Langwitches – ¡Vámonos!

Category: Langwitches

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)

I’ve mentioned before the Voices of the World project, initiated by
Sharon Tonner creating links around the world using our voices / sound rather than solely as a way of written word. It’s a genius project as it offers-

  • a monthly task – short sharp bursts are great for keeping up interest , and also work well for me as the whole school want to be involved so I can rotate classes to lead
  • a different tool each month – so far – Voki, Animoto, One True Media and Voicethread (not to mention using Audacity and Flickr to gather and create things!) so we’re introducing new ideas and techniques into the classroom – and they’re free!
  • links with classes across the globe – Greece, Thailand, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Australia, USA… the list goes on.
  • the opportunity for my pupils to ‘be’ Spanish. I teach them Spanish and, in the absence of a Spanish school, and because I have to be different, Whitehouse Common are doing their tasks in Spanish (the other schools are doing the tasks in their own language)

This month, the task is on Voicethread and is on the theme of customs. It’s a two part task – Sharon has selected some slides featuring fruit, clothes, musical instruments etc and each school is going to record the name of each fruit, instrument and so on in their own language. Then each school is going to create their own Voicethread based on their country – the food, costume, sport that most represents it.

I must admit, with January half gone, we haven’t started yet. There are many reasons but one is the issue of our icon.

We need to create an icon to represent our school on Voicethread, and Sharon asked that it be the flag of our country. Problem – we are in England, but our words will be in Spanish so which flag do we use? Sharon and I exchanged e-mails on the subject and concluded that it needed to be a hybrid! So, we were about to head off to Paint to redesign the flag when i discovered a very timely post from Langwitches, Silvia Tolisano, on a tool she had discovered on Twitter via Karen Bosch called We are multicolored.
This tool allows you to make a hybrid flag, based on three questions –
Where is your home?
What other country has affected you?
Where have you dreamed of going?

So, off I went and had a play and came up with these – not sure which I like best but it’s a start.Is this one a bit boring and predictable?

I like this one with the English bit of the Union flag at the front – but does the St George’s cross get a bit lost?

And this one is for our Euro08 project – we’ve drawn Sweden!

It’s a tool I wish I’d discovered yesterday when I was teaching Year6 RE about signs of belonging and identity – but we’ll be having a go next week for sure (they’ll be thrilled – tweeting on Twitter with Ewan McIntosh last week, designing flags next week – what will it be next?)

And I also think it’ll be a great new tool to add a new dimension to European Day of Languages next September – we’ve discovered the languages spoken by our school community – wouldn’t it be great to have a display of the 480+ hybrid flags of the pupils? And we thought last year was brilliant!

Need a rest before my brain overheats….

Like my Favicon?

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Continuing on the theme of ‘bling for your blog’, have you seen the latest – my Favicon. If you have the blog open in tabs, you should see my Weemee on the tab, and also by the URL in the address bar at the top. (Unless you use IE6 in which Favicons apparently don’t work!)

I was alerted to these little beauties by Silvia Tolisano’s post Add a Favicon to your blog
on her Langwitches blog. Although she offered the Wikipedia definition as well, I liked her ‘non scientific description’ – ‘The little thingy that shows up as a little picture right next to the URL address in the address bar.’ Sounded like a good idea – but couldn’t work out how to do it as Silvia’s blog is a WordPress blog with a hosting company so doesn’t work quite the same as a Blogger one!

Then Joe Dale blogged Favicon your Typepad blog
and, as usual, gave clear instructions on the way to go about it. But Typepad blogs are again different so still no joy!

However, I left comments on both blogs, and Silvia and Joe were kind enough to point me in the direction of Blogger Tips and Tricks and specifically Favicon for your Bloggerblog. (Thank you x)
And there, in words of one syllable and with clear step by step instructions, I discovered how and succeeded in adding my favicon using My Favatar.
And it really was quite easy! I could see that the post has been updated several times with additional information, and was cheered to see that the final ammendment was the idiotproof, step by step instructions in words of one syllable that I needed – so I’m not the only one who sometimes needs a bit of ‘intervention support’ ;o

And I’m quite fond of the latest use for my Weemee – she gets everywhere, that girl!

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