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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

May the New Year bring all the health, light and hope we need...

T&L wishes you a very HAPPY 2014!



Monday, 23 December 2013

A very Merry Christmas!!!


Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!


― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, suggested by our friend Rita Paiva Campos. <3

To all our friends, readers and visitors, the warmest wishes of a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, this year, every year!...



Saturday, 21 December 2013

Which words originated in your birth year?

Do you know which words entered the English language around the same time you entered the world? Use the Oxford English Dictionary birthday word generator to find out! The Oxford English Dictionary did an amazing work finding words with a first known usage for each year from 1900 to 2004. Simply select the relevant decade and click on your birth year to discover a word which entered the English language that year.


Blended Learning - a disruptive innovation

Monday, 2 December 2013

Cyber Monday 2013


Cyber Monday is a marketing term for the Monday after Black Friday (the Friday following Thanksgiving), created by companies to persuade people to shop online. This year, Cyber Moday is today, December 2nd!
The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled "'Cyber Monday' quickly becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year".

image credits: Business Pundit
In 2006, Shop.org announced that it launched the CyberMonday.com portal, a one-stop shop for Cyber Monday deals. Cyber Monday has become an international marketing term used by online retailers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.
In late November 2005, the New York Times reported that "The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked."
Cyber Monday came to Canada in 2008. The National Post featured an article, in the November 25, 2010 edition, stating that the parity of the Canadian dollar with the US dollar caused many Canadian retailers to have Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales of their own. By 2011, around 80% of online retailers in Canada were participating in Cyber Monday.
image credits: All Things
According to The Guardian, UK online retailers are now referring to "Cyber Monday" as the busiest internet shopping day of the year that commonly falls on the same day as the US Cyber Monday.
Amazon.de announced that it brought Cyber Monday to Germany in 2010.
In Portugal, the term Cyber Monday was first used in 2009.
Inspired by the US phenomenon, the term Cyber Monday was first used in France in 2008.
The first Cyber Monday Sale in New Zealand was held on 29 November 2010. It lasted for five days, from Monday to Friday.
Chile's first Cyber Monday took place on 28 November 2011. The companies participating in the event are those part of the Santiago Chamber of Commerce's Electronic Commerce Committee.
On 20 November 2012, Australian online retailers held a similar event for the first time dubbed Click Frenzy; many websites immediately crashed, went offline or had major server issues including the Click Frenzy promotion website.

Source: CyberMonday.com & Wikipedia (abridged and adapted)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Critical & Creative Thinking

You are what you think. That's right. Whatever you are doing right now, whatever you feel, whatever you want - all are determined by the quality of your thinking. If your thinking is unrealistic, your thinking will lead to many disappointments. If your thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many things in which you should properly rejoice. For most people, most of their thinking is subconscious, that is, never explicitly put into words. The problem is that when you are not aware of your thinking you have no chance of “correcting” it. When thinking is subconscious, you are in no position to see any problems in it. And, if you don't see any problems in it, you won't be motivated to change it.
When we are thinking of a classroom context, critical thinking is thinking that assesses itself. To the extent that our students need us to tell them how well they are doing, they are not thinking critically. Didactic instruction makes students overly dependent on the teacher. In such instruction, students rarely develop any perceptible intellectual independence and typically have no intellectual standards to assess their thinking with. Instruction that fosters a disciplined, thinking mind, on the other hand, is 180 degrees in the opposite direction.
Each step in the process of thinking critically is tied to a self-reflexive step of self-assessment. As a critical thinker, I do not simply state the problem; I state it and assess it for its clarity. I do not simply gather information; I gather it and check it for its relevance and significance. I do not simply form an interpretation; I check my interpretation to see what it is based on and whether that basis is adequate. 
Because of the importance of self-assessment to critical thinking, it is important to bring it into the structural design of the class and not just leave it to episodic tactics. Virtually every day, for example, students should be giving (to their pairs) and receiving feedback on the quality of their work. They should be regularly using intellectual standards in an explicit way. 
The following wheel shows a procedure sequence that will allow you to engage your students in thinking critically:

Credits: somasimple
The following verb wheel shows a whole set of activities we can get our students to do in class, based on Bloom's Taxonomy:

Credits: critical & creative thinking

Friday, 29 November 2013

Black Friday 2013



For millions of people Black Friday is the time to do some serious Christmas shopping, even before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. Black Black is the Friday after Thanksgiving, and it's one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States, falling this year on November 29th. While it's not recognized as an official US holiday, many employees have the day off -except those working in retail.
image credits: Infographic Journal
The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

In the 1960's, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.” In a non-retail sense, it was originally used to describe something else entirely — the September 24th, 1864, stock-market panic set off by plunging gold prices. Newspapers in Philadelphia reappropriated the phrase in the late 1960s, using it to describe the rush of crowds at stores. The justification came later, tied to accounting balance sheets where black ink would represent a profit. Many see Black Friday as the day retailers go into the black or show a profit for the first time in a given year. 
The term stuck and spread, and by the 1990s Black Friday became an unofficial retail holiday nationwide. Since 2002, Black Friday has been the season's biggest shopping day each year except 2004, according to market-research firm ShopperTrak. Nevertheless, retailers continue to tie one-day in-store sales to Black Friday. In the Internet era, bloggers race to obtain leaked circulars and post them online weeks in advance of Thanksgiving. Many forums  and websites  chart the deals, helping shoppers make a plan of attack for the big day. And attack they will — the National Retail Federation anticipates 134 million people will hit the stores on Thanksgiving weekend.

Why did it become so popular?

photo credits: Time
As retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices, Black Friday became the day to shop, even better than those last minute Christmas sales. Some retailers put their items up for sale on the morning of Thanksgiving, or email online specials to consumers days or weeks before the actual event. The most shopped for items are electronics and popular toys, as these may be the most drastically discounted. However, prices are slashed on everything from home furnishings to apparel.
Black Friday is a long day, with many retailers opening up at 5 am or even earlier to hordes of people waiting anxiously outside the windows. There are numerous doorbuster deals and loss leaders – prices so low the store may not make a profit - to entice shoppers. 

Most large retailers post their Black Friday ad scans, coupons and offers online beforehand to give consumers time to find out about sales and plan their purchases. Other companies take a different approach, waiting until the last possible moment to release their Black Friday ads, hoping to create a buzz and keep customers eagerly checking back for an announcement.
More and more, consumers are choosing to shop online, not wanting to wait outside in the early morning chill with a crush of other shoppers or battle over the last most-wanted item. Often, many people show up for a small number of limited-time "door-buster" deals, such as large flat-screen televisions or laptops for a few hundred dollars. Since these coveted items sell out quickly, quite a few shoppers leave the store empty handed. 

image credits: CNNMoney
 
Sources: Black Friday, Time

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving is celebrated today, November 28th, as always in the fourth Thursday of the month, all across the USA and Canada and precedes Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days , mostly in the USA.
found pic @ Crosswalk
In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an Autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn't until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.


THANKSGIVIG AT PLYMOUTH

found pic @ mbeinstitute
In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers - an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith and other individuals lured by the promise of prosperity and land ownership in the New World. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. A month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth. Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland on an exploratory expedition. Squanto taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the settlers forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years and tragically remains one of the sole examples of harmony between European colonists and Native Americans.


found pic @ ucls-chicago
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days. While no record exists of the historic banquet’s exact menu, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow wrote in his journal that Governor Bradford sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the event, and that the Wampanoag guests arrived bearing five deer. Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.

THANKSGIVING BECOMES AN OFFICIAL HOLIDAY
found pic @ Google images
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.
In 1817, New York became the first of several states to officially adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday; each celebrated it on a different day, however, and the American South remained largely unfamiliar with the tradition. In 1827, the noted magazine editor and writer Sarah Josepha Hale—author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”—launched a campaign to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. For 36 years, she published numerous editorials and sent scores of letters to governors, senators, presidents and other politicians. Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.
 


THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS
found pic @ fashionpill
In many American households, the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original religious significance; instead, it now centers on cooking and sharing a bountiful meal with family and friends. Turkey, a Thanksgiving staple so ubiquitous it has become all but synonymous with the holiday, may or may not have been on offer when the Pilgrims hosted the inaugural feast in 1621. Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird—whether roasted, baked or deep-fried—on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Volunteering is a common Thanksgiving Day activity, and communities often hold food drives and host free dinners for the less fortunate.
Parades have also become an integral part of the holiday in cities and towns across the United States. Presented by Macy’s department store since 1924, New York City’s Thanksgiving Day parade is the largest and most famous, attracting some 2 to 3 million spectators along its 2.5-mile route and drawing an enormous television audience. It typically features marching bands, performers, elaborate floats conveying various celebrities and giant balloons shaped like cartoon characters.
Beginning in the mid-20th century and perhaps even earlier, the president of the United States has “pardoned” one or two Thanksgiving turkeys each year, sparing the birds from slaughter and sending them to a farm for retirement. A number of U.S. governors also perform the annual turkey pardoning ritual.



THANKSGIVING IN THE UK



photo credits: US Embassy in London
Thanksgiving Day in the United Kingdom is celebrated as a harvest festival. This day is a religious honouring to convey a feeling of gratitude to God for the year's plentiful and fruitful harvest and thanking family and friends for their love and support. The day is celebrated by preparing a special meal of large roasted turkey, which is a native American species, along with cranberry sauce, stuffing, with veggies. A variety of different pies with apple, mincemeat, pumpkin and pecan form the dessert menu. Gifts are also exchanged on this day which include flowers, jewellery, baked cookies, candy and wine. 
Many towns and cities stage spectacular parades on this day. Many people are on the roads to enjoy the decorated floats, the costumes, the music and the heavy balloons.
Source:  The History Channel (abridged and adapted)
You may also check relevant multimedia resources on this topic @:
You can get ELT resources (further info, lesson plans, printables, posters, slideshows, recipes, graphs, crafts, colouring pictures and greeting cards) on the topic @:

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