30 January 2012

A World of Music

Music surrounds our lives, whether in the car, supermarket or personal listening devices. Today's suggestions are a brief reminder of a couple of music related sites which are great to introduce to brighten up any winter class. 

MusicPopQuiz offers players a choice of musical genres ranging from pop to jazz, indie to folk music. Once you select the genre, you have a choice of 2 questions (as in the example on the left); you will hear the song and then need to decide who performed it. You can also see it that there are different levels to the quizzes. 

This is a fun site either to use as a follow-up to a lesson on music or set up as a pair activity in a class, to see which pair of students get the highest score. 

Tune into English  offers a different section for teachers and students, each tailored with worksheets, games and quizzes. 

LyricsTraining  is another site where ESL/EFL learners can access to further their vocabulary and listening skills with 3 different levels of gap-fill activities usually included for each song. You can use the advanced menu to selected which genre you want and there is also a selection for Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and German. When you sign up, you will also have the option of uploading and sharing your own favourite songs with gap-fill activities.

Still for ESL/EFL there is, Agenda Web, which offers songs and videos with more exercises to practice English, while Lyricgaps is another option.

Nat Geo Music  is a great place to find out more about world music, while American Sabor teaches us more about the influence/role of Latin music in America. As with other Smithsonian sites, there is support for teachers with a page dedicated to classroom activities.

 Incredibox gives learners the opportunity to play around with beats and rhythms; definitely a fun site to visit at the end of a week or close to holidays. 

Adding music and sounds to digital stories is also possible, and here are some sites which help learners find the sounds they need to add to their presentations:

Legal Music for Videos

CC Mixter - A Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up or interact with music in any way you want to.

Soungle - a search engine for sound effects

Moof - social music network

Stock Music Boutique 

Music History Websites - a rich resources for who is interested in music

Tribe of Noise - a music community

Lights - an interactive music experience

What are your favourites sites for music?

27 January 2012

Sharing Change and Digital Responsibility

With Digital Learning Day and Safer Internet Day 2012  just around the corner, I'd like to share these 3 different videos as examples of the changes around us.

One Hour per Second

Information Transliteracy

Being a responsible digital citizen is an essential part of learning today, and below are more suggestions to introduce to learners.

NSTeens  - videos in English and Spanish


Further suggestions

Staying Safe Online

The Digital Birds and Bees


Budd:e Cybersecurity Education

Rumor Control 

Cyberbullying Themes


26 January 2012

Words in my World

When I began teaching, I never realized how long I would actually remain in the field of education. As well as teaching, I have also been involved with translation and interpreting; however, when I had to make a choice regarding further professional and academic studies, education won without much hesitation.  Having had to learn different languages throughout my life, knowing by experience how challenging it is to learn a language - not to mention all the implications of language learning (for example, what does it mean to be bi-cultural, the roles one takes up within different languages, the unfettered boundaries which language learning opens in one's world view) - I am unable to understand how mono-lingual people will still disregard language teachers, particularly those who have chosen to dedicate their lives to professional training and development within in the field. Too often I have come across the attitude that teachers are not "professionals' and that anyone can teach a language as long as they can speak it. More ironic to me is when I attend training sessions on language learning by a mono-lingual speaker - by the time I was 18 years old, I spoke 6 languages. Language learning is part of my identity. 

Languages are perhaps one of the most ungrateful things to learn in life. It takes years, if not a lifetime, to master a language;  if one does not dedicate time and practice, a constant nourishing of a particular language, it will quietly slip into the dark corners of the mind, making it tantalizing but challenging, to re-capture again. 

As a language learner, my most immediate has always been words, words, words. Phrases and grammar would then slip slide into place, as long as I had words. Hence my focus on vocabulary today. 

Dictionaries obviously have their place in learning a language, but a thesaurus is an equally necessary and enriching tool to use. VocabGrabber  helps generates lists of words and shows how they are used in a context. All you need to do is copy and paste a word in the box, then click "grab vocabulary" for the fun to begin. 

Visuwords and Snappy Words find meanings and their connections to other words. Both are great for learners to use either before a new theme or reading, as well as for revisions - especially to set during a self-learning time where each learner focuses on vocabulary they want/need, thus adding peronsalized learning in a very simple way. 

Two other thesauruses worth looking into are Memidex and Think Map

Word Hippo  presents similar or opposite words in tidy little boxes,  while Wordsmyth offers anagrams, crosswords, a quiz maker and a glossary maker in addition to its dictionary functions. There is also a KidsWordsmyth and a video explaining how it works. 

 Graphwords  creates visual graphs which you can then save and include in a blog or wiki. 

And now that a couple of thesauruses have been suggested, why not test all the new words with Vocabaret?

Learning takes time.

Learning requires nourishing and attention. 

Learning. In a digital world, so much is possible - collaborating, personalizing, blending analogue and digital worlds to learn with pleasure and confidence. 

Here, here and here you can find other suggestions for learning words  and activities for vocabulary.  Here you can find a selection of games which also focus on vocabulary. 

What aspect of language learning do you find yourself wanting to learn first?

24 January 2012

Organising & Collaborating with Mind Maps

Mind mapping is a great way to get learners focused on tasks. Below are some mind mapping tools which can be used for brainstorming, summarising a reading task and preparing for a writing task.

Please feel welcome to add a sticky-note to the board below with your favourite mind mapping tool. 

Further references:






Learning Strategies - Mind Maps 

Text 2 MindMap 

Here  below are other sources and examples of graphics which are great to use in lessons. 

Examples of Mind Maps

Teacher Guide to Graphing Resources

Write Design - Graphic Organisers

Education Place - Graphic Organisers 

Mind Mapping 

Think Buzan Videos 

23 January 2012

Contributing to Global Blogging

There are tools, platforms, networks and an array of MOOCs to participate on. There are also projects which are worth contributing to and on 29th February 2012, the Global Blogging Project  will be a global project with contributions from around the world. 

Whether you have your own blog or encourage your students to blog, Blogging the Leap Year promises to make a splash in the blogosphere. 

Happy blogging and Happy Year of the Dragon!


Slide Your Show

As much as PowerPoint continues to be a popular tool for presentations, there are other tools which are as easily accessible to present slide shows. These are some which I have come across and offer the possibility to include images, multimedia and more: 

With igniteCAST  you can upload videos, images, music; it's a great tool for learners to create digital stories, share courses, quizzes and surveys. 

SlideStaxx also creates slideshows which you can then embed in blogs. One feature is how it helps you collect social media from different sources, pulling them together in a slideshow. 

BrainShark  lets you create, share and track how effective a presentation is. I'd also like to point out a great screencast by Russell Stannard, explaining how to use BrainShark, in a step-by-step presentation. 

Zentation combines videos and slides to make presentations, making it useful for webinars and webcasts. 

Further suggestions:

SlideJockey (app)

Presentation Timer (app)

Vuvox (already mentioned here)

View more presentations from @JESSEDEE
What other presentation tools would you add to these suggestions?

22 January 2012

Visualize Your Life

New years often beg questions of change - or at least putting one's life into perspective.  It is also a time when sometimes one  may consider changing job or take up a new challenge in life. Infographics are not only useful to use in class; one can also create visual resumes/CVs which are more in tune to today's appeal for visualizations. 

This blog entry may be more directed to educators, yet students in their last year of High School or at HE can also start creating visual resumes/CVs, visualizing their accomplishments and lives, focusing on what they have achieved and where they want to go in their futures. 

Below are suggestions for presenting one's resume/CV in different visual formats:

Visualize.Me  - connects with your profile in LinkedIn

Resumup - creates a visual profile of you and your social network 

Kinzaa - your resume/CV in an infographic

Resume Baking  - to share in social networks and receive notifications of jobs

KareerMe - creates a personal video resume

VisualCV - combines video, audio, digital portfolio.

Further suggestions:





5 Tips for Creating Impressive Video Resumes

4 Digital Alternatives to the Traditional Resume

Vizual Resume  - Examples of Visual Resumes

How do you visualize your professional journey?

19 January 2012

Creating Comics

Among the many different ways of creating stories, using comics is one approach that never fails to engage learners. These are some suggestions which you can use to create cartoons/comics in lessons:

Comic Creator in Surf Swell Island

Comic Creator - Read Write Think

Garfield's Comic Creator

TVO Kids Comic Creator

Dr. Who Comic Maker

Lego Comic Builder

Comics Creator - App

Here, here and here you can find other suggestions to create comics.

Write Comics is yet one more comic creator for digital stories.

What other comic makers have you found fun to use?

Further Suggestions:

For another change in Education, read about Apple's New Initiative .

Wikipedia No More?

Consider this.

Reflect on this.

What would your world be like with internet censorship? What will happen to free resources, free, open learning?

Online World Blacked Out
Created by: Online University

Further references:

SOPA - Innovation Black Out

The Internet's Reaction to Students' Reactions to Wikipedia's Blackout

18 January 2012

Did the Internet Kill the Video Star?

Learning may be inspired through all kinds of media and videos are a great activity to include in lessons. Here are some video tools which I find have found of interest for learners and teachers.

Givit is a service where you can upload videos and share privately - or in other words, only with those who you wish to share your video with.

Vialogues is another site where you can upload and share videos, but also add comments and discussions to the videos.

You may notice that on the left-hand side bar, I have included a list of sources for videos. Explania  and Cosmolearning are other sources where you can find animations and videos on a wide range of topics and themes. You only need to sign up and begin exploring.

Learning doesn't always have to take on a serious tone - students will often remember and discuss a video further if it is humorous or even controversial. Grey's Blog is a great site to choose and find videos which are informative as well as make you smile.

Further suggestions:

VYou - videos and conversations

Eyejot - Video Mail

FlixTime - creating videos

VideoLightBox - Pop up Video effect

What is your favourite video site?