develop their individual reading tastes.

Stories from different cultures help children develop an awareness of the similarities between ourselves and others as well as highlight differences, which can then be explored and discussed in the classroom. Thus, children develop empathy and concern for others in order to understand the concept of social equality and justice. This will motivate them to become active citizens and take on social action in the future. Storytelling also conveys important values: bravery, respect, tolerance, teamwork, patience, generosity, fair play, forgiveness, peace, and other values which, when cultivated systematically, will make your students better people.

Also, through active participation in a storytelling session children internalize the language in a natural way within the scope of the thematic units discussed in class. Analyzing questions, retrieving details and associations triggered by the story, and deciding on answers – all these engage children in active learning.

Overall, storytelling has been shown to build intrinsic motivation and self-esteem.

Personally, I know one thing for sure: an engaging storytelling session creates magic, cultivates a love of reading at an early age and adds variety to your lesson. And these make it worth the effort!

 

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MY COMMENT:

Well, I tried this amazing story telling activity with two different classes of 1st graders, in a small state school with basic facilities, in a timy  classroom and… it really worked!! My kids just loved both the story and Hippo!

This school year, our class mascot is actually a… Hippo hand puppet  therefore,I just told them that Hippo would like to share one of his adventures in a London park, with them!

They ALL wanted to take part in the story!

Our special friends!

Our special headbands!

I followed Margarita’s suggestions and I had them participate throughout the story. They took turns to wear the headbands, repeat the lines and play out the content of the story as I was reading the lines out.

They actually found it really easy to remember specific lines and expressions!

Even today , a month later, they use them in class and.. surprise me!

They say:” Oh, dear!” when I tell them  there’s not enough time for a second game or ” What’s the matter?” when I look sad or angry..They also say ” Help” ,”Pull”, ” Hip-hip Hooray” and so many more, in unpredictable moments during our lessons!

Here are some photos from my class…..

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Thanks, Margarita for your creative work and all the inspiration on storytelling!Keep amazing us!