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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 3, Issue 8

April 2007


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SQ3R Sheet
Check out our NEW FREE online resources, including the SQ3R sheet for reading 
and the Paragraph Graphic Organizer for writing.  These are forms you can fill in online and print, or have your students fill them in and print them for class!

Paragraph Organizer

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Proofreading Paragraphs

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

Proofreading is all about finding and correcting mistakes in the students' writing. You'll want to train your students to read over their own work looking for corrections to be made. You will also want to teach your students to peer check each other's writing. And you'll want to have time in class to discuss various rules and applications.

We like to have the students create a Grammar Handbook where they can write in the various rules we discuss during the year. Never assume your students know and understand the rules you'll cover during the year. We do review the various parts of speech, though we won't spend much time on those. Through the course of the year, students will continually add rules and examples to their handbooks. Some of these are from notes I provide students, and others are from the discussions we have in class. I also allow the students to use these Grammar Handbooks on quizzes and tests, and they are always available when students write in class.

Our students complete Daily Oral Language (DOL) activities for proofreading practice. The DOL is an on-going activity where students practice editing and proofreading sentences or paragraphs. Put up one or two sentences that have several mistakes in spelling, grammar, or mechanics. Have students correct these using proofreader's marks and discuss the changes as a class. There are a number of companies out there that have workbooks and overhead sheets with plenty of these warm up activities. But you can also put together your own exercises very easily. Find a few sentences from the literature or stories you're reading and type them out, making a few 'mistakes' for the kids to find and fix. Use size 16 or 18 font so they're easy to see, and copy onto an overhead sheet so you can re-use these again. Have a paper copy of the 'answers', the corrected sentences, and be sure to have your students add the new rules to their Grammar Handbook.

Another related activity is the DOL Paragraph. Once or twice a week, we give the students an entire paragraph to correct. This will have the same grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage mistakes the students had seen during the week.

These three activities, practiced on a daily or weekly basis, can really help your students to learn the various rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics. You can even create paragraph or essay topics to have students explain the various rules they've learned. You'll find a few examples below:

“Describe what a CONJUNCTION is, and describe how it is used.”

1. (2 points) Topic Restated in the Topic Sentence

2. (3 points) Define a 'Conjunction'

3. (3 points) Three supports (examples)

4. (3 points) Use THREE conjunctions properly

5. (3 points) Personal Life Experience

6. (4 points) Topic Restated in the Clincher

7. (2 points) Title at the Bottom

20 points total


“Describe and give examples of THREE ways a COMMA can be used.”


1. (2 points) Topic Restated in the Topic Sentence

2. (3 points) Define a 'Comma'

3. (3 points) Three examples of comma use

4. (3 points) Use THREE commas properly, one for each rule

5. (3 points) Personal Life Experience

6. (4 points) Topic Restated in the Clincher

7. (2 points) Title at the Bottom

20 points total

Proofreading is a skill students can become good at, just like any other skill that must be practiced. Similar to the editing procedures, we like to have students 'proof on the fly' when they are retyping their second drafts. This is making the corrections as students are typing. Now granted, many computer programs will actually tell students when a mistake has been made. That does make it easier for students. But there are times when the computers can be mistaken. Homophones are one prime example. I don't worry too much about the computer corrections, because our students are getting so much practice with proofreading. And when the computer displays a mistake, the students still have to know how to make the correction.

Editing and Proofreading are both important skills for your students. But never forget your focus. The best way to improve the students writing is by drafting, writing as much as possible, even on a daily basis if at all possible.

Looking for more ideas on writing?  See our website by clicking the following link:



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Living with Sensory Processing Disorder: A Family Affair

By Liane Worthington

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This piece was written by a mother and daughter team. 12 year old Emily Brout suffers from a disorder known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Her predominant condition is Auditory Over-Responsivity, which means that common every day sounds and noises cause Emily to retreat into a fight or flight response. As one in a set of triplets, Emily has to deal with being the only one of her siblings to suffer from this disorder and, though she looks like a normal little girl, she has to struggle to live the "normal" life of a 12 year old. She wrote the first half of the piece to give readers a glimpse of what life is like for her. Emily's mom, Child Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Brout, wrote the second half of the article. She gives insight on what it is like for a parent and family of a child coping with this disorder. Since Sensory Processing Disorders affect nearly 5% of American children, she gives advice on how a parent can cope with their child's needs and also balance family life. Please feel free to review the article attached and contact me with questions or requests. 

A child’s view on how SPD effects family relationships

Living and coping with a disorder can often consume a child’s world. For children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), this can be especially challenging as most children with SPD are seemingly “normal”. Many people do not often realize that these normal-looking children could be plagued by such an emotionally, physically and socially taxing disorder. Emily Brout knows all too well how difficult it is to explain her disorder: “Sometimes it is really hard to explain what Sensory Processing Disorder  (SPD) is to other people. It’s very complicated and it’s not even easy for me to understand! Many people don’t know anything at all about SPD because there hasn’t been a lot written about it or on T.V. So most people have no idea how SPD makes a person like me feel. In fact, there are many people who don’t even think SPD is real! That makes me so mad!  Why would anybody make this up?”

Having SPD makes family life and social time with friends tough on Emily. “SPD makes me feel like I’m being attacked by noises, smells, and lights every day. Smells can be really bad, and sometimes even make me throw up. It is very hard to sit in the cafeteria with my friends at school and try to hide the fact that I am gagging because of a smell. Noises are the worst for me. Quiet noises that repeat over and over make me really upset, and these noises are part of every day life.  My sister and brother get mad at me because I yell at them for noises that they make.  Sometimes, I get really sad and don’t want to go anywhere. I also lose my temper and get really mad at people.  I don’t do this on purpose, but my friends and family don’t always realize that. I just cannot help it. Every day I struggle to keep myself calm even though I feel scared, mad and upset on and off, all day.”

Coping with a special need such as Sensory Processing Disorder can be equally frustrating to both the child and his or her family.

A parent’s perspective on raising a child with SPD

Emily’s mom, psychologist Dr. Jennifer Brout, can identify with trying to cope with raising a child who has a special need and maintaining her family dynamics.  “A wise professor once told me ‘Your primary goal is to not make things worse’.  As I consulted psychologists and psychiatrists alike, I wondered if there were any clinicians who even understood what Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) was!” said Brout. “My daughter received Occupational Therapy to remediate her symptoms, yet her personality and our family dynamics had already been shaped by the disorder’s complications.”  Dealing with this frustration and lack of help from mental health professionals who had no real treatment for her daughter, Brout often wondered, “was there anyone out there who would understand that I was not simply giving in to my daughter’s ‘manipulations’ because I was a browbeaten mother lacking any savvy?”

Everyday life posed so many difficulties and heartache for Brout, as a parent who had to watch her child struggle with SPD. “Although her other senses were affected, extreme over-reactivity to certain sounds caused my otherwise sociable, empathic sweet-natured little girl to be unpredictably moody and explosive.  During toddler hood and early childhood she threw tantrums that lasted for prolonged periods of time. She was extremely clingy, and often appeared sad. Background noises that most people didn’t notice set her off into rages.”  Not being able to ease a child’s suffering could leave any parent feeling helpless. Brout remembers one of those moments with Emily, “when she was six years old she looked at me and said ‘When I hear bad noises I feel like I’m turning into the Incredible Hulk’. Then she asked intently, ‘Mommy, can you fix my brain?’ This moment defined the extent to which my daughter was suffering, and how negatively her self-image had been impacted by SPD. What little girl should envision herself as a huge, green, out of control mutant?


What can a parent do? How can a parent mediate Sensory Processing Disorder within family life?

For parents coping with their child’s SPD, Brout offers this advice, “it is helpful to remind yourself that with Occupational Therapy, sensory integration treatment, and as he or she gets older, your child will be able to implement greater control over his or her behavioral reactions to his or her physiological responses. In the meantime, however, regulation (calming the child so that he or she is not over stimulated and agitated) is the first priority.” She goes on to suggest that in order to make this shift, “you must allow yourself to dismiss much of what you have been told about parenting, even by mental health professionals, because it does not apply to SPD children.  For now, think of your child as one whose body over-reacts to sensory stimuli, and who is deficient in calming down.”  When faced with an agitated child whose behavior is effecting family life, Brout suggests using the three R’s: Regulate, Reason and Reassure

Regulate: “Help your over-responsive child calm down by identifying the source of the sensory stimuli, and shift the focus from any resulting conflict. As a child develops greater language and cognitive skills this process becomes easier. However, even younger children with limited language skills can be regulated. Each child is unique which is why it is essential to consult with a professional.”

Reason: “Once your child is calm, review the incident with him focusing on his thought processes.  If he cannot identify the stimuli that triggered his actions, try to do it for him by making suggestions. For younger children, you will have to go through this process with relative simplicity and brevity. With enough consistency your child will understand your message, and will also learn that when he or she is over-stimulated, calming down is the first step! Remember, this process is not an over-night cure!”

Reassure: Remind yourself that your child does not like feeling out of control. Reassure him that over time he will gain control, and that you will help him. Let him know that you expect him to try as hard as he can, but protect his self-esteem and self-image by framing the problem as though it were ‘a work in progress’. Repairing damaged self-esteem and poor self-image is much more difficult than reshaping a child’s misconstrued ideas about the causes and consequences of behavior.  No child should see himself as a huge out of control green mutant being that repels others!”

In regard to family dynamics, Dr. Brout states,  “the SPD child feels victimized by the overwhelming sensory stimuli generated by family members. However, siblings are also likely to feel victimized having often been the object of the over-responsive child’s mood swings and/or aggression. Therefore, it is important to let siblings know that they are not responsible for these problems and that you are doing everything you can to get help for your over-responsive child and for the family. Behavior is not only about actions and consequences. It is about interpersonal relationships and that is especially true in regard to SPD as it affects family functioning.”  

Dr. Brout is available for interview and further commentary.  Contact:
Liane Worthington, Assistant Director of Public Relations 
The Wakeman Agency 
350 Fifth Avenue #4205 
New York, NY 10118 
(p) 212.500.5953 ex118 (f) 212.500.5953 


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Modeling Student Behavior

Whether you as a teacher realize it or not, you are the best model of behavior in your classroom. A large part of your proactive behavior plans should include your own behavior you demonstrate to the students every day.

You must set expectations for your students, demonstrate the behaviors, and be vigilant to correct the kids. Don't waver on your expectations; inconsistencies will only confuse the students and cause you more problems.

If you stay calm, collected, and in control, your students will exhibit the same behaviors. The same is true about enthusiasm; if you are excited about your lesson and truly believe in its importance, the kids will respond in kind. Conversely, the kids will know when you are tired, bored, don't want to be there, or are 'winging it.'

If you are late to class, or don't start on time, the kids will pick up on it and be more likely to do the same. The same is true about the way you dress, the way you act, the language you use, and your 'body language'.

If you want your students working from 'coast to coast', or from bell to bell, you need to set the expectation of activity all hour. Start with a warm up, and ensure the kids are doing it. Keep them busy on activities with transitions between each. Don't let there be any down time. Work them to the end of the period, and have them pack up when you say so, not whenever they want to.

If you want your students to quietly read in class, but you are spending that time working on other things, it sends the message that you don't value the activity personally. Modeling the skill for the kids reinforces your belief that it is important. It show you as a lifelong learner who values the skills you're teaching them.

The same is true for writing. Students rarely have the chance to see real people writing - for many, the only examples (and role models) are their classmates. Work along with your students. Now this doesn't mean you have to do this the entire time. You must also supervise, coach, monitor, and actively support their learning. But you can spend at least a few minutes 'at their level'.

Be a positive role model for your students. Don't just explain and show the behavior; be the example day in and day out.

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 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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Book of the Month Club:

The Revision Toolbox:
Teaching Techniques That Work

By Georgia Heard 

Our April BOOK OF THE MONTH award is presented to The Revision Toolbox by Georgia Heard.  This is a excellent book for teachers of all ages and levels to work on revision of students' writing. 

Amazon.com Review:

How can I get my students to revise their writing? If this is one of your most frequently asked questions, then this is the book for you - a guide to specific strategies you can teach to enable your students to re-see and re-shape their writing on multiple levels, from word choice to organization.

Longtime writer and writing teacher Georgia Heard knows firsthand what a daunting task revision can seem to both students and teachers. First, she addresses students' confusion about the differences between editing and revision. She shows you how to reassure your students that revision is not an indicator of bad writing, but an integral part of the writing process. Then Heard provides ready-to-use strategies that take the mystery out of teaching revision and help even the most reluctant writers revise.

Using three main Revision Toolboxes - Words, Structure, and Voice - she offers dozens of specific revision tools to inspire students to revisit their work. In addition, Heard includes:

  • a Revision Lesson for each tool to show you how to teach that strategy

  • techniques to help students reread their writing from different points of view

  • conferring techniques to guide you when instructing individual students

  • revision examples from students and from Heard's own writing

  • Revision-at-a-Glance - a quick-reference sheet for students on every revision tool.

Make revision inviting. Make it a part of your students' writing process. Then watch as they fine tune and improve-and the real pleasures of writing and teaching begin.

GEORGIA HEARD is an internationally known writer, keynote speaker and educational consultant. Thousands of educators and writers have listened to Ms. Heard speak of her passion for poetry and writing. She has keynoted hundreds of conferences and given workshops on writing throughout the United States as well as in Sweden, Canada, and Southeast Asia and she has brought her love of writing to classrooms throughout the United States. Ms Heard is the author of several books on teaching poetry and writing including her most recent title, The Revision Toolbox: Teaching Techniques That Work (Heinemann, 2002), the popular Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School (Heinemann, 1998), an inspirational and practical book for educators on how to engender a love of poetry among students, Writing Towards Home: Tales and Lessons to Find Your Way (Heinemann, 1995) and For the Good of the Earth and Sun: Teaching Poetry (Heinemann, 1987).

You can order a copy of The Revision Toolbox by clicking the link to our affiliate, Amazon.com 

Have you read The Revision Toolbox?  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.

We welcome articles and book reviews from our readers.  Do you have a great educational book to share with our readers?  Write up a summary, along with the pertinent book information, and email it to us at  editor@starteaching.com. Please type in BOOK CLUB SUMMARY in the subject line.  Book reviews will be proofread and may be edited for content or space.



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"The Cold Within"

Author Unknown

Themes on Life

What lies truly within us?

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In black and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back
For on the faces around the fire,
She noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way
Saw one not of his church,
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third man sat in tattered clothes;
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store.
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within.


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In This Week's Issue 
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Proofreading Paragraphs

School Features:
Living With Sensory Processing Disorder:
A Family Affair

New Teacher's Niche:
Modeling Student Behavior

Book of the Month Club

Themes on Life:  
"The Cold Within "

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Spring Book Sale for Teachers

Website of the Month


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What job would you love to do when you are older?


Describe THREE important aspects of your favorite job.   


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Describe what a typical day in your favorite job is like. 


List FIVE questions you still have about anything we learned in class this week. 


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Make a list of TEN jobs that require the workers to be helpful to others.  


Describe THREE ways you can be more helpful around your home.


Brainstorm a list of as many ways as possible to be more helpful at school.  


In a freewrite, describe an important item you learned in class this week, and tell how it will be useful in real life.  


10 days of writing prompts


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Coming Soon:

Designing and Running a Medieval Fair

Technology & Teaching: Exactly What Are Our Kids Learning?

Discipline Procedures in School

Teaching the Writing Process


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