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.