Monday, March 1, 2021

Blooket - Alternatives to Kahoot!

 I love Kahoot! - Who doesn't?  But I also like variety and testing out other online quizzes/games/reviews.  Today's Review - Blooket



Blooket is quite easy to use and if you already have Quizlet, you can just import a list, rather than making up more questions.  This is more of a definition/term deal than it is multiple choice questions, so factor that into what unit you decide to try this on.

When you choose a set of terms, it give you these game you can play:


So far, I've only tried the Tower of Doom and the Battle Royale with my Mythology class.  The Tower of Doom is a longer, individual sort of challenge, whereas the Battle Royale pits students against students in teams or individually.

At first I was concerned that it would look too elementary school-ish for my high schoolers, but my Mythology students loved it and requested to play it again the next day.  So if you are looking to review some vocabulary words or literary terms and have found that Quizlet Live is just not as effective in a remote or hybrid setting, or just want something different, try this out!


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Radio Garden

 Here's a nifty little site you might not be aware of:

http://radio.garden/


What does it do?  Well, it gives you a map of the world like this:


You can spin the world and see all parts of it.  See the little green dots?  Each one of those is a radio station that is currently broadcasting.  When you roll the cursor over one of them, it starts playing whatever is playing on that station at that time.

Pretty cool!

So what does this have to do with English class?  I'm thinking if I am teaching World Literature and I want the students to get a better understanding of a particular part of the world, then why not, as a part of my introduction, let them listen to a few radio stations from that corner of the globe and see what's playing?  It is amazing how much American music is playing around the world and how many songs they might not recognize by the words, but recognize the tune of.  Then there are some radio stations playing music so far away from what students are used to, that it gives them a nice dose of culture shock.

Another use might be to spark a discussion on what does it mean when there are sections of the globe with no green dots?

Or just use it for yourself (it's not all about the students, right?).  


If you can think of some other good uses, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Cover Letter and Resume - New Resource at Extreme English Teacher!

 


I've posted a new resource on the Extreme English Teacher store - a lesson on how to write a cover letter and resume!


I teach seniors and many of them do not know how to write either one of these.  Writing and communication falls under the purview of the English curriculum and it is a lesson that many of them can use right away.

It is a short lesson (will take about a class period).  The lesson has bonus slides to include if teaching it asynchronously and it has an assignment should you wish to take it from an introduction lesson to an activity.

As an added bonus, there is a slide with interview tips!  I have sat on enough hiring boards to know that people NEED these tips!

I also have it as a bundle so that you can save some money by buying both this lesson and Writing Formal Emails lesson.



If you try it out, let me know what you think and leave a rating on the store.  I try to keep all of my products highly affordable (we're all in this teaching game together, you know) and the ratings help me get noticed!

Visit the store at: Extreme English Teacher

Friday, January 29, 2021

Tired of Little Black Boxes? Try the Ten Minute Virtual Face to Face

 So last semester, I taught several students that I still have no idea what they look like.  I do not require students to turn on their cameras because we live in a rural area, so many of their Internet connections are spotty enough as it is and many have homes that they do not wish to show in their backgrounds.  It's frustrating to teach to a screen of black boxes, but I can do it and I utilize the chat feature in Zoom for interaction.

But graduation is coming and I will not even recognize the majority of my seniors when they come by in our drive through ceremony.

So I am trying something new.  I am reserving a day for ten minute virtual face-to-face meetings.  I broke the classes into small groups and the students only need to log on that day for their ten minute slot.  Depending on who else logs in, they may be alone or may have up to five others in their group.  I get each one to show me what they look like and they can decide to keep the camera on for the rest of the ten minutes or not.  We talk about what they like and dislike, sports, clubs, art, and what they plan on doing after high school.  It's a chance for me to make a connection.  

Yes, I do give up a day of instruction for this.  Why?  Because I feel that if I can make connections with some of these kids, they will be more active in my class, in which case they will learn more than what we would have had in one class session.


What are you doing to connect with your virtual students?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Separate Setting Tests - Do This to Minimize Singling Kids Out

 If you teach inclusion classes, you are familiar with the process of taking out a portion of the students who have Separate Setting accommodations on their IEP.  The problem is, some students who really need the smaller class setting for testing, are quite embarrassed by being singled out for removal from the classroom.

Not in my class.  My inclusion teacher (who also happens to be my wife) came up with the strategy years ago and it has worked very well in my class.  The separate setting accommodation is NOT about the different room, it IS about the smaller number of students.  Check with your state about what that number is, but I am betting it is larger than you thought.  Ours is 15.  

On test day, my inclusion teacher either takes all the girls, all the boys, picks randomly, or just asks which students want to go with her.  Once she takes about half the class, both rooms now meet the separate setting guidelines.  No one is called out.  Students who are not labeled often choose to go to the different room to test.  No one is embarrassed.

Let me know if you have any Inclusion class hacks in the comments!

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!