Visit our Website at: www.starteaching.com

Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 3, Issue 24

December 2007


Welcome back to our StarTeaching newsletter, 
Features for Teachers, packed full of tips, techniques, and ideas for educators of all students in all levels.   

Remember to bookmark this page and to visit our website for more great articles, tips, and techniques!

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

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

Would you be interested in becoming a Featured Writer for the StarTeaching website?

Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for a creative educator interested in designing a set of weekly science activities for students and teachers to use.  

Email your resume and letter of interest to:  editor@starteaching.com


By: Dr.Nagendra Prakash

Dr. Prakash is the director of the Mind Power Institute in India.  His company, a world leader in educational brain research, has developed excellent software to help develop basic thinking and remembering skills.  

I returned home in the evening after a grueling day at work.  I was exhausted and irritable what with the tussle with the boss.  My 12-year-old son sheepishly approached me to sign his marks card.  One look at the scores and my temper flew.

“Why can’t you concentrate and read?” I bellowed.  “Can’t you keep what you read in your memory and take good marks?”

Looking straight in my eyes, my son retorted,  “Can you or mommy teach me how to concentrate, and what I should do to improve my memory capacity?  My teachers at school say the same thing, but nobody tells us how or what to do.”

Have you also been in a similar situation like this before ?

It is so easy as adults to admonish a child or student to concentrate and memorize what they read. But if they turn back and question "How do I do it?", we are at a loss to answer.

Life skills, like any other skills, require constant practice to hone it.  People have the tendency to take these skills for granted and over a period of time they rust from a lack of practice.  Children on the other hand have a lot of opportunities to practice in their daily interaction and learning and they retain their skills at Memory and Concentration.  But parents, elders and teachers curtail even this to keep up with the competition and with the sole aim of scoring good marks.

Children are constantly discouraged to stop playing, conversing, playing outdoor games and to spend their quality time the way they want. They are forced to sit tightly in their room and “read” lessons.  Such lack of exposure and lack of inter-communication leads to obtund life skills in the present generation of children. Many a group of educational institutions have seen through this malady and are now encouraging children to be what they want to do best: play with toys and not bother about forcibly mug up rhymes, exams and scores.

Life skills thus form the very foundation of the structure a child / student is in the process of construction. If the foundation is sound, he can raise floors related to knowledge, job, career, profession, money, power etc, and be successful.

Basic Skills are inbuilt perceptions and awareness in an individual. They take the form of ability, adaptability and application.






Frustration tolerance

Goal formulation


Time consciousness



Locus of control


Logical reasoning

Need for achievement


Divergent thinking

Seeking responsibility

Self regulation

Willingness to learn



Abstract reasoning



Education is not just the abundance of information in the brain which probably runs riot and is incomprehensive. What is required is channeling this information to form character, to strengthen and expand the intellect so as to make an individual capable of independent sustenance.

Ninety percent of an individual's force of thought is wasted without these basic skills and therefore constantly tending to commit blunders.

A trained mind with perfect basic skills seldom makes a mistake.

The only way to retain and sharpen the existing basic skills is to keep up the practice and be detached about the consequences. One ounce of practice is worth thousand tones of big talk.

The question arises now as to whether these skills are enough for our everyday living.


As Swami Vivekananda said, "The essence of education is concentration of mind, not the collection of facts. If I had to do my education over again I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration, memory and detachment and with this perfect instrument I could collect as many facts at will".

Information processing happens at a macro level in the brain. Each detail is recorded in the brain in association with the existing information. To use memory and concentration a student should learn to exercise various regions of the brain. Memory is measured in four different ways: Recognition, Recall, Relearning, and Reintegration

Emphasis on evaluation of these life skills should be a part of curriculum in education. Products and literature on enhancing them should be included. Constant practice in day-to-day life should be encouraged as long as one is fit to function.

MindPower Solutions is a group of professional psychologists, behavior scientists, and educators who have dedicated themselves to finding a suitable solution for this.

After 18 years of research and validation in various schools at Bangalore involving nearly 4000 students, the psychologists and educationists have devised some basic psychometric games.

These psychometric games have now been developed on a web based Visual basic platform to produce versatile software for universal application. These games are fun to work, but at the same time benefits the student to learn the techniques of memory.  Also, by constant practice they can now sharpen their skills.

The software is like a Mental Gym.

Please visit the website,  http://www.mindpowersolution.com

We have a sample game uploaded which you could play for FREE.   You would then realize how unique and different it is.

The psychometric games have been programmed such a way that they are RANDOMLY generated by your own computer and it avoids repetition even if you played thousands of times.  


The software is available both in desktop downloadable version and online version.

Schools and institutions could use EVALUATION version online where the software is given as SAS(Software as Service) in the form of licenses, one for each student with their privacy protected.

http://www.mindpowersolution.com/Institute.ht m

Be sure to check out Dr. Prakash's software at the following address:


Join our Online Community!

Receive weekly articles right in your email and 
discuss educational issues with other teachers from around the world.  

Check it all out and sign up through the following quick link:






Mastering Basic Skills software:


There are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to say this is the most important basic skill for not just to survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment. Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory & Concentration in an individual, namely: 1. Picture recognition
2. Paired Associate Learning
3. Immediate Recall
4. Serial processing
5. Parallel processing
6. Recognition and Recall
Each of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to difficult.

At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as Scores Obtained.

A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18 levels depending on the marks one scores during the test. 

Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by clicking on "history", which gives complete details of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence level and encourages more participation to eventually culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and concentration.

Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance their capability.
This software package is specifically designed to help young children to learn basic skills that will help them in school.  Continued follow-up will give these young learners success as they mature.  

Three versions of the software exist: Individual Software on either CD or Online,   Family Version Software, and an Institutional Software package.

StarTeaching wholeheartedly supports and endorses this software.  It will make a difference with your child or student.

Click HERE to order your own copy today:


Do You Have Great Ideas, Tips, or Techniques to Share with Our Readers?  
Are You Looking To Be Published?

Submit Your Articles On Our Website At:   http://www.starteaching.com/submit.htm


Do you need to raise money for school expenses? Would you like to use your gift of teaching to earn extra money? You can do both with our high quality gourmet vegetable blend scented candles. Learn more about what I have to offer and request your free information packet.


  School Features

The Untold Secret to Creating a Fun Learning Environment

By Michael Kett

Most teachers, including parents who home school their children, are always looking for new techniques to make learning more exciting for both them and their students. If you think back to the teachers you had in school, you probably remember the teachers that made learning fun. What if I told you that there is an easy, fun, and unique magic application that can improve writing skills, verbal communication, and motor abilities, as well as create memory hooks for key curriculum topics? Well, there is…

I know what you are thinking: "But I’m a teacher, not a magician". Being a teacher is what will make this teaching tool successful for you. The magic effects taught in the book, Houdini in the Classroom, are NOT difficult, although they will require minimal practice. The real magic happens when you blend your teaching experience with magic and you see first hand the powerful learning effect this has on your students. Why Harry Houdini? Harry Houdini is still the most famous magician of all time, even though he died in 1926. He captivated his audience’s attention and was a terrific showman and self- promoter. These “Houdini-like” attributes combined with basic magic effects can be applied to the classroom to create a fun and exciting learning environment, regardless of the curriculum and grade level.

I remember my son having a school assignment to write out the directions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a technique to develop descriptive and clear writing abilities. It is a common teaching tool, but what if the teacher taught a simple but amazing magic trick to the class and then had the students write the directions to the trick?

Not only would it be more fun than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it could be combined with developing the motor skills to perform the trick. Plus, what about having the students write a story to accompany the trick? And then tell the story while performing the trick to develop public
speaking skills? What a fun and multifaceted learning activity! The same idea can be used as a behavior modification technique. What child doesn’t love magic? Especially, when they know the secret and can fool their family and friends? Why not offer to teach the class a cool magic trick at the end of the week, if certain goals are accomplished during the week?

I guarantee that any teacher that performs magic as part of the teaching process will have the students sitting on the edge of their seats to see and hear what the teacher does next. Magic is the ultimate attention getter!

Easy magic tricks can be integrated into any lesson plan regardless of subject or grade. You can pick up any beginner magic book at the library but you it will take trial and error to know what tricks are appropriate and how to blend them into your lesson plans. Or you can allow me to help you. I’ve done all the work for you in my book, Houdini In The Classroom. You can become the Houdini In The Classroom at your school!

Michael Kett is, a physical therapist for more than 25 years, is an educator, motivator, and author. His two published books, Applied Magic and Houdini in the Classroom, explore two unique magic applications. Applied Magic demonstrates how to use magic as a therapeutic tool and Houdini in the Classroom shows teachers how to use magic to develop creative thinking, writing skills, verbal communication and self-esteem.

StarTeaching Featured Writer


Check out our selection of past articles, including more about groups and stations, from previous issues at:



Be Sure to Check Out 
Our Website Store for Specials:



Year of the Dogman
A new novel by Frank Holes, Jr.

Part mystery, part science fiction, Year of the Dogman is an imaginative, compelling, and adrenaline-pumping adventure. Author Frank Holes, Jr. takes no prisoners in creating a diabolical creature that leaves the forest to prey on the hapless hamlet of Twin Lakes in Northern Michigan . When night falls, the nocturnal beast, Dogman, scares the living daylights out of anyone he happens upon as he searches for a timeless treasure stolen from a Native American tribe. In the midst of the chaos, a young teacher is forced to put two and two together no matter how high the cost to rid the village of the treacherous man-beast who thrives on destruction and terror.  

The Dogman, a creature of MythMichigan, is an excellent example of modern-day folklore to study in your classes.   


Order your copy by clicking the link below.

We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.  Click here for more information:


New Teachers' Niche: 
A Place for New Teachers, Student Teachers, and Interns

Teaching Listening Skills During Presentations

Presentations are becoming ever more common as teachers change to student-centered classes. These may be students or possibly guest speakers addressing the class. Regardless of who is speaking, the remainder of the students are comprising an audience that must be informed of its expectations during a presentation.

We've developed a short, simple set of rules we call 'Expected Behaviors of a Good Listener'. All of our classrooms (each subject area) have posted these rules, and review them and utilize them whenever a presentation is given. They are easy to teach, remember, and monitor.

Rule 1: Look At The Speaker. This is a no-brainer. The audience is there to watch and listen to the speaker, and attention is mandatory.

Rule 2: Keep Your Hands Still. Free hands are unable to tap pencils, rustle paper, or drop spare change on a tile floor (one of my all-time greatest pet-peeves).

Rule 3: Never Talk When The Speaker Is Talking. This one again seems obvious. The audience is there to listen to the speaker, not to listen to another member of the audience.

Rule 4: Never Distract The Speaker. This is supported by the previous rules, but will also cover other situations. The audience should not make faces or body gestures that detract from the speaker's ability to present.

Rule 5: Keep Questions, Comments, And Laughter To Appropriate Times And Levels. Students will often have questions and comments about the presentations, and these are best posed at the end of the presentation. There will also be instances where funny things will happen or humor is used by the speaker. It is ok for the kids to laugh at these times (it's ok for the teacher to laugh too). We've had instances where puppet show stages and scenery props have fallen over.  We've had tongue twisters gone awry. We've even had hilarious costumes and actions by characters. These and many others will happen as you present more often. That's ok, because these funny moments will help students remember the information better. Just remind students that laughter needs to be kept to an appropriate level, and not to carry on with it. Questions and comments can also be carried on too far. Don't let this time become an attack on the speaker (unless you're in a debate class!)

Ok, so what do we do about a student who chooses to not follow the expectations? We never give warnings, first of all. Once we've covered the rules, we expect immediate compliance. Many students have difficulty getting up in front of class without someone 'stealing their show' or causing them embarrassment.

Basically we take points away from that interrupter's presentation grade. The amount of the deduction is generally up to the individual teacher and weighted for the assignment. The first time it happens, we take off approximately 10% of the possible points. The second time is decreased up to 25% (we have little tolerance for disrupting a speaker). If it happens again, the student loses all credit and is removed from class for the remainder of the presentations.

Presentations are important for students, both as speaker and listener. Check out our website for a free printable copy of these rules that you can put on an overhead sheet or hand out to your students.

Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

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


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


Are There Other Teachers in Your School or District Who Would Love to Receive Our Newsletter?

Be sure to pass along our website and newsletter!


"Santa's Secret Wish"
By Betty Werth

Themes on Life

Who ever thought there was so much more to Santa...

On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes,
Looked deep into Santa's, to Santa's surprise,
And said as he nestled on Santa's broad knee,
"I want your secret. Tell it to me."
He leaned up and whispered in Santa's good ear,
"How do you do it, year after year?

"I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.
How is it, dear Santa, that in your pack of toys
You have plenty for all of the world's girls and boys?
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,
From nation to nation, reaching them all?"

And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,
"Don't ask me hard questions. Don't you want a toy?"
But the child shook his head, and Santa could see
That he needed the answer. "Now listen to me,"
He told the small boy with the light in his eyes,
"My secret will make you sadder, and wise.

"The truth is that my sack is magic. Inside
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.
But although I do visit each girl and each boy
I don't always leave them a gaily wrapped toy.
Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad,
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.
Some homes are broken, and children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?

"My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives, toys aren't enough.
So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy,
And pray with them that they'll be given the joy
Of the sprit of Christmas, the spirit that lives
In the heart of the dear child who gets not, but gives.

If only God hears me and answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there
Are homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love
And boys and girls gifted with light from above.
It's a very hard task, my smart little brother,
To give toys to some and to give prayers to others.
But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed.
For God has a way of meeting each need.

"That's part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,
Is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth.
In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve day
More love than a Santa could ever give away.
The sack never empties of love, or of joys
'Cause inside it are prayers, and hopes. Not just toys.
The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.

"And do you know something? You've got a sack, too.
It's as magic as mine, and it's inside of you.
It never gets empty, it's full from the start.
It's the center of lights, and of love. It's your heart.
And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don't be so concerned with the gifts 'neath your tree.
Open that sack called your heart, and share
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care."

The light in the small boy's eyes was glowing.
"Thanks for the secret. I've got to be going."
"Wait, little boy," Said Santa, "don't go.
Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?"
And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand and whispered
"I will"

See more of our Freebies as well as Special Reports on our website by clicking the quick link below:


Make sure to BOOKMARK our website so you can keep up with more changes and additions through the year.  And feel free to share our site by EMAILING it to a friend.



Email us at editor@starteaching.com

Hit Counter

In This Week's Issue 
(Click the Quick Links below):

Are We Producing A Generation of Marks Scoring Machines?

School Features: 
The Untold Secret To Creating A Fun Learning Environment

New Teacher's Niche:
Teaching Listening Skills During Presentations

Themes on Life:  
"Santa's Secret Wish"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Holiday Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


Sign up for our 

Don’t be just a Guest! Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter, delivered right to your inbox! FREE tips, ideas, and articles.

Subscribe Now!

"Believe that you have it, and you have it."

~Latin Proverb

StarTeaching Links: 

(Click to access our website)

StarTeaching Newsletter Articles & Archives

Submit an Article for our Newsletter

Special, Limited-Time Offers

FREE Special Reports

Technology Center

Educational Links





Do you have a great TEACHING TIP or ACTIVITY to share?

Are you using an innovative TECHNIQUE in your class?

Have you created WRITING PROMPTS that you’d like to add to our WEEKLY CALENDAR?

We welcome, and are always looking for teachers to share successes, stories, and ideas with our readers.

Submit an article to this newsletter by emailing:


Or click the following link:


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


10 Days Of


How has technology changed the way we forcast the weather?


Describe FIVE different weather patterns that affect your home. 


How does the weather affect your life?


What are Three ways that the weather can affect people's moods?


Create a short, FIVE question True/False quiz to cover this week's class information. 


Why do we celebrate the New Year?


What are some of the traditions your family has for celebrating the New Year?


Describe FIVE changes you will make to your life in the upcoming year.


Why is it important to improve our lives each year?


Write down Ten important things you learned this week in any class you've had. 


10 days of writing prompts


Are there other teachers in your district who would enjoy this FREE newsletter delivered to them bi-weekly? 

YOU could qualify for FREE offers when referring others.

Click the quick link below for more information:

Teacher Referral


is brought to you FREE 
by the support of our sponsors:

Griswold Mountain 
Brewing Company

Distinguished Products for 
Distinguished Handcrafters

Specializing in Homemade and Handcrafted products since 1996

Check out our selection of homebrew recipes, ingredients, and equipment on our website:

Mastering Basic Skills software:


Year of the Dogman

A New Novel by Frank Holes, Jr.
Now Available!
click here for more info

Are you interested in advertising with us?
Want to reach an audience of thousands each month?  The StarTeaching newsletter is sent out twice a month, and advertising is available on our website.
Click the link below for more information:
Advertise with Us!




Be sure to check out our

Teaching Makes A Difference

by Carol Cummings



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Getting Ready for Next Year

Setting Up Your Classroom


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

Need a position in a K-12 school, administration, or a coaching job?  Our website has just gained access to a specialized service just for our members and newsletter readers.  Job listings, application and interviewing tips, and priceless information, at your fingertips!

Click here if you want to find that Teaching Job!

10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

What is 4.17 rounded to the nearest tenth?

Day 2

Add: 4.5 + 2.7

Day 3

What is the perimeter of a square 6 feet long?

Day 4

How many vertices does a square pyramid have?

Day 5

What is the perimeter of a regular octagon with each side 8 feet?

Day 6

Estimate by rounding to the nearest tenth: 0.88 + 0.171 + 0.1

Day 7

Mr. Cruz is putting in tiles in is home. The tiles are 1 foot square. The measurements of the rooms are: 2 by 7, 13 by 13, and 15 by 15. How many 1 foot square tiles will Mr. Cruz need for all three rooms?

Day 8 The perimeter of a square piece of cloth is 60 inches. What is its area?
Day 9 Subtract: 5.52 – 4.96
Day 10

How many seconds are in 50 minutes?




Holiday Specials!
Books for Sale!

(Affiliated with Amazon.com)




Home | Newsletter Articles & Archives | FREE Special Reports | Special, Limited Time Offers | Submit An Article For Our Newsletter

Website design by Carrie's Creations Inc. ©2005