Archive for May, 2012

Fotobabble is a simple, quick and easy tool that you can use for various specific speaking tasks at all levels. It is a tool which allows you to create talking pictures and slideshows with really only a few clicks of the mouse.

To use, sign up for free at and then click on Create a Fotobabble. You then need to upload a photo from your computer that you want to commentate on, choose a photo from Facebook, or find a picture from a set URL. When you have selected your photo, click create, and it will be uploaded. You will then see something like this below:

This allows you to ‘edit’ your fotobabble by adding your vocal comments to it. You will have to allow the microphone on your computer for it to work, then click ‘Record’ and stop when you have finished. You can play it to listen to it back, and on the same page add tags and themes to help others to find it. As with many of these webtools that I have been blogging about, you also have the option of deciding whether to make it public or private (better private for pupils of course – you can choose who can see it by inviting them or sending the relevant URL). You have the embed code and URL ready to cut and paste into your blog, or posterous account or website and when you are happy with everything simply click ‘Save’.

Here is one I made quickly as an example:

The uses for this webtool are fairly obvious. With many GCSE syllabi, the oral requires a presentation and in the case of the IGCSE you have to do a presentation of  photo. This seems a perfect way to practise this exact skill. You could have a photo bank accessible by the class, ask them to pick one for prep and add their comments to it. The same goes for the IB ab initio speaking exam. It could just as easily be used as practise for the AS exams, particularly the WJEC syllabus where pupils have to comment on the pictures they see. It should be easy to create a bank of pictures for each topic with questions attached, and pupils simply upload the photos and talk about them. A perfect way of doing a speaking prep, on so many topics – describing people, places, action, or discussing what pictures represent and so on.

Just as with Vocaroo, Voki, Voxopop, GoAnimate and Blabberize which I have blogged about already, Fotobabble is another excellent tool that gets pupils speaking the language, a critical aspect of language that teachers have not been able to assess as easily or as regularly. It is useful for all year groups, from beginners to A level, and should be an integral part of practising topic vocabulary.

When I first was introduced to Powerpoint and it’s teaching benefits on my PGCE year I was immediately enthused by what it could do. It was a fun way of presenting new language, or grammar or information about a topic, and made a change from other introductory techniques such as flashcards, saying and repeating and other traditional techniques. I loved mucking around with sound effects, slide transitions and doing little games such as onboard word searches, quick flashing words / images, anagrams and so on. I still use a lot of powerpoint presentations today, mostly with Years 9 and 10, but there is such a thing as death by powerpoint and you can overdo it.

A good alternative is to use Prezi. Prezi is an online presentation tool, that basically allows you to have a blank canvas and to put on lots of text, images, videos, audio, graphics and so on, to create your presentation. It is really a different method of doing the same thing, but Prezi allows you more flexibility in how you construct your presentation and just feels a bit more hip and modern! You don’t have to view your completed presentation online though; the finished product can be downloaded and viewed offline if you don’t have an internet connection.

Happily, Prezi is free to use for teachers and educators, so go to the website and register for your free account. Click on the ‘Sign Up’ button and scroll down to the smaller button that says ‘Students and Teachers – with educational email only’ and click this. Then either click ‘Edu Enjoy’ for free or the second option if you want to pay for the privilege and get a few more options and bonuses. You will then have to use your school email to register for this service to prove you are a student / teacher as they will verify this. From then, follow the instructions and you will be all set up.

I think the Prezi help videos are very good, and I would strongly advise watching these to get an idea of how to get started making your presentations and the kind of things you can do with the program. You can go to them directly by clicking on this link: or click on the picture below.

I’ll talk you through how to start as well, but you will probably get most out of watching these videos and then having a go yourself. Don’t forget to print out or read through the cheat sheets as well (these can easily be used if you get your students to use Prezi as well of course). The support system is good for Prezi I must say and it does give you a lot of useful tips about how to make the most of the program.

When you have signed up, you will go to ‘Your Prezis dashboard’. Here you can see the Prezis that you have already made, click ‘Learn’ to get ideas and tips, ‘Explore’ to have a look at other Prezis out there (you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel remember, there may already be one made that you can use if it is public -Prezis can be kept private as well and limited to those you want to see them. ) Thisd is also where you start your creative process by clicking the icon saying ‘New Prezi’. Having clicked this you will need to think of a title and put a brief description of its content. Having done this, you will have the option of picking which type of canvas you want to use, which best suits your presentation; some are rather business orientated, but most types of prezi will have viable uses in the MFL classroom and you can preview what they look like first. Having clicked on one of these and then start editing, your canvas will load up ready to be adorned with the wonders of your creativity. Here there is a picture showing what templates are available.

If you click on the blank template you are basically designing the whole thing without a template. The first thing to do is to get used to using the tools available and move around the canvas. This is what your starting canvas will look like (I have already filled in a title by double clicking this bit of the canvas.)

The tool in the top left hand side of the screen is the key thing to get used to using and how it works. As you can hopefully see in the picture above, in the blue circular tools you have circles labled ‘Insert’, ‘Frame’, ‘Path’ and ‘Colours and Fonts’. By clicking on these you can adapt your Prezi and organise the transition from element to element of the presentation. In the Insert menu option you can add in shapes, images, Youtube videos, powerpoint presentations, charts and files (including sound files). The frame option allows to change the shape of the frame of the textbox. The path button is the one you use when you are sequencing your presentation elements, to show which way you want to move around the canvas when the presentation and the colours and fonts obviously change the colour scheme for the canvas, including the writing colour.

You can click anywhere on the canvas to create a textbox and also click and hold to drag the canvas around to decide where you are going to add your next bit of text , graphic, video etc. It takes a little bit of getting used to, as occasionally you can create textboxes inadvertently (which can be deleted easily), but it is worth practising and working out how much of the screen can be seen during the presentation.

When you have put in your various elements, select the path option and click between the elements to decide in which order they will be shown. This will also be shown on the left hand side of your screen.

Your prezi is saved progressively so you won’t lose everything if something goes wrong which is handy. When you are done, click ‘Exit’ and you will then be able to show your Prezi.

Again, this can be a nice presentation tool for many purposes, and there are a variety of games that can be played with it, as you can do with powerpoint.

Why not have a look at these prezis and links to get ideas of how to use Prezi?

Teaching MFL through stories

Household chores (French)

Glogster is a ‘Publisher’ type online tool, that makes posters that have more to them than your standard Publisher documents that Microsoft Office provide. Aside to text and images, you can also add video and audio as well as much flashier graphics and other little effects. The emphasis is much more on ‘youth culture’ rather than office or work presentations in terms of the graphics and images provided, which make it attractive for pupils. The end results are eyecatching and professional looking and are relatively easy to produce, and can be either printed out (obviously not if you have included video and audio content) or viewed online.

Glogster itself is free to use. There is an educational vesion which provides a ‘safer’ environment, allowing the teacher to be able to control what their pupils can see and organise things more effectively for their classes. This is called called Glogster EDU and it does cost a subscription depending on how many accounts and licences you need. I must say that I am not wholly convinced about the need to use the EDU page as with department budgets being what they are, the money is possibly best spent elsewhere. It is worth having a look though and seeing if you feel you would get your money’s worth from it, you can take the Glogster EDU tour here that tells you what the service provides. If I was to pick one suscription version it would be single user with 50 accounts, though I am not sure I would use Glogster lots over the year.

Glogster could be used for a variety of activities. It could be presentation device perhaps to start off a lesson. It could also be a revision device, presenting a variety of resources for pupils to look over following a lesson or unit, much as I have done here with this Glog containing videos on immigration that I use with the U6th and IB sets. It could also be an online worksheet, much like Lingt offers, without the ability for pupils to record their own answers as Lingt offers. Of course, pupils can use it as well. It would be excellent for doing projects, allowing them to include videos and pictures and maybe an oral presentation with their written work. Obviously it is a nice poster creation tool, and not just for class display but also for their own revision for their rooms. There are a variety of other blogs that talk about how glogster could be employed in the classroom, here is one such: Using Glogster in the classroom

To start with, you will need to register, and when you have done this, you will be directed to your dashboard home where you can start creating your glogs and see previous ones that you have made. It will look like this:

First of all you need to decide what type of glog you want to make, and you have a few templates to give you some ideas as you can see above.  I’m going to do an information giving glog about Las Fallas, and try and include some videos and things, as an example for this blog.

Let’s use the Poster glog template to start with, as this is the one you will probably use the most, and your pupils will opt for to give them more freedom to design their glog. Once you’ve clicked on it, your poster will load and you will see this below, with a helpful arrow pointing at the buttons you wil use to add images, text, graphics, video and audio.

Let’s start by adapting the background to something more Spanish. Click on ‘Wall’ and then select from a variety of options, including an image of your own, a Glogster gallery wall, or a solid colour. Find something you like and then click ‘Use it’ to set as the background wall for yout glog.

Now I’m going to add a title to my glog, so click on ‘Text’ and again you have a wide variety of tetx bubbles that you can write in. This could be one issue by the way with pupils using Glogster; some pupils could well take ages agonising over which colours, images, fonts and so on to use, wasting valuable time when the key aim is to obviously produce accurate language. Since my glog will be about Las Fallas, I’ve managed to find a fiery text bubble! Having picked a text bubble, click ‘Use it’ and then you adapt the text as you see fit, with colours, fonts and so on, and can obviously drag the text bubble around the glog and resize it as you need, much as you would do with Publisher.

Now let’s put a Youtube video. Click on ‘Tools’ to go back to the choices for types of add ons to put onto your glog and select video. If you are looking to upload a video you have already made (perhaps from Silent Film Director – see previous blog entry, or even from GoAnimate, Dvolver etc)  you can do this, or you can link to one from Youtube, Vimeo or anywhere else on the internet. I’m using a video from Youtube which gives a nice intro to Las Fallas festival (Click here if you want to see it, Journeyman pictures incidently do a lot of nice vids about cultural events from all over the world, worth searching them.) I’ve put a random graphic of an arrow in as well.

Once you have put in a few bits and pieces like this, you will really get the idea of how it all works. Go to the Tool Menu, select what you want to add to the glog, upload or link to whatever it is, click ‘Use it’ and then adapt it in terms of colour, size or location around the Glog.

You can see my completed Glog by following this link. It’s just a demo really. With more time, I might add links to places with more information about Las Fallas, or put in some questions to stimulate discussion.

You can obviously embed lots of the types of tools that I have talked about on my blog before. Cartoon, wordles, tagxedos, videos made with GoAnimate, toondoo, Dvolver etc etc can all be put in, so it is a good chance to show off all your abilities!

Happy Glogging!

I have already done several posts about sites that make cartoons, movies or videos (and there will be more!) Domo Animate is another one of these, coming from the same family as GoAnimate, which I have already blogged about (see the archives). I do like cartoons and animations, both for productive and receptive Spanish. I feel that it is particularly important to vary your productive Spanish tasks, as doing the same old ‘write a letter, write a description, write an essay’ task gets boring for pupils and anything different, creative and fun can stimulate pupils into producing better work. This was very much the case with a prep I set my 4th form (year 10s) this week, describing car crashes. I got some nice videos back from GoAnimate and Dvolver, having given them the choice of these and Chogger. I really only gave them three options in case one or two of them didn’t work! You never know with our school computer system!!

Domo Animate works in the same way as Go Animate if you are familiar with this tool. It has a slightly more amateurish feel possibly, though this in no way detracts from the finished product. It feels slightly more old school cartoony, rather than the slightly more modern feel of the characters and scenarios in most of the GoAnimate scenes. Having signed up (free, naturally), go to Create Animation and then you have a couple of options. There is a slideshow option or the Domo Animation studio option. For both there are tutorial videos which are well worth watching to get a feel for how to get started and make the most out of the program. If you want to have a look directly, just click on this link. (there is an annoying advert before the tutorial vids). Below is the options screen for which type of animation to create.

Using the slideshow option might be a good way of getting pupils to do a presentation in which they narrate a series of events based on the pictures that they have uploaded, and a good way to practise link phrases and speaking generally. However, there are other slideshow tools out there, and you of course can generally do this from your media viewer, but it may be worth trying out with pupils, particularly if you have maybe downloaded a load of random pictures. What could be quite fun is to upload some random pictures from the internet on a topic to revise, but without the pupils knowing what they are. They then have to think on their feet and describe what they see, maybe scoring points for describing lots of things on the screen.

The more creative option is to click on the Domo Animation Studio create button, as this gives you the chance to exercise those film director tendencies inspired by the latest Aardman or Pixar productions!. Once you have clicked ‘Create’ you will see the ‘studio’ below.

The scene on the right hand side is your canvas as it were, and on the left hand side you have the various tools, characters, backgrounds, objects and effect buttons that you use to create the show. The bottom shows you the different ‘stills’ or separate scenes that make up your animated movie. On the left hand side you have buttons for characters (the egg type icon button), the type of speech bubble you want to employ for the characters’ dialogue, backgrounds (the scenery type icon button), objects (the tree icon button), music and other random animation effects. By clicking on these, you see which options you have to use in your movie.

If we start with characters, pick a character you like from the decent selection of oddballs (I have a preference for the monsters and animals!) and click on one you like. Your character then appears on your canvas, and you can then moev him around by clicking and draggin, resize, by adjusting the picture dimensions in the same way as Office Publisher, and change the way the character faces by using the arrow buttons above the character when selected, or whether it goes infront or behind another object. Below, you can the see the first stage of my video, having set a scary type background and with a monster selected.

You can add various characters onto the canvas, as you can again see below, and give them things to say by clicking the speech bubble button, moving the speech bubble to where you want it (including moving the orientation of it) and then typing into the bubble. Fonts can be adapted too, and the size will automatically adapt to fit the text into the bubble. Here is the scene with another character added and some speech bubbles.

You can then add things as you want. I then clicked on the music button to add some dramatic tension music. The music lasts throughout the video, so there is no need to add it into each different scene. When you are happy with one scene click on the clapperboards in the bottom right hand corner below to either add a new scene, or delete a previous one. The characters will be left in the same places ready for you to carry on the conversation, or move them someplace else. When characters are selected, you will see you have the option to make them move and do actions, adding to the events and excitement. It all works the same way as GoAnimate if you have already tried this, but without the speaking aloud or uploading recorded speech option.  Go about the scene creation in the same way as before, adding scenes where you want to. It is fun to play around and see what all your options are, and also useful to know how it all works before you unleash your pupils on the tool to have a go!

When you are done, click ‘Preview’ to have a look at your masterpiece. If you are happy with it, click save. If not you can always go back to edit, adapt, or add or delete more scenes. Having clicked save, you then have to give the video a title, tags, short description and choose it’s language. You can then either save it, or share with friends or pupils. See the screenshot below.

If you click Save and Share you can then choose to email it to your friends or class, or get an embed code for a blog, wiki or Posterous (which I will blog about when I have worked it out fully! This may be the best way to save class material for everyone to see).  I’ve embedded my very short video on Posterous if you want to have a look. ( Or you can click on the following link:

Domo Animate takes a little time to produce, but is great fun and the results are excellent. You will need to tutor your class yo use it which might take a certain period of your lesson, but it is worth it! Enjoy!