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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 12

June 2008

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

Welcome to StarTeaching's bi-monthly newsletter, 
Features for Teachers!
Over 100 Issues and still going strong!  
Great Ideas and Features for all Teachers!   

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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!

A look at a teacher's summer:
Dear Dr. Manute, 

I've only been teaching for two years now, and I'm still adjusting to life away from school in the summer.  Don't get me wrong, I love the summers off, but I still feel the compulsion to be thinking of my job.  How do you find a good balance between the urge to feel 'professional' and still take time off for myself and my family? 

Jennifer, Auburn Hills, MI

Dear Jennifer:

School is out and summer vacation is finally here. The teaching profession is so demanding and all-encompassing that we forget to rest and recharge. 

My suggestions for the summer are simple. Once you've taken care of all your end of the year details, leave the building, go home and spend THREE weeks without school - no paperwork, no calls, a complete separation. Do things for yourself: sleep in, have coffee on the porch, take nature walks, do things that relax you. You can still manage your family - after all, you have just completed nine months of 25+ kids in a classroom for six or seven hours a day!

After three weeks of R&R, you will be ready to start some projects or revisit an old hobby. You will be free from the stress and you will no longer be stuck to the daily routine of the classroom. You will realize there is another world out there. After a few more weeks, your mind will be totally clear and you can begin to analyze how your year went. This will be the time to think clearly and make notes on what worked or didn't, and begin to formulate a plan for next year. A word of caution: take it slowly; you don't want it to engulf you. Once you have assessed and made a preliminary plan, step back and reflect - give it some time. Revisit your plan, then put it away for awhile. Continue to do the fun things with family and friends.

About a month before school starts, give yourself some time each day for effective planning. Start slow, maybe an hour a day. Progress to where you feel comfortable yet not overwhelmed. You will feel excited again and anxious for the year to begin. With a couple of weeks before you start, you will be spending free time trying your plan and getting your materials ready.

Teaching done effectively takes so much time and energy that we establish daily routines and many times these don't include time for ourselves. Rest is so important because without it, it's difficult to think objectively. That is critical for effective teaching.. I also encourage you to physically get ready for the next year. It is not enough to be mentally fit, your body must be able to hold up also.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. Remember you are a professional who touches the lives of students each and every day. For many instances you spend more time with the kids than their parents do. 

Congratulations on a successful and rewarding year!

Dr. Manute


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Teaching: A Challenging and Reflective Profession 

By Salima Moosa Sewani

Teaching is a profession of learning and growing intellectually. The learning of a teacher only takes place when s/he agrees to bring changes and to accept criticism from others. 

When I started teaching, with time I understood that I had many flaws, which I accepted whole heartedly. I was a person who always looks for improvement. Gradually I realized that I became a better teacher, and that happened because of taking feedback from others and by being conscious of the effectiveness of my teaching style and strategies. During my vast teaching experience, I always followed this quote,  

“To reach the highest, always start with the lowest.”

I followed this from the issue of curriculum to the issue of lesson planning; from the identification of children with learning problems to the issues related to teachers demotivation; I came across many challenges.

After the completion of my Montessori training dated back in 2001, I joined the Progressive Public School for teaching practicum. There, I came across one challenging student. On the last month of my teaching practice, one disturbed child entered my class. Within no time, he started a tantrum, shouting in the class. He was moving like a pendulum without any fear of a teacher’s presence. When I tried to make him sit, he hit me and spat on me. When I gave him an activity to paste a picture, he tore his own and others' activity sheets. The whole class was distracted due to his aggressive behavior. I was very confused as to what to do and how to control his behavior. I scolded him, but that didn’t work. Maybe my strategy to deal with him was wrong. I used many techniques to tackle him, but he didn’t respond to any strategies. I detected few of his problems which helped me to categorize the major solution of problems. 

First was his lack of understanding level. He was never able to follow the instruction given by me. The second problem was his chronological age. The average age of the class was 4 to 5 , but he was 10 years old. It showed that the normal milestone progression of his development was delayed. The third problem was his learning capacity, which was almost zero as compared to the other children learning, which was at average. The fourth main problem was his hyper activity. He didn’t sit on his seat. I tried to make him sit beside me by holding his hands, but all the time, he broke his arm free and ran away from class. I used to chase him, because he would often run all over the school and kick anyone who grasped him. After a week, there were no changes felt by me and my efforts ended in smoke. I tried to explain this to my headmistress, but she didn’t accept my assertion and gave the same statement, "It’s your duty to manage him in class."

At that time, I was working with Aga Khan Rehabilitation Centre. I had taken a few trainings of Inclusive Education, which helped me to identify that he had a behavior problem. I consulted his parents. Initially the mother didn’t accept that her child had a behavior problem but after much convincing, the parents accepted that a child was hyperactive since childhood. The mother of the child was uneducated and father was busy in his big business - that’s why they never initiated to consult a psychologist to modify his behavior.

Behavior problems (and what is normal behavior) in a child is determined by the child’s age, physical and emotional development, personality and what is socially and culturally acceptable in his or her surroundings.

I came to know that this was his fourth school and the previous schools expelled him due to his behavior problem, from which his development was delayed. Afterwards, I talked to the headmistress and discussed the whole scenario. She agreed and allowed me to begin parents' counseling. Being a reflective practitioner, I encouraged his parents to send him to any other school where he could learn and adjust in a proper environment. There were some schools in Karachi which were catering such children. His parents agreed. I was fortunate that my decision was right! Today, he’s studying in a normal school. If I wouldn’t have sent him to the relevant school, he might have lost his years without learning anything. 

The second issue, which I would like to raise, is the many challenges that teachers face. During my teaching practicum for STEP, I decided to teach class seven. I saw the lesson plans and the files of the preceding year. I saw that there was no proper lesson planning being done by the teachers. The teachers told me that they used to teach students from the curriculum book rather than initiating any proper planning.

“The teacher is the good leader of the class and future generation. The teacher has to play a variety of roles which will assist to growth and development of student personalities”

Then I asked the previous students and took their feedback which gave me an idea that there were no activities for any lesson. The teacher taught in a theoretical way. No audio visual aids were being used.

Being a reflective teacher, I worked a lot and developed few lesson plans according to their level and need. Teaching should be practical and revolutionary, so I used effective and innovative strategies in which students participated to the greatest extent possible. Everyday I energized my students by using different stories and activities. I used library books to integrate my lessons with the Quran, Ginan and Farman. The strategy to teach students with integrated activities worked well and they all showed a lot of interest and participated fully with enthusiasm.

I am happy to adopt the teaching profession. It has given me a platform to learn a lot. I am trying my level best to fulfill the expectations of my students and to prepare them for the challenges, which will be faced by them in the future ahead.

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.


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  School Features

Standardized Testing (part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

The earliest evidence of standardized testing based on merit comes from China during the Han dynasty. The concept of a state ruled by men of ability and virtue was an outgrowth of Confucian philosophy. The imperial examinations covered the so-called Six Arts which included music, archery and horsemanship, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies of both public and private parts. Later, the five studies were added to the testing (military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography).

The first large-scale use of the IQ test in the US was during the World War I (circa 1914-18). The Educational Testing Service (ETS) established in 1948 is the world's largest private educational testing and measurement organization

Standardized testing is used as a public policy strategy to establish stronger accountability measures for public education. While the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) has served as an educational barometer for some thirty years by administering standardized tests on a regular basis to random schools throughout the United States, efforts over the last decade at the state and federal levels have mandated annual standardized test administration for all public schools across the country.

The idea behind the standardized testing policy movement is that testing is the first step to improving schools, teaching practice, and educational methods through data collection. Proponents argue that the data generated by the standardized tests act like a 'report card' for the community, demonstrating how well local schools are performing. Critics of the movement, however, point to various discrepancies that result from current state standardized testing practices, including problems with test validity and reliability and false correlations.

Critics charge that standardized tests became a mandatory curriculum placed into schools without public debate and without any accountability measures of its own. Many feel this ignores basic democratic principles in that control of schools' curricula is removed from local school boards, which are the nominal curricular authority in the U.S. While some maintain that it would be preferable to simply introduce mandatory national curricula, others feel that state mandated standardized testing should stop altogether in order that schools can focus their efforts on instructing their students as they see fit.

Critics also charge that standardized tests encourage "teaching to the test" at the expense of creativity and in-depth coverage of subjects not on the test. Multiple choice tests are criticized for failing to assess skills such as writing. Furthermore, student's success is being tracked to a teacher's relative performance, making teacher advancement contingent upon a teacher's success with a student's academic performance. Ethical and economical questions arise for teachers when faced with clearly under performing or under skilled students and a standardized test.

The earliest evidence of standardized testing based on merit comes from China during the Han dynasty. The concept of a state ruled by men of ability and virtue was an outgrowth of Confucian philosophy. The imperial examinations covered the so-called Six Arts which included music, archery and horsemanship, arithmetic, writing, and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies of both public and private parts. Later, the five studies were added to the testing (military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography).

The first large-scale use of the IQ test in the US was during the World War I (circa 1914-18). The Educational Testing Service (ETS) established in 1948 is the world's largest private educational testing and measurement organization, operating on an annual budget of approximately $900 million.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1994 requires standardized testing in public schools. US Public Law 107-110, known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 further ties public school funding to standardized testing.

The USA educational system judges the academic qualification of applicants on their test results of standardized tests, standardized college and graduate-school entrance tests:

ACT - American College Test
DAT - Dental Admission Test
GRE - Graduate Record Examination, for graduate school
GMAT - Graduate Management Admission Test for business school
HSPT - High School Placement Test for entrance into High School
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
LSAT - Law School Admission Test for law school
MAT - Miller Analogies Test
MCAT - Medical College Admission Test
MOAT - for medical school,
PCAT - Pharmacy College Admission Test
PSAT/NMSQT - Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
SAT - Scholastic Aptitude Test, developed in 1926 for college
SSAT - Secondary School Admission Test for preparatory school
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
TOEIC - Test of English for International Communication
TSE - Test of Spoken English
TWE - Test of Written English

Part 2 of this series will look at the design and scoring of standardized tests, as well as the standards utilized.  Stay tuned next month for more!


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

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Coming July 4, 2008:
Coming July 11, 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 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.


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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

Preparing For Your Student Teaching Experience (part 2)

by Dr. Peter Manute and Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultants

This is the second in a series of articles designed for college interns getting ready for their student-teaching experience. Student teaching is the final step for most teaching programs, and having a positive experience is vital for new teachers. This series of articles will provide many ideas, tips, and suggestions for young educators to make the most of the experience.

Being an intern is an interesting position to be in. The university treats you as a student, making you jump through hoops completing projects and meeting deadlines sometimes seeming totally irrelevant to the internship. The school district you are working in expects you to be a professional educator with all the secrets of innovation and new technologies fresh from the university 'think tank'. Parents think of you as someone who really doesn't know what they are doing yet and don't understand why you are practicing on their kids. They are always quick to point out their perceptions of student teachers when a problem arises about grades or behavior.

Hopefully I will provide you with some practical information presented in a no-nonsense form.

First and foremost, make sure all of your personal chores and plans are in order before you begin your assignment. Once you start it is vital to focus all of your energy and time into your placement.  Secure your housing well in advance and establish a routine of daily tasks. Plan to arrive at school early and plan to stay late. Student teaching is absolutely relentless; you will be exhausted after your first day. The mental and physical strain is unbelievable. Make sure all of your details are taken care of in advance; you don't want anything to interfere with your teaching. Do create some time for yourself or you will self-destruct. You need to keep your mind clear in order to make effective teacher decisions. Plan to have some time each day for your self - it may only be a few minutes, but it is very important. You may think you don't need it, but all veteran teachers will tell you differently.

Secondly, be a sponge. You are new to the profession and regardless of how well your university has prepared you, nothing measures up to being on your own in a classroom. When the door shuts for the first time you will know what I am talking about. Glean as much from your mentor and other teachers as possible, and by all means, don't come across as an expert.

You have not paid your dues and therefore you are really not an expert at anything. Learn from your observations and reflections; don't be afraid to make mistakes. As you progress and you become more effective, take risks and try different methodologies and teaching strategies. By all means keep in close contact with your mentor and always remember - no surprises. Ask questions before you do something; your mentor knows the ropes and will offer excellent advice. Make it your responsibility to learn the routines and specifics of the district and building you are working in. Don't rely on someone to tell you; find out on your own, take the initiative.  You can learn many things from both effective and ineffective teachers. Unless asked, keep your opinions to yourself, being new and having all the energy of youth will be a threat to some, so tread lightly.

If there is any down time in your room, ask your mentor for tasks to accomplish. Help out anywhere you can. Ask to take on something difficult and work with your mentor to accomplish it. Save as many artifacts as possible and use them in your professional portfolio.  Creative lesson plans and examples of student work are excellent things to have. Ask for feedback and listen and process. Create an open dialog with your mentor; remember that is the person who will be called first when a district wants to know about you. Your mentor will be able to talk about strengths and weaknesses, so what do you want to them to say about you?

Finally, enter the internship with the idea there will be a teaching opening that you will be qualified for in the very building you are student teaching. Create positive relationships with staff, parents, and students. You do that by demonstrating professional behavior.  When your internship is completed you want everyone to say - "We would really like to have you become part of our team!" Prove to people that you are the type of teacher that would be a perfect fit for their district.

School districts are looking for candidates who are 'low maintenance' teachers who can come into their buildings and have an immediate impact. Confidence, solid work ethic, and exemplary professional dispositions are words you want people to use to describe you. Your internship is an excellent place to begin!

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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


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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"That is Enough"

Themes on Life

Do we trust our faith?

A sick man turned to his doctor, as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side."

Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know."

"You don't know? You, a Christian man, do not know what is on the other side?"

The doctor was holding the handle of the door; on the other side came a sound of scratching and whining, and as he opened the door, a dog sprang into the room with his tail wagging and an eager show of gladness.

Turning to the patient, the doctor said, "Did you notice my dog? He's never been in this room before. He didn't know what was inside... He knew nothing except that his master was here, and when the door opened, he sprang in without fear. I know little of what is on the other side of death, but I do know one thing. I know my Master is there and that is enough."

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In This Week's Issue 
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Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute:
Teacher's Summer Activities

Teaching: A Challenging And Reflective Profession

School Features: 
Standardized Testing (part 1)

New Teacher's Niche:
Preparing For Your Student Teaching Experience (part 2)

Themes on Life:  
"That is Enough"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

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


10 Days Of


Create a short story or poem about a rainstorm.


Describe THREE outdoor activities you can do while its raining. 


Describe FIVE indoor activities you can do when its raining.


What are 10 ways that rain is important to our world?


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


Why do people enjoy activities near the water during the summer?


What are FIVE activities you can enjoy in the water?


How can you be safe when enjoying water activities?


What is your favorite water activity?  Why do you enjoy it so much?


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


10 days of writing prompts


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Year of the Dogman

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Applied Magic
By Michael Kett



Coming Soon:

Finding That First Job!

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Getting Ready for Next Year

Setting Up Your Classroom


Are You Looking For a Teaching Job?

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

What is the math symbol  for “square root?”

Day 2 What is the math symbol for “parallel to?”
Day 3

What is the math symbol for “ infinity?”

Day 4

What is the math symbol for “angle?”

Day 5

What is the math symbol for “is compare to, ratio?”

Day 6

What is the math symbol for “perpendicular?”

Day 7

What is the math symbol for “right angle?”

Day 8

What is the math symbol for “is greater than or equal to?”

Day 9 What is the math symbol for “is less than or equal to?”
Day 10

What is the math symbol for “not equal to?”




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