FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 2, Issue 22
me wrong, I like my students to find some specific pieces of
information. They will always be required to find info on characters,
setting, and plot. And I
like to have them include their evaluation of the book, what they
learned and to whom they'd recommend this book.
the basic fact-finding is the presentation.
There are many ways to jazz these up too.
Your students could make commercials or infomercials trying to
sell their books. These
could be live in class, online, or recorded on video.
Include music and graphics or special effects.
could create a project to represent a scene from their story.
This might be a model, a diorama box, posters, banners, or other
art projects using various art class media.
allow students to take an important scene from the book and bring it to
life. Reader's theater,
puppet shows, and skits can be performed in class or videotaped earlier.
can vary the old display 'poster' by showing off artifacts in a shadow
box. Find items around the
house that represent the story's character, setting, or events and set
them up in an interesting display.
idea is to use presentation software such as PowerPoint. Have your
students create different slides detailing what they learned about
characters, plot, setting, mood, and other literary devices from their
neat program we started using this year is the GarageBand from
Macintosh. This enables
students to create their own music using basic templates of different
sounds, instruments, beats, and rhythms.
Students have created short songs that impart the mood and tone
of their books, and we can then present these to class or add them to
web pages or PowerPoints.
assigned a biography or autobiography, you might have students make a
website describing the life and beliefs of the individual character. You could have students create a 'mock' interview with their
character, writing in the answers that person might have given.
are many ways to change your old book reports so they're more
you can incorporate technology easily in these projects.
Don’t be afraid to try out something new.
You can often rely on your students to help you when it comes to
you'll be making class much more interesting for your students.
Check out our Book Report page for actual forms you and your students
can use in class. These are FREE and printable:
Check out our Book Report page for actual forms you and your students can use in class. These are FREE and printable:
Keep this foremost
in your mind before you utter a word of reproach, or criticism, before
you speak to parents about their parenting or to parents about their
children and their intelligence, their learning ability, achievement,
capabilities, handicaps, etc. You get the idea. Think before you speak,
and remember that the words we speak can haunt and damage children and
their parents beyond measure.
By the way, this
includes any written words: suggestions for writing improvement or a
letter home about why Johnny is misbehaving in class. I like to remind
teachers to pretend you are writing the note or speaking the words to your child. What words would wound you forever? What notes would
make you cry?
I will relate a
short tale as regards to this. I just came home from the shop of a
former parent of one of my students who runs a jewelry shop. I had a
dead watch I thought she could fix.
I had taught her
son, long ago, in middle school. I taught him English and Literature in
seventh grade. He is now thirty, and has just been diagnosed with
cerebral palsy, due to forceps use at birth. He is so borderline that it
was difficult to discern a problem in school. It was simply put that…
he had learning problems. Most of his school life was miserable. He
couldn’t tie his shoes, and P.E. teachers made fun of him for this. He
couldn’t write, and his third grade teacher made him sit outside the
By the time I
started to work with him, I realized he had problems, and the parents
were up front about it—which helped. We decided to help him and I
decided to do no harm. A
sweeter, gentler, kinder young boy no one could have found. It would
have been easy for me to fail him or write him off, but I did neither.
Not because I am a saint. I have made my share of many mistakes, but
never through intentional cruelty, usually just through my stupidity.
I simply modified
his assignments (quietly) the best I could. His writing was impossible,
so either I or his parents transcribed, or I tried oral
responses—which he could do. I cared about this sensitive soul and
wanted his journey with me to be as joyful and pain-free as I could make
Others in middle
school and high school helped him too, and he was able to graduate and
works with his parents now, is a masseuse part-time, and is functional.
According to his mother, he felt great relief when he heard the
diagnosis. I can only imagine how hellish it has been for him to not
know why he is different.
The truth is that
for me, he was a gift. I can still see his blonde hair and cherubic face
sitting in the front row of my class. I will never forget his kind ways,
and I pray he will not forget mine either, and that I eased his passage
to learning and adulthood. Remember this story. It has been over fifteen
years since I have seen this boy, who is now a man—but his parents
have never forgotten me or I them or him.
This means that you
are aware of the many factors in schools that can hurt children and take
steps to prevent it.
adhering to fire, disaster drills, and safety procedures in the building
(includes attending training and learning, reading manuals, posting exit
maps and procedures as required, checking the identification of visitors
to the building).
This also includes
reporting parents who are abusive—this can be done anonymously now and
in most states- it is a crime, and you can lose your license, if you do
not report it.
reporting teachers on your campus, whom you have witnessed or have
strong evidence regarding, abusing children or using legal or illegal
drugs while working. If your evidence is strong enough, it is your
obligation to report it to your administrator, and if he/she does
nothing, to then report this person to the legal authorities. It is your business, if the teacher next door is drinking while on the
job. Not only are our reputations being damaged by immoral or unethical
behavior like this, but trust in a community is severely damaged when
this happens. Nothing happens in a vacuum, but usually someone knows
something or suspects something, but we remain quiet. Why? Our loyalty
does not lie with these types of people, but to the children we are
sworn to protect.
Last, do not forget
that bullying—in all forms—is abusive and many believe that it leads
to violence and rage. Witness Columbine and the many other school
shootings in this country. While it may seem convenient to blame
parents, it is also OUR responsibility to observe, protect, and
intervene. This may mean training for your campus regarding bullying and
intervention techniques. or lacking that reading a book recommended by
your counselor. There are wonderful programs out there, so don’t let
your lack of knowledge be an excuse.
I will never forget
the two incidents in my teaching career that exemplified this
In walked a surly,
long-haired, six foot tall juvenile into my eighth grade English class.
With a sardonic grin he fell into a chair, and slumped down, sticking
his legs out into the aisle. He was devilishly good-looking and as I was
soon to find out very popular with boys and girls in the school—who
seemed to respect him a great deal.
Warily heading to
the front of the class, I began to teach. Halfway through, I broke for
class work and homework assignments. He ignored the work and began
drawing. As I drew closer I viewed the most exquisite art work I have
ever seen. I expressed admiration for his work and asked him if he was
in Art class. No, he replied.
After the day was
over I headed to the counselor to find out more about this young man.
Apparently he had a very bad reputation. I insisted he be allowed to
take Art and went to speak to the Art teacher. Of course, his schedule
had to be changed and he was moved out of my room.
I know you may think
that was my motivation… but I assure you it was not. He had a talent I
had never seen before in one so young.
She said, “One
mistake and he’s gone.”
“Fair enough, just
give him a chance,” I murmured.
The next morning he
was gone to another English class. I saw the Art teacher several days
later and asked her how he was doing.
She said,” He’s
no trouble. As a matter of fact, he’s a big help. He cleans up and
carries materials for me.”
“Is he as good as
he appeared to be?”
me things I didn’t even know,” she said.
In my second year of
middle school at another campus, an African –American juvenile,
convicted of sexual assault, sauntered into my class and sat across two
chairs in the back of my remedial English class. (They had those types
of classes then).
slammed his books down on his desk and gave me a belligerent look. I
really was scared to death. Our turning moment came later in the month.
We warily tried to respect each other. But one day he refused to stand
up for the pledge.
“Get your ass up
and stand up. I can’t make you say the pledge, but you can stand up
and be respectful of YOUR fathers, brothers, and uncles who shed their
blood for that flag,” I said. See what I mean about stupid.
But the funny thing
is, is that it worked. I meant it, and he knew it. I helped him think
about the fact that probably just as many African-Americans have shed
their blood for this country and flag as whites. He was showing
disrespect for them, not me. He never gave me any trouble after that. I
respected him and helped him learn and I think he respected me.
Due to some events
in my life, I had to leave that position that year at mid-year. No,
it was not due to stupidity on my part. I heard later that he threw
chairs across the room with the new teacher, and was expelled.
It is ironic I
mention middle school incidents. I guess it is because, usually,
elementary children are so easy to love. Not always, of course, but for
the most part. Sometimes, it is harder with the older ones.
that for some children, you may be the only person that may ever care
about them, or believe in them.
Your job is to teach
AND help them learn. It is not enough to write assignments on the board, teach beautifully,
or assign exciting projects or books to read…if they are not learning.
How do you know if
they are learning? Ask them. If they can’t answer, or won’t answer
you, use a form of assessment that measures MASTERY. Warning this is not
usually a test made by the state, the district, or some textbook, but
one you have designed yourself or planned as an assessment when you
planned the lesson.
If you do not know
to plan assessment for learning and mastery as part of the teaching or
lesson plan, then that’s a whole other chapter.
I can tell you
briefly these things help: let them teach and re-teach each other when
learning, let them work in groups, give them plenty of practice, re-teach
often, when needed, do not move too fast, do not assume everyone has
learned because you have taught it, and do not take the results of
learning as indicators of mastery. Not the same thing. Enough said.
It seems to be an
unfortunate comment on the times that teachers who are not certified in
an area or subject matter are being asked or forced to teach in a
subject unfamiliar to them.
I can’t fix that
and probably most teachers can’t either. But if you are in this
position, be a professional and learn on your own. Take classes,
professional development, audit other teachers, seek a mentor, and read
professional books and magazines. Many professional journals are online
now. There’s no excuse why a teacher can’t spend an hour a day
reading to further his/her education.
If you are teaching
in an area/subject that you are certified in, do not become complacent.
Use last year’s lesson plans as ideas, but do not repeat them. You
have a different set of students with different capabilities. You have a
different schedule. This all means different learning and achievement.
Also, keep learning.
There are few things worse than an experienced teacher who is so sure
he/she is right and his/her way is the only way to teach. Not only is
this a big turn-off for other kids and teachers, it is for parents, as
well. That is arrogance and complacency at its worst.
regarding learning bombards us with how little we really know about how
the brain works. Keep learning, reading, attending professional
I am also in favor
of knowing some of the obvious basics that are the foundation of all
learning as tried and true pillars:
Simple to complex is
Alphabet and Phonics
mastery precedes reading.
foundational skills basic to learning your lessons
Spelling and writing
are integrative and essential to each other.
Teach the student in
the way he/she learns best.
Modify to meet
Keep learning fun.
students and give them breaks.
Have a passion for
what you do.
Easy to say, isn’t
it. But you must love teaching, kids, and have a great passion to see
the light that enters their eyes when they have discovered new material.
There is no greater high in the natural world.
you are bored with life and teaching, please…please… do us all a
favor and find something else to do that lights your fire.
I don’t really
know how to tell you to light what might not be there, but you might
keep these ideas in mind.
Make sure you
balance your life with play, fun, and hobbies. Don’t neglect your own
children or spouse for teaching. Get enough rest, eat right, and take
I really do not
think the general public realizes how difficult teaching 25 students can
be. It is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining. Pray a lot,
read for pleasure, and find pleasure in life. Whatever renews your
spirits and soul, helps breathe new life into your love for teaching.
I know the pay is
often poor, and some teachers have to work second jobs just to make ends
This is a terrible
invitation for teachers to leave the field, and communities that support
low pay for teachers usually get what they pay for.
I was just thinking
the other day how ironic it is that some professionals have no problem
buying big, expensive cars, homes, and clothes because …” you get
what you pay for.”
But they rarely
apply that to schools and teacher’s salaries.
How can I do that,
Good question, and
it may be a hard one, but not impossible.
One teacher can make
a tremendous difference and we all have heard the stories about those
teachers. And you do not have to write a book about it, or make a movie
either, to do this.
A first step is to
join the P.T.A. or P.T.O. at your school and become active—within
reason. Help out with fund raisers, community drives, or ideas to
encourage the children to be a helpful part of the community. Serve on
the board, if you can.
Serve on community
boards, district groups, or brainstorming groups. Work on committees on
your campus to improve standards of learning for teachers.
organization devoted to learning and helping kids learn.
Become certified in
areas of need, and be willing to learn from other great teachers.
community or school when you are able with pride, confidence, and
professionalism. Do not gossip or belittle your school or your district.
Dress professionally. Tight, revealing, or sloppy clothes indicate a
lack of self-esteem and pride regarding yourself.
It is not a
contradiction when I say this in light of my comments regarding
reporting abusive behavior. This is plain old courtesy and good manners,
which seems to be a dying commodity, lately.
You can still and
should show respect for all professionals in your building; from the
janitor to the school secretary. This means being courteous and polite,
saying please and thank you, often. Asking politely for something is
mature behavior, instead of acting like outraged children that you do
not have it NOW.
The Golden Rule to
“do unto others as you would have them do unto you” still applies
everywhere. Even if other people do not abide by it, you can. You can
turn the other cheek, when you need to. I am by no means suggesting that
you let others abuse, belittle, or insult you, and take it. But you can
respond like an adult without insult and disparagement.
You may have noticed
that everyone has a chip on their shoulder lately and flies into a rage
over the slightest incident. (Witness road rage, temper tantrums in
stores.) This is not assertive behavior, this is adolescence,
immaturity… refusing to grow to adulthood.
A school system is a
social group nurtured by courtesy, empathy, and understanding. Do your
part to be the adult. Speak to everyone every day. Say Good Morning.
Tell people goodbye. Ask if they need help. Help out when you can.
Don’t fight with other teachers or gossip about them.
I admit that at
times this has been hard for me. I have seen a change that were made for
political reasons or for personal aggrandizement and it was very
discomfiting for me.
But in general I can
tell you that most administrative personnel care about kids as much as
teachers. They have a hard job to oversee the general plan and all the
details. It is particularly hard when they want to implement change and
they have few supporters.
Most teachers will
tell a principal why all the changes they want to implement won’t
work, but these same teachers rarely have an alternative solution or
have even thought about it. Complainers and gripers bring everybody
Remember creating a
community of learners can not be done with the leaders. Do your part.
Willingly cooperate and help the leaders. They will see you as part of a
team instead of someone they wish would leave the community. If change
is happening, try to become part of the learning curve, you may be
surprised at how much you learn, and this may change your opinion of the
change being implemented.
Maybe you can’t
stay in teaching. Maybe the salary is so low, you can’t survive. No
one should be forced to starve, just because they are willing to serve a
cause greater than themselves. But if you love it, and are good at it,
even if you are approaching burn-out, try to stay in the field of
Becoming a principal
is not the answer, if you love teaching. Trust me, most of them are
handling paperwork and bureaucratic demands; they are not teaching and
working with kids on a minute by minute basis. If they were ever any
good at teaching, most of them miss it, and envy you.
Taking a leave of
absence may work for you. Approaching teaching from a different angle
may work. The Peace Corps still needs teachers. Teaching overseas can be
exciting. Asian countries always need English teachers. Going back to
school may help re-ignite the fire and passion for you.
Taking off a couple
of years to try something else is always okay. You may find that you
missed teaching and wanted to go back. Schools respect that, so don’t
worry that you won’t find a job.
All areas of reading and writing, from the 'nuts and bolts' of strategies and activities to holistic overviews are examined in this book. Some of the best methods, tips, and techniques are applications described by Armstrong in relation to the several intelligences our students possess. This is a powerful view into the important aspects of education and how we can effectively teach our students.
We normally think of reading and writing as skills that are a part of linguistic intelligence. In The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing: Making the Words Come Alive, Thomas Armstrong shows how involving the other seven intelligences-logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic-will help students acquire reading and writing skills, especially those students who are not particularly strong in linguistic intelligence.
Have you read The Multiple Intelligences of Reading and Writing? Do you have comments you’d like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.
I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.
When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town.
I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself,
My family and I could have made an impact on our town.
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Designing and Running a Medieval Fair
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