A friend from Church asked me today, 'Why would I send my daughter to a Christian School when it is so much cheaper and closer to send her to the state school down the road, they are both schools after all"
I told him of a man called Harry, who saved up for years to buy a brand new Holden HSV Sports car. At over $100,000 it was his pride and joy. Every weekend Harry would meet with other Holden owners and talk about their cars and encourage each other. They were so happy and grateful for their cars that they even sung songs about them and whenever they got the opportunity to they tried to tell Ford owners what they were missing out on, invite them to their meetings and try to convert them.
I recently posted to following in a school newsletter and it was well received by the school community in a time of much uncertainty. I have included it with this website on Christian Education as students and teachers are not immune from asking this Question. It refers to a devastating earthquake in Christchurch and 'prediction' of a more devastating earthquake in a couple of weeks which is unsettling many people in the community. Got to say, this afternoon I attended a funeral and could not help to think of the many people who have been killed by a 'Natural Disaster', but have entered heaven because of an 'Act of God'…
Doesn't eLearning cost a lot of money? Don't you have to be really tech-savvy?
In my opinion, one of the best places to start with eLearning at your school is to make use of the FREE suite of online software tools called Google Apps. Google Apps include Google Docs (an online office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, and presentation program), Google Sites (a website creation tool), Google Calendar (a great way to keep track of, or even schedule, homework assignments and school events), and GMail (Google's cool, online email service). You can further expand its educational usefulness by also making use of Google Talk (similar to MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, and Skype), and Blogspot (the popular free blog platform owned by Google) - all of theses services are offered FREE! I think the price is right . . .
The easiest way to try it out is to register for a free email account with Google. You immediately get access to Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Blogspot, and you can download Google Talk for free.
Why Google Apps?
Here is a video that explains the usefulness of Google Docs in education:
I like the fact that Google Apps is such a great collaboration tool. Our students today learn best when they are collaborating. One thing I have to say about online collaboration is that it takes some commitment to educate your students on the difference between collaboration and plagiarism. However this is a great lesson for our students, and the ability to collaborate is an important skill to have as they enter the marketplace.
How do I get this for my school?
If you like what you are seeing and your school owns a domain name, your IT manager can set Google Apps up for your school. Give them this link: http://www.google.com/apps/. What this means is that Google will host all of your school's email accounts for FREE (if you are an educational institution), and you get free access to the whole suite of Google software. You can decide whether students' online efforts are visible only inside your domain (like having these tools installed on an intranet), or visible to the public.
If you don't have an IT manager, or a domain name, or you run a homeschool, and you need some help to set this up, please email me by sending a message to bblomonline 'AT' gmail 'DOT' com (replace 'AT' with @ and 'DOT' with . and don't leave any spaces anywhere - this weird format holds spammers at bay).
So, are you ready to take some steps into eLearning? For His glory!
Ps. I don't get a cut from Google . . . I just think it is cool . . .
Recently I was doing some reading for a paper I completing and had one of those "AHA!" moments. It had to do with the processes of critiquing and criticising. Two concepts which I have probably fused together too many times. However, at this particular time, I had just spent two long evenings reading school reports before they were sent home. Most of the reports were fantastic but there were a couple which I felt uneasy about and this paper spelt it out for me, they read as criticisms of the student. I know this was not a deliberate act on behalf of the teachers who wrote the reports, but the focus was sadly wrong.
When I first started at Timaru Christian School we, as many Christian Schools, had a weekly memory verse. As teachers we would sit together and do our term planning and brainstorm a list of hopefully 10 verses which could be used as memory verses. Fantastic, over the course of eight years each student would have an arsenal 8 x 40, 320 verses which they had 'hidden in their heart'!
Hmmm...some very diligent students learnt the verse well could not only remember the verse on testing day but some even remembered the verse for longer, weeks, months.
HOWEVER, it became very obvious that the verses simply were not being retained long term AND there was little big picture planning for the verses we thought students really needed to know. Verses about sin and Salvation were rightly or wrongly not covered in many of our unit plans, yet were verses we all wanted the students to know. To cater for this I redeveloped the Scripture Memorisation program with three essential elements of success, repetition, levelling and big picture verses, ie verses we really wanted our students to 'take' with them.
Although the programme is very prescriptive the first and last are set aside for a memory verse which is topical, ie one that relates to the current terms unit of study. There are three different levels (stages) to the memory verses, Year 1-4 = Stage 1, Year 5/6 = Stage 2 and Year 7/8 = Stage 3.
In Stage 1 and 2 students memorise a set of 18 verses each semester. This repartition enhances long term leaning and application. In Stage 3 students learn passages of 8 to 12 verses.
Have a look see if you can adjust the verses to be meaningful to your school.