Monday, 24 November 2008

I wish the English.....

I love this poster, shared with me on Twitter by @nwinton from the imaginatively named I love Typography blog in a post entitled Diacritical Challenge. The challenge is to a) name the font and b) identify the diacritical marks!

I've got to say that I couldn't name all of them but there are plenty of people having a go in the comments!!

The subtitle of the post is 'Squiggly bits' which is how many of the pupils I teach describe them. As they're unfamiliar in our language, it can take a bit of explaining but ñ isn't too hard to explain, and the accents in Spanish to show where to stress words is easily explained when I mispronounce their names by stressing the wrong bit. And ¡ and ¿ are explained by the need to know if something is a question or exclamation a the beginning of the sentence so that your intonation is correct - cue much overacting ;o)

All counts towards Knowledge about Language!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Typealyzer - what type is your blog?

Via my FriendFeed, I was asked by John Johnston (via Twitter!) what type of blog I had, linking to Typealyzer. Being a nosey, inquisitive soul, I decided to find out! And what I found was rather interesting.

I'm forever doing quizzes and surveys on Facebook like Which Sesame Street puppet are you? (Zoey) Which Heroes power do you have? (Peter Petrelli) and Which Scrubs character are you? (Elliot) and frankly, whilst amusing, they interest me for about 10 seconds before I move on to poking someone or finding out if I remember the 80s.

However, this captured my attention for much longer. I put in my URL as requested and was given the following analysis.

And apart from the bit about being impulsive (have to work at that!) and following things through (which I do!), I'd say it was rather accurate! especially the bit about sitting still and remaining inactive!

But even more interesting was the next bit which analysed my brain activity.

Made me think - why am I so low on feeling, intuition and imagination? I'd say I was that way inclined but my blog doesn't. Perhaps it's the way it's analysed - not sure if it's on the last post or on the whole thing. Perhaps I'll have another go in a week or so and see if it tells me anything different.

If you've got a blog, I'd be interested to know what it says about you. I did check a few and discovered that Chris Fuller is a Doer like me, Joe Dale and Oscar Stringer are Guardians, Tim Rylands is a Mechanic, Tom Barrett is a Scientist and Jo Rhys Jones is a Duty Fulfiller.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Young Enterprise winners - LanguAges - UPDATE!

Some of you may recall a blog post in July about a group from English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, Hartlepool, winning Company of the Year and Most Creative Company of the Year in the Young Enterprise in the NorthEast sponsored by The Arts Council NorthEast for their product LanguAges.

For those who don't, here's a brief recap from the group ;

Our company, LanguAges, provides educational resources to aid the teaching and learning of French in primary schools at Key Stage 2. We have created a compilation of three different games, The Clothes Game, The Class Card Game and The Shopping Game, and an Interactive CD, which form the LanguAges Pack.

All of our games are tailored to be fun, yet educational, comprehensively covering the Key Stage 2 curriculum, and helping to improve vital comprehension and speaking skills.

Having tested the product and marketed it to Stockton schools, all schools in Hartlepool should now have a copy of the materials.
A representative from the Hartlepool local authority, Tom Argument, said: “Their materials are creative, fun, very practical, and of a high quality. The group present themselves in a business-like manner and have real entrepreneurial potential.”

The group went on to discuss the future-

We realise that LanguAges has a huge amount of potential, and are currently investigating the many options available to us. Several possibilities are being considered, such as selling the idea, or even continuing the company even after the Young Enterprise Company Programme is over.

The prospect of mass producing the LanguAges Pack and even expanding the range to include a variety of other modern foreign languages is a very exciting one.
Today I received news from their (very proud) teacher, Madame Welsh, about LanguAges.

An update....they did brilliantly well at the National Finals, winning the Award for Financial Management. They are working with a company to market their product further afield! They make me so proud!
So well done once more to the LanguAges team for their continuing success - a great example of language learning going hand in hand with other areas of the curriculum.

And a pat on the back to TTS for seeing the potential of the product. TTS is currently one of my favourite school shopping places so I'll be watching out for the arrival of the products!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Enthralling tales from afar.

I came across an interesting news report via my GoogleAlerts from The Kerryman paper in Ireland, entitled Enthralling tales from afar. The report begins...

It goes on to say that this is the second time that this type of visit has been made possible by the GoetheInstitut, and that the aim of the exercise was to encourage primary pupils to learn German in a fun environment.

"There has been a growing interest in teaching and learning modern foreign languages at primary level in Europe and research shows how enthusiastic teachers and children are," Georgia Herlt, head of the language department at the Goethe-Institut Dublin, stated.

"As well as learning languages it helps with cultural awareness and combats stereotypes, and the children are geared up for it when they go to secondary school."

The visits saw Suse Weisse using familiar and less well known fairytales in German (with explanations in English).
I love using stories to teach primary languages for many reasons. For example;
  • familiarity of structure
  • familiarity of story
  • children enjoy being read to
  • making links between English and the language of the story
  • you can do all kinds of things with a story - drama, games, jigsaw texts
  • using them as a model for production of new stories
  • easy to embed sound in story powerpoints to help non specialist teachers
  • I enjoy doing the voices ;o)
I could go on!

So I'm all for these visits - when a Year2 class told me that they'd worked out from listening to and reading Rubiales on the Northumberland GfL that Spanish put the adjective after the noun whereas English put it before, I was sold on the use of stories to teach!

Off to see if I can find a Spanish storyteller now...;o)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Google Reader translates!!

I have been criticised before for 'posting in a foreign language' on ¡Vámonos! A little harsh, I felt, as the blog is subtitled 'Teaching and learning Primary Languages in the 21st century'. (comment to that effect has been deleted from the post!) However, I am aware that there are readers who do not speak Spanish or Catalan, the two main languages (other than English!) in which I blog. Since its inception, ¡Vámonos! has had a 'translate' widget in the right hand sidebar for just this reason, and I recommended the use of Google Translate last year.

Last week, I discovered that Google Reader now offers the opportunity to have your reading translated into a language that you understand. So, if you have subscribed to my blog using GoogleReader, and didn't understand a word of the previous post, this is for you!

Go to view 'Translate into my language' (that is the language that you have set as default for your reader) .....

and Bob's your Uncle!

The translation isn't perfect - me chifló seems to have it stumped! - but you can get the gist!

So, now there's no excuse for not reading my blog, eh?? ;o)

La historia de Lego

Acabo de leer un artículo que me chifló sobre la Historia del Lego. Como madre de dos niños de seis y nueve años, no puedo escapar del Lego - han pedido de Papá Noel el Lego de la Guerra en las Galaxias.

Noticias Locas hoy habla de The Lego MiniFig Timeline que muestra los muñequitos de acción Lego desde 1978 hasta hoy.

Ahora estoy lista hablar con mis hijos sobre el Lego con más autoridad ;o)

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Animoto gets text!

I first used Animoto during the Voices of the World project last year when we made a short 30 second video featuring pictures that the children had drawn of Spain accompanied by a rather dubious rendition of the Spanish Himno Nacional by most of Key Stage 2.

Animoto describes itself as follows:

Animoto produces TV-quality music videos using your photos in just minutes.

It's so simple to do too. Choose a song as the soundtrack to your video and Animoto will analyze every nuance of it. Producing a totally unique video each time, no two videos are ever the same.

I thought it was a good tool then although the limit to 30 seconds for the free version was a little annoying. A while back, I saw it reported that educators could have a free account (saving you $30) and I was sure I'd registered then. However, it seems I hadn't as when I went back today, I didn't have an account. So I rapidly registered and began playing!

I'd been reminded of Animoto by a Twitter message saying that you could now add text to Animoto. So, having uploaded lots of pictures of flowers taken in my garden from iPhoto as a test Animoto video and then remixed it, I set about investigating the new facility.

I uploaded a set of photos from my Flickr account entitled Spanish food and drink. Next I sorted them a bit so that they were grouped vaguely. My first text screen was the title page, then I added a section title - Tapas and a comments about gazpacho - Me gusta mucho :o) . I then thought I'd make use of a set of pictures to tell a story - a man choosing from the menu and then enjoying his morning break - thanks to my model ;o) I was a little disappointed that you couldn't subtitle the pictures as I'd envisaged making a slideshow to teach food words. However, you could insert a text slide before or after each picture for revision I guess! Having selected a suitable piece of music from the Animoto library, I let Animoto work its magic and voilà - a video that can be emailed, uploaded to Youtube, downloaded and embedded as it is below.

If you want to learn more about Animoto, why not check out the site or the case studies section where you can find out how educators have used Animoto in their classroom.

I'll be exploring further and will keep you informed of how things go!!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Primary Languages Regional Conference - Making the links.

Yesterday saw a repeat of the Primary Languages Conference that was held in Coventry in June, this time in Bromsgrove to cover the South of the region.

Held in the lovely Bromsgrove Hilton, we were treated to a lovely lunch (always important on a training day!) as well as some great sessions on such things as Numeracy and MFL, Parachute games, Music and MFL and The International Dimension.

Eight lucky individuals took part in an Animation workshop with Oscar Stringer and had great fun producing short animations in just over an hour and half. Thanks to the British Council eTwinning, the lucky few took away their animations and Oscar's animation PDF on a memory stick! :o)

Find more videos like this on Animation For Education

I delivered a session on Exciting ICT in the PLL Classroom, looking at delicious, Voki, Voicethread and Audacity. As promised, the presentation and notes are below for those who attended and also for those who didn't!

Exciting Ict In The PLL Classroom
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: ict voki)

Exciting ICT in the PLL classroom.

And the day ended with the lovely Steven Fawkes of ALL once more stunning and inspiring us all with his ideas on Performance and Motivation, culminating in the performance of La Banane, a new and innovative take on Kylie's Can't get you out of my head!!

And I won a lovely soft Spanish calendar in the raffle courtesy of Little Linguist. I eagerly await its arrival! :o)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Los animales hablan español.

This afternoon I had the pleasure of the company of Year 2 for a whole afternoon of Spanish!! So I decided to indulge my creative urges and let them loose with the puppets! This caused great excitement - obviously - perhaps a little more than was strictly necessary, but heigh ho!

The idea was to create short role plays in pairs in Spanish using puppets so that we could safely record them using my camera's video facility, then upload them and the kids would be able to watch them before going home. Best laid plans...

I handed out the puppets by naming them in Spanish and asking ¿Quién quiere el mono? for example - the pupils had to guess the animal to 'win' the right to hold it! That was fine. However, as they put the finger puppets on their fingers, the pupils' excitement was a little more exuberant than foreseen and it took a while to calm down sufficiently to set the task. Of course, the pupils immediately wanted to start talking to one another using the puppets and I didn't want to squash that urge, just channel it ;o)

Next problem was that all previous knowledge seemed to have popped out of their heads and for some reason there were very few who could even remember how to answer ¿Qué tal? let alone ask it! However, after a quick revision session we rehearsed and after break we had a go at recording our animal role play, using Smartboard backgrounds as our backdrops.

Below you can see some of the results - some were better than others and, believe me, given the time and effort it took, I'm pleased we recorded anything!

I was thinking of doing some animation with them.... perhaps leave it until I've recovered :o)

Monday, 10 November 2008

¡Viva eTwinning en Madrid!

Here are my photos from my three day stay in Madrid at the eTwinning conference.
Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy remembering taking them!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Encuentro eTwinning España / Reino Unido

DSCN1256, originally uploaded by lisibo.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I'm currently in Spain, in Madrid at a bilateral eTwinning meeting for Spanish and English teachers looking for partners - for eTwinning projects.

The meeting is coming to an end today after three days of frantic activity as teachers from both countries really threw themselves into the task of making friends and influencing one another. After a treasure hunt around the sites of central Madrid, numerous three course meals and several copas de vino, everyone has found a partner or partners, and begun to formulate project ideas. So it's been a very successful meeting - and some of the project ideas that people are sharing as I type are really interesting and creative!

One partnership are going to use digital storytelling and video to share talents between their schools with pupils acting as a Simon Cowell and judging the talents of their partner pupils.

Another group are planning on looking at festivals and cultural events along the lines of 'similar but different' - I know that this type of project leads pupils to not only learn about their partners' culture but also to reflect on their own!

'One liners' will be based around a 'guessing game' involving proverbs in Spanish and English, with the partners schools exchanging one line each week that will be displayed for the pupils who will work out / guess what it means. The partners hope that this will lead to discussion of the imagery of proverbs and a comparison of similarities and differences. Apparently this idea was formulated yesterday in the middle of the session I delivered on Voki Voicethread and Audacity in eTwinning after I shared the Voicethread highlighted in the previous post called What could it mean? :o)

Another group were inspired to create a NING network in my session (and I only mentioned those in passing!) and are planning on a monthly Voicethread activity about the City of the Future - environment, culture, lifestyle etc.

I've had some very interesting conversations over these few days about languages and technology, and also about the use of technology in general. One delegate told me on the first night that he hated technology, couldn't do anything technological and that his own children were banned from using computers as they are 'evil'. Mmm! I suggested that he might like to learn how ICT works alongside his children, thus knowing what they were doing and learning at the same time, and we had a discussion about educating rather than banning but didn't seem overly swayed by my argument! So I took that as a challenge for my session and was pleased as punch when he made a Voki in my session and declared that perhaps he could do something after all. And in the report back, he's just suggested using online Playstation competitions as a way of maintaining and establishing links between the schools. :O)

Here's my presentation below - and the notes I made too.
You can't put Keynote presentations in Slideshare or Pages documents in DocStoc so the formatting is a little odd as I had to export it as .ppt and .doc :O(

Notes for Madrid - Get more Business Documents

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

What could this mean?

As I'm presenting at a British council conference in Madrid this weekend, I've been researching Voki and Voicethread and uses thereof.

I'll post my presentation and notes etc after the event, but this particular Voicethread made by Silvia Tolisano aka Langwitches came to mind and I thought I'd share it now as I think it's genius!

Basically, there are many photos contributed by people from around the world of something that is particular to their country - could be a tradition, a habit, a routine, a custom - in order to promote intercultural dialogue about our similarities and differences. People are invited to contribute - see the whatcoulditmean wiki for details - by uploading photographs and also by surmising what the photos might mean!

A simple idea but great fun and thought provoking too.

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