“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:



Saturday’s Book: Far From the Tree” by Solomon – Halfway Comment

Not your regular tree
Not your regular tree (Naomi’s pictures)

The full title is “Far from the tree, parents, children and the search for identity”. What is it like to be parents of that child, that apple, that DID fall far from the tree?

I decided not to wait till I finish the book to write some more about it. In hardcover it’s almost a 1,000 pages long. I’m listening to it on my Ipod (almost 41 hours!) otherwise I never would have had time to read more than half. I’ve mentioned the book in previous posts as I have been listening for a while.

This is one of the most fascinating non-fiction books I have ever read. Actually, I think listening to it read by the author really adds to the experience. The author interviewed a large number of people (mainly parents) over a long period of time, and I feel that he is sharing his experience this way.

The book is very cleverly written (and I really like the title!). Although each chapter does follow a general format of a combination of interviews and information (both historical, medical and the related activism) about the “uniqueness” being discussed in that chapter, Solomon manages to present things differently each chapter. He also highlights common themes and connects new information with things previously discussed.

It’s a very American book. There are a few interviews from other places but basically it all takes place in the US. Especially regarding the chapters I know more about, Deafness and Schizophrenia (my husband is a psychologist, I was discussing it with him) I sometimes wanted to tell the author – it’s not like that (or so much like that) here! Some of the issues of activism presented are harder for me to relate to, especially those fighting for the right of adults who are seriously psychotic to starve themselves to death while living in horrible neglect because they didn’t ask to get treatment…

I find the book powerful and moving. I had originally thought I would listen to part, then listen to something else and go back to it. It sounded like the book would be too much to deal with at once.

I won’t stop until I’m done!


7 Words that Echoed Around the Globe

First stop: San Jose, Costa Rica

James Taylor, who is British, head of BELTA , (Belgium), posted  a delightful lesson plan for his students in Costa Rica, where he teaches. The lesson was called Seven Word Biographies, though actually it deals with autobiographies.

Second Stop: ETAI Summer Conference, Jerusalem

Sun or electric current?  In the venue's yard at ETAI, 2014
Sun or electric current?
In the venue’s yard at ETAI, 2014

Instead of using James’ idea in class, I posted a call for Seven-Word-Autobiographies of ETAI members. For me, being a member of ETAI is being part of a community, and I thought sharing these would promote this sense of community. It is fascinating to see how each teacher took the challenge in another direction. Here is the slide show which shown before Chief Inspector Dr. Judy Steiner’s  opening plenary and Russel Stannard’s closing plenary. Thanks to them both for agreeing to have it run before their talks!

The reactions were positive! While some teachers didn’t notice the slide show was running at all, many chuckled and commented on it. Some told me that they liked it, or told teachers mentioned that they had seen their submission. A few said they had wanted to write but had trouble deciding how to phrase it.
Exiting the venue, afternoon shadows, ETAI 2014
Exiting the venue, afternoon shadows, ETAI 2014
Third Stop: In-Service Teacher Training Course, Jerusalem
A teacher (apologies, I did not catch the name, I was excited!) told me, on the first day of the conference, that she had used James’ original lesson plan in her course. Many of those teachers tried it out in their classes and it was a big hit!
More afternoon shadows outside the venue, ETAI 2014
More afternoon shadows outside the venue, ETAI 2014
Fourth Stop: Switzerland
On the second day I met visiting guest speaker JoAnn Salvisberg-Smith who is head of ETAS. When she heard how the slide show she had seen came to be, I was surprised at how pleased she was! It turns out that James is a member of the editorial board and to hear how his idea was successfully used in different ways here in Israel is just the kind of information she would like to include in their journal, in Switzerland! More writing for James to do, back in Costa Rica.
I wonder, where will the idea  go on to next?



Saturday’s Comment on an Odd Reading Idea

Cinderella's slipper?
Cinderella’s slipper?

I recently read an article in the New Yorker magazine, by Christine Smallwood, about the book  “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES”  by Phyllis Rose.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“I thought of my adventure as Off-Road or Extreme Reading,” Phyllis Rose writes in “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES,” the latest stunt book, in which she reads through a more or less random shelf of library books. She compares her voyage to Ernest Shackleton’s explorations in the Antarctic. “However, I like to sleep under a quilt with my head on a goose down pillow,” she writes. “So I would read my way into the unknown—into the pathless wastes, into thin air, with no reviews, no best-seller lists, no college curricula, no National Book Awards or Pulitzer Prizes, no ads, no publicity, not even word of mouth to guide me.”

I haven’t read the book but I was thinking about the idea.

I wouldn’t do it.

Especially as the article says that Rose made herself finish the books, even if she didn’t like them.

I can see the adventure (though not on the scale of SHACKLETON’S  adventures! REALLY!) in randomly picking up a book and trying something I have never heard of. I’ve done that a few times in the library.

But I wouldn’t finish books if I felt the writing to be poor, the story ridiculous or just didn’t like them!

There are so many really good books out there that I haven’t read yet, why waste my time?

Would you?