On using Twitter in the classroom

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On using Twitter in the classroom

The introduction of the iPad into the secondary school curriculum prompts the question: Is there a place for social networking in the classroom? The focus of this investigation will be the use of Twitter in Religious Education.

What is Twitter?

Cole (2009) provides suggestions for teachers on how to use Twitter. Many of her suggestions also have some application in the classroom, particularly those that relate to etiquette.


Barseghian, Tina (2011). 28 Creative Ideas for Teaching with Twitter. In Mind/Shift: How we will learn. Online at: http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/07/28-creative-ideas-for-teaching-with-twitter/ Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Cole, Sonja (2009). 25 Ways to Teach with Twitter. In Tech & Learning. Online at: http://www.techlearning.com/article/20896 Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Kirkpatrick, Marshall (2009). How One Teacher Uses Twitter in the Classroom. In ReadWriteWeb. Online at: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_one_teacher_uses_twitter_in_the_classroom.php Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Rankin, Monica (2009a). 34 Interesting Ways to use Twitter in the Classroom. Online at: https://docs.google.com/present/printview?id=dhn2vcv5_118cfb8msf8 Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Rankin, Monica (2009b). Some general comments on the “Twitter Experiment”. Online at: http://www.utdallas.edu/~mar046000/usweb/twitterconclusions.htm Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Silver, David (2009). Twitter in the Classroom. In Tame the Web: Libraries, Technology and People, by Michael Stephens. Online at: http://tametheweb.com/2009/02/24/twitter-in-the-classroom-2/ Retrieved July 14, 2011.

Walsh, K. (2009). 6 Examples of Using Twitter in the Classroom. In EmergingEdTech. Online at: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2009/06/6-examples-of-using-twitter-in-the-classroom/ Retrieved: July 14, 2011.

Walsh, K. (2010). 100 Ways to Teach with Twitter. In EmergingEdTech. Online at http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/ Retrieved: July 14, 2011.


100 ways to teach with Twitter. Online at http://www.emergingedtech.com/2010/02/100-ways-to-teach-with-twitter/
Online: Retrieved July 14, 2011.


My iPod Blues

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I have been using iPod Touches in my Year 12 Religious Education class.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

The Kolbe Year 8 Retreat Day

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The theme that I propose for the Year 8 Retreat is: Living with courage, faith and excellence. This theme has been chosen for the following reasons:
1. I have spent a term with a Year 8 class and I have come to realize that they are at different stages of their faith journey. Psychologically, too, they seem to be at different points on a continuum from immaturity to maturity.
2. My observation of Year 7s leads me to believe that our students are encouraged to be independent learners when they enter Year 7. My experience of Year 8 RE, indeed of the whole RE programme, is quite the opposite. We force feed them a curriculum that is overburdened with content. There is not enough time for students to process the ideas, therefore, much of what is taught is irrelevant to them.
3. When I consider the work of a small group of teachers led by Noburo, who are looking at challenge based learning for Year 9s, I ask myself: Shouldn’t all learning be challenging? The retreat day should be both engaging and challenging.

Reflecting on these factors has led me to propose a retreat experience that motivates our Year 8s to reflect on how they approach the task of living with courage, faith and excellence and the responsibility this places on them to take charge of their learning. This seems a tall order for a one-day retreat with young teenagers, but retreats are not meant to sum up, but to open up. The retreat experience is meant to be an encounter with self, with others, and with God.

Theological reflection

Above all, retreats are meant to be about God. They are meant to be like extended meditations during which God becomes the measuring stick which we place against ourselves and our relationships. After all, we believe that we have been created in God’s image, don’t we?

To assist me as I reflected on how to make the day a relevant and engaging God experience, I was reminded of Fr Mark Link’s reflection on two basic forms of theology. He called one “settler” theology and the other “pioneer” theology.

Settler theology presents an impoverished understanding of God. It is a theology built on the notion of a God who is removed from the human condition and who demands obedience from people. In this world view, the focus is on law and transgression, therefore, also on sin, guilt and punishment. No wonder Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after having gone against God’s laws.

Settler theology makes God out to be an external force. Authority resides outside of us and we keep God at arm’s length. If we have this view, then we will find it easy to blame God when things go wrong.

Pioneer theology is quite the opposite. It presents God as a risk taker. God takes risks with us.

The Year Group is too large to suggests to me that there cannot be one fits all type of retreat, however, our financial constraints prevents us from trying to break the year group into small groups based on a set of parameters that are likely to be inaccurate.


  • Navy Club for outdoor group – wagon train group
  • Gary Holland Centre for settler group- village green model

Structure: simulation for 2 hours
Break for 20 minutes
Debrief for 1 hour
Lunch for 40 minutes
Goal setting for 30 minutes

The simulation has a prelude.

Some warm up games



The students stand in a circle shoulder to shoulder facing inwards. They reach in to the centre of the circle and grab hold of two other hands, not of the same person and not from people either side of them. There is now a knot in the centre of the group, which must be undone. The challenge is to undo the knot in silence.

Mummy Game

This is a great youth ministry ice breaker. For this game you need two rolls of toilet paper and six volunteers (three boys and three girls). Select one boy and one girl to become the “mummies” and the remaining volunteers to be the “embalmers.” At your prompt to “GO!” the embalmers will begin to quickly wrap the mummies with the entire roll of toilet paper. Encourage them to be careful not to tear the paper. The first team to finish the entire roll wins.

Pass the sponge

Pit one group against the others in a race to empty one bucket of water into another bucket. Each group stands in a line. The person at the head of each line is given a sponge. They dip it into the bucket of water and pass it backwards and overhead. The person at the end of the line squeezes the water into the bucket and then sprints to the head of the line. The race continues until the bucket at the head of the line is empty.

Groups gather on the village green to share experiences
Liturgy for 20 minutes
Return to school by 3.10

Students depart
Staff debrief

Going Mobilely Digital in Religious Education

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This blog will be about my experiences of going mobilely digital with my Year 12 Religious Education class. Because two thirds of the class have access to either iPod Touches or iPhones, I have sourced a set of iPods for those who don’t own one or the other. It is my intention to teach the Religion and Life 1C/D units using iPod/iPhone technology. I will survey and interview my students over the twenty weeks that will make up their class time up to the end of Term Three. In Term Four, I will publish the results of my research.

In a digital society, learning becomes increasingly mobile. Mobile digital communication devices are just like a writer’s notebook, but with the potential to lay bare the world’s treasures – and also its shame. The world of the writer who makes copious notes throughout the day can become the norm for the student. The practice of texting friends can become the practice of note making as students think about the focus of their learning adventures.

I plan to produce readings as PDFs, which they will be able to load into iBooks via iTunes. One of the first activities will involve them in the task of copying a PDF to a reader, such as USB disk, or GoodReader Lite, both being free apps. Then they will be directed to copy parts of the document and pasting them into a note which they will make, first in Evernote, and second, in Springnote.

Hello world!

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Hi! My name is Pat Branson. Actually, it’s Richard Patrick Branson. In my family, in each generation, there is one male with the first name of Richard, although the name is never used. You can understand why it’s so these days because I am often confused with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin fame.

I was born in Subiaco a long time ago and most of my life has been spent in WA. My childhood was spent in the country. We lived in Norseman, a gold-mining town south of Kalgoorlie, and my Dad worked on a mine there until he heard the call of the truck and went trucking for many years. Eventually, he settled down to selling trucks and was known for some years and Mr Mack because he sold Mack trucks to many of the big trucking companies in WA.

I went to all sorts of Catholic schools – I’m a Catholic and proud of it – and ended up at Trinity College for the final years of my secondary schooling. For some years after that, I was a member of a religious order and went to uni in Sydney. I was in the first group of students at Macquarie University in Sydney.

While my initial studies were in the Arts area – a double major in English literature – I have dabbled in other areas, including Maths, Geology and Geophysics. Since leaving the religious order, I have continued studying and have completed a MEd degree and a PhD, both in research into aspects of religious education. Currently, I am studying how to create apps that relate to RE and the life of Catholic schools.

My faith is important to me. We (my wife, my daughter and me) live in Armadale and we belong to the St Francis Xavier parish, which is where we go to Mass each week. If we aren’t there on a Sunday evening, you will find us at Mass in the Holy Spirit Chapel at NDA.

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