Twitter at its best

One of the reasons why I enjoy being on Twitter so much is the fabulous support network offered by colleagues, virtual or otherwise. I also love finding out new things, and I just wanted to share with you some recent Top 5 Titbits from Twitter that I really like, as it has been a while since I have done one of these posts:

1. And the reading of other people’s favourite sites – thanks @valleseco.

2.Being able to search Google for ActivStudio & ActivInspire Flipcharts.

3. David Bisbal in the South African World Cup song

4. Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers – this includes some tools I hadn’t heard of, so well worth a read!

5. Shared stories such as this one and the ones on the MFL Storybirds Wiki:

Half Term Top Five

This half term I have been able to get a lot done – not only have I been abroad (to Bilbao – a place very dear to me as I lived there for two years), but I have also had the chance to catch up on lots of paperwork and get to grips with a few more online tools, plus I have changed the them on this blog. So here are my recent top 5 from Twitter:

1. The first is Google Wave. I was able to get an invite and after a few days of waiting, here I am, with my very own account. Except I have very few people with whom to try it out! Luckily, as always, my Twitter network came to the rescue and @josepicardo and briefly ‘waved’ at each other – (h)ola – before agreeing that for now, Twitter is more suited to our needs. I am gradually adding other educators and I have bookmarked a few articles to read, but I reckon this tool will really take off when more of us are able to enjoy it.

2. Another tool that I really like the look of is Xtranormal, which (again, thanks to @josepicardo) looks as though it has massive potential in the classroom. See an example of the animated videos created by his Spanish 6th form students on his department’s website.

3. ImageChef is a wordle-esque tool that @icpjones has recently blogged about. It allows calligrams to be made (an image of a word made up with the word) and as Isabelle writes, it can be adapted, embedded and/or downloaded. I think the Word Mosaic tool and the Visual Poetry tools look the most exciting. Enjoy!

4. I have recently tweeting and blogged about a website called YacaPaca. It is a free website, where pupils log in with a given name and password, and teachers log in with theirs. Teachers can make interactive exercises and assign them to pupils so that when the pupil logs in, they see just the exercises they need to do. One or more attempts can be given to the pupils, and their results are recorded in the online markbook. It is also possible to look at the results in-depth and display the questions on-screen in ‘whiteboard’ mode. A pretty useful tool for independent computer room work or for homework – and not just for MFL!

5. The last of my top tools for now will have to be Storybird as my PLN has been talking about it over the last few weeks. See some exemplar stories from Dom, Clare and Lisa and now one from me too! For now stories written in a foreign language are not public, but you can access the ones you have made from your account of from a link, for now, just English ones are embeddable.

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It is also definitely worth mentioning the many CPD opportunities that are coming our way this month. The first is this weekend at the Languages Show, Olympia London with its own Show & Tell session, followed by MFL Flashmeeting 4 on Monday 2nd November.  Saturday 14th November is the MFL Show & Tell event in Coventry. I am also doing two sessions for the University of Cumbria for the MFL PGCE students on using Spanish in the classroom and have set up a wiki for them where I have stored the session’s resources and where I want them to hand in their homework on the merits of learning Spanish. Fingers crossed the session will be enjoyable!

A Round Up

WEBSITE

I have finally uploaded the new version of the www.languagesresources.co.uk website, but still have a fair few bugs to work out. Luckily the original version of the site can still be accessed through each languages’ home page. So far, Spanish has been uploaded (bar A Level and one or two smaller topics) and I have been able to find out what is working and what isn’t.

As I have a very small amount of knowledge with regards to how to use Dreamweaver it is often a stumble in the dark and a trawl through Google to figure out how to do things, but I have the general pages up and now it is just a question of adding resources. I plan to upload the remaining resources over the summer holidays, and then I can start working on the new games pages and develop pupil orientated language games for each topic as I teach it at school. I plan to use free software such as hot potatoes and languagesonline Australia. I know the type of things I would like to develop for my pupils, but if you have any requests or ideas let me know via the comment facility on this blog.

WIKI

Over the last few weeks I have written out my 4 year overview for Spanish (Year 8 – 11), with a focus on the new AQA GCSE. On the same wiki I have a page with useful web 2.0 tools for the MFL classroom which is slowly being added to. The aim of the wiki is to develop a selection of useful tools specifically aimed at MFL, and I will then incorporate them into the curriculum for Spanish, only using them if they have a relevant and focused aim. I look forward to more people collaborating with me on this project.

TWITTER

As usual, my twitter PLN have been an excellent source of information. Top Tips from Twitter this last week (or so) are:

  1. Fickr Image sharing -for example the Images to teach languages group. Blog post on this by @aliceayel here.
  2. Wallwisher.com to share ideas on a wall
  3. Using Prezi instead of powerpoint in the classroom
  4. Finding primary languages websites to help with the construction of the KS2 Curriculum for next year – useful links are on my delicious account
  5. Wordsift - similar to Wordle, but with a slightly different focus…..

LanguagesResources Wiki

languagesresources - home - Windows Internet Explorer 20052009 223203.bmp

Today I happened to log on to Twitter at around midday and came across a message from @kvnmcl:

kevin mc laughlin (kvnmcl) on Twitter - Windows Internet Explorer 20052009 223707.bmp

This, along with a previous tweet from @bellale regarding the use of web 2.0 tools in the MFL classroom, has prompted me to write up a copy of an overview of the Spanish course that I will be implementing from September at school. I have had to do this for two reasons 1) we are returning to a four year Spanish course (instead of the 3 we currently have  to get them to a good GCSE standard) and 2) to incorporate the new AQA GCSE specification into the department’s overview. I have also taken the opportunity to re-vamp the content of some schemes of work, and although this is just an overview of what could be incorporated it is certainly a working document, and one will evolve over time.

When I did my PGCE course we were taught to look at the end in order to know how to get there. The end ‘objective’ for this four year curriculum is to have covered all the necessary language for GCSE, plus any other relevant language such as body vocabulary and daily routine (which, bizarrely are no longer part of the AQA GCSE). And of course, I wish to teach all of this whilst building in opportunities for pupils to learn about Spanish-speaking countries and Hispanic culture whilst still leaving time for assessment and my beloved use of ICT.

With this in mind I would like to write the complete schemes of work with ideas for activities to be done at the end of a language topic, giving pupils the chance to use all the language they have learnt over the previous lessons. Ideally, I would like to CRAPPI check activities (an acronym left over from my PGCE days whereby we checked that the following criteria were met when thinking through a classroom activity). So, rather than using Web 2.0 tools for the sake of using Web 2.0 tools the activity that the pupils will undertake will Challenge them and be Relevant to them. There will be an Audience who will see the final product giving the task a sense of Purpose. It should be Personal to the students and should also involve an Incentive to engage them in the task. The activity can revolve around any skill or any combination of skills and a CRAPPI check can be done on any activity with any amount of language scaffolding, however, if it is an end activity then pupils should have minimal language support to complete the task.

The link to the Wiki is here. Please access it and contribute any ideas you have! You can discuss things in the discussion page and access any of the year groups via the links on the right hand side, or from the home page and only the Year 8 – 11 pages are changeable.