Can You Make Money with Word Ads on Word Press?

I have had this website for about 8 months now, and in the last couple of weeks i have taken it way more seriously. With pretty good results so far (thanks for that!) My monthly viewers have gone from about 300 people to about 15,000 with a little bit of marketing and promotion. Something i am not particularly good at, but with effort and some learning it seems to be improving. You can read what i tried here. It worked for me in my niche of education, so might be worth a little research in yours.

Once i started with WordPress i was on the premium plan which came with Word Ads included. I thought i would give it try, its always nice to see money coming in. I knew it would be small, but I didn’t expect it to be quite as small as it turns out.

This is my graph. You can see that so far i am still below buying a can of coke or a cup of tea for the year so far. Now my views were pretty low for an great deal of that time so i kinda expected it. However, if there are no ad bidders on your ad space they will fill it up with in house ads, for which you dont get a penny.

I have had better Christmas presents

At first i didn’t mind as I thought ads (I was new at this!) made it look more established, but the longer this has gone on the more i think seeing these empty, or in house adverts actually detracts from my website. Especially now i have more content and resources appearing daily. So I am in two minds.

I spoke to the WordPress staff, who are the most helpful customer service i have ever encountered!!, and they explained that although traffic is a factor and a fairly big one, they also look at website content as well.

Well mine, if you have been on other pages is fairly family friendly, but still an RPM of 0.01 even for CPM income is pretty poor. my viewers come from all over, USA, Europe, India, Philippines so even with lower RPM from some countries it should have been better.

I spoke to them and said i will leave them for another month, as my traffic has jumped a lot in the last couple of weeks. However, i have had Adsense on the site for about 4 weeks and that is pulling in about 8 USD a day from the new viewers, and it seems a little crazy to have so much real estate on my site occupied by Word Ads for what works out as about 0.01 a month! In December there were 4000 ads impressions and i earned literally not even that 1 cent.

I will update this post exactly one month today, so if you are reading this after February and there is not an advert right above this you know that i left WordAds and have stuck, for the moment at least, with Adsense. I know, as i have seen others results that it has worked for them and similar viewing numbers to me have brought in a dollar or two CPM. Maybe i am just unlucky!

I will be honest though, i am not hopeful!

**update** I just had a 3800 view day (26th January) that had a RPM of 0.00 there will be an updated posts quicker than a month from the date of this. I am giving it one day in February to see if its a monthly bidding process and if its not, well i was lucky enough to get some traffic through so i will be moving onto pastures somewhat greener!

What ad network have you found that works for you, maybe Mediavine or others if your traffic is higher than mine. Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take at look at our resources, email us, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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Should You Teach Phonics in Kindergarten?

Phonics is a vital skill and the earlier younger and emergent readers can learn these skills the better and more successful their language learning will be. There are still mixed feelings but being able to decode new words builds confidence and comprehension at a much faster way.

I wanted to start this off with a question, and it’s mainly aimed at ESL kindergarten teachers. I am wondering how you teach the Alphabet in K1, 2 and 3? I am a Primary teacher who mainly teaches year 1 to 3 in my school, as do most of the teachers on Hong Kong’s Native teacher scheme. (NET scheme), and most of our students come up from K.3. with great knowledge of the letter names of English but less so the relationship between the sounds and the letters and I was wondering if that is by design or accident.


Now i want to be clear, someone elses classroom is none of my business so what you do there is for you to decide! (i have secondary teachers who always question, and asking what is being taught in primary schools, and say they are not ready for secondary etc. etc. and I do not want to come across as doing that!!)


So what is being taught in Kindergarten classrooms… joking!!


I want to highlight that in primary at least here in Hong Kong, but also across Asia there is a moving focus on the importance on reading skills and phonics in our primary schools. The aim is to equip the students with skills they can use and develop as they progress through school life. I am totally aware of the developmental levels and abilities of young learners, though obviously more so in the age range I teach, so I know to start to push sound letter relationship on a 4 year old is going to be an uphill struggle. So I wanted to offer an activity that I found to work, and I think is suitable for kindergarten. Correct me if i am wrong of course.

If you think differently or have thoughts about this PLEASE mention them in the comments below as we are all learning, and knowing trends of what happens with the first steps of English can only benefit me and other primary teachers planning our lessons!


The activity is called Action Alphabet, and it is not from me, it is an old, well in terms of this scheme, activity that aims to use the name and the sound of the letter with an action. Pedagogically speaking allowing verbal, aural and kinaesthetic learning to take place as well as giving potential quick cues for teachers to use in class. (Also possibly a throwback to the TPR system in truth)


However it works, or has worked for me across a couple of schools in years one and two. It helps them to retain and reproduce the information when teachers can give visual clues in lessons as well as verbal. It is also a great, once they have learnt it, five minute introduction to the lesson.

This is the traditional one here in Hong Kong


To me, a primary school teacher, I want to be able to get these initial 26 sounds and letter relationships into students heads and effectively and efficiently as I can so we can move on to reading skills, segmentation, blending and the host of other reading skills they will need later on in their reading journeys. These skills will all be covered of course, i just wondered if some can be introduced earlier than happens currently. As it takes some time in primary to teach that although the letters do have names, they also have sounds and that is how we read and decode.


I have a resources based around my version of these, but really they could be used with any word or pictures you see fit. It would be better to have a universal one but that would never happen! So until it does feel free to edit to fit your working and cultural environment if you use these.

So feel free to take a look at mine, I include the students version here and will put the full one on the Facebook group later if there is demand for it. but this is fully editable. The soft copy I will link at the bottom if anyone wants to take a look, I also have linked a video in the text of a school doing it. This has example images and the description of the action you could do ( of course you can change it as you see fit)


So my question, I guess, is does this type of activity around letter sound relationships occur in kindergarten and feel free to share what happens in your classrooms below! And if it doesn’t happen is there a reason for it, developmentally or otherwise. I genuinely want to learn. I have spoken to kindergarten teachers here but not from a wider area so would like those opinions as well.

Thanks and happy teaching!

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take at look at our resources, email us, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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10 Amazing Junior Stem and Science lessons for Primary and ESL Students.

STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in Primary schools is really REALLY effective. Showing students real work uses for the subjects they are learning, and pairing it with their nature curiosity and enthusiasm is a great success if planned and implemented well. Here we give 10 examples of great STEM lessons to get you started.

I teach English in a Primary school in Hong Kong, and i have used these lessons to both spice up my lessons and to show the value and real world applications of my subject. When students can see a purpose for the subject they are learning their engagement and motivation will skyrocket. (not unlike the balloon rocket experiment below!)

I know we call it STEM education now, or STEAM if the Art department get sniffy about it, but really in the opinion of this long in the tooth teacher most of these activities have been around for years, if giving them an umbrella term helps make them more accessible then it is all good i suppose, but ( links aside!) there are people making a lot of money for re-branding what a lot of teachers have been doing for years. Simply engaging their students. So here are 10 ideas that you don’t have to buy a book to do 🙂 Where i have full lessons or instructions ready made i have included the link to the page.

Classroom – Ice cream. (5 minute version)

It works, it just does. Your students will of course be very excited to make ice cream in the classroom, when i was at school we just made Muesli ( and my teacher ate most of mine!) so to make something decadent is an automatic win. This happens because of the reaction between Ice and Salt (it lowers the freezing point of water)

You don’t need many ingredients, though be aware of mess when you have students shaking the bag for 5 minutes! If you like living on the edge some food colouring may make it more risky.

  • 1 large ziploc bag
  • 1 Small ziploc bag
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste.
  • 12 teaspoon vanilla
  • 13 cup salt
  • ice, plenty of it!


Put the ice into the larger bag till its about 70% full and mix the salt in. Then, fairly swiftly. put the milk or cream, sugar and vanilla or what ever flavour you chose. Now put the small bag inside the larger ice filled bag and let students shake the bag. Of course, PLEASE, make sure both bags are zip-locked really well, especially at the beginning otherwise the floor will be the first to taste the ice cream. Although it will work with lower fat milks, it will work better with full or Half and Half fat milk.

2. Make your own Volcano – No Junior science page is complete without this!

It is likely that most of the people reading this will have tried, or at the very least seen this experiment. It is designed to show a basic chemical reaction. ( there are other ways more explosive as well) Here is an example of it just in case.

If you are doing STEM, not STEAM ( sorry Art teachers) then you can pick up cheapish sets of these from Amazon, (https://amzn.to/2QXcrND) or more expensively from places like Toys R US, to save the hassle of making your own. Both ways are fine, but the papermache one tends to disintegrate after a few uses, so would need to be remade. Either way, amazon link is here and a video on how to make a Paper one is also here. ( you could use some glass container but although the reaction is the same, it doesn’t look as good.)

Like most science activities it is good for introducing procedural texts to students, especially ESL students which is my main reason ( 😉 ) for doing it. For this one you put a few table spoons of baking soda ( bicarbonate of Soda) into the volcano, add some food colouring, red yellow and orange are more authentic.) then add some white vinegar when you are read to ‘erupt’ your volcano. After tasks can be anything from sequences activities to full report with reasons why depending on your students level.

Splitting Colours – Chromotography

This is 8x as fast!

Doing this when i was in primary school, oh so many years ago, is one of the few memories i have from that time. So i have decided to try it with my students in grade one when we were learning colours I thought it would be a different way of introducing the topic, and as a way to teach them something they didn’t know. I loved it, as did they. I have the full resource kit ( you buy your own paper and pens of course!) for free on this site and the link will be at the end. Just let me know how it went if you use it please.

Basically its a way of showing how some colours, inks, dyes, are more dense than others and can be used to introduce that concept with older learners as well. It isn’t to messy, though of course someone will knock over the water so i suggest plastic pots ( most schools should have them somewhere)

You will need:

  • Blotting paper (filter coffee paper works fine and it’s cheaper) even tissues work ok
  • Water-based felt pens of various colours.
  • Water in small containers
  • tape and chopstick, toothpicks or similar.
  • After experiment tasks
  • more paper (trust me)

I have made a free worksheet and activities below. let me know if you try them!

Free for download just say hi and let me know if you used it.

Although the full instructions are in the page linked above, I will explain briefly. Ask your students to name the colours of the pens you hold up, in ESL classrooms this should be fine as they have had it drilled into them all the way through Kindergarten as well, then tell them how to make a colour. ( they wont know). Then explain that colours, most colours, are made of lots of different colours and we are going to find out how to make them, but first we have to split them apart. Then demonstrate one colour, i would choose black. Put a dot or two of the colour onto the filter paper and make sure there it is not right at the bottom of the strip.

Then stick the top to the chopstick and put it so the bottom of the paper, NOT the colour is in the water.

THe water will travel up the filter paper, till it reaches the colour and then it will take the lighter, less dense colours up with it splitting them. Then you can ask your students again, what colour do they see in black.

you can then ask if they want to try it ( they do!!) and let them go. It does matter what markers you use. I tried these and they work pretty well.

Secret Writing – Lemon Juice Experiment.

Easy and no mess experiments, one showing how acid deals with heat, and the other showing how water can be repelled by certain materials.

You will need for both…

  • Lemon juice
  • White wax crayon or candle
  • paper
  • Watercolour paints and brushes
  • a source of heat ( preferably not a naked flame!) heater or even hairdryer should be ok. if not an iron.

Lemon Juice Writing: First squeeze one of two lemons into a bowl and add a splash of water. Ask the students to use a paintbrush to write their secret message on to the paper and then let it dry. Let them do more than one. Once completed let the messages dry and then pick a message and hold to the heater to see what happens The acid in the lemon will turn brown in the heat and reveal the message. If you demonstrate this first the students will want to rush off and write their own. as an English teacher it is amazing to see how keen a class can suddenly be to write in English!

Wax Writing: This is the less heat related version of the task above. For this you write a message or draw a picture using a sharpened candle. Leave it for a minute or two and then you take a paintbrush and some water colours. When you paint over the words the wax will repel the water-based paint and leave them white, while the rest of the paper will absorb the colours.

Both of these lessons are on this site as well with the links below.

Rainbow Milk:

It looks this good!

I promise I am not obsessed with colours. Its just there are so many cool things to do with them when it comes to STEM or project based learning. However, this will be the last one i mention.

This is a potentially messy activity so make sure your room and students are well covered with old newspaper or similar.

You will need:

  • Full Fat Milk
  • Oil Based food colouring
  • soap
  • cotton buds
  • plates, plastic or other wise.
  • Sink to clean up after. (or bucket i guess)

This is a great little experiment and i have used it numerous times in class. Briefly you have to set up a little before hand and have some milk and food colouring on the table. Instruct your students to put a little milk on to the plate or bowl, enough so it covers the bottom. Then to place a drop, no more is needed, of food colouring in different places in the milk. Have them do this carefully as it can splash. Once done, they can take a cotton bud, dip it in the soap and put it in the middle of the drop of food colour. Then sit back and watch the results.

I have a free worksheet and activities below if it helps

Make a Floating Compass

This is a more in depth science experiment that the previous ones, so it might be more suitable for older learners. However I have done this with grade three second language students, and they managed to complete it well, my only concern is the science behind it might be a little beyond them at this stage. However, It is a good activity and opens up a huge number of directions to follow up on.

The idea is to make a compass from a needle, a magnet and some cork and have it point to North.

You will need.

  • a cork cut into slices
  • some pins or needles
  • a bowel of water
  • a magnet
  • some tape.
  • A real compass (for checking)

This Experiment is lovely to do outside on a nice day. I introduce it as a survival skill after reading a book about being lost, or marooned ( Robinson Crusoe, or after watching a clip from the Martian (would this work? – there’s another lesson though!!)

I have a free worksheet and some activities below.

I have a worksheet and some activities, quiz etc. you can edit as you need.

Floating Diver

This teaches the basics of pressure, and what happens when it is increased, and it gives the students a toy diver to play with! They have to make a diver to put in a bottle filled with water, if you are an art teacher you can recreate a seascape in the bottle. ( using methods similar to a ship in a bottle though, and has to be plastic not glass!)

You will need:

  • Plastic bottle ( 2 litres in better)
  • strong card or foil ( if you want it to last longer)
  • paper clips
  • A bendy straw
  • tape or glue
  • water

The idea is the same as the octopus picture, so you could get one of those if you don’t want the craft part in your lesson, or make it yourself before. ( i haven’t tried the octopus but it works on the same theory.

This lesson is on this site so you can click the link for the full rundown and resources. or email me if you need more. However, once the student has made the diver and stuck the small straw on the back they place it into the water bottle. ( so small enough to get through the lid) once. The diver will float due to the air trapped in the straw. If they squeeze the bottle all the air, including the air trapped int he straw will compress and the diver will dive to the bottom. This will continue until the card turns into a soggy mess, unless you made it more robustly. Check out the lesson.

I have made a free worksheet and activities below if it helps you .

Egg Parachutes

This experiment has been done for years. Students are given an egg that they have to transport from a height by dropping it. the challenge is to make sure it doesn’t break. You can do this literally any way you wish, i had a paper cup for them to keep the egg in as a basket and then they have to construct a parachute to slow down the fall. It can be run as a competition for students to see whose works or looks best, who used least materials, who could drop it from the highest point etc.

You will need:

  • Eggs, or something else fragile
  • plastic bags
  • strings
  • paper cups
  • tape
  • worksheets
  • colour pencils to decorate the cups

The science with this can be anything from air pressure to momentum, i have air pressure lessons on here as well (Rocket Balloon, Floating table tennis ball etc) so if you want to expand these are there as well. Try them and see.

Make your own Slime.

I have not done this yet, its on my list to try this year, so i will let you know how it goes! I have done something similar with make your own quicksand ( non Newtonian fluids) which is below but would be nice to have something students can play with longer! I spoke to a teacher here who has done it and it is a surefire hit with students. I will link some of the safe recipes for slime here so if you try before me maybe you can post and let me know how it goes! If you have already done it and want me to post your blog link please get in touch as well. You can also get it from amazon, which might be quicker. both are here though.

The advantage of you making it is that you can Dye your slime different colours as well, but be warned it will likely get all over your students hands! Mess is part of the fun though 🙂


How to make an Egg Float?

A simple denisty experiment to help younger, and older, learners understand the concept.

The idea is simple an egg wont float in normal water, it is too densie and will sink. ( if its fresh) , so we add salt slowly to the fresh water and try the egg ( see if you can get it to suspend in the water as that is quite cool! but you add enought salt till the water becomes mroe dense tthat the egg and the egg will not sink.

I have written a basic worksheet which you can use or adapt below. Let me know what you all think!

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

Let me know in the comments if you have any other cool science for Juniors, sharing is caring!

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Sorry to advert spam at the bottom, but i just got this and it was really good! Four experiments in one box!! Exploding Volcano, Solar Oven, Artificial Snow and a tornado vortex.

Teach Your Monster to Read: The Best Phonics App for Junior Students.

URGENT UPDATE: TEACH YOUR MONSTER TO READ IS FREE UNTIL THE 22nd OF SEPTEMBER. Usually it is about 5 USD, or 4 pounds. I strongly recommend all teachers and parents use this to help your students with phonics and reading skills.! It is the best APP there is out there.

It almost pains me to write that title. I make apps to help students, I have about 12 of them on both Google and Apple and they are pretty good. None of them are the one I am talking about here though. Here is is all about Teach Your Monster to Read made, and made really well, by Usborne in the U.K. The links are all at the bottom for the app and website.

It almost pains me to write that title. I make apps to help students, I have about 12 of them on both Google and Apple and they are pretty good. None of them are the one I am talking about here though. Here is is all about Teach Your Monster to Read made, and made really well, by Usborne in the U.K. The links are all at the bottom for the app and website.

Example of level 1

The premise is easy and it follows a simplified Legend of Zelda type game play with a quest and mini games. (very simplified as this is made and designed for kindergarten to primary students) You take the role of a monster whose spaceship has crashed because of a cosmic storm (why not) and landed on a planet where the inhabitants, mainly the Kings of the planet, have lost their letters. You complete their games to collect their letters and fix your spaceship. Along the way you meet other characters, duel with pirates and come face to face with a teddy bear kidnapping octopus (again why not) all in the quest to get through the 44 sounds of English phonics. All of this requires the use of just one finger. Incredibly this whole game is a single tap game that lasts for about 8 hours of gameplay if played constructively.

The game follows the S A T P N I progression of phonic sounds all the way through long vowels including diphthongs, to digraphs and eventually in level 3 ( Champion Reader) to R controlled vowels. although starting simply it does add complexity as students progress through the sounds, and will include sight words, called tricky’s, and activities to recognize words in sentences.

For game-play value, and to show progression in game the student collects stars that can be exchanged to dress or kit out their monster in a variety of outfits and accessories, from a vampire costume to a pair of underpants! It also keeps a record of the sounds they have tried and their success rate.

These features alone would make it the best phonics game there is, but they didn’t stop there. It is made for students to learn phonics thats for sure, but it is also made for teachers and parents to support them on this journey, and this is where it is truly groundbreaking.

It is available on Apple and Android, but also, and totally free, is hosted on their website. It is also free once or twice a year on the App Stores as well, usually end of September and early March so keep and eye out for that.

The website has resources all over the place, posters for walls, flashcards, board games, instructions, word of the week and banners for classroom use. Even, and this is great, all the mini games in one place where the teacher or parent can choose which sound they wish to practice and game they wish to practice it playing. They have even set it so it can be played segmenting words or as a stand alone sound recognition game. It is a level of work i have never seen elsewhere.

So that’s what makes it the best phonics and classroom English app out there.

Yes of course, but they didn’t stop there. if you have read any other posts on my site you will have heard me babble on that i have been teaching for 12 years in ESL primary schools in Hong Kong, and worked in Education for about the same amount of time in the U.K. My role means i see a lot of students over the course of a week, tracking their progress, trying to give them level, interest and age appropriate content and tasks is ALOT of work. Teach your monster to Read, at least within its remit, handles this, not for a monthly fee, not for a flat one time payment. It does it for free.

Free

Teachers, or i guess parents with a large number of children!, can sign up for an account and create groups within it. These groups can then be assigned a username, a password and a magic number (only needed if they play on the app version). Once the student signs in with this monster, and they create how it looks then all the website magic starts to happen. (I have put screen shots in the gallery below to give you an idea of the amount of stats, and rewards you can offer your students by doing this)

The Teacher managed pages enable teachers to do the following both individually and as whole classes (essential for me)

I have taken the names out

Firstly you can make your own group. Even assign different levels to each student although i have never done that as the game is great and the students will enjoy playing it from the start, it can be used as a consolidation exercise for higher level readers

When you add them it will generate a password and user name, and if they use a tablet a star code so the tablet knows which account to send the stats to. I would print these out for the students and stick them in their handbook or pencil case. I would also have a hard copy in the classroom as these things do tend to disappear.

Then after they have worked out how to log in, and yes you will have to teach them. I actually devote a lesson at the beginning of term to introduce all of this to my classes, you will see why I think this pays off later. This can be the time consuming part, so once one student has figured it out i task them with helping me to show others. It speeds things up alot.

Once they are in and playing you can actually how they do in real time on the stats pages of the website. You can see the sounds they struggled with both individually and as a group, you can see how far they have progressed in the game and even what their monster looks like!

After about 4 sounds the game will generate a letter, and will continue to do so 3 times during the whole game. This letter is personalised to the students and is an encouragement to continue. It also prepares a poster of their monster, and when they successfully finish a level it will produce a certificate telling them well done. I use these about 3 times a year to call students to the front of class to give these out. The students of course run home to show their parents, and the cycle of accessing the app starts again.

On average, for my classes, students who complete the game will take about 7 to 8 hours. This is for a face to face time from me of one hour at the beginning.

From that i have, well Teach Your Monster has, managed to create 8 times as much self directed learning from just 1 hour of teacher time. This is astonishing. Students take ownership of their monster, they will come and discuss it with you at recess, if you have computers, or tablets they will ask if they can play it in their free time, you will have parents coming up and talking about it. Your students younger, and for that matter older, siblings will be asking you for a log in and password (they don’t need one to start but they like the idea someone is monitoring and checking they are doing well), they choose to be taught, it is not imposed on them like most other educational experiences they have.

If you need to change your lessons, or the sounds you cover you have a reference point to start by, at a glance, seeing the sounds students are struggling with and adapting your teaching as is needed. It is Self directed and formative and whole host of other educational buzz words that management get excited by.

All for one hour of teacher time…

It is free forever online on your PC, but it costs 4.99 on Apple and Android, they do have one or two weeks a year where it is free. I will try to post when that happens but I missed it this year, so keep looking out for that as well. They also have an education discount on Apple and you can get it half price if you buy 20 copies, I did this here in my school. On Android i cant remember how many you are supposed to have but if you have one account there is usually some leeway.

I said at the beginning it pains me to say this is the best phonics app there is. Totally tongue in cheek though, its just because i didn’t make it.

Teach Your Monster to Read website is here

Teach Your Monster to Read on Android is here

Teach Your Monster on Apple is here

If you have used this or have any questions feel free to ask me, or comment below. Always welcoming new ideas. My views on this app are mine and mine alone, well i imagine a lot of you would like it as well, but I’m not being paid to write this, its just that good. If you want to see my apps you will find them here for Apple and here for Google.

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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TRUGS: Teaching Reading Using games Review

TRUGS, or ”Teaching Reading Using Games” is a Synthetic phonics system I stumbled on a few years ago at a Education Expo in Hong Kong. I attend these things with a ”look what you could have won’‘ mindset as they are usually showing off equipment or resources that my school, at the time couldn’t, wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t invest in. Things like holographic projects, VR suites for whole classes, 8k interactive white boards, that supply coffee, that type of thing. It is like a resources utopia for teachers.

What are Trugs Cards?

TRUGS is a holistic reading resource aimed at using play and extrinsic motivation to encourage students to construct, read, and practice English phonetic words. It utilizes the familiarity of children’s card games to introduce progressively more difficult language in a play, rather than formal, setting.

When i was wandering the stalls stopping now and then to give false hope to the sales people. Am I the only one who thinks that Education suppliers, not all of course, remind them of big pharmaceuticals, inflated prices, not that much evidence it works?

It was suggested by a longer in the tooth colleague of mine that some things are just more expensive when you add certain words to them.

  • White shoes 30 dollars – wedding shoes 300 dollars.
  • Cup of coffee 2 dollars – Starbucks 5 dollars
  • book 5 dollars – school book 20 dollars.

Maybe, Maybe not. Anyway, while walking along i stopped at one of the stalls I might be able to afford something from and there on the tables were a few sets of red and green boxes filled with cards. There wasn’t much to describe them but the box helpfully described what is was they aimed to do. They aimed to teach reading using games, and in a does what it says on the tin marketing move they had named it TRUGS.

What are Trugs cards designed for?

Their website goes into ALOT more details than i will here, but the system was designed by Joanna Jeffery who is a teacher with over 35 years of experience and a specialism in Dyslexia. She had discovered that children want to enjoy their learning. This of course will not come to a shock to ANY teacher out there, however she did something a lot of us should do more of.

She did something about it. She, and i imagine some others, designed a set of games that help students learn phonics and reading skills systematically.

4 games to be precise, or at least 4 when i was standing at that stall in Hong Kong. There have been more added now of course. These games, of which full disclosure i only actually play two of them in my classrooms, follow a distinct flow, from simple CVC words in level 1, and CCVC in level 2, all the way up to three syllable words in Level 10.

There are 5 levels in a box, so that’s both the red set ( box 1) and the green set ( box2), even within each of the four games in each level there is a progression in difficulty so that students although playing the same game, are playing slightly more challenging versions of it as they progress their learning.

I thought this sounded good, one of the games is basically Uno, a little more simplified to allow younger learners get involved, and in my classroom there were plenty of well worn Uno sets at the back. These would be without fail whipped out at Recess and lunch by students to play on their own.

Why Use Trugs in a Classroom?

Now i love the idea of self directed learning, and not as an excuse to get my feet up or the red pen out, but as a chance for weaker students to practice and learn without the fear of the teacher as nice as their teacher may be. So i bought two sets, i insisted i buy them directly from them there as otherwise it could take weeks to arrive in school.

It is also not to suggest these games are there just as a recess activity. It took a while but eventually my management started to see how they engage with each other, help each other, and monitor each other even when playing more formally in a classroom environment with a teacher or helper involved as well.

How to use Trugs in a Classroom

In fact i would advise you, if you have or are getting these, to introduce it that way. You may spend a lesson explaining and letting students play these games, but once they know they will seek out and play these games on their own. If your 30 minute introduction lesson turns into 5 years of them self directing themselves to play these games it is time well spent don’t you think?

Are Trugs Worth Buying?

They are not cheap, really not for a card game. I have grumbled about this to other teachers in the past as they are such a lovely idea made prohibitively expensive for what are essentially good ideas and paper. However, those grumbles have stopped recently, It is difficult to make your own cards!!

I had an idea to make Top Trumps cards ( if i can dance around the copyright for that), to make them more accessible for ESL and Junior students . The text descriptions are just too difficult for my students at least.

So i came up will some ideas, and started googling printers,. I saw the prices to make one set of cards (from Top Trumps themselves) was about 14 USD. if you are doing it for you own class you can probably afford this, but if you are wanting to resell them (I was) it starts to add up.

Other printers were cheaper but it still added up to about 8 USD if i got 500 boxes. If i couldn’t sell them i worried what i was going to do with 500 boxes of cards in a small Hong Kong Flat. Ah well, a thought for the future maybe. (see here for the 400 boxes i still have in my small Hong Kong flat!)

Trugs are expensive…..but worth it!

So with this new knowledge, i still think TRUGs are expensive but i can better understand why now, Uno sells millions a year so can keep production costs down, TRUGS doesnt so cant.

It is however way better at teaching Phonics, blending and word construction than Uno!

The problem i had with the expense is that although they do have a couple of options for Home and School sets, there wasn’t a way of buying an individual games or levels.

As i said my students love playing Uno, and when i replaced for a week the Uno cards for the Trugs cards they continued ( with a little instruction from me) playing the game but with the trugs sets. I only had one set though, and at that time you couldn’t buy individual decks. Now thankfully you can!!

How much do Trugs Cost?

They cost about 12 USD a set which is comparable to a new set of Top Trumps, and is considerably cheaper than the 120 USD that the full box sets cost.

These sets have the games from each level and are a more targeted way for individual teachers to share the games. I am so pleased they have done this as it allows teachers to target levels of reader in their classroom with the students still focused on the task and mostly unaware they may have a different reading level game in their hands.

It also means teachers are more likely to purchase these sets themselves, if they are able, because its just what we do sometimes. This means more students will benefit from these games and this system.

I still think if the school has the budget that buying one set for school use and then supplementing it with some individual sets is the way forward as in my teaching environment there is little need to have the higher sets. Sometimes school management needs a little nudge in the right direction to realise these things though.

It is nice to see students now by pass Uno and pick up the sets of trugs to play as their first choice, There is nothing wrong with a good game of Uno of course, but to take charge of their own learning and choose to practice is a very difficult thing to achieve. TRUGS proved a useful tool to help with that.

Final Thoughts

I originally wrote this article 3 years ago, and recently i found myself at a new school. The first thing i did?

I took a trip to the little industrial building in Hong Kong, walked up to the fourth floor, rang the bell, spoke to the owner, and then walked out with a red and green set of TRUGS in my hands.

Somethings are just expensive because they are worth it.

Please comment if you have used this or if you have tried something similar. Sharing is caring!! Also just to confirm, I use Trugs, none of these links are affiliate links or anything like that. Its just that i do think they are a pretty good tool if your school has the means!

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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Oculus Go Vr Headset: Is it useful for Education.

The Oculus Rifts and Quests baby brother holds it head way above what came before it, and showcases VR in a more affordable all in one package. Does this make is more accessible to schools and classrooms?

About three years ago i was in the market for a new phone, and being the Samsung fanboy (I now have a note 10 plus and am trying to justify me buying that by writing this post on it) I was i was hanging my nose over the Samsung Galaxy S7. Still a great little phone, despite the battery being a little weak. I didn’t buy it for the free Gear VR that came with it but it was most certainly a bonus, and i remember the day i went to pick it up and tried VR for the first time.

It made my phone over heat, was a little jittery, and there was screen door effect though that has never really bothered me. Despite all those things i thought it was great, really great. Being great is one thing, but i do try to justify my unnecessary purchases of technology, to both myself and more importantly to my wife, i thought if Im impressed with this, how much will my students love it.

I already knew the answer to that. It was designed to amaze people and my little group of 7 years olds would go crazy for this, and of course they did and continue to do so.

That was three years ago, and i find myself in a classroom again, and because of an unexpected birthday gift i have the Oculus GO in my hands.

I have tried the Gear VR numerous times with my class and it is a great experience for both the students and the teacher. Though of course, when the phone is new you do worry about it when its strapped to the face of a 7 year old. With the GO you don’t have that worry, there is no phone, or no detachable phone to plug in. It is a standalone headset, which also means the chances of a wire pulling what ever expensive computer you have onto the floor is removed as well.

Having had a gear VR for over three years, you can see immediately the improvements that have been made. It is really smooth at tracking your head movements, which means the chances of motion sickness is greatly reduced, i don’t suffer from this but my wife managed a good 20 minutes in Ocean Rift without getting dizzy, this is something she didn’t manage in the Gear VR.

We didnt try this though.

It is a similar weight, but seems to sit better on the face now, and the straps seem more secure so it means you don’t have to have a hand on it to be sure it doesn’t fall off.

This is good because the Oculus Go has a Controller included in the box and even a battery, for it. This controller is way better than i thought it would be, and is really easy to use, my students picked it up faster than me. (generations hey) and even when wearing the headset you can see an image of the controller, with a long pointer ( a little like a lightsabre to be honest) so you know exactly where to press to navigate menus and games.

It will mess up your hair

The screen door effect is really reduced and, although not as good as the HTC Vive or the more expensive Rift or Quest, for education it is a great compromise. The apps, currently numbering over a 1000, it has available are similar to the ones that i used on my Gear VR and have been upgraded for this higher spec headset, however it would be nice to see a few more on subjects that teachers would use. I am not sure VR gaming which what the majority of the apps available are, is ready for mainstream yet, but what is suitable for classroom use have great implications. I mentioned these in another post here and here so wont do so again here.

The headset it currently available on Amazon for anywhere between 150 and 200 USD, depending on which day you check it out. Which is expensive, but it comes with the bonus of not having to use your more expensive phone or computer into it and the worry that comes with that if you use it in school. It will also likely come down in price after a year or so of being in the market, and with new ones being developed, so for schools especially if using it to add value rather than as a full part of the curriculum the price is not completely prohibitive.

Being easier to use, with just one purpose means it is better suited to younger students, and the set up time for teachers is reduced. If you have a large class this is a huge time saver, where the students can self direct themselves to try with out the teacher having to hand hold them all the way through.

It is not however a toy, there are considerations in using this kind of technology with students especially younger ones, and if you are a teacher you may need to address these to get the use of these past your management. For me i use it for very brief periods or as a station learning exercise, not as a full lessons. I don’t think the content we have available replaces books or videos just yet!

There are a couple of reservations about the headset, but they really are minor ones. The battery takes a while to charge, about three hours in my experience, and lasts about 2.5 hours of full use. This should be fine if you are using it just for a couple of minutes to show students something but a problem if you have all the lessons in a row, so plan for that. 3 lessons in a row using this and you may struggle.

The other issue, and it may be a personal one is that it is difficult to mirror the screen onto your PC or your Whiteboard, though i will keep trying and if i find away that doesn’t require Command prompts and additional software i will let you know. I used to like sharing the screen so the rest of the class can observe what is going on and be more involved.

There is a way of doing it, which i will link here, but it is a lot more technical than it should be , which is an opportunity missed i think.

There are of course cheaper and more expensive options to use, and it follows pretty much a sliding scale with quality and accessibility. Check out here for a post about the VR options open to you. If you are in a university it may, and only may, be worth investing in a full HTC rift experience with the ability to walk in the virtual space, but for the price of the Oculus GO you can do a lot worse and in, not virtual, reality not that much better.

If any of you know of a way to share the screen easier, please comment, or if you have used this or VR, in general in education please leave a comment below. We are all new at this so sharing is most definitely caring !

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

Post by Marc of Making English Fun

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Boost Blog Viewers with Facebook Groups.

I found something that increased the visitors to my blog over 400%. Full disclaimer though, my numbers were pretty low before that!! This is because, If you are like me, and stats suggest that’s about 90% of us out there who have tried blogging for a hobby, your motivation goes up and down as does your posting frequency.

I started this website back in April 2019 as a place to hold a privacy policy for the educational apps and games i make.

Later i thought i would add to it, or share some of the knowledge and tips i have gained after teaching in Asia, the vast majority of those in Hong Kong, over the last thirteen or so years. Well, despite taking a year off to travel and do just that life got in the way, turns out Penang in Malaysia is a great place to live, prehaps to good as I let my work ethic drift.

Now i find myself wanting to pick up the pace again, and only a month or so into posting regularly, mainly for me personally, but its always nice to get comments (hint hint), I stumbled on something some of you may have already found out or know, but it was so useful for me as a new blog to drive up my motivation and viewing figures i thought it would be wrong not to share it.

This was a first for me

My website is primarily an Education based website, with tips and resources for teaches of English and some STEM ( science) lessons. It also has Education apps on it that draw most of my views. It was getting about 10 to 30 views a day from Google search and people coming from inside the apps. So very small and very steady.

I started adding some of the content I already have from my teaching in December 2019 and it still remained pretty steady. Then i read online, buried in the middle of a list of 50 things all blogs or new blogs should do.

Join relevant Facebook groups

Simple enough, I thought and much easier than figuring out SEO and Keywords for my small site (even though i do know a little about SEO and ASO from dealing with Google PlayStore and Itunes)

So i did, i searched in Facebook for some ESL (English as Second Language and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) groups and applied to join.

For my niche they often have questions to answer, so you have to wait for an Admin to approve, and then some times wait for your post to be approved. However, what you have just done, and what i discovered to my amazement, was place your content right in front of the eyes of people who have actually been proactive to search it out.

For me this is a big Deal

I did this over night, so when i woke up the next morning instead of the usual 13 people visiting my site, it had turned into over 300, just on that one Facebook post. It continued, the next day 500 views, again coming from one little post i had put into a like minded group.

This was the post.

I have got a full months views in two days, and of course i am now sorting through the resources and articles to see what else might drive traffic to me, and of course be useful to those groups.

After 8 months of stagnation, seeing a jump in visitors is certainly good for motivation, and hopefully i have enough good content that keeps people coming , and coming back.

Of course, if you have monetized the site, then all these extra eyes, and clicks will start to add up. I am not that worried about making money yet as its a very, very new site. At some point though i would like to think it may provide a revenue stream. Just to show you the difference a boost like this makes the chart is below, i have left out my RPM, mainly because frankly its embarrassing, but also because i think its not allowed to share it?

You can see where i posted in the groups.

I have some tips from my vast experience (the last 2 days worth :P) Which worked for me, so hopefully work for you as well.

  • Search out groups in your niche on Facebook and apply to join.
  • Choose both big ones and small ones as in big ones your content can go down the post list pretty quick, it should stay closer to the top in the smaller groups
  • Don’t spam the groups, i am going to post one blog post, or one resource a day, group owners don’t like someone who comes in and takes over.
  • Be helpful in the group and offer advice, it is a valuable resource and everyone in there could be a potential visitor. That and its a nice thing to do.
  • Keep it relevant, post information that will be useful to the group.
  • Follow the groups rules, you want to stay part of it don’t you!
  • Consider starting your own group on Facebook. I just have, and got my first member as i was writing this! Feel free to join if you have an interest in teaching.
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/2850937491634158/?source_id=1069038656575588
  • Say thank you when people comment of Facebook, it shows manners, and may keep your post closer to the top with the activity as well.

There are likely lots of other tips, and if you have any please share them below. We are all in this together!

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

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Junior Science: Chromatography and Splitting colours.

This is the splitting colours activity. The full pack with games instructions and worksheet is able to be downloaded here. However, If you are on your phone or tablet the method and photo examples (you may notice my skills in photography are somewhat lacking!) are on this page so you can check it out before you download it.

Kids of all ages love this activity so make sure you have lots of filter paper to hand. They will want more!! ( I made a quick video to show what happens)

Colour Chromatography Instructions

Equipment ( things you need)

  • Plastic cup of water
  • Filter paper
  • Pencil
  • Colour Felt tip pens
  • Paper towels
  • Ruler
  • Straws / chopsticks
  • paper clip

What to do

  1. Cut out a long piece of filter paper – so that it is about as tall as the cup

2. Using a PENCIL, draw a line 2cm from the top and 1cm from the bottom. So it looks like this

3. Draw a dot or square of three colours using your felt tip pen like the picture below, but with three colours! Try to make one or two dark colours!

4. Look at the picture; we have a stick on the cup and the paper over the stick. The paper is just in the water at the bottom. We can use the clip or tape to keep it there.

5. Wait for the water to reach the top line and then take the paper out of the water and the cup put it on some paper towels or toilet paper!

6. Now can you see how many colours are on the paper and how many colours in the felt pen you used!

A speeded up example.
Free Full Pack

If you have downloaded it you can look at your worksheet below and see if you can complete it.

Stick your filter paper on your worksheet (when it is dry!!)

In the worksheet is also has a group work task and matching exercises. Which ask students to go and see the other colours people used and record what colours make that colour.

Some example questions you could ask.

  • What happened to your colours when they went up the paper?
  • What colours can you see now in each colour?
  • Which colour has the most colours in it?

I think these Felt pens are better than the ones i use. I have them on order, when i watched the butterfly colours video they spread the colours a little better. If you have these or have used these let me know in the comments below.

The full pack is able to be downloaded from this page. Just let me know what you think of it once you tried it 🙂

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

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60+ Inspirational and Motivational Quotes on Education

At times we all need something to get us through the day, as teachers that tends to happen when the coffee machine has broken down. Try these quotes in case of such an emergency!

We all need to energize ourselves from time to time, so take a moment to read these quotes from some of the worlds best minds, and then jump back into that classroom. We are teachers, that’s what we do.

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

Albert Einstein
Little genius drawing up some science

“I believe that education is all about being excited about something. Seeing passion and enthusiasm helps push an educational message.“

Steve Irwin

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.“

Maimonides

„Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.“

Malcolm X

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.“

Albert Einstein

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.“

G.K. Chesterton

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.“

Buckminster Fuller

“The best students come from homes where education is revered: where there are books, and children see their parents reading them.“

Leo Buscaglia

“The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.“

Jean Piaget

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.“

Victor Hugo

“I’ve learned… that the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person.“

Andy Rooney

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.“

Chinese proverb

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.“

B.B. King

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.“

John Dewey

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.“

Martin Luther King, Jr

“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.“

Anatole France

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.“

Kofi Annan

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.“

Will Durant

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

Zig Ziglar

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

Tom Bodett

“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

Zig Ziglar

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Henry B Adams

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.”

Hebrew proverb

“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.”

Alfred Mercier

“Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve.”

Roger Lewin

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.”

Alexandra K. Trenfor

“Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.”

Lady Bird Johnson

“If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.”

Jim Rohn

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming.”

Goethe

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

Plato

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg — not by smashing it.”


Arnold Glasow

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.”

Sydney J. Harris

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Mark Twain

“Upon the subject of education … I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people may be engaged in.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced.”

John Keats

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”

Michel Legrand

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited.

Plutarch:

Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning. 

 Bruce Lee

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

William Arthur Ward

Good teaching must be slow enough so that it is not confusing, and fast enough so that it is not boring.

Sidney J. Harris

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.

Gail Godwin

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn.

John Lubbock

Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.

Albert Einstein

The teacher’s task is to initiate the learning process and then get out of the way.

John Warren

The greatest use of a life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.

William James

Teachers are people who start things they never see finished, and for which they never get thanks until it is too late.

Max Forman

The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask which he finds it hard to answer.

Alice Wellington Rollins

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.

Jacques Barzun

Teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with inadequate tools. The miracle is that at times they accomplish this impossible task.

Haim Ginott

One of the beauties of teaching is that there is no limit to one’s growth as a teacher, just as there is no knowing beforehand how much your students can learn.

Herbert Kohl

Education is much more than a matter of imparting the knowledge and skills by which narrow goals are achieved. It is also about opening the child’s eyes to the needs and rights of others.

Dalai Lama

No matter what accomplishments you achieve, somebody helped you.

Althea Gibson

When the untapped potential of a student meets the liberating art of a teacher, a miracle unfolds.

Mary Hatwood Futrell

The work of a teacher — exhausting, complex, idiosyncratic, never twice the same — is at its heart an ethical enterprise. Teaching is the vocation of vocations.

William Ayres

Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.

Helen Caldicott

At the desk where I sit, I have learned one great truth. The answer for all our national problems — the answer for all the problems of the world — comes to a single word. That word is education.

Lyndon B. Johnson

Teaching is the essential profession, the one that makes all professions possible.

David Haselkorn

What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct our youth?

Cicero

What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honorable, than that of teaching?

Harriet Martineau

“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

(Anonymous)

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

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Ten things that may make you a better teacher.

As the School year (or years) progresses, as the work starts to pile up, as summer starts to seem like a lifetime ago we all get tired. Teachers are not quite yet super human, despite most of us trying our best to aim for that. I have gathered a selection of advice from better educators than me, that might help to put that spring back in your step. You may know some or all of these but, being reminded of them sometimes, never hurt any of us.

I will finish with a massively inspiring video at the end that every teacher should watch once in their life. It is from someone who whenever i start to feel drained and weary has a passion that is infectious. If you are already tired reading this I would suggest you skip to the bottom and watch it if you do nothing else on my site today.

Description: students-with-teacher
This is why we do it.

Keep on your game.

Despite my, and I am sure most of your protestations, Education does move on. No matter what subject you teach. Technology advances, books get written, wondrous things are discovered. Jsut because we have the title of teacher, doctor or professor and may be the font of all knowledge in our students eyes doesn’t mean that that font is full. Stay up to date with current events and thinking in your field and subject, roll the dice and try something new. The more you know and love your subject the more enthusiasm you can bring to your students who will feed off this energy, the more they will participate. The more this happens the more the relationship becomes symbiotic, there enthusiasm drives you to share more, and you sharing more drives their enthusiasm.

Make and own your mistakes.

All teacher have lessons they consider to be gold, i have a few shared on here. However ”one mans meat is another mans poison” just because something works for one teacher doesn’t mean it works for all. Simple as this sounds it took me a while to realise this, both for my lessons and for others. However, try them, write your own, try something new. Your students will learn a great deal watching how you deal with error and struggle and its an opportunity not often addressed in our target and score based education systems. It also demonstrates confidence in ones ability both for the student and the teacher.

A little Tech can go a long way

Depending, a little unfairly maybe, at what stage you are at with your teaching career or what your background/subject is you may have a reluctance to use technology in your classroom. Try to get over it, its not the answer to all of educations problems, there isn’t just one answer and i seriously doubt there ever will be, but even at its lowest form on the SAMR model ( link if needed) the substitution of a task with technology will create memories for your students. These students may not have access to this in their homes, depending where you are based. I have a few articles on how to use technology in the classroom if you wanted to know more. At its best level technology has the opportunity to redefine how and what we teach, and the articles on VR highlight some of this.

Celebrate classroom differences

Remember you may be the reason some of the students actually come to school. Welcome differences inside the classroom, we all bring something to the table and in welcoming this you will add value to your students thoughts, feelings and opinions. That will build cohesion in the classroom, and of course its people disputes will happen so deal with them fairly, consistently and firmly. With the consistent and fair guidelines in place all students will have and hopefully feel they have a secure environment to achieve their potential.

Creativity rules

Despite text books and some curriculum seemingly telling us different there is not one way to teach any subject. Go online, research other ways. You have in your class a whole host of learners who prefer different activities, from moving about, to listening, to making and talking. Mix it up across the year and watch how those in your class suddenly come to life as you discover how they want to learn. Once you know store the information and try it again. It doesn’t take too long to find out what kind of learners you have in your class.

In spite of everything.

Keep your standards high.

Standardized testing has a danger of making education aim for the middle, just pass and then everything is OK. Couple this with curriculum that front load tasks (busy work) and students and for that matter teachers can fall into the trap that the minimum is acceptable, and i guess it is. However, encourage at all times, that your standards are higher, let your students come up with better not more numerous work, (where you can of course, i know the realities of working in school, i am doing so right now) If you can find a topic or subject that students, and you are passionate about then you can let them fly.

Don’t Worry be Happy

I almost wish there was a module at University for this, or at the very least there were compulsory refresher courses at the third, fifth or tenth year of teaching. I can’t talk about every education system of course, but in my little corner of the world it seems by accident or design that the joy de vivre is being systematically drained out of education. Its a running battle to avoid it happening at some points. As i mentioned though, you will be the reason that some of these students show up at school, and potentially the highlight of the week for others. How you approach your lessons will be how your students will approach your lessons. I can tell you from experience that your day goes much better if you are smiling through it. So paint it on, even on the rough days, and the students are likely to turn that day around.

Description: letting-students-teach-3
And your work here is done.

Try to show patience and tolerance to others.

Now, full disclosure, this is my weakest area. I struggle to be patient and to show tolerance but not with students at all, but with the system we sometimes find ourselves in, or those we work alongside who prehaps share different motivations to me. However, just because i lack skills in this area doesn’t mean its not important! Make an effort to get on with your colleagues, even on those days when its a real struggle, remember peoples motivations are different as are the problems they maybe facing.

Read and watch more.

Unless you live four steps from the school, and as nice as that sounds it really probably isn’t, then you will have a commute to get there and back. This means you have some time, to listen, watch or read some teaching blogs, websites, podcasts etc. (feel free to read some more of mine, but mine might be more of a journey home that a journey into work type read as i tend to lean towards the realism side of things). There are plenty, PLENTY of teachers offering advice and sharing stories and sometimes that is just the pill you need to get up, paint on the smile and go make the world a better place for just another day.

Build Relationships

In the first paragraph of this post i suggested you skip down to the following video. If you didn’t and read though the other nine or so suggestions, thanks! that is unexpected!, hope they were useful. My reward to you, even if you skipped, is to offer you this video. I wont spoil it my doing my take, or putting it into my words. I think everyone who watches it will take something different from it. For me, when i watch it i just take joy from watching someone at the top of their game inspiring others to just be better. Rest in Peace Rita Pierson. You made me better.

About the Author

Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, mostly English but dabbled in outdoor pursuits and media. Thought is was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children. Feel free to take a look at our resources, email us on info@makingenglishfun.com, or jump on the Facebook group to ask questions. Happy learning, teaching or playing!

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