Category Archives: Education & Training

How to Make an Interactive Lesson Material with PowerPoint

photo of woman teaching his son while smiling

Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, learning how to use PowerPoint is worth your time since it can help you make interactive lesson materials for kids.

Young children have short attention spans which could be a problem when it comes to learning. This is why teaching preschoolers requires a lot of activities that would appear as fun games to them1

The problem becomes more severe when a child has dyslexia or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). If this is the case, you’ll need to think of a different way for the child to learn since traditional teaching methods probably won’t work.

One of these ways would be creating interactive lesson materials using Microsoft PowerPoint. This software is often known as a presentation maker. But it actually has a lot of features that you’ll be able to use to make interactive learning aids.

If you’re interested in learning how to do this, continue reading below.

Step 1: Outline Your Lesson

If you’re a teacher, you might already have a lesson plan prepared. If you’re a parent who’s looking into creating a personalized lesson material for your child, you may want to begin with this step.

Here’s an example lesson outline.

LESSON: Learning Animal Names

OBJECTIVES:

  1. Identifying animals by images
  2. Reading animals names in English

TARGET VOCABULARY: cat, dog, pig, cow, bat

ACTIVITIES:

  1. Sing and dance warm-up
  2. Introducing the animals using images and their names
  3. Individually identify the animals and spelling their names
  4. Short quiz

The lesson outline will help you through the process of making your lesson. It will also be easier to create the next lessons since you’ve established your objectives.

Step 2: Prepare the Materials You Need

Now that you’ve outlined your lesson, you’ll need to gather the materials (or files) that you need to make the PowerPoint lesson.

Based on Step 1’s example lesson outline, here are the materials needed.

  1. Images of the animals (additional images like happy faces or congratulatory messages will also come in handy)
  2. Sound files of the animal’s sounds and/or names (you can record your voice if you like)
  3. A warm-up sing and dance video to excite the child like One Little Finger (you can embed videos in PowerPoint from online sources like YouTube)
  4. PowerPoint templates that are colorful and child-friendly. You can use the provided templates in the software or download free ones from sites like Free-power-point-templates and Slidehunter.
computer folder display screenshot

It’s best to keep them organized by renaming them and sorting them into folders. It’ll be easier to make your lesson material this way.

Step 3: Begin Making Your Slides

Open PowerPoint on your computer and begin creating your slides. You can add as many slides as you want. Again, based on the example lesson outline from Step 1, you’ll see examples of the slides you can include in interactive material.

The Title Slide

This should clearly state the lesson you’ll be teaching in your material. You can add more images to make it more appealing to children.

Learn animal names

The Warm-up Slide

To embed an online video, go to the “Insert” tab and click on “Video” in the Media section. From there, you can insert an online video or a video saved on your computer.

PowerPoint design screenshot

The Lesson Content Slides

This will all depend on your creativity and the flow of the lesson. Using animations, you can create each slide interactive for kids. Let’s use this slide as an example.

orange colored cat illustration with boy character

You’ll see that this is an ordinary slide with an image of a cat. You can create a copy of the cat’s image and edit it to become uncolored.

Insert the image in the slide where you added the colored cat image. Right-click on the image and click on “Send to Back”

cat design editing on powerpoint

You’ll see that the black and white image will disappear. Now, click on the colored cat image and go to the “Animations” tab. Here, you can add animations for that image.

PowerPoint animation tab

Make sure that you set the animation trigger to “On Click”. This will give the child the chance to click on the image or slide to trigger the animation. It’s advisable to add sound effects as well.

This will make it appear as if the child has just colored in the cat’s image with a simple click.

grey colored cat illustration

You can add audio files as well by going to the “Insert” tab and clicking on “Audio” in the Media section. Here, you have the option to record or insert an audio media file. Adding an audio file with a voice saying “CAT” or the animal’s sound will make the lesson an even more wonderful experience for a young child.

The Short Quiz Slides

Of course, after the lesson, you’ll need to give a short quiz to see if the child has successfully reached the target objectives of the lesson.

You can also make this as interactive as you can using images, videos, audio files, and animations.

Here’s an idea that you can use for a short quiz.

dog and cat illustration

This slide requires the child to click on the correct animal that matches the word on the upper right. Now, you’ll need to create two more slides – one would be the “correct” slide and the other is the “wrong/try again” slide.

PowerPoint slides screenshot

Now, you’ll need to hyperlink the correct slides to each of the images in the question slide you made. On the left side, choose “Place in the Document”. Refer to the slide names or numbers that you’ll see in the Slide Tab that’s on the leftmost side of PowerPoint to know which slide to hyperlink.

PowerPoint slide editing - dog illustration

You can add “buttons” hyperlinking to the next questions if you want to add more questions to your short quiz.

Step 4: Test It Out

Before you use the lesson material you’ve made to teach kids, it’s best to test it out first. Make sure that it works. There’s a big chance that a child would become frustrated and your hard work will all go to waste.

You can test out different animations and add slide transitions as well. Check if the animations you added to the images are working as they should and that the hyperlinks in your quiz go to the correct slides.

It Can be Time-Consuming, but it’s Worth the Effort

Making these lesson materials with PowerPoint can take so much time and effort. But seeing the smiles on children’s faces as they go through a fun and interactive lesson will be worth the effort of creating them.

These can also be done for older students. You just need to use different PowerPoint templates, images, and other media files that’ll fit their age group and lessons. Use your imagination and hone your PowerPoint skills to make even better interactive lesson materials.

Learning English Through Unconventional Methods

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

Girl writing on a book

English is, still, the world’s preferred language. When two strangers from different corners of the world meet, they greet in English, and try to remember all the English phrases they learnt in school so as to converse. No doubt about that. English is here to stay.  However, the methods of learning English have undergone a sea change over the years. Gone are the days when grammar rules had to be learned by rote in stuffy classrooms. English learning is much more appealing now, but perhaps not as appealing as it can and should be. English teaching and learning can be fun and effective if we adopt unconventional ways, as seen below.

1. Make friends in other countries

First, we have to get rid of the idea that English can only be learnt from a text. Why don’t the students of English have pen pals from other countries? For example, a student from India learning English can have a pen pal in Kenya, who is also learning English. The two of them can start communicating, first using very simple words and phrases, but as they progress in their learning, more complicated sentences expressing complex ideas. This is fun and effective because a language is learnt best when it is learnt in real life situations, answering a felt need.

2. Watch English movies without subtitles

Make no mistake. If you are watching an English movie for the first time, it can sound like all Greek and Latin. That is to be expected. However, once you watch regularly, you will automatically pick up words and phrases, and soon, be able to understand entire movies word to word. The advantage of learning English from movies and other visual media is that the visuals are there to help you decipher the meaning. Disney movies are a great starting point for young learners, since they are meant for younger audiences and the themes are appealing to them.

3. Listen to English songs

Music buffs especially will jump at learning English by listening to English songs. There are very popular albums by very popular artists that are ideal for the music lover, from whichever country he or she is.  In fact, learning English by listening to English songs may be the cheapest, most viable and fun way to do it. Most English song lyrics consist of simple words strung together, but with the music added, they are just top notch entertainment and a great way to learn the language. Who wouldn’t want to tap their feet and sing to a hit from Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift? Needless to say, learning English through music will be a hit with adolescent students.

4. Act in English plays

English teaching and learning will be so much more fun and effective if students of English act in English plays as part of their curriculum! Does this idea sound outrageous? It does not have to. Anything learnt in fun and creative ways will stay with the learner forever. Plays for acting by beginner English students can be very simple: they can be adaptations of famous short stories such as Aesop’s fables. It does not take much effort from an English teacher to adapt a world-famous fable such as the ‘boy who cried wolf’ or ‘lion and the mouse’ into a play. As the students progress in their learning, they may reach a stage where they can stage even Shakespeare!

5. Play games

In a perfect world, play and work will be synonymous. In a perfect world for students, games will teach English. Games such as Charades, Pictionary, Board Race and Hangman are traditional games into which English language learning can be incorporated. There are also well-known board games such as Scrabble that is competitive and educational at the same time. Learning English through playing games is most effective with young kids, but even adults can enjoy a game of Scrabble.

6. Use social media

Since social media is an integral part of modern life, why not make the best use of it? For example, a group of English learners can create a group on Facebook with their teacher, and post their small poems or stories, even one-liners. As people see their work and appreciate, they will be motivated to do more. Who does not like to get ‘likes’ for their Facebook posts? This is a small example of how social media can be used for a good purpose. Another idea is to post short, learner generated quizzes on WhatsApp chat groups for everybody to answer. These are fun ways indeed to learn English.

Problems Facing India’s Education System

by Dr. Shanthi Thomas

Problems Facing India’s Education System

Is everything well and good with India’s education system?

The answer to this question is a resounding ‘no’.

Even a cursory look at India’s school education will reveal the serious issues plaguing the system. Let us take a look at these issues.

1. Lack of quality educators

The quality of teachers in many Indian schools, though not all, leaves much to be desired.  The reason for this is easy to find. If you ask a school graduate in India what he wants to become in the future, he would say doctor, engineer, and scientist and so on, but most probably, not a teacher. Teaching as a profession does not attract the most accomplished of candidates, who usually opt for careers such as engineering or medical field.  Very often, students who do not make the cut for other careers opt for teaching as a profession. This is exacerbated by the fact that in many private schools, it is not necessary to have a teaching degree to become a teacher. It turns out that anybody and everybody can teach, which is not the ideal state of affairs.

2. Low remuneration

Why do so few people want to become teachers? Why is it not the number one ambition of the young people in India? The answer is simple. Compared to other professionals such as engineers, doctors or lawyers, teachers in many schools in India, though not all, are paid low. This has eroded the respect and high status that teaching as a profession has been accorded since time immemorial. It is also a matter of regret that people who are entrusted with molding the future generations of the country should be rewarded with so little, in terms of money. This is most evident in private schools, where often fresh graduates without a teaching degree or experience are employed.

3. Disempowerment

If a teacher is to be respected in society, and are deemed worthy of being paid well, they should have decision making opportunities about what to teach, and how to teach. Teachers should not be just robots who repeat the same lines in classes year after year, without using their intellectual capacities for any kind of decision making. This is the negative effect of the mass education policies in India where educational decisions are centralized and text books are written by the so-called experts. Teachers are just instruments to implement their decisions. This makes teaching a profession that involves very little intellectual challenge.

4. Lack of money

4.6 per cent of India’s GDP is spent on education. For a country of India’s size and population, this is hardly adequate. The lack of funds shows up in inadequate infrastructure, and lack of quality educational materials. How many high schools in India can boast of well-equipped laboratories or computers? How many Indian schools have well-stocked libraries? How many have a good playground, football or basketball courts?  Barring International and private schools that charge exorbitant fees, the schools in India do not have the facilities needed for a high quality education.  

5. Text-oriented rote learning

The 21st century demands critical skills, creativity and leadership. Technology has advanced to the point of robots taking over human jobs like teaching. The modern world has little use for people who are just followers, who blindly follow orders with little thinking. Sadly, Indian education is still stuck in the past, with its emphasis on the supremacy of the text and the rote learning of facts. It does not engage the learners through the application of theory. Language learning in particular, is a case in point. A CBSE English examination can be aced if a student can understand the given text and write a pre-prepared answer. Writing or speaking skills are not assessed in the examination. For this reason, there is no guarantee that a person who is a graduate of English language and literature can speak, read and write good English. This is a basic problem with the curricula in schools in India. In fact, not speaking good English is the major handicap that Indian candidates have in International job markets.

6. Lack of emphasis on co-curricular and extra-curricular activities

There is a reason why a nation of 1.3 billion people cannot produce even a couple of winners at the Olympics. Students in India lose out on holistic education. Sports, debating, foreign language learning, arts and craft, dance, music and Model United Nations are just some of the activities that children in good schools around the world take part in, apart from academics. Very few Indian schools have these provided as part of their school experience.

Common Idioms in English and Their Origins

Common Idioms in English and Their Origins

Idioms add colour and flourish to the language and it is very interesting to know how they originated. Anyone who wants to learn English will have to learn these expressions that make the English language so much more interesting and vibrant.  Here are a select few.

1. Be on cloud nine

If we say that someone is on cloud nine, we mean that he is very happy or elated.

How did this idiom originate? It originates from a practice of the US weather bureau which identifies different types of clouds. The highest type, which is found at over 10,000 meters, is called cloud nine. Now, ‘high’ is a word that is often used to denote extreme happiness or euphoria. Hence, cloud nine being the highest cloud, came to refer to the heights of happiness.

2. Keep up with the Joneses

When you try to keep up with the Joneses, you always buy/do what one’s friends and neighbors buy /do in order to seem as rich as they are.

Arthur R. Momand, an American cartoonist started writing a comic strip for the New York Globe in 1913 and it ran for 28 years. It was called ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’, and came from his own experience of married life in Cedarhurst, Long Island, where he had to buy things just to be equal to or keep up with his neighbors.

3. Let the cat out of the bag

This means ‘to reveal a secret by mistake’.

In village fairs in Britain, piglets used to be sold in bags. These bags were not opened by the buyers until they reached home. Some of the sellers at the fair were less than honest and put cats into the bags instead of piglets. When the bag was opened at the buyer’s home, the cat would jump out and the secret would be revealed. Thus, when you let the cat out of the bag, you are revealing a secret.

4. Buff

A buff is a person who knows a lot about a particular subject/area of human enterprise even if it is not really his official business to know so much about it.

The word originated in the last century in New York City where amateur firefighters helped the official firemen to put out blazes. The amateur enthusiasts were called buffs because of their coats made out of buff leather. This was a pale yellow leather coat made from buffalo hide. Today its meaning has widened so that one can use it to describe people who are interested in many different subjects; you could meet a wine buff, a music buff, a gardening buff or a basketball buff for example.

5. Underdog

An underdog is someone who is almost certain to fail/lose a competition/argument/war etc.

 A common way of using it is in the expression support the underdog. One theory about its origin is that it came from the time when dogfighting was popular. The dog that was strongest was called the top dog (which can be used of people today) and the animal that was more likely to lose was called the underdog. ‘The Under Dog in the Fight’ is a 19th century song which ends:

“But for me, I shall never pause to ask

Which dog may be in the right,

For my heart will beat, while it beats at all,

For the underdog in the fight.”

6. White elephant

A white elephant is something which is expensive but useless/something which is costly to keep and has no apparent benefits.

This expression comes from Thailand. A long time ago in Thailand, if a white elephant was born in the country, the king would claim it for himself and rear it. However, if anyone displeased the king in some way, the king would give the white elephant to him. This would soon ruin the hapless fellow because the upkeep of a white elephant took a lot of money. 

7. Pay through the nose

When you pay through the nose, you pay a high price for something which is not worth it.

This expression relates to a tax imposed by the Danes on the Irish during the 9th century. The punishment for not paying the tax was nasty. One’s nose was cut open with a knife. A related slang term is rip-off, which means cheat someone by making them pay through the nose.

Helping Your Child Make Major Decisions

College Students Walking

College planning in USA, for some, can start as early as the preschool years, when children begin to learn about different occupations, learn to make decisions, and start performing small household chores. Conscious college and career planning, however, generally begin when a child is in middle school or is just starting high school, and students can greatly benefit from the wisdom and guidance of their parents as they choose what courses to take in high school, consider career options, take aptitude tests, and begin the daunting process of selecting colleges and completing applications.

Choosing a college is one of the first major decisions a child will make for themselves, and parents have a delicate role in providing support, guidance, and encouragement without pushing their child.

“The role of the parent is critical, said Paul Francis, senior admissions counselor at the University of Washington. “Many parents just don’t realize how what they say and do–or many times, what they don’t say and don’t do–affects their children.”

Preparation During High School

Before entering high school, students need to be aware of their general career goals and the courses needed. Any student planning on attending college should take courses on the college prep track, and during the freshman year, a parent can stress the importance of these college prep courses as well as help their children strengthen areas of academic struggle.

In the sophomore year, parents can discuss with their children which honors and advanced placement courses to take during the junior and senior years. Students don’t necessarily need to know exactly what they plan on majoring in at this point, but those who have an idea can tailor their studies accordingly. Those interested in engineering, for example, would be smart to take extra courses in science and math.

Also during the student’s sophomore year, parents should remind their children of the registration dates for the PSATs and preACTs and help with preparation. This is also a good time to start visiting college campuses.

As juniors, children will need assistance preparing for the SAT and ACT exams. College fairs will be a valuable resource for both parents and children to gather information about prospective schools, as will be information nights hosted for parents to learn about the application process and financial aid options.

Seniors will benefit from parental assistance in tracking the deadlines for applications and final decisions. Parents will also need to file their income taxes as early as possible and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as well as other student aid applications required by prospective schools.

Choosing a College

“Parents need to help students set realistic framework types of schools, those that are affordable,” said Tricia Petty, coordinator of undergraduate student recruitment at West Virginia University. “Then, [they should] give students independence with that framework so they can decide personally based on their own academic factors or social factors or a combination.”

Sabrina Cave, director of the Mountaineer Parents Club at West Virginia University, said that parents should help their children develop and keep realistic expectations about what to expect during the application and enrollment processes.

“[Parents should] facilitate an open and honest discussion with their child about college,” added Francis.

Some of the specific things Francis suggest parents do include setting appropriate boundaries, like informing their children that they should take the lead in setting up college visits, speaking with university staff, and filling out application forms.

“The gift of self-empowerment is one of the greatest things parents can give to their children,” Francis said.

Once students and parents have a general idea of the schools that are of interest, campus visits can help narrow down the selection.

Visiting campus benefits both students and parents in myriad ways, said Francis. Students can visualize if this is the place where they want to spend the next four years of their life, while parents often feel relieved in knowing exactly what environment their child will be in during this new phase in their life, oftentimes very far away from the comforts of home.

“Students need to physically envision being there,” said Petty. “Even with all the pictures and information available online, a campus visit engages the student with the school.”

“Both students and parents can get a true sense of what college life is like–both in and out of the classroom — and how many resources and support services (human and operational) are there to ensure a students success,” added Francis.

Making Final Selections

The decision ultimately has to be made by the students, and both Francis and Petty warn parents not to try to live vicariously through their children.

“There aren’t many things we get to decide in life, but where we want to go to college should be one of them,” said Francis. Allowing children to make their own informed decisions about higher education while providing emotional support will help to ensure a healthy relationship between parents and children long after college has ended.

Forcing a decision on your child sets them up to potentially not be successful where they are, said Petty. Students who’ve chosen a university based on their own criteria are more likely to succeed.

Transitioning & Letting Go

Administrators at some colleges and universities have coined the term “helicopter parent” to describe parents who are overly involved with their childrens’ applications or general college lives.

Francis says that while the majority of parents at the University of Washington act entirely appropriate, there are parents that cross the line, especially when students are denied admission or when other problems arise. We really do prefer to counsel students directly, he said. It’s the issue of the student being proactive about their education and looking toward the future.

Petty agrees. “Students really need to be the initiator when problems arise. We want to see our students become productive adults.” “[The helicopter parent] is a trend we welcome,” said Cave, “as long as parents are engaged in a productive manner.”

For parents who want to be involved in a positive way, Cave suggests finding an appropriate outlet. Many schools have organizations for parents such as West Virginia University’s Mountaineer Parents Club that provide local events, special parent weekends, newsletter and email updates, and other activities that help parents stay connected to their children.

“When parents are knowledgeable about resources and services, such as tutoring and advising, they’re better able to support their children,” said Cave. “When a child calls home with a problem, parents are better prepared to help them deal with it.”

Ultimately, Petty recommends that parents have patience and understanding throughout this process. “Kids change their minds as they try to figure out who they are. “It’s a major decision, but don’t make too big a deal of it”

About the author: Linda S. Davis works as an English teacher at a local college. Besides, she is a highly experienced editor at a research paper writing service. By the way, she is a great speaker and communicator.

How To Become An Ideal Teacher For Your Child During The Coronavirus Quarantine

Homeschooling

The global pandemic that hit the world at the beginning of 2020 has already changed our lifestyles a lot. The majority of countries around the globe are currently in the lockdown, which means adults are encouraged to work remotely and kids are in the quarantine.

However, even though schools are shut, it does not mean that the educational process needs to stop. It is important that kids continue learning and continue covering the school program. The only difference is that given the current circumstances it is parents that need to take control over their kids’ studies and temporarily become their personal teachers.

At the very beginning of it, homeschooling during the quarantine can be rather difficult for both children and their parents, especially if neither of you had had this type of experience before. Nonetheless, if you approach the situation rationally, you will soon realize that it is easier than it seems. All you need to do in order to become an ideal teacher for your child during the Coronavirus quarantine is to calm down and follow some simple rules.

Create a Healthy and Positive Working Environment

One of the main reasons why actual educational institutions work so well when it comes to educating your child — apart from having specifically trained and highly-skilled teachers to deliver the information — is the fact that they promote a particular kind of environment.

Indeed, a considerable amount of scientific research suggests that a positive classroom environment has a significant effect not only on the process of student learning but also on the results of it. Children tend to understand, process and remember information better if they feel motivated to do so. One way of motivating students to learn new material is by keeping them disciplined and allowing them to feel supported at all times.

It is a known fact that the studying process can sometimes be rather challenging; we all have gone through both ups and downs of the school career and have experienced the struggles related to it. In fact, this is a normal part of the journey: in order to better their knowledge, students need to face certain challenges to tackle and problems to overcome. However, they should not be depressing and impossible to combat. On the contrary, students need to feel included in the process of solving those problems and have the motivation to do so, have a clear sense of belonging, and be encouraged to ask questions instead of accumulating the things they do not quite understand. All of that promotes positive learning and affect the effectiveness and the speed of the learning process.

On top of that, it is essential for students to know how to distribute their time and stick with the activity they are carrying out. The school does the job by having a set schedule with bells, breaks and the exact duration of classes as well as separate rooms for different classes.

While it is difficult if not completely impossible to replicate the classroom environment at home, in order to become an ideal teacher for their child during the Coronavirus quarantine, parents need to try their best and foster a healthy working atmosphere. There are several key things to consider when trying to do that.

Set Up a Working Space

One of the most important things to do when trying to homeschool your kid is to have a special place in your house where your child would study. It would be ideal to allocate a spare room just for studying, but it is understandable that not everyone has an opportunity to do that. If you do not have a room to spare, a simple desk for doing school work only would be good enough.

The trick is to draw an association between a particular part of your house and learning new material. By getting into a habit of having a designated area specifically for studying, your child will get into the productive headspace easier, and will overall be less distracted.

Differentiate Between You as a Parent and You as a Teacher

Another important thing to remember when trying to homeschool your children during this quarantine is that you need to differentiate between the working hours and leisure time. At school this is done easily since you physically travel from one building which associates with free time and fun, home, to another building dedicated specifically to working hard, school.

When quarantined in your house, however, this distinction can easily fade away. While you, of course, cannot pretend like you are a different person, and you definitely should not be doing that, you need to make sure that your kid knows that when it is studying time, they are not to get distracted by any other things.

When teaching your child, you need to be professional and focus on the subject you are trying to explain to your offspring. Especially since it will be hard for both of you to get used to the new roles.

Create a Set of Rules to Follow During Classes

At last but not at least, you need to make sure that you are consistent in your learning and do not waste your time.

A lot of people who choose to homeschool their children under normal circumstances and are not forced to do so by the quarantine say that the whole point of a home school is to have more freedom and not be confined by a certain schedule and textbooks.

However, if you are turning to homeschooling as a temporary solution, you might want to have some structure in your classes in order for both you and your kid to have the sense of ‘normal’.

This means that you should stick to the usual length of classes, have breaks and lunch. In addition to that, it will be good to ban phones for the duration of the lesson. Not only this would further reinforce the idea of a separate working space, but will also be extremely efficient as it will help your child to stay focused and not wander off.

Turn to Online Resources for Help

It is great if you have textbooks and other teaching materials to guide you throughout the journey. However, if you are not an experienced teacher and, perhaps, are lacking knowledge in some areas yourself, you might need to search for some additional information to both fill gaps in your knowledge and make it easier to explain the information to your child.

Access Teaching Resources

One of the best ways of tackling this problem is looking up teaching resources online. First of all, the internet is full of supporting content to use in your classes.

This is particularly important to use them as the textbook alone will likely not be sufficient to keep your child interested and focused. This is particularly relevant to those parents who have to homeschool primary and secondary school students during the quarantine. While older teenagers have some sense of direction and understand why they need to stay concentrated on work, younger kids can easily get bored with learning at home.

For this reason, you need to find some assisting materials to keep your lessons interactive and interesting. If the activities you do are repetitive, it will be harder to remember the information you are trying to deliver to your kids. Therefore, it is important for you to alternate the ways in which you deliver the facts. For instance, you could incorporate some visual materials such as videos and presentations found online into your lessons or use Quizlet for digital quizzes. Get creative with your approach to teaching and learning! After all, in the digital era, it is easier than it sounds, and you will get to learn something new with your child, too!

In addition to that, if you have no idea where to start and have not had any prior experience of teaching, you might want to look up some lesson plans for different subjects.

The only nuance when it comes to teaching resources is that a lot of them are paid. While there are plenty of free resources available online, a lot of them are only for short-term teaching and are not meant for longer use. However, if the lockdown lasts longer than initially announced, you might want to consider signing up to some platforms with premium resources.

Ask a More Experienced Teacher for Guidance

Remember that you are not alone in all this. Millions of parents across the world are currently in the same situation as you are, so they are all gathering into groups online (no contact, social distancing is key!) to share their tips and tricks with other fellow parents.

You might go on Facebook to search for the aforementioned groups and see whether someone is dealing with the same problems as you, or could suggest some fun alternative ways of handling the coronavirus quarantine homeschooling.

In addition to that, you can also turn to actual teachers for some guidance, too. You can either look for someone qualified on the web, contact the teachers from the school your child normally attends to see whether they would be able to offer any help or even search for tutors online.

Plan Your Lessons Effectively

In order to be an ideal teacher for your child and not be overwhelmed by the whole teaching thing, you need to remember that planning ahead is key to success!

It can be stressful at first, especially when you first see the amount of work you will have to cover, but believe us, it is not all that bad. If you break down the workload into smaller chunks, you will be able to structure effectively and prepare lessons in a way that would foster your child’s learning.

However, to be able to do that, you first need to get familiar with lesson planning as the only good lesson is that structured well. Before you get down to the actual learning, you will need to settle the following questions:

What are the objectives? Defining the objectives of each lesson is something that will be helpful for both you and your child. Your kid will understand what they are going to be educated on and therefore remember the information better, while you yourself will benefit from knowing your objectives in a way that you will not wander off the initial plan and cover everything you wanted to cover. Before you start your lesson, tell your child exactly what you are going to talk about and what skills your child will gain at the end of the lesson.

Do not go straight into the learning routine but rather dedicate some time to an overview first. It can be tempting to get straight down to the business, but the chances are your kid could end up being confused. In order to get them listening and focused, you need to start the lesson off from afar. Tell an engaging story, add in some exciting facts or get your kid to complete a worksheet to warm them up. That way, the information will be going into their brains easier. And do not forget to solidify their learnings with a quiz at the end of the lesson.

Be realistic. This is all about understanding yourself and your child. While it is, indeed, possible to teach a whole unit of physics in one sitting, it is unlikely that it will turn out to be an enjoyable experience. Instead, try to plan everything out in such a way that you would have smaller, more manageable chunks that will be more fun and interesting to learn. After all, it is all about consistency. As long as you keep a steady and comfortable pace, and are regular with your lessons, you will be great!

At last but not at least, you need to understand that you do not have to spent the whole day studying with your kid. While you need to plan your lessons in such a way that you would cover all the units by the time the quarantine is over, do not exhaust yourself and your child. After all, in these uncertain times, it is all about staying healthy and relaxed.

The bottom line is that with a little bit of extra effort and some additional resources, you can easily become an ideal teacher for your child during the Coronavirus quarantine even without having any previous experience of educating kids. Just make sure that you are consistent in your studies and keep your calm in this difficult situation!

Author’s Bio:

Louis Robidoux is a blogger who enjoys writing articles that are of great interest to society. After having lots of posts published on different platforms, Louis decided to create his own site deeptop10.com where he’s covering topics about food, interesting hacks and lifestyle.

How to Prepare for English Spelling Bee?

How to Prepare for English Spelling Bee?

How to prepare for English spelling Bee?

Every year in the United States of America, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is a much-anticipated event where hundreds of young talented minds compete to get their spellings right. Numerous schools around the world also conduct Spelling Bee contests. If you think of it, it is only in English that you have so many spelling Bee contests – and that is precisely because English is a language that is notorious for having difficult spellings. Here are some tips from experts and past winners to help you win your Spelling Bees, from your local elementary or middle school to the international level.

1. Get that word list

Scripps Spelling Bee list is a comprehensive word list that any aspirant has to look for, to begin with. However, for your first grader, don’t aim so high. A beginners’ toolkit starting from kindergarten, first grade and second grade wordlists will do fine to start with. Master each level before moving to the next.

 2. Enlist the help of a dictionary

The official dictionary used by the Scripps National Spelling Bee Association is the Merriam Webster Unabridged, Eleventh Edition dictionary. So this is an unavoidable item in the arsenal of a Spelling Bee warrior. It is a good idea to tackle two or three pages of the dictionary at a time, memorizing official pronunciations. You could also visit the Merriam Webster website.

3. Learn root words

Many English words have Latin or Greek roots. Etymology (the field of study which deals with the origin of words) is very important in the preparation for Spelling Bee competitions. . It is the investigation of word histories. A good speller needs to know the origin of words. A huge chunk of English words have their origin in Latin, Greek, French, German and Asian languages. For example, the word ‘smaragdine’ (pronounced: smuh-rag-din) means ‘having the colour of emeralds’. This English word comes from the Latin word ‘smaragdus’ meaning ‘emerald.’

4. Master some techniques

(a) Breaking into Syllables

Long words in English are typically multi syllabic words. They have more than two or three syllables forming the words. Imagine that you are asked to spell “INCOMPREHENSIBILITY.” A pretty long word, right? The smart move is to break it down into its syllables IN-COM-PRE-HEN-SI-BIL-I-TY.

(b) Identifying Prefix and Suffix

Many of the longer words in English contain prefixes and suffixes. For example, in the word ‘INDEPENDENCE’, ‘IN’ is the prefix and ‘ENCE’ is the suffix while ‘DEPEND’ is the root word.

(c) Make a List of the Unorthodox Spellings

English is a language that sometimes appears to have no rhyme or reason to its spellings. There are words that do not seem to follow any kind of pattern. These words might have their origin in other languages like Spanish, French, German etc. For example, rendezvous, Colonel, Euouae, Liaison, Playwright, Lieutenant, knead, debris etc. do not follow any spelling rule. They just have to be memorized.

5. Build up your own word list by referencing

Spellingbee.com gives all that one would want to know about the Spelling Bee, including guidelines for parents and teachers, as well as tips for a successful participation.

Here is a list of other great resources to get your difficult words and prepare for the contest.

(1) Misspelled Words from 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee

The chance of repetition of a word to be asked is very low, but you will get an idea of the kind of words that are likely to be misspelt. A list of all the words misspelt in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee was published by the Time magazine.

(2) Hexco Top 100 Hardest Words to Spell

Hexco has developed a list of dauntingly hard words for a Spelling Bee aspirant. ‘Chiaroscurist’,  ‘Eichhornia’, ‘ kierkegaardian’ and so on are the kind of words they have.

(3) Spelling Bee Handbook

The Spelling Bee Handbook by Macmillan Publishers is a resource material for teachers who would like to prepare their students for a Spelling Bee, ideas for teaching spelling and an exhaustive list of words to be learnt.

Why take all the trouble?

Do you wonder why children take all the trouble and appear for Spelling Bees? Apart from attractive prizes, a child would gain a strong command over the English language, a huge confidence boost, public speaking skills and overcoming stage fright, valuable practice is handling tremendous stress and pressure, and the character build-up that comes from devoting hour after hour of hard work to a single cause and persevering at it no matter what.

Spelling Bees are definitely worth it.

Homeschooling in COVID-19 Times

Homeschooling

Home schooling: What, why and how.

Can home become a school? Some parents would say, ‘yes’. Homeschooling is a concept that is increasingly being talked about recently because of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has forced both parents and children to be at home, away from work and school. It would be natural for the parent to wonder about homeschooling at least temporarily in these times.

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is, simply put, schooling at home. Parents educate their children at home instead of sending them to school. The curriculum and methods of teaching are chosen by the parents, but the children are taught at their own pace, unfettered by the demands of a standardized curriculum or assessment. Some parents let their homeschooled children take standardized tests at specific points in learning. Some other parents wait till the child is at high school. At that point, they might want to be assessed by an internationally accepted Boards of Examinations such as the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE),  to show grades on college applications.

Why home schooling?

Parents choose homeschooling for a number of reasons. They may not be happy with the school settings available in their area, or with the traditional school system itself. Some other parents might want to follow an unusual or unconventional educational philosophy. In some cases, the child may have special needs, being extremely bright or otherwise, and may not be able to be accommodated in the typical classroom. Then there are parents who are passionate about education, and are well-qualified to teach any subject at school level. If such parents have enough money to spend on teaching material and plenty of time at their disposal, they will think of home schooling as a better option than traditional schooling.

How does homeschooling work?

Many parents who opt for home schooling tweak the standard curriculum to suit their children’s needs. The key is flexibility. The timing of the lesson and the pace at which a certain lesson proceeds is entirely up to the parents. They do not have to stick to a typical school academic calendar. Flexible teaching also means that when there is more than one child being homeschooled, the same topic may be taught but at different difficulty levels. There are plenty of resources available for home schooling including animated stories for young children.

Benefits of home schooling

There is no doubt that home schooling will strengthen the bond between parents and children.  There are endless possibilities for creativity, imagination and innovation for the parent, to teach a particular topic in a fun and interesting way. Education can be made more meaningful for a homeschooled child, with hands-on activities tailor-made for the child. In the 21st century, there is no dearth of learning resources if one is connected to the internet. Moreover, there are no constraints on a homeschooled child to learn a particular topic by a fixed deadline, so learning can proceed at his pace. Besides, even in a large family, a child will get more attention than he would ever get in a school classroom.  Home schooling also shelters children from bullying, drugs and other negative behaviors that they may be subject to, or pick up at school.

Disadvantages of home schooling

Home schooling, evidently, is not for all parents. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and perseverance for a parent to homeschool her children. Typically, children become restless and misbehave in a home setting with parents, more often than they would in a formal school setting. Besides, one should have the necessary resources, such as large amounts of money to spend on learning materials, and plenty of time to spend with the children. Also, very few parents know about the different teaching methodologies that only a trained teacher will know. Another oft-mentioned disadvantage of homeschooling is that homeschooled children do not have the opportunities for socialization with their peers that school-educated children have. Also, it benefits children to be used to the discipline that a school provides, not only in social behaviour, but also in personal routines such as a fixed time for learning.

Is home-schooling the future of education?

Some experts argue that with many adults working from home nowadays, children not leaving their home for school will become the norm in the future, at least partly. In the age of even robot teachers, it does not make sense to travel to a particular building every day and learn stuff that one can access freely on the internet anyway and have a parent to guide at home. However, there is also the opposing view that the human connection between teachers and students is too precious to get rid of.

Top Aesop Stories Every Kid Should Read

Aesop's Fables

Aesop’s Fables have been a traditionally popular collection of simple stories that convey moral values, supposedly written by Aesop, a slave and storyteller in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. Even in the modern era, the stories do not lose their appeal as their messages are timeless. Here is a top pick of stories that are sure to enthrall your toddlers.

1. The Lion & the Mouse

This is the story of a lion that was disturbed by a mouse. Angered, the lion threatened to kill the mouse, but the mouse said that if he was released he would repay the lion one day. Amused, the lion freed him. One day, the lion was caught in a hunter’s net, and the mouse rescued him by chewing on the net and opening it.

The moral, of course, is that good deeds will always be rewarded.

2. The Fox & the Grapes

One day a fox saw a bunch of juicy grapes. He was badly tempted to get them. He jumped multiple times, with all his might, but the grapes were simply out of his reach. Finally, giving up, the fox said scornfully, “Why am I trying so hard to get them? They are so sour.”

The moral is that people belittle that which is unattainable for them.

3. The ant and the dove

Once a dove saw an ant fall into a stream. The ant was struggling and was sure to drown. The dove took pity on the ant, and dropped a blade of grass next to him. Clinging to the blade of grass, the ant floated safely to the bank of the stream. Soon after, the dove was spotted by a hunter. Just as the hunter took aim with his gun, the ant stung him on his feet. Yelping in pain, the hunter missed his aim, and the dove flew safely away.

The moral is that kindness is always rewarded in one way or the other.

4. The thirsty crow

It was very dry season, and all the wells and streams dried up. Birds began to die, having no water to drink. A thirsty crow, searching for water, found a pitcher with very little water in it. However, because of the tall pitcher’s narrow neck, the crow could not reach the water. Then an idea occurred to him. He picked some pebbles and dropped into the pitcher one by one. Slowly but surely, the water level in the pitcher came up, and the crow could drink his fill.

The moral of the story is that one should use his wits in dire situations.

5. Who will bell the cat?

One day, all the mice got together and discussed a very serious matter that endangered their lives every single moment of their lives. There was a cat in the vicinity that threatened to catch them any moment. The mice wanted to find a solution to the problem. They thought that if there was some way of knowing that the cat was coming, they could simply run away. A young mouse suggested the idea that a bell should be hung around the cat’s neck. As the cat moved, the bell would surely ring, and the mice could run away. All the mice thought it was a great idea. Then an old mouse stood up and said, “The idea is very good, but who will bell the cat?”

The moral of the story is that it is easy to suggest great ideas, but implementing them is not so easy.

6. The oak and the reeds

A giant oak stood near a shallow stream in which a host of reeds grew. When the wind blew, the oak stood tall and strong, but the reeds bent low. The mighty oak said scornfully, “I pity you. You have to bow to the slightest breeze while I can stand strong in mighty winds.” The reeds knew better. They said, “We bow low so that we will not break. You who cannot bow, are easy to break if a strong wind blows.” Sure enough, a great hurricane blew, and the oak fell at once, torn by the roots.

 The moral of the story is that it is wise to yield when it is folly to resist.

7. The dog and his reflection

A dog was rushing home with a bone that he had been given by a butcher. On the way home, he had to cross a narrow brook. As the dog looked down from the bridge at the water, he saw his reflection. However, the foolish dog thought that it was another dog with a bone. Greedy to get one more bone, the dog barked loudly and jumped into the water. Having lost his own bone, and finding no dog in the water, the foolish dog somehow managed to swim to the shore.

The moral of the story is that greed makes one foolish.

Learning English In The Digital Era

‘Digital era’ is the moniker given to the fast-paced, tech-hungry milieu in which the human race finds itself at the moment.  It began towards the end of the 20th century, by about 1970, and is very much running full steam ahead. As with all avenues of human enterprise, the learning of English is influenced radically by this tech revolution.

Learning English: Computer assisted language learning

First created in 1960, software programs for language learning acquired popularity swiftly. A further improvement on these was the artificial intelligence programmes and computer games designed for language learning, in 1976 and 1988 respectively. These technological innovations mainly targeted receptive skills, i.e., listening and reading via audio and video lessons. These are highly user-friendly and widely popular.

Learning English: The internet

There are entire websites devoted to English teaching and learning, and they are highly popular with adult English learners. There are also websites that cater to children. They provide free content that are of interest to children, which often include English language teaching and learning. The content includes English language lessons divided into stages, with activities designed for each stage. For a parent looking for language learning material on the web, such websites are a godsend.

Learning English: Language learning apps

Language learning apps such as Duolingo are remarkable for their ease of use and creative methods of teaching. It is excellent for kids without a long attention span, since one needs to spend a mere 20 minutes a day to learn fluent English in a short time. There are also apps that builds one’s vocabulary, using spaced periodic recall techniques. Buuu is a language learning app that gives the learner opportunities to speak with native users of English. Babbel and Rosetta Stone are other apps that are very effective in English teaching, especially for non-native speakers of English.

Learning English: Short stories

Short stories? In the digital age? As surprising as it may sound, the effectiveness of short stories with simple plots and a limited number of characters for teaching a language is indisputable. This is especially true with children, as there is no child who dislikes a properly told story. This is one area of language learning where there is an endless demand for fairy tales and fables of the old, such as Aesop’s fables. These stories teach language in context, with the result that grammar and vocabulary are acquired by the learner indirectly rather than directly. This takes away the boredom and tediousness associated with direct learning of grammar and vocabulary. A bonus is the learning of values through such stories of course.

Learning English: e-Books

If there is a tried and tested recipe for English learning, that is reading. And what is the most popular mode of reading in the digital era? E-books of course. You would be surprised at the number of free e-books available out there that entertains and educates at the same time. In fact, as the world is moving into a paperless era, e-books are assuming great significance indeed. A wide variety of e-books are available on the web, and you can read any of them on the go. With iPad/tablets and e-readers like the Kindle, reading has become more interactive. They provide functions never before seen such as ‘click-to-define’. You can download whole texts at the touch of a button.

Learning English: The word processor

The unassuming word processor with its simple tools such as dictionary and thesaurus is an immense help to beginning learners of English, to correct their errors as they write and to find better words to express their ideas in a more apt way. The simple Microsoft Word is actually a godsend for many a student who are not so sure of their tenses and spelling.

Learning English: Online lessons

With Skype and FaceTime becoming more and more popular, there is a booming industry out there made up of online English lessons that involves distance teaching and learning of English. A native speaker can teach English to anyone around the world, using these tools. Videoconferencing in particular allows teachers to interact with many learners at the same time. Moreover, apps such as CoffeeStrap and HelloTalk lets you talk to native speakers and learn from them, right from your phone.

Need we say more? English learning in the digital era is a multi-sensory and multi-media experience, and, most remarkable, it is available for anyone with access to basic information and communication technology. English language has never had it this good!

Top Techniques to Teach English Reading

Boy Reading Book

English teachers use a variety of tried and tested methods to teach reading.  Here are some of the top techniques that are used to teach learners, no matter young or old.

1. The Alphabet Method

This is an age-old method dating back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome. In this method, the emphasis is on learning the names of the letters of the alphabet in the sequential order: A, B, C, D and so on. Pupils are then made to memorize words as consisting of these ‘named’ letters. There are often songs that are taught to preschoolers so that they will memorize the letters of the alphabet. Though it centers on rote learning, this method is still favored in some preschools since plenty of print material is available to teach reading this way.

2. The Phonic or Syllabic Method

This method is considered to be an improvement on the alphabet method. Here, the emphasis is not on the name of the letters but on the sounds each of them represents. Students learn to read words by stringing together the sounds of the letters. Since the English language has many words that are not pronounced as they are written, students are taught exceptions too, as ‘tricky words’. A very popular and highly developed version of the phonics method is the Jolly Phonics, which is used in many preschools around the world.

3. Reading using Contextual Clues

With very young children, it is possible to use a mixture of words and pictures to teach reading. For example, on a flash card, the teacher can show the word ‘apple’ and then point to an apple. The advantage of this method is that it works well for visual learners. Moreover, it helps young learners to read a word and understand its meaning at the same time. The disadvantage of this method is that it can be used to teach only a limited number of words, mainly the names of things, fruits, and vegetables and so on.

3. The Whole Word Method

In this method, the learner is taught to read each word as a word-picture, without attention to individual letters. This helps him to avoid incorrect spelling as the pronunciation of a word is leant as one single item, and not as a combination of the sounds of the letters. The popular ‘Look-and –Say’ method of teaching reading at the beginning stages is based on this method. In Look-and-Say, pupils look at the words flashed before them and say the words as quickly as possible before the flash cards are taken away. Reading complete words is an automatic process and is often called sight-reading. The words thus leant are high frequency words in English. One very commonly used list of such words is the Dolch sight words list, which is a set of words that make up almost 75% of the basic vocabulary found in children’s books.

4. The Sentence Method.

In the sentence method, whole sentences are taught to students as meaningful units in specific contexts. For example, ‘Please stand up’ can be taught as it is, without breaking down to individual words, if the students are all sitting down and the teacher gives the command orally and shows the sentence on a flashcard at the same time. This method depends a lot on the ingenuity of the teacher to be effective.

5. The Story Method

A lot of adults may remember the ‘Peter and Jane’ books that they were required to read in preschool. Indeed, the role of short and simple stories in the teaching of reading cannot be underestimated. This method takes advantage of the fact that children generally love stories.

6. The Language Experience Method

The language experience method makes use of the fact that each child’s life experiences are unique and there are certain words and contexts that he is familiar with. The teacher or caregiver makes use of the words the child already knows and teaches him to identify it when written. At the next stage, teachers and parents can create stories out of the child’s preferred words complete with drawings of the characters in the story. This method is popular with a lot of parents who are able to give individual attention to their children.

7. Read together everyday

Be it in the classroom or at home, having an adult read to the child is an invaluable strategy to teach reading. There are plenty of books that facilitate parent-child reading sessions. Apart from teaching reading, such sessions serve as opportunities for emotional bonding between the parents and children.

Top Ten Ways to Teach English Spelling

Teach English Spelling

Let us admit it. English spelling can be crazy and a pain in the neck. Some of the words you find in the Spelling Bee competitions are just mind boggling. In English Many words are not written the way they are pronounced, and the same sound can be produced by multiple spellings. However, fret not. Here are some tried and tested methods of teaching spelling.

1. Copying

This time-honored device for teaching spelling is based on the principle of strengthening the kinesthetic memory through repeated transcription of a word. Pupils may engage in this without any conscious attention to the task.  This is one of the oldest methods, nowadays not widely practiced, though some teachers may find a use for it in some situations.

2. Delayed Copying

In this technique, words on flashcards are shown to the pupils for a very short time. Pupils look at the spelling and write out the word as soon as the card is withdrawn.

3. Dictation

Another tried and tested device for teaching spelling is the dictation.  Typically, the teacher gives a set of words beforehand to the students for them to learn, and tests them by dictation on an assigned day. One advantage of this is that students get used to the pronunciation of the word, as they have to listen carefully to the teacher, thus linking sound with spelling.

4. Use of Mnemonics

Mnemonics are devices that help us to remember something. For example, pupils can remember difficult spellings by memorizing short and interesting formulas that highlight the troublesome part of the word. Pupils can themselves construct their own formulas to meet their individual requirements. The following examples illustrate this well:

a) permanent – the MANE is a perMANEnt part of the lion.

b) obedient – He would rather DIE than be obedient.

c) existence: the school has been in exisTENce for TEN years.

5. Rules

Though English spelling cannot be easily reduced to simple rules, there are a few which are fairly consistent and useful.  A few of the spelling rules are given below.

a) A mono-syllabic word (words with only one syllable) ending in a consonant will double the consonant when ‘ing’, ‘er’, ‘est’ or ‘ed’ is added to it. For example, hit + ing = hitting.

b) Words ending in a single ‘e’ will drop the ‘e’ when an ‘ing’ is added. For example, move+ing = moving.

c) Nouns ending in ss, sh, ch, x, or o preceded by a consonant take es to form their plurals; e.g. kisses, bushes, foxes etc.

d) Words ending in l after a single vowel double the l before a suffix beginning with a vowel. For example, travel + ing = travelling.

6. Word Study

Analysis of words by breaking them down into their components (base, prefix, suffix) etc. is also found useful. For example, in the word ‘uncomfortableun is the prefix, comfort is the base and able is the suffix.

7. Spelling Games

Spelling games like the following can easily be played in the class:

a) The few problem words are written on a card which is shown to the pupils for a short time. The card is then withdrawn and pupils write from memory as many of the words as they can. The card is again shown and they check the spellings of the words they have written and correct them, if necessary. The pupil who has written the highest number of words correctly wins.

b) The class is divided into two or three teams. The teacher writes on the blackboard two or three (corresponding to the number of teams) identical columns of words, the number of words in each column being equal to the number of pupils in each team. Each word in the columns has one or more letters missing, usually at the trouble spot. When the teacher gives the word ‘Go’, pupils from the teams come to the board one by one and each pupil completes one word in the column assigned to his team. The first team to complete all the words in the column is the winner.

8. Phonics

Phonics is the modern way to teach reading, and writing. In phonics, students learn the sounds of letters first, before they learn their names. Therefore, for a student who has learnt the sound of s and the letter name, the next logical step is to write the letter when she hears the sound. For example, when the teachers breaks up the sounds of dog, into d, o, and g, students should be able to formulate the word, just by means of knowing the sounds.