From Ban to Box

Posted on October 21, 2011


Using the Box widget

In a drive to reduce costs, the language centre where I work has recently introduced a ban on photocopying hand-outs for students. As a lot of the material I use in class are Word .docs of my own activities/exercises, at first this caused me more than a few sleepless nights. However, the change has forced me to start doing something that I should probably have been doing before: saving on paper and making greater use of the data-projector. But it was when someone turned me on to the wonderful Box widget that things really started to come together.

Instead of churning out photocopies, this is what I’ve ended up doing!

The process goes more or less like this …

  1. Project your .doc (typically, a grammar or vocabulary exercise) on the screen in full screen mode. This hides ugly toolbars and increases screen space.
  2. Ask your students to go through the exercise orally in pairs.
  3. Once your students have done the activity, elicit the answers and type them directly into the projected document.
  4. When you’re done, close the document, but don’t save it.
  5. Tell your students that they will find a downloadable copy of the exercise (without the answers you’ve just elicited and typed in) on their class blog. For homework, ask them to open this document, do the exercise a second time and then save it to their hard disks. Suggest that they create a folder (e.g. English Course) on their computers where they can save all the material they download during the course.
  6. After the class, make the document available to your students by uploading it to the Box widget which you have previously embedded into your class blog. To see an example blog-with-Box-widget click here, or on the screenshot below.

Note : Students may like to make a brief note of the correct answers as you go through the exercise in class. However, as they will have access to a downloadable version, discourage them from copying everything down in their notebooks.

Two tutorials you might like to watch

1. How to embed the wonderful Box widget

2. What I do in class


  1. Students seem to work more collaboratively when doing projected activities than when they each have a photocopied hand-out in front of them.
  2. Students do activities twice leading to greater possibilities for retention.
  3. The embeddable widget enables both you and the student to upload and download directly from your class blog.
  4. Projecting .docs avoids those mad last minute scrambles to the photocopier to reel off piles of hand-outs.
  5. You save on paper and board pens.

… and finally, here’s a little box music!

Hope you find this post useful!

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