Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 153 November 18th 2007 - INTELLIGENT SKEPTICISM




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy


4. New Printables -  CHRISTMAS CLIPART

5. Technical Stuff -  IPOD

6. Web Site Focus - VIDEO ART


8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE.  Don't Panic, nobody has missed a VT,
I moved house and haven't written one til now.  Love the new place,
I didn't have the internet for 2 weeks and there must have been
10 million things I needed to look up and couldn't, so missed
writing an episode of VT. 
Well, we are in the run down to Christmas, time seems to fly
past from here with too many things to do. I loved Petra
Turners plans for Christmas, so don't miss those. Intelligent
Skepticism is the way to go with education, we must get there,
we need to rethink our current views and adjust our thinking with
every new idea and piece of information we can get. 
Video Art may provide just the pre Christmas fun, you
need, in the 2 weeks at the end of term, what could be better.




By Postman & Weingartner

1. Declare a five-year moratorium on the use of all textbooks

2. Have “English” teachers “teach” Math, Math teachers English,

Social Studies teachers science, Science teachers Art, and so on.

3. Transfer all elementary teachers to high school and vice versa.

4. Require every teacher who thinks he knows his “subject” well to

write a book on it.

5. Dissolve all “subjects”, “courses”, and “course requirements”.

6. Limit each teacher to three declarative sentences per class, and

15 interrogatives.

7. Prohibit teachers from asking any questions they already know

the answers to.

8. Declare a moratorium on all tests and grades.

9. Require all teachers to undergo some form of psychotherapy as part

of their inservice training

10. Classify teachers according to their ability and make the lists public.

11. Require all teachers to take a test prepared by students on what

the students know.

12. Make every class an elective and withhold a teacher's monthly

check if his students do not show any interest in going to next month's


13. Require every teacher to take a one-year leave of absence every

fourth year to work in some other “field” other than education.

14. Require each teacher to provide some sort of evidence that he or

she has had a loving relationship with at least one other human being.

15. Require that all the graffiti accumulated in the school toilets be

reproduced on large paper and be hung in the school halls.

16. There should be a general prohibition against the use of the

following words and phrases:

Teach, syllabus, covering ground, I.Q., makeup, test, disadvantaged,

gifted, accelerated, enhancement, course, grade, score, human

nature, dumb, college material, and administrative necessity.


…everyone shines …. and I have faith in my students!

Petra Turner
McLaren Vale Primary School, South Australia.

and VT Reader - the best people are here.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I let the kids choose their learning. These are the
best days. The results were also fantastic when I let them
design their own homework.

Anon another brilliant VT reader



Nothing is quite a spectacular on the Internet for

Christmas as jsmagic.  The Emissary is a animated gif
representation, everyone will love.  Younger children will enjoy
the spectacle. Older students can use the images to create
their own versions. The clipart here is free, so long as source
is acknowledged. Most images can be dragged directly into
powerpoint, so students can develop their own stories and
ideas using this clipart collection. Show it using I digital
projector if you have one. Click in active image area to progress.

Scenes from the Nativity

Down Christmas Lane

A Whisper of Wings

the newest Christmas story from JS magic
Don't forget to run you mouse over the screen and see more.


4. NEW PRINTABLES Christmas Clipart




IPod Touch


For all you users of ADOBE the new CS3 has been out for a while.

What a disappointment this little product is.  Some features
have been removed, like the bookmaking imposition tool from
ALAP, now owned by the competition. The interface certainly
has some rough edges as well, and certain shortcuts have been
changed, annoying, and the icons are ugly.  Best bet is to wait til
CS4 comes out and they hopefully they will iron out few of the bugs


Clean Up your Mac App - FREE

AppleJack is a user friendly troubleshooting assistant for
Mac OS X. Using AppleJack, you can repair your disk, repair
permissions, validate the system's preference files, and get rid
of possibly corrupted cache files. In most cases, these operations
can help get your machine back on track. The important thing is
that you don't need another startup disk with you.


What is it?

Wikipedia defines it as
 a type of art which relies on moving pictures and is comprised
of video and/or audio data. (It should not however be confused
with television or experimental cinema). Video art came into
existence during the 1960s and 1970s, is still widely practiced
and has given rise to the widespread use of video installations.

It can now be seen in many art galleries and exhibitions.  It has also
appeared in the HSC displayed student artworks over the last
few years.   At it's best it is thrilling, novel, and
provocative. The best of it works on imagery, relationships
and colour and represents a novel world view that has balance
and like a great meal, delights the senses, and intrigues the mind.

It's history and development are worthy of study, and it provides
an exciting media for student artwork within the school environment.

AND no paint trays to clean.

Here's a brief clip from a hand-drawn, animated film by the great
South African artist William Kentridge

Video Art on Sunday Arts

Watch the program - you'll need to download it ahead of time
and replay from



There are many answers, both the most important one
is thinking skills.

You only need to listen to the current election campaign
to get this, from both political parties and from the general
public largely blind adoption their preferred political party line.


Education should give students the thinking skills needed to
become active, autonomous members of society. This means
learning how to evaluate arguments, and to sort truths from
falsehoods. These skills, collectively known as "critical thinking"
or "intelligent skepticism," are prerequisites to being informed,
responsible citizens.


Unfortunately, our educational system fails to teach these
skills to our students effectively. Extremist views, mob action,
violence and more can all result from the lack of intelligent


And this is hard, you use up more energy thinking, and you
have to do it on an individual basis, no one else can do it for you.


So what does it involve?

Be Intelligent

1. Be informed, read newspapers, watch the news, read the
internet, keep current with what is happening in the world.


Be a Skeptic
2. Ask Questions - yes my favourite thing. See it from different
points of view, look at personal agendas, check the data,
be rigorous is your evaluation.


If this sounds like scientific method to you, it's pretty close.

Skepticism has often received a bad rap as it challenges
personal beliefs in a wide range of areas including religion,
politics and our current politically correct crises climate change. People
don't like changing their minds and rethinking their views.
much easier to hold onto their current thinking than
put the work and effort into changing.


Intelligent skepticism, is not debunking, it is keeping an open
mind, it is asking questions, it is holding that no apparent
truth is unassailable, it is rigorously questioning.


Just imagine if we trained everyone to be intelligent skeptics,
our current election campaign would have to change,

politicians just couldn't get away with the jingoistic rubbish
they peddle, with no evidence or the broad sweeping
generalizations with no particular evidence.

They'd actually have to do some real hard thinking


Skeptics Society

Do Skeptics Know Nothing or everything?

Philosophical Skepticism


What are your thoughts? What do you think?
Please share your thoughts.
Does it Matter? It sure does

Thanks once again for a provoking newsletter.

Have you seen the ipod touch??

Released just as NSW went on holiday break...

This is shaping up as the one computer per child...

Totally web based...just needs flash for the multi-touch interactivity

No more keyboards!!

Stay tuned for the first revision in January!?


A multi-touch tablet would be the killer app for schools though...

So we just need to wait and see..


The advantage of the new Leopard server is all the
podcasting and blogging software and tools are built in...


Vic DE&T is about to negotiate the next service contract
where all teachers are provided the updates for no charge...
they already have ilife 08 couriered within two weeks of
release (though some have yet to receive the DVD as the

tech is with holding the update until tested!!)


Try some of these web2.0 apps.


Sketchcast - collaborative whiteboard and animation

Google presenter - part of google docs

- a free! Replacement for Office powerpoint - encourages

collaboration/sharing publishing. Presentation can be downloaded, and zipped

for archive purposes, so not 'lost' on the web when you are not connected.

Mogopop-iLife for PC tools to build podcasts


iLife08 is simpler...but only if you have a mac!


For a complete listing of 5400plus web2.0 apps go to for the icons, click the icon to get review.


The webware top 100 web2.0 websites - voted by very
keen web2.0 users...interesting reading!!


Btw we have several schools undertaking a trial of the ipod touch

Five ipods in a class room, with access to macbooks to author their content,

publish to a classroom network run from the teachers macbook wireless

connection. No need for a school network! Totally safe!


No net nasties, no viruses, bandwidth is good, cheaper than desktops,

notebooks...totally portable, battery life lasts 'all day'


So far twenty schools in....using 100ipod touch...

Plans are ....for next year-looking at booklisting in several schools

(parent funded 1-2-1 with a macbook and ipod touch)

-a trial of over 500 iPod touch (five per class)=100 classrooms


Then we will see if pedagogy takes a left turn...


So far it hasn't...just textbooks put onto CD or intranet, and students

carry a textbook on a computer...IWB have put teachers back
at the front of the classroom..and 'in control'


We can but hope ..this time...




As usual great info from Gary - check out some of these great apps,

and the new ipod - this is the future a small handheld device

similar to a mobile phone, audio activated devices on projection

screens.  Bring it on.





Sydney Art Space
Art critic and artist Henry Mulholland helps us explore Sydney
artists and their works on exhibition.           
Capturing the latest art exhibitions and profiling Sydney-based artists.

Our tour guide to Sydney galleries is artist and commentator
Henry Mulholland. He'll seek out some of the more interesting and
challenging art exhibitions showing throughout Sydney, and
provide you with background to the artists and their works.
The focus is on smaller galleries, not the large institutional
galleries that are funded by local, State or Federal Government.

The artists need support, and by showing you a glimpse of
their work, you might be inspired to show your support in
 person by visiting a gallery and learning more about the
artistic talent in our city.



The power of the visual. Make your own online - view what other's
have done.



Hi Cathy,


As always, love to get your newsletters - there is always
something in there I can make use of! Thanks for all of
your hard work.


You asked for ideas for Christmas, so thought I would share
what I'm doing with my year 5/6 class this term.
(Take a breath - it's a long explanation! :o) )


Originally, I had intended on us launching a big project in
term 3, that would result in us creating a "Christmas Cave"
in our classroom, where our junior primary students could
come through in the last few weeks of the year, and have
simple activities that my students would plan and lead...then
I decided that really, this would be a narrow way to look at it:
we live in a multicultural world, and not everyone celebrates
Christmas - but everyone DOES celebrate something, in s
ome way. Consequently, last term we did an RBL project on
"Celebrations", with each of my 30 students researching a
different celebration from around the world, but no one
allowed to do Christmas (saving that one as my example for
this term's work on Media). They presented a KWLH sheet
to cover their research by the end of term 3, and this week
we have them presenting their oral presentations, including
an original 3D item which they made last week, to enhance
their talk. The talk must inform the class about their researched
celebration in an interesting way. The class has had many
opportunities throughout the year, to develop and share their
oral presentation skills. The 3D items are looking terrific & will
be interesting to see how the talks go.


Following the talks, we will launch into the development of our
"Celebration Cave". The broad plan at this stage is that:

*each of the 30 celebrations researched will be on display,
with the 3D item, within the room.

* the students will be working in small groups to create an
item/task to share with the JP kids - once we have decided
on which celebrations would be most effective and appropriate
to highlight.(They may not necessarily be working on the
celebration that they originally researched.)

* JP classes will book into our room, one at a time.

* we will make use of other spaces in the school & split the
visiting class in halves: one half to view the puppet play and

 after 30 minutes.

* there will be some sort of "feelie tunnel" for the kids to pass
through, to enter the cave & performance rooms. This would
be Christmas related, with items inside that reflect the symbols
& traditions of Christmas (eg cinnamon and ginger smells &
gingerbread shapes; tree shapes; holly; etc, etc...)

* The item/task must share the background story to the
celebration, the country/culture/s involved, the rituals and
symbols that mark up the celebration. Ideas so far include:
a puppet play, a Kahootz animation {this one will be with the
support of yr 7 tutors, as I have never used the program but
they are highly proficient with it}, a range of simple craft activities
 where the JPs make the symbol for a particular celebration
(eg a lantern, for the Chinese Lantern Festival; a carp kite
for the Boys' Day Festival; a prayer rug for Ramadan, etc...).

* Working in pairs or threes for the craft activities, the students
will rotate the roles of leader, helper and observer, so that
each have the opportunity to run the craft activity and to
receive helpful feedback about their efforts. (This is something
 we have applied on several occasions this year.)


My class have generated different ideas for managing the
whole thing, which we are yet to finalise, but which include
things like a mini-quiz to be completed as students "travel"
around the world in our Celebration Cave, where they receive
a stamp or sticker for either correct answers or for completing
a task, in the parts of the world where the celebration occurs...
OR giving each child a simple bag with something they can take
away and do, with a map of the world showing all the places
our Celebration Cave 'covers"...&/OR giving each child "tokens"
so they can spend them at whichever activity they like -
however, we know we need to consider things like what if
everyone wants to go to the one activity? How can we
make it a fair distribution without having the JPs upset that
they did not get to do what they wanted? etc? These things
are all still to be explored & decided on in the next two weeks
...should be interesting!


The overall Celebrations project has already been a great
success I believe, as it has generated a lot of discussion
amongst the students, and has enabled them to work in
a range of ways to share & develop their skills & intelligences.
Although it is still a little daunting to think about the whole
thing coming together when we are really still at the "draft"
stage of the Cave idea, I believe that it will all work out,
we will be ready by the start of week 6 and I have faith
in my students!


One of the most rewarding things for me as an upper primary
teacher, is witnessing my students in peer-tutoring roles:
everyone shines! It does their self-esteem wonders, makes
for strong relationships between students across the school,
and helps to "solidify" my teachings about learning and skill


Hope this is of some interest to someone out there. :o)


Petra Turner :o)

McLaren Vale Primary School, South Australia.


Hi Petra,

This sounds just fantastic, I bet your students are loving it

and I bet you are as well.  There is no substitute for the feeling

you get when you do something fantastic.
Can you be my teacher?


Hi Cathy

I love receiving your newsletter and read it, share ideas and
implement lots.


I recently trained as a Primary Connections Facilitator.  
Primary Connections are Science Units that are well
researched, trialled and published by the Academy of Science
in Canberra ( long ago produced Primary Investigations). 
They are endorsed by the Education Depts in all States.


These units of work are so easy to use - require little
background knowledge, have easy to find equipment are
are related to the syllabus in all states.  Really user friendly. 
They only cost $13-95 ea as they are subsidised. 
Have a look at the Primary Connections website. 
Honestly, every school should have a set of units. 
Each area has trained Facilitators who can visit schools and
inservice.  Well worth spreading the word.  The training I
went to in Sydney was paid for by the DET.

Thanks Cathy

Happy November


Carole Jaye


Take a look - let me know what you think.


Hi Cathy,

Love to read your fortnightly offerings. I try to pass on your
pearls to other Education academics at UWS whenever I can.

 I didn't receive your 152nd newsletter and I was wondering
if the 153rd had been sent?


Allan Morton


Hi Allan,

152 newsletter at

153 out shortly - I have just moved house so 153 has been delayed.


10.  NEXT ISSUE -  More Christmas - tis the season to be ARTY


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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