Tag Archives: review

Another Years Blogging⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

In 2015 my blogging was dominated by Glow Blogs and WordPress. This year the picture was a little different. Here is a Wordle of my 2016 titles.

Wordle 2016

WordPress stays near the top and Glow Blogs featured quite often but not in the titles of the post. 23 Things, Open (including OER16) and Edutalk stand out.

Most of my time in 2015 was taken up by Glow Blogs, 2016 brought big changes, before I’d got used to being back in my substantive post, supporting ICT in North Lanarkshire, I found myself being redeployed into a class teachers role. I’ve not blogged much about that, sticking to technology: some in the classroom, some more general.

The post Questioning Glow got most reaction.

A fair number of posts are under the 23 things banner and I’ve become even more interested in thinking about the the way that using software affects us. I think the questions I talked about at Always on (them): Digital and Social Media use in Education #DigitalUWS are important.

Apart from my Radio Edutalk contributions, which slacked a bit this year I made several microcasts here. There are just short, unedited podcasts, in my case posted from my phone. I doubt that many were listening but I enjoy the format.

My most popular post was An interesting mix: Chromebook and Raspberry pi. This was a passing interest as I no longer have access to a chromebook. I did blog a fair bit about my Pi(s) which continue to interest me.

As I prepare for think about my 13th year blogging, this blog continues to meander through topics that take my fancy, often it feels like me alone. I often read about how to make your blog more popular, and continue to break most of that advice.

Featured image: A quick gif made for #tdc1818 The End is Near! Make a GIF | The (new) Daily Create, I’ve not created as much as I would have liked for the daily create, but I still recommend it as a great exercise for playing with digital and your imagination.

    Parallel Reading with the Parallel Books app-A Way into Literature and Translation?⤴

    from @ My Languages

    Matt Thomas contacted me a while ago to trial his Parallel Books app. The principle is simple, you get a text that is in the public domain, you get a good translation and you use the app the read both texts side-by-side.
    Easy? Well... Thank you to Matt for telling us about the story behind the development of this great app that is just fantastic to get our higher ability pupils to dare reading in a foreign language just as literature and translation have re-appeared in the new GCSE specifications. The books are well known classics so although the texts are complex, it gives pupils a sense of confidence as it is known territory.

     
    "I started making Parallel Books a couple of years ago, although it was only released in December last year. I've done it at the same time as been the main care giver for 2 toddlers, so it's been lots of nights programming from their bedtimes till midnight!

    You were asking about the reason I started. I was wanting to challenge myself to make a high quality app, so I was looking for ideas.

    I spent my whole adult life as a professional musician with a popular band in NZ. When touring Europe one time, I met my wife, who was the singer in another band on the same circuit.

    We both ended up leaving our bands and working together playing music. I moved to Switzerland, and found that I needed to learn some new languages!

    I have a number of English speaking friends here, and one day one of them told me how he was reading Roger Federer's biography, and that he had bought it in both English and German to read at the same time.

    That's when the lightbulb went off in my head, that I could make an app that makes this process easier. It's a great method to practice a new language, but keeping the two books in sync is a bit of a pain, and I realised that I could make this part of it easier within an app.

    It turns out that it is actually quite complicated to program this, and there is a lot going on behind the scene to make it appear so simple and user friendly on the surface.

    Currently all books in Parallel Books are free. This means that I can only use either texts that are public domain (copyright free) or that I acquire permission to use.

     
    If you know of any good Spanish texts I could include, do let me know! Essentially the author AND the translator have to have been dead for 70 years in order for them to be out of copyright.

    I'm also interested in finding very beginner level texts I can use, which have also proven allusive."
     
    Anything else you need to know about "Parallel Books"? Oh yes... It is free :)

    App store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/parallel-books/id1045596664?mt=8
    Facebook page (includes screen shots and demo video): http://www.facebook.com/parallelbooksapp
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/parallelbooks
    Website: http://www.parallelbooks.com

    Parallel Reading with the Parallel Books app-a Way into Literature and Translation?⤴

    from @ My Languages

    Matt Thomas contacted a while ago to trial his Parallel Books app. The principle is simple, you get a text that is in the public domain, you get a good translation and you use the app the read both texts side-by-side.
    Easy? Well... Thank you to Matt for telling us about the story behind the development of this great app that is just fantastic to get our higher ability pupils to dare reading in a foreign language just as literature and translation have re-appeared in the new GCSE specifications. The books are well known classics so although the texts are complex, it gives pupils a sense of confidence as it is known territory.

     
    "I started making Parallel Books a couple of years ago, although it was only released in December last year. I've done it at the same time as been the main care giver for 2 toddlers, so it's been lots of nights programming from their bedtimes till midnight!

    You were asking about the reason I started. I was wanting to challenge myself to make a high quality app, so I was looking for ideas.

    I spent my whole adult life as a professional musician with a popular band in NZ. When touring Europe one time, I met my wife, who was the singer in another band on the same circuit.

    We both ended up leaving our bands and working together playing music. I moved to Switzerland, and found that I needed to learn some new languages!

    I have a number of English speaking friends here, and one day one of them told me how he was reading Roger Federer's biography, and that he had bought it in both English and German to read at the same time.

    That's when the lightbulb went off in my head, that I could make an app that makes this process easier. It's a great method to practice a new language, but keeping the two books in sync is a bit of a pain, and I realised that I could make this part of it easier within an app.

    It turns out that it is actually quite complicated to program this, and there is a lot going on behind the scene to make it appear so simple and user friendly on the surface.

    Currently all books in Parallel Books are free. This means that I can only use either texts that are public domain (copyright free) or that I acquire permission to use.

     
    If you know of any good Spanish texts I could include, do let me know! Essentially the author AND the translator have to have been dead for 70 years in order for them to be out of copyright.

    I'm also interested in finding very beginner level texts I can use, which have also proven allusive."
     
    Anything else you need to know about "Parallel Books"? Oh yes... It is free :)

    App store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/parallel-books/id1045596664?mt=8
    Facebook page (includes screen shots and demo video): http://www.facebook.com/parallelbooksapp
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/parallelbooks
    Website: http://www.parallelbooks.com

    Parallel Reading with the Parallel Books app-A Way into Literature and Translation?⤴

    from @ My Languages

    Matt Thomas contacted me a while ago to trial his Parallel Books app. The principle is simple, you get a text that is in the public domain, you get a good translation and you use the app the read both texts side-by-side.
    Easy? Well... Thank you to Matt for telling us about the story behind the development of this great app that is just fantastic to get our higher ability pupils to dare reading in a foreign language just as literature and translation have re-appeared in the new GCSE specifications. The books are well known classics so although the texts are complex, it gives pupils a sense of confidence as it is known territory.

     
    "I started making Parallel Books a couple of years ago, although it was only released in December last year. I've done it at the same time as been the main care giver for 2 toddlers, so it's been lots of nights programming from their bedtimes till midnight!

    You were asking about the reason I started. I was wanting to challenge myself to make a high quality app, so I was looking for ideas.

    I spent my whole adult life as a professional musician with a popular band in NZ. When touring Europe one time, I met my wife, who was the singer in another band on the same circuit.

    We both ended up leaving our bands and working together playing music. I moved to Switzerland, and found that I needed to learn some new languages!

    I have a number of English speaking friends here, and one day one of them told me how he was reading Roger Federer's biography, and that he had bought it in both English and German to read at the same time.

    That's when the lightbulb went off in my head, that I could make an app that makes this process easier. It's a great method to practice a new language, but keeping the two books in sync is a bit of a pain, and I realised that I could make this part of it easier within an app.

    It turns out that it is actually quite complicated to program this, and there is a lot going on behind the scene to make it appear so simple and user friendly on the surface.

    Currently all books in Parallel Books are free. This means that I can only use either texts that are public domain (copyright free) or that I acquire permission to use.

     
    If you know of any good Spanish texts I could include, do let me know! Essentially the author AND the translator have to have been dead for 70 years in order for them to be out of copyright.

    I'm also interested in finding very beginner level texts I can use, which have also proven allusive."
     
    Anything else you need to know about "Parallel Books"? Oh yes... It is free :)

    App store: https://itunes.apple.com/app/parallel-books/id1045596664?mt=8
    Facebook page (includes screen shots and demo video): http://www.facebook.com/parallelbooksapp
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/parallelbooks
    Website: http://www.parallelbooks.com

    Review: Think Bilingual-The First Language Immersion App?⤴

    from @ My Languages

    Interact and Immerse, an iPad application development company that specializes in immersive language learning for children and adults, announced recently the launch of its new game, Think Bilingual! The game is now available for iTunes download and it is currently free for early users and educators. The current version includes Spanish, French and English.
     
    Think Bilingual! Is like in an adventure game, where the user is challenged to navigate through different situations. In the storyline, the user helps a family of Aliens make their way on earth: cooking in the kitchen, driving a car, cleaning the house and even babysitting. In each situation, the user plays the game by listening to the target language. For instance, to learn directions, you drive a car in the game, with the aim to encourage learners to think in the target language rather than just translate it.
     
    As the app aims to provide immersion rather than translation, I was particularly interested in finding out how productive skills could be developed using it.
     
    Chris Loux, Interact and Immerse co-founder, provided me with more details about how the app can boost this crucial element of language learning.
     
    Writing: “This is something that we have thought a lot about and have specific goals in trying to avoid writing and try to lead the user to react to the native blocks of language at normal speed. Our philosophy is based on the direct method, and we are seeking to build a very fast connection between "listen" and "do" to encourage users to process the narrations in the target language. That being said :), there is an interesting way for users to practice writing in the app:

    1. turn off sound

    2. tap the "write" tool on the right side

    3. read, and do the action

    -or, for writing-

    1. listen to the narration

    2. write out the sentence as listened

    3. tap the "write" tool to check writing

    4. do the action

    The latter is interesting as it ties listening, writing, reading and comprehension together.” 
     
    Speaking: “Speaking is on the roadmap for version 3.0 of the app, and will include the ability to record speech and turn it in to a teacher. The speech will be responding to questions about the stage just done. For example, in "ID stage" (stage 7) the app will ask, "What languages do you speak?" And user will answer as per the completed stage. This will be recorded and stored for teachers/parents. There will also be real-time functionality allowing a teacher and student to see the same screen and follow each other's speech in the target language by doing the actions in the interface.” 

    I would say that this product works best for KS2-KS4. But adults can use it too, especially adults who are "trapped" at basic level, knowing a lot of vocabulary, but who don't have the confidence to respond whenever someone speaks to them in the language. 

    For a casual learner, especially one with issues around listening, the current version should work great as a more fun and light-hearted-though linguistically sound-way to revise the basics.

    Specifications of Think Bilingual!:

    • The current version has 44 levels covering people, directions, house, greetings, cooking.
    • New episodes will appear monthly
    • The level is basic/intermediate
    • Think Bilingual! is best for ages 8-16, but also adults at basic level
    • English, Spanish and French are in the current version. Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese are scheduled for development.
    • Group-enabled version to be released for educators to use in classroom situation.
    What next?

    Be part of the development of this app by trying it and giving feedback to

    Review: Think Bilingual-The First Language Immersion App?⤴

    from @ My Languages

    Interact and Immerse, an iPad application development company that specializes in immersive language learning for children and adults, announced recently the launch of its new game, Think Bilingual! The game is now available for iTunes download and it is currently free for early users and educators. The current version includes Spanish, French and English.
     
    Think Bilingual! Is like in an adventure game, where the user is challenged to navigate through different situations. In the storyline, the user helps a family of Aliens make their way on earth: cooking in the kitchen, driving a car, cleaning the house and even babysitting. In each situation, the user plays the game by listening to the target language. For instance, to learn directions, you drive a car in the game, with the aim to encourage learners to think in the target language rather than just translate it.
     
    As the app aims to provide immersion rather than translation, I was particularly interested in finding out how productive skills could be developed using it.
     
    Chris Loux, Interact and Immerse co-founder, provided me with more details about how the app can boost this crucial element of language learning.
     
    Writing: “This is something that we have thought a lot about and have specific goals in trying to avoid writing and try to lead the user to react to the native blocks of language at normal speed. Our philosophy is based on the direct method, and we are seeking to build a very fast connection between "listen" and "do" to encourage users to process the narrations in the target language. That being said :), there is an interesting way for users to practice writing in the app:

    1. turn off sound

    2. tap the "write" tool on the right side

    3. read, and do the action

    -or, for writing-

    1. listen to the narration

    2. write out the sentence as listened

    3. tap the "write" tool to check writing

    4. do the action

    The latter is interesting as it ties listening, writing, reading and comprehension together.” 
     
    Speaking: “Speaking is on the roadmap for version 3.0 of the app, and will include the ability to record speech and turn it in to a teacher. The speech will be responding to questions about the stage just done. For example, in "ID stage" (stage 7) the app will ask, "What languages do you speak?" And user will answer as per the completed stage. This will be recorded and stored for teachers/parents. There will also be real-time functionality allowing a teacher and student to see the same screen and follow each other's speech in the target language by doing the actions in the interface.” 

    I would say that this product works best for KS2-KS4. But adults can use it too, especially adults who are "trapped" at basic level, knowing a lot of vocabulary, but who don't have the confidence to respond whenever someone speaks to them in the language. 

    For a casual learner, especially one with issues around listening, the current version should work great as a more fun and light-hearted-though linguistically sound-way to revise the basics.

    Specifications of Think Bilingual!:

    • The current version has 44 levels covering people, directions, house, greetings, cooking.
    • New episodes will appear monthly
    • The level is basic/intermediate
    • Think Bilingual! is best for ages 8-16, but also adults at basic level
    • English, Spanish and French are in the current version. Chinese, Portuguese and Japanese are scheduled for development.
    • Group-enabled version to be released for educators to use in classroom situation.
    What next?

    Be part of the development of this app by trying it and giving feedback to

    Review: Other Cats to Whip, The Book of French Idioms⤴

    from @ My Languages

    I just love idioms, they are a part of everyday life and often give you a real insight into the target language culture. But how often do we think about their literal and intended meanings? For instance, why do the English say that they have “other fish to fry” rather than “have other things to do”? This is a great opportunity to look at how sentences are built and to practise translation for fun.
    After moving from the UK to France in late 2012, author Graham Clark started to use native idioms and noticed that the French idioms were often very different to their English counterparts and, in many cases, even more bizarre!
    Instead of having other fish to fry, the French have “other cats to whip” or “d’autres chats à fouetter”, to mean they have other things to do. In the introduction of the book, Graham issues a tongue-in-cheek warning whilst sharing his embarrassing misuse of this expression in a comical attempt to fit in with the locals.
    Inspired by this story, Graham and his co-author Zubair Arshad, have carefully selected French idioms, each with a memorable illustration aiming as a reminder of the literal meaning of the phrase.
    Each expression is provided with its literal English translation, actual meanings and example sentence, which makes it an interesting linguistic reference for students of all levels. The pictures and translations also make it an entertaining read for non-linguists who may have a connection with a French-speaking country.
    My favourite expressions from the book include “Se croire sorti de la cuisse de Jupiter” to mean “To believe you came from Jupiter’s thigh (God’s Gift)”, “Il n’y a pas le feu au lac” (Don’t panic), “Se faire prendre pour un pigeon” (To be taken for a ride) and also “Tomber dans les pommes”, meaning to “To fall in the apples (to faint)
    Whatever your mood, whether you are feeling upbeat or have the blues (avoir le cafard= to have the cockroach), this lovely little book is guaranteed to make you smile…
    The book is available on Kindle (£3.99) and Paperback (£4.99), on Amazon UK and Amazon US, which makes it a very affordable little gift for linguistically-minded friends.

    Review: Other Cats to Whip, The Book of French Idioms⤴

    from @ My Languages

    I just love idioms, they are a part of everyday life and often give you a real insight into the target language culture. But how often do we think about their literal and intended meanings? For instance, why do the English say that they have “other fish to fry” rather than “have other things to do”? This is a great opportunity to look at how sentences are built and to practise translation for fun.
    After moving from the UK to France in late 2012, author Graham Clark started to use native idioms and noticed that the French idioms were often very different to their English counterparts and, in many cases, even more bizarre!
    Instead of having other fish to fry, the French have “other cats to whip” or “d’autres chats à fouetter”, to mean they have other things to do. In the introduction of the book, Graham issues a tongue-in-cheek warning whilst sharing his embarrassing misuse of this expression in a comical attempt to fit in with the locals.
    Inspired by this story, Graham and his co-author Zubair Arshad, have carefully selected French idioms, each with a memorable illustration aiming as a reminder of the literal meaning of the phrase.
    Each expression is provided with its literal English translation, actual meanings and example sentence, which makes it an interesting linguistic reference for students of all levels. The pictures and translations also make it an entertaining read for non-linguists who may have a connection with a French-speaking country.
    My favourite expressions from the book include “Se croire sorti de la cuisse de Jupiter” to mean “To believe you came from Jupiter’s thigh (God’s Gift)”, “Il n’y a pas le feu au lac” (Don’t panic), “Se faire prendre pour un pigeon” (To be taken for a ride) and also “Tomber dans les pommes”, meaning to “To fall in the apples (to faint)
    Whatever your mood, whether you are feeling upbeat or have the blues (avoir le cafard= to have the cockroach), this lovely little book is guaranteed to make you smile…
    The book is available on Kindle (£3.99) and Paperback (£4.99), on Amazon UK and Amazon US, which makes it a very affordable little gift for linguistically-minded friends.

    2013⤴

    from

    That was 2013 
     

    This short video shows some of the highlights for us as a family in 2013.  It misses out a few important highlights but you get the gist.

    The year included…

    • Catherine left school and started university
    • Alistair graduated from university (with a first), started work in Edinburgh, got married and moved to Dunfermline
    •  Fiona and Russell sold their house in Eaglesham and bought one in Linlithgow.  They have a new baby son, Daniel Alistair Sheilds, making us very young grandparents.
    • Work continues to be very busy along with church and SU stuff.

    All in all a pretty busy year.  I don’t think 2014 is looking nearly as busy.  Happy New Year.

     
     

    Serendipitous Searching!⤴

    from @ If You Don't Like Change…

    I’ve found a great little iPad app for accessing Wikipedia. It’s simple enough to use, but I really like it because it introduces a wonderful level of spontaneous discovery that could just be enough to help you over a case of writer’s block… or at least keep you entertained for longer than you meant. More importantly, it would be a fabulous tool to have on a school iPad for learners to use.

    The tool is WikiLinks and is one of the best (ie: prettiest) Apps for accessing Wikipedia on the iPad that I’ve found so far (My copy of Discover has stopped working on my iPad 1, so I needed something else). The ability to access Wikipedia and save the pages for offline reference would have been reason enough to recommend the App, but it has a truly wonderful visual element that encourages one to delve further into a topic with a simple tap of the screen.

    Rather than engage in a fruitless attempt to describe what the App does, here are a couple of screengrabs that will show you (see, I remembered that the key to good writing is “show, don’t tell”!):

    The visual links suggested are not always obviously related, which encouraged me to tap on them to find out more… and before I knew it, I was transported into all sorts of loosely related and (to me) fascinating backwaters of learning. I was completely engaged in reading and learning in a way that reminded me of the time I first encountered a copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

    The available tools are shown in this grab:

    For me, WikiLinks is a great example of an App that encourages deeper learning, shows what could be possible when we are allowed to access online tools in school, and that demonstrates that sometimes the nature of the technology does allow us to work in newer ways.

    All in all, WikiLinks is highly recommended — and especially as it’s currently reduced to only £1.49 The price is back up to £2.49, but, it is still well worth it… especially as it’ll also run on your iPhone/iPod Touch! Visit the developer’s website for more information: WikiLinks.net. Enjoy.