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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 3, Issue 14

July 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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Student Editing For Paragraphs & Essays

by Frank Holes, Jr. 
Middle School Writing Teacher

Education is the key toward success for every country.  It helps to boost the economy and to generate democratic society in a country.  The main resource of any country is its Human Resource. 

Editing is making changes in the students' writing for content. This is the opportunity for students to make adjustments to their paragraphs, adding in more details, and getting rid of irrelevant material.

Unfortunately, students really hate to rewrite their drafts. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I have a hunch that they really just want to move on. Blame it on the high speed internet and gaming culture if you want, but regardless of why, students don't want to go back over the same paragraphs over and over.

Our writing program is designed to counter this. Our focus, as you have seen, is on the drafting aspect. The students' writings are kept in a file in class so they are not lost some place. Then every couple of weeks the students choose one paragraph from their file to type into a final form. We like to have students type because it is different than hand writing. This helps counter the boredom aspect, because the kids would much rather work on the computer than write by hand.

Students are required to read over their paragraph before sitting down at the computer. And we teach our students to 'edit on the fly'. This means to make corrections as they're typing. Many students can find the areas where they want to make changes, adding or deleting from their text. After a bit of practice, the students get really good at 'editing on the fly' and they'll begin planning their changes even as they open a new file.

Peer checking and editing is important too.  Partner up students and exchange papers.  I find its good to have students find some of the information on their own papers first before swapping.  For example, each student knows where his or her topic sentence, clincher, and supports are in their paragraphs, but these may not be clear to other students.  Once the important facets of the essay are identified, it becomes easy for the partner to work with and make suggestions.  I like to have students write comments that 'Mr. Holes' would make.  By putting themselves in my shoes, and writing from what they think I'd say about the paper, the pressure of criticizing and making suggestions is lessened.  This has been extremely positive for my own students.  

Editing can be practiced in class too. Use student examples you've copied onto overhead sheets, show them on the front board, and discuss how to add more details, make changes, move words and phrases around, and get rid of irrelevant information. Do this as a whole class activity, and in small groups. Be sure to give students the chance to voice their ideas. You can also type up a few paragraphs, either student examples or ones you've created, and have students practice editing those.

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



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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Teacher Interviews:
Common Sense and Professional Advice

By Tim Winterview.

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Tim Winterview currently teaches fourth grade in a New York elementary school. He is also an experienced teacher interviewer and the author of a popular ebook, "Guide to Getting the Teaching Job of Your Dreams."  

This is the culmination of several years of hard work.  You've finished college.  You're done with your student teaching and you've passed all of your teacher certification examinations.  The applications, resumes, and cover letters have been sent out to every local school district. 

All you can do now is sit around the house and wait for the phone to ring, right?  Wrong!  You should be preparing for your interview! 

I've been to the interview table several times as a candidate and many more times as an interviewer.  If there were any tricks, secrets, or shortcuts to success in the interviewing process, I haven't discovered them.  My only sound advice for candidates is to come to the interview prepared.  

You should have your teaching portfolio in-hand and you should be ready to talk about anything and everything that relates to you, your background, and your philosophies on education.  The best candidates know how to teach, they know how to articulate their teaching beliefs, and most of the time, they already know what types of questions will be asked before the interview even begins. 

It's easy for an interviewer to spot an unprepared candidate.  Candidates who have not practiced basic interview questions beforehand are unnaturally nervous.  They shift in their seats more.  They begin most answers with the word, "uhhhhh."  There are long pauses while interviewers wait for the candidate to process the question and think up an answer.  They get confused by basic educational jargon that they learned in college.  

Almost every teaching interview includes similar, common questions.  In order to be a prepared candidate, all you have to do is practice answering the most common questions before you go to the interview.  If you prepare beforehand, the interview questions will seem routine and familiar.  There are no tricks or shortcuts; if you do your homework you will perform well.  

Body language can show whether you're a confident, qualified teacher or an unsure one.  At the interview, be confident, but not cocky.  Smile when you walk in.  Greet the people interviewing you with a smile and a nod.  Firmly shake the hand of the principal and other interviewers that are within easy reach.  When you take your seat, sit up straight with your feet on the floor and your hands in a relaxed position on the desk. 

Have a mild sense of humor.  Prepare to make some humorous small talk when you are greeted.  For example, if a principal shakes your hand and asks how you are, it's okay to say, "A nervous wreck!"  A whimsical introduction can break the ice.  Be sure your sense of humor is clean and appropriate for an interview. 

Have a teaching portfolio ready.  Your portfolio should contain extra copies of your resume, a copy of your teaching certificate, sample lesson plans, samples of student work, and any other evidence that shows you are a qualified candidate for a teaching position.  It should be bound in a neat, professional-looking leather binder. Place the portfolio in front of you when you sit down at the interview table.  

Usually, the people interviewing you will not ask to see your portfolio.  They do, however, expect you to have it on-hand.  Don't wait for anyone to mention the portfolio.  Instead, you should use it as a tool to describe your teaching experiences.  For example, if you are asked to describe a lesson that involves teaching writing, you might say, "Yes, I can show you!  I have a sample of student work that shows how I teach the writing process." 

The first question at almost every interview will be: "Tell us about yourself."  You should already know what you're going to say.  Keep your answer reasonably brief.  You can talk about the college you attended and provide an overview of your teaching experience. Always be positive.  Try not to say, "I don't know."  Avoid saying, "I'm not really good at..."  Don't say, "That's one of my weak points."  

Always tell the truth, but you don't want to suggest that you're not a confident, successful, qualified teacher.  If you honestly don't know the answer to a question, you might ask the interviewer to restate it in a different way, or you might want to give the best answer you can based on your knowledge and experiences. 

Use lots of examples when you answer questions.  When they ask how you would do something, tell them how you have already done it.  This will make you seem more experienced.  For example, if an interviewer asks, "How would you you use creative problem-solving in your lessons?"  You might answer with, "When I was student teaching, I did a great creative problem-solving lesson when..."  When you use specific examples, you're convincing the interviewers that you're more than just hypothetical talk. 

The final question of your interview will most likely be, "Do you have any questions for us?"  Be prepared with a thoughtful question ahead of time.  While this is probably not the most important question of the interview, it is your last chance to leave a positive impression.  Rather than answering with, "Not really," you should ask something philosophical or complimentary.  You might ask the interviewer why they are proud of their school or what the people you'll be working with are like.  Since your interviewers will probably be meeting with lots of candidates, you should use the opportunity to ask a question and make yourself stand out.  And, think about it: You've been on the hot seat answering their questions for 45 minutes.  You've earned the right to turn the table, even if it is just for a moment. 

When you leave, the interviewers will, of course, be talking about you.  They'll be filling out little forms rating your experience, qualifications, communication skills, and personality.  At the end of the day, they will have about a dozen of these forms sitting on the desk.  They'll look through them all and the chosen candidates will be the ones who were the most memorable, most qualified, and most prepared for the meeting.  With some time and effort, that candidate can be you.

Be sure to check out Tim's Website for more tips on finding that teaching job:


And his website for great teaching resources:



Check out our selection of past articles, including more about school features, 
from previous issues at:


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Be Sure to Check Out 
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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.


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

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Preparing for Your Student Teaching Experience
(part 2)

This is the second in a series of articles by Dr. Peter Manute designed for college interns getting ready for their student-teaching experience. Student teaching is the final step for most teaching programs, and having a positive experience is vital for new teachers. This series of articles will provide many ideas, tips, and suggestions for young educators to make the most of the experience.

Being an intern is an interesting position to be in. The university treats you as a student, making you jump through hoops completing projects and meeting deadlines sometimes seeming totally irrelevant to the internship. The school district you are working in expects you to be a professional educator with all the secrets of innovation and new technologies fresh from the university 'think tank'. Parents think of you as someone who really doesn't know what they are doing yet and don't understand why you are practicing on their kids. They are always quick to point out their perceptions of student teachers when a problem arises about grades or behavior.

Hopefully I will provide you with some practical information presented in a no-nonsense form.

First and foremost, make sure all of your personal chores and plans are in order before you begin your assignment. Once you start it is vital to focus all of your energy and time into your placement.  Secure your housing well in advance and establish a routine of daily tasks. Plan to arrive at school early and plan to stay late. Student teaching is absolutely relentless; you will be exhausted after your first day. The mental and physical strain is unbelievable. Make sure all of your details are taken care of in advance; you don't want anything to interfere with your teaching. Do create some time for yourself or you will self-destruct. You need to keep your mind clear in order to make effective teacher decisions. Plan to have some time each day for your self - it may only be a few minutes, but it is very important. You may think you don't need it, but all veteran teachers will tell you differently.

Secondly, be a sponge. You are new to the profession and regardless of how well your university has prepared you, nothing measures up to being on your own in a classroom. When the door shuts for the first time you will know what I am talking about. Glean as much from your mentor and other teachers as possible, and by all means, don't come across as an expert.

You have not paid your dues and therefore you are really not an expert at anything. Learn from your observations and reflections; don't be afraid to make mistakes. As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies. By all means keep in close contact with your mentor and always remember - no surprises. Ask questions before you do something; your mentor knows the ropes and will offer excellent advice. Make it your responsibility to learn the routines and specifics of the district and building you are working in. Don't rely on someone to tell you; find out on your own, take the initiative.  You can learn many things from both effective and ineffective teachers. Unless asked, keep your opinions to yourself, being new and having all the energy of youth will be a threat to some, so tread lightly.

If there is any down time in your room, ask your mentor for tasks to accomplish. Help out anywhere you can. Ask to take on something difficult and work with your mentor to accomplish it. Save as many artifacts as possible and use them in your professional portfolio. Creative lesson plans and examples of student work are excellent things to have. Ask for feedback and listen and process. Create an open dialog with your mentor; remember that is the person who will be called first when a district wants to know about you. Your mentor will be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses, so what do you want to them to say about you?

Finally, enter the internship with the idea there will be a teaching opening that you will be qualified for in the very building you are student teaching. Create positive relationships with staff, parents, and students. You do that by demonstrating professional behavior. When your internship is completed you want everyone to say - "We would really like to have you become part of our team!" Prove to people that you are the type of teacher that would be a perfect fit for their district.

School districts are looking for candidates who are 'low maintenance' teachers who can come into their buildings and have an immediate impact. Confidence, solid work ethic, and exemplary professional dispositions are words you want people to use to describe you. Your internship is an excellent place to begin!

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To-Be plan. Simply click the following link:

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:

What Successful Math Teachers Do, Grades 6-12: 
79 Research-Based Strategies for the Standards-Based Classroom

By Alfred S. Posamentier

Our June BOOK OF THE MONTH award is presented to What Successful Math Teachers Do by Alfred S. Posamentier.  This is an excellent book for using the latest strategies for teaching math.   

Amazon.com Review:

Facilitate learning in secondary mathematics and maximize student achievement with state-of-the-art teaching strategies!

This easy-to-navigate guide offers teachers research-based teaching strategies for introducing secondary students to the content and skills recommended by the NCTM principles and standards for mathematics. Using the popular format of the What Successful Teachers Do books, the authors present 79 dynamic learning activities, each including:

  • A concise statement of the teaching strategy

  • Research-based validations for the strategy

  • How the strategy aligns with NCTM standards

  • Grade-specific classroom applications

  • Precautions and possible pitfalls

  • Primary sources for further reading

This reader-friendly resource allows teachers to increase students’ confidence in math-and their enthusiasm-with practical and engaging activities, while responding effectively to NCTM standards. 

Alfred S. Posamentier is Professor of Mathematics Education and Dean of the School of Education at the City College of the City University of New York. He has authored and co-authored several resource books in mathematics education for Corwin Press.

You can order a copy of What Successful Math Teachers Do by clicking the link to our affiliate, Amazon.com 

Have you read What Successful Math Teachers Do?  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 Little Grape Stem"

author unknown

Themes on Life

The power of giving a helping hand is tremendous.  And it can grow exponentially.  

Once upon a time there was a little grape stem. This stem was so glad to be alive... She drank water and minerals from the soil and grew and grew. She was young and strong and could manage quite well... all by Herself -- or so she thought.

But then, the wind was cruel, the rain was harsh, the snow was not one bit understanding, and the little grape stem suffered. She drooped, weak and suffering.

It would be so easy to stop trying to grow, to stop trying to live. The grape stem became weak! The winter was long, and the stem was weary.

But then the little grape stem heard a voice. It was another grape stem calling out to her... "Here, reach out... hang on to me." But the stem hesitated. "What would this mean?" she thought, for you see, the little stem had always managed quite well... all by herself.

But then, every so cautiously, she reached out towards the other grape stem. "See, I can help you" it said. "Just wind your tendrils about me and I will help you lift your head." And the little stem trusted... and suddenly she could stand straight again.

The wind came, and the rain, and the snow, but when it came, the grape stem was clinging to many other stems. And although the stems were swayed by the wind, frozen by the snow, they stood strongly united to each other. And in their group supporting strength they could all smile and grow.

Then, one day the little stem looked down and saw a tiny stem, swaying, frightened. And 'our' grape stem said, "Here, hang on... I will help you." And the other little stem reached up to 'our' grape stem, and together all the stems grew... leaves budded... flowers bloomed... and finally, grapes formed... and all the grapes fed many.


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In This Week's Issue 
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Student Editing For Paragraphs & Essays

School Features:
Teacher Interviews: Common Sense and Professional Advice

New Teacher's Niche:
Preparing for Your Student Teaching Experience (part 2)

Book of the Month Club

Themes on Life:  
"The Little Grape Stem "

10 Days of Writing Prompts

Summer Book Sale for Teachers

Website of the Month


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10 Days Of


What is your favorite TV show?


Describe THREE reasons why it is your favorite show.   


If you could be any character from your favorite show, who would you be and why?


If you could create your own TV show, what would it be like? 


Write a short 10 question True/False quiz to cover this week's class information.


What is your favorite restaurant?


Describe the menu at your favorite restaurant.  What do you like best?  


If you could design a dish at your favorite restaurant, what would  it be and why?


What are the top FIVE restaurants you enjoy the most? 


List THREE questions you still have about things we learned this week in class 


10 days of writing prompts


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Year of the Dogman

A New Novel by Frank Holes, Jr.
Coming Summer 2007

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Fan Fiction


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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