Thursday, May 28, 2020

Paper Airplane Research Challenge

Students struggle in English for a variety of reasons.  One of those is learning styles.  Many student I have had are great learners when it comes to working with hands.  Put this kid in a carpentry, auto mechanics, or electrical trades class, and they are showing amazing learning.  Sit this kid in a desk and make him read, well, the learning declines.

Providing opportunities for kinetic learners to shine is not a new concept.  Science sees this in labs and math with manipulatives.  However, this is much more difficult in an English class.

The following activity is designed to help kinetic learners excel at researching by giving them something physical to do with the research.

Extreme English Teacher presents: The Paper Airplane Challenge!


Research methods are what they are.  You teach these methods with any subject.  The paper airplane challenge takes kids through five different research sites to find the best way to fold a paper airplane.  Students will search out and five five ways to fold using five different search methods, then pick one and put it to the test.  After taking kids out of the classroom to compete against each other to find the farthest flying plane, students can also compete for the best and oddest looking.



The lesson comes with directions on how to present the different search methods and a worksheet for students to fill out while searching.


If you like this one, you may also like:
The Movie Report: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/EET-The-Movie-Report-5452641Ben Franklin Quotes: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Extreme-English-Teacher-Ben-Franklin-Quotes-5279912

 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Timers

Another little classroom hack I've stumbled across recently:

Sometimes you just need a set amount of time for an activity.  Maybe you're practicing timed tests.  Maybe you need to make sure you get finished with your class discussion at a set moment to have time for something else.  You could just tell a student to keep an eye out on the clock for you (that usually works pretty well).  You could try and keep track yourself (but if you are like me, you often get sidetracked and forget the time).

Never fear, the Internet never lets us down.

An easy and fairly discrete one is on Google.  Just type in TIMER into the search bar to get an adjustable timer.  It has a rather annoying beep until you turn it off.  The pros - it's quick and not distracting.



You could also try these classroom timers: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/classroom-timers/  They are much more fun, but also distracting as all get out.  I imagine my eyes as a student would be constantly on them.  However, if you are doing a long group activity where students are being loud anyway, this might actually help keep them on track.  If nothing else, pick the snail race and let students bet grade points* on which snail wins.



If you have any good timers or time keeping system, don't be stingy!  Share in the comments.



*Facetious is the only word in the English language with all five vowels in alphabetical order.  Facetiously includes the sometimes y.  It is also what I am being when I say "bet grade points", no matter how much fun that would be.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Macbeth and Joker - Making Connections

So I watched Joker this weekend, finally, and my English teacher nerd brain immediately thought of Macbeth. 

****Spoiler Alert if you are planning on watching the Joker movie anytime soon***


Joker is an excellent movie to watch - once.  I can't say I would want to watch it again.  I'm sure you have heard that is addresses the issue of mental illness in a way not many movies can encapsulate.

That's an issue for another post (and probably a different blog).  I want to bring in comparisons to Macbeth.  Both are delusional - Joker seeing the woman next to him in his time of need, Macbeth seeing the dagger, the ghost of Banquo, and quite possibly the witches at the end (I always let me students argue if he really does see them in the big apparition scene especially since Lennox comes on stage right where they leave and states that he did not see them - my struggling readers get a kick out of figuring out what is real with Macbeth and not and love to float conspiracy theories).

We can also see how both characters are victims of their own making, even though there were outside forces at work.  Joker certainly has mental illness, a failing government health system, a history of being abused as a child, and just rotten people all around him to push him into action, but when it comes down to it, HE is the one who actually acts.  Same with Macbeth.  Certainly we can lay some blame at the feet of the witches, Lady Macbeth, and even some at Duncan for being such a poor judge of character, but in the end, it is MACBETH that chooses to kill.




But I think the biggest parallel is the type of people they both kill - and the order in which it is done.  let's look at Joker's murders compared to Macbeth's:

Joker:

  • The two guys on the train - self defense - perfectly justifiable
  • The third train guy who was trying to get away - a little less justifiable since the guy no longer posed a threat, but we can see and excuse Arthur (Joker) at this point.
  • His  mother - certainly past excusing, but we can see where he is a victim of his illness here.
  • Randall - now we see Joker going down a road toward senseless murder.  Randall did him wrong, but that seems to be an excuse to murder him at this point.  Arthur still has some sense of himself, though, when he lets Gary leave.
  • Maury - similar to above, but less so since the guy is now giving Joker a chance to succeed at being a comedian, Arthur's goal.  Unfortunately, from this point on, I think we can safely say that Arthur is no longer a character.  Only Joker.
  • The health care worker at the end - here there is no reason to kill her.  She is only trying to help and this murder is irredeemable.  
Macbeth:
  • Macdonwald - brutal killing, but an act done in war and in defense of his king and country.  Perfectly acceptable and even lauded as an act of a hero
  • Duncan - inexcusable, but there is a reason for this murder - Macbeth wants something  and this is the way to get it in his mind.
  • The Guards - logical under the circumstances.  If Macbeth is going to get away with his former act, this is what needs to be done to prevent them from telling others that Lady Macbeth was the one who got them drunk.
  • Banquo - Macbeth has a reason, but we are getting further away from it being a logical reason.  Here we see Macbeth is beginning to become obsessed with killing.
  • Lady Macduff and Little Boy Macduff - here Macbeth crosses the Rubicon.  Up to this point, he at least had a reason to kill, albeit often a flimsy one, but a reason nonetheless.  This killing, though, is not only useless, but only gives Macduff MORE reason to come after him.  
Both go through a progression where the murders get further and further away until we can no longer hope for the protagonist's redemption.  Both of these stories puts the audience in the camp of the villain.  We want to root for Arthur and Macbeth.  It's the nature of the protagonist to have the reader/viewer on his side.  But both stories takes us down a path with the lead character until we feel in a traitorous situation by no longer agreeing with his actions and wanting him stopped.



If you have any good book to pop culture pairings, list them in the comments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Let Grammar Bytes Challenge Your Class All Year


Once a week for each week in 2020, Grammar Bytes is putting out a one question grammar quiz on their Twitter page.


Go to their page at: https://twitter.com/grammarbytes and you'll see questions like this posted each Wednesday:




Except, of course the answer isn't shown until your pick it, then it shows the breakdown of answers.  You'll want to keep this in mind if you are putting it up on a SmartBoard or projector, since once you answer, the results will be shown when you pull it up again for the next class, which may influence their choices.  This a quick way to get your students to try it out.  You can put the link on your page so that students can click it and have everyone try it out at the same time.  This could lead into discussion of why that comma is needed or why it isn't right to put 'of' in that sentence. You could also let them put their name down for choice 1, 2, 3, or 4 if you have some extra board space and allow people to have bragging rights if they are correct.

The following Wednesday a new question will appear along with an explanation for last week's question.


The nice thing is that sometimes the majority of people get the question wrong.  Why is that nice?  Your students who struggle with grammar will be relieved to know it is not just them.

2020 may have brought us everything from fires to pandemics to murder hornets, but it also brought us weekly grammar quizzes!  Things are looking up! 




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Bang!

I don't remember where I found this, but I was cleaning out my folders and ran across this image of gun shot onomatopoeias.  I imagine it might be a fun image to use in explaining the literary term 'onomatopoeia' or for a creative writing class.


Going to the tumblr site on the first panel shows this guy James Chapman has a couple of "in other languages" cartoons like this.  Check it out!

Also, while writing this post on an onomatopoeia, a memory of a video game commercial from the '90s resurfaced.  I think the message of the commercial is "Don't be an English nerd, play video games instead," but I might be wrong.  :)


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Time Idioms

Need something easy to demonstrate idioms?  I found this image on Facebook a few years ago.  I have long since forgotten where.  The site it came from originally is www.grammar.net, which seems to have stopped posting new material last year. 

This is a very effective and quick way to help your students understand the literary term 'idiom'.

Tech Tuesday - Use Blogger to Make an Easy Homework Blog for Students and Parents

Communication with parents is key for a variety of reasons.  Here is one more way you can be more transparent - a homework or upcoming events blog.

The idea is simple - a blog that has either the daily work posted or the weekly work posted so that students who are absent can find what is expected of them and parents can stay up on what is going on without having to sift through all of that Canvas or Moodle page of yours.

The problem - who wants the hassle of having to login, write the post, format the post, and publish the post everyday or even every week?

Well, Blogger has an easy solution if you use them.

Once you have a blog set up, go to your design page (where you would go to create a new post).  Scroll down to SETTINGS and select EMAIL.  See that option to post using email?


It's the first one.  Pick your secret word.  Now, if you send an email to that address, it will automatically post your email to the blog.  No more logging in. No more formatting.  Easy-peasy!



Thursday, May 7, 2020

Daily Reading Comprehension Questions

In my state, we have two English tests that are practically the same.  One is the North Carolina Final Exam (formerly called the MSL, formerly called the Common Exam) for freshmen, juniors, and seniors.  The other is the End of Course for sophomores.

They are quite horrid tests, as I am sure you can relate to in whatever state you are in.  It is more of a test of a student's ability to stay focused for two to three hours rather than an accurate measure of a student's reading comprehension.

I have two daily reading comprehension blogs for you.  While one is labeled for the NCFE and the other for the EOC, they have the same type of questions and will fit most any reading comprehension tests.

The first is the Daily Dose of NCFE:



And the second is the Daily Dose of EOC:




They hit literary terms, vocabulary, author's purpose, inference, and basic plot understanding. 

Currently, they each run for a semester and then recycle the questions. Next year they may be merged into one blog, since supposedly my state is doing away with the NCFE, which should mean I can pick from the best questions on both.

I have had great success on my state reading comprehension test scores.  I've spent a lot of time understanding these beasts.  I do have a free resource on my Teacher-Pay-Teachers store that helps you walk students through prepping for the test.  I usually use it a week before the test.  It gives students a way to stay focused longer during the test.  I know  you probably do not have a state test for your students this year with all the shut downs, but feel free to download and give it a look for next year.  And if you like it, please leave a review for it. It helps me out a lot as a fledgling store owner.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Extreme-English-Teacher-Acing-State-Reading-Comprehension-Tests-5283540

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Tech Tuesday - Get Creative with Images on Google Slides

Ok, let's have some fun with masking images to give them a little flair.  Take this rather boring slide:


Now, let's fix the Spider-Man image (my good friend Peter Norbot).  We are going to mask it, which means we are going to cut out some of it and make it into a shape.  This is super easy to do.  We will also put a nice strip of color behind to make it look like it is a part of the Google Slides template.




Easy-peasy!  You can make it any shape you want.  So give it a try!



Monday, May 4, 2020

Are Students Viewing Your Google Slides?

Anytime you give a Google Slides presentation for a student to look at during this time of asynchronous learning, how can you know if a student is viewing the lesson?

Well, you can make it in to an "Answer this question" type deal.  In my case, that doesn't work because my state has said my seniors have passed and cannot be penalized or rewarded for work completed or no completed (really makes it worthwhile to keep producing lessons....).  So a student may look at the lesson, but may not answer any questions or complete any activities.

If you are in a similar situation or you just want to know who is looking at your lesson, well, you may be in luck.  Pull up your Slides and see if you have the crooked arrow at the top of your screen.


If you have that, then your IT guys have enabled some analytics.  Click it and you get this screen:


This doesn't tell you how much time they spent on the presentation or what effort they are putting into it, but at least you get an idea of who is at least putting forth some effort.

Hope this helps!



Friday, May 1, 2020

A Free Lesson to Use - How to Write a Cover Letter and Resume



Here's a lesson I gave my seniors.  It is one that I created for complete on your own and one that I will use in the future for self-pace work or when I have a substitute, since they will not need me to walk them through it.


It is just a crash course in what a cover letter does and some help in creating a resume.  Each one of these could be a whole unit in themselves, but the goal here is to give the students a bit of a heads up on what these things are and how to write one if the need arises sooner than later.

The cover letter portion is a video from Indeed with a few extra tidbits along the way.


I've got to say, I'm pretty impressed with the animation pausing I did to time the tidbits to the video.

The resume portion takes students to Resume Genius where it will not just walk them through setting up a resume, but it will format it for them as well.  It even has a focus on resumes with no job experience.


There is a small follow up video on how to gain confidence going into a job interview, but there is so much more to the  interview process than this even begins to scratch the surface.


All in all, a student can watch this presentation and come out with a concept on what a cover letter is, a working resume, and a few job interview tips.  Not too shabby!

You can find it here.  Feel free to make a copy and adjust and modify to fit your students!

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ET5KS10yOhD5ZE_55tmfb4kowTQhWF6qKQ7YurKxUco/edit#slide=id.g419515fe0b_0_8862

If  you have a better way to to do this or another similar lesson you'd like to share - say so in the comments!  We all get better by helping each other.