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JUST A TEACHER by Arjana Blazic

Part of the series From my PLN


Before I joined Twitter I never gave presentations or write-ups. I was rarely interviewed for newspapers, TV or radio.

Twitter has magically brought change to my life. It all started with Shelly’s tweet about glogster, a fantastic tool for creating posters. I immediately signed up and opened accounts for my students. When I introduced them to glogster they were delighted and even thanked me for that, which I found really rewarding. As I like travelling very much, I quickly came up with the idea of creating virtual postcards. I wanted my students to share information on their country with their peers and tell them what travel books can’t and don’t.

After they were done with their posters, we decided to make them public. For this purpose, and after several tweets by the members of my PLN, I opened up a wiki and named it Greetings from the world. My students embedded their posters and I informed them that we had to find partners from other countries. Yeah, right, they said. I tweeted about it and Viviana and her students added a new page about Brazil in less than a week. Candace followed with her gifted class of Oklahoman students. Eva and Culya’s students joined us with their amazing posters. My students kept asking me where and how I find these awesome teachers and students. Twitter, I kept saying proudly, and, well, yes, boastfully. And there came others, all equally eager to share and collaborate, to learn from each other and to respect each other: Monika from Colorado, Valerie from Louisiana, Dan from the UK, Shannon from Iowa, Judy from N. Carolina, Clara and Jose from Portugal, Vicky from Australia, Shyam from India and Rositsa from Bulgaria.

Then we got shortlisted for the Edublog Best Educational Wiki 2009. We won, and I explained the victory to myself and whoever wanted to listen to me, that we got so many votes only because this was the first Croatian project ever to be shortlisted for this award.

Then I applied for The Microsoft Innovative Teacher competition and won the first prize. I was utterly flabbergasted. What did it mean? This was not about the votes anymore, there were 30 outstanding Croatian-only projects and the judges selected mine! Could it be that my project was so good?

From March 23-25 I presented the project at the Innovative Education Forum in Berlin. There were 80 amazingly creative projects, set up by amazingly innovative educators from 40 European countries. The Greetings reached the semifinals and I’ll be going  to Capetown, South Africa later this year to participate at the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum. I still can’t believe that my project has come so far!

I mean, it was just a simple idea. I could never have dreamed about where this project would take me. I never did it with fame, money, write-ups, presentations (I’m an extremely shy presenter, by the way) on my mind! I just did it for my students, because I’m just a teacher.

I’d like to thank Eva, my dear Twitter friend, for this great opportunity to write a post for her fantastic blog.

Arjana Blazic is just a teacher who tweets and runs the Greetings from the world wiki, which you’re more than welcome to join.



I’d like to thank Arjana Blazic for this wonderful first guest post on my blog. She says she is just a teacher but we all know that she is a teacher who inspires and I’m very happy to be part of her great project.



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11 Random facts, Questions, Answers and ELT Bloggers

I haven’t taken any blog challenges so far this year and a dear friend who I first met on twitter and then in real life, Carol Goodey tagged me for a very challenging 🙂 blog challenge. It looks difficult to find 11 of everything but I’ll try to do my best.

Let’s see what the task includes:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about me

1. I’m a mom to a beautiful lady and a handsome guy. They are twins.

2. I work at the school I graduated from and this was my dream when I was at high school. After working in 4 different schools for 6 years, I found myself at my school and it was 17 years ago.

3. September is a lucky month for me. Too many good things happened in September. My first date with my husband was in September. Four years later we got married in September, quite by chance it was the day of our first date. I learned I’d have my twins in September. I started blogging in September. I love September 🙂

4. Although I seem chatty and friendly in social media, in real life I can be very quiet.

5. I love my home and I can spend days at home without even looking out of the window. Weird, I know 😉

6. I love drawing, painting. I once painted the walls, cupboards at home and now I just spend hours in front of the computer.

7. I love reading books. I love leaving small notes in the books I read. I don’t like bookmarks. The pages should speak to me when I take the book back a few years later..

8. I don’t drive and I’m happy with it. (To my surprise I found out that most of my PLN don’t either)

9. I’ve always wanted to learn Italian but unfortunately never found time for that. I love Italian songs, writers, food …

10. I’m a good cook. I sometimes I even think I should quit teaching and open a bakery.

11. When I was a kid I loved watching TV very much, now I hardly watch anything.

My answers to Carol’s questions:

1. What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I like sharing ideas, speaking my mind, getting feedback and support from my PLN

2. Do you play a musical instrument? If not, would you like to? Which one?

Well, I used to play the piano now I simply can’t. I can only play a tune with my right hand but I wish I could start practising again.

3. How far do you travel to work? How do you travel?

I’m lucky. I live close to my school. I takes 20 minutes. I walk and then take the underground.

4. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

We start a new class every year. That’s a challenge. New kids, new habits… and I need to update myself regularly.

5. What was the first thing you ate today?

a piece of cheese and a cracker
6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Why?

I love traveling. I wish I were a tourist everyday. Anywhere in Europe, but I think I’d like to see Dublin very much. Why? Well, books I read.
7. What month next year are you most looking forward to? Why?

May. I’ll go to Sweden with my students. we will attend our first MUN conference as a school.

8. What meal do you prepare most often for friends?

Depends. If I have more time to prepare lots of vegetables cooked in oil olive, salads, mezes, and meat in different sauces. If not, then pasta and salad 🙂
9. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think?

Now You See Me. I liked it.
10. What three things do you like to have with you when working?

My glasses ( well, without them I can’t read a single line. Thanks to my relationship with my computer I have terrible eyesight now), a cup of coffee (at home), my post-it notes ( in the class)
11. What do YOU think about reality TV shows?

Well sometimes I watch but I don’t spend much time in front of the telly. partly because we just have on TV and kids choose when they are around or my husband zaps and I spend my evenings reading blogs or searching the net.

11 bloggers

First of all I should say that I tried not to double tag anybody.  if you happened to be tagged twice while this post is posted, it’s a coincidence.

Karinne Sylvester ( @BELTfree)

Ariana Blazic (@abfromz)

Burcu Akyol (@burcuakyol)

Janet Bianchini (@janetbianchini)

Barbara Sakamoto (@barbsaka)

Baiba Svenka (@baibbb)

Anne Hodgson (annehodg)

Ana Maria Menezes (@anamariacult)

Sophia Mavridi (@sophiamav)

Dimitris Primalis (dprimalis)

Eduardo Santos (@ELTbakery)

My Questions for the 11 bloggers

1. Do you remember the first class you entered as a teacher?

2. What is your favorite social media platform? Why?

3. How do you think blogging helps your teaching?

4. Tea or Coffee?

5. Who is your favorite singer, band, musician?

6. Do you attend conferences? Why? / why not?

7. Who were the most helpful tweeters or bloggers for you when you started blogging or tweeting?

8. What will be the first goal in your New Year’s resolutions list this year?

9. Where would you like to travel in 2014?

10. How long does it take to write a blog post for you and how often do you update your blog?

11. What is your favorite food?

Thanks you Carol for tagging me and including me in the game 🙂

The random facts, questions and answers of the bloggers I tagged

Janet Bianchini

Anne Hodgson

Sophia Mavridi

Baiba Svenka

Arjana Blazic

Burcu Akyol

Dimitris Primalis


A Repost: #ELTchat: the loss of – Plan B


This is a repost for #ELTchat


For the last – well, almost two years now, since September 15 2010, #ELTchat has kept us on our toes and forged hundreds of professional and personal relationships amongst its followers who turn up on Twitter every Wednesday to talk about topics they have suggested and voted on – a community of peers which was created by a small group of colleagues – which grew and grew some more and became something that counts as an important part of our continuous professional development.

Like many great ideas, it didn’t hit just one person but several.

And that is how #ELTchat was created.    

The website to keep up the communication of its members, a base and repository of our ideas was one of the first things we all thought of creating – the wiki came later.

Andy Chaplin was keen to join the moderation team and help with podcasts and technical stuff; he was quick to buy and announced the good news to us after the fact.

A few months later, right after TESOL France 2011,  he suddenly disappeared – some say for reasons of health.

We never found out for sure.

We never received a single word of response to our emails. was and still is registered in his name.

And yesterday we lost it

On August 8 the domain expired and we have no way of taking over unless it goes up for sale again; it was very sad that Andy Chaplin did not find it appropriate to renew.

The news is really upsetting.

The work we have put in on this website cannot be told in a few simple words – but it has been a labour of love and we have got so much out of it that we have never regretted one single moment

We are pretty upset at the behaviour of this individual – disappointment is one big understatement.

But we trust that our community of #ELTchatters, our PLN for short, will again gather round the new domain which we have purchased –

It will take us a few days to put the website back on its feet

And all will be as it was before – all the posts in place all your thoughts and comments, all the polls and great summaries which got us on the shortlist of the ELTon Awards nominations

We will be back with a vengeance

We are not just a website – we did not get on the ELTon awards shortlist as just another website!!!


We are a great community of teachers and we have a Plan B!


See you all in September!!!

 Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto    Bruno Andrade         Sue Annan                Andrea Wade

Henrick Hoprea          Mike Harrison         Sue Lyon Jones        Vicky Loras             Lizzie Pinard 

             Tyson Sebunt    Melania Paduraru       Vicky Saumell             David Dogson

Lesley Cioccarelli    Cecilia Lemos     Fiona Price       Miguel Mendoza 

 Arjana Blazic     Doug Peterson      Chiew Pang

Huge Thanks for all these reposts  

Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden

P.S. We would greatly appreciate it if any of you belonging to this great community of teachers,  teacher educators, bloggers, #ELTchat followers,  reposted this on your blog


24th Edition of EFL/ESL/ELL Blog Carnival

Warmers, Fillers and 1st Week Activities - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

The theme of 24th edition of the efl/esl/ell blog carnival is Warmers, Fillers and 1st Week Activities. As in some parts of the world we are excited to meet our new students, I’m hoping that we will have some different activities to start the year other than the ones we love to use and This will be great because some people will also use our favourites.

I’d like to thank everybody who shared their posts or wrote a new one just for this edition.

The links are listed according to the submission date.

24th EFL,ESL,ELL Blog carnival; Warmers, Fillers, First Weel Activities

You can click here and download the carnival. 

The first post of the carnival came from Annie Tsai. On her blog ‘Annie’s Corner’ she shares activities for grade 2 and grade 4. How do you spend your first session with kids? Annie is  @crystalannie on twitter.

The next contribution was from Mathew Needleman Mathew Needleman presents How to Reduce the Amount of Teacher Talk

Gordon Scruton’s post, No Magic Please, part 1 (Learning Vocabulary) is on learning vocabulary. He reminds us that there is no magic trick to learning vocabulary but he shares some magic.  Gordon also shares another post Reading for Pleasure

Arjana Blazic is a teacher who always inspires me and she shares a great activity, Who am I? in First lesson, new students and no computer and to my surprise there is no web 2.0 involved in her activity.

Larry Ferlazzo shares a full activity pack in Answers To “What Do You Do On The First Day Of School?” They are all wonderful.

Dave Dodgson is also a great help with his fantastic posts. Introducing myself to new classes  and are we all going to introduce ourselves? Won’t our students say anything? Check Dave’s second post New classes introducing themselves to me –and do you want to build positive relationships with young learners, then for the answer , read Dave’s guest post for Prestwick House.

David Deubelbeiss shares guessing games with us but you will find loads of ideas at EFLclassroom 2.0 to motivate yourself throughout the year. Sheer inspiration!

Sultan Zeydan shares fun Speaking Activities on her blog. There are great three activities to be used all year round.

Sabrina De Vita, the writer of Sabrina’s Weblog , shares a fun activity she has done with her clas:  First Class: All About Them Lesson Plan and we have another post from Sabrina, Clowning on the first class day!. She reminds us that feeling like a child is graet and we should never lose that innocence.

Janet Bianchini, one of the most hardworking and creative person I met on blogosphere, shares two posts. Introductions and Icebreakers. Part 1 Images and Introduction and Icebreakers. Part 2 Using Web 2.0 Tools. Plus she also shares a wallwisher where she links to more ideas.

 ‘Would you want to change teaching into a magical mystery tour? If yes, you may try to create a Harry Potter themed class and enjoy the journey.’

Merve ,a fabulous young teacher, guides us to a magic packed tour, The magic touch to classroom

Carla Arena is full of enthusiasm and energy, the post she shares is also very energetic, Icebreakers, not Sleeping pills on her fabulous blog Collablogatorium.

For the blog carnival, we have a post from a very cute blog, Elt Candy Land. Leandra Dias shares an activity to go with Present Simple and Present Continous, Singing the difference between present simple and present continous.

Vicky Saumell shares pronunciation related tools. Pronunciation is usually a neglected point in efl classrooms but needs to be taken care of so from the very beginning of the new term,  it will be great to bookmark the tools Vicky shares on her blog Educational technology in ELT: Pronunciation related tools.

Richard Griffith shares his first ever Inaugural Keep up ESL Post here

Vicky Loras, the cutest and the friendliest member of my PLN has written a post to contribute to the carnival. She shares ideas for young learners and adults in her post, My Contribution to Eva Büyüksimkeşyan’s Blog Carnival #24 – Warmers and Fillers

 You will find great warmers and fillers on The TESOL Zone. Mark Chapman’s post Warmers, Fillers and Coolers is a great post to bookmark.

Wanna fish for back-to-school ideas? Then Where to fish for back-to-school ideas from B’s life with English is a great post to read. You will find useful links for very cool ideas.

This post is from Consultants-E. They asked their PLN ‘What tips do you have for those beginning the school year to make this one a great year?’ and you will find some answers from tweets and facebook converstations. Tips for Beginning the School Year Right!

And now we are going to Teacher Reboot Camp, where amazing Shelly Terrell shares survival tips with lots of great links.  Surviving the 1st Month of School: 20+ Tips & Resources

Marisa Pavan shares a fabulous lesson based on the movie, Spanglish on her blog Linguistic Consutancy Video Class: Spanglish

Break the Ice and Sprinkle the Seeds written by Nesrin Eren is a great post describing a fabulous first day activity

Another fantastic ‘getting-to-know-you’ post, packed with loads of great activities from Natasa Bozic Grojic, Get to Know Each Other

Culya Durmazguler also shares an activity for the first week of the school, Setting Goals

Karenne Sylvester invites us to her wonderful blog to read Speed Dating as Vocabulary Review. A fun and a very useful activity!

In Drawing Introductions, Mike Harrison describes an activity that can be used in the first lesson of the year, reminding us that the best lessons are the ones which involve humour.

Cecilia comes to join us with a box of chocolate on the first day of our classes. Her two posts,  A Post about firsts –First Impressions and first activities on the first day of the semester and Bonus Round- More Activities for the First day of Class are just fantastic with loads of ideas.

Tyson Seburn’s post ‘The 1st week around the corner’ reminds us that ‘’the material used in the lesson itself be generated by students about themselves in the first week’’.

All for one and fun for all is a fantastic post full of ice breakers, energizers, warmers and fillers written by Marcia Lima.

Dany Lyra points out a very important thing, building a sense of community. Dany shares a movie segment for a warm up, Spanish Apartment- Movie Activity – Cultural Differences – Movie Activity – Ice-Breaker.

From Marijana’s blog, we have Warmers and Fillers – #Goal 2 – “Contribute to a Blog carnival”. Marijana Smolcec not only contributes to her first carnival but also accomplishes her first goal of #30 goals challenge.

For the blog carnival A Journey in TEFL had the honour to host three great teachers from Turkey who haven’t started blogging yet but very eager to share and collaborate.

Guessing Game by Arzu Baloglu @arzuteacher

A Warmer and a Filler by Merve Elbirlik @merveelbirlik

A Warmer and a Filler by Emine Bülür Civanoglu  @EmineBC

And my contribution to this edition is with ‘Go and Open the Door’

Don’t forget to contribute to the next carnivals. The following edition will be hosted by Berni Wall in November and Let Larry Ferlazzo know if you might be interested in hosting future editions.

You can read all the previous editions of the ESL/EFL/ELL Blog Carnival here.


What ISTEK ELT means to me…



When I read the tweet about last year’s conference and learned most of  the presenters and educators whom I admired were coming, I was thrilled. The conference sounded very promising and it was a great opportunity for the teachers who can’t go to conferences very often as it would also be live broadcasted. ELT VIPs, enthusiastic teachers, book exhibitions, workshops… An action-pack entertainment for the ones who wanted to update themselves and for me beacuse of everything I mentioned above, the whole event was like a box of chocolate coated Turkish delights with pistachio nuts. And in the end of the 2nd day I was very satisfied with what I found from the event. All the positive things I experienced from the 1st event raised my expectations from the conferences and soon we were informed by amazing Burcu Akyol that the 2nd Istek Elt wouldn’t be more different than the first one.

In my opinion, people make conferences sucessful. The speakers, the delegates, the organising team. Istek team was very helpful, cheerful and they were everywhere. They were also very considerate. Although they were very busy when they heard the bad news one of my friends recieved they did their best to send her home safe and sound. I must thank them for being very kind and and helpful.

The programme looked very promising and the opening signalled that the event would be a success. To start the day with magnificent Jan Blake was a mere pleasure. Another thank you will go to Burcu Akyol and the team who made it possible for us to enjoy the stories of Jan Blake. ‘How I wish I could tell stories like her’ I said to myself continously during these 2 days. I don’t need any other words to describe her. She was amazing and her energy was infectious.

Jan Blake telling her beautiful stories

Jan Blake telling her beautiful stories

During the breaks we sometimes discussed that we hoped to find more practical ideas from plenary talks. However,  they were very thought provoking. Professor Jack Richards reminded us something very important, something that we already know, ‘Every child is a winner. No student in the class should be left behind.’

We had a great choice for the keynotes and I felt a bit lucky as I had the chance to attend some speakers’ TESOL France sessions. I chose the ones whom I had never listened to, bearing in mind that I’ll have another chance to catch the ones I’ve missed at IATEFL 2011 where I’ll be present thanks to British Council, Turkey.

I’d like to share some notes from  Jamie Keddie’s session. He suggested us using L1 translations. The activity was a bit different from traditional translation exercises and the focus was on practice.

  • Give students sentences with target language
  • Tell them to write the L1 translations in their notebooks.
  • Remove the L2 originals
  • Ask them to translate the translated sentences back into L2.

I used the activity with my year 10 students on Tuesday. They loved  and found it very challenging.

My decision was to attend the reflection sessions and learn a bit Croation from my most helpful friend Arjana Blazic. But I gave my workshop in the wrong room to a small audience, thinking that the room was the right one and as a result I repeated my session on Sunday and missed my dera friend’s lesson.

me in the wrong room :)

me in the wrong room 🙂

I realised I hadn’t mentioned the fun events. Well, the Pecha Kucha night with Karaoke session was great. It was also a great pooprtunity for us to chat and have fun together.

To sum up, Istek International Elt conference is a great event for the local teachers as it gives the opportunity to listen and meet all the great educators. I hope it will become a tradition, inspiring the enthusiastic teachers and student teachers of Elt for many years.

You must visit 2nd ISTEK Schools International ELT Conference Blog

And read Merve’s beautiful post : Seven Wonders of İSTEK ELT

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