Page 1

Monthly newsletter for and by English learners and teachers Editors: Maja Ivanović, prof. Komercijalna i trgovačka škola Bjelovar

Irena Pavlović, prof. mentor Srednja škola Čazma

email: Facebook:

Nature Awakening So, it's April already. One of my favourite months. First of all, this is the part of the year when true spring begins. And that is a fantastic season - it's warm enough to sit outside and sip endless coffees with your friends, to walk your dog or just wander around the forest or the city, whichever you prefer. On the other hand, April is one of those months with a number of strange holidays and observances; there are more than 70 so everyone

can find something to enjoy mean we won't do it next and celebrate. Starting with year. For this issue we April Fool's Day which, as decided to celebrate spring Mark Twain put it, is the and give you a nudge to go day reminding us of what outside and see nature we are on the other 364 awakening. And while days, and then moving on to doing that you can also Tweed Day, Tell a Lie Day, observe International Plan Your Epitaph Day, or Moment of Laughter Day, some even stranger days Look up at the Sky Day and like Blah, Blah, Blah Day, two of my favourites: High Five Day or Pretzel Lover's Day and Kiss Your Day. Mate Day. Of course, we haven't had Whatever you do, don't enough space in this issue of miss out on the latest issue Sparkles© to write about all of Sparkles© - we hope of them, but that doesn't you'll like it. ▪ I.P.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE: Antonela Gelenđir Agricultural school Zagreb Ivona Ivančić, Paula Novaković & Dominik Piskor class 2B at Commercial and trade school Bjelovar

Inside this issue: Nature


All about the plants


Effective presentations


English is weird pt.1


Did you know? - HENRY JAMES Henry James (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-British writer who spent most of his writing career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. James alternated between America and Europe but eventually settled in England, becoming a British subject one year before his death. He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allows him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. In addition to his voluminous works of fiction, he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays. Some of his best known works are The Portrait of a Lady, The Golden Bowl, The Ambassadors, Washington Square, The Turn of the Screw and many more.

Once upon a time in APRIL 02/04/1982 - The beginning of the ten-week Falkland Islands War as troops from Argentina invaded and occupied the British colony located near the tip of South America. 03/04/1948 - President Harry S. Truman signed the European Recovery Program (the Marshall Plan) intended to stop the spread of Communism and restore the economies devastated by WWII. 04/04/1949 - Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 04/04/1968 - Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee. 06/04/1896 - After a 1500 years break, the first modern Olympics was held in Athens, Greece. 11/04/1970 - Apollo 13 was launched from Cape Kennedy. Fifty-six hours into the flight an oxygen tank exploded in the service module. Astronauts managed to return to Earth safely. 12/04/1961 - Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. 14/04/1865 - President Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded while watching a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington. He died the following morning. 23/04/1564 - William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon, England. 30/04/1789 - George Washington became the first U.S. President.

Page 2

~ THIS MONTH’S BUZZ ~ Lawn and Garden Month in the States —

April is here and with it comes beautiful springtime weather. April is officially recognized as American National Lawn and Garden Month in honour of the beautiful weather throughout the United States. Public gardens and parks are popular destinations for tourists, locals and everyone in between throughout April, since they both are green and blooming with flowers. Of course, you should also celebrate it by sprucing up your own front yard with fresh flowers, green grass and all the fixings of a perfect springtime garden. Why are we suggesting this? Because we know how much you love your laptop, TV and your smartphone. Because we are more than aware that sometimes the only natural landscape you see is the one on your desktop and, although you probably have an app telling you which plants and animals can be seen in your area, you haven't actually checked if it works. So, AccuWeather keeps saying it is sunny and warm outside, why not go and see it for yourself? Nature in spring is a very exciting time with many things happening. Spring is a time when everything grows and bursts into life. It is a time of birth, rebirth and renewal, a literal change from brown to green. Birds are singing, leaves are unfolding, butterflies are starting to be seen and mammals are beginning to wake from their winter sleep.

This season is a time of days getting longer and the spring sunshine bringing growth and greenery everywhere with buds bursting and leaves unfolding. Birdsong reaches a peak and many flowers appear, in turn attracting insect-life, including bees and butterflies. Animals which have hibernated over winter appear on the first warm days of spring so keep an eye out in early spring for hedgehogs, newly emerged queen bees, frogs, toads, grass snakes, lizards and adders. Other animals such as squirrels become more active and are easier to spot. Millions of migrant birds arrive, with storks, chiffchaffs, and sand martins amongst the first to appear in March and swallows, swifts, cuckoos, nightingales and many warblers in April and May. Nature is at its most busy in spring, every day brings changes, the sap is rising, and for many species finding a mate and successfully breeding is top priority.▪ I.P.


Page 3

— Nature Month in Sparkles© DO YOU KNOW WHAT PHENOLOGY IS? If you are interested in science and are thinking about a career as an agriculturalist or a biologist, consider keeping a chart of the blooming sequence of the plants, trees and shrubs in your area. Observation of the relationship between climate and the life cycles of plants and animals is called phenology and it may be an excellent introduction to your future career and provide some valuable experience. Spring, being a new beginning, is a good time to start observing those relationships.▪ I.P.

TOP THREE THINGS TO DO Visit a bird colony – though birdwatching is considered to be a British hobby (which is no wonder - Britain has some of the most important bird colonies in Europe), it is only recently gaining in popularity in Croatia, too. Did you know that there are 371 bird species in Croatia, an exceptionally high number for a country of this size? There are 228 nesting species, of which 78 are registered as endangered species in Europe. There are 19 bird reserves and 40 areas important for bird life. Definitely an amazing experience. Learn bird songs – spring is when bird song is at its best. Take a dawn chorus walk and listen to the music of nature - early morning is the best time for listening to bird song. So, why not get up early and start by learning bird songs in your own garden? Become an agriculturalist and sow some seeds – read the article on page 8 and give it a try. ▪ I.P.

TOP THREE THINGS TO LOOK FOR Budburst – watch the progress of spring in a hedge. The buds of hawthorn burst and new fresh green leaves appear followed by creamy white flowers in late April or May. The blossom was once known as ‘May’ but in many places flowers now appear in April, perhaps an indication that climate change is making spring come earlier. Queen bumblebees – look out for the first bumblebees on warm days in April. These will be queens which have successfully survived the winter and are now seeking nectar and pollen from Spring flowers. Frogs and toads on the move – one of the first signs of spring is the spawning of frogs and toads. Look for masses of jelly-like frog spawn in local ponds and ditches. Toads often travel long distances to suitable ponds to breed in and sadly often get killed crossing roads. They travel at night when it's cooler and damper. ▪ I.P.

Page 4


In 1973 Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird published The Secret Life of Plants, a book documenting controversial experiments that reveal unusual phenomena regarding plants such as plant sentience, discovered through experimentation. It also discusses alternative philosophy, practice on soil and soil health, as well as on progressive farming methods together with pseudoscientific

topics such as magnetotropism, bio-electrics, aura, psychophysics, orgone energy, radionics, kirlian photography, and dowsing. The book was the basis for the 1979 documentary of the same name, directed by Walon Green. The film made use of time-lapse photography where plants are seen growing in a few seconds, creepers reach out to other plants and tug on them, mushrooms and flowers

open. The film was originally distributed by Paramount Pictures and can be found on Youtube (https:// v=dFYgue5VfGk). This intriguing film features soundtrack by Stevie Wonder, later released as Journey through the Secret Life of Plants. The soundtrack is also available on Youtube (https:// v=GBLp8BedZgE). ▪ I.P.

IDIOMS RELATED TO PLANTS nip in the bud If you nip a problem or an unacceptable situation in the bud, you stop it at an early stage, before it develops or becomes worse. fresh as a daisy Someone who is (as) fresh as a daisy is lively and attractive, in a clean and fresh way. lead up the garden path If someone leads you up the garden path, they deceive you by making you believe something which is not true. grass roots The term grass roots refers to the ordinary people who form the main body of an organization.

green fingers To have green fingers means to be good at gardening.

thorn in your side If you say that someone is a thorn in your side, you mean that they continually irritate or annoy you.

come up roses If things come up roses, the end result is successful or positive, even if there were difficult times.

beat around the bush This expression is used to tell someone to say what they have to say, clearly and directly, even if it is unpleasant.

The naked earth is warm with Spring, And with green grass and bursting trees Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying, And quivers in the sunny breeze. ~Julian Grenfell~

pushing up the daisies To say that someone is pushing up the daisies means that they are dead. grasp at straws If you are in a desperate situation and you grasp at straws, you try any method, even if it has little chance of success, in an attempt to find a solution.

barking up the wrong tree A person who is barking up the wrong tree is doing the wrong thing, because their beliefs or ideas are incorrect or mistaken.

When April scatters charms of primrose gold Among the copper leaves in thickets old, And singing skylarks from the meadows rise, To twinkle like black stars in sunny skies; When I can hear the small woodpecker ring Time on a tree for all the birds that sing; And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long -The simple bird that thinks two notes a song. ~William Henry Davies, April's Charms ~ can't see the wood for the trees If someone can't see the wood for the trees, they are so concentrated on the details that they can't see the situation as a whole.

turn over a new leaf If a person turns over a new leaf, they decide to change their behaviour and lead a better life. shake like a leaf If you shake like a leaf, you tremble with fear or nervousness.

make hay while the sun shines This expression is used as an encouragement to take advantage of a good situation which may not last.


Page 5

Plants good for the house

Carnivorous plants - specialized for

Since many of us spend most of our free time at home, it is very important to have good indoor air quality. The well known fact is that plants produce oxygen which to us is the source of life, but it is also very important to know that at night plants take oxygen, so when we sleep it is recommended to be in a room with few or no plants. I would say that all plants are good for the house, but there are always good and better options.

trapping and digestion of animals

Spider plant is a resilient plant with lots of rich foliage and tiny white flowers, this plant is also considered a safe houseplant if you have pets in the house. It is used in the leather, rubber and printing industries. Peace lily is a very beautiful plant with a beutiful white flower shaped like a feather and all that it needs is weekly watering and some shade to produce blooms.

Weeping fig is a ficus which, if put in your living room, can help filter out pollutants that typically accompany carpeting and furniture. Caring for a ficus can be tricky, but once you get the watering and light conditions right, they will last a long time. ▪ I.I.

There are 630 known different carnivorous plants throughout the world and the greatest variety of those can be seen in North America. They inhabit bogs, rocky areas and other types of soils that lack nutrients. They can survive on different altitudes and various climates, but they do not tolerate dry habitats. Diet based on animal flesh provides nutrients that Nepenthes other plants normally absorb from the ground. Carnivorous plants differ in size, shape and mechanisms used to attract the Leaf of Drosera prey. These plants have very interesting morphology and unusual eating habits, which makes them popular, so they are often cultivated. Just like all other plants, they obtain energy in the process of photosynthesis. They absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to create food. Most species of carnivorous plants are small herbaceous plants that can reach 30 centimeters in height. Some look like bushy vines. They can grow to the height of 90 centimeters and are often very Venus flytrap colorful, have beautiful smell and produce large quantities of nectar. The lifespan of these plants depends on the species, but some can survive up to 50 years in the wild. ▪ P.N.

Plants in superlatives There are a lot of different plants in the world and each is special in its own way. People are not that interested in them because they are somehow boring, but what people don’t really know is what strange plants exist in this world. The smallest plant in the world is called Watermeal. This bright green plant is found all over the planet and is about the size of a grain of rice! The biggest plant in the world bears the name Rafflesia and it can weigh up to 4 kilograms. Its appearance and smell remind of rotten meat, it attracts flies that pollinate it. The tallest plant in the world is called Titan arum and it can can reach over 3 metres. It also smells badly. It is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. One of the most poisonous plants in the world is called the Castor oil plant, or Ricinus. It is used for making oil, some say that the oil is toxic and some not. One of the rarest plants in the world is Chocolate cosmos. Native to Mexico, where it is extinct in the wild, it survives as a single clone reproduced by vegetative propagation. During the summer, flower lets sweet vanilla smell. ▪ D.P.

Page 6

~ TEACHERS’ CORNER ~ How to create an effective presentation?

Minimize the number of slides. To maintain a clear message and to keep your audience attentive and interested, keep the number of slides in your presentation to a minimum. Choose a font style and font size that your audience can read from a distance. Choosing the right font style helps to get your message across. Avoid narrow fonts, those that are difficult to read and fonts that include fancy edges. When it comes to font size, don't use anything smaller than 22 points and combine different font sizes for different parts of the presentation. Keep your text simple by using bullet points or short sentences. Use bullets or short sentences, and try to keep each to one line; that is, without text wrapping. You want your audience to listen to you present your information, rather than read the screen. Use art to help convey your message. Use graphics to help tell your story. Don't overwhelm your audience by adding too many graphics to a slide, however. Make labels for charts and graphs understandable. Use only enough text to make label elements in a chart or graph comprehensible. Make slide backgrounds subtle and keep them consistent. Choose an appealing, consistent template or theme that is not too eye-catching. You don't want the background or design to detract from your message. Use high contrast between background colour and text colour. Themes automatically set the contrast between a light background with dark coloured text or dark background with light coloured text. The first option is better because it is more visible unless the room is very dark. Check the spelling and grammar. To earn and maintain the respect of your audience, always check the spelling and grammar in your presentation.

Show up early and verify that your equipment works properly. Make sure that all equipment is connected and running. Don't assume that your presentation will work fine on another computer. Disk failures, software version mismatches, lack of disk space, low memory, and many other factors can ruin a presentation. Turn off screen savers to keep your audience focused on the content of your presentation, and make sure that you have the appropriate files and versions of software that you need. Verify that the projector's resolution is the same as the computer on which you created your presentation. If the resolutions don't match, your slides may be cropped, or other display problems can occur. Check all colours on a projection screen before giving the actual presentation. The colours may project differently than what appears on your monitor. Avoid moving the pointer unconsciously. When you are not using the pointer, remove your hand from the mouse. This helps to stop you from moving the pointer unconsciously, which can be distracting. Do not read the presentation. Practice the presentation so that you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than the full message for the audience. Stay on time. If you plan a certain amount of time for your presentation, do not go over. If there is no time limit, take less time rather than more to ensure that people stay engaged. Monitor your audience's behaviour. Each time that you deliver a presentation, monitor your audience's behaviour. If you observe people focusing on your slides, the slides may contain too much data or be confusing or distracting in some other way. Use the information you learn each time to improve your future presentations. â–Ş I.P.

~ TEACHERS’ CORNER ~ CPD in 10 minutes or less If you feel you need some help with creating and delivering presentations and don't feel like reading the guidelines on the previous page, you may appreciate this 9-minute-video, the Principles of Effective Presentations, available on Youtube It describes the four steps in the process of making effective presentations and gives some basic tips for thinking about it.

Have you tried...using rubrics? Rubrics have become popular with teachers as a means of communicating expectations for an assignment, providing focused feedback on works in progress, and grading final products. Although educators tend to define the word “rubric” in slightly different ways, one commonly accepted definition says it is a document articulating the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria, or what counts, and describing levels of quality from excellent to poor. They can also be used as a teaching tool; when used as part of a formative, student-centred approach to assessment, rubrics have the potential to help students develop understanding and skill, as well as make dependable judgments about the quality of their own work. If you want to know more and give it a go, visit index.php - they'll give you everything you need.

Page 7

~ MISCELLANEOUS ~ How to become an agriculturalist Have you ever asked yourself where all the food that we eat comes from? All that was cultivated by someone. And, have you ever thought about cultivating something yourself? Try it, you might get to like it because why buy vegetables and fruit if you can produce it yourself in your own garden, without any help. At the same time you'll feel great because it is an indescribable feeling to produce something with your own hands and it is much cheaper than buying vegetables from the store which, at the same time, are not as good as they should be. If we look at it, out of a small seed, the size of a few millimetres, plants can grow longer than one meter, bearing a lot of fruits that are healthy and taste great. That is better than going to the store and just buying the most beautiful vegetables that you see. People who deal with cultivating are called agronomists and you can start to be one of them and cultivate food for your diet at home. Agronomy is the science of growing agricultural crops and every one of you can become a novice agronomist and cultural plant breed for food at home. For starters, you can breed small plants on the window in your room or in another protected place where it is warm enough and where small plants have enough light for the photosynthesis, which is the most important process in the plant. You can take seeds of any vegetable culture that you like or love and seed them in a small jar or something that's close at hand and you can always handle it easily, like egg boxes.

The seeds should be left for a week, week and a half to come out and they need watering every day. When the first leaves and stalks grow for about 7cm, little plants should be replanted into another small jar with more distance between them in the ground. When you do it, put the entire stalk all the way up to the first leaves into the ground in order for the root to develop well. Then the plant grows and with it grows the number of leaves on the plant, and when the little plants grow about 15 cm long, they are ready to be planted out in the open. Of course, replant them in spring when there is enough sun and heat. In order for your plants to get a chance to have fruit you have to ensure conditions for photosynthesis . For photosynthesis plants need water, chlorophyll and nitrogen from the air. Connected, they turn into sugar that goes into the fruits of plants and oxygen that we, humans, use for breathing. In your garden you can cultivate any agricultural crops that thrive in your area. People here mostly grow vegetables for their own diet, like peppers, tomatoes, carrot, parsley, celery. They also cultivate fruit trees that need to be cropped regularly and that bear a lot of fruits like apples, pears, plums, cherries, etc. If you are not interested in agricultural plants, you can try cultivating decorative plants and plant them outside in the flower garden or keep them in the house on the windowsill and still enjoy beautiful greenery. Decorative plants are not difficult to keep, there are some of them which we keep in the house and these are mostly plants that fail in our area. You can grow decorative plants such as flowers outside but you still need to take care of them so the plants are as beautiful as possible. ▪ A.G.

ENGLISH IS WEIRD pt. 1 1. ‘E’ is the most commonly used letter in the English language. In fact, as many as one in eight of all the letters written in English is ‘e’. 2. More English words begin with the letter ‘S’ than any other letter of the alphabet. 3. ‘Go!’ is the shortest complete sentence in the English language. 4. The longest English word that can be spelled without repeating any letters is ‘uncopyrightable’. 5. The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.

6. "Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order. 7. "Rhythm" is the longest English word without a vowel. 8. The dot over the letter "i" and the letter "j" is called a "superscript dot". 9. Do you know what is special about the following sentence? ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’. This type of sentence is called a ‘pangram’ as it uses every letter in the English language. 10. The following sentence contains seven different spellings of the sound “ee”: ‘He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas’.

Sparkles #22  
Sparkles #22