In My Absence

Currently, I am attending the TESOL Greece conference and presenting on Personal Learning Networks (PLNs). I have learned so much from my PLN that I have decided a personal challenge for me for 2010 is to persuade other educators to engage in a PLN. I passionately believe this would change the face of education.

Passion, a funny creature…..

Perhaps, you will understand what passion does to you? It makes you do crazy things like poor your heart and soul into ambitious tasks. I love what I am doing and I may only persuade less than 10 teachers this year to gain a PLN, but in my mind that is 10 more who will persuade maybe another 10 more. I believe in starting movements even if they are small in nature, because a ripple can have an enormous impact. I have been fortunate that many of you have helped transform my ripples into incredible endeavors. First, over 1200 educators followed the 30 Goals Challenge and shared your experiences. Then I received over 60 video clip entries in less than a week on this PLN video project that is continuously evolving. I will continue to make more videos so please do not feel your entry will not be included. If you send one, I will make it part of the project. Perhaps, a video series that we can each decide to share with our schools?


My presentation is Sunday, therefore, I found I have run out of time. Please, forgive me for not including posts for the Cool Sites series and What Did They Tweet series. In the future, I will plan better. However, please enjoy upcoming guest posts and visit their blogs. I will be back again next week and catch up on replying to your comments. You may want to also visit the We Connect wiki and contribute to its growth. In this wiki, I will be posting the PLN videos and will include a few changes to make it look more like the collaborative effort this is. I need more entries in every subject. Feel free to include your posts on these subjects.


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Goal: 35 Sites & Resources to Capture A Moment

Part of the Goals 2010 Challenge Series, Goal 28 and the Cool Sites series

I remember being amazed at the advertisement displays when I first moved to Stuttgart. Around the city are what appear to be normal posters, but they change every minute or so to another advertisement. With these displays in mind I have imagined what a school bulletin board would look like in the future. I imagine walking down the school hallway and seeing digital boards displaying students’ multimedia projects. Comments are also displayed. A built-in webcam and microphone allow comments to be made by all those passing by. Captchas keep and other settings ensure that comments are safe. Touch technology allows the bulletin boards to be very interactive. No need to waste paper or have to throw away student work. This is my favorite part of the digital revolution. I can keep student work for years as reminders of teachable moments or creativity at work. So many projects lugged home each year and how many of us can keep every poster, science fair project, drawing, story, and so forth. So much work left behind by students, teachers, and parents.

We no longer have to discard student work.

Instead, with digital cameras, smart phones, and Web 2.0 tools we have the ability to save all work. Students can remember some of their best work and build on it year after year. These can be part of a portfolio and important for reflection. Parents can have a permanent record of their child’s creativity and growth.

Before the Digital Revolution & Web 2.0

Before the emergence of digital technologies, we took Polaroid shots, developed film, or used camcorders. I never enjoyed taking pictures, because many times I would ruin the film. Unfortunately, there are countless moments I have lost this way. Now, that rarely happens. It’s so simple to capture video and photographs with my Iphone. I can even edit my film and images on the Iphone. Additionally, I have a digital camera if I want better looking pictures. Instead of the PowerPoint slideshows I used to make of my students, I now have access to several web 2.0 tools. One of my long-term goals is to encourage my students to capture their special moments and keep their work for an ongoing portfolio.

Reflection is powerful. Sometimes, we forget and we need the reminder of fun times with friends or family. Sometimes, we just need to reflect on when we made a difference in our student’s lives. With Web 2.0 tools and digital technologies we can easily capture moments to reflect upon.

Top 4 Sites

These are favorites from the edtech community, therefore, I am giving a brief description and helpful links to facilitate using these tools more effectively in the classroom. I have also included the links to the free educator accounts for each of these sites.

Multimedia Mash-ups

Here are some fantastic free tools in case you happen to want to create various types of multimedia videos or presentations to capture moments with your students.

    • Empressr-Upload video, images and audio to create cool slideshows with impressive effects. Use the charting and table tools, import images from Flickr, embed your presentation on your blog, and create a backchannel with Twitter during your presentation.
    • SlideRocket- Store your slide presentations online and integrate audio, images, and video. You can also collaborate with peers on presentations and create presentations online. Embed this on your blog, publish to a url, or conduct a webinar. A content library is available.
    • Masher- Create a video by mixing video clips, music tracks, and images. These can be from your own library or choose from a huge library of audio, video, and music content, which are free to use. Easily embed it in your blog.
    • Video Thang- You have to download this but it supports various platforms. This video editing software takes your uploaded video clips, photos, and music and allows you do to add cool transitions, text, and effects. Moreover, you can do close-ups, which I haven’t seen in other video editing tools. You can then upload your video to Youtube or embed it.
    • JayCut- This exciting video editor launches the full features in February. However, this is really impressive online video editor that you can play with here. Online you can upload images, audio, and video clips. Add transitions, effects, and more. Easily collaborate with others on the same video. You can also edit videos on your smartphone.
    • Vuvox-Choose from 3 different types of effective presentations- express, collage, or studio. Upload your own video clips, photos, and music and add incredible effects. You can embed this in your blog.
    • Stupeflix-Mix images, videos, and soundtracks. Add titles, transitions, and themes. There is no library of free music but you can easily embed it. See this great example.
    • Capzles-make an impressive presentation with your videos, images, and music. Moreover, blog about the experience which goes on a horizontal timeline.
    • Magnoto- A mix between Wallwisher and Glogster. Display your photos, videos, text and audio in unique ways on a cool background. You have the freedom to move the parts around. People can comment on the different pages and subscribe to them.
    • Scrapblog-Create multimedia scrapbooks. Upload your images and play with the themes, stickers, backgrounds, text features, and frames. Embed this in your blog.
    • Mixbook- Collaborate on a photobook with friends. Create stories, photo journals, and more with your uploaded images. You can zoom in on photos, add backgrounds, and embed this in a blog.
    • Ahead- Works like Prezi. This is an online platform for dynamic presentations. Upload videos, audio, images, pdfs, and Word documents. You can embed this.

      Multimedia Slideshows

      • Yodio- Add narration to slideshows easily through your computer or by using your phone. Embed this easily in your blog.
      • PanRaven- Create digital stories with your uploaded videos, music, and images. The site has photo editing tools and lets you embed the presentation on your blog.
      • Slideshare- Upload your PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and pdfs to embed in your blog. You can narrate your presentation.
      • Authorstream- Upload your PowerPoint presentations to embed in your blog. You can narrate your presentation and play it as a video.

      More Resources

      For further information on these resources, please visit these websites:


      Begin to document your favorite lessons by taking pictures, recording audio, or recording a video.

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      This is goal 28 of this series! If you’d like to join the challenge, please read this post!

      Don’t forget to leave a comment that you accomplished this goal using the hashtag #30Goals!

      How do you capture your students’ moments?

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      A PLN is Like…

      Personal Metaphor

      The writer in me is always searching for the right metaphor to describe meaningful experiences, such as my Personal Learning Network (PLN).

      The greatest gift I received this year was my PLN! Daily, I am surrounded by an incredibly intelligent and passionate support group, yet I met them online. How do you convey this experience to another person?

      One metaphor I came up with is my PLN is like a family to me. I have not met most of you outside of this blog, Twitter, Skype, nings, Facebook, LinkedIn, Second Life, or Webinars. However, I feel very close to many of you. You share the same passions and goals as I do. You give me advice and offer me support when I have been emotionally and mentally knocked down. You celebrate my wins with me and comfort me in my losses. You continuously inspire me to be a better person and educator.

      If I tell someone this who has no concept of a PLN, will they understand?
      Will this scare them away?

      Visual Metaphor

      I came across this Vimeo movie that served as a metaphor of how a support network gets you through tough times. I hope you enjoy watching this and have a wonderful holiday season with your families!

      Sister Winter from FloodSanDiego on Vimeo.


      How would you convey the concept of a PLN to someone? A PLN is like…

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      What Did They Tweet?

      3rd week of December edition!

      The holidays are coming, so after next week this series will take a small break and come back in the New Year! This time would be great for catching up on previous editions of this weekly series, What Did They Tweet? If you are viewing this from an RSS reader, you may want to check the homepage to see the embedded videos and frames.

      21 Things that Became Obsolete This Decade

      @Sammorra shared this incredible post about various technologies and services we rarely use. What astonishes me is that many of these services and tools were quite popular. What do you think will be obsolete in 2020? Twitter? Facebook? Iphones?

      Christmas Web 2.0 Project Challenge

      @Evab2001 has created an incredible wiki that challenges students to use web 2.0 tools to explore several web 2.0 topics. Below is the Glogster of the challenge but please visit the wiki for more details on how to participate!

      Digital Dilemmas for Students

      @Pmacoun shared this interactive website, That’s Not Cool, that has students study where they draw their digital line. Students are presented various scenarios like the one below and their choice yields different outcomes. Click on any of the choices in the video to see the outcome!

      Animation Storytelling Videos for Kids

      @Uponschoolcloud shared their channel on Vimeo which is full of kid friendly animated stories. I really loved this one below about the element Oxygen. This is a fun way for students to recall and understand how elements work together.

      Oxygen from Christopher Hendryx on Vimeo.

      Technology Video Site Similar to TED

      Educators love TED talks and thanks to @Sabridv‘s tweet we can enjoy another website, PopTech, with videos about various issues! Below is a short one I liked about turning students into global citizens.

      Twitter and the Backchannel

      @vale24 shared this article, Conference Humiliation: They’re Tweeting Behind Your Back, which investigated the humiliation presenters faced when Tweckled, heckled by Twitterers. This article makes you think about the potential of Twitter as a backchannel in presentations. In many of the cases, the presenters suffered from technology malfunctions and suffered what the article terms a “virtual lynching.” What happened to netiquette and how far is too far?

      Add the people in this post to your PLN by using this mass Twitter tool. Just copy and paste this list!

      sammorra, evab2001, pmacoun, sabridv, uponschoolcloud, vale24, larryferlazzo, kalinagoenglish

      If you enjoy this series, you may want to subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!

      For more tweets, check out these posts:


      Think about a resource or tweet that struck you this week! Share this with another educator not on Twitter then if they’re interested tell them you got the tip from educators on Twitter!

      What was your favorite tweet this week? Why?

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      My Favourite Tools by Alexandra Francisco

      Part of the Cool Sites weekly series!

      Like most of us, I have only just recently (about a year ago) began to use web2.0 tools in my classes. It wasn’t easy at first. There is a myriad of tools at our disposal and new ones keep emerging at such speed that it’s enough to make your head spin. So, when I choose a tool to use I always try to think of what my students can get out of it, how tool A is more beneficial to them instead of tools B, C or D. I have tried quite a number of tools and I’m sure I’ll try many more, but at the moment my personal favourites are:

      English Central – I love this site, because it allows my students to practice their speaking/reading skills, providing them with immediate feedback. HERE you can check the sort of assignment I give them.

      Glogster – I guess this is already an old favourite of many of us. My students love the possibility of putting text, images, audio and video together in one place. HERE are some glogs they created.

      Animoto – Simply brilliant! You upload your photos (and now even short videos!), add some text and music, let Animoto work its magic and you’re given back a wonderful video that you can post anywhere. No fuss, no muss! HERE are some examples.

      GoAnimate – The possibilities are endless. From digital storytelling to book reports or simple vocabulary practice, you think it and GoAnimate will bring it to life! HERE are some of my students’ animations.

      MyStudiyo – Great tool to easily create multimedia quizzes. I usually get my students to create the quizzes themselves and then use an interactive board to get the whole class to try out the quizzes. HERE is one.

      Vocaroo – I use it  to give my students extra practice on their reading and speaking skills. They record themselves as many times as they want and then just post or e-mail me their recordings. Here are some examples.

      VoiceThread – A recent favourite. Great tool for collaborative projects and to provide students with their own niche where they can practice and interact. HERE is my first project.

      Last, but not least – Livetyping – It allows me to witness my students’ writing process, showing me what they corrected and rearranged before submitting their final text.  HERE are some examples.

      So here you have it, my favourite tools. Am Looking forward to reading about yours! ;-)

      I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shelly for giving me the honour to contribute for her Cool Sites series, and also to express my sincere gratitude for all that she does for all of us.



      Alexandra Francisco is an EFL teacher in Madeira, Portugal. She has been teaching for 15 years at the secondary level and has only recently began to be involved in the teacher training area, providing short (25 hours long) workshops on the use of web2.0 tools in EFL classes.

      You can follow her web2.0 experiences at her tech blog: ZarcoEnglish – Tool of the day. You may also check her assignments blog and her students’ showcase.

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