Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cool Things This Year

Term ended yesterday, and now we're on our Christmas holidays until Monday 10th January. Things will be quietish on this blog until then, though there will be occasional posts. The main priority now is reading lots of books (our Summer Reading recommendations still work at Christmas too, if you'd like some ideas).

Looking back over 2010, here are some 'cool things' on the technology front we discovered or started using in our Department:-
  • Google Docs: the collaborative features for pupils writing their Transition Year Extended Essays and III form book reports (some have been published here already, more will follow in January). This is a really powerful tool for English (and other) teachers, allowing us to monitor and support pupils in their writing.
  • Google Forms: so far only toes dipped in the water, but again this free service has lots of interesting applications for us, saving time and paperwork.
  • Twitter: we started on Twitter in 2009 (November), but the SCC English Twitter account has really taken off in 2010. This post on our 'twitterversary' shows how helpful the service has been.
  • Visualiser / Document Camera: the Department has had one for a few weeks now; it's a really helpful classroom tool, and a blog post will follow on its use. We'll be demonstrating it to other staff in an in-service session at the start of next term.
  • TinyLetter: this neat free newsletter service, recently started by @pud (he's refining and redeveloping it regularly) is a great way to maintain the conversation with our followers. There's only been time for one newsletter so far. Several more coming in 2011... Do join in.
  • Audioboo: another excellent service - five minute recordings made on an iPhone and then uploaded. This has facilitated the Patterns of Poetry series, which has just been voted runner-up in the Edublog Awards 'Best Educational Use of Audio' category. And here's the original post with an Audioboo explanation of the app.
  • QR codes: just a toe dipped in the water with these, but hoping to develop their use in 2011.
  • Mobile apps: here's our series reviewing helpful apps for English teaching and learning (concentrating on iPhone/iPad services). Plenty more coming in 2011.

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