Environmentally Friendly Green Black Google!

Some of you may have already heard of Blackle – Google’s energy saving sister site, which is exactly the same as Google except for its black screen, which saves energy. How? According to Blackle, research tells us that  “Image displayed is primarily a function of the user’s color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen.” Roberson et al, 2002

So to save energy in a completely painless way, go Blackle!!

Another site that gives heaps of green tips is Treehugger. I am not the world’s biggest greenie – in fact sometimes my showers tip over the four minute mark, and I have been known to forget to turn lights off…. but if setting my homepage is as hard as it gets, I am in!

So why am I writing about this in what is supposedly an educational blog? Well, imagine if every school altered their settings so that all of their computers featured blackle instead of google – surely heaps of energy savings to be had there, far more than just one individual home computer. So come on teachers – Blackle is it!!!!! 

Until next time..


Why too much praise can hurt…

I was always uncomfortable with the idea that children should be praised at every turn. Life, in the real world, is just not like that. Children who grow up expecting to be praised every time they do anything will surely be in for a rude shock when they hit the world of work, where praise is far less common, and critics are everywhere.

Well, it seems that some of this discomfort was well founded. While this blog has always usually focused upon ICT, there is a wealth of other educational resources online also, including the following article at http://snipurl.com/1oapi

I have included the first part of the article here so you can see what it is all about…

How Not to Talk to Your Kids

The Inverse Power of Praise.


What do we make of a boy like Thomas?

Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas’s one of them, and he likes belonging.

Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top one percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top one percent. He scored in the top one percent of the top one percent.

But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t.

For instance, in the early grades, Thomas wasn’t very good at spelling, so he simply demurred from spelling out loud. When Thomas took his first look at fractions, he balked. The biggest hurdle came in third grade. He was supposed to learn cursive penmanship, but he wouldn’t even try for weeks. By then, his teacher was demanding homework be completed in cursive. Rather than play catch-up on his penmanship, Thomas refused outright. Thomas’s father tried to reason with him. “Look, just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t have to put out some effort.” (Eventually, he mastered cursive, but not without a lot of cajoling from his father.)

Why does this child, who is measurably at the very top of the charts, lack confidence about his ability to tackle routine school challenges?

Thomas is not alone. For a few decades, it’s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent.

When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

But a growing body of research—and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system—strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.

Read more here:  http://snipurl.com/1oapi

Alan November: a guru

Want to find out where it is really at when it comes to technology and education? Visit and read anything that Alan November has put out – and you will be greeted by down to earth, practical and useful information about how it is important for educators to change their approach to the classroom and technology, and how we need to take advantage of rather than shy away from the huge world that technology opens up for us. So who is Alan November? This is from his blog:

Alan November is recognized internationally as a leader in education technology. He began his career as an oceanography teacher and dorm counselor at an island reform school for boys in Boston Harbor. He has been a director of an alternative high school, computer coordinator, technology consultant, and university lecturer. As practitioner, designer, and author, Alan has guided schools, government organizations and industry leaders as they plan to improve quality with technology.

Alan is well known for applying his humor and wit to inspire us to think about applying technology to improve learning. His areas of expertise include information and communication technology, planning across the curriculum, staff development, long-range planning, building learning communities and leadership development. He has delivered keynote presentations and workshops in all fifty states, in every province in Canada, and throughout the UK, Europe and Asia.

Alan was named one of the nation’s fifteen most influential thinkers of the decade by Classroom Computer Learning Magazine. In 2001, he was named one of eight educators to provide leadership into the future by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse. His writing includes dozens of articles and the best-selling book, Empowering Students with Technology. Alan was co-founder of the Stanford Institute for Educational Leadership Through Technology and is most proud of being selected as one of the original five national Christa McAuliffe Educators.

You can keep up with Alan November’s thoughts and work through his blog at

http://nlcommunities.com/communities/alannovember/default.aspx and you can also read a number of his very informative articles and find his suggested useful websites through this site: http://www.novemberlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1

As usual, there is far too much to read, and not enough time to do it, but by even subscribing to his blog using rss, you can at least take the time to see through the summaries of his entries where his thoughts are at … and who knows what this might inspire??

Until next time!


Keeping in Touch with Netvibes

This unique mashup allows you to capture all of your information needs in one place. By registering (it’s free) you get your own page that you can design however you choose. You can include your email account, your blog/s, any number of cool widgets, ALL of your rss feeds and heaps more! You can even include ‘universes’ that have pages devoted to celebrities and other interests. I have included a screen cap of my netvibes page so you can get the feel of it… I have a main page that has basic info that I would use like email, blog, news feeds, weather widgets, to do lists, photos from flickr etc, then several other ‘tabbed’ pages that have all of my rss feeds grouped according to category eg Japan, Education, Web 2.0 as well as my delicious page and other delicious pages that I manage or am interested in. It is a great little tool for keeping on top of everything – try it out!

(click on the thumbnail for a full size screen capture)


Kay.Netvibes screen capture

Everything is Miscellaneous…..

I don’t know about you, but it seems like every day there is more to know, more to read, and not enough hours in the day to do it. I spend countless hours on the net, surfing, discovering sites and tagging them to read ‘later’ – but ‘later’ never comes – each day brings yet more sites to read and discover, and I seem to never catch up on those ones discovered previously.

Obviously others are feeling the same way, as the publication of the book ‘Everything is miscellaneous’ by David Weinberger explores just this topic. He argues that we need a change in thinking, and that this change is already on the way. A blurb from Amazon neatly summarises the book:

Human beings are information omnivores: we are constantly collecting, labeling, and organizing data. But today, the shift from the physical to the digital is mixing, burning, and ripping our lives apart. In the past, everything had its one place–the physical world demanded it–but now everything has its places: multiple categories, multiple shelves. Simply put, everything is suddenly miscellaneous.

In Everything Is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger charts the new principles of digital order that are remaking business, education, politics, science, and culture. In his rollicking tour of the rise of the miscellaneous, he examines why the Dewey decimal system is stretched to the breaking point, how Rand McNally decides what information not to include in a physical map (and why Google Earth is winning that battle), how Staples stores emulate online shopping to increase sales, why your children’s teachers will stop having them memorize facts, and how the shift to digital music stands as the model for the future in virtually every industry. Finally, he shows how by “going miscellaneous,” anyone can reap rewards from the deluge of information in modern work and life.

From A to Z, Everything Is Miscellaneous will completely reshape the way you think–and what you know–about the world.

Sounds to me like a book to have…. you can find it on Amazon by clicking on the title above.

Until next time!! Keep tagging!

Simple Learning Objects

 Okay, so this is not really an ‘online’ resource, but after a recent inservice I have fallen in love with using powerpoint to create simple learning objects.

A learning object is a tool that encourages children to interact with their learning digitally.  A paper published by Margaret Haughey of the University of Alberta and Bill Muirhead of University of Ontario Institute of Technology at http://www.usq.edu.au/electpub/e-jist/docs/vol8_no1/fullpapers/eval_learnobjects_school.htm finds that although learning objects have many definitions, essentially they are used to:

  • introduce new topics and skills
  • provide reinforcement to existing skills
  • extend learning by providing new means for presenting curricular material
  • illustrate concepts that are less easily explained through traditional teaching methods
  • support new types of learning opportunities not available in a classroom environment
  • provide enrichment activities for gifted and highly motivated students

I have been using powerpoint to create very simple learning objects, but I would dearly love to learn how to use Flash, as this provides more flexibility with animation and with the types of effects that you can achieve. Using powerpoint involves the use of clipart and many, many hyperlinks, so that when a student clicks on a particular image or word, they are taken to another slide that provides a response to their decision. To illustrate, I have uploaded a simple learning object that I have developed for Prep children (aged 4 and a half years old) that retells the parable of the Lost Coin from the Gospel of Luke, and encourages them to participate in helping the old lady recover it. You can see it below.

The Lost Coin Learning Object 

For further tips on how to use powerpoint to create learning objects, check out these websites:



Have fun!


The Visual Generation and Christianity

As someone born on the cusp of Gen Y, it still sometimes amazes and overwhelms me when I try to take in all of the visual input that surrounds me. Everywhere we go, and particularly in the virtual world, we are surrounded by visual information, demanding attention. Pop up windows, split screens, emoticons…. blinking signs, huge screens, advertising – all of it screams look at me! Take notice!

So how do we best appeal to learners who are not only surrounded by this, they thrive on it! I once read that we take in more information reading a newspaper than a woman in the 18th Century took in during her entire life – any wonder people feel like their head is too full and there is not enough time! One answer is to take advantage of Audio Visual techniques. I could talk for a million years on this topic, such is the breadth and depth of it, however today I am narrowing the focus to visual literacy in Christianity – sparked by an article I read in ‘Pointers’ – the Bulletin of the Christian Research Association.  Here’s a quote from it:

“I have often been amazed at the way religious themes move into ordinary aspects of our lives, especially those parts of the media which surround us and we take for granted. I once remarked to someone about the important political, social justice and even religious themes in Steven Seagal films. The person was a little incredulous, but when I
outlined some of the movies in which themes of political and environmental justice issues
predominated and the Buddhist influence on Seagal himself, it was evident that the person would look upon these films in a different way. Images are all around us, but it sometimes takes a second look to see what is there.” Peter Bentley

While I am not suggesting we rush out and buy the entire Steven Seagal collection (thanks to my husband, we already own this!) I am suggesting that in the areas of Religious Education, Values Education, Social Justice and even faith formation, something that captures the imagination of our students (in this case, film) may be just the ticket, especially if it offers the chance for ‘real life’ , ‘real world’ or  ‘secular’ concepts to be reinterpreted through a deeper lense – because that is what religion and faith really is, isn’t it – taking the experiences of life and responding to them through the lense of our beliefs and values? It is certainly not something removed from everyday life, thought of only on a Sunday, and in our best clothes at that (despite what we are sometimes led to believe).

Links that provide reviews of secular films through a Christian perspective:


A funky site that offers ‘pop culture from a spiritual point of view’ – check it out for reviews of movies, dvds, books, music and comics.


Fox Faith is an online guide to current and upcoming faith-based video releases from Fox Faith, a new branded distribution label from Twentieth Century Fox, created to house and distribute its growing portfolio of morally-driven, family friendly programming. To be a part of Fox Faith, a movie has to have overt Christian content, or be derived from the work of a Christian author.


The Dove Foundation provides timely movie reviews easily available on our website.

  • Prepares consumers by providing them with detailed content information before they purchase, rent or attend a movie

  • Includes a synopsis of the film, a critical review, and a content description supported by an easy-to-read chart

  • Rates the quality of Dove Family-Approved films ranging from one to five “Doves”

 The Dove Foundation promotes family-friendly entertainment. Our standards and criteria are based on Judeo/Christian values, free from the pressure of commercial interests. We believe in a positive approach of commending high-quality, wholesome movies rather than condemning filmmakers for not meeting those standards.


Christianity Today Movies is an award-winning website devoted to film reviews, interviews and commentary, all written from a biblical perspective. Our mission statement is “to inform and equip Christian moviegoers to make discerning choices about films through timely coverage, insightful reviews and interviews, educated opinion, and relevant news—all from a biblical worldview.”

 So next time you feel that your class needs a little ‘visual literacy’ – perhaps consult these databases for a lesson that will hopefully impact both mind and heart!

Until next time…

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