Why Say Please?

Good manners don’t just happen; they’re explicitly taught. usually by a child’s family.

And if the child hasn’t been taught good manners? Then we need to make them aware of why, where and how to use them.

This set of three free-posters suggest four reasons why ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ should be a part of everyone’s vocabulary, our’s included. And it also provides the phrases in six other languages. How many can your students pronounce and identify?

Download postersDownload the ‘Say Please Because’ posters as a pdf.

Zite Update

Layout of the new Zite

Layout of the new Zite. Note the ‘headline news’ section with the scrolling news items, the new ‘explore icon and the updated Quicklist icon.

Zite, my favourite news aggregator, has just been updated.

As mentioned in my original post, Zite uses an algorithm to gradually tailor the app’s content to your interests. Over time this results in pages (and pages and pages!) of news and blog articles that I simply just have to read.


The new Zite has an updated icon (a rather fetching owl), a slicker interface and a larger database of categories (over 40,000). There’s also an interesting feature where Zite will connect to social sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Google Reader and ‘suggest topics based on your social activity’. I hooked it up with Pocket and it returned just three new suggestions. The low number is probably because most of my Pocket clippings come from Zite in the first place!

Thumbs up or down?

Mostly up. The UI design is smart, minimalistic and easy to navigate. The number of article stubs per page is nicely varied, from 3-5 and a ‘suggested by Zite’ box, with several sliding stories, appears every few pages.

The thumbs up / down icons are now present on the page without having to activate a menu, and this makes saving to other services (such as Pocket, Evernote etc) quicker. You can also ‘thumbs up’ an article by pushing the article stub up to reveal a green thumb. Releasing it means you’ll ‘see more articles like this’. You can also navigate the various articles in a category without returning to its overview page using the ‘next’ button at the bottom of the page.

Some down. You can’t navigate between articles by the iPad tradition of swiping, which is easily forgotten as you move from app to app. Zite won’t allow you to ahve a category that it doesn’t define With 40,000 to choose from this shouldn’t be an issue, but I’d love to be able to view ‘tech theatre’ or ‘stage design’ as categories. Lastly, any pages you navigate to from a Zite page can only be viewed. You can’t send them to a service, open them in Safari or otherwise interact with them. Shame.

But Zite is (still) awesome and of course, it’s still free. Brilliant!






Earthquakes Title Bulletin Board Poster

Here’s a  poster of the heading ‘Earthquakes’, suitable for bulletin boards and wall displays.

You can either download the png file or the pdf which has pairs of letters on each page.

The png would be suitable for printing up to A3 size.

The pdf is high resolution. A4 page print outs will make a poster (once assembled) approximately 1.8m long. A3 printouts will make a poster over 2m long.


Earthquake Unit Title (pdf file, approx 4mb)

Earthquakes Unit Title (png file)

Graduation Certificates

Here are samples of the two certificates we presented to graduating students from our primary section in 2012. The Year 7 students received their certificates (along with a big slice of cake) at our annual Graduation Dinner where we celebrate the  completion of their Primary education.

The Year 2s received their certificates at a special assembly.

Both certificates were designed in Adobe inDesign with an Excel spreadsheet providing the data (names, personal pronouns etc). Contact me if you’d like a copy of the files.

Artificial Snow Machine

The snow machine in use during our Christmas Countdown Assembly

The snow machine in use during our Christmas Countdown Assembly

Christmas came early for the school Tech Crew this year, with the delivery of a 1500W Artificial Snow Machine.

This awesome beast featured in our school’s Christmas Countdown Assembly; as the Junior Choir sang, the Tech Crew funnelled a steady stream of snow (actually light foam) over the singers’ heads. Yay! Snow in the Performing Arts Centre in Australia in summer!

In the olden days (as in twenty years ago) all our productions featured fog machines. These industrial monsters produced their beautiful low-lying fog effect by slowly immersing a block of dry-ice into a vat of boiling water. Safety concerns? What, from dry ice (temp < -70C), boiling water (temp >99C) and electricity? Hah!

But now we have our new favourite toy, though fitting it into any other performances this year may be interesting, to say the least.

Technical Stuff

The machine is a model SM-1500. This video gives an idea of its output (but ours doesn’t have the remote).

I bought the snow machine on the Australian eBay, cost $125, postage $39 to South Australia. Delivery was snappy with the contents safely and securely packaged. All kudos to the seller panatechnology, who runs the online store Panatech Electronics Factory outlet. It has an air volume switch (high / low) and weighs 13kg without the snow fluid.

It can draw 1500W (so put it on its own circuit) and  warms up very quickly; less than a minute is sufficient. It comes with a wired remote but can also be controlled by a DMX 512 connection.


In use

The machine was easy to set up and start but be warned: it will create a huge pile of foam if pointed near the ground as it can pump out  half a litre of snow each minute.

Pointing it up at a 45 degree angle achieved the best throw and spread. We found the low air volume combined with short burst produced more than enough snow for our purposes.

Noise is an issue and we needed the whole choir singing to mask the sound of the fan. The effect though is brilliant and certainly added huge amounts of interest – and excitement – to our themed assembly.