Currently browsing Posts Tagged “animoto”

You know they’re good when they keep getting better…

If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that there are a few websites and internet services upon which I’ve relied to help me deliver teaching and learning in a way which I hoped my pupils would find enthusing, appealing and, yes, unashamedly entertaining.

Some of the websites and internet services we have used this year have quickly become household names among my pupils and colleagues, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the most popular services just keep getting better and better, adding new features and functionality to an already outstanding and innovative service.

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Demonstrating the effective use of Internet Resources

This presentation, delivered to a group of Heads of Modern Foreign Language and titled The Effective use of Internet Resources, was meant to demystify the use of internet tools, so-called Web 2.0, in the classroom context.

Many teachers think/fear that they are going to be out of their depths and/or that it’s going to be require an inordinate amount of effort on their parts. With this presentation, I set out to demonstrate:

a) that the enrichment of MFL teaching and learning through the effective use of ICT is both desirable and, indeed, recommended by both the New Secondary Curriculum in the UK and the new specifications for GCSE in MFL;

b) how, given our pupils’ natural predisposition to use ICT, using internet tools can effectively improve the the teaching and learning of MFL by increasing motivation, engagement and, therefore, achievement;

c) how the work is mainly carried out by students on their home or school computers, releasing the teacher to facilitate and oversee the process, as well as to assess the results.

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Ten tried and tested internet tools for teachers

Over the past academic year, my students and I have been experimenting with the use of a number of web based applications (often known as Web 2.0 tools). My aim has been to enhance our schemes of work by providing our students with new and exciting learning opportunities.

In my opinion, using technology effectively has clear benefits for both teaching and learning and can help to improve motivation by engaging pupils in activities which, perhaps, step out of their ordinary school experience and which show them that it is possible to teach and learn about a subject using tools similar to those they use daily outside school. In other words, we have tried to use the types of tools with which they are often already familiar.

I have written about each of these individual tools in separate posts, but I thought it would be useful to list the ten most used internet applications on one post. As ever, I aim to provide, not only a list of the web applications we have used, but also examples of practice which you may wish to follow or, indeed, improve upon.

Therefore, each of the entries below has links leading to lesson plans which have incorporated the tools as well as working examples of students’ work where appropriate. Without further ado, and in alphabetical order, my ten tried and tested internet tools for teachers are:

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Half term review – April 2009

This half term I have been using new tools for me like Diigo, as well as exploring new ways of exploiting other Web 2.0 tools that I have been using for the past year or so, like Glogster, Animoto and, of course, mine and my students’ favourite, Edmodo.

Watch the video to see how we have been using these tools and to listen to some of my reflections, for all they’re worth, about the value of using technology in your classroom. Please do feel free to leave any comments or suggestions below.

The tools to which I have referred in the video are:

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Why do I use Web 2.0? Now that is a good question…

Leon filming student

I was delighted to welcome yesterday Theo Kuechel and Leon Cych who came over to my school to interview me and some of my pupils as they worked on a Web 2.0 project in our ICT room. Theo and Leon are filming a number of practitioners across the country in order to put together a number of case studies for an online CPD course on behalf of Naace for the Training and Development Agency for Schools.

Their questions made me reflect about why I use technology and Web 2.0 (nope, I don’t like that term either, but, hey, it’s all we’ve got) in my classes. Using web based applications has become so natural for me now, you could even say normal, that I always forget that those of us opting to enrich our pupil’s learning experience in this way are very much in the minority, for one reason or another.


My interest in using web based applications to enhance teaching and learning started early. Having used computers a lot in a previous incarnation working for a large transport and logistics company, I already felt comfortable with the idea of using computers to help me manage teaching administration, such as assessment data or lesson planning, by the time I started my teacher training,

But it was once I was placed in schools as part of my teacher training, teaching real students, that I realised that ICT could make my life easier as a teacher in terms of administration, and also that pupils were actually engaged and enthused by the prospect of using computers in learning languages.

The use of web applications also allowed my pupils to use software which they didn’t have to install and which could be accessed from any computer as long as it was connected to the internet. This meant that they could work on the same piece of work, the same project, both from school and from home, allowing me to bridge the gap in between the two.

Examples of Web 2.0 tools applied to school work

Looking back to only five years ago or so, it is obvious that I have incorporated Web 2.0 into my schemes of work more and more without really noticing or even without having made a conscious decision to do so. It just happened, because it worked for me and my students. Nowadays, my classes do a project every two or three weeks which involves the use of Web 2.0 applications in one way or another.

These are some of the projects on which we have worked in the past year:

What makes these applications so special and why should you care?

The visual qualities of web 2.0 are very important. When I was a student, I went home after school and relaxed watching tv or reading a magazine. In comparison, the first thing my pupils do, however, is switch on their computers, not the tv. In their computers, they are faced with a world which is bright and visual, rich in images, video and sound.

Using web 2.0 at school taps into this world of theirs and allows pupils to express their creativity in a way which they find familiar, because these websites operate on the same principles of social networking and content creation and sharing to which they are already so used to. So, if we teach them in a way that reflects how they live their lives when they’re not in school, and if we help to ensure that the gap between their school life and real life is minimised, we then become better able to guarantee the commitment and engagement of the vast majority of our students.

Perhaps Prensky had a point after all…

In my experience, pupils come into secondary schools nowadays having already become very familiar with computers and able to easily navigate websites and communicate using the internet. If they are faced with new tools, they have a go and generally learn impressively quickly how to use them.

Yes, of course, this doesn’t apply to every pupil and, of course, they still struggle with spreadsheets and, of course, they don’t really understand what internal computing processes make the animations in Go!Animate come about. And does it really matter? If you think about it, they don’t have to know: you manage to drive a car perfectly well with only a basic understanding of how a gear-box operates or how the fuel is fed to the engine; you are probably perfectly fluent in English but, unless you’re a linguist, you might struggle to tell the difference between the indicative and subjunctive mood or the passive and active voice.

This doesn’t mean you can’t really drive or that you can’t really speak English, just that you don’t need to know the internal workings of how it is achieved, just in the same way a Formula 1 driver does not need to know the width of a piston or a writer does not need to know how many phonemes the English language has. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to be a Flash developer.

My inkling is that my younger students come to us already having developed something akin to web sytax, an internet universal grammar if you like, which they have often already mastered by the time they make the transition from primary. We, teachers, therefore ought to be able to make the most of what abilities these students already posses so as to transform the way we teach them.

Many thanks again to Leon and Theo for coming to see us and for making me think about why I do what I do. As ever, do feel free to let me know, by way of comment, what your thoughts are.

Photos by Theo Kuechel

Do you know of a teaching and learning resource you would like to share? Please do not hesitate to get in touch.