Sunday, 23 March 2008

Just YouTube it

It seems the amount of truly useful and inspiring videos on YouTube has no end ... This morning I came across Joe Dale's post on an animated version of the Bayeux Tapestry - an almost surreal experience for me, not having seen the tapestry for a very long time (it sped me way back to a Primary history class). Well worth a look.

Meanwhile, I came across my contribution below whilst searching for illustrations of movies about Japan and how people relate to Japan and the Japanese language - part of a Year 9 ICT assignment. It's not only a fantastic concept - illustrating a trip to Japan in 2400 photos, 4 minutes and 43 seconds - but also extremely well thought out and well put together. Enjoy!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Using placespotting for languages

A few weeks ago I came across placespotting amongst someone's links on - my apologies, but searching through my google reader I couldn't track down exactly who I should be thanking for the link.

Placespotting allows you to create riddles with google maps. By dragging and zooming the map (within the placespotting site) you can select any place in the world for people to find. You then create up to 4 clues to help people find the answer to your riddle. What's in it for language teachers is that you can write your clues in a variety of languages. I have recently being doing comparisons with my Year 11 Japanese class and so in order to reinforce this, I created a couple of riddles using "bigger than..." and "closer to... than..." type clues using the target language. It could also work well for directions and descriptions of places, to name just a couple of other topic areas.

It is also possible to search for riddles created in various languages. By clicking on the 'search' tab and selecting the language of the hints, you can find riddles that others have created in the language you are teaching or the language you are learning. Once you have created your riddle it also enables you to share it via email, put a link into a page or embed it. You can also add random riddles to your iGoogle homepage or your webpage.

Below I have embedded an example in Japanese and also the random riddle embed. The site can also be quite addictive so be careful!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Some things I've seen on the way

It occurred to me the other day that the start of the school year is a bit like starting a triathlon. The swim leg in the triathlons (short ones) that I have been in are generally a triangular swim - out to a buoy across to another buoy and then back to shore. Once you start, you know where you are headed and frantically try to get there whilst avoiding being kicked or punched (accidentally of course) by everyone else trying to do the same thing (see picture). A couple of minutes into it the field spreads out and you then try to find your own space and a bit of rhythm. The fact that you are swimming in open water, without the benefit of the black line at the bottom of the pool to help you go straight ahead, means that after a while you become a little unsure and have to look up to make sure you're going the right way. I've done that a few times this term. After a bit of a look, without breaking your rhythm too much, you put your head back in the water and keep on going.

I have now reached the first buoy! I have swum around it and looked up to judge my course to the next buoy. It's assessment writing time between here and that buoy. Then it's back towards the shoreline - mind you I'm not quite sure where the end of term and holidays fits into this analogy. Perhaps the holidays is the transition area - where you lose the wetsuit and jump onto the bike. ??? Plenty to do before then.

Anyway, I have seen a few interesting things on my way towards buoy #1. For example, check out Quizlet. It calls itself a tool for learning vocabulary and that it is; but it is more than just flashcards. Once you have registered you can create word lists (it also works for Japanese script - so I assume other East Asian scripts as well) and it will then generate various activities and tests to help you remember them. Again, I have not delved too deeply into it but it looks very good and well worth it. The ability to share and access others lists is also there. There is one activity called 'scatter' that you can actually embed - see below. I've already added this one to my Year 11 ning page.

Give it a go!