Sunday, 9 December 2012

011 Books of interest

A Criminal History of Mankind
Colin Wilson

Born to Win: Transactional Analysis with Gestalt Experiments
Muriel James, Dorothy Jongeward

You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation
Deborah Tannen

And to finish on a light note, heard the most awesome sound in the world:

010 Christmas resources

This first one comes from my colleague Marzena:
For all teachers looking for a new Christmas song for ages 7 and up.

009 Drama in the classroom

Prezis which may help you.

Drama Games 25 classroom exercises (6.25 hours of classtime)
Basics of Drama
Drama Curriculum

Bonus Vocabulary:
Primary Emotions:

Sunday, 25 November 2012

008 - The best thing a teacher can do with technology is get organized

The administrative overhead only seems to grow. How to stay on top yet free in your mind to concentrate on the class in front of you?

You think you're organized, do you? I know I'm not. Not as much as I'd like to be, I'd like to have zero leakage in my system, what's a leak? If you've ever found a phone number with no name in your pocket and can't remember who it was you'd planned on calling only that it was important...that nagging self doubt eats at your energy and makes you less able to be present in your own classes.

It is possible to have an overwhelming number of things coming at you and stay sane and free in your mind but in order for that to happen, either your work has to be less or your ability to execute has to grow.

Watch the videos, learn GTD, install Evernote and take your life back.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

007 Links for colleagues

A good Camcorder:

For presentations:

For creating videos:

For organizing your classes:

For downloading videos from YouTube:
You may also like:

Use this link for dropbox:
Or, go directly to dropbox and sign up:

Post lesson observation form in progress:

Instant news lessons:



006 What's happening to modern language programs?

Mars Berman, a colleague of mine, forwarded me an interesting article I'd like to share here:


In an op-ed piece entitled “What You (Really) Need to Know,” published on January 20, 2012, in the New York Times, former president of Harvard University Lawrence Summers called upon American universities to revamp their curricula in order to better prepare their students for the twenty-first century. Among his propositions, Summers made the case that the study of foreign languages represents a waste of time. As more and more people acquire English across our increasingly interconnected globe, he argued, mastery of foreign languages will become less and less necessary. Colleges and universities should instead teach their students leading-edge skills better suited to an increasingly competitive employment marketplace.

Friday, 9 November 2012

005 Workshop at Gimnazjum z Oddziałami Dwujęzycznymi, ul.Twarda 8/12, 3rd floor

1. Using Prezi to save time and effort in class
2. Using Windows Live Moviemaker for making class films.
3. Apps for teachers and Apps for Students: eTwinning, Dropbox, Google
Drive, Evernote
4. Best online news, research and class materials resources: Reddit,
9Gag, 4Chan (in order of usefulness)

This is the plan of what I hope to get through, it should be a fun, stimulating day. I've happy to see there will be at least 47 teachers with jobs in the next 20 years. That may sound harsh. It is, but it comes with a big disclaimer:


This is the SMCR model of interpersonal communication. Teachers who don't have the choice of any channel to communicate are placing obstacles between themselves and their teaching practices which do not have to be there.

Today is not about the triumph of electronic tools. It is about the triumph of an integral approach. Good penmanship has its place in the classroom and I predict penmanship, shorthand and other traditional tools of language learning are coming back in a big way over the next 20 years. Just take this with a grain of salt as I haven't a large enough sample to base conclusions of any real validity. You know what they say: If you don't make a prediction, you have zero chance of being right!

Monday, 10 September 2012

004 New ICT one day intensive course idea

I'm considering running a second ICT course for one day. 4 x 90 minutes of sessions.

  1. Introduction and Use of Prezi
  2. Free online tools, TwinSpace, Google Docs, Blogger, project based learning
  3. How to make a video using Windows Live Movie Maker
  4. Apps for education, Educreations, Inkling, SimpleMind, and more
I want to have several rooms with computers and internet access so everyone can actually create materials. I honestly don't know how we're going to cram everything in to the time we have. I'll likely adjust the timing. I would like to see everyone make something they can take away and use.

I'm considering posting this in my classroom. Would you?
Questions? Comments? Wish Lists?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

003 Use VDownloader to download Youtube videos

If showing something from YouTube in class is critical to your lesson plan, consider using VDownloader to get an offline copy.

This is another reason why I like the English Explorer series from Nowa Era. I can easily find videos about topics in the units so even if I don't have the DVD (I do) for a unit, because all the units are based on real articles from National Geographic, I can always find something online.

Full disclosure: While I have run teacher training workshops for Nowa Era in the past, I did so because I genuinely like their books and my endorsement is unsolicited.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

002 Tuesday and Karatasi free flash card app

The first time I stepped into an actual classroom this year was as a student. I'm finally going to learn to speak and write Polish accurately.

I'll be taking my notes and using an open office spreadsheet program to create a set of flash cards to input into my Karatasi (iphone app) free flashcard program.

Here is a link to the tutorial I will use:

Monday, 3 September 2012

001 Alpha Monday: First day of school

As it's the first day of school, I want to take the time to thank all the participants who attended my day of teacher training in Interactive last Thursday.

I found a short video promoting a book I would like to use in class as the basis for a motivating vocabulary lesson:

It feels good to be back in Warsaw. It was a long and rewarding summer teaching film-making to 9-12 year olds with a fabulous team of teachers and I'm sure you've heard the old chestnut: "East or West, Home is best." and that's how I feel about it too.

What I like best about collecting useful things online is they don't weigh anything and take up zero space.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

To produce a movie for free you will need the following apps

Windows Live Movie Maker
If you have
Audacity (audio clipping/trimming)
(for animation)
Photoscape (JPEG TO GIF converter)
Movies13 (GIF to AVI converter)
A portable drive like this can only help:

Audacity for free audio editing for movies

Good Books (A growing list)

All real, no realia.

And a few more links
Free short language lessons.
This is the worksheet we saw.
Use this to find them! Join up required.

Use this link to get a bigger dropbox

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I want to ask the questions, said the student.

An interesting video, I like its guerilla production value, it focuses on its message and does it well, using the materials at hand.

Teachers must never wait until they have the tools they think they need.

Do what you can now, with whatever you have now.

Warsaw Summer School 2012 curated list

This list changes. It is not exhaustive. That's what Google is for.

These are my top tools:
Save time, search for a prezi presentation someone else has started, make a copy, fix it/finish it/adapt it to your needs. No point re-inventing the wheel.
Get involved with a community of teachers to organize multinational projects.
Reddit divides its content into subreddits. I recommend you search only within subreddits in your area of interest.
This is a way to make QR codes for free. I am currently experimenting with homework assignments using QR codes and even class-based use for cheap augmented reality lessons.

These are some of the tools I use:
You need to make it easy for students and teachers to find you. If you don't have the time to curate a your profile I recommend you don't have one at all.
This is your professional profile and within LinkedIn, there are groups of professionals in ELT around the world who can help you. I belong to three groups: TEFL Institute, English Teachers Anonymous, ESL teachers on languagespirit (pending).

Transparency is increasingly important. Being a teacher has never been more of a public profession than it is today.

These are tools I am looking into:

These are tools I find interesting but don't recommend except for digerati:

Czy podręczniki będą zbędne...? / Will coursebooks be obsolete...?

I gave this talk in 2012 at the National Library of Warsaw at the "Od Ala ma kota do e-matury" conference.

It was an intensely rewarding day with speakers concerned with design of educational materials drawn from across Europe.

Find out more at:

Warsaw Summer School 2012

This bog is part of my contribution to an intensive teacher training course organized by (Learning Without Borders)

I am a teacher who uses technology both inside and outside the classroom to maximize quality by avoiding duplication of effort and automating as much of my out-of-class work as possible so I can concentrate on delivering the best language lessons I can.

I meet my colleagues tomorrow where I hope to share every tip and trick that works with them and I hope they will do the same for me.

Monday, 27 August 2012

QR codes have many possibilities for classwork and homestudy

QR codes are increasingly ubiquitous on ads as quick links to sites-at-a-glance. If your students have phones then they probably have a QR (quick response) code reader. Try these codes for fun. They link to important language sites.

If you don't have a QR reader, here is where you can get one for your phone:
IOS: App Store, search: QRafter (It's the one I use and recommend)
Android: Marketplace, search: QRafter.

I can't recommend others because I've tried many which don't reliably read all QR codes.

Try these! Launch your app and let your camera hover over these squares and you should get a link.