Conference Presentation : The 30 Goals e-Conference


The title was Blogging for the 30 Goals : Reflecting on my teaching and learning experience.




This is the link to the recording


This is the link to the slides of the presentation.

30Goals-Blogging-for-30-Goals 1


This is a sketchnote that Jody Meacher made for me after my presentation and I totally looooooved it!!!!




I hope you enjoy it!!



Goal #1 2015 : Support a movement #30 GoalsEdu

Here is my first Goal for 2015. I hope you enjoy it!

Transformative Learning 

na casa dele em São Paulo - Brasil Todos os Direitos Reservados Proibidas Cópias sem Autorização

na casa dele em São Paulo – Brasil
Todos os Direitos Reservados
Proibidas Cópias sem Autorização

There is a history with the term ‘Transformative learning’ because it emerged several decades ago as a particular conceptual framework for understanding how adults learn. The first one to articulate this theory, Paolo Freire, believed that learning is interconnected with the development of a critical consciousness which will eventually lead the learner to take political and social action and be liberated from oppression. Learning is nothing else then than an emancipatory process for Freire. More theorists have followed after him, with the most famous of them being, perhaps, Jack Mezirow, who considered reflection as a central moment to his thinking of how adults make meaning.

For me, both of them present a way of teaching that takes me beyond any strategy I should learn to use when teaching. They represent a vision of life, and within it a vision of life with my students.

You can learn more about Freire’s work and ideas here Freire Institute and about Jack Mezirow here .



Why use Art in a foreign language context? Art can enhance instruction is so many levels that perhaps we should not even have to ask this question. Art can help us explore and thus, deepen our understanding of the world around us. It can provide us with rich aesthetic experiences. It can result in cultural awareness. Most of all, it allows for levels of high critical analysis, reflection and communication. That makes it an invaluable tool for us.

Some possible links for information are the following :

(Photo  @Louise Bourgeois. ‘Untitled’ sculpture, 2002)


Getty Museum 

Harvard – Project Zero

Save the strays


Not relevant to ESL, but ….I have a life, too, you know, outside teaching! One of my daily routines is to care for stray animals, whatever this means. It is a fulfilling job because it means caring for the community above all. 

You can of course find an organisation that supports stray animals in your area or just care for them yourself by regularly feeding them, providing water and trying to find foster families. It does not take up much of your time and every little thing helps!


Interview with Christina Martidou on the making of ‘Dylan & Lydia’ : a digital storybook for young learners of English.

This is my 2nd interview in which I present another creative colleague and a very dear friend, Christina Martidou. We first met here  in Thessaloniki, our hometown, and we ‘clicked’ immediately. I particularly like her inquisitive and restless spirit which led her to create, along with her sister Marina,  a little ‘gem’ : a digital storybook  for young learners of English, «Dylan & Lydia», which is actually the theme of our interview!  I have to tell you though that this is actually a ‘double’ interview. After interviewing Christina, I asked her to interview her students who took part in the making of this storybook by lending their voices. I think she did an excellent job and we have come up with a wonderful video which I hope you will enjoy watching and which will also give you a better idea of her work.

Interview with Christina Martidou 


My first positive MOOC experience


One of the requirements for the PGCE in Technology Enhanced Learning is that I blog about several topics involving Education Technology and this is my first post of this series.

Nearly everybody involved in education has already heard about Moocs (Massive Open Online Courses). They are offered not only by universities internationally but also from various other educational Institutions.  The most popular providers are Coursera, Khan Academy, Udacity, EdEX  and  FutureLearn. Generally speaking, a lot of the most famous Universities all over the world offer them now .

Like most of my colleagues, I heard about Moocs about 3 years ago and decided to give it a try and look into the possibility of attending one or more. The first one was a total failure because even though I registered, i never even bothered to attend. Yet, about a year after that first attempt, I did commit to completing  a Mooc and six months after I finished the first one, I completed a second one, too, both on the same subject (Art and ESL).  Before attending any of them though, I did a little research and this was what I came up with.


Why are they so popular?

  • You only need a reliable internet connection and some free time to dedicate
  • The majority of them are free (if you want, you can pay an extra fee – only a small amount, normally around 30 to 40 dollars – and receive a “Verified Certificate” that securely links the assessment to the student)
  • There are thousands of courses from across the world available
  • There is a huge variety of subjects to choose from (mathematics, biology, computing, business marketing, education, art, etc.) and it keeps growing
  • There are no real requirements for anyone to attend a course like the ones that exist in formal education
  • A lot of the Universities organizing Moocs are trying to make them count as credit toward a higher education award, like COURSERA’s Moocs, for example (Hammods, 2013).

Some scepticism

  • Skepticists claim it is a delusion to believe the masses can be educated in this way, mainly because of lack of research about how students learn in massive open online platforms (Sharma, 2013)
  • There are high dropout rates (Stein, 2013).
  • Even though Moocs are supposed to be reaching poor and uneducated people, the ones actually taking Moocs do not actually fall in this category (Mazoue, 2013)

My own experience and why it was successful

Why did I complete mine then and then went on for a second one, too? I think the main reason was that the Moocs I finally attended  in full were courses I was really interested in. MOMA (the museum of Modern Art in N.York) was the provider. MOMA had already started organizing these courses in N.York, they had great success and decided it was time they targeted a more global audience. The truth is that I would have even gone to N.York to attend these courses! And I had applied, in the first place. That was before the Moocs. But the number of participants was limited at the time (only 70 people), and they only accepted people from the States.  So, once they announced the same course would be offered in a Mooc, I grabbed the opportunity!

Still, it could have been a disappointment for various reasons: a new platform, distance education, too many participants, not formal education, not receiving any credits for it. I can go on and on… What, in fact, made a difference was the fact that I enjoyed the way they had organized it, at least most of it.  Why?

First of all, each week a new medium was introduced : the first  2 weeks there were video presentations , readings, 1-2 topics for discussion on the forum and a short quiz for the readings. The third week, the videos became more practical and the questions on the forum more challenging. Also, a google hangout was introduced where all the participants could take part in the discussion or watch it asynchronously. The fourth week, there were discussions about the final project. Generally, we were encouraged starting from the first week to interact with the other participants (there must have been over 20.000 enrolled in the course). Our interaction with the other participants also counted towards our final mark. Finally, our projects were posted on the forum the 5th week and were peer reviewed by 3 other participants who had to evaluate each of the projects based on 3-5 specific criteria which appeared on the evaluation page . The projects we had to review were anonymous and each evaluator was chosen randomly. It was the web system that decided which projects each of us would evaluate in an attempt to ensure objectivity.

Even though the truth is that I did not make any connections or acquaintances, I truly enjoyed the 2 Moocs and I would definitely come back for more. The way of organization appealed to me, I was encouraged to participate, the material was relevant and the presentations were excellent! Everything made sense! To ensure I would be more dedicated, I also signed up for a signature track certificate, which means that I also paid a small amount of money for it. It did motivate me more… But it is not obligatory. If you do not pay for a verified certificate, you do not have to complete the final project necessarily. But this also gives more freedom to anyone who just wants to attend a Mooc without being too much involved.

On the other hand, there were some downsides. If you are expecting a more direct and prompt communication with/from the organizers, then it is most probable this is not going to happen! Sometimes, the participants can be thousands and thousands. It is really difficult to answer every single person promptly, especially because of the huge numbers of participants. The peer review also might mean that a lot of people might end up dissatisfied. The participants come from various academic and professional backgrounds so their judgement might be questionable. Not to mention that some people might not consider the evaluation a serious commitment from their part (so they might award a mark without all the necessary consideration) and again their objectivity might be questionable.

All in all, this was a very positive experience.  I honestly believe that these particular Moocs were as effective, if not more so, than any traditional classroom teaching (Glance et al., 2013).  Yet, when later I tried to follow another Mooc which proved to be much much less well planned, more time consuming and a bit confusing, I just quit. Just like that! Yet, isn’t there here a positive side, too? You will only commit to something that you really find interesting. These Moocs target a wider audience so they are flexible, not very academic and as long as they are well planned, to the point, and ensure interaction, they can be very enjoyable and practical!



  1. Glance, D.G. & Forsey D. & Riley M.(2013). The pedagogical foundations of massive open online courses. First Monday, Volume 18, Number 5. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4350/3673
  2. Hammods, W. (2013). MOOCs for credit?. Retrieved from http://blog.universitiesuk.ac.uk/2013/02/14/moocs-for-credit/
  3. Mazoue, J.G. (2013). Five Myths about MOOCs. Educase Review, Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/five-myths-about-moocs
  4. Sharma, G. (2013). A MOOC Delusion: Why Visions to Educate the World Are Absurd. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/blogs/worldwise/a-mooc-delusion-why-visions-to-educate-the-world-are-absurd/32599
  5. Stein, K. (2013). Penn GSE Study Shows MOOCS Have Relatively few active users, with only a few persisting to course end. Retrieved from http://www.gse.upenn.edu/pressroom/press-releases/2013/12/penn-gse-study-shows-moocs-have-relatively-few-active-users-only-few-persisti



Art in ELT : An interview with Chrysa Papalazarou


Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.

Paul Klee

I met Chrysa Papalazarou, online first (through social media) and then in person, early this year, and we both thought that we had a lot in common, especially our love for art. Chrysa has been using art in her English class in a systematic way for the last 3 years and has created two blogs for this purpose. Her work caught my attention immediately because it was  the first time I saw a colleague use a systematic research-based framework to ‘marry’ ELT and the Arts. The framework in discussion is Visible Thinking which stems from Project Zero (Harvard University). Even more intriguing though, is the fact that through these lesson ‘proposals’ , as she likes to call them, Chrysa tries to raise her students’ awareness on contemporary issues such as War and Peace, bullying, disabilities, etc.


ELT Wikipedia Project

Today, I would like to present you a project I have started some time ago. The ELT Wikipedia Project.


What is the ELT Wikipedia Project?

This project started shaping up when, already in the middle of another wikipedia project and while browsing through the website, I realised there was a lack of references especially about significant, prominent ELT people (authors, theorists, etc.) in wikipedia. Yet, I thought that there was room for more than ELT personalities. We could write about terms, associations and anything else relevant to the ELT world. Thinking that such a project would interest several people and not just me, I invited first people that I already knew  they would be interested in taking part in it. 

What does the project involve?

There are 3 main sections in the project :

  1. ELT personalities

  2. ELT terms

  3. English Teaching Associations

1st Section : ELT Personalities

The goal is to :

write short or longer articles about important ELT professionals, e.g. Penny Ur, Luke Meddings, Peter Medgyes, Jeremy Harmer, Ken Wilson, Barbara Hoskins, Nik Peachley, Nicky Hockly, Lindsay Clandfield, JJ Wilson, Rachael Roberts, Vicki Hollett, Chuck Sandy, Marjorie Rosenberg, etc. for WIKIPEDIA. For the time being, there is no reference on any of them except for a short reference on Scott Thornbury and one two more short references.

Section 2 : ELT terms

There are already several ELT terms mentioned in wikipedia, but there is need for more ELT terms to be included. Several terms already exist, but they need more references or need to be edited, or enriched.

Some others do not exist at all.

Section 3 : ELT Associations

Only IATEFL is listed briefly

Possible entries for it could be : ELTA Serbia, IATEFL-Hungary, TESOL GREECE, TESOL Macedonia Thrace, BELTA Belgium, TESL Toronto, SEETA teacher association, etc.

Who can be involved?

  • ELT teachers

  • ELT undergraduate or postgraduate students

  • Anyone related with ELT who is interested in our project and has, at least, ‘some’ writing experience.

How can you can be involved?

You can contact me


Ask to join our facebook group :


In what way can you be involved?

Decide what you would like to write about. Check our list (the list can be found in our facebook group, or you can ask it from me) to see if another editor is already on it.

We will help you with the details on how to write a wikipedia article and we will make some suggestions about what should be included.

Also, more than one person can be involved in writing an entry, in case you would be interested in co-writing an entry with a friend/colleague.

How else can you contribute?

If you do not want to write about something, there are other ways you can help :

  1. Suggest more ELT personalities we should write about and explain why

  2. You can suggest an article that you have already written (perhaps for your personal blog) and we can discuss together if this can be a possible wikipedia entry.

  3. Improve on already written terms


How long do you have to dedicate?

We suggest that a rough deadline is 30- 40 days

BUT, several entries can be written in way less time!

How will you get credit for your contribution?

Your contribution will be published on Wikipedia, as well as on our blog with your name.

You can also keep a reflective journal of your experience. If you don’t have a blog, we’ll publish it for you.

If you write about an ELT personality, you can also consider interviewing this person.

Already, several entries are ready for wikipedia. Soon, we will start posting them.

I hope you will find the project interesting!

30 Goals – # goal 14 – Conquer a fear

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear. (Edmund Burke. A Philosophical Inquiry into the origin of our ideas of the sublime and the beautiful. 1756)

While pursuing a criminal across the rooftops of San Francisco, Scottie, a detective , slips and finds himself dangling from the gutter of a tall building. His fellow police officer tries to rescue him but soon after, Scottie watches him fall to his death. It is soon after that when he realizes , with the help of the doctors, that he has developed acrophobia ( a fear of heights). Haunted by his guilt, because of the loss of his colleague, he quits the police force.

In Vertigo, the famous Hitchkock movie, the plot revolves around John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson’s (James Stewart) phobia, which either results in the tragic loss of human lives because he cannot control this fear or because this weakness allows other people to manipulate him. Until he decides to take control of his life and his fears…

I don’t think that, like ‘Scottie’, there is any of us who has NEVER felt threatened by fear. Any kind of fear,no matter how significant or insignificant it may have seemed at the time. The fear of losing a loved one, a fear of heights, a fear for someone’s safety, the fear of failing, etc… What is true, in fact, is that this basic human emotion can undermine our whole existence so much so that to assume that our life can be carried out in an arena void of fear is , to say the least, naive.

Once faced with the ‘Monster’, people usually react in two ways,: ‘fight or flight’! They will either face the threat or flee. A lot of times, a fear exists and ‘persists’ only because it hides a disheartening truth for us, at which we turn our back, in the hope that it will disappear. This is typical DENIAL. What we basically do is that we block away all that frightens and overwhelms us, whatever may force us away from our comfort zone.

Like ‘Scottie’ in Vertigo, people in that situation may initially keep ‘a distance’ from what scares them , exactly because they feel defeated and disabled and it is difficult for them to look at that situation realistically. Until, I think, they realize that the whole situation has easily put them in a ‘bubble’ and trapped them forever. Unless they finally ACT!

in a bubble

An ex-student of mine , Nastazia, fits that description. A girl that was preparing for a specific English language exam because she was going to study abroad. A meticulous and  serious student . She would study hard, she would follow all the advice given. Speaking in English was not her favorite part of the exam, though. Right from the beginning, she told me she did not feel comfortable with it but she knew it would eventually be fine. Since, every time we had a lesson, I managed to make her speak more and more and I realized her level was actually not that bad, I thought there was hope! I thought it was just a simple fear that she would soon be able to succumb. But it wasn’t…

As time went by, the progress she was making was not really significant,so it felt strange whenever she reassured me that everything would be fine with the speaking part of the exam. That she knew she didn’t speak a lot but it was not a big thing. She was acting as if she didn’t realize the problem actually existed ! Sometimes, when she started to speak, this would only last for a few minutes and end in disappointment. A lot of times, when she would eventually talk for more than 2 minutes, she would stop, and would ask me to speak in Greek. Then, after a pause, she would start again saying she COULD do it, she knew HOW TO!  Only to quit again a bit later. She reminded me of ‘Scottie’, who was showing Midge (his ex-girlfriend ) how he could control his fear and rid of it little by little, but in the end the fear kicked in and he resorted in her arms like a little child. I actually experienced a similar scene with her at some point…

I tried several techniques and tricks but one way or another she would hide ‘inside her bubble’ leaving me out..

Until one day, just a few weeks later. That day, she suddenly had a terrible tantrum, which was totally unexpected. She couldn’t cope with her fear anymore. After I let her calm down, we started talking. I think that was the day she realized she had had enough with it and that’s why she had this outburst!

During our discussion, a couple of things came out : first, her fear was the result of a very judgemental teacher’s behavior when she was very young . Second, we established that an exam is not the end of the world. Her life did not and should not depend on a test. Third, we agreed that once you realize that you start feeling trapped in a situation, then it’s time you acted!

And she did. She started slowly to open up more and to build her confidence . Not a very strong one ,but definitely stronger than before. In the end, she managed to get a decent mark at her exams, not a high one , of course , but a decent one. I remember when she came out, the first thing she said was : ‘It wasn’t that difficult , you know, after all!’ Above all, Nastazia confronted this life moment regardless how scary it looked to her. That was perhaps the most important lesson she gained that day.

Fear shouldn’t be seen as an entity that controls us; instead we should confront it as a force which gives us a choice between affirming the truth and denying it. Schopenhauer, and the existentialists that followed later, believed that everything in the universe is driven by a primordial will to live and for him this was the most fundamental aspect of reality. A bit later, Nietzsche made the will to power the basis of the new values created. Why? One has to remember the sense of joy that comes from exercising power. According to Nietzche, this power is not necessarily power over other people, but any successful attempt to overcome obstacles and suffering .

We, educators, are not necessarily neither psychologists nor philosophers. We are not here to solve our students’ psychological problems. Nor are we here JUST to teach them our subject and then avoid any other bond with them. We have a complex role ,part of which IS to identify any possible difficulties our students might be going through and then suggest, perhaps, possible ways to deal with them or refer them to the right person. Teaching adults is even more complex because we always have to keep in mind that when these adults enter our classes, they might already carry a ‘heavy’ load. Most of the times, we mainly need to show sensitivity to them and to any insecurities they might bear. And to remind them that ‘to say ‘yes’ to life is to say ‘yes’ to our attempt to overcome obstacles’! 

3-2-1 Intro 30 GOALS The journey begins

This is my first post for Cycle 5, 30 GOALS. So, there you go :

A. 3 things about me

1. I love my job! I have been teaching adults and young adults since day one of my career and I wouldn’t  change it for the world!!!!!!!


2.  I’ve traveled all around the world, I have lived for long periods of time in various cities and last year I started all over again!!





3. I couldn’t live without my pets (I have a dog and 3 cats)! Everybody  in my family adopts stray animals and so do I!! Eftychis,Chanel, Tommy and Lewis are considered members of our family!!




1. I have recently started blogging so, my goal for this year is to be able to continue with the same,if not with more, enthusiasm!


2. To take better care of my health and spend more time with family and friends!



Overcoming some of my fears was a blessing! I hope I will continue!Image!

Goal 12 : Why do I teach? #30GoalsEdu

freirePaulo Freire once said : ‘“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed)

For many years, I have been teaching students who feel very well ‘adjusted’ in conformity’ ! What is more, I have also been involved with exam preparation which means that most of the time I train students to meet a particular goal. Both of these are great challenges. I try to teach these students how to abandon their ‘comfort zone’ at a very ‘sensitive’ period of time that most students identify as ‘cramming’. Most of them believe that taking a language exam means just practicing on tests, over and over again. Instead I focus my teaching on how to make them think critically, to teach them the importance of it, to teach them the complexity of language and how to respect it. To respect it so much so that they will be willing to dedicate time and effort in it. This is the first and main reason why I teach.

language is never neutral

Learning a language is like observing a transformation take place. Observing entails analyzing, posing questions, it means reflection and achieving hopefully a deeper understanding. Learning to think critically is priceless equipment for my students’ whole life (and not only) exactly because, as Freire says, it can help us understand and then possibly transform our own world. It is a cognitive as well as a social skill.

learn unlearn

Jack Mezirow (Learning as transformation: Critical Perspectives on a theory in Progress,) believes that most of the time, when we learn new information, it fits into the existing patterns or pathways in our brains. It fits with what we already know. BUT, If you experience something that causes you to question what this concept is and how it is created, that could be the trigger for a transformative learning experience.

Another reason why I teach, therefore, is because I particularly enjoy the process my students have to go through in order to learn. In several stages of this process, they need to unlearn in order for them to relearn and make sense of a new experience. While this might cause an initial discomfort, it gives them a lot of satisfaction in the end. It is an achievement after all!

 no one educates

Most of all, I teach because I believe that teaching is a transformative process not only for my students but for me as well. I teach them the meaning of collaboration because they have to learn from each other’s experiences. Especially with Greek students, teaching them the idea of ‘collaboration’ is a great challenge on its own, since they tend to follow a more individualistic pattern in the way they are used to studying.

Nevertheless and fortunately though, THEY teach me as much as I teach them. They teach me new ways of thinking, new perspectives, new views of the world and I deeply appreciate them for this.