Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The History students created Powerpoint presentations.  The topic of each presentation was an ancient society.  Each student, or pair of students, gave an oral presentations of their Powerpoint.  They used www.authorstream.com to embed their show on their blog.

I used this rubric to assess the oral presentations.  I used this rubric to assess the Powerpoints.

Here is one student’s work:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I really like websites that allow teachers to create class accounts, so that we can monitor the students’ progress.  One such site is Terraclues.  This site has user-created quizzes.  Students are given a clue to a location on earth, then they must locate that spot on a map.  This is a good cross-curricular activity because it combines Geography with Research skills.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

If I

I have previously recommended specific TED Talks on this blog.  I would like to recommend the following monologue, which is not a TED Talk, but which is interesting and insightful, nonetheless.  It is a show by Demetri Martin called, “If I.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Classical Mix-up

We started working with Audacity.

Previously, we were using Myna.  Myna is a great tool, but we found it to be slow and unreliable – it sometimes froze – when downloading the students’ productions

To get my students familiar with the basics of importing music and working with multiple tracks on Audacity, I assigned the following project:

Create an account at www.musopen.com.  This website has plenty of classical music available for downloading.  Select an song and download it.

Edit it in Audacity.  You can apply different effects to different parts of the song.  Your song should have a Fade In at the beginning and a Fade Out at the end.

Download soundtracks from this website and add them to your audio project. http://soundboard.com.  You need to have at least 10 different sound clips, preferably from movies or TV shows.  Try to repeat the same sound clip more than once.

Export your song as an MP3.

Upload your song to http://upload.plunder.com/ and place the link on your blog.

Listen, if you will, to one student’s creation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chartle Map

Chartle is more than just charts.

Today, I asked my students to utilize Chartle to create a population map, which they then embedded on their blogs.

Here are the instructions that I printed for them on Engrade:

Go to www.chartle.net

Create > Map II > Lat/Long GeoMap

Title = Population

Width = 500 ; Height = 400

Data tab > Region = Canada

Remove all the locations.

You will add your own locations.  You need to add 10 Canadian cities.  Choose any cities you want to from this list:


Enter the information for each city.  Label = the name of the city.  Latitude and longitude = only write the first two digits; and the longitude must be negative; ie, Calgary is Lat: 15, Long: -114

Value = the population of the city.  Some populations are at this website:


Embed your map on your blog.

Here is one student’s product.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Here is a brief speaking activity that my students enjoyed.

Voki allows you to create a custom cartoon avatar which you can embed on your blog.  Using a telephone, you can record a message, which your avatar will  then utter.

Here is a voki created by one of my students.

Friday, December 4, 2009

TED Talks

Open Culture has an article mentioning a few popular Ted Talks.

I watched three of them.  They were all decent, but I didn’t think any of them were extraordinary.  Still, I would recommend them all.

Sir Ken Robinson on “Do Schools Kill Creativity.”  This is the least novel of the three.  As the title reveals, Sir Ken Robinson contends that the structure of modern high schools is not conducive to creativity.  At this point, I think this fact is pretty well-known to everyone.  Sir Robison’s liberal sprinkling of humourous personal anecdotes turns his speech into an indulgent stand-up comedy routine.

Dan Gilbert on “Why are We Happy.”  Dan Gilbert suggests builds his presentation upon the fact that one’s happiness is linked to one’s expectations.  Mr. Gilbert avers that people who convince themselves to be happy are just as happy as people who are “really” happy.  He presents a few experiments to prove his claims.  I am generally sceptical of psychological experiments; nonetheless, this is an Mr. Gilbert’s is an interesting speech.

Barry Schwartz on “Paradox of Choice.”  Mr. Schwartz’s premise is that excessive freedom is harmful.  He provides a number of reasons for this assertion.  I agree with his observation that the rampant consumerism of Western society is detrimental to the lack of choice available in developing countries.  In one country, there are 175 varieties of salad dressing on the grocery shelf; in other country, people don’t have enough to eat.

Did you know that more than 30,000 children starve to death each day?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Today, my English students started using EnglishCentral to practice their speaking skills.

The website requires a headset with a microphone. 

The student watches a video clip; there are hundreds from which to choose.  The videos have subtitles.  After each sentence, the student pauses the video and records himself repeating the sentence.  The student’s utterance is measured against the original and the student receives a score.

The website keeps profiles with scores, videos watched and achievements.

My students really enjoyed the activity.  Anything which is presented as a game seems to boost motivation.