{June 4, 2011}   Books for Everyone

Doing some googling, I came across an EXCELLENT website where you can get public domain books just FOR FREE.

The site I’m talking about is FeedBooks, and I’ve already selected some books for my students to read. Which ones would you choose?

(To be sincere, I also chose one for me: “Little Dorrit” – just because I found the title really amusing and I know the tv series :-P)


Good grammar pays. No, I’m not making a sentimental statement about the importance
of a job well done or the satisfaction of learning for learning’s sake, though I believe in
both of those values. I’m talking about cold, hard cash, the kind you fold and put into your wallet. Don’t believe me? Fine. Try this little test: The next time you go to the movies, tear yourself away from the story for a moment and concentrate on the dialogue. Chances are the characters who have fancy jobs or piles of dough sound different from those who don’t.
I’m not making a value judgment here; I’m just describing reality. Proper English, either written or spoken, tends to be associated with the upper social or economic classes. Tuning up your grammar muscles doesn’t guarantee your entry into the Bill Gates income tax bracket, but poor grammar may make it much harder to fight your way in.
Another payoff of good grammar is better grades and an edge in college admissions. Teachers have always looked more favorably on nicely written sentences, and grammar has recently become an additional hurdle that applicants must jump over or stumble through when they sit for the SAT or the ACT, the two most important standardized tests for the college bound.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lifetime improving your English. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there, and before you know it, your grammar muscles will be toned to fighting strength. This book is the equivalent of a health-club membership for your writing and speaking skills. Like a good health club, it doesn’t waste your time with lectures on the physiology of flat abs. Instead, it sends you right to the mat and sets you up with the exercises that actually do the job.

Robert Orben – “To err is human – and to blame it on a computer is even more so.”

—– Hope to read your opinions, either here or on!

I ´ve been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second  grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually,show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model
airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they ´re welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. ´This is Luke, my baby brother, and I ´m going to tell you about his birthday. ´

´First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom ´s stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine  months through an umbrella cord. ´

She ´s standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I ´m trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching  her in amazement.

´Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, ´Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh! ´ Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. ´She walked  around the house for, like an hour, ´Oh, oh, oh! ´ (Now this kid is  doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

´My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn ´t  have a sign on the car like the Domino ´s man. They got my Mom to lie  down in bed like this. ´ (Then Erica lies down with her back against  the wall.)

´And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew! ´ (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

´Then the middle wife starts saying ´push, push, ´ and ´breathe, breathe. They started counting, but never even got past ten. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom ´s play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there. ´

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I ´m sure I applauded the loudest.. Ever since then, when it ´s show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another ´Middle Wife´ comes along.

Disclaimer: I found this somewhere on the net and don't know if it's copyrighted or something. I just laughed a lot reading it, and couldn't avoid sharing it.

{January 26, 2010}   Summer Reading

I know I’m on holidays (and a bit lazy, too) but I couldn’t help sharing this with all Twilight fans! A friend of mine found this link, hope you love it too!

{October 31, 2009}   The Teacher

Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day
So prone myself to go astray?

I teach them Knowledge, but I know
How faint they flicker, and how low
The candles of my knowledge glow.

I teach them Power to will and do,
But only now to learn anew
My own great weakness through and through.

I teach them Love for all mankind
And all God ´s creatures; but I find
My love comes lagging still behind.

“Lord, if their guide I still must be,
O let the little children see
The teacher leaning hard on thee!”

By Lesley Pinckney Hill

{October 26, 2009}   It’s Pumpkin time!

This is my favourite part of the year: Halloween celebrations at school begin and so begin the complaints of all those people I can’t understand.

I always tell my students the true story of Halloween. And no matter how old they are, they love it, as they love what I call the “modern version of Halloween”: parties, trick or treating… Why is it so difficult for some people to understand that different peoples have different traditions? I’m talking about this since, last year by this same time, my cousin forbid my nephew to go to his school’s Halloween party, since, according to her, Halloween parties meant  “worshipping devils”.

And I know there are many people that think that way, but for those – like me – who like enjoying Halloween parties, here are tons of materials you can use both with your students and for your personal Halloween parties!

Colouring Pages, Crafts and Lesson Plans




Halloween for Kids

Classroom Resources


Theme Unit

More Games

Party Ideas


6 Terrifying Halloween Tales





Henry Hitchings, author of The Secret Life of Words (which won the John Llewellyn Rhys Book Prize this week) presents an A-to-Z of his favourite words that have been absorbed into English from other languages

A is for…

Avocado, which comes from Nahuatl, a language spoken by the Aztecs. Their name for it, ahuacatl, also meant ”testicle”.

B is for…

Bonsai. Although we think the tree-cultivating art is Japanese, it originated in China.

C is for…

Coleslaw. Supposedly eaten in ancient Rome, it comes from the Dutch kool-salade (”cabbage salad”).

D is for…

Dachshund, a compound of the German Dachs (”badger”) and Hund (”dog”). Originally the breed was known in Germany as Dachs Krieger, or ”badger warrior”.

E is for…

Enthusiasm. From the Greek entheos, which means ”to be within energy”, suggesting being spiritually ”possessed”.

F is for…

Flamenco, from the Spanish name for a Fleming (i.e. someone from Flanders).

G is for…

Goulash, an invention by Hungarian herdsmen whose name derives from gulyas.

H is for…

Hotchpotch, used in Norman legal jargon to denote property collected and then divided.

I is for…

Intelligentsia, a collective term for the intellectual class which derives from Latin but came to us from Russian.

J is for…

Juggernaut, Sanskrit for a giant carriage used to transport an image of the god Krishna.

K is for…

Kangaroo, from gangurru, the large black male roo in the Guugu Yimidhirr language.

L is for…

Lilac, which comes from the Persian nilak, meaning ”of a bluish shade”.

M is for…

Mandarin. The name of the fruit feels as though it ought to be Chinese, but may well have come from Swedish.

N is for…

Namby-pamby. Nickname of the 18th-century poet Ambrose Phillips, coined by the satirist Henry Careybecause of his sentimental verses

O is for…

Onslaught, from the Dutch aanslag – related to a word in Old High German for a shower.

P is for…

Penguin, a compound of two Welsh words, pen and gwyn, which mean ”head” and ”white” – even though penguins have black heads. It is likely that ‘penguin’ was at one time the name of similar, now extinct bird which had a white patch near its bill.

Q is for…

Quack can be traced to the Dutch kwaksalver, literally someone who hawked ointments.

R is for…

Regatta, from Venetian dialect, it originally signified any kind of contest.

S is for…

Sabotage. Supposed to derive from the tendency of striking workers to damage machinery by throwing shoes into it – sabot being an old French word for a wooden shoe.

T is for…

Tattoo, Captain Cook saw Polynesian islanders marking their skin with dark pigment. Long before that the word signified a signal or drumbeat, a Dutch expression for ‘Close off the tap’, used to recall tippling soldiers.

U is for…

Umbrella, appeared in English as early as 1609 (in a letter by John Donne). In the middle of the 18th century the device was adopted by the philanthropist Jonas Hanway as a protection against the London rain.

V is for…

Vanilla, ”little sheath” in Spanish.

W is for…

Walnut, a modern rendering of the Old English walhnutu (‘foreign nut’), so known because it grew mainly in Italy.

X is for…

Xebec, a little vessel with three masts, from the Arabic shabbak, a small warship.

Y is for…

Yogurt, a mispronunciation of a Turkish word.

Z is for…

Zero, whose immediate source is French or Italian, but its origins are in Arabic – and before that in the Sanskrit word sunya, which meant both ”nothing” and ”desert”.

‘The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English‘ by Henry Hitchings

{October 21, 2009}   The Child

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
A hundred, always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling
of loving
a hundred joys for singing
and understanding
a hundred worlds to discover
a hundred worlds to invent
a hundred worlds to dream.
The child has a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine
the school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child to think
without hands
to do without head
to listen and not speak
to understand without joy
to love and marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child that
work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.
And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way.  The hundred is there!

Loris Malaguzzi

{October 20, 2009}   Bridges of Love

Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict.
It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.
One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work” he said.”Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?
“Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbor, in fact, it’s my younger brother.Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us.
Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn?I  want you to build me a fence – – an 8-foot fence — so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.”
The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”
The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing, and hammering.
About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.
It was a bridge — a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work handrails and all — and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.”You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.”
The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder.
“No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother.
“I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, “but, I have many more love bridges to build.”

et cetera