Thursday, 7 September 2017

Welcome back!

It's been an long hot summer in Greece and I'm feeling rested and recuperated. So much had been happening!

First of all, I have to say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all my students who passed their exams at B1, B2, C1 and C2 levels. You deserved it, you worked like troopers this year!


After school was out, I took a  long deserved trip back to the UK for my niece's wedding and a huge family reunion. (It was about time after thirteen years, don't you think?) I also read endless books and spent quality time with my family. What about you? Feel free to let me know what you be been up to by commenting below.

Now I'm back and raring to go!

If you are an old friend, you'll notice some changes happening here at my blog and I hope you'll hop on board and support me by hitting the subscribe button up there on the right. If you are new here, no problem, by subscribing, you can enjoy all the benefits too. So what will you get from this? Subscriber exclusives of course! There will be a whole new series of How-to guides for teachers and students to help you with all the things you need to make your English teaching/learning experience so much more enjoyable, as well as all the old favourites. And of course they are all entirely FREE! If things really take off, I have so much more planned! So click on that subscribe button and let's kick off the 2017- 2018 school year together!

The coming months:
I'll be attending a seminar on Dyslexia and EFL.
The 2nd Spooky Short-Story Contest will be running from October 1st -20th. Look out for details in school or here. 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN!

Where did the year go? It's been two months since I posted and I hardly noticed!
Well now it's the end of year I thought I set you up with all you need to: 

Create you very own yearbook!

A yearbook is a way for each student to remember classmates, what they looked like and what interested them in that year of school. Traditionally yearbooks are presented to graduating students but in EFL classes, you can create them for the students who have just taken or are going to take exams and are going on to the next level or going to leave.

THINGS TO REMEMBER:
  • All comments made must be positive.
  • All comments must be in English.
  • Use your best handwriting.
  • Use a mobile phone/school camera to take photos and print them up (or get students to bring their own).

WHAT TO WRITE:
  • Write your name.
  • Write a short auto biography.
  • Write three adjectives that describe you.
  • Write what you hope to achieve next.
  • Ask your teacher to write something.
  • Ask your classmate(s) to write something.
COLLATING THE YEARBOOK:

When you have gathered all the completed pages copy them back-to-back and staple them together with a cover of your own design or using the template I have below.


Make enough copies so all the students can have one each and one for you and the school owner. If finances are an issue, you can reduce the copy size so that each page is A5, or make monochrome copies. Alternatively, scan them all into a computer and email them or make a PDF available through your school site or only to those who have the link.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The meaning of March and other phrases...

March is the month of spring and has always been one of fond memories for me. My best friend from preschool years and my favourite auntie have their birthdays on the official first day of spring - the 21st of March which is usually the spring or vernal equinox. Happy birthday to you!

Mars 
The month of course is named after the Roman god of war, Mars which brings the imagery of a chariot blazing across the sky dragging spring behind it. It would be nice to think that the verb to march would fit in here, (one imagines legions of Roman soldiers in strict formation) but sadly it doesn't.

So what other phrases and idioms are connected with March? 

Mad as a March hare, meaning completely crazy, stems from the dancing/jumping/boxing motions of hares at this time of year - it is their mating season. Just have a look at this!


Why am I posting today you might ask? Well today is the ides of March. You may have heard of this before from Shakespeare "Beware of the Ides of March". Again ides is a Roman term used for the first full moon of the Roman new year, which fell on the 13th or 15th of March, and so the Ides of March is now accepted as the 15th of the month. (Although strangely this year the full moon was the 13th!) 




Finally, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, refers to the changeable weather and the change of the season. Early March weather tends to be fierce and cold whereas in late March one can really feel the mildness of spring just around the corner. Lions are fierce, lambs are mild, it's not so hard to see! There is a lovely children's book of the same name written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully that brings this idea to life provides plenty of weather vocabulary too.



Friday, 24 February 2017

Quick! There's been a Murder in the Classroom!

Sometimes it's super for busy teachers to allow another person or company do the planning and that's just what I did today with 'Murder in the Classroom' from One Stop English, the Macmillan website.


Macmillan website OneStopEnglish has a super Murder Mystery that takes up a one hour period and was the perfect way to lead into the holiday weekend. I had, of course, spent a half hour or so preparing the scene just to get the atmosphere right. (Thanks to hubby for the tape and to V.K. for interrupting her busy schedule to print up my 'Police Line: DO NOT CROSS' sign and L.L. for the photos.)


Miss McGowan, R.I.P.
I delighted in monitoring my students as they questioned each other, narrowing down the likely suspects and finally detecting the murderer.


If you would like to try this you need to have at least seven students in your class and there are roles for another four provided on the Macmillan website. My class was twelve so I had to write one more, but that wasn't so hard to do. Click here for a link to the material provided by Macmillan and see if your students can discover Whodunit?

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

ARMISTICE DAY

Armistice Day is a day of remembrance, a day to honour those who died in World War I and World War II and other, subsequent wars. Which day is it? In Britain, Belgium, France, Serbia and New Zealand people wear poppies on this day. Do you know the reason why? There are parades and wreathes are laid a memorial cenotaphs in villages, towns and cities. A minute's silence is also observed to allow for reflection, but upon what? Watch the short centenary video below to find out more.


ACTIVITIES: Watch the video again and answer the questions. For a printable copy click here.

1.Answer these comprehension questions.

When was the First World War?
What happened in 2014?
Which day did the first world war end and what do we call this day now?
When is Remembrance Sunday in Britain?
Where did the poppies grow?
Who was Lieutenant Colonial John McCrae and what was he inspired to do?

2. Which of the following areas was World War I fought in?
  1. The South Atlantic
  2. The Middle East
  3. Australia
  4. China
  5. Turkey
  6. East Africa
  7. The United States
  8. The Alps
  9. The Carpathians
  10. Western Europe
  11. Great Britain
3. How Many? Match the numbers on the left to the facts on the right.

13                  soldiers fought in the war
71,497,467    died in Britain alone
888,246         major wars are in progress*
70,000+         smaller conflicts in progress*
Dozens          people have died as a result of these wars*

*Figures correct for 2014, when the video was produced.

4. Complete the following paragraph:

global, lives, November, observe, poppy, remember, silence, victims, War

The First World _____________  was the first truly ___________  war. At 11am on _____________ 11th 1918 the fighting stopped. This day is now an important day of remembrance where people from across the globe ___________ a minute's ____________ to reflect upon the ___________ of all wars. The __________ is a way to ___________ the people who gave their ___________ for the world we live in today.

5. Read the poem. How does it make you feel? What images do you get when you read it? Who narrates the poem?

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By Dr John McCrae, 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch
; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

6. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Do you or would you wear a poppy? Why/Why not?
Who are we remembering: soldiers or civilians?
Is there a similar celebration to Armistice Day in your country?
What happens on this day?
Do you think that war is better forgotten?
How do you feel when you see images of war in the media?
Which wars are being fought at the moment?
Many soldiers are referred to as Peace Keeping Forces, what do you think this means?
Do you watch war films? Why/Why not?

7. Click on the links below for a crossword and word search based on the red words from the worksheet, and a gap fill exercise based on the song 'I Vow to Thee, My Country'. This exercise is based on the acoustic version of the song by the singer from London, Elenya.




VOCABULARY
Armistice                  truce; when fighting stops because of an agreement
World War                a war which involves most of the continents
Poppies                     red wild flowers
Parade                       large number of people/vehicle walking in the same direction
Wreathes                   ring of flowers or plants
Memorial                  something created /done to honour people who have died
Cenotaph                  structure/building to remind us of the dead
Centenary                 hundred year anniversary
Silence                      quiet
row                           straight line
larks                          small birds that fly very high
quarrel                      argue 
foe                            enemy
throw the torch to     give responsibility to someone  

Many thanks to: Mr. Allsop for letting me use his video on my blog. He has loads more informative videos on his You Tube Channel 'Mr. Allsop History'. Subscribe and learn! And to Elenya, for her lovely version of 'I Vow To Thee, My Country'. She also has other great songs on her channel 'Elenya'. Subscribe and listen!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

WINNING SPOOKY STORIES FOR HALLOWEEN!

After my last post, I held a spooky short story competition for my students. I asked them to write a story that would scare the living daylights out of me. Below are those that made the grade.

Is your story here? Read on to find out! 
(If you wish to have your name added or even a title, just let me know and that can be sorted out!)
Many of the stories had great artwork even if the story didn't make it here, all the pictures have, so congratulations to you all!

Although they are in order of class level, I've copied them up just about warts and all, so don't worry if you see typos! [I added some corrections for clarity.] Some children preferred to remain anonymous, those who wished to take the credit have a by-line.
Note: Stories are not posted in any particular order and there is no overall winner ;-)

scare the living daylights out of someone = frighten someone very much
make the grade = be good enough
warts and all = as it is found/without changing the original
remain anonymous = keep names/identity hidden
take the credit = get the praise
by-line = mention who a piece of writing is written by

Congratulations to the winners and thank you all for your hard work and participation! 
Have a truly Happy Halloween!

Level C2

CONFESSIONS OF A PRISONER: THE UNKNOWN SUSPECT
by Evita Koukia
It was Saturday, 31st of October 2009. Scarlett and Adam had heard some rumors about a haunted house. They decided to take a late walk and pay a visit, just to satisfy their curiosity. Early in that evening, they were already on their way to the haunted house, which was far away from the city centre.
By the the time they got there, they saw an old, abandoned house which seemed a little gloomy at first sight. An old car was parked in front of the the fence. Once they got inside, they started laughing. They did not see anything unusual, suspicious or mysterious. As they slipped towards the kitchen they heard some footsteps. They thought that it might be the owner of the car and paid no further attention. As they were strolling into the other rooms they realized that that the footsteps were coming from downstairs. They were terrified, when they heard a hollow scream. They ran to the door, but it was locked. It felt like somebody did not want them to leave the house.
Their minds were blown as they could not just wait to die. They had no idea about what they were up to. After a while, Scarlett and Adam heard these footsteps again again. But the is time something was different. The footsteps were coming closer and closer.. The door slightly opened but nobody was there. Adam went downstairs to check who else was in the side the house, mocking and playing them like fools. Scarlett was left alone and second later she started screaming. By the time Adam Adam got to the kitchen it was too late. Scarlett was already dead, bleeding to death. Adam felt that it was his fault.
An hour later the police arrived and Adam was arrested. Today seven years later, he insists on his innocence. The crime investigation has shown no fingerprints on the deadly weapon. Adam shares his story with Jonathon Tries, a prisoner who faced a similar situation, with his then girlfriend, 17 years ago.




HALLOWEEN

Anonymous
At the age of 12, my friends and I had a Halloween sleepover party at my house. Curious as we were for creepy stories we have heard, we decided to try one of those ourselves. The idea came from Nikos, the older one, he was 13 then and he was the leader of our gang! He have mentioned of the "Mirrored black which[witch] with the knife..."
"the what?" we asked...so Nikos told us about a black magic witch, living on the mountains hundreds years ago who by her will[wanted] to stay young forever, was killing children with a knife and drunk their blood by the light of the moonlight. When the villagers  found out who she was, they hunted her down, after that they striked her down and burned her, after that they striked her fiercly with knoxes[sic] and knives. Before she passed away, cursed the night, and gave a promise to the moon that she will never stop killing children in halloween nights.The plot of the ceremony required to call her name "Black magic with a knife" three times, infront of a mirror in a dark room, only with the light of a candle. And so we did...the silly ones, we did! As Nikos finished his story, we immediately gathered Nikos, Stells, Eva, George and I started calling her name. At the third calling the mirror started shaking and breaking and a skinny hand with long black nails holding a knife came through the broken mirror. At once a witch appeared screaming at us
"I want your lives. I want my youth" she said, "I want to kill you. we started running and turning on the light and screaming by fear, the witch disappeared and we promised never to try such silly ceremonies ever again.

HALLOWEEN
by Eleni Svina
It was a cold day in Octomber and I was very happy because that it was Halloween. It was raining so I was more happy the rain created a scary atmosphere like it had to. We were ready to go out and scary them so much that they had not even predict. But nobody would predict the event that happened to us.
We wore our costumes and we began to share the fear. All the neighbours were really frightened. My mom said to me that they had nightmare and they could not sleep in the night. Thankfully they gave us many sweets, so we had not to scare them more. We had a really great time, to the time we heard scary screams and voices. We were really scared. The screams heard everytime from closer and closer, suddenly we were surrounded from ghosts. three minutes later, we managed to juggle them and quickly we got inside my home and I locked the door. We were so scared that we could not even to talk. To make things worse, my family were not in there.
"Did you see my parents?"
"No, why?"
"Because they are not here and if there would be a reason, I would not know it."
"What do you think could happen?"
"I have no idea."
Suddenly, I heard that a glass broken but we were in the hall and the glass were in the saloon.
"What happened?" I asked, scared.
"I do not know, something broke down."
"Yes, but how?"
"I do not know."
I unlocked the door. We ran as quickly as we could to my friends house because we believed we would be safer. As we ran these same ghosts surrounded us, take us into their hand to eat us.
"Just leave us, we will find food for all of you but just let us down."
They began to laugh. They dropped their masks and their costumes. These ghosts were our families. They participated in the scaring fest too. I was just unpredictable. I was shocked about one hour. It was really scary.
In the next fest, even when all our families will not participate in the fest we will scare them more than everyone else to tell what we felt. We will push the limits.



Level B2
TRICK OR TREAT?
by Panagiotis Psarris 
Once upon a time in a really spooky neighbourhood it was Halloween.
I was cruising around on my bicycle when suddenly i heard a noise from the passage right next to me. I took a quick peek but it was pitch black, so i walked in blinded. A couple minutes later i noticed that i had a flashlight so i turned it on and guess what I saw, i saw a shadow, a tiny shadow growing bigger. Then shaking like a leaf i keep on walking with my flashlight low on battery. Slowly a light was coming and a noise was coming so I got to the other side of the passage and I heard the noise next to me. I got sweaty and slowly turned my head, and i saw...A pumpkin with a puppy stuck in it. That calmed me down and I got all the stress away. I putted the puppy in my jacket and ran to the vet.
Now the puppy is my pet, and his name is Oscar.


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
by Apostolos Psarris
A rainy evening when I was just coming back from my english lessons a thuder suddenly struck the ground, that was the moment I was completely terrified but a folded paper landed right on my leg I unfolded it with curiosity and on it there was a house adress on it, I ran back home, slept and the morning I went to that specific adress:(x0127ae*, I know... weird. So I went to that adress and there was a sign with this template: under the mail-box. I was freaked out while entering the dark yard slowly and I took a sneaky peek under the mail-box, I saw a note it was writing something on it: out in the hole. I searched everywhere and found a hole above the mail-box when I put it inside the hole reptiles flew out imidiately, scorpions, spiders, snakes, lizards. I shouted for help but then I realised they were gummy candy! Well I guess it was my 'sweetest' scare!



Level B1
SPOOKY SUMMER CAMP
by Theodore Damagas
Do you want to scare the living daylights out of you, do you want some adventure, do you want to do something special, then come to Spoocy Sumer Camp. It's a very good place for children who want to learn special facts. The text below is an example for our camp.

1st September 2019.
It's morning, the sun is shining and nothing is scare. We are, now, climbing a mountain. Afternoon: I'm too tired! Evening: Something is making noise outside my tent. I'm to scared. Next, I looked and saw... a... a... a bear!
2nd September 2019.
Today, we are learning how to use guns! Then we are going for hunting in the forest. When we were walking a scary noise is hearing. Next, a green zombie came out of nowhere. All started shooting. Actually we killed it. From then we were have, all the time, the guns in hand.
3rd September 2019.
Now, we have been here in big wooden, haunted house. It is night. Everything in there does spooky noises. Then a vampire, a murderer and 5 zombies start to fighting us...

We found this page on the base camp. It came to us with the river. If you want to learn the end of the story, come to spoocy sumer camp!


THE HAUNTED HOTEL
by Konstantina Triantafillou
The story took place at a little town near Texas. In Brown 2 Street there was a 5 stars hotel that was the most popular in the area. But one day when one family went there creepy things happened...
Thomsons family (the family that went on the hotel) was included by mr. John, mrs Kathrin and their kids, Anna and Bill. After their trip they were very tired so they let their baggage and went at the mini cafe at the ground flour[floor] of the hotel. Anna and Bill wanted toplay so they went to their room. Suddenly there was a blackout and a scary voice said: "If you wanna stay alive live[leave] this place until tomorrow morning." After a while when the lights came up everyone thought it was a joke and laughed. But it wasn't...
When John and Kathrin arrived at their room they saw their kids choked and they saw a ghost holding a knife. The ghost killed them too. The receptionist heard screams and ran to the room and he saw the ghost. It was too late. It hanged him at the chandelier.
But did everyone die? Has anybody servived? Did the hotel close? Why this ghost killed the Thomsons? No one knows.
Maybe the ghost visit your house too!


UNTITLED
by Natalia Sophia
It was Halloween, at midnight. Mary and her friends had gone for pranks. They walked and saw a huge house. But this house has a vampire and Mary and her friends isn't know. They hit the door but nobody answer sudenly the door is open. The girls go insite the house. Sudeny they listen a a strange voice the girls want to go out but the door is closed and they don't up [open] it/ They find secret stairs and they follow it. Sudenly they lisen again the strange voice, on the floor had blood. On the wall its wrote with blood I KILL YOU. Mary it open her eyes and she saw her mother where she said: "Wake up it's time for school." She [Mary] understand that this is a nightmare.



Wednesday, 5 October 2016

HINTS FOR (SPOOKY) SHORT STORY WRITING!

October = Hallowe'en

If you know me, you know that I love spooky stories!

What do you need to do to write a (spooky) short story?

Here are my hints and tips for short story writing.
  • Keep it simple! Don't have too many characters. Usually one or two are enough if you are writing up to 350 words.
  • Use adjectives and descriptive verbs (rather than a verb-adverb combination) to build atmosphere. He sprinted is much more exciting that He ran quickly.
  • Use direct speech to carry the story on and give your characters personality. The way someone speaks can tell you how educated they are, where they are from and what they think of the other characters. Compare these examples: "'Sup?" "What's up?" "How are you?" "How do you do?" Check out punctuation for direct speech.
  • Use a variety of linking words to carry the action forward or backward. And then... and then... and then... is dull and repetitive. First of all, secondly, previously, before that, then, later (on), all of a sudden, suddenly, until, (just) when, in the meantime, not until then, at that moment, only after that, as soos as, while, although, even though, so that, finally, in the end.
  • Stories are usually narrated (told) as if the action has happened in the past. Use a variety of tenses to help you do this. Past simple for completed actions, events that happen one after the other, or which interrupt a long action. Past continuous for longer actions or for things that happen simultaneously (at the same time), for setting the scene. Past perfect for an event in the deep past (before other actions in the past). Past perfect continuous for events that were happening before the past perfect action.
  • Use vocabulary appropriate to the theme. For spooky Hallowe'en vocabulary you can look at the following resources: Hallowe'en vocabulary word list, Hallowe'en vocabulary with definitions, My Hallowe'en vocabulary
  • A story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. That is the reader needs to get to know the characters in the beginning, then she/he needs to experience the conflict (a difficult situation which is, or leads to the main event/action) and finally to feel the pleasure of the resolution (finding a solution to the problem) at the end. Use paragraphs to make these distinctions clear.) I also found a great story map to help you plan ideas. (It has a Minecraft theme, but your story can be about anything!)

Here are some spooky stories for you to read and listen to. Perhaps they will inspire you!
The Riddle of the Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe.

Here are a few of mine:
Jack be Nimble