Monday, July 1, 2024

Simple, but Helpful Tip

 I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far!  We'll be back in the swing of things before anyone knows it!

Here's one little handy-dandy tip - when you are signing up for online programs that are not tied into your school's funding (like Kahoot, Common Lit, Socrative, Quizizz, etc.), do not use your school email address.  Why?  Because hopefully you will find your teaching career to be long and fulfilling.  As such, it is likely that you will need to switch schools at sometime in your career from any variety of reasons.  If you have it under your school email address, you lose everything or have to scramble to switch accounts over before you lose email service (they are usually pretty quick to turn that sucker off) and even if you do so, think about how many services you have!  

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

The Why I Teach File

My school is wrapping up this year, so I want to leave all of you with this annual reminder/advice:

As your year comes to a close, you will be getting a few messages from parents or kids about how you made an impact.  Some years you get more, some years you get less.  You need to get a file folder (or a box or whatever) and label it WHY I TEACH.  Put them in there.

Why?  Well, if you are a new teacher, the first five years are the hardest.  Sometimes you need a reminder.  Later on in your career, you will have moments when you need that reminder.  And then, as you get old (like me) it is nice to go back and look through some of those lost memories.  

Do this now and you will thank me later.  That's a promise.

Have a great summer in whatever you choose to do.  I'll see you in August!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Writing Crime Stories

If you are a creative writing teacher, a teacher who uses creative writing, a teacher who writes fiction, or just a person who loves information about crime, here is the resource for you!

This site is a link dump that has information on things like:

  • FBI's information on serial killers
  • How long it takes for bodies to decompose
  • Homicide detective checklist
  • Glass fracture patterns
  • Analyzing ballistics
  • Weapons details
And just so, so much more.  Crime doesn't pay, but writing about it might.  If nothing else, some of the information you find here may just inspire you or your students to write the next great crime novel.

Monday, May 6, 2024

What Time Is It? State Test Time!

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 have serious problems, 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 are ALWAYS APPRECIATED!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Tech Tuesday - Starting Google Slides in Slideshow Mode (using Lucha Libre Literature as a bonus)

A short and simple one today.  I have a slideshow review for my AP class that I want them to go through when I am not there.  I want to make sure that they go through it in Slideshow mode rather than the typical edit mode you see when you pull up a Google Slides Presentation.  Turns out, that is easy to do.  You just need to modify the link.  The example presentation given here in the links is not the one I am using (that belongs to someone else and I do not know if I have permission to share it), but is a different one that I am going to use for class discussion (Lucha Libre Literature) later.  Since it was handy, I figured I would just share that one.

Creating a Slideshow mode link
Sometimes, especially when you have animation on your slides, you want to make sure that students open it in Slideshow mode rather than edit mode.  There is an easy way to do this.  Normally you link would look like this:

Put this link on your website or Canvas page and a student will pull it up in normal mode. Instead, change the EDIT to PRESENT.

Now when a student clicks it, it will already be in Slideshow mode.  This also works by using the word PREVIEW.  By the way, if you are wanting to share your document with someone, you can change EDIT to COPY and it will take them straight to a COPY FILE page. 

Got any other tricks up your sleeve?  Share them in the comments!

Extreme English Teacher Store

Friday, April 26, 2024

Worst. Prompt. Ever.

 Had a thought the other day and quickly made it into a thing.  It worked!  (Those spur of the moment ideas do not always do that!)  I challenged my AP Lit kids to write the worst FRQ3 prompt ever - in keeping with the College Board style, that is! The idea is that if they saw this on test day, they would be justified in just laying their head down and crying. I didn't have a set up or anything, just an idea.  They delivered!

So, I put all their entries onto a slides presentation and the next day I made them find texts that would actually fit the prompt.  At first they thought it would be impossible, but once they put their minds to it, they knocked that out of the park and it turned into a great class discussion assignment.

I also had them vote.  Since I had two periods, I have two winners.

This one:

Eeyore from A.A. Milnes The Winnie the Pooh states: “They’re funny things, Accidents. You never have them till you’re having them.”

Either from your own reading or from the list below, choose a work of fiction in which an author did not intentionally write a book. Then in a well-written essay, analyze how the author's unintended oopsies contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole.

and this one:

Transcendentalism was a movement involving authors and artists during the early to mid 19th century that heavily influenced literary works produced at the time.

Select a novel, play, or epic poem written during the transcendentalist movement. Then write a well-developed essay analyzing how the elements of transcendentalism influence a central character and contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole.

If you want to see the others, feel free to check it out here.

I bet that whatever final exam/state test you have, you can probably find a way to tweak this idea into your own assignment.  Worst multiple choice questions or constructed responses.  Have fun!

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Masked Poet - Ozymandias

In 1817 and 1818, Rameses II was all the rage and topic of many a conversation.  Around Christmastime of 1817, Percy Shelley and his buddy Horace Smith were sitting around discussing ancient pharaohs, as one is wont to do, and decided to see who could write the best poem about Rameses II using the title "Ozymandias".  Both got published and experienced some acclaim, but Shelley's poem is the one remembered.  

That begs the question - is Shelley's poem remembered because it is greater or because he was the more popular poet?  The power of an author's name is nothing to dismiss.  Look at any Stephen King book published today and you will see his name in large letters and the title of the book small in comparison.  You also have the trend of writers loaning out their characters (Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler do this) and their name is still huge while the actual writer of the book gets the small print at the bottom of the cover.

In order to figure this out, we need a little blind taste test (so to speak) and what better way to do that than in the spirit of The Masked Singer?

I have a document made up and ready to print for your classroom needs.  You can get it here.  One one side, we have The Rook (Percy Shelley) and the other side we have The Bishop (Horace Smith).  I hand it out to students randomly so that they read different sides first since the order of reading may impact the judgement of the two poems.  

If you use it in your class, drop me an email or leave a comment.