Looking back

Dec 26, 2010

Last year I made some New Year resolutions: one was to meet my Twitter friends f2f, the other was to share with Croatian teachers everything I learned on Twitter. A year later, I think I may say I've accomplished my goals - to a certain extent.

My blog for Cro teachers is still alive - by no means is it a lively, dynamic site, because only three people are subscribed to it and only rarely (actually: never) have my posts been inspirational or catchy to make my visitors leave a comment. However, there have been more than 2500 visits to the blog and more importantly, I've written 45 posts about different web tools that can be used in the classroom. Perhaps one day someone finds something useful in one of my posts.

The tweet-ups began early in January when I met @kenwilsonlondon (and his wonderful wife Dede) in London.
March brought a fantastic opportunity for a tweet-meet with @cheimi10 in Zagreb.
In April I went to Berlin and met @janwebb21, @MrMalcontent, @w2YDAvid, @jugoslaval and @olliebray.
In October came Cape Town and more tweetups: @c_arnett and @coolcatteacher.

My resolutions for 2011 remain the same: more tweet ups and more (more interesting) posts on my Croatian blog. However, there's something else I want to do add to it: more comments to my PLN members' blog posts. Let's say I write one comment a day. Too optimistic? Too enthusiastic? Undoable? Never mind, I'm going to give it a try. (#luvchallenges)

Merry Christmas

Dec 23, 2010

Merry Christmas to all the visitors of my blog! May your holidays be filled with joy, peace and love.

My own glogster

Dec 20, 2010

It's this Oscar-ish feeling again. Indescribable.

Deena from Edu.Glogster created a glogster to celebrate ME!

Thank you!

Greetings From The World is the winner!

Dec 16, 2010

Huge congrats to Viviana, Rose, Eva, Culya, Judy, Clara V., Clara G., , Shyam, Vicki, Gyöngyi, Jesstern, José, Candace, Valerie, Monika, Shannon, Heidi, Dan and Claudia. It's because of you and your wonderful students.

Edublogs Awards 2010

Dec 6, 2010

To my absolute delight, our Greetings From The World wiki has been shortlisted for the Best Educational Wiki Award. A big thank you to kind educators out there who nominated it this year again. A big thank you to those wonderful teachers and their amazing students who have been part of it since we started it in October 2009. (Do I sound a bit Oscar-ish? Well, I can't help it, that's who I am:)

But what makes me the happiest teacher in the world right now is the fact that this wiki has grown from one single class of 24 students to 18 classes with 420 students from 12 different countries on 5 continents. Here they are, those wonderful teachers, my real virtual friends:

Viviana Alayo, Colegio Machado de Assis, Joinville, Brazil
Candace Townsley, Owasso Public School, Owasso, Oklahoma, USA
Valerie Burton, West Jefferson School, Harvey, Lousiana, USA
Dan Roberts, Saltash Community Schools, Saltash, UK
Eva Büyüksimkeşyan and Culya Yapici, Esayan Armenian High School, Istanbul, Turkey
José Romão,Colegio de Alfragide, Alfragide, Portugal
Clara Vieira, Escola EB 2,3/S de Vale de Cambra, Portugal
Monika Hardy,Thompson Valley HS, Loveland, Colorado, USA
Shannon McClintock Miller, Van Meter Community Schools, Van Meter, Iowa, USA
Judy Uhrig, Latham Elementary School, Winston-Salem, N. Carolina, USA
Shyam Sunder Malhotra, St.Simran School, Patiāla Area, India
Vicki Palmer, Brisbane Grammar, Brisbane, Australia
Rositsa Mineva, The Fifth Primary School, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
Heidi Musterós, Colegio Goethe, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jesstern Rays, Catholic High School, Singapore
Gyöngyi Tóthné Bán, Primary School Balatonboglár, Balatonboglár Hungary
Clara Gutierrez, Westwood Elementary School, Houston, Texas, USA

And yes, if you want to give us your vote, please click here.

David Crystal in Zagreb

Dec 5, 2010

Quite a few members of my PLN spent the last weekend at a conference in Paris. I couldn't be there with them, (I strongly believe the time will come when I too will go to a conference and meet my PLN:-) but now I'm enjoying reading their reflections on their very special tweet-ups and the fabulous TESOL conference. One of the brilliant presenters and speakers at the conference was David Crystal.

This weekend, imagine that, I had a fantastic opportunity to hear David Crystal give two talks at the 10th OUP Conference in Zagreb: Advanced Conversational English: fact and fiction and The perils of being a linguist.

David Crystal held his audience of about 400 (or maybe even 500) teachers enthralled for over two hours. David Crystal didn't use power point. He didn't need it. His speech was powerful without it.

moja matura online

Dec 3, 2010

On December 1, 2009 an ICT teacher, a math teacher and an English teacher launched a website for their school-leavers with nothing but boundless enthusiasm. The website contained links to free exercises on the Internet as well as interactive exercises created by the above said teachers for their students. They also created a facebook fan page, a ning site and a twitter account for the website.

The word about this free site for online preparation for the standardized school-leaving exam spread incredibly quickly all around the country. The website is no longer the place to practise writing, reading and listening skills, math and ICT for the students from one school only. It is THE place where school-leavers from the most southern island to the most northern village can get ready for their exams, provided they have internet access. And they do - in their schools if not in their homes.

In the past year, more than 400 links to English exercises have been posted on the website, together with more than 200 Math, ICT, German and Croatian exercises and more than 400 links to important notices on the official webpages of the Croatian Edu Department et.al. as well as links to related newspaper articles. Students clicked on (and hopefully solved) math tasks about 100,800 times. There has been a considerable number of visitors ....and unique visitors.... and hits on the website.

As you might have guessed, I'm the English teacher in question, Sonja and Nataša are the ICT and Math teachers respectively. On December 10, we're throwing a party to celebrate our first anniversary with our dear friends and supporters. I just wish I could invite my online friends from different parts of the world - teachers who create all kinds of activities for English language learners and who generously share their knowledge with the world. I'm deeply grateful to you:

to numerous teachers who create video listening quizzes for ESL Video

to the teachers who are behind:

and many, many others....

Without you, we wouldn't be here where we are now. Thank you!

My nominations for Edublog Awards 2010

Dec 2, 2010

This time last year I was beside myself when I heard that my wiki Greetings from the world was shortlisted for the Best Educational Wiki Award. And I will never forget the wee hours of one Friday in December when the winners were announced. Just don't ask me what I said in my winner speech. That I don't remember.

But here I go with this year's nominations:

Best individual blog: Janet's Abruzzo Edublog by Janet Bianchini

Best individual tweeter: @europeaantje

Best new blog: Webb's Wide World by Jan Webb.

Best resource sharing blog: Esolcourses by Sue Lyon Jones

Most influential blog post: The 30 Goals Challenge by Shelly Terrell

Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion: #eltpics by @VictoriaB52, @cgoodey and @vickyloras

Best teacher blog: Kalinago English by Karenne Silvester

Best educational tech support blog: iLearn Technology by Kelly Tenkely

Best educational use of audio: Breaking News English by Sean Banville

Best educational use of video / visual: Teacher Training Videos by Russell Stannard

Best educational wiki: Celebr8UandMeDigitally by Eva Büyüksimkeşyan and Alexandra Francisco

Best educational use of a virtual world: ELTChat

Video Listening Quiz: Step into Christmas

Nov 28, 2010

Video listening quiz: Monday Morning

Nov 21, 2010

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday morning!


Nov 10, 2010

Can you find me?

My Capetown

Nov 8, 2010

It's been more than a week since I came home from Capetown where I attended the MS Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. There are different reasons why it was an out of this world experience.

Firstly, my project Greetings from the world made it to the finals in the Innovation for Collaboration Category. This is the best result ever achieved by a Croatian teacher at a worldwide competition. However, this project is not strictly Croatian, it's rather global in the true sense of the world, and I'm just a member of a team of exceptional innovative teachers who love this project.

Secondly, who doesn't like to travel? I have a strong passion for travel and this was an amazing opportunity for me to travel to South Africa for the first time. Seeing Cape Town at the foot of the stunning Table Mountain , its many depressing townships, the Cape of Good Hope, pretty proteas in bloom, cute little penguins which I couldn't swim with, as well as the excellent South African wine was unforgettable.

But most importantly, the Forum brought together innovative educators from all parts of the world. 500 teachers from 72 countires had already won their regional competitions in the first stages of the Forum, so being there in Cape Town was actually our special award. Together we celebrated what we are so passionately dedicated to: innovation in education.
So much passion, enthusiasm, warmth and devotion that I absorbed in the halls of the Convention Center, at the opening ceremony in the vinery and the gala in the Botanical Garden will keep me going for a long time.

The only thing that makes me a wee sad is this little bug: what if I don't make it to MMS WW IEF 2011 in Washington, DC????

The finalists

Nov 3, 2010

The Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovation Education Forum held in Cape Town last week was a true celebration of enthusiastic, inspiring and passionate teachers.

These are the finalists and the award winners in four different categories:

The Innovation in Collaboration Award
The finalists are:
(I'm proudly one of them)

And the winners are:

Best Practice:
Martin Ryum and Mette Hauch, Denmark: Teachers Leave Them Kids Alone
First Runner-Up:
Jan Webb, UK: Working in a Classroom Without Walls
Second Runner-Up:
Ian Fogarty, Canada: Xenotransplant Debate
Anna Karlsson, Sweden: ICT Enriched Learning

The Innovation in Content Award
The finalists are:

And the winners are:
Best Practice:
Pat Yongpradit, USA: Game Programming with the Microsoft Zune to Promote High School Women in Technology
First Runner-Up:
Adriana Silva de Oliveira, Brazil: School on the Cloud
Second Runner-Up:
Peter de Lisle, South Africa: Biodiversity

The Innovation in Community Award
The finalists are:

And the winners are:

Best Practice:
Samuel Avornyo, Ghana: Rural Food Processing Industries
First Runner-Up:
Barry Corrigan, Northern Ireland: Making Homework Count – Engaging Parents
Second Runner-Up:
Simone Timms, Australia: It Takes A Community To Raise A Child

The Educators Choice Award:

Best Practice:
Tareq Mahjoub, Tareq Mahmoud, Shahzlan Al Saffar, Omar Ashour, Futooh Khareetah, Majdi Daoud, Arabic Region: Accepting Each Other
First Runner-Up:
Preesheila Bheem singh Ujoodha, Mauritius: Wellness and Fitness for Life
Second Runner-Up:
Ricardo Espino González, Mexico: Electronic Logbook

Cape Town, here I come

Oct 23, 2010

I'm doing the final preparations for the trip to Cape Town. My level of excitement is at 10!

To teach with tech

Oct 12, 2010

I just received an e-mail from a student of mine with a link to the Map of Online Communities.

He writes:

"First of all, I know how interested you are in many creative and interactive internet sites and perhaps you just might use any of 'countries' in your future projects with your future classes or even us, but what really caught my eye was a country named Ning. That brought back the memories. Best ones, of course!"

This is what makes teaching with tech worthwhile.

Blogging with students

Oct 10, 2010

This is the second year that I'm blogging with my students. Last year I introduced my 17-year olds to blogging the moment I learned how to do it. Or at least I thought I knew how to blog with students.

This year, I started out thoroughly prepared. Well aware of last year's weaknesses and strengths, I clearly defined the goals and strategies. I put together a clear and meaningful Power Point presentation. I thought long and hard about possible threats. And was convinced there would be nothing to catch me off guard. How wrong I was! There's always been something I took for granted and expected my students to know. But it turns out that most of them don't go beyond the basics of Facebook and MSN. And when it comes to blogging they rely entirely on me. Maybe it's time I said "Go figure it out yourself!"

Next year I'll do it differently.


Oct 4, 2010

I'm an Innovative Educator and I'm going to Cape Town!

What a respectable siganture! I still can't believe that I'm one of those who will have the opportunity to meet innovative educators from all over the world. What's more, I'm one of them!

What have I done to deserve this? I just came up with an idea - and these fabulous teachers were kind enough to join me with their students.
They are Innovative Educators and I wish they all went to Cape Town with me!

Viviana Alayo, Colegio Machado de Assis, Joinville, Brazil
Candace Townsley, Owasso Public School, Owasso, Oklahoma, USA
Valerie Burton, West Jefferson School, Harvey, Lousiana, USA
Dan Roberts, Saltash Community Schools, Saltash, UK
Eva Büyüksimkeşyan and Culya Yapici, Esayan Armenian High School, Istanbul, Turkey
José Romão,Colegio de Alfragide, Alfragide, Portugal
Clara Vieira, Escola EB 2,3/S de Vale de Cambra, Portugal
Monika Hardy,Thompson Valley HS, Loveland, Colorado, USA
Shannon McClintock Miller, Van Meter Community Schools, Van Meter, Iowa, USA
Judy Uhrig, Latham Elementary School, Winston-Salem, N. Carolina, USA
Shyam Sunder Malhotra, St.Simran School, Patiāla Area, India
Vicki Palmer, Brisbane Grammar, Brisbane, Australia
Rositsa Mineva, The Fifth Primary School, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
Heidi Musterós, Colegio Goethe, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jesstern Rays, Catholic High School, Singapore
Gyöngyi Tóthné Bán, Primary School Balatonboglár, Balatonboglár Hungary
Clara Gutierrez, Westwood Elementary School, Houston, Texas, USA

5 continents, 14 countries, 18 schools, 19 teachers, 290 posters and 420 students

Video listening quiz: Problems with English

Sep 27, 2010

European Day Of Languages

Sep 25, 2010

Yesterday we celebrated the European Day Of Languages with our students. First the teachers collected several frequently used proverbs and tanslated them into the languages taught at our school.

The teaching procedures differed from class to class. Some teachers asked their students to match the proverbs with their definitions, others wanted their students to match the first half of a proverb with its ending. I was lucky enough to sign up for the computer lab so that when I said a proverb in Croatian, my students had to search the Internet to find its English and German translations. I divided the class into two teams, which added a competitive feel to the activity.

The list of proverbs can be found on Google Docs. Feel free to edit it.

TED Talk: Sugata Mitra

Sep 11, 2010

I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Sugata Mitra at the Innovative Teacher Forum in Berlin in March 2010. In his splendid keynote he talked about his Hole In The Wall experiments and children from slums and poor, remote areas in India who acquire basic computer skills, even though they don't speak English and don't have a teacher to help them. They learn because they want to.

First lesson, new students and no computer

Sep 5, 2010

Recently I came across some wonderful introductory lesson ideas shared by Seth and Karenne on their blogs. They suggest activities in which teachers share some information about themselves to motivate their students to ask questions and to get to know each other. However, as most of these activities are computer-based, I can't use them with my students. I don't have a computer in the classroom, unfortunately.

So I have to make do with what I have. One of my favourite icebreakers that works well with large classes and students who have just met for the first time, is in fact similar to Seth's writing facts on the white board, except that I don't do facts, but photos, and to a certain extent to Karenne's Power Point presentation, except that I don't create a presentation but a poster.

For my Who am I? activity, I created a poster divided into four parts, each depicting a different topic:


Each of the parts contains photos only, so that students have to ask questions if they want to know more about me.

After they've found out "everything" about me, I ask my students to take a piece of paper, divide it into four parts and draw pictures that describe their family, their wishes, their hobbies and what they do. They are not allowed to use words, letters or numbers.

After that, they do a pair-share activity, in which they try to find out more about their partner, based on their drawings. Finally, instead of introducing themselves to the whole class, they introduce their partners.

I've noticed that students talk about their partners in front of the whole class more willingly than they would about themselves. They feel less shy and more confident, as they are not supposed to know everything about the person they've just met.

Reading practice

Sep 2, 2010

For teachers who want to enhance their students' reading skills, Read Print is the website to go to.

Read Print is a free online library that contains over 8,000 online books by 3,500 authors, from classics to non-fiction. There is a huge, easily searchable database of essays, novels, poems and short stories. There are different search criteria: by title, by author, by section (e.g. short stories) or you can simply write what you want to read. Another great feature is that each author page contains a short biography of the author, followed by quotes by the same author.

No additional downloading is necessary and no registration is needed. Great works of fiction and non-fiction are just a click away.

Problems with English

Aug 31, 2010

The other day I stumbled upon this hilarious video about English language learners who have problems with different aspects of English.

As I thought this could be a great beginning-of-the-year activity, I searched the Internet for the tapescript. However, not only did I find the tapescript but also a great activity sheet with all the explanations of expressions, proverbs and colloquial words and phrases. There are also some tips on how to use this video with pre-intermediate, intermediate or advanced students of English. I found this activity sheet on Multimedia English Classroom, a fantastic site for English language learners and teachers, where you will find a plethora of fabulous ELT materials which can be used in the classroom.

Another idea is to compare the American sketch with the (original) British version.

My first WebQuest

Aug 23, 2010

After six weeks it feels good to be home and online. Not that I wasn't online at the seaside, on the contrary, I spent hours and hours on blogging, commenting and discussing various topics from teaching pronunciation to multiple intelligences for my Webskills Building Course, offered through the American English Institute of the University of Oregon.

The course is not over yet, but my final project is complete and ready for marking. (Yes, in order to get the certificate we need to complete the course with a pass rate of 70% or higher and our work is marked on a weekly basis by our mentor. And yes, I'm going to pass with flying colours, I guess, because right now at the end of Week 9 my rate is 104%, because I did some extra work for extra credit:-)

Anyway, my project is a webquest, which I have never done before and I can't wait to implement it in my classroom in October. It's called Cultural Profiles and students are supposed to find info on various aspects of 6 English speaking countries.

All summer long - a video listening quiz

Aug 3, 2010

Enjoy your summer

Jul 31, 2010

Somethin' stupid -new video listening quiz

Jul 19, 2010

Sonja, my dear friend, fellow worker, blogger and mojamatura.net admin, just published my new Learn English With Songs exercise: Somethin' Stupid by R. Williams and N. Kidman. In the song all the prepostions are missing.

My AEI web skills course is now in its fifth week. Last week we discussed reading and writing skill-building. As always, we were given a list of websites to explore. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to see that on the list there was Breaking News English whose author is Sean Banville, one of the most prolific ELT material writers and someone who I know - although not in person, but virtually! Sean's website was highly praised by my course mates.

Hey Soul Sister

Jul 6, 2010

This week's task in my AEI Web Skills Course concentrates on aural/oral skills. Again, we've got tons of reading, commenting, reflecting, comparing, discussing, but I managed to find some time to do a gap fill listening quiz based on the lyrics of my fave song.

Moving at the speed of e-learning

Jul 4, 2010

I've been blogging for more than three years now, but never have I written so many posts in such a short time as during this Web Skills course. What's more, the number of comments I've posted to my colleagues' forum and blog posts is surprisingly high for someone who found deleting comments much safer than publishing them.

New learning adventure

Jun 23, 2010

School might be over, but certainly not for me. I have just embarked upon a new learning adventure at the American English Institute at the University of Oregon.

Together with 30 like-minded teachers from all over the world I'm taking part in a 10-week online training course "Building Teaching Skills Through The Interactive Web". We all have the same goal - to learn how to teach with tech.

Pub quiz

Jun 19, 2010

The teachers from my school recently discovered a fun way of hanging out and testing their knowledge at the same time. Last week we participated in The Ultimate Pub Quiz by Libris communications created by Peter Hopwood, a Brit living in Croatia. Pub quizzes are fairly new here, but they're becoming more and more popular. The prizes are absolutely awesome - a hot air balloon ride over Zagreb or rafting on the River Una. Peter is a fabulous quizmaster and the trivia questions reveal how much we (don't) know.

We knew
the name of Liverpool Airport
the names of three American states beginning with 'O'
and two American states that begin with 'North'
where the show Magnum is set
which of these (Vienna, Toronto and Brussels)(Rio, Prague, Marseilles) has the highest number of metro stations
when was Do they know is Christmas released
the name of the character played by Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop
who was the mayor of NYC in 2001
the names of the cities written on the Trotters' three-wheeled van
which FIFA World Cup tournament had the Naranjito mascot
the name of Alf's planet

We thought that
the name of the Italian Captain from Allo Allo was Bertollini,
the postman from Seinfeld was called Newton
Ivy's father from You Rang M'lord was Adam
but we were wrong.

To my husband's outright disbelief, we thought 40 teams qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

In the Phone a Friend round one minute was enough for my husband and sons to google what colour was Anna Karenina's bag when she threw herself under a train, and where ABBA started their 1977 tour.

We had no idea
what the capital of Ghana was
the name of the pub from Only Fools and Horses
Blackadder's first name
the name of the main child character from E.T.
we didn't put Robert De Niro's films (Showtime, Taxi Driver, Meet the Parents, Analyse This) in order from the oldest to the newest

and many many more...

They grow so fast

Jun 16, 2010

The exam coordinator from my older son's school phoned me this morning. Exam coordinators don't usually call home. I froze up. She said my son was one of the 39 top ten students in Croatia who scored 100% in their maths school leaving exam. She wanted to know if he could come to school and talk to the newspaper reporters!

My knees turned into jelly. I wanted to hug her! I wanted to hug my son too, but he's at the Adriatic, with a bunch of his classmates and has no intention whatsoever of cutting short his holidays for the sake of a newspaper article.

Gosh, I'm so proud of this (little) boy of mine....

Video listening quiz: Waka Waka This Time For Africa

Jun 13, 2010

A fast state of readiness

Jun 11, 2010

I have just noticed that I tend to put my computer on stand by rather than shut it down. Firstly, because I don't have time to exit all those open tabs and applications as I sit at my computer until I have to literally run off if I want to avoid being late to school.

Secondly, my computer is ready to take me back to where I left it in a jiffy.

Am I hooked on technology? I don't think so. It's all about relationships and learning, says Kevin Jarrett in his thought-provoking post.

How do you rate the morning sun?

Jun 7, 2010

Fancy a Robbie Williams ESL Video Listening quiz?

Pleasantly chaotic

Jun 3, 2010

What I like about Twitter is that it connects me with people who are on the same wave-length as me and who can't wait to let their imagination go wild with ideas, projects, activities, wikis.. and yes, skype chatting.

Eva and I tried to connect our classes via Skype several months ago, but for different reasons I wasn't able to use the computer lab at the arranged time. About a month later we gave it another try, but this time I managed to be at the right place at the wrong time (time zones have always given me a headache!).

But then came trecha srecha as we say in Croatian ('e' is pronounced as in pet), or the luck of the third adventure. On June 1, Brazil and Spain came to my classroom. Ana Maria , Guido and I successfully connected our classes via Skype.

It was a bit chaotic, but absolutely amazing for all the teachers and students.

Here you can read Ana Maria's post about the chat and watch the video she kindly recorded.

Tread Softly

May 28, 2010

I know, I know, you've already seen Sir Ken Robinson's latest TED talk, but I want to have it here on my blog:

together with this wonderful poem by W.B. Yeats:

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet,
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

.....'because every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly!'

60second Recap

May 25, 2010

My Google Reader brought me a very interesting post by Patrick McGrath from Teaching & Learning @ Mohonasen entitled Definitely Read This If You Teach High School English about a site that I think deserves to be bookmarked.

The site is called 60secondRecap and aims to make the great works of literature accessible, relevant, and, frankly, irresistible to today’s teens.

How, you may wonder, when today's teens spend most (or should I say all?) of their free (and should I say study?) time on their computers? Through 60 second videos! I think this is a wonderful way to bring the great works of literature a little bit closer to students, in a way they're familiar with. What's more, the videos are so brilliantly made that I dare hope they could motivate students to read 'real' books!

For now, there are about 30 novels and for each of them there are 6 - 10 videos. If you sign up you can request a recap of a novel of your own choice. Isn't that great?

There's also a splendid resource section with a glossary and video tips on how to write an essay that won't put your teacher to sleep.

Take a look at one of the videos about Wuthering Heights:

My first video listening quiz

May 22, 2010

Can you trust people on the internet?

May 21, 2010

As my TickerFactory widget, which I found in Mrs Bluebird's Classroom, is counting down days until the last day of school, allow me a small digression from edublogging. My travel bug is nudging me to write a post on travelling, which I haven't done for almost a year.

Before our recent trip to Beijing, I stumbled upon an in-depth trip report by a Canadian family of four on Tripadvisor. I took an instant liking to this family because:
- before the trip the mother planned a detailed itinerary by reading trip reports
and recommendations written by other travelers
- during the trip the family would patiently, although a bit boredly wait for the
mother to indulge her desire to shop
- the mother made her 15 year old son write this excellent trip report.

(I can easily relate to two of these.)

Anyway, the report said that they hired a car with a driver for a day trip to The Great Wall of China. They hired Victor, whose email address they found on the internet and they strongly recommended his services. So we contacted him and arranged everything via email two weeks before the trip.

He was supposed to pick us up at our hotel at 8am on Easter Sunday. On Saturday evening, however, the worm of doubt started gnawing at us. What if this Canadian family never existed. What if Victor kidnapped us. What if we were never heard from again.

Luckily, it turned out that we had watched too many of those CSI shows. Victor was very polite, really helpful and spoke very good English.

After a pleasant 1-hour ride in his comfortable car, we arrived at the Mutianyu entrance to the Great Wall, where we took the cable car to Tower 14 and then walked to Tower 20, which is the highest point of this section of the Wall. After that it was an easy stroll (well, most of the time) towards the 6th tower where we went for a toboggan ride. That was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it immensely.

After that, Victor took us to the Birds' Nest, but on the way there we stopped at a bank where he translated for us, becuase no one there spoke English. After visiting the beautiful Summer Palace, we wanted to try Beijing roast duck, so he suggested Quanjude, a famous restaurant. Victor went with us inside, made sure that we got a good table and explained the menu, but kindly declined our invitation to join us for the meal.

So despite our worries and fears it turned out to be a memorable day and of course, I heartily recommend hiring Victor!

Dear class IVB, IVC and IVE

May 17, 2010

If I could offer you only one piece of advice for the future (you do remember, don't you: advice is uncountable, and so is information!), Sunscreen would be it, says Baz Luhrman in this video.

I wish you the best of luck!

The Odd One Out

May 15, 2010

I'm just writing an article for the Partners in Learning website. It's about Twitter so I print-screened part of my Twitter background, created by Twilk so many months ago. But these people are still valuable members of my PLN, together with others who are not in the photo. However, there's someone who doesn't belong to my PLN. Can you find the odd one out?
And yes, there'll be prizes!

This time of the year

May 14, 2010

It's this time of the year again. The seniors leave on Monday. What a relief! Now don't get me wrong. I love them, but this has been an exhausting school year with the implementation of the new standardized testing procedures, the results of which will be published only at the beginning of July. Not to mention the grading part of every school year's end which makes the lives of teachers so miserable.

But do we know how our students feel at the end of the school year?
Take a look at this fantastic video: Kyle's Last Lecture in which Kyle says:

Dear grades; Why do you try to cut me like a cookie and shape me to a mold?

Bombay TV

Apr 30, 2010

Bombay TV is a fun site where students can add subtitles or their own voice to video clips from Bollywood movies. I wanted to use it in the classroom ever since Russell Stannard first tweeted about it and showed us how to make a Bollywood movie on his fantastic site Teacher Training Videos.

I introduced it to my students last week:
<a href="http://www.grapheine.com" title="design">publicite graphique</a>

These are the clips they made:

<a href="http://www.grapheine.com" title=logos d entreprise>campagne marketing viral paris</a>

<a href="http://www.grapheine.com" title=creation publicite>graphiste logo</a>

It's Worth Taking a Look at this Blog

Apr 25, 2010

I like being tagged. It makes me feel I belong. Today I was linked into the It's Worth Taking a Look at this Blog project and I'm flattered to be part of this fab community of blogging teachers.

I was tagged by Janet Bianchini, who I admire greatly and whose ashcloud motorbike adventure I followed with great interest.

Now my task is to insert the above picture into my blog with a link to the blog where I was nominated, compile a list of ten blogs that I find worth reading and tell the bloggers about their award. What a pleasant task, indeed!

So take a look at these fabulous blogs:
you blog by Monika Hardy
The PLN Staff Lounge by Sue Lyon-Jones
jamiekeddie.com by Jamie Keddie
Life Long Learning by Valentina Dodge
Technology Tidbits, Thoughts of a Cyber Hero by David Kapuler
Webb's Wide World by Jan Webb
The Spelling Blog by Johanna Stirling
David Rogers: Geography. Learning. Teaching by David Rogers
Netend by Marta Mrozik
Turkish TEFL by Nick Jaworski

You can find more fabulous blogs on Eva's blog. Eva is a dear friend of mine, whose blog is certainly worth following, but she's not on my list, simply because she was already tagged by Janet.

Earth day and what we did

Apr 23, 2010

Here are just a few zimmer twins videos created yesterday. Oh, what fun it was! I'll write more about it soon (sounds familiar, doesn't it? Ken? Karenne?)
Anyway, have fun with the stories below and don't be harsh on their mistakes...

Earth Day or what I'm gonna do?

Apr 21, 2010

I pledged to go paperless on Thursday. I told my students not to bring books to their English class. I signed up for the IT lab on time - and the room is mine for the whole day! I have a PLN. And I'm ready for my first ever paperless day. This is how we're going to celebrate the Earth Day.


After a brief discussion on why we celebrate the Earth Day, students follow this link and do the What's your Earth Day IQ?


A reading exercise on the Earth Day by ESL Holiday Lessons: Earth Day.

Two video listening quizzes: Sustainable energy projects in Africa and Sustainable Fishing in Bali by Free English Lessons Online.

Practice: What can I do? Students make a Zimmertwins movie.

Peer evaluation (informal) and reflection.

Who dares to teach must never cease to learn

Apr 11, 2010

How not to be a shy presenter

Apr 8, 2010

The very thought of me giving a presentation to an audience sends shivers down my spine. I've been a teacher for many many years, but standing in front of an audience has always made me feel ill at ease. Before Twitter I rarely got the opportunity to share my experiences/knowledge/vision with other teachers. Today things have changed and I readily accept every invitation, in spite of the butterflies that appear at the first mention of a possible presentation or talk.

Today I came across a post called The Shy Presenter by Sacha Chua giving tips on overcoming the uneasiness before and during public speaking.

Make eye contact. Don’t stare. Imagine your audience naked. Don’t read the slides. Watch others for inspiration. Practise. Practise. Practise.

Naked? Isn't that hilarious? But why not give it a try and see if it works? Can it really boost my confidence?

Berlin Video

Mar 21, 2010

This is a video about the Greetings from the world project that is officially representing Croatia at the Innovative Education Forum in Berlin from 23-25 March. Unofficially, however, it is a truly international project with participants - students and their teachers from Australia, Brazil, India, Portugal, Turkey, the UK and the USA.
Here's also a slideshow that I created for the Forum.

Innovative Education Forum

Mar 16, 2010

Unbelievable as it may seem, Greetings from the world won its second award! It was chosen among 30 outstanding projects to represent Croatia at the Innovative Education Forum in Berlin next week.

There will be more than 150 participants from 44 countries. I feel so lucky to be able to take part in such an amazing event and am looking forward to meeting teachers who use new technologies in their classroom.

The fact that Greetings from the world will be representing Croatia at the Forum, by no means implies that this is a strictly Croatian project. I'm proud to represent innovative teachers who I have become friends with via twitter or wiki and whose students have shown the world what Brazil, the USA, Turkey, Portugal, Australia, India, the UK and Argentina are like.

From tweet to meet

Mar 6, 2010

It was on Obama's Inauguration Day when I first heard about 140 characters and the little blue bird known as Twitter. Although I love trying out new things, Twitter didn't attract my attention. It wasn't until April 1 when I finally gave up and joined Twitter, but, I must admit, for a reason as silly as following Ashton Kutcher and Rob Luketich.

One day, and I'll never forget it, as it was the day of the tragic AirFrance plane crash, I stumbled upon @TheEngTeacher and I started to follow her. She has never followed me back, but it was thanks to her that I met @burcuakyol, @ShellTerrell and @kalinagoenglish, wonderful and inspiring teachers who helped me with my first steps on Twitter. My personal learning network has been growing ever since then and today I'm part of an amazing virtual staff room.

The connections I've made with teachers worldwide are so powerful that when we meet in person, I have a feeling I've known them for a long time. No wonder, because we have so much in common: friends, interests, enthusiasm and a strong desire to learn.

That's me!

Feb 16, 2010

Travel posts turned practice tests

Feb 5, 2010

mojamatura.net is quickly becoming a well-known site with 400 visitors a day. This might seem quite low compared to other educational sites, especially those that boast of having 3 million visitors a month, but we're proud of what we're doing for our students.

I divided the English pages of the website into sections for practising reading, writing, listening and the use of English. They all contain links to free interactive exercises written by teachers who I admire greatly for their willingness to share their knowledge with millions of students and teachers worldwide.

My students and I use these free sites on a regular basis, so I strongly felt I must give something in return. I'm not a materials writer, but I've written about 100 travel posts on this blog. Most of them are way too personal for a practice test, but I managed to create two Hotpotaoes exercises which are free to use.

So maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful carr... oh no, I don't dare to write the word...just let me finish with ....Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship beautiful giving (more) and taking (less).

Georgia's Antebellum Trail

Free interactive tests for ELLs (Part 2)

Jan 20, 2010

This is the second part of my list of websites with brilliant interactive tests written by English teachers for English learners.

English Online - I love this simple site with lots of tests for different exams and a concise explanation of each of the exams.

Parapal Online offers a wide variety of interactive exercises for different levels. It's also possible to choose the font size that suits you best.

The English Speaker is regularly updated and contains plenty of interactive tests for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.

English Club ESL Learning Centre has lots of interactive tests, quizzes and games, plus tips on how to improve your English.

The ICT in FLT hasn't been updated for a long while, but I like this site because it was one of the first that I used with my students.

My fave sites with free online tests for English language learners

Jan 16, 2010

Last September, two of my colleagues and I set up a website called mojamatura where we help students from all over the country to get ready for the recently introduced unified school-leaving exams. We offer online preparation for the English, Math and IT exams, but we have plans to include other school subjects as well.

In order to teach our digital natives how to use the Internet more efficiently, we follow these rules:

1) easily clickable exercises
2) there's an answer key.

My two colleagues write their own material, but I don't. Firstly, because I'm not a materials writer and I know how difficult and time-consuming it is. (Up to now I have written only one quiz about books and it took me ages to build it.) Secondly, there are so many brilliant English teachers who unselfishly publish their tests on their websites for the sake of English language learners worldwide.

This is my tribute to them:

First and foremost:
Free English Lessons Online not only because this brilliant site is run by my dear twitter friend Sue Lyon-Jones, but also because Sue's lessons are always up to date, be it about Barrack Obama or the Big Freeze in Britain.

2) Flo-Joe is an award-winning site with plenty of useful tests for Reading Comprehension, Use of English and Writing.

3) Exam English is a great site with lots of tests for different levels.

4) International House Budapest is a very well laid out site with plenty of different tasks.
Update: Unfortunately, there are no exercises on this site any more. They deleted all the pages with exercises. I wonder why:-(

5) Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab is an extensive resource for listening activities.

What is web 2.0?

Jan 13, 2010

This fantastic video was created by a dear twitter friend of mine, Tomaz Lasic, an English teacher from Australia.

My NYR - part 2

Jan 10, 2010

In one of my recent posts I said that my only professional resolution was to meet my twitter friends. If it's true that good beginnings promise a good end, then I'm on my way to achieve my goal. Well, I know it's too early to talk about making my resolutions actually happen, but it's a great start, isn't it? As great as meeting @kenwilsonlondon and his lovely wife Dede in a cosy little pub in Bayswater, London.

What I didn't mention in the said post was that I decided to set up a new blog for Croatian teachers and write about all these amazing tools that can be used in the classroom.

I'm all enthusiastic about sharing the web 2.0 knowledge with teachers who want to keep up with the latest developments in the educational technology. My new blog is called The Fellowship of Twitter, because it's on twitter that I learn about new techie stuff from my PLN.

The Fellowship of Twitter

Jan 2, 2010

One of the most influential Croatian computer magazines published an article about the failures and successes of 2009 in its December issue. Twitter, according to them, was a failure of the year. I freaked out when I saw it and didn't waste a second to write them a letter and teach them what twitter is about.

Can you imagine that they ran it in their January issue on the letters-to-the-editor page with the headline The Fellowship of Twitter. I mean, I'm just an ordinary language arts teacher, no one would say that I'm a computer geek, and my letter was published in a computer magazine?! How cool is that? And BTW, doesn't the title brilliantly depict the true essence of twitter?
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