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Education Teaching

11 Timesavers for Teachers

In this post, I have collected some timesaving tips that I have found helpful for reducing the workload of a busy teacher.

Prepare your test with checking in mind

If you are busy and stressed, you may feel that you want to be as quick as possible when creating tests. But this can become a time consuming mistake! If you have even one ambiguous task in the test, checking and grading that will cost you hours and hours of valuable time!

Laminated repeat

Write down (and laminate, if possible) issues, you have to go through over and over again in the classroom. But don’t hang it on those on the wall, just keep them close. If they are on the wall, students will unfortunately become blind to them. But if you show them once a month or so, these notes will be burned into their memory.

Make your discipline passive

Keep students names or initials in a visible list in the classroom. If a student misbehaves, mark a warning after his name. Two or three warning marks lead to consequences. This way, you don’t have to interrupt your teaching. Students often point the warning out to the misbehaving pupil.

Use self-grading tests, where possible

Many people use spreadsheets for this (like Google Sheets). You can do these tests yourself or find some online. 

Discard papers you don’t need

If you are unsure, get a special place for “probably useless” papers and get rid of the older ones every now and then.

Share lesson plans with your colleagues

You will get engaging variation to your lessons with less work! Nowadays, most schools have some online tools that can be used for that. 

Do things as fast as possible

This may seem obvious, but if you use 15 minutes grading papers rather than getting some coffee, you may get 15 minutes more sleep the next night, and you won’t even need that much coffee the next day! And the time saving pattern is ready.

Track your schedule once

If your teaching work is consuming a tremendous amount of time, you may want to keep track for a week where your time goes. Do you spend much time chatting with your colleagues? Browsing “quickly” facebook when you should be making lesson plans? Watching television while checking tests at home.

Delegate

All those classroom tasks, delegate those to students!

Emergency file for substitute teacher

This doesn’t help your everyday work, but keeping an useful file for substitute teacher can help you when needed most: when you are ill. I recommend that this would be an old-fashioned file, because it’s very likely that the substitute teacher doesn’t have the access to the school online system when the first lesson starts. 

Binary grading

Some subjects can be very time consuming from a grading point of view. Consider creating a very simple grading system you use after each lesson. It can be like: good – moderate – not completed. You can collect them as a numbers to Excel worksheet during every lesson (during, not after!) when students are doing something creative. Zero means not done, 1 means moderate and two is for good. Remember to put 2 for every student that is absent for a legit reason. That way occasional cold won’t affect their grades. If someone is missing many classes, you may have to consider their grade otherwise, anyway. Now, at the end of the semester, you just calculate every student’s points with Excel, and there is a base for the grade or points for class activity. Then you only have to adjust / count in points from other areas, such as tests.

Hopefully these tips were helpful! For myself, the last one has been the most helpful, but maybe for you, it’s something else. Take care!

See also: Why my students dislike me?

Categories
Education

Super easy labyrinth game with Scratch

  1. First, you’ll need a maze. You can use your own or download this:

To make things simple, make sure that whichever maze you use, it has no openings. This is how we avoid player form coming out of the maze and just bypass it from outside.

2. Download your maze of choice as a backdrop:

3. Delete the cat

4. Pick new sprite (character)

Double click the one you want. In this example, I choose Ladybug1.

5. Edit sprite’s costume

6. Draw a box around your sprite with mouse. (Click and drag the box over to opposite corner.)

Now, click on one corner and drag the sprite smaller. Good size with this maze is somewhere around 20×20, I use in this example 18×19. You can check the size here:

It’s not a problem if it’s not perfect square, for example 17×19. Just make sure that both numbers are small enough for your sprite to walk in the maze without touching the walls.

Now the code:

Make sure that your starting coordinates are right. 

To get the touching color right, first click the box that has the color in it, then click at black part of the labyrinth. 

This is now very basic, we could add some goal to the end:

There are several ways you can make this game better if you want to. Here are some ideas:

  • Time to complete the labyrinth
  • Some collectables
  • Player moving all the time, only the speed is altered when player uses keyboard
  • More levels

Find more free and paid Scratch materials at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop.

Categories
Education

2 easy and 2 professional ways to teach coding

I’ve been teaching coding (along mathematics) for kids aged 9-16 for several years. I’ve proceeded in this order:

  • code.org
  • Scratch
  • Python
  • Unity

First two are quite easily doable for teacher/parent with no programming experience. About the last two, I personally think that Unity is more appealing for today’s youngsters, but as an example of text-based coding Python is ok.

Code.org

Contains several lesson for different age groups. Still, consider your pupils experience before starting. If they have no experience at all, they could shortly go through materials for younger kids before proceeding to their own age group and vice versa. If you have no experience yourself, it’s highly advisable that you do the lessons yourself beforehand. Make sure that you find the ways to use suggested amount of code lines, as there are sometimes many ways to solve a task, usually the shorter the better. Link: code.org

Scratch

Compared to code.org, Scratch is more open environment. It needs Flash player. You can actually do your own games if you’re registered user, for others to play. Coding happens by dragging blocks from left to right. Here is a picture of one of the most basic programs in Scratch:

Pay attention to block colors; color of the block will tell you from which block group it’s from.

  1. Every program has to start somewhere. This will start when clicking the green flag. This is a common way to start Scratch program. (Other common option is starting with a key from keyboard.)
  2. Forever-loop is important. Otherwise program will end before user gets to press anything.
  3. There is a coordinate system. Using this system makes it easier to move the way you intended. Other option is to use steps, but then you have to be cautious with direction. Steps always uses direction to determine where to go.

And there you go! You can modify this basic program in numerous ways.

Python

Sometimes you need an example of text-based programming language and Python is one of these. It’s relatively simple to learn. It can be used many ways:

  • Install Python to your computer. Write code to .py text-file and compile it. This is the hardest way, but best if you write longer programs. If you’re using Windows, change path-environment variable from settings according to where your python.exe is located.
  • Install Python to your computer and use ide that comes with installation. Ide means that you can write code and see the results right away.
  • If you don’t want to install it (yet), you can use online ide, such as ideone.com There you can also use other programming languages. Downside is that if you are not careful, you may lose some work.

Here are some very basic examples (and by the way, printing doesn’t mean it prints on paper, only on screen):

Printing numbers form 0 to 9:

for i in range(10):
	print i;

Printing multiplication table of 5:

for i in range (10):
	print ((i+1)*5);

Printing first Fibonacci numbers:

numberA=1;
numberB=1;
temporary=0;
while(numberA<1000):
	print numberA;
	temporary=numberA+numberB;
	numberA=numberB;
	numberB=temporary;
Unity

Unity unites text-based coding to graphical interface, making it fast and relatively easy to develop games. Several commercial games have been created with unity, see list of examples here. Unity is not the only one of it’s kind, but it is definitely one of the most significant game engines.

Good news is that Unity is free for private use and even when you are earning a little with your game you’ve developed. I’m not eager to put any specific details here, please check from Unity’s website if you have any questions with licences.

I have a plan to make some Unity related content for educators but that idea is still in its infancy. Before that, you can check their own learning page: https://unity3d.com/learn