7 Free Online Classes in August

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What I really like about August are three things: slightly cooler evenings, the Perseids shower and the smell of stationery in the shops giving this “back to school” vibe. Even as a schoolgirl I loved this smell – I still do. I also liked school and to be honest, I had my Polish, English and History coursebooks read before the school year started.

Now, this may sound extremely dull, but one needs to learn a lot before embarking on a journey to conquer the world!

Apart from the upcoming school year, I think August is a perfect month to work on self development – one has more time off and it’s easier to feel motivated when it comes to actual finishing the course. The courses I found for you are really interesting and I hope you’ll find something suitable.

Fairy Tales: Meanings, Messages, and Morals by the University of Newcastle

  • Start: 29/07/2019
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • For whom: anyone interested in fairy tales and literary analysis

Fairy tales are wicked, and this course will show you how twisted they sometimes are! By considering the historical context of fairy tales you will see that the intended morals of the original stories may not be exactly what you first thought. This is something that may be a nice element of your class – breaking stereotypes and showing some hidden background.

Intervention and Teaching Strategies for Visually Impaired by Avianshilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women

  • Start: 02/08/2019
  • Duration: 8 weeks
  • For whom: teachers dealing with visually impaired students

This is a long and serious course that will prepare you for challenges and struggles the visually impaired students experience in a mainstreamed classroom setting. The course will help you to understand how interventions in the areas affected can be instrumental in enhancing performance of the students. You will learn how to work with students in classroom set-ups and arm them with programmes for assessment, goal setting, reviewing and reporting the success.

The Science of Learning by the National STEM Learning Centre

  • Start: 05/08/2019
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • For whom: teachers interested in CPD

What is learning? How does it actually work? Have you ever thought about it? If not, this course will help you explore how you can use the science of learning to improve your teaching and support your students’ learning. You will study educational neuroscience and psychology (and combat neuroscience myths), and learn how to interpret research to be better informed about how your students learn. To be sure, this is a course every teacher may enjoy!

Preparing for University by the University of East Anglia

  • Start: 26/08/2019
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • For whom: anyone considering a course of study at a University or similar higher education institution

Sometimes it’s not that easy to start university – new place, new people, new type of education. This course may be a great idea not only for students who start their uni, but for those who are still in secondary schools, making their great plans. As a teacher, you may complete the course and use it in your actual classroom to make your students truly interested in the topic and giving them the encouragement and support they definitely need.

“Yes I can” – Empowering Student Learning by European Schoolnet Academy

  • Start: self-paced
  • Duration: 6 weeks
  • For whom: primary and secondary school teachers

This course will show you how to encourage students to study not only during the class, but also outside of school. You will learn the differences between formal, non-formal and informal learning experiences. You will also learn strategies to empower your students by encouraging them to identify their own learning styles and abilities and make your teaching more relevant and inclusive by personalising it based on your students’ needs and interests.

Supporting Special Educational Needs in Every Classroom by School Education Gateway – Teacher Academy

  • Start: self-paced
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • For whom: any teacher who is (or might be in the future) working with children with special needs

More and more teachers face the challenge of how to integrate students with SEN in their mainstream class. This course will teach you to better understand the topic and how simple changes could make your classroom more inclusive. You will also be encouraged to share your knowledge and experiences in order to develop a learning network of peers in similar situations. I think this course may be particularly useful for primary school teachers.

Surviving Your First Years of Teaching by School Education Gateway – Teacher Academy

  • Start: self-paced
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • For whom: any teacher who is about to enter the profession for the first time as well as those in their first five years of teaching

When I started teaching I had little idea about what was going to happen. Looking back, I was really lost. Fortunately, this course aims to support you in overcoming the commonly known “practice shock”. This is often caused by inadequate preparation during the initial training phase, the changing role of teachers in schools, the increasingly complex demands on teachers and the common “loneliness” of new teachers working in environments where there are only experienced teachers. If you are a rookie teacher, that may be a great course for you!

Sounds interesting? Well, I believe you’ll find those courses useful and interesting – summer break is great, but still, learning is fun.


Lesson Idea for a Horribly Slow Class (15+)

Lesson Idea for a Horribly Slow Class (15+)

I enjoy teaching during summer as nobody takes those classes too seriously and you’re free to include some unconventional materials. The only drawback is that sometimes the level of motivation is not quite satisfactory. To avoid this, I usually suggest a “lesson off” – during summer courses I like to offer “free Fridays”, classes spent on projects, games, role-plays, class trips and other creative ways mainly boosting communication.

If you experience similar sentiments, you might find my lesson idea quite useful – not only for the summer courses. After all, every teacher sometimes has a lesson that seems to last forever. And the best way to introduce something energetic is to share something… really long? Mind, the ideas I’m sharing with you are not overly serious!

The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon is a 10-minute short film that was released in 2008 by Richard Gale (you may visit his page here). The movie is presented as a trailer to a 9-hour long film and portrays the story of a forensic pathologist called Jack Cucchiaio (played by Paul Clemens; “cucchiaio” means spoon in Italian), who finds himself being haunted by a deranged looking man (Brian Rohan), who is, without any clear reason, hitting him with a spoon. Doesn’t sound interesting? Well, watch it first:

Now, there are some ideas for activities after watching the video. Please notice that none of these activities requires earlier preparation. This is really an emergency scenario:

Background of the story: storytelling (speaking/ writing)

Let’s assume the trailer is just the tip of the iceberg. Ask your students to elaborate on the story and answer the following questions:

  • Who (or what) is this mysterious attacker?
  • Where does he come from?
  • Why is he targeting Jack?
  • Why does he use a spoon?
  • Is there a way to stop him?

Best idea is to organise a little brainstorm party in groups and then ask your students to tell a chilling story in a manner of Are you afraid of the dark. If your students prefer written compositions, you may ask them to write a story – or maybe even make a little competition for the best thriller?

The hard life of a murderer: role play (speaking)

Who is Ginosaji? What does he do apart from haunting and hunting Jack? Is he a human being? Does he have any family? What about his favourite food? Hobby? Where does he sleep? Encourage your students to prepare short speeches introducing themselves as Ginosaji. Who’s the scariest, and who’s the funniest? Also, this is great activity for people on lower levels of English as they may use quite simple lexis and grammar.

Let’s make a film (writing, speaking)

The natural follow-up of the video would be making own film! It’s a great idea for a group project – each group needs to create a scenario, plan storyboards, choose actors and record the film itself. If you haven’t got your favourite video app, you may choose one suggested by TeachHub (click here to read). Then you may watch the films together choosing the best one.

As you can see, even a slow lesson and a terribly slow murder may change into an exciting class – I hope you and your students will like this slightly silly, yet amusing, lesson.

There are sequels to this video, Spoon Vs. SpoonSave Jack (it’s a game in which the player has to choose what Jack Cucchiaio should do), Spoon Wars and Ginosaji Vs. Ginosaji. Watching them in-class is optional, as you can easily get your students to catch the main idea after watching the first video, however, you may use them as homework or follow-up activities – Richard Gale has his own YouTube channel, where you can take many inspirations from.


Are you… afraid of the dark? (Role-Playing Teaching: Part 17)

Are you... afraid of the dark_ (2)

Summer means adventure, woohoo! Some people travel around the world, others stay home and spend time with friends. Both options are brilliant, especially when you are able to to travel without leaving your room – simply engage your friends in a session of a Role Playing Game and travel around the world… and beyond. Sometimes, however, you’re stuck alone in a place you’re not really happy with – and then you may also enjoy an RPG session just by yourself.

Here I am, writing about the awesomeness of Role-Playing Games as a perfect tool for boosting communication and relationships in the classroom. However, today I want to tempt you with an adventure you take on your own. Alone.

Alone against the dark…

Alone Against The Dark is an adventure for one player, set in the autumn of 1931, in the Lovecraftian universe of the Cthulhu Mythos (although you won’t be meeting the Great Cthulhu Himself, as the greatest mystery of the Call of Cthulhu is the fact that you basically don’t meet Cthulhu). Your friend goes missing and your goal is to solve his disappearance and ultimately to save the world from the calamity. Your journey will take you from New York City to Greece, Egypt, Germany, and Antarctica.

You will start your adventure as Louis Grunewald, a quiet linguistics professor from the Miskatonic University. You will fight the forces of darkness before time runs out — but in case Professor Grunewald is eliminated for some reason (in CoC it means a character either goes completely mad, or simply dies), you can successively assume an identity of a new investigator.

There are four ready-made investigators, enabling you to take on various roles as circumstances change in your search for the truth: Louis Grunewald, Lydia Lau, a story-seeking reporter for the New York Sun, Devon Wilson, a sailor on leave from the US Navy, and Ernest Holt, a wealthy industrialist.

I spent most of my 9-hour long train journey playing the game – I personalised the characters, prepared some sheets of paper and a pencil (making notes turns out to be crucial when trying to save the world!) and I must tell you that I think I need to follow the adventure again, only this time make different choices. My professor was lucky enough to survive for quite a long time, but well, there are things in this world elderly scholars may have troubles with… like falling down from an impressive height, physical assault or, well, supernatural creatures.

I find this adventure just brilliant for all of you who have already read about Role-Playing Games, but struggle with gathering the party before venturing forth. You can play the game in your own tempo and discover the magic of RPG by yourself. The universe of HPL and his Cthulhu Mythos are quite enjoyable for EFL teachers – imagine you wear a fashionable dress, switch on jazz music and with a cheeky smile face the unspeakable evil.

You can get the adventure in English here, only remember you might need a copy of a Keeper Rulebook (you may buy it here) to understand the rules. If you’re Polish, your life is easier, because you may get the adventure here in Polish, and instead of buying the whole rulebook, you can get a short starter.

You may think it’s a deal, but trust me, once you set on a trail of the Old Ones, you’ll spend your money on Keeper Rulebook and other adventures.

You should also buy a set of dice, but hey, you can download a free app like RPG Simple Dice.

Good luck, dear friend, and enjoy your adventure…

Costello, Matthew and Mason, Mike

Alone Against the Dark/ Samotnie przeciwko ciemności: zniweczenie triumfu lodu

Chaosium, 2018/ PL version Black Monk

ISBN: 978-156882-453-6