Archive for the ‘Marking’ Category

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 and you will see the screen below.



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.


This is less of a web tool and technology based post and instead the offer of a form to help marking AS and A2 essays for the Edexcel exam board. I have kind of borrowed some ideas from Glenn Smith’s pro forma for the AQA board that you can find at his espanish website here in the resources section. As well as checklists for tenses included, things done well, mistakes made and checklists for what to improve in grammar, context and lexis, there is also the exact markscheme for the Section C of Unit 2 and Section B of Unit 4. Click on the links below to get them (Please note that I’ve got my school name in the top right hand corner – you will need to change this!)

A2 Edexcel Essay mark feedback form

AS Edexcel Essay mark feedback form

I may well do ones for IB Language B (Standard, Higher and ab initioas well at some point soon as I will also be teaching this over the coming academic year)

Please let me know if the pro formas are useful or if you would like to suggest any improvements. Also let me know if you have downloaded these by commenting on this post please.

One of the best bits about advances in IT and the internet is the chance to practise listening and speaking much more than was previously possible. With Voki and Goanimate, two tools already mentioned in this blog, pupils can upload recordings they have made in a more relaxed way. The two little tools I will introduce today, Vocaroo and Mailvu  are more direct methods of communication. Both are basically audio email tools, one simply with audio, one with audio and video.

Both are really simple little tools, but are very effective for getting your pupils to speak. I haven’t used mailvu really with classes yet, as I don’t really need to see a video of them, but I have used Vocaroo regularly for a variety of tasks. When preparing for presentation tasks for GCSE assessments, pupils have sent audio email via vocaroo of them speaking their presentations and I will vocaroo them back with corrections to pronunciation and any errors that they have made. My Upper 6th have sent me recordings of their presentations, and also to questions that I have set them both on presentations and also on their opinions on texts for the speaking and reading section. All kinds of speaking tasks can be set, but all importantly it gets your pupils speaking outside of the classoom.

With Vocaroo, simply go to, and then click on the ‘record’ button to make your recording. Obviously make sure your computer has a mic, either internally or attached, and click ‘Allow’ on the next box that comes up. After this your recording starts and when done just press ‘stop’. You can then listen to your recording and redo it if you aren’t happy. (Pupils often repeat their recordings to get things right, which means they are practising even more!) When you are happy click ‘Click here to save’ and then either copy the URL code, embed or email. To email, just fill in the required details and addresses (note that you can send the recording to more than one person – so you could send a range of questions to a whole class for instance). You will get confirmation that you have sent the voice message when you have done so as you need to give your email address as well.

Mailvu ( works the same but withvideo, but with a webcam needing to be used. Here you are basically sending a video email, again with audio. Again, I haven’t really seen the need to use the video emailing, though I suppose it does give you certain opportunities to maybe show pupils which exercise to do for example. You can also get Mailvu as an iPhone app as well.

All in all, very simple to use and quick to do, barring computer problems! Luckily, I haven’t had any yet with Vocaroo with people who have their own laptops or pcs though I’m yet to use school computers with it. Hope it works easily for you as well.

At our last staff INSET in which each department had to talk about innovation within lessons,  this was the last thing I showed off as the Spanish department took centre stage for use of technology in lessons. (it was amusing to see panicking teachers from other departments before this INSET, given that a number of staff here still struggle with email and word processing!) I had shown off Vokis, GoAnimate and Chogger first, but thought I would show Jing as it is something everyone can use. It isn’t a language creation tool, but actually a way of making videos of what you are doing on screen, or indeed taking screen shots.

I have used it a great deal since I found out about it in September. When pupils send me prep via email, I take a video of me marking their prep on screen, talking through their mistakes and explaining why things are wrong, and highlighting best bits of writing and so on. You have a maximum of five minutes to talk through it and this is more than enough to explain most things fully. The best bit of this is that you give much fuller feedback than you can marking by pen or just by correcting things on the screen, as there is a much more ‘personal’ approach. The feedback I have got back from certain pupils includes ‘every teacher should use this’, ‘I showed my parents and they were amazed at how useful it is’ and a number of pupils now do all their written preps via email so they can get more out of their feedback. I’ve also used it for UCAS personal statements with my Upper 6th tutees.

Other potential uses include showing pupils how to find resources (make a screenshot video of you going to places on the internet for example) or how to use other webtools (I’ve done short bideos for various web 2.0 tools already) and to create documents with screenshots of various things. All of the images in the first four blog entries were taken with Jing for instance.

Jing is free to download from the following address . When you have downloaded it, you will need to open the program (it will be under Techsmith) and then a yellow half sun will go to the top of your computer screen. Click on the sun to choose the video or screenshot option and then record as normal. (Make sure your mic is enabled – the program will ask you for this the first time you use it). When you have finished, you have the option to save or to send to someone. If you choose the send option it creates an automatic link which you can past into an email. All of your videos are also uploaded to a screencast account, which gives you plenty of space for a lot of videos.

I find Jing indispensable, and some of the other staff at my school are now using it as well, having got over their fears of moving out of the 19th century! It makes marking a much fuller process and really helps pupils with the quality of feedback for their work.

Here is a link to a Jing tutorial to help you get to grips with it. Good luck, I’m sure it will be really useful.