11 Random Facts – Cristina’s Questions

They say that the third time’s the charm. It means that the third time you try to do something, it will work. But this is actually not an appropriate saying for this occasion because things worked for the first and second time as well as I believe they will work now. What am I talking about? I’ve been tagged for the third time by my lovely friend Cristina Monteiro Silva in this amazing game called Eleven. I’ve previously been tagged by Shelly Terrell and Debbie Tebovich, my friends and compatriots, and I was excited to answer their questions. I thought that the game was over then but I was wrong. Here comes Cristina and her post, at this lovely time of year, with another set of questions, and I’m so enthusiastic about answering them.

1. What was the best moment in your life?

I’ve actually had three best moments in my life because I’ve got three kids. Yes, I felt the happiest when my sons were born.

2. Do you expect much of people?
Not really. I don’t think it’s wise. If you expect too much, you might be disappointed. This idea is beautifully summarized in my favourite film based on my favourite novel by Somerset Maugham The Painted Veil.
3. How many true friends do you have?

A couple, I’d say. Not more than fingers on one hand. But here the quality is more important that quantity.

4. What do you do when you need to have YOUR moment?

I take my Tarot deck or I have a hot bath where I can contemplate peacefully.

5. What is the film of your life?

I really loved The English Patient because there are all the emotions one can think of. It’s about passion, sacrifice, love, pain, anger, and the need to possess a person, which finally turns out to be so devastating.

6. When was the last time you slept 10h? NB question not suitable for Shelly :)

On holidays I sometimes do. I’m the person who needs to sleep for 8 hours on a school day, or at least I think so. Otherwise I’d be totally useless.

7. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I clean the kitchen a little, I drink a glass of water and make myself a cup of coffee. Then I switch on my laptop and check all the FB notifications. If I don’t forget, I have something to eat.

8. Which historical character would you like to meet if you had that chance?

I’d like to meet someone who’s considered a hero now and I’d like to get to know them with all their strengths and weaknesses. I’d like to see what personal battles they had to fight apart from doing the great things they once did – for example Václav Havel, our former president, who’s listed among the 100 Greates Heroes who changed the world.

9. An embarrassing moment in your life was…


When I danced with my son wearing high heels and my feet slipped. It must have looked funny because it was a formal event and everybody was supposed to behave decently 🙂
10. When did you last burst out laughing and couldn’t stop?

It was when my colleague and I wanted to check a serious website and when we clicked on it something really unexpected popped up.

11. City or countryside?  

I love countryside but I also love cafés, supermarkets and busy town squares. So countryside but somewhere near the city.


11 Random Facts – Debbie’s questions

I feel really flattered that Débora Tebovich tagged me for the second time in this fun game. I’ve aready given 11 Random Facts about me in my previous post, in which I responded to Shelly Terrell. Here are my answers to Debbie’s thought-provoking questions. If you are a visual learning type, check the following link out first. I wanted to show that anyone can participate in this challenge, even though they don’t have their own blog:

1. How often do you feel exposed to dilemmas as an Educator? How do you work them out?
Honestly, quite often. For example, whenever a student of mine does badly in a test I have to decide whether to give him or her a second chance. I usually do.

2. What plants and flowers do you have at home?
I don’t have green fingers. The only plants that survive in my presence are cacti or some really tough plants. However, every year at this time I buy a red Christmas Star (Poinsettia Plant). I love roses and wild flowers in general.

3. Have you ever got stuck in an elevator?
No and honestly, as I’m really afraid of being in confined spaces, this would be a disaster for me.

4. What is that lovely childhood memory that comes to you every once in a while?

I often think of my stays at my grandmother’s place. I used to go there in the holidays. It was so quiet and peaceful there – just me and the books which I would to read in the garden.

5. If English is not your mother tongue, do you ever need to read subtitles when you watch a movie in English?
Oh yes. And they can be really distracting (even the English ones). That’s why I prefer switching them off.

6. What makes you laugh? When a student makes a really good and clever joke in the class; something that comes naturally out from the lesson.

7. If you could spend a year focusing on research, what would you research? Why? I’d observe and measure the effects of parents’ reading to their small kids. I find it very important for the development of their mother tongue and later for the ability to learn foreign languages.

8. How do you keep track of your digital files? I don’t have many digital files at the moment. To be honest, I face trouble whenever I have to sort things out (even in the material world). I’m bad at making categories. But I’m getting better.

9. When was the last time you danced? Last week. My son had his final standard dance class and all parents were invited.

10. Who do you admire and why? I admire my husband, who is very patient and calm and never gets excited. He’s never bored even when he has nothing to do.

11. Are you good at setting goals? Do you follow a certain process to set your goals? I’m a very intuitive person; and not a very disciplined one, but if I decide to achieve something, I go for it. I don’t follow any conscious procedure; I just see the goal in front of me and RUN! 🙂


11 Random Facts

I’d like to thank Shelly Sanchez Terrell for tagging me for this challenge. This is what I did and I hope you’ll enjoy the mission as well.

1. On your own blog, create a post and mention I tagged you along with anyone else who did.

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about me:

  1. I’m a B positive blood type. None of my sons inherited my blood type, though.
  2. I love Tarot cards. I love looking at the images before I go to bed. It calms me down.
  3. I hate diving because I hate being underwater for too long.
  4. I don’t feel comfortable in confined spaces.
  5. I can easily get excited.
  6. I’m attracted to all shades of red; burgundy red is my favourite.
  7. I’m a ‘bath’ person (as opposed to ‘shower’ person).
  8. I love autumn. I believe it’s because I was born on an autumn day.
  9. Although I love music, I like shopping in supermarkets where there is no music on.
  10. I don’t have many plants at home. I don’t have green fingers.
  11. I love travelling by train.

11 questions from Shelly Sanchez Terrell:

  1. What is a goal you hope to accomplish from your bucket list? I’d like to learn a non-Germanic language, such as Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.
  2. What is one goal you hope to accomplish in 2014? As 2013 was a very ‘sedentary’ year for me (because I had to study a lot), in 2014 I’d like to take care of my body properly; I’d like to start doing regular exercise and go out more.
  3. If you could host a reality TV show, what would it be about? About ELT and education. Each week I’d invite a teacher and a student who would discuss important issues from their points of view.
  4. How do you blow off steam? I try not to bottle up feeling for too long. It’s sometimes better to say what’s on your mind, even though it might hurt somebody.
  5. What is one of your personal theme songs? As I wrote in one of my posts here, it’s the optimistic song called Ain’t no mountain high enough.
  6. What are you incredibly proud of accomplishing? I’m proud that I managed to get my MA degree at the age of 40, at the time when I was a full-time teacher and a busy mother of three.
  7. What was one of your favourite gifts? A hamsa trinket I got from my friend for my 41st birthday. It’s a palm-shaped amulet that is supposed to protect women from evil.
  8. How have you dealt with a past failure? I got up, reflected and went on.
  9. What is one piece of advice that has helped you throughout life? Never go against your own intuition. Follow your instincts . Less is often more.
  10. What was your favourite toy when you were a child? A toy cat (grey, ugly and old but I loved it).
  11. What’s your favourite piece of art? A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

I’m tagging the following 11 bloggers:

  1. Sue Lyon-Jones
  2. Maja Jerkovic
  3. MarySousa
  4. Rachael Roberts
  5. Vedrana Vojkovic
  6. Paulw
  7. Miguel Mendoza
  8. Lesley
  9. Ceri Jones
  10. Andrea Wade
  11. Mieke Kenis

 11 questions I’d like to ask them:

  1. If you could change one thing about education in your country, what would it be?
  2. Have you ever thought of quitting your job as an educator? Why?
  3. What’s your earliest memory as an educator?
  4. Is education valued where you live? If not, what is the main reason?
  5. How do you think we could help to make teaching a more prestigious job?
  6. Apart from burning-out, what’s the biggest danger for a teacher?
  7. Did anyone try to put you off teaching in the past?
  8. Why do you think teaching can bring so much satisfaction but also frustration?
  9. What makes you happy?
  10. When did you last laugh out loud?
  11. If your child/best friend wanted to become a teacher, what piece of advice would you give him or her?

A boring textbook exercise? Turn it to your advantage!

This lesson is a classic example of how the teacher can elaborate on a boring, monotonous textbook exercise. This activity will gradually develop from a traditional ‘pen and paper’ approach into a more ‘modern’ one using technology. Below there’s a gap-fill exercise adapted from New Hotline Elementary Workbook. It’s focus is the past simple vs. past continuous contrast. Students usually fill in the exercise as their homework or individually in the lesson.

Every Wednesday, Rebecca Lanson plays tennis. Yesterday Rebecca ………. home from tennis, when ………. some earrings in a jeweller’s shop window. She ………. her sports bag. When she ………. the earrings, she ………. to look at them. While she ………. there, a robber ………. of the shop. When she ………. him, she ………. round. As the thief ………. past her, he ………. the handle of her tennis racket. Two policemen ………. to a boy in the street, when the robbery ………. . When the thief ………., the two policemen ………. him.

(Answers: was coming, saw, was carrying, saw, stopped, was standing, ran out, saw, turned, was running, fell over, were talking, happened, fell over, fell over, arrested)
Step 1:

1) After you have checked the answers with the class, ask them to close their books.
2) Tell your Ss they’re going to turn the story into a comic. Give Ss a large piece of blank paper and start dictating the sentences slowly. The Ss draw pictures as you speak. Ask them to draw quick sketches, not elaborate images. If you pause after each sentence, it’s manageable for the students to keep up.
3) When they finish, ask them to compare their work. This is the moment when students laugh and have fun.
4) Get them to work in pairs and retell the story from memory using their comics.
5) As a follow up task, Ss write the story down (either collaboratively or individually, either in class or at home).
6) Ss compare their story with the original one and make corrections, if necessary.

Step 2:
Introduce Ss to Bubblr. This is a place where they can create their own comics online. Now you can ask your students to make Rebecca’s story above into an online comic or you can ask them to make a brand-new story using the past simple and past continuous. This online tool is dead simple and fun. All the students will need to do is drag and click. They choose their own pictures to match the story and add bubbles and titles. The more advanced the students, the more elaborate the text will get.

Finally, these are some of the stories my young pre-intermediate students have recently created: http://padlet.com/wall/3015ndxxj

Let Them Know You Learned from Them

My teenage son got a small aquarium as a Christmas present some time ago. He read all about fish keeping, chose the fish species, plants, the gravel and some other stuff, and officially became an aquarist. However, as it often happens, some of the fish died the following day. I incidentally mentioned the sad news in one of my English classes and to my amazement, an 11-year-old boy immediately started explaining what the problem was in a very sophisticated way. I thanked him for his advice and I forwarded the message to my son. Later on I told the boy that his advice had been very useful and that it had helped my son to solve the problem.

What am I driving at? Well, we usually feel we learn best from the more experienced people – from our trainers, teachers, parents, etc. We are somewhat reluctant to admit that we actually learn from the ‘less experienced’ a great deal as well. But I can no longer deny that I learn from my students every day. I listen to them while they share their experiences during a speaking activity and I learn without even noticing it. Sometimes I explicitly ask them for help, for example, when I need to count something quickly, multiply, divide, subtract, etc. (honestly, they are much better and quicker than me). I ask them for help when there is a problem with technology and they are usually able to fix it within a matter of seconds.

I don’t pretend that I’m the one who always knows better. On the contrary, I don’t feel uncomfortable if I have to confess that I was wrong. Sometimes my students come up with a rare word or something I’ve never heard of. As they play computer games and read fantasy books in English they come across low-frequency words or colloquial expressions which I’m not familiar with. But I’m always willing to learn from them and I always send the message that I like to learn from them. I know they feel proud when they know better than the teacher, and they deserve to feel so, but of course, they have to be polite. I once had a student who was a little malicious and was very happy to ridicule others (including me) by pointing out errors and correcting others in a rude way. This is something I never tolerate – not just because of my feelings but because it hurts the other students in the class.

I believe that we are like jigsaw pieces; each of us possesses some unique knowledge and if we share these pieces, we’ll create the whole, amazing picture. And even the youngest creatures can teach us a lesson. My 5-year-old son sometimes points to a nonsensical statement of mine, when I say something illogical because I’m not paying attention to our conversation. He askes me curiously how that could be and I suddenly realize that he IS paying attention; kids always are if they are interested in something. Generally, small kids teach us how to be more alert and watchful because they are still able to live in the present moment without escaping to the past or future all the time. They teach us to be more careful about what we say and how we say it because they are there and always listen (or they don’t). They never bother to pretend …

The benefits of participating in an online community

The fact that people can now gather virtually in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location makes communication much easier. Online communities provide a space for people who want to come together using the Internet, and this can make their lives richer and more interesting. One can easily find kindred spirits within a few days, no matter how shy or self-conscious he or she is. 

Over the past couple of months I’ve become a member of several online communities. I’m a just a lurker in some of them, a novice in others and a regular in one or two of them. They could all be vaguely characterized as groups of people with the same interests and passions – education and ELT. These communities consist of people who share the same intent, beliefs, resources, preferences, needs, etc. These conditions, and many more, affect the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness within the group. I enjoy participating in all the groups but I’ve obviously got a favourite. But what is it that makes me feel more comfortable in one community than in another?

My favourite community has a common goal, which is very explicit and gives the participants a sense of direction. As the majority of people learn by example and often follow others, I find it very effective that there’s someone who watches over the members all the time (a leader/ community architect/ community manager – you name it). This person guides the participants while giving them a lot of freedom to air their own opinions. The members simply know that they are never alone and that there is somebody out there to listen and help. In addition, there are several core participants that represent the majority of the contributors and that are very important to the community progress. These core members also provide most of the feedback. Needless to say, all opinions and ideas are valued equally. Everybody is tremendously supportive, so the members always feel encouraged to share ideas. This promotes creativity and motivates everybody to be honest about their feelings. A lot of feedback and encouragement provides a sort of psychological reward. It is a well-known fact that participation and contribution is influenced when members of an online community are aware of their global audience. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like sharing, nobody forces you to. You can take your time and contribute whenever you feel up to it. By just observing and supporting (so-called lurking) you can contribute valuably to the wellbeing of the whole community and thus make it more cohesive. Finally, I feel that one of the greatest attractions of this community is the sense of connection and belonging to a group users build between each other.

To sum my post up, I’d like to ask myself a question: What have I gained and lost by participating in this particular online community? I’ve met some amazing people who I’ll probably never meet in person but the bond is strong anyway. I’ve become more confident in certain areas of my activity, such as writing and sharing ideas publicly. I’ve gained an endless source of inspiration and energy from the other participants. Loss is usually associated with negative emotions. However, not all the things I’ve lost are negative. I’ve lost inhibitions related to my online presence and I never feel afraid of posting, commenting or expressing my ideas. Obviously, participating in an online community is time-consuming, but I believe that the time and effort invested is worth it.

I suppose that by now the reader has realized what online community I have described in my post. If you have no idea, here’s a clue: it’s the community to which this blog is dedicated and by which it is inspired. If you are not a member yet, join in! 🙂

*Goal 22/ Cycle 4: Participate in a New Community