Reflection through journal-writing

I read an interesting article by Jack Richards on Creativity in Language Teaching and come across a section that inspired me, made me think and in the end prompted another…. ramble.

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As teachers, we are often asked to reflect. When we, as teachers, get observed, we often have to reflect on what went well during the session and what didn’t. As part of the Delta, teachers always reflect on a lesson as part of module 2.

When we are sitting in the staff room, or drinking coffee with colleagues, we reflect. We talk about a really good teaching moment or whine about something that went wrong. lose sleep over a bad moment, try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

So, teachers do reflect. A lot.

But what about teaching journals? How many of you keep a journal where you reflect on your teaching? A diary or notebook where you write in once a week and reflect on issues that cropped up, good teaching ideas, what went well what didn’t? A kind of reference book which you can look at later on and get inspired… or warned?

So, this week, on Friday, I will share my online weekly journal and I invite you, to do the same. One week, thoughts and reflections. What went well, what didn’t. Something I used and liked, something I want to learn more about. Feel free to tag me if you as a blogger and do the same. Feel free to comment with your weekly reflections (is that a hashtag? #weeklyreflections) in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to ‘like’ my Facebook page (see sidebar) or ‘follow’ my blog.

Till Friday…..




I can use a ROCK and teach an amazing lesson… or can I?

Can you make a lesson where your only prop is a rock? Yes? No? If yes, what would that lesson be? If no, why not?
How important are materials in your class. How important are flashy/ super duper handouts/materials in your class? If you had nothing but a rock to use in your lesson, would you be overwhelmed and have a meltdown, or would your creative juices just flow? Would that make for an amazing lesson or a flop?
I often wonder,
How important is the material we use in the classroom? Do they make or break a lesson?
So, I have rambled quite a bit (bear with me folks, if you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I haven’t rambled for quite a bit, so let me be) and I am going to get to my point.
I think that materials are important, but they are not the most important part of the lesson. If the material you use in class is bad/poor, you can still teach a good lesson. You could have the most amazing materials, the most up to date technology and still have a bad lesson. Is the material to blame? Are you (the teacher) to blame? Are the students to blame? Who is responsible for a bad lesson? A good one?
I think (eye roll coming), the teacher makes for a good lesson. It doesn’t have to be a well-seasoned teacher, it just has to be a teacher who has ideas and “has it”. You know, the teacher gene…….

Back to the ROCK

So, let’s challenge ourselves, shall we?
How would you use a rock in your class?
Idea 1
Ask your students:
Imagine the rock is a desert island and you need to live on it, what would you take with you? You go through how to write a plan for a story, the features of a story and so on.
Idea 2
Write a poem about a rock. Again, you go through the features of a poem and then get them cracking on.
Idea 3
One rock for each student, they draw faces on them and write the script for a play. The rocks are the characters. Again, go through what needs to be in a play, features of direct speech and so on.
Idea 4
Think about words that have to do with rocks. You can look at all kinds of vocabulary, (derivatives etc), make sentences, write a story, find adjectives to describe a rock, find the opposites of these adjectives, and so on.
Idea 5
EAP twist….. Your students take part in a seminar, they have to have arguments, good arguments. When a student finishes analysing their own argument, they hand the rock to another student who needs to provide a counterargument or something along those lines. All arguments need to be as solid as a …. rock.
Idea 6
Your turn.
How would you use a rock in your classroom?
Where do you stand on this topic. I am counting on you PLN.
Oh! Don’t forget to follow my blog or ‘like ‘ my facebook page.
Till next time…..

Last minute (academic) essay check list lesson

Hi everyone!

In today’s post I am going to share with you my last minute (academic) essay check list. This check list is for an argumentative essay which would be about 2000 words long and would require using sources. I use this PowerPoint check list as a last minute revision. This would be part of a last revision before submission. It is supposed to be used as a self check/ evaluation PowerPoint, but could also be used as a Peer evaluation check list. This can be used for a 90 minute session. You can spend about 15 minutes on each slide or go through the whole PPT and check/ monitor as students work through the questions.


Material/ props

Students will need to bring in their laptops or paper copies of their drafts.

Essay checklist PowerPoint

Last minute essay checklist

The Checklist

I have focused on different areas. I look at:

  • what should be in an introduction/ conclusion
  • what should be in a paragraph/ argument
  • what a counterargument is and its rebuttal
  • Sources and reference list (we are using the Harvard Style, so that is what is on my slides)
  • language (academic vs. non academic)
  • plagiarism

Useful online tools (to be used during the session)

Academic word list pdf

Academic word list highlighter (I would suggest ticking number 10, so as to get as many ‘academic words’ as possible).

Anglia Ruskin Harvard Referencing page (although most university libraries do have their own helpful information page when it comes to referencing systems).

Bear in mind that essays may differ and you may not need all the elements I have focused on in my check list. Feel free to adapt and tailor based on your students needs.

Do you have any suggestions? Let me know how this went. Don’t forget to follow my blog or like my Facebook page, so you can get notifications about when I post. I have a few more checklist/ self evaluation posts coming soon.

Till next time….


A Video-based Lesson: Travelling

Hi everyone!

Today I am going to share a video based session I made on the topic of travelling. I used this with B1 level students. This lesson is a listening/ speaking session. Students will be asked to do a lot of group discussions and they will have to come up with a lot of vocabulary themselves. At the end of the lesson, students will also be asked to be a bit  reflective and self evaluate their performance (in my lesson,I also encouraged them to come up with an action plan). This was a 90 minute session.

The lesson

Task 1: Discussing the difference between travelling/ traveling

Task 2: Looking at pictures and naming the means of transport.

Task 3: Thinking about words related to travelling

Task 4: Mini presentation about how the student got to where the lesson is held (sts must use vocabulary covered so far).

Task 5: Dictogloss

Task 6: Watch a video and answer questions (answers follow the questions).

Task 7: Reflecting on how students did in today’s session. Creating an action plan for the next video-based session.

Listening task idea:

You can either ask students take notes and then show them the questions or give them the questions and ask them to take notes for the questions. I guess this depends on the level of the learners.

Vocabulary task idea:

You can give your students worksheets with vocabulary related to travelling or ask them to look for the vocabulary themselves. I  chose the latter.

The materials

The PPT  Travelling

The listening questions Lauren’s Trip to China


I hope you enjoy this lesson. Let me know how it goes.

Oh! Don’t forget to follow my blog or ‘like’ my Facebook page.

Till next time…..

The one about the observation……

I got observed the other day and one of the suggestions the person who observed me gave had to do with group discussions, so that’s what I am going to talk about today, but first I am going to build up some suspension……… (not going to spill the beans about what she said yet….).

Beach in Chania

Grab your coffee, sit comfy and let’s chat, like the good old days (when I blogged almost every single day).
So, group discussions…….. How do you set them up?
I put students in groups without really thinking about who goes where. It’s just a quick, you go here, you go there. I put my students in groups of three or four. Before, I go on rambling, my students are university students and this particular group was a group of post grads
Seminars vs. discussions
In my context group discussions are often called seminars. I usually give students information which is based on a text, texts, a video or videos. You get it. They get a lot of input before the actual seminar starts.
Who’s the leader?
There is always a leader in these groups. Again, someone chosen randomly, although I do tend to pick a more quiet student, just to make sure they they will be more engaged in the convo.
Back to the observed session
So, part of my lesson had little group discussion which were leading up to a longer seminar. I set everything up and then monitored. Here’s the thing. Monitoring a group discussion is hard.I mean, how can you monitor 4 groups at the same time? Well, you can get them to record themselves and then listen to the recordings, but who does that on a daily basis? So, in my mind it is impossible to do, so I end up walking around and listening to their discussions and giving feedback if I hear some mistake. Interrupt the group discussion if I hear a pronunciation mistake or just nod and say, ” Yeap! Good point!” or “Really?”. I then may give some general feedback at the end of the group discussion.
Why don’t you ask more questions. Listen to them and ask something. You may make them think of something they hadn’t thought of before. Start a conversation.
Huh? Yes! Why don’t i? That is such an obvious suggestion and so important!
So, why does my monitoring stop at, ” Really?” or “Good point!”?
I guess I think it is a time issue. It is also hard to go in and out of conversations. I am also insecure and think that if I stay longer in a group, the other groups might start talking about a TV show or sports! But, I need to work on this because it makes sense. I need to scaffold these conversations more! I need to actively participate in them and even interrupt my students (it may show them a good example of interrupting!).
I liked this observation. It made me reflect and learn. Now I need to improve!
Thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to follow my blog. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Till next time…

10 suggestions (teaching resources)

Hi everyone!!

Happy New Year! I thought I’d start the year with a post about some of my favourites websites and tools. So, let’s begin.
Music Department

Sheffield University ( Department of Music)

Fun (and quick warmer)

How about starting your lesson with Hangman. If your lesson topic is Plagiarism, play Hangman with your students. It is fun and they will pay attention to the theme of the lesson (at least the intro part).

Snipping tool

When Paint stopped existing, I felt lost. I had so many images I wanted to screen shot and then crop. Then I found the snipping tool in the windows program tab and all is well.
This website has lots of texts that can be used in class. It is like using texts from the Guardian or BBC. Just a different website. My students really liked this one!
This website has numerous past and upcoming webinars you can attend.
How important is speed when reading? If you want to work on that, check out this website for up-ping your students’ reading speed game.
More stuff
If you are teaching anything that has to do with reflective logs (listening, speaking, writing), you may want to check out this website. It has to do with Gibbs Reflective Cycle.  Another website I used in class when I was teaching reporting verbs was this website. I liked how there were lots of tabs. I think this can also be used as a self study task. It took about 20 minutes to go through with the students.
Videos I used in class
I used lots of videos in my academic writing classes. I found them quite helpful. Check them out!
I used this in my pre master class and it was quite easy for them to understand.
Fun video which explains how to develop a focused research question (which is actually what students have the most difficulty doing.
When is a source considered academic and when not? This video gives useful tips and it is quite easy to follow.
What have you been using? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t forget to connect with me!
Till next time….

Where ya been? What ya done?


So, the last time I spoke to you guys, I was going to do the Hana challenge aka blogging almost every day. I said,

I am going to write 15 posts.

Did I do that?



Well, life happened. I got a new job, I changed house, I had to get my stuff sorted, I started a new job.

I have a new life and blogging is quite hard for me at the moment. I have loads of new ideas to share, but I do not have the time to share them. I am knackered. Like… so tired. No energy to write. No energy to share.

That makes me wonder though. Should my job be the thing that takes up all my time?

Well at the moment yes. Work is very important. I have new modules to teach. I create materials, I am doing a lot of marking. I am trying to learn how to get around a new campus.

I am also trying to adjust to a 9-5 job and that ain’t easy.


Life in the UK is different to life in Greece.

My work life is so different as well.

I am not a full time online Business English teacher any more. I am an EAP tutor.

I always wanted to work at a university. Now I am. You may catch me walking around the campus with a smile on my face and wonder if I have gone cray cray. I haven’t. I am just happy and I wish I could share that with you guys, my PLN, but I have no ELT blogging time.


When I do have time, I talk about makeup because here, this blog, is kind of like an extension of my work. It is not work, but it is my professional blog. My fun beauty blog is my getaway (not doing much of that btw either).

Anyways, I thought I’d just write a little update and let you know how I’ve been.

How are you guys? What are you guys up to? How is teaching treatin ya?

Till next time…


Fish bowl paraphrasing activity

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is going to be about an activity a colleague shared with us and I thought it sounded like a good idea. If you teach paraphrasing and academic writing, this post is for you.


Put students in groups of four and then four more around those student. This is something like a circle in a circle.

The students in the inner circle are given a text which hey are asked to paraphrase. Once they are happy with their paraphrase (I suggest you give your students a word and time limit), the teacher takes away the text and asks the student to share their (paraphrased) text. The students in pairs must paraphrase the text again.


Why do this?

It is a great way to help students avoid plagiarism.

It’s a great collaborative task.

It’s more fun than writing a paraphrase on your own.

Have you tried this activity? Have you tried a different version? Let me know what you think!

Till next time…..



Research is like….. Getting creative in the EAP classroom

Hi everyone!

In today’s post I am going to talk about a fun and creative activity I did with my students (not my idea, but really enjoyed it and thought I’d let you in on the task). Teaching in the EAP classroom can be sometimes dry and tiring. It can get boring as well!! Teachers are always trying to find ways to make some of the lessons a bit more enjoyable. This is the case of today’s writing idea. It’s sort of like an EAP picture composition.

What did I do?

Students were introduced to metaphors and were then asked to finish the sentence
research is like……
What this meant was that students had to compare research with something
Research is like a birthday cake……
Now, they also had to discuss the features/elements of research with those that go into the process of let’s say, making a birthday cake. I probably do not make sense…….


Students were then asked to think and brainstorm about everything that comes together in order to do research (professor, thesis statement, books, journals, library etc.).
We wrote everything on the board. I then started writing my text. I introduced the task with an example.
I said,
Research is like a day at the beach. The water is my research question and the sand is the data and the sources I need to use. When I combine the water and the sand they become one entity which helps me make a castle. The castle is my research project. The person who helps me create the sand castle is my professor. He tells me ……
I actually drew pictures of some of the items as I was writing this text.

Final thoughts

Most of the students got into it and made picture essays in a Google doc. Others just wrote a text. It was a fun activity and I will definitely be trying it again next term.
Till next time…..

The one where you meet someone who reads your blog…..

Blogging is an interesting thing. For me, it’s like writing a journal. I chat and ramble and engage in interesting conversations with you guys but because everything is online, while it is real, it doesn’t feel real. Do you get me? I mean I share my stories, I ask for advice but everything is in world wide web!! It isn’t tangible. I do not meet people!!Until……..

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Well, a couple of weeks ago I met two teachers who said,

Oh! When I heard your name and saw your face, I knew I was reading your blog!

How cool! How embarrassing!!

The things I say here!! The things you guys actually have to read and then to meet teachers who have actually read my blog and like the stuff I write? It’s so weird!!

But this isn’t the first time this has happened. Last year I went for lunch with some friends in Newcastle and one of the people there said,


I read your blog as I was preparing for my pre-sessional interview!! Your tips were helpful.

Mind-boggling folks!!

So, you don’t really understand the “power”, “dynamic” of blogging until you have that face to face interaction I guess  or maybe I don’t!

How does that make me feel?

Well, I guess I feel strange and happy at the same time. Happy that I can help someone, strange cause, boy oh boy, do I ramble!! I guess bigger bloggers are used to it, but I am not. That’s why I am writing about it today. Does meeting someone who has read what I say, change the way I blog? Nope!! Still gonna ramble!!!

So what about you guys? Have you met any of the teachers who read your blogs? How does that make you feel?

Short and sweet today. I have to write 15 posts this month!

Don’t think that’s gonna happen, but I will try!!

Till next time….