Category Archives: The Visual Corner

The End of A Teacher’s 365-Day-Journey-in-Place

Locking the 365 Project (Naomi's Photos)
Locking the 365 Project
(Naomi’s Photos)

Today is day number 365.

Day number 365 of taking a picture every single day.

Full disclosure: there were four days of the 365 in which my “pic-of-the-day” was not taken that same day. Two days were Memorial Days (Holocaust and Veterans) and I saved suitable pics that could be posted on such days. The other two were days that I had had such good photo days the day before that I succumbed to temptation and used one of them.

When you must take a photo every single day you learn to look. Take a good look. Especially when your project is about travelling-in-place. My challenge was to find something interesting in the places I have spent most of my time in for the last TWENTY SEVEN years, the high-school where I teach and the streets of my hometown, Kiryat-Ono.

I park by the school in the morning - and there's a Cattle Egret! (Naomi's  Photos)
I park by the school in the morning – and there’s a Cattle Egret! (Naomi’s Photos)

It turns out you don’t have to travel to see something new. I never imagined when I began that I would find so much to look at! I had no idea whether I could find something interesting every day for an entire year, and now, 365 days later, I have every intention of continuing to take pictures, right here, where I live and work.  There are colors and lines, interesting plants and unusual shadows, funny reflections, and an ongoing battle for coexistance between nature and the human inhabitants. Oh! And some very odd things left by people on the sidewalk…

Did the romantic picnic end in a break-up? (Naomi's photos)
Did the romantic picnic end in a break-up? (Naomi’s photos)

But it will be O.K if the pictures posted were not taken on the day they were posted. The project in that sense has ended.

My school pictures will continue to be posted here, on this blog, under the category “Visualising School – A Photo Pause”.

My pictures of my hometown will continue to be posted on my page – Pounding the Pavement in Kiryat-Ono

Many thanks to the 365 Project site and community, which taught me that you don’t have to travel in order to embark on a journey!

Visualising School – Photo Pause

A teacher gets “new eyes” with camera in hand!

Everything pointed to the school gate this morning!
Good morning! This is the way to the front gate – go girl!


Artistic student color coordinates the litter?! Spotted In the front yard
Artistic student color coordinates the litter?!
Spotted In the front yard


Mynah's delight - student's discarded sandwich (front yard)
Mynah’s delight – student’s discarded sandwich
(front yard)


Note: This is an educator’s blog, so only school related pictured are posted here. To see what this teacher comes up with when pounding the pavement of her hometown, see here:

Pounding The Pavement in Kiryat-Ono

More in the next post!

Locating Lessons using Videos on this Blog

Naomi's photos
Naomi’s photos

Just a short post to say that I have finally made it easier to locate posts that describe lessons using videos. All these posts include downloadable worksheets, often several worksheets (different levels).

All you need to do is:

1. Look for the title “Categories” on the first sidebar on the right side of the blog’s homepage.

2. Click on “Video Lessons”.  All the posts describing the use of the videos and downloadable worksheets can be found there, one after the other.

“Reading Videos” Sails with iTDi Summer School MOOC’s Kites

Flying High with iTDi
Flying High with iTDi

As you can see, the amazing iTDi Summer School MOOC, with its impressive variety of FREE sessions offering online professional development to teachers around the world, has chosen kites as it’s symbol.

Kites, to me,  symbolize the wide expanses of possibility, hope and energy, along with variety. Kites come in every shape, size and color. So do teachers. And their students.

iTDi recognizes that.

Naomi's photos
Naomi’s photos

My kite has been chosen to be included in the Summer School Mooc. My session on “Using Videos to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills” will be given this Friday, August 1, at three o’clock in the afternoon local time, which is one o’clock GMT. In the talk I’ll be discussing (with many examples) how videos without dialogue can help learners of all ages improve their reading comprehension skills and expand their vocabulary.

For more information, see here:


Winding Up the School Year with New Eyes

My favorite color! (Naomi's photos)
My favorite color!
(Naomi’s photos)

It’s the end of June again, which means that another school year has ended and it’s my birthday again.

While last year’s early 50th hoopla was in April (attending and presenting at the IATEFL conference in Liverpool), this year I began giving myself a small, quiet, daily present at the end of February. And it will last an entire year!

I joined a “take a picture a day” project, otherwise known as The 365 Project. People do it for all kinds of reasons but my goal is very specific:

To notice something small, every day, in my regular surroundings.

I’ve been living in the same town and teaching at the same school since 1988. It’s easy to find interesting things when one travels to other places. I needed to see what’s new right under my nose.

It works! This project has already had an unbelievable effect on me. There IS something new under the sun every day, and one doesn’t need to travel to find it. Lots of new things in fact!

It’s a great gift to give to myself. It’s free too. A side effect seems to be that my photography skills are getting better. The first pictures were taken on an Ipod. Now I’m almost always with a camera in my bag!

Here are some things I hadn’t noticed at the Yehud High-School, where I teach.

Here is the link to my daily project:

Helping Learners Visualize Progress – A Comment

Lizzie Pinard’s latest post: Helping Language Learners Visualise their Linguistic Development: Growing Learning deals with a subject close to my heart. How can learners see, VISUALISE, their progress? Students entire attitude changes when they realize that what we are doing together, what they are doing on their own, makes a difference.

Seeing Progress (Naomi's photos)
Seeing Progress
(Naomi’s photos)

Still, it’s a tricky business. Some of my attempts have worked. Others have not. Here are some comments on the issues raised in the post based on my experiences so far.

Is the design of a flower handout too “sissy”?

The “rule of some” is worth remembering.  Some students will find it appealing others will not. It is always so. On the other hand, I would never advocate having the teacher spend time on creating lots of different versions.

I would recommend two versions (and only two!). One, the attractive flower. The other, a simple chart of columns. I have found that simple charts, where students see the numbers of bars rise, to be very effective. The fact that it’s plain and straightforward makes it seem ageless (particularly important for teenagers and adults who are at a low-level). Let the students choose which one they prefer!

What about the self disciplined learners who don’t  need it?

Odd one out (Naomi's Photos)
Odd one out
(Naomi’s Photos)

In order to get the class excited and used to the visual recording system I would insist that for the firs two weeks (depending on the frequency of lessons) everyone do it. I would ask to see their flowers /charts and make an issue of it. But afterwards the responsiblity must shift to the students. The ones who feel that the marking is just extra work on top of all the work they are doing should be given the option to opt out.

How about an app?

I agree that at an app would be excellent for this. Easier to color in, visually appealing AND students NEVER forget their cell phones. They will always have their charts with them!



Attempting to Visualise Students’ Errors

It’s that time of year again.

At the high school these are days of final preparations for the big internal exams that precede the national ones.

Students may differ, there are new students every year, but some mistakes that my weak students make on their reading comprehension tests have earned the term classic – seems like I encounter them on a regular basis.

So I’m experimenting with visualising.  I created a short slideshow to present one such common error. It took me a long time to simplify the text (it is not productive to throw a lot of text at weak learners, if they could deal with that they wouldn’t be weak!) and to choose the format in which to present it. I have found that students must have something active to do (as opposed to “read the Powerpoint) so the last slide has the students fill in the final answer with immediate feedback.

With all my simplifying efforts, it is still not something my weak kids would deal with on their own. However, with the students I’ve tried it with so far the presentation led to a good discussion. They all claimed that they know students who do that but THEY would never answer a question like that.  I feverently hope that it is the case!

There is only one common mistake presented in this one. I think it is more practical to have lots of short slideshows than a long one presenting many different pitfalls.

And frankly, in this manner  these slideshows don’t become a massive project, requiring identification of all the mistakes I want to address before producing a complete project.  If I’m pleased with the results, I can gradually build up the slideshow library.

I had my students in mind when I created this first one. I’d be interested to hear if you find it useful as well.


“Seven on Eleven” – A Blog Game

I was tagged by Carol Goodey to participate in a new blog challenge that is everywhere on blogosphere at the moment (including non EFL teachers whom I know). At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to particpate – it most certainly isn’t vacation time here! How would I:

1) Write 11 random facts about myself

2) Answer 11 questions about myself

3) INVENT 11 new questions

4) Tag 11 other blogggers, most of whom have been tagged already (if not several times).

It just sounded too overwhelming to me.

But then I remembered that my blog “loves” me, and will accept whatever I CAN do.

So here’s what crosses my mind when the number 11 is mentioned:

Seven on Eleven
Seven on Eleven


1. When I was ELEVEN years old we moved from a small suburb of Boston, Mass. to a distant suburb of Tel-Aviv. Big change in my life.

2. When I was TWENTY TWO years old I began working at “Shema”, the organization that supports deaf and hard of hearing students. I hadn’t even graduated from college back then. This is the framework for my current counseling job and things have changed dramatically. My hours and work mode will now have to change accordingly. BTW, this is the source of my screen name on Twitter.

3. My late grandmother (who passed away when I was 26) had a phrase that she used often: “I got there on the NUMBER ELEVEN bus”. Which meant that she walked to the location, on foot! Each leg represented a “one”, two “ones” beside each other are the number eleven!

4. When I was THIRTY THREE I completed my Masters Degree in Curriculum Development. Our second child was supposed to have been born at the end of the last semester of the second year (afterwards it was thesis writing time) but there was  a HUGE academic-teaching-staff strike and all classes were delayed. I ended up giving birth right after the beginning of the delayed semester. Twas difficult…

5. With two children we moved to our current apartment. We have ELEVEN  pictures hanging on our living room/dining room walls (it is one open space). Two jigsaw puzzles, three enlarged photographs, five Impressionistic reproductions (Monet and Van Gogh rule) and one family tree (also a reproduction). It is of my husband’s side of the family, the Epsteins, and it supposedly traces the family roots back to Spain before 1492. Back then the family name was Ben-Benishti! * Note: I admit I hadn’t counted the pictures till this week!

6. When I was FORTY FOUR I began a period of proffesional soul-searching. I had been teaching for 22 years and for a while I played around with the idea of beginning a second career. My mother began nursing school when she was 39, a fact I find very inspiring. It took me time but I realized that what I needed was to look for change WITHIN my profession, not outside it. This realization and acknowlegment of a need, eventually led me to blogging and the world of online professional development.

7. When I was a kid living in the States there were only Five & Dime stores. My first visit back was when I was 17. I was surprised to discover they had all become Seven-ELEVEN stores!

So, thank you Carol Goodey!

A Blog Birthday and a Bear Tale

My blog is three years old!

puffin collection
My puffin collection is growing!

Thankfully, blogs (and puffins) mature more quickly than human children do.  Despite not being able to lavish as much attention on it as I would like, the blog seems to be thriving. This is post number 377 and I have 1019 followers on Twitter (Google analtyics confound me so I don’t dare to quote numbers, but the “cluster map” of visitors looks great)! Never would have predicted that! I feel that the blog has become an important part of me. I imagine what I would post even when I don’t have time to actually do so.

This past week I had an excellent reminder of why I can’t possibly do without my blog.

Part One: On Monday I finally had the opportunity to watch James Taylor’s “Making the Most of Reading” talk at RSCON4 which I had missed at the conferece.  I found many useful ideas there but one specific strategy caught my attention in particular. It was not new to me, but James had visualised it for me. James presented a picture of a man with the surprising caption ” I punched a bear”. He then proceeded to demonstrate how students first form their own questions and then answer them when they later get the text (about a man defending his family from a bear). I had only done this  using titles of texts, not a line from the text itself (especially with a picture!), and believe it is more effective.

Part Two: On Wednesday I had a full morning of counseling work and met with several teachers. We had a long talk about reading comprehension strategies as that is a crucial topic when teaching English as a foreign language to deaf students. I brought up the idea of using a prompt from the text (preferrably with a visual aid) to have the students form their own questions before reading. Some of the teachers didn’t quite seem to understand what I meant. So, without thinking, I said: “Imagine I’m pasting a picture on the board of a man, with the caption I punched a bear”. What would you like to know about this person? This situation?”. That did it. They immediatly understood and looked at possible lines to use from the text we were holding.

I was so pleased! Not only had I enjoyed the talk but it had helped me clarify things for other teachers!

But what would I have done with this excitement if I hadn’t had my blog and PLN to share it with? My family are incredibly supportive but that level of detail is beyond them. There is no time at school between classes to share such things with other teachers, many of whom would much rather discuss other things when there is some quiet time.

A big thanks to all of you who can share in my excitement and discuss such things with me! This blog is here to stay!