Wootube maths tutorials and ICT news

Eddy Woo and Wootube maths tutorials

Head Teacher Mathematics at Cherrybrook High in Sydney, young and enthusiastic Mr Woo has been uploading his maths lesson videos to YouTube since 2012. He has attracted 4 million views and many grateful students. He featured on Australian Story this week – Channelling Mr Woo (iView until 24 May).





Google moves to demote fake news

Following increasing incidents of fake news and other flaws, Google is updating its algorithms and demoting misleading and offensive content in its search results. Algorithms will prioritise more “authoritative” content eg. affiliation with a university or verified news site and the quality of sites that link to the site in question. Users can now use a feedback button to report offensive and false results, including offensive autocomplete results that appear as you type in the search box.



China is creating an online encyclopedia

Known as the ‘Chinese Encyclopedia’, the national encyclopedia will go online in 2018. Twenty thousand scholars from universities and research institutes will contribute articles in more than 100 disciplines with 300,000 entries of 1 000 words each. These will showcase China’s science and technology developments, promote historical and cultural heritage and strengthen the core values of socialism.  The goal isn’t to mimic Wikipedia, which is blocked in China (though internet giant Baidu has its own online encyclopedia). “We have the biggest, most high-quality author team in the world. Our goal is not to catch up, but overtake” (Yang Muzhi, editor). China has the world’s largest internet population (720 million users) and some of the world’s most restrictive internet laws. The ‘Great Firewall of China’ is the world’s most most sophisticated censorship tool, blocking ‘unsavoury’ parts of the internet.



Facebook ramps up its response to violent videos

Facebook will hire 3000 more people  to review violent videos and other posts (4 500 employees already identify questionable material for removal). Since introducing the live video feature Facebook Live in April 2016, many unacceptable videos have been uploaded. Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook wants to respond quickly when someone needs help or when an unacceptable post needs taking down.



Amazon is coming….look busy

‘The everything store – fast, vast and low-priced’ – it will shake up Australian retail. Amazon is the fastest company in history to hit $US100 billion in annual sales and leading businesses such as Harvey Norman, Myer and JB Hi-Fi could lose half their earnings to Amazon. Amazon will offer “extreme convenience” and goods could be delivered within an hour of ordering online. Amazon Marketplace, for third-party retailers, will launch this year. Amazon is currently searching for a huge logistics facility.



Good films


Some good films….useful for biography, global studies, music….


The man who knew infinity

Biographical drama based on the book by Robert Kanigel. Directed by Matthew Brown. Stars Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. Srinovasa Ramanujan, a young man from Madras with almost no formal mathematical training, earns attendance at Cambridge University during WW1, where he becomes a pioneer in mathematical theories with the guidance of his professor. “Mathematics plays a key role in the story, but in a way that is entirely accessible, allowing the viewer to comprehend the advances that Ramanujan made and why his legacy remains so important almost a century after his death.” (Allan Hunter). In cinemas now.





Eddie the Eagle

Stars Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman. The story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, a British ski jumper who represented Britain at the 1988 Winter Olympics. Although he finished last in his events, he became famous for his perseverance and as an “heroic failure”. He was also totally self-funded and needed to wear thick glasses under his goggles. Hugh Jackman plays his fictional coach. Eddie the Eagle was actually a good downhill skier, narrowly missing selection for the 1984 Games – he changed to ski jumping to better his chances at selection in 1988. Rated PG – a great feel-good movie. In cinemas now.




Where to invade next

Documentary by Michael Moore, who explores  how countries such as Finland, Tunisia, Italy, France and Portugal deal with social and economic challenges – usually very differently to and more successfully than the US. Moore plans to “steal” these good ideas and bring them back to the US. In cinemas now.




Wide open sky

Directed by Lisa Nicol. The inspiring story of a group of children in the remote outback of NSW who follow their dream to sing in the Moorambilla Voices choir under the leadership of Michelle, a choir director with high expectations. Set in a beautiful landscape, the film explores how the children learn about themselves and their talents and also shows the exceptional teaching of Michelle. Winner Audience Award Best Documentary, Sydney Film Festival. Out now.




The jungle book

Live-action CGI film directed by Jon Favreau, inspired by Disney’s animated film based on Kipling’s stories. Mowgli sets out on a  journey of self-discovery while evading the tiger Shere Khan. Features the voices of Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o and Christopher Walken. The story is a balance between the Disney version and Kipling’s works. The film is not a musical but includes several songs from Disney eg. The bare necessities. Critics’ consensus at Rotten Tomatoes: “As lovely to behold as it is engrossing to watch…it is the rare remake that actually improves its predecessors”.

“An unusual blend of lifelike imagery and otherworldly animal action. The visuals are compelling, as is the story. Kudos to director Jon Favreau (Iron Man)” (R. Roten). In cinemas now.





Biographical political thriller directed by Oliver Stone, based on the books The Snowden files by Luke Harding and Time of the octopus by Anatoly Kucherena (Snowden’s Russian lawyer). Stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley. Follows the life of Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013, revealing numerous global surveillance programs and invasion of privacy. Some see Snowden as a hero, others as a traitor. Stone met with Snowden multiple times in Moscow and made the film outside of the US. Opens late 2016.



The happiest refugee

The bestselling autobiography by Anh Do will be made into a film to be directed by Russell Crowe. Crowe is a big fan of the book, which tells the story of Do’s family coming to Australia as Vietnamese refugees.


Good iPad apps – Mathstorm, Count Coins & Transformation Sentences

Here are some useful apps for primary school maths and language learning (all levels):


$2.49 in the App Store; iOS 6 or later.

An entertaining and customisable collection of 5 games (monsoon, avalanche, meteor shower, sandstorm, blizzard) that each provide a different approach to developing maths skills. Teachers and students can choose to focus on particular skills eg. addition, subtraction, division, times tables etc. and they can also set time limit challenges. Games can be adjusted to suit players’ maths ability levels, catering for multiple abilities within a class. For example, the game can be set to only ask:

– 6 times tables

– Addition sums below 10

– Only division and multiplication

– Only division, multiplication and subtraction

– and many more combinations.

High scores are tracked, giving players a goal to beat. For ages 4 to 11.


Demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAnEndlRcRE


Aussie Kids Count Coins

$2.49 in the App Store; iOS 4 or later.

Money skills are practised and developed through 6 games, using animated characters. Activities include paying and giving change, counting change and multiplying, comparing amounts & shopping. Stars are awarded and used to decorate a night scene. For ages 4 to 10.



Transformation Sentences

$2.49 in the App Store; requires iOS7 or later.

This is a powerful app for teachers of sentence construction, sentence transformation and spelling – very useful for teachers of students who are learning to read – primary, high school, adult and ESL.

It was developed specifically for several teachers at Dickson College who wanted an app to support the Scaffolding Literacy program in the Secondary Introductory English Centre. Students here have just started learning English in Australia and will later move to ESL classes. The teachers wanted an app that wasn’t full of fancy bells and whistles but supported the teaching of literacy skills. The app has been used very successfully in class.

Demo video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slX6TwDG0gU


Features include:

Sentences: Enter text, rearrange and drag individual words. Use for prediction games, cloze exercises etc

Spelling: Separate a word into letters or sounds.

Shuffle: Places all words in a sentence into random order. Students then reassemble the sentence.

Extra words: Add extra words and label parts of a sentence (eg. Who? What? Where?).

Save data: Save up to 10 sentences or spelling lists in folders. Send the folders to other iPads via Bluetooth or wi-fi (this enables the teacher to type a paragraph just once, which is then sent to the students’ iPads).

Draw: Use your finger as a pencil to write words directly on the screen.

Customise: Choose font, size and background.

(The apps were created by my son Bryan Hathaway, B. Software Engineering).