Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 128 June 3rd 2006 –  SAVE ONE STARFISH 2006


Current Subscribers 9,185

Newsletter at



1. Welcome

2. PERCEPTUAL Mind Candy

3. WWWinfo WIKI 1 WIKI 2


5. Technical Stuff – FREE FIX WINDOW ERRORS

6. Web Site Focus – THE GERKIN


8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE  Well here it is the last week of term 2
for most of us. After the mid year report writing efforts, and the
cram as much as you can into an 8 week term are over, the break
seems long overdue.  This newsletter I tackle some biggies,
our teenagers, school is FAILING THEM. I have just seen another
student drop out of school before gaining a School Certificate,
a “gifted & talented” student of acknowledged great ability. Left
because of inflexible school policy, teacher centred learning,
intractable school rules and, what I like to call “Teacher Professional Distance”.
As principals and teachers we are in the perfect position to
‘save the starfish’. Have a great holiday.  And use it to email
 me with your comments about our teenagers.



Colour Perception

Colour Illusion



Civilisation becomes, more and more, a race between

education and catastrophe. H.G. Wells


If ever there is a generation that knows only what the generation

before it knew, it can kiss its survival chances good-bye.


Some underlying assumptions about curriculum

“What the next generation most needs to know is what this

generation happens to know.”

“Education is a fairly straightforward process” which, in the words

of Louis Gerstner, CEO if IBM, has to do mostly with

“the distribution of information”. “If schools will just “raise the bar”

students will clear it. The student potential wasted by

one-size-fits-all programs isn’t worth developing.

Students turned into failures by their willingness or inability to

meet standards won’t be a problem.”


If we teach only what we know how to test, we won’t survive.

We won’t deserve to survive.


Learning like love is its own reward.  It meets one of the

strongest human needs and therefore pays off and in deeply

satisfying ways.  Substitute extrinsic for intrinsic satisfaction,

threaten the teachers and the kids with humiliation if they fail,

reward them with praise and other goodies if they succeed-

and getting the praise and avoiding the penalties are the emotions

that drive the system. Love of learning for it’s own sakes die.

Dead. What Copernicus did for astronomy, and Newton  and

then Einstein did for physics, Antione Lavoisier did for Chemistry

and Sir Charles Lyell did for Geology.  They didn’t build on

someone else’s ideas,  they advanced theories that zigged

off in a totally different directions.  That kind of zig is long

overdue in education.

Excerpts and Inspiration, and Quotes taken from

A Seamless Curriculum*

 *A single, systemically integrated whole, every part of which
relates logically to every other part




Collection of free open-content textbooks

Try Wikijunior Big Cats at

Or Perhaps a little Trig

The great thing about these books is they can be downloaded

and edited to suit.

You can in fact make your own textbook. AND they are all


If a textbook is what you want - you never have to BUY a

textbook again



Pictures and Sound



Free directory of species. This will cover Animalia,
Plantae, Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea, Protista and all other
forms of life as users add info.



The free news source you can write!



A collaborative project to produce a free, multilingual dictionary
with definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, sample quotations,
synonyms, antonyms and translations



Wikiquote, a free online compendium of quotations from notable
people and creative works in every language



The Free Library – is an online collection of free content source texts




Print this out and read it at your next staff meeting,

if more of your staff meeting is about the curriculum,

than the rabbits, squirrels and eagles, then, think about that.



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Take a look at this fantastic new building in London, made

entirely of triangles.

This incredible construction in London is an absolute must see!

This huge building comes complete with over 24,000 square

metres or the equivalent of 5 football pitches of glass cladding

and is recognised worldwide as a fantastic piece of architecture

which has changed the capital's skyline.


Owned by Swiss Re, the Gherkin has 40 floors and it's

restaurant at 165 metres high, is officially the highest in London,

so there's no doubt that this amazing building must be one of the

best places in the city for views.



‘A Champion is Needed to Drive Change’ or maybe 9,185 Champions.


Our schools are not giving our teenagers the education

they need for the 21st Century.


The curriculum is the imperative in our results driven

educational environment when human beings, need to be.

There is no reason that a school certificate, or Higher School

Certificate need be definitive, yet the HSC year is dreaded by all.

To many parents and students tolerate the boredom, irrelevance and

dictatorial environments of schooling, just to ‘finish schooling’.

To many students truant, drink, take drugs, simply to avoid school.

To may students drop out, school doesn’t do it for them.

To many students are unhappy.

Much of the curriculum is irrelevant.


Students 15-19 years Old

… this age group is going through significant personal

change and development. There is a need for the school

and teachers to accommodate the diversity of the student

needs both personal and learning. Peer pressure is enormous

on individuals but often teachers don’t encourage and support

students in making individual choice and decision.

When you are young you often lack confidence but as a

teenager you can’t acknowledge that with

peers and in the classroom. It is often too hard to get help
from the teachers and you can be
ridiculed. As a 15-19 year
old you need to learn to push away fear and learn how
to ask questions
but you are not taught or encouraged to
do this so you end up following the behaviour of others.

There is a need to develop trust between teachers and
students. Peer pressure and pressure from

older students is usually significant and demotivating.


Eric Matez – sacked for teaching off the Curriculum


What do you think? Do you think schools work for teenagers?

Are we getting it right? What really matters in the education
of our teenagers?
Does it Matter? It sure does.

Send you responses in as usual, I’M SURE A LOT OF YOU




Hi Cathy,

Here are my thoughts on EWBs.  I agree with what you say

about them being a new way to present and old piece of

technology/furniture.  I have had a few demonstrated to me

over the years and (as a maths teacher) found that

the software that went with them was too cumbersome to use. 

There were just too many "taps" to set up a graph or what ever. 

I have decided that the way to go is a laptop with a graphics

tablet and a data projector. Maths problems can be demonstrated

with the teacher actually facing the class.  Then there are all the

other advantages that go with a networked computer/data projector.

Wendy Forsyth


PS I haven't actually got my graphics tablet yet, but am working on it.


Dear Cathy,

Here are my thoughts.

As a classroom teacher and now, as an educational technology

consultant, I totally support the concept of Electronic Whiteboards

in the classroom. I use the Smart Board and have been for four

years. You haven't seen classroom excitement and total involvement

until you use one. Yes, it is easy to use. There was one very

important point missing from your description of what the boards

can do - INTERACTIVE - students can interact with the board

and that concept can change your whole method of teaching.

You physically, arrange your classroom to centre around kids

getting up to the board. When you plan a lesson, you look at

the features of the Smart Board and coordinate them with your

lesson. Smart Board also offers a web site that has hundreds

of lessons planned for you to download, customize, and call

your own. All perfectly legal. The software updates are yours

to download from the site to any computer. You can plan your

lessons at home, in school, and your students can plan their

presentations and projects using the software, and ultimately,

the board.

You can incorporate sound, record your instructions, video,

insert graphics (large maps, diagrams from a web site, etc.).

These work very well with the electronic pens. More and more

virtual libraries are becoming available, on the internet - e.g.

virtual geoboards. I particularly like the handwriting to

text tool. It works beautifully when reviewing for exams.  

KidPix, Kidspiration and paint are just a few of the softwares

that I've used besides The Microsoft Office Suite. And yes,

you can print everything. The gallery of graphics and backgrounds

are incredible. Build your own handwriting exercise or graphs

using the different size graph paper background.

The Smart Board has transformed education. Portable is nice 

but when you get them in every classroom, it's magic:-)

Good Luck, everyone:-)


Middletown Public Schools, CT USA




Teachers in the Loop is a FREE website for teachers in NSW. 

Primary and Secondary teachers can connect directly to

businesses and organisations that provide relevant

educational services across all key learning areas.

Be amazed with what’s on offer for teachers in NSW!


Submit a Craft Recipe


Instructables, part of the group's Engineering for Good program,

tackles projects it hopes "will make a positive impact on the world,"

allowing anyone -- not just educators -- to upload detailed

instructions on how to build or create a wide variety of projects.

They're illustrated by photos or step-by-step drawings and include

how to build a robot out of a computer mouse, how to craft a

marshmallow gun, and how to create a helicopter toy.

More than 600 "lesson-free lessons" are available free on

the Instructables site

One of the highlights of the site is a section called Howtoons,

 which contains ingenious one-page paneled cartoons that offer

instruction on topics such as how to make a flute from a turkey

baster or how to create an underwater viewer using a 2-litre

soda bottle.



Dear Cathy,

Your newsletter is fantastic, my husband and I often read it together –

I'm a primary teacher and he's in IT (he explains all of the computer/techy things to me),

we have a great time checking out your recommended

sites and learning together.


In 7 weeks I am moving to Beijing to teach yr 6 in an International

School.  Over there I have to use the English Curriculum system. 

Do any of your readers know of any good/helpful sites that will

make my lesson planning and preparation easier?

Thanks heaps

Sheree Brown

This is a Japanese – but pretty cool.

Free Lesson Plans

Does anyone have some suggestions.


Dear Cathy,

One of your readers was seeking more sayings like - 'see you

later alligator...'  I found this website which may be helpful. 

However the sayings are all forms of goodbyes.

Hope this page is helpful, it's all I could find.


Sheree Brown


Not sure if Pauline can get the books written by June Factor.

These will help her with the Aussie sayings if this is

what she is after

Far Out, Brussel Sprout!

All Right, Vegemite!

Unreal, Banana Peel!

Real Keen, Baked Bean!

Roll Over, Pavlova!

Lorraine Kennedy

Hong Kong


10.  NEXT ISSUE – AFTER THE BREAK I’ll be back – hope to
have lots of your thoughts on teenagers and schooling. This is
a biggy, and well overdue for sorting out. Also, some of Tim’s
tips, I promise.  Have a great break. ciao Cathy


11. Code of the 'Netizens'

This Newsletter is not free, despite the misleading advertising

above. The Fee is now due. Each week you must help one

colleague on the Internet who has less knowledge than you.

Help that person even if you have to visit their classroom or

do a little research and get back to them. Trust me, this will

help a lot of people get their computer classrooms running better.

OK I'm trusting you!!!


12. TIPS

1. Double click on highlighted URLS to open in browser.

2. Send in your Questions, Questions will be published with

Answers, send in your Answers, if you have expertise to share.

3. Nominate a brilliant site for review and inclusion in this


4. Nominate a fantastic school site for review and inclusion in

this newsletter.

5. Make contact with other schools using fantastic programs.

6. Prepare and innovative article for this newsletter.

7. Tell 2 colleagues about this newsletter.


The opinions expressed here are purely those of the editor,

Cathy Brown. All other small print clauses apply. Such as:

Use at your  own risk. Nothing in life is guaranteed. If it doesn't

work for you send me an email.

Editor: cathy brown


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