Mindmapping Concepts and Knowledge (Parents, Teachers)

One of the best ways to plan a composition or to prepare for tests is by using Mindmaps to collect and add to our knowledge of a subject.

Mindmaps, with their brain-friendly combination of images, colours, and information mimic the way the brain works. Data in a mind map is connected in a messy network of interlinked branches rather than the bullet point approach normally used in note-taking.

These are some great free tools online that make mindmapping easy;

Mind42.com is a free online web app that allows you to collaborate with multiple users in real time.

Spinscape.com is a new mindmapping tool that is simple and easy to use. It allows you to add content from the web to your mindmap.

Slatebox.com allows you to easily turn your mind map into a presentation that zooms from concept to concept.

Gerald Donovan



Sekolah Bogor Raya News In Brief

Victory in our friendly games against Springfield School. Our teams won 2-0 then 8-0. Congratulations to the Blue Deer!

Great Results in the ICAS Computer competition; one gold medal for Vina and silver medals for Aditya, Denia and Annisya.

Our Cinema Advertisement is now showing in Botani Square screens 2 and 3 for the rest of December. Many thanks to all the students and teachers who were involved in making and feature in this commercial.

Congratulations to our Grade 5 and 6 Artists Adinda, Sthevan, Vida, and Kezya for winning first place in the BiNus poster competition. Congratulations also to Astri and Alba; 1st place in the Solo vocal competition and 3rd place for  in the acoustic guitar competition respectively. Well done!

A strong showing from our kids at the EF Bogor Spelling Bee. 1st place for Nashwa. 3rd place for Donna. Raihan, Aninda, and Michael made it to the national finals also.

Gerald Donovan

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The Importance of Empathy (Parents, Teachers, Indonesia)

The seven core values of Sekolah Bogor Raya; Equality, Respect, Discipline, Integrity, Resilience, Self Awareness, and Empathy, are not listed in order of importance. While Empathy is the last on this list, it is the cornerstone of how we treat our students and how we expect them to treat each other.

Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, the ability to feel what other people are feeling and understand the perspective of those who are different from us.

Our PG, TK, SD, SMP, and SMA students showed great empathy last month with their fundraising projects for the victims of the disasters in Merapi, Mentawai, and Wasior. After learning about the tragedies that had befallen people – many of them children – as a result of natural disasters, our students were motivated to act and to raise funds to help those most in need.

We decided that our program should not simply be based on our students requesting money from their parents. Instead, we asked our students to complete a challenge and to make a personal effort to raise funds. These personal efforts ranged from sponsored book readings and preparing food for sale to  donating toys and books from home.

In total, from Playgroup to Senior High School, we raised over Rp50 million which was shared between the Indonesian Red Cross, SBI Kroyo near Merapi, and TV-One’s disaster appeal. The school would like to thank the POM, the parents, and the organizers of this event, but most of all we would like to thank our students for demonstrating the true meaning of empathy.

Gerald Donovan

Internet Safety Morning (Parents) (Teachers)

Our first Internet Safety Morning  at Sekolah Bogor Raya (25th August, 2010) was a huge success with 78 participants joining the session. Our apologies to any parents who had to stand up for the workshop due to lack of space, please do register for the event in advance next time so that we can split the morning into two or three sessions if necessary. We discussed the importance of online safety and teaching our children about how to stay safe online.

Many parents also asked for links to some of the resources I mentioned. I have tried to provide the key sites below; please bear in mind that these are best used if you have a young child who will have unsupervised internet time. At Sekolah Bogor Raya, we recommend unfiltered internet access at home so that children can search for information to support their learning, but we realize that some parents might like to have a degree of control over their children’s internet access – especially if their children will be using the internet in an unsupervised environment.


KidRocket doesn’t let the browser have access to the whole internet, instead, it blocks out the whole internet and only allows access to top-quality, child friendly sites. It also has some handy parent monitoring tools and a timer you can set to lock your child’s computerif they have been using it too long.

If you want to get KidRocket for your computer, you can download and install from here; http://kidrocket.org/download.php


KidZui is an internet browser for kids, something that will make parents at ease while their kids browse the internet. Vailable for Windows, MAc, or as a Firefox add-on, Kidzui allows for easy navigation through categories and larg eimages for kids. KidZui uses teachers and parents to screen content and maintains a database of approved URLs.

If you want to get KidZui for your computer, you must first download and install a web browser called Firefox (KidZui does not work on Internet Explorer). You can do that at this link; http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/firefox.html

Then you need to download and install KidZui. You can do that at this link; http://www.kidzui.com/download/windows

Kidzui is available for all platforms and runs independently of your browser. You can download a Windows, Mac, or Firefox version from http://www.kidzui.com

Your child can set up an avatar and start browsing safely and connecting with friends instantly.


NetNanny is a paid (around $40) internet filter service that allows you to block sites that you do not want your child to view, stop inappropriate chat, stop illegal file sharing, and monitor where your children are going online.

It is available at; http://www.netnanny.com/

Kid-Safe Search Engines

Some search engines that are safe for kids include;





You can set these up as your browser home page on internet explorer by choosing “Tools” from the top menu. Choose “Internet Options” and on the “General” tab, you can change the “Home Page” to one of those kid-safe search engines.

Changing and Locking Google Search

Google search has different levels of filtering and those levels can be locked on a computer. Because Google searches the entire internet, this is not a fool-proof way to avoid negative content, but it does reduce the amount of inappropriate sites that your child will encounter.

On the Google front page, choose “Search Settings” or “Setelan Penelusuran” from the top right corner. On the page that comes up, go to “Safesearch Filtering” or “Penyaringan TelusurAman”.

Choose the level of filtering you would like and, if you want to lock the settings, choose “Lock SafeSearch” or “GembokTelusurAman” (you will need a Google or Gmail login to do this).

(Updated 03 September 2010)

Belief in Free Will and Work Performance (Parents) (Teachers)

Via the excellent “Mind Hacks” blog;

A study in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal concludes that a philosophical belief in self determination and free will is a better predictor of success in the world of work than conscientiousnesslocus of control, and Protestant work ethic.

In Study 1, stronger belief in free will corresponded to more positive attitudes about expected career success. In Study 2, job performance was evaluated objectively and independently by a supervisor. Results indicated that employees who espoused free will beliefs were given better work performance evaluations than those who disbelieve in free will, presumably because belief in free will facilitates exerting control over one’s actions.

It doesn’t seem a huge logical leap to assume that the same rules apply in school as in the world of work. We try to highlight the impact of dedication and discipline to our children at Sekolah Bogor Raya, but if a child has a more fatalistic outlook on life, to what extent will that effect their classroom performance? A great discussion topic for the morning ‘circle time’ , I think!

I’ll be interested to see if these findings are discussed in our forthcoming “Learning and the Brain” workshop in September.

Better Teachers More Important Than Better Schools (Teachers) (Parents) (Administrators)

An LA Times analysis recently identified that the quality of the teacher a student gets at school is a bigger predictor of success than the quality of the school a child attends.

Highly effective teachers were compared using results from the state standardized tests and it was found that, regardless of background of the students or previous performance, good teachers were able to take previously weak students and turn them into high performers.

Some other interesting findings included;

• Highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year. There is a substantial gap at year’s end between students whose teachers were in the top 10% in effectiveness and the bottom 10%. The fortunate students ranked 17 percentile points higher in English and 25 points higher in math.


• Many of the factors commonly assumed to be important to teachers’ effectiveness were not. Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, none of this had much bearing on whether they improved their students’ performance.

This year at Sekolah Bogor Raya, we have been recruiting specialist teachers from Jakarta in order to find the level of quality and experience that we need at all levels of the school. We have found that the best predictor of a teacher’s quality is the microteaching stage of our recruitment process where we ask potential teachers to deliver an observed lesson to a sample class.

Knowledge of education theory and a thick CV full of classroom experience are, of course, highly valuable. But actually seeing how a teacher connects with the students and responds to them in the classroom is priceless.

English 911!

My series of English books; English 911! are finally in bookstores. English 911! is aimed at high school and senior high students in Indonesia and is a combined textbook and workbook to help them with their English language learning.

The main difference between this book and most others on the market here is the content of the reading and writing comprehension. I have tried to make the English reflect the nature of the English language in that it is a living, breathing, constantly adapting tool for communication. Rather than use stuffy comprehension passages for reading I have used the language in a modern setting. Chapters include text messaging, web pages, blogs, TV schedules, comics, and podcasts. Each chapter has a language or grammar focus and each book also come packaged with an audio CD.

English 911! is available from Gramedia bookstores all over Indonesia, published by ElexMedia Komputindo. During the first week, sales have been pretty good, but I hope to do some more promotion during the coming weeks!

Gerald Donovan

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