Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Teaching Ideas #2: A Few Useful Tools For Teaching and Learning

Here are a few things you and your students may find of value:

1. Free Plagiarism checker. This site gives you a score out of 100 and rates written work based on several criteria. Just copy your work and paste it into the box provided. Very easy. This is a great way to challenge students to edit and refine their own written work. They will enjoy doing that because they control their own evaluation score for a change. The teacher doesn't have to be the bad guy evaluator.

2. Online alarm clock. If you have your speakers on, you can set things up for yourself or students to wrap things up at a time of your choice. Most tasks that students do should be assessed for the amount of time that each might take and then students can work to the time limit or timeline established. Most people work to deadlines, so why shouldn't professional students with their work? Start this in the lower grades and get kids used to the idea of valuing their time and making the most out of it. Time management skills are important. Deadlines with their work is good training for later on. If they finish early, they can take the time difference off or have a treat. If they go overtime, reassess and allocate additional time and then reset the alarm clock to the new deadline. (this is in response to the Murphy's Law: "A task takes as long as the time allotted to it."

3. Learn a Language via Translations. Don't just translate for the sake of translating a language from one to another. Learn about the connections between languages. For foreign language classes, Google Translation is very valuable. If you write one language in proper form, the translation should come out correctly in any other language. If students are studying a different language, they can immediately see what they wrote in their own language as well and compare. Back and forth. It's a good way to show them how the spoken and written words in one language may not come out the same way in another and then make adjustments for that when they are learning another language. Very fast and easy and covers most languages.

4. Tuning up Written Work. This probably won't be new for many of you. Get students to learn and use some new vocubulary in their written work using this valuable Synonym, antonyms, and definitions site: There is a kids dictionary for the little ones.

5. Currency Converter as a Learning Tool. Put some new life into math, economics, geography, business classes by having students take imaginary trips to different countries. An interesting starting point can be the country's currency. (from personal travel experience, preparations often start with the currency and then develops from there) Learn about the currency and what things will cost in relation to your own economy and country. Go to websites of the country and see what things cost. Do comparisons. What might be good to buy in that country - shoes, clothing, watches, etc.? Study why things are cheaper or more expensive there.
Do the math with the currency. How much money will you take with you on the trip? How much will it cost in your currency? Study how people earn and spend their money e.g. in Pakistan, most people are independent business owners and most spend only cash. Very few people there have credit cards - maybe around 5% of the people! Imagine the money they save and have extra to spend by not having to pay interest on credit cards!!

6. Motivating Excellent Writers. Open up an account with Ezines and then publish the best of the stories and articles that students write. Each article is evaluated internally before it is allowed to go online and they are very demanding. Once published, an article is tracked and you get all kinds of statistical feedback on it. Adults who are good writers should consider putting their work on this site. I have over 30 articles there already. They give you monthly reports on traffic, etc. Students can get good experience in being professional writers.

7. Trigger Words Lists. (don't miss this. Very Valuable!) Attached(below) is a list I put together a few years ago. Share with your students to help give them ideas. (Note: These are not all my ideas. They have been gathered and added to from many websites.)

Thanks again to Otto Schmidt for sharing.
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