Virtual Teacher Newsletter  No. 80  October 18th 2003 ­ VISITING ALIENS




1. Welcome

2. Mind Candy

3. WWWinfo

4. New Printables -  Text Types

5. Technical Stuff - G4 & Netscape 6.1 & Blender

6. Web Site Focus - Outer Space

7. Better Bookweek Links

8. Great Sites

9.  Readers' Requests/Comments

10 Next Issue

11. Code of 'Netizens'

12. Tips


1. WELCOME EVERYONE. I read, years ago, an article in a

magazine about visiting aliens. It challenged the reader to think

about the things that an alien would need to know about the planet

earth to survive.  What things would be important, what knowledge

would be essential, what information would we earthlings give an explorer

from another planet who knew nothing about us, our customs or life

here on earth? The article concluded cleverly by comparing children

to aliens who arrive on the planet with no knowledge of how

things work, how to survive, how to succeed. It challenged the reader

to consider what we teach our children, what is essential knowledge

and how we assist our children to explore the planet. 

The ŒPolicy Paper from the 21st Century Leaning Initiative¹ (mentioned

in the last VT) challenges teachers, parents in fact everyone to

rethink the way we educate our children; to consider what

knowledge is essential, what attributes and attitudes will make

successful adults in the 21st Century.

The analogy of an alien is a great place to start.

Try it your self, ask your students to consider it as well. 

What would you Œteach¹ an alien about the planet earth in the

21st century?




Imagine there is a bank which credits your account each morning

with $86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you

to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever

part of the amount you had failed to use during the day.

What would you do?  ŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠ..


³Get rid of that damn machine model of the brain. It¹s wrong. 

The brain is a biological system, not a machine.  Currently we¹re

putting children with biologically shaped brains into

machine­oriented schools.  The two just don¹t mix. We bog

the school down in a curriculum that is not biologically feasible.²

Professor Robert Sylwester.


A well used brain gains weight.

MM. Merzenich et al - Functional Cortical Plasticity


The curriculum moved at the speed of handwriting.

The 21st Century Initiative.



How any ways could the world end?

What would you Œteach¹ an alien about the planet earth in the

21st century?


4. NEW PRINTABLES ­ Murderous Maths ­ Kjartan Poskitt

I imported these books a few years ago from the UK- they are great ­ and now there is a website with some great downloadable pages check out the

Murderous Maths Series site is at:-

The Impossible Drawing

Fiendish Extra Square



International Online Collaborative Learning Contest

This is a project designed specifically for K12 students in APEC member

economies and is under the auspices of APEC EDNET and Ministry of

Education of Taiwan.


Yarra Young Readers Award Site

Read a review and vote for your favourite book


Create an interactive crossword using free download:


Use Excel to create a timeline of heroes:


Create interactive quizzes using free to educators software:


6. WEBSITE FOCUS ­ Dear Cathy,

I enjoy receiving your newsletter, my media list grows with the amount of wonderful sites you have featured within your newsletter, thank you.


I believe I¹ve touched base with you several times regarding The Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (SCEMS), produced by the central education department of the Smithsonian Institution and the launch of But I wanted to update you with some of this websites state of the art features cutting edge interactive activities for students, families and educators online.


Read All About It! (for students)

Great Smithsonian books about art, science, history, and adventure, appropriate for students of all ages!


Make the Most of It (for families)

Visiting a museum with children can be challenging. These helpful tips will make your visit an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone.


Stories of the Wrights' Flight Lesson Plan (for educators)

Celebrate the centennial of flight with this downloadable lesson plan. Includes a background essay, group and class activities, worksheets, and other resources. is the right way to learn today with focus on presenting education opportunities in an inspiring way.  Introduce your readers to a well of online educational resources and link to:

Please contact me with any questions and I look forward to hearing from you. 


Katherine Foster

On Behalf of


7. Winners International Learning Quest Challenge.


International Overall Prize Winner

Dream a Dream with Ein Ganim Israel

Developed by: Marsha Goren and class, Ein Ganim Elementary School,


See it at:


Australian Overall Prize Winner

Around the World in 30 Days

Developed by: Alastair Gumley, Pascoe Vale Girls College, Victoria

See it at:


Teacher Developed Highly Commendable Prize Winner

Eugene's Career Force

Developed by: Brad Edwards, North Haven Schools, South Australia

See it at:


Class/Group/School Developed Highly Commendable Prize Winner

Freshwater Tasmania

Developed by: Year 7 and 9 Students and Roslyn Teirney

See it at:


Student Developed Highly Commendable Prize Winner


Joint winner

Genetically Modified Crops

Developed by: GM Crops team including: Sasha-lee, Elizabeth, Zara and

Mrs Ros Teirney from Ogilvie High, Tasmania.

See it at:


Ecologically Friendly House

Developed by: Eloise, Phoebe, Shahmeer, Jesse, Johanis and supported

by: Julie Ralph, Adelaide High School

See it at:


International Year of Fresh Water Prize Winner

Freshwater Fury

Developed by: Mandie Gardiner and Barbara Braxton, St. Michael's

College, Queensland.

See it at:


Special Commendations


Teacher Commendation Awards

Online Book Buddies

Developed by: Nassain Newlands and Kylie Jane Haddow, West Balcatta

Primary / Chidlow Primary, Western Australia

See it at:



Developed by: Paul Harrop, Graceville State School, Queensland

See it at:



Barbara Braxton, Special Award . Inspiring students to learn online

The Quizzard of Oz

Hogwarts Challenge

Horrendo's Curse


An Image based web quest of Japan

Developed by: Greg Gebhart Lowanna College, Victoria

See it at:



Student Developed Commendation Awards

Loreto Kirribilli for the student developed learning quests

See it at:


Bridgewater Primary School for their class developed Learning Quest and

student developed scavenger hunts.

See it at:





Math World En


Primary school


Museum of Hoaxes


Reconstructors Solve Medical Mysteries

Medical Mysteries is an interactive online game. Students solve

mysteries and in doing so learn how infectious diseases are spread. The

Missions teach the fundamentals of microbiology, infectious diseases,

and epidemiology including virtual labs and are aligned with National

Science Education Content Standards. Teacher Pages contain lots of

downloadable resources. The Center for Technology in Teaching and

Learning at Rice University designed this website with funding from the

National Institutes of Health. Requires Shockwave.


Have you heard about

I have already tracked down a few people for my distant past. Admittedly

the first person to contact me was looking for my sister, but I coped!!

 Itís an excellent site that helps you to find lost friends from school,

uni, and TAFE or maybe a long lost relative, workmate or team-mate. The

site has a chat room, message boards, reunion listings and much more. Itís

worth taking a look at your school listing just to see all the names from

your past that you may have forgotten about. .





in MAC OS X a registered copy of snapz pro will capture a fullscreen,

part of a screen, a menu a drop down menu or a movie of the screen.

under quicktime it can be exported into any of about ten file formats.

it is part of MAC OS X, it is free.

An updated version is available for $US19 which is more stable and

compresses screen capture movies into much smaller files.

QT file of twenty seconds 370kB

and .AVI file equivalent is 3.2MB [the windows standard!!!]



Thanks Gary


Hi Cathy

I was just reading Lyn's note about making a PowerPoint

presentation for her students. In South Australia lots of us are

trialling a new piece of software that makes it all easier.

It's called Capture Cam Pro, and using it you can make a

screen-capture movie of a particular skill which students can

then re-play as needed. It's available for a 30-day trial at

I've been using it for a few weeks and love it - sorry, but it

doesn't work on Macs!!!

Sue Lemmer

Assistant Principal

Mawson Lakes School

Thanks Sue


Hi! Cathy,

Could you help me please? I need some interesting games/activities for Halloween. I teach Lower Primary children.


Best wishes


Halloween on the Net

There are some great sites about Halloween on the Internet.  And this

is a topic which definitely excites kids.  Many have sound files so

they look and sound spooky, and require real player as well - a free


The Halloween Playground has lots of scary stories.It has some

chilling facts and some great children's drawings.


The Haunted Homepage is a great site with lots of scary sounds and

stories, as well as info on safe trick or treating and the history of

Halloween.  The site looks fantastic.


13 Pumpkin Avenue , this site has some colouring printables, ideas for

costumes, recipes, party games, music and much more.



Ben and Jerry sell icecream, but their site is fantastic.  The flash

movie - Flavour Graveyard is a lot of fun, and the printable

colouring sheets are excellent, there is also some info on the

history of Halloween as well as crafts and online games.


Halloween feature on at


Just a quick note of appreciation for your constantly useful, insightful,

informative and entertaining newsletter. I always find something useful

and readily applicable - and I always share at least one of your great

sites to other teachers. Thanks for all your hard work - keep it up!!

Giovanna Demarte

Teacher in Charge (Humanities)

Mount Carmel College

Sandy Bay



Kia ora (from New Zealand)

A few weeks ago there was a newsletter with an awesome literature site in it that had 100s of books and activities.Due to tech problems I have lost the address of it. I am trying to track it down. Can anyone help me?


Helen Young

Hi Helen,

All newsletters are archived on the VT site

You can also do a site search using the search google engine on

this may have been the site you were referring too:-

This website has 11,000+ links to activities and lesson plans for

children's and young adult literature. Search by first letter of the

title which then leads to books that start with that letter and related

lessons. This is a useful finding aid for lesson plans and resources for

specific book titles.


Hi Cathy

In your last newsletter, there was a question about HSIE or Science units of work. A couple of other good sites that I have found are

 for HSIE units

 where some units have much more information than others.

Hope they are useful




10.  NEXT ISSUE  There was some fantastic reader input in this

newsletter, I love it.  Thanks to everyone who volunteered their

expertise.  I would love some more SMART questions that have been

tried and tested in the classrooms ­ see what you can come up with,

until next time.



- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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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