Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

Original post from Edutopia”

What engages students? An interview with 220 grade 8 students (sec 2) give rise to the following categories.

  1. Working with their peers
  2. Working with technology
  3. Connecting to the real world
  4. Love what you do
  5. Get me out of my seat!
  6. Bring in visuals
  7. Students’ choice
  8. Understand the kids
  9. Mix it up – experiments
  10. Be human

These points are obvious to us because we also prefer to learn in these manners. However as educators, sometimes we lost our belief and simply revert back to our show-and-tell mode.

Perhaps we should remind ourselves constantly to keep these points in our mind when choosing our classroom and learning strategies.


Using Tracker to study solar spectrum (with absorption lines) for the topic of Quantum Physics

I have shared the possible use of tracker for spectroscopy in my previous posting.

Lessons that took place before this activity

Students had

  • observed the emission spectrum of elements such as sodium, neon, mercury, kryption, etc. although they do not have hands-on experience of setting up and adjusting the apparatus.
  • gone through the theory and tutorial on the section of spectral lines.


Below is the worksheet that students will attempt.

Pictures of the solar spectrum and the emission spectrum of different elements (derived from the picture here and here).

Disadvantages of hands-on approach

  • Experiments on spectral lines are time consuming due to the difficulty in setting up and calibrating the spectrometer.
  • The other big challenge is the availability of a suitably dark room to observe the emission spectrum of discharge tubes.
  • The availability of sufficient apparatus for experiments.

Advantages of using Tracker

  • Cheap.
  • Easy to deploy.
  • Easy to operate to obtain quality results for comparison and analysis because students  can now focus on the actual physics rather than on the setting up of the experiment.

Use Evernote for a productivity boost

Up till last year I was doubtful on the usefulness of Evernote in my daily life. But since I started using it, I couldn’t live without it. I am now using it to keep my teaching resources, researching, news, etc. in a orderly manner. I can access them easily through any devices (iPhone, iPad, laptop, desktops, etc).


Since Evernote can be installed on your personal device, it make sense that Evernote can be used to boost your productivity. Download the free guide by Evernote Productivity Ambassador Joshua Zerkel to see how the free tool Evernote can boost your productivity.

Convert Online Articles to Print Friendly Format (for iPad as well)

Joliprint is a free service that converts online articles into a printer-friendly, reader-friendly format for mobile devices and laptops/desktops. Whenever you are reading an article that you want to print,  Joliprint will generate a PDF of that article without the sidebar content.

Few ways you can start the conversion:

  1. Add bookmarklet to your iPad browser’s bookmark bar. Instructions are found here. Once installed click the Joliprint bookmarklet.
  2. If you are using Chrome browser on your Mac/PC, installation instructions are here.
  3. If you are using IE/Firefox/Safari, installation instructions are here.
  4. Copy the url of the article and paste it into the conversion box on Joliprint.
Sample of a Joliprint output is below. The original article is from this website.

Converting YouTube Videos for iPad (using iPad)

Sometimes if you need to play a YouTube video but WiFi may not be available. You can download the clip on your iPad as your backup plan.

Step 1: Download the free OPlayer HD Lite
Step 2: Obtain the URL of the YouTube video (watch the video below)

Obtaining the URL of YouTube Video

Step 3: On Safari, go to the website ( or

Step 4: Enter the YouTube video URL and state the interval (in HH:MM:SS format) to convert. When the conversion is done, click and hold the “Direct Download Link” and click “Copy”.

Step 5: Open OPlayer HD Lite -> Click on the browser -> Paste the copied link from step 4 -> Select “Download the file”

Converting and downloading YouTube Video

App required

OPlayer HD Lite (Free)

Online Newspaper App for iPad

SPH has launched several apps and webapp to allow iOS users to get the latest newspaper. For education, a simple screenshot (by depressing “Power” and “Home” button simultaneously) and importing to handwriting apps (Free apps such as Neu.Notes, DukePen), allows students to write their reflections of articles or archive these information in Evernote for future processing. Some suggestions in their use in school:

  • A meaningful article a day will foster the global perspective of our students and prepare them for the future challenges.

联合早报PDF (Free)

PDF version of printed newspaper. Unless you are a subscriber, you have access only to current day’s news. 

iToday (Free)

Display the most update news, it could be slow at times.

联合早报 webapp (Free)

Similar to the PDF version. The text is larger than the pdf version, It is easier to read and creating screenshot. Most news on the newpapers should be kept