Thursday, November 29, 2012

A virus named Christmas...


Tânia Sousa, 11th form student
Tânia would like to pursue a career
in physiotherapy
At Christmas, adults indulge at the mall trying to find not only the perfect, but also the ideal, not to mention the best wonderful Christmas present. During this season, adults become children once again.  We see them singing carols, playing cards with the kids, drawing with the children… Basically, we see them doing things they usually don’t have the patience to do in their everyday lives. We see grandparents taking a nap, while sitting at the Christmas table, men serving their best wine to the guests, women exchanging recipes... Adults are more aware of society problems and become more helpful and thoughtful, especially when it’s about trying to bring some comfort to people that are at the hospital with rare diseases. At Christmas everybody helps everybody and promises become reality. People stop drinking or smoking, especially after New Year’s Eve. Christmas is a magical time but once it’s over, adults become adults again, and nothing changes.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rockfeller Center Xmas Tree

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and by that, it's meant the 80th annual Christmas at Rockefeller holiday extravaganza, including the lighting of the Norway Spruce Christmas Tree. NBC will celebrate the lighting of the world’s most famous Christmas tree with a live broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City on Wednesday, November 28 (8-9 p.m. ET). Ornaments won’t be the only things shining, as this holiday special will feature performances from artists, such as: Trace Adkins, Mariah Carey, CeeLo Green, (NBC’s 'The Voice'), Chris Mann Music, Victoria Justice, Rod Stewart, and Il Volo, and special appearances by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. Open to the public for all to join, everyone is invited to celebrate the holiday season as it brightens up the city with the 80-foot-tall, 80-year-old, 80th anniversary tree. For more information, you might like to pay a visit to rockfellercenter.com.
Source: Rockfeller Center FB Page, 
November 15, 2012  (adapted)

Photos: Will Steacy
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The history of Christmas Trees

The first Christmas tree was the centerpiece of holidays festivities in fifteenth century Latvia. Young men and women danced and sang around the tree before setting it on fire the last night of festivities. From those early traditions, to the first American tree in 1816, and into the present Christmas season, Christmas trees have been the focal point of holiday cheer. The following infographic takes a look at some of the significant moments in the modern history of the Christmas icon. May I suggest this timeline as a possible resource for one of your lessons about Christmas. I've found this information in Visual History of Christmas Trees. Due to the dimensions of the infographic, I only present a print screen of the timeline. Just follow the previous link to access the timeline in full size.



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Monday, November 26, 2012

T@PT is 1 year old

Yep!... It's been a year since I started blogging!... And you've been there all the time, reading, laughing, and thinking over with me!... By following T@PT, you are giving it life! Thank you so much! I hope it has been of worth value for you! It has surely been for me! Have a piece of cake and let's hope for another year of newsreports about the Anglo-saxon world events, ELT & web 2.0 tools suggestions, British & American traditions reminders, inspirational people and thoughts, cartoons and the never to forget homage to the work done at schools both by teachers and students!... Before starting our celebration, may I suggest you a tour around T@PT's timeline, as well as the Index, so that it is easier for you to look up for posts at this website. I'd also suggest you to take a look at T@PT's newest page: The Students' Corner. As the name itself says, it is a place in which students write about whatever topic they feel like, in order to develop their writing skills. Having said this, let the celebration begin: Happy Birthday, Teaching @PineTree!...

Picture via Google Images
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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day in the US and UK

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. It precedes Black Friday. Most government offices, businesses, schools and other organizations are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Many offices and businesses allow staff to have a four-day weekend so these offices and businesses are also closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Public transit systems do not usually operate on their regular timetables. Thanksgiving Day is one of the busiest periods for travel in the USA. This can cause congestion and overcrowding. Seasonal parades and busy football games can cause disruption to local traffic.
There are claims that the first Thanksgiving Day was held in the city of El Paso, Texas in 1598. Another early event was held in 1619 in the Virginia Colony. Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought. These early thanksgivings took the form of a special church service, rather than a feast. In the second half of the 1600s, thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become annual events. It was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one thanksgiving each year. George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.

Source: www.timeanddate.com (abridged)

Thanksgiving Day Macy's Parade, NY City - photo credit: asterix611 via photopin cc
Across the Atlantic Ocean Thanksgiving is also celebrated in London with American food and fun! Also known as Turkey Day in London, the American holiday of Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, as well. In Britain, while it's not an official holiday, lots of American expats and tourists, their friends and relatives, like to mark the occasion by coming together to eat a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Festive food for Thanksgiving includes turkey, pumpkin pie, chowder and anything with an American theme. Thanksgiving menus are available on the day from lots of London hotels, pubs, clubs and restaurants. For more information about Thanksgiving events in London, just follow this LINK.

Pumpkin pie @visitlondon.com official visitor guide

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What is Graphic Design?

Daniel Martinho,
11th form student
Graphic Design is a creative and technical process that uses images and text to communicate messages, ideas and concepts. A phenomenon of the 20th century, it is currently the most widespread conceptualized activity on the planet. With commercial purposes, Graphic Design is used to inform, identify, signal, organize, encourage, persuade and entertain, resulting in improved quality of life.
The resources of a Graphic Designer are embedded in everyday society through brands, logos, symbols, packaging, newspapers, magazines, posters, brochures, t-shirts, openings, web sites, software, games, products and events, exhibitions, as well as advertising.
Daniel is a Science and Technologies student who loves ICT and drawing. He'd like to pursue a career in the Graphic Design area.


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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ELT resources for Thanksgiving

Image: Betty Crocker photo gallery
via Flickr
Thanksgiving Day in the United States is a holiday on the fourth Thursday of November. This year it falls on November 22nd. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal. The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables. It is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have. Thanksgiving Day parades are held in some cities and towns on or around Thanksgiving Day. Some parades or festivities also mark the opening of the Christmas shopping season. Some people have a four-day weekend so it is a popular time for trips and to visit family and friends.

As U.S. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, you might want to teach a lesson about The First Thanksgiving. The Plimoth Plantation website has some resources that you will want to check out. You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving is an interactive exploration of the facts and myths associated with the story of the First Thanksgiving. Students can explore the facts and myths through the eyes of a Native American child or through the eyes of a female Pilgrim. Through the eyes of each character students discover the culture of giving thanks in the Native American and English cultures. 'The Path to 1621' is a part of the investigation in which students hear the perspectives of Native Americans and Pligrims about events prior to 1621. For more information, just check the Free Technology for Teachers, a website written by Richard ByrneScholastic also has put together a nice little collection of online resources to help elementary school students learn about Pilgrims, Native Americans, and The First Thanksgiving.

Finally, Larry Ferlazzo suggests the best sites to learn and teach about Thanksgiving. He mentions among many activities, a Thanksgiving Crossword Puzzle from the Internet TESL Journal and Thanksgiving listening exercises, just to mention some. You can read about Larry's suggestions HERE.
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Your future

Sara Barbosa, 11thB, 
Science & Technology
Sara's dream is to pursue
a career in Criminal Investigation
Sometimes we talk about what job to follow in the future. And we often hear that it is still early to think about it or that it is better not follow that particular area, because if you do, you're going to  face unemployment, you will not find a job, bearing in mind the way the country is. But the truth is that it's too soon, and we cannot think negatively. The fact that the country is currently going through hard times does not mean it will stay that way forever. We have to think that things will improve. 'Positive thinking', as my teacher Céu Leça says. In my opinion, we should have one goal as far as our future is concerned. And that is giving our best throughout school and fight for our dreams in order to be someone with a smiling future, someone who works in a profession one likes and have success in a career. We should always fight for our dreams, never give up on them. To sum up this post, I'd like to share with you some inspirational thoughts I came across in the web: 'Unless we can make our dreams reality, reality takes them away.' 'Do not expect the encouragement from others. The first to believe in your dreams must be you.' 'Do not fool yourself, because you will only reach the peak of the mountain if you´re determined to face the effort of walking.'

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

London is getting ready for Xmas

On Thursday November 1st, Harrods unveiled its extravagant windows, displaying 10 stunning dresses created by world-leading designers including Oscar de la Renta, Official Versace, and Elie Saab – each based on their glamorous interpretations of the original Disney Princess dresses. Later that evening, the festivities came alive as Harrods welcomed some very special Disney friends. Following the entertainment, customers were treated to a magnificent spectacle as the 11,000 light bulbs which adorn its iconic façade were switched on. To complete the magical evening, customers were treated to a spectacular fireworks display as colourful explosions ascended from the roof to light up London’s night sky. (Source: Harrods FB Page) On the weekend that followed, Londoners and tourists were delighted with the arrival of Father Christmas at the annual Harrods Christmas Parade. You can watch the highlights of the Harrods Christmas Parade HERE, as well as an exclusive interview with Father Christmas. The pictures below are Harrods Facebook Page courtesy and they portray the moments of magic lived in London, on November  1st and 3rd. 


Covent Garden, London
photo credit: Oliver Joe via photopin cc
On November 5thOxford Street Christmas Lights Switch-On kicked off from 5pm that evening with live performances from Robbie Williams, Leona Lewis, Lawson and the musical cast of Scrooge. Watch the video HERE. And on November 7th Christmas Lights were switched on in Covent Garden centred around the piazza but also taking in some of the streets radiating from it. To see the Christmas Lights all around London, just follow this LINK and get ready to be dazzled!...

Oxford Street Chritsmas Lights
photo credit: Gabludlow via photopin cc
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Diwali - the Festival of Lights

November is huge in celebrations!... This time, it's Diwali! Better said, it was Diwali Day yesterday, November 13th. But what is Diwali? Stina Backer and Eoghan Macguire for CNN celebrates answer this question: 'Diwali is one of the most important events in the Hindu spiritual calendar. It is known as the 'Festival of Lights' and takes place between mid October and mid November each year. The name 'Diwali' is a contraction of the word Deepavali, which means row of lights in Sanskrit. During the holiday, candles and oil lamps called 'diyas' are lit to commemorate the legend of the return of the Hindu god Rama to his kingdom after 14 years in exile after murdering the ten-headed demon Ravana. In India the goddess Lakshmi is also celebrated during the holiday and colorful rangolis - decorative floor designs made of sand - are made in her honor. 'Most people buy the sand and make their own, or they buy ready-made stencils,' said Manish Kanojia, whose stunning photos from in and around Delhi are represented in this gallery. Read more about Diwali: 'One festival, many customs' HERE. Diwali is not just celebrated in India. In cities around the world that have substantial Indian populations Diwali is part of the events calendar and is celebrated by Indians and non-Indians alike.' 


That's precisely the case of the UK where you can find a large Hindu community. If you happen to be in Leicester, you will witness one of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside India. Up to 35,000 people attend the switch on of the lights on Belgrave Road and even more attend Diwali day itself in the heart of the city's Asian community. People enjoy the fireworks display and live cultural entertainment on stage as the festival of light marks the start of the Hindu New Year. This year, Diwali Switch On was on Sunday, November 4th and Diwali Day on Tuesday, November 13th. (Source: Leicester City Council).

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Remembrance Sunday

November is the time of the year when we wear a red poppy in memory of those who sacrificed their lives for us during wars. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11th November 1918, to signal the end of World War One. At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare.
Remembrance Day is on 11 November. It is a special day set aside to remember all those men and women who were killed during the two World Wars and other conflicts. At one time the day was known as Armistice Day and was renamed Remembrance Day after the Second World War. Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is usually the Sunday nearest to 11 November. Special services are held at war memorials and churches all over Britain. A national ceremony takes place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. The Queen lays the first wreath at the Cenotaph. Wreaths are layed beside war memorials by companies, clubs and societies. People also leave small wooden crosses by the memorials in remembrance of a family member who died in war. A poem called 'For the Fallen' is often read aloud during the ceremony; the most famous stanza of which reads: 
photo credit: Owen Benson Visuals via photopin cc

'They shall grow not old, 
as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, 
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
 and in the morning
We will remember them.'

(fourth stanza of For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon, 1869-1943)



Remembrance Day is also known as Poppy Day, because it is traditional to wear an artificial poppy. They are sold by the Royal British Legion, a charity dedicated to helping war veterans. At 11am on each Remembrance Sunday a two minute silence is observed at war memorials and other public spaces across the UK.
In, Remembrance Day in Britain (abridged and adapted)

Image credits: AP
This Sunday, November 11th, Britain fell silent to remember its war dead at services across the country as the Queen led the nation in honouring the fallen. At the Cenotaph memorial in London the monarch laid the first wreath to commemorate members of the Armed Forces who died fighting in all conflicts since the First World War. In brilliant autumn sunshine, senior members of the monarchy joined Prime Minister David Cameron, military chiefs, servicemen and women and thousands of watching spectators in paying their respects. You can read the full article on this venue HERE, and watch a photo gallery of the ceremony, as well. 


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Friday, November 09, 2012

The Best is Yet to come



At a rally on Wednesday (Nov. 7) in his hometown of Chicago, Barack Obama delivers a victory speech after being re-elected to serve a second term in the White House. President Obama reaffirms his belief in the strength the United States derives from its diversity and reiterates the need for Washington to work in a bipartisan way. 'Tonight in this election you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of Amercia the best is yet to come'. You can read the full transcript of his speech HERE.

                                          
lkjl
Barack Obama is now the 45th US President. In case you want to know who the
US former Presidents were, follow THIS LINK.              

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Why the UK would have voted on Obama

An interesting text by Coring Faife, in which he states 10 reasons why the Brits would vote Barack Obama. The text was published November 6th, the elections day, before knowing what was the American people choice for the 45th US President.

Illustration: tsevis/flickr
'Well, my American friends, you may know it already or you may not, but my country quite likes your president. On this day, of course, as citizens of the United States go to the polls – notwithstanding the 90 million who may not even bother with voting – most of the American public will be focused on internal affairs. But given America’s influence on the rest of the world, there’s no doubt that citizens of many other nations have strong opinions about who sits in the Whitehouse. This, you probably realised. But did you know that if the British public were to vote in the elections today, they would overwhelming support another term for Barack Obama? While the result in the US hangs in the balance, a recent poll by AngusReid found that Britons would vote 10-1 in favour of keeping the incumbent in power. And when Obama toured Europe a little over a year ago, a ComRes poll of the British public found that 70 percent thought he was doing a better job than George Bush, and 60 percent thought he was 'proving to be a good president.'Some of the shimmer of his 2008 victory might have worn off by now, but on the whole, it’s an inescapable fact that Britain is still very much pro-Obama. So here, if you can spare the time to read before you cast your vote, are ten reasons why:
1.Because He Replaced George Bush
In recent history, no American president has had such a significant impact on British politics as George W. Bush. Collective opinion is that Bush dragged the UK into the Iraq War, thanks to Tony Blair’s unwillingness to stand up to him. The war was deeply unpopular with the British public – it initially sparked the largest demonstration in the country’s history – and effectively put the nail in the coffin for Blair’s political career. It haunted him throughout the rest of his term in office, and cemented our deep dislike of Bush Jnr. When the latter left office in ’08 we were glad to see the back of him, and thrilled to welcome in a less bellicose president – and the memory of how much we prefer Obama to his predecessor persists to this day.
2.Because He Keeps His Nose Out Of Our Politics
Although David Cameron and Barack Obama have met on numerous occasions, and profess to admire each other greatly, their relationship couldn’t be described as close. Whereas Blair and Bush were BFFs, Cameron and Obama seem to have a more distant, professional relationship, and Obama rarely comments on British affairs. Given what the Bush-Blair partnership meant for the UK’s foreign policy, we’re completely happy with that.
3.Because He Supports Universal Healthcare
Although ‘Obamacare’ was hugely controversial in the US, here in the UK (where every citizen enjoys free healthcare) it was seen as simply common sense. It may have its faults, but the British public is highly protective of the NHS, despite attempts of the current ConDem government to privatize large swathes of it in the name of ‘austerity’. In Britain, Obama’s plan to introduce universal coverage to the US was seen as a brave political battle to fight, and his final success in implementing the programme – albeit a watered down version – won him much admiration.
4.Because We’re More Suspicious Of The Very Wealthy
Whilst British society might still be riven with economic inequality, we have not yet reached the extreme polarities found in the United States. Being wealthy is generally acceptable – a high profile member of a previous Labour government famously declared that they were 'intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich' – but to be truly super-rich is more problematic, especially in the field of politics. David Cameron, with an estimated net worth of £30 million, came under scrutiny for a statement in which he claimed to be middle class – an attempt at downplaying his privileged background to seem more in touch with ordinary folk. Mitt Romney’s net worth, estimated to be somewhere in the range of $200-250 million, would likely prove an obstacle to his election were he running for office in the UK. Obama, with a more modest fortune of around $6 million, is a much more palatable option to the European public in this respect.
5.Because We’re Fine With The Idea Of Being Aloof
Opposition campaigns and political pundits alike have often criticized Obama for being aloof, cerebral, and somewhat lacking in warmth, a flaw that could count against him in the coming vote. But over here, we’re British, remember – being aloof in social situations is pretty much the cornerstone of our culture! That whole folksy, touchy-feely politics beloved of the Bidens and Bushs of the American establishment just doesn’t come naturally to us. Though we have a lot of respect for politicians who can be down to earth and in touch with the people, in British public life it’s by no means a crushing handicap to come across as slightly cold.
6.Because We Don’t Have Fox News
We may have some decidedly right-wing newspapers, but for the most part British television sticks to the political centre. The BBC has a number of internal checks and balances set up to ensure balanced coverage of political issues, and other news outlets tend to follow suit; in general, this means it’s rare to see a one-sided political rant on British TV. What we definitely do not have is anything on a par with Fox News’s virulent anti-Obama agenda, the extent of which is almost unbelievable to British viewers. The channel continues to characterise the President as a socialist, give weight to fringe rumours about his origins, and systematically distort his words again and again and again. Fox propagandists executives have directly admitted lying with intent to sabotage the Obama campaign. Without these kind of partisan interventions from a major media outlet, a good many more Americans might support Obama than currently do.
7.Because Romney Doesn’t Like Europe (And Vice Versa)
Mitt Romney’s European tour this summer was widely hailed as disastrous. He made gaffe after gaffe, questioning the readiness of London to host the Olympics, raising hackles in the Middle East with ill-informed comments on the Palestinian economy, and being snubbed by Polish trade unions due to his anti-union stance in America. By the end of the tour, even the conservative French daily Le Figaro was asking, 'Is Mitt a loser?' Furthermore, when back at home, Romney criticized Obama for wanting to 'turn America into a Euopean-style entitlement society.' Unsurprisingly, that kind of comment doesn’t win you any friends over here, Mitt…you can just leave us Europeans to our ‘entitlement’ and surrender and bad teeth and whatever else it is you think we do, and stay on that side of the Pond.
8.Because We Don’t Mix Religion And Politics
Compared to the the States, Britain is a far less religious society, and a more quietly religious one at that. It’s unthinkable (and faintly ridiculous) for us to imagine a modern British Prime Minister ending a speech with 'God bless the United Kingdom', for example, whilst a parallel comment from an American president is par for the course. Though freedom of religion is enshrined in the British legal system, you seldom hear it referenced as a pillar of our society. And the role of religion in public life is complicated – former PM Tony Blair only formally converted to Catholicism after leaving office, fearing that to do so earlier in his career might have proved divisive. In this context, it’s hard to imagine a Mormon (or member of any other such sub-sect of Christianity) holding the highest office in the UK, another point that counts against Romney.
9.Because We’re Unhappy With Our Own Leaders
As US-based British journalist Gary Younge writes: Europeans don’t just love Obama more than Americans do. They love him more than they love the people they have elected themselves….Smart, charismatic, telegenic and unencumbered by sleaze Obama still, by comparison, represents the possibility of a popular form of electoral politics led by intelligent and public-spirited citizens as opposed to opportunists, egomaniacs and sleazemongers. Obama comes across as a man of genuine integrity, at a time when British leaders have been hit by scandal after scandal. In 2012, Brits may not trust the people leading our country – but we still trust the man leading yours.
10.Because He Represents The Best Side Of US Politics
In the UK, when we caricature American politics, it’s often as brash, intolerant and reactionary. The arguments of the religious right, particularly relating to the rights of women over their bodies, and the broader knee-jerk Republic reaction to any suggestion that ‘Big Government’ wants to interfere with their freedom to make money as they please, do not come over well here. In contrast to all this, Obama’s position as pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-welfare state endears him far more to the British public. To us, he represents a more compassionate side of American politics, one that tries (not always successfully) to balance the rights of the ‘little people’ against those of wealthy oligarchs. I and many others have reservations about some of Obama’s shortcomings – particularly his failure to close Guantanamo Bay as promised, for example, and expansion of the drone strike programme – but ultimately, most of us on this rainy isle conclude that on balance, he’s a force for good in American politics.
Tonight, as I stay up into the early hours to watch the results come in in London time, I’ll be far from the only one here rooting for four more years.'
In, Urban Times

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Yes He Can

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Yes He Can

Barack Obama has just been re-elected and is now the 45th US President!
God bless America! Yes, He Can!

                                                                                  Picture via The Cool Hunter

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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

the quiet place project


Joana Silva, 10th form student
Science & Technologies
first of all: no, i haven’t forgotten about the grammar rules. i’m not using capital letters because of the project i’m going to tell you about. the quiet place project is a website created in the summer of 2011, by amitay tweeto , a 28-year-old user interface designer from tel aviv, israel. amitay says one day he woke up and said to himself: 'it can't go on like this'. he says there was too much noise coming from all the social media, the loud city, work, home… he created the quiet place, just for him and a few friends, but then, when he shared the link on facebook and twitter, people started sharing the page and thanked him for the amazing idea. people needed this quiet place.
the reason i’m not using capital letters, 'letters that are all big and yell at you', is because they are forbidden in the quiet place. the quiet place is meant to calm you down, help you forgetting your problems and have time for yourself. it was conceived to make people rethink their lives, and give them some peace of mind. 
in the quiet place, you are escaping from the internet, on the internet. it’s ironic, but the amount of people this project has helped is incredibly high. the quiet place project is translated in more than 30 languages, by volunteers! You can find several rooms in the quiet place: 
- in the thoughts room, you can drown your sorrow. if you write there what you’re feeling you can watch all your problems and concerns become beautiful stars and fade away.
- the dreams room is amazing. There, you can write your dreams and it becomes your diary; you write your achievements and how you’re feeling every day. if you feel like you need help, you can go to the comfort zone, and ask for it. it’s all anonymous and people are there to give you advice, strength and hope. anyone can visit it and enjoy its quietness. 
'i don’t want it to end!!!!!! I’m afraid if i turn off this music I’m going to end this feeling of calmness i have.' - kathy chavez 
'most amazing thing ever. i will gladly spread the word to as many people as possible ♥ thank you' - dominique lane 
'actually, it's ironic how much noise the quiet place is making :)' – amitay tweeto

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Monday, November 05, 2012

Guy Fawkes Day in the UK

'Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder, treason and plot;
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.'
Guy Fawkes Night is annually held on November 5th. It is sometimes known as Bonfire Night and marks the anniversary of the discovery of a plot organized by Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. Many people light bonfires and set off fireworks. But how did it all start?

Guy Fawkes, Google Images
'In 1605, thirteen young men planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Among them was Guy Fawkes, Britain's most notorious traitor. After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, English Catholics who had been persecuted under her rule had hoped that her successor, James I, would be more tolerant of their religion. James I had, after all, had a Catholic mother. Unfortunately, James did not turn out to be more tolerant than Elizabeth and a number of young men, 13 to be exact, decided that violent action was the answer. A small group took shape, under the leadership of Robert Catesby. Catesby felt that violent action was warranted. Indeed, the thing to do was to blow up the Houses of Parliament. In doing so, they would kill the King, maybe even the Prince of Wales, and the Members of Parliament who were making life difficult for the Catholics. Today these conspirators would be known as extremists, or terrorists. To carry out their plan, the conspirators got hold of 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords. But as the group worked on the plot, it became clear that innocent people would be hurt or killed in the attack, including some people who even fought for more rights for Catholics. Some of the plotters started having second thoughts. One of the group members even sent an anonymous letter warning his friend, Lord Monteagle, to stay away from the Parliament on November 5th. The warning letter reached the King, and the King's forces made plans to stop the conspirators. Guy Fawkes, who was in the cellar of the parliament with the 36 barrels of gunpowder when the authorities stormed it in the early hours of November 5th, was caught, tortured and executed. Even for the period which was notoriously unstable, the Gunpowder Plot struck a very profound chord for the people of England. In fact, even today, the reigning monarch only enters the Parliament once a year, on what is called 'the State Opening of Parliament'.

Friday, November 02, 2012

ThingLink

ThingLink is a free tool for image interaction that allows content sharing via online images. I came across this wonder via The Blog Teacher, the author and editor of which is my schoolmate Filipe Mendes. I immediately tested this tool and did a compilation of some resources about Hallowe'en. The picture below is a print screen of that work. Whenever you press an icon it will redirect you to a specific site/video. You can add as many icons as you like.  I'm sure I'll use it in my next electronic presentations, as new stuff always dazzles students and helps them focus on our lessons' contents. In addition to this, ThingLink is a teacher-friendly app as it is very easy to use. Give it a try. You'll simply love it. To me, along with Prezi, it is one of the best ways to present contents in class.

Print screen of myThingLink on Hallowe'en
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Thursday, November 01, 2012

The history of Hallowe'en words

The holiday of Halloween (also Hallowe'en) has its roots in the British Isles; the word itself (short for All Hallows’ Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day on November 1), originated in Scotland. Nonetheless, it was in North America that disparate regional customs were amalgamated into the celebration we recognize today. The vocabulary of the holiday reflects this joint history.

Who is the Jack in Jack-o'-lantern?
photo credit: fiddle oak via photopin cc
The Oxford English Dictionary records that in the 17th century, the original meaning of the word jack-o’-lantern was ‘a man carrying a lantern; a night watchman.’ Jack in this case is used generically for any man, as in the phrase jack of all trades. By 1673, Jack-o’-lantern took on a new sense, referring to the phenomenon of mysterious outdoor lights also known as a will-o’-the-wisp or ignis fatuus. This was the usual meaning of the word until the mid 19th century, when another shift in meaning occurred. The most common contemporary meaning of jack-o’-lantern, of course, is the grinning, candlelit carved pumpkin which is a ubiquitous symbol of Halloween. The custom of making such lanterns at this time of year originated in the British Isles, where turnips were the material of choice. Immigrants brought the practice to North America, where pumpkins became the standard, having the natural advantage of being hollow to begin with. In North America, the word Jack-o’-lantern now refers specifically to a carved pumpkin, but 100 years ago the connotations were much more flexible.

Souling, guising, and trick-or-treating
Nowadays, there is no more emblematic Halloween tradition than the custom of trick-or-treating, but it is actually a fairly recent innovation. In the early 20th century, North American young people dressed up in costumes, carved jack-o’-lanterns, and practiced a lot of amateur divination (especially charms to find out who they would eventually marry), but the practice of going door to door for sugary booty had not yet made its debut. In contrast, similar customs in Scotland (known as ‘guising’) and some parts of England (known as ‘souling’) were practiced at this time of year by children as early as the 19th century, and by adults even earlier.

Mischief Night, Goosey Night, Cabbage Night
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Although the phrase trick or treat once implied a threat of mild vandalism, the tots who typically utter those words today are unlikely to engage in such behavior (for one thing, they are usually accompanied by their parents). Instead, in much of North America, the real tricks happen the night before Halloween, October 30, when teenagers smash pumpkins, throw eggs, and decorate trees with toilet paper. Depending on where you live, you may call the night of October 30 any of a variety of regional names: Mischief Night, Devil’s Night, Cabbage Night, Trick Night, Gate Night, and Goosey Night are all used in various parts of the United States. The term Mischief Night is also known in northern England, where it similarly refers to a night on which young people indulge in pranks and vandalism, sometimes of a very serious nature. Originally, the English Mischief Night was April 30, the night before May Day, but more recently the term has been used in reference to the night of the 4 November, before Bonfire Night, as well as to the night of October 30.
In, Oxford Dictionaries (abridged)

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