domenica 23 aprile 2017

Digital Storytelling : Reflecting on the Mooc by POLITECNICO MILANO which I have just finished

In November I enrolled on a course run by POLITECNICO MILANO about Digital Storytelling.
I had previously done another MOOC about this interesting topic in education thanks to Coursera and wrote about it as I had started it by chance and I didn't think about the great potentialities of  DS.
The MOOC was in Italian- last year I did another course about creating ebooks thanks to the Italian platform and it was really helpful. This MOOC was a lonely journey- the online tutors did not provide much feedback but they gave us lots of documents online and information about the many web tools which we can use to write our stories.
This is a personal reflection on what we should do as  DS is a wonderful way for getting our students more engaged and I would add that it is useful for  English Language Learners too as they can use the target language and in a creative way.

Today we have a lot of platforms and we can choose a lot of tools to write and present our stories.It is very important to plan how to do it but we have a lot of tutorials online which can guide teachers and learners.
We were guided by an expert teacher who presented different stories which the University in Milan had supported and studied by creating a special platform. I might decide to try to participate in the annual events they run for schools presenting their stories next year.

In the final task I was asked to create an activity online and I chose the topic " Earth Day" to create a task that might suit many classes while students read, watch videos and write about this global issue.
I decided to start by using Twitter and thanks to this social network I could have access to many resources for educators.
I also checked what people had written about this topic and I found this interesting ebook created by using a tool which was listed among the many tools we can use to do DS tasks: Story Jumper.

Book titled 'The ABC's of Earth Day'Read this free book made on StoryJumper
Here is the first part of my activity created by using a new tool which combines the features of narration with collaboration too: I think that it could be used by students to mix their stories in projects. Its name is Sutori.
The topic was  Earth Day but you could use the tool for writing skills and other class projects.

When we plan DS tasks we need to think about a lot of things:
- how to work
- what kind of final output we might expect our  students to create
- how to evaluate the student's work

It can be very demanding and that's the reason why I have not done it so far.  The projects they have presented us in theMOOCc show very simple stories so I am thinking of trying to use some of the best ideas for getting starting with  DS  in my school next year.

Here is the link to the task which I have just uploaded :

In the final part of the document you will find important links to rubrics for evaluation.
There are so many tools that I feel I will need to try only the simple ones but  it will be worth trying them.

Resources and Ideas online

Click here to open this binder in a new window.

sabato 22 aprile 2017

# Earth Day 2017

I am working on storytelling for an Italian Mooc right now- I will have to submit one task this week and that's the reason why I have chosen to create an activity on Earth Day. In the last two weeks I have found plenty of useful resources: free resources which can be used by any educator. 

You may be surprised to find so many interesting documents online, videos, songs and important conferences all over the world. I have decided to use Sutori, a new app which can enable teachers to work online with their classes and students can collaborate. I like the idea of relying on so many resources in English as my students might benefit from reading or listening to them.Once you have finished your presentation you can share it with the others and embed it in a website or a blog. The app is free and you just need to have an account to start using it.

If you check online you will find a lot of documents about the issue of " Earth Day" and educators are involved in sharing ideas and materials. I love the idea of using videos and texts so I have chosen a poem and a short story for my presentation.

Here is the link to my presentation which you can find here :

I could create it in a short time and I think that it can offer an interesting activity for teaching our learners of English about  Earth Day while they are working together and also creating their own personal presentations.

If we search online we will find many more tips or interesting documents in English: films, cartoons, lists of videos and more. We just need to find some time and choose them for our  lessons.
Let's all celebrate Earth Day!!

lunedì 17 aprile 2017

Outside in: bringing new technology perspectives to ELT

Tuesday 4th  April 2017

A talk about technology in ELT

I did not follow the talk which took place on 4th April but it was and it is a must do activity for every teacher. I watched the recording and I would suggest it to anyone who loves teaching and thinking about what is changing in our schools.
The topic was technology in ELT. I just found the time this week to check it and I think that what was discussed is the reality in which we are working now. There is a new world which goes beyond the walls of our schools and is outside our ELT lessons and classes.  Internet, social media and new devices have entered our life. We cannot live without our tablets and in Italy the king of the modern devices is the smartphone. 

The presenters were   Geoff Stead, Donald Clark, Paul Driver and  Yvonne Rogers. They shared their ideas about this revolution which is changing our work as educators but also the life of workers and students in the XXI century.

More than in the classroom we have learners studying on their own in virtual worlds and a lot of teachers have moved from the book to the whiteboards with internet connections, flipped learning approaches, blended learning while the new book is the ebook. Hyperlinks, Open Sources and shared documents or videos are now part of the courses and lesson plannings of the 21st Century teachers.

What is good about this revolution is the idea that we can learn outside the classroom: our students have access to online courses, MOOCs, Youtube videos and songs and music. Most of these resources are now available for free. When I started learning English I could only rely on a book and later I was given the opportunity to buy a book with some cassettes to listen to and to check the pronunciation in English. I spent hundred of pounds on buying something to listen to. Now we are provided with a lot of free materials which we can download and share online. I feel this is the advantage we should all be proud of.
Our students can be connected to people living everywhere as we have Skype and a lot of chatrooms which they can access thanks to modern devices. The smartphone is more than a mobile phone as we can work by using it and it is the memory of activities with lots of files, photos, documents and videos we have liked or viewed.  Social Media are part of this revolution: Twitter, FB and other important ones are also used in education. Anytime I do a course online I can rely on social networks for sharing ideas and it is also nice to be online and share ideas with people living all over the world!!

Having said that we have to think about some problems which are related to the use of modern technology in education. Yyonne Rogers focussed on the importance of new media as they can help us collaborate but  she pointed out that there are also some risks in using them.
I am using modern devices in class only from time to time, I have to do this as we do not have a good internet connection and my students cannot have internet for free in our school but I agree with what was said in the discussion that our students lack concentration when they work with modern devices and sometimes we need to stop using tablets as learning requires the use of modern technologies but  also concentration. We do need to continue working and thinking and it is also important to learn together not only in a virtual world. Educators can take advantage of the new tools but learning a language and mastering a foreign language requires also love and passion for learning and it is up to the teachers to create the best conditions for using the new language items.

sabato 15 aprile 2017

BDBCDWGSpring2017 and other free ebooks and resources online

If you follow  EDweb webinars you may be familiar with
They offer   CPD online and a lot of resources for educators.Some are free and provide ideas and information to find tools or websites with lots of resources.
Here is the link to their last ebook- you just need to ask to download it:


I found some interesting websites with free resources: they vary from projects to documents and games. A lot of free resources could be used in Italy too and they might be shared with teachers who are not teaching English but need to use English in CLIL.
Here are just some interesting ones: just check them and the other ones.

Here is the ebook for their ebook for teachers of Languages: I will have to check it.

Thank you to the people who worked to make these ebooks. They will help a lot of teachers to create new content!!

Happy Easter 2017

Hoping we will continue living in peace and share the beauty of friendship among people and different cultures: HAPPY EASTER!


venerdì 14 aprile 2017

Digital Storytelling and Science

On 5th April  I could see an interesting webinar - the speaker was  Rebecca Morris who shared her materials and an interesting padlet with some samples of what she meant by choosing the title  Digital Storytelling and Science. I was favorably impressed by her webinar!

It seemed to me a great introduction to the topic  DS as more and more we are asked to work with our learners and to think about new approaches in the way we work, think and make presentations.
I could see some samples of what she meant by using DS in a scientific context.  The ideas and the tools may be familiar to many of us but what I was looking forward to seeing were examples of  DS.
We can rely on a lot of free resources online and scientific subjects can be learned by using narration.
She used and  shared some interesting  web 2.0 tools:


This is her padlet with some more presentations.  They are a great source for teachers who want to start using  DS and are looking for ideas.I liked the idea of having a mix of images and great sources in terms of information. We might think about using the new tools in teaching  English and CLIL as we could have learners engaged in working on specific topics while studying and making their own presentations.

Made with Padlet

Write&Improve Learning English online

Learning how to write in English and  some  useful tools online

It is not easy to teach students about the best ways for writing in English. Today we can rely on tools online that can support us while working on one of the most difficult skills to teach in English.
Currently, I am teaching students preparing for Cambridge exams in afternoon lessons: both B1 and B2 level exams focus on such a competence. They are required to write emails, short stories, essays and articles in English and most of the time I have no time to do this in the morning. Only in these special courses I focus on the technique and I realize that learning how to write well requires a lot of time and exercises based on what they will be asked to do in the papers!!  
What is really hard for our learners is to master Vocabulary and how to organize their ideas while writing a text which can be meaningful and while they are writing they are following a framework which is  English and not in Italian. One of the most common mistakes my students do is when they follow the  Italian way of writing. It is a spontaneous way of writing which often lacks planning and organization and which is based on a different way of working while writing.
They often translate from Italian into English and they forget that the English language is much simpler in terms of organization of thoughts and ideas. I need to teach them that brainstorming is the key to starting writing better but it is hard for them to forget their Italian.
Some useful tools can help  students develop as learners:

This website requires a teacher's account and it is a source for widening the students' language competence. 

This tool online helps you learn about the best  combinations: just check what I did when I chose the word " butter": interesting, isn't it?

Online dictionaries can provide support as students will focus on the meanings while checking the spelling or the words they are going to check.

Cambridge English has just started an interesting service online which is free and which can be used by learners who want to improve their writing skills.  Here is the presentation online about this interesting service and which can provide feedback for the learners who have registered with it for free.
I think that all the students taking  Cambridge certificates should try it!

I hope I will be able to teach better and I am willing to start using these tools in class with my intermediate level students.

Teaching English Grammar and ebooks

Teaching English Grammar: ebooks for Learners

Last year I could do a great  EVO session about creating ebooks and the tutor in the course was Shelly  Terrell Sanchez. In the course we did online we shared ideas about the best ways for writing an ebook and we learned about many publishing platforms which were free. I shared my first ebook about  William Shakespeare, but before starting the course I had thought about the problem of grammar learning or rather learning how to empower learners by using the English grammar correctly while studying on their own. 
I have not published any book about English grammar and exercises yet as it is a great effort for me now and honestly I would need more time to work on this ebook.
However, I have tried to design an ebook for my lower level learners who are " struggling learners". I chose the simple past and some listening and reading activities for the learners who will have to study on their own.
The result of my effort is this ebook where students are asked to revise and learn the simple past while they are asked to watch some videos about the main language structures. As the simple past tense requires a lot of reading and speaking  I chose some books which are free online and which could be read by my students. 

Here is the link to my ebook which has been embedded in this post.
I will try to develop more tasks for my students as I will write down some tasks and ideas for the summer work as I think that learning requires a lot of individual tasks. What I think is important for me and for them is that  I would like my students to be more engaged and to become active learners who can work on their own and decide what and when to work. This implies that I will have to develop activities which are not only based on grammar exercises but which are meaningful to the learners.  I have just thinking about this new ebook which I hope I will end by May before my students leave school.


domenica 9 aprile 2017

Mistakes in learning the English language

English language teaching and learning:the importance of mistakes

I found this interesting infographic about commons mistakes in language learning. There are many mistakes which can be found in our learners' writing. I think that this is a good way for working with them by making them become aware of what they might write and what they need to think of before writing so that they will write without making mistakes. I am usedto asking my students to correct sentences but creating infographics with some common mistakes can have a visual impact on their learning. They  can remember much better and they can rely on some reference online or on something they have created.  Similarly, we might work on their writings and ask them to recognise what type of mistakes they have made: grammar or spelling mistakes, for example. They could also make a short presentation where they reflect and think about the best strategies to improve their skills.  Active learners will benefit from learning by making mistakes!

“We learn from failure, not from success!”   from  Dracula by  Bram  Stoker

venerdì 7 aprile 2017

Interview with Rasha Halat : using Ted-Ed

Friday  7th  April ( Day  5)

An interesting interview with  Rasha Halat who presented one of the tools which  I have seen online but never used with my students. I have used the lessons created by other teachers but I have never created mine.

I checked online and I could see that apart from using the Lesson Library you can also create your lessons, share them with your students once you have created them.

These are the simple steps you need to follow:
1- search a video  
2- add questions: they can be open questions or closed questions with multiple choices. You can also add more resources
3- publish  your lesson 
4- share the link with your students

This tool is great as we can monitor the students and track their work.

As I have already said, it is a new tool as I have never  created  my lessons and I have just used what  the library offered but I am going to start using it!

I will see if it can be an alternative to EdPuzzle- which I am familiar with.

All these tools can enhance the students' learning online while working on Listening and Viewing skills of our students. They offer great possibilities for creating videos with activities when teaching  CLIL and they should be used by all teachers involved in the so called  Flipped Classroom approach

The aim of the tool was to make learning and teaching different from the past. They have been great as educators can now rely on a new source of ideas and maybe our students will learn better. 

Thanks for letting us know about this tool or reminding us that we can use it and that it is free!!! 

mercoledì 5 aprile 2017

Teaching well-being to teens

5th  April 2017 ( Day 3)

Rachael Harris  made a nice presentation  in which she focussed on the links between well-being and learning foreign languages. As language  teachers  we can find and develop special activities to make our learners become engaged while learning in class. Well-being is important for us and for our learners. We can rely on  plenty of tips now and it is important go beyond the traditional lessons. 

It is important to feel how your  students are feeling when they are with you.  Social networks can also help us to interact with the young  students : FB or Instagram are mentioned but  I would also add any activity online where we interact with them. This can be done when you are not at school but it implies that you really care.

We could see interesting activities where students could interact and express themselves. Students can work with you and " have some fun". 

Among the activities she suggested are making  presentations  and working on talks like the ones found on line thanks to TED talks.
Teachers can encourage students to write their journals where they reflect and think about their well-being.
All the tasks and activities have a linguistic  aim or value.  It is up to the teachers to incorporate some activities that have to do with  well-being while they are using the language in meaningful tasks.

Bibliography ( suggested by the speaker)


Iatelf Glasgow: the English Language

An interesting interview that every teacher should watch online.  David  Crystal's book is a must read book!!
Looking forward to reading the book!

martedì 4 aprile 2017

Not again? A new revised edition of Practical English Usage

Glasgow  4th April 2017 ( Day 2)

It was a pleasure to watch the video where Michael Swan presented his new revised edition of the book which  I used many years ago when I was studying at University. I must admit that it is one of the books I have loved most and I consider it my Grammar or rather the Bible for  TEFL and  ESL learners. It is  Practical English Usage by   M. Swan.
The new edition relies on the previous  editions but it has been enriched with lots of new topics and varieties of English and usages.
Learning a language requires knowledge about grammar and words and this makes the new edition an enriched book with lots of language items like the use of punctuations and word patterns. Now the organization is based on topics while in the other editions it was based on A-Z list.

The event presented also the online edition of this famous grammar.
Diagnostic tests have been introduced to help the learners who are going to work by using the book.
It is still Michael's Swan's Grammar but it is really engaging and based on the needs of the modern learners who work also online.
I will probably check this new edition and see which language items have been added.
Thanks a lot for the presentation!

Making pronunciation an integral part of your classroom practice

Glasgow 4th   April 2017 ( Day 2)

Making pronunciation an integral part of your classroom practice

An interesting session  thanks to Mark McKinnon  and Nicola Meldrum.  They underlined the importance of focussing on pronunciation in lessons and the close link between pronunciation and listening in ELT.
Here are some  tips  they shared with us online:   

  • Listen and learn
  • Integrate
  • One Thing at a Time
  • Step out of Your Teacher's Shoes
  • Listening needs Prons

They also presented their  blog which I will  check and the activities in which they are both involved:
as a teacher of  English I feel that often pronunciation is neglected while teaching English and this is one of the reasons for the many difficulties our students might face when they start travelling or move abroad.

The link to the  blog  is this one:

They are also involved in teachers' professional  development courses:

Thanks a lot for the  tips!  I worked online in February  and did an EVO session on  Teaching Listening. I am aware that both  skills  need a lot of activities in class. We should  change the approach to teaching  them.  I will follow the blog about  how to teach pronunciation.  I am sure I will learn a lot!  

lunedì 3 aprile 2017

Glasgow 2017 Day 1 Interview with Silvana Richardson and Fiona Dunlop

3rd  April  2017
The  First Day has started and we are here online waiting for the first interviews to begin.
I have decided to check this session online as  CPD is now part of my life as a teacher.  I have just listened to the interview with  Silvana Richardson and Fiona  Dunlop.  It is an interesting interview online where they discuss about the use of open space technology as a means of running conference sessions. They also talk about CPD and the development of CPD within the modern school framework.
It is a new world which is now part of the life of many educators. We have changed our schools and now we can develop as teachers relying on social networks and the use of technology. Teachers are now aware of the importance of  CPD - they can integrate   CPD within a framework of a life-long learning process.
I have seen so many people involved in online training and conferences that  I cannot but say that new learning environments are being developed for millions of teachers living all over the world.
This is the magic of " the new frontier" in education and teachers are actively participating!

domenica 2 aprile 2017

IATEFL Glasgow 2017 (1)

Ready to be online and see what's going on in Glasgow this week!

I will be at work and busy at school but I won't miss this great event with lots of speakers and educators who will share ideas and tell us about important changes in education  and ELT.
I won't be in Glasgow but  I will follow what 's going to happen  there  thanks to this International Conference and  British Council.  


The Presenters


I have embedded my presentation online for my presentation to LEND REGGIO EMILIA this week. There are a lot of tools which need to be shared and can enhance our learning. I have learnt a lot from the others and I am sharing what I have learnt as I feel that connected educators can really make a difference. Enjoy seeing and checking the presentation!


The flipbook has also been created online :