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…..

Fun and Games December

1.Here’s an interesting little time filler.

.i. Go to and click on Random Article…this is your Band Name

.ii. Go to and click on Random Page…choose a quote and select the last 3 to 5 words of the quote…..this is the Album Name

.iii. Got to and click on the 7th image….this is your album art.

Here’s a random one I created:


Now I just need to think up good educational uses!

2. Three thoughts for this next one:

.i. Set headphone volume to low before playing. Alternatively, you could remove fragile items within arms reach, so you don’t break anything when you react to the unusual sounds.

.ii. The audio does not come with English subtitles.

.iii. “So long, and thanks for all the fish”



3. I’m no mathematician so I have no idea of the value of this site….


Bonus Math related joke…..


Art/Design, Music, Comparisons!

1. Art/Design – The Best of the visual Web, sifted, sorted and summarized. Also, punny title for added bonus.




2. Music: An easy to follow and master music theory site!



3. Finally! A way to definitively compare apples and oranges. What a time to be alive.

This website lends itself to the comparison of opposites, but something to remember is, the opposite of “dog” is not “cat”. I don’t know who first suggested this but it’s clearly incorrect. On the scale of all the myriad things existing (or not existing for that matter) in the universe through all time, these are practically identical not opposites. I would suggest that the only true opposite of dog would be either “no dog” or perhaps “negative dog”. As in, some sort of a vacuum in space-time that would eliminate all the matter required to make one dog, leaving the universe even again. Having said that, I did compare cat and dog.



Fonts, Rhymes, Photography

1.Font! I found this great site that allows you to scan and create a font out of your own handwriting! Unfortunately, it doesn’t allow me to use it on WordPress, but it does on all microsoft office documents!



2. Rhymes :



3. Photography: An excellent tool that allows you to play around with all the features on a digital camera. This could appeal to the budding photographers at your school.


Languages, Astronomy, Geography

What a lovely holiday. I ran, I slept, I annoyed my dog. Ahhhh…..batteries recharged. I feel like an iPad on 100%.

1.Languages. This site filled me with a number of emotions. I believe that we have a responsibility to keep alive the things we are habitually casual in wiping out. So, mostly, I felt pride in being a New Zealander, with the steps we take to ensure that Maori does not become an extinct language. This is an amazing site that seeks to prolong the language of the Marra, an Australian indigenous tongue.


2.Kids these days with their 3D interactive comets. Back in my day, we had to watch comets through a telescope with one eye, and we couldn’t turn ’em round to see the other side. We didn’t need regions or light options, dangnabbit!



I just sat here really excitedly waving my iPad around only to come to the realisation that you need a smartphone to play this……Can someone pretend they caught a plane from Napier, New Zealand? Thanks.

I’d love a volunteer to give this a try though. I’m going to get my senior students to trial it today. Will report back next week with any fish-hooks! (I guess I’m a little worried about the content of the messages being sent and received!)




Last three things for the term….My students are revising at the moment and we have been playing Kahoots, Taboo and Quizlets! It’s amazing how competitive they get for the reward of a mini toffee-pop! I think I am about to blow my budget for the year on bribery/motivational snacks.

1.Science. Harvard Uni offers a completely FREE online course in the fundamentals of neuroscience in which you can gain a certificate. All you need is a basic understanding of Bio and Chem! (I don’t want to give too much away….but the brain did it)


2. Workshop: I need to be able to change my own oil….ahhhh….just the site.



3.Coding! Since those two kiwi guys made the JRUMP game and are raking in the pingers I figure I could come up with a cool game too!


Science, Science, English

There is a student in one of my classes who sneezes ‘politely’ like this: “too! too! too! too!” She can last upwards of 10 teeny-tiny sneezes and it seriously drives me batty. Humans evolved to clear dust from their nasal cavities with a mighty trumpet blast of majestically unrestrained energy….so sneeze properly! Rant out of way, here’s ya three things…..enjoy!

  1. Science: Greenhouse gases. Equal mix sad and scary, this narrated video shows the swirling gases that are gobbling up our oxygen.



2. More Science. Human Body. As we age, the interesting facts about our bodies just multiply.



3.English. A rose by any other name is just as stench-laden……


Art, Science, Various

What is funny to you? Sometimes I see things and they just crack me up. Like this Horse gif….it’s hard to explain but all I can imagine is the horse probably thinking…

”whoa, whoa, what’s that? righto, steady…..steady….I got this, I can do this……HUP…hah!, totally nailed it.”


Anyhoo….onwards to three things!


I was intrigued by this first site…spent ages painting away happily




Hold the cosmos in your hands…


3.Various Subjects

Cool searchable engine of educational videos1