August 3, 2018

A real interactive presentation with Pear Deck

This is a post to talk a little bit about my experience trying Pear Deck. It was suggested to me by Giselle Santos when I was looking for a tool to make readings more interactive.

It took me some time to understand that it's an add-on for Google Slides.
And what does that mean?'
  1. First, open Google Slides and install the Pear Deck Add-on.
  2. Create your presentation with Google Slides normally.
  3. Open Pear Deck and add interactivity to your slides.
When you are in class, you open your presentation, open the Pear Deck Add-on and select PRESENT WITH PEAR DECK. The add-on generates a code for students to join the presentation using their own devices.

I haven't tried it with an audience yet, but I believe it's a wonderful tool for a presentation or a class which is more teacher-oriented. Although Pear Deck brings interactivity to the slides, the teacher is still the one who leads the whole experience. 








This video can also help you understand what it does.


  • It's very easy to use.
  • The premade content is very useful.
  • You can customize the questions you want to ask.


  • If you have no internet connection, the interactive slides won't work.


While exploring the tool, I imagined it would be wonderful if we could have such interactivity to slides which are embedded to classroom sites. I'll explain better: imagine you want students to interact at home with a presentation you have created. And then in class, the teacher could do the debriefing by showing the results. Such a feature would be perfect for the Flipped Classroom Approach.

July 25, 2018

Starting points after Braztesol 2018

Some people go to conferences such as Braztesol to come back with new ideas for their classes, others go for networking and others for inspiration.

Besides all the reasons I've mentioned, attending Braztesol can be an excellent way to observe the directions ELT is moving to:

- What are most talks about?
- Are there more talks or workshops?
- What about the plenaries? Are they full, what are they about? What kind of plenaries people liked the most?
- What do people comment about in the corridors?

I saw many people talking about teacher development, learner's autonomy, topics related to language learning (such as pronunciation, grammar, fluency), active methodologies, educational technologies and bilingual education. But this post is not a description of what I saw during the conference. Instead, it's what I intend to do from now on.

What am I taking from this experience?

My take-aways are quite simple. I usually like recording them in order to remind myself of the insights I had during the conference and what I wish to do next. The names between brackets or the people I mention are the teachers who were responsible for inspiring my thoughts.


  • Look for the musical Dear Evan Hansen and its songs, they might be wonderful for classes (Gustavo Gonzalez).
  • Read about Teaching for understanding, its proposal seems to be really interesting (Cecília Lemos). It reminded me a bit of a course I took at Perestroika SP about Creative Curriculum design.
  • Explore the pre-reading and post-reading activities proposed by Paul Seligson. He provided participants with a hand-out with MANY possible reading activities which are much more interesting and simple than the ones we find in course books. I always benefit a lot from his talks and his straightforward way of viewing language learning and teaching. This is a video that has nothing to do with his session at Braztesol, but it's really worth a watch 
  • Remember that warmers can be a great way to signal to students what is about to come and not only to recap language (Caio Albernaz).
  • Explore the app Heads Up suggested by someone attending the warm-up session by my side. Sorry, I can't remember your name! As you can customize your list of words, it might be an interesting tool to use.
  • Re-watch the TED talk Why people believe they can't draw shown to us by Cleide Frazão and Danielle Botelho. I liked drawing as a child and some time between then and now, I lost the touch for drawing. As a result, I have always been ashamed of drawing in front of students. Their session was a breath of fresh air. I absolutely loved realizing that I can draw certain things starting from shapes and lines. I was also the lucky winner of a book they intend to publish in the future which aims to help teachers draw simple things (check the slideshow below for an image of the book I'm talking about). Apart from using drawing to help students understand what I mean, I've always wanted to learn how to sketchnote properly and to be able to process/register information differently. Now that I feel less self-conscious about my drawings, I guess it's time to start off by watching two resources I've found about it. SLIDESHARE and VIDEO 
  • Re-read these 3 posts written by Silvia Tolisano about Sketchnoting 

Of course, I attended several other great sessions, and I apologize in advance if I don't mention your name.  My aim here was to recap my starting points after the conference.

So, feel free to explore each and every link I've added to the post and please, leave a comment if you also wish to share your insights with us.


July 21, 2018

Braztesol 2018 - Lego and Bilingual Education

So what happened during the workshop at Braztesol Caxias do Sul?

First of all, I'd like to thank International School for sponsoring my talk. Although I'm not part of their staff any more,  I still collaborate with them on certain projects as an independent consultant.

As some of you might know, in the last 2 years I have worked educating teachers who have started working with Bilingual Education in Brazil, so my objective with the workshop was to share a bit of what I've been studying about the development of contemporary competencies and to show how we can use Lego Bricks in Bilingual Education classes.

We started with two activities which aimed to help participants discover and discuss about the differences between the Bilingual Education concept and EFL. Then, we discussed about Bilingual Education and the need to develop contemporary competencies. Lego® came as a tool which can help the development of such competencies in a playful way. Concepts such as Playful Learning and Hands-on Learning also came into the picture. Participants had the chance to work in groups from the start, discussing, sharing ideas and building reflective scenarios with Lego® bricks.

These were my resources:

The Intersections of Lego Tech and Bilingual Education, by anamariamenezes2 The Intersections of Lego Tech and Bilingual Education, by anamariamenezes2

And these are some of the photos taken during the workshop:

July 14, 2018

Book: Teaching English Reflectively with Technology

To me, the beauty of digital technologies is the power to connect people and this way help them develop themselves.

In 2016/2017, I had the great pleasure to collaborate with a dear friend, Jennifer Verschoor, to write an article for a publication which invited teachers and researchers to reflect about tech integration.

TEACHING REFLECTIVELY WITH TECHNOLOGY is an IATEFL Learning Technologies SIG publication in collaboration with the TESOL CALL-IS.

Quoting the editors Phil Hubbard and Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou:

"We wanted to help bridge the gap between practitioners and researchers by leading the authors to defend their use of technology persuasively by acknowledging prior research and practice and by presenting challenges and limitations along with the positive aspects, backed up by more than just memories and intuitions."

This morning, I was thrilled to receive my hardcopy!


Jennifer and I described and analyzed a project which we developed together with our students from Argentina and Brazil.

There are articles about telecollaborative projects, Facebook Groups, Mobile Technology, Google Docs, Virtual Reality and much more.

PDF and Epub versions have been made available to contributors and members of the LT SIG in June 2017. Nowadays, I unfortunately don't know how the book can be ordered.

You can read the table of contents and the introductory chapter on the following link

July 6, 2018

Flipped Learning - What really matters

This week while designing an online course which needs a module about Flipped Learning I decided to revisit and repurpose a lecture I presented a few years ago in Argentina.

The topic is still up to date as more and more teachers have been trying to adopt Blended Learning and Flipped Learning is one of the possibilities. I talked about some misconceptions about Flipped Learning and what really matters.

Hope you find it useful!

June 30, 2018

More interaction for Reading activities (PART 3)

Continuing my exploration with tools suggested by different edtechers (check PART 1 and PART 2 for more ideas), this time I've decided to try

With EDJI. IT, as the website says, you can ensure your students have a voice when reading.

Basically what it does is to invite readers to highlight parts of the text which call their attention and leave comments. With the free version students cannot interact with each other, but everyone can read all the comments. It could be a great starting point for a class. Another plus is that the more students select the same part of the text, it becomes red and the teacher can start face-to-face discussions from these parts.


Click the image below to take part in the activity and experience the website. I've selected a text from Edutopia about Teachers.



Another idea I found in the website is to ask students to react to the text by selecting a gif and then explain their reactions as a comment. Click HERE to participate.


What I liked about it

  • It's free.
  • It's very user-friendly.
  • You can see how students are interacting with the text.
  • Students can collaborate on the same reading with their classmates.
  • The activity is less guided by the teacher so students have more voice.

What I didn't like about it

  • It would be great to have some feature which would allow students to reply to other comments (in the free version, of course lol).

June 22, 2018

How to make an interactive reading activity (PART 2)

My previous post explained the reasons for writing this post and also brought the results of my exploration with a tool called ACTIVE TEXTBOOK suggested by Shelly Terrell.

This time, I focus on a website called NOWCOMMENT recommended to me by Nik Peachey.

At first glance, NowComment was exactly what I was looking for: a tool which allows teachers to turn documents into conversations and is appropriate for a large number of students.

It's free and you can upload different sorts of files.

Once you upload the document you want your students to read and discuss about, the site will alert you to possible overlays it may find on the document you've uploaded. I had problems with pdf files with images, graphs and also a pdf in two columns. I advise you to check the preview on the website to see if the formatting of the text is ok or not.

Check what happened to the PDF file I tried to upload.

Now, if the same thing happens to you, you can edit the document right there or try a different document with text only. And that's exactly what I decided to do next.

I copied and pasted the text into a Word file and also decided to try out something else, to embed a video to my word file. Following the instructions found in the website, I selected a video about the same topic and grabbed the embed code. Next, I pasted the code directly into the Word file I was going to upload to the NowComment website.

I clicked the blue button SAVE AND CONTINUE and Voilá, the video "magically" appeared.

You can use different color schemes to highlight parts of the text.

And you can also select specific paragraphs around which you can start a conversation by clicking on the speech bubble with a plus sign.

The conversation can be viewed by students in two ways: 2 panes or combined.

If you select the 2-pane view, the text is on the left and the conversations appear on the right side of the screen.

The other possibility is the combined view, with the text interspersed with conversations.

The conversation can be started by the teacher or the students themselves. And to interact with a previous comment, all you have to do is click REPLY.

Another plus is the possibility to develop discussions around videos. If you add a Youtube video embed code to the Word file you upload to the website, it's fairly easy to propose a discussion.

Above the video player, when you click ADD COMMENT, you can add a comment/question to a certain point of the video or to the video as a whole. The image I've added below shows a question I add at a certain time in the video.


Would you like to try it out with us?

If so, click HERE and feel free to leave comments, highlight parts you find important and play with the website. Be aware the text is not complete as I just wanted to test the website.


  • It's free.
  • It works well with Word files.
  • You can easily create Word files + embed code to different videos to create conversations around videos or flipped assignments around videos.
  • You can create great conversations around images you add to a Word File you prepare beforehand.
  • Using the COMBINE page view, you can create reading tasks which ask students to pause reading, discuss and then continue the reading.


  • PDF files are easily deconfigured once uploaded to the website and it's really time consuming to edit the whole text.
  • The documents are private as default so it takes some time to locate where to edit the document properties so that large groups of people can participate (especially if you don't have everyone's emails)
A video about NOWCOMMENT

Next week, I'll be exploring one more tool!

June 15, 2018

How to make an interactive reading activity (PART 1)

I'm back. After almost 2 years away from the blog, here I am again. 

I'd like to share a few tools you can use to make a reading text INTERACTIVE.

This post started with a genuine need. When I work with small groups (up to 30 people), I like creating reading activities on Google Docs and use the comments feature to have students answer questions and/or add their reflections (Click HERE for an example in Portuguese). However, this last year, I had to work with teachers all over Brazil and instead of 30 people interacting, I had more than 500 teachers in one asynchronous reading activity. The result was that despite instructing teacher/students to click on the comment in order to see the RESPONDER/REPLY box, more often than not they clicked RESOLVER/SOLVE deleting the original comment or question I had posted. Having said that, you can imagine the hassle to restore everything that had been deleted daily. 

This is an example of technology that works perfectly in one context, but not necessarily in another. As I didn't know other alternatives that could solve my problem, I asked my PLN (via Facebook) for help and they promptly came to my aid.

These are the tools they've recommended:

During the next few weeks, I'll be posting my explorations with each of the tools.

Let's start with ...


So far, it's my favourite one for what I needed. Apart from COMMENT THREADS, you can add several features to your text, such as highlights, videos, songs, text, images and quizzes. With the free plan, you get 50 MB storage and unlimited access to library. 

FEATURES I'VE ADDED TO THE TEXT: comment threads, image, highlights and a video.


Would you like to try it out with us?

Click HERE to go to this activity on Active Textbook and feel free to leave your contributions (look for the speech bubbles which I've added to the text). Then, I'd love to hear what you thought about the tool.

Before I finish, let me thank all teachers who have kindly contributed to this post with their wonderful ideas.

I'm truly happy to be see Life Feast come to life again and hope you are too.

P.S. I still love Google Docs.