Tuesday, 31 August 2010

NewsCred Inspiration!

Inspired by yet another fantastic Zarco English Tool of the Day's post, I decided to give NewsCred a quick twirl this evening. I was very surprised at how easy it was to create my very own newspaper in less than a minute, exactly as it says on the blurb. I am also amazed at how topical the news items are. I have just found out some really interesting news about Oxford, for example. This saves me having to trawl the internet to find the latest news updates. You can choose any subjects you like, and they are immediately updated onto your paper.

I can imagine how much enjoyment students would get out of creating their own newspaper projects on different subjects of interest by using NewsCred. It's also a nice way of keeping up to date with news you are interested in, all in one convenient place. Another bonus is that you can create your very own personal editorials.

Although I don't think it is possible to embed your newpaper on a blog or wiki, you can post your daily newspaper on Twitter and other social networking sites.

Have a look at my paper Janet's Daily. Then have a go yourself, and see how versatile and fun it is to use!

Friday, 27 August 2010

StripGenerator: New Words 2010

Please press on the picture for a bigger view.

As soon as I read about it on Alex G Francisco's fab Zarco English Tool of the Day blog, I simply couldn't resist trying out StripGenerator. Alex has some great ideas for how to exploit this nifty little comicstrip tool. After a few trial attempts as "Anonymous", I decided to sign up, so that I could keep my strips in one place. I tried to embed the strip I created into my blog by using the embed code given, but unfortunately the picture came out far too big for the page and it didn't look good. So, it is now 1.15 am and I have been "tinkering" with the image on Adobe Photoshop to try to get the picture as a jpg. My efforts have paid off and I am now much happier with the result! I am sure there must be a simpler way to resize the html code from the original site source, but that is beyond me! I had fun creating the strip above, and I'm sure my students would enjoy it as well.

I am beginning to prepare for my TESOL-Italy presentation in November on the theme of "Language Flows" and the comic strip generator is an excellent example of a tool that students can use to review and recycle new words that have entered the Oxford Dictionary of English. There is an article from the Daily Telegraph here. You can find out more about the meaning of "boomerang generation" from the excellent 6 Minute BBC Learning English site here.
You can find out about some more new words that have entered the dictionary by clicking here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Moving on from Web 2.0?

I am just about coming to terms with Web 2.0 and I feel happy that I can relate to a few tools that I have been experimenting with the past year or so such as Animoto and Xtranormal.

Holding on for Dear Life

My mobile is a Nokia 1600. This means I am literally already part of the "Mobile" generation. However, it has no Internet, no camera. It is what it says on the box. A simple mobile phone. It has been very reliable and perfect for my needs. My kind hubby calls it very ancient, but I like it! It is easy and straightforward to use. My plan is to hold on to it for dear life until it falls apart. And then what?? Will I be brave enough to acquire a more modern mobile? One that will jettison me into the exciting arena of Web 3.0?? I am tempted.....

A Confession
The idea of Web 3.0 worries me a bit. Does anyone else feel the same? I hope I am not alone in thinking that I need more time to consolidate the fast-flowing flurry of new ideas and technologies. I feel I am trying very hard to keep up but.....I'm just not sure if I'm ready yet to confront another new Web number!

ImageChef Custom Images
The future of teaching is learning. I fully agree with this maxim. I am continually learning and I love it. But, a part of me would like to just pause to consolidate what I have been learning. A couple of years ago, I knew nothing about Web 2.0. It's taken me a while to adjust to it all. Maybe I came into this new era a bit late in life. Who knows? Anyway, it's been an amazing and huge learning curve up until now.

The million dollar question is, however, will I be a bad teacher if I don't fullheartedly embrace Web 3.0 technologies? Will I be viewed as incompetent? The future is definitely Mobile Learning or indeed "Ubiquitous" Learning. I can feel in my heart of hearts that it is inevitable. A foregone conclusion. Generation "M" has already arrived.

Without consciously knowing it, have I already embraced "Ubiquitous" learning? Maybe the fact that I am thinking about it is a very good sign. Is there hope for me yet?

Lifelong Learning
I came across this fantastic presentation on Slideshare by Steve Wheeler , from Learning with "e"s blog called "Web 3.0: The Way Forward?" I like the presentation very much. It makes for very compelling viewing. It has opened my eyes to the fact that I have an awful lot to learn. We all have a lot to learn, from each other. It will never stop!

Web 3.0: The way forward?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

ProProfs Quiz maker

I have just created a free quiz using ProProfs Quiz Maker. I registered with my name and a password and then I followed the options available. I had fun doing it. Why don't you have a go and test your knowledge of Abruzzo? One of the questions is about centenarians. There is a clue to the question here.

This is just a personal experiment for me to see how ProProfs Quiz Maker works. It will be great for creating lots of different types of quizzes in the future, and it is very easy to embed on a blog and other social networking sites. I believe it is possible to embed images and videos into the quizzes as well, so I will definitely need to investigate further. My first attempt is a very simple one indeed.

Has anyone used this programme before? Would you recommend using it with your students? I would love to hear from you!

Friday, 20 August 2010

My Top 5 Blog Posts for Reflection

Summer has been hectic and continues apace. Life in Abruzzo is full of gardening and animal tales, in addition to surfing the vast online Information Highway. Information comes in, is logged by my brain, digested and then is dutifully filed away in my memory bank somewhere.

There are 5 blog posts I have read recently, which I would like to highlight here, because they have resonated with me in some particular way. The eyecatching titles did not disappoint. These posts are full of personal thoughts, and practical insights. I hope you enjoy reading them, too.

Multitasking or "making a hole in the water" by Marisa Constantinides is a great piece which acts as a catalyst for reflection on what modern 21st century educators have to deal with on a regular basis. It is good to share such thoughts as we are all in the same boat and can help one another, just by listening and commenting.

10 More Twitter Faux Pas To Avoid When Building Your PLN by Sue Lyons-Jones is an essential read to guide you through the pitfalls on twitter. It's a very useful guideline to bear in mind for all tweeters.

Boomerangs:No blog post ever really goes to waste by Jason Renshaw.
I really like the encouraging message it contains about the worth of writing posts which may not receive views or hits at the time of writing, but which may certainly be appreciated in the future.

I enjoyed reading Vuvuzela Enters Oxford Dictionary of English by Jeffrey Hill from the English Blog. I am presenting at TESOL-Italy in November this year and my talk will be based on the theme of "Language Flows". I have already begun my research into my presentation, and am keeping tracks of useful links such as this one.

A Glossary to DEMYSTIFY the jargon of the online world by Sue Waters is an incredibly useful post to bookmark for learning about specific words used online.

A Fearless Kitten
I will leave you with a picture of little Samantha, who bravely took on 5 chickies today and managed to scare them away.....butter wouldn't melt, eh?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

2010 Reform Symposium -The Afterglow

Reform Symposium

Two weeks ago at about this time, I was fully immersed in the incredible 48-hour live event -the Reform Symposium 2010 E-conference. I had done my presentation on The Power of Images and was feeling very happy to be attending an action-packed programme of fabulous talks by educators from around the world. I drank a lot of coffee in order to keep me awake late at night and also to make me concentrate fully on what I was listening to!

I was on a virtual and physical high the whole weekend. Why was this? Well, I was learning a huge amount and at the same time, evolving as a teacher. To hear so many educators, each and every single one of them without exception, talking passionately about their job was an absolutely mindblowing experience. I was totally engulfed in a global educational-fest. In fact, Ingrid Veilleux from Edculture, has written a very interesting post called #rscon10 as Woodstock. In her post, Ingrid reflects on the powerful effect that the conference had on her. The analogy of an educator's 21st century Woodstock is a really cool one!

The After Effects
I am still thinking about the Reform Symposium now. It has entered my psyche. I don't really want the feeling to go away. I felt part of a global community, all with the same ideals and aspirations. Even though it was a virtual event, I experienced the sensation of feeling close to everyone who was taking part.

My whole weekend was geared around the presentations and I am glad that I was able to carry on with my composting, animal husbandry and a bit of gardening, inbetween break
s. It was something I could never do at a real F2F conference. I wanted to attend all the talks, but of course, that was impossible, so I have a lot of catching up to do over the coming weeks.

All the talks can be accessed via the link here. You can now also listen to the podcasts of the talks and download them via iTunes for free here.

Presenting an Award to..

all the organizers, presenters, moderators, volunteers and members of the audience for making it one of the best virtual events I have ever attended. I would definitely like to present again next year. Why don't you join me? I promise you, it will be enlightening!

Further Links
Sue Lyons-Jones from The PLN Staff Lounge has written a comprehensive feedback post called"Pick of the Week: The 2010 Reform Symposium". Please check out all the fantastic links to the talks and related blog posts she has carefully selected.

Iconscrabble of Reform Symposium discovered via this post on Larry Ferlazzo's blog.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Welcome to Samantha's World!

Gorgeous Samantha in her new home

The mother cat was lying lifeless in the middle of the road. The tiny kitten was trying deperately to cross the busy road to get to its mother. Car after car narrowly avoided running her over. A car pulled up. Valentina got out quickly and assessed the frightening situation. She had to rescue this little kitten immediately, come what may. Without hesitating, she grabbed the little bundle of fur and put it into her car and drove her off to safety.

Curious Samantha

A few days after this dramatic rescue, K asked me to view an Internet ad regarding rehousing a little kitten. It had been found abandoned in the middle of a busy road and taken to a rescue home. Now this kitten needed a permanent abode. I read the pitiful story, took one look at the photos and said "Let's ring the number right now!"

Picture of Samantha in her new garden

Valentina answered her mobile. I said "I'm ringing about the little kitten you found abandoned. Could we please see her?" Valentina agreed to meet us in Catignano and then come to our house to check that we had a suitable place to take care of the kitten.
It was love at first sight. How anyone could abandon such a sweet, fluffy creature was beyond my imagination. As soon as Valentina viewed our "garden" and house, she said we had the perfect place to house the kitten and she was satisfied that we would look after her.

We invited Valentina in and she told us more about her passionate voluntary work for looking after abandoned animals and relocating them. She has been doing this for many years. The local region used to fund this type of rehousing and after care, but then funds were abruptly stopped. Valentina and about 40 dedicated volunteers, decided to carry on their stirling work using their own initiative and their own funds. I don't think Abruzzo has an organization like the RSPCA, so volunteers like Valentina and her colleagues are to be highly applauded for their selfless work in saving and protecting abandoned animals.

I would like to say a very big thank you to Valentina from Samantha. Without you rescuing her in such a dramatic fashion, she wouldn't be here with us now. She is settling down very quickly and she is an extremely happy and adorable kitten. She has not yet made friends with the rest of our menagerie. Hopefully, all 11 will live together amicably.

For the time being, Samantha has taken to perching on the back of my chair while I am working on the computer. A real "laptop" cat!!

Our Little Bundle of Fun Being Weighed!

Kelly Update
Kelly has been undergoing treatment for the past 2 weeks and he is doing very well. I wrote about what happened in True Hero. He is a very brave dog and has borne all his injections and administering of antibiotics with great calmness and patience. He is on the road to recovery, but he still needs extra care and attention for the forseeable future.

Monday, 2 August 2010

George Clooney:Trailer for The American

I have sat in the cafe you can see in the trailer of the film called "The American", which is set in Castel del Monte, a fabulous little village high up in the Abruzzo mountains, about 30 minutes from home. Castel del Monte is one of Abruzzo's best kept secrets- a beautiful jewel of a medieval village. The cafe owners have a big signed photo of Mr George Clooney behind the bar. I just missed him by a few hours when I went to Castel del Monte earlier this year specifically to meet him.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Reform Symposium 2010

I'd like to say a very big thank you to all the Reform Symposium conference participants who attended my presentation earlier today. For those of you who missed it, there is a Slideshare of my Powerpoint below. I will add a link to the recorded talk on my blog when it becomes available shortly.

A huge thanks to all the organizers, and volunteers, who helped make my talk such an enjoyable experience. In particular, I would like to mention Shelly Terrell, who has been my guardian angel throughout the past few days. I had a touch of nerves shortly before my presentation, and Shelly was able to reassure me.

Thanks also to everyone who tweeted about my presentation and mentioned it on various social media platforms. I really appreciated this.

A Truly Awesome Conference
I will be posting links to some of the amazing talks I attended over the next few days. This e-conference has truly been mind-blowing! I wish I could have attended all of the talks. I have been to 10 so far. Each and every presentation was fantastic, and I learned so much!!

Check out this fab blog post Great Quotes from the 2010 Reform Symposium by Jennifer Verschoor.

The "new" in teaching is LEARNING. This is one of my personal favourite quotes of the whole conference by Monika Hardy, whose talk I will definitely be viewing in the recorded archives.

Learning leads to empowerment and satisfaction, and ultimately, a very happy teacher, don't you think?? Also, a very happy teacher will always equal a very happy and fulfilled student.