Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flipped Classroom: Before Making Videos

Some little helpers help a traditional teacher flip her classroom.
Are you ready to flip your class?
It can be intimidating to flip a classroom, especially for professors!  Most often, flipping a classroom is associated with creating videos or finding technology the students use at home so that class time can be used for workshop or group work instead of for lecture.

However, flipping a classroom doesn't have to be a long leap with a short USB cord.  The process can be initiated in small steps.

 This approach, instead of focusing on creating or finding videos, focuses on what happens in the classroom.

Short Reading Quizzes

Course textbooks are carefully reviewed and chosen by faculty for the value they add to a specific course's content.  However, sometimes students are overwhelmed by their college textbooks, and they are unaccustomed to reading entire chapters in one sitting.  Furthermore, some students have never been taught how to take notes or pick main points or arguments from textbooks or supplemental reading.

Using the flipped classroom approach, we can help students make sense of their assigned reading, teach them how to take note of important information, and give them an opportunity to validate their own understanding.  How do we do that?  Using quizzes we create online!  The key is to set up the quiz so that the students can get their scores immediately and can take the quiz multiple times.  Being able to take the quiz multiple times (perhaps with the promise that the highest grade will count) encourages the students to go back to the reading and re-evaluate the content in order to correct their responses.  Although the creation of the quizzes takes time on the front end, helping the students reach a high competency in learning objectives is worth it!

Research Projects and Presentations

Another way to flip a classroom is to ask students to prepare their own lecture content to share with others during class time.  Not only should the students use their textbooks as a resource, they should use original examples and source content from reputable authors and publishers to create lively, engaging presentations.

When students complete research and gather materials as homework, class time can be devoted to helping students work on their presentations, either in groups or by themselves.  Not only is it a fantastic opportunity to help the students develop ethos and other presentation skills, but to experiment with finding and evaluating evidence about the class's specific discipline area.  Additionally, it allows a professor to assess students' understanding of course content in real time, as projects or presentations take shape in front of that professor's eyes.

Self Assessment Narratives

In addition to, or in lieu of quizzing students about assigned reading, a professor can assign narrative essays in which students assess their own understanding of course content.  Assessment, normally a task that takes place in a professor's office after students spend class time creating assessment documents (quizzes, exams, essays), becomes a homework assignment.  Students must look back at the content, and the understanding of that content, in order to complete the essay.  The students must review their notes, look back through any assigned reading, and figure out what they do and do not know about a given topic.

When students self assess, they come back to the class with a greater understanding of not only the content of the course, but of their own strengths and weaknesses, which leads to more in depth class discussions and more poignant questions.

In summary, a flipped classroom does not require a professor to create or find videos in order to flip the classroom.  The "flip" is between lecture and activity.  When students are reading, writing, or reviewing content outside of the classroom, more active learning activity can take place within the classroom.

Want to read more about pedagogy and learning?  Try
The Benefit of "Play" in the Composition Classroom
Motivate the WIIFM Student with a Learning Audit Assignment
Stages in the Development of Critical Thinking

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Adding Comments to Word Documents

A print screen of a Word 2010 document with added comments.
Adding Comments in a Word Document Helps Streamline the Review Process

Have you ever wished you could add questions or comments to your writing to get extra help from your reviewer?  Have you ever wanted to make a note to yourself as you're writing so you can remember to look at something later?  You can!

Comments are notes a writer or proofreader can add to a Word document.  Writers and readers can both add comments to a document, to themselves or to each other, making the revising and editing processes more efficient.

Adding Comments to Text

Before a comment can be added a Word document, the reviewer must determine where the comment will be most beneficial.  The reviewer has to decide to which word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph the comment will apply. For example, if the comment is about proper comma use, the reviewer should highlight the comma and perhaps the phrase, clause, or sentence related to the comma.  In order to choose the text, the reviewer should highlight the text by holding the left mouse button and scrolling over the chosen text.  After the text is highlighted, the reviewer can release the mouse button.

The Comment Function and The Review Tab

Because comments are used extensively when a writer or reader is reviewing a document, the comment function can be found under the "Review" tab.  In order to add a comment to a piece of text, after highlighting the text the reviewer should choose "Review" > "Add Comment."   A text box will appear in the right margin.   The text box will be initialed and numbered.  The comments will print if the document is printed, or they will be saved if the document is saved.  An additional reviewer's comments will be a different color and will have that person's initials.  

Reviewing Comments

A print screen of a Word 2010 document with added comments.
Comments are Easily Navigated
Once a document is reviewed and comments are added, those comments can also be navigated and deleted from the Ribbon Toolbar.  The writer or reviewer can scroll through each comment using the "Previous" and "Next" buttons, or they can be deleted one at a time or all at once.  

Additionally, comments can be deleted directly from the comment.  The reviewer simply uses the right mouse button to click on the comment, and a comment menu will appear.  

A print screen of a Word 2010 document with added comments and menu.
The Comment Menu Offers Several Formatting Options

Next time you truly feel the need to ask your reviewer a question or make a comment about your writing, feel free to use the Comments function in Microsoft Word.  When writers and reviewers use the Comment function, reviewing is made more efficient in the process.  

Want to learn more about writing essays?  Try my complete online writing course on Udemy - at a discount, just for being a blog reader!

Try my complete online essay writing course on Udemy called "Quality Paragraph and Essay Writing."  Use the coupon code link to sign up as a Udemy student and get 50% off the regular price! 

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to reproduce.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Learn to Crochet for Stress Relief

A woman meditates in a crochet world.
Crocheting Can Keep Your Mind in a Happy Place

Have you been thinking about learning to crochet, or have you been feeling like crocheting more often?  

There may be no time like the present to pick up a hook and give it a try.  Some of the benefits of the craft include a decrease in symptoms of stress and depression.  Among other things, crocheting can help provide an increase in feelings of control over one’s life, a relief from feelings of isolation, an increase in self-esteem, and an opportunity for relaxation.

In other words, as any crocheter can attest, crocheting is a fantastic way to unwind, whether that’s at the end of a good day or at the end of a bad day, week, month, or year.

How Can a Handicraft Have So Many Benefits?

Repetition and Relaxation

According to Julia VanTine, who writes for the health magazine Prevention, it’s the repetitive focus of needlecraft that can help to calm a crafter (2000).  The same idea applies to crochet.  The repetitive motion of crocheting can, quite literally, give a person feelings of well-being by increasing the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body (Fernandez, 2013).

Furthermore, the amount of concentration required to crochet a particular project can have a positive effect on a crocheter’s affect. The more ergs, or units of mental energy, a person uses to follow a pattern or work a piece of fabric, the fewer ergs are left to think about triggers of stress.  In other words, being absorbed in their work helps crocheters focus on a constructive activity, not destructive thoughts.

Community, Socialization, and Self Esteem

There's something to be said for the benefit of operating within a community.  Once a person decides to become a crocheter, he or she can join a social group with others who also enjoy crochet.  These types of groups foster positive relationships, and members often celebrate achievements with one another, whether that's the completion of a first project, or the mastery of a difficult skill.  Belonging to these groups reduces a person's feelings of isolation.

Moreover, these groups oftentimes give members opportunities to crochet for benefits or charities, and what better way to raise self esteem than by giving back to one's own community?

Creativity and Purpose

Have you ever heard of a "tortured artist?"  It's not simply a stereotype or cliche.  Many artists, especially when they feel as though no one understands their passions or their ways of communicating their feelings, begin to experience symptoms of depression.  If not able to practice their art or their craft, they may feel as though they have no purpose in their lives. Even if it's only in some small way, crochet can offer creative people an outlet for creativity through color, texture, pattern, and final product.

Choosing or creating patterns, yarn colors, and additional supplies and materials can benefit all crocheters.  Again, making these sorts of decisions helps, even in a small way, remind a person that that he or she can make decisions and does have the ability to control how he or she expresses feelings and emotions.

Crocheting can reduce stress and feelings of depression by giving people opportunities for relaxation, socialization, and creativity.  Making the choice to pick up some yarn and a hook may change a person's life.

Want to learn more?

Just the look of these yarns makes me feel happy and relaxed.

Take my complete beginners guide, called "Crochet for Stress Relief," on Udemy.com.   Use this link to sign up for a free Udemy account and take my online crochet course for only $10.00!

Once you sign up, you have lifetime access to the course, so there's no hurry.  Take your time, and learn at your own pace.  There's over 2 hours of course content, broken into 2 - 17 minute increments of learning, slow motion follow along videos, and hints and tips throughout.  Get started and get some stress relief!

Want to read more about crochet?  Try

A Brief Introduction to Crochet Hooks
Lion Brand Yarn Ergonomic Crochet Hook Set
Crochet Christmas Tree Ornaments
Making Crochet Sushi Toys
Crochet Saved My Life: The Mental and Physical Health Benefits of Crochet (Paperback) by Kathryn Vercillo


  • Fernandez, K. (2013). Stress buster: Knit your way to Zen. Retrieved from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health/Stress-buster-Knit-your-way-to-zen/articleshow/22598142.cms
  • VanTine, J. (2000, May). Give Stress the Needle. Prevention, 52(2), 46. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hair Accessories to Finish a Professional Hairstyle

Women wearing scrunchies and visible hair bands.
"Scrunchie" by Ralph Hockens
For women with medium to long hair, it can be a challenge to find quick hairstyles that are finished and professional enough for the workplace.

There are ways women can meet professional guidelines and dress codes without having to spend extensive time in the front of the mirror every morning trying to create an appropriate hairstyle before heading to work. These women require only a few hair accessories that can be found at drugstores, discount department stores, online stores, and beauty supply specialty store across the United States. Although it may require some shopping around for the product that matches a woman's hair type or personality, she should be able to find hair pins and pony-tail covers that will maintain a quality style for an entire workday and not break the bank.

The important point to remember is that a professional hairdo should always look neat, sleek, and finished.

Jumbo Hair Pins

These pins are a time-tested favorite for women with long hair. Jumbo hair pins, or 3-inch extra-large hair pins, are the perfect accessory for neatly-finished buns and twists, and nothing says "professional" like a neat bun or hair twist that holds all day and never distracts a woman from the job at hand.

Jumbo hair pins come in colors and finishes to match a variety of hair colors, so they are practically unnoticeable by employers and coworkers. Women can also purchase them in different thickness gauges and either with or without ball ends and crimped stems for various levels of hold. Wooden, metal, or plastic varieties are also available, and they can be decorative or plain. For work, women should wear plain or unobtrusive decorations in their hair to maintain a professional image. Although the more colorful and noticeable variations are better left to the weekend, jumbo hair pins are perfect for workday hairdos for all of the various hair types professional women might have.

Pony-Tail Covers

Pony-tails are quick and easy, which makes a pony-tail a great option when a woman is in a hurry on her way to work. However, brightly-colored ribbons, scrunchies or hair ties are not appropriate for the professional workplace. For the workday, a woman should opt for something that makes her hairdo look neat and finished. That is not to say, though, that a woman cannot wear a pony-tail to work. Pony-tails, and the elastic bands that hold them in place, can be covered by pony-tail covers.

Pony-tail covers come in many shapes, styles, and materials, including leather, sterling silver, plastic, or fabric. A working woman should choose, just as with the hair pins, a decoration that is fairly neutral to help her maintain a professional image. They're just as easy to use as the elastic, itself, but finish a pony-tail in a way that is appropriate for the workplace.

Although these are only two broad categories for workplace-appropriate hair accessories, they can be used in a variety of ways during the workweek to keep a woman looking polished. Both jumbo hair pins and pony-tail covers come in a variety of types and styles, so a woman can, while maintaining workplace standards, express her personality - and get to work on time.

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.
First published July 14, 2011 by Amy Lynn Hess