Teaching Basic Computer Literacy Handout

Download the handout of my webinar on teaching typing and basic word processing skills to students for awesome websites and fun, adaptable activities that students love.

What's a Word Processor, Teacher?

  Come check out my awesome presentation orienting students to basic skills such as typing and text-formatting. Not all our students grew up as wired and even students who are great on computers in their own languages get bogged down by the American keyboard and shortcut keysYou can't get students excited about blogging and making wikis if it still takes them ten minutes to find the letter A. If you've got 25 minutes, I'll introduce some of the websites and activities I do with students. These are all things I've done in computer labs and let students do independently, too: Continue Reading ››

My guinea pig died with its legs crossed

Note that I wrote this post while trying to design a syllabus for an entire course, an enterprise that was so daunting it made me feel like a total idiot who knows nothing about teaching at all. Or an egotistical madman. In the process of some research, I found this quote that hits exactly why I sometimes find teaching a language to be such an arrogant profession:
And what, then, is communication and what are its preconditions? This is what Dakin says: "Communication is essentially personal, the expression of personal needs, feelings, experiences and knowledge, in situations that are never quite … Continue Reading ››

Did a Notepad Block Throw Up on MyFloor?

Syllabus in the Making Or am I making a course syllabus? There is method to the madness. Blue is themes. Yellow is Listening Goals, Green is Speaking Goals, Light Green is Reading Goals, Orange is Writing Goals and Pink is Language/Vocab/Grammar Points. This makes it really easy to mix and match. I had way too much fun moving cards all over my floor. You know it's time to quit when you have only one unit unplanned. Your left over cards are: Theme:Cars", "Grammar: Infinitive vs. Gerund", "Language: Where is the...?", and "Vocab: Kinds of … Continue Reading ››

A Reading Skills Evaluation

Here's another reading quiz I came up with to go with Reader's Choice, one of my favorite reading textbooks out there. The beginning chapters really emphasize four reading skills: Scanning, Skimming, Comprehension, Critical Reading. So I devised a Reading Skills Evaluation to isolate and test all four of those skills:  For scanning, I wrote a fake train schedule and had students look for trains in fairly realistic questions. For skimming I gave students standard pre-viewing questions, such as what is this text? What is the topic? For comprehension, I did some standard reading comp questions and then a few critical thinking questions to get … Continue Reading ››

Assessing Previewing Skills

We all teach students to preview but I have never really seen a good evaluation for testing previewing. So I made one of my own. This Reading Previewing Quiz presents a newspaper article and asks students to:
  1. look at the headline and make predictions.
  2. look at a picture and make predictions.
  3. Then skim the article and answer basic comprehension questions
I would give students the first page and then take it away so they can't update their predictions once they have the actual article. To ensure that they are really skimming, give a strict time limit on the second part. Now because you … Continue Reading ››

Creating Custom Style Sets in Word

As I've been exploring the materials writer world more and more, I've learned a lot about a wide range of things from task design to publishing services to textbook company expectations. One area that I haven't seen as much information on is actual document or visual design. I think that's something that is very important. If you're a teacher, the design of the handouts or worksheets can help students understand the information better and it also shows that you care, that you took time to make something nice for them. If you're putting your materials out there online, a … Continue Reading ››