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Ideas and Features For New Teachers
and Veterans with Class

Volume 6, Issue 7
April 2010
StarTeaching Store Advertise with us Previous Articles Submit an Article FREE Reports Feature Writers Tech Center New Teacher's Niche

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Welcome back to our StarTeaching newsletter, 
Features for Teachers, packed full of tips, techniques, and ideas for educators of all students in all levels. 

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

What's New @ StarTeaching   Does Your Kid Have A Great Teacher?  Here's How You Know   Reader Response:
Ask Dr. Manute
NEW! Tony Vincent's Blog:
iPad Party: iPad Q&A
Tech/21st Century Corner: 
What is Social Media?
Themes on Life: 
"The House With The Golden Windows"
NEW! Science Activities for Any Setting   10 Days of Writing Prompts   10 Days of Math Problems
School Features:
Collaborative Learning
(part 2)
New Teacher's Niche:
Change Lives - Be A Mentor
Student Teachers' Lounge:
Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Stragety
Book of the Month Club:
21st Century Skills: Learning For Life In Our Times
  Website of the Month:
eNLVM Utah State University Interactive Online Math Lessons
  Spring Book Sale
for Teachers

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!


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

Our Newsletter is now posting a opening for a Social Studies / History Writer interested in a monthly column focusing on Historical Events and Education.

We are also looking 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



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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!

A couple of months ago, I responded to a question about whether curriculum or pedagogy was more important to teaching.  I'm going to follow up with some more thoughts.  

A few issues back, we addressed the question: "which was more important, knowledge of subject matter or pedagogy?"  Last time we focused more on the importance of subject matter and how one acquires it.  Now we will address pedagogy and where it fits into the picture.

Basically, pedagogy is the science of teaching, or the how to.  Without it, there is no transfer of knowledge or skills.  This is not the same as someone learning on their own, we are focusing on someone teaching someone else.

Lets use the example of a master carpenter, one who has the knowledge and understanding of tools and building procedures.  Now, that person is going to teach those skills to an apprentice, how does he do it?

First of all he must decide what skills he wants the apprentice to learn, then determine what the apprentice already knows.  From there he makes a step by step plan of objectives and outcomes and decides on which skill to teach first.  To actually teach the skill he can use several methods such as modeling.  From there the apprentice practices on his own under the guidance of the teacher.  The teacher observes and makes decisions based on those observations.  Do they move ahead, do they need to re-teach, these are decisions the teacher will make.  Once the teacher is assured the student is ready to move on, they move to the next objective and so on.  This is an over simplification of the teaching process, but basically this is it.  This process is used everyday, and not just in classrooms.  How did you learn to cook from your parents, or wash your clothes or change the oil in your car?  You were taught using a process. 

Now, the art of teaching has been refined to include the latest and proven techniques that enable teachers to reach all students.  This is the science of teaching.  So, which is more important, knowledge of subject matter of pedagogy?  I say both are necessary for effective teaching to take place and one without the other just wont work. 

Where do teachers acquire these skills?  It is an ongoing process that starts in their undergraduate work and continues through the last day of their career.  Effective teachers never cease to refine their skills through classes, workshops, colleagues and professional literature.  Effective teachers are the ultimate life-long learners. 

I hope this helps clarify the question about subject matter or pedagogy, unfortunately there are those in education who only look at one area and indeed are wearing blinders.  Education is a process that is very complex yet very simple, and the longer you are in it the more you realize that.

Yours in teaching, 

Dr. Manute

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iPad Party: iPad Q&A

Courtesy of Tony Vincent,
Learning in Hand Blog

Learning in Hand is an educator's resource for using some of the coolest technologies with students.Tony Vincent

Learning in Hand is written by Tony Vincent. Tony taught fifth grade in Omaha, Nebraska for six years, and three of those years his students were pioneers in educational handheld computing. Then, as technology specialist at Willowdale Elementary, Tony brought the newest technologies into classrooms. Whether it was digital video, blogs, email, podcasts, or handhelds, Tony helped Willowdale teachers and students understand the usefulness of new technologies. Currently, Tony is self-employed as an education consultant. He conducts workshops, presents at conferences, and writes books based on his teaching experiences and passion for new technologies.

Always excited to share, Tony has documented much of what he knows about handheld computing and podcasting on his website, learninginhand.com. There you'll find useful software collections, the best webs links for handhelds, complete lesson plans, and an informative blog.

Tony is a teacher who wants to make education effective, relevant, and fun. He knows handhelds are small computers that can make a big difference in classrooms! He hopes Learning in Hand inspires and motivates teachers to use technology that students crave.

I hosted a live "iPad Party" on Ustream Saturday. I was joined by Sara and Rosy, and we took a first look at Apple's iPad together. It was 90 minutes of exploration and some silliness.


We answered questions from the couple-dozen people in the live chat room. We also answered questions that were submitted through Google Moderator. Here are some of the questions and answers:

"Do attachable microphones work with the iPad?"

My Belkin TuneTalk does not work with iPad. My earbuds with mic did work. However, only the left channel recorded, so playback came through only one side in my earbuds. All this is ok because iPad's built-in mic (which is at the top of the device) is pretty good.

"Can the iPad be remotely controlled? This would be handy if it was connected to a videoprojector in a classroom." jjedtechguy, Salem, OR

So far there are no apps to remotely control iPad. It would be cool to be able to advance slides with an iPhone or iPod touch, though.

"Do iPod and iPhone power adapters also charge iPad? Do iPhone/iPod attachable batteries work"

iPad need a 10W charger, so most iPhone and iPod power adapters do not charge iPad. In fact, most powered USB hubs won't even charge iPad (or they charge very, very slowly and do not charge when the device is on). Newer Macs can charge them. Apple recommends for the fastest charge to use the included power adapter. My iPhone battery pack does charge iPad.

"In the Steve Jobs demo it appeared that no flash plug-in existed. Will this limit on-line sites students/teachers can access as learning tools in the classroom?" Mr Steve, Phoenix, AZ

The lack of flash does limit the iPad's ability. Sites like Discovery Streaming and sites with interactive Flash content don't work on iPad.

"Can you print over WiFi from the iPad?"

 Printing is not a built-in function. However, there is an app for that. I bought Fax Print & Share and was able to print from the app to my network printer without any setup. It prints PDFs and images, so you just have to save to those formats to print.

"Can you edit a Google Doc in the browser? (Currently you can't do this on an iPhone or iPod touch)"

You can edit a Google spreadsheet, but not Doc in Safari for iPad. This seems to be a limitation Google imposes, so hopefully they flip the switch to allow editing of word processing documents soon. There are apps that open and save to Google Docs, but I really want to do it from the browser like I do on a desktop computer.

"Can you project "apps" or is just Keynote and Video?" SMeech, Kenilworth, IL

The VGA adapter does not output a mirror of the iPad's screen. Apps have to be specifically programmed to output to the secondary display.

"Can voice memos be made on the iPad like they can on the iPhone (http://www.apple.com/iphone/iphone-3gs/voice-memos.html)." jjedtechguy, Salem, OR

There is no Apple Voice Memos app built-in. I downloaded the free Voice Memos app from the App Store. It works just like the iPhone version with one important exception: it cannot run in the background. That means you can't continue recording when you leave the app.

"Is there a place for Presenter Notes in Keynote for iPad?"

No. Keynote does not support presenter notes. In fact, if you sync a desktop Keynote doc to iPad, it removed the any notes you might have already had.

"As a teacher or administrator, can I load applications on a set of iPads at one time, or do they have to be loaded individually? Can I load a set of applications on each device at once, or again individually?" Bruce A, Grand Rapids, MI

iPad syncs just like iPod touch and iPad. Apps on the syncing computer are transferred to all iPads you sync with. I haven't tried to sync multiple iPads simultaneously. This may not work like iPod touch because of iPad's 10W power requirements. So iPad may have to be synced on-at-a-time to a computer (but that computer can have many iPads synced to it no problem).

"Can/Will apps developed for the iPad format (Keynote, Pages, Filterstorm, etc.) also work on an iPod/iPhone?" C Chausis, Lincolnshire, IL

There are 3 kinds of apps in the App Store:

  1. iPhone & iPod touch: These are the apps we're known and loved for a couple years. They work on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
  2. iPad only apps: Pages, Keynote, Numbers, and many other apps are iPad only. They will not load on an iPhone or iPod touch. They have their own section of the App Store and their own section in your iTunes Library.
  3. Apps Designed for both iPhone & iPad: These apps have a + icon in the App Store and when downloaded, it like having 2 apps in one. There is an iPad version that takes up the full screen and there is also included an iPhone/iPod touch version for the smaller screen.

You can find more questions and answers at the Google Moderator Series for iPad Party. There are also some great questions and answers at iPad 4 Edu.




iPod Touch

Order your own iPod Touch Today with the links below:



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:



Student Teachers' Lounge: 
For The Things They Don't Teach You In College

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Revisiting the SQ3R Reading Strategy

Many teachers have used the SQ3R reading strategy successfully for years. For new teachers, this can have a positive impact on whatever class, grade, or subject you are teaching. Reading is a vital skill in every class and every subject area, and a strategy to improve students' reading while working on specific class material is extremely beneficial.

SQ3R is an instructional strategy for improving reading comprehension.  It is an acronym for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review. Each of these activities focuses on a technique integral to the reading process. The uses in the language arts seem rather obvious, but SQ3R is great for other areas too. This can be used in social studies classes when reading through a new section of the textbook. Science teachers use it to kick off new units and in new labs. Math teachers can even use it to teach students to take notes from their books.  Possibilities are endless.

Like any other technique, you will want to teach this carefully to your students and discuss each part together in class. While there are many ways of interpreting and using the SQ3R strategy, in this article I'll be sharing how we use it in our classroom.

'Survey' refers to skimming the reading quickly. Students look for items that catch their eyes - titles, headlines, photos, pictures, graphs, bold-faced or italicized words. Sometimes I refer to them as 'sticky words' since the reader's eyes tend to stick to them. After the quick scan, students write down the first six items their eyes 'catch' upon. Just a word or short phrase is fine, as we want to keep this part short and sweet.

'Question' is the part where students make predictions and pose questions about what they've surveyed. We have students create and write down three questions in complete sentences based on what they surveyed.

Complete sentences requires students to think carefully about the info they skimmed, and put it into a logical organized form. Early on, students may pose rather simple questions. We do not allow easy yes/no questions, those with one word answers, or questions they already know the answers to. We even spend class time discussing what makes 'good' questions.

Once the pre-reading is finished, the 'Read' part is just that - the students now read carefully through the section, paying attention to everything on the page. It's important to find the answers to their questions. We have the students then answer their posed questions in complete sentences. Sometimes students may have posed questions that are unanswerable or not found in the reading. We do allow students to state that the answer was not found in the reading. That's ok, as long as they don't make a habit of it. If such a habit does form, simply require students to state where they could find the answer.

'Recite' refers to putting the data from the reading into a new use.  We often create short freewrites to discuss the implications of the reading, or its applications. You can also create writing topics for students to respond to.

'Review' is, again, self-explanatory, as students review the material.  We have students create quiz questions based on the reading, just as if they were the teacher. However, they are not allowed to use their questions posed previously! Students can create ten multiple choice or true/false questions. Sometimes we assign creating fill-in-the banks statements, or even have students make their own essay questions or writing topics. You could even have them create crosswords or other word puzzles.

To make the SQ3R technique easy to do and grade, we've created a form that is used through our school. It is specific enough to cover all of the areas, and yet general enough to allow individual teachers to adapt and customize this strategy to their class, students, or current assignments.

You can download a free copy of our SQ3R worksheet on our website by clicking the link below:

The SQ3R technique is easy to use and adapt yourself, once you and your students are comfortable with its components. We've used it as a warm-up activity, as a closing activity, and as a sponge. It is also useful when you need easy-to-follow plans for a substitute. Most importantly, this is a powerful, yet simple, tool you can use in any class to improve students' reading skills.

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



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Do You Have Great Ideas, Tips, or Techniques to Share with Our Readers?  
Are You Looking To Be Published?

Submit Your Articles On Our Website At:   http://www.starteaching.com/submit.htm

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  TECH/21st Century CORNER

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What is Social Media? 

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. 

What is Social Media? Wikipedia defines it as:  media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.  In other words, it supports the human need for interaction. 

In an article posted on March 3, 2008 by Claudine Ryan for ABC Science Online entitled Blogging boasts your social life: research they state: that after two months of regular blogging, people felt they had better social support and friendship networks than those who did not blog. This is exactly what social media is all about. 

On the negative side, there are some psychologists who fear that social networking will contribute to the death of emotional intelligence. In a blog posted September 18, 2009, by James Gurd entitled Does social media kill communication skills? he responds to this idea by showing that social media merely reflects and amplifies a persons interpersonal skill, which is a very good thing. He talks about how there is worldwide monitoring of what is said on the Internet. That when something is posted that raises peoples awareness to a topic a conversation grows through blogs and twitters that analyzes, dissects, and looks at all sides. This is conversation and learning at its best and certainly dealing with emotional intelligence. Another point made in reference to twitter is the fact that getting an idea down in only 140 characters actually helps people to focus and become better communicators. 

In this following video the question is asked: Is social media a fad? It goes on to show that not only is it not a fad; its more like a revolution. The numbers are staggering when you look at how many people are using social media on a daily basis and it continues to grow. 

This next video is said to be the number one watched video on YouTube with over 126 million views called: Evolution of Dance. Take a look at it with the question: why is it number one?  

Now that youve watched it why do you think its number one? My thoughts are that it speaks across several generations. When I watched the video it brought back memories. It also encompasses so much of what social media is about. It is very visual and musical that speaks to two of our intelligences. For some that watch it, they probably attempt to imitate what he is doing while watching it. That brings in another intelligence. The bottom line is that connects to us and we connect to it. 

To sum up about social media, the hardest part about communicating in text about this subject is the fact that it is so interactive. I just wanted to use videos to explain. In doing the research I also saw that social media is becoming a major topic within the business community with many websites dealing with how to use it. It is connecting from advertising in business to our everyday personal lives to changing the way politics work. That is powerful. 



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/ 

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




  StarTeaching Feature Writer

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Does Your Kid Have a Great Teacher?  Here's How You Know

By Christina Riggan


Christina Riggan, a twenty-five year veteran of public schools, and a former teacher in a primary (K-5) school in Austin, Texas, has worked with a variety of grade levels from Kindergarten to adults. Her certifications include Kindergarten, Reading, ESOL, Language Arts, and she holds a Principal's Certificate and a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She is currently a full-time writer, her chosen area of focus in writing books (fiction and nonfiction) and articles that might help parents, teachers, and students. She is married to David, her husband of thirty-eight years, has two happily married sons, and four wonderful grandchildren.

After meeting with your child's teacher spend some some time thinking about these ideas listed below to help you decide if you have a great teacher for your child.  And even though most people make up their minds about whether they like others or not in a few seconds, give your child's teacher a fair shot and meet with her several times to learn enough about her to make a decision.  These may help serve as a guideline for you.

1. Does she care about your child in every way? A great teacher is a trained observer of children and looks out for signs of poor learning, social adjustment problems, poor vision, poor hearing, learning problems, and whether he/she is happy or not. These are documented and based on many observations and are not a subjective and momentary judgment.

2. Does she listen to your concerns and your child's concerns? Does she ask clarifying questions about your child's dreams, goals, desires? Does she make plans and set goals with this information?

3. Does she exhibit good values, is she moral and honest, and considered respectable?  He/she may have different values than yours but they would not be considered a harmful influence or morally bankrupt. 

4. Does she respect your family and demonstrate that by being courteous and considerate? Examples of this would be: Answering your questions with courtesy, respecting your family situation- whatever that may be, returning phone calls or emails promptly, setting up conferences when requested or needed.

5. Great teachers respect the importance of good grades and test scores but also value the learning and growth that may have occurred that grades sometimes cannot measure.  She is able to demonstrate this growth through understandable and acceptable measures. Examples might be learning journals, performance tasks, benchmark tasks, essays, experiments, reports etc.

6. She communicates clearly, fairly and as frequently as is humanly possible and as much as that family may wish.  Examples of this may be: Newsletters, letters, phone calls, announcements of events. Others might include letting you know your child is failing in time for him/her to recover his/her grade before the end of the reporting period.  Or if your child has been sick for a week, he/she is not required to complete every worksheet he/she has missed but only the most important ones for learning.

7. She is equitable or fair with all students. Examples might include giving everyone a chance to redo a problem on the math exam because everyone failed that problem.  She doesn't punish the whole class for the infractions of a few.

8. She values the immense possibilities from learning through taking risks, errors, and mistakes and sees learning as a journey. She encourages a low-risk environment in the classroom. Kids are encouraged to take risks and are not chastised for mistakes.

9. She is knowledgeable about and values cultural, racial, and religious differences, and teaches diversity in the classroom. This means it is an integrated part of her curriculum all year, not just for a holiday.

10. She is academically competent and thoroughly trained in all areas. She may have a certification of training for a special form of learning and that's okay. But she should be certified in the main area of her teaching. If she is teaching all the math for fifth grade, let's make sure she has a degree in math or the requisite educational hours (this could be 18 hours at the collegiate level).

I hope you have found this information helpful. Remember to give your child's teacher a chance and interact enough before making any judgments- just like you would like her to do for you!


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Collaborative Learning
(part 2)

Courtesy of K12Academics.com

Collaborative Networked Learning

Collaborative Networked Learning is a method developed by Dr. Charles Findley in the mid 1980's as part of his work on designing the classroom of the future for the knowledge worker.

Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a common purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their success. CNL occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate and negotiation meaning with one another within a contextual framework which may be facilitated by an online coach, mentor or group leader

Three important considerations motivate the focus on CNL.

CNL is sound educational practice.
Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with two other categories-- competitive and individualistic. Competitive activities, for example, include those in which only one person can win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or status, rather than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence. Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation with no interaction with others, or when a learner interacts only with a self-paced manual or CBI, rather than when all members share ideas with each other.

The overwhelming conclusion of research in the goals of learning environments is that collaborative,cooperative goal directed activities facilitated by qualified experts leads to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement translates into higher productivity.

CNL is sound business practice.
Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative, team oriented tasks. Learning workers share information with one another in order to accomplish common tasks in a small group. Professionals share information with each other, and learn something about each others' specialization in order to reach consensus on a common problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity when workers learned from each other how their different individual parts of the task fit together to produce the whole. All of these different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve collaboration.

Life-long learning in the workplace is becoming a necessity rather than an ideal. The need for collaboration is great and will continue. By facilitating collaborative methods of learning, we could help workers acquire individually and collectively the rapidly, changing knowledge required in the high-tech workplace.

Collaboration is a condition of learning in the information workplace.
While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to manipulate objects and memorized actions, the worker in the modern organization learns how to think, learn and apply information to a task.

Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach problems from different vantage points, testing out assumptions,and redefining meanings,i.e. creative thinking in order to develop new viewpoints. Workers need to engage in the social,collaborative exchange of ideas in order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses, conduct experiments and reflect on outcomes. Basically, workers are learning in groups to make meaning out of information. Not only do workers need to make meaning out of the information but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to share that meaning with others.



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-traders 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 Holess 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 Viking Treasure, the hit sequel, this summer!

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





New Teachers' Niche: 
A Place for Teachers New To The Craft

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Change Lives! Be a Mentor

by Jill Gurr
Create Now!

Jill Gurr is founder of the non-profit organization Create Now! She has mentored more than 50 high-risk children and youth and has trained hundreds of people to mentor thousands of kids. Learn more at www.createnow.org    or email Jill at:  info@createnow.org


Half of the U.S. youth population (17.6 million kids to be exact) is considered to be at-risk of getting into trouble with the law, or high-risk and already in trouble. This isnt a problem only in the United States. Street gangs, drug addiction, child prostitution, abuse and neglect are major concerns around the world.

Our children need help!

Its easy to turn your back and ignore the problem, but what will you do when some kids jack your car? Or rape your daughter? Or spend their entire lives on welfare or in the prison system, on your tax dollars?


One solution that has been proven to work is mentoring. A mentor is a loyal advisor, a teacher or coach, sponsor, guide, confidante and role model. He or she is a special friend who serves as an advocate for the needs of someone else and makes an effort to bring out their best qualities.

I learned this first-hand in 1993 when I mentored a group of teenage boys who were incarcerated at a Los Angeles detention center for a variety of crimes. As a produced screenwriter, I wanted to share my love of writing with troubled kids in hope of inspiring them to change their lives.

I had a great idea for a story about two rival gang leaders from different ethnic backgrounds (Latino vs. African-American) ending up at the same detention camp where they had to resolve their differences.

During the next few months as I worked on our script with the boys, my Screenwriting Workshop went through all kinds of changes. In the end, the boys completed writing the script with me and it was optioned by producers. The best part though was that a number of the kids who were illiterate learned how to read and write through my program. I witnessed other remarkable changes as well -- a tough Chicano gang leader had tattoos removed from his body, and several of the boys wanted to go to college.

Thrilled with the results of this experience, I quickly came up with another idea for a screenplay and started a new Screenwriting Workshop, this time at a co-ed detention center. Again, these girls and boys were transformed through their experience of contributing to a screenplay, but especially from my interactions with them every week as their mentor. They opened up their hearts, shared their problems, and flourished under my guidance.

Inspired by these successes, I founded a non-profit organization in 1996. Create Now! matches writers, artists, musicians and other creative individuals in Los Angeles with high-risk kids who live in court-mandated institutions, such as homes for abused and neglected children, runaways, homeless kids and those in trouble with the law.

Through Create Now! Ive personally mentored more than 50 of these kids and Ive trained dozens of other mentors to work with high-risk youth. Create Now! has reached thousands of the most troubled children in Southern California.


You may wonder exactly what is mentoring. Its not tutoring, which involves the teaching of a skill or discipline. Mentoring depends on the nurturing of a close, personal relationship. While helping with schoolwork can be a part of it, thats just one aspect. Mentors inspire us to try harder and give us the confidence to reach for more ambitious goals. They teach us how to make good choices and open doors to new opportunities that normally wouldnt be available.

A mentee, or protg, is a novice, student or learner. At-risk and high-risk kids can be of any race and religion. They generally come from disadvantaged homes in poor communities. All children need the support of a positive adult, but these particular kids especially need help.

Research has shown that kids who are mentored have improved school attendance and better academic performance, a good appearance and attitude, less hostility, more self-esteem and many other improved qualities that are too numerous to name.


Tasha is another perfect example that proves mentoring makes a difference. She came from a poor community in South Central, Los Angeles. A bright girl with many talents, she didnt get along with her family. When she was thirteen years old, Tasha began running away from home. She hung out with boys who got in trouble with the law. She was sent to detention camps and different institutions over the next few years.

I met Tasha at a detention facility when she was almost sixteen. She eagerly signed up for a Create Now! TV Writing Workshop with a professional sit-com writer who prefers to remain anonymous. When Tasha returned to her home in South Central, her mentor continued to visit her weekly. They formed a strong bond.

Her mentor moved to another state, so Create Now! provided Tasha with two additional mentors who helped her periodically. Her original mentor stayed in touch via phone and email. When Tasha graduated from high school, her mentors helped her apply to USC Film School and arranged for a scholarship. She was one of only fifty people in the world to be accepted into their film program.

Tasha graduated from college in December 2004. She got a job teaching disadvantaged middle-school children how to make their own videos. One of her mentors helped her get employed as a production assistant on a TV show and shes now on the way to a lucrative career in the entertainment industry. Were all very proud of Tasha.


Mentors benefit greatly from their experience. Its a powerful feeling to know that youve made a difference in someones life. Most mentors grow on a personal and professional level through this process.

Many people who mentor develop leadership abilities and have a more profound understanding of children. Their own family bonds strengthen, plus they receive admiration and respect from their own peers.

There are different kinds of mentoring. Here are a few:

This is traditional mentoring, sometimes referred to as a Special Friend or a Big/Little relationship. Youre paired up with one child and the relationship tends to be close. Dont take this involvement lightly and make sure you maintain your commitment.

With group mentoring programs, one adult volunteer builds relationships with a number of young people. Meetings can take place with a focus on a particular project or an ongoing activity.

A group of two or more adults work together as a team to mentor a group of youths. This system focuses on team building, leadership development, and community service, but it can be used for any type of program.

Low-income families face enormous pressure getting food and shelter. The stress can severely disrupt family life and lead to homelessness. These families can be matched with mentors (possibly your entire family) who work with them over an extended period of time. By connecting disadvantaged family members with useful community resources, helping them to develop life skills, and strengthening their foundation, you help the family to overcome challenges.

By using email and chat rooms on the Internet, mentors can reach children all over the world. Many forms of computer-assisted learning are becoming popular, as students have access to computers at school, libraries, and their homes.

Think carefully about what your needs are and how you can best serve at-risk and high-risk youth before you decide which type of mentoring program is right for you.


There are a lot of things that you can do with your mentees. Many of these kids have never been out of their own neighborhoods. You could take them on a trip to the beach, a hike in the mountains, a movie, a meal, or a visit to a museum. Expose them to cultural events like the theater or the circus, or just hang out and talk.

Most importantly, LISTEN! All kids need to communicate and vent. Its important to hear what they say and be as open-minded as possible. Most kids need reliable adults with whom they can talk about their fears, dreams, and concerns. Mentors serve as sounding boards, and when asked, someone who can give trustworthy advice.

At-risk youth may not have any adults in their lives with the time, interest, or ability to listen to them. High-risk youth who live in residential institutions will rarely confide in staff members, administrators, or even psychologists for fear of punishment. Yet they might confide in you because of the trust that youve developed. It usually takes time, but when they know that they can count on you, theyll start to open up.


Mentoring requires commitment and responsibility. You must keep your word and be dependable to have a positive effect. If you break your word, youll do more damage than good.

These children have been let down by adults most of their lives. Imagine if you come along, full of hope and excitement, and reach out to lend them a hand. They take it and off you go, spending time together and bonding. They slowly open up and start to trust you.

But then something changes in your life; perhaps you get a different job in another part of town, or youve got a new boyfriend who takes up all of your free time. Abandonment can be devastating to any child, especially these kids.

Its okay if you only have sporadic time available to mentor, since even a short amount of time devoted to an at-risk youth is better than nothing. But its essential that you communicate this clearly to your mentee. The most important thing is not to set their expectations high only to let them down later.

These children represent our future. Through your support as a mentor, you can introduce them to a larger world where theyre a contributor instead of just another statistic.


No matter where you live or what you do for a living, you can impact a childs life. To learn about mentoring opportunities in your community, visit the National Mentoring Partnership at http://www.mentoring.org

If you live in Southern California and have a creative skill that youd like to share with at-risk or high-risk youth, please contact me at <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = SKYPE />  (213) 484-8500  (213) 484-8500 or through email at info@createnow.org

Youll make a big difference in your community, and the world!



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"The House With The Golden Windows"
Author Unknown

Themes on Life

How do you see the world?

The little girl lived in a small, very simple, poor house on a hill and as she grew she would play in the small garden and as she grew she was able to see over the garden fence and across the valley to a wonderful house high on the hill - and this house had golden windows, so golden and shining that the little girl would dream of how magic it would be to grow up and live in a house with golden windows instead of an ordinary house like hers.

And although she loved her parents and her family, she yearned to live in such a golden house and dreamed all day about how wonderful and exciting it must feel to live there.

When she got to an age where she gained enough skill and sensibility to go outside her garden fence, she asked her mother is she could go for a bike ride outside the gate and down the lane. After pleading with her, her mother finally allowed her to go, insisting that she kept close to the house and didn't wander too far. The day was beautiful and the little girl knew exactly where she was heading! Down the lane and across the valley, she rode her bike until she got to the gate of the golden house across on the other hill.

As she dismounted her bike and lent it against the gate post, she focused on the path that lead to the house and then on the house itself...and was so disappointed as she realised all the windows were plain and rather dirty, reflecting nothing other than the sad neglect of the house that stood derelict.

So sad she didn't go any further and turned, heart broken as she remounted her bike ... As she glanced up she saw a sight to amaze her...there across the way on her side of the valley was a little house and its windows glistened golden ...as the sun shone on her little home.

She realised that she had been living in her golden house and all the love and care she found there was what made her home the 'golden house'. Everything she dreamed was right there in front of her nose!




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