FEATURES  FOR   TEACHERS

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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 2, Issue 8

March 2006

   

 

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Writing a LEAD to Open Your Writing 

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

This past year, we've started adding a LEAD to our writings. A lead is a short story or anecdote (or part of one) at the beginning of your writing. Often in narrative form, this short story may be fictional or true, or even from the author's personal experience.

Be sure to check out our NEW writing page for more on our writing program:
http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

The lead may even be an excerpt or scene from a story, book, movie, or TV show. These are good because your reader may have read or watched the scene already. This creates a connection, a bond, between the reader and the writing by sharing common ground.

The key to a lead is to provide a short story your audience can relate to the subject of your writing, or to the mood or tone you wish to establish. You may want the reader somber, compassionate, joyous, or expectant.

The lead does act as an attention getter, drawing your readers into the writing. It also connects the reader's personal experience to the writing. The quicker and more deeply you can connect to the reader, the greater the chance your writing will be read and your message will be remembered.

However, the lead is different from your topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the subject of the writing, and sets up the structure of the paragraph. The lead, on the other hand, is independent of the content of the paragraph. It could be removed from the writing without affecting the overall message (it could be totally deleted and the paragraph would still maintain its integrity). It is used to set the mood or tone in the reader, or to elicit a response toward the overall subject.

The leads may be as short as a sentence fragment, or as long as several sentences (maybe even a paragraph) in length. Sometimes we require specific lead lengths, and other times we leave it open to the students to decide.

The lead must be extremely vivid, using specific actions and descriptive words to effectively paint a picture in the reader's mind. You cannot use enough adjectives. The lead should also leave the reader wanting more. We sometimes use fragments to leave the reader hanging. This is accomplished by an ellipsis ( ... ) after the last word of the fragment.

The lead is an advanced technique in writing, and its proper use shows a maturity in the author's style. We strongly encourage you and your students to practice story telling and narrative forms of writing. Have students start small, using single sentences and fragments, and then working up to more complex leads. This, we've found, also impresses the scorers on those high stakes state/national tests. You'll find your students writing becoming more rich and complex as they master this technique.

Here are a couple of leads:

The gigantic, drooling hound snarled and barked as it backed me up against the rough bark of the oak tree. (descriptive essay on fear)

The dark, angry clouds pushed their way across the gray sky as the crisp wind bit into my skin. (survival story)

As I ran, gasping for breath, through the midnight blackness of the eerie forest, I could hear the snapping and cracking of branches as my pursuer closed the distance ... (scary narrative)

Did you find this article helpful and useful for your classes?  Interested in more information on teaching writing, or writing ideas you can use (and adapt or change for your classes)?

See our website or click the following link to access our NEW writing page:

http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

 

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A happy and healthy spring to you all from the staff at StarTeaching.  

Remember to bookmark this page and to visit our website for more great articles, tips, and techniques!
http://www.starteaching.com

Also, feel free to email this newsletter to a friend or colleague!  

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Maximizing Your Study Time

By Roger Seip
Memory Training For Students

The daily schedule for many young students today could rival that of several top-level executives. With soccer practice, dance, scouts and clarinet lessons taking up much of the evening, when do students get to focus on their studies?

Too often students get overwhelmed with the amount of work left over at the end of the day. They look at study time in one big sum and get distracted and exhausted before they even begin. To solve this problem, you may not be able to adjust your childís schedule, but they can change their study techniques. Here are 3 study techniques that will help any student maximize their study time. 

They should start by separating and segmenting their study time. Break it up into smaller bits. No matter how brilliant you are a concentrated attention span lasts only about 20 minutes. So break your 2 or 4 hours study sessions into groups of 15 or 20 minutes. During the break, stand-up, walk around, grab a bit to eat or something to drink and then get back to the grind for another 15 or 20 minutes. This not only helps create spaced repetition, which is crucial for retention, but helps make study sessions less stressful and daunting. 

Another tool to help in maximizing study time is to use random practice. When reviewing lists or concepts donít go in order. Skip around to force your brain to pull from an entire group of information. This aids in understanding the purpose or meaning behind a concept instead of merely its place in line. The simplest way to implement random practice is through the use of a study partner. 

Use a Study Partner. When at all possible, it is very beneficial to study with another student who shares the same educational goals and motivation. A study partner can help identify areas of weakness and ensure that topics donít get skipped. Itís also beneficial to witness how another student takes in and stores information. For this reason and others, it is better for the study partner to be another student, but parent donít be afraid to fill this position. The progress gained from working with a partner is general is worth it. 

Proper and efficient study techniques will follow a student through all levels of education and learning. Establishing good habits and skill sets, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem at the time, will prove to reap massive rewards in the long run. So while little Johnny and Suzy might need their first day planners before the third grade, donít let it stop them from becoming the best students they can. 

About the author: Roger Seip is a nationally known memory trainer. His new program, The Studentís Winning Edge - Memory Training, teaches students how to train their memory to study more effectively and get better grades. For more information on how your student can have a more powerful memory visit http://www.memorytrainingforstudents.com 

Article Source: http://www.Free-Articles-Zone.com

 



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Book of the Month Club:

Teaching Makes A Difference

by Carol Cummings

 

Our March BOOK OF THE MONTH is Teaching Makes A Difference, by Carol Cummings.  This book is yet another excellent instructional manual you'll want to have in your teaching toolbox.

This is the book for helping all teachers to improve their effectiveness in their classrooms.  It helps both the novice teacher and the seasoned veteran by forcing you to think about your own decision making process as a teacher, and to evaluate your effectiveness.  The book focuses on the teaching of instructional skills and the improvement in student learning.  

Carol Cummings' book give practical ideas for your classroom and for your teaching.  She details how to select and teach to your class objectives, monitoring and motivating your students, and developing better lessons that improve your students' learning.  

Each chapter reads just like a step-by-step manual for improving your instruction.  Periodically in the chapter are short 'assignments' for the readers to complete, adding their thoughts and experiences to the text.  Cummings adds creative cartoons and quotes to illustrate her points.  And each chapter is summed up with the important points to remember.  

One particular aspect of the book I like is the Instructional Decision Making structure Carol Cummings has developed.  The five steps (described in detail in the chapters) are: 

1.  Selecting the Objective
2.  Teaching to the Objective
3.  Monitoring and Adjusting
4.  Using Principles of Learning 
(Motivation, Retention, Active Participation, Mental Set Strategy)
5.  Planning Better Lessons

 

 ďTeaching is far more complex than ever before realized.  How easy it would be if we only had to deliver content.  Instead we must decide whether the content is at the correct level of difficulty and complexity for the learners.  We have to decide what is the most effective and efficient way to present the material.  We need to determine how many of our students are learning the content WHILE we are teaching.Ē (Teaching Makes A Difference, p.5) 

You can order a copy of Teaching Makes A Difference by clicking the link to our affiliate, Amazon.com 

Have you read Teaching Makes A Difference?  Do you have comments youíd like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to editor@starteaching.com. Please type in BOOK CLUB READER RESPONSE in the subject line. Responses will be posted on our website with the StarTeaching Book of the Month Club.  All responses will be proofread, and may be edited for content and space before publication.

 


 

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"The Given Light"
By Barbara Hug

Themes on Life

The power of sharing with our fellow man...is that our fellow man shares back.   

Once upon a time a man had heard, that in a foreign place, far away, there was a holy flame burning. So he got up and left his home to find the holy flame and bring some of its light back home to his house. He thought: 'When I have this light, then I will have happiness and life and all the people I love will have it too.'

He traveled far, far away and finally found the holy flame, with which he lit his light. On his way back he had only one worry: 'That his light could go out.'

On his way home he met someone who was freezing and didn't have any fire and who begged him to give him some of his fire. The man with the light hesitated for a moment. Wasn't his light too precious, too holy to be given away for something ordinary like that? Despite these doubts, he decided to give some of his light to the one who was freezing in the darkness.

The man continued his journey home and when he had almost reached his house a terrible thunderstorm started. He tried to protect his light from the rain and the storm, but at the end his light went out.

To return the long way back to the place where the holy flame was burning was impossible, he wouldn't have had enough strength to go back this far - but he was strong enough to return to the human being whom he had helped on his way home.

.........and with his light he could light his own again.

 

 


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In This Week's Issue 

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Writing a LEAD to Open Your Writing

Maximizing Your Study Time

Book of the Month

Themes on Life:  
"The Given Light"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Spring Book Sale for Teachers

Website of the Month


 

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All articles will be proofread, and may be edited for content and/or length.

 

10 Days Of
Writing 
Prompts 

Day
1

Describe the writing process.  What steps are needed?

Day
2

List 5 reasons why you should brainstorm and organize your thoughts before you start writing.

Day
3

Why is it important to write a rough draft/rough copy before you have a final copy?

Day
4

Brainstorm a list of 10 jobs or professions that use writing on a daily basis.

Day
5

Write a short story or poem describing what any student should have leaned this week in class.

Day
6

How can you prepare for an emergency situation at home? 

Day
7

Describe THREE reasons why we practice fire drills at school.

Day
8

Why should your family have an emergency plan for your home?  How will it help save your family?

Day
9

Describe FIVE important things you should do if there's a fire in your house.

Day
10

Create 5 questions you should ask your teacher for more information relating to this week's class information.

 

10 days of writing prompts

 

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Coming Soon:

Teaching Listening Skills

Technology & Teaching: Setting up for Handhelds

Master's Degrees

Creating Web Pages in Class


 

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