IATEFL Chile International Conference: Pecha Kucha & ELT #ASMSG

1 - PK Teachers Workshop

At the recent IATEFL Chile Bi-Annual International Conference, I gave a workshop entitled “Pecha Kucha & ELT: Changing The Classroom“. My slides are below. The workshop was well attended. In fact, conference room 309 was full of teachers 15 minutes before the start of the workshop. By the time the workshop began, the ushers were already turning people away. For those who participated, it was a unique learning experience, as much for me as for them.

Pecha Kucha is a very young presentation technique. It has only been around for little more than a decade now. Yet when I saw my first Pecha Kucha, five years ago, I immediately recognised it as a game changer. It has the potential to be transformative in just about any classroom in which students are being asked to give presentations of some sort.

If we are honest, we wil admit it’s usually a boring affair. Power Point slide after slide is shown, filled with unimaginative text that is read in a monotone drone. Unimaginative images add to the general malaise of the classroom, including special effects that zoom in and out, move up-down-sideways-diagonal and even circular too.

Pecha Kucha changes all of that.

Firstly, its principles are easy to understand and apply. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s effective, it’s collaborative, it’s visual, it’s easy to prepare, it’s fun.

However, it does require practice, lots of it, to do this really well.

Practice, oh what a sweet word in the ears of any EFL teacher. Students practicing what they are going to say, again and again, going over their own words, to speak about images they themselves have selected. Volumes of practice, huge quantities of practice, helping the students to achieve the eventual automaticity that is the hallmark of mastery.

Of all the principles of the Pecha Kucha, the most important principle is this: images are powerful. Images convey meaning and emotions. In fact, the whole range of the human experience can be conveyed by images. For example, think of the images left on the walls of caves by cave men. No one needs a cave man to verbalize what you are seeing. You feel it – through your eyes – to your brain – to your emotions. It’s visual storytelling. That’s what the Pecha Kucha is, visual literacy in its purest form…

Finally, I leave you with the image of teachers fully engaged as they collaborate on how they can bring Pecha Kucha into their classrooms. In a room, the smartest person is always the room. Collectively, the combined intelligence of the room will always be superior to the intelligence of any one individual. Using the principle of collaboration, these teachers believe they can go back into their classrooms and make a difference.

As the workshop facilitator, that means I did my job well. We teachers are doing the thing that we do well, collaborate to make our practice stronger. Or, as Stephen Krashen so eloquently put this, we have learned to, “Go To Our Right.”

My workshop presentation slides can be seen and downloaded here for free.


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#5STAR #Book #Review of Susan Tarr’s New Book: “Miranda Bay” #ASMSG

Miranda Bay: “We have passed a mauvais quart d’heure

Miranda Bay” by author Susan Tarr, is incorrectly described as “an uncomfortable, but brief, experience”. On the contrary, we encounter the full emotional range of the human experience. There is humor, and it is comfortable. There is love, and it is long lasting. Susan Tarr has written a novel that can be enjoyed by a wide diversity of readers, male and female, of all ages, from all walks of life. There is sure to be someone in this story who reaches inside you, grabs your heart, and holds you captive for the entire duration of this exquisitely well-written book. I freely admit that the protagonist, Miranda has human qualities that I admire and adore in my own lovely wife.

Obviously, Ms. Susan Tarr is an excellent wordsmith. She clearly understands both human nature and the power of words. For example, in the fifth century B.C., the Greek philosopher Democritus taught that “word is a shadow of deed.” Plato said the same thing, only negatively, “False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”

The biblical letter of James tells us that those who can master their tongues can master anything. And Shakespeare warned, “In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt / But, being season’d with a gracious voice, / Obscures the show of evil?”

Susan brilliantly weaves Shakespeare’s warning into the flow of her narrative at a very critical moment in court. (Source: The Merchant of Venice) The protagonist, Miranda, is very fortunate to have such brilliant rhetoric used in her behalf.

What should these words, this rhetoric do? It should present a case or a story that allows listeners to see anew, to gain a fresh perspective on the matter at hand. Miranda’s lawyer is a brilliant speaker, but will his words be persuasive, with everything hanging in the balance? Will he be successful? It all depends on how you judge success.

(Quote) How strong yet fragile is the human condition…if we are encouraged we grow, if we are bullied we soon perish in spirit… “…because he implies that he holds the weapon of monetary power over her head, the total ruin of her business, her biggest dream…she believes she’s in no position to argue…-” (end of quote) Miranda, at the end of the day, is in dire straits, tense circumstances.

In sum, each reader who reads this book will find something here to inspire us. We wil find someone to admire, someone to adore. We will find someone to care about, and yes, we will also find somebody to hate. We will laugh and we will cry. We will hold our breath as Miranda goes to court, hoping that she will find a way to hang on to her dream, Miranda Bay. And as we close the final page on this beautiful novel, we come to fully realize what is the most important thing of all…and nothing else matters…on the shores of Miranda Bay…

I give this book my full, complete, and total approval. Get one copy for yourself, one for your best friend, and one for a Christmas present for someone you love. This book will make an excellent summer read, and a thoughtful Christmas gift. What about me? I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Reviewed by Thomas Jerome Baker
Author of I Live In Chile

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#Book #Review of Boudicca: #HerStory by Lilian Roberts #ASMSG #Bookreviews

The purpose of this post is to share recent reviews I have received for one of my books, entitled, “Boudicca: Her Story“, (in Kindle format, available from Amazon) and “Boudicca: Warrior Queen” (in paperback format, available from Createspace). Same story, same author, two different formats.

For your reading convenience, you choose the format that you like. Nowadays, many people still prefer to read their books in the old way, turning the pages, smelling the aroma of the story, using the senses to get a “feel” for the story that enhances the reading experience. Despite predictions to the contrary, the paperback has not become obsolete. It remains ubiquitous in our reading culture.

This short story recently was Number 4 on the Amazon Best Seller list for short stories. The list is updated on an hourly basis, so it is a moment of glory, and then the moment is gone. :-) Anyway, now on to the review I would like to share with you.


5.0 out of 5 stars
WONDERFUL READ!!!!, July 12, 2014
By Lilian Roberts (Atlanta)

This review is from: Boudicca: Her Story

Lilian Roberts - Atlanta

I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. I am a history buff and I have read a lot of books about western civilization. However I was utterly surprised to find that I had never heard of Boudicca, the first Queen of England. The more I got into the story the more I fell in love with this amazing, woman.

What a remarkable individual! Her drive, her courage, her commitment to her beliefs and her people left me astonished. When her husband the king passed away in AD 60 she found herself facing one of the largest empires in those days the Romans. They were greedy and always looking to take over lands and fortune from others to expend and prosper in the most despicable way. In this story they zeroed on Boudicca’s fortune. It was stunning as to how she decided she was not going to let them destroy her life.

Thomas Baker did an amazing job in presenting the story in the most authenticated way possible. The book is very well written and the plot easy to follow. The author provides a wonderful mixture of emotions that keep you eager to turn the pages. This was an amazing way for me to learn a part of history I had totally missed, and l loved it.

The book is a combination of actual facts and fantasy that gives the story a wonderful touch of the author’s imagination. Boudicca’s feelings of hurt and anger, while trying to take revenge against the Romans for violating her daughter were heartfelt. As a mother I feel I would have gone to the ends of the earth just as she did to right a wrong against my family. This is the kind of thing that would make a human being utterly fearless.

Thomas Baker provided an amazing story that kept me glued to the pages. When I arrived at the end of the story I found myself wanting to read more. He makes his characters come alive in the reader’s mind and that was very intriguing to me. Boudicca was a woman so filled with courage, she would give everything including her life to make things right. This is a very powerful story that I would recommend to any person that loves history and is interested in values, integrity, and passion for doing the right thing.

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#Very #Impressive #Work: A Book Review #ASMSG

Like all indie authors, I receive feedback from readers in the form of book reviews. Many authors say that the reviews that mean the most are the critical ones. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the reviews that say things like: “I was disappointed. This writer sucks.” I wish I were making that up, but most of the writers I know have had their fair share of reviews like that. Those kinds of reviews are senseless, and they hurt, no matter how used to such mistreatment of your efforts as a writer you may become. There simply is no way to protect yourself. Your writing is truly a part of who you are. It is inseperable from your psyche.

What I’m getting at is that reviews are a vehicle for personal growth. When a writer reads a review, it is immediately evident whether or not the reviewer has made a genuine effort to give constructive feedback. We live in a time in which technology is so advanced that if a reviewer makes a clear and compelling case in the form of criticism, the writer can make a change and have that change appear in his/her book within 24 hours. The key of course, is good feedback.

Here is an example review I recently received on a short story of mine called, “Boudicca: Her Story“. The story reached number 4 on the Amazon Best-Seller List for short stories. Anyway, the book review was written by a reviewer who calls himself/herself “Happy”. “Happy” is from Missouri. Anyway, here is the review:

(Quote) “I could have gotten this information on WikiLeaks. I like history and historical fiction. This book was a disappointment. Don’t waste your money.” (end of quote)
Source: Boudicca: Her Story by T. Jerome Baker

Yes, that is everything. It is not an excerpt, not an extract from a larger piece of writing. That’s the full book review, complete. That’s everything. As you can imagine, the review does not give me the slightest bit of information related to what changes I could possibly consider making to the book in order to improve its quality. I can do nothing to improve the reading experience of future readers. Nothing is possible with such a review.

On the other hand, writers also receive good reviews too. To be honest, as time goes by you gain unique insights into what your readers like, expect, or want to read. Over time, readers identify authors whose writing style they enjoy. It is not rare for authors to have dozens, even hundreds of positive reviews. To put this another way, nobody buys a Volkswagen when they want a Mercedes. Yes, from time to time readers will give a new author an opportunity. But such a chance is rarely a shot in the dark. The reader has a good idea that they will likely be pleased with what the writer has to offer.

I want to pivot here and turn to a review that has made my day. It is a positive review. The reviewer makes genuine comments which show a great deal of thought and insight went into the writing of the review. If you will compare the two reviews, the negative review above, and the positive review below, there can be little doubt about which review has the greater value…

Very Impressive Work

M. Medler "Ella" (UK)

M. Medler “Ella” (UK)

Ok, so I approached this book with about as much respect as your average teenager would your grandma’s set of false teeth. What is the point, I wondered, of writing a book about writing book reviews? As if there weren’t enough tutorials online, or hints and pointers on every site. Don’t be personal, control your emotions, stay objective, focus on the good parts of a book, mention what segment of the market would enjoy it, yadda, yadda, yadda. I’m a reviewer, too, I published hundreds of book reviews. I know all that.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the level of intelligence and intuition with which this book is written, nor did I expect the absolute honesty with which the content is presented – all done so smoothly, and with such effortless tact, that you’ll be halfway through the book before you even realize you got there. You get explanations, links, comparisons, pointers – everything you need to get you walking down the right track – offered in an easy-follow, entertaining voice full of wisdom.

I expect every reader will take away only those words they agree with, but if you consider yourself a serious reviewer, or maybe are just starting out with a mind to make book reviewing a possible career, or even if all you are looking for is a technique to help you formulate and present your opinions, you need to read this book. It will give you the tools for writing not just a review, but a useful evaluation that will help the prospective reader, and the author alike.

Very impressive work, well deserving of 5 stars. I simply couldn’t pass the chance to write this review.

** Thank you very much Ella, for your generosity, your wisdom, and your time. Best regards, Thomas Jerome Baker

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More Than 135 000 Secondary School Graduates Across the World Receive Results of Internationally Recognized Diploma

THE HAGUE (JULY 7, 2014) – The International Baccalaureate (IB) today announced its May 2014 Diploma Programme results. 135, 534 secondary, or high school, diploma students across the globe are receiving their results, marking a 6.5 percent increase above last year. They join a community of more than 1,200,000 Diploma Programme graduates in 141 countries across the world.

The announcement underscores the consistency with which the IB Diploma Programme pass rate remains stable, even as the community of IB students continues to grow. This session showcases an average diploma score of 29.81 points (of 45 possible maximum), and 146 students receiving a perfect score.

With more than 790 examination papers processed in 74 languages, this was the largest exam session conducted at the IB since the birth of the Diploma Programme.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate May 2014 graduates. I commend them on their dedication and drive in accomplishing this hard earned achievement,” said Dr. Siva Kumari, IB Director General. “Since universities continue to value the diploma graduate, we look forward to seeing more students in the Diploma programme.

We know the graduates are well conditioned in critical thinking, researching and deep knowledge that prepares them to thrive in the universities they attend. And just as importantly, to enter their next phase of study with the mindset and inspiration to give positive shape to and influence today’s complex world.”

This year’s session involved more than 530 Chief, Deputy and other senior examiners teaming up across the world to establish consistent and accurate grading criteria across subjects and ensure consistency across the evaluation process.

“We are very pleased with the examination results that have been achieved across the globe,” said Carolyn Adams, the IB’s Chief Assessment Officer. “And we are grateful to our team of examiners. Consistency in applying the marking criteria and mark schemes is absolutely essential – we’re deeply appreciative of our examiners’ diligence in guaranteeing that our robust standards are applied equally across the globe. These professionals are key to ensuring that the IB’s qualifications remain globally recognized and lauded as a standard for success.”

International research shows that university admissions staff have positive impressions of the IB Diploma Programme, with the DP curricula and assessment comparing favourably to other qualifications. Additionally, research provides evidence that IB Diploma Programme students enroll in higher rates at more selective universities, and perform better once there than those with other secondary school qualifications.

About the International Baccalaureate

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a non-profit foundation which offers four high quality and challenging education programmes for students from ages 3- to 19-years-old within a worldwide community of primary and secondary schools. For over 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently, more than one million IB students attend more than 3,700 schools in 147 countries. To learn more, please visit our website at www.ibo.org

About the IB Diploma Programme

The IB Diploma Programme, for students 16 to 19, is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education with final examinations that prepares students for success at university and in life beyond.

Students study six subjects concurrently. These include two languages, one subject from individuals and societies, one science, one mathematics subject, and one subject from the arts or another subject from the other groups.

In addition to pursuing these subjects, all Diploma Programme students complete three compulsory core elements that are essential to the philosophy of the programme: the extended essay, theory of knowledge, and creativity, action, service (CAS).

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#4thofJuly #BookReview: How to #Teach #Debating: Theory & Practical #Handbook ==> http://amzn.to/1rqWIVN <== RT #asmsg #t4us #4ftm #iartg #bookplugs #RRBC

Book Description

Book Publication Date:
November 13, 2013

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” ~ Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” In the Dickens’ quotation we find a contradiction. How can the “best” be the “worst”? Likewise, most debate coaches have differing interpretations about debating. As a debate coach, I emphasize the practical, namely, you learn to debate, by debating.

I dedicate this book to all teachers, coaches, and students worldwide, and especially to the non-native speaker of English. Since most books on debating are aimed at native speakers of English, this book addresses this disparity while still being useful to a native speaker.

For example, there are many practice activities, drills and exercises. This makes it a highly practical book for the non-native speaker, who above all else, will benefit most from such practice. Nonetheless, it also addresses debating theory, both inductively and inductively. Therefore, it is an excellent resource book for all debaters, debate coaches, and teachers to have.

Finally, debating helps you to understand that others see the world differently. This understanding promotes mutual respect and tolerance of diversity. In this way, debate plays a role in building a better world for everyone to live in…


What The Reviewers Are Saying

Excellent Summary and Handbook on Debating December

December 15, 2013
By Beach Lady

“If you are interested in debating, then this is the book for you. This book contains an excellent explanation of the benefits of debating, with a particular emphasis on debating as a way to supplement the learning of English as a foreign language.

As a teacher, I know the importance of teaching critical thinking skills. It is so easy to focus on memorization, or developing specific skills, but knowing how to think critically and how to use that skill in life and in communication is a critical component of the educational process. This book gives some excellent suggestions for using a formal debating process as a key tool for teaching and enforcing critical thinking as part of the educational process.

There are tons of examples of debating on an international scale, on specific topics for debates, and on how to evaluate debates. If you are involved in sponsoring a debating team, in working with a debating team, in having a son or daughter that is considering joining a debating group, or if you yourself are interested in learning more about this educational structure, then I strongly suggest reading this book. Clearly, the author is experienced and provides a front row perspective on teaching through debating. Very well done.”

USA V BELGIUMhttp://amzn.to/1o6cuil

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#MondayBlogs: Being A #Teacher In #Chile #ASMSG #IARTG #Bookplugs

** This book, Being A Teacher In Chile, is for teachers, educators, students, parents, administrators, everyone who has a stake in education. By definition, that is everyone. Timeless issues that concern teachers everywhere are looked at (good teacher, bad teacher, teacher conduct at work and away from work, social media, for example) to gain reflective insights which both challenge and confirm our beliefs about education. Being a teacher in Chile, after all, is no different than being a teacher anywhere else in the world.**

What are the reviewers saying about this book?

5.0 out of 5 stars

Informative and Thorough,
June 27, 2014

By Zapple “Elias” (London)

This review is from: Being A Teacher In Chile (Kindle Edition)

Being a Teacher in Chile is a very useful guide to anybody, qualified, thinking of teaching English not only in Chile but in any developing country. It was shocking to read that 50% of English teachers in Chile are not qualified! I’d imagine this is the case in many other countries – I know this is the case in China for example. Through experience and research Thomas Baker has put together a useful guide and informative piece to help those about to embark on this journey with useful tips and insights. And, as Baker puts it, love what you do. Through his writing it’s clear that he does. Great work.

Chile por Manuel Grandón


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#PechaKucha & English Language Teaching: Changing The Classroom (Book Review) #asmsg #RaveReviewsBookClub #iartg #ian1 #edchat

5.0 out of 5 stars
New wonderful “communication” possibility!
June 25, 2014

By Roxy on Amazon “Roxy on Amazon” –

This review is from: Pecha Kucha & English Language Teaching: Changing The Classroom (Kindle Edition)

“You know, I was first attracted by the title! :-) Curiosity killed the cat…But, in this case, it happens that curiosity makes a great service to knowledge. YESSS The book is easy to read and will teach you how to use an incredible tool to impress your audience, any audience, from family, colleagues to business partners and customers as well as your students.

The author provides a number of online references and sources where to “watch and listen” Pecha Kuchas (including educational ones). It looks as if this tool also makes schoolchildren eager to work in team/groups to produce “presentations”. I won’t get into more details so as not to spoil the content. I will surely use this technique for my future coaching seminars, and not only! I thank Thomas Jerome Baker for introducing me (and all his readers) to this new wonderful “communication” possibility.

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19 Inspirational #Quotes From Nelson Mandela

Mandela Quote

** Today I have been thinking about Nelson Mandela. I saw a picture of him holding the World Cup trophy in his hand. It made me reflect not on football (soccer), but on his incredible wisdom. That is why I have searched for a collection of his most inspirational quotes. This is not a “top ten” or a “fab five” or “magnificent seven.” It is, what it is, simply a collection of thoughts by an extremely wise man, whose words and deeds made the whole world a better place to live in, for everyone…**

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, Nobel Prize winner and anti-Apartheid icon passed away at his home in Johannesburg at the age of 95. By any standard, Madiba, as he was fondly referred to by those who loved him, lived a robust, fulfilling and impactful life.

Few people have had as much impact on history as Madiba had. History will remember him as one of the greatest men who ever lived – an incredibly selfless man who made so much of a sacrifice to re-write the history of generations of South Africans and the world.

During his lifetime, Nelson Mandela inspired us with his numerous words of wisdom, etched in our memories till tomorrow. And his words remain evergreen: (Source: Forbes)

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death…”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear…”

“Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end…”

“It always seems impossible until it’s done…”

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace…”

“Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people…”

“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of…”

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do…”

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world…”

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others…”

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again…”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living…”

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will…”

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right…”

“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished…”

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies…”

“I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles…”

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination…”

“When people are determined they can overcome anything…”


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#WorldCup When #FIFA Cut #Chile #National #Anthem Short: Watch How Fans Reacted

Chile knocked defending champions Spain out of the World Cup. But that wasn’t the only awesome thing that happened.

FIFA has a rule, stupid or not, that national anthems must be limited to 90 seconds before matches. The Chilean national anthem is more than 90 seconds. When the music stopped, Chile’s fans — who’d traveled to Rio in such large numbers that Chile v. Spain may as well have been taking place in Santiago — finished the anthem in glorious, thundering fashion.

The players were obviously moved. Clearly they were motivated, too. They went on to beat Spain 2-0.

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