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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 13

July 2008

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.   

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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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Best Quotes From Summer Reading

By Janice Rozich 
Middle School Teacher
Lake Ridge Middle School, Schererville, IN

Having your own students advertising books can be a great way of getting more students to read.  The American Film Institute website is also a great place to find ideas for your classroom, including the "Best Quotes" idea presented below.

AFIís recent tribute to movies in the form of developing a list of the top 100 quotes from movies got me thinking.  How many of us have lists of books for studentsí summer reading?  How many of us ask that they write book reports on what they have read?  No matter what form these reports take in terms of length or comprehensiveness, can we agree that these reports often end up being less about how much fun the book was to read than they are about answering a list of forgettable questions about the book? 

So, hereís my idea.  When your students return to school this August, instead of that book report, ask them to find a phrase or sentence from the book that encapsulates the theme of the book or a memorable character from the book.  The student has to use critical thinking in order to select just the right phrase or sentence.  I think a great way to showcase this effort is to create a poster for the book that contains the selection; along with the title and author, the student could include a graphic of some kind.  Once the poster is complete, it can be hung in the media center, in the school hallway, or your own classroom.  What a great way to advertise a book!

To get you started, can you guess the book from which these quotes were taken:

1.  "Greasers will still be greasers and Socs will still be Socs. Sometimes I think itís the ones in the middle that are really the lucky stiffs."
2.  "Have you seen this wizard? Approach with extreme caution! Do not attempt to use magic against this man!"
3.  "What does it mean that Germans despise me simply because I am a Jew?"


1.  The Outsiders, S, E, Hinton
2.  Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban), J. K. Rowling
3.  The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne Frank

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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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Communication Today

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

What is communication today, and has it changed? Do we, as educators, need to adjust our thinking, or continue to teach the same things we learned when we were young? Do students of today approach it the same way as we do? To find out the answers to these questions, we need to look at what today's students do to communicate.

Text messaging has become one of the most popular ways for students to communicate. It has a language of its own such as r for our and u for you. This form of communication happens anywhere they want through cell phones or computers. It can happen anywhere and at any time.

We need to decide how to handle it. Should we control it or make adjustments in our classes to integrate it into what we do? We live in the midst of a changing world, probably similar to what people felt like when the industrial revolution came along. This change takes a number of years as everyone adjusts. If we are going to prepare the students for their world we need to make some changes in our present world.

We grew up with communication being letter writing and phone calls. Today we have e-mail, cell phones, text messaging, blogging, podcasting, video podcasting, video conferencing, and who knows what else around the corner.

In the past, to become an author, you had to get a book or article published by a publisher. Today, anyone can publish on the internet. To make movies you had to be a professional. Now anyone can make a movie with easy to use software and upload it to the web.

So what does this mean to us as educators? Can we continue to do things the same old way, or is it time that education took a leading role in preparing students for their future? It might take a learning curve on our part, but if students are suppose to learn to be life long learners, we should become their role models. 

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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Standardized Testing (part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

In practice, standardized tests can be composed of multiple-choice and true-false questions. Such items can be tested inexpensively and quickly by scoring special answer sheets by computer or via computer-adaptive testing. Some tests also have short-answer or essay writing components that are assigned a score by independent evaluators. These can be graded by evaluators who use rubrics (rules or guidelines) and anchor papers (examples of papers for each possible score) to determine the grade to be given to a response. A number of assessments, however, are not scored by people. For example, the Graduate Record Exam is a computer-adaptive assessment that requires no scoring by people (except for the writing portion)

There are two types of standardized tests: norm-referenced tests and criterion-referenced tests, resulting in a norm-referenced score or a criterion-referenced score, respectively. Norm-referenced scores compare test-takers to a sample of peers. Criterion-referenced scores compare test-takers to a criterion, and may also be described as standards-based assessment as they are aligned with the standards-based education reform movement. Norm-referenced tests are associated with traditional education, which measures success by rank ordering students, while standards-based assessments are based on the egalitarian belief that all students can succeed if they are assessed against high standards which are required of all students regardless of ability or economic background.

There can be problems with human scoring. For example, the Seattle Times reported that for Washington State's WASL, temporary employees were paid $10 an hour. They spent as little as 20 seconds on each math problem, 2 and 1/2 minutes on an essay on items which may determine if a student graduates from high school, which some believe is a matter of concern given the high stakes nature of such tests. Pearson scores many other state tests similarly. Agreement between scorers can vary between 60 to 85 percent depending on the test and the scoring session. Sometimes states pay to have two or more scorers read each paper to improve reliability, though this does not eliminate test responses getting different scores.

The considerations of validity and reliability typically are viewed as essential elements for determining the quality of any standardized test. However, professional and practitioner associations frequently have placed these concerns within broader contexts when developing standards and making overall judgments about the quality of any standardized test as a whole within a given context.

In the field of psychometrics, the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing place standards about validity and reliability, along with errors of measurement and related considerations under the general topic of test construction, evaluation and documentation. The second major topic covers standards related to fairness in testing, including fairness in testing and test use, the rights and responsibilities of test takers, testing individuals of diverse linguistic backgrounds, and testing individuals with disabilities. The third and final major topic covers standards related to testing applications, including the responsibilities of test users, psychological testing and assessment, educational testing and assessment, testing in employment and credentialing, plus testing in program evaluation and public policy.

In the field of evaluation, and in particular educational evaluation, the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation has published three sets of standards for evaluations. The Personnel Evaluation Standards was published in 1988, The Program Evaluation Standards (2nd edition) was published in 1994, and The Student Evaluation Standards was published in 2003.

Each publication presents and elaborates a set of standards for use in a variety of educational settings. The standards provide guidelines for designing, implementing, assessing and improving the identified form of evaluation. Each of the standards has been placed in one of four fundamental categories to promote educational evaluations that are proper, useful, feasible, and accurate. In these sets of standards, validity and reliability considerations are covered under the accuracy topic. For example, the student accuracy standards help ensure that student evaluations will provide sound, accurate, and credible information about student learning and performance.

One of the main advantages of standardized testing is that it is able to provide assessments that are psychometrically valid and reliable, as well as results which are generalized and replicable.

Another advantage is aggregation. A well designed standardized test provides an assessment of an individual's mastery of a domain of knowledge or skill which at some level of aggregation will provide useful information. That is, while individual assessments may not be accurate enough for practical purposes, the mean scores of classes, schools, branches of a company, or other groups may well provide useful information because of the reduction of error accomplished by increasing the sample size.

While standardized tests are often criticized as unfair, the psychometric standards applied in the development of standardized tests would produce fairer testing if applied in other types of testing. In particular, the effectiveness of each test item in accomplishing the goal of the test would have to be demonstrated.


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com




MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Now Available!
Now Available!
Coming July 22, 2008:
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
Click Here For The
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!

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

Proofreading Paragraphs

This basic skill is useful in every subject area where students must produce written work.  The emphasis on writing we see so often these days forces teachers of every discipline to become familiar with some basic components of writing and proofreading.

We like to have the students create a Grammar Handbook where they can write in the various rules we discuss during the year. Never assume your students know and understand the rules you'll cover during the year. We do review the various parts of speech, though we won't spend much time on those. Through the course of the year, students will continually add rules and examples to their handbooks. Some of these are from notes I provide students, and others are from the discussions we have in class. I also allow the students to use these Grammar Handbooks on quizzes and tests, and they are always available when students write in class.

Our students complete Daily Oral Language (DOL) activities for proofreading practice. The DOL is an on-going activity where students practice editing and proofreading sentences or paragraphs. Put up one or two sentences that have several mistakes in spelling, grammar, or mechanics. Have students correct these using proofreader's marks and discuss the changes as a class. There are a number of companies out there that have workbooks and overhead sheets with plenty of these warm up activities. But you can also put together your own exercises very easily. Find a few sentences from the literature or stories you're reading and type them out, making a few 'mistakes' for the kids to find and fix. Use size 16 or 18 font so they're easy to see, and copy onto an overhead sheet so you can re-use these again. Have a paper copy of the 'answers', the corrected sentences, and be sure to have your students add the new rules to their Grammar Handbook.

Another related activity is the DOL Paragraph. Once or twice a week, we give the students an entire paragraph to correct. This will have the same grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage mistakes the students had seen during the week.

These three activities, practiced on a daily or weekly basis, can really help your students to learn the various rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics. You can even create paragraph or essay topics to have students explain the various rules they've learned. You'll find a few examples below:

"Describe what a CONJUNCTION is, and describe how it is used."
1. (2 points) Topic Restated in the Topic Sentence
2. (3 points) Define a 'Conjunction'
3. (3 points) Three supports (examples)
4. (3 points) Use THREE conjunctions properly
5. (3 points) Personal Life Experience
6. (4 points) Topic Restated in the Clincher
7. (2 points) Title at the Bottom
20 points total

"Describe and give examples of THREE ways a COMMA can be used."
1. (2 points) Topic Restated in the Topic Sentence
2. (3 points) Define a 'Comma'
3. (3 points) Three examples of comma use
4. (3 points) Use THREE commas properly, one for each rule
5. (3 points) Personal Life Experience
6. (4 points) Topic Restated in the Clincher
7. (2 points) Title at the Bottom 
20 points total

Proofreading is a skill students can become good at, just like any other skill that must be practiced. Similar to the editing procedures, we like to have students 'proof on the fly' when they are retyping their second drafts. This is making the corrections as students are typing. Now granted, many computer programs will actually tell students when a mistake has been made. That does make it easier for students. But there are times when the computers can be mistaken. Homophones are one prime example. I don't worry too much about the computer corrections, because our students are getting so much practice with proofreading. And when the computer displays a mistake, the students still have to know how to make the correction.

Editing and Proofreading are both important skills for your students.  But never forget your focus. The best way to improve the students writing is by drafting, writing as much as possible, even on a daily basis if at all possible.

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

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"A Very Special Meal"
Mirabai Chrin

Themes on Life

Our faith is tested so many times...

Once there was a very poor and devoted woman who always prayed to the Glory of God, asking very little, if anything for herself. But one thought, one desire continued to recur and finally she asked: petitioning the Lord, that if it were possible she would love to prepare a special meal and have God share at her table. And God, in His Love for this goodly woman, said He would indeed come the next day and share a meal.

Filled with ecstasy, the woman went out the following morning with her meager purse and purchased such delicacies that she felt would please the Lord.

Returning home, she prepared a banquet and waited patiently for her most honored guest. Soon there was a knock on the door, and when she opened it, there stood an old beggar asking for something to eat. Being a woman of God, she could not turn the beggar away, so she invited him in to partake of her table. The beggar felt as if he was in a dream - such a feast set before him. He finished all the food, thanked his hostess and left.

The woman was only slightly disheartened, she gathered up her purse, her coat, and hurried back to town to get more food for her special guest. Her funds were less now and so the food was not quite so elaborate. Nonetheless, she lovingly prepared another meal and sat to await the arrival of the Almighty.

A few hours went by and there was a loud knock on the door. This time it was an old gypsy woman with no teeth, who was deaf, who spoke quite loudly and was, rather rudely, insisting that any true believer in the Lord would not deny her something to eat.

Though the woman had no more money with which to buy more supplies, she invited the woman in and offered her a seat at the table. The gypsy ate everything, did not even thank the woman and left without closing the door.

By now it was beginning to get dark both inside and out. The woman's faith was strong, so that, though somewhat distraught, she did not give up, but rather, looked around her humble house to see if there was anything she could sell in order to buy more food to set before the Lord.

She hurried to town with a little silver cup that had been in her family for several generations, but she was willing to part with it for the great honor that God was going to bestow on her - the sharing of a meal.

Late in the night she rushed home to prepare yet a third meal. She waited and waited until, once more, there was a knock on the door. Holding her breath, she slowly opened the door to find yet another poor man in the guise of a wandering monk, in search of a meal.

Again, she offered hospitality, with as much grace as she could muster in her disappointment. This man also ate all that was set on the table and left after blessing the woman for her kindness. So discouraged and dismayed was she that all she could do was nod slightly, in acknowledgment of the thanks.

Now it was too late, with no way to buy any more food and no more money with which to buy it. She got down on her knees, weeping such heart-broken tears. She asked God what she had done wrong. Why had God not come to share at the table as He had promised?

And God, in all His Divine Compassion and Mercy, lifted the woman off her knees, and holding her close to His Heart, said, "My child, I enjoyed your hospitality so much that I came three times!"



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In This Week's Issue 
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Best Quotes on Summer Reading

Tech Corner: 
Communication Today

New Teacher's Niche:
Proofreading Paragraphs

Themes on Life:  
"A Very Special Meal"

Standardized Testing (part 2)

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Summer Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club


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


10 Days Of


What is FREEDOM?


What does it mean to truly live FREE? 


Brainstorm an list of 10 Freedoms you enjoy on a daily basis.


Describe THREE ways you can celebrate our Freedom as Americans.


List 5 important facts we learned this week in class.


Why do Americans take their FREEDOMS so seriously?


Why is it important to celebrate our FREEDOM?


Make a list of 10 FREEDOMS that some people in other countries DO NOT have. 


Describe THREE jobs that only exist in America because of our FREEDOMS.


 Pose 5 questions based on information we learned in class this week.


10 days of writing prompts


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Year of the Dogman

A New Novel by Frank Holes, Jr.
Now Available!
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Full Steam Ahead!
By Ken Blanchard and Jesse Stoner



Coming Soon:

Preparing for Student Teaching

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Getting Ready for Next Year

Setting Up Your Classroom


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 The Parkís swimming pool is 12 meters long and 10 meters wide.  What is the area of the the pool?
Day 2 The parkís swimming pool is 12 meters long and 10 meters wide.  What is the perimeter of the pool?
Day 3 The public beach is 5 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide.  What is the area of the beach?
Day 4 The public beach is 5 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide.  What is the perimeter of the beach?
Day 5 The museum building is 500 yards long and 400 yards wide.  What is the area of the museum?
Day 6 The museum building is 500 yards long and 400 yards wide.  What is the perimeter of the museum?
Day 7 Can you replace the ? with the right sign to equal 60?

80   ?  8  ?  9  ?  6  ?  12  =  60

Day 8 Solve the variable x in this equation:

    X + 33 = 99  

Day 9 Solve the variable X in this equation:

    10 X =80

Day 10 Solve the variable X in this equation:

   22 + 33 + X +100

Pick up a copy of MaryAnn Graziani's book, Fat Pigs Fly!

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