FEATURES  FOR   TEACHERS

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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 3, Issue 1

January 2007

   

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Crosswords and Word Puzzles:
A Great Way to Review in Class

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

Many of us enjoy the challenge of a good crossword puzzle in our local papers when sitting down to breakfast on the weekends or passing the time when traveling. But did you ever think about the benefits of using crosswords and other word puzzles in class?

Crossword puzzles are said to be the most popular and widespread word game in the world. However, according to George Elliott of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, http://www.crosswordtournament.com/more/wynne.html, this serious adult pastime has a relatively short history. To paraphrase Elliott, “The first crosswords appeared in England during the 19th century. The first known, published crossword (December 21, 1913 in the Sunday newspaper the New York World) was created by a journalist named Arthur Wynne, who is usually credited as the inventor of the popular word game. Wynne based his crossword on a similar, though much older game (played in ancient Pompeii) called Magic Squares or word square, which was a group of words arranged so the letters read alike vertically and horizontally. These word squares were printed in children's puzzle books and other periodicals. During the early 1920's other newspapers picked up the newly discovered pastime and within a decade crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers.”

Crossword puzzles require two fundamental vocabulary skills, 1) knowing the definition of the word and 2) knowing how to spell the word correctly. This can be a great way to review important terms and words for any class, from foreign languages, to math, to science, to language arts. By varying the number of words, and the size of the letter boxes, crosswords can be used at any grade level. Even lower elementary students can fill in these puzzles, and many children love the interesting shapes and connections between words.

Crosswords are not difficult to create, especially with the help of your handy computer. There are several on-line websites that allow you to input your vocabulary word list and definitions (clues). Good programs also allow you to customize the puzzle, changing the puzzle’s overall dimensions, box sizes, title, and even colors. One easy to use puzzle making website is located at

http://puzzlemaker.school.discovery.com/

Once there, you simply choose the type of puzzle you wish (you can even see examples of the different types of puzzles, including math puzzles, mazes, and word searches among others)

Crossword puzzles are fun for students, and they provide a welcomed break from finishing review worksheets, studying vocabulary lists, and answering questions from the textbook.

 

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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  TECH CORNER

Communication is Changing
part one


By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

This is the first in a series.  Times have changed, and the internet is changing the way we do many things. In the past, to be an author, you had to submit an article to a publisher and hope to get approval. Today, you set up a blog account and then keyboard away. This allows anyone and everyone to read what you have to say. This is certainly a radical change from the past, for anyone can become a writer. 

Visual media used to be solely the product of movie producers and large corporations. Today, a person can take their digital video camera and film their project. They can then load it into their computer and use an inexpensive program, such as iMovie, to edit their film and add effects. For more extensive changes there are other applications available for use at a higher cost, but still within the everyday person's budget. Upon completion, they can take their movie and upload it to YouTube.com for everyone to view. 

So what does this mean to education? 

In the past, a student wrote an assignment for the teacher to look at and grade. No one else would see it, so the whole goal would be for a grade. Making movies was unheard of. Becoming a published author was reserved for only those lucky enough to catch someone's attention and interest that had the power to publish. 

Now all that has changed and is available to everyone. Classblogmeister.com, gaggle.net, or epals.com provide safe places for teachers and students to go and speak their mind and yet allow it to be under the teacher's control. If we, as teachers, continue to do writing the old way it doesn't reach today's students. This isn't how the real world works. If our goal is to get students to become better writers and get excited about writing, we need to provide real world experiences for them. 

Your students will thank you, as mine have.

Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 20 year teaching veteran of 5th and 6th grade students at Inland Lakes Middle School in Indian River, MI.  He is currently working on Masters of Integration of Technology from Walden University. 

Prior to teaching, Mark spent 11 years as Department Manager for Sears, Roebuck and Co. dealing with emerging technologies.  He has been married to his wife Bonnietta for 32 years with one daughter and two sons.  In the summers, Mark works for Mackinac State Historic Parks in the as a historical interpreter.

StarTeaching Featured Writer

Mark Benn is a leading expert in using technology in the classroom.  
You can feel free to contact him on email at mbenn@inlandlakes.org or at his blogsite:  http://www.furtrader.blogspot.com/ 

 

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

http://www.starteaching.com/newsletter.htm



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

Building Positive Relationships 
Around Your School:
  
Office Secretaries

This SPECIAL REPORT is from a series of articles on building positive relationships in your school. They include building relationships with your office secretaries, janitors, librarians, and cooks.  All of these people are vital to the running of the school, and its in your best interest to 'get in good' with them as soon as possible. 

This first article describes why you should hold your school secretaries in the highest of regards.

Your office secretary is vital to the running of your school. Not only does your secretary handle office duties including answering the phone, typing reports, memos, and newsletters, and keeping & organizing supplies, but also may have responsibility for handling minor discipline problems, watching students in the office, scheduling students & classes, first aid & nursing, attendance, and dealing with parents.

This is the first representative of your school to all visitors, and the secretary essentially sets the attitude of the office. To students, they can be a counselor or advisor; to parents, they can be a welcoming committee. To teachers, the secretary can be a helpful hand.

Your office secretary is the communications hub of the school, responsible in many cases for every detail in running a school. They often set up meetings, make the important phone calls, and schedule events.

It is very important for you as a new teacher to develop and keep a positive relationship with your office secretaries.

They keep you up on events and important information around the school. Many times they will do office tasks for you if you ask them nicely.

Most secretaries do far more in a school than they could ever get paid for. They do their job with little thanks, and yet most don’t show they like the attention of appreciation. It is very important to remember them on holidays (such as Secretaries Day) and other special occasions.

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

 

Website of the Month:

KidsDinos.com
Dinosaurs, Monsters, Terrible Lizards

Our January WEBSITE OF THE MONTH award is presented to, KidsDinos, an interactive site for students, parents, and families.  

KidsDinos is an interactive website for students to learn all about dinosaurs.  A 'friendly' dinosaur roar greets visitors to the site, and excellent graphics lure students into the various activities.  A section on Dino Data shares valuable information on a large variety of dinosaurs.  "Dinorize It" provides a flash-card like activity to help kids memorize facts about dinosaurs.  The Palentology section gives scientific data and information about the land and time periods of the dinosaurs.  There are also links to other dinosaur sites and activities around the web. 

The dinosaur games section in particular is quite excellent.  There are several game/activities for students to try out.  These include flashcards and hangman, classification, and other games.  One I liked in particular was the dinosaur mutation, where you are able to mutate the looks of a given dinosaur.  It was quite cool.  Mostly, the games are aimed at an elementary school level.   

  

This is a user-friendly website with quick links to the various parts of the site.  It is a great resource for elementary teachers.  

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

http://www.kidsdinos.com/

 


 

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"HAPPINESS ON HOLD"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

How's this for a New Year's Resolution?

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are.

After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, or when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way. So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with...and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting

--until your car or home is paid off
--until you get a new car or home
--until your kids leave the house
--until you go back to school
--until you lose ten pounds
--until you gain ten pounds
--until you finish school
--until you get a divorce
--until you get married
--until you have kids
--until you retire
--until summer
--until spring
--until winter
--until fall
--until you die

There is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

So -- work like you don't need money, Love like you've never been hurt, And dance like no one's watching.

Hope for the best and never forget that anything is possible as long as you remain dedicated to the task


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In This Week's Issue 
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Crosswords and Word Puzzles: 
A Great Way to Review in Class

Tech Corner: Communication is Changing

New Teacher's Niche:
Building Positive Relationships 
with School Secretaries

Website of the Month

Themes on Life:  
"Happiness on Hold"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


 

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10 Days Of
Writing 
Prompts 

Day
1

What is meant by Success?

Day
2

Why do Americans strive for success in everything they do?   

Day
3

Describe FIVE ways you can be successful in school.

Day
4

Create a short story or poem describing a time you were successful in something you did. 

Day
5

Write down 5 questions you still have about something we learned in class this week. 

Day
6

What does it mean to be a success in your job or profession?

Day
7

Make a list of 10 ways success in a job or profession can be seen by others.  

Day
8

Brainstorm a list of FIVE stressful jobs and then match each with a statement of how one could be successful in each.

Day
9

Describe the most successful class you've taken at school.  Why was it a success to you?.  

Day
10

Create a short, 5 question multiple-choice quiz to cover this week's class information.  

 

10 days of writing prompts

 

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Teach with Your Strengths: 
How Great Teachers Inspire Their Students


By Rosanne Liesveld, 
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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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