57 posts categorized "Languages"

March 25, 2016

Don't be scared. Ne sois pas effrayé

Ne sois pas effrayé
Twitter's biggest contribution to the world might be the art of synthesis. There's a lot of talk about how Twitter is on its last legs, how the bubble will burst. As a business (or lack of one) that might be true, but what the format has done is promote a new form of writing.
I've spent the last two weeks in Québec, learning alongside some amazing practitioners. In fact, my own teaching vision was largely moulded by an early experience in Francophone New Brunswick, and so it follows that I enjoy working alongside Francophone Canadian educators - there's a shared vision of what can be. One of my favourite chums there is Jean Yves Fréchette, a retired teacher (if you ever can be retired) who has pioneered educational technology since the 70s. If he lived in America and worked in English you'd all have heard of him and he'd be relaxing in his condo on the Florida coast. He's amazing. I'm going to share a few finds I discovered thanks to him over the weeks to come.
Much of his work has been in Twitter this past decade, heading up the #Twittérature movement in Québec and beyond, and carving out beautiful Twitter haikus.
Having seen some stunning photography - the photographer's daughters choosing their own settings, poses and camera angles, before he shot the images - he collaborated to produce 140 character poetry to go with it. The results are now in a book, a preview of which you can view online.
Stunning. Simple. Stunningly Simple.
Don't be scared. Ne sois pas effrayé.

April 29, 2015

Recursion - Google search has a (computational) sense of humour

The most common application of recursion is in mathematics and computer science, in which it refers to a method of defining functions in which the function being defined is applied within its own definition. (Wikipedia)

The Google search for recursion concurs...

January 14, 2015

Engage, Inspire, Empower - language learning and technology

I got back to being a language teacher last night, doing a quick talk and then conversation with some of the teachers participating in our Malta Better Learning with Technologies groupHere is the video of the talk, where I was inspired by the instant nature of understanding we gain from the cartoons we've seen over the past week:

  • The universal language of image
  • The growth of the image thanks to technology - Insta...everything
  • The move of technology's dominance in text (blogs and podcasts of 2005) to image (YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat in 2015)
  • How do we play the whole game of learning, every day, in the language classroom?
  • What S.T.A.R. moments do we create for our students to amplify the meaning of what we're doing?
  • Can we inform students later, and start with the why of engagement, inspiration and then empowering through information and the 'how'?
  • "Real world" does not mean we have to take every student on a foreign exchange visit. Real world is no longer the long-term relationships we had to build with partner schools in 2005. Real world can be short-term reaching out to someone, just for a lesson, for a moment, to gather an empathy for how others might think.
  • Real world can also be imaginative - video games as a stimulus for writing, or TED talks for stimulus in reading and listening (and speaking!).

March 29, 2013

Help! Missing: trust in young people

I'm currently attempting some "holiday" in France, but the downtime has had my brain whizzing with sights that are more or less unfamiliar, certainly not from the time when I lived here over a decade ago or from my wife's own upbringing.

One such thing is what you can observe in the photo I took in a book shop in a city centre mall. This was the third shop we'd been into where we observed the same pattern:

Children and teenagers, though never adults, would diligently and without having been told to, take their bags to the entrance and dump them in a pile before going about their shopping.

I remarked that in pretty much any other country, a) the bags would be stolen within minutes, or b) they'd be removed as a bomb threat, and almost certainly c) any young person asked on entering a store to leave their bag would cry foul, civil liberties and assumptions of innocent-until-caught-with-a-loot-of-school-supplies (this was a stationery and book shop; hardly the stuff of hardened crack heads or hungry desperadoes).

France is certainly struggling at the moment. Her economy is dying, her politicians panicking, her entrepreneurs leaving by their hundreds every week on the Eurostar.

But success might be more likely to appear some day soon if it can do one thing for the taxpayers, citizens and workers of tomorrow: trust them as equal citizens in a Republic built on liberté, égalité and fraternité.

Help! Missing: trust in young people

October 09, 2011

Write 50 new stories that begin with 50 Hemingway endings

When you see a list of endings from Hemingway stories, you can also see the even more intriguing beginnings of stories not yet written. Here are some from the 50 Hemingway endings over here, and don't forget to blog and link back to any stories you (or your students) come up with!

But they could not help his fear because he was up against an older magic now.

“We’ll have to go,” Nick said. “I can see we’ll have to go.”

Looking back from the mounting grade before the track curved into the hills he could see the firelight in the clearing.

Then he was dead.

When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.

A short time after he contracted gonorrhea from a sales girl in a loop department store while riding in a taxicab through Lincoln Park.

It was a good thing to have in reserve.

They all came just like that.

The little devil, he thought, I wonder if he lied to me.

The hold over himself relaxed, too, finally, and the next day it was very slack and he cried very easily at little things that were of no importance.

In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he felt quite sure that he would never die.

I am not really a good bull fighter.

Now they would have the run home together.

He curled up under the blanket and went to sleep.

The priest skipped back onto the scaffolding just before the drop fell.


What happens next? The 50 Hemingway endings via my friend Matt, who runs a company that helps other companies build stories.

January 10, 2011

Mobile As A Lens On The World: Word Lens instant translation

Mobile allows us to have a lens on the world. Word lens lets you translate cothes tags, menus, any written text on the fly, using your cameraphone, as this video shows:


September 02, 2010

Quotabl.es - finally our quotations history gets the home it deserves

Quotabl.es Quote
My good chums at Mint and Channel 4's Adam Gee have come up with a beauty of a service, finally providing a beautiful, slick home for the world's best quotations. It's a brilliant resource for any student of history, English language, Classics, science, or PowerPoint 101.

Never again will I have to suffer inaccurate citing in keynote presentations, or dinner parties where people quaff fine wine while stealing great one-liners with the catch-all "I don't know where this comes from, but...".

Quotabl.es Quotabl.es is born.

Says Mr Gee on his blog this morning:

Ever tried looking for a quotation online (of the literary as opposed to the insurance variety)? Wasn’t much fun was it? Not that easy to find what you want. And just how accurate was it? And why does it look like the site was made by a geek with no design skills in his stinky bedroom?

But you love great quotes don’t you? On your Facebook profile. In that presentation. You know, those ones you keep in that file – the one on your old computer. They’re everywhere – on the tube, in that advert, on that building, in that caff.

So why don’t we get the quotation sites we deserve and desire? Although there are several in the Alexa top 5000 most are labours of love, evolutions, accretions of amateur solutions stuck one on top of another like the proverbial sticking plaster.

It's even more close to my heart since this brazen little startup is based out of Glasgow and, I feel, it's providing an education service. Where can you see yourself using this? What do you want the team to do for you this coming year? What toys do you want them to offer you this Christmas? Don't spend too long answering here - jump over and have a play now. Or, as Spike Milligan would have said:

“Well we can’t stand around here doing nothing, people will think we’re workmen.”

June 14, 2010

Augmented Reality Is Helpful To Be Less Helpful

The app in the video above shows how augmented reality can help give you the answers to a Soduko quiz in your local newspaper. You can also ask it just to give you a hint. Now, imagine that this device, primed for heating, were constrained to solely giving you the interesting question, the clue or hint. We begin to see how augmented reality contributes towards Dan's mantra of "be less helpful" to make learning better.

Can you imagine holding the app over a French language text or physics problem and getting that little contextual nudge that great teachers have always offered? What would that free the teacher up to do? How could it add to the learning experience in homes where parents take less of an interest in (the learning of) their children?

Tip of the hat to my favourite polymath, Noah Brier.

June 09, 2010

Michel Thomas iPhone app, and a reason for learning 'cos' in maths

I admire pretty much everything the many Matts and others at Schooloscope a few weeks ago and, now, a suite of Michel Thomas language learning apps for iPhone.

What caught my eye in the behind-the-scenes making-of blog post was the graphic, opposite, showing how Matt (Brown) designed a "procedural petal", the captivating animated flower that flows in colour with Thomas' hypnotic voice. It's the first time since quitting maths class aged 16 that I've seen how and why you'd use cos.

I was forever that annoying kid who'd always ask Mr Cooper [swap for your own maths teacher's name] "why do we have to learn this?". Rarely did I get an answer beyond, "you might need it one day", and Mr Cooper hadn't picked up on his colleague Mr Walker's fascinating with programming BBC computers and early Macintoshes. Had I known that understanding cos could've helped me get a job with BERG building iPhone apps for Michel Thomas then I'd have stuck it out to the bitter end.

Alas, I didn't, and instead became a teacher of French and German, which means I can but admire and now attempt Spanish with BERG's beautifully produced homage to Michel.

If you want to learn language fast before heading off this summer holiday, then I reckon the boys' app is a great place to start - see the sample video below.

Notwithstanding this, please do check out my good friend Mark Pentleton's award-winning, iTunes-chart-busting Coffee Break language series. It's ace, fast for learning, too. It's just missing procedural petals.

April 13, 2010

Reasons for literacy to love the iPad #1

I'm selling a bunch of iPad ideas to my investment panel tomorrow on behalf of my client companies and looking forward to producing some fun, engaging and hopefully profitable little apps early on in the new marketplace, before it, too, gets over-over-overcrowded.

This example of how Alice in Wonderland will be iPadised has a budget well above our prototypes, but creates the kind of eye-popping engagement for reading that most of us learning and teaching reading in any language wouldn't want to miss.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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