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:

  • The internet; news feeds; short articles etc.
  • Your text book: this allows you to create resources based specifically on the book that your students are using in class.
  • Past exam papers.
  • Letters, songs, poems, etc.
  • Your imagination :o)
  • Students can type or paste in their own corrected written work, which can then be use to help them to learn their text, or shared with other students for extended text manipulation practice.

Texts can be used to practise / revise / memorize, or as the start point for a lesson. Texts can be used, along with the ideas below, to introduce new vocabulary in context.

>>> Our resource so far: home page

3. Textivate it!

If you click on "textivate >>" at this point, you'll see a menu screen which looks like this:

You've already got up to 36 activities generated automatically based on your text, including the following:

>>> Our resource so far: menu page

4. (optional) Add a user-defined gap-fill

Back on the home page, click to create a user-defined gap-fill. Simply click on words to gap / ungap them. You can choose to join gaps together to create multiple word gaps. You can even add your own red herrings.

This adds three new activities to your resource:

>>> Our resource so far: home page | menu page

5. (optional) Add matching items

Click on the Match tab and add your matching items. 

Simply type the left match, then hit the enter / return key, then type the right match, then hit the enter / return key, etc etc.

If you textivate your resource again, you'll see that the menu has changed:

Your text appears in the main window with the matching items underneath. Your text has been transformed into an interactive gloss -- simply click on a word in the text to see the meaning of that word or phrase, as determined by your own match list.

There is a new Match section in the menu on the left, providing access to a further 30+ activities, including:

>>> Our resource so far: home page | menu page

6. (optional) Create a "Find the French" activity

Back on the home page, click on the "Extras" tab, scroll down to the "More parallel text options" section and select the check box to use the main textivate text as parallel text for match activities.

This adds a parallel text icon to the top of all the match activity screens. You can then click on this icon to display your text as support for your match activities.

This is particularly useful when combined with...

Essentially what you have created here is a variety of different "Find the French" activities.

>>> Our resource so far: home page | menu page

See this user guide on adding "Find the French / Spanish etc" to your textivate resource.

7. (optional) Reading comprehension?

Rather than using L1 to L2 vocab items in the Match tab, you could use questions and answers about your text instead

If you do this, step 6 above is how you would show your text along with your questions and answers.

You can even add multiple incorrect answers, as described in this user guide

See this user guide on how to make a reading comprehension with textivate.

8. (optional) Add translation options via a parallel text

On the home page, click on the Extras tab, scroll down to the "Add parallel text, video,..." section and type or paste an English translation of your text into the box.

This adds a parallel text icon to the menu screen and to all activity screens. If you click on this icon, it displays your English parallel text along with the menu screen or the activity screens, providing support for the activities.

(If you have already selected to use the main text for Match activities, as described in step 6 above, this will still happen. Your English parallel text will be used as support for the menu screen and the Text activities, and the main L2 text will be used as support for the Match activities.)

At the more challenging end of the textivate activity spectrum, you essentially end up with scaffolded translation activities, such as this, with initial letters:

and this, with no letters and just word shapes provided:

>>> Our resource so far: home page | menu page | menu with parallel text

See this extensive user guide with lots of examples of scaffolding translation activities with textivate.

9. (optional) Add Text-To-Speech (TTS)

On the home page, click on the Extras tab, scroll to the "Text-To-Speech" section and select the speech options for the various parts of your resource.

Main text is the text for your resource (in this case, the French text).

Match - Left and Match - Right refer to your matching items. You can add text to speech to both parts if you like. I've chosen just to add French to the right-hand matching items (i.e. the French ones).

Parallel text applies to the parallel text that you have typed into the extras tab (as explained in step 8 above). Since our parallel text for this example is in English, I haven't included any TTS.

TTS adds all sorts of options to most of the textivate activities. You'll notice that it adds speaker buttons to the menu screen too:

TTS allows you to provide all sorts of text reconstruction, reading and vocab activities where students are able to hear what the text sounds like. Students can also control the speed of the TTS voices using the slider. TTS can be turned on or off on activity screens (unless you have created a link which enforces TTS use...).

>>> Our resource so far: home page | menu page | menu with parallel text

See this user guide all about TTS in textivate, with examples.

10. (optional) Add video / audio / a picture

See these user guides:

11. (optional) Excluding activities from the menu

You can remove from the menu those activities that you don't want your students to do, or which are not appropriate for your resource for whatever reason. See this user guide on excluding resources.

12. What we haven't talked about...

Creating sequences of activities which students must complete in a specific order and to a specified standard. For homework or classwork. Scores and times recorded in grade book. See this user guide on Sequences in textivate.

Creating scoreboard challenges to get students competing either individually or in teams. For homework or classwork. Students have free choice of activities. Challenges have expiry time. See this user guide on Challenges in textivate.

Worksheets! See this user guide.

Everything else!: See our user guides page, which has all sorts of info listed firstly by category and then in A-Z format.