Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Tech Tuesday - Do You Use Vocabulary.com's Free Service? Read This!


 

There are some changes coming to the vocabulary.com free service.  If you are like me, you've been using their free service because your school wants to spend money...elsewhere.  The free service is FANTASTIC and the only drawback is that you cannot see student performance, but that is easily rectified by having students show you their screen or screenshot.

I noticed a little while ago, I had been given a free trial for premium service.  I did not think much about it until a teacher friend of mine said he was blocked out of his classes and that he had heard vocabulary.com was ditching their free service.  I could still access mine, so I contacted the company.  They responded very quickly on a late Friday afternoon.  That impressed me.  Representative Srob O gave me this reply:

Hello Mark​​,

Thank you for your message. Your friend is right, due to our parent company's vision for us, we've made some changes to the way basic accounts on Vocabulary.com can use the program. The ability to create classes, assign work, and track data for your top three students will no longer be available with a basic account. You'll still be able to play The Challenge, create lists, host Jams and log-in to your account as a user. 

One thing I do want to point out is that these changes will not affect the program for your students. They can still log in, find lists connected to your class, and do work on their own. Additionally, you will still be able to create lists and share the URLs with your students externally to have them work independently. To get the URL for Practice, just click on a list then click the "Start Practice" button. The URL will always be the list ID /practice. For example, https://www.vocabulary.com/lists/6116552/practice

My apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any additional questions, let us know. We're happy to brainstorm more ways to make use of new more limited free version. I'm confident we can find a way to create continuity in your students word learning. Let me know a time and best number to reach you at and I'd be more than happy to call you to discuss these matters. 


So what does this all mean?  Well, I plan on continuing my use of their free service even though I cannot assign a list to a class.  If I can just assign a link, that should work, but I won't know for certain until my premium service runs out.  


Let me know if you are using it the new way, any problems you might have or solutions to them, and if you know of other comparable services in the comment section.



Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Writing Wednesday: The Random Dialogue Assignment

Writing random snippets is a challenge for young writers (and old) that helps to focus on voice.  This particular assignment is timed, so the writer must think fast and not be hung up on being "perfect".  

First, on paper or computer, students write down four numbers between 1 - 10.  They can be the same numbers. 

Got them?  Now, scroll down below the picture and you will find that your first number will be the first character.  The second number will be the second character.  The third will be the setting and the fourth will be the subject of the dialogue.



First Number - Character number one
  1. a mom
  2. a kid
  3. an alien
  4. a dog
  5. a rich man
  6. a grocery store owner
  7. a soldier
  8. a baby
  9. a superhero
  10. a vampire
Second Number - Character number two
  1. a dad
  2. a teenager
  3. the President of the United States
  4. a cat
  5. a poor woman
  6. a cowboy
  7. a spy
  8. a wizard
  9. a super villain
  10. a werewolf
Third Number - Setting
  1. morning at the beach
  2. in a grocery store
  3. in the White House
  4. on a city building rooftop
  5. nighttime in a graveyard
  6. on a golf course
  7. by the pool in winter
  8. in a school classroom
  9. in a fast food restaurant
  10. Christmastime in a house
Fourth Number - Dialogue Subject
  1. how much something costs
  2. the latest video game
  3. deciding on where to go for a date (not necessarily with each other)
  4. politics
  5. a dream the first character had last night
  6. what to have for the next meal
  7. character two is not happy about something character one did
  8. character one is excited about something that just happened
  9. a sporting event
  10. a movie they just watched

Now, you decide if they are arguing, being silly, serious, discussing, fighting, happy, etc.  You had ten minutes, so no time to think ready...  GO!


 

Have you got any fun writing prompts that you would like to share or did this in your class with some good results?  Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Tech Tuesday: Copying Events onto Multiple Google Calendars

 Hey guys!  Exams are this week, so I'll make this post brief.  

If you have multiple class calendars for your class and you want to add the same event to multiple class calendars, you can't do it in one swift click, but you can at least use this short cut to save you some typing time.


Good luck with your exams and the start of a new semester!  We are about to try out hybrid learning.  I can't say I'm too thrilled about the new challenges that is going to bring, but at least we can say teaching is never boring!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ace the State Test!

 Do you have a state mandated reading comprehension test for your course?  At this point you have done everything you can do to increase their ability to read, now it is time to supercharge their test taking ability!


There is no charge for this activity, just download it from the Extreme English Teacher Teachers-Pay-Teachers store.  If you like it, I would appreciate a positive review.  Those really do help!


Standardized reading tests are a joke, if you ask me.  We are requiring students to spend an hour and a half to two hours focusing on boring reading passages. What this activity does well is to give students the ability to focus a little longer to get another passage in before their brain fries from your oh-so-wonderful state test.  The methods in there were honed in my classroom and I consistently had my non-motivated non-readers score higher than expected on the NC English II EOC and the NCFE for English IV (my scores were in the blue repeatedly, if you are a fellow NC teacher and knows what that means).  The method works! 

If you used it, let me know in the comments and again - positive reviews on Teachers-Pay-Teachers is ALWAYS APPRECIATED!



Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Befana - The Christmas Witch

At first I was thinking that the early Christians had the right idea to celebrate Christmas for twelve days, but then I started to realize that today we start the Christmas season the day after Thanksgiving and celebrate a lot longer than twelve days!

Back to the twelve days, on the twelfth day (January 5th), not only are you supposed to give your true love twelve drummers drumming, but children should prepare for the coming of La Befana. In Italy, on the Epiphany (Jan. 6th), La Befana, or sometimes known as the Christmas witch, brings fruits and small goodies to stuff in children's stockings that they hang by their bed. If you're a naughty little chap, she'll give you charcoal. She travels by either broomstick or on the back of a donkey, and so doesn't have the capacity for large toys like Santa. And for the adults, she sweeps the floor before leaving (Nice!)

Speaking of Santa, she also doesn't frequent malls for kiddies to hang out with either. She is a witch - ugly nose warts, rags, haggish cackle, and all. But children in Italy seem to love her all the same. She is rather rotund and it is common to leave her, not milk and cookies, but a glass of wine and a small doll.

How did she get her start? Well, according to legend, she was cleaning house when these three wise guys showed up looking for Jesus. She thought they were full of it and chased them off, only later to have some second thoughts. She ran out to help them, but had dallied too long. They were long gone. Distressed that she missed her chance to help the baby Jesus, she began handing out gifts to children hoping that one of them was the baby Jesus.

An alternate version is that her son was one of the babies killed by King Herod. She doesn't believe he is really dead, so she goes out in search for him every Christmas. Personally, I like the first one better.

Regardless of the origin, her search turned her old, gray, and into the hag-like appearance she now has. Finally, she found Jesus and laid all her gifts (or her son's belongings) before him. He called her "Befana" (giver of gifts or the White Witch) and gave her the ability to deliver gifts each year on night before Jan. 6th.


So, get those socks hung up!