This is Issue 21, Summer 2010, click here to come back to current edition
The McMillan Magazine Online


World Cup xtimeline!


June the 11th sees the inauguration of the 19th World Cup finals and the first in Africa. As World Cup fever grips the globe, Dave Holmes explores an excellent Web 2.0 tool ideal for recording its most memorable moments, past and present.


What's your favourite World Cup memory? Geoff Hurst's winner for England in '66 with the crowd already spilling onto the pitch? Maradona's infamous 'hand of God' goal in '86? Or 38-year-old Roger Milla's dance around the corner flag as he celebrated his goals for Cameroon in '90? Any major festival is bound to leave both its participators and its audience with a collection of memorable moments and talking points for years to come. So as this summer's spectacle approaches, why not take the opportunity to look back at the history of this illustrious tournament and get your students to practise their writing and ICT skills at the same time?


An excellent Web 2.0 tool I came across recently is xtimeline. As its name suggests, it allows you to create a timeline about any subject and publish it on the Web or download it to your blog or wiki. It is simple to use and provides a motivating way for students to research and write about any topic of interest to them. In fact it offers extension possibilities for just about any text or topic you may be working with. Every topic has a history, and wherever there's a history there's a timeline.


So how does xtimeline work? If you go to our TT Blog section you'll find a step-by-step video tutorial on how to create your timeline. As you'll see in the tutorial, xtimeline allows you to expand on any event you record, which is where the possibilities for language practice really lie. This is our opportunity to work on the language features of a past narrative, such as past tenses, linkers and the passive. In the example here, we can see how by clicking on Goal of the Century we can find an explanation of Maradona's breathtaking goal against England in Mexico, 1986  plus an uploaded video of the goal (click on pictures to enlarge).



Where can students find the information? Using search engines properly and to maximum efficiency is a skill which is seldom taught. We need to restrict students' surfing by directing them to particular sites whose content and language appropriacy we've checked out beforehand. Wikipedia is a good starting point. While its neutrality is at times debatable, most factual inaccuracies (such as incorrect dates) have usually been ironed out. Its main advantage is that its layout is formulaic and therefore quickly becomes familiar. The usual index with hyperlinked headings anchored to each relevant section is useful for locating information quickly.


Encourage students to use Word Pad to make notes. They can cut and paste each piece of information they find and then work on it. Isolating the individudal event in this way helps them to focus on it. We also need to give students clear instructions as to what we want them to do with the text in order to avoid them mechanically copying chunks of text. If the focus is the passive, do a couple of example sentences and elicit the construction from the students. Brainstorm the verbs they're likely to need: for a football tournament verbs like score, win and beat will be useful,  plus verbs like found and hold which can apply to any event. Then elicit the past participles of each and an example sentence to model the passive structure.


Explain to students that they should write one short sentence for each event they wish to include, then a minimum of one extra sentence to back up each fact, as in the example below:



The fact that xtimeline allows videos to be embedded opens up the possibility of a listening element. You could create a timeline quiz for your students!  Students have to watch a video in order to answer a question. 


First you need to find the html codes of the video. Just click on Insert and the codes will appear:



Then choose the Embed optiion and copy the code into the box:



If you don't have time to create your own, don't worry - we've done one for you: . Give your students the address for them to try it out at home, or embed it in your class blog if you have one. Just click on the link and then cut and paste the code into your blog (for more information about this, see Ester Boldú's article New kids on the blog. In xtimeline you can find the codes by clicking on Embed:


Good luck in South Africa whichever team you support! Whoever wins and whatever happens, we can be sure that the finals will be full of material for future timelines!


Dave Holmes

If you would like to make your own version of our World Cup facts timeline, here are the links to the YouTube clips we used:

England 1966    West Germany 1974    Spain 1982     USA 1994     South Africa 2010 


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