Double negatives are a bitch

Month: February, 2014

Youtube it out!

Youtube is a great tool to use in class. Students are always interested when Youtube is mentioned in class, as they use it outside of school for entertainment purposes.

One way to use Youtube in a classroom is by showing movies. In language classes, input in the target language is necessary to acquire better language skills. Watching movies is a great way to enhance their exposure to the language by keeping it interesting. Many movies are available on the website, and there is the possibility to filter the videos labeled 18+ to make sure it is viewer-friendly.

Another way to include Youtube in courses is through experiments. There are TONS of channels strictly related to science experiments, such as Science Bob or SpanglerScienceTV. Viewing experiments is a simple way to teach material in an interesting manner for the students.

Interactive science tutorials are also available, on channels such as dancingmadscientist. They enable the students to visualize the experiment before reproducing it. Other tutorials about school subjects like mathematics can be found in a simple research on Youtube. For instance, there are tutorials  for factoring with algebra that are easy to follow for students. Vihart is, in my opinion, the most entertaining teacher on Youtube. The doodlings are fun to watch while learning something.

The last application of Youtube in class I’ll discuss is that of language classes online. Some channels, like talktomeinkorean and SpanishDict, are dedicated to teaching languages online. Showing those in class may make it easier to get new information through or to review things the students have a harder time to grasp. Other channels also focus on pronunciation, so it’s easier for students to learn how to pronounce correctly more difficult words.

Catch it if you can


Hot Potatoes is too hot for you to handle; it’s the perfect software suite for teachers. You can download it here. It takes less than five minutes to get the software going!

What is Hot Potatoes?

Hot Potatoes is a free (since 2009) software suite (currently at version 6) created by a Development Team at University of Victoria. It allows teachers to create Jcloze, Jmatch, Jquiz, Jcross, Jmix (interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises) types of exercises and also to mix them all together with The Masher. The developers have also created Quandary, an application to make Action Mazes.

How can it be used in a classroom?

First of all, it allows you to create tons of exercises in a wide variety (multiple-choice, crosswords, etc.). The format is quite easy to handle, and for those of you who are not techsavvy, the website has a very long list of tutorials.  They also provide you a huge  clipart image bank, in both matte and transparent backgrounds, that can be used in language teaching. If you still cannot figure it out, there’s Michael Rottmeier who created a website about Hot Potatoes, examples included.

An idea for an activity suddenly pops up into your head but you don’t have access to your computer? Don’t worry. There’s also paper templates available here (although the headings are in German) to create Hot Potatoes exercises while not having access to the software.

Other users have also shared their ideas about creating exercises on the software suite, which can be seen here and here. The exercises can be shared online with the students and the teachers on this website, where a teacher can create an account and publish his or her exercises for the students to do them online (that’s for all the greenies out there!). And not only is the access environment different for the students and teachers, it restricts the students in what they can do. The website also allows the teachers to uploads files other than Hot Potatoes, such as PDF files, which is a great add-on. 

All in all, I believe Hot Potatoes is a great time-saving software that is quite versatile and interactive. I’d recommend it to any teacher who needs a bit more time (and let’s face it, we all do!).

Other fun things about Hot Potatoes

Dr. Stan Bogdanov has published a book called Hacking Hot Potatoes: The Cookbook, available in PDF here.

The Slideshare Revolution


In this 2013 list of great tools for learning, Slideshare is ranked 16th. Well expect it to get more popular in the next few years. Why? Because it’s awesome. The funniest part is that the list’s summary was made with it.

What is Slideshare?

Slideshare is a Web 2.0 slide hosting and sharing website. It allows you to publish, either publicly or privately, a variety of files. It supports Powerpoint presentations, Word documents, PDF files, pps, pot, pptx, ppsx, potx, OpenOffice, Keynote, and Excel files, with a maximum file size of 100MB. It also allows sharing the uploaded documents on Facebook, Twitter, Xing and LinkedIn. Users can download the uploaded files and modify them, comment on other people’s presentations, add an mp3 file to the slides, create ads and Zipcast. It also developed a blog more recently to keep the users informed. It was sold to LinkedIn for 118M$. It is the world’s largest presentation sharing website, with 60M monthly visitors and 130M pageviews.

How can it be used in a classroom?

First, it allows the students to gather information from other users. They can look up specific slides by searching key words related to a topic. It is also possible to have a list of contacts, so a teacher could add only his or her students and share the slides with them only (explained in this tutorial). That also stands for the students. Creating a classroom environment on that website is easy! Other examples can be found here, here and here. The uploaded presentations can be embedded on blogs and other networks.

You can create an event presentation to create buzz about it. School play, fundraising event; you name it.

Students can also create ads with Leadshare, which can be a cool project to work on in class.

You can also embed youtube videos inside presentations, which makes it even more interactive and can complement the presentation by showing science experiments, tutorials, movies, documentaries, basically whatever floats your boat.

Last but not least, the Zipcast is a tool used to create conferences and air them while the presentation is going on. This can be used for online classes or after school tutorials. Moreover, the conference also has a inbuilt chat, so the users can interact among themselves.  I think it’s the most useful thing that was added to the website.

Overall, Slideshare is a great tool for interactive classroom presentations and online classes. I hope other teachers give it a try!

Other fun things about Slideshare

The website’s CEO, Rashmi Sinha, was in the World’s Top 10 Women Influencers in Web 2.0 by business magazine Fast Company.

Slideshare is used by the White House, NASA, World Economic Forum, State of Utah, HP, IBM and O’Reilly Media.