Thursday, June 23, 2016

TESOL MTh Summer Event

Two talks, four exceptional ladies!
Added bonus: Wine party, food and singing!

Speakers: Anna Parisi, Nora Touparlaki, Rea Tsougari
Title: Welcome to the SEETA WORLD: 10 Teachers’ Associations - One on-line community.

Anna, Nora, and Rea will take you on a guided tour around SEETA, a unique online community of teachers’ associations in South Eastern Europe. 
Find out what’s on SEETA: online teacher development courses, webinars, collaborative projects, blogs, teacher resources, discussion forums and much more! All for free if you are a member of TESOL Macedonia –Thrace Northern Greece.
Join us to find out about the SEETA Research Project and how you can present in the SEETA /IATEFL online conference in December 2016. Anna, Nora, and Rea will answer all your questions on how SEETA operates, they will explain how you can be involved and introduce you to TAs in the region during a live connection at the event! 

Speaker: Maria Karatsali
Title: Playing games in the EFL classroom.

Games develop trust, promote collaboration, create optimism, encourage problem solving, make us focus, help us learn.....Games make us happy.
Games make us better people. So......Let us PLAY!!!

20:00 – 21:00 
Wine Pary & Finger food along with some music

Don't miss TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece Summer Event!

                                                            Meet our Speakers

Nora Tourpalaki
EFL/ESL teacher. MA in TESOL University of Nottingham, British Council e-moderator, IH London certified online tutor. 

She has been involved in Seeta community for many years and currently she is serving the board as a Treasurer. She never misses the chance to participate in the closed courses and webinars which help her a lot with her professional development. 

Rea Tsougari
EFL teacher, SEETA Articles Bank Coordinator – Newsletter Editor & Designer, former TESOL M.Th, N.Greece Vice Chair

Rea has been an ELT teacher for several years and has just earned the Cambridge CELTA Certificate (Pass A). She has taught students of all ages and levels and has also served as an Educational Consultant in a chain of English Language Schools. She has examined for various exam bodies and has been a judge at the Panhellenic Forensics Association Tournament. She has served the TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece board for 4 consecutive years as a Vice-Chair and a Treasurer. She has been a supporter of the SEETA project since day one and was one of the founding members on the SEETA board. Rea is the SEETA Articles bank Coordinator and the SEETA Newsletter Editor and Designer. In addition, Rea holds a degree in Accounting and Finance of the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki.


                                                                             Anna Parisi
 Teacher & Teacher Trainer, Director of Studies Access, SEETA Project Leader.

Maria Karatsali
Director of StudySpace Teacher Development Centre.

She is a Cambridge approved tutor for CELTA and DELTA. She has worked in Japan, Spain and the UK. 

Poetry in Motion: A Kinesthetic Poetic Approach - Report on Vassiliki Mandalou and Efi Tzouri's Session

Vassiliki and Efi, jolly as always, welcomed their audience with music playing. They started out by talking about the Genesis of poetry and motion with a reference to the ancient theatre chorus. 

                                                                                                                       Photo by Maria Vlachopoulou

Then, they went on to talk about the public Literary Program, “Poetry in Motion”, which was developed in 1992 by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and  the Poetry of Society of America and aimed at making the transportation more enjoyable. “Poetry in motion” placed poetry in the transit systems of cities throughout the country and was launched to reach the nearly 7 million daily commuters of New York City. Soon it appeared in other cities, too, such as London. 

Next, they referred to a documentary entitled “Poetry in Motion”, featuring contemporary North American Poetry and music. Some of them were Black Mountain Poets, Beats, minimalist poets and avant-garde poets.

Then it was time for the participants to express their opinions on how they perceive the phrase “poetry in motion” and write their own examples to illustrate it! Some really nice examples were heard! Then Vassiliki and Efi provided us with some of the meanings this phrase may take, such as beautiful, divine etc.

                                                                                                                  Photo by Maria Vlachopoulou

Following they illustrated the notion of “Poetic Felt Space” as the “embodiment of poetry as Dance Movement Imagery”. The development of a performance installation entitled Living Lens as an “extended body of nerves” was an example of this.

They went on to outline the educational value of “Poetry in Motion” as describing elements of poetry, performance and movement, explaining how movement and poetry can be combined, using a variety of physical levels to communicate emotions, voice techniques, tableau and movement  to add meaning to a piece of poetry. All these lead to experiencing a variety of interpretations of a piece of poetry and identifying how choices in the performances highlight a variety of meanings in the piece of poetry.
And then the participants were asked to divide in groups of four and write their own poems: an exercise to unlock the poetry within, as Vassiliki and Efi put it!

                                                                                                                  Photo by Maria Vlachopoulou

After writing their poems groups had to get up and perform them with movement! The exercise was enjoyable, to say the least! Different people came together, wrote their poems and the result was either amusing or romantic or funny or touching but in every case interesting!
The workshop was a unique experience for all participants who had the chance not only to learn about “poetry in motion” but also find out what it’s all about themselves!

Report by Maria Vlachopoulou

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

So You Think You Can Teach - Report on Cathy Salonikidis's Session

So you think you can teach ...was the title of the inspired and inspiring workshop by Ms Cathy Salonikidis who managed to bring the warmth of the lessons she teaches in the UK during the summer to our annual convention. Ms Salonikidis was aiming to involve and engage both novice and experienced teachers and that was exactly what she did. By posing the inevitable question: "Have you ever wondered why lesson plans sometimes fail?" Ms Salonikidis created a friendly atmosphere of teachers who had loads to share on the topic and yet longed for an answer to quench the thirst for successful lessons in them.

                                                                                                                            Photo by Efi Tzouri

 Improvisation, Creativity and Imagination  is the triptych of success according to Ms Salonikidis and by presenting it to us she divided the participants into groups and shared the first task. "A lesson without a lesson plan" which was a hands on approach to cases of last minute substituting.

Moving to the next activity, Ms Salonikidis amazed us not only with her creativity in finding activities but also her ability to give them catchy titles which made us want to learn more. "A reading without a reading". I found this activity really interesting as within the very first seconds I was ready to read a text and follow Ms Salonikidis instructions, imagine my excitement when I was given a children's book and then asked to look at a picture. A picture? But what about reading? That was the twist! Along with my team WE had to write the text to describe the picture but by actually making up a story out of it. The other group had a trickier picture I have to admit as they were at an upper level. We came up with a crazy story and then our beloved instructor opened her next card... "Now read your story to your peers and they will ask you questions."You can't imagine how many questions each story created and how much discussion. It was a brilliant moment and one I would love to try with my students.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Photo by Efi Tzouri

The third activity was the charm: "Shy students talking!"
After the excitement of the previous activities Ms Salonikidis asked us to close our eyes, take some deep breaths and imagine we are shy students dreaming of a place we want to be. Then she would walk around the classroom and tap a student on the shoulder. The student had to describe the place without naming it and without anyone opening eyes. Then the rest of the class had to find where this person has been dreaming of being. The activity was not only relaxing but also inspiring, as every description made us travel to various places, from an exotic beach to a mother's hug.

                                                                                                                                          Photo by Efi Tzouri

Last but not least Ms Salonikidis got us standing to play various grammar games, approaching grammar with fun and creativity.

All in all, Ms Salonikidis provided practical ways of teaching based on improvisation, imagination and creativity. It was a workshop full of action and discussion, all in good proportion by a teacher who knows how to teach!

Report by Fani Miniadou

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Promoting Learner's Four Language Skills in the Primary while Preparing for Cambridge English Exams with the Help of Free Internet Resources - Report on Jake Delatolas-Saveris's Session

Preparing learners successfully for Cambridge English exams in the primary can promote all four language skills and thus bring learning to life. This is exactly the aim of real education as well the purpose of exams and degrees : to prepare the students for life. 

                                                                                                                                      Photo by Vassiliki Mandalou

In addition, the Internet is an amazing, innovative and powerful tool and provides a great number of opportunities to teach English,  especially when it provides free resources.
Nowadays young learners are digitally informed and aware and tjis means that we teachers are asked to use the Internet for their benefit.

Many Directors of Studies often wonder why they should integrate Cambridge English exams in their curricula. Having prepared candidates for Cambridge Exams for more than 20 years Jake Delstolas-Saveris would encourage them to do so for 4 main reasons. 
To begin with, Cambridge English exams help EFL teachers show their good work. It's one of the basic and important exams, which tests both students and their teachers. The skills needed to succeed demand a spherical approach to the language and prove that the work on this field must be innovative and powerful. 

                                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Efi Tzouri

Secondly, learners not only get motivated but also enjoy their classes.By providing a great list of free Internet resources , Mr Delatolas-Saveris explained how learning can be fun in all levels of teaching and learning. Moreover by using the Internet platform students avoid boredom and routine and discover new aspects of their own learning potentials.  In addition, parents are pleased and trust the strong English programme of a school which is in line with Cambridge English’s internationally recognised exams. The resources provided by Cambridge university are accurate , aligned with the needs of both the trainer and the learner and they are to be trusted. 

Lest we forget the value of the Cambridge degrees not only in Europe but worldwide. It's well known that once we try to get a degree , we want it to be commonly valid and recognised .

                                                                                                                         Photo by Efi Tzouri
And last but not least, the exams are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – the international standard to describe language ability. The presentation focused on the promotion of learner’s four language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking – in the primary while preparing for Cambridge English exams with the help of free Internet resources. Games and quizzes , retreats on vocabulary and vocal support for speak with the right pronunciation , visual sets and examples of padt papers along with the amusement of discovering new things via the Cambridge resources made a vivid point in this presentation. 

As Jake Delatolas - Saveris explained in these ways of working with one's pupils , stress stops existing as it's replaced by creativity . The knowledge transferred remains and evolves into life skills and not just dry amount of information which will be forgotten after the exams.

Some of the free resources that Mr Jake Delatolas-Saveris provided by giving examples in his presentation :

Report by Vassiliki Mandalou

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Dyslexia /Learning Difficulties in EFL: Useful Tips for EFL Teachers - Report on Marina Tzalamoura’s Session

Ms Marina Tzalamoura started her talk emphasizing that more and more students are diagnosed with Dyslexia and other Learning Difficulties and EFL  Teachers are being challenged to facilitate their learning by engaging them into teaching styles that will help them learn English as a second language. 

                                                                                                                                                                          Photo by Elpiniki Meimaroglou

Ms Tzalamoura went on to provide an overview of the strengths and weaknesses that characterize dyslectic students in order to enlighten the EFL Teachers as to the most appropriate methodology that could be used with them. She carried on offering valuable directions along with useful and practical advice to teachers in order to guide them on how to cope with these issues.

Additionally, she stressed out that nowadays, educators ought to be aware of the methods which can be effectively implemented in classroom so as to motivate and maintain their interest in learning English. Moreover, they should wisely choose texts and other material according to each student’s cognitive stage of development. She recommended three basic methods associated with teaching strategies in assisting EFL Teachers get involved in.
Being a strong proponent of multisensory teaching, she presented three widely used multisensory models, namely: Horn’s Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check method, the Visual-Auditory- Kinesthetic- Tacktile (VAKT) method and the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) method. She clearly illustrated how to teach spelling using these methods and provided examples and activities that could be used.

Horn’s Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check Method:

  •  Look at the word and take a snapshot of it.
  •  Pronounce the word while looking at it and listen to the sounds it makes.
  • Say the letter names while looking at them and spelling them aloud.
  • Cover the word and look at it in the mind’s eye with eyes closed.
  • Write the word using cursive writing.
  • Check the spelling by comparing it with the original version.

Visual-Auditory- Kinaesthetic- Tacktile (VAKT) Method:
This multisensory method works well particularly for someone with dyslexia who has developed phonemic skills and has learned to use phonological skills.

  • An effective method used to compensate for poor visual memory.
  • Aids retention, increases motivation.
  • Teaches students how to think about the process of spelling a word.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Method:
This method is a strongly visual approach and suits those who have good visual perception and visual memory. Some individuals with dyslexia have very poor visual memories while others have outstanding visual skills.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Elpiniki Meimaroglou

Multisensory teaching techniques and strategies stimulate learning by engaging students on multiple levels, thus helping a child to learn through more than one sense. She pointed out that thre is no one method for teaching spelling and that the approach should vary according to the individual learner’s capabilities. 

She, as well expressed that students with learning difficulties would benefit from differentiated instruction by focusing on each student’s needs and explicit instruction focusing on different aspects at a time. Learning strategies and mnemonic strategies should also be taught and more time should be allocated to students to spend on the task at hand. Last but no least teachers should bear in mind that these students should be praised for what they have achieved rather than be criticized for their mistakes. 

Concluding, Ms Tzalamoura on her talk has managed to provide invaluable feedback and up to a point aid the attendees to understand what is Dyslexia. Dyslexia is not a disease, it is a very special ability and we, English Language Teachers need to learn how we can transform it to an asset and by no means considering it as an obstacle to teaching English. 

Report by Dimitra Christopoulou

Interview with Marina Tzalamoura by Dimitra Christopoulou

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Aspiring to Inspire! From teaching to… educating - Report on Alexandros Agathangelidis, Maria Gourmou, Evanthia Kanonidou, Iro Sapouna, Despina Sarantidou, Persefoni Tyfliori and Dr Paschalia Patsala's Session

On 26 March 2016, within the scope of the 23rd TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece Annual International Convention with the theme "Beyond Teaching - Inspiring Others", a group of students (attending the BA in English Language and Linguistics Programme at the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield, CITY College) delivered a talk with the title "Aspiring to Inspire! From teaching to… educating". Ushered by their Lecturer, Dr Paschalia Patsala, the presenters: Alexandros Agathangelidis, Maria Gourmou, Evanthia Kanonidou, Iro Sapouna, Despina Sarantidou and Persefoni Tyfliori made a clear distinction between the concepts of 'teaching' and 'educating.' 

Our speakers firstly defined the term "to inspire" and listed the characteristics of a real educator. Among others, they emphasized the importance of hard work and willingness to help. A real educator should be disciplined himself/herself and set a good example for the students. They should have high expectations and standards and with their practices bring out the best of their students. Dedication and creativity are among other characteristics mentioned by our presenters. The human element is also very important; therefore an educator knows how to build rapport with their students and creates an environment in each students feel safe. Finally, a true educator is passionate about their work and loves what they do.

Since building rapport is one of the important characteristics of an inspiring educator, the six speakers focused on some of the techniques used for building and maintaining rapport with students. An inspiring educator applies teaching strategies which can be matched with different learning styles and cares for students learning difficulties. Another important element is feedback students received from their instructors. Such is the power of feedback that no wonder our presenters referred to providing it properly as "art". Empathy and respect were among the last characteristics mentioned by the presenters. Inspiring educators bond with the students and are compassionate. Even things as simple as asking how they feel, matter. Last but not least, a real educator is open-minded and treats each student with respect, regardless of the color, creed or origin.

                                                                                                                                                                               Photo by Margarita Kosior

Finally, the presenters reminded us that a road from being a teacher to being an educator is not all roses, and it can be a bumpy one. But it is worth it.  
Alexandros, Maria, Evanthia, Iro, Despina and Persefoni echoed the words of Rita Pierson in her TED talk "We are born to make a difference" and left us with an important message: We, as educators, have the power to change the world!

Report by Margarita Kosior

Will it Blend? Blended Learning.Language Classrooms Today and Tomorrow - Report on Eftichis Kantarakis's Session

Eftichis Kantarakis has been in the ELT field for more years than he can count as he never mastered the numbers after 20. He has worked as a teacher, an ELT consultant for OUP, New Editions and National Geographic Learning, an editor for OUP and New Editions and a free-lance Teacher Trainer. He has also been involved in a number of ELT publications. He was TESOL GREECE Newsletter editor and the vice chair for one.

The term blended learning has been around for about 25 years, but is still not very well-known in Greece. Eftichis succeeded with his talk in giving the audience an overview of the trend together with many suggestions for those who would like to try it with their students.
Eftichis started his talk with a video that would give every techno geek the chills! The man in the video was trying to blend new iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 3. With this video he certainly drew our attention as to what blended means. A combination of face to face instruction, online learning and digital instruction is what it actually means.

                                                                                                                               Photo by Maria Vlachopoulou

Although there is not a consensus on a definition, the term “blended learning” refers to “a formal education program in which a student learns, at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control over time, place, path and or pace. While still attending a “brick and mortar” school structure, face to face classroom methods are combined with computer mediated activities” (based on Wikipedia-blended learning).

Eftichis went on to give us the 6 models of blended learning, that is:
a) face to face, where the teacher drives in class with the help of digital tools
b) rotation model, in which students cycle through online study and classroom time
c) flex model, where most of the material is delivered online but the teacher is available for support
 d) labs, in which the material is delivered in a digital platform but the learning takes place in a lab
e) self-blend, where the students choose to enhance their traditional learning with online learning and
f) online driver, which takes place completely online through an online platform with possible teacher check-ins.

Then he illustrated the 10 drivers of blended learning, namely what the advantages of opting for it are. In particular, what was mentioned was the opportunity for personalized learning, the potential for individual progress, students’ engagement and motivation, the shift to online testing, the need to extend time and stretch resources, the potential to extend the reach of effective teachers, the ability to improve working conditions, the decrease of device costs, the adoption of learning apps by parents and students and last but not least the interest in narrowing the digital divide. In relation to this the 5 advantages of blended learning is that the learner is more engaged and uses a variety of content types, blended learning  caters for different learning styles, the instructor can assess the individual needs and act accordingly, the feedback is improved and it can make learning fun!

                                                                                                                   Photo by Maria Vlachopoulou

Next, Eftichis gave the audience a list of what one needs to look up if they decide to adopt blended learning. First, there has to be an LMS (Learning Management System), that is the learning environment for one’s students. PbWorks, Wikispaces, Google Sites and WikiDots were some of his suggestions. Then, one can choose from a variety of free Presentation tools such as Prezi, SlideRocket and Slideshare to deliver their material. Also, free recording tools to share audios. Vocaroo, Chirbit, Voxopop, Voicethread, Podomatic are some of them. Furthermore, besides the PrintScreen(PrtSc) button option on computers there is a number of free Screen Capture Tools with FastStone, ScreenHunter, ScreenCapturer and Jing being some of them. Last, for creating Online Playlist of Videos he suggested MyCloudPlayers, MentorMob and ProjectPlaylist.

                                                                                                                           Photos by Efi Tzouri

Additionally, he presented us with some great applications for ELT to make one’s classroom more interactive. FutureMe (letters to a future self), Penzu (personal journals), Storybird ( digital storytelling), Animoto (creating videos), VoiceThread (digital storytelling), GoAnimate (for animations), Little Bird Tales (record your students telling a story), Vocaroo (voice recording service), Soundcloud (for sharing sounds).

According to a case study presented during the talk, however, many students would not like to have an online component in their conventional learning. It seems that, although students are technology oriented nowadays, they prefer more traditional ways in their studying. Thus, we should be very careful about the use of technology in our classrooms. As for Greek ELT technology is considered a possible substitute.  IWBs (Interactive White Boards), Online Platforms, Skype Lessons, Power Point may be used in many cases, but usually Apps are used ad hoc and there is a limited rationale or link to syllabi. In other words, the tool is its own reward! Nevertheless, this should not be the case and the tools should enhance the language not only promote creativity.

Eftichis closed his talk with some advice to both experienced and new blenders. To always stick to a linguistic - not merely an entertaining goal, to stay up-to-date, because new tools are coming out all the time, to look up and experiment and try what works for our students. And always keep in mind that tools are here to supplement not replace. He ended with the conclusion: “Computers will never replace teachers. But teachers who use computers will replace teachers who don’t.”

List of References:

Report by Maria Vlachopoulou