March 2008 – ¡Vámonos!

Month: March 2008

I picked this cartoon up from a Lucy Gray and Silvia Tolisano aka Langwitches in my Google Reader this morning – it not only made me laugh, but it also made me think!

In the last few weeks there has been much tweeting and blogging about Twitter – is it good for you or not?

I really like Twitter and tweeting, don’t get me wrong. I’m just wondering how much it is taking over my life, and how much it might be distracting me from other things that I should be doing.

Doug Belshaw really prompted this over the weekend with two very thought-provoking posts – The map is not the territory and Is Twitter bad for you?. (Read them if you haven’t already!)

The former, subtitled The changing face of the edublogosphere, made me consider how dizzy and confused I can sometimes become thanks to Twitter (and following URLs and recommendations) – as I wrote in my comment on the post, perhaps it’s out of my own ‘immaturity’ as a blogger and technochick (as I have been dubbed by colleagues!), and the wish to ensure I don’t miss out on the latest thing that my head starts to spin. I do need to be more selective and I guess with experience will come more wisdom.

That’s why I love EdTechRoundup meetings – lots of ideas backed up with uses in the classroom and also lots of debate about tools and their use. I lurk and listen quite a bit – and that to me is very important so I learn! That’s not to say I don’t contribute – I’m not completely clueless :o)
I lurk on Twitter too – but often I feel excluded from the conversations – sometimes because I only follow half the speakers, or because it’s over my head. Guess I could follow more people but that to me feels like collecting friends on Facebook just so I have lots of friends, or becoming a ‘groupie’. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I have received really great ideas via Tweets – someone tweeted a couple of weeks ago – think it was @injenuity – and this site has infuriated, entertained and educated my family ever since. 9 year old spent over half an hour searching rivers in Holland this morning in search of a particular bridge – the clue did not enlighten but he found it, bless him! And @willrich45 and @davestacey pointed me a blogpost showing how to use YahooPipes to put all received Twitter messages containing URLs into Google Reader. However, there sometimes seem to be far too many seemingly great ideas floating around- as a commenter on Doug’s blog said, 95% are irrelevant but 5% are gems. Recently I’ve been off work and had the luxury of time to check out all the recommendations, under normal circumstances I wouldn’t. And then there are the ones that everyone raves about – then never to be heard of again. What happened to @teachablemoment ? And @bookgroup ? Both started off with lots of activity but seem to have fizzled.

So is Twitter bad for me? My husband would say it was – but that’s more to do with mobile tweets than Twitter! And there lies a key issue – should I switch off my mobile tweets? During Edtechroundup last night we talked about this. Several people have switched off their mobile tweets – Doug commented that they were getting in the way of teaching. My inclination is to keep them switched on – I’ve been careful with from whom I receive mobile tweets and chosen people who aren’t too prolific in the tweet department. Even so, most that I receive are not directed at me – and some are like the cartoon man’s! My reason for keeping them on in term time is that Twitter is blocked at school so the only way I can even begin to use it with the pupils is to use my mobile. As I’ve blogged before, Year 6 answered a question posed by Ewan McIntosh via witter – and were fascinated by it. And there are times when I let out my frustrations on the Twitterverse via an ‘end-of-my-tether-sympathise-please’ message.

Then there’s Tom Barrett’s post Twitter- a teaching and learning tool. It’s a really comprehensive guide to Twitter’s many possibilities for learners (young and older) – it’s one of those posts you have to go back to and read several times to really grasp all of it! As I commented when Tom asked about the use of Twitter in the classroom, it’s hard to use when it’s blocked but I’m working on that one!
Interesting that he was cut off from the world of Twitter when he wrote it – as he said,
‘I am removed from the network I want to reflect upon and away from the classroom that it can impact. This perspective is welcome as it offers me clarity of thought, as I write, that I have not had for a long time.’

So, if I switched off mobile tweets, followed more people and was more selective with things I pursue, would that be OK?

I think Doug’s post about Twitter hits the nail on the head – there are times when I need to switch off from Twitter, email, Facebook as I can’t concentrate. Writing this, my mobile has Spiderpig-ed 24 times – and that’s from 3 people in an hour – and I’ve not finished yet! I haven’t checked my emails but I guess there are several of those too. His model of outward facing and inward facing modes of working seems so simple and sensible that I’m quite cross I didn’t come up with it!

So perhaps it’s a case of there being a time and place for everything and not allowing Twitter to encroach on everything I do, whilst still exploring the possibilities of using it creatively ;o)

Twitter-ing on.

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The starting point for a new post …. are you a twit or a twerp to use Twitter?
…. to be continued!

clipped from
  • htjoshua

    @lisibo yes that is right: ‘tweet’ v. + n. <=140 char msg, to send/receive such; ‘tweep’ n. e.g. someone who sends/receives tweeps

    about 2 hours later


    @htjoshua – you learn something new every day! Never been called a tweep before – a twerp perhaps … ;o)

    about 2 hours later


    @lisibo … but not a twit I am sure…. 🙂

    about 2 hours later
  • blog it

    I read an interesting article in the Guardian the other day about language learning and football – two topics close to my heart.

    In the Sports Comment section under the title ‘Learning the lingo will net England brighter future‘, Louise Taylor suggests that apprentice footballers, now called ‘scholars’, should learn languages as part of their studies to prepare them for the possibility of playing for teams abroad.

    Gareth Southgate recently cited the lack of players experiencing new systems and styles of play as one reason for the stagnation in the national game – learning a language would make a transition to playing elsewhere that much easier.
    ‘Sadly most are unwilling to step outside their lucrative, cosily familiar, domestic comfort zones and the same could be said for many home-grown managers. Instead of whingeing about continental types – often multilingual and well-educated – pinching the top jobs here, why don’t English coaches start investing small portions of their large salaries on language lessons before emigrating for a while?’

    The case of Chris Coleman at Real Sociedad is mentioned – communication difficulties made his job hard – and that’s a man who tried (and succeeded to a certain extent) to learn some Spanish while he was there. Michael Owen is reported to have driven miles just to get an English newspaper when he was at Real Madrid, and we all saw David Beckham’s ‘interesting‘ efforts to speak Spanish (although he did manage to get himself sent off for some colourful Spanish at least once!) Not sure about his excuse that his cockney accent impeded him, but it is true that people can feel embarrassed about the way they sound in the foreign language. Didn’t do a bad job of his last press conference I guess!

    One man who did make an effort – and actually succeeded – was Gary Lineker who learned to speak Spanish sufficiently well whilst playing for Barcelona to interview Spanish speakers like Diego Maradona on TV, and also learnt Japanese when he played for Grampus 8. But he is the exception.

    At a time when the state of language learning in this country is as newsworthy as the state of our national football team, could this be an answer to both issues? Lots of young lads (and lasses!) aspire to be footballers and look up to their heroes. If it’s known that languages are seen as important, perhaps we’ll see a resurgence in the uptake at KS4? And if footballers are learning languages, they might be more inclined to travel abroad to play, gaining the experiences that might be said to be missing in our national team(s). I don’t know – but something has to change!!

    And perhaps it will help them to avoid too many slip ups – although some are inevitable, perhaps they won’t be as spectacular as this one! You can even relive the moment on Youtube!

    .flickr-photo { border: solid 2px #000000; }.flickr-yourcomment { }.flickr-frame { text-align: left; padding: 3px; }.flickr-caption { font-size: 0.8em; margin-top: 0px; }

    El Toro, originally uploaded by sparky2000.

    I’ve been (re)exploring Flickr this evening. I joined a while ago and uploaded some photos – but then forgot about it. As my husband was delayed by the Heathrow Terminal 5 fiasco, I had a spare few hours that i have spent browsing a multitude of photographs.

    So here begins an (occasional) series of images of one of my first memories of Spain – the Osborne bull or Toro de Osborne.

    More about Flickr and Osborne bull in future posts!

    Hot on the heels of yesterday’s e-mail from CILT about Europe Day (see yesterday’s post), today I received a message from Pamela Powers at the European Parliament about Spring Day in Europe;

    Spring Day in Europe was set up to promote learning and debate about the European Union in schools.

    As 2008 is the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, “Bridging cultures through dialogue” is the chosen theme for Spring Day 2008. It will be held from 25th March to 30th June, with a special focus on 9th May, which is Europe Day. Schools across Europe are invited to take part.

    The Spring Day in Europe website provides teachers and students with ideas for events and activities in the classroom. For further information and to register your school, please look at the Spring Day website:

    Once registered, you will have access to the full package of teaching and learning resources, activities, tools and services of the web portal.

    The teacher adviser for the UK is Ian Levinson . He is a contact point between European Schoolnet and schools that register with Spring Day in Europe and is able to advise and answer questions.

    Investigating the Spring Day website, it seems that there are various benefits to registering for the day – such as involvement with other classes and schools, taking part in competitions and receiving a certificate of participation for your involvement – always popular in schools with SMT :o)

    Content is in 23 different languages, allowing for access to the site in the language studied as well as English, and the ability to compare text (and I assume activities) in different languages. At the same time, the whole day is based on the discovery of other cultures and traditions, thus covering ICU strand. There are online games, ecards to send and podcasts too which make my evolving techie side smile! You can find out more about activities, past events and how to register on the Spring Day for Europe 2008 site.

    At the time of writing there are 1113 schools registered – I’m about to make it 1114.

    What about you?

    Europe Day 08

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    I’ve just received notification from Ruth Churchill at CILT of some FREE resources available. Never one to look a gift horse …, I immediately investigated!

    Apparently May 9th is Europe Day (I’m afraid this was the first I’d heard of it!) and the European Commission has produced a booklet to promote the day as well as provide information promoting the EU.

    Here’s the e-mail:

    Representation of the European Commission in the United Kingdom – Passport to the European Union
    What do we know about the member states of the European Union? Whereabouts is the statue with more clothes than one would find in any woman’s wardrobe. Did they really use eggs to built a bridge in Prague? Could there still be an island where no female either human or animal is allowed? This and a lot more information on the 27 member countries of the European Union e.g. their size and population, famous citizens etc. is answered in our little booklet “Passport to the European Union” which also includes stickers of coins, flags, buildings and even a map. Children can find places for the stickers in the passport and on the map.

    In order to support Europe Day (9 May) activities for young people, the Representation of the European Commission in the United Kingdom is making 100,000 copies of the Passport to the European Union available to UK schools and similar organisations completely free of charge.

    You can view the booklet online and then decide if you want to order up to 100 copies per school either from your Europe Direct centre or by filling in a form online. I’m planning on using them for SODA (start of the day activity) and also for incidental work. If every class focussed on a different country, we could share notes in assembly later in the week. Kids love finding things out and with stickers and things too, it’s sure to be a hit (they’ll prefer it to handwriting too!)

    So don’t hang around- there are now 100 less copies as my order’s already in!

    Here’s a montage of posters used in previous years to promote the day – perhaps it’ll inspire you!

    To find out what’s going on in the UK, have a look at the events diary – I like the look of the Giant European Union Pub Quiz in Wrexham! And there’s also a whole page of ideas for how your school might be able to celebrate.

    SMS en español

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    hla k tal? spro k b. k acs? kntm.

    Sbs k digo? My typing skills haven’t deserted me – I’m texting! If you speak Spanish and/or are conversant with the language of texting, all that makes perfect sense.

    I must admit that I sometimes get confused by all the abbreviations and double meanings in English – LOL is laughing out loud but also lots of love – and have to explain some abbreviations I use – I thought ROFL was universally understood as rolling on the floor laughing??

    I was interested to read a recent post from entitled Spanish cell phone abbreviations – Shortcuts make text messages faster.
    I wondered how the language of text would vary between English and Spanish. It was interesting to see how Spaniards use similar abbreviations to us:

    • letters and numbers just like us – gr8 = great / 100pre = siempre or salu2 = saludos
    • phonetic abbreviations as we do – cu = see you / aki = aquí
    • initial letters – brb = be right back / npn = no pasa nada

    but also have borrowings like pls for por favor, and also sms for texting itself.

    I wonder if we could justify texting as a suitable for Primary learning –
    it’s definitely Modern, it’s Foreign to many and it’s a Language in its own right. How about it? ;o)

    m1ml, b7s, a2

    You may have noticed I’ve got a new widget on ¡Vámonos! labelled Where in the world…??
    This follows someone (I’m afraid I can’t recall who!) Tweeting about, an online map game based on Google maps. There are numerous riddles showing a satellite picture of somewhere in the world in the top box, and in the bottom box is a Google map of the world. Your task is to find the exact satellite picture to ‘solve’ the riddle. Some people have left clues to help you – for example, I’ve just solved on with the clues

    .…… Beach
    Crockett and Tubbs

    leading me to Miami.

    Yesterday I was sent to Ullaru with the clue


    I’m now addicted to the site – given the cold and hail/snow, it’s a fine way to spend a Bank Holiday afternoon, improving my Geographical knowledge (not my strong point). Some of the puzzles are fiendishly hard, others are very easy – I had to find the border between France and Spain yesterday!

    Here are a few puzzles I’ve made to bamboozle you – they’re not hard! Congratulations to @mrmackenzie and @josepicardo for solving the first one very quickly!


    The ever innovative and very talented Leigh McClelland from Comberton Village College sent me a message on Facebook last week about a theatrical novelty taking place in the West End very soon.

    Peter Pan El Musical: Spanish musical adaptation of JM Barrie‘s famous children’s story comes to the West End’s Garrick theatre from 28 March to 27 April. Peter Pan El Musical, which has enjoyed box office success in Spain, features all the familiar characters from this most English of stories – Wendy, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook and Peter Pan himself – who reveal a previously unknown aptitude for languages by performing the musical entirely in Spanish, with English subtitles. Adapted by Cristina Fargas, the show includes 14 original songs, performed by a cast of 25, led by Spanish musical theatre star Miguel Angel Gamero as Captain Hook and Mr Darling. Interesting? Lx

    So I investigated further and discovered a website of excitement with photographs, music and news from the production. I particularly like all the photographs of the production.

    The production is in London for a month before returning to complete the tour of Spain with Badajoz, Zaragoza and Valencia. A shame London isn’t nearer to Birmingham for a school trip but I might get there. If you want to find out more, go to the website, or here for tickets.

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