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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What's been added to TEXTIVATE since the beginning of the last academic year?

New features are being added to textivate all the time. 

To give you an idea, if you've been using textivate for the last 12 months (September 2015 - August 2016), these are all the new features that have been added to textivate in that time. Click on the links for more info:

  1. Challenges (September 2015) - in-class competitions for individuals or teams
  2. Match Jumble (October 2015) - new match activity
  3. Drop-down box navigation (November 2015)
  4. Split by sentence (November 2015)
  5. Improved options for non-roman-script languages (November 2015)
  6. Jumbled words (November 2015) - new text activity
  7. Word invaders (November 2015) - new text activity
  8. Football (January 2016) - new text and match activities
  9. 3 in a row (January 2016) - new text and match activities
  10. Space specifications (January 2016)
  11. Flashcards improvements (January 2016)
  12. Speed read (February 2016) - new text activity
  13. Text to speech (July 2016) - new feature to add speech functionality to almost all your textivities
  14. Switch matching items (July 2016) - improvement for match resources
  15. Flashcards clues options (August 2016) - makes flashcards much more versatile

Challenges are just one of many new features added to textivate in the past 12 months...

New SWITCH feature for many of the MATCH textivities

A new feature added along with TTS (text-to-speech) was the ability to switch the order of matching items for many of the MATCH textivities.

This Switched / Not switched option can be specified in your sequences (as shown above), in URL fine-tuning via the Share icon, and students can change the order of matching items from within the activity using the Switch checkbox, shown below (EXCEPT when the activity is part of a Challenge).

This Switch feature is available for all the Match activities except: Snap, Click Match (6,8,9,10,12), Memory (6,8,9,10,12)

The Switch feature is NEVER available...

  • when the resource contains images (or speak::) in the left match
  • when the activity is being attempted as part of a Challenge

Why Switch?

Well, some match activities work best with L2 prompts, where students have to choose the correct English translation for a given word or phrase, for example. Whereas text input (spelling) activities work best where the prompt is in the L1 and the students have to write in the correct response in the L2.

Switch means that you can now do these two types of activity using the same textivate resource.

See the 2 examples below, both taken from the same textivate resource:

More options added for non roman-script languages

We've made a further 7 activities available to those makign activities with character languages or languages which do not use roman-script...

On the Text side...

Anagrams, Invaders, Snake

You can now make an anagram-text activity (and print a worksheet), or play an invaders or snake game.

This means that the of the 32 text activities, the ones currently not supported for non roman script languages are the 5 "Fill in the letters" activities.

On the Match side...

Anagrams, Invaders, Snake, Maze

On the Match side, you now have the Anagrams activity (and worksheet) as well as the 3 games: Invaders, Snake and Maze.

So of the 30 match activities, the ones currently not supported for non roman script languages are the 5 "Fill in the letters" activities plus Hangman.

Some examples?

Months in Russian (Match: Maze):

Text re-construction activities: split text by sentence vs split text by word count.

You'll see that in the bottom left of the above screen image there are two option buttons: "Words" or "Sentences"

"Words" means that the text is divided in roughly equal-sized chunks based on the number of words. This has been the default setting until now, and it tends to create activities where:

  • each chunk of text is roughly equal in size
  • text chunks pay no attention to full stops or line breaks

Text-reconstruction of this kind forces the reader to look out for context clues such as grammar, word order, verb / adjective agreement, as well as the actual meaning of what they are reading. On the one hand, this type of activity can be challenging because the student has to know how the words fit together grammatically, but on the other hand it could be seen as less challenging in terms of understanding of the flow of the text or story.

"Sentences" means that textivate will attempt to break the text up into chunks which take account of line breaks and full stops, where possible. Of course, many of the activities are constrained by the number of tiles on the screen, so you will find that if your text has fewer sentences than there are tiles on a particular screen, the longer sentences will be divided. Likewise, if your text has more sentences than there are tiles, the smaller sentences will be combined.

This option doesn't make the same demands on students in terms of grammar -- they are not spending as much time in mid-sentence looking for the correct word to continue the sentence. They are spending more of their time looking at the meanings of the sentences and working out their order within the text or story.

Compare:

A tile activity divided by word chunks:

Drop-down boxes to replace +tiles and -tiles buttons

We've made a small change to the way that you navigate between some of the activities on textivate.

The +tiles and -tiles buttons have gone and have been replaced by a drop-down box (see the image below).

This makes it easier to navigate directly to the number of tiles that you want to see in your activity.

These changes have been made to the following screens on the text side:

Tiles (all), Horizontal, Paragraphs, Next Word, 50:50, Initials, Empty, Anagrams

...and the following screens on the Match side:

Shuffle Match, Switch Match, Click Match (all), Memory (all)

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Multiple-resource sequences

This post explores a new feature in textivate sequences. (Don't know what a sequence is? Look here for starters.)

>> TRY THIS SEQUENCE <<

The above sequence (in French) is based on 9 separate resources, each one dealing with a different section of the same story. (It's a description of the action from a Simon's Cat video called Fly Guy -- the sequence is actually made up of all of the activities featured on this blog post.)

If you try out the sequence, you'll see that as you complete one activity and click on the "Next" button, you are taken to a different activity based on the next piece of text -- each piece of text is actually a separate textivate file.

So how is this done?

Well, the easiest way is to open textivate in 2 separate browser tabs: one with an empty text box so that you can create your sequence and one that you use to open resources and get the urls.

Start by typing the following into your empty "Show all" text box:

Red herrings in user-defined gap-fill

If you make a user-defined gap-fill on textivate (as explained here and here) you can now add "RED HERRING" words to the word list.

These are words that cannot fit into any of the gaps that you have selected and they make the exercise more challenging for the student.

To add red herrings, first create your user-defined gap-fill by clicking on the "User-defined gapfill" button on the textivate home page:

With the user-defined gap-fill edit screen open, scroll down to beneath the box containing your text and you should see a section like this:

You can add extra words (or groups of words) into this box, separating your red herrings with semi-colons, like this: