Friday, 10 August 2012

#ELTchat: the loss of – Plan B

#ELTchat: the loss of – Plan B

This is a re-post of an original post from Marisa Constatinides and as I am deeply in awe of the #ELTchat project, I am sharing it with you.

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!!!
Marisa Constantinides – Shaun Wilden
Vicky Saumell

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
If you decide to do this, please add your name to the post under ours.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Olympic Games fever! Apps, games and ideas

With the London 2012 Olympic Games about to start, I could not escape Olympics fever. So I decided to collect some useful resources for the classroom.

Word Hurdles is a simple sports vocabulary recognition game.

Ball or not? is a classification vocabulary game

Sports Mixer is a simple game in which you have to dress the character for a specific sport

Sports Maze is a simple listening game to recognize names of sports

Things for Sports is a game in which you have to identify sports equipment for different sports.


Project ideas


Videos and animations
London 2012 education programme has a collection of very interesting short videos 

How often do you play sports? is a video of kids talking about sports. There are related worksheets to download.

Athletics is an animated text and quiz about the sport

The First Marathon is an animated short story with an accompanying worksheet

Other resources

I am sure you will find interesting ways to use these materials! Enjoy the Olympics!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

File Conversion Tools

I usually work with digital projects and a variety of tools, software and platforms. That means multiple file formats which are not always compatible for use. For example,  audio recorded on your mobile phone is not compatible with Powerpoint and many other platforms or programs, nor are some video formats.

I have spent hours finding effective ways of converting files from one format to another so I thought I would pass on this collection of conversion tools to you.

Multiple files conversion

With Zamzar you can convert multiple document, video, music and image formats. You only need to locate the file on your computer or the web (from the URL), select the target format to convert to, enter your e-mail and you’ll receive message with a link to the converted file for download.

Other similar tools

PDF and Word conversion

PDF creator

Converting from Word to PDF is very useful to protect the layout of your file apart from making it look more professional. PDF creator is the best tool I have found for this. You have to download it but it is free. Once installed, send your Word file to print and you will see PDF creator in the list of printers. Select it and instead of printing, it will create the PDF version or your Word file.

Another interesting use of PDF creator is creating a selected pages pdf of a bigger pdf file.  To do that, send your pdf file to print and select what pages you need. Choose PDF creator from your printers list and it will create a pdf with only the selected pages.

Sometimes you need to unlock a pdf file, to be able to copy or edit specific parts of the document. That is when PDFtoWord comes in. I have tried it with various results: it has sometimes yielded a perfect Word version, but not always.

Another alternative, which seems to work better, is Free PDF Converter. It works in the same way but I have noticed more consistent results. The only limitation is you cannot convert multiple files in a row. You have to wait 30 minutes between files.

I hope you have found this list useful. It has definitely saved me many hours of work.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Web 2.0 tools and apps I learnt about at IATEFL 2012

This post is about web 2.0 tools and apps I learnt about at IATEFL 2012. Most of them were totally new to me, a few weren't but are worth including!

Russell Stannard's “The Connected Classroom” was a great session about ways of giving feedback and providing opportunities for speaking practice. Russell mentioned these three tools which are very simple and useful!


It allows you to use a webcam/voice to record video and send it by email
Here's Russell’s tutorial


It also allows you to use a webcam/voice to record video and send by email. But you can also download the recording or send it by email with notes and attachments. There are desktop and mobile versions
Here's a YouTube tutorial


It allows you to upload powerpoint, video, word, pdf, pictures and then record your voice.
It packs the media and sends a link. It is private by default, but you can make it active for other people to see it. Presentations are embeddable. You can mix video, pictures, ppt, etc into one final file.
Here's Russell’s tutorial full of ideas!

Kyle Mawer's “Game On” on the use of digital games was great. But these two tools he mentioned are for general use for any teacher!


It is a visual repository to organize your links. You can choose a private or public option.
You can read about other visual social bookmarking options in this post

Class Dojo

It's a behaviour management app. You can add classes, students, choose positive and negative behaviors to assess, award points. There is a mobile app  you can use as remote in the actual classroom.

Mike Harrison's “No words: ideas for using sounds and images in the classroom” was a wonderful session. Two very useful tools he mentioned are:


Free to use images on Creative Commons Licence
How it Works? Read this article

Free sounds effects

At the LT SIG Pre Conference Event Paul Sweeney showcased lots of apps. These are my favourite!


Private groups where you can share assignments and resources, organize polls and class schedules. Very easy to manage and lots of potential!


Great tool with desktop, web and mobile apps. It allows you to take notes and add photos and sound recordings to them. You can organize your notes in notebooks and email them later.


Perfect solution to keep the files in your desktop pc, laptop and mobile phone synchronized. It also keeps a copy of all the files in the website so you can access it from any other computer.

Hope you found something new!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Digital Storytelling

I have just come back from IATEFL Glasgow 2012, where I presented on Digital Storytelling for the Technology and Teens Symposium organised by Graham Stanley.

Digital Storytelling is any combination of images, text, audio and music to create a digital story, either fictional or non-fictional. 

The presentation focused on ways of implementing digital storytelling with teens. I described what I believe are its benefits and then showed three examples of projects I did with my students from Instituto San Francisco de Asis in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Some digital storytelling tools you can use:

Powerpoint and Windows Movie Maker allow you to combine images, text, music and audio to create digital stories.

Animoto allows you to upload images and combines them automatically with a selection of background music available on the website. The free version has a 30 seconds limit. For longer videos you need the paid version.

Xtranormal allows you to create text to speech animations.

Voicethread is a slide show creator, in which you can type or record comments around each slide.

Zimmer Twins is an animation creator, where you can choose from 3 characters (a boy, a girl and a cat) but you can then customize their actions, face expressions, verbal utterances, background, objects in their hands and transitions. It is very versatile and it automatically adds sound effects according to your choices. This is one of my favourites!

Pixton is complex comic creator tools where you can choose a template and customize it, or you can start from scratch. The final result looks very professional!

Bookr is a digital book creator which retrieves photos from Flickr (according to your search). You select the pics you want to use on each page and you can write text or captions below the pics.

Bubblr is very similar to Bookr but instead of a book the result is a comic strip. It also retrieves photos from Flickr and you can add text in bubbles.

Storybird is a digital storybook creator. You choose the illustrations you can to include in your story from what is available in the website. There is a huge collection of beautiful illustrations by amazing artists. You can search by artist or theme/keyword. You can then add text below the illustrations. The result is absolutely fantastic!

There are many more tools but I wanted to focus on the ones I mentioned in my presentation. I'm sure I'll write a second post about digital storytelling tools!

Here are the slides for my presentation

And here's an interview I did for Seth Dickens after the session. Thanks Seth!

You can read the whole article he wrote to accompany the interview here