Archive for the ‘Mindmaps’ Category

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)


Just a quick blog entry today, as it is the eve before the onslaught of the summer term begins. The next few weeks will be choc-a-bloc full of speaking tests, moderating and marking past papers as well as cricket, so will just do quick blogs here and there when time allows. Probably while waiting for the rain to stop in deepest darkest Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, while taking refuge in a pavilion!

Lino it, is an alternative to Wallwisher, which I blogged about a couple of days ago. It is an online notice board, which you can use for your class to add sticky note ideas to a question or theme.

Like Wallwisher it is free to use. You will need to sign up which takes a minute or two, but does not require much information. Pupils will also need to sign in. Once logged on, click on ‘Create a New Canvas’ and then follow the prompts. Pick a name for your canvas, select a background, decide who will have access to it and then click ‘Create Canvas’. People adding to the canvas can choose the colour of stick they want to use, before typing their note in it and then clicking post. It is that simple. After that, just let your pupils know the URL to find the canvas for them to add their own ideas.

It is really your decision if you decide to use Lino it or Wallwisher. Both do the same job. Lino looks a little more professional perhaps, but there isn’t much of a difference. Hopefully your school computers will allow your pupils to use both easily!

Wallwisher is described as an ‘online’ notice board maker on its homepage, and this is an accurate description. Basically, what it allows is you to create a noticeboard on a particular topic, and then you and pupils can add sticky notes to it, creating a collaborative board full of ideas.

To begin you register for the grand fee of £0 or $0. When you have logged on, simply click ‘Build a Wall’ and then you will get some preferences including what you want the URL to be, the background colour of the wall and who can post onto it. You also have the option about if you want to approve the stickies first or not which will be an important decision. If you leave this unticked, there is the risk of wall ‘abuse’ potentially, with outsiders leaving inappropriate messages, although this is unlikely. It is maybe safer to vet the messages first however. (For some strange reason, when I build a new wall, my ‘Open File’ opens as well, indicating some glitch which is a little worrying perhaps). You also have to give the wall a title, a description and choose a picture for it (including the option to upload your own)

When you have created your wall, all you have to do is to double click to add a sticky note. The just type your message into the note and click ok. You can also upload images, audio and video to the sticky leading to a few more options. And that is basically it. Just send the URL of your created wall to pupils and they can go to the site and add their own sticky. Once pupils have put on their notes, you need to approve them so they can be viewed by others in the class.

The premise is very simple and effective and there are a variety of ways that this tool could be employed with classes. It could be used as an essay planning tool for example – you could set a question with a central stickie, and pupils could put their ideas about the points they could mention around it. It could be a way of setting quick written preps to encourage extra participation, for example asking basic questions with pupils writing their own answers. It could be a vocabulary revision tool with pupils adding 2 or three new words to a topic. It could even be a little story. Maybe you start off a story, the first person to log on adds a sentence, then the next pupils adds another line and so on.

In order to practise this, I have started a Wallwisher notice board for people to add their own ideas about how wallwisher could be employed. Click on the following URL to leave your ideas!

Popplet is a nice little mindmapping tool that I have been using recently with my Upper 6th to help them revise for their WJEC A2 exams, and in particular the cultural studies essay option. It is a really good little tool to make essay structures, to link ideas for paragraphs and also to collaborate and share ideas. I like the idea of my pupils working together for the parts of the course requiring giving opinions and arguing ideas and regularly photocopy their essays to share as they can all benefit from each others’ ideas. Popplet allows them to give access to their mindmaps to others and add their own thoughts to the mindmap. It is also very useful to do in class rather than writing on the board, projecting your popplet onto a screen, giving a more appealing, neat and professional appearance.

It is another free tool to use to start with although you only are allowed to create 5 popplets to start. Being a natural hoarder, this is a shame as I like to keep ones I have already made and have them easily available for updating. As it is, you have to delete old ones to create new ones but you can of course take screenshots of the completed popplet, print them out or save them as pdf files to be emailed to others.

My pupils and I find it really easy to use. To create a new ‘popple’ (idea bubble) just double click anywhere on the board and then type into it. You can easily change the colour of the popplet, the size of the font and the size of the popple with the buttons provided. You can then link to new popples by drawing lines off existing ones which will have the same colour as the ‘source’ popple – this is great for paragraph structuring in particular. The board effectively is endless, and you can easily move around it to look at different parts of the mind map.

To collaborate you just have to invite others to join – for this they will need to be logged on and you will need to know either their name or their email address.

There are lots of other potential uses for popplet. It could be used as a role play introduction, as maybe a game to add vocabulary to different topics as well as ways of showing how different phrases and tenses could be used in GCSE essays for instance. Also it could be used to help when doing a presentation in class.

Here is a link to a popplet preview on Youtube which shows how it all works.

Again if you do any popplets for Spanish, or want to share them or collaborate together, please let me know.