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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 4

February 2008

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

Welcome StarTeaching's Centennial Issue of our newsletter, 
Features for Teachers!  100 Issues and still going strong!  
Great Ideas and Features for all Teachers!   

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

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

SQ3R Sheet
Check out our NEW FREE online resources, including the SQ3R sheet for reading 
and the Paragraph Graphic Organizer for writing.  These are forms you can fill in online and print, or have your students fill them in and print them for class!

Paragraph Organizer

Its Here!  Our 100th Issue!

This February marks the 100th Issue of our newsletter, 
Features for Teachers.  We're very proud of our commitment to our readers to provide educational articles and issues to veteran teachers as well as those new to the craft.  As always, we jam pack each issue with tremendous articles,  
by our readers for our readers!

Sent to a readership of over 25,000 educators each month, articles from Features for Teachers are utilized in classrooms all around the country and across the world.  

We're always looking for comments, ideas, tips, techniques, and stories from our readers to share in our newsletter and on our website

If you'd like to contribute an article, pleases email us at:.  


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

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

We are also posting an opening for a Feature Writer to submit a regular article each month on an educational topic. 

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!

Quick Review of Curriculum, Instruction, and Improvement Strategies:
Dear Dr. Manute, 

Recently I received an inquiry about curriculum, classroom interaction, and strategies for improving teaching and learning.  

TB,  Minnesota 

Dear DL, 

It is easy to see how all three are related.  Curriculum is what is being taught, classroom interaction is part of the instruction process that includes teaching and learning strategies.  

Let's go back a few yeas and look at curriculum and materials.  Remember, curriculum is what is taught and instruction's how it is taught.

There have been many innovations and upgrades in both curriculum and instruction based on solid research.  Unfortunately for students, many schools and educators still lag behind.  

Before I continue, I want to add that this article will focus on educational practices in the United States only.  Certainly there are other issues facing other countries.

The control of curriculum and consequently instruction falls on individual states.  In the past textbooks were basically the driving force.  With the advent of "A Nation At Risk", states joined the cause of educational reform.  Today, curriculum is based on state and national standards and high stakes testing.  One can argue that the Federal government also has control because of funding for compensatory programs in reading, math, and early childhood education.  Teachers have also been instrumental in developing curriculum as many are on state committees.  Today's curriculum is much more complex and standardized than in the past. 

Instruction is the process by which curriculum is delivered.  Unlike the passive learners of past generations, today's students require methods require that include them as active participants.  Today's classroom is large in numbers and extremely diversified.  Teachers are being better prepared to reach all students because of their training in multiple learning styles, higher order thinking skills, and other strategies.  The results are improved instruction quite different from lecture, note taking, memorization, and drill resulting in random learning.  Technology is another tool for teachers.  Today's students have the opportunities to experience vast domains.  

The results of curriculum  improvement and improved teacher training  will ultimately pay big dividends and improve student learning.  After all, if all of the strategies for improvement aren't directly related to improve instruction are they really worthwhile.

This is of course a quick overview.  If you or any other readers want a more detailed account on any of these three, please email me.

Dr. Manute


Submit your questions to Dr. Manute on Educational Issues!  Simply fill in the form below:



Type in your question or query below:


The Effective Teacher

By: Mary Ann Graziani

Mary Ann Graziani is a Michigan Certified Teacher with a Masters Degree in Elementary Education. She is married and has two sons.  She loves to read and write, and enjoys passing on that love to the children that she teaches.   Her philosophy is teaching and entertaining children at the same time.

     The students of today are our future.  A teacher is an important part of making a better future through teaching their students.  What more rewarding career can there be than teaching?

     A teacher has a tremendous amount of power over their students to either positively or negatively affect their students entire lives.  The effective teacher motivates students by creating a positive learning environment where students want to learn because they have a teacher who respects them as individuals.   They  help their students by recognizing each individual talent without favoritism or criticism.  An effective teacher has a genuine love and respect for children. They enjoy working with children and want to work with them to create a positive and nurturing learning environment.         

    An effective teacher will treat each student as an individual with unique personal experiences that they bring into the classroom community. The unique experiences each student brings can be used collaboratively and creatively in group work where all students will learn from each other through shared discussions and reflections of their personal experiences. Everyone is included and needed in the classroom community.  An effective teacher will encourage imagination and creativity through exploring, observation, and freedom of expression. Every student is involved in the decision making process that involves their classroom and encouraged to make choices that affects not only them but also their classroom community.  Diversity is embraced in the classroom and lesson planning is inclusive of everyone in the classroom. 

     An effective teacher believes that all children can learn and grow.  Every child is given choices and personal freedom of expression in order to promote their growth in learning.  The effective teacher knows that if children are shown respect, they will show respect in return.  They show respect by enabling children to assume responsibility for their own learning.  The effective teacher encourages their students to build meaningful relationships with them and their fellow classmates.

     The effective teacher knows that all children are unique in their learning style and that their understanding is based on their own unique experiences.  They understand that by catering to individual learning styles, teaching can be geared to develop the whole child.

     To truly learn what qualities it takes to be an effective teacher; perhaps it is best to look at what the students believe makes a great teacher. Brian Zkmund-Fisher, Coordinator of TA Support, Eberly Center for Teacher Excellence (1998) compiled information from numerous student evaluation forms to find out what students think. Here are some of the responses:

Enthusiastic in discussing course material.

Makes me feel free to ask questions.

Listens to what students had to say.

Manages student participation in an equitable way.

Encourages students to participate actively in class.

Raises challenging questions for discussion.

Never intimidates or embarrasses students.

Helps students learn from one another.

Uses student questions as a source of discovering points of confusion.

Is readily available for consultation with students.

Treats all students with respect.

Gives constructive feedback on students' work.

Grades assignments in a fair and consistent manner.

Manages class time effectively.

Stresses important points in class.

Slows down when discussing complex and difficult topics.

Is consistently well prepared and organized for class.

Is well prepared to answer questions.

Grasps and responds to student questions and comments.

Is able to give alternative explanations when needed.

Uses examples and illustrations which are clear and concise.

Is able to explain concepts in terms students can understand.

Relates theories and concepts to practical issues.

Gives directions for assignments that are clear and specific.

Carefully explains each step of new processes and techniques.

Is patient with students.

Encourages students to seek their own solutions to artistic questions or problems. 


     The effective teacher has the ability, motivation, and above all, the wonderful opportunity to elevate humanity and themselves in the process of teaching. Can there be a better career than this?

Mary Ann Graziani has published an educational book for elementary school-aged children using high frequency sight words, and is in the process of publishing an entire set that goes with that book.   She has also written a math tale that teaches customary units of measurement to elementary school-aged children in an entertaining storybook tale.   You can  contact Mary Ann at: mgrazi@wowway.com

Check out Mary Ann's other articles at the link below:


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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

The Internet in Education:
Ten Years Later - Cheaper, Easier

by Tony Vincent

Tony Vincent is an independent education and technology consultant based in Omaha, Nebraska. He is author of Handhelds for Teachers & Administrators , webmaster of www.learninginhand.com and www.tonyvincent.net, and has provided professional development to educators all over the U.S.  He is truly the guru of handheld technology applied to the educational area of the world. 

In 1998 not many people could publish on the World Wide Web. Sure, big companies like Yahoo! and CNN had websites. But, the typical Internet citizen was limited to being a consumer of the Web. As a fifth grade teacher at the time, I was really excited about the possibilities of students distributing their work online. Before I had access to a classroom website I had students write book reviews and post them on Amazon.com. Students did indeed love publishing on the World Wide Web. They took their work more seriously because they weren't writing book reviews for only the teacher's eyes--they had a real-world purpose for writing.

Eventually my school district made it possible for me to have a classroom site. My students named it Planet 5th. Planet 5th was full of student writing, artwork, photos, and videos. In fact, my students and I started to think of our classroom as a Web publishing organization. We took great pride in building Planet 5th over the course of the school year. 

One of my favorite year-long projects was The Daily Planet. It was our daily log of the day's events, written by a student who was the 'roving reporter' for the day. The reporter's job was to write an article about that day's activities and learning. Each of my students were fortunate enough to have a Palm handheld computer with attachable keyboard so the reporter could type the article at school or at home. The next day I would get the reporter's article off the handheld and put it up on Planet 5th. I would also include photos the reporter took with a digital camera. Students loved being the roving reporter and their writing certainly improved over the course of the school year.

My fifth graders left with Planet 5th on a CD-ROM, giving them a evidence of their learning and preserving memories of their final year in elementary school. Their collection of work became a digital portfolio and each student made a page for Planet 5th to show their growth as a learner.

As much as students loved Planet 5th, they loved those Palm handhelds even more. We began using them in 2001. At that time, handhelds did not have Wi-Fi (and schools did not have wireless networks). We used the handhelds primarily for drill and practice activities, word processing, and organization. Without Internet access, the uses for the handhelds were somewhat limited.

Fast forward ten years to 2008. While I have left my own classroom to empower students and teachers with technology as an independent consultant, I am thrilled that my vision of technology in the classroom has become much easier to realize for typical teachers. 

The Web has moved from being published only by companies to everyone having the ability to be online content producers. Anyone can post a video to YouTube, a podcast to iTunes, or a blog on Blogger. In fact, blogging has made the roving reporter activity a manageable one in many classrooms. Unlike years ago, blog services make publishing a snap. No knowledge of Dreamweaver, HTML, or FTP is required. 

Today, almost all handheld and portable devices are Wi-Fi enabled. With access to the Internet, these devices can get to those online videos, podcasts, and blogs. And for about the same price paid for our Palm handhelds in 2001, schools can buy a complete laptop. The ASUS Eee PC and the XO are two in the growing list of ultra-small and ultra affordable laptops. Additionally, according to Apple, the iPod touch is becoming a 'mainstream Wi-Fi mobile platform.' A bevy of applications are on their way for the iPod touch and there's no denying it has a powerful Web browser. And we mustn't forget handheld computers from the likes of Palm and HP are packing lots of useful features nowadays.

There's no denying the Internet is essential for teaching and learning. It's important that every student can access the information, tools, and social interactions the Web offers. I'm pleased that 2008 brings affordable, portable computers so the Internet can be in the hands of students. I want to see more schools invite these devices into their doors with the goal of each and every student having the educational benefits of a computer and the Web. An extraordinary classroom experience can be a reality for teachers and students!

Be sure to check out Tony's Website

Learning in Hand



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From the Office:  For Administrators

Grand Valley State University
Masters Degree in Administration

by Jerry Judge

Eight years ago Grand Valley State University began a Masters program in Education Leadership in Petoskey. The initial class had two sections of 30 students each. From the beginning the program was successful, eventually expanding the the number of offerings as to allow the total Masters Degree offering in Petoskey. 

As the popularity grew the Wexford- Missaukee ISD in Cadillac requested the same program. Initially we had one section with about 15 students, that program has also increased to what it is today, a total Masters Degree in Ed. Leadership. 

In northern Michigan today we have over 20 administrators that have received their administrative position as a result of the program. In addition several individuals are in administration positions throughout the state and overseas. 

The program in Petoskey has move to Boyne City, but continues the same success. In addition a Specialists program will begin added this Spring as many receiving their Masters wish to continue to the next degree, the Specialists. 

From feedback of former and present students the success of the program is a result of The Weekend format, the practically of the program, the hands on approach and the quality of the instructors. 

If you would like more information on the program contact Jerry Judge at 231-258-2935.


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

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

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


Order your copy by clicking the link below.

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


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

Modeling Student Behavior

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

Whether you as a teacher realize it or not, you are the best model of behavior in your classroom. A large part of your proactive behavior plans should include your own behavior you demonstrate to the students every day.

You must set expectations for your students, demonstrate the behaviors, and be vigilant to correct the kids. Don't waver on your expectations; inconsistencies will only confuse the students and cause you more problems.

If you stay calm, collected, and in control, your students will exhibit the same behaviors. The same is true about enthusiasm; if you are excited about your lesson and truly believe in its importance, the kids will respond in kind. Conversely, the kids will know when you are tired, bored, don't want to be there, or are 'winging it.'

If you are late to class, or don't start on time, the kids will pick up on it and be more likely to do the same. The same is true about the way you dress, the way you act, the language you use, and your 'body language'.

If you want your students working from 'coast to coast', or from bell to bell, you need to set the expectation of activity all hour. Start with a warm up, and ensure the kids are doing it. Keep them busy on activities with transitions between each. Don't let there be any down time. Work them to the end of the period, and have them pack up when you say so, not whenever they want to.

If you want your students to quietly read in class, but you are spending that time working on other things, it sends the message that you don't value the activity personally. Modeling the skill for the kids reinforces your belief that it is important. It shows you as a lifelong learner who values the skills you're teaching them.

The same is true for writing, or labs, or math problems. Students rarely have the chance to see real people performing schoolwork - for many, the only examples (and role models) are their classmates. Work along with your students.

Now this doesn't mean you have to do this the entire time. You must also supervise, coach, monitor, and actively support their learning.  But you can spend at least a few minutes 'at their level'.

Be a positive role model for your students. Don't just explain and show the behavior; be the example day in and day out.

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

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

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm


Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm


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"The Seven Wonders of the World "

Themes on Life

Can you name all seven of them?  Are you sure you have them right?

Junior high school students in Chicago were
studying the Seven Wonders of the World. At
the end of the lesson, the students were asked
to list what they considered to be the Seven
Wonders of the World. Though there was some
disagreement, the following received the
most votes:

1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. The Taj Mahal in India
3. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
4. The Panama Canal
5. The Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."

The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

1. to touch...
2. to taste...
3. to see...
4. to hear... (She hesitated a little, and then added...)
5. to feel...
6. to laugh...
7. and to love.

The room was so quiet, you could have heard a pin drop.

May this story serve as a gentle reminder to all of us that the things we overlook as simple and ordinary are often the most wonderful - and we don't have to travel anywhere special to experience them.

Enjoy your gifts!

It is not the experience of Today that drives a person mad,
it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.

Let us, therefore, Live but one day at a time.

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

Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute:
Quick Review of Curriculum, Instruction, and Improvement Strategies

The Effective Teacher

School Features: 
The Internet in Education: Ten Years Later - Cheaper, Easier

New Teacher's Niche:
Modeling Student Behavior

From the Office: Administrators:
Grand Valley State University Program

Themes on Life:  
"The Seven Wonders of the World"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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

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

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

Submit an article to this newsletter by emailing:


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


10 Days Of


Why is it important to celebrate SUCCESS?


Describe THREE different Successful Events in your life. 


What does it mean to be a SUCCESS?


What are FIVE ways you can celebrate a SUCCESSFUL endeavor?


Create a short, 10 question TRUE/FALSE quiz to cover this week's class information. 


What is the difference between an Successful person and everyone else?


What are FIVE traits of Successful people?


Describe THREE ways you can be more successful in school.


How can you be Successful in achieving your dreams?


Write down FIVE important facts you've 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.
Now Available!
click here for more info

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Be sure to check out our


The Five Dysfunctions 
of a Team

By Patrick M. Lencioni



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Getting Ready for Next Year

Setting Up Your Classroom


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

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

Click here if you want to find that Teaching Job!

10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

Given a cube, draw a second figure with a square base, having 8 edges, 5 vertices and 5 faces

Day 2

 If every vertex of a regular pentagon is connected to every other vertex, how many triangles are formed?

Day 3

If you begin with a one digit integer, multiply by 3, add 8, divide by 2 and subtract 6, you will get the integer back. Find the number

Day 4

Nancy worked on the farm for 17 hours one week.  19 hours the next week, and 21 hours the third week.    How many hours did she average each week?

Day 5

If Jane is older than Kim, Kim is older than Shawn. Shawn is younger than Jane and Rachel is older than Jane.  List the people from oldest to youngest.

Day 6

What time is it 1 hour and 20 minutes before 4:15 P.M.?

Day 7

There are 12 people in a room. 6 people are wearing socks and 4 people are wearing shoes, 3 people are wearing both. How many people are in bare feet

Day 8

Write the ratio 82:75 in two other forms?

Day 9 How many minutes is 3 hours 44 minutes?
Day 10

Place the digits 9,4, 7, 6, 5, 1, in the boxes in order to get the largest result. 
[ ][ ] x [ ][ ] + 
[ ] x [ ] =  ?




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