tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:/posts The textivate blog 2018-08-15T16:37:56Z . . tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1312002 2018-08-15T12:41:39Z 2018-08-15T16:37:56Z TRAPDOOR TRANSLATION: Using Trapdoor in Textivate to make a multiple-choice translation rebuild activity

(Please scroll down to the bottom of the post to try the activity for yourself.)

This post refers to the optional text-based activity, Trapdoor, as introduced in this blog-post / user-guide:

The end result of this blog post also requires you to include a parallel text translation in the L1 (which may or may not be divided into "chunks" by adding vertical pipes as in the example shown). See this user-guide on parallel texts and how to add them to your resource:

The procedure...

1. So, start by creating a short text resource and adding a parallel text.

This activity works best (and is easier for you to set up) if you chunk your text, as explained in this blog post:
(Essentially, this involves putting each chunk on a separate line and adding ###chunked### as a new line at the top of the text.)

2. Next, click the Trapdoor button (as shown below):

You'll see your text appear in the Trapdoor text pane. 

3. Now, select each chunk, as defined by you -- if you have chunked your text into separate lines, simply select each line to make it into a Trapdoor "trap". After selecting all your traps, it should look similar to the image below:

4. Next, add the alternative translations for each trap, by clicking on the underlined text. You can add 1, 2 or 3 alternatives to each trap. The image below shows the trap options for trap 4:

5. Make sure you have checked the option "Game mode: Fixed (original text)" (which you can see in the image in 3 above). This tells textivate that only the original text is acceptable as the correct answer, as students have to select the version which matches with the translation in the parallel text.

6. Upload / Save changes to your resource, and that's it! 

The result...

You end up with a "sudden death" (i.e. students restart from the beginning if they go wrong) chunk-by-chunk translation activity, based on your own text, which should look something like this:

>>> Try the activity for yourself by clicking here <<<


BTW, and as an afterthought, you could of course do this activity the other way round, where students are reading a text in the L2 and choosing from a list of L1 chunks each time. The only downside to this is that the resource would not really be of any use for anything else, as the main text would be in the students' L1. Whereas with the version shown above, you still have all these other activities to go at...

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1306529 2018-07-27T23:03:00Z 2018-08-01T13:46:05Z Textivate Testimonials

The page contains an assortment of quotes from textivate users. Please feel free to contact textivate if you'd like to know the source of any of these quotes.

"Your site is the only one I know that reflects my ideas about language learning / acquisition."

"In an era when there are probably too many gimmicky uses of ICT in MFL, this is a package which will stand the test of time, provide a good mental challenge and support any language course you can imagine. It appeals to the teacher who values analysis in language learning, but also provides good comprehension material which you can grade to the needs of your class. Crucially, it is a super time saver, being quick and easy to use, even for any technophobe teachers. You can probably guess that I recommend it highly."

"What I like most about textivate is that you can add vocab alongside the texts so students can play in a wide of range of activities and games with a format such as a booking letter / email or an account of a holiday and then separately deal with say the key verbs in a specific tense. The vocab / verbs or whatever are highlighted in the text. Personally I think that is a pretty devastating combination."

"Creating computer based materials can be incredibly time consuming and also very frustrating as websites and web based content can change so quickly, that's why it is always so nice to discover tools like Textivate which can enable you to create instant interactivity using almost any text you find from around the web."

"This is a remarkable find, not only because it is indeed a useful tool, but in that it recapitulates a bygone era in CALL, that of text manipulation. [...] I think text manipulation is a venerable technique, and it's nice that virtually unlimited home-grown materials can now be only as far away as your browser."

"I LOVE Textivate! Textivate is a website that allows students to manipulate texts in various ways. And it’s SO easy to use. You paste in your text, hit “textivate” and you have 20+ activities ready made to give your students repetition in reading, but in interesting ways."

"Textivate is great tool when you would like students to review a story. This is obviously very relevant for my students learning a foreign language as repetition is key. Whenever we read or create a story, it is important to follow up on it with more practice and more repetition of the vocabulary structures that I want them to learn."

"Textivate is an amazing tool. If you have a story, all you need to do is copy and paste it into your textivate account and it automatically creates online games for students. They can put the story in order, fill in the blanks, matching, etc. It's a wonderful tool for review and a great time filler if you have a few extra minutes at the end of your lesson. Or, it can also be used to review a story from the day before or as a formative assessment. All around, its a great tool!"

"This is the best 2.0 tool for comprehensible input classrooms. I only say that because I can’t think of one that I like better. This is EASY for teachers and easy for students. It takes less than a minute to “Textivate” a text, and there are twenty-seven different activities that your students can complete while interacting with the text and getting reps and reps and reps and…."

"I LOVE textivate, and can't imagine teaching without it."

"I can whip up a new textivate in class while we are telling the story and have it ready to go as soon as we wrap up the story, now that I've been using it for a while. A HUGE time saver when you need sub plans in a crunch (assigned on google classroom, or printed out and ready to go!) or you finish early and suddenly have 10 minutes you didn't anticipate (whole class game projected on the smart board!)"

"Textivate is my favorite favorite favorite thing ever."

"I like the way it gets students thinking about sentence structure, parts of speech, and grammar without it being explicit."

"It really helps my students to write for mandated department testing."

"Textivate is the best, 100%"

"Textivate is amazing - it's hard to explain why, without writing paragraphs worth of things, but you should check out the blog."

"There's definitely a learning curve when trying to learn all of those features. It's a powerful tool once you learn its quirks. Check the user guides and examples in the Textivate blog."

"I am not a fan of most tech in the classroom. [...] That said, I do like using Textivate, which is a platform that allows you to upload stories (or whatever you use in your target language), and then have students do stuff with these activities. [...] I like Textivate because it involves students reading and processing meaning, it is relatively low-tech, it is simple and reliable, and kids don’t need accounts, apps etc (it is doable on a phone)."

"I love your site!  I teach 4-6th grades using TPRS in a private school in California, USA and think that what you have done is amazing for my students!"

"Thank you so much for all your work. Textivate remains the best and the best value language-learning resource available as far as I am concerned."

"I absolutely love Textivate and my students really enjoy it!"

"I love this site and the excellent customer service."

"My students LOVE Textivate and it is my 'go to' for sub days. Thanks for all you do!"

"I am the department chair for World Languages. We love your service!"

"I love Textivate and will use it a lot this year! Thanks for always making it even better!"

"Thanks for offering Textivate to the world. We love it."

"Textivate is fantastic! I, and my students, love it!"

"Thanks again! I love Textivate!!!"

"Thank you for such an excellent resource! I love using textivate for my students."

"First of all, I would like to thank Textivate.com. It answers my need to do differentiation in classroom. The TTS of Chinese is 99% near native speaker. Just love it."

"I got a lot of mileage out of Textivate last year, at a point in my career when it was tough to push myself to do anything new. [...] I love the possibilities you've created for the tool, with all the thought and hard work you've poured into it!"

"I can't thank you enough for adding in the classroom piece to Textivate. So excited to try it out in the Fall. I don't think you realize how much Textivate gives me a platform to make my classroom more practical for student practice of personalized CI. Truly amazing. Thank you!"

"Textivate motivates even students with only 7 days of class instruction to want to read and write in Spanish like no other product I have seen."

"One of the many things that Tina (Hargaden) and Ben (Slavic) mention in their book ("A Natural Approach to Stories") is Textivate. I love Textivate! I have used it in the past as a way to review stories. I like it because it is easy differentiation and students can go at their own pace while reviewing stories."

"The challenge gets everyone engaged. We do it as teams. My classroom gets so quiet you can hear a pin drop and then there is raucous uproar when someone on a team dumps a chunk of points. The kids get so intense. It is a great wrap up activity after a story has been told and I've done everything I want to with actors and re-tells, etc. this is my final push and we end with a bang!"

LOVE textivate! Just type in your text and then create games for language practice. Good for working with music lyrics, too! You can allow students to decide how to play with the language or assign specific tasks / games. The subscription is worth every euro.

I hesitated for a long time, wondering whether or not it was worth it. I got a subscription this year and it was honestly a lifesaver.

It’s a brilliant resource, particularly if your school is keen to tick the box for tech - this is a really useful tool. I love Textivate!

I really rate [Textivate] as a productive use of simple tech for providing input and practice. So adaptable and easy to use.

I love Textivate! It's a great sub activity or can be used for a change of pace. It's also really easy to differentiate activities. I use it a lot to review a story, reading, or Movie Talk.


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1286301 2018-05-22T11:36:10Z 2018-05-22T12:30:36Z Some GCSE SPANISH translation resources...

The resources in this post were created based on texts taken from old GCSE Spanish papers, and which featured in a booklet uploaded to the Secondary MFL Matters Facebook group by Kate Jones. Here they are presented in the same order that they appear in Kate's booklet.

The images below are clickable and will open the menu for each resource in a separate browser tab. 

Each resource provides access to loads of translation-like activities. Scroll down the menu and click on the "Letters" option to see some translation-like resources requiring students to type in the Spanish translation, with different levels of support.

1) AQA June 2012,  Question 4 – Relationships

2) AQA June 2014, Question 2 – Carlos and his family

3) AQA June 2011, Question 7 – Future plans

4) Edexcel June 2013, Question 4 – Manolito Gafotas

5) AQA January 2013, Question 9 – New technologies

6) AQA June 2013, Question 6 – Horror films

7) AQA June 2012, Question 10 – A music festival to celebrate the end of exams

8) Edexcel June 2014, Question 8 – Healthy living

9) Edexcel June 2011, Question 5 – A letter of complaint

10) Edexcel June 2011, Question 7 – A Spanish omelette-making competition

11) AQA June 2011, Question 9 – Victoria’s birthday

12) Edexcel June 2011, Question 4 – Alejandro’s birthday


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1251949 2018-02-23T20:30:53Z 2018-02-25T17:58:19Z For group subscriptions: sharing resources with group members

A new feature for those with Group subscriptions (23rd Feb 2018)...

Group members can view and easily access Public and Shareable resources uploaded by other members of their group, provided those resources have been shared with the group. 

This means that Group subscribers can finally share the work of resource creation and adapt materials already created by group members, without having to make their resources public!

You can access group resources by going to Search > My resources and then changing the selector from "just me" to "group". You can also search by group member, by tags, by search terms etc.

To share a resource with other group members, simply select the "Share with group" option (see below) when you upload a resource.

You can edit your existing resources by going to Search > My resources and clicking the "Edit tags + resource type" button for each resource. On the pop-up screen, simply select the "Share with group" option (see below) and then save the changes.

You can also create challenges based on shared group resources, by changing the selector at the top to "Group resources". (See below)

Resources shared with the group still belong to the original group member, and only s/he can make changes to the original resource. If you want to modify anything in a resource that has been shared by another group member, you will need to upload the resource as a new resource, which essentially makes a copy of the original. Once you have ownership of the resource, you can change it in any way you like.

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1238710 2018-01-27T10:34:48Z 2018-01-28T17:26:43Z The "textivate>>" button

The "textivate>>" button is where the magic happens :0)

You can click on it at any time to have a look at the range of activities that are available based on the information (text, matching items, parallel texts etc) that is in the tabs and text boxes on the textivate home page.

Simply click the "textivate>>" button (the one at the bottom right) and textivate will take you to a menu screen, like the one below:

From the menu screen, you can try out the many textivate activities using the activity menu bar on the left.

(Try it for your self: follow this link and click on the "textivate>>" button to see a menu screen based on a sample English text.)

Click on the "<<Back to textivate home page" button (at the bottom right) to go back to the home page, where you will be able to make changes to your resource, upload it, or start a new resource.

If you want to share your resource with others, such as your students, you'll need to upload it first. To do this, use the "Upload" icon (the up-arrow in the cloud) which appears beneath the text boxes.

If you want to make a new resource, click on the "New resource" icon (the blank page), which also appears beneath the text boxes. Clicking this removes all of the information from the text boxes and tabs on the home page, leaving you with a clean slate.

For LOTS more info about using textivate's many powerful features, have a look at our user guides. (Of which this is one.):



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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1229160 2018-01-09T14:35:19Z 2018-01-09T21:16:43Z Not-quite translation: transforming L1 notes to L2 text

Today I read a blog post on the Language Teacher Toolkit blog by Steve Smith entitled "Google Translate beaters". 

(Here is a link to the blog post.

In it, Steve suggests a translation activity based on providing students with an L1 and L2 text, each with different words missing. (Think 2-part information gap, but with each text in a different language). The gaps in each text are dashed to indicate the number of letters required, so only the correct translation will fit. Steve suggests this as a way of providing 2-way translation which, because of the chopped up nature of each text and the dashed gaps, is practically impossible to complete using translation tools such as Google Translate. An excellent activity! :o)

Translation in textivate works in a similar way to Steve's example because it specifies the letter gaps to be completed. i.e. it will only accept the pre-defined translation. This makes it difficult to google translate because GT will only work as long as the GT translation matches the pre-defined L2 text provided by the teacher.

Textivate translation into the L2 is a useful activity to push students to practise particular language; particular words, chunks and expressions that we think they should be able to say / write. However, it occurred to me that we could make the activity slightly more challenging and even less google-translatable by providing L1 notes rather than the "Full English" (as it were...).

See the image at the top of this post for an example of this.

For this sort of activity to be successful, ideally we should make sure our resource complies with the following:

  • the L1 notes should be easy to understand
  • the L1 notes should be as close as possible to the order of the L2 text
  • the L2 text should consist of precisely the language items that your students should be familiar with, having been exposed to them consistently in prior lessons / teaching

Provided the above conditions are met, there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to use a whole range of translation-like tasks (such as many of those suggested in this blog post) with various levels of difficulty, using L1 notes as the stimulus rather than a full English L1 text.

If you can make the L1 notes include abbreviations etc that GT will not be able to translate, even better!

Try "no letters" (as shown above): no letters resources with 1 in 2 words affected

Try "jumbled words": put the words of each sentence in order

Try "next word": rebuild the text 3 words at a time

Try "no vowels": fill in all of the vowels

Try "no consonants": fill in all of the consonants

Try "initials": only initial letters are shown

Try "anagrams": 1 in 2 words affected

Try "space": click to insert the spaces in the text

Try "tiles 4x4": put the blocks of text in the correct order

Go the menu: from here you can try out all sorts of other activities


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1229091 2018-01-09T12:41:57Z 2018-01-09T17:06:44Z Textivate now served via https (secure site access)

At the end of December 2017 we migrated textivate to new servers, and the site is now also served via https only. 

The pros

The benefits of this are:

  • Secure log-in
  • You can now embed textivate activities on other sites served via https. (Over the latter half of 2017 many sites became available via https only, which meant that they could not display content served via the unsecure http protocol.)

The cons

Well, there shouldn't really be any, to be honest. Video embeds now need to be via an https url, but textivate will automatically convert all of your old urls.

The only thing that has come to our attention after a couple of weeks of the new site being live is an issue with locally stored resources. Read on...

Local Storage

If you are someone who had resources stored locally as part of your browser's local storage (via the filing cabinet icon on textivate), you will see that, following the change to https, none of your locally stored resources appear when you click the filing cabinet icon.

Here is a solution to that problem:

Using the computer and browser on which you have textivate resources locally stored, go to the page linked below. It will automatically transfer your locally saved resources to https and make them available again via the new textivate site:


N.B.: The page should show one of 2 things:

  1. a list all of your resources in text boxes, with a message at the top confirming that your resources have been transferred; or
  2. a message saying that no locally stored textivate resources were found

If you have any problems, please get in touch via the contact form on the textivate website.


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1204488 2017-11-10T17:26:04Z 2018-01-09T12:18:22Z Create Challenges based on Textivate Plus resources

Somebody said it would be nice if they could make Challenges based on Textivate Plus resources. So we added that functionality :)

(What is Textivate Plus? See here.)

The vast majority of Textivate Plus resources are in French at the moment, and are primarily aimed at UK KS3 and KS4.

Note that Textivate Plus resources require a textivate log-in. With this in mind, you may want to make any challenge based on Textivate Plus resources require a password.
(It doesn't really matter whether or not you do this though, to be honest. If they aren't logged in when they land on a Textivate Plus resource, they will be asked to log in anyway.)

Hope you find this a useful addition.


(By the way, you can already make Sequences based on Textivate Plus resources, using the process described in this blog post.)

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1204244 2017-11-09T16:37:12Z 2017-11-09T16:40:36Z Parameters for Challenges :)

If you edit an existing Challenge or click to add a new Challenge, you can now set some parameters for the activities within your Challenge.

("What's a Challenge?" you ask? -- see here.)


This affects the Tiles, Horizontal, Gap-fill text activities and the Shuffle match activity, and determines whether or not textivate checks answers as soon as tiles or gaps are dropped into place.
The default setting is "On".
(The default for existing challenges is "not specified".)

Split text by...

This affects the following text activities: Tiles, Horizontal, Multi-choice, Million.
Split by word count means that the words in the text are split into roughly evenly sized chunks.
Split by sentences / chunks means that, where possible, text chunks will be based on sentences and/or line breaks.
The default setting is "not specified".
(The default for existing challenges is "not specified".)

Show word list for gap-fill

This affects the 2 gap-fill activities: random and user-defined.
The default setting is "Yes" (i.e. word list is shown).
(The default for existing challenges is "not specified".)

Order of Match items

This affects the match activities: Multi-match, Jumble, and the Letters activities, and it determines whether or not the items are shown in random order or in their original order.
The default setting is "Random".
(The default for existing challenges is "not specified".)

Switch match order for Letter activities

This affects the match activities: Jumble, Letters, Hangman, Invaders, Snake and Maze.
Our recommendations are:
For match resources with items ordered L1>L2, set this to "No".
For match resources with items ordered L2>L1, set this to "Yes".
This prevents students scoring lots of points on these activities simply by typing in English (L1) words.
(There is also the option to set this to "Do not specify", but this is not recommended.)
The default setting is "No".
(The default for existing challenges is "No".)


Check out the Challenge on the link below, which is set up in the following way:

  • Autocheck on: so all tile activities etc will check scores automatically.
  • Split text by sentences / chunks: this is particularly useful for the resource included in this Challenge, which has been "chunked" as described in this blog post.
  • Show word list for gap-fill = yes: so words can be dragged and dropped into position.
  • Order of match items = random: so each match activity will run through the items in a different order.
  • Switch match order for Letters etc = yes: this is because this resource has matching items listed as L2>L1. By choosing this option, we get the best of both worlds -- matching activities with a comprehension focus and writing activities with an output focus.


Hope you find this a useful addition to Challenges :0)

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1191479 2017-09-15T16:49:31Z 2017-09-15T16:49:31Z Dual-language parallel texts for vocab-in-context activities

Just something I was playing around with today, sort of based on this idea on "Using mini dual texts to present vocab in context in MFL lessons" from the TaskMagic blog.

I thought it would be nice to make both the L2 and the L1 text available at the same time as a parallel text along with vocab activities, as a way of drawing students' attention to how the sentences break down (and, conversely, how the chunks of meaning are fitted together to make sentences).

I'm not entirely sure if the end result is worth the effort. What do you think?

>> Here is the 1 in 10 vocab activity shown in the image above << Here, I've fine-tuned the URL so that the vocab appears in the same order as in the text, making it much easier for students.

Or how about the same thing, but where students need to type in the French, as in the image below?

Here are some live examples. You can specify whether the vocab questions appear in random order or in the original order. Original order is much easier as students simply work their way through the parallel text without having to search each time. The examples below use the original order.

>> Fill in the vowels <<

>> Fill in the consonants <<

>> 50:50 (half the letters missing) <<

>> Initials as clues <<

>> No letters, just word shapes <<

>> Anagrams <<


The 1 in 10 activity plus any one of the above would make for a good flipped sequence.


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1189254 2017-09-06T15:40:20Z 2017-09-07T03:58:37Z Circling questions (just trying something out...)

Just trying something out: activities based on TPRS-style "circling" questions. What do you think? The plan is to make a tool that can help teachers to generate circling questions based on their text, that can be used in the ways shown here. The image (above) includes a parallel text. The circling questions appear in a specific order.

>> Try it here <<

Or try it below as an embedded activity. It's based on this text:

Hay un chico. El chico se llama Juanito. A Juanito le gustan los gatos. Juanito no tiene gato, pero quiere un gato. Quiere un gato rojo.

Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
Click here to open the above activity in a new window.

Or how about as a football game with random-order questions? (would only work for a short text such as this one...)

>> Try it here <<


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1187609 2017-09-02T09:51:53Z 2018-03-26T20:59:33Z Working with written texts... (inspired by TLTT)

I've just been reading through chapter 10 of the excellent "The Language Teacher Toolkit" by Steve Smith and Gianfranco Conti (available here). 

The chapter is called "Working with written texts" and it gives a list of 30 or so different types of activities that can be done with written texts. As I read through the list it occurred to me that many of the activities listed can be automated and can therefore be delivered via textivate. I thought I'd put together some examples :)

The sections below are: 1. Listen and read; 2. Jigsaw reading; 3. Parallel texts; 4. Find the French; 5. Synonyms; 6. Definitions; 7. Question forming; 8. Completing sentences; 9. True, false, not mentioned; 10. Matching tasks; 11. Multiple-choice questions; 12. "Wh" questions; 13. Gap-filling; 14. Changing the point of view; 15. Translation; 16. Dictation; + Other activities.

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1184740 2017-08-18T16:36:25Z 2018-06-16T10:06:40Z Working with chunks :)

It was suggested to me recently that it would be really good if textivate could provide text re-build activities based on chunks specified by the teacher. The rationale behind this is that it is better for students to work with words grouped in meaningful chunks rather than in isolation or in randomly generated segments.

Textivate has always had re-build activities based on letters, words, sentences and randomly split sections of text, but until now, there was no way of specifying chunks. 

Follow the instructions below to set up reconstruction activities based on your own user-specified chunks:

Step 1: Specifying chunks by line break

If you separate your text into chunks using line breaks as shown in the image above, textivate treats it in the same way as it would treat any text formatted in this way, such as a song or a poem. It treats each new line as a separate section or sentence. So if you then choose the "split by sentence" (rather than by word) option on those activities that have this feature, you sort of end up with what we are looking for: re-build activities based on the teacher-specified chunks of text.

BUT doing this alone has the following drawbacks:

  • Text-to-speech (if used) reads each chunk separately, so there is no way of making activities where a whole sentence is read out and students piece the chunks together based on what they hear.
  • The re-constructed text also appears on separate lines in this way, which is not really ideal... (And the same applies to all of the gap-fill and letters activities.)

Step 2: ###chunked###

Add ###chunked### to the top of your text (as shown above).

This instructs textivate to chunk your text only for those "split by sentence" activities. Note that it removes ALL line breaks from the text, assuming that all line breaks are in fact chunk-separators. Note also that double line breaks are kept in the text, so if you really want your text to appear as paragraphs, simply hit the return key twice between paragraphs.

AND it makes sure that text-to-speech ignores the line breaks too.

The result...

See the embedded examples below.

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1171852 2017-07-09T09:10:04Z 2017-11-16T15:42:52Z Manage classes and students for individual student log-ins and sequences which can be completed on multiple devices

The shared student password:

As explained in this blog post, students have always been able to log in to textivate using their teacher's username plus a shared student password. This allowed them to take part in Challenges, Sequences, etc.

One downside of this approach was that a Sequence had to be completed on the same device on which it was started. So a student who didn't finish a Sequence in class time would not be able to finish it at home (unless they took the device they used in class home with them...).

Also, because students were only required to identify themselves at the end of a Sequence, this meant that Sequence scores were only ever submitted for fully completed sequences.

NEW Individual student passwords:

If you click on the "Manage students / classes" icon (as shown in the image above), you'll see a screen which displays a list of all of your classes. You won't have any at first, so just click on the "+ New class" button...

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1166167 2017-06-21T16:52:14Z 2017-12-01T15:55:06Z New optional text activity: Trapdoor :)

If you open a text resource or type in some text in the text tab on the textivate edit screen, you'll see a new "Trapdoor" button. Click this to add a Trapdoor activity to your resource.

A Trapdoor activity is a multiple choice activity where students click their way through the options to (re-)build the text. It is called Trapdoor because if they get a section wrong, they fall through the trapdoor and they have to start again.

Two types of Trapdoor activity: Random & Fixed (Update November 2017)

1. Traditional Trapdoor : Random or "guessing game" mode:

Many language teachers will be familiar with Trapdoor as an activity done in class using a text with several multiple choice options, such that many different versions of the text can be created by selecting from the multiple choice options. In class, this is typically played as follows:

  1. The teacher selects a route through the text, making a note of his / her selected options.
  2. Students take turns to read the text, guessing at the options chosen by the teacher, and they continue until they make a wrong guess, at which point they fall through the trapdoor. It is then another student's turn to start again from the beginning, remembering the progress so far.
  3. The activity requires students to listen carefully, paying close attention to which answers are correct and which are wrong. It is also good speaking (at least pronunciation) practice. 

On textivate Trapdoor is similar when played in the default random (guessing game) mode. It is essentially a guessing game and a memory game combined. Students have to guess their way through a series of equally valid multiple choice options to rebuild a text. If they guess correctly, they proceed to the next option. BUT if they make a wrong guess, they fall through the Trapdoor, which means that they have to start again, remembering their progress so far as well as where they went wrong. They keep on playing until they reach the end of the text.

Each time textivate loads a Trapdoor activity, it picks a different random route through the multiple choice options that you have specified. (So it's important that all options are equally "correct".)

Traditional (guessing game) Trapdoor works best with short, simple texts, consisting essentially of a series of substitution tables, where most of the text has been turned into traps, preferably with no more than 10 or so traps in total. See the embedded example at the bottom of this post - a French "guessing game" trapdoor activity with 8 traps.

2. Fixed or "original text" mode:

In "original text" mode, the game is essentially the same as above, except that the correct answers are ALWAYS the options that come from your original text. This makes the activity a sort of sudden-death gap-fill activity with multiple options, rather than a guessing game, and it tests students' recall of the original text.

Creating "traps" in the text:

Select words in the text on the Trapdoor edit screen to create traps. Traps appear as ||-underlined-|| on the Trapdoor edit screen (and with ||-these symbols-|| around them on the textivate edit screen). Your traps can be based on single words or multiple words. (Click and drag to select multiple words.) 

Once you have made a trap, click on it to add your options (see image above). You need to add 1, 2 or 3 options. Remember that, if making a traditional "guessing game" Trapdoor activity, all options must be equally valid, because textivate selects a random route through your options each time the Trapdoor activity loads.

You need to have a minimum of 3 traps (each with 1 - 3 options) for your Trapdoor activity to be made available. 


1. Random / guessing game:

A short French text. All answers are equally valid. Students guess their way through the text.

Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
Click here to open the above activity in a new window.

2. Fixed / original text:

The same French text as above, but this time there is only one correct answer for each option. The others are grammatically incorrect or misspelt.

Click below to access the activity. (Opens in a new window on touch devices.)
Click here to open the above activity in a new window.

Additional thoughts...

Trapdoor in "guessing game" mode does not require students to make judgments based on correctness of grammar or vocabulary. It provides lots of repeated exposure to a simple, short text, and it tests students' memory.

In "original text" mode, however, you can choose to make activities where the "wrong" answers are either grammatically or factually incorrect, or which simply deviate from the information in the original text.

Also, in "original text" mode, you have the option of a Trapdoor-translation activity, with the L1 as a parallel text! In "guessing game" mode this is not possible because the "correct" text is different each time. See the screenshot below of a "trapdoor-translation" activity:

(And here is a link to the above activity.)

Let us know what you think.


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1154969 2017-05-18T15:37:22Z 2017-05-18T15:37:23Z New search functionality, plus views and likes

Several small updates and improvements:

  • New search resource type options:
    We've added to the search parameters to include "all with text" (which includes text AND text+match resources) and "all with match" (which includes match AND text+match resources).
    This means it is now possible to search through all resources that have a text, rather than doing a text search and a text+match search separately. Similarly with vocab / matching resources.

  • New search order options:
    We've added views and likes to the search by options. These search by most viewed and most liked respectively. (And then by most recent.)

  • Views and likes:
    We've started counting views and likes.
    Likes are based on logged-in users clicking on the "favourite" icon for a resource.
    Views are based on a resource being accessed by any user. (Repeat views with a 15 minute period are not counted.)
    Users can search by most liked and most viewed. Numbers for views and likes will also appear in the resource info for all resources, accessible via the +i icon, as well as in the Public and My resources lists.
    (Clearly, views and likes are not retrospective. All counts started on 16th May 2017.)

  • Recent and Favourite resources increased to 100:
    Previously, we only stored info for the 10 most recent / favourite resources. We've increased it to 100.

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1154956 2017-05-18T14:53:27Z 2017-05-18T16:14:45Z Set and enforce your own team names for scoreboard challenges

New feature as of May 2017

Normally, students are prompted to type in their own "scoreboard names" when they take part in a textivate scoreboard challenge, and they also have the option of using the same scoreboard names so that they can compete together in teams.

(A scoreboard challenge is a way for students to compete individually or in teams, scoring points by completing all sorts of reading, text-reconstruction and vocab activities. See this blog post for more info.)

A recent addition was the facility to select from one of the existing scoreboard names, which makes it easier to return to a challenge on a different device or to join an existing team, without fear of spelling the name wrongly, as explained in this blog post.

What we've now added is a way for the teacher to set the team names. And students can only log in to a challenge using the team names specified by the teacher.

The image above shows the "new challenge" pane. There's now a section at the bottom which you can use to specify the team names that you want your students to use.

Simply type in your team names, separated by a semi-colon ;

If you leave it blank, students can use whichever team name or individual name they like. But if you include two or more semi-colon-separated team names, those names will be enforced, and students will have to pick a team from a dropdown menu, as demonstrated in the image at the top of this post.

Here's an example for you to try: >> French, daily routine, past tense (passé composé) <<

N.B. You can edit your existing challenges and add team names. But note that any scoreboard data that you have not deleted will still be visible on the scoreboard. You can delete scores in the usual way, via the challenge scoreboard page.

Why team challenges?

One of the benefits of a team competition is that all team members can feel that they are contributing to the overall team score, even if they, personally, are not the brightest and would quickly lose heart if they saw that their scores were very low while other students in the class were racing ahead. This would work particularly well if you set up "vertical" teams, where every team has a range of ability, and preferably equal numbers. (Having said that, allowing for varying numbers of team members might also be a good way of redressing the balance between groups of students with different abilities.)

This new feature even makes it possible to set up inter-class competitions!

Here's a quote from a user of textivate (a TPRS teacher) commenting on team challenges on facebook:

"The challenge gets everyone engaged. We do it as teams. My classroom gets so quiet you can hear a pin drop and then there is raucous uproar when someone on a team dumps a chunk of points. The kids get so intense. It is a great wrap up activity after a story has been told and I've done everything I want to with actors and re-tells, etc. this is my final push and we end with a bang!"


See also:

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1153232 2017-05-11T12:06:48Z 2018-05-12T19:00:03Z Exploiting texts

This is a step-by-step user-guide which demonstrates how simple it is to exploit a text with textivate.

Each of the steps below has an ">>> our resource so far" link at the bottom. Simply click this to see what the textivate resource would look like if you followed the instructions in each step. 

Note that many of the steps are optional: a text-based resource is in fact ready to be used after step 2. (It just needs to be uploaded, which isn't mentioned in this post). The optional extras (steps 4+) add all sorts of extra features to your text resource, such as vocab activities, text-to-speech, parallel text, etc.

1. Create a new resource

Click on the New Resource icon to clear the contents of all of the text boxes before you start.

>>> Our resource so far: empty home page

2. Click the Text tab and type or paste in a text

You can type or paste in any text of up to 500 words.

There are various sources of texts:

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1149119 2017-04-25T09:25:27Z 2017-04-25T09:25:28Z Configuring match resources based on sentence halves

The key thing to remember when making matching resources based on matching sentence halves is that the matches should be exclusive - i.e. you should make sure that there is only one sentence end that could possibly go with each sentence starter. It's no good making a resource based on the following data:

Je fais partie d'un club >> de foot
Je fais partie d'un club >> de tennis
Je fais partie d'un club >> de rugby

...because any of the ends can match perfectly well with any of the starters.

Instead, you need to do this sort of thing:

Je fais partie d'un club de >> foot
Je fais partie d'un club >> de tennis
Je fais partie d'un >> club de rugby

...so that each match is exclusive.

The screen image above shows a textivate Match resource which has the following characteristics:

  • The matching items are all in L2...
    ...with the first half of the sentence on the left and the second half on the right.
  • No text-to-speech
    Since for most activities TTS would only apply to either the first part or the second part of each match, it's best not to use it at all.
  • Several mostly production focused activities have been removed
    Flashcards, because it would essentially end up as a guessing game for this sort of content;
    All of the memory activities, for the same reason;
    All of the "letters" activities, for the same reason, and because our focus here is on matching the 2 halves, not filling in the last half;
    Hangman, because it doesn't present the first half of the match, so it wouldn't make sense with this content;
    Snake, because I think it's too difficult with this content... (Having said that, I've left in Maze and Invaders because I feel they are more do-able and the letter clues help students to complete the phrases -- best attempted later on in the learning sequence).
    See this blog post about excluding particular activities from the textivate menu.
    The image below shows the activities which have been excluded (via the "Extras" tab):

Here is a link to the resource shown above: >>> French: Je fais partie... <<<

Related posts:

How to make a match resource with an input (understanding) focus

How to make a match resource with a production / output focus


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1146266 2017-04-13T21:14:03Z 2017-04-24T09:05:59Z Access textivate free this weekend (free student access)


Want to try out textivate this weekend? (until Sunday 23rd April 2017)

Go to http://www.textivate.com/?new=1 and click the "Log in / subscribe" button. Select "Log in" and enter the following:

Username: temporary

Password: [leave this empty]

Student password: student1234

This will give you the equivalent of student access to textivate. With this you can:

  • Put your own texts / matching items into textivate and try out the activities that are automatically created based on them.
  • Add data into the extras tab to add video / audio / image / parallel text, as well as text to speech.
  • Save your texts in local storage via local storage icon (the filing cabinet).
  • Try out the ready-made French resources on "Textivate Plus" (see link on the textivate home page).
  • Browse the thousands of resources available via the search icon (the spyglass).

You will not be able to do any of the following (which require teacher access):

Check out the textivate user guides for more info about what textivate can do and how you can do it: 


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1142506 2017-03-30T10:06:07Z 2017-03-30T10:16:51Z How to make vocab resources with a production / output focus

Vocab resources with an output focus ask the question "how do you say ...?" rather than "what does ... mean?"

The focus is on students' productive skills (speaking, writing) rather than on receptive skills (listening, reading), so they are more challenging for students.

The screen image above shows a textivate Match resource which has the following characteristics:

  • The matching items are in the order L1 >>> L2
    This means that the L1 item will be presented first, with students being required to say how that L1 word or phrase is said in the target language.

  • No text-to-speech
    Since adding L2 text to speech would make many of the activities much easier, turning them into dictation-type activities rather than "how do you say" activities.

  • Several mainly input-focused activities have been removed
    Snap because this is more about recognition;
    Shuffle, Switch, Click Match, Memory because these are not really output-focused;
    Hangman because this does not ask the question "how do you say ...?"
    See this blog post about excluding particular activities from the textivate menu.
    The image below shows the activities which have been excluded (via the "Extras" tab):

Here is a link to the resource shown above: French, daily routine, perfect tense

N.B. The most output focused activities are:

  • the Letters activities (Vowels, Consonants, 50:50, Initials, No letters, Anagrams) - which require students to spell the words, with varying levels of support;
  • Invaders, Snake and Maze - which require selective letter filling in game formats;
  • Flashcards - which does not require any writing / spelling, but tests students recall. ( Note that different levels of support can be provided via the "clue" selector at the bottom left.)


Why not set a Challenge each week based on this sort of resource? You could award prizes (according to your school's reward system) for the highest scorers, and you could require all students to score a specified minimum number of points each week (1000? 5000? -- bear in mind that the Letters activities score many more points than the simple matching activities, and Flashcards scores next to nothing because students assess themselves). 

Doing this sort of thing regularly should make a big impact on your students' ability to produce core vocab and expressions.

(See this blog post about Challenges on textivate)


Related posts:

How to make match resources with a receptive focus

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1142077 2017-03-28T10:50:13Z 2017-03-30T10:18:36Z How to make vocab resources with a receptive focus - good for GCSE R/L revision

Vocab resources with a receptive (or input) focus ask the question "what does ... mean?" rather than "how do you say ...?"

The focus is on students' receptive skills (listening, reading) rather than on productive skills (speaking, writing), so they are less challenging for students. We want to know what they can understand rather than what they can produce themselves.

The screen image above shows a textivate Match resource which has the following characteristics:

  • The matching items are listed in the order L2 >>> L1
    This means that the target language item will be presented first, with students tasked with understanding the meaning (and looking for it in L1).

  • Text-to-speech has been added to the L2
    Provided that students make sure that TTS is turned on (which they can do on the activity screens), they will hear as well as see the target language word or phrase. TTS is added to the resource via the "Extras" tab. See this blog post all about TTS on textivate.

  • All output-focused activities have been removed
    This means that all of the activities present the L2 and test students understanding of the L2 word or phrase with reference to the L1. None of the activities require the student to spell anything, or work on re-building words in the L1. See this blog post about excluding particular activities from the textivate menu.
    To exclude all of the output-focused activities, simply select all of the activities listed on the bottom 2 rows in the "Extras" tab, as shown in the image below:

Here is a link to the resource shown above: GCSE French environment - RECEPTIVE


Why not set a Challenge each week based on this sort of resource? You could award prizes (according to your school's reward system) for the highest scorers, and you could require all students to score a specified minimum number of points each week (1000???). Doing this sort of thing regularly should make an impact on your students' receptive understanding of key vocab.

(See this blog post about Challenges on textivate)


Related posts:

How to make match resources with an output focus

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1141109 2017-03-23T22:12:04Z 2017-03-24T16:06:41Z How to exclude activities from the textivate menu

If you click on the "Extras" tab and scroll down to the bottom, you will see a section called "Exclude activities from menu", as shown in the image above.

By default, all textivate activities are available via the menu screen, provided the resource meets the requirements of each activity in terms of number of words etc. (And obviously, text activities are not displayed for match resources and vice versa...)

You can use this "Exclude activities from menu" section to exclude particular activities from the menu screen. 

Simply select the activities that you wish to exclude, and those activities will not be available via the textivate menu screen.

Your list of excluded activities appears in the "Show all" tab, looking something like this:

3x5, 4x4, 3x6, 4x5, 4x6, hz6, hz8, h10, hza, par

Why exclude activities?

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1139255 2017-03-16T17:59:52Z 2017-03-16T17:59:52Z Copy name from scoreboard feature added to challenge login -- good for Team Challenges :)

We've added a new feature allowing users to select from names that are already on the scoreboard when they log in to a challenge.


Well, this makes logging in much easier for Team Challenges, where you want several students to use the same scoreboard name to identify their team. (Previously the log-in box appeared in front of the scoreboard, so it wasn't easy to copy existing names...)

That's all. Just a little tweak to make things smoother. 

(A number of people had asked for this feature...)

>> Check out Team Challenges <<


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1138686 2017-03-14T17:08:02Z 2017-03-14T17:09:22Z GCSE French essays on textivate plus :)

Have you seen the GCSE French essays section on textivate plus?

(Textivate Plus is for those with subscriptions to textivate. More info here.)

Each essay is split into at least 3 parts. 

Click on the essay titles (shown in image above) to see links to resources based on sub-sections of each essay as well as to the full essay. e.g. The sub-categories for "A holiday abroad" are shown below:

Each link then contains up to 59 activities, including vocab matching, reading, comprehension, dictation, translation, jigsaw reading, flashcards, football, millionaire. 

The activities are listed in order of difficulty, easiest to hardest.

Have a look for yourself: http://www.textivate.com/plus/French/KS4_GCSE%20essays_

The plan is to add more content to this section over time.


Related links

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1133892 2017-02-24T11:23:46Z 2017-02-24T18:02:41Z Exploiting songs with textivate

This blog post looks at some of the sorts of activities that you can do with textivate to exploit a song. The song itself can be embedded as a video, or as audio, or students can access it in a separate browser tab or window.

1. Tiles

This is shown in the image at the top of this post and involves dragging the tiles of text so that they are in the correct order. This works particularly well if the number of lines in the song matches the number of tiles on the screen, as in the example in the image above. If this is the case, simply ensure that any link to the activity is set to "split by sentence" (or ask students to navigate to the page and select this option). If this isn't the case, it isn't a problem, but selecting "split by sentence" ensures that the text is broken by either full stops or line breaks, which makes it clearer in my opinion.

>> Try this activity!!

2. Multi-choice

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1131331 2017-02-14T20:08:52Z 2017-04-29T17:30:14Z What's the difference between textivate and TaskMagic?

What's the difference between textivate and TaskMagic?

I get asked this quite a lot, by people who already have / have used TaskMagic.

("What's TaskMagic?", you ask... See this.)

  TaskMagic3    Textivate
Web-based?     No     Yes
Works on...: Windows Everything
Mobile?      No     Yes
Mac?      No     Yes
Linux?      No     Yes
Android?      No     Yes
iOS (iPad / iPhone)?      No     Yes
Windows?     Yes     Yes
Requires installation?     Yes      No
Requires internet connection?      No     Yes
Prints worksheets?     Yes     Yes
Worksheet definition / quality:   Good Variable
Text to speech? (TTS)      No     Yes
Embed video along with activities?      No     Yes
Big picture along with activities?      No     Yes
Audio along with activities? Depends     Yes
Parallel text along with activities?      No     Yes
Translation via parallel text?      No     Yes
Dictation via audio file?     Yes     Yes
Find the French / Spanish etc...?     Yes     Yes
Activities based on a text?     Yes     Yes
Activities based on a dialogue?     Yes     Yes
Activities based on matching text items? (Text Match)     Yes     Yes
Activities based on matching images with text? (Pic Match)     Yes     Yes
Activities based on matching audio with text?     Yes Yes (TTS)
Pic-Sound?     Yes      No
Grid Match?     Yes      No
Matching activities combining text, images and sound?      No     Yes
Text activities and Match activities in the same resource?      No     Yes
Multiple choice quiz?     Yes     Yes
Reading comprehension?     Yes     Yes
Maximum number of gap-fill formats per text?       5       2
Teacher can determine which activities are available for a resource?     Yes     Yes
Teacher-defined activity sequences?      No     Yes
Submit homework / classwork scores?      No     Yes
Gradebook of student sequence scores?      No     Yes
Individual / team scoreboard competitions?      No     Yes
Sharing resources? Yes (files) Yes (URLs)
Embed activities?      No     Yes
Link to specific activity?     Yes     Yes
Define parameters for activities via link?      No     Yes
Switch matching items within a resource?      No     Yes
Perpetual licence?     Yes      No
Annual subscription? Yes (new)     Yes

"What about the price?" I hear you say... Well:

TaskMagic price options

Textivate price options

Hope this helps. I appreciate it will mean very little unless you're reasonably familiar with one of the two.


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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1128211 2017-02-02T14:54:42Z 2017-02-02T14:55:59Z New menu screen

We've completely revamped the menu screen (above). 

This new version makes it much easier to read the text / matching items on the menu screen.

It also has words on the menu, rather than images intended to represent each activity.

And many activities that are essentially the same, such as all the tile activities, are now accessed in submenus.

Here's what it used to look like (if you've never used textivate, or if you've forgotten already...):

Here is a link to the menu as shown in the first image above. Have a play with it: http://www.textivate.com/menu-7rfjn1?colscheme=blue

We hope you like the change.

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/1123907 2017-01-17T17:18:45Z 2018-01-15T17:56:32Z Comment vas-tu à l'école? (French resources based on openclipart...)

A resource blog-post, for a change...

The images in this textivate resource are direct links to images on the openclipart website, https://openclipart.org/

The 26 activities below are in the same order and format as many of the image+text matching resources on the KS3 French section of textivate plus (for textivate subscribers) at http://www.textivate.com/plus/French/KS3_General_

NB: Scroll down to below the interactive activities for some pdf worksheets based on this resource.

The embedded resources below can be accessed by anyone (with or without a subscription):

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tag:textivate.posthaven.com,2013:Post/668613 2017-01-11T10:38:26Z 2017-02-09T15:00:16Z Dictée for homework?

Using a combination of embedded video or embedded audio and a single activity textivate sequence, it's easy to create a dictation activity on textivate that your students can complete for homework. (Records their score and time taken too.)

See this French example based on Prévert's "Déjeuner du matin":
(Close the log-in box to have a go at the activity)

Here is the same activity embedded. Close the log-in box to have a go at it. Then click on the video icon to open the activity with the video embedded, so that you can listen to the audio.

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