Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The students used Pixton to create a comic, set in the era of history that they are studying: either, Ancient Rome or the Industrial Revolution.

The students all had fun with this activity.

Here are two exemplars:


Sunday, March 28, 2010

YouTube Playlists

If you have a YouTube account, then you can create playlists.

To add a video to a playlist, click on the "Playlists" button beneath the video.

I wanted to use a video to introduce the topic of the Industrial Revolution to my students. I found a few good videos, so I grouped them together as a playlist and named it, "Industrial Revolution."

Youtube allows you to adjust the order of the videos and then play all the videos sequentially.

If you have young children, a playlist would be a good way of bookmarking their favourite videos.

YouTube does not allow users to embed their playlists. However, this website, called Embedr, does allow users to create embeddable playlists. Furthermore, Embedr allows users to collect videos from many different websites.

What Are You Doing Wrong?

Saturday, March 27, 2010


GoAnimate is a good site on which to create animations. It is easy to learn and there are many options, props, soundtracks, actions, and so on. The students enjoyed using it. Here is Sam's creation:

GoAnimate.com: Dancing with the stars. by null

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Friday, March 26, 2010

History Glogs

The students created Glogs in History. Some students are studying Ancient Rome; others are looking at the inventions of the Industrial Revolution.

I am continually endeavouring to teach the students the importance of citing sources. They utilized photos from the Flickr Creative Commons collection. Then, they indicated the author of the photo and included a hyperlink to the photographer's Flickr page.

Enjoy these two examples.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The students used Speechable to add speech bubbles to photos of historical figures. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Speechable because the embed function does not work with Blogger.








In History, the students used a website called Automotivator to create posters related to the topic they are studying in class.


Teaching, for some reason, is one of those professions that everyone apparently knows how to do. Everyone has an opinion about how students should be taught and what teachers are doing wrong. Everyone's an armchair quarterback.

I will let you in on a secret. Teaching really isn't that simplistic. Motivating and educating a group of diverse adolescents day after day is not as easy as stickers and detentions. Behaviorism might work for dogs, but it doesn't work for humans. Sigmund Freud compared learning human psychology to learning how to play the piano. The human mind is a delicate puzzle that cannot be deciphered with a hammer.

After over a decade of teaching, I still introspect on a daily basis about my methods, glean new insights and make adjustments.

Photo by Gavin's Goods.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yola Natural Hazards

The students used a website called Yola to create their own websites.

Yola features an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. Yola allows users to embed content. The students embedded a map from Google Maps and embedded charts from Chartle.

The subject of the student websites was, "Natural Hazards."

I instructed the students to use Microsoft Paint to add a citation to each photograph they used from the internet.

Here are a few productions:

Website 1

Website 2

Website 3


I'm discovering that one of the most important skills a teacher requires is patience.

My image of the ideal teacher is someone standing and speaking at the front of the room. However, this ideal is contrary to my philosophy of a student-centered classroom.

In a student-centered classroom, the teacher must defer to the student. The student must be given the spotlight, and the time and space needed to explore and learn.

As a person raised with a strong work ethic, it makes me feel uncomfortable to do nothing and to say nothing. I feel guilty for being lazy. But this passive behavior is required from a student-centered teacher.

I have driven past construction works leaning on shovels along the side of the road and thought to myself, these guys are lazy. But perhaps they are not. Perhaps the nature of the job requires them to wait. Perhaps they need to wait for cement to mix, perhaps they need to wait for a machine to complete its task. I don't know.

Waiting and inactivity are not tantamount to laziness and they are not inherently vices. The ability to wait is a virtue that should be nurtured.

Photo by cwalker71.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The students created music videos on Flixtime.

This site automatically creates attractive slideshows with nice transitions. Most of the students enjoyed using it.

There is a 60 second time limit for free videos.

The embed function is disabled for free videos, so students could only post a link on their blog.

Here are some exemplars:

End of Days



Wednesday, March 10, 2010


This profession has its good days and its bad days. It's wise to not get too comfortable with either.

At the end of a challenging day, I need to remind myself that my class is not a homogeneous entity.

Sometimes, I feel like I am up against a group of lazy, unmotivated, rebellious students. It is good to remind myself that they are not all the same. Their personalities scatter across a dynamic spectrum of manners, industry, and academics.

Contrary to my feelings of persecuted frustration, they are not a solidary, conspiratorial, antagonistic Borg.

Appreciate the labors of the good students. Do not agonize over the bad apples. See the classroom as half full.

Photo by jef safi.