It can be fun
SAT prep can be fun! In fact, everything can be fun. Some days, I know that there is joy in everything the way that I know there is life-giving juju in coffee. Other days, I have to work a bit harder to see the joy everywhere. I might not immediately see the bright side of my recent bout of athlete’s foot, for example. Nonetheless, I contend that there is happiness to be found all over the place, even in between my toes, and I am sticking with that conviction. You can’t prove me wrong.
I want to get into the meat and potatoes of creating a class. My potatoes are peeled and the meat is thawed, but there is still a while until dinner. It is obviously time for a cocktail. The big vision of the course I want to create is too much to address all at once, so I am starting with one idea for one class. It is an online vocab session for kids preparing for the SATs. I have been teaching SAT courses for the past 5 years and I have a pretty clear idea of how I want the class to work. I will present the students with goofy and memorable videos, images, and audio clips to help them learn new words. I will have ready numerous puzzles, word scrambles, and matching games. Each session will be spent learning and interacting with 10 words in as many different ways as possible.
Last night, while nursing the day’s sunburn, I created and uploaded my content. While creating the content, I was much more mindful of copyright laws than I would be if I were simply creating curriculum for my live class. To make the list of 100 vocab words I will work from, I looked at a number of lists. I expected there to be some variation among them, but it seems that all of the test prep companies have come to a consensus as to the 100 most frequently used SAT words. I am going to go with it.
Creating content for “Abstinence” and “Adversity”
My first class will be ten “A words.” A is a fine letter to begin with, as it begins many fine words, such as “abstinence,” “adversity,” and “asylum.”
Let’s start with the word “abstinence,” a particularly hilarious word when working with teenagers. I mined my files and my soul in search of a goofy way to help a kid remember the word. Then, I remembered the “Just Say No” campaign. It was a ridiculous series of commercials from the 1980s, which were supposed to discourage kids from using drugs and alcohol. Perfect! Within minutes, I found the original commercial and several spoofs of it. I recorded my voice saying and defining the word. I tried really hard to get my little kid to say it, but she wasn’t in the mood to cooperate.
I moved to another word: “adversity.” I was grateful for my Catholic education, because the bible is full of stories of adversity. Certainly, you know the story of Job. Job was a good, God-fearing man. Then, he lost his ten children, his wife, and all of his livestock. His body was covered with open sores and he was left in a pit. Yet, he never lost faith in God. In the end, God doubled all of his wealth and he lived happily ever after. I found a set of bible coloring book pages that tell of the adversity that Job faced. What kid would be able to forget that story? If I keep mentioning “adversity,” while they are coloring the picture of Job and his sores, there is a decent shot that they will remember that word, too!
Upload and Embed
After I assembled my materials, uploading it was as easy as strawberry shortcake. I went to the “Teach” button at the top of the dashboard and then went to the “Upload Content” button. A dialogue box appeared, with a window in which to upload a file. Beneath the window is the suggestion, “Or embed content.” I did not know what “embed” means, so I googled it. Uploaded content is stored on the WizIQ web site, whereas embedded content is already housed on another site, such as YouTube or Flickr. From what I understand, you want to put as much of your content on WizIQ as possible, as it is faster to call upon when you are presenting a class. If the content is housed on another site, though, it must be embedded. For example, the “Just Say No” commercials are on You Tube, so I can not upload them onto WizIQ. To embed a YouTube video, you have to get the embed code. To get that, I had to sign up for a YouTube account. None of this was hard; it just took some persistent clicking.
The meat is on the grill and the potatoes are cooking. It is not quite time to eat, but I can smell dinner coming.