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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
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Volume 4, Issue 16

August 2008

StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers New Teacher's Niche Tech Center  

Our Back-To-Back, Back-To-School Issues
Packed with excellent articles on getting yourself and your students back into school mode! 

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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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Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for an ADMINISTRATOR to write a regular column on challenges facing 21st century schools.  

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

  Reader Response

Ask Dr. Manute

Dr. Manute is a well-renowned world traveler, guest speaker, and educational consultant.  

Dr. Manute holds multiple degrees in several educational fields. He has taught in both stateside and international school communities.  He has extensive experience (25 years) in school administration.  He also has worked at the university level, supervising teacher interns and teaching undergraduate courses.

As part of our NEW! Reader Response selection (asked for by our subscribers), we are pleased to have Dr. Manute answer questions from our readers.  

 You can  contact Dr. Manute through the form at the end of this article.  Thanks!

I recently received a question regarding test validity and reliability:
Dear Dr. Manute, 

"The demography of the class is often very complex, comprising of students from very sharp to slow learners.  What strategy should be adopted in order to bring them all to a considerable level?  Similarly, in the case of test designing, what care should be taken to address slow learners especially?" 

Sana Ali

Dear Sana Ali -

This is a question that will face all educators regardless of their discipline or grade level.  Not only will educators face increased diversity but also increased numbers.   It is not unusual to have thirty or more at any grade level!

What do you do when you are faced with a diverse classroom?  You teach in a diverse manner.  You adjust your lesson plans and use strategies that focus on multiple learning styles along with higher order thinking skills.  The information out there on multiple learning theories is unlimited.  I urge you to research and look specifically at creative lesson planning.  The same can be said for assessment.  With a diverse classroom, you can incorporate traditional and non-traditional strategies.  Alternative assessments include the use of portfolios, projects, and peer editing to name a few.  

The key ingredient is to adjust your teaching to meet the many needs of your students.  I applaud your stance, but I caution you to research and plan in a thorough and careful manner.  Going into this unprepared and with a slip-shod plan will cause you unbelievable stress and will not be in the best interests of your students.  If you can accomplish this effectively, you will be way ahead of the game and your students will not only learn in your classroom but will look forward to being there every day!  Good luck in your teaching.

Dr. Manute


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Challenges of Teaching
(part 2)

By Munir Moosa Sewani

Teaching is one of the most diverse and challenging professions in todayís world. Teachers are the ones who mold children into refined humans through their efforts and expertise. They play a pivotal role in this challenging world. The better future of the next generation is based on the knowledge, skills, and devotion of teachers. For me, itís a profession of challenge, submission, and wisdom sharing.

Teaching religious curriculum is also confronting for teachers. During my several years of religious teaching, we faced a few challenges.

When I was teaching primary grades, teachers planned to show students slides to create the scenario of a deserted place. I took a torn plastic bag, and students wore it with the help of a band, to visualize Arabic people's dress code.  An earthenware bowl with water was placed at the corner of the veranda. I took the students out and made them feel as if they were on a journey to Arabia. After a 15 minute of walk, the students felt thirsty. I told them that we have to find oasis, as weíre in a deserted area. They searched for the bowl and shared the water. In this way, I successfully achieved my objective.

The primary curriculum is according to the requirement of pupilsí intellectual nourishment; but continuous teachersí training should be organized effectively, so that they could resolve some sensitive religious queries, which are in their minds. Letís take an example of the story of the Prophet Abraham, available in the Talim curriculum. Most of the teachers disagreed as to act the words of Abraham, as it was unethical for them. In the same manner, Iíve seen few teachers not in favor of teaching some topics due to conflicts in their own minds.  For example, whether to tell students of class 1 about different religions at a young age or not, etc.

The Secondary curriculum will be made available soon. But for the time being, the most challenging task is to allocate limited resources creatively. Thereís a shortage of resources at this time. The lessons plans are not fully integrated with the essence of religious formation. There is no activity book for secondary students. A creative teacher would say that I can utilize my minimal resources effectively. The challenge can be accepted by a teacher by acquiring continuous education through vigorous research to impart lesson perfectly.

The boundary of challenges is not restricted within the area of curriculum; there are many more challenges faced by the teachers during their day to day classroom interaction.

The main challenge is to interact with students effectively. Effectual Interaction can only take place when a teacher encourages two way communication.  Few of the students often feel shy to interact in class. This is a real challenge for a teacher to motivate reserved students by encouraging them to participate in classroom. I had a reserved student back in 2003 in my religious class. I appreciated him and gave him some classroom responsibilities and made him realized that he had great potential. Now heís in secondary school, and Iím proud that he participates actively in classroom discussion.

Muhammad Ali Khan writes,

ďThe classroom environment is largely an expression of oneís enthusiasm for teaching and learning. However, it is also considered by many that by encouraging student one invites problems for himself/herself. As when students get empowered they can ask all sort of questions and the inability to answers on the part of the instructor will belittle the image of the teacher.Ē[1]

The views presented are acceptable, because critical discussions and questioning are mostly discouraged in most of the traditional schools. A challenging teacher must accept studentís criticism and take it as a path of learning. I always encourage criticism. If I find my mistake or lack of command, I always accept it.

Another challenge is regarding the management of the class. Savage, 1991, defines Classroom Management as,  

ďClassroom management involves teaching students, how to manage their own behavior in classroom settings by establishing learning situations that will allow them to do this.Ē (Savage, 1991)

I agree, because that itís a teacher who creates the learning situation in the classroom. S/he not only manages classroom settings, but also time, space, resources, student behavior, etc.

Teaching a large gathering is another challenge. Teachers usually canít give proper attention and canít understand every student's need in a large gathering. Most of the teachers in our Govt. schools face the challenge to handle more than 40-50 students per class, which is not possible to manage alone. Co-operative teachers are mostly not hired in govt. schools. Few of the government schools do not have chairs or proper rooms to accommodate pupils. So itís again a challenge to manage the sitting arrangement in a manner so that a teacher can interact large gatherings properly.

Time management is another issue of classroom interaction. The lesson plan with proper time management helped teachers to cover the objectives, while developing skills. Most of the time, teachers fail to teach and share knowledge effectively due to time constraints. Teachers usually avoid pre-planning. When I did my field practicum, I saw a week planner completed by a teacher in a day. They used to cover most of the left over topics in a short span of time without taking feedback from the students. For a couple of days, we planned some lesson plans, keeping in view the requirement of learning within a given time frame.

A teacher should also understand needs of the child in a classroom. You may find a learning-disabled child in your class. Teachers often neglect studentís needs. On the very first day of my teaching in the religious centre, one of the students was hyper and was observing me continuously. At the end of the session, he told me (Aye Sir Tu Kutta Hai!) "Sir you are a dog!" I severely scolded him and called his parents. Later I came to know that the child was learning-disabled and had behavior excessive problem. On that day, I learned one thing: that a teacher should interact with each and every child positively and should understand their needs. My Master trainer in special education helped me a lot. I gave this student extra time. A year later he told me, (Sir Sir Tu acha hai) "Sir you are good." That sentence raised my spirit and made me realize that a teacher should also interact with the challenged students to foster them. In Pakistan , teachers avoid to cater such students in a main stream school, which is wrong. Iíve seen many disabled students in our community successfully studying because of their teachers' initiatives to take up challenge.

Another classroom challenge is to deal with students from diverse cultures. In Pakistan , minorities are always being discouraged to participate in class. Students avoid interacting with them. Most of the students show the wrong attitude towards minorities. This challenge was also faced by me when an Afghan student joined my class. Students avoided him. I used one strategy to solve the problem. All the students later accepted him whole-heartedly. (Refer http://happybookmark.com/2007/11/12/PLURALISM/).

Favoritism causes a barrier between the interaction of teacher and a student. Few teachers interact more with their favorite students, which can hurt the other studentís ego. I always try to be naturalistic and appreciate everyone equally. I thought beyond the boundary of the classroom to know my students better. I always tried to treat every child as special. A teacher should provide each student opportunities rather then playing a mantra of favoritism.

Technology up-to-date is the prior responsibility of a teacher, as it not only makes teaching effective, but it is the better approach to accomplish the objectives of learning. In Pakistan , most of the teachers are not being given computer education, so they based their whole teaching on the traditional blackboard. If the teachers will be technologically capable, they would provide quality knowledge to the students.

A teacher should take regular feedback from the students about his/her teaching style. S/he should be natural. S/he should set the time table and pre-plan lessons in advance. S/he should read more literature to keep interacting with the latest methodologies. Give students time to talk and to share their ideas. Appreciate them! A teacher should share his/her ideas with the colleagues and should work cooperatively with colleagues.

The teacher should readily accept his or her mistakes and always accept criticism. S/he should maintain a reflective journal to analyze his or her weaknesses and strengths. For learning, I believe that itís a long life process which never ends. S/he should take continuous trainings and should try to develop Interpersonal Skills. Good communication skills, discipline and role modeling can make us a good trainer. The base must be a personal desire to improve oneself.

If a teacher has faith in himself/herself, then s/he could over come all the obstacles and could take challenges as a medium of learning.

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of Education in the past 8 years. He is a Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher Educator and a Teacher. He is a Freelance Writer and Photographer, in addition to his role as a featured writer for StarTeaching's newsletter for more than a year now. He is an author of the famous self-published storybook for children named as "The MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written Biology course book for Secondary Classes. He has written almost more than 30 articles internationally on many websites and numerous newsletters dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published in most of the famous world wide websites, magazines and newspapers.

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor, musician, lyrics writer and have multi- dimensional talents.

His future plan is to write dozens of informative books and articles and to work for education and media also, in order to develop the sense of understanding many dimensions of life through his creativity.

You can contact Munir Moosa Sewani at: munirmoosa@yahoo.com


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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.

Click HERE to order your own copy today:


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  School Features

A Brief History of Educational Reform

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Computer Based Learning, sometimes abbreviated CBL, refers to the use of computers as a key component of the educational environment. While this can refer to the use of computers in a classroom, the term more broadly refers to a structured environment in which computers are used for teaching purposes. The concept is generally seen as being distinct from the use of computers in ways where learning is at least a peripheral element of the experience (e.g. computer games and web browsing).

Classical times

Plato believed that children would never learn unless they wanted to learn. In The Republic, he said "...compulsory learning never sticks in the mind."

One of the most important educational debates in the time of the Roman Empire arose after Christianity had achieved broad acceptance. The question concerned the educational value of pre-Christian classical thought: given that the body of knowledge of the pre-Christian Romans was heathen in origin, was it safe to teach it to Christian children?

In general, works of history, science, philosophy and literary art were preserved. Works on magic and non christian religions were not preserved. For example, Euclid's books on Geometry were widely used. Aristotle's works in logic, politics, law and natural science were used. Plato's Socratic debates and Aristophanes' plays included questions of philosophy, morality and ethics, and were preserved despite their occasional moral ambiguity. The writings of Herodotus and Plutarch were considered acceptable for teaching history.

Reforms of Classical Education:

Western classical education as taught from the 8th to the 19th century has weaknesses that inspired reformers.

Classical education is most concerned with answering the "who, what, when, where" and "how" questions that concern a majority of students. Unless carefully taught, group instruction naturally neglects the theoretical "why" and "which" questions that strongly concern a minority of students.

Young children with short attention spans often enjoy repetition, but only if the subject is changed every few minutes. Skilled, compassionate primary classical teachers (always a rare breed, now nearly nonexistent) have always changed subjects continually and rapidly. Unskilled, or unkind classical teachers have drilled the joy of learning right out of young heads.

Some people can regurgitate words and yet never understand what they mean in the real world. This was terribly common among classically educated scholars.

Classical education in this period also deprecated local languages and cultures in favor of ancient languages (Greek and Latin) and their cultures. This produced odd social effects in which an intellectual class might be more loyal to ancient cultures and institutions than to their native vernacular languages and their actual governing authorities.

Modern Reforms:

Education reforms in modern times arose first against neo-classical education, known in America as "humanistic" education, which resembled in many respects classical education. Motives for parting with classical methods were diverse, and included economic factors, differences in the aims of educationónormalizing immigrants and the poor as opposed to training the upper and middle classes, and differences in educational philosophy.

Part 2 of this article will detail the Educational Reforms of the 1800s.

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

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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.  

In The Haunting of Sigma, Frank Holes, Jr. returns fans of the legendary Dogman to the wild world of cryptozoology in Northern Michigan .  This darker, far more sinister prequel to Holesís first novel fully establishes his hold upon the imaginations of readers all over the Midwest .  June 1987 ushers in the hot, dry summer season, but something else far more horrifying has taken up residence in the deep wilderness in Kalkaska County .  The Dogman, a supernatural combination of canine and man, has returned to wreck havoc upon the tiny, sleepy community of Sigma.


Based upon the epic Greek tale of The Odyssey, yet set in the American Wild West, The Longquist Adventures: Western Odyssey chronicles the journey of a young boy and his guide through a perilous world of dangerous encounters and fantastic creatures.  It is a world of gun fights at high noon, stampedes on the great plains, stagecoach robbery, and an ultimate showdown with a ruthless, powerful gangster aboard a turn-of-the-century paddlewheel in the San Francisco Bay.  Can the time-traveling boy and the law-abiding Marshal restore order to the chaos of the American West gone truly wild?

Click Here For The
Year of the Dogman Website
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Haunting of Sigma Website
Click Here For The
Western Odyssey Website


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


The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  

Look for Western Odyssey this summer!

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

Second Day of Class Writing Assignment

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultant

Once the hectic pace of the first day of school is over, you'll want to get your students off and writing 'on the right foot'. We begin the second day of class with a writing assignment / activity that will give me an idea of where the students are in terms of their understanding of the writing process.

Our school uses a common writing program that increases in complexity at each grade level. The teachers use common terminology and formats for paragraphs that are the basis of our drafting. Thus, I know they will have a bit of familiarity with the process. However, even if you are teaching 'on an island' without any class or grade continuity, this activity will allow you to assess your students understanding of the writing process and set them up for the teaching of your expectations for writing paragraphs.

I've put this activity onto an overhead sheet so I can use it each year. At the top are the writing directions: "Write a paragraph describing one of the most important things you learned over the summer. No talking, and no questions." The directions are specific enough that I want a paragraph written, not a page or a few sentences. And the topic is broad enough that everyone can think of something to write about. However, it is just vague enough that students must use their best judgment to decide exactly HOW to structure the writing and how long it should be.

I tell the kids there is no right or wrong way to do this assignment, and there is no right or wrong response to the prompt. In fact, the only wrong thing that can be done is just to NOT write anything at all. This explanation will help most of your students get started right away. If a student is sitting idle for more than a minute, I'll remind them that this is a writing activity, not a thinking activity. They need to get started writing, or I'll assign them a disciplinary paragraph to copy. That's usually enough to get them going.

Undoubtedly you will have some students who seem stumped on this, or will want to ask questions of you. Stand firm on the 'no questions', and let them figure it out for themselves. If you give in now, these same students will rely on you the entire year. You want them to become good thinkers and problem solvers. Let them do it!

We usually give students about ten minutes to write. Although this is less than normal, it's just enough to get them on the right track and enough for you to see if they have any idea what they're doing. Once the time is up, each student draws a line across his/her paper right under the paragraph. I then uncover the second part of the activity.  Students must now "write down THREE rules, guidelines, or expectations they have learned about writing paragraphs." After these are written down, the students prioritize them, the most important labeled #1, and so forth. These provide excellent prompts for class discussions, which is next. We look to affirm correct ideas, and dispel the wrong ones. Then the students draw another line across the page.

Lastly, the students number their page #1-5, and write in their responses to four questions I pose for them. We then discuss their answers, and I'm able to evaluate what they know and what they think they know about paragraph writing.

Again, these help me to see what knowledge the students bring to class, and how closely they are to our class's writing expectations.

The last thing we do is a bit of self-editing. The students are to underline their topic sentences and clincher statements and number their three supporting statements (just imagine their surprise if any realize they didn't write these down!) This also makes for great conversation.

Now they're ready to learn the rules, procedures, and expectations for the formatting of a paragraph in this class. I have these on an overhead sheet and also on a PowerPoint presentation. Both have a note sheet so students can write down the information as it is presented. They quickly learn the rules and expectations I have for the formatting and writing of their paragraphs.

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"The Colors of Friendship" 

By Adrian Iron Thunder

Themes on Life

How do we appreciate others in our lives?

Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel. All claimed that they were the best. The most important. The most useful. The most beautiful. The favorite.

Green said:
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority."

Blue interrupted:
"You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing."

Yellow chuckled:
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun."

Orange started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don't hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you."

Red could stand it no longer he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood - life's blood! I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire into the blood. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy."

Purple rose up to his full height:
He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: "I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey."

Finally Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination: "Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace."

And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarreling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening, thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamor, rain began to speak:
"You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don't you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."

Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.

The rain continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow." And so, whenever a good rain washes the world, and a Rainbow appears in the sky, to let us remember to appreciate one another.



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In This Week's Issue 
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Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute:
Class Demography: Addressing Slow Learners

Challenges of Teaching (part 2)

School Features: 
A Brief History of Educational Reform

New Teacher's Niche:
Second Day of Class Writing Assigmnent

Themes on Life:  
"The Colors of Friendship"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Summer Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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10 Days Of


Why is it important to be respectful toward substitute teachers?


Write down THREE ways you can make a substitute teacher's day pleasurable. 


What behaviors should you display for a substitute teacher?


How will class be different when you have a substitute teacher compared to your regular teacher?


Describe FIVE important facts you've learned in class this week. 


What is wisdom?


Why is it important to study wisdom?


How can you learn to be more wise?


Describe FIVE important pieces of wisdom you've learned from your family.


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


10 days of writing prompts


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Teach with Your Strengths: 
How Great Teachers Inspire Their Students

By Rosanne Liesveld,
Jo Ann Miller, and Jennifer Robinson



Coming Soon:

The Writing Process for Every Classroom

Technology & Teaching: The Latest Wave

Getting Ready for This Year

Setting Up Your Classroom


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

Joe's quiz scores were 24, 29, 30, 20, 30, and 29. What was her average?

Day 2

The population of Warrenville over the last five years was 543, 621, 700, 809, and 932.

What is the average population over the last five years?

Day 3

The Carter's phone bills for the last six months were $42, $35, $51, $46, $53, and $43. What was their average bill?

Day 4

If Betty's bowling scores were 120, 150, 145, 165, and 135, what was her average score?

Day 5

1.     If Tony has test scores of 85, 88, 92, and 87, what is his average score?

Day 6

1.     Tony has test scores of 85, 88, 92, and 87, what is his average score?

Day 7

1.      IIf Betty's bowling scores were 120, 150, 145, 165, and 135, what was her average score?

Day 8

1.     IThe Carter's phone bills for the last six months were $42, $35, $51, $46, $53, and

$43. What was their average bill?

Day 9

The population of Warrenville over the last five years was 543, 621, 700, 809, and 932.

What is the average population over the last five years?
Day 10

Joe's quiz scores were 24, 29, 30, 20, 30, and 29. What was her average?




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