Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A day to learn between two days of teaching and learning

Nice to have a day off teaching and a chance to try out some ideas I have wanted to try for some time.

I had always liked the idea of providing my students with the answers to exercises from the course book that we have done in class: this way anyone missing the class at least has the solutions, so if they are serious about learning they can see if they can get the exercises right.

At the same time I am very keen on getting students to do exercises again (and again), but sadly most course books lay the exercises out in such a way that if students write in the answers the exercise is destroyed and simply can't be used again. As a result I have asked my students NOT to write the answers in the book, and in fact, preferably, not to write the answers at all: it's really easy with the IWB to get students saying the answers in pairs.

So, what I decided to do was to type out the answers to the exercises to send to my students. (A colleague of mine has prepared photocopies cut and pasted from the teacher's book.) I then decided to type up the questions as well as the answers and make sure it is possible to cover the answers, say the answers to oneself, and pull done the cover to check it's right. I've made many exercises like this before and even got students to do them in class, but this time the idea was to produce something for them to use out of class.

I didn't like the idea of the students printing out the sheets, so I started thinking of how to use Word to cover the answer, maybe by making the window smaller and moving the document up, but I then struck on the idea of inserting an opaque AutoShape to cover the answers. In More AutoShapes I found a 'desk' that was the right shape and quickly adjusted it to cover the whole line length. I then typed in instructions about how to use it and sent it to the students. Here's a picture of what it looks like:

Let's see what the students think...

I also found time to send my students a list of links to the New English File Pre-intermediate Online site for the section of the book we did yesterday 1A. I made a simple word document with the three links and some instructions about telling me about how well they did it all and sent it as an assignment to be done in the next seven days. Having a Word document will make it easier to sent again next year.

And then I realised I hadn't re-installed Dreamweaver 2004MX since I upgraded to Windows 7. It was easy-peasy and I was pleased to find the printout with my licence number immediately.

I needed it because I wanted to create a file with the words to a song that students can double-click on to look up words they don't know. The Cambridge Online Dictionaries site offers instructions and I was delighted to find that I could work out for myself how to use Dreamweaver to manage my site (I'd always used WS: FTP before). I worked a treat and I was able to post the page here 

The next thing I wanted to learn how to do was to embed a web page in another web page. Google gave me a lot of choices and I took this route:

That meant I could add the video and the lyrics to Edmodo for my Intermediate students. It's here It may be a long way down.

I wish the Cambridge Online Dictionary javascript used the Learner's rather than the Advanced Learner's Dictionary, so I wrote to them to ask for their help.

I must admit that I really enjoyed myself, even though, it meant I was working all of my day-off.

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