1.Short stories, interactive goodies, word games….you had me at short stories.



2. An interactive mindmap for learning lots of different things…bit of a STEM bias, but that’s my literature bias coming through…. ūüôā



3. Music: This site had a blurb saying, “Every noise at once, listen to 1,524 different musical genres”

I can’t be the only one¬†expecting this to be, and then was disappointed it wasn’t, all of those things literally played at once in one giant cacophonous noise?




Media/Laziness?/Multiple Subjects

My thanks to the colleagues who provided ideas for this weeks three things!

1.Short of the Week: Great little short films that are good for media or intro to film study or wide readings!



2. Can you catch laziness?…an interesting read.



3. Cross-Curricular РMultiple subject areas. Large database of academic videos, audiolectures, and other goodies.
















1.First of all this week, welcome back to all the kiwi teachers! Nice to be at the start of term two. My first thing this Thursday is a thank you to an SCT colleague who put me onto this book: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Have you ever read one of those books where you are chuckling away at the characters, then one word a small Iranian girl says to her grumpy old neighbour makes you dissolve into sobs? How do you explain that? I put it down to allergies and dust mites in the air then snuffle loudly and bury my head in the book again. This is one of those books and I recommend it to you.



2. A blast from a past Three Things, but worth revisiting….‚Ķcheck this out. A site that allows you to search for videos from big engines like Youtube and then removes ALL advertising and comments! What‚Äôs that? You scoff at this sites ability to filter out the advertising and the comments from ‚Äėthe madding crowd‚Äô? Go on then, take a look‚Ķ.I reckon you‚Äôll bookmark this one. They have tidied up the graphics since I last posted about this site!



3. Chemistry: here’s a clean, easy to navigate, interactive¬†periodic table of elements. As Carl Sagan put it:¬†‚ÄúThe nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.‚ÄĚ See? We can even jimmy an English quote into a chemistry blogpost. Nice.
























Khan Academy/PrintFriendly/Whiplash

1.App: Khan Academy. This always makes me think of Star Wars and Klingons. There’s also a great website that I have linked the picture to.



2. Website: Print Friendly!

This is a really, REALLY handy website that takes those pesky HTML pages and makes them¬†print friendly, and savable as pdfs, etc…..Honestly a huge time saver for me.




3.¬†Movie: Whiplash. Imagine Raging Bull, Rocky, or The Fighter – replace the boxing gloves with drumsticks and set it all in the Hallways of Fame or Glee! ¬†It’s gonna be an exciting combination of talent, ambition, and brutality. If you have a Senior Student who loves their music, they are going to love this film. Lots of swearing so I have to give it a NSFL tag….even the trailer should be¬†R Rated!


  1. VideoScience App: This is pretty cool, but I did experience some difficulty exiting from the videos…had to kick the app off completely.



2. Great for Creative Writing, Science, Geography, Physics……This is an eerie, inspiring, and incredible website. Today I¬†learnt that bodies are left on Everest because it is too dangerous to bring them down. Occasionally, special expeditions set out to find, identify, move, or cover a body… but they are rarely brought down. As you can see, exposure and exhaustion are huge dangers on Mt. Everest. The air is thin, and oxygen deprivation is a real threat. Temperatures are so low that frostbite can occur in minutes. Helping someone who is on the brink of death is almost certainly a death sentence for yourself too. Climbers know this, and that is why they often leave behind people who are struggling. Helping is futile. Still….I think it would rank with space burial as an awesome place to spend eternity.



3. Foxcatcher (Directed by Bennett Miller)

Here’s three names I never thought I’d see in a film together: Channing Tatum, Steve Carrell, and Mark Ruffalo. And I still can’t decide which of the three gave the better performance! They were all superb. I loved the recreation of the late 80’s in the sets, especially Tatum’s apartment, I loved the slow burn of building tension, I loved the psychological warfare. I went into this film with no knowledge of John DuPont, Team Foxcatcher, and the Schultz brothers. And that’s the best way to see this film.

Suffice to say, I went to Netflix and watched the documentary about these events after watching the film….

Don’t google the events, just watch this film! (Trailer with no spoilers below)

Steve Carell is almost unrecognisable…..

(Trailer with no spoilers below)

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 ‚ÄĒ 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‚Äôll need a strong stomach and another kind of endurance to sit through it, as it‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 greg.semmens@woodford.school.nz 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 ‚Äú(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.‚ÄĚ

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‚Äôs 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¬†https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page and click on Random Article…this is your Band Name

.ii. Go to¬†https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Main_Page 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¬†https://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/ 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.