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?