If you are an English teacher and participate in any social media, I’m sure that you have seen Weird Al’s new viral video, “Word Crimes”. If you haven’t seen it, you really must watch it. Let’s be honest, even those of us who have seen it several times will probably click to watch it again! So what is it about this video that resonates so deeply with English teachers and everyone else for that matter? I’ll break down my love of this song below:
- We are not alone! Too many times, students think that English teachers are the only ones who actually care about proper grammar. Weird Al has made it cool for celebrities, family members, bloggers, and everyone else in society to jump on the grammar bandwagon by sharing this video. I hope this fun little parody sends a serious message to young people to listen up in our classes!
- Online writing counts! Weird Al points to blogs, social media, hashtags, and other online writing with the message that spelling and syntax matter even on the internet.
- He fits in all my pet peeves! I love the whole song, but these four drive me up the wall:
- I could care less. When I hear students say this, I always want to retort, “well, you certainly could care more about your correct use of idiom” or something else snarky.
- Quotation Marks for “emphasis”. When I see this happening in my classes, I love to bring up this website for a couple minutes: unnecessaryquotes.com. It gets a few laughs and brings the point home. (Tip: Always preview the page before bringing it up in class. Some examples are not safe for all schools.)
- Literally. This one is everywhere in my school: I literally have a ton of homework, my head literally exploded, I literally can’t even. Sometimes I have to forcibly control my eye rolls.
- Your and You’re, There, Their, and They’re, Its and It’s. This shouldn’t be a problem in high school, but it is. I’m thinking about making big posters for the front of my room this year, so I will let you know how that goes.
- He uses Proper Terminology. The English class lingo is often discounted as boring and irrelevant, but he breathes new life into terms like contraction, preposition, dangling participles, and oxford comma. I never thought I would say this, but thank you Weird Al!
Did you love this video as much as I did? What are your word crime pet peeves?
It seems like everywhere I turn these days I see a new resource to help students take short cuts around the valuable work we do in our classrooms. When I was working on a side project recently, I came across fiverr.com, which is a global marketplace offering a variety of services, or gigs, starting at $5 each. I was disheartened to see sellers offering to do homework or analyze a book, but it did get me thinking about how I could switch the dynamic around to give teachers some much needed shortcuts. Here are the $5 gigs I found that can take tough tasks off of our teacher to do lists, so we can focus on other important classroom priorities:
1. Custom Songs: Many fiverr sellers will take your lyrics and make them into a song with your choice of genre (reggae, rap, country, pop, etc). I have these little chants I do to help MLA rules stick and I always hear my students singing little ditties to remember long math formulas. We could take that idea to the next level with a custom song for our classroom!
2. Custom Voice Overs: This gig could bring interest factor to a prezi, flipped classroom video, or other in class project. Sellers will do a range of professional and cartoon/impression voices.
3. Convert Powerpoint to HD Video: This is a great gig for teachers who are flipping their classrooms and running out of time. It could be combined with the custom voice-overs in a pinch.
4. Website installation or help: There is a lot of pressure on teachers today to incorporate edtech into our classrooms including classroom blogs and wikis. If we can’t afford a full service website technician, there are hundreds of fiverr gigs ranging from installing word press to trouble shooting that widget you are trying to install and everything in between. Personally, $5 is worth my sanity in the IT department, especially when it can be done quickly and efficiently by someone else while I am grading that last stack of papers!
5. Custom Social Media Art: Most teachers I know are starting or maintaining a classroom Facebook/twitter/instagram/google+/edmodo/schoology/etc. For $5 you can have someone create cute or creative custom cover art to give your classroom social media that polished look without a lot of effort on your part.
6. Design materials: If you have a great idea for a poster or infographic for your classroom wall, a custom stamp or any other simple graphic design project, there are designers waiting to make it happen for only $5.
Like other online marketplaces, there is a feedback and communication system so that you can make sure that your job is done correctly, but we should still exercise caution when purchasing gigs. What do you think? Would you take advantage of fiverr to get one of those tasks off your to do list? Let us know in the comment section below.