social networking – ¡Vámonos!

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This year at Language World I was invited to present some ideas for using technology for collaboration in language learning. I teach primary so the focus was on that age group but there are many ideas and tools that are equally applicable for young and old! In spite of some technical hitches and running out of time as there was so much to share, the ideas were well received and I hope that this will serve as a reminder/update for those who attended, and a snapshot for those who didn’t.

Below is my presentation. Whilst all the links work, the videos don’t I’m afraid but you’ll find some below to give you a taster.

Link to BetsyBelle’s webinar Out of this World on using apps in the Primary Language Classroom. Highly recommended viewing especially if you’re interested in the how as much as the why.

Evernote Snapshot 20151016 104158My session at the wonderful Practical Pedagogies conference centred around the use of technology to enhance Primary Language Learning.

Key points I made included:

  • technology is not  just for the pupils but also for the teacher;
  • it is just one tool we have to use;
  • it is not always the best tool for the job.

I went on to suggest online tools as well as apps that might be useful in a range of contexts and situations.

My presentation is below and there is wiki with links to tutorials, examples and ideas that accompanies it. Feel free to ask questions via the contact form or @lisibo on Twitter.

And thanks to Marisa for sharing her notes (and photographs!) here.

twitter-312464_1280Here is the presentation and notes for my introduction to Twitter session at #ililc5.

I’d delivered a similar presentation before at the National eTwinning Conference in July but since then, new possibilities have arisen and these have been added. For example, you can now send video directly from the Twitter app (record it and send) rather than going via another app, and there is also the possibility of group DMs. Additionally, I’ve added a page of links to other useful material as well as making the ideas more language centred.

I hope those that attended found it useful – I know at least one started tweeting so that’s success in my book!


Last Friday (21st) saw me charging from Stafford to Marston Green, and then running at high speed (wearing inappropriate shoes obviously!) from the carpark to Hall3 for TeachMeetEdShow.

Fortified by hugs from various people including Simone (who is as bonkers as me which helps) and Buncey (who is exceedingly clever but also daft as a brush) as well as a bottle of beer, I soon recovered and managed to speak (sort of) coherently for 2 minutes and then 7 minutes.

My slides are shared above – I’ll summarise what I said as the slides alone don’t really speak for themselves (especially the first part)

Keeping in touch

In my two minute presentation I shared the importance of staying in touch at a time when teachers feel very ‘got at’ and need all the support they can get. I shared how social media was wonderful when I was in Switzerland as distance didn’t matter; I knew what was going on, and felt included despite my physical distance. I talked about the support and advice offered, and the care given by people who you’ve never met but feel know and understand you, who notice when you’re a bit quiet or disappear for a while and send a quick “you OK?” message to check. As a community was laugh together, rant together and we cry together. And in the week that we lost Bev Evans, the most selfless caring generous positive star, I encouraged others to join in the community of support, on Twitter (or anywhere else actually) and look out for each other. I’m @lisibo if you fancy following! (Seems very appropriate that I post this on the day that we say #goodbyetoBev)

Felt a bit shaken after that and the discovery of a half eaten dark chocolate Bounty didn’t help. However, I blew my nose and the evening continued with great presentations about exciting science, reuseable QR codes and Whipsnade Zoo. And a real hedgehog.

Using the right tool for the job

My seven minute presentation was about choosing the right tool for the job. I shared the series of lessons with Year 3 Spanish on the theme of Mythical Monsters. We began with learning parts of the face with a song – and I made everyone sing which was amusing! I explained how song is a great tool for learning as, combined with gestures, all the learners could recall the words simply by singing in their heads and gesturing to bring the word to mind before sharing the book that inspired the next part of the sequence. Based on Go away Big Green Monster, I wrote  a simple story called Señor Cabeza Naranja using auto shapes on Smartboard which repeated greetings, parts of the face and adjectives. From this learners used 2D shapes to make their own Señor and Señora Cabeza (insert colour) on large paper, photographing each step with an iPad and annotating the picture as they went along. We then used BookCreator app to create eBooks; we imported the photos, added the text that learners had rehearsed on the large paper, and then added sound as the pupils told their stories. The result wasn’t perfect but that wasn’t the point. It was a journey that continues using the right tool for the job to move forward.

I also managed to win the raffle (a Hue webcam) which was nice with my Twitter comment about the event Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 17.53.49



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I couldn’t be at BETT this year which made me sad. I can do without the exhibition in itself; what I missed was the interaction with others and particularly the TeachMeet and TeachMeetTakeovers from which I have learned so much.

Not to be beaten, I recorded a 2 minute nano-presentation in case my name came up on the ‘MagicFruitMachine‘. It didn’t, but all is not lost as a)a list of URLs and links to presentations and blogs was given to every attendee and b)I’ve recorded it so you get it anyway!

Here it is – entitled Be patient – it’ll happen, it’s my encouragement to those who feel that their “drop in the ocean” won’t make a difference.

[vimeo w=400&h=300]

All a bit topsy turvy I guess, reporting on a course I ran on Tuesday after a presentation I did today but heigh ho!

Tuesday saw me heading across the city – or actually around it on the M6 lead by my motorway crazy SatNav- to Hillcrest School where I was delivering a day of training for Primary Language teachers on ICT in the Primary Language Classroom.
It was a really good day from my point of view with lovely food – bacon sandwiches for coffee break! – a great venue and marvellous enthusiastic delegates. And the added bonus of a visit to the Lingua centre at lunchtime.
To save on paper and also because I think online notes are more useful – click the link rather than type it in makes more sense to me – I made a wiki for the day on which all the notes, presentations and some of the outcomes are posted. I think that’s the way to go – what do you think?

I had a visit today from Bren Taylor (AKA @edugame), Education consultant at Link2ICT, who wanted to have a look at how I used technology and especially social networking tools in the classroom to enhance teaching and learning.

He’d done his homework as he’d already seen my blog and the WCPS wikispace that I created as the next step for pupils to have their own area to showcase their work with me. We talked for a bit about previous projects and activities including replying to Ewan McIntosh’s tweet, and using Twitter to ask questions in RE before he saw a Spanish lesson with year 5.

Today we were starting a new topic – Yo soy músico. The first lesson involves learning a song based on I am the musicman, taking about instruments that you can play and also beginning to give opinions about music. So, rather than stick to asking the kids, I decided to use my Twitter mates to help me.

I sent out a warning tweet last night (before the football overtook me!)

so people knew to be watching out for my request today – and I actually got several answers last night at people would be busy this morning.

In the lesson, we talked about Twitter and how we might use it, and the kids were fascinated by looking at my page, and seeing how many followers I had – they were particularly impressed by my being ‘followed by’ Robert Llewellyn from Scrap Heap Challenge!

I showed them the answers we had received already and we were able to look at them and discuss different types of music – a good debate about how to define ‘alternative’ music – and also instruments like bodhran and the harp. Highlight of this section was a demonstration of masterful ocarina playing on the iPhone by Bren!!

There was a response in Spanish and I was able to read this with the class and, even before I asked them, they were decoding the meaning using all their LLS and KAL skills. Proud teacher :o)

We then posted our tweet and refreshed my replies after a minute to see that we’d already had one response, soon to be followed by another 7 or 8 over the next few minutes.

We used the responses later in the lesson when we were forming sentences in Spanish. Again,we used a tweet in Spanish already as a starting point, pickd out key words and then used the tweets in English to give us ideas of how we might respond to the question ¿Tocas algún instrumento musical? Pupils then worked in pairs to form their sentences; these were shared and the class commented on what was good about each example and ideas for improvement , e.g. word order; use of connectives; varying the instruments from ‘el piano’; using past vocabulary etc.

When asked if they’d enjoyed the lesson, many pupils said yes. And I could tell from their behaviour that the class were engaged. Definitely a thumbs up from class and teacher!

So, in case you missed it earlier –

Originally courtesy of Lifehacker, and then various tweets throughout the day, I found out today about a new site called Busuu.

Busuu is a language learning site with an element of social networking. You can choose modules that you wish to ‘study’ in a wide variety of languages and add them to your area, learning the vocabulary with a series of tasks including audio and written composition. And you can also offer help to others in the language (or languages) that you already know by commenting on and helping others with their tasks. So you have the opportunity of studying whenever you fancy, and receive prompt feedback from native and / or experienced speakers.

I’ve signed up to study German (beginners) French (intermediate as I’m out of practice!!) and Basque (beginners) – there are exercises etc for the first two (indicated by the trees) but Basque is represented in my garden by a lovely red plant, so I’ll have to learn via chat and interaction with other users who speak Basque. I wonder how that’ll go???
And I must say that I’m disturbed by how much I’m enjoying correcting mistajkes and offering advice when I hate marking so much!

Go on a video tour of the site and find out for yourself!

At the moment the site is in Beta so everyone is enjoying Premium membership – there will be free Basic membership once Beta is finished according to the subscription section.

PS I know that the German tree is labelled English – no idea why!!

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)

Sifting and reading through the bumph I picked up at BETT, I came across an article in this week’s TES (a bargain at 50p – although I admit I was more drawn by the potential of the bag in which it was packaged) with the above title.

In a speech this week at the Moving Young Minds conference in London, Lord Puttnam, who is chairman of Futurelab, said
“Technology savvy children are switching off and becoming ’emotional truants’ because schools are not relevant in a digital age”

He went on to add that “the education system seemed ‘out of sync’ with all that counted for young people……children were disengaging from formal education because it did not reflect their experience of digital interaction.”

The article concludes with some statistics about the use of technology by young people –

  • nearly all children do some homework on the computer
  • 77% use the Internet daily
  • three out of five use social networking sites like Bebo, and even more played video games, used mobile phones or digital cameras

The final statement was particularly telling – ‘young people believed that understanding technology was almost as important in life as having a good teacher or a supportive family’.

Especially in the context of the comments by Jim Knight about Internet safety this week, it make sense to me that we use and embrace new technologies that children are already skilled in using and turn them to our purposes – for example, see this article about the use of Nintendo DS
If we allow children to use these tools in our lessons, we can guide them in using them responsibly and stop them from being taboo. And before we can use them in our teaching, we need to find out about them ourselves. That’s one reason I went to BETT and Teachmeet – to find out. But you don’t have to go to conferences. I bought a Nintendo DS after listening to Ewan McIntosh talk on this theme at Language World last year, and my 9 year old son has been having a marvellous time teaching me how to use it as have the pupils I teach at school. It’s led to several discussions about their favourite game sand several have gone away and had a go at Brain training in Spanish – there’s no greater incentive than beating the teacher’s score ;0)

I’m not saying anything new I know but if people keep saying it and doing it …..

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