How Teachers Can Use Neatorama

I teach a first year experience course to college students--a semester-long orientation to college life. When I do lesson planning for a class, I often begin with a search of Neatorama's archives. I look for neat videos, images or events that will grab the attention of my students.

For example, when my students begin exploring potential careers, I start the class by showing this terrifying video of a man cleaning--by hand--a cobra pit:

(Video Link)

If they weren't awake already, this video solves that problem quickly. It easily leads to a discussion about the importance of choosing a career thoughtfully.

When my students are learning how to study for and take tests effectively, I tell them about college students who used game theory to get perfect scores or the professor who surprised his students by telling them to write their own exams. We then have a discussion about how tests are structured and how to use those structures to their own advantage.

I found all of these content-relevant posts--and many more--by searching Neatorama's archives while preparing lessons. After 8 years and more than 60,000 posts, Neatorama's archives contain attention-grabbing bites of neatness on just about every topic you can think of.

Teachers, think of Neatorama as a vast archive of items that you can use to get and keep your students' interest during class.

Here are a few examples:

  • Are you a middle school science teacher addressing volcanoes in class? You could show your students this video of a man running over an active lava flow.
  • Are you a high school English teacher introducing students to Shakespeare? Play around with the Shakespeare insult generator.
  • Are you teaching English grammar? Have your students correct the tweets of celebrities, as this teacher did.
  • Are you teaching psychology? Tell your students why politicians wear only red or blue ties.

How are you going to find these posts among our cat videos and Star Wars pies? Click on Continue reading to find out.

There's a search field in the upper right corner of Neatorama's homepage. You can use it to search for posts in our archives. It does not function like a Google search. This sometimes trips up people, so I want to explain in some detail.

The search tool looks for words written in our archive of posts. If your search string contains too many search terms--if it's too specific--you could exclude many relevant posts.

For example, let's say that you're teaching about the American Civil War. Let's search for American Civil War.

The search results are interesting. You've got information about the food that the soldiers ate, a model of a Confederate helicopter design and a comparison of generals from that war with My Little Pony characters.

But some of our posts on the topic didn't include the word "American" because Americans commonly refer to that war as just the "Civil War" since it's the only one that we've had. Let's try searching for just the terms Civil War.

Our search results are broader than those of our previous search. We've got a post on a civil war in the Star Wars universe, but we also have an interactive map of the Battle of Gettysburg.

As a general rule, when you use more search terms, you may focus your search results, but you may also accidentally exclude relevant material. When you use fewer search terms, you will get more hits, but many of them will be off-topic. Keep these challenges in mind while searching.

What are you teaching? On what topic would you like to find neat material? Leave it in the comments or email me, and I'll find something for you!

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I'm an ESL teacher in Switzerland, and I often browse Neatorama to find videos to show my students at the beginning of the lesson. It's usually useful to grab their attention and introduce a topic.

We'll be back to school in a couple weeks, so I'll see what I can find...
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