Biology: Tree of Life/English?Podcast/Hard to be a God

  1. Great website….awesome for bio….I went looking for humans and got lost in rodents for half an hour. I blame my mouse. Sorry, I will show myself out.


2. Serial. This is an amazing podcast that I recommend wholeheartedly. Here’s a wee blurb on it:

“For the uninitiated, Serial is a spinoff from WBEZ, the makers of This American Life, but instead of focusing on a single theme each episode, each episode takes you deeper into a single story — in this case, the murder of a high-school senior in Maryland 15 years ago. It gets compared to True Detective a lot, which is fair in that they’re both about old murder cases and have attracted feverish fanbases determined to solve riddles before the conclusion. But True Detective is all about good versus secret, mystical evil, whereas Serial is about a real murder in a painfully ordinary world, full of mundane and possibly meaningless details. Its drama comes from Koenig’s meticulous examination of all these bits of evidence, the fear that the truth may ultimately be unknowable, and the chance that her conclusion could change a real person’s life.” This quote comes from site just below that also provides loads of links to more information that senior English students in New Zealand could use as part of their Connections.


3. Film: Hard to be a God

I’ve mentioned this film before and it’s a film that when I first watched I can’t say I really enjoyed it. But it’s also a film that I kept thinking about long after the final credits rolled. It’s revoltingly stomach-churning to watch, it’s long, it’s black and white, it’s in Russian, but it’s probably the most thought provoking film I’ve seen in last five years. Anyway, here’s a trailer. You can see if it captures your interest. The whole film is available on youtube.

As Roger Ebert said…”[Hard to be a God] is not only an unforgettable individual masterpiece but probably one of the capital-G Great Films. You’ll need a strong stomach and another kind of endurance to sit through it, as it’s nearly three hours long and is more than a little oblique in its approach to narrative.”



Too Noisy/Coding/Pan’s Labyrinth


1.App: Too Noisy. I have plans to put this up on the big screen with my juniors when they are doing group work!


2.Website: Cool Coding game that is addictive and fun!



Film – Pan’s Labyrinth.

“We live our lives seeking the shortest route, the closest parking space; everything quick, cheap, fast. And it’s not getting better. Two-thirds of the satisfaction of getting something is in the process of getting it.” Guillermo del Toro

This film is all about the journey. It’s a twisted Gothic fairytale by Guillermo del Toro that has elements that are NOT for the faint hearted. It’s got an R16 rating, mostly due to some bloody violence and a couple of gruesome creatures that could scare the bejesus out of you. I’ve used it as a Senior text a few times now and rate it as THE best Guillermo del Toro film.

It’s all in Spanish but the subtitles are excellent and, for me, the romance of the language adds to the contrast with the horrors faced by Ofelia. I have excellence exemplar essays written by Y13 students on Pan’s Labyrinth for their L3 Response to Visual Text question and these students have given their permission for their essays and thoughts to be shared with other teachers/schools. So if anyone is willing to swap essays on films I’m happy to share!

You can contact me on if you are interested.



2017 – late but back in business….

Hey all, I’ve been doing a MindLab Post Grad course so I’ve been busy trying to come to grips with being a student again. Assignments, arrrrgggghhhhhh……just when you think they are behind you forever….but it’s been a very worthwhile activity. It’s made me think about what I’m teaching, how I’m working with the students, and why I’m doing this job.

More on that in the future…right now it’s three things on a thursday….I thought that this year I’d do an interesting app, a website, and a movie I enjoyed.

  1. App: Pocket Body Lite – Developer Description “(This) full body app, with its elegant design and nine layers of musculoskeletal, neurovascular, and internal organ visual content, contains over 70,000 words of learning material.”

pocketbody lite

2. Website: That moment when you’re traveling through the galaxy at 100 times the speed of light watching innumerable stars fly by and then realize it’d still take you 10000 years in real time to reach the opposite edge of that galaxy. And when you do get to the edge you realize this is just one galaxy in an infinite ocean of them.


3. Movie: I watched Split over the weekend and while I don’t think M Night Shyamalan movies always hit it out of the park, I thought this was well worth watching!

SPOILER ALERT: Do not scroll down or read further if you don’t want the ending revealed!


So it turns out that Split is set in the same universe as 2000’s Unbreakable. David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pops up at the end to let us know that Shyamalan had once again pulled an unpredicted twist on us. And we realize that Split is actually a sequel to Unbreakable and a third movie with a battle between David Dunn and The Beast (24th personality from Split) is on the way! How refreshing is it that the sequel was ‘revealed’ like this, rather than a huge box-office pumping publicity grab?

I’m picking that the aliiteration of his name David Dunn (Peter Parker, Richard Reed, Bruce Banner, Wade Wilson) is an indication he will team up with the survivor Casey Cook, from Split, as a kind of Batman and Robin to fight Mr Glass and The Beast in the 3rd movie!

I’m going to go back and rewatch Unbreakable and look for more parallels now…Both set in Philedelphia, both include train journey, flowers, music similar, etc…..