Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Free Valentine Limerick Activity

Have a little fun on Valentine's Day, while at the same time, reinforcing parts of speech, poetic form and syllables with this "Mad Libs" style activity. This activity seems like it would be best for kids, but I've used it successfully with teenagers and young adults as well. It's fun all the way around, and especially educational if you are involved in a poetry unit. Click here or on the photo to download.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Student Quiz Questions

At the end of the year, I have my students write their own quiz questions, and count these as part of their final test grade. I told my some of my colleagues about this, and their reaction was, "What a good idea to save time!" Actually, it's not a time-saver at all--just the opposite in fact, but it's well worth the effort.

By having students create their own questions, and providing an answer key, I can measure their understanding of the topics much better than a traditional multiple-choice test. It's also a terrific study tool, because writing quiz questions is not easy. The most common reaction from the students? "This is haaaard" (insert whiny voice). I just smile and think, welcome to my world!

We start by writing a list of topics we covered over the quarter on the board, then come up with guidelines (how many questions, must cover at least five topics etc...) and formatting choices (multiple choice, T/F, short answer, matching etc...). You can let them work in groups or individually. After everyone has their questions and answer keys, I copy all of them and pass them out to the students for review. Their task (in groups) is to go through all the questions and mark any that they think are unclear, unfair, or should not otherwise by included on the final quiz. Again, this serves as a great study tool.

When grading the questions, it's surprising how many students answer their own questions incorrectly, and it's interesting to see which topics they avoid and which they gravitate toward. All in all, it's a valuable learning experience for both the students and the teacher.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Clause Confusion

It's been a while since I taught clauses to my students, beyond dependent and independent clauses. The section in our book on the subject was not clear at all, and I felt like I needed to brush up on the topic myself anyway, so I started researching from different sources. Wow. I ended up completely confused. Not only does it seem there is no consensus on the major categories, but they are often called by different names.

So, I sifted through all the resources I could find, and after one big headache, boiled it down what I think is the latest and greatest thinking on the subject, and included the categories that made the most sense for students: Independent, Dependent, Relative, Nonrestrictive, and Restrictive. Although I looked at a plethora of sources, the one that most informed my choices was from the online library at the University of Phoenix.

This power point is a great starting point for clearing up clause confusion. It has explanations and clear examples. I used it in my classroom this quarter, and the test scores on the subject confirmed that it helped. I hope you will find it helpful, also.

Ho, ho, ho!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Note-Taking: Cornell Notes Free Template

The Cornell note-taking system has been around since the 1950s, and it's still around for good reason--it works! In my Success class for incoming freshman,  I pass out this template and do a mini-lecture to let students practice. It's not for everyone, but it works for many, and can vastly improve a student's comprehension.

The idea is that the students takes notes in the "Notes" section during the lecture. Then, within twenty-four hours (I always recommend as soon as possible), they will fill out the Questions and Key Points section and the Summary section. This keeps things organized and easy to find when studying for exams.

You can certainly have students draw the form themselves, but I find it's much better to hand out three-hole punched copies of the template above. Click here or on the picture to download the free template.