Thursday 15 October 2009

Climate Change Interactive on Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day and this year the topic is global climate change. You can link to them at

I thought the most appropriate thing to do is to choose my favourite Climate Change web 2.0 tool and share it. So here it is!

Bloom (Smart choices for the carbon conscious) is an interactive tool from the BBC that lets you explore what to do about CO2 and read about how each action contributes to the world. Then you can select which actions to pledge to and strive to act carbon consciously.

There are two versions of Bloom: a basic version and an animated version. Needless to say, the animated version is amazingly beautiful.

You can give it a try yourself and use it to introduce the topic of climate change to your classes!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Using Digital Games: Grow Cube

I have been reading about Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) for a while and besides having read Marc Prensky's book, I came across Kyle Mawer's wiki and then was directed to Digital Play, a great blog about DGBL authored by Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer.

Based on a great idea by Kyle Mawer taken from Digital Play, a couple of weeks ago I used Grow Cube with my intermediate students and it worked wonderfully!

I used the computer lab where we can sit 2 or 3 students per computer.

First, I let students play around to familiarize with the game idea.

Then, I asked them to reset it and to listen to me carefully as I gave them the right order one by one.

After each one, they had to observe what happened and narrate it in written form. At the beginning they thought it was really easy, but then realized it got more complicated each time!

As they watched, they started thinking and asking about the right words to describe what they saw.

The result was really fascinating as each student produced a text according to their own linguistic ability. And they loved using a game!

As a follow up, I pointed to the other Grow games available (on the left hand column of the game) and told them that if they felt like playing them and found the solution, we would play in class but they would have to give the instructions orally for the rest of the class to be able to win the game!

Sunday 20 September 2009

Social Networking 2009 Conference

ARCALL and AVEALMEC are jointly organizing the Social Networking 2009 Conference, which will be a fully online event on November 5-8.

The guest speakers include:
  • George Siemens
  • Etienne Wenger
  • Vance Stevens
  • Nik Peachey
  • Graham Stanley
  • Carla Arena
  • Evelyn Izquierdo
  • Jennifer Verschoor
among others

If you would like to participate, you can get further details here.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

15 Free Web 2.0 Applications and Services for Teachers

Integrating technology into the classroom is easier than ever before. Many of the web 2.0 apps and services that are available online are simple to use and require no download. Here are 15 free web 2.0 applications and services for teachers, trainers, and other educators:

Edmodo - Edmodo is an all-in-one web 2.0 tool for educators. Features include a microblogging platform, privacy controls, file storage, file sharing, SMS notifications, an assignment calendar, and an online grade book.

Edu2.0 - Edu2.0 is a Moodle alternative that provides an easy-to-use management system for teachers who want to take their classes online. Educators can manage an entire school, classes, or students

Engrade - This online classroom community provides an entire suite of tools for teachers to use inside and outside the classroom. Teachers can use Engrade to show students assignments, grades, attendance records, messages, and more.

GeeVu - This free, web based utility makes it easy to bring your classroom into the digital age. You can use it to organize documents and present content to parents and students.

RCampus - RCampus is a free education management system for teachers. It can be used to manage courses, online learning communities, and much more.

OpenAcademic - Teachers can use OpenAcademic to create an Intranet, blogs, podcasts, a private workspace, or social networking environment.

Palbee - Palbee is a free online communication service. Teachers can use it to conduct video meetings with students, parents, and colleagues.

Yugma - This free web conferencing service allows users to share their computer screen and communicate with up to 20 people at a time.

SpeakLike - SpeakLike makes it easy to communicate with people who speak other languages. This web-based translator can translate text in ten languages.

- Writewith is an excellent web application for classroom writing projects. Students can upload documents, share writing space, and track edits.

- Quizlet is a paperless learning tool that can be used in almost any classroom. The tool allows you to create flashcards on any topic or study pre-made flashcards.

FreeRice - Created by the United Nations World Food Program, FreeRice is an excellent web app for the English classroom. Students can practice their English vocabulary and help end world hunger at the same time.

- VerbaLearn is another wonderful study app for the English classroom. The site makes it easy to customize the way students learn English vocabulary and provides additional resources that would be useful to teachers.

Edutagger - Edutagger is new social bookmarking service that works a lot like Delicious. The difference is that Edutagger was created for K-12 teachers and learners and includes only education-related content.

Classroom 2.0 - This free social network for teachers is the perfect place to discover new web 2.0 applications and technologies. Members can chat with other educators and attend online events.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the Guide to Business School. She also writes for, an online college resource.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Top 100 Language Blogs

Last month, and to my surprise, I was notified I had been nominated for the Top 100 Language Blogs competition run by Lexiophiles.

The voting took place till July 28th and it is now over. The final results have been published on their site and I am very excited to have made it to the top 100!

Congratulations to the many other blogs published by virtual and real friends I have made over the years which have also been shortlisted!

You can explore the Top 100 Language Blogs list by clicking on the button below.

Top 100 Language Blogs 2009

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Working with images

Blogging is about communicating. And communicating has mainly been done through words, but also through images… because “an image is worth a thousand words”.

Blogging is greatly enhanced by the use of images. And the use of images brings us to the concern about copyright. Although you cannot use any image you come across, there are sources of images which you can use, share and modify for different purposes. These enabling licenses are grouped under the term Creative Commons.

Here’s a short video explaining the basics of how Creative Commons works.

The second step is where to get these images from. You can use the Creative Commons Search engine to find them at which performs a search in several image hosting sites and aggregators such as Flickr and Google Images. And you will probably find something interesting ready to be used.

Another interesting image search tool that works with Flickr images is called Tag Galaxy. It allows you to refine your search until you are satisfied and it then shows the results as a dynamic 3D sphere of images which you can turn to see them all. In this case, you will need to check the copyright license of each of the images you are interested in.

But finding the right image may not be enough. If the license allows it you can modify it. But how?

There are two options:

1- Modifying the image by using a photo editor to add certain effects to the image.

2- Selecting only a part of the image you have. An interesting tool to do screen captures of whole computer screens or parts of it is called Jing .

This is only a very brief introduction to the topic of working with images and there are many tools available to work with them. Remember that images bring a text alive!

Monday 6 July 2009

Wordle: my top 7 uses

Wordle is a wonderful tool to create word clouds and work with vocabulary. When I first came across it last year, lots of possible uses came to my mind!!!

An important thing about how Wordle organises the display of words is that the size of each word in the display is related to that word's frequency in the text you enter. So that, if you want to enter a list of vocabulary items for a topic, you might want to enter the topic word a few times so that it appears bigger than the others. If, however, you are working with text from another source, the resulting Wordle will show that the bigger the words, the more frequent their appearance in the text you entered.

Here's my top 7 uses for Wordle (in no particular order)

1- Entering a speech and analysing the ideas in it. For example, if you entered Barack Obama's acceptance speech, you would see what ideas were more important in his speech by looking at the bigger words. You could also compare his acceptance speech and his inauguration speech to see if there were many differences (as shown in the pictures below).

2- Analysing a literary character either by entering his/her own words in the literary work or by asking students to create a list of describing words for this character.

3- Revising vocabulary by entering a list of words related to a topic.

4- Analysing language use in writing essays by entering a whole essay text and checking for repeated words and concepts.

5- Entering the whole text for a book you are reading in order to: a) make predictions about the book before reading, or b) analysing themes after reading the book.

6- Creating a personal profile to introduce themselves at the beginning of the school year.

7- Creating a visual display of your subject's content to show in the classroom. In this case NLE stands for New Learning Environments.

Great ideas come with experimentation! Start Wordling!!!

Monday 29 June 2009

"Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration" by Richard Byrne

I have found Twelve Essentials for Technology Integration, a very interesting guide by Richard Byrne, which describes twelve web tools that are easy to use!

It's a great starting point for those who are starting their technology integration journey.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Free wiki skills training

This time I am reporting on WikiEducator. A very interesting community that provides free wiki skills training for educators. The traing is very well organised so that you can develop your wiki skills gradually and move from absolute beginner to WikiMaster. You can check their website for details and become part of the biggest wiki community!

I have just finished my first workshop and received a Wiki Apprentice Level 2 certification.

Friday 5 June 2009


Phrasr is a tool that allows you to illustrate a sentence of your choice with images taken from Flickr. It is useful for working on word and image associations because you have to select an image for each word in the sentence.

This an example of a sentence created by my daughter Jazmin. It is about her cat Morgan, who, by the way, looks just like the white cat in a hat!!!

Thursday 4 June 2009

E-schooling Conference in Santiago, Chile

On April 17th and 18th I travelled to Chile to present at the E-schooling Conference organised by the Association of British Schools in Chile.

The event gathered around 20 speakers from different countries including, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the UK speaking about technology integration, 21st century curriculum development and new tools for e-learning. There were about 200 participant from different parts of Chile.

The conference was well-organised and provided an updated panorama of the work being done at different levels and in different areas.

My presentation "Making the Most of Free Web Applications" was a showcase of different applications that can be used to enhance traditional language learning, with examples of actual uses of those applications taken from my classes. Except for some minor connectivity problems, which forced me to start the presentation 10 minutes late, everything came out as planned and the feedback was very positive.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience!

Saturday 21 February 2009


I have just come across this fun photo edition web application.

In Photofunia you can choose from a lot of different fun effects for your photos!

Check these:

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Friday 20 February 2009

Inanimate Alice

I have found Inanimate Alice, an interactive story told in 10 episodes. It looks pretty interesting!

This is taken from their site

'Inanimate Alice' tells the story of Alice, a young girl growing up in the first half of the 21st century, and her imaginary digital friend, Brad.

Over ten episodes, each a self contained story, we see Alice grow from an eight year old living with her parents in a remote region of Northern China to a talented mid-twenties animator and designer with the biggest games company in the world.

iTeach Inanimate Alice

Friday 13 February 2009

Dvolver and Zimmer Twins

Well, it's time for digital storytelling using cartoons.

I have made my first Dvolver movie. It's really easy to use and you can choose from a number of settings, backgrounds, characters and music. Here it is

I am also familiar with Zimmer Twins, which I tried for the first time acouple of years ago. Here´s a movie I made then.

And here is one made by my daughter Jazmin, who was 10 years old at the time.

Zimmer Twins offers more expressive possibilities and I like it better. But both tools have great potential!

Sunday 8 February 2009

Animoto and One True Media

This week we were asked to explore Animoto and I could not resist playing around with it yesterday. Here are my comments:

- It looked amazing at first sight.
- You can make as many 30-second shorts for free, but they would only fit 3 or 4 pictures. Too short!
- Full-length videos are $3 each. Haven't tried...

Then I remembered I had seen another tool to do something like that and...I found it!

One True Media is a bit more complex but lets you make a video from your uploaded photos, chose styles, transitions, music and voila! There are premium (paid) features but the free ones work really well! Here's my first experiment with a few photos of my daughter and our three lovely cats.

Friday 6 February 2009

Bubbleshare and Slideshare

This week I'll be exploring and comparing Bubbleshare and Slideshare.

Bubbleshare is very straightforward to use and ideal for photo sharing. I have used it before to build a fable storybook for a fables project we did a couple of years ago. Grade 2 students had read "The Lion and the Mouse" so we did a kind of simple acting out of the fable by creating still frames of the most important parts and took pictures of them. I then uploaded the photos and captioned them with a very simple retelling of the fable.

BubbleShare: Share photos - Find great Clip Art Images.

I also think a nice use is for showcasing students’ productions. I have used powerpoint for that before but Bubbleshare is another option if you want to blog it.

Slideshare, on the hand, I have never used. It looks more suitable for more active presentations including video and audio. I am sure, on more detailed exploration, I will find interesting ways to exploit its potential.

Sunday 1 February 2009


I have also tried this tool. It's called PicLits and it allows you to create word compositions/art on top of a chosen photo. BTW, thanks to Nik Peachey for suggesting it.

I am thinking about vocabulary practice but it can also work for syntaxis.

Have a look at my first attempt. I could not help using the gymnast...

PicLit from
See the full PicLit at


I have been playing around with Bookr. It allows you to make books using pictures from Flickr.

This is my first attempt at a very simple book intended to practice basic vocabulary.

Very simple but indicative of the potential use of this tool.

Saturday 31 January 2009

Voicethread and Voxopop

This week we have been experimenting with Voice thread and Voxopop (formerly Chinswing).

I am new to Voicethread, so I'll need some time to explore it and become familiar with it.

As regards Voxopop, I have used it before and I love it! I have used
it for basic listening, for example I created a coversation called
"Introductions from around the world" where you can listen to different people introducing themselves and talking about their cities and professions.

I also thought of creating one so that students tell me and each other
about their holidays. Since we have quite numerous classes in my
school (about 40), each student's speaking time is very short. This is
a good way to generate more speaking opportunities and, as Rita
pointed out, to maximise exposure to the language.

This is the lesson plan for it.

Summer holidays
Vicky Saumell


This class is made up of 40 students, boys and girls of about 16 years old in their 4th year of secondary education (one year before graduation). They have English classes for 3 hours a week and they need as much exposure to English as possible. They school year is from March to December, so when we meet this March they will have just had their holidays.


To have students talk about their summer holidays


By the end of this activity, students will be able to:

• Post a recording of their holidays on Voxopop
• Comment on their classmates holiday reports.

Rationale for the activity

This activity mainly focuses on developing speaking fluency by asking the students to talk about a familiar topic. It is also a learner centered task and allows for personal interaction among the students.


1) Students get familiar with Voxopop in class (20 mins)
2) Students record their holiday report on Chinswing (10 mins)
3) Students listen to other students’ reports (30 mins)
4) Students comment or ask questions about someone else’s holiday (10 mins)
5) Students reply to comments or questions. (10 mins)

Anticipated Problems/Solutions:

Problem: The activity could take longer than expected the first time as many students will want to make multiple recordings.

Solution: Once they have become familiar with Voxopop operation, and if we run out of time, students can do the remaining work at home.


Students can then comment on their favourite holidays in class. They can also comment on the usefulness of the tool.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Blogging scenario

'You are a 'blind optimist' who believes that by using blogs in your
lessons you might afford new learning opportunities for students and
perhaps encourage your colleagues to become interested in using Web
2.0 tools. You would like to present 'A Vision for Incorporating
Blogging into Lessons' at the first staff meeting of the year. Explain
your plan for incorporating blogging. (What do you have in mind and
how you will accomplish it?).

I believe that before we can incorporate blogging with our students we, the teachers, must be familiar with them ourselves.

So the first step in the plan would be that each teacher has to set up a blog to experiment with it. The main purpose of the blog must be sharing professional experiences among the teachers, but each teaher can choose a more specific area to blog about.

After the teachers' blogs are up and running smoothly, i.e they have learnt the basics of blogging and understand or realize the power of this tool for students, we can move on to the second step.

The second step is to introduce blogging for students.

In order to do this I would plan for instances in which students can start interacting with blogs, without having to have their own blog first. I mean, responding and adding comments in other blogs. An example is this: Here students must write book and film reviews and post them to the school's blog.

A third step would be for students to have their own blogs. But I haven't thought of specific content or guidelines for these.

This is my first take on the subject... will probably adjust my ideas along the way.

Blogging for profesional development

I have just started this blog as part of the Enhancing Lessons with Web 2.0 EVO sessions 2009. My intention is to use this blog for professional development, to experiment with web 2.0 resources that can enhance language learning.