Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Hyphen - It IS Important

Basic hyphen rules review:

Use a hyphen:
  1. When the creator of the word used one (which is why we have a hyphen between Spider-Man and not Superman)
  2. For two words are working together as a single adjective (chocolate-covered raisins)
  3. Between the tens and ones of numbers (twenty-one)
  4. To avoid confusion (re-elect)
  5. With the prefixes ex-, all-, self- (ex-wife, all-inclusive, self-driving)
  6. With any prefix attached to a capitalized word (pre-World War II)
  7. Before the suffix -elect (president-elect)
Do NOT use a hyphen when:
  1. Two words are working together as a single adjective AFTER the noun (Those raisins are chocolate covered)
  2. Between other place values (two hundred sixty-five)

Monday, March 23, 2020


This is an old post from an earlier incarnation of this blog, but in the need to work with students remotely, this site has become extra valuable for me.  See Feature 3.  It helps to break the monotony of at home learning by having a chance to play a game against classmates like normal.  You can also use it for assessments since the kids can work on it when they get a chance to work on it.

We are all looking for new and different things for which to use for formal assessment, keep the kids happy, or to just do something different.  Quizzizz is hardly new, but you might not be familiar with it and it is a good alternative to Kahoot, which while is a fantastic site in its own right, may start to feel stale if it is the only game you use.

Quizzizz allows you to set up an online quiz, much like Kahoot, but there are some differences and it offers a few different features.

The biggest difference is that the question appears on the students computer, not the teacher's screen.  So this works very well if you find yourself with a blown bulb or a school system that has not moved to SmartBoards or some similar display.

Feature 1 - The students work at their own pace
Yes, the points still are worth more the faster you answer it, but the students can move from one question to the next at their own pace.  This helps those that work slower not to feel intimidated by the pace.

Feature 2 - Scramble the questions and answers
Have a few cheaters in your room?  Foil their nefarious plans by scrambling the order that everyone sees the questions.

Feature 3 - You don't have to be there to run it
You can choose the HOMEWORK option and set a time span for them to complete it.  This is neat for when you are absent and you have a hodgepodge of activities for your class to do.  You can just email them the code and they can complete it on their own time.  This is useful for home bound students as well.

Feature 4 - Reports

You can get a listing of how each individual student performed and how hard each questions was.  The downside of this is that it will show on your screen while the students are taking it, so if you are hooked to the projector, it will project for all to see.  This may or may not be a problem for you, but is easily solved by switching browser tabs during the actual playing of the game.

Feature 5 - Memes

When a student answers the question, a meme flashes before them letting them know if they got the question correct or not.  You can use their memes or import your own.  For that matter, you could just ask a few students to make you memes and I am sure that there will be no shortage of volunteers on that.

So have fun, my friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Check Out the Store!

Extreme English Teacher now has a Teacher Pay Teachers store.

The focus of the store is to provide resources for teachers of low-level, low motivated English students.  They are all activities and lessons that I have used in the past with success.

I am working on a larger Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time unit pack and will post it shortly, but you can get the freebie guide to Acing Reading Comprehension State Tests right now.  If you like it, give it a rating, please!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Art of Randomness

Students can be set off by little things.  In my younger years, I taught summer school and I returned an assignment to a student who had just put her head down.  I laid the assignment on her desk and as soon as I turned to the next student, it fell to the ground. She screamed, "You ALWAYS throw my papers on the ground!" and proceeded to throw her desk across the room before running out.

I found this a quite interesting reaction.  Even if I was intentionally dropping her papers on the floor (which I do not recall doing), why react that vehemently?

The older (and wiser) I get, the more I seek out ways to minimize setting students off.  There are plenty of things out of our control such as:

  • girlfriend/boyfriend problems
  • drug issues
  • overbearing parents
  • indifferent parents
  • hateful parents (I had one kid who, when his father was upset, was made to sleep on the porch, regardless of the temperature)
  • any number of things
However, there is one thing that drives students crazy that you can control - 
Saying their name aloud

The best way I have found to avoid doing that is to 1. give redirection as general as possible (doesn't always work, but saying, "OK, everyone to your seats" rather than "Kyle, go to your seat" sometimes gets the job done without it seeming personal, even if Kyle is the only one out of his seat).  The other method  is to be random.

What you see here is the Container of Kismet.and a $5 Magic 8-Ball.  Kismet means fate or destiny, but I like the alliterative qualities of it with the word container.  I put all of their names in the box (this is a baby formula container - works great!).  Then, if I need someone to read or mark grammar on the board, I just pull the name from the box.  This way, I am not picking on Kyle, fate has chosen Kyle.  And who are we to fight fate?  It is unbelievable how much of a difference this stupid difference makes.  

Now, to really sell it, you need to also use the Container of Kismet for good, too.  Sometimes after a quiz, I will say, "Someone here has done something nice and has not been rewarded for it."  So I pull a name from the box and give that person 5 bonus points.

The 8 Ball is great for when kids are trying to finagle something that you really don't care too much about, but don't want to always just give in on.  For example, a kid says, "Will you take (insert wrong answer) for this question?"  It is close enough, but not what I would really want to accept normally, so we go to the 8 Ball.  I always let another student read off the result so that I am not accused of cheating.  Students will accept their fate from a stupid toy faster than they will for you.  You gave them a fair chance, after all.

So, what crazy methods do you employ to get your kids to behave in class?  Let us know in the comments (even if you are finding this article way past the post date).

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The Moon the Size of a Pixel

One of the problems with students who are on the ball is what do you do with them when you are letting the other kids catch up?

I have a slew of activities that I use for extra credit that I pull out when students get a day to get caught up.  One of them is The Moon the size of a Pixel.

The site is pretty neat.  It is a spacial map of the solar system putting the moon the size of one pixel and showing how much empty space is between the two.  As you scroll, he will fill in some of the space with comments, usually about how much space there is.

Eventually you pass all the planets (there is a cheat scroll at the top to jump from planet to planet).

So, what does this have to do with English?  Well, the assignment for those go getters is to scroll until they find the Shakespeare quote.  Then they are to email me the quote and what Shakespeare play it comes from.  I do not tell them where the quote is (that would take the fun away from it), but I will tell you.  You'll find it between Saturn and Uranus (closer to Uranus).  I had to fold the two screenshots up because the quote and explanation is longer than one screenful:

I love how this blends with his science lesson.  The sayings that come beforehand talk about how it is impossible for us to comprehend some things such as the amount of space between objects in space.

I like this activity since it keeps students busy while others are working, it blends science and literature, and it practices research skills since the student will need to look up the quote to find which of Shakespeare's plays it comes from.  This is even better if you choose to teach this play later on.

Have a time filler you like to use?  Let us know in the comments!

Friday, March 6, 2020

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

Actually, today's post is not really about her, but let's give a little hoopla first -

OK, enough of that.

Everyday is a holiday, so why not use that in your classroom?  I post Today's Holiday on the board each day just to make the board dynamic (I do this with a pun of the day as well).  It keeps some students checking it out regularly and then they sometimes notice other things I want them to see on the board (due dates, notes, etc.).

The holidays can also be great prompts for writing activities, provide themes for grammar practice sentences, or give an excuse to share the story of the sappy love letter romance between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.

The calendar to the right of this blog lists out several holidays, birthdays (both real and fictional), and more like:

  • International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19) - Also Hermione Granger's Birthday
  • Grammar Day (March 4)
  • Dunce Day (Nov. 8)
  • Opposite Day (Jan. 25)
  • Superman's Birthday (Feb. 29)
  • Tell a Story Day (Apr. 27)
Just to name a few!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Word of the Day - Villain

It's Dr. Evil, I didn't spend six years in Evil Medical School to be called "mister," thank you very much. 

So our word of the day is VILLAIN, but what's the fun in that?  We already know this to mean bad guy or antagonist.  An evil character designed to push the plot.

Image result for evil villains

But that definition wasn't used for the word until 1822.  Before that, it was used to mean a peasant.  Here is what the Online Etymology Dictionary has to say about it:

c. 1300 (late 12c. as a surname), "base or low-born rustic," from Anglo-French and Old French vilain "peasant, farmer, commoner, churl, yokel" (12c.), from Medieval Latin villanus "farmhand," from Latin villa "country house, farm" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan").
 The most important phases of the sense development of this word may be summed up as follows: 'inhabitant of a farm; peasant; churl, boor; clown; miser; knave, scoundrel.' Today both Fr. vilain and Eng. villain are used only in a pejorative sense. [Klein]
The root word is where we get the word "villa" from, meaning a large and fancy country home.  We know "village" to be a small country town (villa meaning country) and "villager" meaning one who lives in a village.  A "villager" at one time meant an uncouth country hick, instead of one living in a village.

So when you are giving that Middles Ages introduction and you hit the feudal system, consider letting them know that serfs and peasants were the original villains of the world.

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