Virtual Teacher Newsletter No. 29 2001
THE FREE ONLINE FORTNIGHTLY IT TEACHERS' NEWSLETTER
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2. MIND CANDY
3. SCHOOLS AND THE INTERNET -LET'S GET TOGETHER
AND DO SOMETHING
4. NEW PRINTABLES
5. TECHNICAL STUFF -Problems with Dells
6. TIPS FOR SETTING UP EPALS ACCOUNTS
7. DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS
8. GREAT SITES
9. READERS REQUESTS/COMMENTS
10 NEXT ISSUE
11. CODE OF THE 'NETIZENS
1. WELCOME EVERYONE. What a fantabulous week it has
been, so good infact I am having to invent new words to
describe it. I have been having some fun with inventing new
words this week, as I have been re-reading some of the
wonderful Dr Zeus text. A few problems reared their ugly
heads this fortnight, in particular - trouble with DELL computers,
and speed or lack of it, in fact lack of anything at all, on the
Department of Education School Intranet Service. If
we can work out the problems and let the right people know,
perhaps things will improve. Have a fantabulous fortnight.
2. MIND CANDY
U.S. educators are reeling from the low math and science
test scores of American students. We bombed in history,
too. Over 90 percent of high school students think BC means
1. MATHEMATICIAN / STATISTICIAN / ACCOUNTANT FINALIST
A mathematician, statistician and accountant were
finalist for a position as VP in a large corporation. The hiring
committee asked them all the same last question:
The mathematician was first. "How much is 500 plus
500 ?" , they asked "1000" he replied without hesitation. "
Thank you", they dismissed him.
Next the statistician. "How much is 500 plus 500?"
"On the average, 1000 with 95 % confidence" replied
the statistician "Thank you", they dismissed him.
Next the accountant. "How much is 500 plus 500?"
"What would you like it to be?" responded the accountant.
They hired the accountant.
There was this magnificent mathematical horse. You
could teach it arithmetic, which it learned with no difficulty,
algebra was a breeze, it could even prove theorems in
euclidean geometry, but when you tried to teach it
analytic geometry, it would rear back on its hind legs,
kick ferociously neigh loudly and make violent head
motions in resistance.
The moral of this story is that you can't put Descartes
before the horse.
3. INCONSISTENCY THEOREM
LITTLE BOY: "My math teacher is crazy". MOTHER: "Why?"
LB: "Yesterday she told us that five is 4+1; today she
is telling us that five is 3 + 2."
4. BIG NUMBERS
Question: "How many seconds are there in a year?"
Answer: "Twelve, January second, February second,
March second, ..."
5. ALGEBRA QUIZ
Teacher: "What is seven Q plus three Q?" Student: "
Ten Q" Teacher: "You're Welcome."
6. ENOUGH, ALREADY!
What did one math book say to the other? Don't bother
me I've got my own problems!
7. COUNT COUNT
Mathematician: "There are three types of mathematicians,
those who can count and those who can't."
8. HOW'S THAT AGAIN?
(A) Sign on an aircraft exit door: "If you cannot read these
instructions, call a stewardess"
(B) My fortune cookie said : " Don't take
advice from a
(Thanx to Andrew Baensch)
9. WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The ancient Greeks had funny ways to name their children.
One day a little boy had torn his pants and when his father
came home he angrily held up the torn pants and said to the
boy "Euripedes?" and the name stuck.
10. EXPONENTIAL GROWTH
I have been dabbling with statistics for many years.
As a matter of fact, the first time I became quite annoyed with
statistics was the day I turned 2 (that's how far back I go with
number crunching). For you see, the day I turned 2 I realized
that in one year my age doubled, which led
me to conclude that by the time I was 7 I'd really be 64!!!
Tom Najman, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
11. PICTURE THIS
Question: What happens when a polar bear sits on the ice
too long? Answer:He gets polaroids.
Thanks to Vince Amero
12. TECHNICAL HELP
A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer and a
Windows Software engineer were out riding, when their car
broke down, and they couldn't get it started. The mechanical
engineer suggested that it might be out of gas, but after
checking it out he found that it had plenty of gas. The
electrical engineer thought it might be the ignition system;
lifted the hood and decided that everything was OK.
The Software engineer said, "Why don't we all roll the windows
up, get out of the car, get back in the car and
roll the windows down again then see if it starts?"
Thanks to RHF, Laser Dreams, Sebastopol, CA
13. THE EIGHTH GRADE METAMATHEMATICIAN
QUESTION: What's " 2 + 2 "?
ANSWER: A Math Problem!
Created by Eighth Grader Daniel Jackson,
Creekside Middle School
Methods for getting people to believe you (as good as,
if not better than, proof). A collection of proof techniques
that will prove invaluable to both mathematicians and members
of the general public.(and perhaps in staff meetings).
3. SCHOOLS AND THE INTERNET -LET'S GET TOGETHER
AND DO SOMETHING
It seems that the Internet service for schools is getting worse
and worse. I am forever plagued by problems with lack of
email services or internet connection speed.
STATE OF PLAY In NSW the state of the Internet service to
schools is very poor.
FOR STARTERS we are stuck with a 64K cable link into schools.
The latest figures show there is about a 1 to 7 computer to
student ratio in state schools at the moment. So
even in a small school of say 200 pupils one would expect to find
about 30 computers. Yet there is only one 64K (2 if your lucky)
cable to service them all. It is not physically possible for more
than about 3 computers at a time to access the internet if the
cable connection is only 64K.
THEN the state schools are linked through the departments
intranet to the wider internet. School computers are NOT
directly linked to the internet. So here lies the other log jam.
There are not enough servers at the departments site to cope
with the demand, and many are very slow by today's standards
SO even if you manage to get out of the school on your measly
64K line, you will be log jammed at the Department's end.
OF COURSE this happens when everyone wants to use the
computers - mostly between 8.30am and 3.30pm, however some
days the internet is unavailable from 7.30am in the morning.
THE STATE PREMIER has promised an email account for every child.
These will be of no use if children are unable to log onto the
internet because the infra structure is unable to cope with the load.
SOLUTION One solution is to let the folk who need to be informed,
know about the problem. If you are experiencing Internet log on
problems, slow response times, no service at all, ring the help desk
on 1800 043 434, and let them know. Make sure you get a
reference number for your call. Also write and let me know what
is happening in your school. E-mails to the Premier wouldn't hurt
either email@example.com .Also the 7.30 Report is keen
to have stories about Children and Computers , you can email
JONATHAN HOLMES firstname.lastname@example.org
INTERNATIONAL AND NON GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS If you
have another internet access system operating at your school
that works, please write and let us know what your
school/region /country has done to overcome this problem.
NSW needs all the help it can get.
4. NEW PRINTABLES
I am having a break this fortnight, because I have found a
fantastic site full of lessons plans. Use the search engine at
the site to specify the exact type of lessons you are looking for.
There are so many at this site it is amazing.
5. TECHNICAL STUFF
Our school recently purchased a number of DELL Optiplex
machines from the school Roll Out. The specs looked good
and DELL has won a number of awards for excellence in both
service and quality. However these machines have not lived up
to expectations in a number of ways.
1. Phone Calls to the 1800 number for tech support take more
than the school recess break - no teacher can wait that long.
2. A back up file of 50 floppy disks needs to be made for each
type of machine as original program disks are not supplied -
I should live that long.
3. Some of our computers were supplied with external
speakers, an internal speaker option was not in the specs,
the speakers take up another outlet, and are a nuisance with the
4. KidPix, (a program widely used in schools) doesn't work so well
on the DELLs. This is particularly evident in the stamp tool, however
the program freezes frequently in other sections as well.
I have tried to address this with DELL - but have had no joy so far.
If anyone can help with number 4, or has had similar experiences
please let me know. Check out some of the problems at
6. TIPS FOR SETTING UP EPALS ACCOUNTS
I have now joined a few folk up to EPALS and I love it. The
Premier of NSW may be offering to link up all school children via email -
but here is a system in place already that can do just that.
And its FREE.
When I first joined, I set up a number of account aliases
as per the instructions at the site. However when the students
were logging in they needed to go through a number of steps
including changing their passwords and answering a secret
question etc. All this was time consuming for students and
a bit pointless. I also wanted to keep track of all the passwords in
case some were forgotten. (All passwords can be accessed by
the teacher at anytime on the site - however I wanted a quick
reference for the passwords while the students were working).
SO I found it easier to go into the site and complete the
procedure myself for each student email.
I suggest this technique if you are starting with the program,
otherwise a lesson can become chaos as a million(28 children
sometime can seem like a million) hands shoot up wanting to
know what to do.
Even so I highly recommend Epals
7. DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS
I haven't had much Feedback about Digital Portfolios as yet.
However I am continuing to follow up this great idea.
Alex Galland is already doing a fantastic job in this area,
I'm sure you will enjoy reading what he has done:-
Last year some of our year 6 kids created digital portfolios,
housing everything in their own website. They took pictures
of their art work, scanned written work, copied and pasted
word processed stuff, turned multimedia (eg powerpoint,
kid pix slide shows and hyperstudio stacks) into little movies
(powerpoint presentations can easily be exported into html
format) etc etc.
They then created a splash page for the whole thing using
Flash - they came up with some really great stuff!! In the end,
the whole portfolio was burned onto a CD. If we had the time,
they could have created CD covers too.
Hope that helps!
Send in any other ideas or examples you have.
8. GREAT SITES
The Biography Maker
Virtual Ocean - this is spectacular site very impressive.
Teaching Time - I loved this site. It has a big clock face that can
be progessed by various intervals - then click and it will become a
digital clock fact. there are also some other clock activities at this
site. Activities Suitable K-6
Geometry Through Art
Biozone BioLinks *****
This is an impressive hotlist with over 500 links covers biology,
biotechnology, diseases, evolution and microbiology. Links
are organizedinto 16 main topics and 65 subtopics that support
health and science education. Browse the main link page for
Grade Level: High School, College
Content Area: Science (Life Science) Dewey #570, Health &
Physical Education (Health) Dewey #613
Application Type: Hotlist, Resource
9. READERS COMMENTS/REQUESTS
I have developed a P-6 diagnostic, individualised Maths
program that allows for exactness of reporting and easy to
do individualised lesson planning. It is geared at the Victorian
CSF2. I am including the details below that appear in a flyer I
am sending out. I have yet to build a web site for it. I was wondering
if you could see your way clear to telling teachers it's out there.
MY MATHS JOURNEY
(written in Victoria by Victorian teachers
'A unique diagnostic assessment and planning tool for
individualising Maths throughout your school'
'If you have been asking how to meet the individual needs
of your students in Maths, in an outcome based framework,
then this is an answer!'
'Imagine receiving, at the start of the year, an overview of
exactly what indicators every child in your class has achieved
in Maths. You could hit the ground running with a totally
individualised Maths plan before the students even hit the school!'
assess each student diagnostically
easy to see and do planning for each individual, small group
activities and whole class sessions
adaptable and flexible to meet teachers' differing needs
covers every indicator in the CSF2 for each level
brings out every nuance of the indicators in full
includes: class overviews, student interview sheets,
student booklets, rich teacher answer sheets, all materials
listed by question and indicator use it to accurately report on
progress, plan your lessons and then hand it to next year's
teacher to make their life easier too!
Allan Greenbank <email@example.com>
Contact Allan Greenbank:
Phone - (03) 5385 2601
Fax - (03) 5385 2780
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sounds great Allan - I'd love to have a closer look at it
and review it for the newsletter. I have put some further
info about this program at:
Allan you might also like to use this site as a reference point
for further enquiries as well. Goodluck with the program.
Just to say that I've found your site very
useful and interesting.
We shall recommend it to our 50 ICT co-ordinators.
Service Children's Education
(a small UK government agency - we run schools outside
UK for military families and their supporting communities)
Thanks I',m glad you liked it.
i sent this off. Never know, they might bite.
Subject: child and the machine
Dear Mr. Holmes,
I didn't see the show so I can't comment on it but was
alerted to the publicity given to the book by Virtual Teacher
newsletter. Having only seen it's cover and groaned I am
writing to you to see if you would like to research and present
something on the cutting edge of internet classroom delivery
of materials such as the VSG (virtual school for the gifted)
based in Melbourne. I have been at my wits end until
recently to find tuition of a higher standard for my three
highly gifted sons as they are in a tiny primary school in
Tasmania. At present they are learning about chaos
theory through the VSG which is at the cutting edge of
science, not just the euclidian mathematics that is hundreds
of years old. It is as you say a substitute for time with a live
teacher - but where are we to get that and of the calibre that
is accessible online? After using the wonderful
courses offered there I have sourced several other
learning provisions although
we have yet to try them including entire maths curriculum
for gifted from Stanford university for K-12
The web has been invaluable. Recently after testing at
GERRIC we discovered the children are what is termed
'visual spatial learners' and this accounts for
their ease of use and fascination with the learning
environment presented by the computer. I certainly wasn't
prepared for my children to LEARN anything from
computer programs but I have really changed my mind
over this after actually using the things. It was initially just a
few toys added on to our work computer.
Thanks Carolyn, maybe someone will listen.
10. Next Issue I hope to have some more info on Digital Portfolios
as well as the Internet connection info, so send in your thoughts.
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!!!
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
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 mailto:email@example.com
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