Friday, 23 November 2012

How to do research using the Internet?

Information overload is the challenge our users face when using the Internet for research purposes. 

Which sites will provide you with accurate, non-biased, up to date and relevant information for a project you have been set? Effective internet research skills forms part of our digital literacy programme and we have a responsibility to guide our students to become internet-savvy users.

There are many websites, on-line journals etc, that we can recommend to our students as being useful for academic research purposes. Various on-line encyclopedias are also available and some of which we subscribe to. These are often recommended as your first 'port-of-call'.

Teaching our students to critically evaluate the website content to establish the authenticity of the information therein, using various techniques, is another way in which to develop research skills.

Once information from a website has been used, it is important for the students to reference or cite their resource accurately to avoid plagiarism. Simply copying text and pasting it into a project is just not good enough and the student must face the consequences of plagiarizing other people's work. The format for referencing sources varies according to the type of resource. The students must be made aware of different referencing systems, such as the Harvard referencing system, which is most often used in our tertiary institutions.

Avoiding plagiarism, copyright issues etc are just some of many other aspects of becoming digitally savvy and must form part of our digital literacy programme. It is important that our students leave the school well-prepared for the requirements of tertiary institutions. This topic will be expanded upon in future posts.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Afrikaans Poetry in Action

Afrikaans Poetry in Action

Many boys don’t get excited when they hear the word ‘poetry’.  The Afrikaans department has decided on putting students in groups to create their own visual experiences of poetry we have done in class.  This was used as a revision tool and helped the boys to see poetry from a different perspective.

Afrikaans Radio Stations & News Programs

Afrikaans Radio Stations & News Programs

A few teachers tried this as a class activity this year.  Students were put into groups to create their own 1) radio station or 2) news program.  The radio station demanded of students to create their own name, jingle, news reports, commercials and to find a cool Afrikaans song they liked to include.  The news program was based on the same principle.  Students had to video themselves and create their own news channel, news reports, weather reports, commercials etc.  This was an exciting assignment which tested student’s language, vocal and presenting capabilities.  


Using PhotoStory in Afrikaans classes

Afrikaans Photostory

This project entailed using Microsoft Photostory 3 and creating your own video album with short descriptions in Afrikaans.  Students could choose a theme or a specific event which took place.  They were encouraged to use their own photos on their laptops and Facebook to make engaging and relevant.  Students had to ensure that they used the STOMPI, Afrikaans sentence structure, as their guiding light for their descriptions and sentences.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bishops Boys pay it forward to the blind.

Afrikaans:  Bishops Boys pay it forward to the blind.

Charli Wiggill, one of the Partners in Learning Forum winners of 2012, started a WIKI for students to upload stories they have read in different languages for blind children.  A few Bishop Boys contributed their Afrikaans stories to the WIKI.

Please visit the site:  


Afrikaans: School of Rock

Afrikaans:  School of Rock (Music Videos)

Gustav Labon stated that an education system is of more importance to a country than its government.  The driving force behind our project is the need for proper and inspiring language education.  

Most educators will agree that the reason why many learners struggle with mathematical problems, history essay writing or long questions in general is because they do not understand the question or because they find it problematic to organize their thought process or express themselves using proper language.  

The grade 8’s had to create a music video by matching images to the lyrics of a song or they had the choice to translate a song and sing it themselves.  This was a perfect opportunity to be creative, improve their comprehension, vocabulary, computer literacy, visual literacy and be entertained while learning.  

One of my main aims was to break away from those things that they were use to in language classes.  Students had to find a song the liked.  Thereafter they had to interpret and understand the lyrics.  They had to understand the words and the meaning of the song.  This was followed by matching the proper images to the lyrics and being creative or translating an English song to Afrikaans.  

Throughout the process they were using technology to learn Afrikaans, enjoy Afrikaans and to be resourceful in Afrikaans.  The words and pictures were embedded in their minds and the project addressed their experience world every step of the way.  Suddenly their second language became relevant to them because they were having fun and using technology at the same time.  


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Afrikaans Movies

Our grade 9’s must create their own movies at the end of the year based on a fairy tale.  This year students were also allowed to base their movies on other movies they have watched.  Students must bring their own interpretation to the table.  Students work in groups with different characters, props and settings.  This project requires group work, delegation and creativity.  


Afrikaans Magazines

Afrikaans Magazines

Magazines are all around us and play an important role in young people’s lives.  Students were asked to compile their own short electronic magazine with a proper front page, a well written article, news alerts, cross word puzzles, advertisements etc.  They were encouraged to be creative and think out of the box.  Many boys chose sport magazines but there were also very interesting compilations, from Pokemon to camping magazines. 

Creating comics in Afrikaans

Afrikaans Cartoon Strips

The grade 9’s read ‘Harlekyn’ as their prescribed book and were asked to create their own cartoon strips based on a circus theme.  The aim was to create flowing comic strips with interesting dialogue and storylines.  They were asked to work in pairs and to also include voice recordings for each character. 



Friday, 16 November 2012

Resources to Address Bullying

The Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help explore the problem of bullying and the wide-ranging damage it can do. Click on this link to read this article:

Accounting is fun!

Part of the Accounting Grade 10 syllabus requires that the boys end the year with a basic bookkeeping course. Dave Russell’s class used Pastel  Accounting to get some hands on experience with industry standard tools. Aside from the of the learning that takes place and the exposure to a more “real” experience in the subject, the boys have fun working with the software on their laptops and can see the relevance in what they have learnt during the year. The true benefit lies in the skills that they acquire and a confidence to work with software in Accounting.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I think the thing which scares most parents of boys (especially mothers) the most when their son gets a laptop is the increased potential for their sons to watch pornography. Of course many boys have had the ability to find pornography on an unattended family computer or on their phone for some time already but the owning of a laptop certainly does increase the ease with which he can access it. Adding to the potential problem is that for many 14 year-old boys the body has begun to change and with it the desires around the opposite sex and sex. This can be exciting and confusing all at the same time (Some might argue that sex stays exciting and confusing for the next 70 years!).

“What can I do to protect my teenager?” is a question we get asked often. When it is asked the person is usually imagining getting advice around software to limit, or monitor access to pornography sites or ways to check what their son has been watching, or limiting when he can be alone with his machine etc. It can be frustrating but the answer educators almost always give is one about communication. That is engaging with one’s son about what you think about pornography morally, as a danger to future healthy relationships with women, the danger of looking for increasingly depraved material and as a potential time-waster at a crucial time in his development/education. Making clear what your expectations of him are around pornography and what strategies he might adopt to stop himself indulging in it when tempted. You may like to threaten him with consequences of being caught by you – although the only one which may have an impact is, “I will tell your mother!”. Most boys really would not like their mother to know if they gave in to this temptation. However, it is unlikely that any threats will work and they are likely to make open discussion hard and therefore be counterproductive. A level of trust is needed. It is very likely that your son will look at pornography. What he needs to have in his head is the voice of his parents or other caring adults which are encouraging him to turn away both for moral reasons and for his own development as a self-controlled man.

Of course a family can put in various controls on internet access. Certainly with younger children this is a good idea to help protect a child from inadvertently coming across pornography. With older boys this is less effective but it does say something to him about what is important in his home. One such option is You change settings on your home router and then you can manage access via their website. No software needs to be installed on any computers but you may need someone technical from your ISP to assist you. I would not recommend putting any special software on your son’s computer but that is a family decision.

I think the software route is certainly an option but it should not be in place of discussions between you and your son. He will be far safer if you are talking to him and listening to him than if you are simply trying to restrict him. He can access pornography easily from friends and probably in ways you have not realised yet. I believe our main job as parents around this issue is to help our sons make right choices and live a healthy lifestyle. This will help him long after he has left the protective cocoon of the home. I wish you all the best as you help you son to grow up into a fine young man who will makes wise choices about how he lives.

Peter Westwood

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cyberbullying and On-line Relationships - Advice for Parents

The information for this post has been sourced from, a website that provides resources for teaching Digital Literacy and responsible online citizenship to students.
It also contains useful information to parents about online safety for their children and advice on how to engage your children in conversations about their online image and cybersafety.

I recommend that you take a look at the content of this site to help you as parents become more informed on this often sensitive topic.

Teaching Digital Literacy

Turn wired students into great Digital Citizens

Get all the tools you need with our FREE Digital Literacy and Citizenship Curriculum and Parent Media Education Program. The relevant, ready-to-use instruction helps you guide students to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world where they live, study and play.  ...
read more

Common sense Media - Digital Literacy Programme

Use our new Scope & Sequence tool to find the lessons that are just right for your classroom. These cross-curriculular units spiral to address digital literacy and citizenship topics in an age appropriate way. Browse by grade band or click a category to highlight the lessons that address that topic. You can download a PDF of the new Scope & Sequence here. Read more about the recent updates to the curriculum in our blog.

Online Resources for Educators

Friday, 9 November 2012

Online awareness
Internet Safety
Thursday, October 18, 2012

Teaching students about their online identity

Do your students realize how vulnerable they are, when using the Internet and social media? Are you teaching them appropriate use? The guest post below, featuring the video above, is an excellent resource to share with students.
What a 'Mind Reader' Can Learn About Your Online Identity

Q: "When does your personal online identity become fair game to mind readers and Internet thieves alike?"
A: "When you share too much personal information irresponsibly on the web."

This point was made quite clear in recent weeks, when an Internet awareness video (above) went viral, featuring a Belgian mind reader holding court in a tent in Brussels.

The mind reader 'Dave' startled people with his clairvoyant insights into their personal lives. He told them secrets that they never would have expected to hear from a stranger about their personal lives. He told young woman about the tattoos on their lower backs; he surprised a young man by revealing the asking price of the house he's trying to sell. Another woman was shocked to hear that 'Dave' knew her bank account was overdrawn. How was he doing that?

Near the end of each person's 'mind reading,' the interior tent sides dropped to reveal a group of black-clad computer hackers working to unveil information made public by the person all over the Internet. From Facebook status updates, YouTube videos, Twitter posts and more, each person's information was displayed on large monitor screens. The people in the tent were both amazed and shocked to learn that all of the information that 'Dave' knew about them was in fact provided willingly by them on the web.

In fact, 'Dave' was an actor, a good one at that. And the point was made that hackers and Internet thieves can get to know you, through the personal information you leave behind on Internet sites. Here is the full video below. Read down further for tips protecting yourself against Internet theft.
For over a decade, identity theft has been the most reported consumer complaint in the U.S., according to the Federal Trade Commission. Internet security firm Lifelock reports that in 2011, nearly 12 million U.S. adults claimed identity fraud. This fraud cost amounted to about $18 billion in damages to consumers and businesses, according to researchers.

So how can you protect yourself against Internet theft and cyber robbery? October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and web security experts recommend the following tips to help you maintain an impenetrable online defense.

Maintain High Security

Many companies offer online security fixes for your PC and mobile devices. Use them frequently and keep them updated. Internet theft prevention companies like Lifelock recommend that having the latest security software and opting in for an online monitoring service are your best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

Limit Password Sharing

Create and remember unique password settings for all of your devices. Don't share these passwords with strangers. Keep an offline record of your passwords. Limit the numbers of persons with whom you share information.


Experts suggest using both capital and lowercase letters combined with numbers and symbols for more secure passwords. Use different passwords for each account you own online.

Secure Web-Connected Devices

Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

Be Smart About Wi-Fi

Don't check your personal bank accounts at local coffee shops. Be smart about using public Wi-Fi access. Some suggest that using your phone's 3G or 4G network is safer than public servers.
Using these tips above can help you keep your online identity away from 'mind readers' like 'Dave' and keep you personal sanity strong.

by Amy Coleman 

Learn it in 5

In "Learn it in 5" you will learn about and find ways in which to use Web 2.0 technology in a digital classroom.

It contains a powerful library of videos that guide you and your students on how to create classroom strategies for today's 21st century digital classrooms.

Examples of such tools are blogs, social networks, podcasts, interactive videos, wiki's, slide sharing and more.

Read more:

Monday, 5 November 2012

Google Sketchup for Design Technology

Our Design Technology teacher's take on Sketchup.

"SketchUp is wonderful and the boys love it. Bishops afforded me the opportunity to attend a course at the BHC School of Design (situated at the old biscuit mill in Woodstock) last year which really kick-started it all. A number of architects whom I met at the course were very impressed at how quick and easy it was to create 3D drawings. SketchUp also allowed them to import CAD files – they would typically import a plan for a house, by way of example, and then use the push/pull function to pull up the walls and then change/render the drawing etc...

We purchased the Sandbox licences for all the grade 9 boys in June which has enabled us to work with terrain too.    

There are a number of self-paced tutorials in Trimble which are freely available."

A extract from an email received from one of our parents in response to her son's Sketchup lessons.

"I am not sure how you have taught your boys sketchup but I must say I am completely amazed at what my son, produced for me this week.

As an architect in private practise I was moaning I did not have the skill or ability to quickly produce some 3D images for a client and that it would cost me R15 K to get someone to do it.
My son said he was happy to do it which I largely dismissed. This is a child who has not EVER done a single day of studying architecture. Anyway he seemed unfazed by the challenge and so I handed him a full set of plans, sections and elevations of my design.

To my complete amazement , he produced an extraordinary 3D presentation working out all angles, details and roof intersections with little more than a few questions.
We are all completely shocked in the office. There is no way I could produce this, as an architect for 20 years and someone who taught Autocad at UCT. My son said he has only done about half of the detail that he could do but I only gave him 4 days to do it in and as he was busy, as always with AV, this is the best he could do in a few days!!

Really quite extraordinary. How on earth did you teach these boys to be some knowledgeable."

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Internet Safety

With the increase in the number of personal devices able to connect to the internet via school wireless, home networks or 3G, it impossible to effectively restrict the sites that our children visit, what they post or who they talk to. Even if we could restrict access, there are a gazillion other ways that they young people can make undesirable connections or view unsavory content.

Parents are not only concerned about the content their children have access to. They are also concerned about the length of time their children spend glued to their various devices. As a school it is impossible to govern what happens outside of the classroom. Each family will have to decide on what feels comfortable for them in terms of setting boundaries for Internet and computing access – where their children have access, the sort of access and the duration of access.

As a school we look to our parents to partner us in empowering their children with the knowledge and skills they need to be safe and have positive Internet experiences. We offer guidance on how to create a positive digital footprint, how to recognise potential internet risks and how to avoid exploitation or victimisation. The linked resources below offer great advice. Please discuss Internet safety and responsibility with your children.

Useful Site:
Some important topics include:

Useful links:

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Use SketchUp to design your dream golf hole!

Mervin Walsh's technology class used SketchUp PRO and SANDBOX tools to design and draw their dream golf hole.

The golf hole included the following components: a tee box with a small hut (stamp tool) alongside; fairway (drape tool); green (drape tool); a hole on the green with a flagstick in it; bunkers; water hazard and trees (trees to be imported from 3D warehouse).

Marks were allocated for the layout design, creativity, use of colour and textures and profiecency in the use of SketchUp SANDBOX. 

Sensible Internet Advice: LO programme

A rock in the hands of a monkey is either a tool (to crack open nuts) or a weapon (to crack open the head of another monkey) or a toy (to roll or toss for amusement)! Our focus in the Life Orientation department at Bishops is on the “monkey” and not the rock….. While we may naively believe that students use technology primarily to aid their education, reality may be that they use it far, far more often as a toy or even a weapon.

The internet and technological gadgetry in general, provide a particular danger to young men. The exploitation and abuse of girls via the internet has received a fair amount of publicity, and schools and parents routinely coach girls in preventative action and the dangers of meeting “people” in chat-rooms or via websites. Little, if anything, is done to address the unique problems of young men. They may no longer be first targets of pedophiles, and they are probably big enough to defend themselves from physical threats which may arise from ill-advised contacts made via the internet. However, their very own personality and make-up is often their greatest source of danger. The irresistible attraction of competitive games, the sweeping storms of hormonal changes and their lack of emotional awareness conspire to make them victims in an entirely unexpected way:  they often, inadvertently, perpetrate grave misdemeanors as a result of their tendency to recklessness, or in the heat of the game or as a result of perceived threat to their ego. An otherwise sensible and kind young man may suddenly find himself guilty of the distribution of child pornography, when he forwards a picture or video he thought “funny”. When crossed or betrayed, his instinctive reaction may be anger and revenge and, before he knows it, he has made comments or threats he can no longer retrieve. All his young, ill-considered adolescent trials and errors are indelibly printed somewhere out there in the ether, and any hope of redemption of his image is lost, as it “goes viral” and spins out of his control.

The second category of dangers lurks about in his still-forming value system. It is alarmingly easy to cheat with technology. Answers are bbm-ed. Assignments are cut and pasted. School “work” is churned out at a speedy rate – without ever having passed through his brain and thought processes. Google has become the new Oracle of Delphi, and our own attempts to solve problems and create novel solutions have been hijacked by the plethora of opinions available at the press of a finger. Who would struggle through the process of thinking when a few finger-clicks can have a wonderfully neat “task” ready for the English teacher in a flash?

The last of the IT Horsemen of the Apocalypse is the one called Addiction – to gaming and to pornography. Increasingly research is showing that these two addictions are far more prevalent and dangerous that we had hitherto considered.  As a school which insists that our boys use laptops in the classroom, I feel strongly that we therefore have a burden of responsibility to provide a clear moral compass and an awareness of the inherent dangers of this choice, as well as the IT skills needed to make maximum educational use of the medium.

In grade nine we take a term to look at these issues in the following ways:

  • We use interactive webpages to show boys how to manage their on-line brand and social media presence
  • “Tagged – what you do online can tag you for life” is a valuable video, with interview clips from the characters, discussing the implications of hasty posts
  • The boys create a poster of Top Ten Tips regarding an aspect of internet safety – emotional and reputational
  • Nick Hall, a lawyer, visits each class individually to discuss plagiarism and legal aspects related to internet use
  • Each boy does an audit of his time spent on the computer or gaming, including a discussion on the opportunity costs of this
  • We take a brief look at transferable cognitive skills (or the absence of them!) and the necessity of a reality-based conceptual framework to the development of maturity and appropriate relational skills.
  • We introduce the mechanics of process addiction.

Next year I plan to add ways to avoid “brain drain” and to encourage discrimination when choosing content. Plagiarism remains a perennial problem to be addressed. In short, we must aim to foster an appreciation for human dignity and reinforce the benefits of creativity and original thought, while building a solid moral and value framework within which to use the ever-present technological gadgets which have become so fundamental to our lives.

Bev Kemball
Head of Department: Life Orientation