Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grammar Ninja

There is a game on the Internet that might be fun to use in your class called
Grammar Ninja

The game was created by Greg Lieberman and can be found here:

There are three levels to try - Beginner, Skilled, and Master.  The basis of the game is simple part of speech recognition.  The students are given a sentence and told to find a certain part of speech.  Lieberman is even nice enough to give the number in that sentence and provides a ? box that gives a definition of what that part of speech does.  Students find the part of speech by throwing ninja stars at it.

Since they are in training to be ninjas, they must be fast, so the score is their time (plus 5 seconds for each wrong answer).

A complaint might be that the sentences stay the same, but to counter that, Lieberman has the part of speech change each time you run through the game.  The other complaint I've had from students is that it doesn't count pronouns as nouns.

Ways to incorporate it in the classroom?

1. As a grade - Make the assignment where you break down the time as a grade (for example, the time above may rate anywhere from a C to a D- or an F depending on the level of your students.  Allow students to play it as many times as they want to get the time they desire.  Then students can send you a screen shot or just bring their laptop to you.

2. As a distraction - Not going to be present and you are concerned that you haven't given enough work to keep them busy, but are hesitant to give a busy work worksheet or you need something to keep the students busy while you conference with students or give time for students to make up work.  Set a challenge time and then offer some reward for those bright enough to meet the challenge.

3. As a class game - put this bad boy up on the SmartBoard (or whatever your device brand is) and let students come up for a challenge.

Why let all the students have the fun?  I'm challenging you on the Master Level to beat my time:

We'll have to use the honor system here since I do not believe the comments section allows pictures, but remember - God, Santa, and Big Brother are watching!

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Glove Cleaner

Here's a great thinking skills lesson.  Just have the students read this aloud and ask them one question.  I suggest that highlight the speaking parts of the young man, old man, and narrator and have them read it as a play.

The one question?  What is the glove cleaner?  I think that while you find the answer quite obvious from your life experiences, your students, however, will really struggle with it.

You can use this to point out that the real clues are in the parts that do not seem to relevant to the story.  This is a skill that we, as lovers of reading, already know, but many students do not.

The Chaser By John Collier
Alan Austen, as nervous as a kitten, went up certain dark and creaky stairs in the neighborhood of Pell Street, and peered for a long time on the landing before he found the name he wanted written obscurely on one of the doors.
He pushed open this door, as he had been told to do, and found himself in a tiny room, which contained no furniture but a plain kitchen table, a rocking-chair, and an ordinary chair.  On one of the dirty buff-coloured walls were a couple of shelves, containing in all perhaps a dozen bottles and jars.  An old man sat in the rocking-chair, reading a newspaper.  Alan, without a word, handed him the card he had been given.
"Sit down, Mr. Austen," said the old man very politely.  "I am glad to make your acquaintance."
"Is it true," asked Alan, "that you have a certain mixture that has – er – quite extraordinary effects?"
"My dear sir," replied the old man, "my stock in trade is not very large – I don't deal in laxatives and teething mixtures – but such as it is, it is varied. I think nothing I sell has effects which could be precisely described as ordinary."
"Well, the fact is. . ." began Alan.
"Here, for example," interrupted the old man, reaching for a bottle from the shelf. "Here is a liquid as colourless as water, almost tasteless, quite imperceptible in coffee, wine, or any other beverage. It is also quite imperceptible to any known method of autopsy."
"Do you mean it is a poison?" cried Alan, very much horrified.
"Call it a glove-cleaner if you like," said the old man indifferently. "Maybe it will clean gloves. I have never tried. One might call it a life-cleaner. Lives need cleaning sometimes."
"I want nothing of that sort," said Alan.
"Probably it is just as well," said the old man. "Do you know the price of this? For one teaspoonful, which is sufficient, I ask five thousand dollars.  Never less.  Not a penny less."
"I hope all your mixtures are not as expensive," said Alan apprehensively.
"Oh dear, no," said the old man.  "It would be no good charging that price for a love potion, for example. Young people who need a love potion seldom have five thousand dollars. Otherwise they wouldn’t need a love potion."
"I am glad to hear that," said Alan.
"I look at it like this," said the old man.  "Please a customer with one article, and he will come back when he needs another.  Even if it is more costly.  He will save up for it, if necessary."
"So," said Alan, "you really do sell love potions?"
"If I did not sell love potions," said the old man, reaching for another bottle, "I should not have mentioned the other matter to you.  It is only when one is in a position to oblige that one can afford to be so confidential."
"And these potions," said Alan.  "They are not just – just – er – ”    
"Oh, no," said the old man.  "Their effects are permanent, and extend far beyond the mere casual impulse.  But they include it.  Oh, yes they include it.  Bountifully, insistently.  Everlastingly."
"Dear me!" said Alan, attempting a look of scientific detachment.  "How very interesting!"
"But consider the spiritual side," said the old man.
"I do, indeed," said Alan.
"For indifference," said the old man, “they substitute devotion.  For scorn, adoration.  Give one tiny measure of this to the young lady – its flavour is imperceptible in orange juice, soup, or cocktails – and however gay and giddy she is, she will change altogether.  She will want nothing but solitude and you."
"I can hardly believe it," said Alan.  "She is so fond of parties."
"She will not like them anymore," said the old man.  "She will be afraid of the pretty girls you may meet."
"She will actually be jealous?" cried Alan in a rapture.  "Of me?"
"Yes, she will want to be everything to you."
"She is, already.  Only she doesn't care about it."
"She will, when she has taken this.  She will care intensely.  You will be her sole interest in life."
"Wonderful!" cried Alan.
"She will want to know all you do," said the old man.  "All that has happened to you during the day.  Every word of it.  She will want to know what you are thinking about, why you smile suddenly, why you are looking sad."
"That is love!" cried Alan.
"Yes," said the old man.  "How carefully she will look after you! She will never allow you to be tired, to sit in a draught, to neglect your food.  If you are an hour late, she will be terrified.  She will think you are killed, or that some siren has caught you."
"I can hardly imagine Diana like that!" cried Alan, overwhelmed with joy.
"You will not have to use your imagination," said the old man.  "And, by the way, since there are always sirens, if by any chance you should, later on, slip a little, you need not worry.  She will forgive you, in the end.  She will be terribly hurt, of course, but she will forgive you – in the end."
"That will not happen," said Alan fervently.
"Of course not," said the old man.  "But, if it did, you need not worry. She would never divorce you.  Oh, no!  And, of course, she will never give you the least, the very least, grounds for – uneasiness."
"And how much," said Alan, "is this wonderful mixture?"
"It is not as dear," said the old man, "as the glove-cleaner, or life-cleaner, as I sometimes call it.  No.  That is five thousand dollars, never a penny less.  One has to be older than you are, to indulge in that sort of thing.  One has to save up for it."
"But the love potion?" said Alan.
"Oh, that," said the old man, opening the drawer in the kitchen table, and taking out a tiny, rather dirty-looking phial.  "That is just a dollar."
"I can't tell you how grateful I am," said Alan, watching him fill it.
"I like to oblige," said the old man.  "Then customers come back, later in life, when they are better off, and want more expensive things.  Here you are.  You will find it very effective."
"Thank you again," said Alan.  "Good-bye."
"Au revoir," said the man.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Welcome to Extreme English

What is this blog all about?  It's about the greatest teachers in all of academia - the high school English teacher!  Those who read and (hopefully) contribute back are the ones who have raised their already high level to the extreme.

The posts here are to be practical lesson ideas, things English teachers find funny, tech tips, web site reviews, and anything else that we find interesting and useful.

One series of posts I hope to get to and hope to get your help on is Movies Reviewed by Teachers.  We will review movies with the eye of whether or not they are useful to show in class.

Unlike other blogs, this needs to be more interactive.  Comment.  Agree or disagree.  Offer your own ideas.  Tell how you tweaked it.  Submit ideas to be discussed.  Even think about writing a post or two.

So brace yourself, Extreme English Teacher is coming!