Saturday’s Book: “Past Perfect” by Jacob Shabtai

Spooky... (Naomi's Photos)

(Naomi’s Photos)

This is a strange book.

What’s even stranger is that I can’t put my finger on what stopped me from “abandoning the book”.

It’s not easy to read it. It’s written in the “stream of conciousness” style, with paragraphs being a very rare thing, a period spotted once or twice a page, while commas get special treatment. Everything is very associative and slow. Not a lot of action, either.


It really did seem as if I, the reader, was inside the hero’s head. That IS the way we think, in an associative manner. Imagine walking on the pavement and thinking about the things you have to do next, and in between you get fleeting, momentary thoughts such as :”Who let that dog run out without a leash?” or ” What a terrible color for a car!”

It just seemed that I couldn’t stop until I was officially “released”. So despite having a crisis at some point, I completed the book with a sense of closure. Not sorry I read it.

The Incredible Power of the Simple Homemade Dictionary

A Smart Move (Naomi's Photos)

A Smart Move
(Naomi’s Photos)

For a change, this is a reposting of post that just went up on my Key in the Apple blog. I don’t usually repost but I must tell you that I firmly believe that a homemade dictionary is every bit as powerful a tool for any learner who finds it difficult to remember vocabulary, as well as one with a hearing loss.

Students with a hearing loss are notorious for having trouble remembering vocabulary studied in an EFL class.

There are many strategies for working on vocabulary retention (more in future posts) but a beginner learner should learn to view the dictionary as an integral part of his/her studies, from day one. Students, especially the motivated students, get very distressed by the fact that they have forgotten the meaning of vocabulary items they know they have learned (perhaps even were tested on!). This distress easily turns into a belief that their English studies are doomed for failure and that it’s hopeless to try.

Students who have begun using a dictionary early on, know that there is a “life-belt” and while remembering words is more convenient, words forgotten aren’t going to stop them from understanding, and successfully completing, their reading comprehension assignments. Having confidence is an incredibly meaningful factor in predicting the student’s ability to successfully reach expected levels in his/her EFL studies.

Students at the Beginners level should begin with a “Homemade Dictionary”. This can be made from a simple notebook.
Each page of a notebook must be given a designated letter. Ready made alphabet notebooks can be found in stores. The student adds vocabulary items as he/she learns them, with a drawing or a translation into mother tongue. This dictionary should be brought to every lesson, along with the pencilbox and coursebook.

When the homemade dictionary no longer meets a student’s needs it is time to move onto “real” dictionaries. both printed and electronic.

Note: You will find a post on myths related to use of dictionaries with deaf and hard of hearing students in the previous post, under: “The lifesaver – the dictionary”.

Saturday’s Book: Three Generations with “I Claudius” by Graves

Naomi's photos

Naomi’s photos

Three generations. If that’s not a sign of a classic, I don’t know what is. And the book was published in 1934!

My mother talked about the book incessantly when I was growing up, citing it as one of her favorite. She was born the year the book came out.

As a teenager I decided to give it a go and loved it too. I later loved the BBC adaptation as well. I actually watched  the complete series twice – once with my parents in the late 70’s and then later with my husband when it was broadcasted again in the 1990’s.

And now both of our young-adult sons have read the book and enjoyed it as much as the previous generations!

I find that moving.


Saturday’s Book: “Neuland” by Eshkol Nevo

The Pacifier Tree outside the Kiryat-Ono Public Library

The Pacifier Tree outside the Kiryat-Ono Public Library

This was the first audio-book I had ever listened to in Hebrew.

One one hand, a big round of applause to the Kiryat-Ono Public Library for having a small selection of audiobooks in Hebrew that one can borrow (on CDs). Another round of applause for the reader who was absolutely excellent.

However, I had a lot of trouble with the technical side of it and will not be taking others. My sweet son spent half an hour working on the track numbers because the tracks would not upload in the right order to my Ipod. Then, if I felt like listening to a podcast for a change before going back to the book, the audio reverted itself to the beginning of the track. Since each chapter of the book got its own track, some of the tracks were very long indeed….

Anyway, I liked most of the book. The story has a lot of interesting twists, clever connections and gives historical background. I liked the author’s many references to songs and familiar things from life here.

What bothered me was that for a plot that has so many characters and moves the story forward from different points of view, the author bring in too many additional characters and spends too much time on describing them. In addition, there are too many digressions from the plot itself. I know it all ties together eventually but it bothered me.

I don’t remember saying this before, but I sort of felt that it was a book written for people younger than myself – a lot of “young-angst”.

Overall though, it’s a good book.

Reviving Pearls from the Past for the Present at ETAI!


Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos

The Summer ETAI Conference is less than a month away! Join me, if you like, on a short, lighthearted look at some things from previous summer conferences, or jump right to the page which will let YOUR voice be heard (or to be precise, seen,) at the upcoming conference. It’s all embedded here at the bottom of this post.

Teachers from all countries, do share your SHORT (one sentence or two short sentences) pearls of wisdom for new teachers. It will be posted as “Message to Younger Teacher Self”.

We already have wonderful contributions from all over the world, thanks to the interest generated in the topic by the amazing Joanna Malefaki. Here’s a link to one of the great posts on Joanna’s blog, to inspire you –  click here!

Saturday’s Movie-Following-a-Book: “Capote”

Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos

Following recommendations from friends who read my previous post about the book “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, I just saw the movie “Capote” (in some places on the Internet the name of the movie appears as “Truman Capote”, but the film itself opens with “Capote”).

It’s a good movie and Hoffman is superb! I must admit that I would have liked more information about Capote himself, how he made the transition from his unhappy childhood to being a successful writer. The movie is about him and how self-centered he was in any case. Nonetheless, it is very good.

As someone who just read the book, I was somewhat surprised at how self-centered he was (or at least, was portrayed) in the film. In the book you find an author who gives you an in-depth perspective of other people’s (lots of other people!) point of view. I don’t quite understand how a very self-centered person could do that. But people are very complex, aren’t they?

Harper Lee is a main character in the film too – I knew nothing of the connection.

Watch the film!

Experimenting with ROOJOOM as a Teacher Trainer


Choose your own direction! (Naomi's photos)

Choose your own direction!
(Naomi’s photos)

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m taking an in service training course on EDTECH with Hishtalmoodle (highly recommended, interesting & with excellent support for participants) and it seems there is a lot of redundancy in the field of educational technology. Many programs offer similar services.

This time the new (for me) EDTECH tool is called Roojoom. In many ways it seems similar to Live Binders. It allows you to collate links (embedded), documents, slideshows (anything PDF) all in one link, ready to be shared. A nifty feature of ROOJOOM lets you write an introductory text on the side, which is easier than sweating out a title for each page of the binder that will explain why you are showing it.

Because both tools offer the option of skipping the pages that aren’t relevant,   I find that such tools lend themselves well to teacher training.

Here’s the link to my collation of information for a teacher who has a new student with a hearing loss in the EFL class.

Saturday’s Book: “Notes from a Small Island” by Bryson

I wonder if they have these trees in England...

I wonder if they have these trees in England…

A delightful book which would make a great blog.

That’s the thing about reading travel books –  it would be even more fun to get a weekly installment in my inbox, finding out what Bryson has discovered / shared this week on his journey through England. I don’t what to miss any part of this delightful book, but it’s not a book to read a lot of in one sitting.

It’s a testament to how good a book it is that it hardly bothers me that the book is dated – 1994 if I understood correctly. While I’m sure some places no longer look at all like Bryson describes them, that’s not the point. He is informative in regards to past events (lots of curious information) and is funny. But most important, he shares a sense of excitement and wonder.

I was so pleased by the part about Durham! When I first met Sandy Millin virtually (and have since had the pleasure of meeting her in person!!) she told me a lot about what a hidden gem Durham was and then introduced me to Bryson. He LOVED Durham!


Uncovering Motives in a Video Lesson


Naomi's Photos

Naomi’s Photos

“Uncovering Motives”, “Generating Possibilities” or perhaps “Inferencing”. I think all these Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) can be discussed with this lovely video.

These thinking skills make it seem like a good pre-reading activity for teaching the story “Thank You Ma’m” by Langston Hughes (in our literature program) despite the fact that the boy depicted in the video isn’t a teenager. The video isn’t childish so I believe the students will not have a problem.

Though frankly, I actually began working on the video as a way to use “modals” in context. So you’ll see that element there too.

Some of you may notice that this video wasn’t made on the EDPUZZLE site, which I love and use frequently. I’m taking an in service training course on EDTECH with Hishtalmoodle (highly recommended, interesting & with excellent support for participants) and it seems there is a lot of redundancy in the field of educational technology. Many programs offer similar services. As part of the course requirements I experimented using Zaption. I did not conduct an in-depth comparison of the two sites but am very happy with the large (and constantly growing larger) set of comprehensive features for use in class that Edpuzzle offers and did not find any reason to switch programs. In addition I am not happy with the way the Zaption is displayed when embedded in the blog. Please note that you must scroll sideways to see the questions.

Once again, thanks to the blog “Film English” for introducing me to this video.