Monday, November 23, 2020

Famous Last Words

 I don't know how much you know about this guy:


His name is Thomas de Mahy and he was the Marquis de Favras during the French Revolution.  He was arrested and condemned to death on the testimony of two men, but without corroborating evidence.

So why does he get his own post on Extreme English Teachers?  Because of his last words.


Upon reading his death warrant, his only response was, "I see that you have made three spelling mistakes."


Ha!  THAT is AWESOME!  If you've got to go, might as well go out in style.


If you want to know more about this guy (sadly, his life isn't full of grammar and spelling zingers to his enemies), you can read more at History 101.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wireless Microphone

 My district is looking at returning to in-person, but we will be teaching a virtual class at the same time.  Teaching virtually ties me down to the laptop since if I move too far away from it, the remote students can't hear me.  Sticking right at the computer diminishes my ability to teach the kids in the room.  So what to do?


I decided to look into a wireless microphone that would work with my computer.  I found this one on Amazon and a video of a guy testing it out.  He was a whole block away and I could hear him perfectly!


Now if you only watched a portion of video, you may have seen him using it, but his mouth not synched up.  Later he said that was because he was using the phone instead of the laptop.  He then recorded off his computer and his voice was synch with his mouth.

The downside?  It runs about $50.  

I'm going to keep looking to see if I can find one a little cheaper, but I'm thinking that $50 might be worth it if it works and gives me some freedom to move around the room.


I'd love to hear from any of you who are teaching both in-class and remote at the same time and hear what your problems are and solutions, if you've thought of them yet.  Or if anyone has used a wireless mic - are they worth it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Writing Wednesday: Texter

Here's a quick and fun writing web site for when you are teaching a poetry unit or teaching creative writing.

TEXTER

Texter allows you to take your text and draw with it.  

It's fun to play with at the very least.  At its best, it becomes the medium for a beautiful work of visual poetry.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Daily Blog - Something from Remote Learning that I Will Keep

There are quite a few things that I am ready to get back to once school goes back to normal, but one thing I am doing during this time will be a mainstay in my class.

Students are struggling to keep up with their assignments and parents like to know what is going on too.  To that end, I created a Daily Blog.


The idea is simple.  Information that I would normally keep on my white board, I put here, along with links to find everything.  I have a few sections:
Holidays - because everyday can be celebrated for something!
The Week's Work - I list day by day what we are doing that week and put in the relevant links.  I might have to make a few corrections along the way, but it is easy to update.
Homework, Missing Assignments, Bonus Assignments - I put links here for students to find work that I will still take late and such.
Common Lit Articles - Since I do these weekly, it is a nice reminder for them.  If you aren't using Common Lit, you should look into it.  I'll have to make a post about that here.
Upcoming Due Dates - Especially good reminders for major projects.

When the new week comes up, I just copy the previous week, paste it in the new post, and change up the details.

I started by making it a daily thing, but soon realized that it was too much work to update every day and students would not scroll to find what they missed.

Now when students ask me for this link or that assignment or how to do this - I just refer them back to the Daily Blog.  It's easier for me and quick for them.  Parents love it too.  I found out this morning that I had a kid last night email me after I went to sleep asking for the link to the make up test.  About thirty minutes after that was an email from his mother saying to nevermind because she told him to check the Daily Blog.  :)


I would love to here what inventive ways you guys are keeping your students informed or what remote learning ideas you'll be bringing back into the classroom when things go back to normal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Spider-Man Unmasked!

Here is a great creative writing prompt to get kids pushing their thoughts a bit.  You do not need to be a comic book fan to participate (although if you are, there is that much more interest in it).  All you need is the ability to think divergently.

Show students this cover:



Now, supposing that everything shown on the cover is true for the story inside, how could this happen and Peter Parker still keep his identity secret?  We have these characters on the cover:

  • Dr. Octopus - his four extra mechanical arms are just as strong as Spider-Man and allows him to reach far away.
  • Peter Parker - the true identity of Spider-Man.  He has the strength, speed, and agility of a spider and has a nifty spider-sense that warns him of danger (which didn't help as the cover shows).
  • Four random police officers
  • Betty Brant - she is a secretary for the newspaper The Daily Bugle and Peter Parker's girlfriend at the time of this comic.
  • J. Jonah Jameson - a newspaper editor who hates Spider-Man with a passion.
Let students write out how Peter Parker is able to keep his identity secret even though seven people clearly see him unmasked.  Give prizes to the most creative and the closest to the original.


So what is the real story?

Peter Parker has a cold, so he has lost all his spider powers.  Doc Ock, however, wants revenge on Spider-Man.  He notices that the Daily Bugle seems to get all the press on Spider-Man, so he breaks into their building, tells the editor, J. Jonah Jameson, that he will print a challenge to Spider-Man to meet him at a certain location.  He then kidnaps Jameson's secretary to insure that it gets done.  Peter Parker, fearful for his girlfriend's safety, dons his Spidey suit and goes after Doc Ock, even though he doesn't have his powers anymore.  Doc Ock beats him easily and unmasks him.  When he sees it is a teenager, he exclaims that the real Spider-Man is too scared to fight him and sent this kid in his place.  Figuring that was why Spider-Man's punches were so weak and why he was so easily beaten, Doc Ock throws Peter to the ground and leaves.  Betty and Jameson both think that Peter is quite the hero, albeit rather stupid, and the police, after toying with what to charge Peter with, finally leave them alone.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Remote Feedback

 One thing I've found difficult to do is to give feedback on remote work.  If it were paper, I would just jot a note in the margins, and I can some with the comments section on a Google doc.


But I want an easier way to do it that grabs student attention.  So right now, my students are embarking on the research paper, but since we are remote, I can't just have my students bring me their note cards each day for me to thumb through looking for common mistakes.  So I created a Note Sheet template for them to use.  It's far from perfect, but I think it is getting the job done. 

For feedback, I am going to use some ready made images:

 

  



And I'll make others as I notice certain trends.  I have these on a google presentation that I have open on a second monitor so i can easily copy/paste them into their note sheet.

You can find all sorts of starburst balloons and other stuff on royalty free sites like https://pixabay.com/

Not ingenious, but making my work load a little lighter while making the feedback something bright for the kids to see. Of course, some feedback can't be a cookie-cutter response, so those get the individual treatment.

So, help us out, fellow extreme teachers, what are you doing to give remote feedback?




Monday, October 26, 2020

Grade Calculator

 I give this to my students at the end of the first quarter of each semester.  Since we are on a block schedule, their grades average to this formula -

1st Quarter - 40%

2nd Quarter - 40%

Final Exam - 20%


I'm sure you school district has a similar set up with only minor differences in the weight of each thing. The problem is, students often do not fully grasp how this works both for them and against them.  Many will come into the new quarter with an idea that they will work extra hard after slacking off and pull their grade up to a B, when mathematically, that is just not going to happen.  

I decided long ago to be a bit more transparent so that they can formulate a plan and know EXACTLY what it is they need to get.  That involves understanding both why they didn't get the grade they may have wanted (was it test average, was it missing assignments, was it poor grades) and what they need to get now.

I often start them off with a worksheet (will be doing it a bit different this year with it being remote - still working that one out) and the first question I ask is what number grade do they want for the whole course.

Then I give them their number grade for the first quarter.

Then I give them this chart:


You can get the whole chart with the link.  The thing is, no matter how much your percentages are for the final exam, this chart still works!  Here's why:

Each quarter will weigh the same in regards to each other.

The two quarters are ALWAYS much more weighty than the exam.

The two quarters are the thing that students have the most control over.

The exam, while weighty, is not nearly as important as the quarters to determining overall grade and since most students will score within 15 points of their averaged quarter grade, the impact to the final average is low.

So now the students can look at the chart, run their finger down the left side to find what they they have, run their finger across the top to find out what they want, and then follow the row and column until they intersect, which is the grade they need this quarter to get that.  

For example, a student has a 73.  He wants a B, which in my state is an 80.  His fingers follow the lines until he sees that this quarter he must make an 87 for that to happen.

The formula is super simple - basically for every point your first quarter grade is BELOW what you want, your second quarter must be that many points ABOVE what you want.  

Conversely, for every point ABOVE what you want, you can go that many points BELOW what you want.

This saddens some students, but it also gives them a solid number.  There is no guesswork.  They know they NEED a 68 or they aren't passing the course going into the exam.  Then you can have them check their grade periodically against their magic number.

About the exam?  Well, if you have my district's percentages, then the exam will affect the final grade 1 point for every 5 points above or below the quarters averaged together.  I tell my students to add three to five points to their target second quarter grade just to be a buffer in case the exam is not what they want it to be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Teaching Students to Write a Formal Email

This is a repost from last year, but a couple of people have asked about it and I used it again this semester, so thought I would pass it along again.

We all know students can write emails, but we also know that they often lack formal protocols needed for communicating with professors in college, potential employers, or even when asking teachers and counselors for letters of recommendations.



I recently uploaded a new lesson on the Extreme English Teacher Teacher-Pay-Teachers store.  This is a self-paced lesson (although easily adjusted to be a teacher-directed classroom activity) that is ideal for students stuck at home (as during the pandemic), for homework, for when students are working on assignments at their own pace, or when there is a substitute.  Plus, it is an easy assessment for the teacher.


 The presentation is 20 slides long, but many of them are short.  All in all, it will take a student anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete the slides and all activities.

The presentation starts with the students sending an email to an address and getting back a standard response.  Then it moves on to some famous humorous email fails and shows the students step-by-step what they need to do to make their emails look professional when they need it to be.  Areas addressed:

  • email address
  • subject line
  • salutation and the importance of knowing who is reading the email
  • the body
  • the signature line
  • the follow up

I used it recently with my stuck at home seniors with much success. Find it here:

If you have a Teacher-Pay-Teacher store you would like to promote, do so in the comments!


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Cosmobuzz - Alternatives to Kahoot!

 Want some fun gaming in class, but also want to vary it up for yourself and your students?  This is an ongoing series of alternatives to Kahoot! so that you can experience variety (which is the spice of life, you know).

COSMOBUZZ


https://www.cosmobuzz.net/#/

Cosmobuzz does one thing and it does that one thing well!  Instead of you needing an account, you just click the link and open a room.  when you choose to Host a room, it gives you a room number to share with the students.  

The game play is simple - you ask a question and the students hit the buzzer.  The site shows you who hit the buzzer first.


Here is what they see:


Here is what you see:

When a buzzer is hit, it not only logs in the time (down to the thousandth of a second!), but it also numbers responders in order to help you quickly find.  Or you can just set it to only show the first person who buzzed in.

Students can type in an answer or you can just make it oral response.

This is super easy to do in class or remote!  Plus, my school filter was giving me some issues, so I contacted the guy who runs the site.  He responded within minutes.  We quickly found that the problem was not on his end at all, but the school filter.  If only my school IT worked as fast!  After four weeks, they came through and I am loving this new way to play in my classroom.

Give this one a whirl, guys!  People pay $$$ for buzzer systems and this one does it all for free and does it extremely well!

We will continue our search for ways to change up your online quizzes.  If you have a site I should check out, or if you have or will try this site, leave a comment!








Friday, October 9, 2020

Eat One of These and You'll Find How Far Down the Rabbit Hole Goes

 So someone left a waterlogged copy of Alice in Wonderland in a dark place and this happened:


I saw this all over Reddit and Pinterest, but most of them had no attribution for the photographer.  It is clearly a professional photo, so I finally found it on a site with the name Igor Siwanowicz watermarked on it.  


I checked for a web page of his and the closest I found was his Photo.net page, but I could not find this image on it.  He has tons of closeups of bugs of all sorts and are pretty interesting.  However, i did see am image when I was looking for his work of what appears to be Medusa's skull, so if you are into mythology, you might like this:





Wednesday, October 7, 2020

10 Day Blitz

 Just a quick thought here - many of us are working in some sort of remote or hybrid schedule and it is difficult for the students to sometimes get their head around it.  Even though they are doing (most likely) less work than what you would be assigning if you were in class as normal, they are feeling like it is more work than ever.

We get that.  We see it in our own daily schedule.  Who would have thought teaching remotely would take this much effort?

So I've been doing something to help my students get their head around their work.  I looked at what was still left to do and what was most commonly needed to be made up and I broke it down for them by days of the week.  This way, it doesn't feel so overwhelming.  It went something like this:

Monday - do the first Common Lit article; work on vocabulary.com for 5 minutes

Tuesday - do the second Common Lit article; work on vocabulary.com for 4 minutes; if you did not complete the vocabulary crossword then do that today (link to online crossword)

Wednesday - If you are missing a past Common Lit article, do the make up article; work on vocabulary.com for 3 minutes (test tomorrow); work on Author Revision paper for 10 minutes

Thursday - If you did not do the Edmentum Reading Diagnostic test, do that today; if you are missing the Quizizz for chapter 25, do that today (link); if you did not need to do any of the above, work on you Author Revision Paper for 10 minutes

Friday - If you did not do the Grammar Blast, do it today; work on your Author Revision Paper for 15 minutes (you should be done with the 950 words requirement); I will give a make up vocabulary list 2 test at 12:00 - look in your email for login information; Vocabulary 3 test make up will be given at 12:30.

Saturday - If you are missing the Email Etiquette assignment, know that out today.

Sunday - Take a break!

And so on for ten days worth of work.  

This does a few things:

  • Helps the student who is feeling overwhelmed to get his/her assignments together.  It is much better for them than to just give them a list of missing and upcoming assignments.
  • Model for students how to keep up with assignments, especially those who are looking to go to college in a year or two.
  • Helps the parents to assist their child at home by giving them what to remind their child to do (I send this to the students AND parents).
  • Helps you in case an administrator wants to know what YOU  did to help the student.
I try to get the students to Zoom with me one on one and work out a specific schedule just for him or her.  that's always better than a generic one, but a generic schedule is better than no schedule.

It is a bit more work on your already overloaded shoulders, but in the long run, it is time spent that pays off in several ways.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Triventy

Hello fellow Extreme Teachers!  I'm starting a new series that I will put up here every so often called Alternatives to Kahoot!  Her's the first in the series!


Looking for alternatives to Kahoot?  It is hard to find one that is better, but there are others out there that offer a variety.  EVERY teacher is using Kahoot! (and well they should), but here is one way to stand out from the crowd a bit.


Pit Triventy head to head against Kahoot! and Kahoot! wins hands down int he flash and pizazz department; however, there are quite a few standouts that makes Triventy worth looking at:

1. Score doesn't decrease if it takes a student longer to answer.  You have only three scores - 2 points for the first one to answer, 1 point for a correct answer, 0 points for a wrong or no answer.  If you teach students who struggle with reading a question fast enough to get the big points in a Kahoot! or Quizizz game, then you've seen these students give up during these contests (that's why it is always good to call out the people that marked as on fire or on a streak but aren't in the top five).  Triventy doesn't care how long it takes to get it right once the first person has answered.  This evens the playing field some for your students who just need more time.

2. Students aren't penalized for getting hints. When making your questions, you have the ability to add a hint to give students a boost.

3. Fun 'Did You Know' statements. These pop up after the question is finished for a little bonus between questions.

4. Collaboration.  This one is the biggie.  Triventy knows this is their selling point and even puts it in their title.  You can open up a quiz to be created by multiple students.  So how is this useful?  Put students in groups.  Have them come up with a review quiz that another group will have to take (and they can take the other group's quiz).  Another way to do it is to have every student create a review question then you go through and weed out the bad ones and give the quiz to your class the next day.  Students have the incentive to come up with good questions since if you keep it, they are more likely to get it right (one would hope, at least).  

5. It's all free.  No upgrading to fancier options.  If they have it, they give it to you.

I like to use different quizzes just to keep things fresh.  Before all is said and done, we'll take a look at Quizizz, Socrative, Quizlet Live, Vocabulary Jam, and maybe a few others.  If you have an online quiz site I should put in for consideration, then post it in the comments!

If  you want to give it a test run, but don't want to put in the time to create it, then give this Spider-Man themed literary term practice a whirl and see how you like it! http://triv.in/17361




Thursday, October 1, 2020

Better Book Titles

Dan Wilbur, stand up comedian, developed a web site a while back where re-titled books to more aptly convey what the book was about.  His site, Better Book Titles, has a ton of books re-titled for your reading pleasure.  Here are a few:


(Oedipus Rex)




(Game of Thrones)




(War and Peace)

(Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)




Monday, September 28, 2020

Presidential Debates - 2020 -- The Assignment

Hello fellow EETs!  The debate season is upon us and you are probably wary of wading into it (and rightly so).  However, there is such a gold mine of communications assessment here.  The most powerful job in the world being decided in a large part on how a person can communicate!  I may not know your state standards, but I can bet there is a communication aspect there.  So how do we tap this resource without getting fired?

By removing the political opinion from it completely.  You don;t need to know who your kids will vote for (assuming they are seniors and can vote).  Your kids don't need to know who you vote for.  Use this handout and your students can do a quick assessment of the candidate's speaking skills plus you are putting them into the situation where they can hear for themselves what the candidate has to say and make up their own mind.  I would say that is pretty extreme indeed.


Just make a copy of it and give it to your students.  I know I waited late to share this - the first debate is tomorrow!  I let it slip up on me!


Also, I know this is a very basic analysis of communication skills.  This is where my students are at.  Feel free to adjust it for your own purposes - just be careful if you get into anything that is requiring a student to reveal to you their political preference. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday Fun Day

 A friend of mine shared this on Facebook, credited to Jill Thomas Doyle:

Thanks to Kelly Arnold for being extreme enough to sharing it with me!

  • An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

  • A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

  • A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

  • An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

  • Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

  • A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

  • Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

  • A question mark walks into a bar?

  • A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

  • Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Get out -- we don't serve your type."

  • A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

  • A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

  • Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

  • A synonym strolls into a tavern.

  • At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar -- fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

  • A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

  • Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

  • A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

  • An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

  • The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

  • A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

  • The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

  • A dyslexic walks into a bra.

  • A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

  • A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

  • A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

  • A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

Bonus points if you knew what a chiasmus was without having to look it up! And even more extra credit points if you know anything about this Jill Thomas Doyle. I've seen this all over the Internet always with a reference to her as the creator, but never anything about who she is.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Try this Pro Gamer Move

 If your school has Chromebooks for your kids, then here is a little tip they can use to turn their single screen into a double screen.


I'm betting there is a similar technique for pretty much any computers out there.  Google "split screen for" and then type in the computer your students have.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Customizable Progress Indicator Charts

 Today I'm going to show you how to have an easy to update progress indicator chart on your web page to keep track of points or stars or whatever incentives you use to keep your students happy and engaged.


In my mythology class, we complete old Medusa Exams and every question correct is a slain gorgon my hero students can claim victory over.


Now that I am in Remote Learning mode, I am using it in my English IV classes to give points whenever someone participates in our Remote Learning Showdown.  I am giving them the ability to spend those points to get things (bonus points on a quiz, homework pass, etc.).


Now, I did NOT figure out how to do this myself.  I found this on Flippity.net.  You can get the template here: https://www.flippity.net/ProgressIndicator.htm

The instructions for how to put it on your class page are all there.  You can post the chart on your class page and you update it just by accessing a simple Google Spreadsheet.  Change the numbers and the web version automatically updates.  That's simple!  Whoever made this chart rates as Extreme! in my book!


If you have some other way of keeping kids engaged, or if you use this/plan to use this - let me know in the comments!


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Why You Should Try Using Edpuzzle to Read Aloud for Asynchronous Learning Based on Unmotivated Student's Recommendation

So I, like so many of us, am trying to get my head around teaching a novel with my students while we are in remote setting.  I chose to start with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time since it is a book almost every student enjoys, regardless of their love or ability to read (can't say that about many books, that's for sure).

The book does very well with in class reading, so I tried some reading over Zoom.  That works OK.  So then I decided to record myself reading on Edpuzzle to see how that works.



After each chapter I added the questions  I would normally want them to answer (though I must confess for this trial run I made most of them multiple choice for ease - I know, I know... lazy teacher....).  I have some students who are reading ahead, so I took off the PREVENT SKIPPING option so that they could read on their own and just skip to the questions when they needed to do it.

Before I had a chance the next day to ask students how they felt about it, I had one of my less motivated readers ask if we could do that again because it really helped him.  Let me make sure you understand this - a student who normally keeps his mic muted and camera off and hates to read, took the initiative to unmute his mic and make an unsolicited comment over Zoom about liking a reading assignment.  See why I took notice now?

So, what are YOU doing that is getting your remote learners involved in reading?

Monday, September 14, 2020

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus


On September 21st, 1897, The Sun ran this letter to the editor and its famous response:


DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.


Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.


Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.


You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.


No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

So as the anniversary of this printing comes forward next week, you may wish to incorporate it into your classroom.  If nothing else, expose the kids to this bit of American culture.  Use it in journalism class to discuss the responsibility of the newspaper.  Just give the class the original letter and let them respond to it before showing the editor's response (could be a great way to teach audience). Use it for a reading comprehension practice (I have one here that I used for ninth grade regular level: Reading Comprehension Practice).  Use it to spark a letter writing exercise and then write letters to editors of your newspapers.

Anyone else use this letter in their class?  If so, how?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Damn Spot

 A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page.  I don't know who this Miss Robinson, but she is an EXTREME ENGLISH TEACHER and I would feel awesome if I found out she reads this blog!



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Drag and Drop Google Slides


Hello all!  I wanted to create something different for my students to complete for vocabulary practice, so I made a Google Slides Presentation that they can manipulate in a drag and drop sort of way.  The video below is quick and painless and then I have a quick breakdown for follow up directions:


Quick Directions:

  1. Create a Google Slides Presentation.  Go ahead and write and put images on the screen that you do NOT want to be moved by the student.
  2. Go into PRESENT mode and take a screen shot.  Edit it to trim away anything but the presentation screen.
  3. Back in Slides, pick a fresh slide, hit BACKGROUND and CHOOSE IMAGE.  Put your screen shot as the background image.
  4. Place your manipulatives by either adding text boxes or images to the screen.
It's that simple!

If you want to use my sample presentation, you can find it here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1A1f3Lh1z3F8WIbGjuXhKnCgGE_Pe8hcAcwFsRFrMvwo/edit#slide=id.g96e2764824_0_116

If you have any other manipulative idea, let us know in the comments!  We love hearing from our fellow Extreme Teachers!  


Oh, and here is a handy way to grade these things - below is a red X that I use to put over a wrong answer so that students will know what to work on.  Once I import the image into one, I just copy it and paste it whenever I need it.




Of course, feel free to use Darth Vader yelling, "NOOOOOOOOO!" or Gandalf saying, "You shall not pass!" if you are feeling cheeky.


And, of course, you might find the check mark helpful as well:




*Up Date* - While I am never one to want to do a 'gotcha' on students (in fact, I often set up assignments to where cheating can actually be a learning experience - I'll have to go into that on a later post), I also do not like being bamboozled.   It is easy for students to share a copy of their graded assignment with a student.  I graded one recently with a word I have moved in another student's copy.  It seemed odd to me that this student's copy also had that word moved.  I did a quick version history and saw the original he started with, complete with my red X marks for the other student.  I do not want to NOT take late work and I know that whenever I grade assignments and hand them back (either paper or digitally), the ability for students to copy work is abundant. So here are few ways you can tell if a student's digital Slides presentation is just a flat out copy of a graded submission:

- In the notes section on the first slide, just hit enter five or six times and type the student's name.  This way, if you pull up a student later and do NOT see the 'Click to add speaker notes', then you know it was copied and you have a record of who allowed their work to be copied as well.

-Change the background color of the last slide.  You won't know who allowed their work to be copied, but it will be easy to spot that you have a copied version.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Adding Someone to Your Canvas Account (without having to wait for IT)

 We recently ran into a problem - my wife and I are both teachers and we cannot access our daughter's Canvas page even though we followed the guidelines for parent observers.  The problem?  Every time we try to access Canvas, it reverts to our teacher account and then we no longer have parent observation status.  My wife asked IT and they were not much help.

So I figured a work around.

This method should work for ANYONE who you would like to add to your Canvas page - a co-teacher, a mentor, a parent, an EC case manager - whoever you would like.

FIRST STEP - Open your page and choose PEOPLE


SECOND STEP - Click the blue +PEOPLE button on the right side of your screen.


THIRD & FOURTH STEP -  Put the email of the person you want to add in the big box, then select the role drop down menu


FIFTH STEP - Choose what role you want that person to have then click NEXT.


SIXTH STEP - Select ADD USERS



SEVENTH STEP - Make sure your observer has your link to your course (just grab that from the URL).  Relax!  You’re done!  You should get a tech credit for doing this!


Need this in a handy dandy print out?  Here you go! https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NgBpMH5npFbe6-x60FDh4VO30XYaMpPVQaza-vnfXhg/edit



Friday, August 28, 2020

Friday Film Festival: The Lord of the Flies - Modern Classics Summarized

Overly Sarcastic Productions breaks down literature classics in a rather sharp manner!  Watch their take on Lord of the Flies:


Check out my Lord of the Flies survival game you can play in class (if we ever safely get back to a classroom setting, that is). http://lordalford.com/lotf/lotfframeset.htm

Do you do anything special for Lord of the Flies when you teach it?  Let us know in the comments section!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Online Grammar Practice at Grammar Bytes

Several months ago, I told you about letting Grammar Bytes challenge you and your students each week.  Grammar Bytes is more than just a Twitter challenge, though.

You can also use their online practice for some low-stress grammar work.  Students can just do it online, or you can print out the Grammar Bytes answer sheet for them to record their responses (though since the site gives the answers away, it is not a good assignment for grading and assessing). 

Each practice explains what the concepts are that it is practicing, then provides questions like this:


If the student gets it right, they win a prize!


Plus a satisfying "WOW!" from the computer simulated audience!

If your student is wrong, they still get a prize, but...



Not bad for some formative assessing and for some laughs as kids hear "WOW!" or "MOO!" ringing out from various computers across the room.






Thursday, August 20, 2020

Mythic Monday: The Hero Journey's Guidebook

 

I learned about Zak Hamby back when I was doing a mythology based blog many years ago and he was known as Mr. Mythology.  His work he gave away on his site back then was awesome and I enjoyed our email chats about this god or that monster.

Since then he has moved on to open up a site and store called Creative English Teacher.  He doles out helpful advice, shares materials, and offers up books and units for sale from time to time.

He is best known for his reader's theater.  I have used some of his plays for my mythology class and have yet to be disappointed in a purchase.  I see he has a new book out and thought I would throw a little advertisement his way.

The Hero’s Journey Guidebook is a great resource for middle and high school literature and mythology classes as an explanation of Campbell’s Hero’s Quest and as a guidebook to help students write their own hero’s journey in an English or a creative writing class.  This is not a textbook, it is a guidebook engages students (it did me!) to think about the hero’s journey with characters they know, characters they create, and their own lives.  

Here is what you get in this guidebook:

  - Examples for each stage of the journey from mythology, classic stories, and modern pop culture that will make it easy for students to grasp.  In fact, on one page, there are allusions to Aladdin, Hercules, Star Wars, Cinderella, Norse mythology, The Little Mermaid, and Harry Potter.

  - Guiding questions for each section that encourage students to think about where they have noticed this element before in movies, games, and books. The questions are centered around a hero of the student’s choosing so that they will be invested even more.

  - Writing tips for every stage and section of the journey so that students can apply what they are learning in their own stories.  A teacher could easily build a whole creative writing unit around the hero’s journey using this book’s writing tips.

  - Original illustrations by Hamby that are pleasing to look at and make the overall feel of the book fun and inviting. 

Zak doesn't just write about the journey, he talks to the students throughout the book.  I'm going to put some of this to practice in my mythology class next semester.

You can buy it off of Amazon or cut out the middle man and go straight to the source at his store.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Tech Tuesday: Playing a Video Clip on Zoom without the Lag

 You are an extreme teacher and as an extreme teacher, you know that sometimes the literature is meant to be seen!  Shakespeare was meant to be experienced!  Grammar is more interesting with cartoon characters! You can't teach 'plethora' as a vocabulary word without using the clip from The Three Amigos!

Alas, you are teaching remotely and video clips on Zoom are laggy and frustrating to watch.  So, guess you'll just have to forego the clip.

Not so!  There are three things you need to do.

1. Get some decent Internet - Easier said than done in my neck of the woods.  I have such poor service (on a rare good day, I'll have 3 mbps) that I can't always watch Netflix.  When my two kids and wife are also online and all of us are streaming our lessons, it is impossible.  But, if you can work from your school or you have good service at home, you're golden.  You will need a recommended 1.5 Mbps upload speed.  You can test your computer's speed by typing SPEED TEST into Google and clicking the first link.

2. Click the box - When you go to SHARE SCREEN, make sure to click the box below for OPTIMIZE SCREEN SHARING FOR VIDEO CLIP

Yeah, it was right there the whole time, but don't beat yourself up for not seeing it - no one does!  Plus there is another step, young Padawan.


3. Ignore Zoom's Advice and only share a portion of your screen - Zoom tells you to make your video full screen, but in my tests, there was still a small lag happening after I optimized it.  Click the ADVANCE tab top middle of your share screen.

When you get to that screen, click PORTION OF SCREEN


When I share my screen, I'll get a color box.  Arrange that color box over the video you wish to show.  


See that green box?  Anything that is in that green box will show to the students.  It will make it full screen on their computer.  Once we did that, we had no lag at all.  


Now, only use the optimize button for when you show video clips.  If you are like me and you have two monitors, when you optimize, you will stop seeing the gallery view, chat, participants, etc. on your first monitor.

And there you go.  If you have another Zoom tip or you just want to talk about how awesome The Three Amigos is, then leave a comment!


Friday, August 14, 2020

It's that time of year again

 It's that time of year again when district takes up all of your workdays with important workshops and meetings so they can help us be the best teachers ever!


Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Tech Tuesday: Using Socrative to Take Attendance in Remote Learning Classrooms

My district is starting back 100% online for the first quarter (at least).  We are to take attendance with our synchronous classes, but that is going to be easier said than done.  With kids coming in and out due to Internet issues and whatnot, this will be no checking the seating chart and marking absent the empty seats.  Plus, with the shorter class time, we need to make the best use of the time we have.  

Enter the exit ticket. Now, I've never been a big fan of exit tickets in my classroom (or for PD I attend), but I think the move to online makes this more relevant to me.  Socrative makes this pretty easy.  There is no account for the student to apply for, no passwords or usernames to remember, and no lengthy log in.  

First, you will need to set up an account.  It will ask you to create a room name.  Make it interesting and easy since this will be how students find you.

Second, pull up Socrative so it is ready.  When you are ready to open the exit ticket, just click Exit Ticket.

You'll notice the question options at the bottom of the screen.  I'll talk about that in a later post.

The Exit Ticket Screen is now ready.  It is as simple as that.  The questions are already pre-generated so while that takes away some autonomy from your planning, I think you will see it still allows for that.  Here are the questions:

1. How well did you understand today's material?  This is a multiple choice question.

2. What did you learn in today's class? This is open-ended and gives students a chance to alert you if they were confused on a topic.

3. Please answer the teacher's question. This is your chance to make it fun , engaging, thought-provoking, or just silly (Who would win, ninjas riding sharks or pirates with lasers?).  You can use this to find out more about student's understanding or use it to find out more about students in general.  You do not enter your question into Socrative.  Just tell your students what the question of the day is.  I will be using it to ask questions to help me get to know students better.  I suggest trying to make a goal of shooting out a quick email to a student now and then based off of their response.  This will serve two purposes - 1. students will know that what they are doing is being read (and therefore has some value), and 2. it will help you establish rapport with students in a manner similar to how you would engage in conversation before and after class.  Need some ideas?  Here are some ready to go thought-provoking questions

The REPORTS page automatically saves the results from ANYTHING you do on Socrative.  I did not know about that feature until looking at it for exit ticket abilities, and when I pulled it up, there was every question I ever asked on it going back to 2015.  Never once did I save anything intentionally.

What does your student have to do to log into this?  Simply go to socrative.com and click student.  It will ask for their name and the teacher room name.  No accounts.  No passwords.  It is super simple.

The end result for you looks like this (but the students do no see it unless you share your screen with them):



Since the ticket is only available for as long as you keep it open and students have to be present to know what the question is, I think this might be a good way of having a record of who was present for that day's class.

If you have an exit ticket idea, platform, or experience you are willing to share, drop it into the comments section!