9 May 2013

Bill Gates on Teacher Feedback

I just finished watching Bill Gate's TED talk about teachers needing feedback. The Gates Foundation is funding the MET project (Measures in Effective Teaching) in order to provide teachers with the tools to improve. I know that written text cannot compare to a video but I will share with you a few of the things I noted down while watching it. Though I may not agree with everything that is said there were many points in this talk that I totally agree with.

- In almost every profession people receive systematic feedback. Teachers, however, do not.

- The only feedback they get is "satisfactory'

- How are teachers supposed to know who is the best, what they do differently...

- Teachers deserve better and so do their students

- The MET project will help teachers get all the tools they want and deserve.

- Feedback is very important because there is so much variation in the teaching profession.

- During the MET project research students were asked to fill in surveys answering questions such as "Does the teacher know when the class understands the lesson?" and "Do you know how to correct mistakes?". Teachers were rated by their peers on a variety of aspects.If,  for example, they asked students challenging questions or if they could find multiple ways to explain an idea. 

- The benefit of this project is that it leads to a path where all students can get a better education, find a career that is fulfilling and rewarding and have a chance to live out their dreams. 

9 Dec 2012

Hot Potatoes

Hot Potatoes is an open source suite that enables you to make lessons and quizzes in various formats. You can download the software here.
The suite consists of:

  • JQuiz
  • JMatch
  • JCloze
  • JCloze
  • JMix
and of course, The Masher.


My favourite Hot Potato application is JQuiz, so in this post I'll focus on that.

Quiz formats 

Multiple choice , short answer or hybrid questions  (e.g. short answer questions that turn into mcqs after two incorrect answers). Feedback can be given for every answer. 

Menu Options


- Save your JQuiz file for later use.

- Create a web page / zip package
Save the Jquiz as a web page for your students to take the quiz. These web pages can be uploaded to your server,  file host or LMS. If your students don't have access to the internet, they can copy the files to their computers and still do the exercises. All they need is a web browser.
Screenshot of a HotPot quiz

- Add a reading text
This text will appear on the left side of the page. Students can scroll down and are still able to read it while they are answering the questions. 

- Create a SCORM 1.2 package

- Export for printing.
This is a very useful option. Even if you don't need to make browser-based materials for your students you can use JQuiz to prepare pen and paper quizzes. You can shuffle the order of questions and answers (from the Manage Questions menu)  and have different versions of the same quiz. It's also a lot faster to make quizzes like this as you don't need to keep typing a, b, ... etc. as you would do when creating an mcq quiz on a word processor.  Your exercise is exported ready for printing including a key.

Options (Configure output)

Selcet the font and font size of your choice along with the background colour of the page and exercise.

There are many more options in the menus, but these are enough to get you started. If you are new to Hot Potatoes, give it a try and let me know how it goes.

18 Nov 2012

Dropbox - free online storage

Dropbox is a free service that has made our life in the office much easier. 

We were looking for a hassle-free way to be able to take work home. At first we tried uploading the files to our email account. This wasn't much help because in two weeks our email account was full of drafts of documents that were constantly being resent. Then we tried setting up a VPN. At first it seemed like the perfect solution. At the end of the day you can go home but still be at work. But accessing your office computer from home means that you have to leave your office computer on. Needless to say there were many occassions when the PC was powered off at the end of day by force of habit, leaving us with no access to our files.

We finally ended up trying Dropbox and stuck with it til now. It's easy to use, reliable and offers 2 GB free storage space. Dropbox can be accessed from any computer via a browser or the Dropbox software. By installing Dropbox on your computer you can choose to share a folder in your account. Open the file, make any changes you want to and then save it. Your colleagues can automatically access the file without downloading or emailing it. 

One of the greatest benefits is that all your files are protected. No more worrying about your computer crashing since everything is stored online. This is especially useful if,  like me, you forget to ... or can't be bothered to back up your files. You can even undelete a file if you change your mind! So ... Dropbox it is!

Can't wait to give it a try? Click here to get started.

30 Oct 2011

2012 London Olympics resources

The countdown has begun. Only 279 days until the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Visit http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-for-the-games for free resources based on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Resources include worksheets , articles , games, online exercises and videos on a variety of topics including history and sports.
Teachers can find a full lesson plan for upper primary/teenage students here http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-for-the-games.

You can also visit http://getset.london2012.com/en/home , the website for the Official London 2012 education programme.

11 Oct 2011

Curate your favourite topic with Scoop.it

I had visited Scoop.it a few times in the past after following links shared by my PLN. What I noticed was that after reading the post I was being referred to, I always read at least one more post on the same page. I loved the idea of having so many interesting articles to read on the same page. It reminded me of Facebook -without all the Farmville notifications!

I think of Scoop.it as a wall of goodies addressing people of the same interest. I have always toyed with the idea of creating multiple accounts on social media sites (my Greek friends on twitter are not in the least bit interested in reading tweets about #efl and #edtech), but maintaining multiple accounts on social media is extremely time-consuming.I had the same problem with other social networks, too (e.g. Facebook , although Google Plus seems to have solved this problem now) . Scoop.it helps keep all the interesting posts and articles I like, together and share them with friends.

Getting Started

In order to create an account on Scoop.it you have to request an invite. This usually takes 2-3 days. Then you can create a topic of interest and begin curating. Scoop.it crawls the web and feeds you with suggested content based on your tags. Selecting sources helps refine the search results. By adding the bookmarklet to your browser you can scoop any interesting content you find while surfing the web. All posts can be edited and tagged.


Every post can be easily shared with friends on social networks by linking your accounts or simply copying the URL. There's also a great widget which you can add to your website or blog.


When you come across a topic you are interested in, you can follow it and be notified of new posts.When you find a post that might interest a friend, you can suggest they add it to their topic. Every topic is given a score indicating the curator's activity. The score depends on how many posts are added , suggested or edited,  and audience reaction. Topics are rated out of 100.

24 Aug 2011

Digital publishing made easy with Issuu

Issuu is a digital publishing platform that anyone can use. Voted one of the top 50 websites in 2009 by Times, it's really worth a try. Moreover it's easy to use and free! You can find all sorts of publications on Issuu.com , magazines, newspapers , catalogues , photo galleries and much more.


All you have to do is create an account and select the file(s) you wish to upload. Choose a title, add a description and keywords and that's it! You've published your work online! There are several sharing options and, embedding on your website/blog is simple. You can even add audio to you publications. Every user had their own Library which is actually a profile page. Place your best publications on te Top Shelf for everyone to see! 


I use Issuu frequently with my students. Digital publishing means less paper so we upload our student newspapers and give printed copies only to students who don't have Internet access. 

               Students' Newspaper

              English Books made by young learners

5 May 2011

A-Z of PLNs

This presentaion was made using Prezi. Prezi is my favourite tool for presentations. It enables you to zoom in and emphasise on details and then zoom out and show the big picture. Whatever you are presenting, you can keep your audience engaged with Prezi.