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

Having fun with images: RedKid.Net

I recently found out about some classroom activities using Flickr, via one of my Diigo groups.

Flickr: Tell A Story in 5 Frames – Kids was a site that showed how one teacher was using Flickr images as an inspiration for classroom writing/storytelling. Haiku 07 – a set on Flickrwhere Flickr was again used as an inspiration (or visual clues) to writing

Today I have found another tool that allows you to do a lot of fun things with images, that could then be used for classroom activities. The site is RedKid.Net.

RedKid is dedicated to providing a free, entertaining, educational, and safe website for Internet users of all ages.


There are a lot of options. You can create buttons (for your websites,etc), banners, upload images and make them into text, and so on.


A message from the fortune telling 8-ball


I have always liked the Flickr tools but they are banned in some schools. This is a site should be usable by all and is designed for students to play around with images and have fun, but adults will enjoy it too.

Europa Film Treasures


Screenshot from Les Kiriki – Acrobates Japonais – 1907 _ Europa Film Treasures

After LIFE/Googe archive more digitisation, another new source for archived collections. I was pleased to come across the Europa Film Treasures,  an archive of historical European films. The site has a focus on research and study and contains work from a number  of Europe’s most prestigious archives. It is part of the “Treasures from European Film Archives” project, it promises films from 28 European film archives, ranging from the UK’s British Film Institute and the Imperial War Museum to Russia’s GosFilmoFond and Spain’s Filmoteca Española. There are animations and documentaries amonst the offerings. Most of the films are European, but films from elsewhere are included as well.


 You can search a number of different ways: a particular film archive, time period, country of origin, research genre, research element, research sound or title, director or actor. There is all the information available about each film the quality of the films is quite good. A teacher’s section and documentation section will also be developed. This has the potential to be a huge resource and not only for schools. The information within these film is also useful for looking at social structures and historical information


There is also a plan to create teaching kits, in the 5 chosen languages, intended for school teachers or leisure center activity leaders as to facilitate an educational activity in a school or leisure setting.

Another quote from the site “although it is probable that already 70% of the images shot during the first fifty years of cinema are definitively lost.” This collection provides a glimpse of the full picture.  The quality of the streaming videos is good, even at full screen, whilst the terms, are the usual non commercial and personal study/use. Education is not specifically mentioned. Probably worth saying, there are a few clips some might see as ‘risque‘, but these are clearly flagged.