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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
and Veterans with Class

Volume 5, Issue 21

November 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


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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.  

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 favoritism in the teaching profession and how to effectively deal with it:

Dear Dr Manute,

I am a teacher with seventeen to eighteen years experience. I also hold an M.Ed degree from the AKU and I have have attended various courses, workshops and conferences. Recently I left my job to join a new institution for better prospects. Dr. Manute, what I have seen over the years is a lot of favortism at every workplace and this has made me feel very uncomfortable, though I know I have done well all the time. Though I have ignored these issues several times, it does play on my mind often.  Please can you suggest of how to ignore these favortism issues that come up?


Dr. Manute's Response:

Unfortunately favoritism exists in every profession and teaching is no exception.  Your feelings are real and accurate.  In all my years experience one of the most prevalent problems within a building is professional jealousy.  This I believe leads to favoritism.  

I have witnessed deserving educators passed over for promotions in favor of someone more connected but less qualified.  I have also observed building procedures and rules applied inconsistently depending on who knows whom!  This happens all the time and when it happens to you it becomes very personal.  

Now, how to keep your sanity and continue your work in a professional manner.  The first thing you realize is that it exists and it is out of your control, there really isnít much you can do about it.  So, knowing that, what can you do?  Keeping a positive attitude and controlling your reactions is a must.  Also donít pull within and become unattached, this will make matters worse within you.  You might try volunteering for tasks that really interest you or you have a strong knowledge base.  

It is very important to keep your professional attitude and work ethic.  Everyone has a close friend within their building and I urge you to remain close to that person and if you can, share things in confidence.  Many times you will find out that they observe many of the same things you have.  Remember the reasons you went into teaching in the first place, your love of kids, subject area and the ideal of doing something worthwhile for society.  

You canít control what someone else thinks or does, but you can control yourself and your immediate space.  Keep your eye on the prize - youíre not on this journey to please other teachers, board members or building administrators: youíre in it for kids and parents.  I hope I have given you some ideas, keep being effective and best wishes for a successful year!

Yours in teaching,

Dr. Manute      

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  StarTeaching Feature Writer

Article of the Week

By Frank Holes, Jr.
Middle School Teacher

This year, we've started a new initiative to help our kids with reading skills. Based on the work of Kelly Gallagher and his thought-provoking book, Readicide, our Article of the Week (AoW) is currently being instituted in both 7th and 8th grades.

Kelly Gallagher points out in his book that students need not only good reading skills but also reading content that is relevant to their lives and important to understanding the world around them. These articles we've chosen fit students' interests and connect to real-life issues students face.

Incorporating expository text is generally at the bottom of the list, because let's face it - literature and stories are so much more fun! The AoW has forced us in provide weekly examples of expository texts for our students.

Some of the first articles we've chosen were basic interesting readings from a variety of sources. These included a short series of questions (true/false, multiple-choice, and short answer) to check basic understanding of the article. These have enabled me to teach about themes and main ideas. We've also talked about alternative titles, vocabulary in context, and basic test-prep for our Michigan MEAP test.

Some articles are informative, such as the 'shrinking value of the American dollar.' Not one of my students had a clue what that meant before reading the article.

We also had a bit of fun. One article was about foods and cooking methods during Columbus's Voyages. Another was about 'Repo Men' which my kids really got a charge out of!

Now as the second marking period is beginning, our articles will become longer and a little more complex. Some have been pulled from Time magazine, US News and World Report, and a variety of credible online sources. One good one is from President Obama's speech to students on the first day of school. It is great because it connects to our principal's weekly theme which is Responsibility.

We pair the AoW with the SQ3R reading strategy. Thus gives our students practice in skimming, pre-reading, engaging the text, bringing in prior knowledge, and then making connections to the kids' lives. We always include a writing assignment, sometimes just a simple freewrite and even possibly up to a full blown essay. That way the students can get their thoughts down in a logical fashion.

Now granted, the readings are a bit more challenging, but we've been building our kids up to this point through the first marking period.

The topics chosen by Gallagher and posted on his website: 
(http://www.kellygallagher.org/resources/articles.html) are for his high school students. However, looking through them will give you good ideas for appropriate topics for your students. I was even able to utilize a few of his articles with my middle school kids. And it's ok to challenge your students a bit too. Give them help and support as needed to gain understanding.

Now, a major change in our school this year has been full inclusion of our special education students. I am very pleased with these students' progress. Most of them have made great gains in their comprehension. Do they still have a ways to go? Of course, but they are now reading and working right alongside my regular-ed students. And I see great gains in their confidence too.

Now, AoW doesn't replace good literature in class. We in 8th grade have used a number of folktales, fables, legends, and myths in our first unit. The expository and narrative texts complement each other and build off of many of the same skills. One example is with themes. In literature, the theme is what the characters learn (the moral of the story), while in the AoW the theme is the 'life lesson' the readers learn. Both are important lessons in the text. Sometimes these are easy to find and sometimes students have to read between the lines. This makes for excellent discussion.

In all, the AoW has been wildly successful. Students are getting good practice with proven reading strategies The articles make for thought-provoking discussions in class. And our kids are learning important information about the world around them.

See more of Frank's articles at:



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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

Is The Educational Establishment Sacred?

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. 

If youíre reading this article the title probably isnít referring to you. But Iíd like you to think about the idea. Professions of all kinds are being turned upside down by one thing, the Internet. 

The Internet is changing the way life is lived, and causing a lot of upheaval along the way in many establishments. When you look at the music and movie industry, you see its fight to stop the illegal downloading and copying of music and movies. The telecommunications companies are trying to stay viable as website companies like Skype change their world by providing free to very inexpensive phone service to people around the world. The world of journalism is being undone, as weíve known it. Take the example of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. Within a few short minutes of the bombing photos and information was already posted on the Internet. As the hours passed it was continually revised and updated. This example is repeated daily throughout the world. With the Internet, anyone can be a reporter through print, video, and pictures. 

Another area that is changing is in publishing books. A person can publish books on their own through websites. Books are coming out in print online and in audio versions. As in anything online like music, movies, and books, because of the openness of the Internet, these things end up being copied and shared across the Internet for free. 

So what does all this have to do with my title? What happens when you are no longer the primary source of learning and knowledge? Are you going to feel threatened? 

As I watch my teenage children using the Internet, I observe them constantly in the process of learning.  They work hard at their learning; I just wish they would work that hard on schoolwork. The Internet provides a source of knowledge that is in constant growth, editing, and revision. Thatís something a textbook can never be. Itís also made up of multi-media and other non-text sources of learning that are far more engaging to students today. 

Educational researchers are frustrated by the slow movement of K-12 education changing even though it is well documented on how using technology engages students and improves their learning when used correctly. 

Now back to the question, are we changing slowly because weíre fearful of not being the 'sage on the stage' anymore? Iíve heard teachers say: "I donítí know how to use the technology."  When I say to them our job is to design the plan and the students will run with it, they just look at me blankly. Not being the main provider of the learning is a foreign language to many. The idea of the kids taking charge of their own learning is a scary, out of control idea.  

I believe we need to get out of our comfort zone and stretch ourselves like we ask the students to do.  Professional development is the key, but it needs to be purposeful and supported by the administration. Then, teachers need to be held accountable. That is when we will see real change in the classrooms. 

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

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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 two 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.

Here, we will discuss about one of the common behavior disorders, found in children; i.e., attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is ADHD?

ADHD means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder is characterized by short attention span and poor concentration. Symptoms begin in childhood and can persist into adulthood. ADHD often makes it difficult for children to control their behavior in school and social settings. It is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. ADHD can lead to a variety of academic problems, particularly in learning to read. When a student has been assessed and diagnosed with ADHD a reading assessment is recommended.[5]

According to School of Psychology ,   ďA syndrome (a group of symptoms or signs), that is usually characterized by serious and persistent difficulties, resulting in inattentiveness.Ē

We can also say that it is a condition of the brain that results in excessive activity (hyperactivity), impulsivity, and difficulties with focusing attention. ďIt is a disorder in which a child cannot maintain attention and has poor impulse control. They may be restless and overactive.Ē

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder affecting about 3-5% of the world's population. It typically presents itself during childhood, and is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity, as well as forgetfulness, poor impulse control or impulsivity, and distractibility. ADHD is currently considered a persistent and chronic condition for which no medical cure is available, although medication and therapy can treat symptoms. [6]

ADHD is most commonly diagnosed in children, but over the past decade has been increasingly diagnosed in adults. About 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD retain the condition as adults. ADHD appears to be highly heritable, although one-fifth of all cases are estimated to be caused from trauma or toxic exposure. Methods of treatment usually involve some combination of medications, behavior modifications, life style changes, and counseling.

The scientific consensus in the field, and the consensus of the national health institutes of the world, is that ADHD is a disorder which impairs functioning, and that many adverse life outcomes are associated with ADHD.


ADHD is a developmental disorder, in that, in the diagnosed population, certain traits such as impulse control significantly lag in development when compared to the general population. Using magnetic resonance imaging, this developmental lag has been estimated to range between 3 to 5 years in the prefrontal cortex of ADHD patients in comparison to their peers; consequently these delayed attributes are considered impairment. ADHD has also been classified as a behavior disorder and a neurological disorder or combinations of these classifications such as neurobehavioral or neuro-developmental disorders. [7]

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) identifies three subtypes of ADHD:

  • ADHD-I or ADHD Primarily Inattentive (previously known as ADD-H or Attention Deficit Disorder without Hyperactivity);
  • ADHD-HI or ADHD Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive;
  • ADHD-C or combined type (previously known as ADD+H or Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity).

The majority of studies have looked at ADHD-C, with much less work done on ADHD-I.


The most common symptoms of ADHD are:
Difficulty with concentration and focus,
Short term memory loss,
Problems organizing ideas and belongings,
Weak planning and execution

However, not all people with ADHD exhibit all symptoms. It is common for persons with ADHD to display symptoms only when they are doing tasks that require excessive, prolonged, or elevated levels of attention or are placed in environments that are too distracting, so that once stimulus is removed they function normally.

But, in many cases this is not possible, intervention is needed to cope with these stimuli.

Psychologists categorizes the symptoms of ADHD into two clusters: Inattention symptoms and Hyperactivity/Impulsivity symptoms. Most ordinary people exhibit some of these behaviors but not to the point where they seriously interfere with the person's work, relationships, or studies or cause anxiety or depression. Children do not often have to deal with deadlines, organization issues, and long term planning so these types of symptoms often become evident only during adolescence or adulthood when life demands become greater.

According to an advanced high-precision imaging study at the United States National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Mental Health, a delay in physical development in some brain structures, with a median value of three years, was observed in the brains of 223 ADHD patients beginning in elementary school, during the period when cortical thickening during childhood begins to change to thinning following puberty. The delay was most prominent in the frontal cortex and temporal lobe, which are believed responsible for the ability to control and focus thinking, attention and planning, suppress inappropriate actions and thoughts, remember things from moment to moment, and work for reward, all functions whose disturbance is associated with a diagnosis of ADHD; the region with the greatest average delay, the middle of the prefrontal cortex, lagged a full five years in development in the ADHD patients. In contrast, the motor cortex in the ADHD patients was seen to mature faster than normal, suggesting that both slower development of behavioral control and advanced motor development might both be required for the restlessness and fidgetiness that characterize an ADHD diagnosis. [8]

Aside from the delay, both groups showed a similar back-to-front development of brain maturation with different areas peaking in thickness at different times. This contrasts with the pattern of development seen in other disorders such as autism, where the peak of cortical thickening occurs much earlier than normal.

Hyperactivity is common among children with ADHD but tends to disappear during adulthood. However, over half of children with ADHD continue to have symptoms of inattention throughout their lives.

Inattention and "hyperactive" behavior are not the only problems with children with ADHD. ADHD exists alone in only about 1/3 of the children diagnosed with it. Many of these co-existing conditions require other courses of treatment and should be diagnosed separately instead of being grouped in the ADHD diagnosis. Some of the associated conditions are:

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (35%)
Conduct Disorder (26%).

These are both characterized by extreme anti-social behaviors. These disorders are frequently characterized by aggression, frequent temper tantrums, deceitfulness, lying, or stealing.

Primary Disorder of Vigilance

Characterized by poor attention and concentration, as well as difficulties staying awake. These children tend to fidget, yawn and stretch, and appear to be hyperactive in order to remain alert and active.

Bipolar disorder

As many as 25% of children with ADHD may have bipolar disorder. Children with this combination may demonstrate more aggression and behavioral problems than those with ADHD alone.

Anxiety Disorders

Commonly accompany ADHD, particularly Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. OCD is believed to share a genetic component with ADHD, and shares many of its characteristics. Although children with ADHD have an inability to maintain attention, conversely, they may also fixate. [9]

Part 3 of this series will look at causes and implications of ADHD 


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Grade Inflation (part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

In education, grade inflation occurs when an educational establishment awards grades higher than a student deserves to maintain or enhance its reputation.

Grade inflation may be caused by decreases in academic standards or increases in student performance or both. The pressure to reduce standards placed on teachers can come from parents, students, and schools. This is especially true since, if other schools or teachers are inflating grades, any school or teacher that takes a "hold out" stance will place its students at a disadvantage. Some educators may feel pressured to give higher grades for fear of students complaining and receiving bad course evaluations, thereby diminishing their reputation and causing them to face lower enrollment in their classes. Indeed, Professor Harvey Mansfield gives two grades to students at Harvard, an official inflated grade, and an unofficial grade that he feels a student deserves. Committees commonly use course evaluations obtained by teachers to help make decisions about awarding them promotion and tenure. A teacher may improve mediocre evaluations by improving their teaching, but what comes most quickly to mind for achieving better evaluations is to give higher grades for assignments and exams. A comprehensive study by Valen Johnson shows a statistical correlation between high grades and high course evaluations. In a separate analysis of grades at Penn State, the onset of grade inflation in the 1980s corresponds with the onset of mandatory course evaluations.

Professor Hans Oberdiek of Swarthmore College explained during an introductory course in philosophy in 2003 that grade inflation began in earnest during the draft for the Vietnam War. Students with high enough grades could be exempted from the draft; so giving a student a C could cause him to be sent to Vietnam. Needless to say, professors gave higher grades more readily so as not to have this dire outcome hanging over their heads. Before the war, "I used to give out Cs like candy," Professor Oberdiek explained.

While pressures to reduce standard do exist, at some colleges and universities part of grade inflation is the result of increases in student performance. Over the last few decades, the quality of incoming students at some schools as measured by SAT scores and high school class rank has increased. But for many institutions with rising grades SAT scores have been stagnant. Even at institutions where SAT scores have risen, the magnitude of the rise in GPA cannot be explained by increases in student SAT scores alone. Other factors are responsible for rising grades.

Many schools exhibit increases in grades that may not be related to a decrease in academic standards.

There are alternative theories regarding the increase in student grades over the years, such as:

More schools offer pass/fail options.

Students are more focused upon career-preparation today, which means they are more likely to take classes which match their talents.

Computers have made students more efficient and allowed them to produce better work.

Cooperative learning approaches allow feedback on assignments which improves student work.

Students are working harder than ever before.

Countering these claims are the following arguments:

Pass/fail options are only taken by a small number of students that isn't not large enough to account for observed rises in GPA.

Students still have to fulfill distribution requirements so they are still taking classes outside their main interest areas.

Grade inflation persisted throughout the 1990s, a time when personal computer use had already saturated higher education.

Cooperative learning approaches are not common enough to account for observed rises in GPA.

Surveys of high school students and college students show that they are working less and are less engaged in academics.

A related point is that intelligence (at least as measured by the IQ scale) appears to be rising over time - a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect. However, SAT scores of students nationwide have not been rising.

Part 2 will discuss major concerns associated with grade inflation


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 ís 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-traderís 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 Holesís 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

Positive Parent Conferences

It's parent-teacher conference time! Some are positive experiences where teachers are able to make great connections with parents. And yet other meetings are foretold by apprehension and met with strife. Over the years, you will encounter the gamut of positive and negative experiences, and everything in between. However, there are strategies you can use to make the best of any situation.

It is extremely important to make a good first impression (even if you already know the parents). Make eye contact with them, and greet the parents with a firm handshake. No weak grips! If you've never met the parents, stand up to introduce yourself. Welcome them with a smile. Remember that you are building relationships, and setting the tone for the conference.

A good way to open the conference is to ask how the student is doing in other classes. Ask about their other grades, and start building an overall picture. You will often find the student's strong and weak areas, and you may even find surprises. I've found students who were failing every class but mine. And I've found the opposite too. A good overall picture can really give you a new perspective on your students.

Always try to say something positive. Even in the cloudiest of situations, you should find some ray of sunshine. And if you do have bad news to share, opening with good news can help ease the transition.

Be objective with bad news. Give truthful and accurate facts, and keep from making speculations. Make sure you have your facts straight! Work with parents, and try to offer suggestions. Most parents will look to you for ideas. Plan what you'll say ahead of time. If you've taken the time to get to know your students well, you'll find the conferences easier.

Positive parents are what we all expect and hope for. They come in with an open mind, are pleasant, and are willing to both listen to your comments and help with solutions to problems that do occur.  These are often very short conferences at the middle and high school levels. The parents have heard the stories all before, and with good reason; students whose parents regularly attend conferences have higher grade averages and fewer instances of behavior problems than those students whose parents rarely interact with school personnel.

The truth be known, many parents are intimidated by teachers. Many do worry that their concerns and critiques will be turned around and used against their kids. Even though teachers find this entire concept laughable and preposterous, it does, nonetheless, cross many parents' minds.

So, what do you do with a hostile parent? Diffuse the situation by being patient and listening. Sometimes its hard to just listen while parents are going off on you. They may be right or wrong, misinformed or even plain out of line. It is only a mistake to interrupt them, especially if they are on a roll. Stop yourself, focus on what they're saying, even take notes to show you're listening, and let them burn themselves out. Sometimes the hostile parents are looking for an audience, and sometimes they just need to vent. By giving them the time to 'get it all out of their system', you allow them to calm down so you both can reasonably discuss the situation.

Be sure to stand when they leave, again this is being courteous and polite. Thank them for attending. And let them know you'll contact them if anything changes. Parents generally want to be kept informed about their kids, both the good and bad.

Interested in FREE writing activities you can print out and use immediately in your classroom? Simply click the following link to our writing page: http://www.starteaching.com/writing.htm

Be sure to check out our website for the FREE teacher Who-I-Want-To- Be plan and other great Freebies for new teachers. Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Be sure to check out our website for more great information, tips, and techniques for new teachers, student-teachers, and interns in teacher prep programs. Also be sure to check out our Who-I-Want-To-Be teacher plan for preparing yourself to enter the educational profession.  Simply click the following link: http://www.starteaching.com/free.htm

Want to check out the articles in our Student-Teaching series?  Check out our special Student-Teaching page through the following link:  http://www.starteaching.com/studentteachers.htm


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"The Mouse Trap"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

'Someone else's problem' will always confront us all...

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral; the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

The next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage and help one another.


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Article of the Week

Reader Response: Ask Dr. Manute

Tech/21st Century Corner: 
Is the Educational Establishment Sacred?

Behavioral Disorders in Children 
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New Teacher's Niche:
Positive Parent Conferences

Themes on Life:  
"The Mouse Trap"

School Features:
Grade Inflation (part 1)

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Fall Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club:
Crazy Like A Fox: One Principal's Triumph in the Inner City


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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1 How many addition signs should be put between digits of the number 987654321 and where should we put them to get a total of 99?
Day 2 Divide the face of the clock into three parts with two lines so that the sum of the numbers in the three parts are equal.
Day 3 According to experts the first 4 moves in a chess game can be played in 197299 totally different ways. If it takes 30 seconds to make one move, how long would it take one player to try every possible set of 4 moves?
Day 4 A man has to be at work by 9:00 a.m. and it takes him 15 minutes to get dressed, 20 minutes to eat and 35 minutes to walk to work. What time should he get up?
Day 5

1.      Replace each blank with the correct digit.

 4  3  __  2

     4   5  __

 __1   2   7


  8   8    9   3

Day 6 In the first year of production a play sells 1572 tickets, in its second year it sells 1753 tickets, in its third year it sells 152 less than in its second year. How many tickets are sold in 3 years?
Day 7

1.      The Riddler has left a clue for Batman to follow at the scene of each crime. These are the clues that Batman has found:

  • (1) There is a 1 in the thousands place.
  • (2) The digit in the tens place is 9 times the digit in the thousands place.
  • (3) Multiply the digit in the thousands place by 2.
  • (4) The digit in the ones place is a hand without a thumb. 
  • (5) The digit in the hundreds is 2 less than the number in the tens
Day 8

1.      Rachel, Kim and Shawn went to Cuba for a vacation. On the way to Cuba , the plane made the trip in 315 minutes. On the return trip, the flight took 216 minutes. They stayed in Cuba for 3629 minutes. Estimate how long the trip took to the nearest 10.

How long did the trip really take?
Day 9 The mass of the Great Pyramid is 557t greater than that of the Leaning Tower of Pisa . Stone Henge has a mass of 2695t which is 95t less than the Leaning Tower of Pisa . There once was a Greater Pyramid which had a mass twice that of the Great Pyramid, what was the mass of the Greater Pyramid.
Day 10 Given a cube, draw a second figure with a square base, having 8 edges, 5 vertices and 5 faces.


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