So, this is the first blog entry I have done so far on a specific iPad app. I think several tools I have talked about now have iPad apps (such as Fotobabble, Popplet, Diigo etc) but Morfo is specifically for the iPad and iPhone. I have to say to start with that I have yet to use many apps actively in the classroom for anything apart from presentation  as part of the lesson since my school does not have a class set of iPads for instance as I know some schools do. Some pupils I teach do have them and I have suggested several apps for them to use and I hope they do for homework and so on. I have also used some iPad apps for adding to my department VLE and for my own work.

Morfo is a free app that can be used to take a photo and then this photo can be adapted and voices recorded onto it. You can have a look at the Morfo website here: Morfo website. With the photo you take you can make the person into various animals, superheroes, carnival characters, or into various musical styles such as disco glam, goth rock and the 60s. The end creation will also dance around amusingly!

This app is probably best used with young language learners, to help them forget any nerves they have with speaking the language and enjoy making themselves or their friends look silly or funny with the different disguises that the app offers. They can either read something they have prepared, or speak off the cuff in the target language. Topics that suggest themselves immediately for this app are personal descriptions (either what they actually look like, or what they end up looking like having been ‘dressed up’ by the app, but any type of speaking presentation can be done.

Creating a Morfo is very easy. Once you have downloaded the app from the appstore, open the application. To begin with click ‘Create a New Face’ and then either choose a photo that you have already taken or click the ‘Touch here to take a picture’ button. Either way, once you have chosen a picture, you will then have to fit the photo into the Morfo frame. Adjust the head, eyes, nose and mouth appropriately so that they fit over the photo’s head, eyes, nose and mouth. You can also adapt the light of the photo if needs be. Having then clicked ‘Finish’ you will then see your photo with the frame in place. At the bottom you have the following options: Record (click hear to record a voice onto the frame), Makeup (this is where to go to add the disguise / mask, and is probably your first stop), Morf (change the face shape to fatter, elf or hero), Dance (makes the frame headbang to a choice of music) or Share (email, facebook or save the video / picture). I will generally start with clicking ‘Makeup’, then I will click ‘Costumes’ to choose from the various mask options, and then click ‘Costume’ to flick between the various masks for that genre of costume. This is probably where the time wasting will take place in the classroom!

Having picked a suitably amusing disguise, then click ‘Record’ Click the red start button to start the recording and again to finish. You do no have an unlimited time to record (half a minute or a minute I think), so ensure your pupils know this and are prepared. The chances are that they will want to record two or three or more times until they have perfected their speech, which is obviously excellent for grooving in the target language.

Having stopped the recording, you can then listen to it by clicking ‘Play’ or ‘Share’ it. This is what you will want your pupils to do so you can see and listen to their work. I would click ‘Email a Video’ and then your video will be automatically saved and then you can send it as an MP4 file.

So Morfo is a free and fun way of getting pupils to speak the target language. You could also create homework tasks for your pupils by sending them a video of you telling them what their homework is, use it as an introduction to topics perhaps, or maybe even use it as a pronunciation guide. The finished products could also be used as a listening exercise.

Useful links to help you with using Morfo.

How to use Morfo YouTube video

Morfo forum

iPad apps

Posted: August 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
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As a second post today, but more of a request than for giving information, I will hopefully write a few more blogs before term begins. I would be interested to know if readers would like to know about iPad / iPhone apps that may be useful for the MFL classroom (as well as other subjects as well, but with the primary focus being n the benefits for the MFL classroom), or about more internet-based tools. If you have any preferences, please do send a message or comment below!

Apps I have been starting to use for MFL education include the following:

Morfo, Audioboo, Voice Record, WordFoto, Wordsalad, Comic Life, Decide Now!, ShowMe, Skitch, Videoscribe, dotSub, BaiBoard, Voxdox, Vintagio, Puppet Pals, Vittle, Story Creator, MyStory, Socrative.

Let me know if anything interests you in particular.

After another lengthy hiatus  due to the summer term, cricket and laziness during the summer holidays, I’m getting back to blogging again. I have been fairly busy with work projects to be honest, as I’ve been occupied with populating my school’s Spanish department VLE. It is a source of pride and motivation to me that this should be a leader in the school, and the aims of it are as follows:

– to provide resources for independent study for pupils and suggestions for further study.

– to collate resources for the benefit of teachers

– to provide a framework for study for the department

– to enable the improvement of IT skills for pupils

As such, I am making use of many of the Web tools and Apps that I have blogged about (and will blog about in the future, hopefully!) and one of the web tools I am using a lot is Annotary. Annotary is a effectively a resource collection site, in which you can create ‘Collections’ for websites. This can be done on various other sites, but what I most like about Annotary is that you can download a tool for your internet browser’s toolbar that allows you to annotate texts that you have collected. This gives a lot of nice possibilities such as highlighting important vocabulary, key phrases, important parts or facts of the text, or to add questions to check understanding of the article. Pupils could also use it as a way of collating their resources towards project work (for instance IB extended essays, 6th form coursework or oral exams, other investigation work) and make notes as they go on. It is also possible to collaborate on projects, and to invite other users to these collections.

Here is a video made by Annotary to explain their product briefly.

Registering for Annotary is free. First go to the website http://annotary.com and you will see the screen below.

Annotary

 

Click on the ‘Sign up for Free’ button’ and fill in the relevant details. You can sign up with Facebook, though as a teacher, I do not use this option. As with most of these tools, I use a fairly formal username, though for Annotary I have created a Spanish Department account that all the teachers can use. The weekly newsletter comes to my email address, but the username is that of the departments. (Obviously, each member of the department has access to the password and usernam so they can add and annotate resources)

Having signed up you will need to download the toolbar app that eventually you can use most easily to add websites to your collections, though this can also be done without the tool, slightly less quickly, but still with few difficulties. You will then begin the process of creating collections and finding websites or articles to include in them. To create a collection, simply click ‘Create Collection’; then give the collection a title and if you want a short description of what the content will be, and then decide if you want to make it public or private. If you make it public then anyone can see it, if private then only people you can invite can see it, and the collection will not appear in the search function either.

Alongside my hard working Colombian speaking assistant, we have created folders for each topic within the AS and A2 syllabus (as well as the IB topics and subtopics), and our idea is to collate useful texts within each of these. These Annotary collections are linked to prominently on the relevant page on our department VLE, and hopefully they can be used by teachers and pupils alike. Teachers can quickly find a text they like, and pupils can read around the subjects and also use the texts for their preparation for their speaking lessons.

To add a webpage to a collection, find a useful page, and if you have not downloaded the toolbar app, then copy the URL address, go back to your Annotary page, click the green ‘Add Bookmark’ button, paste the URL into the relevant section, and then choose the folder to add the bookmark to. Finally click Add Bookmark again, and it will be in the folder. Alternatively, if you have downloaded the toolbar app, you will see a yellow ‘a’ in the toolbar, click on this and you will see a mini drop down menu of chain icon, a pen icon, an envelope icon, two little people icon and a home icon. To save the link click the chain button. The title will be there already but you can change it, add a note if you wish to, perhaps to be specific about what the text is about, and then choose the collection to add it to. It is worth noting that a new innovation enables you to use # hashtags and @ mentions for twitter.

You have to have saved a text before you can annotate it. To then annotate a saved text, click on the pen icon. Then highlight the area of the text you want to make notes on and a little sticky note will appear for you to type into. As mentioned earlier, various uses of this function suggest themselves such as :

– highlighting key vocabulary, such as topic words, useful phrases

– highlighting use of grammar, such as tenses (even proposing questions)

– asking questions to elicit understanding of the text

– suggest synonyms for words

– summarising key points

– highlighting most important info from the text.

When you are finished, click on the save button again. To share the text, click the envelope to send to pupils for instance or colleagues.

I hope this tool will be very useful this year with my students, and I intend to use it a great deal with my 6th form students in particular. I am very keen for them to read and listen to as much as they can to back up what is covered in class, and to facilitate that process.

Here are some other links about Annotary that may interest you.

http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57575179-285/use-annotary-for-efficient-online-research/

http://web.appstorm.net/reviews/project-management/highlight-bookmark-and-share-web-pages-with-annotary/ 

http://lifehacker.com/5993001/annotary-marks-up-web-pages-and-saves-them-for-later-research

 

Mentormob is a nice site which enables you to create playlists for your pupils. With it, you can set up a playlist composed of internet links, uploaded files, multiple choice or true/false quizzes and written articles that will guide your pupils along towards some piece of work. I discovered this a year ago I think, and I can’t remember who from, and filed it away into the ‘must explore fully another day’ category. I remembered it when having a meeting with some pupils for whom I am supervising their IB Extended Essay, and when I was promising to set them up with various links to help them begin their study, and Mentormob seemed to be a great option to help them get started.

Mentormob homepage

The URL is http://www.mentormob.com and you will see the homepage as above. To join, click ‘Sign up’ in the top right hand corner and fill in your various details. You can link your Facebook or Google accounts to it, but if you have a Facebook account, I would be tempted to keep it ‘away’ from school pupils and set up an ‘independent’ account. Once you have signed up, you will be directed to your dashboard, from where you can browse previously created playlists, create your own, and eventually see and edit playlists that you have already created. It will look something like this below:

Mentormob dashboard

When you are ready to start, click ‘Create’ at the top of the screen, and the follow screen will be viewed:

Mentormob create new

 

Give your playlist a name, write a short description, decide on Recreational or Academic, choose a category and then add tags to help it be searchable should you want it to be. Crucially, are the privacy settings on the right hand side. For school purposes, unless you are going to subscribe to the Mentormob University option (there are various price plans for this), it is probably worth clicking the ‘Unlisted’ option for privacy so only those you send the link to can view your playlist and then click the option that only you can edit your playlist, so that it can’t be changed. Then click ‘Save and Add Content’.

Here is a short 5 minute Jing video showing this starting process.

Mentormob demo

The process is very simple. Click the + button to add content, choose from the 4 options, either a link to an internet site, upload a file of a variety of types, write an assignment or create a pop quiz, involving true or false or multiple choice activities. Challenges can be created for various steps to ensure that pupils are thinking about what they are seeing.

Once you have created your playlist, click ‘Done Editing’ and that will save your playlist as it is. You can go back to it from your home page to edit, add and remove content at a later date. To do this, once you have clicked on the playlist, click on the pencil icon on the top green bar.

In order to share your playlist with your pupils, you simply copy the URL of your playlist and email it to your pupils. Your pupils will be able to do any pop quizzes that you have set from them, and click the arrows at the top of the page to go from stage to stage of the playlist.

There are plenty of ways that Mentormob can be used. Here are some quick ideas:

1) Coursework preparation: you can set mini tests on crucial elements such as verb endings, spellings, common mistakes, upload specific word documents that pupils could refer to, upload powerpoints and tagxedo / wordle clouds of useful vocabulary, perhaps podcasts or videos, and maybe use the assignments section to show sample courseworks.

2) Create a research list for projects such as Extended Essays, courseworks and projects, that start pupils off for their bibliography.

3) Create a practice pathway for the progression of a topic, grammar point or unit, involving different skills.

4) Get pupils to create playlists for each other on certain topics

5) Use it as a presentation tool

6) Pupils could create their own revision playlists under your supervision, bringing together key resources for holiday work or independent learning

Here are a few other links to help you get to grips with Mentormob

http://www.mentormob.com/learn/i/how-to-use-mentormob/what-is-mentormob-7

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB8A7824F8240814B – a series of 4 videos on Mentormob by the wonderful Emilia Carrillo, who deals with Browsing and creating

http://growingbrainstemporarysite.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/resource-for-teachers-and-parents-mentormob-allows-sharing-content-playlists-edchat-teachingresources/

iPad users: Be aware that currently (this is March 2013), you can’t create Mentormob presentations on your iPad or do pop quizzes, but having spoken to some of the guys behind Mentormob, this is on their roadmap as they develop the tool. Who knows, maybe an iPad app is also in their plans.

All in all, I really like Mentormob as a way of helping to organise your pupils for projects with a defined outcome, helping to structure their process and bringing together resources that they can respond to constructively. It is something I will be using a great deal with my Spanish IB extended essays and written assignments, and probably interactive orals as well. I’ll also be using it with the A level speaking exams as pupils prepare their presentation topics and discussion answers, and also towards coursework. I hope you find it useful as well.

Edmodo CPD

Posted: March 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ve posted about Edmodo before, but I’m going to be doing a CPD in my school about it’s use, and thought that I may as well upload my CPD document handout for anyone interested.

Here it is: HOW TO USE EDMODO

If anyone would like to connect on Edmodo, please let me know!

 

My IB website Exclusiva!

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Permit me to do a bit of advertising for my side project from teaching.

Through Pearson Publishers coming to do some market research at my last school, I was lucky enough to get involved with a project to provide weekly online content for IB students doing Spanish B, whether as Standard or Higher level. (The content is actually appropriate for A level students as well).  The site is called ‘Exclusiva’ and it runs in tandem alongside the Espanol B textbook.

This is what the homepage looks like!

 

On this site you will find exercises in the style of IB exercises, divided up into the various topic areas of the IB. With each text related to the Core there are two exercises and one for the Options topics. As well as the Launch content of 30 texts, there will be a new text every week that my friend Virginia and I write, so for your subscription you get  52 new texts every year. All texts will be on relevant recent topics. There aren’t just written texts but some video exercises from authentic news sources. There are also really extensive vocabulary lists for each core and options topic divided up into verbs, nouns and adjectives. I also write a weekly blog with up-to-date links to things of interest such as videos, cartoons, news articles and songs.

Here is a link to a video about the website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgDBlghEazs&context=C423fa5bADvjVQa1PpcFMqyaohbDK6vzAxzd1bO_FzqA_rEjj4CG0=

Hope it proves useful to people of 6th form teachers, whether IB or A level.

Posterous

Posted: October 21, 2012 in Writing
Tags: , ,

It has been a while since I posted, probably the entirety of the first half term in fact, and it has been a busy one with getting embedded as HoD in my new school.  Having just got back from Language Show Live I thought I should get back into the blogging saddle again, having seen a number of new tools and gained a number of ideas from some of the seminars, particularly by Joe Dale and Chloe Druce and Rui da Silva.  So here we are again, and today I’m going to talk about Posterous, a  blogging site which I have been using a great deal over the term so far. I first became aware of this through Joe Dale’s INSET that I attended last year and decided to wait until the new school year to get it off and running.

Posterous is a really easy blogging tool that has a number of advantages and useful features. Here is a quick summary of some of these key points:

1. It is free

2. Not only can you use it on your computer but you can download an app for smartphones such as the iPhone.

3. You have a variety of options for posting, including sending emails that are converted automatically to blog posts.

4. It is really easy to include a variety of media and attachments such as jpgs, audio files, powerpoints, videos etc in your post with any fiddling around.

5. You can have a variety of different pages from just one account

6. It is easy to add extra contributors and followers to your blog, empowering pupils to contribute to the blog as well.

7. the appearance is attractive and the end result is clear and interesting.

8. You can link your Posterous account with Twitter and other blogs you might have or Facebook to share your posts and information with ease.

9. You can easily embed animations, recordings, cartoons, wordles etc with ease into your Posterous space

To use Posterous, go to the webpage (http://posterous.com) and sign up for free by clicking on ‘Sign up’ in the top right hand corner of the page. When you have registered you will be asked to set up a page. The name of your page will be effectively the email address that you can send entries to, so probably pick something fairly short and snappy!

When you have got yourself up and running you will have a Homepage that looks a bit like this:

 

The Reader page is where you can have a look at any recent blog entries to Posterous sites that you might follow, or see your recent posts. As for the left hand side options,the Edit Profile will obviously allow you to change and edit your personal settings, the Manage Spaces section is where you can pick which of your pages to adapt or edit, or create a post from, and you can Find Friends with blogs by clicking that link.

If you click Manage Spaces you can then see your current Spaces or Pages, and edit them if needed. Here is what my current set up is:

 

This gives you a few stats about each of your pages, and if you click the cog wheel icon for the relevant Space then you can view posts, create new ones, edit the space settings, add new contributors or followers, create an autopost set up and customize the page.

There are a lot of blogs and pages that already deal with dealing Posterous and I’m going to link to these here before giving some ideas about how Posterous could be used, or how I use it anyway. Here are the links:

http://joedale.typepad.com/integrating_ict_into_the_/2011/03/easy-classroom-blogging-with-posterous.html

http://www.guidingtech.com/1525/how-to-use-posterous-quickly-blogging/

http://thenextweb.com/2009/08/13/posterous/

http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-use-posterous/

So how to make the most of Posterous and how can you get pupils reading your posts, using it themselves and improving as language learners?

I have a general department Space which I use as a publicity tool. This is the main space that I have posters off around the Department corridors and it is a public space. (ie anyone can read it). I use it to announce department events (such as the Día de Hispanidad events and the Spanish film night I have run this half term), show best examples of pupils work (there are some Year 10 fotobabble creations, Year 13 videos relating to Natural Disasters and shortly there will be some Domo Animate animations, again from the Year 10), and publish things of general interest, such as a Spanish Website of the Week (which I must get more regular about!).

I then have yeargroup blogs. I use it as a reference point first and foremost, for example posting links relating to things we are doing in class (this will include YouTube clips, sites to practise interactively vocabulary or grammar, or various other webpages related to the topic). The allows consolidation and extra reading opportunites. I also have run competitions through the site and got pupils commenting on school events such as House Competitions and news articles. Pupils contributing gain merits (our school has a lot of rewarding possibilities) which gives them even more reason to contribute regularly. Pupils are getting more regular in their contributions and comments and I hope some will start posting independently and ‘lead’ the blog to some extent. Given the ease of posting and the predominance of smartphones, I hope this will happen more as the year goes on once they realise how easy it is to use.

Pupils are enjoying seeing their own work and that of their companions and this means they put a little bit more extra effort into their work. Rewards for contributions are also helping and gradually the Space is gaining more and more hits. I will probably start setting Posterous homework soon, asking for a multimedia based entry, perhaps with a video, audio and other links based on an upcoming topic.

All in all, Posterous’ ease of use and accessibility makes it an excellent blog option for you, your department and your classes.