quarta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2012

It's HALLOWEEN...here, in Brazil!

Photo by Doug R. Funny
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.
by Jack Prelutsky

     Halloween has roots in ancient Celtic festival which is known as Samhain. The Samhain is a festival which is celebrated at the end of harvest season in the Gaelic culture. The name Halloween is originated from the Old English 'hallowed' which means holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Hallowe'en. It derives from All Hallows' Eve which falls on 31st October each year, and it is the day before All Hallows Day, also known as All Saints' Day.  In 1846, due to the Ireland's Great Famine, many Irish immigrants went to North America to settle down and took the Halloween traditions with them to the New World. Nowadays, many people adorn their yards and homes to participate in this autumn celebration, which comprises wearing costumes, bonfires, visiting ghostly attractions, trick-or-treating, figuring jack-o'-lanterns, looking horror movies, costume parties, and reading frightening stories. It's one of the most popular and celebrated festival in America. In fact, it has become popular in almost all the world, including Brazil! The first time I heard about Halloween was in the early 80's, reading a text in the book of my English course in a specific language school. It was hard to imagine a group of kids going from house to house, dressing up as supernatural creatures and asking for candies.
Photo by Doug R. Funny
Photo by Verginia Veloso
But today, probably because of the globalization and the speed that information reaches via Internet, it's easy to picture this scenario. Little by little the festival has become popular down here too and even my husband had already participated (and won) a Halloween costume contest, wearing a very ugly mask! Of course we can't compare it to the America way of celebrating Halloween, but the way that things are going on here, we will be like them earlier than we can imagine! Some years ago, it was very difficult to find objects or things related to Halloween to buy here. But it has changed and you can find Halloween stuff around here. The first picture above (with the pumpkin and ghost toys) was taken in a supermarket in our city two weeks ago. Children go to school wearing costumes and although it's very uncommon, I already received the visit of some neighbourhood children asking for candies! It's another festival that traditionally is not ours but we have imported it. But it doesn't matter now! Besides the opposition of some people because the association they usually do between the festival and religion, more and more activities have been spreading around several places here, from regular schools to restaurants, coffee shops and dance clubs. As a teacher, I like to explain all that to my students and make it clear the difference of celebrating a festival that has a traditional bond with our history and the one that doesn't, I confess that I have been celebrating Halloween for many years, since I was an English student.
I enjoy making some "spooky" food, like my famous spider-sandwich, which has already been awarded in a Halloween contest food. It's made with the big black olives. I also decorate the house to get into the mood and a jack-o-lantern is usually placed in the garden. But there are three things I really like doing and I consider them the most important ones to enjoy the party: buying chocolate candies, reading books about witches and watching Tim Burton's cartoons: The Nightmare Before Christmas (O Estranho Mundo de Jack) and Corpse Bridge (A Noiva Cadáver) or the movie Practical Magic (Da Magia à Sedução). The cartoons and the movie are so nice that it doesn't matter how many times you have seen them, they are always funny and pleasing!

Post Question: Do you celebrate Halloween? How do you do it? What's your favorite candy? What is your favorite costume? What movie and book would you recommend to be seen and read on Halloween?

Tip: "Yo no creo en brujas, pero que las hay, las hay!" (Eu não acredito em bruxas, mas que elas existe, existem!) It's true...at least it was true in a city of Massachusetts, known as SALEM. Women (and men) were hanged accused of witchcraft. If you go to Salem, visit the Witch Museum. You can start your virtual tour here. 

sexta-feira, 26 de outubro de 2012

Malala - a girl who wants to study...what about you?

          Sometimes people complain about a lot of things...the weather, the traffic, the office, friends, food, etc. The problem is that some people are so used to complain about everything and everyone that they can't realize the good things or the nice people that are also presented in their lives. In fact, they start suffering from the syndrome of "not being grateful for anything".
Students aren't different - complaints about the homework are expressed during the classes, the coffee break and, of course, on the social networks. And there is no problem at all about complaining, but we must know how to complain and we must do it to the right person. It's a pity that some students of our school decided to write his/her negative opinion about it on the social network. 

          The school has always done all it can to offer the best to its students - it has excellent teachers, technology is part of the daily routine, there are tutors to whom students can talk about anything (including the school), it offers several sports and cultural activities and many other benefits. It's really curious that, for some people, write about the bad things is much easier than write about the good ones. And unfortunately what they don't understand is that the social network is exactly that - SOCIAL...so, we must take care about what we write. It's even a matter of education! But we'll talk about it later! And while some complain because they have to do their part, (or simply their homework) on the other side of the Atlantic, a girl is shot on her way to school because she wanted to study. It's unthinkable and, as we have the right of going to school, sometimes it's unbelievable that there's a person in the world that cannot have the same right! Unfortunately, it's true.
Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistan girl who has campaigned for girls' education, was hit in the head by a gunman from Taliban. She used to write a diary for BBC Urdu to let the world know what was going on in her place. She wrote: "At that time some of us would go to school in plain clothes, not in school uniform, just to pretend we are not students, and we hid our books under our shawls.”
Malala Yousafzai couldn't study, she couldn't even wear her uniform to go to school. And some students complain because they must wear their uniform. Some of them got angry when Delcíria or Janete ask them about the uniform. But it's exactly because there still are people like Malala that we (teachers and conscious students) have to keep on doing our job - teach and study! It's a way to show that her efforts are not in vain. What a pity we can't exchange these students who enjoy complaining about their school for Malala. I guess they would appreciate being there, at least they wouldn't have any homework to complain about... 
           Watch the video below to know a little bit more about her story:

Post Question:
1ºE - Write just one word that could express something you would like to wish to Malala. She used to write about her experiences in a blog. What about you, do you write about your routine too - in a diary, blog or something like that? Of course we know that there are many points we should improve in our school and there are also good points to be thankful. Write, in a simple sentence, to our principal Janice, something you would like to complain or thank about our school.

2ºE - Write a message to Malala using the modal verb that express wishes.

Tip: You can read here some posts that Malala wrote to her blog on BBC online describing how the girl's education ban affected her and her friends.

Extra Tip: Do you want to complain in the right way? Check this example.

And if you want to help her, click here.

segunda-feira, 22 de outubro de 2012

BookCrossing...Have you ever thought about forgetting a book?

      "BookCrossing" - do you know it? What do you think about the idea of a book of yours being "crossing" the world and, although it's not yours properly, you can check where it has been? It's exactly what you can do when you become a member of this movement which besides being funny and interesting, it's also a great way to stimulate generosity and reading anywhere, anytime!
       The BookCrossing.com was created by the Ron Hornbakerin March 2001. He's an American who lives in Missouri.  He already knew the popularity of WheresGeorge.com (it is a website which tracks dollars in circulation in the U.S. by serial number) and it he thought: which another physical object people would like to track? A few minutes later, while he was looking at his own bookshelf, he had the idea of tracking books. Ron Hornbakerin realized that nothing like BookCrossing had been done before (on a significant scale). Then he chose the name and checked it on Google - there were no entries for "Bookcrossing", so he registered the domain. His wife Kaori sketched the logo of the book running on a plate transit. And from that moment on this idea has been spreading everywhere, transforming the whole world in a big library. It has become so popular that "BookCrossing" was added to the Concise Oxford English Language Dictionary as a new word. It has been presented in 132 countries, with over 9.3 million books and 1.3 million registered members so far.
Would you like to join in this group? It's very easy!  All that you have to do is following some simple steps. First of all, buy a book that you have enjoyed reading. Go to the BookCrossing site, register the book to get its ID, print the label to put it in your book (it will help people who are going to get this book to understand about Book Crossing), and release it in a public place. After that, using the released book ID, you can track it wherever it has been. 
Read, register, release and follow - it's all it takes to be part of one of the best ideas ever!

Post Question: Have you ever heard about "BookCrossing"? Have you ever participated on it? Which book (one you have already read) would you like to release on the BookCrossing movement? How many books have you read during this year? Would you recommend one of them? Why?

Tip: BookCrossing Blogueiro - Let's get involved? It will be in November,  from 8th to 16th. To know how to do it, check this site and follow the instructions! 

terça-feira, 16 de outubro de 2012

Nobel Prize

       The last 2012 Nobel Prize was announced yesterday. But what is the Nobel Prize and who created it? It's a very prestigious award and was designed by Alfred Nobel. He was born on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. He became a famous scientist, inventor, businessman, entrepreneur, pacifist and founder of the Nobel Prizes. He died on December 10th, 1896.  In 1895 Nobel wrote his last will, dedicating much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize. Five years after his death, the first Nobel Prize Award Ceremony was held at the Musical Academy in Stockholm and since then, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men, women and  institutions (or organizations) from the four corners of the planet for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The ones who receive the Nobel Prize are denominated Nobel Laureates. The word "Laureate" is related to the laurel wreath. In Ancient Greece, it was a sign of great honor to be awarded with the laurel wreath. 
Each year, at the beginning of October, the Nobel Laureates are announced and about two months later, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, they receive their prizes from the Swedish King.  The prize is made up of a Nobel diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish crowns per prize. All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. All the prizes are highly valued, but the Peace Prize is one of the most awaited.
According to the official web site of the Nobel Academy, the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union (EU) "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe". The European Union was created after the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea was that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. So, in 1958, the European Economic Community (EEC) was created and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It began as an economic union, but since then, it became an organization which includes other areas, such as development aid and environment. In 1993 its name was changed from the EEC to the European Union (the EU). After all these years, the European Union is a unique economic and political partnership between 27 European countries that together cover much of the continent and its importance is evident and relevant, no doubt at all.

Post Question: Do you think the European Union deserved the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize? Why? If you could designate someone (famous or not) to be awarded with one of the Nobel prizes, who would you like to indicate? Why? If you could create another area to the Nobel Prizes, which one would you like to include?

Tip: To learn a little bit more about the 27 EU member countries, check this map.

quinta-feira, 11 de outubro de 2012

Teachers in 1952 and in 2012... are they really different from each other?

     Here is a short film from 1952 about being a teacher. Before you continue to read, I'd like to ask you to watch it first. Besides being very funny (Goofy is the best), it's only about 6 minutes...6 minutes of great reflections!

     After watching the movie, there is a question that crosses our mind, it's inevitable: What is the difference of the teachers in 1952 and the teachers today? Why this cartoon was made? Despite being funny, can we interpret the video as a critique to what was happening at the time? But what was happening in the 50's?
     Children were going to school, drivers respected the children crossing the street, the students were full of energy, the teacher prepared himself to enter in his classroom (with an armature), everybody saluted the teacher singing "Good morning to you , good morning to you, good dear teacher, good morning to you!", the teacher confiscated objects which shouldn't be used in the classroom (it includes a gun), he made the call in the classroom, after that he asked for the homework (children gave him apples), he disciplined a student (George, the terrible), while the teacher was explaining the Geography lesson, in context (he was using the paper of the day), his students were doing everything thinkable, anything but paying attention to the teacher. Students went to the break-time (the patio got completely dirty) and returned from it very reluctant. The class restarted and as the student couldn't answer a very simple spelling question (how to spell the word CAT), he cheated from his classmate and even cheating he couldn't give the right answer because, as the students who don't study ever, he wass not competent even to cheat correctly! The students were avid to go away but the teacher stayed after the period, to organize the classroom before he left. At the end of the day, a father went to school to question the teacher's position, but this father didn't even listen to the teacher arguments because in his opinion the teacher was definitely wrong. So, why, on earth, would he waste his time with a chat? And after all that, the teacher was correcting the student's tests.
     Of course lots of things have changed, such as the school structure and the technology influence, but we can observe that there are also lots of things that still remain the same. If we don't consider the good-morning-teacher song, could we really say that the 50's teachers are different from us? We are always confiscating cell phones in the classroom, we strive to prepare a classes and lessons with a contextualized approach, when it's possible, we give our best to educate (or discipline) the students and many of us work a lot of hours after our class, in the school events. Related to parents, I think I don't need to write a word. It is obvious that we have great teacher who receive very good salary, work in a supportive school and have an amazing relationship with his/her students. But unfortunately we know that we can't generalize, the great majority faces a very different situation. If being a teacher has become such a hard job, how come we still have people insisting in doing it? That's one of the great mysteries of the universe. Inner calling, (vocation), love, promise, lack of choice and others. Each one has his/her own reason, but there is no doubt... children from the 50's are very different from our kids nowadays and if we do want to keep the learning process effective, things must be changed, urgently! But the changes must be done for better, always!  As Nelson Mandela said once: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." So, taking into consideration the conflicts around the globe and how people are growing apart lately, education is more than necessary...it has become a very valuable commodity.

Post Question: Are you satisfied with your classes in our school? If you could change something about it, what would you like to change? After watching the video and reading the post, write about the similar and the different points between your classroom nowadays and Goofy's classroom.
Tip: How are you going to celebrate Teacher's Day this year? Would you like to have some tips? Take a look at these suggestions - the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th are just great! Get inspired!