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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 5, Issue 16

August 2009

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Our Back-To-Back, Back-To-School Issues
Packed with excellent articles on getting yourself and your students back into school mode!

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

SQ3R Sheet
Check out our NEW FREE online resources, including the SQ3R sheet for reading 
and the Paragraph Graphic Organizer for writing.  These are forms you can fill in online and print, or have your students fill them in and print them for class!

Paragraph Organizer


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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!

Dear Dr. Manute:

I am a first year teacher and the school year starts in one week.  I am terrified!  What advice can you give me to help me make it through the first day?

Mary, Michigan

Dear Mary:

Well, everyone in education has been in your shoes.  That first day can be so scary that people have broken out in hives, etc.  One thing that will happen for sure - the end of the school day will come and you will feel absolutely great!  You will make it through the first day and then you will be a veteran, not a seasoned veteran, but no longer a first day teacher.  Day two will be easier, and so on and so on.

Ok, enough for the encouragement - how about a few tips.  First of all, be as organized as you possibly can.  You didn’t mention what level you teach and that matters to a degree.  For example, if you teach elementary, you will be focusing on specific routines that students have to learn.  At any rate you will be focusing on management techniques no matter what level you teach.  Secondly, teach the very first day.  Have your assignments ready and have high expectations.  Put your students to work and challenge them, set the stage for your classroom early and reinforce often.  No nonsense early on keeps kids focused and on task and makes your job easier.  Finally, have fun or give the appearance you are having fun.  This is the profession you chose, it is perhaps one of the most important jobs in our society today.  You are someone who has decided to make a difference in a child’s life.  It is a big challenge and I am sure you are up to it.

Have a great first year and I hope you are off to a wonderful career!


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My Philosophy of Education

By Linda Fineout
Spring Arbor University, MI

Linda Fineout wrote this philosophy when she was working through the teacher education program at Spring Arbor University.  This was adapted from her appreciation of Dr. Seuss' Oh The Places You'll Go.

The things that you are, the things you can be 
These all shape my Philosophy! 

I love these kids, I love to teach 
It’s their mind and spirit I want to reach. 

Learning is fun, fabulous, and great! 
All these kids – they’re all first rate! 

Co-operative groups, Centers and such – 
Oh, we will learn ever so much! 

To read, to read, is a wonderful thing 
What knowledge and power, reading will bring! 

What is it, these children need to do? 
Dear Parents, let them read to you. 

Vision and imagination, set it free 
Let them be whatever they want to be! 

Positive thinking is the rule for the day 
I will listen to kids and all that they say. 

I will not allow fighting, bickering and such 
Teamwork, together, we’ll accomplish so much! 

I’ll strengthen their strengths and let them be strong, 
I’ll teach them values, and right from wrong. 

I’ll model for kids what I want them to do 
But I’ll be open to ideas that are brand spankin’ new! 

Kids are special! I must nurture them so 
Support, security, safety, they’ll know! 

I’ll have fun with my kids, but challenge them too 
So they’ll be motivated and self-confident in all that they do. 

Out of the box thinking, that’s what I love! 
Over and under and way up above! 

I’ll soar with my students, you come and see – 
See what my students will grow up to be! 

Responsible, caring, and oh so smart 
My kids and I, we’ll do our part 

Technology, writing, yes even math 
Lifelong learners, we’ll be, come follow our path! 

I will love them and guide them and then set them free! 
To grow up, take flight and you will see 

The best, the most fabulous adult they can be 
What a wonderful present from you to me!

Copyright 2005, Linda Fineout...Used with Permission



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  School Features

Understanding Depression (part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Depressed Mood in Literature and Culture

Unlike jealousy or anger, a mild depressed state is not intimately associated with a motive for action, and this is a likely reason for it being under-represented in drama. The journey of King Lear could be seen as a state of depression seeking forgiveness and redemption, although it is arguably pathological; Hamlet is often described as a consummate melancholic. Many of the works of Anton Chekhov, such as Uncle Vanya, involve either depressed mood or clinical depression. On the other hand, sorrow and regret perhaps occur much more commonly in literature, and tragedy, where the audience or readers may share the sadness or despair of the characters, is seen as one of the greatest of art forms and perhaps the most profound. The films and plays of Ingmar Bergman cover both bereavement (as in Virgin Spring) and depressed mood (Wild Strawberries).

One of the most famous examples of depression in literature is Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther, and for this reason it is referred to in Frankenstein. A similar example in music is Schubert's Winterreise, a setting of poems by Wilhelm Mueller. See also Melancholy.

A Pietà is an example of the representation of grief and sorrow in Christian art. Self-portraits of Frida Kahlo often show her depressed state. Many more examples could be added.

Determinants of Mood

Depression can be the result of many factors, individually and acting in concert.

Reactions to events, often a loss in some form, are perhaps the most obvious causes. This loss may be obvious, such as the death of a loved one, or having moved from one house to another (mainly with children), or less obvious, such as disillusionment about one's career prospects. Monotonous environments can be depressing. A lack of control over one's environment can lead to feelings of helplessness. Domestic disputes and financial difficulties are common causes of a depressed mood. Love, or lack of being able to express your feelings can lead to a feeling of unexplainable sadness or grief.

Psychological Factors
Sometimes the depressed mood may relate more to internal processes or even be triggered by them. Pessimistic views of life or a lack of self-esteem can lead to depression. Illnesses and changes in cognition that occur in psychosis and dementia's, to name but two, can lead to depression. Depression may also be comorbid with cardiovascular disorders.

Physiological Considerations
A diathesis-stress model of depression (including clinical depression) is now widely accepted. This implies that underlying personality has some degree of influence over how the mood of individuals is affected by life events. The social, psychological and biological etiology of depression is still being actively investigated. The causal relationship with biological variables is unknown and so it is difficult to pinpoint the condition's roots. Some general physiological considerations include genetics (i.e. a hypothesized innate disposition to depression), neurochemistry (e.g. high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, low dopamine activity), sleep patterns, female hormone imbalance (e.g. PMS in women), male hormone imbalance (testosterone) in men, use of medication (e.g. corticosteroids), chronic illness (e.g. diabetes or hypothyroidism), and seasonal factors (e.g. seasonal affective disorder related to hormones and sunlight).

Look for more on depression in our next issue!


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



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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!

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

Second Day of Class Writing Assignment

by Frank Holes, Jr.
Educational Consultant

Once the hectic pace of the first day of school is over, you'll want to get your students off and writing 'on the right foot'. We begin the second day of class with a writing assignment / activity that will give me an idea of where the students are in terms of their understanding of the writing process.

Our school uses a common writing program that increases in complexity at each grade level. The teachers use common terminology and formats for paragraphs which are the basis of our drafting. Thus, I know they will have a bit of familiarity with the process. However, even if you are teaching 'on an island' without any class or grade continuity, this activity will allow you to assess your students understanding of the writing process and set them up for the teaching of your expectations for writing paragraphs.

I've put this activity onto an overhead sheet so I can use it each year. At the top are the writing directions: "Write a paragraph describing one of the most important things you learned over the summer. No talking, and no questions." The directions are specific enough that I want a paragraph written, not a page or a few sentences. And the topic is broad enough that everyone can think of something to write about. However, it is just vague enough that students must use their best judgment to decide exactly HOW to structure the writing and how long it should be.

I tell the kids there is no right or wrong way to do this assignment, and there is no right or wrong response to the prompt. In fact, the only wrong thing that can be done is just to NOT write anything at all. This explanation will help most of your students get started right away. If a student is sitting idle for more than a minute, I'll remind them that this is a writing activity, not a thinking activity. They need to get started writing, or I'll assign them a disciplinary paragraph to copy. That's usually enough to get them going.

Undoubtedly you will have some students who seem stumped on this, or will want to ask questions of you. Stand firm on the 'no questions', and let them figure it out for themselves. If you give in now, these same students will rely on you the entire year. You want them to become good thinkers and problem solvers. Let them do it!

We usually give students about ten minutes to write. Although this is less than normal, it's just enough to get them on the right track and enough for you to see if they have any idea what they're doing.

Once the time is up, each student draws a line across his/her paper right under the paragraph. I then uncover the second part of the activity. Students must now "write down THREE rules, guidelines, or expectations they have learned about writing paragraphs." After these are written down, the students prioritize them, the most important labeled #1, and so forth. These provide excellent prompts for class discussions, which is next. We look to affirm correct ideas, and dispel the wrong ones. Then the students draw another line across the page.

Lastly, the students number their page #1-5, and write in their responses to four questions I pose for them. We then discuss their answers, and I'm able to evaluate what they know and what they think they know about paragraph writing.

Again, these help me to see what knowledge the students bring to class, and how closely they are to our class's writing expectations.

The last thing we do is a bit of self-editing. The students are to underline their topic sentences and clincher statements and number their three supporting statements (just imagine their surprise if any realize they didn't write these down!) This also makes for great conversation.

Now they're ready to learn the rules, procedures, and expectations for the formatting of a paragraph in this class. I have these on an overhead sheet and also on a PowerPoint presentation. Both have a note sheet so students can write down the information as it is presented. They quickly learn the rules and expectations I have for the formatting and writing of their paragraphs.

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"An Inspirational Story, Motivational Story -

Olehile Fischer Thataone

Themes on Life

What is it that truly makes us happy?

I will never forget what my old headmaster told taught me. Normally when you are only 15 years of age you do not remember most of the things that are preached by your teachers. But, this particular story is one such lesson that I will never forget. Every time I drift off course, I get reminded of this story.

It was a normal Monday morning at an assembly, and he was addressing the students on important things in life and about committing ourselves to what is important to us. This is how the story went:

An old man lived in a certain part of London, and he would wake up every morning and go to the subway. He would get the train right to Central London, and then sit at the street corner and beg. He would do this every single day of his life. He sat at the same street corner and begged for almost 20 years.

His house was filthy, and a stench came out of the house and it smelled horribly. The neighbors could not stand the smell anymore, so they summoned the police officers to clear the place. The officers knocked down the door and cleaned the house. There were small bags of money all over the house that he had collected over the years.

The police counted the money, and they soon realized that the old man was a millionaire. They waited outside his house in anticipation to share the good news with him. When he arrived home that evening, he was met by one the officers who told him that there was no need for him to beg any more as he was a rich man now, a millionaire.

He said nothing at all; he went into his house and locked the door. The next morning he woke up as usual, went to the subway, got into the train, and sat at the street corner and continued to beg.

Obviously, this old man had no great plans, dreams or anything significant for his life. We learn nothing from this story other than staying focused on the things we enjoy doing, commitment.

We should remain true to our course; which may mean committing yourselves to things that people around you would normally disapprove. Let nothing distract us from being happy, let nothing else determine our fate, but ourselves.

What makes us happy is what matters in the end,
not what we acquire.

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

My Philosophy of Education

Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute: 
First Day of School:

School Features: 
Understanding Depression (part 2)

New Teacher's Niche:
Second Day of Class Writing Assignment

Themes on Life:  
"Commitment: A Motivational Story"

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 does it mean to be obsessed?


Write down FIVE obsessions people can have. 


Describe a GOOD obsession.  Why is it good?


How can an obsession be a bad thing?


Describe TWO important pieces of information you learned in the first week of school. 


What is your favorite TV show?  Why?


Describe THREE TV shows that you (or someone you know) enjoys.  What makes them enjoyable?


What are FIVE jobs that are related to your favorite TV show?


Can TV shows truly mimic real life?  Why or why not?


What are THREE goals you have for class this year?.   


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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Be sure to check out our

Brain-Based Learning: The New Paradigm of Teaching

By Eric P. Jensen



Coming Soon:

Preparing For the Upcoming Year

Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Writing Process and Programs

Classroom Management


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

4 − 6 + 9 ÷ 4

Day 2 3 + 6 ÷ 6 × 3 + 6
Day 3

1 − 3 − 1 + 5 × 5

Day 4

9 + 6 ÷ 1

Day 5

1.     4 + 7 × 7 × 3

Day 6

1.     4 ÷ 7 − 1 + 6 − 3

Day 7

1.      7 + 7 ÷ 2 ÷ 5 + 8

Day 8

1.      3 ÷ 2 ÷ 6 ÷ 2

Day 9  6 + 5 ÷ 1 × 6 × 8
Day 10

5 × 2 − 7 ÷ 8




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