The challenge is part of this year’s IATEFL-H  SIG DAY, centred around two famous leaders: Abraham Lincoln and Margaret Thatcher.


The ICT programme will offer a range of web tools, applications, practices that can be used in relation to films. Now our featured movie is Lincoln (2012) .


What is the challenge?

All the resources mentioned above will be showcased in a Prezi, the zooming presentation tool.

Prezi allows collaboration, so we can build a huge goldmine of Lincoln resources together! 

The three levels of the challenge are the following:

Level 1

Visit the page regularly during the time of the challenge, ending on 30th May. (It will be growing gradually.) Check out the resources, try them if you wish, give feedback. (Comment or email me


Level 2

Share your own finds, practices or ideas with us, send us content that you or your students create. (Text, video, voice, multimedia.) Email me all these.


Level 3

Edit that very Prezi. 10 people can work on it at the same time, you can access it with the help of the this invitation link which is valid for a week. Contact me for a new one if expired ( Please make sure you do not delete someone else’s content 🙂

If you need any help with it or need tutorial, you will find support on or contact me.

 Any level is suitable for you, don’t hesitate, join us.


What’s good in it for you?

If you are a proficient user of Prezi, there’s nothing it can offer 🙂 (Beyond the sheer pleasure of collaboration with fellow teachers.)

If you have seen Prezi (never made you dizzy), but haven’t tried, this is a great opportunity.

Show it to your students and encourage them to use it, success is guaranteed, they will always bless your name and remember you as one of their best teachers, hahahaaaaa 🙂


Please join us, contact me if you are in.


Blogs or books?

One of the massive cornerstones of my professional development is the pedagogical/teaching-related PROBLEM. Luckily I have plenty of problems, which ensures I don’t usually get stuck in a PD rut.

Back in my beginner years I used to ask my experienced colleagues for help. They were absolutely wonderful and ready to give me good advice, although most of the time I should have magically turned into a totally different me in order to be able to follow their suggestions.

Another option: methodology books and papers. Evidence-based, scientific, reliable. Love them, they didn’t always seem to be applicable my peculiar circumstances however.

Then teacher blogs were invented, love them too! They often take me closer to my own solutions and I shouldn’t forget about the joy of reading them. But how reliable are they? Practically anyone is allowed to write a blog. (Even me!)

As for studies, research papers and methodology books again, how many times have I heard practising teachers (speaking of authors of those) grumbling that experts should sometimes enter the jungle of real life, everyday classrooms … Do they lose contact with 3D life?

So.. What now?
Ask peers? Dig up the libraries? Blogs?

Or… There’s this The Round thing. The Round is a unique mixture of blogs and books.
I would say you will be better off reading this to have a clearer picture.
The latest publication is really my latest fav (and I’m not paid to write this): Scott Thornbury’s Big Questions in ELT.

You might already his blog An A-Z of ELT .
The blog format allows anyone to comment on the content, the original post is sometimes ‘only’ a trigger for commenters who engage in long dialogues and exploit the concept in question. That guarantees a certain quality, the worldwide collaboration of practitioners and the insight of and expert, you feel it, don’t you?

The outcome, this book, is particular handy for coping with my down to earth practical teaching misery.
And it’s price? Oh, come on! <3

What do YOU think? What’s your PD magic bullet?

Seize the day: attend webinars!

What’s the average number of talks, workshops and seminars you can attend a year? 3? 30?
This number may be determined by your physical location, whether you are a student at the moment or not, the information you can access about these occasions, etc.

These are excellent opportunities to learn something new, broaden your mind, socialize with fellow teachers, grow professionally in general. The thing that keeps me away from these events is the price of the ticket and the 6 hours spent on the train with slightly unpredictable heating conditions.

For me it is WEBINARS!

Definition: a webinar is a 30-60 minutes long online PD session that you can attend in pajamas or even naked.

OK,  more precisely, you enter a virtual room, most of the time you see the presenter (who is often an expert on the other side of the world you have no chance to meet, I will never forget Stephen Karshen and his red hoodie once) talking in a video box, the slides in a bigger box, the list of the usernames of the other participants, and a chatbox where everyone can write whatever they want. You are not seen or heard, only read. (Then pajamas don’t matter.)

To enjoy the experience you will need internet connection, a computer or a mobile device with free, easily accessible, fool-proof software. Webinars come in all shapes and topics. If the time is not convenient, you can watch the recording later.  

Here is a recording of one of Shelly Terrel’s wonderful Friday webinars:

What I especially love about them is the chat session. It practically means multiple participants back-channelling the webinar. The comments, questions popped in by the large number of peers help me see the main or underlying structure of what is being presented. You can ask questions, make new friends and have dinner/do the laundry/mop the floor while learning loads.

Look out for webinars on Twitter and Facebook.

For  webinars see these links:
(Free Friday Webinars by Shelly Terrell & American TESOL)
(British Council TeachingEnglish webinars)
(Story Sharing Web Conference )
(very fresh From Zug to Belgium – A BELTA Webinar by Vicky Loras)


Share your webinar experiences with us, give us tips or ask us about them. And pajamas up, go webinaring!

Blog blog blog! Win win win!

Before you …… We are here to help. 🙂



All you have to do is to apply and blog hard between 1 and 28 February.

Thanks to British Council TeachingEnglish, you can win valuable prizes, even an all-inclusive trip to the IATEFL conference in Liverpool!

That’s a massive reason to start/go on blogging indeed. But once British Council has started the ball rolling I feel the topic of teachers blogging worths a bit of attention.

Why is it good to write a blog? What is good in it for a teacher of English?

Having asked my Facebook friends this is what has been put together:


“In that way a teacher motivates, inspires & helps other teachers to develop & improve their current teaching styles:)”
Tamara Petrovic

“It’s journaling out loud…to the world…with lots of helpful feedback both in writing style and in thinking. AND it becomes a chronological archive of your professional and personal growth in your ideas!”
Walter McKenzie

“Well, why is it good for students to practice writing? Same thing, teachers are lifelong learners. That’s one thing, being able to reflect on what we wrote is a great advantage as well, see how we build and develop our own way of expressing our thoughts…. and above all, blogging is a form of written dialogue where you can get a reaction and build a whole conversation on…”
Vladimira Chalyova

“I was inspired to start my blog after reading But I started blogging later jumping into Brad Patterson’s challenge and thanks to him wrote my first blog. Challenging is also inspiring.”
Larisa Dubova

“I like to think of my blog as a space for me to reflect, but by doing it in public I’m inviting people to offer their opinions on what I write, which in turn makes me reconsider and evaluate them. It’s also a very useful way of arranging my thoughts into a coherent shape and logical order.”
James Taylor

After all these wonderful thoughts you may want to have a look at the update and the comments. Some of them are truly outside the box!

If you also have ideas, experience, opinion to share with us, please comment.


photo (5)

photo (6)


Remember Christmas? The fragrance of roast and the Christmas tree gently mingled with the slight but pervasive smoke of sparkle throwers, beigli and potato salad, mayonnaise, red and gold everywhere, Home Alone on TV, the silence of souls and kids’ joyful expressions of delight and surprise over the presents under the tree: “Mom! Wow! A tablet/iPad/smartphone/iPod touch!!!”, shouted out loud into the sacred night?

But seriously, I bet the little angel’s bag (or pocket) was heavy with mobile devices in the holiday season. (One of my pre-school students got a cheap tablet. I hear the public outcry “a 5-year-old shouldn’t be given a tablet.” What I think is … well … she could have been given a decent Barbie house with a garden, same price. I’d rather go for the tablet, get at me …)
Most probably your students also have new gadgets and chances are they use them for anything but learning.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing but I feel there is a lot to do here.

You may want to know more about how to use these and what cool apps there are available.
Earlier on Mary already presented the fantastic tool ‘Explain Everything‘. She really convinced me, I downloaded it, although not for free. It has proved to be a silver bullet, I use it nearly every day, with various types of learners and in many ways, thank you for that!

Where can we get more information on apps available and how to use them? Google?

Search keywords:
Mobile learning
iPad for schools
Android for schools
BYOD (bring your own device)

Household names:
Nicky Hockly
Gavin Dudeney
Isil Boy
Elinda Gjondedaj
Ozge Karaouglu
Shelly Terrell
Nik Peachey

Some inks:

photo (7)

Made with apps Phoster and Skitch

If you have already implemented using mobile devices in ELT please share your adventures with us. Also feel free to add search keywords, names, links to the ones above. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, not sure we can answer. Hmm … what if yes?


I nearly forgot the cats! This is a photo of my living room. No, I don’t have cats nor a tiger. It’s a picture dictation activity with young learners. You know, “there’s a tiger on the sofa”.
The app is Cat Effects.

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Shepherding cool links: Content Curation

Do you know why I’m into ICT in ELT? Because I love cool links! It is definitely cool links that keep me going. Finding a cool link is like a birthday present each.
I mean not only funny cat videos but also classroom resources, articles on topics of my interests (learner autonomy, cooperation, etc.) and all sorts of web-based digital multimedia content.

Great! The only problem with cool links is that they just seem to flood at random (not when you would actually need them) making you feel suffocated in the multitude of cool links, which is obviously an uncool condition.

How on earth can you handle this overload of cool links after all?

One option is bookmarking, either in your browser or social bookmarking, another one is using content curation tools. (The two are of course totally different functions, it’s about how to survive the flood mentioned above.) I prefer the latter option, it has to do with my nature. (Chaotic.)

In very simple, content curation is when … let’s see … there is a bunch of cooool links, there is someone who is kind and motivated enough to categorize and filter content and compile it in an easy to handle and attractive (magazine-like) format with the help of a handy tool. This someone can actually be you yourself.

Ok, before getting lost in that explanation, let’s go to my favourite content curation tool:!

Let’s say you have a brand new tablet and you want to know about apps. Write your search term ‘apps ELT’ in the search box.

You will find three tabs as marked by the orange arrows: scoops (compilations), nice and helpful people, and topics. You can register and follow the topics, thus ensuring you will always be well informed.


Photo Skitch Document

Do you want to be nice too? You can curate your own content if you like by clicking on ‘my topics’ and ‘create a topic’.

If you want to know more about it and find other content curation tools, just ask us or don’t hesitate to ask your friend: Google.

Feel free to comment and share your experience and thoughts on content curation or anything else ICT ELT related, funny cat videos are also welcome. (Just kidding. Mmmm.)


Explain everything!

I know there are plenty of free apps for teachers, but ExplainEverything is so cheap at USD 2.99, maybe others will want to pay the reasonable price and get some good tools. I use it to create grammar explanations about specific questions students ask–it’s colorful and really helps them understand. Recently, when the spring flowers started blooming, I used ExplainEverything and Google Images downloaded to my photo roll to put together a few photos of snowdrops, violets, etc with some prompt questions, then used the recording feature with students while they chatted and it worked great, too.  ExplainEverything’s website has some nice examples made by teachers.

From the developer:

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. You can create dynamic interactive lessons, activities, assessments, and tutorials using Explain Everything’s flexible and integrated design. Use Explain Everything as an interactive whiteboard using the iPad2 video display.

Explain Everything records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio via the iPad microphone. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote from Dropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and iPad2 camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration.

For more information please visit

Here is a video introduction to the ExplainEverything app

And, this is the ExplainEverything channel, where you can see examples of presentations and other things people have done with it.

Google+ hangout with extras

Originally I wanted to use the title “Spend time with minor characters” (feeble joke on “hangout with extras”), but then I decided to settle for a more traditional and perhaps more descriptive one.

So, a couple of months ago Google unveiled some extra features to complement their “Hangout” within Google+. Basically, it’s an advanced videoconferencing tool, but don’t let this description frighten you. It’s like Skype on steroids, to use an analogy. It can do everything that Skype does and more. Not only do you get to see the other person while talking, but you can also share notes, use a sketchpad together and work on the same Google document. In Skype, videoconferencing for free is limited to two people; here you can have ten, which is more than one can realistically handle.

All you need is a Google+ account, which comes free with a Google account, and you need a Google account anyway, since it can be used for so many things, especially in ELT. Once you’re in Google+, click on Start a hangout (top right, with a small camera icon), and make sure you choose Hangout with extras on the login screen. Then choose your contacts you want to hang out with, and you’re there.

On the left you’ll see the navigation bar, on the right the people you’re hanging out with, while the middle of the screen is reserved for stuff you’re working on together.

screenshot of a Google+ hangout

Using the sketchpad

The screenshot above shows the sketchpad in use – please forgive my drawing skills; I’m sure you still get the idea. Basically, you can draw lines, shapes of any kind, insert images or text and change the look of all the above.

screenshot of the notes feature

Using notes in Google+ Hangout with extras

For sharing or working on documents, click on Notes – again, the example above doesn’t do the software justice.

You can also share your Google Documents and work on them together: lots of potential for teaching English.

One of the best features is screen sharing: if you need to explain something, you can choose which window on your desktop you want your partner to see – it’s like working on the same computer. Your students can also ask for your help by showing you their screen – if you’ve ever had the experience of having to explain how to do something on the computer, you’ll know why it is a godsend.

A multi-skill activity

This listening and speaking activity is best delivered using an interactive whiteboard (IWB) or a laptop+projector combo. Note that this is a classic information gap activity; only the tools used are newer.

Note the URL of this video on Youtube:

Tell students that they will watch a video without the sound. Only one of them will listen to the sound using headphones while watching. Students will have to ask questions about the video and the student who has listened to it will have to answer, provided the information was in the video. Then they collect the questions that remained unanswered and watch this other video:

If there are still unanswered questions, you can get students to find the answers on the net, optionally as a task for homework. You can also have a discussion on the topic, with questions like

  • Is this the transport of the future?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • Could it be used in Hungary too?

For business English classes, you can emphasize the financial aspects of the story.

Students can also prepare presentations on the topic, arguing for or against the concept.

Of course, this is not a proper lesson plan; I just wanted to give you ideas, but I’m sure you’ll be able to implement this activity in your lesson, tailored to your needs.

Links you might find useful: (Wikipedia article on the topic) (homepage of the company producing these pods) (promo video by the company) (amateur video of a journey) (Heathrow airport’s video at the launch)


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Education Technology’s Hidden Ticking Time Bomb

This guest post on Free Technology for Teachers brings up an important issue that many seem to oversee: what do you do if the free online service you’ve been using starts charging or stops completely and you have no way of importing your data? And even if they do offer a way to download and save your stuff, of course you’ll still have to start looking for a new service, and chances are the new one will not have the exact same functionalities.

One option is to do everything yourself: get your own domain name (a less than $10 per year investment), get a hosting account (anywhere from free to paying an arm and a leg; realistically between $40-$120 per year), install the software of your choice (lots of free options) and you’re all set. With a little help from your friends, this should be easier than it sounds, but I realise most teachers will still shy away from it for technical reasons.

Besides hosting my own stuff, I also rely on paid and free services and I’d like to think that I choose them wisely: for example, I believe Google is here to stay and they offer services that I wouldn’t be able to create myself.

But read the post and share what you think – where (and how) do you keep your teaching stuff online?