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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 5, Issue 23

December 2009

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.   

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!  

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 an administrator interested in sharing 21st century leadership skills and ideas in schools.  

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



Ask Dr. Manute

The Doctor is in!!!  After his brief stay overseas, Dr. Manute is pleased to be back stateside answering questions from our readers.  

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.

 You can  contact Dr. Manute through the form at the end of this article.  Thanks!

I recently received a question regarding the time leading up to Christmas vacation:

Dear Dr Manute,

What kind of advice would you give for teachers keeping students on task the week leading up to Christmas vacation?

Bob, Portland, ME

Dr. Manute responds:

My advice would be to plan extra hard for that week, but at the same time enjoy the flavor of the season.  We must also keep in mind the diversity of students who because of religious beliefs or cultural differences don’t celebrate Christmas or celebrate in another way.  We certainly wouldn’t want to alienate or create hurt feelings.

Effective planning will do a lot to keep students engaged in learning activities and that is what you are being paid to do.  I would even suggest over planning and be ready for interruptions and distractions.  They will surely happen. You might also slip some holiday cheer into your plans, say a few minutes each period.  It might be an excellent time to examine the different celebrations around the world at this time of the year.  This could be a real learning experience for all students.  It wouldn’t take too much creativity to add this to your lesson plan.  Interesting and provocative discussions could result in actually bringing students closer together.

You also need to take into account the age and grade level of students.  Obviously there are major differences at all grade levels.  Whatever you decide I encourage you to do it with as much enthusiasm and professionalism as possible.  And as I said earlier, enjoy the flavor of the season.

Happy teaching and happy holidays!

Yours in teaching,

Dr. Manute      

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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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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

Web 2.0, The New Culture of Social Community

By Mark Benn
Middle School Teacher

Mark's latest articles are focusing on 21st Century Learning and the latest research to drive 21st Century Teaching. 

Quoting from an article written by Susan McLester in the April edition of Technology & Learning: “Web 2.0 has essentially transformed the Internet from an e-commerce and Web page publishing venue to a planet-wide networked community where every citizen is invited to create content.”

Let’s look at what it is.

First, let’s look at three skills: publishing, broadcasting, and movie production. In the past if you wanted to publish a book or article you would have to send it to a publisher and wait to see whether they would publish it. Newspapers and magazines were written by their own hired staff of writers. Only a small group of people compared to the whole population could accomplish this. The only way to broadcast was to work for, or own your own radio studio. Movie production could only be done by a production company with the equipment and know how.

Now enters Web 2.0 onto the scene. Anyone with a computer can publish on the internet in blogs or online newsletters. Likewise, you can produce a broadcast by making a podcast using programs like Garageband or Audacity. If you have a video movie camera you can edit your own movie and upload it to the internet for all to see. All of this can be accomplished with a computer and open source (free) software on the internet. It can then be uploaded onto the web for everyone to participate in. 

You ask, what do I mean by: participate in?

Social networking sites like MySpace, YouTube, and Yahoo! Groups have allowed our digital natives to collaborate and share information and thoughts on anything instantly.

Instead of just being a passive reader and watcher of what someone says or does, everyone can be an active participant on what goes up on the web. With new open source online tools like Jumpcut, Eyespot, Toufee, Picnik, and more everyone can participate. But wait, there’s more. New hosting sites such as Revver.com, Spymac.com, and uthTv.com have opened a whole new support network for this community.

What does this mean to us as educators? No problem, we just block all the sites. After all, it’s our job to protect them from the evils of the internet. I agree, we need to protect them from the evils of the internet, but are the above mentioned sites evil? Is having a social community on the internet wrong or dangerous, or is it something we don’t fully understand? By blocking all the sites are we making ourselves irrelevant in the eyes of the digital native? Shouldn’t we be teaching them how to safely handle the internet, and then participate in it with them?

About a month ago I got involved in an online social network called Runescape. My children had been involved in it for awhile and I had been watching. Runescape is a place where you become a virtual person in a virtual medieval world where you can fish, hunt, build houses, and on and on. You can be a free participant, or for $5 a month become a member with more privileges. Last month Runescape topped one million members. This doesn’t count far more that aren’t members. As I participate in this world, I watch as the young people are constantly helping each other, talking to one another, and problem solving. These are skills we want them to learn.

Shouldn’t we be integrating these communities into our classrooms, instead of blocking them? We could spark discussion about many academic topics where the student becomes not only the learner but the teacher, too. Think about it.

Your browser may not support display of this image.  

Mark Benn earned his B.S. from Western Michigan University and his Elementary Certification from Northern Michigan University.  He is a 21 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/ 


iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:


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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Behavioral Disorders in Children
Specifically to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

By  Munir Moosa Sewani

Munir Moosa Sewani is one of the most famous, prominent and creative names in the field of Education in the past 9 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 for more than three years now. He is an author of the famous self-published storybook for children titled "The MORAL STORIES FOR CHILDREN" and has also written a Biology book for Secondary Classes. He has written more than 50 articles dealing with social, health, educational and cultural issues, which are internationally recognized and published in famous world wide websites, newsletters, magazines and newspapers. 

He is also a Social worker, private tutor, career counselor, musician, lyrics writer and has multi-dimensional talents. His future plan is to write dozens of informative articles and to work for education and media, in order to explore hidden creativity.


Many of the symptoms of ADHD occur from time to time in everyone. In patients with ADHD, however, the frequency of these symptoms is much higher and impairs regular life functionality, typically at school or at work. Not only will they perform poorly in task oriented settings but they will also have difficulty with social functioning with their peers. No objective physical test exists to diagnose ADHD in a patient. In the USA these criteria are laid down by the American Psychiatric Association in their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), 4th edition. Based on the DSM-IV criteria listed below, three types of ADHD are classified:

ADHD, Combined Type: if both criteria 1A and 1B are met for the past 6 months

ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type: if criterion 1A is met but criterion 1B is not met for the past six months.

ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type: if Criterion 1B is met but Criterion 1A is not met for the past six months. [14]

Consequently, ADHD is the current nomenclature used to describe the disorder as one distinct disorder which can manifest itself as being a primary deficit resulting in hyperactivity/impulsivity (ADHD, predominately hyperactive-impulsive type) or inattention (ADHD predominately inattentive type) or both (ADHD combined type).

DSM-IV criteria for ADHD

Either A or B:

  1. Six or more of the following symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:

·        Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.

·       Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.

·        Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.

·        Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).

·        Often has trouble organizing activities.

·        Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn't want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).

·        Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).

·        Is often easily distracted.

·        Often forgetful in daily activities.

B. Six or more of the following symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for developmental level:


  • Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat.
  • Often gets up from seat when remaining in seat is expected.
  • Often runs about or climbs when and where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may feel very restless).
  • Often has trouble playing or enjoying leisure activities quietly.
  • Is often "on the go" or often acts as if "driven by a motor".
  • Often talks excessively.
  • Impulsiveness:
  • Often blurts out answers before questions have been finished.
  • Often has trouble waiting one's turn.
  • Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games).

The American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Practice Guideline for children with ADHD emphasizes that a reliable diagnosis is dependent upon the fulfillment of three criteria:  

  1. The use of explicit criteria for the diagnosis using the DSM-IV-TR.
  1. The importance of obtaining information about the child’s symptoms in more than one setting.
  1. The search for coexisting conditions that may make the diagnosis more difficult or complicate treatment planning. [15]

Medical Diagnosis

A thorough medical examination is important to identify other conditions that may be responsible for symptoms or that coexist with ADHD and require treatment. Hearing and vision assessments should be included in the examination. The most important diagnostic tool is the clinical interview.

Generally, 6 or more symptoms, some of which must be present before age 7, must cause significant impairment for 6 months. Impairment must be seen in two settings, such as home and school, or home and work. Finally, symptoms must not be caused by another condition.

Differential diagnosis is necessary to distinguish ADHD from other mental health disorders and medical conditions, such as the following:

  • Depressive disorder, bipolar disorder
  • Conduct disorder (CD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Lead poisoning
  • Seizure disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Normal developmental activity [16]

Clinical interview of a child involves evaluating signs and symptoms; family history; home environment; academic, social, and emotional functioning; and developmental level. A variety of evaluative rating scales and clinical tests may be administered to patients, parents, and teachers to help sort out the signs and symptoms of ADHD.

Psychological testing may be used in the diagnosis of ADHD. For instance, the continuous performance test (CPT) measures and evaluates a child's attention span and ability to maintain focus on a task. An intelligence quotient (IQ) test may indicate a learning disability. However, psychological testing alone cannot be the basis for diagnosis.

In children at least 5 years old, "soft signs" may appear early and suggest the presence of ADHD. Soft signs include the following:

  • Coordination difficulties
  • Impaired motor skills
  • Constant, involuntary movement of the eyes (nystagmus)
  • Visual-motor control problems (hand-eye coordination)

Evaluation of an adult can be difficult and involves obtaining a childhood academic and behavioral history—including educational, vocational, and personal difficulties—as well as an evaluation of signs and symptoms. Observations of a spouse or significant other and recollections of parents can be useful.

Many adults have coexisting conditions, such as the following:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Migraine
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Thyroid dysfunction [17]


Singularly, stimulant medication is the most efficient and cost effective method of treating ADHD. Over 200 controlled studies have shown that stimulant medication is an effective way to treat ADHD. Methods of treatment usually involve some combination of medications, behaviour modifications, life style changes, and counselling. Behavioral Parent Training, behavior therapy aimed at parents to help them understand ADHD, has also shown short term benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, zinc and magnesium may have benefits with regard to ADHD symptoms.

ADHD is a complex condition that can mimic other disorders; therefore, diagnosis plays a crucial role in the disorder. A physical exam by a doctor will help rule out physical illness such as a thyroid disorder, hunger, constipation, infection, or other disorders that could cause hyperactivity or inattentiveness. After the diagnosis of ADHD is made, options for treatment should begin with behavioral therapy and medication. Sometimes behavioral therapy is used alone but most often it is a combination of behavioral and medication therapies that are most effective.

The behavioral therapies include dividing large assignments into smaller more manageable tasks, giving the child rewards for completing certain tasks, speaking with a therapist, finding a support group, and manipulating situations to benefit the child's needs. Giving the child no time limits while taking a test, seating the child away from as many distractions as possible, and giving the child less homework may benefit a child with ADHD. To learn more about behavioral therapies, click on the "Helping Yourself" link above. [18]

Medication is also a first-line option, but should typically not be used without behavioral therapy. At this time there are only a few medications that are approved for the treatment of ADHD. One class of drugs is called stimulants, and they work to improve concentration and allow the child or adult to focus on activities. This drug class includes dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) and methylphenidate (Ritalin). Stimulants have been shown in studies to be effective in children with ADHD, with 70%-95% of children responding positively. If one stimulant medication does not work, another in the same class should be tried. The effects of long-term treatment with stimulants are not completely understood. It does not appear that stimulants stunt the growth of children as was previously thought. It is recommended that treatment with stimulants be reevaluated every year. Some unwanted effects from stimulants may be increased jitteriness, and decreased appetite; these effects tend to diminish over time with repeated use. Additional adverse effects may occur if more than the prescribed dose is taken, or use is not closely monitored by a healthcare professional. [19]

Recently, drug companies have been making newer longer acting formulations of stimulant drugs. This includes a newly developed skin patch containing methylphenidate that can be worn on the hip. The patch, called Daytrana, is approved for use in children aged 6 to 12 and carries the same side effects as other methylphenidate medications. These new longer-acting medications are helpful because they allow ADHD medication to be dosed just once a day. This also avoids the problem of children having to take a dose of their medication while in school. [20]


A more recent drug available for the treatment of ADHD is atomoxetine (Straterra). Atomoxetine is a non-stimulant medication that has been shown to be effective in children and adults with ADHD. It is currently considered a second line agent, and used after two unsuccessful treatment attempts with stimulants. [21]

Antidepressants are another class of drugs that are used when treating ADHD. Antidepressants are considered second-line therapy to be used in patients that have ADHD with depression or when the stimulants are not working. Tricyclic antidepressants work in the body to prevent the nerves from taking up the chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine believed to be low in the brain in ADHD. The medication allows these chemicals to stay around longer in the blood and be used by the body in a more productive manner. Two tricyclic antidepressants are sometimes used to treat ADHD -- imipramine and desipramine. There are other medications that have been used for the treatment of ADHD but are not approved by the FDA. This type of treatment is called "off-label" use. These drugs include bupropion, clonidine, and guanfacine. [22]

The following stimulants are used to treat ADHD:

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin®, Concerta®, Methylin®)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®, Dextrostat®)
  • Amphetamine: combined dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine (Adderall®)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse®) [23]


Atomoxetine HCl (Strattera®) may be used to treat ADHD in adults and children. Strattera is a non-stimulant that increases levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It is available in oral capsule form in several dosage strengths. Strattera usually is taken once or twice a day, with or without food.


Antidepressant medications affect many of the same neurotransmitter levels as stimulants. Fewer studies have been performed regarding the use of these drugs to treat ADHD. The following antidepressants are sometimes used to treat ADHD:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., nortriptyline, Tofranil®, Norpramine®)
  • Bupropion (e.g., Wellbutrin®)
  • Venlafaxine (e.g., Effexor® XR) [24]

Tricyclics (e.g., amitriptyline, clomipramine) have shown some effectiveness, but more research is needed. Children who take tricyclics may have a greater risk for heart problems than adults. Patients taking tricyclics must be monitored for possible cardiac side effects, such as rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure (hypotension).

Bupropion (Wellbutrin®) stimulates the effects of dopamine and may reduce hyperactivity and aggressiveness, which makes it especially useful for children. In adults, it is typically less effective than stimulant medication.

Venlafaxine (Effexor®) affects the levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine and may be best suited for reducing attention problems. Some studies have found it to be effective in adults.

Mood Stabilizers

Antiepileptic drugs such as carbamazepine (Tegretol®, Epital®) and gabapentin (Neurontin®) are not FDA-approved to treat ADHD. These drugs can effectively treat symptoms of bipolar disorder and may be used in people with ADHD who experience mood swings. However, gabapentin may actually worsen oppositional behavior in some ADHD cases. [25]



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Grade Inflation (part 3)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com


Grade inflation is the increase in the number of high grades over time. Grade inflation is often conflated with lax academic standards. For example, the following quote about lax standards from a Harvard University report in 1894 has been used to claim that grade inflation has been a longstanding issue: "Grades A and B are sometimes given too readily ... insincere students gain passable grades by sham work." Issues of standards in American education have been longstanding. However, rising grades did not become a major issue in American education until the 1960s.

The evidence for grade inflation in the US was sparse, largely anecdotal and sometimes contradictory until recently. Hard data were not abundant. A Stanford University report in the 1990s showed that grades had been rising since the 1960s; in an effort to stem grade inflation, Stanford changed its grading practices slightly. National surveys in the 1990s generally showed rising grades at American colleges and universities, but a survey of college transcripts by a senior research analyst in the US Department of Education found that grades declined slightly in the 1970s and 1980s. Data for American high schools were lacking.

However, recent data leave little doubt that grades are rising at American colleges, universities and high schools. Leaders from number of institutions, including Harvard University and Princeton University, have publicly stated that grades have been rising and have made efforts to change grading practices. An evaluation of grading practices in US colleges and universities written in 2003, shows that since the 1960s, grades in the US have risen at a rate of 0.15 per decade on a 4.0 scale. The study included over 80 institutions with a combined enrollment of over 1,000,000 students. An annual national survey of college freshmen indicates that students are studying less in high school, yet an increasing number report high school grades of A- or better.

The debate on grade inflation has moved from assessment to causes. Are grades rising because standards are being lowered or because students are producing better work?


1) Assigning more challenging coursework.

2) Ranked grading, or "grading on a curve", provides a constant distribution of marks over a given range, since a student is only evaluated next to their peers. However, since each student is not marked on individual merit, those receiving high marks in a poorly performing class may well be less qualified than those receiving poor marks in a highly achieving class, thus poorly reflecting on the student's outcomes.

3) Report grades on a 100 point scale rather than on a 4.0 point scale.

4) Another solution could come from employers which could consider asking candidates, during job interviews, to show samples of their academic work (like test papers, essays, project write-ups etc.).


In recent years, Princeton University has earned itself a reputation for awarding some of the highest average marks among the top American universities. In an attempt to combat this grade inflation and reverse this reputation, Princeton began in the fall of 2004 to employ guidelines for grading distributions across departments. Under the new guidelines, departments have been encouraged to re-evaluate and clarify their grading policies. The administration suggests that, averaged over the course of several years in an individual department, A-range grades should constitute 35% of grades in classroom work, and 55% of grades in independent work such as Senior Theses. To date, the administration has not taken steps to strictly enforce these guidelines, instead opting to rely on departments to apply them. Since the policy's inception, A-range grades have declined significantly in Humanities departments, while remaining nearly constant in the Natural Science departments.

Many argue that it places students at a disadvantage when they apply for employment after graduating at professional schools because of the comparatively lower marks on students' transcripts. The student body, for the most part, opposes this system of "grade deflation," but the administration stands by it, saying that other schools will soon follow - despite outright statements from other schools that say they have no plans to implement such policies.

On the other hand, UC Berkeley has gained a widespread reputation for harsh grading policies. In most science and engineering disciplines, departmental standards widely proscribe that no more than 25% of the students in any given class are awarded A grades, and that the class GPA is in the range of 2.7 to 2.9 out of a maximum of 4.0 grade points.

Other colleges such as Cornell University and the University of Chicago are also known for their harsh grading practices. However, it appears that many schools known for harsh grading practices actually have lax grading; for example, the average GPA at University of Chicago in 1996 was 3.26.


Article courtesy of K12Academics.com



MythMichigan Books
Novels by Frank Holes, Jr.

Now Available!  3rd Book in the Dogman Series:

Nagual: Dawn Of The Dogmen

Michigan ’s legendary Dogman returns in Nagual: Dawn of the Dogmen by Frank Holes, Jr.  The third book in the series is a masterful blend of fantasy and folklore, delving into the pre-dawn history of the mysterious creature and then rushing forward to the present day.  The supernatural beast is seen from two fronts.  The first encounter, part of a 1700s French fur-trader’s dream, chronicles the cultural clash between the indigenous, prehistoric civilizations and the Nagual, the half-man, half-canine skin-walkers, a clash where only one side can survive.  We then return to the modern day as the Dogman rampages across the fields and forests, the farms and camps of Grand Traverse and Benzie Counties in northern Michigan .  The supernatural beast is hunting for the remnants of its stolen, ancient treasure that will give it immortality and unlimited power.  Can two young camp counselors put an end to the chaos without losing their lives?

Click Here For The
Nagual: Dawn Of The Dogmen Website

Now Available!
Now Available!
Now Available!

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.


Based upon the epic Greek tale of The Odyssey, yet set in the American Wild West, The Longquist Adventures: Western Odyssey chronicles the journey of a young boy and his guide through a perilous world of dangerous encounters and fantastic creatures.  It is a world of gun fights at high noon, stampedes on the great plains, stagecoach robbery, and an ultimate showdown with a ruthless, powerful gangster aboard a turn-of-the-century paddlewheel in the San Francisco Bay.  Can the time-traveling boy and the law-abiding Marshal restore order to the chaos of the American West gone truly wild?

Click Here For The
Year of the Dogman Website
Click Here For The
Haunting of Sigma Website
Click Here For The
Western Odyssey Website


The Dogman, a creature of MythMichigan, is an excellent example of modern-day folklore to study in your classes.   


The Longquist Adventures, written for elementary students, is excellent for teaching mythology and classic stories to young children.  

Look for Western Odyssey this summer!

We now have special offers on Classroom Sets of our Novel.  Click here for more information:





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

Creating Web Pages in Class

Web pages can become a great means of displaying and publishing student work. There are millions of people online every moment of every day. Our students are fully accustomed to using the web for everything from research to communication to shopping. Web pages are the language in which they are both comfortable and competent.

Creating student web pages provides a great in-road for teachers to reach students on their terms. Though there are many simple programs to use, many students (even very young elementary students) who can fluently speak `html' and code and decode scripts. This is truly their `native language', as is the ability to multi-task (which often gives us `aliens' headaches!). Take the initiative and create projects for your students to show off their skills.

There are several concerns to think about before beginning such a project.

One concern to be aware of is your school or district's Internet use policy. You may need parental permission to allow students to put their work, name, or pictures on the net. I would always caution you about including a student's full name on a web site that is available to the general public. There are also cautions about putting personal photographs online. Usually whole class, group, or team photos are ok. Always check first. If your school is not exactly at the forefront of technology, don't be afraid of blazing a trail for your colleagues to follow. Your work may become the basis for others in your school to make positive change.

Remember to also create an etiquette policy about creative license (or use one already developed by your school). Obviously you want students to be creative, but you also don't want them to be outlandish or off of the topic of your assignment. Students are funny in that way. If they are just writing a paper, its the same old same old. However, once they realize they are going public, many become stringent about what they want to show the general public. Many will try to make their own 'statement' or 'presence' and disregard the rules of etiquette you've set up. Hold your ground. You do have the right to control what the students can put onto a school site.

Where to host your sites is another concern you'll have to deal with right away. At the present, we have our students' sites on our own server at school. It is great if your school can accommodate your class. You will need a web editor such as Microsoft FrontPage or one of the many free down-loadable editors from the net. But what if your school is unable (or unwilling) to fully accommodate you? There are many free sites online that can help you out. In the past, we used the commercial site GeoCities. This is a nice, free site that even includes a free web/html editor and basic tutorials to guide students through the steps of design. It is very easy to use and students can access it from any computer in the world that has an internet connection.

We started out simply, having students type in their name and school as headers. Then we split up the page into sections for math, social studies, science, and English. At this point, the page can hold assignments from any class, so any teacher in the grade can give web page assignments.

We practiced creating links to our school homepage and our 7th grade page. We also added links to our homework assignment calendar, our pages of vocabulary, and to Google for net searches.

We also talked at length about page layout. Unlike programs like PowerPoint where you can place anything wherever you want it on the page, html requires codes called tables to set up items horizontally. We teach the students about tables and cells so they can divide up the page in whatever fashion they wish.

Students' personal preferences and creativity are also taken into consideration. We show them the basics of formatting text, changing fonts, sizes, colors, and styles. Students are also allowed to change page attributes such as the colors of the background and links. We even show them how to add different background pictures from files.

The first assignment to be placed on the students' websites was our biography project. Our English curriculum includes reading a biography and writing a report on that person. We adapted this to publish the report online, with the information, pictures, and clip art placed on the web page. Look for more details on the biography- web page project in an upcoming issue.

There are many options your class can do with the websites. You can teach the students to code in html, or work with the structures of a web page (such as tables, formats, links, and additional pages). You might have students explore new technologies to embed in the pages, such as PowerPoints, blogs, videos (streaming) or audio (podcasting). You may wish to connect with other students around the world (e-pals). You and fellow teachers may want to collaborate on projects.

There are many directions these projects can take your class. The key is for you as the teacher to be open to using new technologies and ready to go out and learn about them. You can learn a lot from the students; you don't have to know it all. But you must be ready to provide support to them when needed.

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"The Three Little Trees"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

Sit Tight and Know that There's A Plan for You...

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked at the stars and said, "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world !"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world !"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in the busy town. "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world."

Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone and the three little trees grew tall.

One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure," the first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong, it is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kinds !:

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenters shop, but the carpenter fashioned her into a feedbox for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold nor with treasure. She was coated in sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and saved into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. ""What happened, " the once tall tree wondered ? "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God."

Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a woman and her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said. And suddenly the first tree knew that he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree sailed quietly out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered, she knew she didn't have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew that he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly harsh and cruel. But, on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God' love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

So the next time you feel down because you didn't get what you wanted, just sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.


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In This Week's Issue 
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NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting

Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute

Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Web 2.0 - The New Culture of Social Community

Behavioral Disorders in Children 
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New Teacher's Niche:
Creating Web Pages in Class

Themes on Life:  
"The Three Little Trees"

School Features:
Grade Inflation (part 3)

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Winter Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club:
Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning


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10 Days Of


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Describe 3 gifts you plan on giving this year.


Why do we give gifts to others?


Describe a gift you've received in school this week.  How will it help you in your future?.


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Describe ways you can give of yourself to others this holiday season.


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 What are THREE ways you and your classmates can give gifts to needy people this holiday?


10 days of writing prompts


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Preparing For the Spring

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 Four boys work together painting houses for the summer. For each house they paint they get $256.00. If the boys work for 4 months of summer and their expenses are $152.00 per month, how many houses must they paint for each of them to have one thousand dollars at the end of the summer?
Day 2 In her first year a dog breeder's dogs produce 2 puppies. In her second year her dogs produce three-times as many puppies. In her third year her dogs produce 5 times as many puppies as the first year. How many puppies will the breeder have produced in her first 3 years?

If she sells the puppies for $200.00 each, how much will she have made?

Day 3 Two frogs are hopping along a path one lily pad wide, going in the same direction. There are 18 lily pads and one frog jumps 3 lily pads at a time, the other jumps two lily pads at a time. If the frogs leave the shore one after the other, how many lily pads will be jumped on by both frogs?
Day 4 A grocery store has a sale on bananas. If you buy six bananas you get the sale price. If the grocer has 489 bananas how many bunches of six can he sell at his sale price? In this case how many can be sold at the regular price?
Day 5

1.      Some students hold a bake sale to raise money for their school library. They sold fudge and squares and cookies. One of each type of treat was put into 95 paper bags and the students were allowed to keep the left overs. If they started out with 110 cookies, 130 pieces of fudge and 116 squares, the students put the same number of each kind of treat in each bag(eg. 2cookies, 1 fudge, 1 square. How many of each treat did they keep?

Day 6 Sixteen players enter a tennis tournament. If there can be no draws how many games must be played if each player can be eliminated by one loss?
Day 7

1.      In how many different ways can the cars of a three car train be arranged?

Day 8

1.      In 1989 the price of a soccer ball was $8.00. A financial analyst predicted that the price would rise $0.25/year for the next 10 years. In what year will the price be $9.75?

Day 9 A math student interviewed 50 fifth graders. 41 said they like peanut butter sandwiches, 35 liked jam sandwiches and 30 liked both on their sandwiches.

How many students liked neither?

Day 10 A unit fraction is a fraction where the numerator is 1 and so it looks like 1/n.

Can you express the fraction 19/72 as the sum of two unit fractions?


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