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Umbrella Newsletter # 56

Dear Colleagues,

The beginning of the new academic year is a good reason to celebrate our heroic teachers. It is a great opportunity to highlight their courage, excellence, perseverance, responsibility, compassion, determination, enthusiasm,generosity, gentleness, loyalty, patience, peacefulness, tact, self-discipline, and thankfulness, just to list a few adjectives we can use to describe teachers.

This is a time to celebrate and, as Oprah Winfrey stated, "The more you praise and celebrate your life, the morethere is in life to celebrate. This is a year full of important milestones: the English Language Office is celebrating its 20th anniversary; Professor Svetlana G. Ter- Minasova's 3- fold jubilee is round the corner; many Associations will mark their 5th or 10th or 15th year anniversariesthere will be many reasons for rejoicing and festivity. Some people say that Russians like to celebrate in style. How do you plan to prepare for the upcoming festivities?

There are so many things to consider when planning your special event. It is easy to become overwhelmed just thinking of the necessary details: invitations, theme, necessary set-up, activities, gifts, and so on. So we havechoosen "celebration" for the theme of this newsletter.

1. Invitations

You are cordially invited to participate in the bi-annual MSU Conference "Textbook, Student, Teacher" on November 22- 23 and celebrate the 3-fold jubilee of Professor Svetlana Grigoriyevna Ter- Minasova. More information can be found at:


Svetlana Grigoriyevna would be delighted to receive your personal letters with your stories of your meetings and encounters with Ter-Minasova, be they academic, funny, virtual, or spirited. Please send them to president@ffl.msu.ru, annapavl@mail.ru ASAP!

2. Greetings, congratulations, kudos

How warm, creative and insightful are the greetings that come from teachers all over the country! Theyconsistently remind us all that "a Teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart. The Facebook pages of MELTA, SPELTA, Urals- ELTA, FEELTA, ATES and TUELTA are buzzing with excitement and well wishes. Please join these pages to be cyber-connected with your colleagues.

Frans greetings are energizing and invigorating. You can read them at http://elt-russia.ning.com/ or here:

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings and welcome back! I hope you are all feeling energized and ready for the next Academic Year. I enjoyed my summer here at home in Moscow, which is a great summertime city. My only complaint is that the summer went by too quickly, and were already feeling a chill in the air!

This upcoming Academic Year should be a good one. We have lots to look forward to, including some new programs targeting research and academic writing, both topics of which are very important in Russia at the moment. We have invited an English Language Specialist to Russia in early October to give some workshops on this very important topicplease anticipate more information from your teachers association about where these workshops will be held and how you can be a part of them. We also anticipate other projects within this theme, so dont worry if you cant participate in this first program.

Our calendar is already starting to fill up with conferences and seminars. There are a variety of programs to anticipate, staring with a few in Moscow in October, and all the way up to NATE 2014, to be held this coming year in Voronezh. We look forward here in the English Language Office to receive more information about programs being planned by the teachers associations in Russia.

Our English Language Fellows return to Russia in mid-September. Erik Lundell, formerly of Belgorod, will be joining us in Moscow as the Fellow hosted by MISIS. Rob Danin will return to the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok. And we have two new Fellows to welcome: Heather Mello in Kazan, and Jennifer Depto in Novosibirsk. Ill do another post with more information about these new colleagues later on in the Fall.

In conclusion, welcome back, and get ready to have an eventful 2013-2014 Academic Year!

Best regards,
Frances Westbrook

3. Gifts

Have you ever heard of a gift with a contract? Is this possible? I first came across this gift contract about a year ago and have been re-reading it lately. I would like to share it with you, what do you and your students think about these ideas?

"Dear Gregory,

You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Congratulations! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes some rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you to be a well-rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.

It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Arent I the greatest?
I will always know the password.
If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads Mom or Dad. Not ever.
Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someones land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in personthis is animportant life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
If it falls into the toilet, smashes onto the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, save some birthday money. It may happen, and you should be prepared.
Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay out of the crossfire.
Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
Turn it off, silence it, and put it away in public, especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone elses private parts. Dont laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear including a bad reputation.
Dont take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO fear of missing out.
Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You & I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.

Practically all the points on this contract can be turned into points for discussion for group work or for debate. You could choose just one point, the one that interests your students the most. You can review the technique of debates at: http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Krieger-Debate.html

Before the debate begins, be sure to review or teach key language depending on the discussion topic.

Here are some other points for discussion, loosely based on the above contract:

Points to discuss in the classroom:

Is it ever appropriate for gifts to come with a list of demands?

What kinds of gifts should come with a contract? What kinds of gifts should come free and clear?

The mother who gave her son an iPhone in this article has said that he must leave it at home during the school day. Why do you think this is? Do you think students should be able to have mobile phones at school? In many places in the world students are not allowed to bring mobile phones with them to school. Do you think is policy is too strict? If so, why?

What is the appropriate age for an expensive smart phone? What about a tablet computer? A laptop?

Do you think most Russian 13-year-olds have smart phones? Now picture the world in 2050. What percentage of all 13-year-olds in Russia in 2050 have a smart phone?

What are some of the benefits of very young people owning a smart phone? What are some of the potential problems?

Think of another, very expensive gift. In a small group, write a contract for the use of such a gift. You can choose anything you want for this giftmaybe a pony? An expensive piece of jewelry? And write an appropriate contract.

Further points for discussion:

Some studies show that the use of social media actually causes people to feel more isolated and less happy than those who dont use social media. Why do you think this might be true? In your opinion, do you think social media is helpful? Can it be harmful? If so, how?

Do you think that Internet Addiction is real? If so, what are the symptoms?

Elena Lubnina

"Umbrella Newsletter # 56":

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