Posts Tagged ‘Exercise Creation’

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

 

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Today I’m going to blog about Lingt. Lingt is a worksheet creation site, which enables you to embed videos onto the worksheet, as well as spoken questions for pupils to answer orally or in written form. Therefore, it is possible to assess all four language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening on one document, which is a nifty premise, a real interactive worksheet. The best thing about it at first glance is that you can really get pupils practising the vocabulary or grammar in every way outside the classroom, hence promoting the ‘classroom outside the classroom’ idea.

To use Lingt, go to the following URL: http://lingtlanguage.com and click on Signup. After signing up, you will be taken to your homepage. As a free user of Lingt you can only create a certain number of assignments (6)which is a bit of a shame. To be able to do more, you will need to extend your membership (click on upgrade your account). The price does not seem too exorbitant if you want to upgrade to say 50 exercises (currently $39 a year), but I’m not really sure I would need to upgrade to have all the features for a $79 per year subscription. This is just something you will have to decide for yourself based on how effective you feel Lingt is for what you need it for.

I would suggest the best step now is to watch the Lingt tutorial video. Click ‘Help’ from your home screen (or click HERE to watch the tutorial to get an idea what you can do.) This is a well made Screencapture video explaining how to do everything and I strongly recommend watching it and making notes. The video goes through how to create a class, and then how to create an assignment for the classes you have created. There are a number of other useful questions answered for you on the help page.

When creating a class, you do not need to input anything apart from the class name. There is no need to input all your pupils, or even for them to signup to Lingt, as when you have created an assignment, the pupils will simply just go to your Lingt page (more of this later) and click on the relevant assignment for them. They will do the assignment online (on the web browser, before filling in their name and their email address at the end which will alert you to the fact that they have completed the assignment.

When you create your assignment you have a variety of tool buttons to create the texts. You have Voice, Text, Image and Video  (YouTube only) options for teacher prompts, and text and voice buttons for when you want pupils to answer. I have created a Prepositions and Furniture work sheet for my 3rd form. I have a video from Youtube going through the prepositions to start with, with questions in English underneath. Then I have uploaded an image of a bedroom with questions in Spanish again underneath, and then I have finally recorded some questions requiring spoken answers, before leaving one final question for a longer written response, describing their bedroom.

I have yet to test this out with the 3rd form but there appear to be a couple of risks involved with Lingt. Firstly, many schools have blocked Youtube (in my school only the 6th form can go onto Youtube) and I don’t know whether by ’embedding’ a Youtube video into your worksheet on Lingt it will allow the 3rd-5th formers to watch it, or if it will be blocked still. Secondly, pupils will need to have the ability to record their own voice (necessitating a microphone) and not all school computers or pupils will have one, and it could mean them being excluded from a task, or being able to complete it properly. Hopefully they can upload / save their recordings on Lingt – I have experienced problems with Voki and GoAnimate with uploading recordings on a browser, and I don’t know if this would be a problem with this website as well.

Hopefully these problems can be overcome without too many difficulties as the IT technicians in schools become more aware of the potential uses of Web 2.0 tools and other sites for the classroom and education generally, and unblock and allow full or timed use of them. There are of course risks with using Youtube, but the benefits are huge as well, and this should mean that a more sensible policy regarding its use can be found.

I do feel that Lingt has much to recommend it, and after the exam period I will investigate it further and see if I and the pupils experience any problems with its use. It does seem particularly useful for speaking and listening practise outside the classroom, and providing a really interactive worksheet, something I feel would appeal to a lot of students of all ages.

I would be really interested to hear from anyone who already uses Lingt regularly or who has tried it out to see what you think and if it has worked well or not. Please leave a comment below or tweet me @pedroelprofesor.

There are so many exercise creation tools out there on the internet, and there are so many excellent sites available where your pupils can practise their language skills now, that it may be that you can get by without creating your own resources and exercises. I guess that most of us teachers enjoy creating our own stuff though, and from what I can see via twitter and so on, are more than happy to share them too. Hot Potatoes was one of the first tools or software applications that I used and it remains one of the best to use. I became aware of it via using the excellent Languages Online website and then again with Asi Se Hace, and since finding out it was free to download and pretty easy to set up exercises, I have used it regulary and put a number of exercises on to my own school’s department VLE website.

To use Hot Potatoes, you need to download it from the website (Click here). Just make sure you download the correct version for your computer, and then follow the various instructions to install it onto your computer. Hot Potatoes allows you to create a variety of activities, namely crosswords, cloze tests, matching exercises, quizzes and  jumbled sentences.

When you have opened up the programme you will see the above options, simply click on the type of exercise that you wish to create. I have done a lot of vocabulary exercises using the match tool, which is probably the easiest one to start with. Mostly I have used it as a way for pupils to revise vocabulary that has come up in a text from a book or article, or possibly over a week. If you click on the JMatch button then you will get the template below to fill in:

All you then do is type in the words on the left hand side, with their answers on the right. You also can insert pictures as well for a visual stimulus to vocabulary test. To input more than five questions, use the arrow buttons on the left hand side of the template. When you have finished you have to customise your exercise. Do this by clicking on the icon to the left hand side of the question mark along the top bar. This opens a box where you can change the colours of the various parts of the exercise (title, background, heading, etc) give prompts and feedback to help pupils, set a time limit and so on. Click on Save As to save your test.

The next step is to publish your exercise. You can publish your quiz onto a blog or onto a Website. My school uses Contribute currently to construct our VLE but it can be added to a blog as well. To create a URL version of your exercise, click on the little blue spider web icon with a 6 on it, save it, and then view the exercise in your browser. If you are happy with it, you can then obviously copy the URL and link to it on your blog or website.

The best thing to probably do is to follow the tutorial (in the help section of the menu option when you have opened the Hot Potatoes to learn how to do things properly. Here are some examples of exercises that I have already made. (It is posible these might not load up as they are published on my school’s VLE)

Example 1 – Matching exercise

Example 2: Crossword

Example 3: Cloze test

Example 4: Quiz

Edmodo is a social network site that is geared up for teachers to set work for pupils. I am a huge fan of this site, given that one of my main aims as a Spanish teacher is to create a ‘Classroom beyond the classroom’ mentality in which pupils are enthused and empowered to do more constructive revision and practise on a regular basis. It has really worked since I started using it about a month ago, and so far I have introduced it to my Lower 6th and Upper 6th AS and A2 groups (Years 12 and 13) and also to my 4th form (year 10). Given that in appearance it looks a lot like facebook, it immediately feels familiar to the pupils, and therefore it is very easy to use.

Basically, the concept is that you create a group that your pupils join and then you create various assignments, quizzes and polls for them. With each assignment, quiz or poll, you can set a time limit for its completion, collect a mark for your gradebook and thus monitor your pupils’ progress. You can also send notes and alerts to pupils and create a library of useful links and resources that pupils can use.

Best of all, it is a free resource. Simply go the website and click on ‘I’m a teacher’ and follow the instructions to create your username and login details. When you then have the option to create a group it will give you a join code, and this is what your pupils will need to know to join the group you have created. When they logon, they will be asked for this code as well as to create their logon details, and they will then join your group.

To create a quiz could not be easier. You have a variety of options to choose from (True/False, Multiple Choice, Short Answer and Fill in the Blank) and then design your questions as you want. You can set due dates for test completion and time limits as well once the quiz is started. So far I have been doing vocabulary revision questions, grammar multiple choice questions and various quizzes on the films my class is studying for their WJEC SN4 exam and my pupils are finding them really useful. Most of the quizzes are corrected as your pupils do them, but you do need to correct short answer quizzes yourself.

Another fun thing is the awarding badges option for good work. I have created a few of my own and things are already getting competitive amongst the pupils to gain as many badges as possible.

All in all, I strongly recommend Edmodo. It can also be downloaded as a free app for your iPhone (don’t know about its availability on other smartphones) and should have a real impact on pupils practising and improving their language use.