Nives' endeavours as an English Teacher

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E-book with Phil Wade

The thought of writing is one thing, then actually getting down to doing it is another thing altogether. Some time ago Phil Wade reached out to the teaching community via the Facebook Teacher groups asking for collaborators. The thought crossed my mind that I would definitely like to learn how to go about writing an E-book and also collaborating with a very experienced writer as is Phil Wade. Hence I applied and was accepted then the drafts began flying back and forth until the final product some weeks later came to fruition.
The experience was such that I now admire Phil Wade even more and acknowledge the hard work that goes into producing even a short five page book not to mention the publishing too. However ‘hard’ it was, the learning path has been exciting and another step in the life long learning career that I have delved upon.
Teaching a wide range of learners from preschoolers to teens to young adults and onto business managers has not been as smooth as it may seem on a curriculum vitae. The onset of technology in the language learning classroom has more often than not, made the work of the EFL Teacher that much more committed. Either with the production of tailored materials for the discerning manager or ‘learning games’ for the teens to elicit engagement, all via digital formats has meant that Teacher time is divided into preparation, correction and facilitating the learning.
The E-book in collaboration with Phil Wade is only one of the topics that is often encountered in the busy life of a business manager. Collating all that experience and knowledge to turn that same innocuous information used in a face to face classroom or virtual environment, with the very committed assistance by Phil to make it look as professional as possible is the outcome of this mini e-book aimed at EFL/ESL Teachers in the Business English environment.
Get a free copy of the E-book here.
2017-08-22 15 30 29

Prepping Clients for … (book series)

Cover design by www.bilsboroughdesigns.com

Thanks to Phil Wade for the immense learning experience in co-writing this E-book, and thanks to Kati Bilsborough for her amazing artwork on the cover of the series. 


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CO 17 Connecting Online Live Conference 3-5 Feb 2017

It’s on again for the eighth time, the Connecting Online Live Conference begins on Friday 3rd February to Sunday 5th February. A back to back from 8am to 4pm EST (Eastern Standard Time zone) with brilliant presenters world wide, logging in from their country to share their expertise in a field of interest.

Here is a video intro of the presenters…

Joining in to watch and participate live in the chat or on the moodle is absolutely FREE so why not join us as we share our experiences, knowledge and thoughts on Connecting Online. Link to the Moodle site. Use your social media to log in, no need to register! There are badges for attending and also Certificates for Reflecting on the Live Webinars.

Having presented with Tom Hodgers in CO15, this year we team up to talk shop… TEAMWORK in Online Collaboration. Teachers participating in online courses, training sessions or conferences via the moodle are sometimes required to work in Teams. Tom Hodgers has been managing the virtual teams for some years now, so with our experience working together as a Team and working with other colleagues online has equipped us with a bundle of information that we are willing to share.

However if you can’t make it to the live sessions, you can watch the recording via the moodle or YouTube playlist. Find out more here in Google Doc.

See you online !


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#MM9 – A reflection

The end of MM9 arrived Sunday December 11, 2016 and for the graduating alumni it was a wonderful ending after a month long [50 hours] professional development using Moodle for Teaching. The whole course designed, created by Dr Nellie Deutsch and managed on Integrating Technology -Moodle for Teachers site was an amazing experience. Not just for me but for all the participants in the Moodle course.

The Moodle has it’s own fascinating story which will not be dealt with here, but visit this page for more. Suffices to mention the acronym for Moodle – “modular object-oriented dynamic learning environment”. Whereupon we notice the all important word ‘learning’ and that is in essence the Moodle for use in today’s society and more importantly in Training and Education – more simply Facilitating Learning. Because that’s  what the moodle platform enhances without any doubt. An environment that facilitates learning be it professional training or simple courses for education, such as are English Grammar courses.

Let me get back to the very important topic at hand … MM9 – in my own experience it was a turning point in that it culminated into the finality of obtaining almost all the badges and final certificates that would be possible in any such course online. Including a special Presenter Certificate and Badge! The main presentation titled “Teaching Online with Moodle” was in conjunction with Thomas Hodgers (a constant colleague in online presentations during any Moodle Mooc with Dr Nellie Deutsch). The almost being for moderator … in my honest opinion and from past experience – being a moderator and teacher in training cannot possibly be carried out to its full potential if you have any normal existence. The hours involved are many and do not preclude time for dilly-dallying if the weekly tasks and activities and responding to ALL the participants need to get done in time. Sometimes those participants reach the thousands!

The whole course unfolded over five intense weeks of online work to complete set activities and tasks within a weekly time frame. Most of the tasks in this MM9 were ‘easier’ as it required making a video of one’s exercise in carrying out the tasks. Easier because it cut down time on preparing slides which then needed to be turned into audio visual presentations, as was the case in previous Moodle courses. The 3rd and 4th week were carried out in collaboration with set teams (set by the system but with the ability to change and join another team) this though proved to be as difficult as it is easy to fathom.

Well firstly because creating a Team may not seem difficult, but getting that team to communicate within a set time frame and complete activities with (in our Group B team) three diverse time zones. Add to that personal and professional work commitments outside the moodle. In fact the Moodle 3.1 site offers many advantages of setting up teams and working separately to other teams, that is each team has the possibility to communicate in a common forum without ‘seeing’ the other groups or teams working within the same moodle and access to the exact same forum. This is an amazing tool for a Teacher that does not need to go far when keeping an eye on all students in groups in one unique forum area. Also the amazing tracking system of the moodle enhances the Teacher’s own control of the students within a moodle for education.

Rounding up the Team experience brought about many conclusions and highlighted some areas which need to be ‘polished’ for teachers to work well and co-ordinate their online collaboration. Areas which can well be adapted to Teachers understanding the needs of their students in their own future moodle courses. We must succumb to the idea that online teaching and learning can only be carried out effectively with Teachers themselves understanding the mechanics of the rudimentary elements of working online and within a group. It will only ensure that when a teacher has had to go through the same motions that the student will eventually have to process then it can only benefit both Teacher and Students. After all most Teachers that have been teaching for at least 10 years have not had any experience with fast forward moving (& mobile) technology or LMS [Learning Management Systems] in their own learning. Most likely their learning involved very little use of technology at best a computer (for preparing essays, reports, etc.) overhead projector in lecture theatres, computer assisted library research and perhaps some online digital experience. This is only a generalization and it is sure that some were much luckier and had access to more modern technology for the year 2000. Also the use of emails and search engines did already exist, but how many of those at University in the late 1990’s actually relied upon the internet….? Not many I’ll bet.

The outline of the Moodle Mooc 9 course:
Overview of the Syllabus; Live Online classes (weekly webinars plus opening and closing webinars)
Week 1 – Introduction (learning about each other) & Video Tutorials
Week 2 – Course Design with Resources and Activities
Week 3 – Blocks available to a Moodle Course Manager
Week 4 & 5 – Collaborative Course Design
Bonus tasks – Manager of a Moodle 3.1 site (activities over and above the usual completion for certificate – resulting in a Bonus certificate for those that were able to complete the extra activities).
Badges for every week and final Certificate for Teacher & Manager of a Moodle Course.
All the work carried out in the tasks and set activities was exported into files within an Exabis folder which every participant has the possibility of exporting onto their own computer or external drive.
The final week saw the presentation of each Group Team Showcasing their work in an online live event.

This amazing experience has fulfilled my own desire to complete and attain a more in depth understanding of using the Moodle for online Teaching. It is the next step in my curriculum to prepare a self paced language learning course within a Moodle site.

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Final Presentation slides on SlideShare

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AutoCrat on Google Sheets

Creating a Certificate using AutoCrat add-on in Google Sheets

How to use Autocrat in Google Sheets using Google Forms

The use of AutoCrat to create automated mail-merge templates (eg. a certificate) within Google Drive is a great tool for Teachers.

Mail Merge templates can be used for:

  • Creating individual Certificates and having them emailed out to participants
  • Updating participants for a roster / schedule or agenda
  • Sending out test results
  • Sending out promotional letters / emails to many people

The important thing is that the Source Data Fields are created and matched when creating the Autocrat job.

To make all of this work you will need the “Source Data” which can come from a simple table in Google Sheets, or it can also be obtained using Google Forms where participants respond to a survey and the data is sent to the Google sheet automatically.

This will become your ‘source data’ and will be used to create your merged documents. Remember you can create more than one template for the same data.

The creation of a recent job allowed the collation of screen shots and the consequent creation of a Google Slides presentation which will be the basis for making a video Tutorial as well. The Google Slides will be shared publicly on SlideShare and the Video Tutorial will be added to the YouTube video tutorials playlist in my channel.

The whole procedure of taking screenshots in a step-by-step procedure in AutoCrat was also made possible with the online collaboration of my brother Marco Torresi. Working from Australia online connecting to me in Italy. That is one of the amazing things about Google Drive – the possibility to share the editing of the same documents simultaneously.

Sometimes even the use of a Screen share program assists in shortening the distance and making online collaboration even more fulfilling professionally. In our case we frequently use Skype. Obviously at the basis of all online live collaboration is the availability of a good or excellent internet connection – without which we would be delving into the dark ages!

Let’s take a look at the slides…please note that following the slides are the notes for the slides in relation to the procedure for using and setting up a new job in AutoCrat. 

Notes for the Slides to understand the process:

Slide 5
In this example I will be using AUTOCRAT to create a THANK YOU Note that will be automatically sent to the respondents of a specific Google form created, in this case, for an Online Live Webinar. Please note that Step 1 and 2 are interchangeable!
Slide 6
NB* Remember to add the AUTOCRAT app to Google sheets before starting!
Slide 7
Firstly I am going to create a Google document with the source data merge fields – here I have chosen Your Name and Timestamp.
Slide 8
Obviously the information for my source data merge will be gleaned from the information requested in the Google form.
In my form I am requesting an email for auto sending BUT in some cases you may want to collate and print the Certificate to hand out by hand, for example at the end of a conference.
Slide 9
The reason I am using a Google form is that the Google Form automatically creates a Google Sheets Document which is the basis I need for AutoCrat to work.
Slide 10
Once you have installed AutoCrat from the GET ADD-ONS tab then it will show up in your Add-ons tab. Select AUTOCRAT then click on OPEN.
Slide 11
At this point there are NO merge jobs so I will create a NEW JOB
Slide 12
Next give the Merge Job a name then click on next…
Slide 13
At this point the TEMPLATE will be the GOOGLE Document created at the beginning of this slide presentation.
Slide 14
Autocrat will ask me to select the file from my Google drive once selected it will show up in the step 2 of Autocrat.
Slide 15
At this point I will need to assign the Source data (from Google Sheets) into the document template.
Slide 16
At any time you can open the sidebar on the AutoCrat window and see the ‘source data fields’ available in your Google Sheets created from Google Form.
Slide 17
At this point AUTOCRAT needs to know how you want to save the document, that is the FILENAME you want to assign to each individual file…
1: I have selected the name of the Survey + Name of the respondent + Email of the respondent … You can choose what ever filename you want to match your Source Data criteria.
2: Then select the TYPE of document you want to ‘print’ in other words send out to the respondents (in my case it will occur automatically – but this is not necessary). You can choose Google doc or PDF … I selected pdf.
3: Multiple documents – means that each source data merge will actually produce one document for each respondent. I chose MULTIPLE as I want to automatically send each respondent their own individual document.
However if you want to collate all the documents in one SINGLE document – then you will get one document with X amount of pages (as many as respondents or recipients as are in the source data). This could be handy when you do not have the respondent’s email such as for students in your classroom.
Slide 18
Select the folder you want to save all the documents from YOUR OWN GOOGLE DRIVE folders or create new folder in Google Drive.
Slide 19
I will skip this step in AUTOCRAT – as it is not needed for the current exercise.
Slide 20
I will skip this step in AUTOCRAT – as it is not needed for the current exercise.
Slide 21
In this step 8 of AUTOCRAT you will need to tell the system what to do with the docs and whether to send the emails…I have chosen YES for my example.
Slide 22
Continuing in Step 8 of Autocrat, further down you can customize the email message (arrow 6) and send BCC or CC to the main collaborators (arrow 5) – in this case myself and Tom. Remember to add the source data field <> (arrow 4) where the respondent’s email will appear.
Slide 23
AUTOCRAT message is telling me to create TRIGGERS – that is to let Autocrat know when to carry out the job.
Slide 24
In this case the trigger is the Google form – after making the selection click on SAVE.
Slide 25
The job is now being saved.
Slide 26
AutoCrat has saved the job and now we can look at the icons that have appeared next to my job description and what they mean…
Slide 27
Each icon tells you what it represents when you hover over it with your mouse…The RED TAG is letting me know that I have an ‘unmapped tag’ in the job. One of my source data fields has not been assigned…clicking on the RED Tag will take me to the missing source data and ask me to assign the merge field. Once that is done – the AUTOCRAT job is complete and I can run the job.
Slide 28
… Now all we need is for the form to do it’s job!
Note the green arrows – The Help Guide is a great tool and the Manage Triggers link will allow you to change the triggers whenever you want.
Slide 29
Send out the form link and wait for the Respondents to reply…
Slide 30
Once the respondents have completed the survey on the Google Form – the trigger previously set will ensure that as soon as the respondent closes the Google form after filling in the required MERGE FIELDS then the Document will be EMAILED immediately.
At the same time GOOGLE DRIVE will collate a copy of all the emailed documents in the previously selected folder.
That’s it all the hard work is done automatically using AUTOCRAT in Google Sheets.

Please remember that if you find my instructions a little too confusing then do make reference to the AUTOCRAT pdf available within the Add-on or please leave a comment below and I will endeavour to assist. 

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“Learn with Technology” – Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Shelly Sannchez Terrell is an amazing person and her website is filled with lots and lots of ways to assist Teachers worldwide in understanding the use of Technology.

Visit Shelly’s website here.

Following is a great infographic on the many ways to learn using Technology in the classroom. Link to infographic here.


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IATEFL Online 2016 Blogger


Very excited to be among the group of Registered Bloggers for Birmingham Online IATEFL 2016. What a grand opportunity to enjoy watching the conference online and be able to share what’s happening with my readers and colleagues.

Those of you interested in following the online events then visit the link for updates on the Live Schedule and check out the Online Presenters too!

IATEFL Birmingham 2016 is going to be a great occasion for educators worldwide to meet and discuss. The Online Live event will provide a great opportunity for those of who are not able to travel or participate at the conference in person in Birmingham.

The IATEFL Birmingham 2016 Online Live will provide viewing of the morning plenary and live coverage throughout the day with live interviews from the online live studio. The morning starts at BST 9am,  check the time in your time zone area.

Also if you miss out watching the online event, most videos will be available to watch later! Therefore there is no excuse not to join in and be part of the online live community for IATEFL Birmingham 2016.


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The TEFL2YL EVO 2016 was an eventful 5 weeks of Moderating and also Participating, my dual role ensured my overall dedication to the participants of the Moodle course in the support forums. Being able to see the picture from both perspectives is an integral part of understanding the flow of the course material and didactic aims. It has been an informative learning process which will undoubtedly assist in future moderating experiences, or even course structuring within the moodle platform.

The role as moderator involved answering calls for assistance in the set tasks via the Support forums set up for each path each week. Customarily the participants could only access the following week once the current week had come to pass. But nonetheless were able to constantly return to the previous weeks to verify their work tasks completion status. The importance of viewing the completion status was tied directly to attaining the Badge for the week, but sometimes became elusive to the all in the fret and flurry to get to the next task which almost always assured that some tasks were left half finished.

Following is an overview of the Syllabus for the five weeks :

TEFL2YL Syllabus.png

The completion of the whole 5 weeks course provided participants with a Certificate of Completion. Inasmuch as the certificate itself may not equate to credits for work or university it is a worthy testament of dedication to bettering one’s understanding of online learning and communication. Personally the satisfaction of knowing that a course has been completed in all its facets brings its own rewarding pleasure.

The Badges designed specifically for this course by Dr Nellie Deutsch were a tribute to the Young Learners whom are the focal point of the course – Teachers teaching English as a Foreign Language to Young Learners (TEFL2YL).

TEFL2YL all 5 badges

The participants were also required to create a final reflection in the form of a SlideSpeech or PresentMe presentation. All of the participants provided amazing presentations and insight into their own personal learning experience. Following are my own final week 5 presentations.

TEFL2YL Cert full

Every year the EVO sessions promise 5 weeks of movement and participation in so many varied events for Teachers worldwide. One of the added bonuses is making a host of new acquaintances some of which turn out to be long time friends. The other of course is catching up with friends from past sessions, albeit virtually online.

My time difference, being in Melbourne Australia, this year did mean there would have been a time lag in responding but the understanding and patience of the participants lent a hand in keeping my head together in the ministration of the moodle breadcrumbs.

The EVO wrap up session was also a great opportunity to discuss our own personal learning journey as a Moderator and listen to other Moderators talk about their sessions. All sessions are always successful not only because they are EVO sessions but mainly due to the dedication by all the organizers, mentors, moderators and participants forming an online lively bustling community for five weeks. The end marks the exhilaration from watching back on the work and tasks completed.

EVO 16 Certificate

Google+  EVO Wrap up event and my comments

EVO event