Thursday, April 29, 2021

Archie the Future-Telling Oracle

 I'm sure by this point you've seen this little gem. I have verified with Archie Comcis that it is indeed true and not Photoshopped.  

Look at the following panel:

Veronica and Betty skip school, making sure to fool the teacher first:

Ah, for the days when thought and care was put into deceiving the teacher.  So much more respectable than just logging in and walking away.

The kids even have detention rooms in their house (their closets) in case they get into trouble!

You may see a similar panel but with the year 2104 AD on it.  That was in a reprint in 2015.  I guess the publishers wanted to to still feel futuristic!  The comic originally ran in February of 1997 in Betty #46.  If you want to read the whole thing, Archie Comics has you covered on their website!  Read it here!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Norse Mythology

 If you have a chance to teach Norse mythology in your class, do your best to get your hands on a copy (or even class set!) of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.

It's Gaiman, so you know it is fantastically written.  Should you do this, you are welcome to use my Quizizz questions to give a story check up:

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dally Not, Sirrah! Talk Like Shakespeare Day Is Upon Us!

Tomorrow is Shakespeare's birthday - and TALK LIKE SHAKESPEARE DAY!  Aye, a great day to annoy thy students, indeed!

Let them insult each other with Shakespearean insults. You probably already have a version of this pdf somewhere.

And for your own enjoyment, here is a comedian doing the Shakespeare version of Three Little Pigs:

Monday, April 19, 2021

Blooket: An Update


A few months ago, I published a review of the gaming site Blooket.  I cannot tell you enough how awesome this site is for alternatives to Kahoot!  I have explored it a bit more and want to point out two more features.

1. You can give students a link to let them practice on their own time.  This is pretty neat way to encourage them to study.  You can also increase the chances to study for a test by maybe giving a few extra credit points if they can send you a screenshot of a particular score or higher (if you are into extra credit points, that is).

2. We tried out a few more of the games in my Mythology class (I always use them to test run material before using it in my English IV class):

  • Tower Defense - You know those mobile game ads where you have an army approaching your castle and you have to build turrets to stop them?  That is what this is.  My students were not as thrilled for this one as the others.
  • Gold Quest - THIS IS AWESOME!  Students answer the questions and when they get the right answer, they get to open one of three chests.  The chest will either give them gold, allow them to steal some gold, or allow them to swap with any player.  What makes this amazing is that the game is on a timer, so they can go for as many questions as they can within a certain minute limit (that you set) or you can say until someone gets x-amount of gold.  This allows slower students to move at their own pace.  It also inflicts a bit of randomness to the game.  Since players can swap gold, then it is possible for the kid who only knows one answer to be able to steal all of the gold away from the number 1 position.  I thought my kids would get angry at that, but they loved it because now my smartest student isn't always winning.
  • Racing - The students liked it, and I was surprised.  It's just a game where when they get an answer right, their character moves forward and when they get it wrong the character moves backward.  First one to the finish line wins.
  • Battle Royale - My favorite - either individuals or teams have lives and they are paired up with another individual or team.  First to get it right keeps the life until finally on one remains.
  • Tower of Doom - A Pokemon Go meets D&D - not my favorite because it is all individual and not class-wide play.
  • Classic - It is you run of the mill online quiz game format.

So, if you haven't yet, give a try.  If you have a Quizlet list, you can just import those terms in and make it even easier on you.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tech Tuesday: How to Add Music to Your Google Slides

Google currently doesn't have an "Add  Audio" feature for Google Slides.  What it does have, though, is an "Add Video" feature.  So I pull up a song I want for background music off of YouTube. You probably are aware already, but if not, you can find all sorts of background music to match whatever mood you wish to establish.

OK, so when I made a Slides presentation on Norse Ragnarok for my mythology class, I wanted to tell the story of Odin's fight with Fenrir.  So I found a great image to post on the screen and I wanted some cool music in the background while I'm in story-telling mode.  After a search on YouTube (and getting way too sidetracked on listening to several different awesome background songs), I found one and copied the URL.  Then I hit the INSERT option at the top of my Google Slides and chose VIDEO.  You can search YouTube right there on Google Slides, but I prefer to find it on YouTube, catch the URL and then stick that into the URL search.

However, when I place it in the slide, it is way too big.  That's OK.  We will take care of it in a minute.

Now, we want the music to start automatically, so we need to click on the video, select FORMAT, and then FORMAT OPTIONS.  

Under the FORMAT OPTIONS tab, click VIDEO PLAYBACK.  Notice that here you can choose a time in the video for your song to start or you can just start it from the beginning.

Now you need to click the AUTOPLAY WHEN PRESENTING box and it will start immediately.

Extreme Pro Tip - It is a good idea to select the AUTOPLAY option when presenting and slide that has a video.  It makes for a smoother presentation.

Now we need to get the video out of sight.  So we will now shrink the box down and move it to a corner.

It will not be completely out of sight, but when the slide presents, it will be virtually unnoticeable and, at the very least, unobtrusive to those that do notice it.

This is what your audience sees.

Now all that is left is for you to drop a link for the music in the notes section of your slides right under your image attribution.

Extreme Pro Tip - Each semester, before presenting the slide, do a quick run through to make sure your songs are still active on YouTube.  Sometimes people's accounts go down or they didn't have permission to host that song and the link is now dead.  Of course, it is a good idea to do this anytime you have a video, for viewing or for listening, in your presentation.

Have a cool tip?  Share it!  Have a different way of putting music on the slides?  Share it!  Found it useful?  Let me know!

Monday, April 5, 2021

New Quarter - New You!

 With the new quarter approaching, here is a tip to help keep struggling students focused:


The math on this is not hard (and is based on a semester-length class) - once they know what grade they want to get in the course (for some it is bare minimum passing, others it is a 70 or 80) and once they have the first quarter, all they need to do is to figure out how many points away from their desired grade and then add that (or subtract if they are ahead of the grade) to the desired grade.

Example 1:

Student A wants to pass with a 60.  He has a 47 currently.  That means he is 13 points away from passing (60 - 47 = 13), so he has to be 13 points ABOVE his desired grade (60 + 13 = 73).  If Student A does not get at least a 73 this quarter, he is not passing the course.  This is helpful to know because Student A may work harder and get a 65 and think he is doing much better, which he is, but he is not doing enough.

Example 2:

Student B wants an A in the class.  She already has a 94.  Since she is four points OVER her desired grade (90), she can afford to go as low as four points UNDER her desired grade (86) and still come out with an A for the course.

When you do this in class, you will find that many students have completely unrealistic understandings of how grades are factored.  I'll have a student with a 74 who wants to make an A for the course.  That's mathematically impossible.

You can use this chart to help you out or just google search grade calculators.

What about exams?

Well, exams have an impact, to be sure, but if you are operating on a grading scale of 1st quarter = 40%, 2nd quarter = 40%, exam/state test = 20% (or something similar), you'll find that the exam rarely does more than impact their grade five points or more.  Why?  Most students will score on their exam close to what they make for the two quarters averaged together.  An exam, using the 40/40/20 method, only moves the final grade 1 point for every 5 points it's away from the quarters average together.


Student C has a Q1 grade of 82 and a Q2 grade of 76.  His average is 79.  He would have to make an 84 on the exam to pull the final grade up 1 point to get a B (80).  Conversely, he cannot score so poorly on the exam to pull his 79 down below a passing grade of 60.  

Since most students are going to score within 15 points of their average grade, the impact is nearly as impressive as we often believe.

 A student who knows exactly what grade he/she needs to get is more likely to stay on target throughout the year, especially if you keep your online grade book up to date (which you really should, by the way).