Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 133 TEACHING AS AN ART




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy


4. New Printables -  Text Types

5. Technical Stuff – IPOD SHUFFLE and iTV



8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips



What a great response to the forum, there is a lot to say about
the maths curriculum.  Thanks for all the input. You will love
the work being done at  FutureLab, and do read the article
on personalisation, a new perspective on an old theory.

Some folks are getting 2 newsletters - please email me
and let me know if you receive 2 this mailout,

please put duplicate email in subject so I can sort this out.

I will be having a break over the holidays so there will not be
another VT till after school returns. Ciao Cathy



What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge,

and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."

George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) Irish-British playwright

and Nobel Prize winner.


Dare to imagine...

A world where the environments in which we learn are



The logic of education systems should be reversed so that
the system conforms to the learner, rather than the learner
to the system. This is the essence of personalisation. It
demands a system capable of offering bespoke support
for each individual in order to foster engaged and independent
learners able to reach their full potential.


3. WWWinfo Coastal Watch

Check out the webcams and surf and Australian and

International Beaches. And wish you were there.


4. NEW PRINTABLES The History of the World

by those who learned by rote.


Coming soon….iTV is little network media box that will
stream all of your iTunes-based media--including music,
movies, TV shows, podcasts, and photos--from your PC or
Mac to your HDTV and home audio system


The world’s smallest digital music player and just $119inc 

the 1GB iPod shuffle lets you wear up to 240 songs(1) on your

sleeve. Or your lapel. Or your belt. Clip on iPod shuffle and wear

it as a badge of musical devotion.


A lot of technology uses  IT as a replacement for existing systems:
where there pencils and paper, now there is a keyboard;

chalk and duster have made way for electronic whiteboards.
Nothing new is happening just using new technology to do the
same old things.  Future Lab is pioneering new ways to use
technology to transform the learning experience.

Futurelab is passionate about transforming the way
people learn. Tapping into the huge potential
offered by digital and other technologies, they are
developing innovative learning resources and
practices that support new approaches to education
for the 21st century.

Future Lab

Create a Mediascape

Space Mission Ice Moon


If teaching were a science there would be a best way of
teaching and everyone would have to teach like that. George Polya


What is involved in the art of teaching? How do you develop
great teachers.  Each teacher has their one personal style
there own way of working with their students, their own set of
standards. A great teacher has a huge impact on students
students often credit a particular teacher inspiring them,

encouraging them, of making the difference in their lives.

Who did this for you? What did they do? What great teachers
have you known? What made them stand out?

Does it Matter? It sure does. Send you responses in.



Basic Skills testing, SC and HSC examinations are heavily if

not entirely reliant on Parrot Maths answers, and are touted

by politicians and non-educators as the ultimate solution to

evaluating the educational standards of the Australian

students. Every Educator worth their salt, knows they are

not. A good memory does not an educated student make.

Memorisation is only the first step, the tool if you like to creative
thinking, the make it an end in itself diminishes the value of every
student we teach



This is the first time I have replied to one of your fascinating newsletters
and I thank you for your efforts in putting each one together (doing some
online editorial work myself, I do understand the time it must take you.)

I am not a teacher, but a parent of three children, the last of whom is
finishing Yr 12 in NSW now.

Maths is a problem area and I add the experience below to show
that there is a place for rote learning.

My daughter, who has worked extremely hard and was a
Premier's High Achiever in her HSC, was taught maths
using the rods method but she never actually caught on to the
basic concepts.   I spoke to her Yr 2 teacher about what I

saw as Katrina's maths problems and was told that she
would make the connections.   She never really did and Maths
was always a puzzle for her, yet she has the intellect to be
a Dean's Scholar at University of Wollongong with a high
distinction average, in economics and marketing.

Some rote learning of times tables would have been of enormous
benefit to her.

As Katrina and her older brother were moving through primary school, her

younger brother was watching every move they made.   The four of us would

play monopoly together, with the youngest picking up the maths of money by

four (4) years of age and transferring this to the basics of times tables.


The point of this email:   There IS a place for learning basics over and

over until it becomes second nature.   Without doubt, making maths fun

rather than a boring chore will give those who have the ability the

opportunity to grasp concepts quickly, whilst allowing those a little slower

to also understand.

I have the good fortune of three more than average children - yet one of

them found the system of simply grasping the concept unworkable.

How do children of below average ability grasp such concepts without some

level of rote basic learning?

As in so many aspects of life, a little moderation is called for.   By all

means ensure children learn by enjoying maths, but make sure they have the

basic concepts as second nature so they can build on that platform to the

higher level concepts.


Kerry Timms


Greetings Cathy

Thanks again for a great VT.

However, are we in danger of confusing education with schooling?

In Victoria, we once had a department of school education DSE.

Now the DE&T ('DEET') education and training


Essentially the negotiated curriculum will turn up what needs to be known

and what 'should' be known if their is sufficient support and accountability

built in.


Once established an expectation that teachers share their progress with

peers then the accountability becomes very clear.


No amount of central checking can come close, IMHO...

The VELS seems to be one way of encouraging a free thinking
approach to covering 'the' content...which content?

Depends on whomsoever you ask...


IMHO=in my humble opinion

VELS=victorian essential learning standards


Vic DE&T has sought to 'cut the crap' and empower teachers ( and their

students) to choose what is important to them, and to design appropriate

curriculum activities which may be localised...


Also allows (some) to start rehearsing exam preparations in year 9 and 10

for the VCE...

Most y10s in Victoria now take a unit 1/2(year 11) subject to 'prepare' them

for the rigours of VCE...

We have SEAL entry accelerated learning...where students

finish the 6 years of secondary schooling in five years...then do a year 13


Which is really first year uni, while still at secondary school.

There appears to be a race to get to tertiary..

There is very little sideways exploration of topics only just enough to

score well at this level then on to the next level


Extension work is usually the next level work

Not sideways or greater depth ...just more of the same ...



Let me start...

Where else can you see the 'same' topic listed for so many years????

There is an inbuilt assumption that students 'don't get it!"


Fractions is listed( in every state) at year 2/year

3/year4/year5/year6/year7/year8/year9/and for good measure well

as in 'business maths at year 11


There is no reward for getting it early...only 'sheep dip' where every

student goes through whether they need it or not....

I want to start a no sheep dip for me!! Reform movement...

Or do we just say 'Baaaaahhh'

Maths ....who needs it??

Just do science really well...all the mathematics you need is built in



All the 'great mathematicians' were scientists...or more correctly natural

philosophers who had issues with describing their world so invented maths to

solve it...







Calculus was invented to solve the issues around gravity...not to give a

source for y12 exam questions....

All the physics we 'do' uses non calculus means of solving the problems...

Simple ratios..simple algebra

We use the maths that galileo had....and not much more..

Because not much more is needed


A really good SOSE activity would be to survey everyone you can find...and

ask what sort of maths do you actually use?


Then just learn that..

I suggest fractions would not be there...who uses them now??

Hence the difference between education..and schooling....

Education = what you need for life

Schooling = the knowledge you need to get to the next level...



Try the new logger has photo analysis built in..and video analysis

Just take a video( use a new iNtel mac and use your bluetooth phone to take

the movie)..upload into the on the movie frame by

frame..then you have th epath of the movement


A thrown( anything is great!!)..then you have a curve( parabola for the

maths teachers) ..and the shape is always the same!!!


Except when it is moving really fast..

Who fast??

Find out!!


Suitable for all ages...and the y12 exam in physics..but best for grade

4/ they are learning to play


So they will 'know' where to throw/kick/hit the ball to let it 'fall' in

It may be much more important to be a 'good' player than to pass the exam...


Time to go..again


However, it is worth recalling what I was told in my first month of my first

year of teaching...( february 1978)...if it's not tested it's not taught!!


Whether it's worth learning is not our business...get the best results

possible, results are measured by the test..

Get on with it!!


This was from my then Principal, who was one of the most creative physics

teachers I have ever seen...he preferred to take year 7s as his teaching

load, and went to the park at every 'do' physics and

maths...and have fun!!


All of this nearly thirty years ago...his justification was ..what will they

remember?..if it's fun..the fact of the matter is irrelevant..if they

associate fun with maths and science they will be able to 'do' it...if it is

all sit and write..they will dislike it with a vengeance


Ask around..what do colleague teachers recall of their maths experience???

It's rarely good news...and nothing has changed!!





Thanks Gary as insightful as ever. In shaping a new curriculum
we need the NO MORE SHEEP DIP APPROACH. Yes we are
in danger of confusing education with schooling, and it’s time
we stopped schooling and started Educating.



Although I do not teach math anymore, when I did, it was to
self-contained, special education students.  I discovered my
students were quite energized when provided with hands-on,
activity-based assignments, all of which addressed our
state's Core Content Curriculum Standards.  In addition,
allowing them to work in pairs and/or teams kept their
energy levels higher than working alone, especially in math. 
Competitions also piqued their interest and kept them focused
and motivated.

Having read what George Polya wrote, it reminded me of
a book I'd read by Paolo Freire entitled, Pedagogy of the
Oppressed.  Below, please find two quotes about Freire's
approach to education.

Freire is best-known for his attack on what he called the banking
concept of education, in which the student was viewed as an
empty account to be filled by the teacher.

More challenging is Freire's strong aversion to the teacher-student
dichotomy. This dichotomy is admitted in Rousseau and
constrained in Dewey, but Freire comes close to insisting that
it should be completely abolished. This is hard to imagine in
absolute terms (there must be some enactment of the
teacher-student relationship in the parent-child relationship),
but what Freire suggests is that a deep reciprocity be inserted
into our notions of teacher and student. Freire wants us to think
in terms of teacher-student and student-teacher, that is, a
teacher who learns and a learner who teaches, as the basic
roles of classroom participation.

It appears there are similarities between Freire and Polya's
philosophies.  Perhaps your readers might also be interested
in looking into Freire's work when seeking alternative ways
to present mathematics to their students.

Best of luck in acquiring more responses.

Nancy S-G


Hi Cathy, 

I'm a musician rather than a mathematician, but these
comments on 'mere memory' make me uneasy. Ask any
professional pianist, singer or jazz musician how 'mere'
memory is. In the sciences, doctors rely heavily on

memory, especially in high-pressure situations. These
are just some obvious examples in the professional world.


Should we perhaps be talking about what constitutes
effective use of memorisation?


Kris Bowtell

Lesmurdie SHS

West Australia

Good point Kris, I guess I see memorisation as the tool to
support creativity, not an end in itself, very often it is. In your case
the end product is not memorising, this would be only the first step,
after memorisation comes the hard part, interpretation, creativity,

adaptation etc.



Parents, teachers and students using this educational site
will find many free unique teaching tools, online interactive
projects, worksheets and many other resources to
help with the daily educational learning adventure.



Hi Cathy,

I run a Virtual Opportunity Class for 30 children from 11 schools
across a 200 kilometre area in the Orange Bathurst District.
We come together at the beginning of a session to meet each
other and walk through the website together so that the children
understand what is required. We all meet again at the end of each
session to display the children's work and hear them talk about
their presentations, their journeys and some of the difficulties
or problems they have managed to solve. 

Their schools give the children 2 hours a week to work on
a fortnightly task in Literacy and Numeracy and then on major
tasks which they can select from a variety of subject areas
such as Medieval Times, Forensic Science,, Tessellations,
Rivers and a Book Study. There is also a web board for them
to have discussions and to ask others about their work.
The children email me their fortnightly tasks and ask
questions. I solve problems for them and offer help in different
methods of presentation and how to use scanners and cameras
etc in their work. Some of them of course know lots more than
me. Many of them put in many hours at home as well as at 
school and seem to really enjoy what they are doing.

At the last exhibition of their work, we had digital presentations
in PowerPoint and Photostory as well as word processing
in the form of newspapers, cartoons, tessellations, experiments 
and reports. They also had many hand-crafted items as well
such as models of footprints, shields and castles.

I also teach 3/4/5/6 in a 3 teacher small school and we are
incredibly lucky to have interactive whiteboards in each classroom. 
We have a very supportive principal and we are all learning so
much as we go along. I hope sometime soon to be able to
conference with the children in the Virtual Class through the
whiteboard as well.

I find the websites in the magazine extremely useful and interesting
and they often save me spending a large amount of time researching
certain topics.


Jane Doherty

Canobolas Public School


Cathy, your newsletter is just fantastic. Just wanted to let
you know that I received 2 copies today. Probably a hiccup
in the system, but thought you should know anyway.
Keep up the good work, it is really appreciated in this household
as we have a first year Uni student studying to teach Maths and History


Karen Jones 


Ive been receiving two copies of VT and I do not wish to unsubscribe.
Can you take care of it from your end.

Ta, and thanks for all the useful advice. I work in a special needs
school so if there are any useful sites  you know  of with regard
to "mature but simply designed " material I'd be grateful.

Thanks, David


Can anyone suggests some sites?


10.  NEXT ISSUE - Narrative Writing. 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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