No: 217

VT's FREE Newsletter for Educators - Insight, Inspiration and Ideas that Work!

Hello Everyone,
I've had an amazing amount of traffic on the VT website over the last month.

Lots of people interested in 4BigIdeas Book. So I though I would have a SUPPORTER DRIVE this month and give this ebook away FREE to anyone who SUPPORTS VT in July.
4BIGIDEAS To support VT it costs just $10.00 per year. Thanks in advance it helps a lot and covers the cost of hosting and distribution of the newsletter. AND I will send you the FREE Link to the 4BIG IDEAS ebook. Take a lok at some of the pages here.
To become a VT supporter. Just click on this link & support VT.
Thanks also to all the recent purchasers of Do You Need a Hammer to do Multiplication? Get your own copy, and find out the ANSWER. Just $4.95

Spread the Word about VT, email this newsletter to someone you think might love it. And send in your Impossible ideas.
Have a great week, make it count.



Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't. -Richard Bach, writer (b. 23 Jun 1936)

Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super... no one will be.” The Incredibles Movie - Syndrome

This is a great problem to introduce order of operations.

Teachers everywhere should be giving Jane Caro a standing ovations!
What a great advocate for public education.

If politicians had set out to do something to do more damage to drive down the morale of the teachers the couldn't have done better. Pernicious term quality teacher they should wash their mouth out with soap.

Declining results are due to declining moral of teachers. What has more effect on students than the declining moral of teachers???

We need to give teachers more time to hone their teaching skills and enjoy teaching. We need to stop ramping up accountability(Simon Birmingham) Because they are filling in forms instead of coming up with creative teaching.

How do we fix it. Some starting points.
Areas to fix

#Stop current reporting.
Parents don't understand most of it. They are the clients - ask them what they would like to know and provide that. Having ask parents of Primary School kids what they want - the list goes something like this..
I would like to know my child is happy and what he/she is enjoying what he/she is good at.
I would like to know where he/she needs support maybe one or 2 things I could help with
I would like to get updates more often so I can deal with things along the way and not let them escalate. The current reports seem like a 'fait accompli' - I would like them to be less formal.

#Reporting Engage the Parents and reduce teacher workload.
With current technology it is easy to update parents on great things that are happening with their child at school, and also to nip problems in the bud by getting onto them quickly.
Programs like Class Dojo (FREE) Allows photo and video sharing directly from iPad or iPhone(or android etc) with parents - allows immediate communication with parents at the click of a button.
NO PAPERWORK - all recorded, instant and easy.

This engages parents and makes them feel part of the community, with a focus on their child, build school parent relationships, every study shows that parent engagement improves student performance. Here's a bit on that

Kill Naplan - a more stressful obnoxious process for children I can't imagine. And it is also proven to detrimental to children's learning and certainly heightens student anxiety. It is known to be disruptive with many schools and teachers teaching for the test. Better models around the world include the Finish no-test model.

There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians.

Naplan needs to go. (You just wonder who is making a big score out of this in printing and marking this test - probably an ex politician on the gravy train - so it maybe hard to dynamite)

Replace it with what teachers do best assessment along the way incorporating gamification with digital marking, and downloadable results like KAHOOTS No one gets anxious, bites their nails or worries about it. But kids do try hard, they do study, and the answers are immediate - so learning occurs along the way with downloadable results for all students. There are lots of these options.

Just based on work samples and assessments. A lot of teacher time is wasted on data entry. this is not teacher work, they should be working with kids and teaching. Primary school should involve informal reporting + specialist who assess individual student progress against standards in relax informal situations once a year and enter this data. Leaving the teacher free to teach(this does happen with limited students now). Another option is always useful for a teacher.

#Professional Development
Sure more professional development is fabulous but in a professional learning environment professionals develop. If teachers were freed of the paperwork there would be more time for peer to peer discussion and development, staff meeting could be dedicated to PD, with visiting speakers and tutors, or videos and topics for discussion.
What do you think? Jane Caro has nailed it?
Now let's fix it.

Tim Ferriss explains what he believes to be the Kryptonite for Creativity, taking life, business, and yourself too seriously.
Watch the 1.17min video from Tim Feriss
Adobe Sparks allows you to play and not take things too seriously, because it is easy to get amazing results. Kids will be delighted and incredibly creative.

Adobe Sparks
FREE A much better presentation tool than Prezi and powerpoint at LAST. You will need to provide and email address name and password etc. But it is well worth it. Students can be incredibly creative with this tool. I love the fact that the images credits are automatic and added to the bottom of the page.

Adobe Spark is an integrated web and mobile solution for creating and sharing impactful visual stories. Easily create social media posts and graphics, web pages, and videos in minutes—no design or technical experience necessary.
Meet Adobe Spark - Watch the Video

The Decibel 10th
Professional Noise Meter app
I was playing around with the idea of how to give the kids feedback when they were too noisy(rather than me having to continually remind them - really boring). The Decibel 10th: Professional Noise Meter app has proved great.
It's a really simple FREE app - you may have seen it already. I love it when the apps are simple to use - they all should be.
It's a great training device for noise control, the kids can monitor their own sound levels. We graphed the results every 5 mins. Then groups monitored their own sound levels etc. Then we used it when children were reading their stories - so they could practice reading loud enough. The kids came up with lots of suggestions - monitoring the playground noise at different times, finding the noisiest class in the school, how loud is the ............. etc. Then they started taking screen shots and stills.
If you've used it before send in your ideas - I just loved this app.

I do answer all emails so send them along with your questions ideas and great sites.

My name is Allison, and I work at We provide high quality learning resources for students.
I noticed you provide some links to resources on your site here and thought that your users would enjoy some of our free resources as well.
You can find some of them at I'd truly appreciate it if you could add this link to your page!
Let me know!
Thanks, Allison

Hi Allison,
For advertising to links or resources that are not free I charge a fee.
Please review the Sponsor information(The supporter information is for supporters not links)

VT has over 7,500 subscribers and was one of the largest and most successful subscriber based education newsletters in Australia.
Let me know if you would like to become a sponsor of Virtual Teacher.

Hi Cathy,
Thanks for the link to download maths hammers, though sadly I got a 404 error every time I tried it. Is there an alternative way to get to the point where I can put in user name and password? This is the second time I have purchased Maths Hammers as for some reason it seems to have dropped off my computer since last time I used it. I was more than happy to purchase it again because I really enjoy the quirky and student friendly approach to something that could be really dry.

So Sorry about this. I think it is now fixed. I have changed a few things - some buggy thing was happening. So glad you are enjoying it. Thanks for the feedback. Please let me know if you have any more trouble.
PS If anyone else has had the same trouble please send me an email and I will sort it out for you.

One reason I developed such a love for math as a kid was because of my 4th grade teacher, Mr. Keller. His creative lessons made math not only easier to understand, but more accessible for me to apply in the real world.
It can be tough for math teachers to keep coming up with fresh ways to present material, especially given their hectic schedules. As tribute to Mr. Keller, I decided to put together a collection of unique lesson plan ideas and resources for math classes in need of a shake-up. I hope you’ll share them with your audience (maybe here:!
I hope these resources help educators inspire the same love for math that Mr. Keller did in me!

Thanks for these Stacy. What does everyone think of these resources?

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!!!
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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 an email or tweet me.
Editor: Cathy Brown

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