ELT Traveller box

about teaching English to young learners, web tools and iPad teaching

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One iPad in the classroom: essential toolkit

If you have only one iPad connected to an Apple TV in the classroom (like me), here is a list of 5 apps I use everyday and I found essential for teaching.



It is a great app that helps keep all your notes organised. I have made specific notebooks for each class I teach, or lessons I am working on (grammar, reading, listening etc.). You can then organise them into Notebook Stacks. You can also create shared notebooks to share with students or colleagues, but remember you need the PRO version if you want them to modify the files.

I have Evernote on all my devices, it is easy to use, and it is really versatile. It allows you to attach images, video files, web links, pdf etc to all your notes.

> I often use Skitch connected to Evernote to quickly annotate pictures or notes (e.g. to focus on vocabulary)

> The Evernote Web Clipper app is an extension for your browser, it allows you to “clip” any content from a webpage you are visiting and attach it to your note.

> The latest iOS 7 version has introduced the presentation function, it means you can present content to your class directly from Evernote.


Google Drive

It is a safe place to store all your files. You can get access to it everywhere, it gives you 15 GB for free, and it also allows you to share and collaborate easily on files. You need a Google account to sign up.


Explain everything

It works as an interactive whiteboard, it records drawing and annotations on the screen, you can also record your voice via the iPad microphone. You can create a lesson by uploading all sorts of files (pdf, keynote, powerpoint, word, photos, MP4 video files) from your Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, iPad photo roll, iTunes. You can record and insert a new video while presenting, or simply take a picture that helps you explain something. At the end you can export your project as pdf to share with your class.


I think it is the best app to create presentations. It offers a lot of different layouts. iCloud helps to keep all presentations synchronised on all my devices.



Classroom management



It is the best classroom management app I have used so far. The essential layout helps to have a quick look to the class. TeacherKit allows teachers to keep record of students’ behaviour, attendance and performance. All in one place, all with only a few ‘taps’ on your screen. You can also email students or parents directly from the app, and connect it to your Dropbox account.


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Digital storytelling tools for young learners #2: Google Search Stories

One of my students’ favourite storytelling tools of the year is Google Search Stories. This is a very simple free tool that allows you to create stories based on your google search. The video lasts about 30 seconds, and you can also add background music.
You need to have a google account to create one, and this can be an issue for some students who do not have one. I’ve created a private class channel on youtube so to use it without asking students to sign up for a new account.

There are many ways to use google search stories.

Introduce yourself: it is an easy way to give a very short presentation about yourself. The video below is my 3-2-1 introduction for EVO Digital Storytelling course.

Biography: it can be interesting to get students present a short biography of a famous character. Here is an example on Gandhi.

Interesting classroom uses of the tool can be:
– documenting a part of a research on a particular kind of music
– creating a story using famous quotes
– writing a short poem
– presenting an event (ex. The Academy awards)

The tool is very easy to use, but here is a tutorial you can show to students.


Teacher Development – 12 things I learned in 2012

It’s time to wrap up the year. This is only a short post about 12 precious things I got to know this year. They are useful for me, I hope they can be so for other teachers as well.


1. Keep being a lifelong learner > I started the year with a great news, I passed Delta Module 2! Studying for the complete diploma is really changing the way I teach. More important it is an excellent way to reflect on what we teach. So keep studying!

2. Join free online courses for teachers > This year I experienced my first online course.  I joined a couple of EVO sessions in January. I took part in the Young learners and teenagers SIG course and the Digital storytelling for kids one. It was a great experience, I learned a lot about webtools, I had the chance to listen to and even chat with great ELT speakers, and I met a lot of nice teachers around the globe.

3. Integrate technology in the classroom > I started to use free webtools with my students regularly. We realized a series of cool projects from storytelling to interactive presentations and short class videos. I enjoy being an #edtech teacher! 🙂

4. Read ELT blogs > I discovered so many interesting ELT blogs about every aspect of teaching English. This year I started to be an avid reader of them. I regularly read interesting posts from famous ELT authors and publishers to a variety of ESL teachers. It’s a great help for everyday lessons, but also a rich methodology support.

5. Join online webinars > there are a series of free webinars for teachers held all around the web. I enjoy following the British Council Teaching English, or MacMillan Interactive series.

6. Write, and don’t be afraid! > The biggest challenge of the year was becoming a real ELT writer.  Early in March I had the chance to write a proposal and contribute to a couple of publications for the Italian market. I’ll soon be the author of three ELT books on skills! I can’t really say how I feel about this, but I learned to face challenges and never step back.

7. Love linguistics > I admit I have always been a linguistics lover, a kind of little nerd. Not so proud about this, but this year I realized how important some theoretical linguistics aspects can be in supporting everyday teaching. Knowing what’s behind, can be the key to understanding language acquisition.

8. Sharing is caring > Best lesson ever! In 2012 I have started sharing. Ideas, lesson plans, fears and successes. I analyzed how isolating and a bit selfish our job can be, and I realized the power of being part of a community of professionals that enjoy sharing just because they care.

9. Start blogging > I thought it was the time to start writing and sharing all the things I got in my “teacher box”. Blogging helps me reflecting on practices and experiences, it is a great chance to fix and share all the good (sometimes bad) things a teacher lives.

10. Start building a PLN > I joined Twitter more than a year ago. I think it is one of the most powerful tools for building your PLN (Personal Learning Network).

11. Participate in #eltchat  > Every Wednesday I enjoy following the chat on Twitter, often without really contributing to it, I’m still too shy! But it’s  a great way to learn and discuss key ELT topics.

12. Introduce literature to YLs > I would say this is one of the last things I learned in 2012. Literature to pre-teens has always scared me, but in the last part of the year I started integrated it in my lessons. Still testing different approaches. But authentic texts such as Lewis, Stevenson, Shakespeare are now part of my regular teaching.

I’ll take away these 12 gems with me in 2013.

Happy New Year!

holiday 2013