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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 5, Issue 1

January 2009

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

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!  

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Check out our NEW FREE online resources, including the SQ3R sheet for reading 
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Our Newsletter is now posting openings for a SCIENCE FEATURE WRITER and an ADMINISTRATOR to write a regular column on challenges facing 21st century schools.  

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


Value added practice in teaching and learning – ‘A Reflective Practice’


Yasmeen Jumani has been a teacher Educator for the past 11 years.  She has done her Masters in Islamic History from the University of Karachi.  She has a Master in Education from Hamdard University, Institute of Education and Social Sciences, A VT certificate from AKU-IED along with an advance diploma in (PTEP) Professional Teacher Education Program from IIS and AKU- IED. 

Teaching is a conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse individuals at the same time. Though on the one hand, it seems pleasant to deal with different groups of learners, but on the other hand, it requires quick decision-making ability from teachers/facilitators to deal with lots of difficult and complex situations emerge during interaction hence, it leads to reflective teaching.

Dewey (1933) defines reflection as “…active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or practice…”As teachers, we can reflect on classroom decisions and events;  reflection also involves the emotional, passionate, and intuitive side of teaching therefore, reflective practice in teaching necessarily encompasses critical self-evaluation, which can be difficult at times. 

Reflective teaching though is an approach but it is more than an attitude, which requires constant thinking and questioning of our own set beliefs, assumptions, judgments, prejudices, emotions and feelings related to world around us. Pollard (1979) says, “Reflective teaching is important as the process through which ascending levels of competence, in whatever sphere can be developed. Reflective practices will help to develop beyond this” 

In modern teaching, a reflective practice is indeed a relevant notion that enables a good teacher to learn while teaching, and through his /her reflections, s/he gains experience into learning.

Reflection can be done individually, interactively, or situational wise, following steps are involved in the process of reflective practice:

  • Reflect on the situation
  • Identify the current practices
  • Challenge existing beliefs and practices
  • Explore alternatives
  • Mediate with context
  • Make choices
  • Act on it
  • And the cycle continues

 Above-mentioned steps are the ladder towards becoming a reflective teacher. This can be filled through maintaining reflective journals, on- going discussions, class room observations and conversations. Besides that, we would be able to challenge our own existing practices by knowing our selves and then in the light of discussion we could further accept the arguments as a challenge that enable us to take new initiatives in the light of said discussions that motivate us towards strive for achieving our goal. 

Another model of Reflective practice proposed by Cunningham Florez’ (2001) as follows:

  1. Collect descriptive data – reflective journals, theoretical literature, talking to colleagues
  2. Analyze data – in terms of attitudes, assumptions, beliefs, goals, power relationships, etc.
  3. Consider how the situation  could have been different – examine alternatives to teacher behaviour and choices and beliefs behind classroom teacher behaviour
  4. Create a plan to incorporate new insights. 

 Reflective teaching allows practitioners for personal and professional growth. It enables them to improve on –going practice and understand it better. It assists them to do things right and be able to justify their actions. Besides that, it allows learners to become creative and innovative. It promotes mutual understanding and encourages sense of responsibility within participants. It also helps practitioners to articulate their thinking clearly. It helps to develop the capacity to imagine and explore alternatives to existing ways of thinking and living. Thus, it adds value in our own teaching  


  1. Andrew Pollard (1997), Reflective teaching in the primary school
  2. Cunningham Florez, M. (2001) Reflective teaching practice in adult ESL settings. Center for Adult English Language Acquisition.  http://www.cal.org/caela/.
  3. Dewey, J. (1933) How we think. New York : Heath & Co



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 science methodology:

Dear Dr. Manute, 

"I'm hopeful that you are in best condition of your health.  Sir, I want to ask that what methods should I adopt for science subjects (Physics) in secondary classes.  May Allah gives U bundles of happy moments in Your Life." 

M Kamran, Assalm Alakum

Dear M Kamran -

What an absolutely wonderful question - Science is such a fascinating subject that depending on the teaching methods can be either interesting and challenging, or very boring. I urge you to use hands-on teaching techniques that focus on real life activities.

An example in Physics is bridge building, where students actually construct small bridge models to study various laws. I once knew a Physics Teacher who used a set of model roller coaster blocks to teach motion, and the students had roller coasters spread out all over the classroom. The point I am making is the more interesting and relevant you make your lessons, the more your students will learn and retain. 

Cedar Point - the Amusement Park in Ohio - has a Physics Day each year where students from all over the Midwest are invited to learn the laws and application of Physics by riding the rides.  How fun! Using real life examples will allow your students to make every day connections that they will carry with them forever. 

Best wishes and good teaching! 
Dr. Manute


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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

Inclusive Classrooms (part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Inclusive classrooms settings are become prevalent in schools all over the US.  This series of articles will introduce teachers and educators to the concept of inclusion and how it can be implemented in classrooms . 

Benefits of Inclusive Classrooms:

Inclusive education has many benefits for the students. Instructional time with non-disabled peers helps the learners to learn strategies taught by the teacher. Teachers bring in different ways to teach a lesson for disabled students and non-disabled students. All the students in the classroom benefit from this. The students can now learn from the lesson how to help each other. 

Socialization in the school allows the students to learn communication skills and interaction skills from each other. Students can build friendships from these interactions. The students can also learn about hobbies from each other. A friendship in school is important for the development of learning. When a student has a friend the student can relate to a member of the classroom. Students’ being able to relate to each other gives them a better learning environment. 

Involving non-disabled peers with disabled peers gives the students a positive attitude towards each other. The students are the next generation to be in the workforce; the time in the classroom with the disabled and non-disabled peers will allow them to communicate in the real world someday. Disabled peers can be involved in the classroom. Students can be included in homeroom, specials such as art and gym, lunch, recess, and assemblies. Disabled students involved in these classrooms will give them the time they need to participate in activities with their non-disabled peers. Awareness should be taught to students that will be in the classroom with the disabled peers. The teacher can do a puppet show, show a movie, or have the student talk to the class. The teacher could also read a book to help the student describe his or her disability. The class can ask questions about what they learned and what they want to know. This will help when the students are together in the classroom. 

Positive modeling is important for the students in the classroom. Positive modeling is the teacher showing a good example towards both disabled and non-disabled students this will help the students to get along more.

Criticism of Inclusive Classrooms:

One of the most valid arguments in opposition to inclusion is the issue surrounding the training of general education teachers in meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Inclusion may seem to be an overwhelming approach, particularly to regular classroom teachers, who, in general, view their workload as already at a barely manageable limit. 

In order to meet the challenge of educating special needs children, regular classroom teachers need to adapt, change and develop strategies that will help meet the needs of not just individuals with disabilities, but all individuals. The problem is being able to take the time to develop these strategies without compromising the other responsibilities teachers have to run a successful learning environment. 

Although many teachers are willing to adapt homework, tests, and grading practices and find such adaptations helpful, many do not have the training necessary to make those adaptations.


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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


Which larger shape could be made if the two sections are fitted together?

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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 Holes’s 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
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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!

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

Creating Web Pages In Class

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultant

Web pages can become a great means of displaying and publishing student work. There are millions of people online every moment of every day. Our students are fully accustomed to using the web for everything from research to communication to shopping. Web pages are the language in which they are both comfortable and competent.

Creating student web pages provides a great in-road for teachers to reach students on their terms. Though there are many simple programs to use, many students (even very young elementary students) who can fluently speak `html' and code and decode scripts. This is truly their `native language', as is the ability to multi-task (which often gives us `aliens' headaches!). Take the initiative and create projects for your students to show off their skills.

There are several concerns to think about before beginning such a project.

One concern to be aware of is your school or district's Internet use policy. You may need parental permission to allow students to put their work, name, or pictures on the net. I would always caution you about including a student's full name on a web site that is available to the general public. There are also cautions about putting personal photographs online. Usually whole class, group, or team photos are ok. Always check first. If your school is not exactly at the forefront of technology, don't be afraid of blazing a trail for your colleagues to follow. Your work may become the basis for others in your school to make positive change.

Remember to also create an etiquette policy about creative license (or use one already developed by your school). Obviously you want students to be creative, but you also don't want them to be outlandish or off of the topic of your assignment. Students are funny in that way. If they are just writing a paper, its the same old same old.  However, once they realize they are going public, many become stringent about what they want to show the general public. Many will try to make their own 'statement' or 'presence' and disregard the rules of etiquette you've set up. Hold your ground. You do have the right to control what the students can put onto a school site.

Where to host your sites is another concern you'll have to deal with right away. At the present, we have our students' sites on our own server at school. It is great if your school can accommodate your class. You will need a web editor such as Microsoft FrontPage or one of the many free down-loadable editors from the net. But what if your school is unable (or unwilling) to fully accommodate you? There are many free sites online that can help you out. In the past, we used the commercial site GeoCities. This is a nice, free site that even includes a free web/html editor and basic tutorials to guide students through the steps of design. It is very easy to use and students can access it from any computer in the world that has an internet connection.

We started out simply, having students type in their name and school as headers. Then we split up the page into sections for math, social studies, science, and English. At this point, the page can hold assignments from any class, so any teacher in the grade can give web page assignments.

We practiced creating links to our school homepage and our 7th grade page. We also added links to our homework assignment calendar, our pages of vocabulary, and to Google for net searches.

We also talked at length about page layout. Unlike programs like PowerPoint where you can place anything wherever you want it on the page, html requires codes called tables to set up items horizontally.  We teach the students about tables and cells so they can divide up the page in whatever fashion they wish.

Students' personal preferences and creativity are also taken into consideration. We show them the basics of formatting text, changing fonts, sizes, colors, and styles. Students are also allowed to change page attributes such as the colors of the background and links. We even show them how to add different background pictures from files.

The first assignment to be placed on the students' websites was our biography project. Our English curriculum includes reading a biography and writing a report on that person. We adapted this to publish the report online, with the information, pictures, and clip art placed on the web page. Look for more details on the biography-web page project in an upcoming issue.

There are many options your class can do with the websites. You can teach the students to code in html, or work with the structures of a web page (such as tables, formats, links, and additional pages). You might have students explore new technologies to embed in the pages, such as PowerPoints, blogs, videos (streaming) or audio (podcasting).  You may wish to connect with other students around the world (e-pals). You and fellow teachers may want to collaborate on projects.

There are many directions these projects can take your class. The key is for you as the teacher to be open to using new technologies and ready to go out and learn about them. You can learn a lot from the students; you don't have to know it all. But you must be ready to provide support to them when needed.

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

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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


Teacher As Change Agent


Rozina Jumani is a Development consultant associated with a number of Non governmenetal Organizations(NGO). Prior to this, she was with Aga Khan Education Services Pakistan for 10 years as a Professional Development Teacher and Counsellor. She has done her Masters in Islamic Studies and English from University of Karachi. She is a commonwealth scholar and completed her Masters in Education Planning, Economic and International Development from the institute of Education (IOE), University of London.

How many of us want to glorify the image of teacher as Moral practitioner, who could bring such a huge difference in the lives of learner?. Few people are really born teachers and have an urge to enlighten others.  To become a change agent, they must possess five basic fundamentals: personal vision building, inquiry, collaboration, mastery, and management.

1. Personal vision building

This is a teacher’s own conceptual and perception level about teaching which can be observed through gestures, body language and through other communication tools. It can be seen and observed by children very easily as well.

2. Inquiry

Inquiry is the second component of teaching.  It assists the whole process of teaching and learning and also polishes personal vision; it inculcates the questioning and reasoning and fosters achieving holistic image building.

3. Mastery

Without having mastery or command, one cannot be confident.  Mastery is a huge umbrella and it covers not only conceptual understanding but also proper implementation strategies - i.e. pedagogical skills.

4. Collaboration

John Billing says Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”  It is necessary that a teacher should be open minded and work in collaboration with others as in learning organizations or communities.  The phenomenon of the ‘one man army’ cannot be possible. Learning is a process which requires socialization, as people learn from each other.

5. Management

One cannot achieve the desired result if the whole process is not well planned and implemented.  Therefore the teacher being a leader and change agent would create an impact, but if s/he is a good manager, s/he would plan well, implement well. and achieve well.

Indeed teachers are the nurturers, and if these nurturers can envision where they would lead these children, then they would definitely help support change and become agent of the change.


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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Author Unknown

Themes on Life

What does Peace really mean?

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest... perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize?

The King chose the second picture. "Because," explained the King, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."

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

Value Added Practice in Teaching

Ask Dr. Manute: Science Methodology

Teacher as Change Agent

School Features: 
Inclusive Classrooms (part 2)

New Teacher's Niche:
Creating Web Pages In Class

Themes on Life:  

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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10 Days Of


Why is the New Year so important to celebrate?


What does the New Year represent? 


What does your family do to celebrate the New Year?


What are some of the celebrations and traditions that occur at the New Year?


What is something you learned in class this week that can be applied to another class? 


What are THREE New Year resolutions you have for yourself?


Why do people make New Year resolutions?


How can you make sure your New Year resolutions come true?


How can you help others to make their New Year resolutions?


What are THREE big concepts you learned in school this week?   


10 days of writing prompts


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Be sure to check out our

Getting To Yes,
Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

 by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton



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

Which larger shape could be made if the two sections are fitted together?

Day 2

Susie has a cake that she splits into six pieces to share with all her friends. If each person with a piece of cake then splits their piece in half to give to another friend, how many pieces of cake are there in the end?

Day 3

Belinda is 5 years old.  Her older brother, Luke, is 10 years older than she.  When Belinda is twice her current age, how old will Luke be?

Day 4

Which number is the largest from the choices below?

2/3, 5/6, 1/4, or 3/8

Day 5

1.     What would be the next block in the pattern?
IQ Test

Day 6

1.     Kara has $100.  She decides to put 20% in savings, donate 20% to a charity, spend 40% on bills, and use 20% for a shopping spree.  How much money does she have left over afterwards?

Day 7

1.      IA train left the station at 2pm traveling 30 miles per hour.  How far has it traveled in four hours (assume constant speed and no stops)?

Day 8

1.     IWhat is the square root of 144?

Day 9 Three dogs, two cats, and one monkey have how many legs?
Day 10 Looking at a standard wall-clock, at the time 6:30, what is the angle (in nearest degrees) created by the minute hand and the hour hand?

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