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This week’s link…well links really

September 25, 2009 3 comments

This week’s link is to an online video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

At first glance you might think, well this isn’t the usual ‘something to do with a class’ kind of link, well that’s true but you could use the page with students (it’s a site that allows you to create and add subtitles to a videos – which has potential for language class exercises, doesn’t it?).

Anyway back to the video, by now you have hopefully been and had a look, I found it very funny, if you didn’t my apologies for taking 4 minute 21 secs of your busy lives.  May be it’s like most things in that you need the context.  If, like me you are an avid (some say) obsessive twitterer then you probably got the context. There are often little, generally good-humoured spats between Scott and various EFL twitterers usually over the things such as the use of technology in classes, and the position of technology within the dogme approach.  Added to that on Lindsay Clandfield’s blog (the creator of the video) – Scott was recently voted the most influential person in EFL. See now you have more context it helps understand the ‘tribute’

However the point of this post is not context or tribute videos.  It’s more about how we educators can learn so much, so easily now through the ease of communicating via the Internet.  The video hits upon the ‘hot topics’ for educators at the moment, no not how popular Scott is (though that is discussed :-)), but how technology is being used in the classroom, should it be used in the classroom or is it just another piece of clutter that gets in the way of learning.  On top of that if you follow the dogme approach then how can technology be implemented with it.  It also segues rather nicely in a much-discussed topic this week, – Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) for short. The ‘context’ I referred to earlier was all established via the internet – and it highlights how easy it is for the interested teacher (and shouldn’t we all be interested?) to develop for free.  Following EFL bloggers opens up a world of ideas, resources and discussions. Since joining twitter, I have ‘met’ so many incredible educators and been able to join in the daily debates, ideas sharing and good-natured banter.

As a freelancer, my own ‘online’ PLN (though I never really thought of it this way until the discussions this week) has allowed me to have contact in a way I haven’t had since I stopped working at a school fulltime. But then now, even if I did still have that contact, I know I can also learn from my time online.

Not convinced, well take a look at a few of the things that have appeared on line this week. For a start there was a free workshop online run by Scott – finished now but joining it, you can still see what was happening. Want to know more about dogme? Then join their discussion group or go read a personal experience such as on Karenne’s blog (which you should read anyway for its wealth of varied postings). Find out about how PLNs can help you on Marisa Constantinides excellent blog. Want to know more about technology then start at that’Slife or get ideas from Nik Peachey.  The list really is endless and there are far too many excellent blogs to name in one ‘small’ posting. Apologies to those not named, you can find them easily from all the aforementioned posts. Finally (and yes you have heard it before but it’s true), join twitter and follow EFL people you’ll be amazed at how many useful things you’ll discover.  And after all, doing all or only some of it will cost you, is a bit of time, which in what is generally thought of as a poorly paid profession can’t be bad.

Happy blog reading and have a good weekend

Shaun

Categories: blogs, links, Teaching, technology

Words – my favourite sites

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment

On Friday, Lindsay Clandfield’s blog ‘six things’ was discussing ‘ugly words’. His post was based on something he found here and by the end of the day many EFLers had posted their ugly words from coffin through to TEFL. The original list came from a site called ‘wordie’ which describes itself as the flickr of words and for a lover of words such as myself it is a cornucopia of information and certainly worth recommending to both teachers and students.

Getting to the point, the post made me consider my favourite ‘word’ sites. So for my favourite links of the week post, here are a few of my favourite word-orientated sites. They represent the five ‘word sites’ I tend to use the most at the moment. This list is in no particular order and avoids EFL dictionaries (which though I use quite lot online, I didn’t want to list all them all here.)

1. Wordle.net – make pretty pictures of vocabulary but has good practical uses. Students can use it to store and review, I use it for revision and for predicative tasks in reading. People put wordles on their blogs and there are also a number of sites that have turned it into a guessing game. To show you what it can do this is a random wordle of my blog.

Screen shot 2009-09-13 at 18.09.49

2. Wordsift – is probably much more a teacher tool and is aimed at managing “the demands of vocabulary and academic language in their text materials”. When you enter a text it makes a tag cloud (a bit similar to wordle) but it is based on the frequent words so enter a whole text and it gives you the top 50 used words. It also allows to search, make minds maps, find definitions and so much more.

3. Wordnik – still in beta stage and you need to register but it is a dictionary with a difference for example it looks at how words are being used on twitter and it is also a dictionary you contribute to.

4. Another ‘dictionary’ is lingro, which describes itself as the coolest dictionary on the net. Very useful for students in that it by typing in the address of a page, lingo makes the whole page clickable. So if there is a word you don’t know. Click on it and you’ll get a definition. Very useful tool.

5. Finishing with another site I have already made reference to in my blog and that is quizlet. There are a lot flashcards sites out there but this one, in my opinion, takes some beating for the fact it is really easy to use for both teacher and students, it stores flashcards so you can go back to them time and time again. There are the cards for my students to revise new words from a lesson.

Well I said five sites and you got six, there are many more out there, as I said my criteria were the ones I use the most and / or have the most fun on…..oh go one then one more 🙂

6. google setsgoogle labs has so many nice little tools you can use with students but perhaps this is my favourite.  Basically, type in a word and google creates a set of similar words (e.g. a lexical set). You can use this for teaching (as each word links) or for guessing games and so on. See now that’s made me start to consider if I should include mindmapping sites as well – they do after all play with words….no leave it for next time.

Hope you enjoy the sites and if you have any better suggestions, feel free to comment.

Have a good week

Shaun

Link of the week – for teachers

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

As the last couple of posts have been for my students, here is something for teachers. Someone twittered (if you don’t use twitter then why not:-)) a link to a really useful site for teachers who are trying to incorporate technology into their teaching.  It is a wiki site which means you can look around and add. They also have a discussion space. However this is a ning site so you need to register if you don’t use ning but registration is free. Ning is a social networking site but unlike others it allows greater control over who can see what and there are many teaching nings.

Anyway the site is called ‘teaching with internet‘ and this is the intro

“Welcome to TEACH WITH INTERNET wiki! Our main aim here is to have a place in cyberspace to start sharing ideas, tips, suggestions and all kinds of material that can help teachers who want to apply new technology to their daily practices”

Having just spent the last 30 minutes looking round it, there are many useful pieces of advice and links to tools as well as a nice little quiz on the first page (I scored 800 points, go on beat that :-))

It reminded me of another collection of resources out there called cool tools for schools

Enjoy the links, until next time

Shaun

Categories: technology, Uncategorized Tags: , , ,