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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 2, Issue 4

February 2006



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We Wish A Warm Welcome 
to Mr. Holes' EDU 200 Class
from Spring Arbor College, and 
Mr. Judge's class from 
Grand Valley State University.

Thanks For Joining Us!  


Daily Points in Class

By Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher


Starting your class on the right foot each day is very important to both you and the students. There are certain expectations you will have, be they required materials (texts, folders, gym clothes), basic supplies (pencils/paper), or behaviors (on time, in seats, working on opening activities). You are going to want these expectations met every day.

We designed a simple set of 5 rules to start out every class. These are easy to remember and easy to keep track of. Several of our teachers use a variation of the 5 rules to start their classes, and you may feel free to adapt these to your class.  These are the rules I use in English class:

Rule 1:  Students must be in their seats when class begins. In some schools, classes begin (and are dismissed) by a bell. Some classes begin at a specific time. Still other classes are started by a particular signal from the teacher.
Rule 2:  Students must have a writing instrument. Again, different teachers have different expectations, be it pencil or pen or whatever. For me, it doesn't matter as long as it s dark enough to read. I only balk at silver, gold, white, or any other light or fluorescent color (hot pink or yellow for example).
Rule 3:  Students must have their folder out on their desk. Each of our classes requires students to keep important papers, notes, and other course artifacts. Some teachers allow students to keep these, and others provide a location in the room for folders.
Rule 4:  Students must have all required materials for class that day. To reduce the number of times students ask me about what they need for the day's class, I will either write the materials list on the board or put it on the class announcements on our TV (watch for the article on creating a class cable TV network our upcoming March issue).
Rule 5:  Students must be working on the class warm up activity. In English class, students write out Daily Oral Language (DOL) sentences, practicing proofreading skills. On the edge of each day's entry are the numbers 1 through 5, making it easy to grade. All you have to do is circle the appropriate number.

Again, we give each student a daily grade of points (1-5).  Some teachers have only four rules and one rule is worth 2 points.  You can change up and set your own rules and create an easy to grade set of points to fit your own classroom.  

After a few weeks of practice, the checking of daily points becomes a student job. One student from each group (the RECORDER) gets the weekly responsibility to check the students' daily points and circle the proper number. The teacher is freed up for other activities, and you only need to spot check through the room.  This way I can record the daily points only once every two weeks and they are already tallied up for me.  



Happy Valentines Day to you all from the staff at StarTeaching.  

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Business Protocol: Becoming the Vanderbilt
of Conference Call Etiquette

By Jerome Henchley

Jerome Henchley runs the website Fed Conference which a site dedicated to researching conference related topics and contains all the very latest conference news and views. With the rapid change in technology, many business procedures such as conference calls will become more a part of educational culture.  Many of the ideas presented here are applicable for phone calls and meetings you will encounter in your everyday environment at school.  For more details please visit http://www.fedconference.com

As rapid, streamlined, and efficient become the catchwords of today's business, it's easy to forget common courtesies in our fast-paced business world. Because of this, we have to make a greater effort to maintain the common courtesies that were once an everyday part of life. Conference calling is one of these areas. They save time and money, but we should not let it be at the cost of using proper etiquette, especially when dealing with clients. You will project your company's image in a more favorable light if you use the proper etiquette, just as you would in any meeting. 

In whatever locale you hold your conference call, the first thing you should do is introduce yourself and the other participants prior to opening to business, just as you would if the meeting were held in a conference room or some other setting. Don't expect everyone to recognize your voice, and there may be participants who do not know you. When you identify yourself and others, include company names, titles, and functions within the organization. 

After your introductions, the first order of business should be to give the guidelines and expectations of the conference call. You don't want the attendees stepping all over each other's conversations, so you want to be clear on this before any conversations take place. You should also outline any of the specific goals of the meeting, just as you do in regular meetings. To avoid taking any time away from the conference call itself, you may consider asking the operator or the individual who connects your participants to review the rules before they're connected to the call. 

The reason you want to introduce the various members of the conference call to each other is to clarify everyone's role in the telephone meeting. This brief description of each person's title, responsibilities and relationship to the others will clarify everyone's role. This will be very important when one or more of the members are guests or are new to your company.  "By setting firm guidelines and taking an active role in promoting good etiquette during the conference call, others will be left with a positive impression, and this may well be the catalyst for more business for your company."

Since most people, particularly those who are in a business forum, rely on a variety of communications devices in order to stay in touch with others, it's to be expected that conference call participants will have their cell phones nearby. Before the conference begins, participating members should be cautioned to turn their cell phones off until business has been completed. Not only will the interruptions cause a disruption in the flow of the conference, but cell phones often cause problems with connections or are the catalysts for static in the phone lines. Speaker phones, too, should be muted, unless they're required in order to accommodate others that are in the room with you during the call. 

You and all the other participants need to disable any call waiting features on the phone system. The beeping of this feature will be distracting and will cause parts of the conversation not to be heard. You, as the leader of this meeting, should allow nothing to assert itself into the conference call to interfere or detract from it. 

Everyone who's conducting business is always quite busy, but it's never acceptable to keep others waiting when a conference is pending. Make sure that you, as the host, arrive in advance of the conference call, and encourage others to arrive on time, as well, by sending some form of communication to them prior to the meeting. 

One of the rudest things that one can do is to put the other participants on hold during a conference call. Other participants won't know if you've stepped away, and they will continue the meeting without you. Also, if comments or questions are directed to you, they will be left unanswered. On top of that they may be forced to listen to on hold music or messages, which are very distracting. 

By setting firm guidelines and taking an active role in promoting good etiquette during the conference call, others will be left with a positive impression, and this may well be the catalyst for more business for your company.


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Book of the Month:

Lincoln on Leadership:
Executive Strategies for Tough Times

by Donald T. Phillips


Our February BOOK OF THE MONTH is Lincoln on Leadership, by Donald T. Phillips.  This book is a detailed synopsis of the president's leadership skills, his lessons, and his principles, applied to a troubled America of the 1860s and to today's world.  

Abraham Lincoln may in fact be our greatest American president, and certainly the president who faced the greatest challenges.  He started as a backwoods country lawyer and became one of our most revered and honored leaders.  He completely refused to allow the country to remain divided, and utilized his leadership and his people skills to preserve the Union, modernize the American military, and revolutionize the government.  "In a way, Abraham Lincoln represented the summation of those leadership qualities that had helped to form a nation."  (Lincoln on Leadership, p.2) 

This book is broken up into four sections, vital to those in leadership roles: People, Character, Endeavor, and Communication.   Each section is broken up into chapters which detail a specific leadership skill or ability.  Such timeless strategies such as Get Out of the Office and Circulate Among the Troops, Persuade Rather Than Coerce, Set Goals and Be Results-Oriented, and Preach a Vision and Continually Reaffirm It, among others, are explained using stories and anecdotes from Lincoln's life and experiences.  

One chapter I found extremely valuable was Chapter 9, Lead by Being Led.  Much like a good coach, Lincoln gave away all the credit for success to his subordinates with lavish praise, and he himself took the responsibility for any setbacks and events that went wrong.  Lincoln even took the blame for battles that were lost during the Civil War.  He frequently listened to his advisors and generals in the field, and used their expertise in making his decisions and policy.  He was never threatened by his advisors and subordinates, even when they were more an expert on particular matters.  In fact, Lincoln gave them the opportunity and freedom to take their own initiative.  

Each chapter ends with a list of 'Lincoln Principles' that were discussed in the stories or quotes of that chapter.  These are simply stated in an easy to understand format, and yet this simplicity enables each reader to apply the principle to their own life and leadership situation.  There were many times I read through each list and thought of how I currently use or could benefit from applying each principle to my own life and relationships with other teachers and administrators.  

 “Few people at the time could have known, however, that he possessed all the leadership qualities and abilities necessary to save the Union.  And virtually no one would have been able to predict the unparalleled strength of this leadership - that he would seize upon the very circumstances at hand, created by the crisis of confusion,  urgency, and desperation, to exercise the full power of his office, and to create new limits of authority and leadership for the presidency.” (Lincoln on Leadership, p.9) 

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Have you read Lincoln on Leadership?  Do you have comments you’d 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 Old Man Who Had Plenty"
Jerry Ullman,
Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul

Themes on Life

For some people, giving is what they do and who they are.

Once there was a family that was not rich and not poor. They lived in Ohio in a small country house. One night they all sat down for dinner, and there was a knock at the door. The father went to the door and opened it.

There stood an old man in tattered clothes, with ripped pants and missing buttons. He was carrying a basket full of vegetables. He asked the family if they wanted to buy some vegetables from him. They quickly did because they wanted him to leave.

Over time, the family and the old man became friends.

The man brought vegetables to the family every week. They soon found out that he was almost blind and had cataracts on his eyes. But he was so friendly that they learned to look forward to his visits and started to enjoy his company.

One day as he was delivering the vegetables, he said, "I had the greatest blessing yesterday! I found a basket of clothes outside my house that someone had left for me."

The family, knowing that he needed clothes, said, "How wonderful!"

The old blind man said, "The most wonderful part is that I found a family that really needed the clothes."



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In This Week's Issue 

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Daily Points in Class

Business Protocol: "Becoming the Vanderbilt of Conference Calls"

Book of the Month:
Lincoln on Leadership

Themes on Life:  
"The Old Man Who Had Plenty"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Website of the Month Club


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10 Days Of


Why is it important to learn to use a computer?


Brainstorm FIVE important changes in computer technology.


Create a short writing topic to cover today's lesson from class.


How has technology changed in the last 10 years?


Describe THREE positive changes and THREE negative changes from the advancement of technology.


Create a short poem (rhyming is optional) which includes TWO main ideas from today's class lesson.


What is your favorite type of music?  Why do you like it the best?


Why is music important to human culture?


Brainstorm a list of 10 songs you like, and then rank them in order.


Create 10 lines of song lyrics to explain a concept from class.


10 days of writing prompts


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Improving Student Behavior School Wide

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Creating Web Pages & PowerPoints 
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Opening Activities for Class


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