October 2008 – ¡Vámonos!
 

Month: October 2008

El Ogro y la Bruja

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A beautiful story for the end of October – made me go ‘ah!’

Here are the words in case you want them!

Ella era una bruja fatal

su hermosura y su soledad

caminaba en la niebla sin ver

que un ogro muy triste la seguía

Este amigo tarareaba una canción

y la bruja ocultaba su emoción

En los cuentos de hadas

las brujas son malas

y en los cuentos de brujas

las hadas son feas

así decía la canción

que el ogro cantaba

En el bosque,un día de sol

se encontraron frente a frente los dos

le clavó su mirada

la bruja malvada

para ver si podía

con su magia ahúyentarlo

pero el ogro sonríendo y cantando

el hechizo rompió

La tomó de la mano

las lechuzas callaron

se miraron un rato largo

y el ogro y la bruja se amaron

bajo el sol..

No hay mejor brujería que el amor

la la ra lara la la ra larala!!!
La ra la larala laieee!!!

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clothes line, originally uploaded by daniel n. reid.

Having accosted him at the bus stop, I had the pleasure of travelling from Cowes to Newport with Adam Sutcliffe last Friday. Not quite sure why or how the subject arose, but I do know that at some point during the journey I said ‘This weekend I will mainly be wearing red’ as Adam reminded me of it on Saturday evening when I was in my fourth red outfit of the weekend saying ‘you weren’t joking, were you?!’

So, it amused me to read the following article on BBC Mundo:


Más sexy si se viste de rojo.
¿Quiere volver a un hombre loco de amor? Vístase de rojo. O al menos eso fue lo que encontró un estudio científico.

Basically, it suggests that if a woman wears red, she is seen as more attractive and more worth spending money on by men (but not by women!)

I’d just decided I would stick to one colour to save problems of deciding what to wear jewellery and accessory-wise and I’d just bought some lovely clothes in Barcelona. But it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?? ;o)

¡Vámonos! is 1

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Having congratulated José ‘Así se hace‘ Picardo on the 1st birthday of Box of Tricks yesterday, it dawned on me that it must be ¡Vámonos!’s birthday soon – and then I realised I’d missed it in all the fun and excitement of the IoW conference!

So belatedly, Happy Birthday to my lovely pink blingy blog ;o)

As I explained in my first post on 23rd October last year, I procrastinated and vacilated for a long time before finally taking the plunge and starting a blog. Having said that, I have loved blogging – it suits the chatty, enthusiastic, got to share the news part of me, and also satisfies the part of me that is frustrated by day to day stuff. And it means that I can write which appeals to the part of me that hasn’t seen much action since my Uni of Sheffield days.

Of course, I don’t just blog for my own satisfaction – I hope people find my blog interesting and useful – but I really think I’d carry on even if I didn’t get read. At times this year, I have hidden from reality by blogging and it has kept me going through the hardest and saddest time of my life.

And it has also restored my feeling that I do have something to say that’s worth hearing – sometimes it’s hard when everyone at school tells you that you’re so good but you know that they actually don’t really know if you are or not as they have no idea of how Primary languages or new technologies work. So it’s important to me that my peers – like Jo and Joe and José (and others whose names don’t start with Jo!)- tell me what’s what.

Added to which, without this blog I probably wouldn’t have met and made friends with so many people across the country and world who have enriched my life so much with their advice, thoughts and funny comments.

So to all those who have read ¡Vámonos! over the last year, keep reading and …. xxx

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTS4PdjbOVs&hl=en&fs=1]


I’ve had the pleasure this weekend of finally meeting Mark Pentleton. Can’t believe we have never actually met before! Mark is a really busy man so I grabbed the opportunity to find out more about why exactly he is up from before dawn to way after nightfall!

I first heard of Mark when he worked on Partners in Excellence (PiE) in Scotland, a project with the purpose of raising achievement in East Ayrshire by establishing a virtual school with pupils contributing through such things as film making, animation and latterly podcasting. The project involved 29 schools across islands and down to South Ayrshire, a very large geographical area with diverse sizes and types of schools. For some, the project became a case of expanding peer group of pupils in tiny schools by use of VLE to develop a community.

The PiEcast was a way of keeping everyone in touch as well as a learning tool for the particpants. It began as a podcast containing news about events, interviews and news reports to give the community a voice. As time went on, this expanded to include a learning element such as listening material in French, Spanish, German and cultural element. This then led to something else – the Verbcast. This was an intense 10-12 minute nightly podcast for four weeks for 25 young people, looking at French verbs. Having listened to the Verbcast, pupils received a text message each day testing them on what they had learned the previous day; the answer was posted to the website – very interactive! Verbcast used relaxation techniques – feedback was good from pupils and teachers were really pleased with the grasp that pupils had of verbs after participation. (Note to Mark – do it in Spanish please!!)

Radio Lingua Network
Mark saw a gap in the market for beginners Spanish podcasts – Notes in Spanish is good for intermediate. So he started Coffee Break Spanish with Ciara in October 2006; a premium version with access to extra materials was launched in January 2007. Lesson 79 was looking at imperfect subjunctive so it wasn’t all easy peasy!!

Mark then began his quest for world domination as follows:
February 2007 – My Daily Phrase German / Italian
September 2007 – Coffee Break French – on episode 41
October 2007 – One Minute Languages x6 in response to requests for basic phrase podcast – Norwegian, Polish, Luxembourgish, German, Gaelic, Russian – 10 lessons
Another 6 just launched – Mandarin, Catalan, Danish, Japanese, French, Romanian
September 2008 – Show Time Spanish – after first few episodes of preparation got soap opera for show – to be released at end as an entity in its own right
October 2008 – Write back soon – EFL podcast tackling phrasal verbs – emails between students using lots of phrasal verbs that are then explained.
Although he didn’t mention it, I particularly like his idea of a week of podcasts leading up to Valentine’s day last year entitled Love Lingo that taught the language of LUUURVE in Spanish, German, Italian, French and Norwegian!

Podcasting fits our lifestyle – it’s hard to learn from a course that is linked to a text book when you’re driving, walking etc. It’s so much easier to listen alone- and less obvious too!! And that’s why podcasting is so successful!

Mark then shared some future projects for RLN – but I’m not allowed to blog those so you’ll have to wait and see ;o)

So, to the lessons learned:

Learning
Podcasts give-

  • content in the learner’s context
  • ‘secret learning’ – lack of peer pressure
  • massive storage opportunities – 670 hrs in 5 years lang learning/1000 on an iPod
  • access – if it’s there, they might just use it! If it’s not, they don’t have the opportunity!
  • just in time delivery via RSS – time things to happen just before an exam, at a particular time etc
  • learners learn most by making podcasts

Sharing information
Podcasts show that

  • learning not just for pupils
  • podcasting inherently builds community
  • collaboration

Style of delivery
Podcasting should NOT be recording of classes delivered – must be created eg four main points rather than whole lesson
Should they be scripted or non-scripted – most of RLN’s are non scripted

Technical lessons

  • equipment – CO3U Samsung USB mike
  • mic techniques
  • recording
  • systems
  • ‘respecting the ear’ – if people are listening through headphones, avoid crackles!!

I found all this fascinating – I am not going to launch a business empire like Mark – for a start, he’s too good and I wouldn’t stand a chance against that competition. However, the lessons are applicable to all podcasting and podcasters. It also all showed exactly why Mark never seemingly sleeps – he has no time!!

If you’re going to the Language Show this weekend, you can catchup with Mark and the RLN crew yourself on stand 20!

Keep up the good work Mark – and I look forward to the next lot of RLN projects in the pipeline – they sound very exciting – but my lips (and cheeky tweets!) are sealed ;o)

So – for all your language needs – check out RLN – there’s something for everyone!!

One of the highlights of the IoW conference was learning how to podcast on a Mac. Not so much for what I learned as to how I was taught and by whom.

Don’t get me wrong; it was very exciting learning how to use Garageband to podcast and great fun too. But more important to me than that was the fact that the session was delivered by four pupils from Heathfield Technology College with little or no ‘teacher’ input.

The pupils had written the presentation themselves and taught us what they had learned from Shirelands CLC, represented by Lesley Hagger-Vaughan of whom I have heard many great things! They were confident, cogent and very professional in their delivery- first of all , explaining the ‘W’s of podcasting – why/when/what/how/where before demonstrating the whole process of making a podcast and then splitting it into manageable chunks. Each stage was re-demonstrated before we were set off in small groups to try it out. And at all ties, there was a pupil at hand to check we were getting on OK, or to give us extra help if we needed it.

  • A storyboard was produced.
  • We rehearsed using an iPod with a microphone attachment.
  • We recorded using a condenser microphone, splitting the audio into manageable chucks to allow for easier editing. At this point we were encoraged to make sure that we ‘acted’ with our voices and didn’t keep it monotone!
  • Next came editing the audio chunks to eliminate pauses, create space for the intro music and ensure that it was all corectly recorded.
  • Using the ‘Jingles’ option, we added music to the audio, lowering the music so that the voice could be heard over the top of it.
  • Finally we added photographs to illustrate the podcast.
  • (My group even managed to add a Powerpoint slide ours!)


The session concluded with a showcase of the three finished podcasts – all about our visit to the Isle of Wight. I had to rush off to my round table presentation with Jo Rhys-Jones so didn’t get to download our podcast onto my memory stick so I can’t post it here, but it was very good! ;o)

Apparently, it was the first time that these pupils had done such a session but you’d never have known. They delivered clearly, supported one another, answered questions when asked and kept perfectly to their timings – other presenters weren’t so good at that – especially the ones talking about Primary MFL ;o)

And, with the Brummie accents, it was like being at home!


I attended a really interesting session on Digital voice recorders delivered by Kath Holton from Argoed High School.

She began by talking about her criteria for a good digital voice recorder –

  • high quality – recording and manufacture
  • ease of uploading eg via USB
  • good internal microphone
  • the type of file it records eg mp3 is best as can be downloaded onto pupils’ iPods and mp3 players
  • ease of access for staff and pupils
  • robust

She suggested a number of suitable DVRs and referred us to Joe’s blog to see his ideas on the subject!

She then shared how she used digital voice recorders in her MFL classes in several ways.

Firstly, she used it for pupils to practice for GCSE. Pupils could record their response to questions / their presentations for their teachers to hear and assess when convenient, and also to provide a record that could be listened to not only by the pupil, but also by others – if the pupil has given permission. In addition, teachers recorded revision material in this way. The pupil response to this was very positive as it gave them the possibility to listen/revise wherever was convenient – on their phone, iPod, or stereo etc.

A second use was to record evidence of KS3 conversations and speaking activiites. Each of the three teachers at the school have three DVRs. Pupils are given the recorder and allowed to go out inot the corridor to record their pairwork. At the end of the lesson, the teacher downloads these onto her memory stick and can listen to, assess the audio files before keeping them as evidence. Kath advised that it’s important to remind pupils to state their name at the start of the recordings to save time trying to work out who is talking.

These files can also be used as starters in the next lesson with an AfL focus – pupils discussing stars and wishes on the class focus of, say, pronunciation. And the same files can also be used by staff for moderation purposes , allowing discussion of levelling etc.

Kath then went on to talk about the storage of files in a Wetpaint wiki, thus enabling pupils and staff to upload to a single space. she had previously tried a blog but felt that the wiki was better as it allows more freedom.

The focus then moved to the use of Voki with her pupils. She has made an account but her pupils do not have one – she encourages them to respond to her Voki using the comment button and text to speech. I found this really interesting as I had not discovered this feature (you think you know all about a tool…) You can leave a comment by clicking on the comment button and choosing to use an existing Voki or make your own. Kath encourages the pupils to do this in their time, as the making of the Voki can take time!! But she has found this to be a very successful activity with pupils ‘showing off’ in a way that they may feel uncomfortable doing in class. Kath has even had Voki from parents who have wanted to join in!

Kath finished off by mentioning Quizlet – www.quizlet.com a free tool that she uses to practice vocabulary, and then sharing an anecdote about giving pupils ownership of their work – by using their sound effects as a ‘highlighter’ of key concepts in presentations, they feel that the task is personal to them.

The great news is that Joe has interviewed Kath and you too can hear what Kath has to say about DVR as well as many other things by listening to the audio and reading the notes here.
You can also catch Kath on the CILT Cymru DVD in the ICT section.

Really interesting stuff. I’ve used Audacity so far to record pupils – problematic as there is a lot of classroom noise and I really don’t like them lugging the laptops out in to the corridor. But a DVR would be a different story… wonder if ICT has spent its budget yet?? ;o)

Every time I have heard Drew Buddie speak, I have been amused, informed and challenged to go away and investigate – and this time was no exception. Drew aka @digitalmaverick delivered a session on Web2.0 tools in his own inimitable style, taking his inspiration from Alan Levine aka CogDogBlog / CogDogRoo and his 50 ways to tell a story. You can find a full list on the CogDogRoo wiki but we only had time to look a few of them including Bubbleshare, Ourstory.com, Animoto and Kerpoof.

With @pj23harry, @jokingswear @orunner and @lisibo tweeting proceedings, it was unsurprising that Twitter was explored in some depth with most of the session attendees signing up for accounts and starting to befriend one another. Drew encouraged us all to write our Twitter names on or name badges so that we would be able to recognise who had a Twitter profile and follow them. This fitted well with the big screen in the hall that displayed all tweets to @iowconference08, the conference Twitter account.

We also had a look at Voki and discussed how it might be used, and touched on Voicethread, before thinking about wikis and blogs. Drew showed people how to sign up for a Blogger blog, and also mentioned NING but as blogs and NING are blocked on IoW, that was something that people had to go away to investigate further.

Although I knew about many of these sites and tools, it was good to be reminded of them and offered ideas for using them. It was also great that people chipped in little bits of information that they had to share, and that included people via Twitter. And of course, the entertainment factor was high, especially as the master computer for the room was at the back and Drew had to keep running up and down the room to operate things until he coopted Paul Harrington into doing it for him ;o)


I finally arrived home at 10.45pm last night after the Isle of Wight Conference, having spent time on the train preparing blog posts about some of the sessions I attended. I’ll publish them over the next day or so, but I really must spend some time with my family who were pleased to see me this morning when they woke up!

Suffice to say, I had a brilliant time and will let you know my thoughts as and when they develop in my befuddled tired mind.

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DSCN1162, originally uploaded by lisibo.

Currently in a session on Web2.0 by Drew Buddie who is whizzing through demos of a a dazzling array of tools – people are logging into and creating a Blogger account, but as I have one, thought I’d grab the opportunity to blog!

The IoW Conference started off last night with an informal meeting in the Castle Inn and is now well underway with sessions with staggered starts meaning that there is an ebb and flow of people around the school.

More posting later!

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