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Ideas and Features For New Teachers 
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Volume 5, Issue 18

September 2009

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

WELCOME TO OUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SPECIAL #3
Our Back-To-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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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

FEATURE WRITER OPENINGS:

Would you be interested in becoming a Featured Writer for the StarTeaching website?

Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for a creative educator interested in designing a set of weekly science activities for students and teachers to use.  

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

  Feature Writer

Evaluation of Reading Activities (Pre, While and Post) for Upper Primary Classes IV, V and VI highlighting the use of those activities by the teachers in the classroom (part 2)
By Rozina Jumani
Educational Consultant

This is the second in a multi-part series displaying Rozina Jumnai's research findings. 
 

CONTEXT OF THE STUDY

The school, in which I conducted the research, is one of the private English medium schools of Karachi , working under a well organized system spread across Pakistan . The selected schools follow enrich curriculum for language teaching. Since 1986, in association with foreign programs, such as SIP (School Improvement Program) and LIP (Language Improvement Program) brought various language initiatives including Oxford reading program, Ginn reading program, (USSR) Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading Program in the school. The main purpose of above mentioned programs was to develop reading proficiency among teachers and students, who for many reasons could not get the exposure of English language in their home environment.

The teachers in the school were exposed to in-service training with in their own educational system and also external training institutions such as Teachers Resource Centre (TRC), Society of Pakistan language Teachers (SPELT), Institute for Educational Development (IED) etc.

Students in that school belong to middle class economic background and around 8,000 students study in the school that are from diverse cultural and language background. In order to cater for the needs of the students and to provide conducive learning environment, 1:5 teacher / students ratio maintained in the school. Besides English language, students and teachers are fluent speakers of Urdu, Gujrati, Memoni, Sindhi languages, a few students and teachers’ group are also familiar with Punjabi language, as they all belonged to different socio- cultural backgrounds therefore, in its true spirit, they can be called heterogonous group of learners.

However, they all are united and attached with one vision statement which says

To provide a symbiotic learning environment for students and teachers that nurtures critical consciousness, intellectual competence and high moral values”

LITERATURE REVIEW

The ability to read is the remarkable type of expertise most humans develop among themselves. In TESOL journal p-6, reading is defined as, Reading is acquiring information from a written or printed text and relating it to what already know to construct a meaning for the text as a whole”

According to Grabe and Stroller (2002), Reading is an ability to draw meaning from the printed page and interpret this information appropriately. Even Gough, Hoover and Peterson (1996), view that skilled reading requires decoding and comprehension. Those who cannot read it means they cannot decode and comprehend either. For sufficient reading s/he must know both decoding and comprehension.

There are several proposes of reading, as Grabe and Stroller (2002) mentioned seven purposes of reading that include: search for simple information, to skim quickly, to learn from texts, to integrate information, to write, to critique texts and reading for general comprehension

Bernhardt (1991) says, reading as an interactive process; recommend authentic texts of interest to students therefore, reading materials in terms of a three-phase approach: pre-reading, while reading and post reading activities.

Interactive models of reading suggest that readers reconstruct the text information, based on the text, and on the prior knowledge available to them most researchers including Carrell (1998) and Barnett (1989) have emphasized the need for schema activation before reading.

Pre-reading activities provide opportunities for students to activate their background knowledge; it helps students to establish the purpose for reading. Little (1988:27) mentioned; “an authentic text is one created to fulfil some social purpose in the language community in which it was produce”. Pre-reading activities also encourage the linking of prior knowledge with text. It also allows students to predict about the content and discuss reasons for individual predictions

Whereas, while reading activities  help students to understand the writer’s purpose, it comprises direct reference questions, which mainly practice language, rather then comprehension, since sometimes they can be answered without understanding the text; indirect reference questions, usually employed to recognize text cohesion where the reader has to identify the text the words or pronoun refers to; and inference questions which require an understanding of vocabulary, and make the reader think about the text; comprehension can be checked eventually.

The aim of the post-reading activities is to provide a greater amount of activities that reflect on the texts; as well as a greater variety of creative tasks that help students to relate their experience, views, and opinions to the texts. The variety of activities can be integrated with other skills such as speaking and writing so students relate their creativity and imagination to the text.

To summarize, each reading lesson consists of three stages Pre, While and Post reading activities that should be connected.

METHODOLOGY

I intended to evaluate English textbooks focusing on reading activities (pre, post and while), for the purpose I used qualitative design for the study. Creswell (1994:145) states that, “the qualitative researchers and concerned primarily with the process rather than the out come or the product”.

Data Collection

The study was carried out in two phases. During those phases different methods of data collection were employed,

PHASE-1

Reading activities (pre while and post) from English text books Advance in English for classes IV, V, VI were analyzed studying from three checklists adapted by Talat Rafi Raza Khan, Janice A. Dole and Rosa Maria Mera Rivas, eventually the checklist adapted by Rafi Raza Khan was used to analyze those reading activities and findings were marked.

PHASE II

In this phase, interview sessions were conducted with 4 teachers and 11 students. Those interviews were semi structured because probing was employed. Maykut (1994:95) defines probing as, “an interview tool used to go deeper into the interview response”.

Data Analysis

According to Miles and Huberman (1994:11), “data reduction is a form of analysis that happens, sorts, focuses, discards and organized data in such a way that the final conclusions can be drain and verified,” I consolidated participants’ opinions and presented based on emerging themes that compliment the subsidiary questions.

Part 3 of this series will detail Rozina's findings and analysis.

 

Thriving During the First Weeks of School

By Frank Holes Jr.
Middle School Teacher

Your first weeks of school are very important to setting the tone for the year. You will use class time to teach your rules and procedures and to develop the class atmosphere. Yes, you can actually determine your kids attitudes to a great extent!

In my class, the first few weeks are spent teaching many of the repetitious activities we'll do on a weekly basis. The first is for opening class. Every day I want my students to come into my room and get started right away. The opening activity is the transition from the hallway behavior to the the classroom. In my English classes, we use a DOL (daily oral language) where students must proofread and edit a few sentences (this is an important skill to practice for our writing.). In my math class, we have a series of warm up problems for kids to do each day. These range from a review of basic operations to a review of problems from previous lessons. These opening activities are important for kids to learn because we'll do them every day all year long.

Other activities I teach the kids during the first few weeks will be ones we'll do on a weekly basis. One is our spelling and vocabulary packet. Another is our Article of the Week.  

Now, I won't try to teach more than one new procedure or activity in a day. This is important so you can fully explain the activity to the kids and practice it too.  Don't overwhelm them!

Another activity we'll do is our writing. If you've read my older posts, you know the writing program is very important in my school and classroom. We devote a lot of time to essay writing and this requires attention to many details and aspects students need to practice upon. We will write a basic paragraph every 2nd or 3rd day of class, and with our FCAs we can focus in on just a few specific areas on any single write. But the procedures we use take time for the kids to get good at. Once they get these down we can really focus on improving the students' writing.

How can you teach these activities and procedures? The same way you teach any other content. Use technology like PowerPoints, videos, and web pages to capture their attention. Reinforce it with posters on your wall to review and handouts students can keep. Assess your students' learning. Formative assessments like discussions, freewrites, and role playing and skits show students' understanding while being fun and memorable.

What else is taught early on? Your behavior plan of course! It is one thing to just inform the kids of your rules and procedures. But for the kids to really learn the rules, you need to practice and reinforce them. We will focus in on one behavior each week. One week it might be paying attention, another week it might be raising hands instead of blurting out. And other important behaviors are focused in on during subsequent weeks. We will discuss the rules, write about them in paragraphs and freewrites and stories, and even take quizzes on them. The more exposure the better. Then, just like the FCAs in our writing program, these new behaviors become expected all the time.

Remember you are setting the stage for the rest of the year. What you spend time teaching the kids now will save you time and effort later. Get it right at the beginning of the year and you'll reap the benefits for months to come.

 

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  School Features

School Choice (part 1)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

School choice, sometimes called public choice, describes any one of several forms of publicly-funded alternative education program that allows students to choose to attend any of various participating private and public schools, usually based on a system of vouchers, tax credits, or scholarships. These programs are generally intended to give parents more input in which primary and secondary schools their children attend. In the United States, school choice sometimes refers to the social movement instrumental in making these programs possible. Among the movement organizers' hopes is that increased choice will allow impoverished families to choose other options than public schools, which are considered by many to be failing in many, mainly urban areas. It is hoped that this will create competition between schools for education dollars, which will give public schools an incentive to perform better than they have in the past.

Various school choice advocacy groups differ in the extent to which they support privatization. Some do not advocate privatization at all, wishing only to allow parents greater choice among different public schools within a district. Others seek to grant parents the option of either spending vouchers at a privately-run school or of obtaining tax credits for the same. Along these lines, some argue that funding should be tied to the student, not the district, and the student should be able to use the education voucher at any school, thus allowing more freedom and personalization in the publicly-run school system.

Criticism Of School Choice

Some critics against the idea say that if parents are given a choice, it is likely they will pick the school their child is attending in attempts to improve it. Others think better schools could become overcrowded if most parents send their kids there, making it unfair to local parents of the better school. Supporters of school choice point out that it is unlikely this will happen since it is the publicly-run schools which are currently the sole providers of education to the poor. Choice, they argue, would mean that there would be reduced overcrowding since students would be spread out over the schools that best meet their learning styles and needs.

Even if privately-run schools are not allowed to participate in a school choice program, critics note, this might prompt a two-tiered publicly-run education system, in which those students with motivated parents leave for good schools, while other students languish. Critics tend to prefer the current two-tiered system which educates our white middle classes, but not our minorities in the lower classes. Supporters often point out what they see as hypocrisy in critics who claim that they fear a two-tiered system due to the languishing of some students, since they tend to prefer the current system, which forces all students to languish, regardless of parental concern.

Critics also ask how the poorer parents will get their kids to a school of their choice without a public school bus system? Many parents start work around that time in the morning, and driving their children to a school farther away might not fit into busy work schedules. Supporters of school choice point out that most schools have transportation available and if they do not, the parent is left in the same situation as before—without a choice. The difference, they argue is the problem of a lack of choice after the implementation of school choice programs (a lack of transportation) is much more easily fixed than the current problem (being trapped in a failing school).

One of the things bothering critics may be their view that the entire movement is really part of the general movement for privatization. With the assumption that parents are not educated enough to make intelligent choices, a portion of school choice opponents believe that the wording (school choice) lures voters by playing with their parental fears, but that in the end the big winners will be a small handful of rich business merchants. Some school choice proponents question the motives of those who put forth this argument, since it seems to focus on not helping a certain class of people, instead of focusing on how best to educate children.

Critics also ask, why, if business is so successful in running schools without government help, did government need to create public schools in the first place? Supporters of school choice would argue that the answer is quite simple: not everyone could afford it. School choice would fix this problem.

Many critics propose a different solution that does not taking away money or force schools to struggle against each other. They say if incentive is what is needed, it already exists: the school board is elected by direct popular vote. They say that instead of government forcing school choice, citizens and parents need to become more aware of who runs the schools, and for laws to help improve that awareness. Any head of the school board who values their position will likely do everything possible to ensure the school runs better, if citizens are more active in deciding who stays or goes. Supporters of school choice sometimes point out that even if the school board were perfect, one school, generally, cannot educate the myriad of different students anymore than one company could meet the needs of all consumers. Supporters also point out that this "solution" has always existed, yet has failed to fix our failing schools. This, they say, proves that there needs to be another solution.

Some also note that private schools are not obliged to take just any students; many have entrance exams and admit only those who score well.Thus there is some concern that private schools would take the best students, leaving the most disadvantaged in a school system unable to improve itself and saddled with the hardest children to teach. Supporters counter that while there are few private schools for the urban poor, this would be fixed when the means to attend private school are provided to the poor. Many say it is obvious that one would not open a private school targeted to students who's parents cannot afford such a school. Providing the financial means to these parents would increase the proliferation of private schools that are not targeted solely at the white middle and upper classes, which are currently the only classes that can afford private schooling. Supporters also contend that this argument and many others against school choice is not saying school choice won't help solve the problem, but merely that it won't be perfect. Supporters point out that legislation rarely if ever is perfect. The question, they say, is whether it is better than the alternative.

Another concern arises when converting schools into businesses that struggle against each other: what happens when one of them goes "out of business" or bankrupt? Do the children get shuffled around to other schools? And what of the teachers they're used to, and the lessons they'd be in the middle of? Critics believe that the school choice crowd have no "plan B" for the many things which may go wrong. Many critics prefer the current plan, where no schools go bankrupt due to the monopolistic structure. Supporters counter that no school would ever go bankrupt if they are providing a good education and point out that the schools most likely to go bankrupt are the failing public schools. This may explain, supporters often reason, why teachers unions generally oppose school choice.

There are several critics who oppose the idea for school choice because of its being advertised to Christian organizations with promises that many of the students would end up in their religious schools, and because of possible conflict with the separation of church and state.

Some critics believe that when schools are in bad shape, it is partly because of some lawmakers who they claim are against public schools. They believe that this is the reason for the failing of public schools and not because there is no incentive to properly educate children due to the monopolistic structure of the public school system, which demands more money no matter the results.

More on School Choice Next Issue

 

Article courtesy of K12Academics.com

K12Academics.com

 

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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?

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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.

 

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

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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

Teaching Listening Skills During Presentations

Presentations are becoming ever more common as teachers change to student-centered classes. These may be students or possibly guest speakers addressing the class. Regardless of who is speaking, the remainder of the students are comprising an audience that must be informed of its expectations during a presentation.

We've developed a short, simple set of rules we call 'Expected Behaviors of a Good Listener'. All of our classrooms (each subject area) have posted these rules, and review them and utilize them whenever a presentation is given. They are easy to teach, remember, and monitor.

Rule 1: Look At The Speaker. This is a no-brainer. The audience is there to watch and listen to the speaker, and attention is mandatory.

Rule 2: Keep Your Hands Still. Free hands are unable to tap pencils, rustle paper, or drop spare change on a tile floor (one of my all-time greatest pet-peeves).

Rule 3: Never Talk When The Speaker Is Talking. This one again seems obvious. The audience is there to listen to the speaker, not to listen to another member of the audience.

Rule 4: Never Distract The Speaker. This is supported by the previous rules, but will also cover other situations. The audience should not make faces or body gestures that detract from the speaker's ability to present.

Rule 5: Keep Questions, Comments, And Laughter To Appropriate Times And Levels. Students will often have questions and comments about the presentations, and these are best posed at the end of the presentation. There will also be instances where funny things will happen or humor is used by the speaker. It is ok for the kids to laugh at these times (it's ok for the teacher to laugh too). We've had instances where puppet show stages and scenery props have fallen over. We've had tongue twisters gone awry. We've even had hilarious costumes and actions by characters. These and many others will happen as you present more often. That's ok, because these funny moments will help students remember the information better. Just remind students that laughter needs to be kept to an appropriate level, and not to carry on with it. Questions and comments can also be carried on too far. Don't let this time become an attack on the speaker (unless you're in a debate class!)

Ok, so what do we do about a student who chooses to not follow the expectations? We never give warnings, first of all. Once we've covered the rules, we expect immediate compliance. Many students have difficulty getting up in front of class without someone 'stealing their show' or causing them embarrassment.

Basically we take points away from that interrupter's presentation grade. The amount of the deduction is generally up to the individual teacher and weighted for the assignment. The first time it happens, we take off approximately 10% of the possible points. The second time is decreased up to 25% (we have little tolerance for disrupting a speaker). If it happens again, the student loses all credit and is removed from class for the remainder of the presentations.

Presentations are important for students, both as speaker and listener. Check out our website for a free printable copy of these rules that you can put on an overhead sheet or hand out to your students.



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"Lessons From A Dandelion" 

Donna Doyon

Themes on Life

What life poisons can you overcome?

I recall as a young child bringing bouquets of brilliant yellow flowers to my mother. It didn't matter that the stems felt sticky or that both my parents cursed the presence of these flowers in the lawn. I thought they were beautiful!

And there were so many of them! We spent hours picking the flowers and then popping the blossoms off with a snap of our fingers. But the supply of dandelions never ran out. My father or brothers would chop off all the heads with the lawn mower at least once a week, but that didn't stop these hardy wonders.

And for those flowers that escaped the honor of being hand-delivered to my mother or the sharp blades of the lawn mower, there was another level of existence.

The soft, round puffs of a dandelion gone to seed caused endless giggles and squeals of delight as we unwittingly spread this flower across the yard.

As I worked in my garden last week, pulling unwanted weeds out of the space that would become a haven for tomatoes, corn, peas and sunflowers, I again marveled at the flower that some call a weed. And I thought, "If only I had the staying power of a dandelion."

If only I could stretch my roots so deep and straight that something tugging on my stem couldn't separate me completely from the source that feeds me life. If only I could come back to face the world with a bright, sunshiny face after someone has run me over with a lawnmower or worse, purposely attacked me in an attempt to destroy me. If only my foliage was a nutritious source of vitamins that help others grow. If only I could spread love and encouragement as freely and fully as this flower spreads seeds of itself.

The lawns at my parents' homes are now beautiful green blankets. The only patches of color come from well-placed, well-controlled flowerbeds. Chemicals have managed to kill what human persistence couldn't.

I hope you and I can be different. I hope that we can stretch our roots deep enough that the strongest poison can't reach our souls. I hope that we can overcome the poisons of anger, fear, hate, criticism and competitiveness. I hope that we can see flowers in a world that sees weeds.

 


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

Thriving During the First Weeks of School

Evaluation of Reading Activity Research 
(part 2)

School Features: 
School Choice (part 1)

New Teacher's Niche:
Teaching Listening Skills During Presentations

Themes on Life:  
"Lessons From A Dandelion"

10 Days of Writing Prompts

10 Days of Math Problems

Back-To-School Book Sale for Teachers

Book of the Month Club:
Secrets Of The Teenage Brain


 

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10 Days Of
Writing 
Prompts 

Day
1

How do you show respect to a guest speaker?

Day
2

Write down FIVE ways to show respect to your teachers. 

Day
3

Describe a situation where someone has been disrespectful to a speaker or teacher.  

Day
4

Why is respect important?

Day
5

Who has been your favorite teacher so far this year?  Why is this so? 

Day
6

Is it important to show respect to your friends?  Why or why not?

Day
7

Describe a movie where a character is disrespectful.  Why is this bad?

Day
8

Why is showing respect a sign of maturity?

Day
9

Write down THREE jobs that require workers to show respect, even when it is difficult.

Day
10

What steps are necessary to reach your most important goal this school year?   

 

10 days of writing prompts

 

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Technology & Teaching: Seamless Integration into Curriculum

Writing Process and Programs

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10 Days of 
Math Problems
by Mary Ann Graziani

Day 1

Jason had $140 in his wallet. 
He spent 25% of his money at the bookstore. 
He then spent 20% of the remainder at Pizza Palace. 
How much money did Jason have left?

Day 2 In a computer class of 40 students, 60% are boys. 
25% of the boys and 50% of the girls are using portable computers. 
The rest are using desktop computers. 
How many students are using desktop computers?
Day 3

If a store manager sells a television set for 75% of its cost, its price will be $675. 
The manager wants to make $125 profit. 
What should the selling price be?

Day 4

Nina saved $78 in March. 
That was 20% more than she saved in February. 
How much did Nina save in February?

Day 5

1.     In Tae Kwon Do class, 40% of the students are boys. 
There are 18 fewer boys than girls. 
How many students are in the Tae won Do class altogether?

Day 6

1.     Maya bought a sweater at a discount of 25%. 
She saved $18. 
What was the sale price of the sweater?

Day 7

1.      10% of the entries for a writing competition won prizes. 
135 entries did not win a prize. 
What was the total number of entries?

Day 8

1.      Nick has 20% more video games than Brian. 
Together, they have 55 video games. 
How many video games does Brian have?

Day 9  40% of Monica's coins are dimes. 
The rest are nickels. 
She has 36 more nickels than dimes. 
How many coins does Monica have altogether?
Day 10

Austin gave away 25% of his baseball collection. 
He had 345 baseball cards left. 
How many baseball cards were in his collection originally?

 

 

 

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