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:

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…..

Favourite 5 from Twitter this week

Firstly, I should say how blown away by how many people accessed my last post – 23 Ways to use Worlde in the MFL classroom. Thanks everyone! Glad it was so useful. I have been trying out some of my ideas and have Wordled a few chapters of the literature book that my Year 13’s need to recap before they go on study leave and I am going to use it to jog their memories and get them discussing about key words (and therefore themes) of the book. I have also suggested it as a useful tool to my Lower School pupils (Years 7 -9) in preparation for their internal oral exam. Most of them (the visual learners – like me) liked the idea of typing up what they want to say, ‘Wordling’ it, and then deleting a few unnecessary words to use as a prompt for their presentation. The aim is for them to get used to the new specification AQA GCSE where they will have to prepare ‘tasks’ and they can only have 40 words to help them remember everything they want to say. To this end, we have created ‘tasks’ for them that encourage them to talk about, give opinions and expand upon the topics that we have covered this year. As it is a presentation and there is no questioning involved so pupils have approximately 1 minute to deliver their presentation and can only have 20 key words.

Now, onto the five favourite things I have learnt or found out about from Twitter this week:

  1. How to quickly use iTunes to convert a wma file to an mp3 file (import file as mp3 – easy!)
  2. I was recommended Zamzar and YouConverIt to originally convert the files, but I have to admit, I encountered problems.
  3. There will be another MFL Flashmeeting on Monday 6th July. Click here to join the wiki. Can’t wait to see everyone this time!
  4. There is so much scope for Twitter in the education. Try following foreign newspapers’ tweets  – for a list of some to start with check out Joe Dale’s blog post on Twitter for Language and Culture
  5. Second Life – I now have a grand total of TWO friends in SL and there is talk of a guided tour sometime soon for those of us who are interested. This is something I will look into over the summer I think.

I should also add that the number of people that I am following (and the number that follow me) is increasing gradually. I add people that interest me (when I have the time) by trawling through other contacts’ lists and picking those that I think would be good to follow. I am greatly enjoying the fact that everyday I can learn new things, and come across new people who can teach me so much! Thank you to you all.

Twitter #MFL #2

birds

 Having now firmly signed up to the tweeting life, I am slowly beginning to learn more and more about what Twitter can offer. I have realised that unless I go on it every few hours, or at least once a day, it becomes almost useless as I will have missed a lot of information. In one way this worries me as I cannot spend all day on Twitter, and I cannot access it from a school computer. I can, however, check my updates via TwitterBerry and do so, if I have a spare minute or two, about once a day. On the other hand, most of the people I follow are in the same position as me and most tweets seem to come after 4pm, so in a sense I don’t miss out on too much.

Earlier in the week I watched the flashmeeting, organised by Joe Dale and other MFL teachers on Twitter. I would have been there myself if I hadn’t been watching the wonderful Derren Brown at the Blackpool Opera House, however, once I got home I was able to watch the meeting and I listened with interest to the things that were discussed. Some of the things that I clearly remember and wish to do more on myself include Wordle, Glogster and Animoto .

 I am also in the process of understanding what the enigmatic # symbol means in Twitter.# (also known as the hash tag) is placed directly before a key word by someone sending a tweet, which makes it easier to search for popular topics. Unfortunately, in the search for #MFL I came upon a whole load of weather and sea watch information but still…the intention is there. The updated website page of twitter.com now also has a search facility in the sidebar which could reduce the need for the hash tag, although I don’t tend to go directly to www.twitter.com, I prefer to use my TweetDeck.

Other useful tweets I have come across this week include:

  1.  José Picardo’s MA dissertation on Vokis & Blogs in Education
  2. A link to a video on thinking skills in MFL (something I think I have been doing anyway, but something I am interested in developing)
  3. Using TL music in the classroom at the beginning or end of a lesson for cultural awareness (I also have a Year 12 form who are all linguists, so it is fun to play them Girls Aloud singing in French!)
  4. More blogs from other interesting educationalists – see the blogroll to the side of the page. I will update this every time I come across a new one that I wish to share.
  5. Finally, I have found out more about Wiki’s after having signed up for the flashmeet via Lynne Horne’s wiki page. Something I need to look into further though!

Talking of blogs, I now have my own International EduBloggers Directoy badge! Proud member no. 692. I just have to figure out how to put the badge on my blog……any ideas anyone?

 

Internation EduBloggers Directory

Internation EduBloggers Directory

Twitter

I first joined Twitter back in February 2008, but for such a long time it seemed slightly pointless, and ever so slightly overwhelming. A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge again after having seen a little bit more about it in the press and in the forums that I regularly read.

I now follow about 100 people and about 80 people follow me ( @spanishsam). My favourite ‘tweeters’ are those in a similar position to me, ie. MFL teacher in the UK with a passion for ICT, however I follow a range of other relevant professionals and the odd real life friend. Oh, and Stephen Fry ( @stephenfry)! I got a good tip-off about who to follow by reading Joe Dale’s blog entry on how to create a PLN (Personal Learning Network) using twitter as it has the names of many MFL teachers. Furthermore, over on the TES website, in the MFL forum there is a whole thread devoted to saying who you are on twitter. This is definitely the key to making twitter work for you. If you don’t have anyone to follow then you can’t get much out of it. Likewise, if you have something to say then you want a decent amount of people to follow you that might be interested in what you have to say.

The second thing I did was download TweetDeck from http://tweetdeck.en.softonic.com/ . This allows me to (very quickly) open my recent tweets list on my home PC and see exactly what has been going on throughout the day. I can easily search, send direct messages (private messages to people – put a ‘d’ before your tweet), or re-tweet a message that I like and want to re-transmit to my followers (RT in front of a message). TweetDeck also has a separate column on the page for me to see messages that have been aimed at me without losing them in the stream of tweets that are regularly being updated, and there is a column for the direct messages I have sent and received that no one else can see. TweetDeck also offers the added advantage of being able to display my Facebook updates on the same page. I guess this is where my professional and my personal worlds collide!

I have also fed my recent addiction to twitter by making use of my lovely BlackBerry Storm by downloading TweetBerry. I can read all messages and update my own status from it very easily. There are various other options open to BlackBerry users, and I chose this one after reading a blog post where various applications were discussed, as it seemed the most user friendly.

So, what have I gotten out of being on twitter? Well, apart from having a reason to be on my computer all evening long, I have actually learnt a lot. Many of the people that I follow are respected members of the MFL/ICT community and apart from being completely in awe of being able to communicate with them directly, I have been able to be on the receiving end of so much information. I have actively read many people’s blogs over the last year or so, but it is often hard to know how to find them and I have normally stumbled upon them as a result of surfing the net with no real purpose. Since joining twitter my list of RSS feeds at home has almost doubled with updates to blogs that I now subscribe to so there is always something new for me to read when I have the time. I suppose that what makes twitter useful (and at times frustrating) is that you can only post a maximum of 140 characters, which means that your message has to be short and sweet. It must get straight to the point and it is therefore very obvious as to whether it is something that could be of personal use to you.

This week, the top 5 things that I have learnt/found out about/been told about via twitter are:

  1. There are versions of twitter in a closed group setting, such as yammer or edmodo but they have other uses as well such as file sharing
  2. I know know what a flashmeeting is (video conferencing at its best)
  3. The MFL teachers on twitter have set up a flashmeeting here for next Monday (4th May 2009) at 9pm, you can sign up for it here by clicking on the ‘edit’ button
  4. Speed dating to practise MFL orals in the classroom