Thursday, July 24, 2008


As a student teacher this spring, I used Quizlet twice, and would have done so regularly if I had come across it sooner. There are countless "quiz" applications out there; I happen to find this one simple yet effective. If you acknowledge that it is not possible to learn all vocabulary in an organic, holistic fashion (at least in regards to set curricula and tests in school), then this flashcard/quiz application is an excellent tool to maximize and personalize study time. I'd like to have a set horizon of expectation when I say to students, "There will be a vocabulary test. Make sure you study!"

The Scatter-Game version is embeddable:

Die Werbung (from Komm Mit 3, Kapitel 7-1) by me

Die Presse by ali125

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Dipity Timeline Example

Viygo: Another Interesting Timeline Web Application

Timelines in the Language Classroom

In the entries below, I have embedded timelines of the lives of Einstein and Frederick the Great that were created by individuals on Timeline web applications such as this another obvious choice to augment the learning experience during language class blogging.

In the target language, students can create all sorts of products. Most interesting, I think, would be timelines which supplement a written piece by the student. And of course they do not need to be chronologies of "Famous Germans", but can be about the student's own life, family and friends.
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Timeline of Frederich dem Grossen

Albert Einstein Timeline

Sketchbook Berlin: Using Graphic Novels in the Language Classroom

As a placeholder for a future, proper reflection on the subject, I would like to mention the graphic novel Sketchbook Berlin, written and drawn by two German artists, as well as the modest wiki at pbwiki which students of mine worked on 2 years ago.

Comiqs as a Blogging Assignment II

Imagine the simple web-based picture-comic (in the entry of mine below) as a prompt for a blog entry assignment in a foreign language class. While not terribly innovative, this comic-as-prompt has the virtue of setting up the assignment visually as well as linguistically. But what intrigues me more about comic webtools such as Comiq (in respect to blogging in the language classroom) is that "blog entries" could easily be a comic. With such tools, there is no need for writing assignments to be limited to purely linguistic assessments of performance....
A tool such as Comiqs allows for the meaningful, contextualized assessment of telling a story. Comiqs is user-friendly, so such an assignment could be an assignment with some frequency throughout the year. And it is easy to embed in a blog....
And frankly, the "fun" format does not mean that the requirements need to "fudge" on the writing aspect. There could/should be as much length in words to a mini-comic as to a mini blog-entry (or journal or essay question) on the topic of "How early should the school day begin?" The difference is that the grading rubric would ask students to use images which reinforce the ideas they wish to bring across, and to translate the "blog entry" into an entertaining story which the rest of the class could read and discuss.
Why not have students create different learning objects in the target language and post them on their blogs?
(Do pardon the broad-sweeping statements. Of course, the devil and the success is in the planning and preparation.) However, since it is so easy to embed media and other applications in blogs, why not use this to one's advantage as a language teacher? Creating comics, timelines, mashups: these are all authentic tasks which can be carried out in the target language.

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Comiqs as a Blogging Assignment

Comics as Prompts, Assessments, or Entries for a World Language Blog from herrgraff on Comiqs

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Diigolet: Use in Schools?

As I re-read today Miguel Guhlin's articles on the wide spectrum of possibilities which diigo opens up to educators, I wondered if the superbookmarklet diigolet can really be dragged by any user up to the bookmark toolbar? Are there any security settings schools could have in place which do not allow one to do so, or to sign into diigo once it is in the toolbar?

A simple question of course. And ideally, one would get the diigo toolbar installed in every machine! Assuming that the diigo toolbar is not installed, however, the genius/ease of using diigo as a collaborative learning and teaching tool within school walls would hinge on the diigolet.

Or? Am I too pessimistic? The many collaborative and organizational aspects of diigo are things to be excited about. Out of pure fried brain-circuitry, I just realized that diigo does take full screenshots, via Webslides, of the pages you bookmark and incorporate into a list. As far as I understand, these are permanent resources within one's diigo account, even if the websites change.

The list function itself is excellent. The concept is very similar to the aggregator I am (still) quite fond of, Second Brain. And diigo's full screenshots are, well, full in comparison. (Second Brain does aggregate one's other accounts, Google Reader, YouTube, ZohoDocs, etc; and like diigo, SB has an open-ended mission to truly organize one's online life.)

I digress: but as I catch up to my Apture experimenting, I intend to try out some of Miguel Guhlin's suggestions for diigo.

Lingro Flashcard Function

Just a brief note: the Lingro flashcard function is excellent. A substantial tool for reading in a foreign language online. The user can study the words they have looked up via Lingro, and it's easy to make lists for separate flash-card games. (Everytime you click on a word on a lingro-activated page, the pop-up with the definition gives you the option of saving the word to a specific list; e.g. "pasttime", "television", etc. Experiment #3: Grammar, das versus dass

Learn languages - language quiz

I'm fond of this quiz simply because das/dass is such a sticky grammar point. (Though it is hard to suss out whether a student doesn't heed spelling themselves much, or whether they haven't learned the significant differences in the uses of das and dass.

I like this quiz, but I wish (from a pedagogical perspective) that it included more tools and supports for students who intermediate language learners, but less-than-enthusiastic readers. Two ideas I can think of are quick pop-up, double-click look-up function for any words one doesn't know, and pictures/illustrations to bolster one's understanding of the linguistic information.

That being said, I have yet to make a quiz of my own using I need to discover what tools they offer!

Medium/Intermediate Example of a quiz

Learn languages - language quiz

Exploring quizzes -- Part I

Learn languages - language quiz

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Apture: The Missing Cog in the Language Learner's Blog?

Happening on Apture was a happy accident.

"A rich multimedia experience and linking platform for the web," Apture supercharges almost any blogging platform. Anywhere on my blog where you see a hyperlink accompanied by a book+bookmark symbol is an example of an Apture hyperlink. Within a blog entry (=without being routed to another page), readers can access links of all sorts, including music and video. Within the same page, a window appears with the link chosen by the blog author.

The ramifications are staggering. Apture makes citing/quoting/referencing in the blog format very user-friendly. From what I understand, Apture works on the majority of blogging platforms, and aims to be compatible with all of them. (User-friendly times 2.) But more importantly, Apture is transformative: how interesting would it be if all media outlets and all bloggers vowed to cite their sources by incorporating Apture into their websites....

From any perspective, the prospect of quick access to sources (primary and otherwise) is a way to foster honest interaction with information as well as promote better critical thinking skills.

For blogging in the language classroom, though, Apture has the virtue of letting student/end-user-X aggregate all sorts of media in one spot.

Over the next few days, I am going to post some examples of what I think such blog entries might look like. As I do this, I will try to consider other issues that dovetail with considerations of blogging in education: assessment, modelling and/or correcting of grammar and vocabulary usage, active learning, motivation, and others. I would love to hear others' comments and ideas!

As well, I intend to revisit Konrad Glogowski's blog more intently and reflect on what Growing a Blog in a language classroom might look like.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Netvibes: Herr Graff's Page

In the hope of being gainfully employed this fall (hint!), I quickly set-up a Netvibes page, and am in the process of populating it with German-language widgets and assorted goodies that might well be helpful this fall....

If you have suggestions, do let me know!