Free online Irish history class




Earlier this year Trinity launched a free online history class which drew the attention of thousands of people – over seventeen thousand to be exact!

The MOOC is available for anybody with an internet connection and five free hours a week. The course can be taken at the student’s own pace with video, assignment and online discussion with other students and will also offer the opportunity to purchase a Statement of Participation on completion of the course. Students can also use the hashtag #FLirishlives to interact with other learners. (Ciarán Brady)


Christmas – Animoto style

A web 2.0 educational resource I have yet to delve into yet (plans for the weekend is to curl up with a cup of strong coffee and delve into all these educational resources!) is Animoto!


What is Animoto?

Animoto is a cloud-based video creation service that produces video from photos, video clips, and music into video slideshows. Animoto is based in New York City with an office in San Francisco. (All credit for TNW

dont tell me show me.jpg

Sometimes it’s easier to demonstrate something that try and explain it thus keeping with the Christmas Theme let me show you an example of Animoto in action!


Want to know more? This article ran a great article on Animoto fifth birthday which summarised all the questions you may have about animoto!

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Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

book judge

Recently, the topic of don’t judge a book by it’s cover seems to be very topical.

Everywhere we turn in today’s world we are judging how much people have and who they are friends with. This is especially true in schools when the latest phone or trend comes out. Sometimes students can feel very judged and often feel misheard as well by their fellow peers.

Thus I feel it’s important to mention in class that each students voice and reaction is important and should be expressed in the classroom.


One good example is one class were asked recently to bring in music and songs close to them. There was a huge variety of music chosen and shared within the class. However, one student in particular was reluctant to share for fear her peers would ridicule her due to her taste of music. As teachers we have to embrace all differences in the class and encourage students to be comfortable within the classroom environment.

Top ways to create a safe space in a classroom:

  • Display students work in the classroom
  • Admit when you don’t know something (within reason)
  • Read with your students
  • Follow through with Consequences
  • Smile often
  • Open the door at the end of class
  • Music feeds the soul


Update to Mental Health Week

Mental Health Week was a great success with many of the students and staff helping to make it a wonderful experience for everyone in the school.

All students were included and it additionally highlighted the importance of sleeping, exercise and eating healthy.


Update to Mental Health Week.


danty tea

Wednesday was a surprise tea party for students! We allowed students to have tea, coffee or juice and a few biscuits and take a moment out of their busy timetables to reflect on their lives and stress techniques that can be used coming up to exam time.


stress 1

Before the tea party we went through different stress techniques that can be used by students when they begin to feel stressed. One technique which I hadn’t heard before was the 7-11 breathing technique.

Breathe in to the count of 7 and then out to the count of 11. Repeat about 6 times.

7 11 technique.jpg

After researching about I’ve discovered it’s a particular form of breathing which can be used when you are:

  • Feeling stressed
  • Struggling with panic attacks
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling agitated or anxious
  • Suffering from “nerves” or anxiety

Why the 7 11 breathing technique works so well is that the outward count expels the majority of the air from your body. This has the effect of stimulating the body’s natural relaxation mechanism. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. A simple and effective way to do this is to use a simple counting method whilst paying attention to your breathing. Additionally, as you push more air than usual out of your body, you will find that your neck and shoulders automatically feel more relaxed and your mind feels more calm.

To keep in mind this blog was set up to enhance education through the medium of web 2,o technology – I have found out that there is a 7 11 app!

Links for the different breathing apps:


inside out.jpg

Another event which occurred during Mental Health Week was the screening of the recent Pixar success Inside Out.

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school. (Rotten Tomatoes )

The importance of this accessible movie is having visuals were students can see that it’s ok not to be ok! You have a bumpy road through life.

bump road.jpg

There is no straight forward road in life.





Funny mistakes


On the topic of mistakes – here are some funny answers students have given when they did not know the answers to questions. All credit goes to (Askreddit)

I taught history and showed a video clip of Ronald Reagan’s famous “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In a later quiz I asked students to write down this quote with my favorite response starting “Mr. Gooberchuck…”

I had a student who would write things like “I don’t remember this, I’m sorry, but I drew you a picture of a dog instead”. Or “please don’t think that my wrong answer on this question means you’re a bad teacher, you’re awesome but I didn’t study”.

When my wife and I were TA’s in grad school, we proctored and then graded an essay exam. We had a student write, “I don’t know, so here’s a picture of a puppy”. He then drew a beautiful picture of a puppy, it took him nearly an hour to complete it. To this day when I ask my wife a question and she doesn’t know the answer, she just says, “puppy”.

In high school I was in a biology class with a buddy of mine. The class and the teacher were a complete joke and no one took it seriously. On an exam the teacher wanted an essay on something, and my buddy didn’t feel like writing it. Instead he drew a picture of Jesus and wrote “Jesus is always the answer” above it. He received full credit.

Literature and Killing time combined

Waiting at public places is one thing that we, humans, do not find as an exciting task to do. (

exam stressTravelling and waiting around is part of the everyday hum of society – especially in schools! We ask students to wait outside the classroom while we get ready for the next class or while talking to another students or teacher. Even when we are commuting home from school and work – There is always time to kill. 

While we always have our screens (be it phones, cameras, ipads, tablets, computers) to keep us entertained going back to basics reading a small piece of literature is an excellent idea! This project of using a free short story dispenser as a way to combat killing time in public spaces is one that can be transmitted into the classroom. 

This has inspired a little project which hopefully I can have in place in the classroom soon – print off small historical stories that students can take with them to read while killing time. It’s a simple project which will take some time to get up and running. However, hopefully it will inspire students to take a moment away from their phones and learn something new!

Open to any good history stories which could prove a nail biting short read!

#Grenoble #reading #history #short stories #short story dispensers


piano keys

Music, similar to twitter is another overlooked resource that could be used more frequently in classes. Earlier I blogged about maybe using five minutes at the end of class to listen to allow class to rest. Why not use music?

At the end of a long class – both teacher and student will be frazzled. Though this may sound disheartening frazzled is a good word to use as it generally means there has been great amount achieved. However, it can leave teachers and students alike feeling drained.

Music is excellent at allowing people to relax or energise.

Additionally it should not be overlooked the importance of study music for students that find it difficult to concentrate or even are subjected to a noisy study environment.

I have a long list of songs I think can help to relax and motivate a class or individual students – but each class is different thus I’ve found this helpful ten tips to help you pick which you think can help your class or you study.

If at this stage you’re still sceptical read through the results found by these researchers. It may make you want to give it a try.

A research team reports that early music training dramatically enhancing children’s abstract reasoning skills. These findings indicate that music uniquely enhances higher brain functions required for mathematics, chess, science and engineering.
(From Neurological Research, Feb 28, 1997; Frances Rauscher, Ph.D., Gordon Shaw, Ph.D, University of California, Irvine)

A two-year Swiss study involving 1,200 children in 50 schools showed that students involved in the music program were better at languages, learned to read more easily, showed an improved social climate, showed more enjoyment in school, and had a lower level of stress than non-music students.
(Weber, E.W., Spychiger, M. & Patry, J.L. (1993))

Academic Articles

  1. Neurological Research, Feb 28, 1997; Frances Rauscher, Ph.D., Gordon Shaw, Ph.D, University of California, Irvine
  2. Weber, E.W., Spychiger, M. & Patry, J.L. (1993)

Resource time!

A resource that is becoming more and more popular is Wordle.

It’s a little website where you can upload bodies of text or URL sites and the most commonly used word will be left.

This is a great resource for all subjects. However, I feel history will be the subject that mostly benefits as you can allow students to upload their essays and see which key words are needed to complete an essay.

history wordle