This blog is aimed at professionals who seek professional excellence and are tireless in learning more and more... Here you will find classroom management tips, teacher development issues and a myriad of class games and activities to enhance your lesson plan. Many thanks for your visit!!

terça-feira, 29 de novembro de 2011

High Energy Christmas Activities!

Here are a few ideas that can be used in the classroom to give your lessons that 'seasonal flavour'. Most of the activities are linked to the end of them as well. The activities described here would be great for the last lesson because they trigger students's emotions towards Christmas time in a way they will miss your lessons and classmates the minute they leave the room!

For kids:
Blindfold Christmas Bell: 
This game can also be called  “Blind Santa.” Have the children sit in a circle with one child in the middle. The child in the middle needs to be blindfolded and as a bell gets passed from student to student the blindfolded child in the middle needs to catch the bell. Depending on the age group, spinning the child around a bit first to disorient them is fun.

Musical Christmas hugs:
This game is very similar to musical chairs, except everybody wins. Play some Chritmas music and have the children dance around. When the music stops, the children find one friend to hug (explain the hugs must be gentle, nice hugs). You can make different rules, such as; when the music stops the children must find someone new to hug each time and give a Christmas card.

For Teens:
Christmas Chair Switch:
For this game you will need to make a series of necklaces, each with an image as a pendant, preferably about words related to Christmas vocabulary. You may adapt the level of difficulty according to students' level. For a list of Christmas words go to: http://iteslj.org/lists/christmas.html. Only 3,4 or 5 images are needed, since there should be many students wearing the same image. Whatever images you choose, you need to have a flashcard of them, along with one depicting all the images you use on one card. On chairs, seat the students in a circle. Play some music and encourage the students to sing along. When the music stops, show one of the flashcards. All the children wearing that image must change seats, if someone ends up in the same seat they are out. You can show two cards at a time, and all those students have to switch seats, but the funniest is when you show the flashcard with all the images on it, because then they all have to scatter around switching seats, laughing, frantically. Everytime a student is out of the game he should say a Christmas message to the teacher and classmates.

segunda-feira, 28 de novembro de 2011

Christmas Project to promote students' global competence awareness

It is Christmas time, so more than ever, education should prepare students for glocal civility and peace. So what in the world are we educators waiting for?
Good educators know that the real world is even more interconnected and interdependent. We all share in facing global poverty, global economic recessions and trade imbalences. On the other hand we all share opportunities for global collaborations and international cooperation. These challenges and opportunities define the contours of our lives, even in their most local dimensions. So the moment is now and here, let's give our students the opportunity to become more globally competent and prepare them for life in the real world in their communities and societies. To do so, I present below a very simple project to enhance students global competence which I call The Cooperative Christmas Tree and I will describe in the lines that follow some ideas on how to implement that in your institution.

1) Visit a local public day care center, orphanage or rest home and tell the person in charge of the administration that you intend to develop a Christmas collaborative project there. As soon as you get the supervisor's autorization, the next step is to explain your project to the institution residents and ask them to write a letter asking for something they would like to be given on Christmas' Eve. You will get surprised by the things they usually ask, the elderly they will go for items for personal cleanliness, like shampoo, hairbrush, tooth brush and the kids choose school material items and toys. A few number of the participants may ask costly items but they are exceptions.
2) The next step now is to assemble a Christmas tree in your school or a local institution and hang on it the letters. The idea is invite people to adopt one of those people and buy what is requested. It is also nice to ask them to write a Christmas card.
3) Before Christmas evening you should invite some of the people who took part in the project and go to the institution you chose to give the gifts. This moment is magic, seeing in those people's eyes how thankful they are is priceless. We feel like we can make our slight share to help the world! It's a magnificent experience. So, I invite you now to try this out in your school or local institution and share this moment!

For more information on global competence visit the post : http://anaisacunha.blogspot.com/2011/11/global-competence-educating-for-21st.html
If you have any questions on how to implement this project, don't hesitate in contacting me.

quinta-feira, 24 de novembro de 2011

Expression of the week #11

Idiom: Writing on the wall

If the writing's on the wall for something, it is doomed to fail and imminent danger has become apparent.
How to use the idiom:
  1. The off-site upper management meeting is writing on the wall that something big is about to happen.
  2. I'm not surprised by this, I saw the writing on the wall.
Examples of idiom “the writing on the wall” from Twitter
1) I wont lose my place in life ( i been here too long. i spent too much time ) why do i read the writing on the wall
2) Bout to be one of those nights... I see the writing on the wall..
3) Cialis will be the perfect new sponsor! Anyone else see the writing on the wall.
4) “Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else.” Ivern Bal
5) He has seen the writing on the wall and knows April is goingto be a horrible month
6) Despite being educated many do not read the writing on the wall! aur apne aap ko educated they call!!
Source: http://www.idiomquest.com/learn/idiom/the-writing-on-the-wall/

3 Activities for an End of Term Review!

Stop the yawns. Put an end to indifference. Revive those often-deadly skill reviews with these activities!

Flashlight vocabulary Review

For this activity you will nedd to bring to class 3 or 4 flashlights and paper to write all the vocabulary words, and place them around the room. Review definitions or have students find the definitions. Then divide into groups of 3 or 4. Call out the definition. ON 1 students aim their flashlight on the word. Say 2 they shine their lights on the right word ( this is a nice strategy so they don't follow any group--this way they can't copy and think for themselves).

Baseball Review
The rules of baseball are adapted in this activity that provides review practice for students. With a little creativity, the lesson can be adapted to almost any subject or skill.
Before the Lesson Prepare a long list of questions that provide information recall or skill application.
Set up a "baseball field" in your classroom. Identify the locations of home plate, first base, second base, and third base. You can use actual bases if you can play outdoors or four desks to play un the classroom.
The Lesson
Arrange the class into two teams. Flip a coin to determine which team will be "up to bat" first. Pose the first question to the first batter. If the batter gets the question right, s/he goes to first base. If the second batter correctly answers the next question, s/he goes to first base, forcing the student on first base to move to second and so the game goes. Which team scores the most runs?
If a "batter" misses a question, that batter is out and the next batter gets a chance to answer the same question. Three misses and the other team takes the field.

Snakes and Ladders (or Chutes and Ladders) is an ancient Indian board game regarded today as a worldwide classic. It is played between two or more players on a game board having numbered, gridded squares. A number of "ladders" and "snakes" (or "chutes") are pictured on the board, each connecting two specific board squares. The object of the game is to navigate one's game piece from the start (bottom square) to the finish (top square), helped or hindered by ladders and snakes, respectively.
How to play:
For this game, the teacher must prepare as many questions as the number indicated on the board. If the teacher decides to play with a table like the one on the illustration, he would have to prepare 36 questions. Each player starts with a token on the starting square (usually the "1" grid square in the bottom left corner) and takes turns to roll a single die to move the token by the number of squares indicated by the die roll. To remain on that square the student must answer the question the teacher will make correctly, otherwise, he has to return to the former square.  If, on completion of a move, a player's token lands on the lower-numbered end of a "ladder", the player moves his token up to the ladder's higher-numbered square. If he lands on the higher-numbered square of a "snake" (or chute), he must move his token down to the snake's lower-numbered square. Image source: blogs.agilefaqs.com

domingo, 20 de novembro de 2011

CREATIVITY - the best problem-solving tool in the classroom

I have attended a number of classes throughout my teaching career performing different roles: as a peer-teacher, as a coordinator and as a student. I have noticed that regardless of the role I am performing, I can distinguish between two types of teacher: the ones that when faced with a problem in the classroom they tend to be on crutches, that is to say, they play the victim and take no action, and the ones that when faced with a similar situation create wings, broadening their imagination and creativity to find out solutions. The first type refer to those teachers that just think of the problem and rely on it to justify their lack of reaction. And it is well-known that thinking of a problem will not bring the solution to it! Many of them can use the brainstorming technique, advocated by Alex Osborn, with their students but they can not use it themselves to think of other possibilities, see things from different angles.Bear in mind that while excellent teachers make a difference, excellent educators personalize the difference, serving as role models for their students. Don't be afraid to reveal your students that things didn't go as expected, breathe and set your creativity free to find out the best solution. Creativity requires the courage to abandon the certainties and beliefs but it goes without saying that all creative ideas merging from this brainstorming must be in accordance with your school methodology and philosophy. To illustrate how creativity can affect problem-solving situations I got a fable. You can read it below or follow the link http://www.slideshare.net/taureauxica/the-dog-panther-and-monkey. Have great lessons and give wings to your creativity!

A man goes hunting to Africa and he takes his tiny dog with him.
One day, while hunting, the dog gets lost and starts wandering on his own through the jungle. Suddenly he sees an enormous panther running towards him. When he´s sure that the panther is going to eat him, he thinks pretty fast in a way out, then he notices a heap of bones and he starts biting at them ferociously. When the panther is about to attack him, the tiny dog says: "Ah, what a delicious panther I have just eaten!" The panther hears him and stops immediately and flees in terror thinking: "Who knows what sort of pather that would´ve have been. I cannot risk being eaten too". A monkey who was hanging from a nearby tree, heard and saw what had happened. Without ado he runs in search of the panther and tells it how it had been cheated by the tiny dog: "You scary panther! Those bones you saw were already there! Besides, haven´t you seen that that is just a tiny indefensive dog!"

The pather enraged runs like fire in search of the tiny dog with the monkey on its back. The tiny dog sees from a distance that the panther is coming again along with the monkey and soon realizes that the monkey has turned him in.

"And now what am I supposed to do?" the tiny dog Thinks to himself . Then, instead, of running scared, he remains seated with its back to the approaching panther and monkey, pretending he haven´t seen none of them, and once they were both with earshot, the tiny dog exclaims:

"Where the hell would that damn monkey be? It´s being like half an hour now since I asked him to bring me a new panther and he hasn´t shown up yet!"

The panther comes to a sudden halt and screaming flees again scared to hell and to relieve itself from its wrath devours the monkey.


1. Try to be as imaginative as the little dog
2. Avoid being a coward like the panther
3. and never, never be a shameful rat like the monkey

quinta-feira, 17 de novembro de 2011

More ideas for a Thanksgiving Day lesson!

Check these ideas for a Thanksgiving Day lesson plan:

Tip one:

7 Thanksgiving Crafts and Games Your Students Will Be Thankful for. Available at busyteacher.org

Tip two:

TURKEY DAY is only a week away! Have you ever wondered WHY WE EAT TURKEY ON THANKSGIVING? Find out the answer at Wonderopolis. Wonder of the Day® #53 explains: http://bit.ly/hn4sGf

These sites always bring awesome ideas. Add them to your favorites, facebook contacts or follow them on Twitter!

quarta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2011

Global Competence – Educating for the 21st Century

Why does learning in many schools around the world still looks very traditional, lacking the rigor and purposefulness required to prepare students for the 21st Century? Have you ever made this question? Does it sound familiar?  Understanding exactly how to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions students must possess to be successful in the 21st century has become a common discussion point in many schools worldwide. Some teachers express a desire to help students become better problem-solvers, to be collaborative and to think critically. Developing instruction that engages students with an issue of local or global significance, provides them an opportunity to apply content knowledge in a meaningful way and allows multiple opportunities for reflection, refinement and self-assessment all serve as ways to engage students in deeper learning while giving them a purposeful way to apply 21st century skills. To make this all possible though, it's important to take into account some issues as teachers plan and instruct. The main objective is to create an environment for learning and development in which every student is prepared to develop global competence. Have you ever heard of it? 

Global competence is best defined as a student's capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. Instruction that supports the development of globally competent student provides multiple opportunities to investigate the world, recognize and weigh diverse perspectives, communicate ideas and take action.

The core learning approach provides clear criteria and a reliable process for students to produce work that demonstrates knowledge readiness and global competence. In a practical sense, the strategy used to help guide teachers planning is to ask them to reflect on the SAGE elements of a learning task:

Student Choice: The task calls on students to plan and assess their work over time through reflection. During the task, students are asked to make key decisions about the direction of their work, focus, and presentation. To support this, the task provides opportunities for teachers to deliver formative and summative feedback to the students throughout the learning process.
Authentic Context: The task provides an experience that resembles what adults do in the real-world. This requires students to communicate, collaborate, think critically, be creative, negotiate with other people, and use digital media in ways that support knowledge building.
Global Significance: The task fosters the capacity and dispositions to understand and act on issues of global significance. Ideally, the task stimulates students to build knowledge that is cross disciplinary.
Exhibition to an Audience: The task provides students with opportunities to showcase or present their work to an appropriate/relevant audience beyond the teacher and classroom. Students are provided opportunities to discuss their work and receive feedback that holds them accountable for their claims.

For more information about global competence or structures that promote globally-focused instruction, you can download a free copy of the book, Educating for Global Competence by Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Tony Jackson. The book is really worth reading and it broadens our minds in the sense of reflecting on our role as educators for the 21st century students. I do recommend!

quinta-feira, 10 de novembro de 2011

Meet 4 reasons for vocabulary meaning changes

According to the examples  shown on the last post published on Nov 8, many people view semantic change with strong emotions. The discussion of meaning change is often emotionally charged, with the meanings perceived as "improving" (amelioration) or "worsening" (pejoration) over time. Try this: flip through the dictionary and look at random for a word with four or more meanings, preferably a word you think you know. Chances are you will find that it has an unlikely hodge-podge of meanings, at least one of which will surprise you. The next paragraphs will attempt to provide a more clinical overview of how words change meanings.

1)    Pejoration is the process by which a word's meaning worsens or degenerates, coming to represent something less favorable than it originally did. An example of this process is the word silly which in older times meant naïve.

2)    Amelioration is the process by which a word's meaning improves or becomes elevated, coming to represent something more favorable than it originally referred to. An example of this process is the word silly which in older times meant naïve.

3)    Generalization is the use of a word in a broader realm of meaning than it originally possessed, often referring to all items in a class, rather than one specific item. For instance, place derives from Latin platea, "broad street", but its meaning grew broader than the street, to include "a particular city", "a business office", "an area dedicated to a specific purpose" before broadening even wider to mean "area". It’s important to point out that Generalization is a natural process, especially in situations of "language on a shoestring", where the speaker has a limited vocabulary at her disposal, either because she is young and just acquiring language or because she is not fluent in a second language.

4)    Specialiazation The opposite of generalization, specialization is the narrowing of a word to refer to what previously would have been but one example of what it referred to. For instance, the word meat originally referred to "any type of food", but came to mean "the flesh of animals as opposed to the flesh of fish". The original sense of meat survives in terms like mincemeat, "chopped apples and spices used as a pie filling"; sweetmeat, "candy"; and nutmeat, "the edible portion of a nut". Other examples of specialization, from the development of English are: starve, which meant die; forest, which meant countryside and deer, which meant animal.

For more examples, check the post “vocabulary meaning curiosities” on this blog!

terça-feira, 8 de novembro de 2011

English vocabulary change curiosities!

Check here how the meaning of English words changed over time!

Did you know that in English:

* the word "with" meant "against". This meaning is still preserved in phrases such as "to fight with".
* gay, originally meant "merry", but because some people are a little too merry came to mean "wanton", and because some people are a little too wanton came to mean "homosexual", which is the sense almost exclusively used now.
* the word silly meant in Old English times "blessed". But how did a word meaning "blessed" come to mean "silly"? Well, since people who are blessed are often innocent and guileless, the word gradually came to mean "innocent". And some of those who are innocent might be innocent because they haven't the brains to be anything else. And some of those who are innocent might be innocent because they knowingly reject opportunities for temptation. In either case, since the more worldly-wise would take advantage of their opportunities, the innocents must therefore be foolish, which of course is the current primary meaning of the word silly.
* The word gaudy was derived from the Latin word gaudium, "joy", which was applied to praying (as a type of rejoicing). Because the most common prayers in Middle English times were the prayers of the rosary, Middle English gaude came to be associated with the rosary and came to mean "an ornamental rosary bead". Unfortunately, not all who prayed with the rosary were genuinely pious; many were like the Pharisees of old and just wanted to be seen praying -- religion for them was decorative (ornamental) rather than functional. As a result, modern English gaudy gradually acquired its current meaning of tasteless or ostentatious ornamentation.
* priest is descended from the Greek word presbuteros, "older man, elder", a comparative form of the word presbus, "old man". Because churches of most religions are headed by elders and not youth, and because age is often equated with wisdom, the Greek word gradually acquired the meaning of "church leader, priest".

The following words show other examples:

* enthusiasm meant "abuse"
* queen meant "woman"
* vulgar meant "popular"
* crafty meant "strong"
* harlot meant "a boy"

On the next post, I will be talking about the processes that influence these changes. Don't miss it! It will be available on the blog on Nov 10.

segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2011

Tailoring your class to celebrate Thanksgiving day!

Learning language is important, but so is learning about the culture from which it comes. It might be interesting, even, to plan a class based around various holidays common in English speaking countries and discuss their origins. Classes focusing on the history, or on different types of celebrations, are often a great way of expanding the students’ knowledge of another culture. Therefore, let's not miss this opportunity and get the most of the upcoming celebration: THANKSGIVING DAY!

 A quiz can be a great way to get your class to compete, hence getting and keeping their attention. The more heated the quiz becomes, and the more involved the students are, the more frequently they will slip into English. Of course, beforehand it might be a good idea to give them a brief overview of what Thanksgiving is. Below you will find a list of quiz activities and a text about the history and origin of Thanksgiving day:

A brief overview of the history and origin of Thanksgiving day

Almost every culture in the world has held celebrations of thanks for a plentiful harvest. The American Thanksgiving holiday began as a feast of thanksgiving in the early days of the American colonies almost four hundred years ago.
In 1620, a boat filled with more than one hundred people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the New World. This religious group had begun to question the beliefs of the Church of England and they wanted to separate from it. The Pilgrims settled in what is now the state of Massachusetts. Their first winter in the New World was difficult. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and without fresh food, half the colony died from disease. The following spring the Iroquois Indians taught them how to grow corn (maize), a new food for the colonists. They showed them other crops to grow in the unfamiliar soil and how to hunt and fish.
In the autumn of 1621, bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 Indians. The Indians brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. The colonists had learned how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn and squash dishes from the Indians. To this first Thanksgiving, the Indians had even brought popcorn.
In following years, many of the original colonists celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. After the United States became an independent country, Congress recommended one yearly day ofthanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate. George Washington suggested the date November 26 as Thanksgiving Day. Then in 1863, at the end of a long and bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln asked all Americans to set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.

quinta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2011

Golden rule for effective classroom management.

According to Augusto Cury in his book Pais brilhantes, professores fascinantes, more than 90% of the times teachers reprimand disruptive behavior in the classroom, they are, as a matter of fact, not educating but invading their students’ privacy. Why they do so? Because they aim at solving the situation rationally while they should be first interested in finding out which feelings or emotions are triggering that specific disruptive behavior. The attention must be drawn to the student and not to the behavior, so that the student can feel that we worry about them and as result, listen to our advice. If this connection is not stablished and the student feels that the teacher is only concerned about his attitude, he will not listen to what the teacher is advising and will keep on having the same behavior. We should always remember that education is best taught by role modeling and to serve as role models for our students we must be admired by them in some way. Giving long speeches about  the desired behaviors for our classrooms will be pointless if we are not emotionally connected  to them. It is easy to see why emotion is so crucial to making good decisions and thinking clearly. Emotions can disrupt thinking and learning. When we are happy we have a "clear mind" but when we are upset we can't "think straight". Positive emotions such as joy, contentment, acceptance, trust and satisfaction can enhance education. Conversely, prolonged emotional distress can cripple our ability to understand things. We all know how hard it is to learn or remember something when we are anxious, angry or depressed. So, next time you think of reprimanding a student, think carefully about the way you do it and remember that a nice away to approach this student is speaking to him privately and asking if everything is ok and what you could do to help. Acting this way you show that you are confronting the behavior and not the student and for sure you will have won the first round!!

terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

Expression of the Week Overview!

Can you identify in the picture above the 10 expressions posted on this blog so far? If yes, here is a chance to revisit them and, if not, you have now the oportunity to enhance your vocabulary.

#1 fat hangover : The horrible feeling after indulging on too much food
#2 eyepopper: something or someone that catches your attention.
#3 clique: a group of people which is very reluctant to accept new members (panelinha).
#4 Don't cramp my style: don't expose someone into an embarrassing situation (não queimar o filme)
#5 the last straw: The last of a series of annoyances or disappointments that leads one to a final loss of patience, temper, trust, or hope. (a última gota d'água)
#6 back to square one: if you are back to square one, you have to start working on a plan from the beginning because your previous attempt failed and the progress you made is now wasted (de volta a estaca zero)
#7 born with a silver spoon in your mouth: If you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you are born into a rich family. (nascido em berço de ouro)
#8 good-for-nothing: someone who doesn't take any responsability and is unable to live up to anyone's expectations. (zero a esquerda)
#9 between a rock and a hard place: In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options. (entre a cruz e a espada)
#10 hit below the belt: act in a cruel and unfair manner (golpe baixo)

For more information on these expressions, go to Vocabulary Hints section on this blog!