Here we are to talk about education and the new challenges in this field

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Instruments and tools

Lately I have attended some courses online. One of them deals with international educational projects. While working on this course I discovered some nice instruments and tools we can use with our students.

One of them is VOKI ( You can use it for free with your students. You can make speaking avatars. I think it's nice ans students will love it. Have a look at our first Vokis.

The second tool I want to present you is GLOGSTER ( Just have a look at what you can do with it:

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Global Education Conference

Maybe some of you are wondering what happened - I haven't posted anything for about a month. As you can imagine, everything was hectic in my life: school started, new classes, new ideas...

Now I'd like to invite you to attend the 2010 Global Education Conference. The conference is a collaborative and world-wide community effort to significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting education activities and initiatives.   To clarify, this is a worldwide conference on globally-connected education, not a "global conference on general education topics." 

There is no formal registration required for the conference, as all the sessions will be open and public.  All sessions will be held in the Elluminate platform, will be broadcast live, and will be available in recorded formats afterwards. 

It will be held online, from 15 - 19 November 2010. I will be one of the presenters. I will introduce my successful project "Romania and Ghana together" to the audience. I am thrilled I was accepted as a presenter and I really want to share my experience to all the people around.

Soon I will share my other ideas for projects: what I have already tried in my class, what I intend to do this year... In the meantime, I am getting ready for the big day - 17th November when I will meet you online.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

26 September - European Day of Languages

Every year, when the calendar arrives at a page with the date 26th September, we know exactly what this date means: it is the European Day of Languages. As I am at school, teaching on this date, I can't let things go by without involving my students. But first of all, what does this celebration mean?

The European Day of Languages was first celebrated in 2001 during the European Year of Languages. At the end of this campaign the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers decided to make EDL an annual event, to be celebrated each 26 September. Every year, millions of people in the Council's member states and elsewhere organise or take part in activities to promote linguistic diversity and the ability to speak other languages.

The general aim is to draw attention to Europe's rich linguistic and cultural diversity, which has to be encouraged and maintained, but also to extend the range of languages that people learn throughout their lives in order to develop their plurilingual skills and reinforce intercultural understanding. It is an opportunity to celebrate all of Europe's languages, including those that are less widely spoken and the languages of migrants.

This year we were not at all indifferent to this day. But as it is on Sunday and we don't go to school  then, we decided to organize our activities on Friday. In the morning some students (about 20) greeted all the students and teachers who enetered the school in one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. They could hear greetings in Romanian, French, Polish, Serbian, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, German, Bulgarian, and many others. Then they offered their colleagues and teachers a flyer with information about the 23 languages and the advantages of knowing a foreign language.

Next Monday we'll start working on a short video presenting the Romanian greeting and its explanation in English.

If you want to find out more about this day, click here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer's over, autumn's here

For a couple of days autumn has come. Leaves are getting yellow and are falling, mornings and evenings are colder and colder. I regret summer, I regret those long lazy summer days...

In August I traveled around Europe, and my voyage included many countries, among which Italy, France, Monaco, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany... I came back home with my heart and mind full of images and wonderful memories, to last during the cold winter days.

I am getting ready for a new school year. I'd like to change my school, my town, my country... but nothing seems possible for the time being. Now I am in the middle of a voting process. During the latest school year we were involved in the European competition E.S.C.O.T. Hard work, I must admit, but it's worth. I hope we'll be rewarded. If you want to help my school and my students, do it. Just one click here and we are grateful. You can see our work, our ideas, our videos...

I am back. I will continue keeping this blog up to date. It's gonna be a long school year but I am sure things will be all right in the end.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why school projects are good, really good

My first international school project started in 2001 – so long ago. Everything was at the beginning then: finding partners, setting up international projects. But, I was lucky to find a school from Milan, Italy and to start work together. We designed a bilingual school magazine, in English and French, called Youth Magazine / Le Journal Europeen de la Jeunesse, on different themes, such as music, sports, fashion, and cuisine. It was a real success. 

Then, every single school year I involved my students in a school project. I can count about 50 so far. And I love doing this job as the advantages for students and teachers couldn’t be found anywhere else.  Of course there are disadvantages too. You can’t set up a project without having some money, as you need it for the final products (for instance paper, cartridges, internet connection, etc). And they need time – if you are not willing to spend some time on working on the project, give up. And they can create conflicts, as not all the students or teachers can be involved, and you, as coordinator, must be aware of this.  But the advantages are so many…
First of all you can discover: your partners, another country with its background, culture, language. And you discover yourself, as you can’t introduce yourself to your partner without knowing who you are and what you want, where you come from, what makes you unique. One of my favorite school projects involved a school from Tehran, Iran. We worked together in the Mondialogo School Contest – we created a magazine on our holidays and we were simply amazed to see so many similarities, even if we come from two different cultures, two different religions… 
If you are lucky enough and you have a grant, you can visit your partner, together with your students and colleagues. In this way you get to know your partner even better.
Another important aspect is the language. You can practice the language of the project (mainly English or French) and your students become aware of the fact that this language is alive , not only in their textbooks or notebooks.
After a project everything improves – your students’ knowledge, yourself, your teaching methods. You can get and share experience, you know new people and you discover the people around you, as you work in a less formal way.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Long lazy summer days

How difficult summer may be for me, the busy teacher…

In my country the summer holiday lasts 3 months – that’s very much, that’s too much for me. I like being involved, teaching, learning new things, sharing and caring.

Now it’s summer, I have no place to go to… It's so hot here. The sky is so blue, there is no hope of rain.

I spend day after day hoping that the weather will help me. That it will become colder.

I feel as if I were in a desert: loneliness and heat. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. I miss those hectic days when I could do new great things, when I could share everything with my mates.

For almost a week I have been spending my time with this:

Lucio Dalla - Canzone

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Power point presentations - how to avoid some typical mistakes

For a very long time, I considered power-point presentations have nothing interesting. Actually, every single day, I receive lots of power point presentations on different things, mainly entertainment. At the beginning, I was quite excited about them, I used to watch them with great pleasure, but later they became boring: same backgrounds, same music, same poor quality of the pictures or sounds…
I have tried to make some power point presentations to integrate them in my lessons. But, I failed. They were boring. I made some typical mistakes. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that, I considered myself an expert in PPTs, both Windows PowerPoint and more recently Apple Keynote . Two years ago, a teacher from Scotland taught me how to make them and mainly, how to avoid them becoming boring. What he didn’t tell me then was that simply watching the screen is not interactive. And we get the same boring final product which we expect to work wonders. What can we do to change that?

First of all, we should avoid the mistakes most power-point creators make.

I am writing now about some of them. The first one is to create a PPT presentation as lecture notes. It's boring, and students feel totally trapped when on the screen they can read the number of our slides, e.g. 10 / 98. Boring, uninteresting... What can we do? This program offers us a great chance to include pictures, or play music, or even show video-clips. We can do this in a very easy way: we just insert our video / music, etc and make sure it is saved in the same folder as our presentation. Students are given the chance to listen to a text for instance, then actually work on it. And everything can be part of our presentation. For instance, I show them a medieval castle, and I try to elicit: country, age, builder, etc. Then, they listen to a text about the castle and do something, e.g. re-order the paragraphs. And all this is possible by the help of the PPT presentation.

However, we should be careful not to make a visual assault out of our presentation. I don't say we can't use pictures, flashes, funny faces, but not too much. Less is better. Instead of using another picture, we can use a blank slide to arise our students’ interest.

Sometimes, the new pictures on the screen come together with a sound (and there are so many and so loud...). Once again, we should pay attention not to make it an aural assault. Our students will be stressed. I use listening texts in my presentations, especially for the auditory students. Actually, a PPT presentation is a good way of addressing our students' learning-styles. Once again, the listening can become interactive. They start from the text and they can create a whole interactive story or they can play (jeopardy is helpful). We can make all very easily, as we use the "hyperlink" function the program features.

One thing I don't like about presentations is the bullet points. I find them boring, common and uninteresting. Instead of them, our ideas can come animated. For instance, my text appears on the screen and then fades away. It can become interactive, as in the meantime, while the text is gone, students have to do something (e.g. remember from the text as much as they can and tell their partner ). When they finish, the initial text can reappear again and stay on the screen as much as I want / need it.

In the end, I would like to remind you about the background and the font. It's true, the program offers lots of backgrounds, more or less inspired. Personally, for an interactive and serious presentation, I prefer a monochrome or a blank background. Remember that the walls in the art galleries are white, too.  As for the font, we should use the right size, so that the students in the last rows may read. Then, once again, less is better: no more than 5 lines, no more than 8 words in a line.

Last, but not least, we should think about a plan B or C in case we face a technology failure. We should take it into account, as without technology, we (re)become simply teachers: we, the teacher, in front of our students who are waiting for us to tell them something interesting and new.

Just to illustrate what I said here, have a look at the famous Gettysburg Address - what it would have looked like if Lincoln had had powerpoint:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to integrate listening in your lessons

This time I would like to write a little bit about listening. Many teachers consider that listening is not very important, as long as students have to listen to their teacher during the whole class. Things are different. It's true, they have to listen to us, but as long as we (the non-native speakers) speak mainly Englishes, not English, we should do something and expose our students to authentic listening materials. I am against the CDs and the tapes accompanying our textbooks. They are artificial: the texts are read by British actors / actresses, who sometimes speak with American / Canadian / Australian accent. They are not authentic. I had better find some authentic materials online. My idea is that listening is important.

We should integrate listening in our lessons. It's nothing more boring than telling students: "And now, you will listen to a fragment... ". That moment we lose our students' attention and interest. They consider it just another chore... But, we can avoid it! I will give you an example. One day, one of my lessons had as objectives enabling students to speak about personal details. After reading a short text, after speaking, they had to solve an exercise based on a text. I made the transition in the most natural way possible. I asked students if they thought the person presented in the text is real or not. Some of them said she was real, some others said she wasn't. I congratulated those who said she was real and I gave them the proof: they could listen to her voice.

When students listen to a text, they must do something: find a figure, answer a question, solve an exercise. Otherwise, they don't pay attention to the listening activity, and they get bored and uninterested. And, don't forget about the golden rule: listen - check with a partner - listen again.

A listening text should be played up to 4 times - at the maximum. If the students' level is poor, it's better  to stop after every single sequence having the information they need. In this way they will get used to listening and their English will improve.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The longest day

It's the 21st June and it's the longest day in the year. It's the summer solstice. Does it have any significance? For me it surely has. You may ask me why, you may wonder what's so special about this day. Well, let me tell you something: besides teaching English, I also teach literature and civilization to my students. The civilization lessons include the Celts and Stonehenge. And the main connection between these and the longest day in the year is ... the summer solstice. 

How can we exploit this? First of all, we can use this common information to introduce Stonehenge. Have a look at the beautiful  summer solstice sunrise over Stonehenge and ideas will come up. 

Or, the summer solstice may become the starting point to introduce different celebrations to our students. If you browse an encyclopedia, you will find out many different things. For instance, I would introduce the idea of solstices which  in some languages are considered to start or separate the seasons, while in others they are considered to be center points. For instance, in English, in the Northern hemisphere, the period around the June solstice is known as midsummer, and Midsummer's Day is 24 June, about three days after the solstice itself. It is on the same day when an important Romanian holiday takes place. Similarly 25th December is the start of the Christmas celebration, and is the day the Sun begins to return to the northern hemisphere. It can become a starting point for comparing different celebrations all around the world.

The Romanian holiday which takes place every year 3 days after the summer solstice, on 24th June, is called "Sanziene". The name of the celebration is given by these flowers: 

The name of the celebration could be translated as "holy" ("san" in Romanian, an abbreviation of sfant = saint) and " fairy" ("zana" in my language). It's actually the celebration of the fairies who play an important role in the local folklore. There are many beliefs related to this celebration, but my favorite states that on the Sanziene  night, the heavens open up, making it an adequate time for making wishes and for praying, as God is more likely to listen. 

It's quite a mysterious celebration.  My favorite writer, Mircea Eliade wrote a novel,  "Noaptea de Sanziene", translated as "The Forbidden Forest", which includes references to the folk belief about skies opening at night. 

Monday, June 14, 2010


A new week has just started. Normally I would have named this post "Week 11: Something". But the course is over. And something is missing. I am used to accessing Nicenet not every day - several times a day. Now, it's empty - no new messages... I am used to accessing your blogs: nothing new, at least so far.

But, this new week has started. Today I had my last English class with the 9th graders - the last one this school year, of course. I had to reward them: I offered them a Certificate I designed by the help of 123Certificates. I discovered something. If you want to print a certificate directly from the brwoser, you simply can't get rid of the website addrress, the date and the time it was printed. And it's quite unpleasant to have them on a nice certificate, isn't it?  I managed to get rid of them. I selected the certificate from the browser, then I pressed ctrl+c (copy), then I opened a new document and pressed ctrl+v (paste). I had the template in my document. Only picture, not text. I added the text in a very simple way: insert - add text box, and there I edited everything as I wanted. The result is great - no more header and footer from the browser.

Today I feel a little bit confused. After 10 weeks' time when I learned so many great new things, now I find myself having nothing to do. I should relax, but I can't. Not now. Something is missing. I miss something. I miss the competition with myself, I miss the challenge, I miss the discussions, the new ideas... From today on I will miss my students too.

Here, in Romania, a hot summer has started and I have nothing to do. But, tomorrow is another day. Till then, have a look at my 9th graders today, holding their certificates with pride and  joy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week 10: Graduation

By conincidence(?), the end of this course is on the same day as the school ending in Romania. I feel like a student. I feel great, as during the last 10 weeks I could learn so many new things. I will apply in my future teaching, and my students will benefit from this.

It was a great experience learning and having you here. I shared all my knowledge, all my experience, all my practice, and knowing that somebody read all these meant a lot for me. Now, I want to share something else with you all: in my country, when school ends, the best students are rewarded. They get a diploma, some books, but most importantly, they have flowers on their heads. And they are so happy... you can read it in their eyes, on their face.

Now, I think all of us deserve flowers. I offer them to you. And once again, I promise we'll keep in touch. That's why I didn't name this post "My last post" or "The final post". No way. My blog is alive and it will remain. I will be trained in the elearning classes and elearning space. I will share everything with you.

My advice? Keep up the great work and don't give up: if you have started using technology in your classes, do so in the future. Students will love this, you'll see.

Do you have problems? Do you want to try something and things don't work? Don't hesitate to ask me! I will help you as much as I can. That's another promise.

Now, I wish you all the best

Monday, June 7, 2010

ePals Teacher Ambassador - Off topic

About two weeks ago, I entered an international contest - ePals 2010 Teacher Ambassadors. I explained how ePals helped me and my students, and what our latest project, "Romanian students help their fellows in Ghana" means. Epals is a good platform to be used for establishing contacts and setting up projects with people all around the world. I have been a member since 2005, and among the countries we worked with, I name only a few: Bahrain, Brazil, USA, France, Poland, Qatar, Canada or Ghana.

Today I received an email announcing me that...

"Congratulations! We are pleased to announce that you are one of the winning entries in our ePals Teacher Ambassador Contest. We received many great entries from around the world. Our panel of 9 judges found so many quality entries that we increased our awards to include 10 Teacher Ambassadors. Winners will be announced today, on the ePals site at 5:00 pm, EST.

The judges were very impressed with your entry, “Romanian Students Helping Their Fellows in Ghana.” Please see a few of their comments below:

• Fantastic to see students take action!
• Video is great, for both ePals and the teacher.
• Teacher video is terrific! Action orientation is great too. Would love to see more samples of exchanges (emails, etc.)
• Fantastic promotional video for ePals. Would love to hear more in the ppt about how the students helped. Great teacher! Great students."

I am overwhelmed. I am speechless. What can I say?

If you want to find out more, and see my project and my video entry, follow this link:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Off-topic: Nadine - my name's origin

This week (week 9), Hala started by asking me a curious question: I sign on my blog as Nadinne. Actually, my name is Nadina. Then, Ellen said that finally she can connect me with my name, because all of the "N" names in our class was making her so confused :)

I was asked if I teach French.  I graduaded the university having as specialization French language and literature and English language and literature. During the first years in my teaching career I used to teach only French, then I taught both French and English. At present I am teaching only English.

Now, the story of my name. Before I was born, my father was reading a Romanian Book (The Blind Man's Sunday) whose main character was called... Nadina. She loved this name so much that he decided her little girl will have this name. My second name is Carmen - of Spanish originin.

What does my name mean?

Nadine means hope. Its origin is French, as a derivation from Bernardine. It has many diminutives, the most common being Nadia. (When people call me Nadia instead of Nadina, I get angry!)
Another opinion is that this name has Russian origin, coming from the word "nadejda", meaning "hope" (Ruslana, sorry if I mispelled the word). In old Romanian there is a word, "nadejde", meaning ... "hope". So, I accept this explanation too.

Carmen is of Spanish and Latin origin. It means song. In Hebrew, it means garden and orchid.

I love my names and they influence myself. I can lose everything, but not my hope. And, my hobby is gardening, while my favorite flower is... the orchid. As for music, I couldn't live without it: I listen to music all the time, anytime, anywhere: at home, at school, in my car...


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet" (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, ii, 1-2)

As a gift for you, Eduard Simoni - "Nadine"

Asculta mai multe audio Muzica">

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Week 9: Overview. Already?

The end of this week is here, the end of this course is here too ... one more week, and we say goodbye to this course, to the colleagues, to our teachers. I admit: I am going to be sad. I got used to the atmosphere here, to all the ideas, to my personal brainstorming sessions... but, I keep in mind just one thing: every end is a new beginning. I will not cry it's gone, I will smile it happened.

In week 5 I wrote here a mid-evaluation of the course. I wrote then about all the tools which amazed me and changed my teaching styles: Zunal and the webquests, Noodle Tools as alternative to the ever present Google, my first technology lesson plan... I forgot to write about Delicious,  maybe because I got so used to it that I fel I have known it for ages. There are so many things I learned about and articles I read that I feel almost impossible to write about them all here. Some of them became part of my teaching style and it would be impossible now to give them up. I started using the blog with my students, then, I created the wiki related to it, then I created the class site. If I give them up, I will disappoint my students, and that's the last thing I want. I could make interactive power-point presentations, I created online and offline exercises. I created a Nicenet class for my 12th graders - a real help for them, even if I created it just a day before their final exam.

I will continue all these and I will continue reading and maybe, even began writing: I have the idea of gathering all my experience and share it with my colleagues in school, as a book, e-book or traditional one. I will continue keeping this blog alive and when the course is over, I will promote it among my colleagues - teachers of English. I will continue reading your blogs, hoping you will not let them die... Like this, we can share great things, experience and best practices.

In autumn, I hope I will start the two projects I have discussed about with Zully and Ruslana. What a great chance for me and my students!

In the meantime, this week, I worked on the final project. Shujuan, Kheri and Ruslana helped me with their objective comments. I hope the final version is a valuable one, although I am not 100% satisfied with it. Then, I worked on the class website. At fisrt, I thought things are easy, but things are not what they seem to be. Even if I worked with a template and I have some html knwowledge, it's was quite time and effort demanding. Then, for my 12th graders, I created a Nicenet class which they could access just in the nick of time: I created it last Sunday, they had their first exam on Monday. Everything went as it should, and the results were very good (most of my students got B2 as grade, the highest grade which they could get).  Then, I designed a phrasal verb exercise with the help of Hot Potatoes. And, because some of you recommended Tools for Educators, I designed three offline exercices - a great tool to be kept in Delicious.

I have a strange feeling now, at the end of this course, but I raise my head and I keep walking. Thanks for reading me and thanks for commenting on my (poor) blog.

All the best,

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Week 8: What do I remember from this week?

One door closes, another door opens... this happens all the time, here too: one week ends, another one starts. On Monday... I like Mondays, when it's a new start. Once I read what somebody said: we live our lives by counting the Monday days...

This week has started in a very nice way - I got feeb-back for my activity last week, I got guidance for the new tasks. I started by greeting Jeff, the great teacher who shared so many interesting things with us. As I am quite curious in general, and I like to try out new things (as I get bored very easily), I wanted to explore some more resources and at the same time, include what I have learned during this course. I tried the message board, which I consider helpful for listening and speaking. If possible, I will try something similar with my students when school starts again, next September. In summer, I will have time to experiment new things I learned about during these two months.

Then, I wrote about my students' self-autonomy. It was not diffcult,as I know what it means and I am not  teacher-centered, but all my teaching is student-centered. I involve them in activities, I enable them express themselves, become engaged and involved. I do all this as in life they will not have a teacher to guide them, they will be all by themselves. Moreover, I don't like teachers who want to have everything under control, who try to impose their opinions at any price... and the long rows of silent students who write after dictation. Students are not robots, they are not imperfect little adults, they live their age, they need training, and we are there to guide and help them. I don't want to hear my students reciting lists of names, rules, commentaries on writers and novels. I want to make them think, understand, remember. I want to hear their voices expressing their own opinions, bringing arguments and giving examples. I want to make them search the internet by themselves, look for the information they need. I offer them ideas, help, but I don't impose my opinions, I don't want to be the totalitarian rigid teacher - the supreme master of the class. I don't want to intimidate my students, but make school their friend.

Then, I designed an activity for a one-computer classroom. I wanted to integrate here the knowledge I got last week, and I created an interactive power-point presentation, this time on vocabulary. My students simply enjoyed it and they could learn by playing: that's what they considered, that they were playing while learning.

Then, I shared my opinions with my colleagues in this course, on their blogs or on Nicenet. I learned many new things and I realized there are so many common things in all the schools worldwide.

And, I've been working on my project. I sent my draft to Shujuan and to Kheri and I got Shujuan's draft. I am looking forward to getting their comments on my draft. Based on them, I will write the final version of the project.

Next week I will have a very tough time - on Monday my students start their final examination in English. And there are about 200... I will have to be patient and objective while grading them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Week 7 & 8: My students reactions

As I have promised in my posts on Nicenet last week, I want to share with you my students' reactions to the blog and to the jeopardy.

Finally, at the beginning of this week, I was able to have my English classes in the IT lab. There were no problems at all, everything worked as planned.

First of all, I will tell you some words about the 9th graders and their blog. I have created a blog just for them, which I expanded and I enriched, adding a special link to the wiki, where they can find all the materials they need. If at the very beginning I was thinking about making it a space where they could find materials (for reading or listening), my initial plans changed and I made it interactive: accessing the wiki they have to work on a task every week. Their reaction was more than I had expected. In class they were very enthusiastic and interested in trying the blog and the wiki, and I saw they continue to access both of them from their computers at home. I was surprised even more to see that some of them brought their laptops in class, to be connected to these tools.

I was very curious to see my 12th graders' reaction to the jeopardy. Actually, last week I created two of them, based on grammar. As I considered the first one to be a little bit difficult for them (as it is based on metalanguage), I created another one, simpler this time: they are given the name of a verbal tense and they have to make up sentences. I tried it in class and I was delighted when their answers were sometimes identical or very similar to what I had imagined. I combined the two presentations and after having their answer on one verbal tense, I went to a slide from the fisrt jeopardy, where they were given the answer and they had to formulate a question. And we discussed in detail every single tense, we clarified some problems and everything was all right. I consider this a great revision exercise before the exam they will take next week.

Unfortunately, I couldn't take pictures as I was quite absent-minded and I left my camera at home... I promise next time I will be more attentive!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week 7: Technology, Interactivity. Large classes

It's a bright warm May morning in my city now, when I am writing. I am listening to some music... and I am daydreaming.  Few minutes ago, while I was reading your posts and I decided it's time to share my thoughts about this week.

For me, from the very beginning, this week had a name: challenge. Why? Because so far I have considered Power-point is a great tool (even if I prefer the Mac Keynote) for presentations. I said presentations. And if they are presentations, I don't didn't know they can become interactive too. Now, I know, and I even created one. And ideas came and expanded for another one, and so on. I learned how to make them interactive. I created a jeopardy on grammar for my 12th graders, and I am very curious to see their reaction. I have to wait till next week. It was not at all difficult, as I watched the tutorial on Youtube and I learned how to make mine. But, there are so many things to say about interactive presentations and they can become so interesting...

Then, I read about interactive presentations and on a post on Nicenet I shared my opinions and experience in creating power-point presentations. There are many pitfalls which can be avoided - not to transform the presentation in a boring note-lecture.

And then, the great challenge: interactivity in large classes. I started by stating the advantages and disadvantages of large classes. I'd like to try to teach a large class, but I can't for the time being.

I am quite disappointed as I managed to do nothing from my plan this week. I wanted to have my class with the 9th graders in the IT lab. Well, I couldn't. The teacher who offered to accompany me fell ill and I simply could not work with my students as I had wanted. Moreover, this week our school celebrated its 40th anniversary and the whole school / program was upside-down. But I hope next week will be better, even if on Monday we are free - a religious holiday and ... no school, that is no class with my 9th grade. However, I keep my hope alive.

Thank you all for the nice comments you posted on my blog last week. They really meant something to me...

Here is my school: 1970 - 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week 6: A short review

The end of the 6th week is very close. I am so used to this course, that I don't consider the tasks I have to do tasks, but pleasure.  I have become more courageous, I have learned to read and to explore new things.  And thank you all for the great words you wrote in your comments.

I have started this week by reading about the multiple intellingences. It was nothing new for me, as in 2002, I attended my first course provided by the American Embassy, and it dealt with this topic. Then, while doing the CELTA course, we had a special section dedicated to the multiple intelligences. But, I read once again about this. I consider this idea extremely interesting, as in general my students (and not only) aren't aware of it, and sometimes they simply label people (if somebody is not good at math, then, it is labeled: stupid). All the time I try to make students get rid of labels: see what people do, not what they imagine. For this, I have a questionnaire regarding the multiple intelligences, and at at least once a  year, I do it with my students. Then, I explain to them what their main intelligence is and how they can exploit it at the maximum. I think this is great help for their future career. My students are very excited about the multiple intelligences, as they have no idea they exist. By giving them examples, they become aware of them.

Then,  I read an interesting article about the learning styles. Once again, it was not new for me, as every year, at the beginning of the school year, I give students a questionnaire in order to find their learning style. I posted a comment on Nicenet, and Joanna wanted to know how I do this. Now, I can answer: I distribute printed papers to all the students, and they have to answer the questions (about 10). I found this questionaire on the internet years ago (4 or 5 years) and I adapted it to my students. I have the same questions, I don;t change them from one year to the other. But now, I found something else: I can use the internet: my students can find out their learning style in just two minutes, here - I think it's great I found this site, as I save paper and time, and printing problems, etc.

Then, I read the article "Enhance Learning by Enganging Students" about  alternative tools to assess our students. In a post on Nicenet, I wrote about some things I can use in class. Technology is priceless in this regard, and one helpful thing is Hot Potatoes, which you can download for free here: Simply download, install, create and let your students solve their tasks. It offers a large number of things: matching, re-ordering, etc. (you'd better find all by yourselves).

The most important things for me this week consist in the rubric I created and the Wiki I designed for my students. I found out about, a great site where I created my own rubric for one of the projects I created the previous week - Traditional books vs. e-books. I liked very much the idea of creating a rubric: it was not at all difficult and when creating it I was in my students' shoes, to make everything as clear as possible. All the time I imagined myself as a student, reading the rubric for the first time. I created it, and it can be found here:

Then, the big challenge came: to integrate all I know / learned  in my classes, otherwise I consider everything is nothing but a waste of time. If my students are not involved in my work, I can stay at home and create everything just for myself. But, that's nothing. I loved working on the Wiki: I had to imagine things, to find out things, etc. Just have a look here: It is based on my 9th grade textbook, simply because the book is interesting and I felt my students want to know something more. Just a short example: one lesson deals with Anne Frank, and her diary. They fell in love with her story and they wanted to know more. I am not sure when they go home they start searching the internet for this, and I am not sure they find what they should see and read. This Wiki gives them all they need. I use the Wiki just for resources and extra-materials. One section of it, named "Essential documents" contains everything I considered to be important for them, and I uploaded there links to the sites I found out about during this course.

Then, I created the class' blog. Not very difficult (as level of language), not too overloaded. You can see it here: It contains their first task and a link to the Wiki. I hope my students will like it.

I am lucky as in our school there are 3 computer labs, and only 2 of them are used by the IT teachers. I talked to them and every time I want to have my class in a computer lab, I am free to do it. I will start this next Monday (I am so excited). On Monday morning, my students will see their blog. And, those of them who haven't accessed the Wiki already, will do it on Monday too. I am eager to see their reaction on Monday.

Later edit: 

The link I provided for finding out everybody's learning stlye is not the best option, as you are asked money at the end of the survey. It can be used only for a general idea of the questions. If you are used to the different learning styles, you don't need their answers, you can give the answers yourselves.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Week 5: The best things I learned

One more week has almost gone by... and half of the course. Maybe it's time to have a middle evaluation of the course. I will start by reminding and remembering the Nicenet - a good tool to be used in my classes, maybe next year, as this one is almost over. Then, the blog - it's the first blog I created and I managed to keep up to date, at least so far. Then, Noodle Tools - I felt I needed something more than Google, but I didn't know what I needed. And, so many other things... what's very important for me is that I found out about them (every week, another new thing to learn), but I don't keep all the information in a folder in my computer or in my mind: I put all into practice. Last week I designed my first technology lesson plan - this week I had a lesson based on it (and I even filmed it: to share everything with you and to have a look at myself - with a critical eye: oh, there are so many things I must improve...)

And, here we are, close to the end of the 5th week. The best thing I learned this week is by far WebQuest. I must admit: I read about WebQuests before, I knew what they mean, but I was never curious to try to make one. This week, I managed to do the first one. And I was pleased with the final result. You can see it here: I thought about environment as main theme, as it is very actual and my students are interested in this topic. I spoke about the advantages of using WebQuest in a post on Nicenet - they involve and engage students, they make use of technolgy, and in this way students understand that teaching is not out-dated and teachers are not "dusty": they can learn what internet means (not only chat, Facebook or Youtube).

I was very glad this week when I discovered I have to speak (actually write) about the project-based learning. I am a project-addicted (if such a thing exists) and I consider this is the best way my students learn, as they learn by doing. There are thousands and thousands of projects, of different types, with different themes... both in the virtual world (where we can have a partner) and in our textbooks (helping our students to create their portfolios). As I speak about projects here... this week, more exactly on 5 / 5, the e-Twininning program had its 5th anniversary. As my students have already created many e-Twinning projects, we celebrated this day: we presented our latest e-Twininng project, "Where did the Romans get?", and we launched blue and yellow balloons. Have a look here:

I have to come back to my 9th graders: what could I do for them to involve technology? What can I change? And the idea coming up was: blog. Maybe beacuse I like blogs so much, I don;t know. But I identified many advantages of using them - they are so good for communication, and in my opinion, no communication, to human race.

Then, I created another lesson dealing with traditional and electronic books which I will use with my 12th graders. Last, but not least, as far as I could I helped my mates, I shared my ideas, I found out new things reading their posts.

Now, I am ready for the 6th week...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Week 5: My lesson based on the technology plan

Last week I found out about the technology based lesson plan, and I agree with Hamid that there is a difference between lesson plan and lesson planning: one is the result, the other is the process.

As the unit in my textbook (Upstream Upper Intermediate) deals with environment, I chose and adapted a lesson plan called "Plant Appreciation Day" from

I designed my lesson for 50 minutes, I prepared everything in detail, I asked one of my school-mates (thank you, Valentin) to get the camera and film my class, then I spent a couple of hours in front of my computer to process the movie and shorten it: only 12 minutes out of 50.

Unfortunately, as our camera is a HD one, the format was too large, I couldn't upload it here (more than 1 GB) and by converting the movie I lost from its quality. However, you can get a general idea about my lesson. If you are patient enough, you will see my students, my teaching methods, my lesson...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Week 4: Conclusions close to the end

Our week number 4 in this course is soon over. I can't imagine a month has gone by and I have learned so many things... The problem is I want to learn more and more and try not to forget. I wouldn't like to say "confirmed" to the saying "The more I learn, the less I know". One of my mottoes in life goes "I give all I know for half I ignore" - and it proves true every single day. For me, this course is a really great chance to improve myself. I am wondering (already) what shall I do when this course is over? I got used to all this hard work, to reading, and writing, and everything... But, till the end it's a long time, so I'd better concentrate on the conclusions of this week.

I have learned many new things - mainly related to resources I can use to make my lessons more interesting for my students, to motivate them more and more. I have designed my first technology lesson plan: it's not only for the task, but tomorrow I will make a lesson based on this. I will share everything with you, be patient and you will see what I mean. :) As they are environmentally aware and most of them love plants, I will have a lesson about Plants Appreciation Day, based on the lesson plan found on the internet.

I thought it's useful to make a comparison between this lesson plan and the ones I have used so far. Like this, things became clear in my mind and I could see the advantages and disadvantages for each of them. Even if I considered one plan the best, and at first I thought the technology lesson plan lacks some important rubrics, I could make a mixture between them and everything was all right.

Then, I expressed my own opinions about reading and writing, I shared my ideas with my mates and then I identified two issues my students in 9 B have. The main idea is that teenagers read less and less and they are not able to understand what they read. This is the case in Romania, I don't know what exactly happens all around the world, but here things are like that, unfortunately. I haven't thought about the solutions yet, but I have an idea about what I can do to solve this. Later, I still have time.

I am very glad I can share all with my mates all around the world, I like reading their posts on their blogs, I like reading their comments on my blog and at the same time, I got used to commenting. This course enabled me to overcome the "express your thoughts" barrier. For a long time (about 5 yeas or more) I have been reading blogs. But I had never expressed my own ideas in a comment. Now I do it, thanks to this course.

And, of course, I have enriched my bookmarks using Delicious. It's a great resource, it's extremely helpful and I am happy now I know it's there...

Last, but not least, I shared all with my mates at school (teachers of different subjects) and my students.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 4: Technology lesson plan?

Well, here we are in the middle of the 4th week of our course. So far, everything is all right. I feel more relaxed, I fell calmer, I have already got used to the course, to your blogs, to your comments on my blog...

Now, I'd like to tell you some words about technology lesson plan. When I first heard about it, I thought it's something related to mechanics, or electricity, or technology in general. What a mistake!

Since I graduated the CELTA course last autumn I have been using their lesson plan template. I thought it's the best as it makes me take into account my students' presumed knowledge, my self-aims, it has a rubric where I can insert my meaning and instruction check questions... shortly, I thought there can't be anything better than it! I was so wrong... The technology lesson plan is far better. Even if at the beginning I was a bit disappointed and I even talked about this in a post on Nicenet, when I actually started designing my own lesson plan using this template, I could find all the rubrics I thought were lost.

There are many things I like about this lesson plan, but two of them are my favorite: the first one is that I have to write clearly where I downloaded my information from - in this way, I am protected, and here I mean the copyright. There are many many teachers who simply copy a page from a book, without mentioning the book, the author, etc. My second favorite thing is that I have to think about a plan B in case things don't work as I planned.

Now, I will use this lesson plan for my future lessons which involve technology. By the way, on Monday I will teach the lesson I described on Nicenet. I will make pictures and share everything with you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Week 3: The end and a new beginning

This week has been a very busy one: I have read almost all the blogs and comments and many of us complain about the hard work and the lack of time. That's true, this course is quite time consuming but it's worth it. And, even if all of us complain about something at a given moment, there are many of us who keep up with the tasks and discussions.

It was a very interesting week - once again I have learned many new and useful things. What I like most is the fact that I have to discover by myself and I am involved in the learning process - I can't imagine myself reading and learning by heart new things in order to speak about them later. The readings are recommended, not compulsory and this allows me time to read them when I can, and freedom to choose what I read and how much I read.

I said I have read your blogs and comments. This is a very useful activity as I find out lots of things - interesting, shocking, similar, different. In this post (the last one of this week) I would like to tell you what I discovered. Quite new, interesting and not so good. We are all teachers, educators, we are involved in the teaching process. We are up to date regarding the latest technology and we use it for us, for our students... but, unfortunately, many of the teachers in this world do their job in the traditional way, not taking into account what technology means, not being able to use it (not even for personal purposes). I was sad to find out that Juliet was shocked that in her country teachers don't have a CD player to use in class. It's sad, but it's true. Then, Ruslana from Ukraine was sincere to confess that only 20% of the teachers she knows use tape-recorders or CDs in their lessons, while 55% have never used one! Or to mention Garunyawun's statement about teaching English in her country: in Thailand teachers of  English don't use English during their classes, being afraid of making mistakes... Once again, sad but true. All of us mention the traditional methods teachers use: I agree that they are old-fashioned, out-of-date (the methods, not the teachers!). In my country I can find all the examples you mentioned, so Romania is not an exception. When I wrote about  my findings concerning my students' ways of spending their free time, you agreed with me and said that your students too use the internet only for socializing and entertainment.

My question is logical now: what MUST we do? I think we are among the best teachers in our country - that's why we were elected to attend this course. We are interested in improving ourselves, in learning, in sharing experience... but that's not enough. I'd like to become an ambassador. And I started being one - in my field, of course. There is not a single thing I learn here not to be shared with my mates at school and not only. Last week I had the chance of meeting teachers from all over the country when attending a course: teachers of different subjects, teachers of different ages, from different schools. I talked to them about Noodle Tools and having my laptop close to me, I let them see why it's different from Google and why it's better to know it is there... This week I told my mates and my students about Delicious. I let them use it and see its advantages.

If we keep the information we have just for ourselves, things will not improve. Let's share everything we know. Let's make our teachers understand that it's better to take advantage of technology, let's try to motivate them. We can do it! We have the necessary knowledge, so we have power. I'd like to talk to you in 5 years' time and I'd like to find out that things have changed: more teachers use this tool called technology. I never want a teacher to be replaced by a computer. The computer is artificial: it has intelligence, but it doesn't have a soul...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Week 3: Hard work, lack of time...

It's night, actually it's after midnight now when I am writing and trying to explain the new things I have learned this week. I can't actually believe that the end of the third week is so close. So many things happened...not only here (I will tell you about them at the end of this post).

At first, more precisely on Monday evening, when I read for the first time the tasks for this week I said: well, it's simpler than before. Actually, I was wrong. Even if I thought I can solve everything in a couple of took me more than 5 days...

One of the best things I have learned about this week is - and I explained the advantages and why I like it so much in my previous post.

Then, I started reading about everything related to the aural/oral skills. The idea became very clear in my mind and while thinking about my post related to this, I had to organize my ideas and everything I know about them, in order to present my virtual classmates the advantages technology brings in our classrooms. I am addicted to technology and to the internet - I can't imagine life without it. I have been using the internet for more than 15 years, and with time I learned I can use it for something different, not only for socializing or entertainment. Now, it's my duty to teach my students this, and make them understand that the internet is the wonder of our lives and we must use it in a fruitful way (as I said in one of the comments on one blog, we should be able to make our teaching pleasant and useful). I got help from the internet thanks to the links Deborah provided. Everything is so easy and nice... I am able now to find to best resources I need and to adapt everything to my students needs. Otherwise, I lose their interest and attention and I am quite useless...

Now, I would like to make a confession: I am a little bit sad and disappointed to see that not all my classmates have comments on their blogs. I have been reading and commenting almost on everybody's blog. I didn't do it be named "creative" or "the most active": not at all. I comment on your blogs because I consider that communication is the most important thing in our lives. I can't live without communicating. I like to express my gratitude, my ideas, my dis/agreement and make sure you know that I read what you write. Otherwise, if I don't write, how should you know I read your posts?

Now, I would like to tell you why this week was so special for me. It's quite a personal thing, but I want to share it with you. Those of you who read what I posted last week know that my school got the distinction of European School for the second time. On Thursday I went to Bucharest (our capital city) and the minister of education offered us the title and the certificate. I dedicated it to all my students as a sign of gratitude for their hard work in international project during the last 3 years. Here I have some pictures:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Week 3: Mmmm, DELICIOUS...

When I first accessed this site,, I was quite surprised. First of all, the name of the site, then the images (all of them related to cooking and eating and I have to agree I am one of the worst cooks ever). I couldn't understand what's the point. I let it go.

But, the 3rd week came, and with it, this task: creating a personal page on And I got the point: it is extremely helpful for me. It helps me save time and it allows me to be more organized. I am not the only person who uses bookmarks (so many sometimes) and who simply loses them. I can give you lots of examples from my personal experience.  When I created my bookmarks, I was very satisfied with them, but something strange happened (because of a virus I have to reinstall the OS or the browser) and I simply lost them. Or: I had them on my computer at home and I needed them at school, and of course I couldn't have them. It meant spending time almost on nothing, because sometimes I wasn't able to find what I was looking for.

So, when this week started (for me on Monday night), I explored very carefully the site. I read the introduction and I created my first bookmarks. Now, I have them with me wherever I go. I find this site extremely helpful. Why? Just to give a short example. As I have already told you, I created (actually arranged and searched) my first page at home. Today, while at school, I needed the exact address of a website for my projects. Instead of going through the e-mail and trying to search what I needed, I simply went to my page ( and had everything there.

I warmly recommend it to everybody. It is simple to use, its interface is friendly, the instructions, examples and explanations are clear and you save time by having everything organized as you like / need it.

That's all for now. I am eager to read your opinions about it. For me, it is simply DELICIOUS.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wekk 2: Instead of conclusion

The end of my second week on the course is drawing near. It was a very hectic week for me: I attended a course on life-skills, I had to keep up with my work on this course, I had to deliver lessons at school, I had to learn, I had to... enough.

First of all I would like to start by the ABCD model when speaking about objectives. If exactly one week ago they were totally new for me, now I know about them, I have even tried to write an objective following this model. And I find them extremely useful. As long as an idea is clear in my mind, I can express it very clearly and make my students understand it.  It's very important for me to know my audience, to know their attitude and behavior, and to know the performance I want them to reach. I will use only the ABCD model now on as I have never found anything more useful.

Then, I would like to tell you that something amazed me at the very beginning of the week, when I had to describe not only one class, but also the setting. I kept asking "What's the point?"... later I realized that the setting is also extremely important for the teaching / learning / assessing process. As long as you don't feel very comfortable in one classroom, it mark your teaching, your behavior and your attitude. I chose a class I am very fond of: 26 students from grade 9 B in my school. I described the setting, I described the students and now I am able to let you see them: 

The last point I want to tell you about is related to the search engines. I have often felt that Google was not enough for me, especially when I wanted to search something more specific. Now, thanks to this course, thanks to Deborah and to my classmates, I know about Noodlle Tools first of all and I am very glad I know more.

I am very impressed by my classmates' work. I read their blogs, I read their posts, sometimes I comment and I am very happy we are virtually together and we share our knowledge, our experience and we are able to learn together.

This is all about my second week. I am eager to start the 3rd one.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Week 2 - New ideas, new things to learn, new knowledge

Here I am, in the middle of the second week in this course. A lot to learn, a lot to discover, to read (and to write), but everything is worth doing it.

I have described one of my classes the way it is now - quite a long description, but I wanted to give my fellows a clear idea about those students, about the classroom and the school in general. I like my school and I am very happy as yesterday I got some great news regarding my school: it is the second time my school received the distinction of "European School". The first distinction of this type was obtained in 2007 and it is available till 2010. Now, this distinction is available till 2013. It got this distinction as in my school we developed and initiated many international school projects (as I am the coordinator of these projects, the distinction means even more to me.)

At present, till the end of the week I am away from home (about 450 km, in the middle of the mountains). I am in a little town, named Sinaia (nicknamed The pearl of the Carpathians - our mountains). Well, don't imagine, please that I am here to relax. No way. I was elected to attend a course (organized  by the Ministry of Education in Romania) about developing life-skills for students. Very interesting, quite new, I mean. I found a very interesting thing I want to share with you (I am sure we can take advantage of it at a certain moment) - it's the ITI (Integrated Thematic Instruction) model, initiated by Susanna Kovalik.

In the meantime, I struggle to keep up with the work on this course. I am reading for more detail about the ABCD model, as it is something brand new for me. At the same time, I have already tested some of the search engines suggested and I am amazed.

That's all for now. I will write again as soon as I have a clear image about what I am working on now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Week 2 - Just the beginning

A new week has just started and my experience with this course goes on. It's a new challenge. Now, as things started to improve, and as I have a clearer idea about what blogging means, I know it will be easier for me. As for the blog, once again I understood that simpler is better. So, I changed the "face" of my blog, I eliminated some gadgets which at first I considered vital!

I have already got used to writing, I have just started to like it. From a simple reader, without posting comments on any blog, I started to express my thoughts on my mates' blogs, I started to like writing. Even if I am that kind of person who considers communication to be vital, I didn't communicate too much. Now, I'd like to think this is past...

So far (I mean yesterday, Monday) I have been reading about the ABCD model. I must admit: at first I had no idea about it, about what it might mean. I thought it's just an initiation, but after reading very carefully, I understood it's more. I felt as if some sort of light entered my tired mind and everything became so clear...

This model is really (but really!) helpful. Once again, I must admit something: I considered the lesson planning a chore and nothing else. They had to be done. I used to imagine all kind of things and make them objectives - well, only for me they could be objectives. Actually they were nothing but ideas about what I imagined students would have to learn.

As I told you, I read in detail about stating objectives, and goals, and students' needs. I haven't finished yet, but once again everything in my mind became so clear...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pray for Poland

I express my feelings of sorrow for all the people who died on the plane crash today (Saturday, 10th April) and my sympathy for the Polish people and my Polish friends and collaborators.

Rest in peace!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Week 1: Things started to get into place

I still remember exactly the thrill I felt when I received the official letter stating that I was accepted to this course. Why did I choose this course and not another one? First of all because I like technology, I like being up-to-date to everything surrounding me. Then, I said: "everything is quite brand new for me in this field, why not?". At the same time, I attended many courses on pedagogy, teaching, etc, and I said to myself that it's time I learned something new, something which can become part of my future teaching style.

Then, I was looking forward to the start of the course (honestly, I was counting the days...) And, it finally happened. After reading the "Orientation" tasks, I felt scared: too much information for me, so many things to do - this was my very first thought. I started reading the tasks very carefully, then I started reading what others said and I managed to solve the tasks. I like the idea about expressing our opinions about the "Ground Rules" and I liked that many of my colleagues participated in a constructive way - I had the opportunity of reading some good comments which inspired me for my future actions.

Another thing I really liked was the idea of writing our favorite quotation related to teaching and technology. I read them carefully and I totally agree with most of them. I want to salute here Ruslana's idea of posting some of them on her blog. It was also very nice to have the map with our homes on it. I was looking at it and still wondering ... I couldn't help thinking about teachers 50 years ago or 100 years ago, who didn't have the slightest chance of doing what we can do now. (I am a bit romantic, you see).

Later, the first day of the course came, bringing with it the first great challenge: creating a blog. It was not something brand new for me, but it was different. Once again, I read everything very carefully (instructions, our teacher's recommendations, other blogs...). Then, I created this first blog on education. I learned that it's better to be informed, to read, to get ideas from other people, then to apply everything. I wanted to be original and creative - I am not sure I managed to be, but I know I will improve in the future. At the same time, I learned to pay attention to details - actually, they make the difference.

The most important thing for me is cooperation and sharing. I would like to know your ideas about what I write, I would like to get feedback - especially constructive one, because this is the way I learn better.

Now I consider the educational blog has lots of advantages: both for me and for all those who read it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Short introduction

I created my first blog, in Romanian, called "Journeys and adventures" about 2 years ago. I was quite proud of it, I really enjoyed writing, but later I gave up (don't ask me why, it just happened). It was easier to read what others wrote instead of writing myself... I really like reading blogs, and I read some of them quite often (most of them are in my native language and on different topics, not education).

Last autumn, more precisely from September to October 2009 I attended the CELTA course at International House - Accademia Britannica, in Rome, Italy. I simply wanted to learn more about teaching. And I did. All my ideas about teaching and learning and assessing changed, or became clearer. I shared part of my knowledge with different Romanian teachers who asked me to create a blog and post there all my experience. But, once again, I did nothing...

Now, it's a challenge for me. I created my first blog on education, I am asked to write regularly... I hope I will be able to do this (no delay, I hope).

Everything seems interesting to me for the time being. I learn new things, I read what you post and I try to improve myself and at the same time I try to share all I know. "Sharing is caring" and "Sharing is one of the best ways to find yourself", as Khang from Vietnam quoted as favorite on Nicenet.

I am sure everything will be fine and we will be able to learn wonderful new things.