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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 4, Issue 6

March 2008

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

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

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

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

  Reader Response

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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 Alternative Assessment:
Dear Dr. Manute, 

Along with improved teacher training, including multiple learning styles, higher order thinking skills, and other strategies, such as cooperative learning, comes the question of alternative assessments -- portfolio use and authentic or performance assessments. The literature available for study is still unclear as to the validity and reliability of using such assessments as accurate measurements of student learning, but the current research into inquiry learning, or generally, constructivist learning theory supports using these measures. What are your views?

Sue Gibbs 

Dear Sue, 

Letís begin with the purpose of assessment, to measure student learning.

Every lesson has a purpose and should be part of a sequence of activities focusing on specific learning outcomes. Included are challenging and relevant learning activities involving higher order thinking skills while focusing on multiple learning styles. At some point in our activity we assess whether students are learning the material at the desired level of thinking. This measurement enables us to make an effective teaching decision to re-teach, enrich or move ahead. Without accurate assessment strategies we will not be able to make an appropriate decision resulting in a lack of progress or random learning. 

Assessments fall into areas of formal and informal, traditional and alternative. Just as new and innovative teaching techniques have improved and changed the classroom from a boring domain of teacher centered instruction with passive learners, to an active vibrant learning environment, assessment strategies have also been enhanced. If one truly believes all kids can be successful then we no longer assess with only traditional methods such as paper and pencil tests or mounds of worksheets. Iím not saying these are totally ineffective, Iím advocating increased frequency and real and alternative methods. By utilizing a multiple assessment approach at frequent and well-timed intervals we arrive at a much more clear, accurate and comprehensive indicator of a studentís learning. Isnít that what we are striving for? Certainly much of this is new and innovative and research is still being conducted. However, all one has to do is visit a classroom that has made the transition and one that lags behind. The difference is absolutely amazing! IN the old classroom atmosphere students are bored, lazy and uninvolved. Classroom management problems are frequent and teaching time is at a low rate with parent involvement almost non-existent. Some teachers in this situation have actually been known to extract knowledge from students!

In the new and exciting classroom, learning time is valued and protected. Classroom management issues are minimal due to high expectations and student centered instruction. Interesting and creative teaching strategies (such as the constructivist approach) are employed by the teacher and students, parents and teachers all work together. Creativity and risk-taking are encouraged while meeting the needs of an academic and cultural diverse classroom. Teachers are life long learners and students are excited to be in school. Effective assessment is an integral part of this process we call learning and teaching. It is obvious where I stand on this issue, the real question is where do you stand and what does your classroom look like? 

Dr. Manute


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



Type in your question or query below:


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Life is full of challenges. We meet many confrontations in our daily life. When we are at the stage of entering school/college/university, we face many hard challenges and learn many lessons of practical life through them.

After acquiring matric/inter/graduation/post graduation, students usually move towards their specialization or adopt a profession of their choices, according to their own interest, keeping in view the market demand.  Talents and skills are the only tools which could lead an individual towards the door of success in this challenging time. To qualify for a professional degree or a job, one should have a strong past educational background along with integrated multi-dimensional skills. Itís of no use acquiring a higher degree without building character, confidence, and expressive personality.

To meet the challenges of professional life, one has to be familiar with many skills to grab the attention of an  interviewer, out of which interview skills are the basic necessities to meet up the future challenges with success.

Whether you are applying for a job or want to qualify an entrance examination for a professional degree, you should have to be prepared in advance for an interview. Itís the only way through which you can gain the trust of an interviewer. An interviewer always attempts to decide why they should select you. What are the qualities that you have and others do not have? How can you be a benefit to their organization?

If you can show your trust, your confidence, your commitment, and appropriate skills, then you could win a successful future.  The interview is a form of oral communication. Itís one to one, or one to group interaction, where an applicant proves himself or herself as a unique person to be the part of an organization.

Remember that the interview is always pre-planned and structured. Itís a formal presentation between an interviewer and an interviewee.  Only those pass it with flying colors who are original and show their interest with confidence and who present themselves as appealing. 

There are many types of interviews, like an information gathering interview, an appraisal interview, an exit interview, a hiring interview, a college/ university interview, a persuasive interview, a counseling interview and of course many more. In this article, we are going to learn about the college/ university entrance and hiring interview. 

The Hiring/Entrance Interview is one of the best known and the most widely experienced type of interview where a Human Resource Manager/ Educational Expertise takes an interviewer. 

To reduce your chances being rejected, here are some basic professional skills, which will lead you towards the path of success in your interview.


First of all, prepare your mind in advance that you are going to have an interview next morning. Relax yourself and do not get nervous, tense or tired at any cost.

Before going for an interview, pre-planned few things: 

1. Learn about the company, organization or educational institution and do some research in advance.

Why should you perform an advance research?

To develop good answers and to prove that you are unique

What you have to Research?

You can gather information about organizational structure; type of their clients/ students; departments and its branches; past and present achievements etc.

How can you gather information?

Simply search yellow pages or ask your friend or family member/relative who are familiar about organization or you can collect information through newspapers and websites. 

2. Prepare answers to typical questions. Practice your answer and never rote it.

Here are few of the sampling questions, which you can practice in advance.

What do you feel about our organization?

What are your weaknesses?

Why do you want to become a part of our organization?

Tell me about your self and about your hobbies.

Who is your role model and why? 

3. If you are lucky to know the name of a person, who will interview you, then memorizes his/her name properly. 

4. Decide what to wear.
Dress simply but elegantly.
Dress should be well ironed without crease.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Wear basic hosiery. You can even check what management wears and dress similarly without over kill.

Dress casual.
Wear Athletic Shoes.
Spray lots of cologne.
Wear lots of jewelry.
Wear wrinkled attire.
Wear flashing tie.

Prepare a file having your portfolio, educational degree copies and extra copies of your resume.

Find proper address in advance, that where are you going in the morning.

Get a good night sleep. 


Take a bath.

Do not apply heavy makeup.

Always carry a purse or a small handy briefcase with you.

Do carry your portfolio file.

Dress effectively.

Do not eat anything containing garlic or onion in your breakfast.

Arrive 15 minutes earlier to show youíre prompt and seriousness.

Be friendly with receptionist.



  • Start it off winner. Offer your hand and give a firm shake, else greet them with your pleasant smile.

  • Take a permission to sit on a chair.

  • Show a positive confident attitude and introduce yourself.

  • Donít get tense. Be comfortable and face the interviewer effectively.

  • Listen to their questions effectively and answer it genuinely.

  • Answer every question with confidence. Have a proper eye contact towards your interviewer. Remember that the interviewer might be more than one; so keep your eye contact with every individual interviewer to make them feel unique.

  • Whatever you want to answer, speak clearly with a normal tempo voice. Do not shout.

  • Show your confidence level at every moment of an interview.

  • Show your certifications or achievements only when they ask you to show.

  • Always sit straight. It might help them to analyze your personality and your traits.

  • Use the medium of answer, in which you feel comfortable. Remember to use good grammar and strong vocabulary with neutral accent.

  • Always clarify your answer. Do not say Yes or No.

  • Never complains about your past organization or employees.

  • While giving effective answers. Do not argue and always give respect to your interviewer. Always keep neutral thinking and try to mould your answer according to your interviewer personality.

  • Do not eat chewing gum, while answering questions.

  • If they give you a chance to ask any query or question, only ask relevant question.



      Few of the traditional interview questions, which an organization might ask are 

      Tell me about yourself (in two minutes).

      Why do you feel that you will be successful in...?

         Why did you decide to interview with our organization?

      Are you willing to relocate?

      Tell me about your scholastic record.

      Tell me about your extra-curricular activities and interests.

         What are your strengths and weaknesses?

      Why should we hire you?

      Why did you choose to become a teacher, nurse..?

      Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

      Why do you want to leave your current job?

After Interview:

With a pleasing smile, say thanks and ask about the next step in the process.

  • Follow up. Call them if you do not get a call within a given time frame.
  • Write a thank you letter to an organization for taking out their precious time for your interview.


Reasons for not getting a job/admission 

Might be you lack oral communication skills or writing skills.

Your inappropriate attitude could also let you down in your interview.  

Lack of knowledge about the working world

Lack of confidence

Inappropriate/fake degree

Lack of experience

Lack of motivation 



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 nine 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

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Mastering Basic Skills software:


There are six modules designed to test the basic ability of an individual in terms of Memory & Concentration. Needless to say this is the most important basic skill for not just to survive but also to thrive in this competitive environment. Each of the six modules tests the six variants of Memory & Concentration in an individual, namely: 1. Picture recognition
2. Paired Associate Learning
3. Immediate Recall
4. Serial processing
5. Parallel processing
6. Recognition and Recall
Each of these modules runs at three different levels, from easy to difficult.

At each level, the individual's performance is depicted as Scores Obtained.

A feedback has been built into the software for all these 18 levels depending on the marks one scores during the test. 

Each individual can assess his/her performance any time by clicking on "history", which gives complete details of date and time of taking the tests, marks scored each time and even time taken to do the test. This builds the confidence level and encourages more participation to eventually culminate in improvement and enhancement of memory and concentration.

Essentially, this software is a SELF AWARENESS tool that surely motivates the individual to realize one's capability and seek or be receptive for improvement. Also, if repeatedly done over a period of time works as Training tool to enhance their capability.
This software package is specifically designed to help young children to learn basic skills that will help them in school.  Continued follow-up will give these young learners success as they mature.  

Three versions of the software exist: Individual Software on either CD or Online,   Family Version Software, and an Institutional Software package.

StarTeaching wholeheartedly supports and endorses this software.  It will make a difference with your child or student.

Click HERE to order your own copy today:


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  School Features

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Concerns Regarding Grade Inflation

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

If grades are increasing, but standards have remained the same, then grade inflation should not be a cause for concern, but would be a positive development. Grade inflation would reflect an improvement in students' work. If, on the other hand, grades are rising because standards have been lowered, then grade inflation can be taken as a sign that the quality of students' work is either not improving or decreasing.

The noted problems with any possible lowering of academic standards associated with grade inflation include:

Grade inflation makes it more difficult to identify the truly exceptional students, as more students come to get the highest possible grade.

Grade inflation is not uniform between schools. This places students in more stringently graded schools and departments at an inequitable disadvantage.

Grade inflation is not uniform among disciplines. In the United States, it is commonly asserted that grade inflation is more pronounced in the humanities than in the mathematical sciences, leading students to avoid taking classes in the sciences which may prove to be beneficial to them.

Arguments against these points include:

It is not a school's job to sort students.

Higher grades at some schools reflect better performance.

Although grade inflation doesn't evenly distribute through departments, it is arguable, due to the subjective nature of grades, that interdepartmental grading practices were not even in the first place (e.g. how is one supposed to determine the English equivalent of an A's worth of work in Physics?)

Similarly, if one believes the purpose of a school is to better oneself and gain an understanding of the subjects, then one might not care too much if people are getting better grades than before regardless of the cause. Indeed, it could be construed as a positive development since it might lessen the effects that some say grades have.

For schools that do not modify their letter grade against grade-point reference regarding AP classes often inflate grades by means of an "AP curve" (the formula for which is y = 10\sqrt{x}), where x is the true grade and y is the curved result. The effect of this curve increases for lower grades: a grade of 100 is unchanged, whilst a failing grade of 36 is padded by an additional 24 points, thus making it a close pass in most jurisdictions. The AP curve is generally considered a fair retribution for the added difficulty of AP classes.

Furthermore, those who use grades in determining life outcomes for a student must act as if grade inflation has not occurred, taking the grades at their old, pre-inflated values - otherwise they could simply adjust and grade inflation would not be a serious issue. This could happen either due to neglect, or due to constraints of the grading system itself. For example, if the grading system stipulates an absolute maximum grade, then the problem of picking out the "cream of the crop", discussed below, naturally comes into play.

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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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

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Journal Writing (part 2)

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

This is the follow up to a previous article on Journal Writing.

I use a grading system that makes the journals easy to grade.  In my class, a full page is given ten points (ten being the maximum per page).  However, I'm a stickler; the students must write a full page, right down to the last line on the paper.  I do allow the top eight lines for brainstorming, though I don't always require it.  Students are always allowed to use the brainstorming lines if they wish. 

I require at least one page at each journaling session, which lasts from ten to fifteen minutes.  Students are required to write constantly until the time is up, or until they reach a full page.  However, before they are allowed to go on to another activity, they must show me their completed work.  Students may also write more than a page for extra credit.  I give out ten points for each full page beyond those required.  For example, we may have three journal sessions in a week, so the weekly grade is out of thirty points.  If a student completes five full pages, their score is fifty points, twenty of them extra credit!

I don't mind offering the extra credit, since usually the ones who take advantage of this are your A students anyway.  And since I want to promote as much writing as possible, I strongly encourage every student to write for extra credit.

Journals are the only form of writing that I allow to be done outside of class.  Mostly this is because I allow students to write for extra credit (only promoting more writing!)

Students are allowed to share their writing with the class afterward, though no one is required to share.  I tell the class they may read all or just part of their writing, or just tell about it.  The remainder of the students are allowed to keep writing during the sharing time, and must stop when there are no more to share.

I strongly believe students should be allowed to keep their journals when the year is finished.  For many students, putting down their private thoughts in class can lead to a lifetime of writing.

If you'd like to check out a list of journaling topics, check our website at the following quick link:   www.starteaching.com/free.htm.  Again, you may feel free to use any or all of these, and they may lead you to think of many others of your own.  You can also use any of our Weekly Writing Prompts from issues of our newsletter.  I encourage you to send along your own topics to add to our calendar


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 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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"Two Brothers "

Themes on Life

What do we build in our lives?

Once upon a time two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labor and goods as needed without a conflict. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's tool box. "I'm looking for a few days' work" he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?" "Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you."

"Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor; in fact, it's my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better."

"See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence --an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge -- a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all -- and the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. "You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done." The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other's hand.

They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. "No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother. "I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, but I have many more bridges to build.


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In This Week's Issue 
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Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute:
Alternative Assessments

Effective Interviewing Skills

School Features: 
Concerns Regarding Grade Inflation

New Teacher's Niche:
Journal Writing (part 2)

Themes on Life:  
"Two Brothers"

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


Why do humans dream?


Describe FIVE different dreams you've had recently. 


What does it mean to dream of something better in life?


What THREE ways you can help make your dreams come true?


Write down FIVE important things we've learned in class this week. 


What is the difference between a DREAM and a GOAL?


How do Goals and Dreams relate to each other?


Describe THREE goals you have and how these will help you achieve your dreams.


How does having dreams and goals make you more successful?


List THREE items from class this week that you'd like more information about.   


10 days of writing prompts


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Performance Appraisals
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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

Mrs. Graziani began watering her vegetables at 7:25 A.M..  It is now 12:05 PM.  How long has she been watering today?

Day 2 Estimate by rounding to the nearest tenth:

0.96 + 0.305 + 0.3

Day 3

The perimeter of a square piece of cloth is 36 inches.  What is its area?

Day 4

What is 9.81 rounded to the nearest tenth?

Day 5

Order of Operations: Use your calculator and insert the addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division into the blanks. You may also use any other mathematical symbol that might help (such as parentheses or a square root). You may use any operation or symbol more than once:

1 _____ 1 _____ 1 _____ 1 = 1

Day 6

2 _____ 2 _____ 2 _____ 2 = 2

Day 7

3 _____ 3 _____ 3 _____ 3 = 3

4 _____ 4 _____ 4 _____ 4 = 4

Day 8

5 _____ 5 _____ 5 _____ 5 = 4

6 _____ 6 _____ 6 _____ 6 = 4

Day 9 7 _____ 7 _____ 7 _____ 7 = 3

8 _____ 8 _____ 8 _____ 8 = 2

Day 10

9 _____ 9 _____ 9 _____ 9 = 1




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