ELT teachers need to understand and utilise their natural rhythms

As ELT teachers we operate best when we allow our bodies and minds time to recover after intense periods of effort. If we try to operate at high levels of intensity for prolonged periods of time without allowing time for rest, we become mental and emotional flat liners. Our minds and bodies simply break down and we stop functioning optimally.

Our minds and bodies function best when we operate using a work rest ratio that was designed over 1800 years ago by a Greek named Flavius Philostratus. He drew up a set of training manuals for Greek athletes, carefully detailing the work rest ratios that would allow the athletes to deliver their best performances. His theories were resurrected in the early 1960′s by the Russian Olympic team. They enjoyed an unprecedented level of success at the Olympic Games that year. This really effective theory, simply states that every period of intense activity, must be followed by a period of rest. This allows the mind and body to replenish and recover.

There are two ways you can negatively affect your performance

  • Operating at high levels of intensity for prolonged periods without adequate rest. (Over Stressing Your System)
  • Not training or working hard enough (Insufficient Stress)

Over training or over exerting your mind or body for prolonged periods causes injury, soreness, break down of the immune system, anxiety, negativeness, loss of passion and mental and emotional staleness. Training or operating at high intensity without adequate rest allows toxins to build up in our bodies. This leads to burnout and the breakdown of our performance.

If we want to improve, grow stronger and build muscle. We must place our muscles under stress and then allow them adequate time to recover before we stress them again. It is during recovery that our muscles rebuild and become stronger. If we keep placing our muscles under stress and we do not allow adequate time for them to recover, we will see our performance drop off.

If you work at extremely high levels of performance for prolonged periods, without allowing adequate time for recovery, you will see your performance steadily drop.

The same is true about your mental performance and your ability to be creative an effective every day. If you work at extremely high levels of performance for prolonged periods, without allowing adequate time for recovery, you will see your performance steadily drop. You must build recovery time into your daily, weekly, quarterly and annual schedules. Without adequate recovery time planned and built into your schedule you will stunt your growth and damage your performance.

Break your year up into 4 equal parts of 90 days each. Ensure that you get crystal clear focus around exactly what you want to achieve. By prioritizing and carefully selecting a theme for what you want to achieve during that quarter. Break the 90 days back even further and select specific projects that are aligned with this theme. Focus all your energy on accomplishing this single project for the next two weeks or 30 days.

Apply my code of personal achievement, by selecting five daily activities that are aligned with achieving this project and carry out these activities every day. Your head must not hit the pillow before you have carried out these actions.

For example: If it was January and I wanted to improve my health and lose weight by the end of the year. I would break my year back into 4 equal parts of 90 days each. I would then choose a project that is aligned with this goal namely to loose 3 kg. I would break this back further into three periods of thirty days each. I would now only need to lose 1 kg over the next 30 days.

The code of personal achievement that I would choose could be the following:

  • Eat Six small meals a day
  • Exercise for 30 minutes each day
  • Only Choose low fat healthy foods
  • Drink 2 liters of water a day
  • Walk the stairs at work every day

These are actions I will take every day. They will be penned into my schedule every day. My head will not hit the pillow until I have carried out these actions.

Here is a recommended formula for success

  • Choose a theme each 90 days that is aligned with the overall outcome you are trying to achieve that year.
  • Break each 90 day period into shorter cycles. These cycles can be anything from a few days to six weeks each. Depending on the outcomes you are attempting to achieve.
  • Choose a code of personal achievement. Choose five activities that you will carry out every day. These activities must be congruent and aligned with the outcome you are attempting to achieve.
  • Invest the first few days of each cycle in really intense effort. Really get things going, launch your new project with gusto. Apply an intense amount of focused effort to each project.
  • Include time to rest every day, at the end of every week, after completing each cycle and most definitely at the end of each quarter and the end of each year.

About the Author

Hi my name is Andrew Horton; I am an inspirational Speaker, Master Teacher, Radio and TV Host, Global Traveler and Author. My area of focus is in the field of human behavior, expanded awareness and enlightenment. I travel the planet constantly researching, learning and seeking ways to unlock the mysteries of the human mind. I delve into the inner workings of the universe, always looking for ways to understand my role in making things better and contributing to the improvement of the human experience. Please visit my website to sign up for a daily inspirational message by following this link Daily Inspirational Message. This is your daily call to action, a reminder to do things better each day. Visit my website at


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4 ways that students get caught out buying essays online

It’s not easy being a university student when English isn’t your native tongue and you’re required to attend lectures and hand in term papers in a college where English is the medium of instruction. Consequently, many turn to online writing sites for help.

I know I’m strictly in the minority as an educator, but I believe using such services to provide a model for the student to work from when making their own essay isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nevertheless, there are many bad companies out there offering free research papers online and students don’t realize how easy it is for us to spot a poorly written paper from one of these places.

Here are some of those things that we look for, and easily find!

1. The writing isn’t up to scratch

Let’s start with the obvious: a lot of these services are only in it for the money and will throw out any old garbage just to pull in a quick buck. Work written by a bad or under-qualified writer sticks out a mile and will be spotted within one or two sentences.

2. Formatting is all over the place

The chances are that a professor is going to specify the style in which they want the work written. Quality writing services will ask you if, for instance, your paper should be in the APA or Harvard styles. An absence of formatting is a sure sign that the paper has been written badly.

3. Will it pass the plagiarism test?

One thing that many students don’t realize is that universities use plagiarism detection software. Consequently, it’s as easy as a click of a button to see if an essay has been copied from an online source. The worst online writing services will do this unashamedly, so those of you who are looking for free research papers online should take my advice and be careful to watch out for such work.

4. There’s little or no support

The real deal companies see this as their business and offer round the clock support to their clients. Those academics who like to see draft essays and discuss these with their students will spot immediately when no changes have been made to the final essay, which is often the case when the essay has been bought from a poor online service. Some of the better services offer free revisions, though, which is what makes it more difficult for the professors to spot such work.

Students use these services for understandable reasons. However, poor work is easy to spot, whether written by the student or by a poor online writing service.

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Creative Shoebox Diorama Ideas for School

Shoebox Dioramas are a part of every school year and in just about every grade they serve as a wonderful learning tool. They are used to learn the arts and crafts of making things and they are used to also learn about specific subjects and have many great uses in language learning, too. This article shows you some creative ideas from both the arts and crafts aspect and the learning aspect.

The Arts and Crafts of Shoebox Dioramas

There are a lot of common ways to make a shoebox diorama and they include tape, glue, construction paper and all the regular assortment of arts and crafts stuff but there are a few things you can do to make a diorama just a little bit special.

Here is a list of ideas:

  • If you are doing an underwater scene you can cover the front of the box with Saran Wrap or thin plastic. This gives the diorama an underwater feel
  • Use string to utilize the full three dimensions inside the box; suspend objects from strings or tie strings from side to side and top to bottom and attach objects to the strings. This works well for flying objects like bird, pterodactyls or even clouds and stars.
  • Cut slots in the back and top of the box and use this to insert objects that you can move across the diorama. Make a bird, boat, comet or some other type of moving object then attach a tab to the back of it. Insert this tab in the slot then you can grab the tab from the back and slide the object across the diorama. This adds a nice little interactive element. This works well with all kinds of things from a rising sun, flying bird, erupting volcano or just about anything else that would move.
  • Think outside the shoebox! There is no need to run out and buy a new pair of shoes if you don’t have a shoebox. A more than adequate box can be made from scraps of cardboard or even a few cereal boxes cut and taped together. And there is no need to make a typical shoebox shape. Be creative in the shape you make. It adds a dimension of interest to the project. Half round, amphitheatre shapes are commonly used for dioramas and look great.
  • Achieving Depth – The most common trait of an average shoebox diorama is that it has a decorated background and objects placed on the bottom surface. You can add an attractive touch by decorating a strip of paper that is about two inches wide with a foliage pattern then attach this to the inside bottom of the diorama about an inch from the back wall – it reaches all the way from the left side to the right side. This adds a lot of depth and makes it look much more interesting.
  • Using alternate materials – You don’t have to use cardboard or boxes. As an example, if you are doing a polar bear or penguin diorama you could use white packing Styrofoam. If you are doing a desert scene you can apply glue to the bottom of the diorama and sprinkle real sand on it.

Theme Ideas and Learning Tools

The biggest point of a shoebox diorama is to show a natural habitat of something. In the process of drawing and cutting out the various objects a child is learning about the habitat. This is great but you can take it to new levels with a little thought and a little creativity.

  • Freezing a moment in time – A diorama is a moment in time and you can focus on this. Some good examples are you can have a meteor streaking across the sky of a dinosaur diorama; this explains a theory of extinction. Or you can show a large predator fish about to eat a smaller fish as it is eating something even smaller. This dramatic moment in time is a good display of the food chain.
  • Interactions in a habitat – The focus of a diorama is often to correctly identify and place the right objects for a natural habitat but you can take this to a new level by focusing on the interactions within the habitat. The upper layer of canopy in a rainforest blocks out sunlight from the lower layers and this is an important aspect of the rainforest. A coral reef provides shelter for many creatures in the sea and a diorama can display this.
  • Adding a Fact Sheet – This is a great tool that should be added to every diorama. You should make a fact sheet that can be glued to poster board and stood up near the diorama. The sheet explains the basic facts of what the diorama is about.

Diorama Ideas

Here are some ideas you can use as a theme for your diorama

  • The Natural Habitat of just about any creature like fish, polar bears, black bears, penguins, wolves, humans, dinosaurs, camels, lions, tigers, monkeys, elephants, dolphins, and well you get the idea!
  • A Desert theme complete with pyramids, mummies and camels is fun
  • A Rainforest is a good diorama for teaching about diversity and the interaction of species
  • An astronomy diorama complete with sun, planets, comets, and stars in the background
  • A medieval Castle scene complete with catapult or dragon
  • Underwater scenes are always popular
  • Arctic themed dioramas are fun because of the creative options for snow and icebergs

Whatever diorama you choose to make you should take a little time to make it different and unique and there are lots of creative ways to do that. Have fun with your project!

About the Author

Will Kalif

Visit the author’s diorama site where you can find lots of videos, tutorials, and ideas for making dioramas. Diorama Man


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Getting to grips with the different types of essay writing

One of the main problems that all students have when they start to write essays – and this is an even bigger problem for those who are studying in English even though it isn’t their native tongue – is getting to grips with the question. The question you are asked is going to completely define the type of answer you need to give. Consequently, this is an area in which many students struggle and is a big reason why some turn to websites that offer research papers for sale.

One of the main problems that all students have when they start to write essays is getting to grips with the question. The question you are asked is going to completely define the type of answer you need to give.

The difficulties in finding help when deciding how to answer any particular question mean that some students decide to buy research papers to help them as they provide a model from which to work. Let’s consider the three main types of essay that students are required to write:

The expository essay

This is the type of essay that is most often taught in writing classes, as it is the classic model of introduction, main body paragraphs and conclusion. This type of essay shows that you have knowledge of the topic and can inform the reader about it. This, as I mentioned, is the standard type of essay and is one that most are familiar with.

The narrative essay

This is perhaps less common and more difficult for the student to get to grips with. In this type of essay the student is expressing their ideas about the topic. Consequently, many turn to a personal statement writing service for help in deciding how to format such a piece and what should and shouldn’t be included.

The provocative essay

Again, this is less common, which is why it can be difficult to find models on which to build your own piece of writing. Such essays aim to catch the readers attention and may act as a kind of call to action.

Important: work out what type of question you are being asked and seek help if you need it.

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A model essay for students to work from?

Writing an essay can be a simple thing, but only once you have managed to get your head around the conventions of writing in this academic format. It is a process which takes you from having a series of thoughts in your mind on the particular subject all the way through to organizing and presenting these in a logical way so that the reader fully understands your stance on the issue.

Writing an essay is even more difficult for second language learners who are trying to write in English when this isn’t even their first language.

Easier said than done? Maybe; this is even more difficult for second language learners who are trying to write in English when this isn’t even their first language. So, what do such students need to do and – more importantly – what can they get from an essay writing service?

The writing process can be divided into three distinct parts, all of which are troublesome for the student:

The pre-writing stage

This is the point at which the student has to gather their ideas together. This might happen in class, or in discussion with friends, or, and this is becoming increasingly common, by researching on the internet. This is where students often slip up: copying and pasting ideas from the internet is plagiarism and some see employing essay writing services, where ideas are presented as a model, as a more legitimate method.

The writing stage

Are research papers for sale on the internet really so bad if they are used for a model of how to use grammar and vocabulary correctly? In attempting to put ideas into their own words in a second language, many students get so lost that they end up with an indecipherable mess. A model from which to construct their own work can be invaluable.

The post-writing stage

Again, this is a potential nightmare for the non-native speaker who has attempted to paraphrase complex arguments and ideas in their own essay. It is common to misuse grammatical structures such as the passive voice and use inappropriate vocabulary. Many benefit from writing websites – such as  - which lay out sample essays according to accepted conventions.

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How well do you know the APA formatting style

Academic papers are required to be formatted according to instructions given. Therefore students are supposed to familiarize themselves with various formatting styles in place. Students should have a look at different papers formatted using different formatting styles to be familiar with them well. APA formatting style is an example of formatting styles used in academic papers. Students find it hard when it comes to formatting of essays using APA styles. This is because they do not have adequate knowledge of various writing styles.

When it comes to author’s details, it is somehow confusing as you are required to give detailed information about the author.

When using APA style we mostly focus on the author’s details, punctuation rules, journal citations and also referencing online. When it comes to author’s details, it is somehow confusing as you are required to give detailed information about the author. For instance you are supposed to write author’s first name followed by initials of the middle name and then last name. In punctuation rules, APA requires terminal punctuations followed by double spaces in the text.

Format of APA paper

When writing APA style you are supposed to use 8.5 by 11 inches paper, with Times Romans font and font size 12. Always remember to leave one inch on all sides of the paper. Every page in your APA paper should include page header at the top and page numbers on the right side. APA paper should contain four main sections namely title page, abstract, main body and reference sections.

Title page:

This should contain a running head, title of your paper, student’s name and institution name. Running head should be in the upper left corner of all pages in your paper. All pages including title page should contain a page number in upper right side. In this page, your paper title, student’s name and institution name should be double spaced and centered.


This is the short summary of your paper. Abstract should be last part to be written in your paper and should be written on a separate page. Abstract should not be more than 150 to 250 words; however your instructor may instruct you on the length and content of your abstract.

Main body:

This will vary depending on the type of paper you are writing. Follow instructions given when it comes to citing the main body of your paper.

Reference section:

This is where you include all materials where information was gathered from. Remember to include author’s details. For instance it is necessary to include author’s name, date of publication and the page where information was collected from.

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April Blog Roundup – IATEFL Special

The International IATEFL Conference is blowing the opposition out of the water when it comes to the scale of the event and the innovations made every year. This year’s event in Glasgow has continued the trend. Here’s a selection of great blog posts about Glasgow 2012:

Sandy Millin – IATEFL Glasgow 2012: the functional post (tweeted notes)

Sandy gives us highjlights from the conference based on how they appeared in the Twitterverse.

Bruno Andrade – Adrian Underhill: Mess and Progress

Bruno eloquently describes the plenary that opened the conference.

Laura Patsko – Collocations and lexical notebooks

Laura reflects on Shaun Dowling’s interesting and entertaining talk on the whats, whys and hows of lexical notebooks.

Adam Simpson – A tale of two conferences (part two)

Adam takes a different, holistic perspective of the conference experience, contrasting the connectedness of IATEFL with the traditional TESOL Arabia.

Eva Büyüksimkesyan – IATEFL Chronicles, Year 2, Last post

Eva reflects on her experiences as an attendee and first time presenter at the world’s premier ELT conference.

Jemma Gardner – Tweet and ye shall find

Jemma leads us through the 21st century conference goers experience, describing about how tweeting enhances the event.

Adam Beale – If I could split myself in two, I would

Adam describes how PLNs are now an important part of conferences and how his personal learning network was out in force in Glasgow.

Cecilia Coelho – IATEFL Blues, yellows and greens. And a sense of direction

Cecilia also talks about the power of the PLN and how connections made through twitter and blogging are making the conference experience more meaningful.

Outstanding conference blogging effort

Chia Suan Chong – IATEFL Glasgow 2012

This tag will lead you to an unbelievable series of write-ups on many presentations from the conference.

If you’ve written about Glasgow 2012 and I’ve missed you off this list (this is highly probable – sorry) please leave a comment and I’ll make amends.

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Keeping those teaching memories all in one place

How long have you been working in your current teaching job? How many strong friendships have you formed with your colleagues and co-workers? Do you ever get together and celebrate special occasions with these people?

Time passes so quickly and we often don’t realize that we making cherished memories with people we spend time with on an everyday basis. Remember that bar mitzvah album from your youth? Do you ever think about your sixteenth birthday party? Many times, photos are taken and then stored away, either in someone’s desk drawer or on somebody’s laptop. If you’re thinking of leaving your school, or if one of the other teachers is moving on, a proper old-fashioned photo album can be the greatest gift you can give or receive.

Photo albums are a particularly affirmative gift because they enable you to package memories in one document. Whatever occasion or event you’re celebrating, from barmitzvah albums to weddings, you can commemorate the goings on in real style with a photo album.

Nevertheless, compiling a great photo album isn’t always as simple as you might think. There are now services on the internet to enable you to put together a great album of your teaching memories, even if you’ve not had the pictures taken by a professional photographer. In the past, the likes of birthday albums, bar mitzvah albums or wedding albums would only be put together by a professional who would charge the going rate for such a service. Nowadays, it’s possible to make such albums by getting someone to put your own pictures together in a professional way.

Your years as a teacher are passing quickly, so don’t forget to take the chance to put together a permanent memento, before it’s too late.




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Fresh crap?

Well, if it’s fresh I guess it’s OK.


Long yellow things?

Don’t worry about it, sometimes even supermarkets can’t remember the right word…

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