6/21/2017

God is there .... God is everywhere!!



     God is there…….. God is everywhere!! These are the words that came to my mind as I took a look around the wonderful mountains of St. Catherine, South Sinai. What a wonderful opportunity it is for meditation. Staying up after dawn/Fajr: contemplating nature, the mountains, rocks, plants emerging through the rocks, gardens among the mountains, the deep valley, the sunrise creeping on the tops of mountains…. What a beauty beyond description. Am I really here … or am I dreaming??! You forget everything about the world, nothing counts, only the beauty God bestowed on earth!! You take a deep breath and enjoy the pure air!!









































A hike is a different experience. Although we did it after sunset yet …. it has its own beauty!! You are going down a deep valley among the mountains, trying to feel the experience and enjoy the seemingly endless road to nowhere!! No buses, no cars, no noise…. only silence and the sound of the footsteps and murmur of the people around you…. What a graceful feeling!!






































We were fortunate enough to end up the 4-day journey with a drop at the sea side at Ras Sedr ….  A different graceful, holy beauty!! What a wonder sunset at the sea side is!! Waves coming and going telling you all about that has been going around, the water tickling your feet. Nothing can be more peaceful!!


























I had the pleasure of joining a wonderful group of young ladies and gentlemen (Satori) on a four-day wonderful journey to St. Catherine hiking and relaxing in nature. Wish you were there with us!! Thank you Satori for giving me this wonderful opportunity. Enjoy the photos …. Hope you like them!!        J



PS:   I still deeply believe in Wordsworth’s words
                     I listen’d, motionless and still;   
                     And, as I mounted up the hill,
                     The music in my heart I bore,  
                     Long after it was heard no more.

       AND


                      For oft, when on my couch I lie 
                      In vacant or in pensive mood, 
                      They flash upon that inward eye 
                      Which is the bliss of solitude; 
                      And then my heart with pleasure fills, 
                      And dances with the daffodils. 

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5/23/2017

IATEFL JOURNEY (3) Sarah Mercer – IATEFL Plenary Session




Trying to get back on track after a few weeks’ vacation with no rest and sickness. I tried to gain IATEFL’S spirit once more by watching Sarah Mercer’s interesting keynote speech at IATEFL Glasgow. The Conference memories went on passing in front of me while watching her. Interesting memories!!  You get the feeling that you hadn’t had enough of the conference and you want to sip in more.

Sarah spoke about “Connecting minds: Language Learner and Teacher Psychologies” https://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/session/plenary-session-sarah-mercer   She concentrated on three main points: Psychologically wise language teachers do 3 key things
A. They develop positive relationships
B. They focus on positivity and growth
C. They nurture their own professional well-being






A) They develop positive relationships

First she gave an introduction about the importance of psychology or relationships, in other words. She believes this is the heart and soul of teaching as teachers inspire magic.
Then she introduced a short TED Talk by Rita Pierson referring to the importance of building good and trustable relationships between teachers and students. Then she quoted Hattie’s (2009) “meta-analysis list of 138 most influential factors on learning” where he placed “Teacher-Student relationships” as no. 11 in the list. She believes that building relationships with Students is the basis on which we build the learners’ willingness to learn. Language Teaching is inherently social, it involves communication, collaboration and requires socio-cultural competence.



Then she referred the audience to the British Council study/research she worked on “Understanding Emotional and Social Intelligence among English Language Teachers” https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/G211_ELTRA_Gkonou%20and%20Mercer%20paper_FINAL_web.pdf and shared her findings: a) if you teach you are other-oriented person means you are interested in people. b) Multilingual people are sensitive to interpersonal connections and communication. She then drew the attention that what she is talking about is not new to many here, but she is bringing it to the fore front for teachers to focus on and call Teacher Trainers to give more attention to it.



Later on, after asking teachers to discuss the most important qualities of teachers, she started speaking about the importance of having an “Emotional Bank Account" (Covey). This can be filled by: 
1.     **Working on mutual trust and respect.
You have to work on them seriously to earn them
2.     **Be empathetic
Seek to understand your students and remind yourself how it is to be a learner. Share a bit about yourself with them.
3.     **Be responsive to learner individuality
Have little personal conversations. This is what she calls ‘pedagogical caring’.
4.     **Peer-peer relationships
Also teach your students the importance of having good relationships among each other. How to speak in front of peers, connect and know their names.

B) They focus on positivity and growth

We are the ones that stand in our way of learning. There are two different kinds of Mindsets:
      ** Fixed Mindset
           Attributes regarded as static or fixed
      ** Growth Mindset
           I can develop, get better. I can overcome problems
Both teachers and students have such Mindsets and you as a teacher is the one who can help your students think positively and get better with learning the language. It’s important to know your potentials as well as those of your students. You can push them forward. We can promote this through:
       ** Teacher as a role model
       ** Teacher Talk
       ** Strategies and pathways


Here comes the importance of feedback. It should be informative, deserved and genuine. We need to help students reduce anxiety and foster positive emotions.


We can keep “Broaden-and-build theory” of Fredrickson in mind. This helps us
                                                                                           To learn
                                                                                           To broaden horizons
                                                                                           To build resources
                                                                                           To build more positive emotions
                                                                                           To be more creative


C) They nurture their own professional and well-being

n  When you get in class SMILE
n  If you are frustrated, your students will be likewise
n  If you are motivated, they will be so as well
n  If you are happy at work, this will make you successful not vice versa
n  There is positive and negative stress. Use the positive one to gain from
n  Don’t over stretch yourself
n  Set boundaries
n  Stress Management is very important for Teachers
        ** Your physical condition
        ** Your mental condition
        ** Your emotional condition
If your body is in good shape, your mind will follow
n  Your well-being is a priority
n  We need to become a little more teacher-centered in our priorities and our professional well-being. It’s a necessity.




“Psychologically wise teachers know that for successful language teaching:
n  Psychology matters
n  Relationships matter
n  Positivity matters
n  YOU matter!!
“Happy teachers make for happy Learners!!”

PS:   You can find the link to the recording, pdf and references on https://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2017/session/plenary-session-sarah-mercer if you are a member of IATEFL






4/13/2017

IATEFL JOURNEY (2): Jeremy Harmer: Telling and Retelling : the magic of stories in ELT



It was interesting to start the day’s sessions with Jeremy Harmer’s. He showed a photo of a group of young men with two ladies and asked us to guess who these were, he started a discussion on it. Then he introduced 2 o3 paragraphs and each time he told us it is part of the story of this photo and asked us to guess which part of the story was it (introduction, middle or end). Then he gave us the different paragraphs and asked us to arrange them (Puzzle Story). After that we knew it was the story a famous film called The Wolf Pack which told us the true story of a family of 6 or 7 twins and their mother and their life problem.  




Jeremy then started discussing how we can teach such a story in class and how we can benefit our students from it as much as possible. He discussed that we can refer our students to the internet to dig behind the story and present it in different ways. He as well as other participants suggested introducing the story using a video followed by discussions and group work, using graphic organizers …etc. He also suggested using the text to tackle different grammar lessons (the difference between adjs and advs for example). This can be used with different levels of students.




After tackling the story with the different outcomes, the students can be asked to summarise the story in their own words or act a scene from the movie, record it and set it on You Tube. They can then wait for mutual comments from their classmates. This would give students great confidence to develop their Speaking skills and encourage them to use the language more freely.



 Stay Tuned for more diaries to come   :)

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4/10/2017

Memories along IATEFL journey!! (1)




Quite a long journey that deserves striving for. Whenever I travel I consider I am on a learning or educational (knowledge) journey!! I do my best to enjoy every minute of it. This time it was a long way to IATEFL Glasgow. I took the plane first to London and spent the transit hours by London Tower Bridge enjoying the Thames scenery.  The river water helps you relax and set your thoughts behind. Then, I took the train for 6 hours on a long tiring journey to Glasgow. I arrived in the early morning, set my bags and rushed to IATEFL Conference. I was finally there!! Yet I had to run distances from one session to the other. This is the price of learning!! I enjoyed the talks and discussions over there, meeting new and old colleagues and talking to different distinguished Speakers. I attended an interesting session for Jeremy Harmer. I missed his talks so much. I also enjoyed Carol Reed’s session as well. I will soon be setting the details of these sessions.  Stay tuned!!









Travelling by train or bus in England is interesting especially by bus as it gives you the chance to enjoy the wonderful beauty of the English Countryside. Along the way you feel the beauty of nature in the wide meadows with sheep scattered here and there enjoying the pastures!!



What serenity!! It reminded me of Wordsworth’s idea of ‘recollected in tranquility’, but this time I was so much affected that I held my pen and started writing right away. Meadows here, small woods there, yellow wonderful daffodils sprout along the way saying hello. I wish I could have the time and money to go on long walks through these places. You find the trees clothed with green leaves along the stems and the small shrubs peeking among the tall trees. Even the greenery had all the degrees that you could imagine. I thought they were only in cartoon films and pictures, but they are there!! Imagine!!



Wondering at such beauty, I remembered how much I enjoyed Thomas Hardy’s meticulous description of nature and wondered how he did that!! That reminded me also of Jane Austen’s novels and the long walks her heroines took in the forests. Remember Eliza running through the muddy rainy woods to go to her friend’s house in Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know why, I also remembered Miss Potter’s stories and life as soon as I saw the hilly pastures. Maybe because they look somehow like the area of Lake District where she used to live.













We are approaching the city by now, it’s time to hold this beauty in heart and move ahead!! At least I tried to stop and stare as William Henry Davis once said in his poem ‘Leisure’
          A poor life this if, full of care,
         We have no time to stand and stare

STAY TUNED for more memories to come!!

4/05/2017

IATEFL First Day Plenary



  Check what Gabriel Diaz came to say on Professional Development for Teachers 
http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/…/plen…/empowering-teachers







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STAY TUNED  for updates for some Conference Sessions here on the BLOG and on our Facebook PAGE


1/23/2017

Meeting Adrian Underhill at Nile Tesol 2017



What a pleasure it was to have an interesting chat with Adrian Underhill over a cup of tea!! I was really looking forward to attending his session, but unfortunately, the traffic detained me for the first workshop :(, but I caught the next Keynote Speech!! :)
We chatted about the idea of Improvisation and how it is necessary for teachers, but it needs a lot of training and courage on the teacher's part to be able to venture into new ideas.

He also talked about his diversified interests into Leadership, Improvisation and Teacher as a Facilitator!!

Thank you Adrian Underhill it was a real pleasure talking to you :)
You really made my day :)


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10/28/2016

Weekly Discussions


      Today we are going to speak about an interesting article falling under the category of Teaching Young Learners in English Teaching Professional called Systematic Storytelling by Masuko Miyahara. It provides a different view of teaching stories in class. The ideas Masuko presented can also be applied to teens and high school students even Adults. She believed that teachers can use stories to:
1.                  Develop language awareness
2.                  Learn how to learn
3.                  Create curriculum links
4.                  Carry out projects
5.                  Develop critical awareness



1.                  Developing language awareness:

She chose a very simple story called Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins. She suggested that the teacher can use such a story to attract students’ attention to the usage of prepositions accompanied by sounds for example: buzz, baa, oink, splash, splish…etc. Also the usage of new vocabulary

2.                  Learning to learn:

“A range of activities involving study skills such as counting, comparing, sequencing…. Etc are outlined.” Also we can use these to help kids to move and perform the activities of the story thus adding the physical side to the work done. This is what we call TPR – Total Physical Response. Masuko also suggests using it to develop children drawing skills as well.

3.                  Creating curriculum links:

This can also be linked or used to practice Math, Science, Geography and Physical Education skills.

4.                  Carrying out projects

These can be of great benefit to develop the students’ Speaking skills and “foster a sense of cooperation in order to attain mutual goals.”



5.                  Developing critical awareness:

This can be used with much older students and help them to compare the figuring of foxes and wolves in stories as bad guys. This story can be compared to other stories like Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs as well as others. These can also be contrasted with Big Bad Wolf is Good. Also the usage of different animals in stories in different cultures can be discussed as well.

     Masuko closes the article with “I believe the novelty of my approach lies in the attempt to show how the five orientations I describe could be employed to broaden and increase the educational value of a story.”


     These interesting points mentioned, remind me of Bloom’s Taxonomy, HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills). The HOTS steps deal with the developed application, analysis, evaluation and creation skills. The Application of the steps suggested by Masuko help students function the usage of language learnt. By comparing and contrasting stories, we are helping students to think in class, reflect upon what they have studied, analyse and then speak of write about. This is a great way of applying Critical Thinking in class. When preparing to present their opinions and reflections, students can use mind maps, PPPs, short notes or summarize or even put it in a report form. This helps students develop their Writing skills greatly as well as their Speaking ones.

      Through these steps, students can develop “a sense of cooperation”, develop the usage of new vocabulary, phrasal verbs, prepositions, expressions…etc. and they can also be linked to other subjects like Science and Math for example. Thus these can be used as part of a CLIL school project as well

 References:

Hutchins, P Rosie’s Walk Scholastic Inc. 1968

Miyahara, Masuko, Systematic Storytelling, English Teaching Professional, March 2005

Puttock, S Big Bad Wolf is Good Guillan Children's Books 2001

Trivizas, E The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig Mammoth  1993

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