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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 2, Issue 17

September 2006


Welcome back to School!

We at StarTeaching wish you all an excellent, prosperous, and fulfilling school year.  Remember, teachers touch lives.  We are charged with the care and development of our world's most prized possessions - our children.  

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Creating a Class Rules Pamphlet

by Frank Holes, Jr..
Middle School Teacher

We've found that teaching your classroom rules and procedures right away at the beginning of the school year will tremendously improve your chances of a successful relationship with your students.  This should include giving your students a hard copy to keep, look over, and even discuss with their parents

Our seventh grade team accomplishes this by creating a course introduction pamphlet.  This tri-fold pamphlet is given out on the first day of class and presented by each member of the teaching team.  That way we teachers are all on the same page, and students have consistency between their classes.

Creating a pamphlet is relatively easy on a word processing program.  You will need to change your page setup from 'portrait' (normal 8.5 x 11 tall) to a 'landscape', the 8.5 x 11 long.  You will also need to create two or three columns to type in (two if you are simply folding in half, or three if the pamphlet is a tri-fold). Your word processing program will automatically adjust your document's margins, though you might want to print it out and double check the margin space when you're finished (sometimes copy machines will 'slide' your original up to 1/2 inch, so try a sample).  Once the paper is folded, this setup will make your pamphlet look professional.   A bi-fold pamphlet is easy to create and fold, but a tri-fold looks so much nicer both to your students and parents. 

You'll want a catchy cover with basic class or grade information.  Include a school graphic or clip art with the teachers' names, the classes, periods, room numbers, and other key info.  We've added a place for both students and parents to sign, indicating that they have read through and understood these rules and procedures.  This returned signature becomes the students' first assignment for your class.  In fact, I like to allow three days to get them turned in, giving 10 extra credit points if it's two days early, and 5 extra credit points for one day early.

The next few pages display what we will cover in class this year.  Its not in great detail, but simply an overview.  In English, for example, a brief section is devoted to our main areas, writing, reading, literature, speech, technology, and presentations.  In science, a brief section is devoted to the areas of ecosystems, matter, waves, rocks & minerals, and weather.  The same is done for math and social studies and any other core classes. 

The last few pages cover class rules and procedures.  We always try to have just a few important rules that are general enough to cover most events that can happen in class.  We like to include a rule about respecting all people and materials, since this is general enough to cover most poor behavior choices not specifically mentioned. 

You'll want to include a section on your discipline procedures so students know exactly what punishments or consequences are due to them if they make poor behavior choices.  Again, leave yourself room by adding a statement such as "Serious or continual problems may result in skipping one or more discipline steps."  As always, follow your school or district's codes or policies in making up your class rules.

Procedures are different from rules in that these are desired behaviors you want your students to display at particular moments in class.  Some procedures will include your class warm up or wrap up, passing in papers, raising hands, lining up, sharpening pencils, and even answering the telephone, among others.  You'll want to spend some quality time thinking of what your students are going to DO in class, and the most effective way to accomplish these tasks.  Be clear and simple when writing these down so the kids understand them. 

The rules packer looks nice and professional.  Students and parents alike will enjoy (and respect) the fact that you've taken the time to spell out exactly your expectations and to begin communicating with them.  By having a section to sign and return, no one can claim they weren't aware of your rules or procedures. 


Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the other articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm


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Does Your Kid Have a Great Teacher? Here's How You Know.

By Christina J. Riggan

Christina Riggan, a twenty-five year veteran of public schools, and a current teacher in a primary (K-5) school in Austin, Texas, has worked with a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten to adults. Her certifications include Kindergarten, Reading, ESOL, Language Arts, and she holds a Principal's Certificate and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Her chosen area of focus currently is writing books (fiction and nonfiction) and articles that might help parents, teachers, and students. She is married to David, her husband of thirty-eight years, has two happily married sons, and four wonderful grandchildren. She may be reached at criggan3@sbcglobal.net or at her book's website www.howtobeagreatteacher.com

After meeting with your child's teacher spend some some time thinking about these
ideas listed below to help you decide if you have a great teacher for your child.
And even though most people make up their minds about whether they like others or
not in a few seconds, give your child's teacher a fair shot and meet with her
several times to learn enough about her to make a decision.  These may help serve as a
guideline for you.

1. Does she care about your child in every way? A great teacher is a trained
observer of children and looks out for signs of poor learning, social adjustment
problems, poor vision, poor hearing, learning problems, and whether he/she is happy
or not. These are documented and based on many observations and are not a subjective
and momentary judgment.

2. Does she listen to your concerns and your child's concerns? Does she ask
clarifying questions about your child's dreams, goals, desires? Does she make plans
and set goals with this information?

3. Does she exhibit good values, is she moral and honest, and considered respectable?
He/she may have different values than yours but they would not be considered a
harmful influence or morally bankrupt. 

4. Does she respect your family and demonstrate that by being courteous and
considerate? Examples of this would be: Answering your questions with courtesy,
respecting your family situation- whatever that may be, returning phone calls or
emails promptly, setting up conferences when requested or needed.

5. Great teachers respect the importance of good grades and test scores but also
value the learning and growth that may have occurred that grades sometimes cannot
measure.  She is able to demonstrate this growth through understandable and acceptable
measures. Examples might be learning journals, performance tasks, benchmark tasks,
essays, experiments, reports etc.

6. She communicates clearly, fairly and as frequently as is humanly possible and as
much as that family may wish.  Examples of this may be: Newsletters, letters, phone
calls, announcements of events. Others might include letting you know your child is
failing in time for him/her to recover his/her grade before the end of the reporting
Or if your child has been sick for a week, he/she is not required to complete every
worksheet he/she has missed but only the most important ones for learning.

7. She is equitable or fair with all students. Examples might include giving everyone
a chance to redo a problem on the math exam because everyone failed that problem.
She doesn't punish the whole class for the infractions of a few.

8. She values the immense possibilities from learning through taking risks, errors, and
mistakes and sees learning as a journey. She encourages a low-risk environment in
the classroom. Kids are encouraged to take risks and are not chastised for mistakes.

9. She is knowledgeable about and values cultural, racial, and religious
differences, and teaches diversity in the classroom. This means it is an integrated
part of her curriculum all year, not just for a holiday.

10. She is academically competent and thoroughly trained in all areas. She may have a
certification of training for a special form of learning and that's okay. But she
should be certified in the main area of her teaching. If she is teaching all the
math for fifth grade, let's make sure she has a degree in math or the requisite
educational hours (this could be 18 hours at the collegiate level).

I hope you have found this information helpful. Remember to give your child's
teacher a chance and interact enough before making any judgments- just like you
would like her to do for you!


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Website of the Month:

Where Children Have Fun 
Learning to Read!

Our September WEBSITE OF THE MONTH award is presented to, Starfall.com, an interactive reading website for students, teachers, and parents.    

Starfall is an exceptional website for children to practice reading skills in an interactive manner.  The majority of the website is free, but the site does offer several writing journals, materials, and books you can order to use either with the website or in your own curriculum.  

Among the many interactive games and activities are video read-along stories involving snowmen (this one was very cute) to sing along with and a mouse who writes letters to grandparents.  Its a great chance for students to learn and use vocabulary skills along with reading and writing.  

Four specific sections of the site are designed to help with letter/sound recognition, beginning readers, intermediate readers, and advanced readers.  Each section has activities to help students not only learn to read, but to have fun while reading.  

The download center features free printable worksheets, activities, and materials you can use in your classroom.  These are all in Adobe for ease of use.    

This is a user-friendly website with quick links to the various parts of the site.  You could use this as a an interactive site to use in class, as a supplemental for your students to check out at home, and even as a homeschooling website to teach children.

Check this site out, you'll be glad you did.  Simply click the link below:








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"A Wise Donkey"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Even an old donkey knows never to give up...

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer looked down the well, and was astonished at what he saw.

As every shovel of dirt hit his back, the donkey did something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed, as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of a hole is to shake it off and take a step up.

Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest holes just by not stopping, never giving up!

Shake it off and take a step up! 

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In This Week's Issue 

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Creating a Class Rules Pamphlet

Does Your Kid Have A Great Teacher?  Here's How You Know.

Website of the Month

Themes on Life:  
"A Wise Donkey"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Back to School Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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10 Days Of


What is your favorite class so far this year, and why?


What is your least favorite class so far this year, and why?   


Brainstorm a list of at least 5 ways you can make your least favorite class better.


Describe how you could make your favorite class even better. 


Write down FIVE questions you have about something we learned in class this week 


Why do Americans celebrate Patriot Day?


What is a Patriot?  Why were the Patriots so important to American history?


Describe TWO ways you can show your patriotism in your school.


Is patriotism important in today's world?  Why or why not?


Create TWO short writing assignments based on what we've learned this week in class..


10 days of writing prompts


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Linking Teaching Evaluation and Student Learning

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Coming Soon:

Designing and Running a Medieval Fair

Technology & Teaching: Setting up for Handhelds

Discipline Procedures in School

Using Magic in the Classroom


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