Virtual Teacher Newsletter No. 17 October 27th 2000
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Contact: cathy@virtualteacher.com.au
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Newsletter Archives can be found at:-
1. Welcome
2. Mind Candy
3. Lemony Snicket
4. Halloween on the Net
5. Technical Stuff - Microsoft
6. Learning Outcomes - Technology
7. Internet Safety
8. Great Sites
9. Readers' Requests/Comments
10 Next Issue
11. Code of 'Netizens'
12. Tips
1. Welcome everyone. I have been busy this week writing the
Technology section of a schools annual report. It was interesting to
consider this evaluation and the progress made over the last 12
months. The usual considerations of access, integration and of
course, skill development are always important, but it was the
learning outcomes that I have found most interesting. As the
students have become more competent with the computers I have noticed
several things:-
- the co-operation and consideration within the classes has improved,
students are keen to help others, and are happy to ask for help from
other students, and to share their knowledge.
Which leads to the really wonderful second thing:-
- I have more time for each student on a one to one basis. I can sit
with a student and talk about various issues to do with the computers
and anything else that is of concern, but most importantly I can give
them feedback, feedback, feedback. Feedback about anything from
classroom performance, to interaction with other students, and I can
make it all positive. I have noticed this has had a marked effect on
general student self-esteem.
Something I didn't expect, but quite wonderful. You can read the
'Learning outcomes" I found important below.
2. Mind Candy
So If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a
small country.
Bill Gates message - for every classroom wall?
Main Summary
Bill Gates recently delivered a message about life to some high
school and college graduates in which he listed ten things they did
not learn at school.
He talked about how feel-good, politically correct teachings have created a
generation of kids with no concept of reality, and how this has set
them up for failure in the
real world...
Article Body
Fact 1: Life is not FAIR; get used to it.
Fact 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will
expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Fact 3: You will NOT make $40,000 a year right out of high school,
and you will NOT be a Vice-President with a car phone until you earn
Fact 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you have a boss.
Fact 5: Flipping burgers is NOT beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a
different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.
Fact 6: If you mess up, it is NOT your parents' fault. Don't whine
about your mistakes, learn from them.
Fact 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they
are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your
clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before
you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents'
generation, try "delousing" the closet in your own room.
Fact 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but
real life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing
grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right
answer. This does not bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in
real life.
Fact 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off
and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself.
Do that in your own time.
Fact 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually
have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
And a final word of advice from Bill.
Article reprinted courtesy of the School Daily. Go there and check it out.
Some of the things mentioned above provide very good starting points
for discussion.

If you eat pasta and antipasti are you still hungry?
An English professor announced to the class; "In here we will
speak proper English. There are two words I don't allow in my
class. One is gross and the other is cool."
From the back of the room a voice called out, "So, what are
the words?"
3. Lemony Snicket
'A Series of Unfortunate Events' is the title of a recent series of
books written by Lemony Snicket. I love them. The children I have
been reading them to, have also loved them. So far I have read the
first 4 in the series, and apparently there is a fifth now available.
How wonderful to find there is an excellent website to go along with
these books, well done Harper Collins. The children will love the
books, and also love the website. This is a brilliant integration of
both mediums. To follow is an excerpt from the first page of the
website to wet your appetites:-
"If I were you, I would immediately turn your computer off rather
than view any of the
dreadful images, read any of the wretched information, play any of
the unnerving games or
examine the unpleasant books presented within this website. "
How can you not go there????

Thank you Cathy for your support! The Unfortunate Events have a very special
place in my heart as well.
Christina Amini
HarperCollins Children's Books

4. 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.
Halloweenet, the first page of this site first page, very spooky.
Information on planning a Halloween night. And also some games and
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.
Here's a site recommended by a subscriber....
Hi Cathy,
I subscribe to your newsletter and thought you and your readers would enjoy
Halloween feature on GourmetSpot.com at
http://www.gourmetspot.com/halloweenfeature.htm . It spotlights the best
places on the Web to find Halloween recipes. From these sites, find out
how to make everything from wormy pudding cups to ghoul-ade.
Hope you'll take a look. Happy Halloween!
Best Wishes,
Cara Flesher
StartSpot Mediaworks, Inc.
Remember these sites are only for the brave.

5. Technical Stuff
Microsoft's powerful Office suite has undergone a major
renovation-just for Mac owners. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are
better than ever and packed with exciting new features, and making
its debut only on the Mac is Entourage, an impressive email/calendar
program that integrates seamlessly with the other three.
A new name-Office:mac 2001- an attractive clamshell package, with
features available only for the Mac, this is an extremely powerful
suite, one intended to enhance your productivity and open new
creative vistas for your work.
Take a Tour of the New Office.
Microsoft Excel is fantastic for quick visually spectacular results
with graphing.
Here's some more things to experiment with:-
Double click on the graph wall, click on fill effects, and then click
the picture tab, select a picture from your file(one you have
downloaded, or drawn), and then press OK - this picture will then be
mapped onto the wall of your graph. The effect can be amazing.
Next click on the graph and then click on one of the small black
squares at the corners of the graph, hold the mouse down and move the
3D graph until the orientation suits your presentation.
PS - always click on the 'as news sheet' option on the 4th chart wizard page.
PPS Don't use commas in your source data.
You'll love the results.
6. Learning outcomes in Technology
Learning outcomes have been improved in the following areas:-
1. Student co-operation has improved, with students keen to assist
and share information. 
2. Interest and motivation have increased as the Internet adds
variety, interest and often excitement.
3. Many reluctant students have become active learners, during
computer classes as they are able to complete tasks at their own
pace, using diverse learning styles and information sources.
4. The use of computers has permitted more teacher /student contact
during lessons, allowing for more positive reinforcement and positive
5. Students are spending more time on task as they find the computers
inherently motivating, and the printed results pleasing.
7. Safety on the Net
Dear Kathy
I work in Education Queensland and have been given a task to further develop
policy,guidelines and good practice on student safety on the Net. I've
gleaned a fair amount from Ed Departments in other states and some stuff
from the US and the EU. Do you have a statement about student safety? I
would appreciate anything if you have it?
Judi Ewings
Equity Programs - Student Services
"EWINGS, Judi" <Judi.Ewings@qed.qld.gov.au>
Mostly computer use policies are in constant development, and there
are various places to start. Initially I suggest schools start with
a school website containing weblinks that have been selected for
student use by teachers. As students become more competent at web
use and start to use search engines, the policy must be developed

I generally talk to the students about suitable websites to access at
school, and explain that some sites are not suitable at school, and
can be viewed at home if parents approve of them. Other sites are
not suitable to view at all. Students generally can understand these
types of discussions. There are plenty of suitable options available.
Generally the following rules are a good place to start.
1. Only go to sites on the Schools website.
2. If you are using search engines for research, use search engines
like ajkids, other child protected search engines.
3. Do not answer any questions, send emails, or type answers into any
question boxes without first checking with the teacher.
4. If you find a site you like, give the address to the teacher and
if its OK it can be included on the website.

For older children, work on the Internet needs to be based on an
honour system. Many schools have their students sign a pledge
regarding Internet use. This is a great idea. However needs to be
accompanied by constant vigilance.

Any computer/Internet program involving children in schools or at
home needs to be carefully supervised and monitored. Parents also
need to be informed about Internet safety.

Students who act inappropriately when using computers are banned from
usage, usually for a term. This punishment may seem fairly severe,
however the alternative is worse. This is one area where responsible
usage is a must.

Here is a great site giving information to parents about safety on
the net. This site gives information on the various net pitfalls
children should avoid. The site includes topics like:- Internet
Safety, Chat Room Caution, Minimize Your Child's Risk & Tips for
Protecting Your Child.
Another site with some simple instructions for internet safety is:-
At this site there are some free downloads for net safety. Surf
Monkey is a great site and it's worth exploring the rest as well.
Also their 'top secret surfing code has a definite appeal to kids.
Here's an <>online internet safety quiz for kids
What are other schools and teachers doing? This is an important issue,
if you have some good ideas please sned them in to share.

8. Great Sites
The rest of the Harper Collins site, mentioned above, in the Lemony
Snicket segment, is also brilliant for children's books. It makes
booking author visits simple, as well as including lots of ideas for
discussion and activities like mazes, word jumbles, colouring sheets
about books as well as specific websites for the Narnia series, and
the R.L. Stine series - The Nightmare Room - excellent, and The
Little House Books. Check it out at:
Some more 'spots' to visit
http://www.libraryspot.com http://www.cinemaspot.com
http://www.tripspot.com http://www.employmentspot.com
http://www.gourmetspot.com http://www.bookspot.com
http://www.museumspot.com http://www.peoplespot.com
http://www.govspot.com http://www.shoppingspot.com
KidsHealth Org. Is a great site for info on children's health. This
site has three levels of info, one for parents, one for children, and
one for teens. The search feature allows each group to search for
information at the various levels. With questions answered like
'What is a scab?' and Is body piercing safe?". A great site.
David's Class site is fantastic. He has some great artists in his
class. I loved the feet pictures, Nicola's was most impressive and
also the cork pictures.
Talene's tinting picture looked most interesting. And of course
Hamish's boats were fantastic. David's art ideas were just great,
lots of variety, I wonder if his children realise what a great art
teacher they have. David's site is simple but effective and parades
his children's artwork beautifully. The ideas for art are
interesting and creative, with children's explanations at the top.
I'm sure you will love this site. Well Done David.
The Online Learning Centre from New Zealand is a great site - you
will need time to explore it thoroughly. Lots of info about
NZ curriculum and also some great downloadable resources like the one
to follow.
Find excellent pdf downloadable resources here, some great maths
games in the basics book.
9. Readers Requests/Comments

Hi Cathy
I received my first newsletter today and was very impressed with the
information and ideas included.
I'm particularly interested in webquests and collaborative projects
on the internet.
I am working with the staff at my school, Gnowangerup DHS in WA to
integrate technology into their programs.
I have added some links that should be useful to them on our school
web site which was created by some of our secondary students.
The links include over 200 projects and over 50 units of work on the
net. I have also established an English newsletter for teachers in
our district in an attempt to share ideas and resources.
I would like to know of other schools that have been using internet
projects so that I can find out more. Four of our classes are
participating in projects. Two have e-mail pal classes overseas,
another is doing the postcards around the world project, and another
is working on the Sadako and 1000 Cranes project.
Thanks again for the wonderful newsletter. It has given me renewed
enthusiasm for continuing my efforts to help teachers integrate
technology and to share their work.
Neil McCallum
Hi Neil,
Sounds like you are doing some fantastic work with computers.
Webquests are really excellent for integration, which, I agree is
really the key. I was unable to find the link to the resources you
mentioned, could you send a direct link as I am always interested to
publicize new resources for teachers. Below is a quote from my last
newsletter and these folk are definitely worth contacting regarding
I have mentioned this wonderful resource in previous newsletters.
Bernie Dodge and Tom March have been
working since early 1995 to develop the WebQuest as one strategy for
effectively integrating the Web into classroom instruction. At this
site there is information on developing your own webquests and also
an Australian database of Webquests. There are many useful webquests
produced internationally but it is great to see some Australian
resources being developed in this area.
Check out their information on using the Internet in the Classroom
And also their' good reasons for using the Internet' section.
This is the sort of excellent educational site that really helps
schools become IT literate, GO THERE
Bookmark this site and go back often."
Also there is an excellent webquest resource at
this site has links to a great many webquest sies. There are some
very unusual webquests, most are divided into subject areas and age
levels. The Holes Webquest at:-
Is really excellent and refers to the fabulous book of that title by
Louis Sacher. Another favourite of mine is the Egyptian Webquest at
and the Voyage to the Stars:-

10. Next Issue - Next issue I will be looking at science resources
on the web, so if you have any great resources you can recommend,
send them in to share. Keep your comments, questions and letters
coming in. And a new spin on Einstein.
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 newsletter.
4. Nominate a fantastic school site for review and inclusion in this
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 mailto:comfilm1@optusnet.com.au
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