Where’s my popcorn? – A webinar marathon challenge


Image from Flickr by Barbara Müller – Walter under CC BY ND-2.O

Once in a blue moon Chronos decides to cut me some slack and provides me with the gift of time to attend live webinars and online conferences. But, like I said this isn’t how it usually works 🙂

Soooooooo… given that there are tons of past webinars, conference sessions recording and training videos I have been bookmarking for the past month, I have set myself a challenge:


Would you like to join me??? Leave a comment below and let’s start sharing 🙂

What I will do before I start:
  1. Decide the extension of the challenge = A total of 6 consecutive weeks.
  2. Decide the duration for the sessions = 3 hours straight
  3. Choose a day to make the best out of it = Saturday mornings sounds perfect to get into my very own CPD bubble.
  4. Bookmark a couple of days in advance the webinars/videos chosen for the following session.
What I will do during the sessions:
  1. Take notes on:
  •  ideas and tools I’d like to try out in my classes 
  •  topics/areas for further study
What I will do after the sessions:
  1. Tweet the links to the webinars/videos I have seen using the hashtag #wbnrchallenge
  2. Send a tweet to the teacher/presenter to let him/her know you have recently viewed the webinar.
  3. Tweet an idea you’d like to share and stand out from each webinar.


How did this all come up??? 

This year I attended my first conference. Spain’s TESOL 37th Annual Conference in Madrid took place at the Faculty of Education, in the very same building where I studied for my B.Ed in Primary Education-EFL. DESTINY OR WHAT??? 🙂 🙂

During the weekend I had tons of flashbacks, going up and down the corridors and entering some the classrooms I spent several years in. It couldn’t have been more magical. It was great. 🙂

I had that adrenaline rush that keeps you up at night even long after going back home every evening. I knew it came from the excitement of being a learner again with a handful of notes on class ideas and must read lists.

From then on, I’ve had the feeling of having missed out on so much.

There is so much to learn and it’s FREE 🙂 

Here is the list of the sources I will be using.

These are probably quite obvious to those who have been in ELT for a while 🙂 

British Council Seminars Series on Eventbrite : register to attend live online.

Seminars English Agenda British Council : watch previous seminars

Cambridge English Teacher : sign up and view some. For most of them you must be a member.

Jo Gakongas elt-training.com: She has got the sweetest voice 🙂 View past webinars and sign up to receive email alerts for monthly new videos.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s – American TESOL Webinars: Hundreds of 30 mins webinars on almost anything and everything related to teaching. (I’m kind of addicted to these I must confess:) )

Oxford University Press Webinars and MacmillanEnglish ELT Webinars: Register for upcoming live webinars or view the archive for previous ones.

BeltaBelgium.com : as a non-member you can watch older recordings.

Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos: free online tutorials for learning to use technology and ICT in education.

IH Teachers Online Conference 2014: 25 video presentations, 10 mins each.

IATEFL.ORG webinars live : only if you can make it to the live session. Past webinars for members only

WizIQ.com online courses, watch the sessions live or past presentations with corresponding chats and power points.


To stay updated about upcoming webinars, seminars, conferences, etc:

  • 4C in ELT Event Calendar
  • Facebook group : Webinars for English Teachers (this one I found out very recently thanks to Lizzie Pinard:) )



Are you up for it ????  Ready…. Steady…. WAIT!!!!!  


Screen Shot 2014-05-10 at 2.07.20 PM

Photo from Flickr by J Mark Dodds under CC BY NC-ND 2.0

Use your senses…write a poem!



This is an idea for a writing task many students tend to fear….WRITING A POEM 🙂

I can’t even speak English properly… I could never write a poem

I’ve heard this at least a few times. In my experience, writing is one of the language skills students feel quite insecure about and find it even tedious. Specially when students are studying for official exams, they relate writing to drafts and drafts on reports, letters of complaint, reviews, etc.

So as a follow up to my last post “How great do you need to be?” advocating the creativity in all of us, this time I want to share a poem I wrote for a literature class back in college which turned into a lesson plan idea on writing a poem using the senses.

I used it in class with 6th graders who were around an A2 level, which means it can fit almost any level. The more advanced the learners, the more sophisticated the outcome in terms of vocabulary but the joy and feeling of accomplishment for having written a poem knows no age or language level. 🙂

Tell them at the beginning of the lesson they will be writing a poem, you’ll love the surprised look on their faces 😉

On a personal level, I just feel it so cool to have all these great tools on the web. I’ve enjoyed using Pinwords, Wordle and Flickr for the images included in the plan.



1. Show the photo of a clock.

Ask Ss to discuss what comes to mind.

I’ve chosen this one from Flickr by Brett Tatman because it fits like a glove the idea of time slowly passing by as the numbers have been inversely positioned.Image

Image from Flickr used under CC Attribution Non Comercial- Share Alike License  CC BY NC-SA 2.0


2. Show the Wordle. 

Now Ss have to think of a place where all these words could come together without forgetting the element of the time.


3. Fill in the gaps 

Give a copy of the poem without the title and gaps for the words to be filled in using the Wordle. Work in small groups. Let them know that the bigger the word on the image the higher the frequency of appearance on the poem.

4. Check and discuss

Go over the answers and ask Ss what they think the title could be. Provide the title and then discuss the poem’s form and theme. Draw their attention to the variety of senses used to describe a very common place.

5. Following the model, Ss write their own poem. 

Work in different groups now to create their very own poem. Provide them with an A3 cardboard for the final draft. Display them around the classroom and give students time to walk around the class to read the other groups’ poems.

6. Final discussion

Plenary session on their final productions and some feedback on the task itself.

(See a difference in their face expression now? 😉 )



How great do you need to be?


At the moment I am gleefully reading Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element, a profoundly inspiring read I strongly recommend.

His views on intelligence, imagination and creativity have led me to create a new page on my blog:

8+1 Photo-Talking

(click on link or menu to have a look at my first few 🙂 Please feel free to use them in class )

Here I combine my long-ago interest in the power of images, more recently on photography specifically, with my love for creating teaching materials.

How great do you need to be at something to feel confident enough to share it with others and be motivated to dig deeper into your potential????

I’ve never taken a photography course. I don’t even have a great camera.

Taking this into account, I find that using my own photos as class material is a good way to promote the idea that you do not need to be professionally skilled to make a creative use of something that has a bit of yourself. 🙂

And of course, it’s going to be a great experience to see language emerge from sharing my very own photos.

This is why I have chosen this new section of my blog to fulfill my second goal FEED YOURSELF INSPIRATION, for the 30 Goals Challenge founded by Shelly Terrell.

These photographs are snippets of moments I have lived and beautiful things I have seen which I felt the need to capture. They are inspiring to me because they are a reminder of my creative potential regardless my expertise. I will admit I find them beautiful and feel proud to share them.

As a teacher, I believe this is something we should promote in our students: explore, create, enjoy and value your own potential.


                   image from Flickr by Aaron Lanrdy 
                 used under CC Attribution Non-Comercial license 


I’m quite sure most of you are familiar with this wonderful game. Just in case, I will briefly describe how it is played under its usual rules and later, how I have upgraded it to get the most out of it.

Taboo is a classic board game which I love to use with my students to revise vocabulary. From the very start of each school year, I start creating a new set of taboo cards with the vocabulary that derives from the syllabus and many of those other words that naturally come up during a class.

You can find printable sets online, but I prefer creating them myself to make sure it does cover the vocabulary we have worked on as a class.


This game can be played with the whole class and whoever guesses the word is up next, or even more exciting, create teams so they can compete against each other.

Teams of 2 or 3 students each is ideal, this way different members of the opposing team can watch over to make sure the rules aren’t broken and keep track of the time limit.


  • Explain to your team the word at the top of the card, without mentioning any of the taboo words below, within a certain time.
  • No miming or making gestures/sounds related to the word.


Keeping to the game element  and excitng energy of competing against fellow classmates, one thing about this version is that the pace is slowed down a bit, which gives students the time to reflect more on each of the words that come up.

This is because more information about each word will be demanded from students.

Points are awarded for:

  1. Guessing the word
  2. Marking the stress in the word
  3. Guessing the/some taboo words ( they can be asked to say a maximum of 2 or 3 related words that come to mind)
  4. Use it in a sentence.

They won’t need any help for the first three since all the information will be on the card. I usually mark the stress placing a little green box below the syllable or typing it in bold. (Whatever you normally use to mark the stress when you write words on the board).

As for the sentences, they must write them down and wait for feedback once they have finished playing. Go over them with the whole class. Give the students the opportunity to correct each other. Only once it has been corrected will they be able to assign a point for it. This keeps the possible winners in suspense until the end of the lesson. 🙂

A record sheet is given to each team so they can keep track of all this.

Answer Where is the stress? Taboo words Example sentence

Have fun!

Thank you Steve :)

This post has been on my mind for weeks now, even before I started my blog, when I was still planning on even daring to do so…

I feel this is just the perfect way to thank Steve Muir for his recent presence in my professional journey.

Steve Muir is an experienced English teacher and teacher trainer from the British Council at Alcalá de Henares, in Madrid. He is the co-founder of the all.at.c blog, a treasure of video lesson plans for advanced learners.

In February, I signed up for a teacher training course offered by the Education Council in Madrid. It was called Didactic Multimedia for English Language Teaching. I’ve always had an interest on technology for educational purposes and this seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about it. It was a plus that the course would be entirely run in English, although I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. I even kind of forced myself to it, for I had been dragging myself to work for the past months and was feeling really unproductive and unmotivated.

It turned out to be the highlight of this school year so far. From the very first class, something changed. It was as if I had been stuck, like a car that had been parked for ages and someone decided to turn the ignition key 🙂

This motivational force was definitely the content, the dynamics, the language and the humour that Steve generated. Giving away marshmallows as a prize on the first day won me over too;)

Apart from introducing so many web based tools, sharing excellent classroom tips and activities with us, presenting interesting blogs and language resources, he also managed to engage a large group of diverse, very tired teachers after long days at work, inviting us to beat box, sing, dance, discuss, get to know each other and most of all provide us with opportunities to share and learn.

Certainly, I learned loads, but what I’m most grateful for is to have had this experience, right when I felt quite unfulfilled. Steve is a model teacher to me and represents the kind of English language teacher I started to train to be but got lost in the way.

I took the CELTA course a couple of years ago. It was a challenge, but I decided to do it because deep down I knew I wanted to go through the wonderful privilege of teaching abroad, in very different countries, to discover and connect with people from other cultures. I am drawn to non-academic contexts, where there is so much room for creativity and such variety in the focus of the learning process.

For the most part of my education, I have always been part of a classroom with at least five or six different nationalities, being the English language what allowed us to communicate and connect. I miss that.

I’ve progressed and gained valuable experience from these years teaching at schools, but it’s time to move on and take risks with the hope of finding a more fulfilling path.

This blog is one of those first steps. Soon I will be heading to Barcelona, to keep on developing as an English teacher. Who know’s what will be next ???

I had almost forgotten it’s really up to me. I can actually choose my next steps and the direction I would like to follow.

Thanks for reminding me Steve. 🙂

exciting future



Creative absurdity for 1st Conditionals

I love quotes. I literally spend hours searching for quotes and photos with quotes that strike me somehow.

This is how I came across this image… and I immediately thought it could be the starting point, base and inspiration for a fun 1st Conditionals lesson plan.



After working with young learners and having been a language learner myself, I have come to realise that grammar is always more memorable and easier to digest when presented inductively, allowing students to notice the grammar rules through participation and reflection. It might not always work, depending on the language point or the level of the students, but it’s worth trying it out whenever possible. It is definitely a much more learner-centered approach than going straight into “Good morning. Today we are going to look at 1st Conditionals”… I dreaded those when I was a student myself.

Now, let’s get to the actual nitty-gritty…


  • Write on the board :    NO PEN = DEATH

  • Discuss in pairs:  Ask Ss to try to imagine how could a “no pen” situation lead to “death” as a result.  Let them know you want them to …BE CREATIVE, EVEN BE ABSURD.
  • Get some open class feedback on this first round. You’ll probably be laughing by this point 🙂 Some students might already use If clauses or at least try to do so. Pause to focus on it, making it noticeable to the class, you could even write “IF” on the board and subtly show through your gestures and body language, that it’s and interesting point that you’ll get back to later.
  • Now provide them with two more points along this chain of consequences and let them have another go with this extra information: ……NO WORK …… NO MARRIAGE 
  • Feedback once again.
  • Now show them the full chain of consequences. Give them a couple of minutes to go through it. Check for vocabulary questions.  (You could make a poster sized version on cardboard)

2. TASK 1 – FOCUS ON MEANING AND FORM (only orally for now)

  • Ask students which side of the list (left or right) is the cause or condition and which is the result.
  • Read out the first three or four lines but using the 1st conditional form. Do it slowly first, stressing the IF and WILL in the sentences. Do it a second time in a more natural manner and ask Ss to repeat it. Choral drill the first to focus on intonation but then switch to individual drilling in a random order.

              If you lose your pen, you will not have a pen …

If you don’t have a pen, you will not take notes …

If you don’t take notes, you  will not study…

  • Guide them to keep going until the end of chain, either 1 full sentence per student or choosing different students for the first and second half of each sentence. This will really require their full attention.




  • Ask Ss: Did  you ever think loosing a pen might result in such disaster? 
  • Ask them if it sounds familiar at all. Elicit Murphy’s Law and discuss it briefly.
  • Show them the following images (you can use any images that would elicit any of Murphy’s laws) :

murphy's law pics


  • Give students the opportunity to try producing a Murphy’s Law to fit the images. First let them work in small groups, just orally for now. Remind them to use  IF ….. WILL /WON’T
  • Get feedback for ideas. During this feedback, if the structure has been used wrong, point it out, give others the opportunity to correct it, emphasise what part needs to be corrected or improved (it might even be the intonation) and once they’ve got it right, write it down on the board.

FIRST CONDITIONAL – Real possibility

If + present simple , subj+ will/won’t + base verb  = If I am late, my mom will be angry

Subj + will/won’t + base verb + If + present simple = My mom will be angry if I am late

At this point it is a good idea to emphasise that it is a future situation that will most likely take place given those    circumstances. Using Murphy’s Law and absurd chains of events is just a way to help the form stick and make a memorable association.

You might want to provide students with some controlled written practice using some gap-filling exercises or a matching halves type of exercise. I would personally do so in a follow-up class. That would give us the chance not only to review and practice the form conscientiously but to reminisce the funny moments of this first class.


This is the part I like the most.

  • Give each group of students a blank sheet of paper. Ask them to create a chain of events similar to the one used at the beginning of the lesson, but just half as long, about 5 linked cause – effects. THEY SHOULD USE THE FIRST CONDITIONAL TO WRITE DOWN THEIR CHAIN. (Monitor while they are doing it to check on form).
  • Use blue-tack to stick them up around the class. Ask Ss to stand up and read through the other groups and vote for their favourite.
  • To end the lesson, ask them which is their favourite absurd chain of events and why.


I have enjoyed doing this myself. Hope you find it useful.

Please, feel free to comment, correct or make any suggestions. 



I’ll start off by admitting I expected this to work well, taking into account its game form, but it wasn’t just good, it was WONDERFUL to see one group after another wanting to start playing and wanting to communicate in English !!!

At the moment, I am working with very young learners, but I believe it could be used up until 12 years old easily. Using it with teenagers or adults would probably work as well, although I’d imagine it would be more of a warm up or end of lesson review activity. I am a firm believer that adults and teenagers like these kind of simple children’s games as long as they are not treated like children and proves useful for their learning process. Like I said, the amount of time designated to the activity is a decisive variable.

I have used this activity with the 5 year old students on the topic of food in order to review the vocabulary and do some controlled practice for : Do you like….? /  Yes I do / No I don’t

Each student was given a template to make a fortune teller. It had the numbers 1-8, 4 colours and the food items they had learnt during the unit. I downloaded a blank template and drew in the specific vocabulary I wanted them to use.







So, we did various things with it:

1. Playing in closed pairs, taking turns while sitting down at their usual spot in the classroom.

2. Lining up in two rows, facing each other, playing on and off as the teacher says  Ready…Steady…Go! or  STOP!

They really enjoyed it and tried to ask as many times as possible in one go, competing with other pairs and showing off how many turns they had taken within the same time limit.

3. A kind of  “musical statues”: The music starts to play and they are meant to move around the room randomly. When the music stops, they have to use their fortune teller to ask whoever is the nearest to them and try to keep the rest of their body as still as possible. We had a good laugh here too.


Such an effective outcome made me think of other topics or functional language to use it with

  • Feelings : Are you ….?  (happy, sad, angry, tired, bored, etc.)
  • Ability : Can you …..? (swim, ride a bike, play the piano, etc.)
  • Telling the time and routines : What time do you ….?  (wake up, have breakfast, go to school, etc.)
  • Possessions: Have you got …? (any pets, a bike, a computer, etc.)
  • Favourites: What is your favourite ….? (sport, food, book, day of the week, etc.)
  • Occupations: What does a/an  ______ do?  (dentist, tailor, zoo keeper, etc.)

You can probably come up with many more of these.


A slight variation on the form might make this a classroom tool which could be used once in a while to revise vocabulary.

  • Instead of using 4 colours use  verb, noun, adjective and adverb and on the inside write letters of the alphabet. They must think of a word that suits that part of speech which either starts or contains that letter.
  • Another twist to it would be, write phonemic symbols on the inside and keep the parts of speech on the outside. They must come up with vocabulary which includes that phoneme.

You can restrict it to a recent unit you have been doing or give them absolute freedom to dig into their background knowledge.




A journey of a thousand words

It just feels right. Why not start today rather than putting it off any longer…

Today is the first day of this new path, this journey of a thousand words.

It’s been six years from my first teaching job and for a while I have had the feeling that I’ve been moving in circles, looking up and away to a highly motivating and much more challenging place.

From here on, I will be moving closer, taking the necessary steps to reach there… where I always knew I wanted to be.

You might be wondering,  what’s all this about???

Well, like I said, I have been teaching for a while, but I would really like a change of focus in my career path. Moving on to a more diverse, new and challenging position for me.

My goal is to be an active member of the ELT international community that I have little ago started to dip into, full of interesting people and professionals whom I have admired for a long time.

I am willing to undo and deconstruct whatever I have learned about teaching that has felt non authentic and not so practical in terms of teaching and connecting with others.

I am therefore planning on dedicating the years to come to a much more conscious practice: learning to teach and teaching to learn.