Useful Sites (weekly)

Listening to books

I had a few days off work this week, on doctor’s orders. So I had time to read. I have always enjoyed reading. I regard myself as lucky that, in my job, I read a variety of texts from fiction to non-fiction, books, magazines, on-line/hardcopy. Reading, in whatever format, can illuminate your life. It can help to develop your grasp of the English language, develop your ability to read for meaning, develop a better vocabulary so you can express yourself, to better comprehend issues and broaden your knowledge base. As part of my course many years ago, we all had to practise reading aloud to children. When I started teaching, I often finished my year 7 classes by reading a chapter from a novel (making a weekly serial). If I was in the library, I often found that the senior students would also listen in to our stories. It seems that most people like someone to read to them. Today there are all sorts of ways that allow you to listen to someone reading a story to you. One such way is to use a website called PodioBooks. I found this thanks to Daily English Activities post by Nik Peachy.

podiobooks Continue reading

Networked student

I found this thanks to CogDog. It is a simple, really easy to understand video about “connectivism”. Use it to promote network learning in school.

The Networked Student was inspired by CCK08, a Connectivism course offered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes during fall 2008. It depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler’s high school students. The Networked Student concept map was inspired by Alec Couros’ Networked Teacher. I hope that teachers will use it to help their colleagues, parents, and students understand networked learning in the 21st century.  

It was a sobering moment when, after watching the video,  I reflected on the level of (in-school) networked learning that has happened in my school.

Wikipedia in Simple English


I hadn’t noticed Simple English Wikipedia until last week. I think that is is a good idea for schools. I know a lot of our students use Wikipedia but the language is often too difficult, especially for the students in the lower levels, those that have specific literacy issues and our ESL (English as a Second Language) students. This offers a much more accessible option for these students. I like it but be aware that, although Simple English pages are supposed to be written in a direct, straightforward way, without complex grammar and a limited vocabulary should be used, there is an inconsistency in the articles.

The following is advice given to for those intending to write something on the Simple English Wikipedia:

When writing articles here:

  • Use easy words and shorter sentences. This lets people who know little English read them.
  • Write good pages. The best encyclopedia pages have useful, well written information.
  • Use the pages to learn and teach. These pages can help people learn English. You can also use them to make a new Wikipedia to help other people.
  • Simple doesn’t mean little. Writing in Simple English means that simple words are used. It does not mean readers want simple information. Articles don’t have to be short to be simple; expand articles, include a lot of information, but use basic vocabulary.
  • Be bold! Your article does not have to be perfect, because other editors will fix it and make it better. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to start and make articles better yourself.

The problem is that writing with a restricted vocabulary is extremely difficult, particularly if you still want your topic to remain interesting. This Simple English version is, however, a good start and, if more people who work in the ESL (TESOL) fields contributed to this wikipedia, it has the potential to become even better.

Another useful idea is including, in the “Tool section” of left-hand sidebar, on every page, there is a direct link to citing the article. Various styles a given and it makes it very easy to avoid copyright problems.


You can also find the Simple English version by going to the main Wikipedia site. It is in the language section of the left-hand tool bar. Again, it’s worth a look.

There is another use for Wikipedia, because it is available in many languages that can be easily accessed.  If you need to find a quick explanation of a complex subject for someone promptly, you could search for the topic in Wikipedia, check the sidebar on the left to see if their language is listed and ,if it is, click on that, and if it looks okay, then pass it on.

Diigo: Why I use it.

diigoI have been meaning to write a post about Diigo for a while. I have used a number of social bookmarking sites. I use Diigo and Delicious all the time and have also used Google bookmarks and to a lesser degree StumbleUpon and tried Furl for a while.

Delicious and Diigo are the two I used almost every day. I have linked Diigo to Delicious and so whenever I save something in Diigo it automatically goes into my Delicious account as well. I started using Delicious long before Diigo and so I had a lot of links and have also built up my network of other Delicious users. Delicious is very simple to use and get started. A lot of people have begun to use Delicious and I like to see what other people are bookmarking and to search via group keywords.

So why do I use Diigo?   Continue reading


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