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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 1

January 2008

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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!  

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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Join us at the end of this February for the 100th Issue of our newsletter, 
Features for Teachers.  

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.  

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


What I didnít know and what I couldnít know! 

By Dr. Mike Kanitz, coach and educator

Dr. Mike (Coach) Kanitz has been involved in athletics and education for 60 years at the high school, collegiate, and semi-professional (coaching) levels. He was recently honored with his induction into the Michigan Amateur Football Hall of Fame.  He believes strongly in the interconnection of schooling and athletics.

Coaching and teaching are the same thing in reality. To distinguish them as separate entities would be a mistake. After thirty some years in the classroom, I can honestly say that starting out as a young teacher/coach was very difficult. What I didnít know and couldnít know was that my Quarterback would some day be my realtor, my Guard would be my dentist, and one of my Centers would be a car dealer/owner I would buy two cars from. A star Defensive Back would make the FBIís Ten Most Wanted List and a Defensive End would become the warden of the Watergate prison.

I say Ďmyí because of the energy invested in each and all of these youngsters as students and athletes. The oilman who visits two weeks per year at his million-dollar condo near my apartment was my manager. I never should have yelled at him that much! When my children were small and the school secretary would say to me, ďYou just wait until your children are in high school.Ē

I couldnít have known! Her kids were in high school and I couldnít have known the burden of parenting teenagers! While I was heavy into discipline, I didnít know discipline was a form of love or respect. As a young teacher I didnít know that you never take anything youngsters do personally. I incorrectly thought they were stabbing me in the back when they broke ďmyí rules. I wasnít the smartest coach/teacher, but I really was dumb! 

Teaching would have been even more rewarding for me if I had understood that delaying gratification in seeing the fruits of oneís labor was part of the career choice. There is no immediate feedback for the tremendous energy put forth by a teacher. A coach gets a winning season some of the time and a teacher gets a peaceful semester some of the time. But, most of the time, the rewards come a long time after the work is applied. I didnít understand that dynamic and that led to the pressure and frustration of trying to get it right! 
I always thought batting 300 was something special. How did I not know striking out was 700 percent of the time? How did I not know the space rocket was off course 90 percent of the time on its way to the moon? Why did I think it took off and went straight to the moon, orbiting on its way?

How come I wasnít told that success in future life has only one statistically significant correlation. And that is involvement in co-curricular or extra curricular activities. I assumed future success was related to academics and grades! 

Did they try to tell us that teaching wouldnít be all roses in those teacher-education classes? Was I not listening?

Late in my career I finally figured it out. Teaching was a journey, not a destination! When a person gives the self-permission to enjoy the journey, everything seems to change. The individual stops sweating the small stuff, because everything is the small stuff! Teaching is a gift you keep giving back, not something you keep for yourself. When I learned that secret, teaching became a real joy. 

I wish I wasnít a slow-learner!


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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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Grading: What is Our Motivation?

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

Mark's latest articles are about changing our classrooms and teaching styles to reflect 21st Century learners.  

Have you ever thought about why you take grades? I used to believe that it was important to grade every assignment that I had the students do. I felt I was doing a disservice to them if I didn't grade everything. This resulted in a lot of grades, but did it result in a lot of learning?

I believe it builds a wrong way of thinking in the students and causes them to see school as a place where they get a lot of grades, and not as a place of learning.  It also leads us, as teachers, to think the same way. Do you teach to get grades, or is your motivation to help children learn?

Grades are just a measure of what someone understands and their level of understanding. At least that's what they're suppose to be. We should be using formative assessment constantly to know where students are, but should these assessments be graded. Does this reflect where a student is at, or how they learn?

What do I mean by that? Think about how you learn. When something is new to you and you are just learning about it, do you truly understand it at first? Probably not at first. But as you deal with it over and over again you get better at whatever the skill is. Let's use math as an example. When I'm learning my multiplication facts, I don't learn them all at once. I also don't' learn them at the same speed as others. Maybe it takes me longer. Now let's factor in taking grades on everything a student does. Does the grade reflect whether they know the material, or how fast they can learn it? Is learning about speed, or understanding?

So why do we grade everything, when a student is just beginning to learn it? This makes no sense, unless our motivation is just to teach the students and get grades.

Let's raise the bar of our profession higher. Our motivation should be to teach in a way that helps everyone become a lifelong self motivated learner. Our grading should reflect that, and not hinder it with certain attitudes.

So what should we do as teachers do? Formative assessment should be a constant, and because of these assessments we should adjust our teaching to help those who aren't understanding it yet. Grades should only be taken when you feel the students have had enough experience in the skill. From this assessment, we have another chance to reassess whether our method of teaching is working, and if not, adjust again. All of this works towards that final summative assessment. 

In summing up, it's not about how many grades we get, but the quality of what our grading reflects. 



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

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

StarTeaching Featured Writer

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


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By Mr. Salman Noorallah and Miss Salima Moosa Sewani


  Teaching is not a profession of last resort. Itís a profession of dedication.

Teachers are the leaders of every nation. They are the role models of their students. Their responsibilities towards teaching are increasing day by day, as students are highly concerned about what is taught to them by their teachers. Teachers are the only ones who mold the future of their students by imparting quality education with intellectual openness.

There are many teachers who might have impressed you by their communication skills or by their teaching style. But thereíre only few teachers in this world who are bestowed with both intellect and talents. They are the ones who make us feel as if they are our real parents.

The following is an  interview taken with one of the rising teachers of our nation.   He is one of the most famous and eminent teachers of this era in Pakistan. Though he is young, his 8 years of teaching experience has not only changed the lives of many students, but also his personality can not be compared with any other teacher in our country.

It was an honor for me to interview a teacher of such high caliber.

He is none other than Munir Moosa Sewani. You might have heard his name on national and international websites, newspapers, and magazines. First, I will provide his short biography:

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of education over the past 8 years. He is a Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher, Master Trainer, Career Counselor, Professional Writer, and a Freelancer.

He is an author of the famous, self-published storybook for children titled, "THE MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN"  This book won the BEST E-BOOK FOR CHILDREN AWARD by the Nancy Fernandes Institute in 2006.

He has also written a biology course book for secondary classes. He has written more than 30 articles on social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published on many famous world wide websites, magazines and newspapers.

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, musician, lyrics writer and has countless multi- dimensional talents.   His future plan is to write dozens of informative books and articles and to work for the improvement of education.

Could you please tell us something about yourself?

My name is Munir Moosa Sewani and I am 25 years of age. I am a simple, conservative, somewhat introversive, but broad-minded person. I am a helpful and a kind person. For more, you should ask my students, or my relatives.

When did you decide to enter the field of Education?

I always had a wish to work for the improvement of the Education System of Pakistan . When I was in my school, I usually felt that the field of Medicine would be best for me. But somehow, as time passed, I realized that I have a keen interest in the field of Education. So it had not happened magically. Every thing was planned in my mind.

When did you start your teaching career?

I started off by giving tuitions after my Matriculation. That is how I started my teaching career.

Could you please tell us some of your achievements in the field of Education?

Simply, I received many awards, medals and certificates for my services. I finished in  fifth position in my Intermediate. I received 2 awards from the Governor of Sindh. I received more than 10 certificates from different officials since Matriculation. My first book won the best seller book title in the field of Science. My e-book has already won Best e-book title. If you would like to know more, you can search for me on the Internet. Itís all there.

Are you a Dictator?

No way! I am a humble teacher who teaches with a lot of dedication. If the student is co-operative, a teacher could work hard to polish their skills easily. Otherwise, all the attempts might end in smoke. Sometimes my students feel as if I am showing my dictatorship; but they know that I have true and kind feelings for them. I want to make their future bright. Nothing else!

Do you think that teaching is a difficult profession?

Teaching is the specialized field of education, and it requires proper education, training and inborn adoration for children. Itís not an easy profession. Time has passed when those who did not get good job opportunities shifted themselves into the field of teaching in order to earn a livelihood. Today teaching is a professional liberal art field. Teaching requires skills that can be brought out by earning professional certifications or taking degree courses.

Teaching involves being with children or with colleagues to design syllabi or problem solving too. For me, this field is not difficult.

WhWhat are the flaws in our education system here in Pakistan?

Education is the key towards success for every country. It helps to boost the economy and to generate a democratic society in a country. The main resource of any country is human resources. If we'll prepare educated humans in our society in advance, by providing proper education facilities to our younger generation, then we could move towards the path of success undoubtedly.

In the attempt to improve school results, many teacher educators and education counselors are trying their level best to find the roots of poor academic achievement of school students. Educational Psychologists have also developed many tests to judge and improve the skills of students, but the real cause of the most important question, "what makes the student frustrated to back out of education so easily?" has yet to be found. 

Some point the finger at the outrageous homework loads students are given by the teachers. Students are overburdened with academic demands of questionable value and, as a result, end up indifferent to studies, exhausted, and worn out.  In addition, the heavy loads of books are not worthwhile, until and unless the students are ready to go through it.

The reason for the poor academic achievement could be any out of these  But the question is why the student's academic records are more successful in European and American Countries than here in our country?

The answer is that those students are keen to learn and explore things. No overloading of bookwork is given to them. The books in these countries are well integrated too.

Teachers in Pakistan even sometimes avoid researching, and simply teach whatever is given in the textbook.

"The main contributing factors that lead to low learning proficiency of students according to my experience as a teacher are as follows:"

1. Incomprehension of the Studying Purpose

The main reason why so many students don't feel interested in what they are doing at school is the incomprehension of their studying routine. A vast majority of private and government teachers are not even bothered to explain to their students what the learning outcomes are, why they need to achieve them, nor how they will be assessed. Mostly teachers take out their textbooks and start making a wrong impression of rote learning on students, and then evaluate their students without seeing the capabilities of any particular child. Students are not encouraged to write their own answers. Despite this, some teachers want their student to copy the same answer in the examination, which they have taught or were made to write.

Thus, the writing and analytical thinking skills get hamper, for which we can't blame a student.

Students just accomplishe their tasks by command, which needs to be bluntly carried out. Students prepare projects; submit reports etc just to get extra marks, without knowing the purpose of their study.

2. Wrong Assessment Process

Assessment means to evaluate children's capabilities, not to judge them.

Assessment in Pakistan is often wrongly intended by teachers as a punishment for students, or creating traps to catch them out. Grades seem to exist in order to show students' errors, mistakes and drawbacks in the study area, rather than to give students a reasonable chance of demonstrating their achievements of specific learning goals. Using the same questions for five years, poorly designed curriculum decisions, changing of the courses at the last moment of the end of the year are going on in secondary and higher classes. Assessment should not be based on counting the pages which a student fills. Rather than this, the evaluating system should be changed. Invigilators should be well educated to judge the learning tasks and own input, or else the wrong assessment process, which has been going on for a long time would create a fearful attitude in students towards assessment.

Students are learning not for acquiring knowledge but for getting a "pass." Students who work hard get low marks because the teacher checks the paper according to their knowledge and often forgets student effort of contributing towards answering questions.

3. Teachers Fault

With classes consisting of more than 15-20 children, many students feel deprived of the due attention on their teacher's part. Teachers are the leaders and a role models for every student. Every student wants to be unique and wants his or her place in teachers' heart. They are placed among the great lot of students without their personal interests, and problems with studying being taken into account. As a result, students don't feel cared about, lose their identity, become indifferent to studies and lose faith in the brighter future. 

Teacher should treat their students equally and give proper attention to every student of his/her class.

5. Wrong attitude of parents

Many parents are "performance oriented," which emphasizes results such as students' grades, rather than knowing whether their child have mastered the material or not. They just want their child to be on the top of the list and that's all.

Children get frustrated when parents keep a lot of expectations from them. It burdens the student and de-motivates them most of the time.

There are many parents who tells their child in advance that they have to join their fathers or forefather's business after passing school, which also makes students less motivated to perform well in examination and thus poor performance is seen in the results, just because of the wrong impression embossed by parents on their children.

Which articles have you written so far?

I have written more than thirty articles so far. They are educational, social and health based. You can find few of them on any search engine. Type Munir Moosa Sewani and search my name. Every month, you will find new pages on search engines. While for new articles, you should be in touch with local and international newspapers, magazines, and newsletters such as www.StarTeaching.com

What are your hobbies?

I like social working, reading informative books, chatting with intellectual people, watching TV, critically commenting on burning issues, writing poetry and concepts, writing articles, playing piano, cooking, recycling, playing tennis, photography, movie making, and lots more.

Do you want to keep yourself in the profession of teaching forever, or have you planned to change your field?

I like this question very much. Well, truly, I am a person having most of the talents related to the media. You just name it, and I have it. Singing, piano playing, lyrics writing, music composing, concept and script writing, directing, set designing, documentaries and movies concepts, etc; I donít know why I have such talents, which are contradictory to my nature.

Although I am very much attracted towards working for media, I guess the media is for me but I am not necessarily for the media. I am a very shy person, which most of the people donít know. Itís almost impossible for me to adjust in any environment easily, and  especially I donít like to attend marriages, festivals, parties or outings. That is a part of my nature, which I canít blame. It doesnít mean that I am proud; no way!! I am a down to earth guy, but I like my nature very much. I am consulting my heart, and hope so soon I will make up my mind for the media too. As far as other field is concerned, I donít know about my mind. I want to taste every field. At least, I have decided to be in the field of education for two more years. Then I will decide about the future. But as time will pass, writing, teaching and media will surely go side by side in my life. My other passion is to join the POLITICAL LIFE soon.

Any tips for the students!!!

  • Take interest in your studies from the first day of your term.

  • Take a highlighter and mark all the important points for thorough revision.

  • Do not rely on five years paper. Just learn every thing from books/ notes.

  • Do not just read. Make notes. In fact summarizing and condensing notes focuses your mind.

  • Use short cuts for hard sentences to memorize them effectively.

  • Do improve your writing speed so that you could cover your paper in the given period of time.

  • Do not try to write extra than is asked in the examination paper.

  • Do not use a highlighter in your answer sheet. Just use black and blue pen for heading purpose.

  • Do not use ink-remover in an examination as it might fade off the written work after a few days.

  • Do not use high levels of vocabulary, which your examiner could not understand.

  • Always revise your work before submitting your answer sheet.

For more tips, just e-mail me at munirmoosa@yahoo.com

Any message for your fans!

Firstly, I would like to thank all-mighty Allah for showing me the right pathway. My parents, whose sternness has brought me closer to the real scenario of life. Then comes my students because I wouldnít be here without their prior support and appreciation.

Just two messages,

ď Never hurt any one's feelings, because God never sanctifies those who hurts other.Ē

ď Learn and give respect to your elders. Do what you think is good for you. Do not hesitate to execute your dreams. Always think critically, rather than accepting every thing. Do your best and always think positive.Ē

Salima Moosa Sewani has been in the field of teaching for 7 years. She is running her own Learning Center and also working with the Exceptional People. This is her first experience to share with the audience. She is a Master Trainer and has done many teaching certifications.



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

Group Work In Class

The business world tells us that they want people who are good at collaboration. Being that our job is to prepare the students for the future, this skill should become part of what we teach in the classroom.

Planning and preparation are key to getting your groups underway. The first thing to do as you prepare to use group work as part of the learning process is to setup your groups. Never allow the students to set up the groups; you are only inviting disaster. There are many ways to set up groups. I like to spread the abilities out among the groups.  The smartest student isn't always the one who can lead the group
through to a conclusion. I also like to mix boys and girls up in the groups. They tackle problems from different ways, so it enhances the learning taking place. Also, change the groups after every section, so they learn to work with different people. This makes it a more real world experience.

Size of the group is another part of the equation. A lot depends on the lesson being used. Two person groups are fine for a short-term group that lasts one day. If you are going to have it go longer, the group should be at least three to four students. The reason for this is the fact that what is the group going to do if the next day one of the students isn't there? With three or four students you will at least have a group of two or three to continue on if someone is missing.

As you begin the groups, realize the students may not know how to work in a group. This is something that we as teachers shouldn't take for granted. Talk about using listening skills, the fact that only one person is speaking at a time. Explain that arguing doesn't solve anything. They must learn, when there are differences of opinion, to share why they feel the way they do and support it with reasons. We also talk about the importance that everyone be a participant in the group process. Another thing I tell the groups is that they are not to ask me, the teacher, a question until they've talked about it in the group. If the group can't answer the question, then I will gladly help them out as a group. This fosters dependence on their group.  Focus is the most important part of using groups as a tool for learning. If you as a teacher don't provide a structure within the lesson, you will lose the students.

I like to call this the "Driving Question". This is what they are to be focusing on as they work together. Decide what you want them to learn, set the goals, and then communicate to the students your expectations.

In conclusion, from observation and research that collaboration (group work) when used properly can be an excellent learning tool. I hope you will find using this learning tool as stimulating and rewarding as I have, both for the students and yourself.

You can see the second part of this article, detailing more of the 'nuts & bolts' of getting your groups underway, and describing a few example projects you can use in class, on our website. Simply click http://www.starteaching.com for more. Be sure to sign up for our free newsletter while you're there!

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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

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"The Wise Sage"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

The power of words...

There once was a wise sage who wandered the countryside. One day, as he passed near a village, he was approached by a woman who told him of a sick child nearby. She beseeched him to help this child.

So the sage came to the village, and a crowd gathered around him, for such a man was a rare sight. One woman brought the sick child to him, and he said a prayer over her.

"Do you really think your prayer will help her, when medicine has failed?" yelled a man from the crowd.

The sage yelled back to the man, "You know nothing of such things! You are a stupid fool!" 

The man became very angry with these words and his face grew hot and red. He was about to say something, or perhaps strike out, when the sage walked over to him and said: "If a few words have such power as to make you so angry and hot, may not another set of words have the power to heal?"

And thus, the sage healed two people that day.


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In This Week's Issue 
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Teaching And Coaching

Tech Corner: 
Grading - What is Our Motivation?

New Teacher's Niche:
Group Work in Class

Themes on Life:  
"The Wise Sage"

An Interview with Educator,
Munir Moose Sewani

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Holiday Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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10 Days Of


Why do we value our health so much in our country?


Describe THREE ways you can be more healthy in the new year.


How has technology improved our ability to be healthier than we were in decades past?


What are FIVE health problems you hope to avoid in your lifetime?


Create a short story or poem which describes something we learned in class this week.. 


Why do people want to lose weight at the beginning of each year?


What is considered to be a healthy weight?


Describe TEN ways you can eat better in your daily life.


Why is it important to eat a balanced diet daily?


 Create a short, FIVE question, fill-in-the-blanks quiz to cover this week's class information.


10 days of writing prompts


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Year of the Dogman

A New Novel by Frank Holes, Jr.
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Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Getting Ready for Next Year

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

Draw a diagram to help solve this problem.

Southgate is 6.6 miles north of Canton. Wyandotte
is 3.1 miles south of Canton. Plymouth is 7.1 mile south of Southgate. How far isWyandotte from Plymouth?

Day 2

What is the perimeter of a regular octagon with each side 10 mm?

Day 3

What is the area of a rectangle 15 y long and 6 y wide?

Day 4

Estimate by rounding to the nearest one: 9.626 Ė 2.47

Day 5

Sandy worked at her job for 36 hours one week, 20 hours the next week, and 25 hours the third week. 

How many hours did she average each week?

Day 6

What time is it 2 minutes after 7:55 a.m.?

Day 7 Write 61% as a decimal
Day 8 How many minutes is 5 hours 38 minutes?
Day 9

A spinner has the following letters: C,A,C,A,D,B,A. 

What is the probability that the first spin will
stop on A?

Day 10

How many faces does a triangular pyramid have?




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