Wednesday, 2 November 2011

How the Workshop Went

There weren't many of us - but it was very nice to see the people who could come. It's the half-term holiday in Swedish schools at the moment, so a lot of the network members were away.

However, we had a very interesting evening. Chris outlined the main issues with linking the Swedish grading system to the CEFR levels in the first part of the evening. Then in the second part we all watched a couple of Cambridge's training examples of interactive oral exams for a couple of their English language tests. We showed an A2 and a B1 performance, which are supposed to conform to the end of Class 6 and the end of Class 9, according to Skolverket. We made sure, though, that the participants didn't know what the level was before they made their own judgements.

It was very interesting to see that the teachers and teacher trainees there quickly came to a consensus in each case … and that afterwards the consensus was that the A2 level was too low for Class 6 (more like Class 4), but that the B1 level was about right. I wonder what that says about English in Classes 7-9 …

Here are the links to the Adobe Connect recordings from last night:

Teachers' Meeting about Assessment of Oral English Part 1 (52 minutes long)

Teacher's Meeting about Assessment of Oral English Part 2 (40 minutes long)

We can't make the actual video clips available here for copyright reasons, but you can visit Cambridge's site and access both the video clips (for all levels from A2-C2) and the judgements of the Interlocutor and Assessor via this link:

Examples of Speaking Tests

Now we're waiting for Skolverket to produce 'official' versions of what the grades are supposed to mean. Should be some time in the New Year, so we'll be back with you then.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Workshop in Kalmar on the New Grading System under Lgr11

 We're running a workshop here in Kalmar about the grading system in the new Lgr11 system on 1st November, from 6.30 pm to about 8.30 pm. We'll be in Room E312 in the Nisbethska Building, Linnégatan 5 in Kalmar (just off Esplanaden - turn off when you come to Ekelunds Konditori and it's the big, old building which used to be a girls' school!).

The workshop will be led by Dr Chris Allen, who's the main contact person for Language Didactics here at Linnaeus University's Kalmar campus. I'll be present too to participate in the discussions.

If you're interested in following what goes on, we'll be broadcasting live from E312 on Adobe Connect. Click on this link to join us on 1st November:

It may not be possible, by the way, for participants via Connect to speak to the hall directly, but I'll be keeping an eye on the Chat window and relaying comments on it to and from the hall.

If you're unable to participate on 1st November, you'll be welcome to watch the recording afterwards. You're welcome to continue the discussion by commenting on this post on the blog.

The agenda for the meeting on 1st November is to look at the Council of Europe Grading System and to use it to grade some pupils via recordings which have been made on behalf of the Council of Europe. The main aim is focus our attention on the thinking behind the CoE's grading system and to discuss how it can be applied to pupils in the real world!

We may organise further workshops in the spring, where we'll be continuing the examination and discussion of the Council of Europe's grades, with particular focus on written performance and on specific examples from Swedish schools.

For anyone reading this who isn't familiar with what's happening in Sweden, Lgr11 is the new school syllabus in Sweden, which was brought into effect on 1st July 2011. In the subject of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) they've decided to use the Council of Europe's grading system, CEFR, as the yardstick against which the performance of Swedish pupils in MFL will be measured, so Swedish language teachers need to find out about CEFR …

David Richardson
Linnaeus University

What's happening with this blog …

This blog's got a bit big now! I'm going to keep it open as a repository for all the brilliant ideas my students have had so far, but the new courses are now using this blogs:

These groups are only just getting started, so there won't be much there for a couple of weeks.


Apart from that, I'll continue using this blog for special occasions, one of which is coming up on 1st November (see above).

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Voice Thread

The modern technology has lifted the field of education to the high levels. The teaching tools which were used in the 20th century are being replaced at a high rate especially in the developed countries. Teachers are eager to try the modern tools in their class rooms. These methods do not only capture the learners interest but they also leave a mark in the learner’s memory. Whatever method the teachers choose, they can be sure that learning takes place.

Voice thread is a modern technology which facilitates easy and interesting teaching and learning. It is a free online programme and it is used to narrate stories, chant rhymes using pictures, text, and music all over the world. With voice thread, a group of conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. The good thing with voice thread is that no software is needed to be installed.

For one to use the voice thread, the following are needed

A computer and the internet


Windows XP

And USB, audio file in mp3/wav format

Open an account at......

Steps towards creating a voice thread:

Open an account at

Choose a topic you want to discuss or teach

Decide on the audience that is what age group the topic is suitable for.

Choose the materials you would like to use. One can either take photographs, import from different sites on the internet as long as they are allowed to be used for private purposes.

The photographs are then used as a guiding factor for example if one has taken photographs in African sceneries, then one can discuss the topic with the help of the photographs. At this point I would like to mention that photographs are not needed, a topic can be enough to discuss depending on the audience.

Choose the media you would like to use and this can vary from digital photo story to power point.

In the voice thread website, there is a place written create, click on create in order to create your Voice thread.

Organize your work and delete the areas you find inappropriate for use and decide who should be allowed to view and comment on your work.

Useful features in the voice thread:

Doodle: Doodle allows you to emphasis on the important features on your work. If the creator fins that the green sceneries are important in Africa, then he/she will draw circles around the green sceneries on the photographs. One can draw and comment on it at the same time.

Commenting on the voice thread:

There are five ways of commenting on the voice thread:

Telephone: Use a telephone to leave your comments to the creator.



Audio file

Video with webcam

Advantages of using voice thread:

It does not need any software to be installed.

It accepts Ms Word, excel, power point and even digital photo story.

It is free for educators to use.

It is easy to create.

One can control who to watch and comment on the voice thread.

One can participate while others are commenting on it.

The physical impaired can participate in commenting by using the phone and the sign language.

The learners can also create their voice thread and allow the teacher to comment on their work. Mrs. Ngai a teacher in the USA has done this successfully. You can find her work in the following website:

I recommend voice thread to all teachers. The fact that both the teacher and the learners can use it is good.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

My StoryMaker

Can a lion share a muffin with an elephant? Yes, why not?

In this interactive picture book, you can create different stories depending on the figures you use. It is easy to follow the instructions and create your own story. The first thing you need to do is select which characters you want to include in your book. Then select what the book should be about. After that, you can type and choose different characters, items, objects and settings depending what you want to happened in your story. There is so much you can do with your story, for example, you can move objects by clicking on them, change characters feelings and write what is happening in the picture. Afterwards, you can share your book with others, read it and print it. The library, Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, in the U.S. is the creator of this website.

What you need to make it work

Flash Player

How the resource can be used by teachers.

As a teacher, you can make your own stories, which you can show and read to the children.

The story can be used as an introduction to a new topic or a theme.

The story can be a part of a portfolio, used for assessment.

How the resource can be used by pupils.

Children can create their own illustrated stories. They can read and display their stories to each other, and also present their story to the whole class.

Children are practicing writing, listening and reading when they use this website. They are practicing to listen when they are following the instructions, and when they listen to others' stories. They are practice reading when they read the instructions. And they are practicing writing, when they are writing their story.

Other considerations when using this resource.

Before you begin creating your story, it is good if you watch a little video with instructions. If you need help while you are creating your story, there is a little blue guy who can help you. Just click on him and he will help you.

Josefin Lilja

Photo Story as an ICT resource

Photo Story is a program from Microsoft which you can use to make digital presentations. In the presentaions you can add picture - your own or from a general archive and to the pictures you can add text, music and recorded speech.

As I said before, Photo Story is a program from Microsoft and you can download it for free from their homepage.
To make this program work on your computer you need a license version of Windows and you need to have Windows Media Player 10 installed as well. To be able to record speech you must have access to a microphone or a headset.

Photo Story contains easy step-for-step instructions so both you as a teacher and your pupils easy will learn how to use it. When I first tried it, I did not have any pre-knowledge of the program and I learned very quick how to use it.

How Photo Story can be used by teachers and pupils

Photo Story as an ICT resource in the classroom can be used in multiple ways, the only thing that stops you is your imagination. Teachers can use the program to e.g. to introduce new areas of work, lectures, storytelling and much more. Pupils can use Photo Story to e.g. do different kinds of assignments, documentary a day out or a study visit the class made or things like that.

I have tried this program myself to do a Storytelling of the book Spotty and I totally fell in love with it! I am sure that this is a program I will use many, many times in my future work as a teacher.

I also think that this is a program which the pupils will appreciate to work with because first of all it is fun and also because I think that they will feel very proud of their final productions. Certainly will some pupils feel umcomfortable to hear their own recorded voice but this could be a good way to get knowledge of how important the pronunciation is. I also think that Photo Story is a good program to pupils who think it is uncomfortable to speak in front of the whole class, because maybe they will think it is easier to show a Photo Story they had made.

Other considerations when using Photo Story as an ICT resource

When you are using Photo Story as an ICT resource you must think about the copyright of pictures. If you have use pictures you have draw or taken with a camera yourself you do not have to worry about the copyright at all. A good idea is to have a scanner or a digital camera available! If you choose to use picture from different websites you must use pictures with no copyright. Websites that offers an archive of pictures without no copyright is e.g.

Friday, 25 March 2011

In today’s society we use all kinds of different communication tools like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, MSN, YouTube, blogs and other platforms. I think that most people, regardless of age, are familiar with at least one of these tools, probably more. And I am pretty sure that every kid knows how to use a computer and the internet and I also think that most parents are well known with the internet and what you can find there. So, why not use this in the teaching?

When I joined Facebook a couple years ago I thought that it was a forum for young people. I was probably around 19 at the time so by “young people” I meant people no older than 30, maybe 35. Today, Facebook is not just a forum for “young people”. Parents and even grandparents are on Facebook and it is nothing weird about that. Same with blogs. People of all ages have blogs with different messages and different kinds of readers. There are fashion blogs, interior design blogs, and baby blogs and so on. A blog can be used in so many different ways with different purposes and I think this would be a great resource for ICT. Just like a platform for the pupils and the teacher to communicate on.

One thing that I have noticed while doing my traineeship as a teacher is that many parents feel like they have no control or no clue of when and what their kids have to do for their homework. We all recognize it, the parent ask the child “Do you have any homework today?” and the kid says “No Mum, I don´t”. I think you know what I mean and by having this blog the parents can keep themselves updated on their kids homework, tests, what they are working with right know and so on. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t mean that the parents should “check up” on their kids and be like “Hey, I read the blog and I know you have homework to do so stop playing videogames and start!”. The pupils must take responsibility for what needs to be done but the blog can involve the parents in the teaching.

Of course, you can’t take for granted that all pupils have a computer with internet at home but I do think we can be sure that all the pupils know how to use it and in one way or another they can easily get in touch with a working computer. If not in their home, there are computers with internet in school, library and even in most mobile phones.

How blogs can be used by teachers and pupils:

Like I mentioned before, this blog can be used like a learning platform. The teacher would, of course, be the “head chef” for the blog though the pupils and parents will have full access to it. The teacher can post information about tasks and lessons and the pupils can ask questions to the teacher or the other pupils.

Just to show you my thoughts about this blog I made a blog for fun (at and created different categories to different kinds of topics. When I, the teacher, post something on the blog I can choose to place it in the right category. For example if I want to post something about the content in next English lesson I place it under the category “Lessons”. In that way the pupils can easily navigate on the blog and find the information that they are looking for. Here are some categories that I made:

· Contact – contact information to me, the teacher, and the pupils email addresses so that they can email each other.

· Discussion – the pupils can discuss things at the blog like tasks, and this goes under the category Discussion

· Homework and tasks – here can the pupils find homework and tasks that they have to do. It would of course also be given to them in school. But it can be a good thing if someone is sick and wants to know what the homework is for next lesson.

· Lessons – here I would post a lesson planning so that the pupils can see what we are going to do at next English lesson.

· News – perhaps I am sick one day, to inform my pupils I can write this on the blog.

· Questions and concerns – if the pupils have any question or concern about something. It could be questions about a test or something like that.

· Timetable – what time the lesson starts and in which room the lesson is in can be find here.


One thing to have in consideration is that you can´t count on the pupils to always keep themselves updated by looking at the blog. I think that there will always be one group who will definitely use the blog to communicate with other pupils and the teacher and also keep themselves updated but there will also be one group who will not bother to check the blog for updates about lessons and homework. Therefore the teacher cannot rely on just the blog; practical information will also need to be given by the teacher when meeting the pupils IRL.