Virtual Teacher Newsletter AUGUST 26TH, 2006 No. 131 – STREAMING VIDEO
1. Welcome
2. Mind Candy
5. Technical Stuff - MacPro v Dell
6. Web Site Focus - HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
8. Great Sites – THE RENAISSANCE
9. Readers' Requests/Comments
10 Next Issue
11. Code of 'Netizens'
12. Tips
1. WELCOME EVERYONE. This is an historic VT – the first VT with streaming video,
the much promised Tim’s Tips. Over the
coming months clips will be added, I’m hoping you will send
in you’re your videos. They will go up for all to see.
I had an overwhelming response to the last forum.
It seems a lot of principals are setting up the right kinds
of environments for teachers to develop new curriculum -
not the content but the methodology, new avenues for student expression,
new methods for content delivery. This is fantastic. I hope VT
can become a focus for this in the future. You do know that a vast
majority of readers to VT personally tell me that the best section
is the reader comments – everyone one is keen to hear about the great
that is actually happening.
"The principal goal of education is to create men who are
capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what
other generations have done." ~~
Jean Piaget (1896 - 1980) Swiss cognitive psychologist
I need to give staff, as they give students, the wings to fly.
Valerie Martin

”if we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow."
- John Dewey (1859 - 1952)
Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the
people our educational system was designed to teach.
Marc Prensky
The first VT video clip send in your videos for uploading to VT
Short is great. Make sure your get permission from your school
and any students involved. Looking forward to seeing them all.
Just email them to me as a quicktime movie, and I will encode
them for streaming.
MacPro v Dell - a cost comparison

"How to Eat Fried Worms" is a new movie coming out soon
about a middle-school student who stands up to a
bully, based on the book by Thomas Rockwell. I read it years
ago and loved it. A great read, the activities and sites about
the movie abound. If you are looking for something to address
bullying this is certainly a great place to start.

Unit of Work
The Book
The Trailer
These sites have activities, discussion questions, and quizzes related
to the book. There are also recipes for "worms" and biographical information
on author Thomas Rockwell. Includes a link to an eThemes Resource on worms
What should be in the New Curriculum, what needs to go to
make room for the new stuff?

The old chestnut – what should we be teaching our students
what knowledge is essential, what knowledge is optional
what do they really need to know. Seems discussions always
get back to the same old justification – the HSC drives the curriculum.
Teaching in schools is justified by results in this antiquated exam,
that fails to all the current excellent teaching and learning
standards. Fails to examine higher order thinking skills, ICT skills
and general 21st century living skills.

“As a year 12 teacher of a few years (20+) in victoria, the cold hard
reality is that ICT is not valued as a skill, and the 'only' measure of
success is the y12 tertiary entrance score.

The best preparation for VCE( and I suspect HSC) is doing loads of practice
exams, the exam 'industry' is huge in Victoria. Textbooks are sold on the
basis of 'their' authors being on the VCAA panel, some exam answers are
disallowed if they are from the 'other' textbook. (re-affirmed again at
midyear this year! - indeed a scandal..but seen in terms of getting
advantage - not go buy the textbook)

Which does not require ICT and (higher order) thinking, very few habits of
mind...mostly a good memory for the lowest orders of recall and apply...

ICT calls on creative organisation which is not required at tertiary until
second year/third year after the grading/sifting processes have been
completed….” Greg

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
By Marc Prensky,%2520Digital%2520Immigrants%2520-%2520Part1.pdf+author:%22Prensky%22+intitle:%22Digital+Natives

From On the Horizon (NCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5, October 2001)
© 2001 Marc Prensky
It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and debate these days about
the decline of education in the US we ignore the most fundamental of its
causes. Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer
the people our educational system was designed to teach. Today’s students
have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply
changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened
between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place.
One might even call it a “singularity” – an event which changes things so
fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. This so-called “singularity”
is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades
of the 20th century. Today’s students – K through college – represent the first
generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire
lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players,
video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age.
Today’s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives
reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000
hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and
instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.
Greg Alchin

Does it Matter? It sure does. Send you responses in.
Responses to this were fantastic. Everyone is excited by what’s
possible, enlightened Principals are setting the scene for innovative
teachers to launch it to this emerging environment.
One of the standouts was from Crown St
Here it is
Information and Communications Technology at Crown Street Public School
There is some fantastic learning, taking place in our classrooms
at Crown Street PS using ICT. This learning is tied into the
school’s Scope and Progression of learning in ICT. The internet
has become a major source of information. What do the students
already know? What do they want to know and find out?

Year 5 and Kindergarten classes are buddied up producing a
film / video. They are filming, editing, scripting and acting
themselves with help from their teachers and utilizing the skills
learnt in their drama classes and from a visiting actor.

Year 6 is currently researching Federal Parliament on the
Internet in preparation for the visit of Tanya Plibersek, Federal
Member for Sydney, to our school. Great use is made of the
data projector. Students are also working on their Year 6 Album
and digital portfolio, which is a collection of their work over the
past few years at Crown Street PS.

Terrific name / photo labels have been produced for Kindergarten
students using digital photography skills. Kindergarten children
are being taught to consolidate their mouse skills by exploring
the Boohbah site on the ABC’s internet site. They have begun
to use Microsoft Paint to draw pictures. They have had exposure
to filming skills. Later this term they will start to learn about digital photography.

Students in Stage 1 have been working on their publishing skills,
writing in Micorosoft Word and inserting digital photos. Other Stage 1
students were the stars of the film premiere: Teddy Brown Is Late
For School, which included digital photography by the students with
help from their teacher and a student teacher from Sydney
University. In addition Stage 1 students have been investigating
the drawing program in Microsoft Word and developing pictures using
2D and 3D shapes. Students have been using Clip Art and Word Art
to insert headings and pictures. They have also been using their word
processing skills to publish narratives. Class members have been
involved in filming and digital photography, which will be used to
develop Power Point and slide show presentations.

Students in Stage 2 have been writing stories on the computer and
have developed their own rubrics (criteria for assessment) using a
database. Students research selected topics, compile information
as slide shows and oral presentations and present to other classes.
Students have been using Word for story writing and Power Point
for the presentation of their COGS (Connected Outcome Groups)
units, with Google searches and web searches for information
reports. They save their best work for presentation in their digital
portfolios. In Science they have been looking at science investigations
on line, as well as filming and digital photography.

In the school Library, children are involved in research connected
to the units of work they are studying. In Stages ES1 and S1 students
are developing their skills of fundamental computer usage.

We acknowledge that a number of the students already have
advanced computer skills and knowledge. These students are
involved in more advanced tasks and tutor other students.

Members of staff have been working on the school’s website,
with help from a parent of the school and our computer
coordinator / mentor. However, the design of the web pages
and the content of many of the pages is by the children themselves.

As the school’s Principal I see my role as planning strategically,
and supporting staff through a Professional Learning program,
which has mentor support at its core. I need to give staff, as they
give students, the wings to fly. With staff, as with students, there
are a variety of entry levels of expertise. In addition ICT is not
sequential learning it is about understanding the way particular
programs work. Different staff members are experts in different
software programs and hardware and therefore can all be experts
at one time and learners at another.

There is a Scope and Progression of ICT skills, which all staff
members follow. In addition, we are currently engaged in an
Australian Government Quality Teaching program, which is
encouraging more reflection on our teaching practices and pushing
us to test some more boundaries and demonstrate what we are
capable of when we work in collaborative teams.

…………………………………… Ours is a work in progress –
always more to be done, but lots of ideas to share and lots of
excellent students.

We are about to purchase dual core laptop computers for every
class teacher, as we believe that all teaching staff members need
to be kept at the cutting edge of technology, with computers
capable of speedily using large graphic and film production
programs. This is an exciting time for us all!

We are very happy to share our experiences with other schools,
should you wish to visit us or look us up on our school website:
Valerie Martin, Principal
Consider this month's release of "Current TV" by ex-President Al Gore.
I think schools will jump at the chance to provide
authentic assessment tasks that the whole world could access. (Supported by
appropriate release and copyright documentation). The US$500 - $1000 fee
for submitted material, to particular criteria, may also provide a sweet
incentive for students and staff. Just a thought.

Andrew Jones
Heatley Secondary College, laptop class teacher, Townsville, Nth QLD
Hey, Cathy,
It appears you've shamed me into a response, though clearly
it's not a hardship. I checked out CNET and looked up descriptions
of "new media." Everything was really fascinating, and I got lost for
quite a while watching the videos. Your idea of incorporating this
type of media in VT is fabulous!
As for my district's particulars, our principal, though well intentioned,
is not exactly as current in the media field as he could or should be.
Our administrators still believe Power Point is the latest and
greatest... aaargh! However, we do have a wonderful TV/Video teacher and
curriculum. Yet only a select few students are engaged, and it
currently offers only the morning announcements. The rest of the
students love these video briefs, yet few are seemingly intrigued
enough to engage in the activities.
Changes in technology and pedagogy are somewhat
encouraged, but the changes do not filter from the top down.
Instead, they happen when an enlightened teacher petitions
for a new approach to technology. Sometimes this can be slow
in coming, if it comes at all. Although I would love to offer more
optimism, it appears teaching to state standards take precedence
over innovative practices.
While networking with an online teacher friend, who I met
through VT, she suggested an interesting idea. That is using
GPS units with the students, specifically in learning how to
Although I'm a neophyte in this bailiwick, I decided to buy a GPS
unit and am working hard to figure out how to use it. Or should
I say, I'm working hard to find out where I am? Having presented
the idea to my department chair of using these units to present a
curriculum to my students, I happily discovered she's interested.
The really great aspect of this type of approach to teaching is
its cross-curricular learning curve. It can address and enhance
most disciplines. From what I'm discovering, students really enjoy
the process and activities that are available. In addition it takes the
students out of the classroom and into nature. This coincides with
the latest theory of teaching to children who have ADHD. For
more information on this theory, I suggest reading, "The Last
Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature Deficit
Disorder, by Richard Louv. It's a really great book, which can
be used by both teachers and parents.
Hopefully, this information might prove helpful to others.
It has surely piqued my interest and has given me a new
lease on my teaching career. In the meantime, I will be very
interested to learn what others are doing in the media/technology field.

Fond regards,
Nancy S-G
Your reply as ever is enlightening - I do think the problem is
that the task seems so immense and diverse. Picking one thing
like GPS is a great idea - one of the devices I have been
using also tracks temperature, sound, light, humidity and
barometric pressure over a journey which can be very interesting
as well. I do agree that getting kids out of the classrooms
overcomes a lot of behavioural problems. Good to hear from you.

ciao Cathy
Unfortunately some responses were like this:-

As for my comments, there are more, but I didn't want to
sound too negative. Unfortunately, our administration touts
high technological progress in our school but it's just
not the case. Having 1-2 computers in each classroom,
many of which either don't work well or at all, is not exactly
what I feel is being on the 'cutting edge'! You can talk the talk,
but you also have to walk the walk... and we still don't.

I really love what you are doing with VT and do look forward
to getting all of the great info you put together for each issue.
This is especially true since I realize it's a vast amount of
work and extremely time consuming.

Name withheld by request
Greetings Cathy

I look forward to your newsletter..i find I agree more than I don't...
Perhaps a worry in itself.

In response to your urgings about technological change, I have two
conflicting reactions.

As a year 12 teacher of a few years (20+) in victoria, the cold hard
reality is that ICT is not valued as a skill, and the 'only' measure of
success is the y12 tertiary entrance score.

The best preparation for VCE( and I suspect HSC) is doing loads of practice
exams, the exam 'industry' is huge in Victoria. Textbooks are sold on the
basis of 'their' authors being on the VCAA panel, some exam answers are
disallowed if they are from the 'other' textbook. (re-affirmed again at
midyear this year! - indeed a scandal..but seen in terms of getting
advantage - not go buy the textbook)

Which does not require ICT and (higher order) thinking, very few habits of
mind...mostly a good memory for the lowest orders of recall and apply...

ICT calls on creative organisation which is not required at tertiary until
second year/third year after the grading/sifting processes have been

The 'good' energy encouraged at early years and lingering into middle years
is knocked flat when the 'real world' becomes apparent. Ironically this
lasts another five until workforce is approached which then requires
independent, thinking beyond the square etc..

With regards to Principals, they are the last person to be innovative, they
can encourage innovation from certain individuals, however, the vast
majority of parents and teachers watch for reassurance and warm comfort

The ability of any principal to be both innovative and reassuring is a
difficult proposition, why would we expect someone who has been in the
education department for over 25 years to (still) retain those talents and

Increasingly I see the innovators becoming impatient and heading for where
they are appreciated...this is a "me now!" style of thinking ...rather than
take your turn and rise to the 'top'...which was good enough in years past.

A little like our students who choose not to chase the tertiary tiger

This reads as a little cynical( well a lot really!!), but year 12 drives the
whole system, and tertiary entrance drives y12...

Many tertiary courses are yet to discover graphing calculators. though y12
maths in victoria has banned them!! So much for using technology.

As for computers, the vast majority are used for word processing and for
internet (research) or consumption of someone else information..


Not in this lifetime..unless you have a mac in which case you use iLife
every day and cannot help but be creative!!

Podcasting is one way to 'encourage' the principal to be 'a little bit'
innovative. Really it is just a newsletter, with audio instead of on
paper...staff daily bulletins as a podcast would give you an extra 15
minutes in the morning...and save paper...and allow a look up any time
during the day

A bit of a rave..but you did ask
Thanks again Cathy
As always – Gary’s comments are right on the money and we are
back to the relevance of the Year 12 exam again. An anachronistic
waste of time for most students. What our students need to know,
is, what’s out there, how to deal with the world they will inherit
and it isn’t filled with exams, it’s filled with video, podcasting,
web, all new forms of expression as valid as the written novel
and plays of Shakespeare. I bet Shakespeare, had he been
around today would have been webcasting and podcasting
around the clock.
Investigating the Renaissance
From the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, Investigating the
Renaissance "demonstrates the ways in which computer technology
can be harnessed to add to our knowledge about Renaissance paintings
and how they were made. Computer-assisted imaging can reveal aspects
of the process of making art not visible to the unaided eye. It also reveals
the alterations of intervening centuries, alterations that were intended to
repair the ravages of time and use, and to adjust images to reflect
changing aesthetic preferences."
Italy Guides: Virtual Travel in the City of the Renaissance: Florence

Like a mini-vacation, Italy Guides brings you the best of Florence with
QuickTime Virtual Realty tours, downloadable audio tours in MP3 format,
and a photo gallery. Virtual tours are available for the Duomo (cathedral)
of Florence, the Giotto's Bell Tower, the Dome of Brunelleschi, and twelve other sights.
Renaissance Connection
"In many ways we are still living in a Renaissance world. And you can see
the origins of our world in the visual arts of the Renaissance." This site has
a great flash intro. Turn on your speakers and sit back an enjoy. The
Renaissance Connection is my pick of the day because of its creative
interface and six lesson plans in PDF. Visit to explore the life of a Renaissance
artist or to imagine yourself a patron of arts.
Hi Cathy
I am an adult numeracy teacher and am designing a small module
of online curriculum in rational number. I am really at a retirement
age so am not all that up on technology but recognise that it is
the future. After initial resistance and fear that the world was
trying to replace teachers with computers I am now excited by
the changes.
I really look forward to your newsletter as a source of ideas for
teaching using computers. I am interested in both content and
I have found that there is heaps of stuff out there for teaching
fractions, decimals and percent (specially the BBC site) but it
all starts with a pie or pizza and launches into numerators
and denominators. But this approach builds on student's
knowledge of whole numbers instead of their knowledge of
proportional relationships and is often confusing.
I am trying to develop strong concepts about percent,
decimals and fractions as proportional relationships before
introducing rules and mechanical calculations eg the student
should be ability to calculate that 25% and 0.25 and 1/2
equals a whole using their own strategies (folding paper, a
fraction wall, fraction bars etc) without following any steps.
Many teachers would say why? and when would you use
that? Answer: 'possibly never' but if you can do it then have
a really sound basis on which to build future learning about
rational number.
Anyway I just want to say thank you for your newsletter.
Stephanie Mitchell
This applet is quite good. You can use a number of bars to
to show the difference between percentage, fraction, pieces,
and decimal.
Hi Cathy,
Sadly I could find no kids colouring on scribbleskidsart,
it was all just advertising,
Sue Piggott
Relieving Quality Teaching Consultant: Literacy K-12
Bourke School Education Office
The above site has some good links to printables including this one:,2081,1,00.html?imode=1&wtlAC=Printable_Google,web-Google&gclid=CJ6x8tTp_oYCFQI3GAodWQVIIA
Hi Cathy,
My name is Cheryl and I’ve been tempted to contact you for a long
time now. The main thing stopping me is that there is so much I’d
love to chat with you about, I don’t know where to start or stop!
I love receiving your newsletter and always find lots of interesting
things in it.

I work at Lindfield East Public School (near Sydney) as
Specialist Computer Teacher, and I think I have the best
job in the whole world! I also work for the NSW DET Northern
Sydney Region by facilitating computer skills training workshops
for teachers. I love computers and education and am probably
the most “geeky” person I know. Over the years I have accumulated
mountains of computer-related educational material that I’d love
to share with other teachers. I’m passionate about kids learning
computing skills.

Anyway, the main purpose of this email is to touch base and
ask if you are interested in communicating or sharing resources,
etc. Your newsletters sound so down-to-earth; I can tell you are
very familiar with all the challenges of classroom teaching. ………
I just want kids to be inspired by interesting,
innovative computing lessons!

……… I know you’re making a difference in computer education,
so you should be proud of yourself – well done and congratulations.
Kind regards
Cheryl Hill
Hi Cathy,
Thanks for your links and info...

If interested- for Free quality web lessons for teachers - teacher ready,
student self directed, complete with worksheets and some rubrics..

(might be temporarily blocked to schools, with changes related to
switching to new DET portal as it is hosted with Angelfire which is a
commercial web hosting service, and as such automatically blocked.
In the meantime you can check it out off site if interested.)

Some examples of the units from this site are also hosted on the NSW
History Teacher's Association site, /Teachers Resources section, so these can
be viewed at the moment on a DET site.


Kieran O'Regan

Hi Cathy,
Our Computing Coordinator is running breakfast classes for teachers in
software she thinks we'll find interesting. This morning we started on PHOTO
STORY, free from Microsoft, which allows you to create a filmstrip, annotate
the photos, add music and narration. It can be downloaded onto students'
phones, ipods etc and they can listen to at their own speed. A great way of
presenting information to students who may have auditory comprehension
difficulties. Also, some students in my area (Geography) could present their
assignments in a very interesting way and save paper and coloured ink!
Jennifer Preston
Head of Social Science
Brigidine College St Ives
This sounds great, I’d love to see them – can you send some in
To upload to VT??
10. NEXT ISSUE - More movies, more forum, more great ideas.
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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