Sunday, October 24, 2010


Since I’m on the topic of listening to music online, another good website for creating playlists is  Click on, “Generate your own MTV,” input the name of a song or artist, and the site will generate a playlist of similar tunes.  ListAndPlay is linked to YouTube, so you can watch videos of your songs.


Friday, October 22, 2010


Sometimes I like to listen to music online. I had been using Grooveshark for this purpose. Grooveshark allows users to create lists of their favorite tunes, but I'm not the kind of guy who likes to collect songs and listen to the same songs over and over. To suit my needs, Grooveshark has a number of stations, in different formats such as Rock and Classical.

I recently found a similar, better site, called Playlistnow. What I like about Playlistnow is that you can input your mood or activity and it will find playlists of songs to match your situation.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Here is a project that caters to one of the primary interests of many students: music.

I asked my students to choose a song, then create a slideshow on PhotoPeach using the lyrics from their song. They used photos downloaded from Google Images. I recommend using only large size images.

Here is one student`s production:


EasyBM is a website for quickly and easily saving your bookmarks online.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Motivating Students

Motivating students to work and motivating students to behave appropriately go hand in hand.  I wanted to make a few comments about my philosophy of teaching and learning.  Much of what I will say applies also to classroom management.

My basic philosophy for teaching is to bank on human nature.  Despite frequent examples to the contrary, I believe that people have an inherent instinct to do things that are in their self-interest.  There is an instinct to improve and educate one’s self.

I think that this inherent force is much more powerful than any sort of external motivator, be it stickers, report cards, or detentions.

If a teacher does not consider this inherent curiosity and find a way to allow it, then the learning will never be full potential.

As they say, you can lead a horse to water.  The mind, to use a botanical metaphor, is like a flower.  You cannot force it open.  It must open on its own accord.

As a teacher, I try not to insist dictatorially that students must complete their work.  I present the work and allow them to come to it.  Try to present topics interesting to the students.  Try to present open-ended, problem-solving activities. 

It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it is magical, watching human nature take over.  It’s that moment teachers live for, when a student learns something or tries to learn something, because they want to, not because they are being forced to.

I notice the same attitude in myself.  If someone tells me to do a job, say, my wife tells me to clean the yard, then I will begrudgingly complete my task, all the while thinking what is the minimum amount of work I can do to appease my task-master.  Contrarily, if I notice that the yard needs cleaning and decide to clean it on my own accord, then I can work tirelessly and actually enjoy the labour.  Human nature.  Funny.

The first few classes of this year, my students were quite loud and off-task.  I knew that they were testing me.  I bit my tongue and refused to react.  I just sat back, allowed them to talk and make noise and not do their work.  A few classes later, the students, for the most part, are now monitoring themselves.  They’re not angels, to be sure, but they do their work without me nagging them, and they behave respectfully.  The results are hard to believe.  It is somewhat awing to observe the self-improving instinct of human nature.

Some of the more mature students now even tell other students to behave.  What can be a more powerful ally than that?  I think the students see and understand that I treat them respectfully as mature, intelligent individuals and they rise to the occasion.