Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 77 August 29th  2003 ­  SOCRATES



Newsletter Archives can be found at:-



1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy


4. New Printables -  Generic Rubric

5. Technical Stuff ­ Blaster & G5

6. Web Site Focus - Shedd Aquarium

7. Socratic Teaching Method

8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE. What a week!!!  I had the good

fortune to give a seminar at Merici College Braddon ACT., as part

of the 'Twilight PD Session'  held there on Monday.  The school

is a pleasure to walk through with some interesting innovative

spaces. The ICT backbone is well supported with creative staff

who are interested in new ideas and are very much hands on

with students.  The general atmosphere is one of enthusiasm

and energy, which is generated from the Principal down, there

is a feeling in this school that exciting things are, and will happen.

My seminar topic was similar to the IES Conference Seminar

With more time we were able to cover some areas in greater depth. 

I was particularly pleased with the examples of SMART questions

each of the groups developed.  In refining and developing

questions that they felt would stimulate interest, that they were

interested in, the teachers themselves found they were keen,

motivated, excited to find answers immediately.  With the right

questions even after a full day teaching, learning, was stimulated

by great questions.




1. A bicycle can't stand alone because it is two-tired.

2. What's the definition of a will? (It's a dead giveaway).

3. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

4. A backward poet writes inverse.

5. In democracy it's your vote that counts; in feudalism it's

your count that votes.

6. She had a boyfriend with a wooden leg, but broke it off.

7. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

8. If you don't pay your exorcist you get repossessed.

9. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.

10. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I'll show

you A-flat minor.

11. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.

12. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

13. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result

in Linoleum Blownapart.

14. You feel stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.

15. Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.

16. He often broke into song because he couldn't find the key.

17. Every calendar's days are numbered.

18. A lot of money is tainted. 'Taint yours and 'taint mine.

19. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

20. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

21. A plateau is a high form of flattery.

22. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a

small medium at large.

23. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed

in the end.

24. When you've seen one shopping centre you've seen a mall.

25. Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine.

26. When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair she

thought she'd dye.

27. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

28. Santa's helpers are subordinate Clauses.

29. Acupuncture is a jab well done.

30. Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.



This section will hence forth deal with GREAT QUESTIONS -

questions that excite, challenge, and demand to be answered.

Questions that have no right answers, that require, thought original

thinking, and higher order thinking skills to tackle. So send them in,

write some great questions, experiment with them, and share

them with VT. The first great questions come from Merici College

Canberra, they went something like this:-





Evaluation Rubric for Generic Skills

Content is no longer paramount; the intellectual development

of the student is now the goal. Knowledge is no longer an end

in itself but the means.



W32 Blaster Worm Virus

Well wasn't this a joy.  80% of computers infected were home

computers and 100% of NSW Education Department Computers

running Windows XP or 2000 were infected.  Each computer

 needed to be individually de-wormed as it were, and the departments

in instructions were at the very least woolly.

For the full info see

This worm infects Windows XP and 2000 only. '98 and earlier are fine,

Unix and Mac are fine.

Download fixes from

Best to download them on a computer running Windows '98 to avoid contamination. Or from a Mac.

Don't follow the directions on this site.  To eradicate the worm:-

1. After downloading patches- better on 2 separate disks, right

protect the disks by moving the disk tab to right protected position.

(this will be from closed to open)

2. Reboot your computer and hold down F8, this will allow you to

start in safe mode - preventing the computer fom closing down,

and the worm from cloning.

3. Insert disk 1 with  WindowsXP-KB823980-x86-ENU.exe,

open program and let it run.

4. Reboot the computer hold down F8 to run in safe mode,

insert disk 2 and open 'fixblast.exe'.

5. System may ask you to download additional patch - don't

you have already done it. Remove disk and reboot computer.

Servers will not be infected unless they are running XP or 2000.

UNIX and other systems should be free from infection.


The Power Mac G5 is the world¹s fastest personal computer and

the first with a 64-bit processor ‹ which means it breaks the 4

gigabyte barrier and can use up to 8 gigabytes of main memory.

The new G5 processor ‹ available at speeds up to dual 2GHz

with a new ultrahigh-bandwidth system architecture featuring

AGP 8X and PCI-X ‹ makes the Power Mac G5 a breakthrough

in desktop processing power. This machine is now available. 

Love the ads. Educational Price for Teachers start at $3,239.50. 

Read about it at:


6. WEBSITE FOCUS ­ Shedd Aquarium Site is K-12

This is a fantastic site and would suit anyone working on the

ocean/sea life. Opened in 1929, Shedd Aquarium is one of the

oldest public aquariums in the world. Shedd Educational

Adventures (SEA) contains a treasure trove of aquatic science

resources for K-12 teachers and students. SEA brings

the Philippines to life for your students.  Includes searchable lesson

plans, fact sheets, and interactive activities such as Build-a-Fish

based on the Wild Reef exhibit at Shedd Aquarium.



I found myself in discussions with a senior executive about

teaching methods.  All manner of clichés were bandied about.

Basically antiquated DULL teaching methods called Œteaching styles¹

were being used at the school and there were many unmotivated

students. He mentioned the ŒSocratic¹ Teaching style as one they

were trying to steer away from, I thought this pretty odd. In fact it

is not the style of teaching, or the age of the teaching method that

counts, it all boils down to one thing, being able to motivate and

excite students, using any or all methods that are available to you

at any given time.  In fact at Merici, one of the teachers mentioned

that the idea of using QUESTIONS to stimulate learning had been

around IN the 70¹s.  This is true.  Questions are back again, but with

a whole new spin.  Now we are asking students to prepare them,

to make them matter, to ask questions that matter to them, and we

have the resources to satisfy their answers on the WWW. 

The truth is that the Socratic teaching style was based on questions.

Socrates was asking questions way back in 480BC.  He not only

used questions, but motivated his students, they attended his

discourses  by choice. Can you actually teach a lesson based  on

asking questions rather than providing answers? The simple answer

YES, a more complex answer is, YES, YES, YES.

Try itŠ..

How do you do it?

The oldest, and still the most powerful, teaching tactic for fostering

critical thinking is Socratic teaching.


There is one final rule of thumb with the Socratic method it is:

ŒWhen free minds seek together for greater understanding, they

tend as did Socrates to move with lightheartedness and a sense

of the comic. The relevant jest is never out of order, for good

conversation always combines high seriousness with pertinent



Is this having fun while your learning from 480BC or what?


Educational studies worldwide have show that interested

motivated engaged students learn best, it is utterly amazing that

even in some of the best schools teachers loose sight of this simple

fact, and believe it is the student¹s responsibility to suffer boring

lessons and handle it.




Fats Waller Forever (Dana Library)

From the Institute of Jazz Studies, Dana Library, Rutgers University,

this digital exhibit provides a basic overview of Fats Waller and his

music. Divided into sections that cover Life and Times, Ed Kirkeby

Collection, the music, recordings, European and US tours, notes, and

more. Each section has a short clip which plays automatically. Scroll

sideways and downwards as the pages are somewhat oddly sized.


Intuitor Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

According to the site: Technonerds go to movies strictly for

entertainment, and of course, the most entertaining part comes after the

movie when they can dissect, criticize, and argue the merits of every

detail. However, when supposedly serious scenes totally disregard the

laws of physics in blatantly obvious ways it's enough to make us retch.

The motion picture industry has failed to police itself against the

evils of bad physics... There's a list of movie physics blunders that

are so common, they are referred to as Generic Movie Blunders. The site

also offers reading recommendations, a rating system, movie reviews, and

How to Use Movie Physics in the Classroom. What better way to rally

students' interest in physics?


Test Your Lego Building Skills


Fantastic Protractor Site - What's My Angle



Hello Cathy,

Well done on getting excellent results for your students.


Boyd Munro


Hey, Cathy... great news on the UNSW Computer Test!  You all

deserve the accolades, and it's great hearing of the rewards

everyone is reaping.  Keep up the great work.  ... Nancy


Hi Cathy

Many thanks for the constant stream of useful ideas in your newsletter.

I am looking for Australian schools who might like to try a bit of cross

Tasman collaboration (during the World cup I think!) in taking part in a

Circle story project. The details are included below.


The 2003 WERC Circle Story is planned for the weeks 13 - 31 of October. I

hope to have some international teams and have my fingers crossed that these

dates suit.


Briefly a circle story is a collaborative writing exercise within a group of

four teams (can be small groups or a class) where, within a clear timeline,

four stories are developed consecutively and then passed on by email to have

the next section added. In this way each circle ends up with four stories

where each team has contributed a section to each one.

When they work well, and they usually do, then they are a lot of fun as the

children develop a range of ideas and then get to see what others have added

to 'their' stories. In management terms it requires at a minimum four

writing sessions ( you can decide how you will do this) spread over three

weeks. All of the stories are then shared on the Internet.

If you would like to enter a team/s please send the following information to

me by email at





Class level


I am happy to have multi level class teams and will try and match the

members of each team to accommodate this.

I look forward to hearing from you all. I am happy to answer any

queries youmay have. I will forward greater detail to those teams that

enroll in the



Innes Kennard

Is anyone interested in this ­ love to hear from you ­ sounds like

a great idea.


10.  NEXT ISSUE -  Will be full of surprises ­ I hope to  get back

to some great printing ideas as promised.  And also some more

Maths.  The protractor in this newsletter is fantastic.  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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