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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 5

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

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

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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

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 in8 designing a set of weekly science activities for students and teachers to use.  

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

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Busted: 5 Writing Myths

By Deanna Mascle

One common element whenever human beings gather is the need to talk and share experiences. Often that need turns into something a little more fun, a little more dangerous -- gossip.  Gossip is often fun but it can also be dangerous because it spreads quickly (because it is fun) and often distorts or even completely avoids the truth. Gossip creates myths in many fields and professions, and the field of writing is especially prone.

The top five myths about writing are:

Myth 1: Writing is easy for some people. Let me tell you that is just about the biggest myth going. I have been a professional writer for going on three decades now. I also know many other professional writers of various ages, experience, and income. I don't know a writer that will tell you that writing is easy. Writing is brutal, hard work and there are times when I think it would be easier to simply open a vein as Red Smith said. However experience and practice can make many writing tasks easier. There are some writing tasks that I can almost accomplish on autopilot because I have written that specific format and/or topic a lot.

Myth 2: Writing requires talent. I won't lie. Talent can certainly help and talent is what separates the great writers from the good writers. But the truth is that talent is not enough to make a writer great or even good and talent is not a necessary requirement to be a good writer. Writing is a skill that can be learned, developed and honed. If you practice your craft, if you read the writing of others to learn more about your craft, and if you seek and accept guidance and suggestions about your writing then you will improve and grow as a writer.  Dedication harnessed with talent can create amazing results but if I had to pick just one then I would go with dedication. You can always increase your skill level through dedication.

Myth 3: Writing isn't a useful skill. I have made my living as a writer for my entire professional life but even if you don't intend to make your living with words you will need this crucial skill. There simply isn't a profession that does not involve writing. Perhaps the form will vary, but written communication is the cornerstone in every professional field.  Your writing ability will often impact landing a job as well as advancing in your career. Today written communication is even more crucial in professional and personal relationships.

Myth 4: You can't make a living as a writer. I can remember when I told my father that I wanted to be an English major in college. He was very worried that I wouldn't be able to support myself. The truth is that I have never had trouble finding a job and today I own my own business because of this flexible and important skill. Not only can you make a living as a writer but writing is an essential tool for many other careers and professions.

Myth 5: Writers block is alive and torturing writers as you read this. I'm not dismissing the difficulties inherent in dealing with writers block but whenever I talk with writers purportedly suffering from it they fall within two general groups. The first group actually creates their own block by insisting on the perfect place, mood, or alignment of planets in order to write. This is beyond ridiculous. One of the many benefits I gained from years of newsroom experience is the ability to write in almost any condition or mood. Deadlines will teach anyone how to give writers block short shrift. The second group I have more sympathy for as their problem really is internal in nature. Usually the problem is that the particular story (whether fiction or nonfiction) they want to tell is not yet finished cooking in their brain. In this case, while the writing may be stalled I don't agree that it is blocked. The writer must listen to that inner voice and respond appropriately. Sometimes the idea needs more time to percolate and sometimes more research and/or planning is necessary. Once the proper adjustments are made the writing will begin to flow again.

Don't let your writing fall victim to these five myths about writing.

About The Author: Deanna Mascle has been writing professionally and teaching writing for more than two decades. She publishes a newsletter for writers whether they write for fun or profit.  Learn more at http://WordCraftOnline.com



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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.

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Integrating Technology into the Classroom

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

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

The first thing to understand is that technology is a tool to teach curriculum. There are many tools we have available to us as teachers, and it is up to us to choose what is appropriate.

The next thought I have is that the students we are dealing with today aren't like us. They are not interested in being talked at and are very good at tuning us out. They would rather be a part of their learning.

The way we can reach these students is to use the learning pyramid as part of our teaching plan. Research has shown that only about 5% of a lecture is retained by students. Reading accomplishes only 10%. Audio visual provides 20%, demonstration 30%, discussion 50%, practicing by doing (hands-on) 75%, and finally when the student can teach others 90%.

These facts should help alter the way a person teaches. It certainly has changed the way I do things.

You may wonder what the pyramid has to do with the integration of technology into the the curriculum. I will begin to answer that in the coming articles. Just ponder what I've already said and reflect on what you're doing in your classroom. You can only make changes one step at a time.


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/ 


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



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The Importance of Career Planning

By Munir Moosa Sewani

A career refers to a profession, which we want to adopt for earning our livelihood, and planning means the proper flow to make proper decisions.

Pre-planning in our life plays a very important role in every aspect of life, to work in a proper flow, and pre-planning for our career, which we want to pursue in our future after acquiring certain level of education or a degree is also very necessary in today's competitive world.

According to the Thorndike dictionary, "A goal that you desire to achieve in a selected field or occupation with a well-thought out plan, to get you there is called Career Planning."

The world is now moving very fast, and the time has come when this meritocratic society will accept only those having the right qualifications and right skills. The old days are gone when just a degree would help an individual to attain a high profile job by giving a bribe or using some other means. Now it's high time, when the transparency in job recruitment has taken place.  Challenges and competition are the part of today's society, and therefore, Career Planning is the only task, which can guide us to do what we want to do in our life, rather than just aimlessly changing jobs all the time in future.  We have seen many Pakistanis, who after completing Intermediate Education, don't know where to go, what to do and we have also seen graduates, who aimlessly move through their education without any specialization. As a result, their earnings are just in 6-8 figures.  

Career Planning is one of the broader aspects of learning in our existence. We all have some intentions and we all think to have stability in our future lives, and for that purpose, CAREER PLANNING serves as a key to success.  Career Planning forces a person to think suitably about their positive and negative aspects as well as their interests, and their creativity becomes possible by properly analyzing ourselves. 

Career Planning basically starts when a person finishes Secondary/ Higher Secondary level of education. After that level, a person could opt for that educational degree, which would help them out to have a good job opportunity according to their skills at the right time.  Career Planning helps us to design and formulate our future smoothly. For example, if a person wants to be a banker, then he or she would choose to go for ACCA or CA or complete a MBA in finance after completing Intermediate Education in commerce and graduating with a degree in commerce/ business administration.. Otherwise, he/ she would go for CAT course or Masters in Commerce or even up to doctorate level. 

This pre-planning would be effective and would give him/her benefits for achieving educational targets effectively.  It also helps us to evaluate our own personality, which helps us to know that which kind of job would suit us according to our need and capabilities.  In short, Career Planning is like mapping our future.  Without proper planning, no one could think of getting a desired job in future.  Think about what we want to do and then find out more about the kind of training, education, and skills we will need to achieve our career goal; this is the core objective of career planning.  It helps us to know the nature of the jobs that interest us, such as educational requirements, salary, working conditions, fringe benefits, promotion chances, future prospectus, and it helps us focusing in the right dimension.  Career planning directs us, motivates us, and helps us to accomplish what we want. A career goal is a specific vision such as an architect or a teacher or a career goal can be a particular field which we want to work in, such as Media, Education, Medicine, Engineering etc.  

For those who will think about their future and career after completing their education without any long term desired goals are the ones whose attempts might end in smoke.  There are some cases and situations which require a person to pre-plan in advance, such as family, family business status, lack of interest in studies or traditional job, low motivation, low financial status, etc, or some past educational traumas which caused a person to plan at a later time. 

Career planning is a lifetime process; we are always learning and growing, and as we do, our interests and needs also change. Career planning is not just making plans to obtain our careers, but it also helps us to make many adjustments there will be along the ways we learn throughout our lives.  Those who have successful careers like educators, business owners, managers, pilots, architects, bankers, doctors, etc. are the ones, who have made their ways through with proper guidance. 

No doubt, our parents have some wishes and expectations from us, but we have our own too. Therefore, we should also consider others' opinions. For that we could take guidance from an educational counselor to get better guidance towards new dimensional fields as well. Teachers, professionals, career guidance websites, as well as head educational consultants can also guide us to have a better approach for our future. 

We must have the freedom of speaking and the freedom of choosing our careers as we have to lead our lives which interest us. We must try to have an open mind in order to choose the right career at the right time.  According to one renowned professor, "Few of us like to opt for those degree courses, which their family or friends have advised them to adopt and this inappropriate knowledge trapped them into a great mistake.  In this way, they are unable to get good job opportunities according to their interests. Only Proper Career Guidance would help an individual to be on the right path beforehand. Few of us try to seek the right path and really take guidance from our family or our teachers to tell them what is good for them, which career is in demand and which career suits their interest." 

The future is un-predictable; however, we could still make our place in this meritocratic world by making career goals and plans in advance for getting better opportunities in today's pluralistic and globalize world.  We must pre-plan our goals under the supervision of professionals in a conscious state of mind, so that we could strategically maintain our goals and follow it towards the path of a successful future.

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of Education in the past 8 years. He is a Master Trainer In Special Education, Post Graduate, Teacher Educator and a Teacher. He is a Freelance Writer and Photographer, in addition to his role as a featured writer for StarTeaching's newsletter over the past six months. He is an author of the famous self-published storybook for children named as "The MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written Biology course book for Secondary Classes. He has written almost more than 30 articles internationally on many websites and numerous newsletters dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published in most of the famous world wide websites, magazines and newspapers.

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor, musician, lyrics writer and have multi- dimensional talents.

His future plan is to write dozens of informative books and articles and to work for education and media also, in order to develop the sense of understanding many dimensions of life through his creativity.

You can contact Munir Moosa Sewani at: munirmoosa@yahoo.com



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

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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.

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

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Give Me Five Sentence Writing Activity

This is a great writing activity that can be used in any class, any subject, or any grade level.

We've created another variation of the context sentences activity which we call 'Give-Me-Five'. It is similar in that you create a matrix of words, vocabulary, or terms from which your students will write unique, interesting, complete sentences. And students should be given the opportunity to share their unique sentence creations with the class.

The original context sentences activity had a matrix of nine total words, three across by three down. Students then created a sentence for each line across, down, and diagonal, writing a total of nine sentences. Give-Me-Five builds on this, but expands the matrix to five words across by five words down, twenty-five words in all.

Now the lines down, across, and diagonal will include five words that you have designated. That gives you and the students twelve different lines of word combinations to choose from. We like to have the students choose five (or more) such lines from this 5x5 matrix. The students then must fit all five words from their line into a sentence. The students are getting practice in spelling and using the words correctly, as well as writing complete sentences.

One of the great aspects of this activity is its durability. I like to create several matrices and type them out on an overhead sheet so I can use them over each hour and I can file them for year after year. We make up specific sets of words to match certain stories, lessons, or units, and we also use them with random words just to have fun.

Always give the students the opportunity to share their creations with the class. This reinforces the correct use of the vocab or terms, gives students practice reading and listening to properly written sentences, and creates an opportunity for students to present in front of their peers, a skill that always needs practice.  This also makes a great lesson to leave for a substitute teacher, or to put in your emergency plans. Make sure you have fully explained this activity and your students have practiced it a few times under your guidance before leaving it as an activity for your sub.

This activity (as well as the context sentences activity) is great for utilizing vocabulary in foreign language classes, as it forces students to spell and use words properly while writing sentences. It is also good for any class or subject that has specific vocabulary students need to familiarize themselves with. This works well for social studies and science classes, and it makes an easy writing assignment for music, art, p.e, and other elective-type classes where the teacher may be required to add writing activities, even if he or she isn't highly trained in writing.

This is especially good for English teachers if you're covering compound or complex sentence structures, as you can specify particular types of sentences to have students write. Simply set up your matrix so there are two or more nouns or verbs in a line. You might even add a conjunction to the line!

Now of course you might want to adjust this activity to meet the needs and level of your students. This could include changing the number of lines you require students to make sentences out of. You might have students choose fewer lines and create different unique sentences from the same five words. You might have students choose two or three lines and take all ten or fifteen words and create a story paragraph. There are many possibilities you can develop. If you create any really interesting variations, let us know and we'll feature you in an upcoming issue of our newsletter.

 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


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"May This Encourage You Always"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Who do we consider our true friends?

Don't spend major time with minor people.
If there are people in your life who continually disappoint you, 
break promises, stomp on your dreams, 
are too judgmental, 
have different values and don't have your back during difficult times
...that is not friendship.

To have a friend, be a friend.
Sometimes in life as you grow, your friends will either grow or go. 
Surround yourself with people who reflect 
values, goals interests and lifestyles.

When I think of any of my successes,
I am thankful to God from whom all blessings flow, 
and to my family and friends who enrich my life.

Over the years my phone book has changed 
because I changed, for the better.
At first, you think you're going to be alone, 
but after awhile, new people show up in your life 
that make it so much sweeter and easier to endure.

Remember what your elders used to say,

"Birds of a feather flock together.
If you're an eagle, don't hang around chickens:
Chickens can't fly!"



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

Busted: 5 Writing Myths

Tech Corner: 
Integrating Technology into the Classroom

New Teacher's Niche:
Give Me Five Sentence Writing Activity

Themes on Life:  
"May This Encourage You Always"

The Importance of Career Planning

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


10 Days Of


What does 'Guilt By Association' mean?


Are bystanders responsible for the actions of someone who commits a crime?.


How could you defend yourself from a charge of 'Guilt by Association'?


How is 'Guilt by Association' different from 'Innocent Until Proven Guilty'?


Write down 5 important facts you learned in class this week..


Why do Americans enjoy fast food?


List your favorite fast foods.


Why was fast food developed in our country?  


Is fast food really fast?  Why or why not?


 Write down THREE things you still are having difficulty with in class.


10 days of writing prompts


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Year of the Dogman

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Performance Appraisals
Made Easy

By Dr. Lisabeth S. Margulus



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

In each row, column and main diagonal there is a sum of ________

The four corners add to ____.

Day 2

Use the grid above:

The four numbers in the center add to ___.

The 15 and 14 in the top row and the 3 and 2 facing them in the bottom row add to ____.

Day 3

The 12 and 8 in the first column and the 9 and 5 facing them in the last column add to ___.

The four squares in the corners add to ___.

Day 4

If you go clockwise around the square and choose the first squares away from the corners (15,9,2,8), they add to ____.

What is the sum is you around if you go counterclockwise?

Day 5 With a date written like this - 4/12/1847 –Answer the following questions:
  1. When was the last time a date had five zeros in it?
  2. When is the next time a date will have five zeros in it?
  3. What are the next three times after that when a date will have five zeros in it?
When is the first time a date will have six zeros in it?
Day 6

Look at the clues to figure out the 4 digit car license plate number:

1.       One of the digits is neither prime nor composite.

2.       The digit in the hundreds place is three times the digit in the thousands place."

3.       The digit in the ones place is four times greater than the digit in the tens place.

 The smallest prime number is in the thousands place
Day 7 Joshua is selling yoyo’s or 3 for $14.00.  How much money will he receive if he sells 12 yoyo’s?
Day 8 Write the ratio 82:75 in two other forms
Day 9

What is the area of a rectangle 12 inches long and 7 inches wide?

Day 10

What time is it 25 minutes after 10:40 P.M?




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