Monday, April 27, 2015

Superheroes on a Mission: Let’s Join Forces to Save the World by Efi Tzouri, Marianthi Tsepeli – Report

All too often we hear parents and teachers complain that children spend most of their free time in front of TV or computer screen playing video games and are interested in nothing else but comics and cartoon characters.

Efi and Marianthi decided to take advantage of it, turning this ‘hobby’ into an exciting but educational game-based activity. Students become superheroes on a mission and the teachers become their sidekicks. The students are invited to work in teams and co-operate in order to save the world from a criminal with an evil plan. Before each step the teams get an envelope with a mission. The missions inform them about what they have to do. The participants get in groups according to super heroes. During the first mission students search in a box trying to find the words related to their hero. In the second step students get a wordsearch worksheet where they must find the hidden words. In the following missions students have to solve riddles, search for clues in the school library and create digital comics using internet resources. Students are warned that time is limited so they must act quickly.

Everyone present at the workshop seemed to be so much engaged in this game that I can only imagine what fun it must be for younger learners. After having tried these fantastic activities and given a full pack of internet resources that can be used for preparation, we were shown the pictures of the children playing this game. They were fully concentrated and focused looking for solutions and at the same time overwhelmed with joy and excitement. Mission accomplished!

By Lana Lemeshko

Here are some useful links, provided by Efi and Marianthi
Useful links to create a wordsearch:
Useful links with riddles:
Useful link to make a comic

Interview by Christina Chorianopoulou

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Let ‘s Follow Cavafy’s Footsteps! by Katerina Kyriakidou and Vicky Kostara

What might Ithaca look like illustrated? Verses become images and students are invited to create their own comics…

Katerina Kyriakidou and Vicky Kostara‘s brilliant approach to incorporating Cavafy’s poetry into the English Language class is a challenging task which has been praised by many. Those of us who attended the interesting presentation of their project, left full of ideas on how to inspire and motivate students to come to terms with poetry!

They started their talk by stating their acknowledgements, their aim - an interdisciplinary approach to Cavafy’s poetry - and the outcome of this project.

Poems have always been an excellent vehicle for cross-cultural learning, but having to deal with differences in competency levels and conveying the essence of a non-native poem at the same time is something that made the “Let’s Follow Cavafy’s Footsteps!” project even more remarkable.

So how do you combine subjects together in new ways? Katerina and Vicky demonstrated the means and tools they used to put this into practice, making a careful selection of Cavafy’s poems ("The Walls" and "The God Abandons Antony"). By creatively incorporating many artistic methods in class they achieved to both hold students' attention and involve them in many creative stages. What if students draw poems? Students recited and translated poems at the same time; a demo was shown of this recitation choreography. Drawing a poem, hip hop adaptations, innovative recitations of Cavafy‘s work, a comic strip as an illustration of a poem... These are just some of the ideas. Cavafy’s official website is a source for students to find out more. The handout the presenters provided at the end of their presentation is full of useful tips.

Grasping the meaning of a poem is not an easy task; nor is foreign language teaching. These two remarkable ladies have achieved just that!

By Fani Dafnopatidou

Photo credits: Maria Araxi Sachpazian

Monday, April 20, 2015

Delivering Presentations by Vesna Kovacevic - Report

Ms Kovacevic started off by reminding her audience that even in everyday life we find it difficult to express ourselves in public. Let alone when delivering an oral presentation! The first three suggestions she made are as follows:
  • Keep it simple and sexy ("sexy" meaning attractive, and this is the greatest respect to show to your audience)
  • Use common sense
  • Believe in self
To present successfully, she claimed, one must Inform, Persuade and Entertain. To achieve this, you must:
  • Take control of your material 
  • Take control of yourself
  • Take control of your audience
Then she presented some maxims that apply to all presentations and presenters. As a presenter you need to “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell’em, tell’em, then tell’em what you ‘ve just told’em”.

Before any presentation, REHEARSE!!

Some principles: Be yourself, be structured, be present and not absent

Before the presentation, regulate your breathing and relax your neck muscles. During the presentation, first make eye contact with your audience and make sure you hold it throughout. It’s important to deal with your nerves and control your body language. You need to take control of your audience and keep it, to manage your mannerisms, to use gestures appropriately, as well as facial expressions; you must use your position in the room consciously

Keep in mind that a presenter is a manager!!

When it comes to your voice, project it rather than shout, and vary it in volume, emphasis and pace. Use repetition and pause until it hurts: remember “the right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a well-timed pause.

Your visual aids (and it is good that you use them as they provide an extra sensory stimulus to the audience) must be of good quality, arouse curiosity, be creative and economical.

Questions during and after the presentation are useful as they allow the audience to connect and participate, not feel they’re somehow preached at, so make sure you allow time for questions.

During your delivery, keep your sentences short and simple, use the active rather than the passive, use familiar words, use familiar ideas, ideas that have to be concrete rather than abstract.

All in all, Ms Kovacevic’s presentation followed all the advice she gave us, it was clear and entertaining and she kept us captivated all along. She was well prepared and gave her audience time for questions in the end.

By George Raptopoulos

Interview by Lana Lemeshko

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Don’t Forget the Great Ideas! by Julianna Dudas - Report

Mrs Dudas' warm and demonstrative personality held our attention in the 45-minute presentation where she shared her favorite creative activities which are easy to prepare and easy to do.

”Where is the cat?” is an amusing way to teach prepositions. Hide a toy cat in your bag or desk, anywhere in the classroom and ask the students to find it by asking questions: Is it under the desk? In the drawer?... Presenting the toy cat - or perhaps a real cat - can be their reward. 

Miming and eye shutting games spark learners' interest and help them absorb and practice grammatical tenses. Card matching especially for visual and kinesthetic learners, helps teachers with unlimited options: collocation pairs, phrasal verbs, half sentences, opposites are just a few.

How about team work? Ask students a question then have them form pairs to discuss it, and move around listening to their answers. Similarly, students can form groups to create a story based on an object or a picture and then recite it at the end of the activity. Creating a speaking and writing activity is something that boosts creative thinking and it is also a fun activity. Finally, you can ask your students to find the connection between four different words (e.g.: a dog, an armchair, a fork and a terrace). 

Boost the students' interrogative skills by being silly. Have an unusual object in your bag, let’s say a monkey toy (unless you can provide a real one J) Class forms questions to find out why or how you got hold of it. Speculating is something that can trigger students' imagination in class. Another idea is to flash a picture for 1 or 2 seconds and ask your students to guess what it was. The activity can be lots of fun. 

"Bouncing" is another great story-writing activity where each student writes a story for 2 minutes and another student continues it for 2 more minutes and so on. 

Mrs Dudas' workshop was rich in content and full of practical ideas, easily applied in any classroom environment. So hide all electronic classroom devices for once and try some of these.

By Fani Dafnopatidou

Interview by Theodora Papapanagiotou

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Testing and the Implementation of the EFL Curriculum by Josilda Papagiani – Report

At her presentation Josilda shared her study concerning the influence of tests on EFL curriculum implementation. In her pilot study she raised three questions: What effects does assessment have on the students? When, what and how are students assessed and tested? Are students given the possibility to self – assess or peer – assess?

Photo credits: Christina Chorianopoulou

As a result of her study she came to the conclusion that tests and assessments make students learn more as they needed to achieve good results. Before, during and after the process, they felt under great psychological pressure which has a negative impact on their exam results. It turned out that grammar and writing exercises prevailed in comparison with other types of testing articles, in particular there are only a few testing items on word order and absolutely no testing in listening.  Josilda explained that there is a substantial difference between the word order in Albanian and English languages. But since it is not tested, teachers don’t teach it in schools. The same concerns the listening and speaking skills. As a result, when students come to real life, they appear to be not ready to communicate in English.  As for peer and self-assessment, learners agree that teachers don’t give them the possibility to assess themselves or their classmates.  It is worth mentioning that there are many students who require more tests and more assessment activities by their teachers before they could set them a grade.

Josilda hopes that her study will see clearer the relationship between examinations conducted in high schools and the stated curriculum goals.

By Lana Lemeshko 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Keep on Moving by Theodora Papapanagiotou, Nick Maragkos & Penelope Tourtourea - Report

"Keep on moving" seemed as a challenging workshop right from the start: the only presentation of the Convention to be held outside, with a lurking  fear of low temperatures and rain and people perhaps feeling apprehensive as to what they should expect.

The three presenters, however, Theodora Papapanagiotou, Nick Maragkos and Penelope Tourtourea, greeted attendees with a big smile and a lot of enthusiasm and began to explain their vision for an innovative approach to language teaching; the philosophy of movement and physical activity. After a detailed analysis from Nick Maragkos on how each activity is designed to keep learners active while they are learning, it was time for action. Theodora Papapanagiotou started giving clear directions for all activities and games to follow.

The workshop started with a ball game, where attendees formed a circle and one of the presenters stood in the middle. The ‘teacher’ announced the theme, for example ‘fitness’, and threw the ball in turns to the attendees, who had ten seconds to come up with a related word. The players who did not find a word in the given time had to leave the circle. An easy game with a lot of potential for classroom use and with students of all ages.

The second activity was a variation of the ‘running dictation’, during which attendees had to memorise a sentence and race to write it on a blank piece of paper set on the back of the person  in front of them. It was an exhilarating experience for everyone, as trying to remember your sentence after running and making sure it was legible proved harder than expected!

The third activity was even more challenging; the direction game. Attendees were put in teams of two, one person from each team was blindfolded and the other had to lead them to the appointed spot without touching them, only by giving the specific directions provided on each team’s map. It was such a great experience, all teams were focused on their task and, even though there were moments of near frontal collisions, everyone managed to finish the activity successfully and in one piece!

The balloon game was the fourth challenge for the attendees. In teams of two once again, one member had to run and get a balloon, race back to their partner, burst the balloon using their hands and... use the words written on small pieces of paper inside the balloon to form an idiom and explain its meaning! An excellent way of practicing language and staying active and excited.

The workshop closed with a session of breathing and stretching exercises presented by Penelope Tourtourea, to help attendees relax after such an active set of tasks, and it was just what everyone needed.

"Keep on Moving" was a truly inspiring workshop, delivered with precision and enthusiasm by the three presenters and which provided attendees not only with alternative ideas to use with their students but also with a different perspective on teaching. Everyone who attended was left with the best impressions and the reminder that keeping yourself as a teacher and your students active and moving during the lesson can have exceptional results in any teaching context.

For more information you can contact Theodora Papapanagiotou ( and Nick Maragkos (

By Christina Chorianopoulou

Photo made available by Theodora Papapanagiotou

The Story Behind Making of our Digital Storybook by Christina Martidou & Marina Martidou – Report

We are all familiar with the unique power of storytelling, which has been the oldest form of education and entertainment. However, all too often we hear parents and teachers complain that children nowadays don’t find reading books in their native language enjoyable, let alone a foreign language. Christina and Marina seem to have found a way to breathe new life into storytelling – they created a fantastic double-path digital storybook called “Dylan and Lydia at the Fortune Teller’s”, aimed at YLs of English aged 9 and above. There are two stories in one App, the book is delightfully illustrated and accompanied by enchanting background music and an audio narration. The book also features different reading modes, animations& sound effects and in- built dictionaries. There are story- based games and ELT activities in the book like multiple choice questions, imaginative writing activities, knowledge quizzes and other amazing features.

Christina emphasized that in the era of technology digital books have become the new generation of books. Apart from their multimodal nature, they also share some of the benefits of mobile learning. There are no physical or time barriers – all you need is download the app to your smart phone or tablet and your children can read anywhere anytime, which eventually can help instill a positive attitude to extensive reading.

In the presentation we were provided with interesting details regarding a creative making process of the book about Dylan and Lydia. We learned how it all started and how Christina and Marina came up with the plot and the characters. We also got to know the lovely children (with very good English by the way) who gave their voices to the characters of the book, we learned what challenges Christina and Marina met along the way but, what is more, we learned that you’re never too old for a fairytale.  

By Lana Lemeshko

Photo by Margarita Kosior

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Laughter Yoga by Danny Singh - Report

A very informative and happy workshop from Danny Singh, who introduced us to a very innovative lesson. Laughter Yoga is in his words, “the most important tool in my lesson”, it makes students more open to all kinds of creative and dynamic learning styles. In the beginning we started with some breathing techniques and he then introduced us to different kinds of laughter. We tried the: -Welcome laugh - Three variations of the milkshake laugh (which is his favourite) - The bee laugh - The bear laugh The Elephant laugh

In order for laughter to be beneficial to the body, we need at least 15-20 minutes of laughing. A child laughs about 300 times a day while an adult only about 10 times. Danny described how he found out about Laughter Yoga and what its benefits are. As we laugh for no reason, with no jokes or humour, there are no language, cultural, religious or political barriers to laughing. It reduces stress, we get warmed up and it improves the mood of both the students and the teacher. Laughing reduces inhibitions, so after the laughter exercises, the teacher could ask students to do any task he/she wants. Laughing also improves group dynamics and improves relations between students. Another important thing is that you can insert vocabulary while you are giving instructions for the laughs and students learn without even noticing it. The session ended practicing two more laughs and two other physical activities: - The word formation: We were divided into groups and had to form a word, either presenting letters with our bodies or making an image of the word we were representing. - Write on somebody’s back, practicing verbs – Student number one writes the infinitive of the verb, student number 2 has to understand the word and write the past tense of the verb on his/her partner’s back. - The car wash (pretending to go under a car-wash) - The swing laugh, where we formed a circle and came closer looking at the sky laughing.

You can find more information on Danny Singh’s page:

By Theodora Papapanagiotou

A Touch of Spice by Danny Singh - Report and Interview

Danny Singh’s session began with some wonderful scenes from the film A Touch of Spice, which we were going to discuss further during his presentation, on how it is connected to language teaching and learning.

The first significant point Mr Singh made was how memory is intrigued, by revealing that even though he had first watched this poetical film in its release year, 2003, he still remembered every detail and wrote an article based on it eleven years later.

During his talk, he presented us with the three aspects he saw emerging from the film; the political, with the portrayal of the Greek minority of Constantinople being deported and forced to live in a country they did not know; the educational, with knowledge being passed down from grandfather to grandson, using spices to teach everything, even astronomy; and of course the aspect of love, and how it can be hindered, along with all other aspects of life, due to government and political intervention.

The particular scenes where the grandfather teaches the solar system to his grandson, inspired our presenter to design and implement a multi-sensory lesson for two young learners, which he described to us in detail. Using several different spices, he invited his young learners to describe them by looking, feeling, smelling, tasting and listening to those spices as they were sprinkled onto paper so they would produce language and develop their skills through realia. He then asked them to keep traces of those spices in their notebooks, so they could reproduce that language later. The importance of building teacher-learner rapport was underlined by Danny Singh having a favourite spice in common with the younger learner and a complete opposite with the older one.

The attendees were then involved in a lively discussion, offering alternative aspects of the film, personal observations and further ideas to use while teaching.

The session closed with a TPR activity, which got all attendees moving and laughing.

It was a wonderful presentation which provided us with powerful images and sounds, as well as a handful of ideas to use in our lessons, while reminding us that we can make our teaching more effective if we allow ourselves to be resourceful and creative.

By Christina Chorianopoulou

Interview by Theodora Papapanagiotou

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? by Despina Vardaki, Elpiniki Psomataki and Elsa Plakida - Report and Interview

In a packed room Despina Vardaki, Elpiniki Psomataki and Elsa Plakida gave their presentation entitled “Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?”. It was a presentation full of creative storytelling techniques for young learners. The presenters showed us numerous multi-sensory activities, which can be used to teach storytelling in a fun and simple way. The story they chose to present was that of “Little Red Riding Hood”, their first love as they said.

Their presentation started with a basket full of goodies and a pair of red socks that served as an introduction to the story i.e. the pair of socks belonged to Little Red Riding Hood. Then there was a game where the participants had to guess from different flash cards where the Little Red Riding Hood might be. Afterwards, using a doll, there was a game of hide and seek where the participants had to guess where the Little Red Riding Hood was from the different places shown to them in flashcards. After that, the Big Bad Wolf appeared and there was a game of “Mr Wolf says” in the fashion of “Simon Says”. 

Then there was storytelling. The teacher can start narrating a story and then pantomimes the rest of the story. Then the students are given flashcards with pictures of objects and characters from the story and the teacher starts reading another part of the story. While the students listen to the teacher narrating they stand up whenever they hear the name of the character or the thing they have in their flashcards. Another activity presented was telling the story with mistakes for the students to correct. Another activity was a “whispering activity” where a student stands up and the teacher whispers an activity to them and they have to mime it for the other students to guess what they are doing.

In the last part of their brilliant presentation we were shown some interactive quizzes Despina, Elpiniki and Elsa have created. The first one was a “hotspot quiz” where students have to show where the object they hear is in a picture. The second one was a “click on the words you hear” quiz where students listen twice to a word and they have to click on the correct picture. The last interactive activity presented was an alphabet quiz where young students check how well they have learnt the ABC.

This brilliant presentation was full of songs, music, miming, chanting and energy. All the people who attended it had a fantastic time singing and taking part in all the different games and the presenters gave them so many wonderful and easy to use ideas and proved that storytelling can actually be a fun and creative process. 

By Emmanuel Kontovas

Interview by Christina Chorianopoulou